album review

One of the saddest things that can happen, as a music fan, is to discover a band after their run has finished.  Knowing that, as you fall in love with a band, they will never make another record is a crushing experience, the sort of thing that does make it difficult to delve into the past for hidden gems.  Despite that, I do make an effort to see what I have missed out on over the years, which led me to Nightingale.  I only discovered the band after the release of "White Darkness", which over the years has become one of my go-to melodic rock albums.  It is a brilliant pi

As the resident prog guy here, there are certain things I am remiss to admit. One of them, germane to this review, is that I have never given much attention to Pain Of Salvation, despite their status as one of the bigger names in modern progressive metal. I can't say why that is, because I don't have a good answer. I have known about them for quite some time, but the most connection I have had with them is the fact that band leader Daniel Gildenlow is the (sometimes) uncredited fifth member of my favorite prog band, Transatlantic.

I hate to use the term 'supergroup'. Most of the time, the bands that get stuck with that label are pieced together from parts of other bands that are not quite so super. We've lowered our standards, and now anyone whose name you might have heard before qualifies to be a member of one. When Cream formed, they were three of the very best in the world at what they did. Today's supergroups don't come anywhere near that level of fame or acclaim, which makes it impossible for the next real supergroup to get the respect they deserve.

Of all the metal bands that have impressed me in the last decade, the vast majority of them have only managed to do so with a single album. Maintaining that level has proven difficult for many bands, but Orden Ogan is not one of them. My history with them goes back to the early days of independent bands putting their music online, where I stumbled across their song “Angels War”. I was hooked, and tracked down their album “Testimonium AD”, which was still rough, but a great starting point.

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of top ten lists but my pals here at Bloody Good Horror have been doing them around this time of year for a while so I figured, "what the hell". There are rules, though. All albums must be original studio releases from the year that was 2014. No live albums, no cover albums and no re-releases. And, to streamline things, I will limit my list to those metal albums I've reviewed this year. Lastly, this list is comprised of the ten best albums as I see them. Your list may be (and probably is) different.

I'm never sure what to think of an album when the press material that comes along with it spends most of the words talking about the artist's other career, and the collaborators who contributed to the music. Neither of those is important in the slightest to the final product, which will have to survive on its own merit. Knowing a famous name was associate with it, or that the artist once did something in a different industry that was interesting, is not going to make me think any differently of the music I'm listening to.

As we approach the end of another calendar year I find myself asking reflective questions... is it time to change my impossibly high standards and the inevitable disappointment that goes along with them to something more realistic? Do I expect too much from people? Should I just be happy with what I have or should I continue to strive for more? Is "good enough" really good enough? And what about all this new music I've been hearing?

2014 has summarily been both the year of the side project and the year of the industrial revolution (pardon my co-opting of the phrase,) so it seems remarkably apropos that the year should just about wrap up with Emigrate’s “Silent So Long,” the second side album from Rammstein’s Richard Kruspe.

 

It’s not all that often that I go deep-ending into prog records, and even less often that I’m interested in three-song re-mastered demos from seven years ago.  But it probably says something about Haken’s “Restoration” that we’re even here having this discussion.

 

Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember.