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Old 12-01-2008, 07:01 PM
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Josh's ass backwards 2008 musical review



Well 2008 has come and gone. I still didn't get to see Van Halen (perhaps the planets are waiting for Michael Anthony to come back in, useless as he may be?) and it looks as though I'm only able to go to concerts when I'm home and have a car. Apparently everybody else is held back by two minor inconveniences like time and money. I'd say the biggest news in my little world as that I have successfully replaced Clansman1114 as your local Kai Hansen nut for this board. That's right; Gamma Ray is my new shit! Hell, I even did a virtual show in their honor, which I didn't even do for Van Halen! Nothing says lonely, over-dedicated nerd like a 3 and half hour virtual show. The fact that Kai and Gamma Ray remains for the most part overlooked by the metal media only increases my fandom of them more! Not that I'm one of those pricks who gets all pissy when their local band gets famous (which is why they did it in the first place), but I guess a band with a smaller following makes you that much more willing to support them, seeing as how they don't exactly have a lot of power or industry "cool" to run with.

But yes, how many different ways can I suck Kai's balls? If I weren't so lazy, I'd listen to the entire Nirvana discography just so I could say that Kai was "the real Kurt Cobain." Better guitarist, better musician (do Nirvana songs have piano? Why I think not!) and better singer...? Well not when he's doing those Halford imitations, let's be honest, that's where the term strangling a cat came from. When you think about it, Kai's 90's journey was more punk than Nirvana was. Assuming that Kai didn't leave Helloween because they were getting too famous, he jumped off his previous band when they were about to break big, started Gamma Ray which would already be marginalized thanks to the whole "side-project/solo act" label, but would now be even more marginalized because Kai didn't exactly write ground-breaking music, even if it was faster and louder than everybody else who was doing it. This band would then be swept under the rug thanks to the downfall of metal in 93-94, but still he would soldier on! Then after a quick lineup change, Gamma Ray would go onto release to what only I would call the Beggar's Banquet through Exile In Main Street run* of Heavy Metal (Land Of The Free through No World Order)! Majestic is seen as a questionable diversion by fans, but having just heard Land Of The Free II (wonderful timing ay?) they still continue to lodge steel toed boots up muthafuckas asses. I certainly hope I get a second chance at seeing them live, having missed that "LULZ WER ALL FRIENDS AGAIN" tour with Helloween. For me, Gamma Ray = group of the year.

* I have a long convoluted way of justifying this. If you want explanation, ask me how.

I've also dug more into rap, certainly not as much as others, but I've begun to recognize recurrent ebonic words and euphimisms that make the science being dropped slightly more decpiherable. I also think I've found just about the greatest hip-hop album ever! (more on that down below). I've also been dissapointed here. Tribe Called Quest, for all their glory just couldn't make an album quite as poppin as Low End Theory. Midnight Maruaders got kinda boring as time went on (Clap Your Hands? Pligga Nease!), and People's Instinctive, while enjoyable in a "before the expansion pack way" just doesn't have enough Phife Dawg on it! Screw your hustle foo! You've got dope science to drop.

Finally, we have Nostradamus, I'd be lying if I said this was my album of the year. I didn't even listen to it that often. I didn't think it was necessarily "bad," but, there was just too much other shit on my agenda. Though I would like to make a couple of remarks.
a) You gotta admit, considering only Glenn and KK produced the album, the production is impeccable.
b) Those string arrangements are pretty badass and I would love to know who actually composed them, especially when you consider Priest aren't known for that sort of thing.
c) When you cut away a fair share of the intros, quite a few of the songs hold up. Perhaps the whole thing could be condensed into a single disc 8-10 track album?
d) I think the album is a personal statement about Priest's sound as an "elder statesmen of rock" more than anything else. Sure Halford can't scream liberally anymore, and the band is probably getting too old to play as fast as they once could, but if you examine the songs themselves, I'd say Priest are still capable of delivering the goods. They certainly can live, as proven not only by the kickass Metal Masters tour, but the slew of rarities they pulled out during it! Applause all around for their efforts in doing so, and by complete fucking surprise may I add! Unlike some other bands I could mention...



Without further ado, here is my top 10.

10. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks



Suck it, Tegan & Sara. Suck it long, and suck it hard. Yea, you felt something in your legs, and that was this man chopping them off with his mad l33t skills. He might as well have called this album "REAL poetic love songs." I never have any idea what Van is saying, but I do know that by the end of the song, his dick will be up your girlfriends ass. Acoustic folk music combined with jazz orchestration and symphonic instruments. You aren't gonna get much more prog than that folks.

must hear songs: Sweet Thing, Cyprus Avenue




9. Snoop Dogg: Doggystyle

I have mixed feelings about Snoop Dogg. On one hand, he's one of the best hip-hop songwriters, funkiest flowers, and all around catchiest artists to listen to, but on the other hand I feel that him, along with the West Coast movement is one of the reasons that hip-hop, at least commercially, sucks nowadays. Plus his lyrics kinda suck (I've heard the line "Snoop Dogg is on the on the mic and I'm with Dr. Dre" about 10 times on here). Kinda like most metal albums with barking vocalists, I look at this album as having genious music, with the vocals serving as a rhythmic counterpoint to the song.

