It’s that time of year again for arbitrary lists of really great albums that were released since the last time I did one of these things. Contributing to my absolute burnout of writing about kick ass metal bands, I can not think of another year where there were just so damn many stellar records released. I simply had to say fuck it, step back, and enjoy the great stuff I already had. Sure, I missed out on some great stuff, but on the other hand, all killer no filler. To try to make up for the insane amount of great albums this year I’ve expanded my usual 10 to 15 and will have an honorable mentions post sometime in the near future. I hope you find yourself something cool to listen to with this list or at least nod in agreement with some of my picks. Thanks for reading, sticking with AMSOM, and being awesome and stuff. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
When take a gander at some of the reasons some of my favorite bands have remained my favorite bands over the course of decades one reason always seems to take the forefront. The ability to grow and evolve, not afraid to make dramatic changes, while remaining true to a core sound or style that initial made me a super-fan in the first place. These kind of bands give me something to look forward from release to release as I know I am going to get lots of new alleyways and avenues to explore. They keep their career fresh and I get a variety of albums to listen to (unlike just more or less needing a single album that sums up the bands catalog) all with different experiences contained within.
Enter Cormorant. A couple of years ago when they released their sophomore album Dwellings my ears picked up on the unique blend of blackened prog rock tinged with hints of classic metal and instantly became a super-fan of the Bay Area band. As par for the course, since I liked their current record so much I ponied up the cash for the back catalog expecting more of the same that was on Dwellings. To my delight, their debut album Metazoa was a much different beast than the record I was spinning ad nauseam, yet was still very much a Cormorant affair. They just needed a third record to prove they were the real deal and not just a fluke and they were pretty much guaranteed a spot in my coveted Realm of Upper Echelon Bands. I was very much hoping this would happen. Then tragedy struck; Arthur Von Nagal, the bands front man, lyricist, vocalist, bassist, and major songwriter contribute made the decision to leave the band to pursue in a career of video game development (FYI, that really freaking awesome Walking Dead game that won all them awards, he was on that team. Go play games made by TellTale, their all great!).
I know I haven’t held back my love for the Californian prog metal band Cormorant ’round these parts. So it should also be no surprise that I’m well-hyped for the release of their 3rd full length album, Earth Diver, next week. In preparation for the new album, I decided to give their past material a good listen to better hear how they evolve into the new record. I popped them in last week and pretty much nothing else has found its way into my ears since, especially the album Metazoa.
When I first heard Cormorant it was right around the time the hype machine was promoing their 2nd full length Dwellings and I instantly fell in love with the album. From the heady lyrics to endlessly engaging musical compositions it has become an album I listen to more than regularly and has been aging more than well, getting better with each listen. Unfortunately, while I still owned Metazoa, I never gave it the attention I gave Dwellings and therefore was never really firmly grasped by just how freaking outstanding it is. Revisiting it in a more lucid state has allowed me appreciate how terrific and unique it is.
Compared to Dwellings, Metazoa has a folkier, more aquatic feel compared to the raw and earthen sensation I get from the former. Tracks like ‘Uneasy Lie the Head’ bleed that battle feeling I get while listening to bands like Moonsorrow and strong melodies heard on tracks like ‘Blood on the Cornfields’ have an almost Iron Maiden goes death metal touch to them. Seriously every track on the record is diverse and filled with power and passion. And the same could be said about Dwellings from the horror it weaves with the retelling of a genocide (based on a true story) in ‘Junta’ or the terror of being lost in outerspace on the tune ‘Unearthly Dreamings’ (which at the same time paints a picture of beauty and wonder).
Pretty much, if you dig on prog metal bands like Opeth and want something in the same vein that is wholly original I behoove you to dig into Cormorant. If you find yourself digging on these albums, you should totally get them (they are ‘pay what you want’ so free if you are really strapped for cash, but I highly recommend the physical CDs as the art and packaging are outstanding and well above par for your average CD release) and pre-order the new one so it’s ready to go next Tuesday. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Recently reported over on Metalsucks.net, founder and driving force behind progressive black metal band Cormorant, Arthur Von Nagel, has left the band to pursue his other passion of making video games. Being quite the gamer myself, I am sad to see him leave such an amazing band, but he left to continue his job at Telltale Games. If you haven’t deduced yet, I’m a big fan of adventure games, and Telltale makes some of the best money can buy, including the Sam and Max series, The Back to the Future games, the Monkey Island reboot, and the hugely successful modern adventure game masterpiece, The Walking Dead (even if you’re not a fan of the show or adventure games, play that game). So I am happy to see him put his talents into something else very worthy and Cormorant will continue as a band. They will recruit a new vocalist/bassist and go forth with Arthur’s blessing. I hope that they will continue to write, record, and release quality and unique music as they have been doing since the bands inception and I’ll continue to support them.
