Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Top 20 albums of the year - 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, I got bored sitting around on my arse all day and decided to come up with a list of the 20 best albums released this year. Sadly, I could neither think of nor be arsed to find more than 16 so I present you this: THE DEFINITIVE LIST. And thanks to the seldom considered effect of reading something and instantly registering it as fact (despite knowing that it isn’t, but your brain see’s it in print and does it for you. THERE IS NO HOPE FOR ANY OF US), some of you are probably going to read this and decide I’m right. But you’ll do that anyway, ‘cause I’m always right. I’ve only ever been wrong once in my entire life, and even then I wound up with a breast in either of my hands, so I don’t tend to count that one. Having said that, maybe I should be wrong more often if that’s the kind of result I get...anywizzy, read on for spiritual enlightenment, unabashed egotism and my own personal brand of waffling. Enjoy.

EDIT: I’ve since found another four. I just figured that was a pretty funny opening paragraph, so it’s staying.

EDIT: For the record, I realise only I find me funny. Shut up.

  1. Bring Me The Horizon – There Is A Hell Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven Let’s Keep It A Secret

For me, the biggest surprise of this year. I’d always looked at BMTH as these also-ran’s from a scene that was dying the minute it was born, and while they were clearly the leaders of the pack, they’d never really impressed me. Obviously talented, but nothing special. That all changed this October with this album, doubtless their finest moment. Wall to wall filled with incredible musicianship, passionate and cathartic vocals, pioneering production techniques and, as a first, proper and unique songwriting, it’s everything a metal band should be aiming for in the post-Blackening world we live in. A true modern metal masterpiece.

Standout track: Crucify Me

  1. Deftones – Diamond Eyes

Deftones have been something of a dead weight for the past few years. While their previous two efforts, the stupendously heavy self-titled record and the generally maligned Saturday Night Wrist, had not been unimpressive, they’d been easily brushed aside and overshadowed by far superior records from each year. It’s just a shame that it’s with the absence of comatosed original bassist Chi Cheng that Deftones have come storming back into form in 2010. Every last second of Diamond Eyes is built upon a subtle yet difficult to create juxtaposition – it’s a serene heaviness throughout. The albums most visceral moments are woven with a wistful beauty, and the softest moments still hit you right in the chest, as heavy if not if heavier than any of Stephen Carpenter’s behemoth riffs. This is Deftones’ defining moment, raising the bar that White Pony set to a now surely impossible to reach height.

Standout track: Beauty School

  1. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare

Regardless of your personal opinion, there’s one thing you can’t deny about Avenged Sevenfold, and that is that over the past 10 years, consistently finding their feet and expanding their musical palette, Avenged Sevenfold have found a sound that is distinctively their own. Never has this been more apparent than on Nightmare. It’s classic A7X from start to finish, with soaring choruses, pulsating riffs and passages of sheer chaos and organised delicacy forming Nightmare into a poignant, deep and emotional piece of art.

Standout track: Save Me

  1. Volbeat – Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

Not even going to bother explaining this choice in any elaborate way. It speaks for itself. Brilliant songwriting. Every last song is a bonafide anthem. Get on it, or you’re missing out.

Standout track: Evelyn

  1. A Day To Remember – What Separates Me From You

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with ADTR. Their music has always been overflowing with virtually everything I search for in music these days, on Homesick especially, but in my own personal opinion, I’ve never found the songs to be strong enough. Songwriting is however the key element on What Separates Me From You. Every last one of these songs is an obvious single, and any pop-punk band in the world right now would kill to have some of them under their belt. It’s the strongest they’ve sounded as band to date, and when these songs hit the live stage, it’s going to sound absolutely massive.

