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  #51  
Old 12-22-2011, 06:21 AM
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#12
Stick Men - Absalom

King Crimson are my second favorite band. Given how much I obsess over Maiden and all their members, it's safe to say that the level to which I do that for Krimson is just a small step behind. So it was only natural that this year I would check out the "King Crimson Projekct" of Jakszyk, Fripp, & Collins' A Scarcity of Miracles - and it was only natural that I would be disappointed by it's merely decent quality.

That's where Absalom comes into the picture. Stick Men are a prog rock project comprised of Tony Levin (tied with Adrian Belew for my favorite KC musician post-70s) on Chapman stick, Pat Mastelotto (also amazing) on Drums, and Markus Reuter (who?) on Touch Guitar. What you get is basically the continuation of the modern King Crimson sound (gtfo prog if you don't like The Power To Believe), with more emphasis on the rhythm sections and low-end bass sounds. Chock full of bizarre time signatures and polymeter, constantly wandering melodies shaped by every instrument simultaneously, and sections of both dissonant and consonant beauty - Absalom is the God of Prog's gift to the fan of modern King Crimson.

At only just barely over 30 minutes, and only 6 songs, Absalom is sort of a small package. But its size is perfect, keeping you entertained the whole time - and honestly after listening to it it feels like it kept you interested just as much as most 70 minute albums do. The album knows not to overstep its boundaries, while making sure it gets the most out of what it does. The vocals on the non-instrumental tracks aren't anything special, but oddly appropriate for the parts they fill on an album mostly centered on instrumental passages. Absalom very much achieves what it sets out to do - embodying a short yet fantastic 3-piece prog rock album.

Recommended songs:
"Absalom"
"Time's Insane Ashes"
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  #52  
Old 12-22-2011, 07:11 AM
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And now comes the good ol' top 10 countdown.

#10
Dir En Grey - Dum Spiro Spero


If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be "deliberate." If I could use three words, it would be "weird as FUCK." Japan's Dir En Grey have always had a bizarre edge to them, exuding a certain level of weirdness and progressiveness, but it all finally comes to a head in the grand experiment of Dum Spiro Spero. After listening to this album for the first time my initial reaction was genuine confusion. But upon subsequent listens, this album grew stronger and stronger in my eyes.

I say deliberate because, for all the bizarre sounds on this album, whether it be haunting guitar or piano melodies, unusual rhythm sections, or the weird interjections of harsh screaming and atmospheric falsetto - you can tell that it's all meticulously planned. This is something which a lot of work has gone into, even the fleeting dissonance and growls are performed with a solid intention. Even in the more straightforward moments on the album, the riffs and leads are all great, and vocalist Kyo proves that he knows what the fuck to do at all times in some of the best vocal performances I've heard in metal (even if I have no idea what the fuck he is saying). This is a unique album, that I could completely understand someone hating, but definitely deserves a listen (or many listens ) from anyone who's into the experimental or prog side of metal.

Recommended songs:
"The Blossoming Beelzebub"
"Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami "
"Vanitas"
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  #53  
Old 12-22-2011, 08:43 AM
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#12
Childish Gambino - Camp


This will probably be the most unpopular choice I've put on this list. Admittedly, of the albums that made my top 25, it's the most recent addition and the one that I've had the least opportunities to listen to - and thus the album I'm least sure about the standing of. Still as of now, I simultaneously think that #12 is a fair spot for it, while considering it one of the greatest disappointments of the year (after Heritage I guess). First the bad before the good. EP was an amazing tiny little bundle of songs - and I was honestly hoping that Camp would turn out to be this mythical awesomeness of that EP multiplied almost 3 times. This is very much not the case, because where EP was a little drop of concentrated awesome - Camp is a giant pool of rap that contains more total awesome, but spreads it out much further along the way.

This album is an expansion - it takes everything and makes more of it, which is meh in some cases and great in others. At times the production is so over the top that it becomes distracting on what is supposed to be a rap album, at times the songs rely on Donald Glover's (passable, but not so good) singing uncomfortably too much. However, ultimately I feel that the amount of times where the aforementioned issues actually work dwarfs the amount of times it doesn't. A certain infamous review* of this album criticizes the lyrical content and the Childish Gambino persona established on this album. However as someone would would be able to seriously enjoy a metal song about worshiping the cock of Satan, I find these criticisms to be largely irrelevant and in fact falling for one of the worst musical traps that exist - judging a creation by the creator.

Ultimately, I put Camp here because of how much I enjoyed it as an album fits around here. I liked it the most of the hip-hop albums I've heard this year, more so than any of the Odd Future related releases (though admittedly, Goblin only slightly falls short of making my top 25). As such, I don't think it's a stretch to say that the hip-hop album I enjoyed the most this year falls firmly at #12.

Recommended songs:
"All The Shine" (softer more singy song where it actually works)
"You See Me" (dat third verse)

*side note: my favorite part is that the longest paragraph of the review is dedicated entirely to taking offense that a single line on the album carries the implication that indie music is not exactly equally popular among all races
If someone would have told me the kinda funny guy from Community would write so many sick rhymes I wouldn't have believed it. I only like some of his music but he's the Steel Panther of the rap scene to me and that's a cool thing.
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  #54  
Old 12-28-2011, 09:37 AM
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If someone would have told me the kinda funny guy from Community would write so many sick rhymes I wouldn't have believed it. I only like some of his music but he's the Steel Panther of the rap scene to me and that's a cool thing.
That's an interesting way of putting it, and I think I can mostly agree with it, nicely said.

