If I’m brutally honest with you I just really wanted to put the original studio album in this list, but it came out in 2013 – this live album is perfect for sneaking it in. Aside from the scabbiness on my behalf, watching these guys play what I believe is their best release so far (and that is saying a hell of a lot), note perfect, and loving doing it, is hugely enjoyable – and even if you can’t appreciate that, the music is still killer.
I’d been eagerly awaiting this release since the band posted a teaser on their page over 8 months ago(!) When it finally came, I was so damn happy. This is that infectious kind of metal which just makes you feel awesome every time you listen to it. Add to that the undeniable fact that these are some of the most talented musicians in the scene right now, and you get an EP that sets the tone for what will hopefully be a long and prosperous career. The polyrhythms in “Time Piece” provide enough justification for the EP’s inclusion to be honest; although I could say that about nearly every aspect of this release solos, production, bass, writing, bass solos, orchestras. You get the idea – listen to this!
After seeing the band earlier in the year, I fell in love completely with this album. It may be flawed in many ways, but it was so damn catchy that I pretty soon stopped noticing anything wrong with it. Some of the guitar solos really defy the “punk” label attached to these guys – and the live show is insane as well. The production takes a huge step up from any previous releases, and it’s a real joy to listen to.
On previous Mastodon releases, it took me at least 3 or 4 listens to get into the album. With Once More Round the Sun it was instantaneous – every song screamed awesomeness, and I really feel it’s the quintessential Mastodon album. I should note at this point that although this list is in a general order, I’m fickle enough that that order could and most likely will change by tomorrow, so (for the most part) ignore my numbering.
7. Polyphia – Muse
After jamming “Impassioned” for the best part of a year, I finally got my hands on this insanely talented group’s debut album. My my is it good. I’m probably guilty of populating this list with feel-good metal, and I’m fine with that; grinning like an idiot and air-drumming at my desk keeps me sane, as does listening to these superbly talented young gentlemen play some uplifting solos and some genuinely lovely riffs. The kind of metal The Teletubbies would blatantly dig.
The ongoing saga of these EP’s is one of favourite things in metal today, and the release scheduling and format is, in my opinion, just perfect – delicious little bites of rhythmic prog-core that come out every so often, and conveniently just when I need them. Vocalist Robin Adams improves constantly, and guitarist Peter Graves continues to churn out some truly punishing riffs. Expect to see the eventual album, Mise En Scène, on this list next year.
“And now for some completely different,” The Endless River could’ve been a lot of things, but it ended up being a good Pink Floyd album. It’s not up there with their greats, but I doubt it was intended to be, and yet this really didn’t stop it being thoroughly excellent. To be honest this isn’t even good considering it was pieced together from sessions 20 years ago – it’s just good. The ultimate “relaxation” Pink Floyd album.
I really don’t know how guitarist/songwriter/ David Maxim Micic does it. In between writing and recording a whole series of “Bilo” EP’s (which are amazing), he also has a band, Destiny Potato. Now although this band could get on this list merely for their name, that’s not why they’re here. It’s more to do with the genius blend of infectious pop and the best that the djent genre has to offer – almost like if Katy Perry and Bulb-era Misha Mansoor had a baby. And that baby wrote some really good music. Which this band then played.
Here’s where the music gets not so feel-good. This is an absolutely crushing release from the band that brought you Song of the Crippled Bull, an EP that has the heaviest opening 2 minutes known to man. This album is heavy in every sense of the word, and thus has been playing in my ears almost daily since it was released.
2. Animals As Leaders – The Joy of Motion
Completely surpassing anything they’ve done before, this album is one of the few that I’ve ever listened to where I can honestly say I adore every single track. Produced with the help of members of Periphery and Volumes, this LP not only shows the virtuosic technical skill of the band, but also the rich talent they have for songwriting, and for album-crafting. Another release that I think will never get old – a joy to listen to.
1. Monuments – The Amanuensis
This album really has it all for me. It works on a song-by song basis. It works beautifully as an album, as a piece of art. John Browne’s guitar riffs are groovy, heavy, and cutting. Chris Baretto’s vocals are god-level. The production on this album is huge, but still manages to afford the band a clear individuality. From the acapella intro to “Saga City” to the haunting, almost Gregorian chant-esque finisher “Samsara”, this album is abounding with moments of sheer brilliance. I simply can’t stop listening to it, and hence it is in my opinion, the album of the year.