Standout track: This Is The House That Doubt Built

  1. Take That – Progress

Disclaimer: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FUCKING GUILTY PLEASURE. Hence why Take That are on this list. No big reasons, it’s just great pop music, and they still do it better than everybody else. ‘The Flood’ is an instant classic, ‘S.O.S.’ is like Take That’s take on rave music, ‘Kidz’ and ‘Happy Now’ are complete tributes to Depeche Mode and Scissor Sisters respectively, and ‘Eight Letters’ is a quintessential Gary Barlow ballad. A masterclass in modern pop and perhaps their most eclectic display to date. And it’s going to let them do eight nights at Wembley Stadium. Jammy cunts.

Standout track: Happy Now

  1. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis

The Dillinger Escape Plan are not for everybody, that much is obvious. It is the most acquired of all acquired tastes. Their music is at it’s most chaotic the most mathematically mind-boggling you’re ever likely to want to find, and at it’s most simple the most bizarre and unconventional that metal has ever produced. But there’s something a little bit different about Option Paralysis, something I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s Greg Puciato’s instantly recognisable voice scraping through ‘Crystal Morning’ and his uncanny ability to find a perfect melody within the most peculiar chord progressions (see: the “soft” section in ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’. Sheer genius). Or maybe it’s ‘Widower’, the most hard-on inducing and finally jizzworthy song they’ve ever created. I try not to question it too much. It’s simply one of the most ambitious metal records of the year, and in a more ideal world, it would’ve seen Dillinger gain the exposure they deserve. Maybe, one day.

Standout track: Widower (if you hadn’t already guessed)

  1. Cancer Bats – Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones

Hardcore has never registered with me. And I’ve tried, for years. At best, I could vaguely enjoy a few Hatebreed songs, but it had to be under certain circumstances. I could never just sit down and listen to a hardcore record. But finally, this April, it clicked, and I found what I’d been missing in hardcore in Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones: hip-hop swagger (of all things). Seriously, Liam Cormier had to have been a black man in a past life. There’s just far too much swing, grit and hip-hop infused attitude in his voice for him to just be a mere white boy. Polite racial overtones aside, this is just a quality record. It’s raw, nasty, dripping with punk rock spirit and has a blood and spit feel that’s just to die for. And they’re better than Gallows. There, I said it.

Standout track: Doomed To Fail

  1. HIM – Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice

I’d all but given up on HIM. In 2003, Love Metal perfected their sound and set the standard which, though God bless them they tried, they could never seem to meet or beat. Though this album doesn’t necessarily beat Love Metal, it can easily be stood up next to it as the best thing they’ve done since. HIM are another band that you can tell is them within 3 seconds of hearing any of their songs, and it’s never been more obvious than here. Ville’s voice is oozing with a baritone soul, and he has an unbelievable ability to convey pretty much any emotion with a conviction that most singers struggle to rival. The songs speak for themselves, each of them essentially just a slightly heavier pop song, but that’s the beauty of HIM. There’s no pretention here, it’s just catchy pop-rock. Shame they’ve kind of slipped under the radar this year.

Standout track: Like St. Valentine

  1. Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer

I think I’m in love with his man. No jokes. His voice is absolutely astonishing. You don’t get singers like Cee Lo Green anymore. It’s a shame but also a triumph that this is clearly the wrong era for him, as although he’d slip firmly into place way back in the 60’s, it’s his modern approach to soul and funk that makes The Lady Killer stand out from the phlegm of everything else that clogs up the charts. His range is incredible and the diversity that’s on display here makes for a wonderful listen. And be honest with yourself – ‘Fuck You’ is better than ‘Crazy’ ever was.

Standout track: Wildflower

  1. Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent

Absolute Dissent was my long overdue first divulgence into the belly of the multi-headed beast that is Killing Joke. I’ve always looked at Killing Joke as a band who’d had influence on many bands I’ve grown up with and will always love (Metallica, obviously) but surely must be past their peak by now. Truth is, I’m not even sure what Killing Joke’s peak is, they’ve had so many. This is just one of them. This (behind the aforementioned The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Option Paralysis) is possibly the most ambitious rock record of the year. Killing Joke explore a vast landscape of musical territory, and execute every single moment of experimentation with an alarming amount of charm and effortlessness. They’re true veterans and, fan or not, they deserve your respect. Killing Joke are one of very few bands we have left who’ve done things exactly their own way throughout their entire illustrious career, and for that, they and the genius that is Jaz Coleman should be revered through generations far beyond theirs and ours.

