2008: the Amphibian Halo (as in 'my blurry view of 2008')

Written by: Darkside Momo
Published: 03.03.2009
My first blog ever!! (no kidding… such a n00b…)

Ha ha, 2008 was a special metal year for me… Another great - even better - Hellfest (I made my first photos in the photographer's pit at that time), becoming an elite member here (seriously, I didn't see it coming), while my radio show went through many ups and downs due to many questionable decisions from the station's staff. But well, whatever, I haven't resigned yet. Maybe this year? Only the future will tell. Or not…

2008 also saw my interviewing skills improving. I really started in 2007, so it could only get better. Certainly (sadly?) I'm no professional, but I'm more confident now. And some people I interviewed were just amazing (Paul Masvidal is the best example here)…

Moving on, moving on… Now here's my top 21. Of course I haven't heard everything, but who can? And why 21? Because that's not 20. Ha ha. No, just because I couldn't change the album seIection to get down to 20, or up to 25.
This being a blog, expect personal reactions and points of view. It features many repetitions of a few, seIected words, like impressive, mind-blowing, emotional. Awesome, too…


Textures - Silhouettes
Impressive, mind-blowing, emotional, awesome. Seriously, I can't describe it better than Jupitreas here. I'll just add that Storm Warning, Messengers and To Erase A Lifetime are just perfect. Period.


The Arkitecht - Hyperstructure
Waow! A late surprise, but an exceptional one. Proggy and extreme, technical and catchy, with a huge cinematic feel, it's just too freaky to be simply called 'progressive'. Come on, only freaks and geeks cite John Williams, Nobuo Uematsu or Kenji Kawaii as influences!


Burst - Lazarus Bird
Copy/paste from Textures above, replacing the names of the songs by I Exterminate The I and (We Watched) The Silver Rain. It's only in third position just because I globally liked it a bit less than the two above.


Enslaved - Vertebrae
A difficult album to get into, as I found it less good than Isa for a long time. Then these Vikings came in Toulouse, and I never listened to Vertebrae the same way…


Cynic - Traced In Air
Wow. This album was such a disappointment. At first. But then I listened it again. And again… So beautiful, melodic and technical. An intricate peace of art. However, it's not as extreme as I wanted, and too short…


Septic Flesh - Communion
The comeback album of these Greek legends is awesome; such a masterful combination of death and symphonic metal wasn't seen since Therion's Lepaca Kliffoth and Theli. Catchy, epic, aggressive. Yeah!


Esoteric - The Maniacal Vale
A mind-blowing, 100 minutes piece of funeral doom… But not only. Psychedelic, sick, entrancing and beautiful, it also is… Heavy, sometimes fast, fascinating, too. What can I say more? It's not something to be described, but experienced.


Hans Zimmer / James Newton Howard - The Dark Knight OST
This movie was so impressive, a masterful piece of visual storytelling (and a oh-so-mad villain). And well, the original soundtrack, composed by veterans Hans Zimmer (Gladiator) and James Newton Howard (all of Shyamalan's movies), just reflects the mood perfectly. And then there are these crescendos (I'm very partial to crescendos)… Fact is, it's when I heard the soundtrack that I decided to go and see the movie.


Ultra Vomit - Objectif : Thunes
At last the real stupid French fun spirit shines on metal! Proud descendants of Ludwig Von 88 (a great punk band, BTW they're not fascists despite their name), they are really good players, and have all the bad taste and ducks I need.


Opeth - Watershed
Sometimes too long and boring, sometimes just awesome, this was the new Opeth. Especially mind-blowing are the emotional and musical high and low that are Coil, Heir Apparent, and The Lotus Eater with its distorted disco / Mr Bungle ending.


Iced Earth - The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked - Part 2)
At first I was really disappointed with this album. Jon Shaffer originally said that the second part of the 'Something Wicked' story would be heavier. It is not. But, I listened to it again, and I finally found that it's nearly as good as Framing Armageddon. Especially the wonderful ending that is called Come What May


Gojira - The Way Of All Flesh
Another good album by the best Frenchies around. But it hasn't the luminous and beaufiful feeling that permeated From Mars To Sirius, making this album so unique. This said, The Art Of Dying is purely awesome.


Meshuggah - ObZen
A nice return by some crazy Swedes. No, THE crazy Swedes. Bleed and Dancers To A Discordant System are some of their best songs ever.


Tribe After Tribe - M.OA.B.
Now this is a strange kind of mix, so let's describe it as 'world metal' (as in world music). Yes, metal, with tribal drumming, ritual chants, and recitations from a Jewish holy book. Happy, somber, reflective, this album showcases many moods while being both meditative and uplifting. Sure, some spoken words are too long but I doesn't stop the magic.


