Mammal’s Best of 2014: Day 10
I thought I might surprise myself with my selection of metal albums of the year, and I certainly did. My jazz and prog rock lists are much as I expected them to be; not so my metal list. This may be the first year this century that there’s no symphonic metal among my favourite albums. It may also be my first list this century that isn’t dominated by prog metal. Death seems to be my flavour of the year, with black metal also coming to the fore.
Before I plonk my top albums onto the page, I must make two other Best Of awards for 2014.
Musical Achiever of the Year
Opeth’s shift from progressive death metal to progressive rock was one of the biggest changes in metal since Therion switched from uncompromising death metal to operatic symphonic rock in the 1990s. It was an extremely bold move, and it seems to have paid off. Opeth’s “Pale Communion” is receiving high rankings in the Best of 2014 lists on both metal and progressive rock sites.
The significance here is that Opeth may draw fans towards other crossover prog rock/prog metal bands such as Galahad and Blind Ego. That can only be good for music in general. I was initially unimpressed by “Pale Communion” but gave it a few good listens and revised my opinion considerably. It’s number 13 on my progressive rock list.
Potential Science Breakthrough of Just About Ever
Lockheed Martin’s famous Skunkworks have delivered the goods before. For the sake of our and other species, let’s hope to goodness they do it again, and soon. The company claims to be close to building a compact and highly efficient thermonuclear reactor which would make controlled, viable nuclear fusion a reality.
If the hype behind the announcements is to be believed, Lockheed Martin is optimistic it will deliver the first operational fusion reactor within ten years. The reactor will be small enough to transport on a truck. It will use 20 pounds of fuel to generate enough power to supply a city of 100,000 inhabitants for a year. The fuel it uses is water. The waste product is helium, which is inert and extremely useful.
Nuclear fusion does bring some radiation hazards. However, it’s almost immeasurably cleaner than the burning of coal or oil, four times more efficient and hundreds of times safer than nuclear fission, and close to infinitely less destructive to the environment than horrors such as fracking. And if a fission reactor fails, death doesn’t come pouring out, water does. Let’s hear it for the quantum physicists!
Countdown: Metal Albums
3. Arkona – Yav
(Russia, Folk Pagan Metal)
2. Septicflesh – Titan
(Greece, Gothic Death Metal)
1. Xerath – III
(UK, Progressive Death Metal)
Countdown: Progressive Rock Albums
1. IQ – The Road Of Bones
(UK, Neo-Progressive Rock)
Countdown: Jazz & Jazz-Related Albums
1. The Ed Palermo Big Band – Oh No! Not Jazz!!
(USA, Experimental Jazz