So in mourning, this weeks Song of the Week will come off of my favorite album of theirs, Dwellings (which landed at #4 on my best of 2011 list and #68 on my all time favorite albums list). “Funambulist” recounts the tale of a tightrope walkers dangerous walk and shows through symbolism the extents that man will go to be closer to, challenge, or surpass ‘God’. If you have yet to grab Dwellings you can get your copy here for what ever price you feel it’s worth (free even). Enjoy and check out the press release from Arthur after the jump. Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Over on my favorite forum for rambling about metal, The History of Metal (it’s an open Facebook forum, so anyone, meaning you, can join and flap your jaw about metal with a wide variety of metalheads from all over the world), the admin made a challenge to all the members to create their top 100 albums of all time. Loving making lists I’m all on this. Between the ~1500 albums I have there is a lot to filter through and this has turned into quite a daunting, yet fun, challenge. This list will represent where I am with my favorite albums right now, if I were to do this last year or next year, while being similar, I’m sure there would be lots of differences. My only self-imposed limitation on this is I’m confining each band 3 albums in the list to avoid entire, very large, discographies over saturating it. Every 5 days or so I’ll make a post with the next 5 entries into the list. Fellow bloggers, I extend this challenge to you (and be sure to let me know where and when you’ll be posting it, I’d love to read it), and for readers without a blog join up with THOM and post yours there! Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
#70 Sound of White Noise by Anthrax
Not to put down Joey Belladonna, he’s a great vocalist and was part of some amazing ‘Thrax albums. But when it comes to my personal favorite pick, the John Bush era is where it’s at for me. SOWN has a heavier edge to it due to the band taking a change in direction to fit Bush’s lower octave vocals and the riffs and rhythms just have so much more crunch than their earlier works. I’ve seen/heard that this record gets a lot of guff for ‘selling out’, but whatever, it’s my favorite Anthrax record. Belladonna or Bush, Anthrax rules!
I know I posted the link to Dwellings some months ago when the preview album stream hit NPR. But now that stream has been taken down, so here is the updated version link to the full album stream via Cormorant‘s Bandcamp page. This is one album I will be shoving down everyone’s throat until the whole metal loving world hears it, it is an absolute masterpiece (I named it number four on my “Best Albums of 2011” list and you can check out my review of the album here). The more I listen to it the more I enjoy this LP and can not commend the wonderful job this San Franciscan band has done enough. Seriously, just listen to the album. And the purchase of the CD is well worth your money as a lot of work went into the presentation of the packageing and the liner note/lyric sheet is wonderfully drawn (I named the album artwork to Dwellings number one on my “Best Album Art of 2011“). While you are at Cormorant’s Bandcamp be sure to check out their excellent previous effort Metazoa which has a name you own price option for purchase (eg. free if you wish, but it certainly is worth your hard-earned cash) and you can also download their debut EP The Last Tree for the low-cost of free.
Second up for this weeks full album streams is Path to Totality by Brooklyn based band Tombs. If you dig on bands such as Neurosis, Isis, and their contemporaries you will be happily crushed by this release. They combine elements of Death, Black, Sludge, Progressive, Post, and Hardcore Metal to create a unique musical dynamic that will leave the hairs on the back of your neck at attention. Don’t be a stinker and pass listening to this album up, it’s well worth your time.
Hey all!!! Hope everyone had an awesome holiday season and kick off to the New Year. Now that we are at the start of 2012 I think it’s fair that we release our personal Top 15 Albums of 2011. Making this years list was quite a difficult charge. I’ve been seeing around on the internets that many were disappointed in 2011… Myself, this was one of the best years in metal, ever, making the narrowing down of the best around a bit tricky. There were great follow-ups, amazing breakthrough albums, and some wonderful debut albums. I also discovered many new bands to listen to this year with a good handful cracking my Top 15. If anyone is complaining that “new music sucks”, well they aren’t listening. There is an innumerable amount of great stuff to check out, you just have to have an open mind and give anything that catches your ear a listen (or eye if the album has great artwork). If you do a little searching for your tunes every year will be the best year in music for you(and with the internet finding awesome tunes is so much easier and cheaper than before, until you start finding music you love and going on some shopping sprees 🙂 ). Positive thinking and law of attraction and all that stuff.
When making my list the criteria I used was how often I listened to each album, initial impact and how long that first impression lasted, and how well the album grew on me. I hope you all enjoy my picks and hopefully find some cool new music to listen to. And if you look at my list and think of a band that would be right up my alley, let me know!! And let us know what some of your favorite albums were for 2011. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
When I’m watching a sports match I tend to always root for the underdog(unless one of my NJ/NY teams happen playing). Often times it does lead to a disappointment, but when the little guy pulls through and wins the game it always feels as if I took part in something special and makes up for the large amount of disappointments. The metal realm is quite similar to the sports realm in this regard(as well as many others). There are the big labels and bands that are like the NY Yankees and New England Patriots, there are the mid-range guys who always put up fight and more than often pull through with a top-quality game/album, and then there are the underdogs. In the metal world I consider the underdogs to be the unsigned and independent bands, and even if their heart is in the right place most of the time, they often fall short and don’t make it big. But when one of these unsigned and independent bands pulls through and creates a masterful work that takes the music realm by storm and you’re there to catch it, boy, is it something quite masterful to witness.
This weeks full album stream goes out to Cormorant and their upcoming release Dwellings. Cormorant takes a mix of black metal, melodic death metal, and prog metal and combines it for a delightfully intoxicating cocktail. So far listening to this album(about half-way through at the time of writing) this album reminds me of early Opeth with cleaner production(especially in the composition and guitars). And for those that have listened to their 2009 release Metazoa, I can safely say that this is quite an improvement over an already excellent previous album(which is available for FREE(legaly 😉 ) here you can also contribute a few bucks too, hint hint hint).
While not yet released, this album is garnering lots of praise from journalists that have gotten themselves an early copy, and so far I may find myself joining in with that praise. This may be a late contender for a spot on the end of they year best of list(we’ll see how that goes after the second half of the album closes off for me). If anything, the artwork will be taking home a blue ribbon for Best Album Art. Dwellings will be available for purchase on Dec. 7, 2011, do yourself a favor and check this band out, especially if you are into prog metal and bands like Opeth. Click on the album art to go to the NPR sponsored official full album stream and enjoy. Let us know what you thought when you’re done listening. Peace Love and Metal!!!!