15. Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Between the Buried and Me is not for everyone. Too complex for metal purists, too intense for prog fans. I really wanted to include The Parallax: Hyper Sleep Dialogues on my list last year, but due to it not being a full album I had to omit it. I was very happy when I heard that they were continuing the concept with the full length Future Sequence. Don’t ask me what the concept is, because honestly I have no idea. It is all over the place, and when half of your lyrics are barely intelligible growls, its hard to follow your complex science fiction narrative. Not to say that the growls are a bad thing, because they are not. The beauty of Between the Buried and Me is their unique place in the Prog Metal world. But, the thing that sets this album as not only my number 15 of the year, but possibly as my favorite Between the Buried and Me release is how they have extended their prog influence and sound without sacrificing their intensity and their “metalness”. At the start of this album, it could easily be mistaken for a Dream Theater album. That is, until about 4 minutes into it when the singer starts with his intense metal growls. Their continued progressive influence causes some jarring, but incredible moments, like in the song “Astral Body” where the death metal growling seems in an odd place with the very major chord changes. This album is extremely odd and complex, but if you are the kind of person who likes progressive death metal, this is an excellent offering of precision, talent and epic storytelling through song.
14. Mono – For My Parent
I went out and bought this album on vinyl the day I saw their video for Legend. Nothing suits symphonic post-rock like awesome video of Iceland and that song is just so beautiful. Stop reading this, take twelve minutes, and listen to it now. It will move you way more than my inadequate attempts to describe its brilliance. Don’t just play it in the background. Stop what you are doing and really listen to it. Click Play. HD that video. Fullscreen it. Give it your attention. Then come back and talk to me.
See? See how beautiful that is. And that is only the first song on the album. This album is absolutely incredible. This is the kind of album that I put on and get lost in. I don’t realize that songs are changing. I don’t watch the time. I just let it take me away. Its therapeutic. It is everything that I want out of post-rock music. As an album it flows beautifully, the instrumentation and structure is incredible. I have a hard time recollecting what the songs sound like because I truly know it best as a full album. But, most importantly, this album is full of emotion and if you allow yourself a moment to engage that emotion, it will make your day better. Promise.
13. Sigur Ros – Valtari
My favorite album by Sigur Ros has always been ( ). Don’t get me wrong, I still love their more accessible stuff as well, but that album has such a simple beauty to it. So, when I heard talk that they were scrapping everything and making a more ambient album that was much more like ( ) I was extremely excited. The issue with simple, ambient albums like Valtari and ( ) is that for many, they are not exciting enough to leave a lasting impression on them. They sound great, and they work wonderfully, but to so many people I know, it just sounds like background music for a really good movie. I, on the other hand find Valtari to be one of Sigur Ros’ strongest releases. It rarely builds, and spends much of its time in the Mezzo-Piano range, but it is one of the most beautiful albums of the year. It shows Jonsi stepping back from his bombastic solo project and allowing Sigur Ros to create simple, beautiful songs. My favorite moment on the incredible album is the last song “Fjogur Piano”. It is by far the simplest song on the album, but it is so hauntingly beautiful and it really shows off how subtle beauty can be just as powerful as bombastic builds and emotional swells can be.
12. Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind
If you know me, you know that I have been a big fan of Ben Folds for a long time. Ever since my friend Jeff Graf put Rocking the Suburbs on the turntable at a late night poker game, I have always kept Ben Folds in my top artists lists. Recently, I have been a bit disillusioned to Ben Folds. I found out that most of his songs are written in the few days he spends in the studio. I watched him go through yet another divorce. I started becoming more critical of songwriting. Then, in the midst of my Ben Folds iconoclast, he releases Way to Normal. Not to say it was a bad album by any means, but it was so juvenile. It was an odd step, given the maturity of Songs for Silverman which I personally loved. So, when it was announced that Ben Folds Five was recording a new album, I was honestly not that excited. I was burnt out on piano arpeggios and mad-at-my-ex lyrics. Do It Anyway really sounded like everything he has ever done. I think it was my lack of excitement that made this album so much better. It has the perfect blend of classic BFF and newer Ben Folds. It felt like the natural progression, both from Reinhold Messner and Lonely Avenue. No song feels out of place and it does not drag. It is exactly what it is meant to be, nothing more or less. It is a complete album. Do it Anyway grew on me, quickly. It lived up to its lyric and became something that “I used to not like, but now I think is O—-KAAAAAY.” This incredible album not only blew away my expectations, but made me regain my true appreciation for Ben Folds (and the Five) which is why it is my #12 album of the year.
11. Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
I love to browse Itunes for new music. When I do this, I tend to judge music based on stupid things like album art and 5 seconds of the 30 second preview. So, when it kept telling me to listen to Periphery, its 90’s Hard Rock cover art kept keeping me away. Finally, I broke down and listened to a preview of one of the songs. I think it only took 10 seconds for me to buy this album. Now, I buy too much music. I have been working on not doing so, because many times an impulse buy of this nature will lead to an album that I never listen to. Thankfully, that was not the case with This Time It’s Personal. This album is absolutely incredible. It has the technical prowess of a progressive band, without the overly complicated and lengthy songs and extended wanking solos. It is technical, yet accessible and there is nothing I love more that someone taking something extremely technical and musically deep and making it accessible. It has its moments that remind me of my time listening to Mudvayne, without being an annoying 90’s nu-metal band. It reminds me of the catchy and brilliant He is Legend album, I am Hollywood. It is an incredible, talent filled and fun album that is very much worthy of the #11 spot on my list.
Next time on doesitsuck: the final ten albums. What will be on the list? You will just have to wait and see!