Joined: 30 Jan 2003
|Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:48 pm Post subject: 2004 ALBUM ROUND UP part 1
|Now that we are into 2005 there were quite a few albums of 2004 that I didn’t get round to reviewing. Therefore, in the spirit of fairness, I thought I’d jot a few lines on not so much the best of the rest, but more Mr. Bacteria was too lazy to review them in the first place.
ABSCESS – DAMNED AND MUMMIFIED (RED STREAM RECORDS)
Chris Reifert is one of the great unsung heroes of Metal today. He played drums on Death’s debut record ‘Scream Bloody Gore’, practically influenced a whole generation of gore/grind death metal with the infamous band Autopsy, and he is also a founding member of The Ravenous and the perverted punk of Eatmyfuk. Not to mention a highly talented drummer/growler to boot.
‘Damned and Mummifed’ is album number 5 for US sickos Abscess. Not as gore-obsessed as the aforementioned Ravenous, Abscess play a hybrid Metal that squeezes somewhere between Black Sabbath, Discharge and early Slayer. Indeed, I would dare say that D&M is perhaps the most accessible record of their career, what with the excellent production and incredible songs to match. Opener ‘Through the trash darkly’ is a cracker, ‘Swallow the Venom’ is simply contagious and ‘Caverns of Hades’ reeks with Sabbath-homage. Kudos also to long-time Reifert partner in Metal Danny Coralles – his solos are just plain sick!
Gotta love this band.
BEHEMOTH – DEMIGOD (OLYMPIC RECORDINGS)
This is the album I was looking forward to at the end of 2004, though I’m not sure why, as I’m not the biggest Behemoth fan by any means. Their last full-length release, 2002’s ‘Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond)’ was a Morbid Angel rip-off that for the life of me I couldn’t understand the hype. However, one EP later, 2003’s ‘Conjuration’, had me sitting up paying attention. There was something there, an interesting progression that took them away from their stagnant ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’ covers, and I was keen to hear if they could move forward instead of resting on their MA laurels.
Well ‘Demigod’ has done just that, and in my opinion is destined to become one of the all-time top Death Metal albums. Poland’s Behemoth has crafted a record that has both fans and critics praising from the rooftops, and it’s easy to see why. The production is simply ear-shattering, loud, crystal-clear, in-your-face Metal, and the songs on offer some of the best in a genre glutted with class A bands. ‘Sculpting the Throne ov Seth’, ‘The Nephilm Rising’, ‘Xul’ (featuring Karl Sanders from Nile on lead guitar), main man/vocalist/guitarist Nergal has every reason in the world to be proud of this, their 8th studio album.
The bar has just been raised.
NIGHTWISH – ONCE (NUCLEAR BLAST/ROADRUNNER RECORDS)
Finland’s Nightwish … I fell in love with symphonic/operatic metal in early 2004, a genre that I once mocked, truth be known. With age comes maturity, they say, and when I first heard Nightwish (I think it was the album ‘Oceanborn’) I was kicking myself for not hearing them sooner.
‘Once’ is a HUGE album. Over an hour of music (depending which version you get) there’s simply no way to encompass everything that’s on offer here with the first couple of listens. The production is, as you would expect, fantastic, the guitar sound a tad heavier than on previous albums, which is no bad thing. As with a lot of bands of their like, Nightwish used a full-blown orchestra, here to bombastic effect. Vocalist/babe Tarja Turunen sings her heart out, kicking things off in vibrant style with ‘Dark Chest of Wonders’ (no smirking in the back). The techno-influenced ‘Wish I had an Angel’ sounds awful, especially on an album cramped full of melodic epics. Nightwish also have a song on this album called ‘Planet Hell’, though sadly it’s not a Voivod cover.
As for those ‘melodic epics’ … look no further than the stunning ‘Creek Mary’s Blood’, which centers on native American Indians, even going as far as having a real-live-genuine Lakota Indian narrating on the track. It sounds simply superb.
That song would be the money-shot on most bands albums, but not so Nightwish. ‘The Siren’ follows next, Turunen’s almost-spiritual voice sharing harmonies with the harsher vocals of Marco Hietala to jaw-dropping effect. Then you have ‘Dead Gardens’, ‘Romanticide’ or ‘Ghost Love Score’ with its haunting chorus …
I could go on and on, but I think you can almost smell my enthusiasm for this album. If you are curious about symphonic/operatic metal, you could do a lot worse than check out ‘Once', or Therion’s ‘Lemuria/Sirius B’.