must hear songs: Tha Shiznit, Ain't No Fun (If The Homies Can't Have None)




8. Bathory: Under The Sign Of The Black Mark

I posted a puppet tutorial video on metal here earlier. According to it two of the genres were "Black Metal" and "Super Black Metal." What's the difference? Bathory = Super Black Metal. Everybody else = merely Black Metal. I never have any idea what Quorthon is saying, but holy fuck it sounds like Satan commanding his armies to rise up and slaughter us all! "All hell breaking loose" is a way overused phrase in music criticism, but this is definitely an album deserving of that title. Bitchin guitar solos too.

must hear songs: Enter The Eternal Fire, Equimanthorne




7. Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend

This was about as far as I got expansion wise. But still, it's soul. Once you get past the fact that alot of this stuff sounds extremely fucking dated (one of the lyrics is "where the people are so gay" and it isn't in the context of anal sex with men), you essentially open up wonderful world of strings, passioned vocals, and what life was like before white guys figured out how to crank guitars up to the max.

Must hear songs: A Change Is Gonna Come, Bring It On Home, Nothing Can Change This Love, Little Red Rooster




6. AC/DC: Highway to Hell

Perhaps the most consistent AC/DC album.

Must hear songs: Highway To Hell, Shot Down In Flames




5. Kreator: Pleasure To Kill

The album that holds up the best from my Christmas run last year. Now I hate talking about music in hyperbole, it makes someone sound pretentious and like they think they're above the fans, meatheaded or not. That being said, when this album comes on...RAPE! KILL! EAT! EAT! KILL! RAPE! KILL! EAT! RAEP!

must hear songs: Riot Of Violence, Pleasure To Kill




4. Children Of Bodom: Follow The Reaper

A turning point in Bodom's career. Between the drunken Mozart feel of Hatebreeder and the straight rock approach on Hate Crew Deathroll lies this neat little bridge album. I'm sure die hard fans of early and latter days can come to a compromise here.

must hear songs: Children Of Decadance, Kissing the Shadows




3. Gamma Ray: Powerplant

Damn right better than Land Of The Free. (Though not better than Somewhere Out In Space) I don't think I need to say anything else that I've already said about these guys. Though I will say that the closing line in Armageddon is more poignant than anything that's come out of Bob Dylan.

must hear songs: Send Me A Sign, Armageddon, Razorblade Sigh




2. Death: Symbolic

Right from the first riff, this album gets your mouth waterin' on some "OH SHIT!" and keeps you there to the very end. Not to mention a pleothra of wonderful lyrical statements from Chuck, ranging from nostalgia to paranoia, to a look at how society would function without faggot jocks and cunt cheerleaders. This album also features drum god Gene Hoglan, and its a wonderful display of what he can do when he isn't playing on an album beginning with "Darkness" and ending with "Descends." Finally this album has brilliant riffs and licks! (difference: riffs are on low end, licks are on high end. See also: the Stones). Previous Death albums were brutal as fuck but the riffs weren't that memorable to anyone who doesn't listen to non-stop Death metal all day. Sure there was a break here and an intro there that shined through, but nothing that you could hum to yourself when your iPod isn't around. Not only are the riffs and songs on Symbolic highly memorable, some of this shit comes pretty close to groovy (much to the dismay of fucktards). Next time some MTV teen-bopper says you can't "get yo freak on" to metal, just put on Zero Tolerance, wait for the break, and get down wit yo bad self!

Must hear songs: Zero Tolerance, Crystal Mountain




1. Wu-Tang Clan: 36 Chambers

I said Gamma Ray was my group of the year. But all most of their classics have at least one song that is either shit or does not belong there. Even Blast From The Past had "Changes." And as super-metal as it would be of me to put another metal classic at the top of my list, the fact is no metal album this year has had me reciting lyrics [riffs?] from it 9 months after buying it, at any given time you could have caught me rhyming to myself...

"Champion gear that I rock, could get your boots knocked
Then attack you like a pit that lock shit DOWN
As I come and freaks the sound, hardcore
but giving you more and more, like ding!"

"Raw I'ma give it to ya, with no trivia
Raw like cocaine straight from Bolivia
My hip-hop will rock and shock the nation
like the Emancipation Proclamation"

"Yo RZA, yo razor!
Hit me with the major
The damage, my Clan understand it be flavor
Gunnin, hummin comin atcha
First I'm gonna getcha, once I gotcha, I gat-cha
You could never capture the Method Man's stature
For rhyme and for rapture, got niggaz resigning, now master
my style? "

"Drop the needle to the groove, I gets rude
And I'm forced to fuck it up
My style carries like a pickup truck
Across the clear blue yonder
Seek the China Sea, I slam tracks like quarterbacks sacks from L.T."

