Thursday, December 21, 2006

My 2006 Top 10

In case you didn't see it over at Decoy Music, here is my top 10 CDs of this last year.

10. The Gathering - Home

Home Since their formation in 1989, The Gathering have been undergoing continual change from album to album, shifting directions effortlessly and succeeding in almost every genre they touch. With Home, the band has put out an extremely haunting and melodic album. Running even further away from their metal roots, this release is a calm, goth-tinged, ambient soundscape awash in beautiful female vocals and minimalistic instrumental approaches. If I wasn’t such a whore for heavy music, this would probably be towards the top of my list, without a doubt.

9. In Flames - Come Clarity

Come Clarity After two extremely disappointing releases in Reroute to Remain and Soundtrack to Your Escape, expectations for Come Clarity weren’t exactly sky high. With expectations riding as low as they were, In Flames came together to push the boundaries of the European styled metal genre that they helped pioneer and showed the musical world that they are, indeed, still relevant to today’s heavy music scene. This disc contains some of their best songs to date that will no doubt replace some of those old favorites from Whoracle and Clayman.

8. Twelve Tribes - Midwest Pandemic

Midwest Pandemic Poison the Well may have a new CD coming out next year, but this year Twelve Tribes managed to take their sound, meld it with their own thick guitar approach, and create one of the best classically styled metalcore CDs of this past year. The effortless shifts between blisteringly thick chord progressions and intricate, yet subdued, buildups helped to push this effort beyond the boundaries that confine most modern metalcore bands.

7. Unearth - III: In the Eyes of Fire

III: In the Eyes of Fire Unearth can, apparently, do no wrong by me. The Oncoming Storm was a Herculean metal meets hardcore release and III shows the band tightening the screws and putting on an even more ratcheted up metal onslaught with just enough chugging breakdowns to beat you in the face with. Someone should seriously consider putting warning stickers on anything released by Unearth because they create some extremely sonically heavy music. Punishing isn’t even close to describing the feeling of III.

6. Misery Signals - Mirrors

Mirrors Mirrors has a pummeling wall of sound that, if played at full volume, will knock you flat on your ass. Instead of playing to the metalcore clich├ęs of the day, Misery Signals have decimated the majority of their peers in the ability to create strong, mature, solid metalcore songs. They’ve also crushed any doubts people may have had about their lead singer switch. It’s too bad that every metalcore CD on the shelves isn’t as good as, or even as close to as good as, Mirrors.

5. Isis - In the Absence of Truth

In the Absence of Truth Pushing the boundaries of doom metal even further, Isis has again created a masterpiece. This time they did it by bringing more melody into play and focusing on making solid seven to nine minute pieces of doom goodness. This album, as opposed to their past efforts and the efforts of many of their peers, has a very cohesive and gelled feeling to it. Individually, if the songs are taken on their own, one by one, they all remain great, but this album, when taken in as a whole, is undeniably awe-inspiring.

4. Dead Poetic - Vices

Vices Taking a chance and reinventing yourself is never easy and often times never pays off. Other times it can work out better than you may have ever imagined. Dead Poetic, with Vices, have reinvented themselves in the modern musical arena. No longer content with being a top tier screamo band, they’ve given us a top tier rock album as they morphed into a new skin and a new sound. Not completely alienating their roots, you’ll still hear some of the solid post-hardcore riffs driving their songs, but the overall, reinvented sound is that of a band renewed and refreshed with a brand new take on where they want to go… that is, until they broke up.

3. Katatonia - The Great Cold Distance

The Great Cold Distance Katatonia’s latest follows the trend of their last couple of albums, showing them straying even further into the contemplative, melodic, brooding metal genre. As they move further into that realm, they also show they do it better than any of the other bands currently trying to master the sound. There’s a sense of beautiful tragedy in every song on The Great Cold Distance. The sheer overriding feeling of musical melancholy permeates this disc, and to great effect. Simply put, this could be the soundtrack to your depression… and it’ll somehow get you out.

2. Disarmonia Mundi - Mind Tricks

Mind Tricks Let’s face it people. If you haven’t realized yet that Soilwork’s last CD sucked pretty hard, you’re still living in a dream world. That’s why it came as a shock to see the best Soilwork CD ever released was actually made by Bjorn’s “other” band, Disarmonia Mundi. Being much more visceral and even more melodic (a tagline you probably hear all too often) than Soilwork, this CD exemplifies everything right with the melodic European metal sound. In Flames may have created one of the best European metal CDs of the year, but even they couldn’t top Mind Tricks.

1. Cult of Luna - Somewhere Along the Highway

Somewhere Along the Highway Throughout the year, and in numerous conversations with some of the staff here, I managed to perpetuate a little Isis vs. CoL ongoing debate. From the place CoL is sitting on my list, you can see who won out for me. They created what I can only describe as the single most cohesive and robust doom metal album in ages. The imagery, the musicianship, the signature style, and the expansion into previously untouched territory helped this band create the album of the year, all while holed up in a barn in the middle of nowhere.

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