Hail Of Bullets - Of Frost And War
Crushing you to the bone. Yeah, that's about it. And Martin Van Drunen's historical work is really interesting too. As with The Monolith Deathcult (below), men have done enough horror throughout history to write an infinity of death metal albums.


Darkspace - III
As I use to say, I'm not fond of black metal… But here and there some albums just catch my ears, like this one. Who said the void between stars was silent? The perfect soundtrack for Warhammer 40K, Fading Suns or any space opera RPG. Well, at least when the characters are lost in space, anyway! (for something more 'in-the-spaceship-mood', try Jupiter Society's latest album First Contact/Last Warning, another interesting 2008 release)


Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part I
Psychedelic black metal? Again? Well, they do not sound like Enslaved, even if some of the premises are the same. Darker mood, rawer sound, a Hawkwind influence, and a saxophone. Yeah.


Treponem Pal - Weird Machine
Treponem Pal have been important for me since the release of Higher (1997), a strange album mixing metal, indus, dub, reggae and what-not, as I kinda consider it to be the first 'open-minded' album I listened to (and liked). Well, with this new album, their coming back was sadly not impressive, even if there are some really good songs on it (Unclean, Human Attack, Evil Angel…)


The Monolith Deathcult - Trivmvirate
Being a great fan of this kind of mix between death and electronic sounds, I was very happy when I heard this album. But, I think they can do better, really better. Let's see in a few years…


Battlelore - The Last Alliance
Seriously, what's doing a female-fronted 'gothic' metal album in my top 20? Well, there's one song, just one, that I consider to be one of the best tunes that have been released this year. This jewel is Voice Of The Fallen. Otherwise, this album is not bad at all, with some cheesy moments and some good ones. Much better than what most of the style has to offer!


S.U.P - Hegemony
Not as original as their previous efforts, S.U.P's latest is still pretty mind-blowing. Anyway, no one play or write music as they do, and that's just great.

Other albums were nice, or interesting, but they didn't make it: Daylight Dies - Lost to the Living; Dylath-Leen - Semeion; E-Force - Modified Poison; Hexen - State Of Insurgency; Testament - The Formation Of Damnation; The Haunted - Versus...

Of course, there's a biggest letdown this year. Metallica with Death Magnetic? No, it's not that bad, but not that good either; I think that if this album had been released under any other name than Metallica, no-one would have noticed it. Chinese Democracy? I don't like G'n'R so I haven't listened to it. In Flames - A Sense Of Purpose? Yeah, that's the one. Frankly, I've rarely seen such a badly named album, but In Flames lost all their... well, purpose, you guessed it. There's just no soul in this album, it feels so uninspired...

Finally the 'most important band for me' award goes to Alchemist. I discovered Tripsis, than I saw them at Hellfest. And interviewed Adam Agius . Next, I was in love with this band, especially with these two wonderful albums: Spiritech and Austral Alien.

Well, I hope this was not totally uninteresting… Feel free to insult me for my bad tastes!

Looking forward in 2009: Disillusion, Nevermore (hopefully) and just good music (read: to my tastes).


 



Written on 03.03.2009 by
Darkside Momo
Used to be your regular Hellfest reporter, now almost retired . I (strangely enough) listen to a lot of metal. And enjoy good beers, comics, novels and role-playing games.
More articles by Darkside Momo ››




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destroyah - 03.03.2009 at 13:29  
Well, I'm glad that you found so many good albums in 2008. My own view is more similar to Herz'. I kinda find myself in a bit of a crisis. I keep escaping to the distant past to the Great Old Ones, preferring the likes of the big four or Mercyful Fate, Motörhead and Witchfinder General to the overwhelming number of new releases. I dunno, I just feel I'm becoming increasingly disjointed from the modern scene.

I wish someone put the "fun" back in "heavy fun-fucking metal". I prefer to bang my head to Maiden rather that quietly stand around and "appreciate the complexity of band X".


Nevermind me, I'm just running low on alcohol And after all, 2007 was pretty neat, so maybe it's a temporary low.
destroyah - 03.03.2009 at 16:41  
So yeah, sorry for that sudden act of pessimism BUT I do need to add that the new Lamb of God illustrates perfectly what I mean.
Darkside Momo - 03.03.2009 at 19:41  
Maybe it's simply a matter of tastes. I mean, not everyone can/must/need to love complex and technical stuff (however, I'd like to, I suppose )
But, I agree that 2007 was globally a better metal year.
As for fun in metal, that's not exactly what I'm looking for... With a few exceptions, like Ultra Vomit.

