Good grief. I am slow. I am lame.
I have though many times about writing this post, about what I would say, what music I would discuss. But I never let myself get around to it. Well here it is. Only 4 months late. Sweet. Also, I'm not doing the top ten thing here. These are just some albums that, in one way or the other, I thought worth mentioning.
Okay, let's start with the few things that let me down. There really isn't going to be much here, as I just didn't spend time with music that didn't wow me. I mean, I do this as a hobby. I'm not getting paid, so I won't subject myself to unnecessary pain.
Joe Satriani - Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards
Oh Joe, what happened to you? I mean, I sill have an undying love for his older music, pretty much up until Engines of Creation. There are still some really great songs on Strange Beautiful Music and Is There Love in Space? But since then, I'll just pass. Three albums in a row that aren't even worth listening to, let alone buy. Not a positive trend for who was, for many years, my absolute favorite guitarist.
Kamelot - Poetry for the Poisoned
I really fell in love with Kamelot with the release of The Black Halo. But I don't know if it is me or the band, but nothing since that albums has really grabbed me. Their latest was no different. There were some great parts, but not enough to make me want to come back regularly.
Deftones - Diamond Eyes
This album started out so strong, but then just quickly lost me. For whatever reason, I just don't like these guys that much anymore. I was really left kind of feeling meh after this one.
There is a fair bit here, for good reason. I'll just give you a quick run down.
Fear Factory - Mechanize
Fear Factory has been releasing albums for years since their groundbreaking second full length release, Demanufacture. And I think it is pretty universally held that they hadn't met up to the high bar that release set. That is until 2011. I personally think that with Mechanize they not only reached that bar, but set it even higher. There is a full review here for my thoughts. It is sufficient to say that I still think it is a brilliant album, and their very best.
Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy
Here is the thing, Jeff Loomis is THE MAN. He has an absolutely uncanny ability to play heavy, fast, techincal and yet astonishingly beautiful music. He can take a ridiculous riff, play it so fast that your head is spinning, but still make it lovely and musical. That skill was evident all over his solo album, and is firmly entrenched on Nevermore's latest. These guys are one of the greatest American metal bands. This is another fantastic release from them.
The Ocean - Heliocentric/Anthropocentric
We have reviews here and here for these albums. They are awesome, and taken together are very powerful. They are inventive, evocative and fascinating musical experiments.
Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black Rainbow
The story for which this album is a prequel is too silly, too overwrought in the worst way of comic stories could possibly be. But the music on this album is consistently great, and consistent is the one thing that Coheed and Cambria have not been up to this point. They have been moving that direction with each album, but didn't realize that until this one. My favorite of theirs, it is a great place to start exploring these guys.
Soilwok - The Panic Broadcast
These Swedes know what they want to do, and they do it very well. Adding a bit of a groove feel to the "Gothenburg metal" sound, they manage to not sound too samey to their compatriots. The Panic Broadcast is probably the best example of this in many years. They riffs are massive, manic and melodic in that particularly Swedish way, but with a healthy dose of Pantera mixed in.
Alter Bridge - ABIII
I have a confession to make. I really, I mean really liked Creed back in the day. Okay, now that I got that off my chest, I feel better. Even though I really can't listen to them anymore (Scott Stapp rubs me so wrong), I still really like the sound of Mark Tremonti's guitar. So I have been a big fan of Alter Bridge since their debut album. Now on their third, it is probably their best yet. This is also their darkest album to date. Even the songs that start off sounding like butterflies and rainbows (I'm exaggerating a bit here) turn dark at some point. It is an interesting, if minor, evolution of the sound of this band.
Star One - Victims of the Modern Age
Again, no surprise this is on the list if anyone read my review. This is just another shinning example that Arjen Lucassen is brilliant. Seriously. Go, find something this man has done and listen. Now. Really.
Hans Zimmer - Inception OST
I'm a sucker for Hans Zimmer. His overwrought, distinct style just gets me every time. It didn't hurt that this soundtrack was for such a great movie. But the music helps the movie be even better. Taken alone, I find the soundtrack a compelling listening experience. If you like the movie, it is even better.
Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini
Yes, I love this album. If you had told me in January that my favorite album of the year would come from these Norwegian Viking/Black/Progressive metallers, I would have balked. I would have believed it would have been in my top ten. However, I was absolutely not prepared for just powerful, dynamic, and impressive this album would be.
Daft Punk - Tron: Legacy OST
So here was the biggest surprise. Obviously, I am a bit of a hard rock/metal head. Out of nowhere, Daft Punk came and smacked me upside the head with a fantastic melding of electronica and orchestral soundtrack goodness. I seriously obsessed over this album and still love nearly every minute of it.