Best (and worst) of metal 2010

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26 jan. 2010, 8h30m

Heard and rated:

Charred Walls Of The Damned - Charred Walls of the Damned 9/10
Powerful metal with both balls and melodies. It's not ground breaking but in a year of fairly run-of-the-mill albums it's great to find a record that is so run-of-the-great-metal-mill. Christy and Ripper are back where they should be after especially the latter's blunders with both Iced Earth and his sole stuff. Well written, well crafted, and probably appealing to a lot of metal heads.

Murderdolls - Women and Children Last 8/10
This is highly entertaining and very catchy. The drumming is a bit boring, but both song writing and production make up for it. Some mght find it a bit commercial but I think it's a great update of some Alice Cooperesque horror rock mixed with some thrashy glam.

Dark Tranquillity - We are the Void 8/10
Often I find myself satisfied but also strangely unfulfilled. Dark Tranquillity does that to me. This album is very good simply because their level is generally very high, but it doesn't hit the hammer on the nail when it comes to sending shivers down any spine. They are on the top of their game but don't seem capable of progressing even higher. Fast, melodic, dark, and catchy - it contains it all, but no surprises.

Rotting Christ - Aealo 8/10
I was pleasently suprised by this, since I haven't heard much of what the band has made before. People with more knowledge on the subject than I claim that the style is quite simular to their older work however. The dark atmosphere with the industrial vibe is cool and the melodic black elements creates the needed aggresivity. The recurring female choirs are different than most I've heard before - and I like it.

Wuthering Heights - Salt 8/10
I must admit that I haven't heard all of this, but the songs I've HAVE heard are reaally good. It's proggy, a thing I'm often very critical of, but the fantastic melodies make up for it. At time the progginess even offers some interesting takes and breaks. A Danish band which is all too unknown.

Helloween - 7 Sinners 8/10
I always have über high expectations with Helloween. Last time they didn't disappoint at all, but this time I'm not all that content. Of course they manage to sneak some of the best songs of the year into the album. World of Fantasy and If a Mountain could Talk are two of the highlights and make one wish the bassist Marcu Grosskopf would write more material. I love the style and the passion of the band, but they do unfortunately add too many doses of uncatchy blandness on this one. I give the 8/10 on the year scale because they remain the best power metal band out there and because the general level so far this year has been a bit below par.

Black Sun Aeon - Routa 7/10
Interesting and very diverse album. At times it sounds like older Tiamat and at other times it's more towards black metal. The vocalist masters a wide range of styles, but I think that it gets too mutch like so so death metal at times. Generally it's an album I think many people would like parts of at least - and thumps up to the band for mixing genres in a natural way.

Avantasia - The wicked Symphony/Angel of Babylon 7/10
The Scarecrow absolutely blew my away. That isn't the case with this new album, which is only one of two, of which I haven't yet given a listen to Angel of Babylon. Tobias Sammet is claiming that there are no fillers on the albums - I disagree. While there's surely world class tracks on it, which is what you have learned to expect from Avantasia, the whole isn't up to what I had hoped for. Some songs rock totally and others are forgetable. The style is more AOR than powermetal, though some parts are also more heavy than what the "band" has done earlier.

Crystalic - Persistence 7/10
At last a very positive surprise. I didn't know the band but they play very competent melodeath - a bit like Dark Tranquillity with some heavier elements. I don't know why they couldn't get deal with a label and had to release it for free on their website, but the better for us. I hope to see them on the road somewhere.

Volbeat - Above Hell/Beyond Heaven 7/10
Not on par with the best they've made, but the song writing is still good and I like the style. One of the few artists who deserves to be selling a lot of albums in Denmark . and who does so.

Alcest - Écailles de lune 7/10
I liked this one and its atmospheric, dreamy black metal/shoegaze. At times however it gets boring in a sort of sneaky way, where you don't really notice it until after a couple of minutes yadayada nothing. If they could replace some of that with some more black it would be great.