Standout track: European Super State

  1. Parkway Drive – Deep Blue

Parkway Drive, to me, have always been another Bring Me The Horizon in terms of how much attention I can pay for them. They can clearly write and they can clearly play, but it’s just not my cuppa. Deep Blue finally swayed me. I was sold right from the start. The best thing is, this is clearly not Parkway Drive’s masterpiece. There’s SO much more to come from this Byron Bay five-piece. And based on Deep Blue, that genuinely frightens me a little.

Standout track: Sleepwalker

  1. Stone Sour – Audio Secrecy

It doesn’t matter who dies, it doesn’t matter how big they get, it doesn’t matter if the other splits up. Stone Sour will never in a million years escape the shadow of Slipknot. But with Audio Secrecy, they’re making their boldest attempt, by straying the furthest from the Slipknot path they have to date. Audio Secrecy is in a lot of ways a made-for-radio album. There are, as far as I’m aware, no swear words, the truly heavy moments are few and far between, and instead what we have are well crafted rock songs that are, for the most part, built to fill stadiums. Whether or not it’ll ever happen comes down to personal opinion, but for now, we can at least pretend.

Standout track: Hesitate

  1. Airbourne – No Guts, No Glory

Airbourne are better than AC/DC. I don’t give a fuck. I’m not even saying it like AC/DC are shit now, so Airbourne are better. I’m saying Airbourne are better than AC/DC have EVER been. Sue me. This album is living proof. You don’t need a description from me. You know exactly what you’re going to get from an album like this. All you need me to tell you is that it’s really bloody good. Hearing this for the first time was one of the few moments I’ve felt like a bloke as opposed to the worryingly effeminate shell I occupy at almost all other times. It’s for those fleeting moments of masculinity they’ve afforded me that I will always love Airbourne. A hell of a lot more than AC/DC.

Standout track: Bottom Of The Well

  1. Korn – Korn III: Remember Who You Are

I seem to periodically forget how much I love Korn. Probably because Follow The Leader was the last truly great album they made. I’d just about completely disregarded Korn to be quite honest, but I’m glad I stuck around long enough for this. Now make no mistake, Korn are very different people nowadays than the people that made that classic self-titled debut record. They’re millionaires now. They’ve experienced luxury most of us can only dream of. So while this isn’t a “return to form”, it’s as close as we’re ever going to get to the Korn of old. It’s unproduced, it’s gritty, it’s heavy, it’s un-studioed, and if there’s any justice in the world, it’ll be Jonathan Davis’ most memorable vocal performance to date. It’s fantastic to see them back to basics again. That’s what made them so great in the first place.

Standout track: Pop A Pill

  1. Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion

This is just superb. Faultlessly classic rock but without sounding at all like a throwback – just beautifully crafted songwriting, helmed by the virtuosic strains of Joe Bonnamassa, the jazz infused drumming powerhouse of Jason Bonham and the genuinely spine-tingling screech that is the voice of Glenn Hughes, all topped off with a little 70’s flavoured keyboard work from ex-Dream Theater man Derek Sherinian. It’s just a fantastic listen, overflowing with moments of musical wizardry, and serves as testament to the indelible legacy of classic rock. I severely hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from these.

Standout track: Song Of Yesterday

  1. Slash – Slash

Praise be to Slash for taking a leaf out of Tony Iommi’s book. I’ve always loved the idea of writing an album and having all my favourite singers sing on different tracks. In my mind, there was no way this wasn’t going to be awesome, and the coolest guitarist in rock history definitely didn’t let me down - not only with his impeccable choice of singers, but by showing off his until now hidden songwriting finesse and versatility. I hope to God he does this again sometime.