Anyway I'm back from a rather long hiatus not just from this thread but from this board so I should be able to finish up pretty soon.
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  #55  
Old 12-28-2011, 10:07 AM
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#9
Evergrey - Glorious Collision


When I first heard this album, I thought "AOTY" to myself. Granted, it was an extremely early release in the year (one of the first 5 albums I got around to listening to in 2011) - so if you told me it wouldn't be #1 by end year I wouldn't be too surprised. If you told me it would only be #9, I would've pooped myself and that's what I'm doing right now thinking about how low it is. To elaborate: I don't like this album any less than when I first heard it, in fact I kind of like it even more. This is an album of high enough quality to be called Album of the Year. For most years that aren't 2011. This is my favorite year period since I've been actively following new releases in music (since roughly 2006), so unlucky Evergrey had 8 albums I just liked even more than Glorious Collision.

On to the album itself, Glorious Collision is Evergrey doing what they do best. They have their own brand of both emotionally and musically heavy progressive metal with just a hint more power metal influence than other prog metal bands. In a sense it is a step back for them in terms of style, but for Evergrey this is a good thing. While still a pretty good album, I consider 2006's Monday Morning Apocalypse to be the weakest point of their career, sacrificing too much of the softer and melodic aspects of the band to further their heavier side. In that sense, each album since has been a small step back and that leaves Glorious Collision as one of their best albums, possibly their best since In Search of Truth. Glorious Collision is fantastically heavy, beautifully melodic, and emotionally powerful on each and every song. Tom S. Englund is one of the best singers in the modern metal scene. Seriously.

Recommended songs:
"Frozen"
"To Fit The Mold"
"The Phantom Letters"
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  #56  
Old 12-28-2011, 10:14 AM
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That's what I'm talking about.
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  #57  
Old 12-28-2011, 10:40 AM
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#8
M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


And now for something completely different. Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is a double album by the French electronic/dream pop/80s pop worship band M83. If that description doesn't really sound good to you, then you can probably skip over this one. If you think it sounds kind of great, like I do, then you probably would love this album. Spanning 2 discs and 22 songs (plus one downloadable extra "interlude" track), HUWD is one hell of a journey to listen to. It brings out excitement, happiness, beauty, a lot of atmosphere, and even the rare mournful moment.

At 22 songs, HUWD features a lot of short "segue" or "filler" songs. But anyone familiar with M83's previous work knows that this is not a bad thing in anyway. I believe there are 3 types of the short segue/filler song: 1. A song that actually disrupts the flow of the album (BAD.) 2. A song that while unnecessary to the album as a whole, sounds kind of nice and doesn't take away from the experience (see the segue tracks on Worship Music for a recently mention example of this), and 3. Those that are so integral to the album that despite not being full length songs, the album as a whole would greatly suffer without their presence. Every single short song on HUWD is that third type. This is an achievement considering just how many of them there are. And the full length songs are fantastic, containing a lot of variety. Some are dancey electronic pop songs, some are borderline rock or acoustic, and some are quiet blissful ballads. Every song is somehow synthetic, yet completely organic. This album itself is an wondrous achievement and absolutely deserving of being called one of the best of the year... in fact such praise almost feels small.

Recommended songs:
"Intro" (soundcloud link, lol)
"Soon, My Friend" (This is basically how the shorter tracks are)
"Year One, One UFO"
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  #58  
Old 12-28-2011, 11:19 AM
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This was the publication I was so recently editor for's #1 of 2011, try as might have to stop that from happening.

Can't believe you don't recommend "Midnight City" though. It's the shining moment on an album that mostly bored me.
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  #59  
Old 12-28-2011, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
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That's what I'm talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DethMaiden View Post
This was the publication I was so recently editor for's #1 of 2011, try as might have to stop that from happening.

Can't believe you don't recommend "Midnight City" though. It's the shining moment on an album that mostly bored me.
Midnight City is a great song, but I consider a lot of other parts of the album to be higher points than it. It might be the catchiest song on there though. Not sure how the album managed to bore you though. It's kind of like hipster black metal without the black metal.
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  #60  
Old 01-02-2012, 06:20 PM
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#7
Boris - Attention Please

This was the album that made me think "oh hell, I am gonna listen to a lot of music this year..." when I heard it. Likewise this is the year that solidified harder than ever that Boris are definitely one of my favorite bands ever. This album is not metal in any way, almost less so than New Album (don't worry the next few are pretty damn metal). It's pretty unique sounding pop music hybridized with noise music and the other expected sounds Boris like to bring to the table. If I could compare it to an earlier album, I'd say it sounds a lot like their previous Wata(aka the hottie)-led album, Rainbow. Except it's even better this time.

I can't describe this album and what's good about it really. Some songs are airy and other songs are real toe-tappy. It's definitely a lax listen. It's just a great sonic experience if you ask me. Hard to describe but one of the best things to just put on and listen to and feel great about it. I guess that's why I love Boris, they're all about more than just songwriting and riffs or whatever but just about creating something that sounds awesome and crazy no matter what they do. Attention Please exemplifies that.

Recommended songs:
"Attention Please"
"Party Boy" (significantly better than the New Album version IMO)
"Tokyo Wonderland"
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