Now, have a on me!
Darkside Momo - 03.03.2009 at 19:43  
EDITED the blog above - forgot to mention Alchemist
Doc Godin - 04.03.2009 at 11:05  
Phew! A blog with albums I actually know about! It's nice having those really obscure recommendations from time to time, but after a while it gets tiring having so many of Lucas' blogs (Well I guess article) go completely over my head

Its nice seeing something I can discuss. Have to agree with everything about Hail Of Bullets, and Nachtmystium, but even more especially about Opeth and Battlelore. With Battlelore I've been listening to the songs on youtube and must say despite usually not being into that kind of sound in general, I really enjoy those songs. With Opeth I'll agree there as well, sometimes it comes across as dry and waaay to drawn out, other times it just seems to click, unfortunately the bad outweighs the good for me on that album. The only one I'll disagree with (at the moment) is the Gojira, I enjoyed it, but I found it far from awesome, but admittedly I don't think its that particular album, Gojira just isn't my thing (that and I only bought the album a few days ago, may take a few more listens to appreciate). The Enslaved one I haven't taken a deep enough listen to yet to say either way. As for the rest, haven't heard them yet, I'll attempt to check out as many others as possible (except for Meshuggah, already established I don't really like them).
Darkside Momo - 04.03.2009 at 12:16  
Written by Doc Godin on 04.03.2009 at 11:05

Phew! A blog with albums I actually know about! It's nice having those really obscure recommendations from time to time, but after a while it gets tiring having so many of Lucas' blogs (Well I guess article) go completely over my head

Its nice seeing something I can discuss. Have to agree with everything about Hail Of Bullets, and Nachtmystium, but even more especially about Opeth and Battlelore. With Battlelore I've been listening to the songs on youtube and must say despite usually not being into that kind of sound in general, I really enjoy those songs. With Opeth I'll agree there as well, sometimes it comes across as dry and waaay to drawn out, other times it just seems to click, unfortunately the bad outweighs the good for me on that album. The only one I'll disagree with (at the moment) is the Gojira, I enjoyed it, but I found it far from awesome, but admittedly I don't think its that particular album, Gojira just isn't my thing (that and I only bought the album a few days ago, may take a few more listens to appreciate). The Enslaved one I haven't taken a deep enough listen to yet to say either way. As for the rest, haven't heard them yet, I'll attempt to check out as many others as possible (except for Meshuggah, already established I don't really like them).

When you think about it, Esoteric and Darkspace are pretty obscure... It's just that there are many fans on MS
As for the Gojira, maybe it will grow on you? Same for the Enslaved... As you'll have noticed, quite a bunch of the albums I listed take repeated listens to be fully appreciated, I think. Anyway, even with slow-growers such as these, I generally know at first listen if I will like them, even if it might take quite a few listening sessions for me to really get into the music.
And thanks for reading my blog!
Doc Godin - 04.03.2009 at 21:29  
Written by Darkside Momo on 04.03.2009 at 12:16

When you think about it, Esoteric and Darkspace are pretty obscure... It's just that there are many fans on MS
As for the Gojira, maybe it will grow on you? Same for the Enslaved... As you'll have noticed, quite a bunch of the albums I listed take repeated listens to be fully appreciated, I think. Anyway, even with slow-growers such as these, I generally know at first listen if I will like them, even if it might take quite a few listening sessions for me to really get into the music.
And thanks for reading my blog!

Yeah I guess you'd be right about the Esoteric and Darkspace ones. I've heard a hell of a lot of people on here rave about Darkspace...its probably worth a shot. Esoteric is another one of those names I've heard being tossed around, never actually looked into them.
Darkside Momo - 04.03.2009 at 22:38  
Written by Doc Godin on 04.03.2009 at 21:29

Yeah I guess you'd be right about the Esoteric and Darkspace ones. I've heard a hell of a lot of people on here rave about Darkspace...its probably worth a shot. Esoteric is another one of those names I've heard being tossed around, never actually looked into them.

I don't know if they'll be to your tastes, I guess you'll have to try
Xnoybis - 08.03.2009 at 01:04  
Nice job. it's about time for me to write mine up as well... haven't thought of anything as "clever" as my Spinal Tap flavored blog from last year. a couple albums on your list will surely be on mine.
Darkside Momo - 08.03.2009 at 04:10  
Written by Xnoybis on 08.03.2009 at 01:04

Nice job. it's about time for me to write mine up as well... haven't thought of anything as "clever" as my Spinal Tap flavored blog from last year. a couple albums on your list will surely be on mine.

Thanks!
And I'm not afraid you'll find something great

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