Standout track: Promise (featuring Chris Cornell)

  1. Letlive – Fake History

This band have literally come out of nowhere for me. If you like the sound of southern tinged post-hardcore with elements of dance and jazz thrown in for good measure, with vocals that flitter seamlessly from roar to soar, then this is the record for you. It’s one of the funnest yet off-kilter records I’ve heard all year. If there’s any justice in the world, 2011 will be a big year for Letlive.

Standout track: Muther

  1. Ozzy Osbourne – Scream

Did you honestly ever think Ozzy was ever going to release anything relevant again? I mean, I’ll give him credit, his recent releases haven’t been necessarily bad. They’ve just been, well….unnecessary, haven’t they? Needless to say I wasn’t expecting much from Scream, but giving it a chance wasn’t going to hurt. I was delighted to find the Double O had produced something that sounds as vital and urgent as anything any modern metal band has released in the past 10 years. The slightly more metallic guitar tone clearly suits him well, and the more progressive nature of the songs offers a fresh ingredient to a heavy metal legend who’s become kind of tiresome. His voice is blatantly studio treated though. But then again, who’s assed?

Standout track: Let It Die

  1. Your Demise – The Kids We Used To Be

In a year where hardcore finally resonated with me, Your Demise have become one of my hardcore heroes. There’s not a whole lot to say about this record, other than it’s one of the best hardcore offerings of 2010. Like Letlive, 2011 has to be Your Demise’s year. If it isn’t, I hold you all morally responsible and you are devoid of soul. Seriously.

Standout track: Miles Away

Honourable mentions

Lower Than Atlantis - Far Q

As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise

Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2

Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra

Alter Bridge – AB III

Fear Factory - Mechanize

Murderdolls - Women And Children Last

Moments to look out for in 2011

Soundgarden finally hitting the UK – Make no mistake, this is going to be a monumental occasion. Seldom has a band so influential and with such an immensely strong back catalogue decided to reform. It may turn out to be a fully fledged reunion, with a new album and a real tour. It could just as easily be a take-the-money-and-run affair (see: Faith No More), but I honestly couldn’t give a flying fuck. Finally getting to hear Spoonman, Fell On Black Days, Blow Up The Outside World and Outshined live is going to be one of the top 10 moments of my life, without a shadow of a doubt.

The return of the Foo Fighters – Following their two-night sell out stint at Wembley Stadium in 2008, Dave Grohl put the Foo’s on an “indefinite hiatus”, stating that they’ll “come back when people really miss us”. Truth is, I’ve missed them since that very second. The prospect of new made-for-summer Foo Fighters songs is just music to my ears (music we have yet to hear, unfortunately) and a chance to see them live once again even better. I was 13 the first and last time I saw Foo Fighters live. 13, otherwise known as the age where you’ve just discovered your penis and anything vaguely resembling a hole looks somewhat tempting. I can only hope they’ll be just as life affirming as they were back then this time around. I can’t fucking wait.

Aerosmith breaking up and announcing a reunion tour before the year’s over – Seriously, will this saga never end?! Make no mistake about it, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are not friends. That relationship died a death a long time ago. Put simply, they fucking hate each other. And while I’ll forever be grateful I got the opportunity to see them live this year (and they slayed), it’s clear that they’ve become beyond a joke now. They have nothing left to offer the world. Just do us a favour and break the fuck up.

At long last, a new Machine Head record – They’ve toured The Blackening to death. It’s time. The world needs new Machine Head. It’s utterly inconceivable that they’ll beat the aforementioned magnum opus, but does that mean we should be any less excited? Does it fuck. Bring it awn.

The Big Four finally giving us that UK date they owe us – I’m forever in debt to Sonisphere for giving us this golden moment. Wait, what’s that? You’re giving us the first UK Slipknot show since the death of Paul Gray? Now you’re just spoiling us. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? You’re giving us Biffy Clyro aswell?! THAT’S...erm...good?

And as always, Scott Ian taking every opportunity even vaguely passed by him to remind the world that he exists. I do love the baldy cunt though.

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