"The Wu is too slammin for these Cold Killin labels
Some ain't had hits since I seen Aunt Mabel
Be doin artists in like Cain did Abel
Now they money's gettin stuck to the gum under the table
That's what ya get when ya misuse what I invent
Your empire falls and ya lose every cent
For tryin to blow up a scrub
Now that thought was just as bright as a 20-watt light bulb
Should of pumped it when I rocked it
Niggaz so stingy they got short arms and deep pockets
This goes on in some companies
With majors they're scared to death to pump these
First of all, who's your A&R
A mountain climber who plays an electric guitar
But he don't know the meaning of dope
When he's lookin for a suit and tie rap
that's cleaner than a bar of soap
And I'm the dirtiest thing in sight
Matter of fact bring out the girls and let's have a mud fight"

Not necessarily because they're great rhymes (which they are), just something about them got them stuck in my head the same shit from Manowar does. That's a fucking accomplishment. Aside from a useless "original version track" with a seperate beat, this album is flawless. The music is also dark as hell, but its stradles the line between accepting and alienating (something that Liquid Swords would fail at. While lyrically on point, its just too cold to wholeheartedly endorse). Shit this just might usurp Low End Theory as my favorite Hip Hop album of all time. 15 years later this album still crushes everything in its path. AND IF YOU WANT BEEF THAN BRING THE RUCKUS...!

Must hear tracks: Ain't Nothin to Fuck With, 7th Chamber Pt. II, Protect Ya Neck



Honorary mentions:

Pink Floyd: Meddle
Sleep: Holy Mountain
Possessed: 7 Churches
Boogie Down Productions: Criminal Minded
Overkill: W.F.O.
Nas: Stillmatic
Marty Robbins: Gunfighter Songs & Trail Ballads
Venom: Black Metal
Judas Priest: Nostradamus
Celtic Frost: Into The Pandemonium

commentz plz!
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Last edited by JRA; 12-02-2008 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:22 PM
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Maiden33 Maiden33 is offline
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This was a really interesting read. I'm really glad to see a big Gamma Ray fan here. They are a great band who often get overlooked in the shadow of the (inferior) Helloween. I'm not one those "Kai Hansen is god" people, but I really enjoy the shit out of all of the Kai-fronted albums, original or not.

The Top 10 thing is interesting. Is that a list of the 10 albums you enjoyed most throughout the year, regardless of release date?
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:23 PM
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Very interesting read, I love the variation you have going on here.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maiden33 View Post
The Top 10 thing is interesting. Is that a list of the 10 albums you enjoyed most throughout the year, regardless of release date?
Yea, think of it as a "top 10 purchases," just like I did last year.
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Old 12-01-2008, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRA View Post
Yea, think of it as a "top 10 purchases," just like I did last year.
Ah alright, that's neat. I may accompany my top 10 '08 releases list with one these.

Oh, and I think you're views on Nostradamus are more or less spot on. Despite it not making my top 10 for '08 releases, I think it's pretty damn solid.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:10 AM
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"When you think about it, Kai's 90's journey was more punk than Nirvana was."



Wait... you are goofing, right?



In other news, Astral Weeks is a fantastic album. But what's that have to do with Tegan and Sara or my girlfriend's ass?
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zgodt View Post
"When you think about it, Kai's 90's journey was more punk than Nirvana was."

Wait... you are goofing, right?



In other news, Astral Weeks is a fantastic album. But what's that have to do with Tegan and Sara or my girlfriend's ass?

You're gonna have to figure that one out on your own.


EVERYTHING!!
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:10 PM
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"3. Gamma Ray: Powerplant

Damn right better than Land Of The Free. (Though not better than Somewhere Out In Space) I don't think I need to say anything else that I've already said about these guys. Though I will say that the closing line in Armageddon is more poignant than anything that's come out of Bob Dylan.

must hear songs: Send Me A Sign, Armageddon, Razorblade Sigh"


Being that I like Gamma Ray quite a bit myself, I glad to see that someone else actually appreciates this album. I find it a bit better than Somewhere Out In Space.

I agree with your must hear songs but would also add: Garden Of The Sinner & Strangers In The Night
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Fe Maiden View Post

I agree with your must hear songs but would also add: Garden Of The Sinner & Strangers In The Night
As an exercise in restraint, I tried to keep it down to 2 songs per album as a reccomendation, though the Sam Cooke album got more because that's essentially an entire career retrospective as opposed to a single album.


Thanks for everyone's comments by the way!
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:42 PM
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Hella dope. I should check out Wu Tang more. Gamma Ray is still fagtastic Holy Mountain, Meddle, and Symbolic are all some of my all-time faves so good lookin' out there. Old school ripper shit (Kreator, Bathory, Venom, Possessed) forever Into The Pandemonium kinda sucks though I think. Didn't hear that new Priest record at all.

Keep that 8 ball rollin
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