My annual review of what I’ve most enjoyed listening to during the last 12 months, and my albums of the year.
One of my favourite bands, Opeth, has a new album coming out this year, entitled Sorceress. This is the title track. It’s very heavy, very doom-y, very old-school prog.
I know that Opeth’s move from outright death-metal-style progressive metal to more 70s-oriented prog on Heritage (2011) divided the band’s fan-base. It took a while for me to really get into but I like it. But then I’ve always felt that bands should be free to do what they want, move in whichever direction interests them. And if I, as a fan, don’t like it, then fine—don’t listen to it. Listen to the stuff that you do like.
I’m really looking forward to the album being released on Friday 30 September.
The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, where Queen recorded Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night At The Opera (1975), including “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt takes us on a tour of the studio.
I’ve recently started following Rob Scallon’s YouTube channel which is packed with fun stuff like this.
You can find the Dimebag Daryl model ukulele on Dean Guitars’ website.
New song from the forthcoming album VII: Sturm und Drang (which means storm and stress, apparently.)
It’s really different from anything they’ve done before. Randy is singing clean vocals for the first time, and Willy has cut his hair.
But do you know what? Unsurprisingly, I really like it. It has a kind of Slipknot/Stone Sour vibe to it. I know there will be those who say that they’ve sold out and gone soft, but I’m glad Lamb of God are mixing things up a little, it makes things interesting.
The new album will be released on Friday 24 July.
Voivod, from Canada, were one of the first metal bands I got into along with Celtic Frost, Metallica and Slayer. Plenty of friends, both then and now, listened to Killing Technology and simply couldn’t understand what I heard in “that noise”.
As I drove north through the cold, dark, wet night beyond St Andrews towards the Tay bridge I was reminded of similar nights as a young teenager growing up in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders trying to make sense of life. This album is now inseparably fused with my memories of those early years. But I suppose it’s not so much sentimentality as thankfulness.
There’s an unpredictability about this album. There’s a boldness and a fragility, that saw me through many an early crisis. This is the music that gave me hope, that no matter how unclear or uncertain I was about how life may turn out it would be an adventure, and that life… LIFE… was bigger and more incredible and wondrous than the small glimpse that I saw as a frightened teenager peering between his fingers in a sleepy Scottish Borders town, wondering if his dad would ever be okay again (he had three brain haemorrhages in 1983), worrying about how his Mum was coping, as well as all the usual teenage stuff (spots, girls, school) and occasionally wishing that he could just escape. And this was one of those albums that helped me do that but remain there at the same time.
I listened to this album in the car last night, in the dark, through the rain and fog, and I remembered listening to it on my personal cassette player back in the late 80s. I remembered walking down Forest Road on a cold and moonless winter’s night, probably having taken our dog Zen for a walk, and I felt thankful. I felt thankful for the love and support that I got from my parents as I grew up. I felt thankful for the group of friends who accepted me as we were trying to figure out how this life thing worked. I felt thankful for the hours of music, on miles of cassette tape, that helped me through it all; music that challenged me, that opened my eyes and ears to ideas beyond my homely little cottage on Forest Road.
I listened to this album in the car last night for the first time in years, and while I acknowledged all of that, that history, I simply marvelled at the genius of this album that I don’t think Voivod ever surpassed on any other album (as brilliant as they also are).
Another bonus is that the production is such that the frequencies don’t get lost amidst the rumble of the road while listening to it in a car!
It’s funny how deeply attached I feel to the third albums of these four bands, my big four:
- Voivod—Killing Technology (1986)
- Celtic Frost—Into the Pandemonium (1987)
- Metallica—Master of Puppets (1986)
- Slayer—Reign in Blood (1986)
Even now when I listen to it my soul sours, it still makes me smile, it still delights me after all these years, and it still surprises me. This is music that continues to give me life and bring me hope.
For me this is an almost perfect album.