Pretty Maids - Pandemonium 7/10
This album has some instant hits if you're into melodic 80's style metal. The title track is tougher than most things I've heard from the band in a while and some of the ballads are very good as well. They fail however to keep the quality thorugh the whole of the album. It's hard to keep it up, when everything stands and fall with each song more than the whole. As a sidenote I really think it's a good thing that they now have Jacob Sandager, previsouly of Mercenary, on the synth - he adds som classy, and yet cheesy, layers to the music.

Freedom Call - Legend of the Shadowking 7/10
What do you expect from this band? If the answer is fast, über melodic, and catchy power metal, then they live up to your expectations. Some of the songs are brilliant, others are bland. Nothing new under the sun here.

Burzum - Belus 7/10
This was a pleasent experience. I miss some of the old desperate vocals, but the music is well crafted, repetitative and atmospheric. The production is quite good, too. The album won't be my top pick of the year, but at some moments it really blew me away.

Gamma Ray - To the Metal 7/10
For fans of the band this album is a safe investment - power metal from the start to the end. The first song is awesome and there are highlights spread throughout the record, but it is a safe investment in the same sense as saving money and putting the in the bank (as if that was safe nowadays...) - not much excitement in that. Run-of-the-mill Gamma Ray one might say. If that's good or bad is for you to judge, but I quite like it.

Crematory - Infinity 7/10
A pleasant album for people who like melodic goth rock with a doomy twist. The songs are generally built around a verse of growling and a cleanly song chorus. They flow freely and naturally but don't reach any sort of climax very often. It's starting to irritate me that I like so many releases but love so few...

Eluveitie - Everything Remains as It Never Was 7/10
I liked this but found it to be a little below the quality in the stuff the band bas previously released. An enjoyable listen nonetheless.

Six Magics - Behind The Sorrow 7/10
Female fronted symphonic metal - the label alone made all alarm bells ringing. This however isn't bad at all. The female vocalist isn't annoying and a lot of the songs are actually quite well written. While it still lacks some power it is certainly the best of its kind this years. They leave the neo-classical behind and turn to 80's power rock instead - wise choice.

Iron Maiden - The final Frontier 6/10
This one is slowly growing on me and I don't know exactly how to rate it yet. When it's not higher on the list, it's because of the large amounts of boredom, which surrounds the highlights of the album. The album, as well as many of the songs, is way too long. El Dorado is a fantastic song and a couple of the others are also on par with Maiden's huge legacy. Apart from that it's good bits and pieces here and there. I want more fast rockers and less proggy build ups - especially when the melodies aren't better.

Seven Thorns - Return to the Past 6/10
While there is absolutely some very good parts on this album it doesn't truely live up to my expectations. I am for one not a big fan of neoclassical guitar work, a thing that the new guitarists seem to like a whole lot more. The song writing is pretty average but with highlights such as the single Forest Majesty and the opener Liberty. I like the tempo and the rock n' rollish feeling and the musicianship is great, but they generally don't succeed in taking their music to the level of the best in the genre.

Iron Fire - Metalmorphozis 6/10
I did expect some more from this band. I loved their last work To the Grave and its fast and heavy power metal. The production is still more solid than most power metal, but a little too much keyboard has been added. What is worse however is that the song writing is lacking a bit - only 2-3 songs really catch me, and that is below the avarage for Iron Fire. The album is a re-recording of old left out tracks from the band's career, and even played by some of the old members. I'm looking forward to a really new and hopefully better album - they have the potential.

Elvenking - Red silent Tides 6/10
Catchy here and there, good production. It's been a while since I heard it and I can't remember a single song, so downgraded from 7 to 6.

Rage - Strings to a Web 6/10
It's good old school melodic metal but I'm not really convinced. I could change this to a 7/10 but it's on that level. Solid but not really exciting.

Sabaton - Coat of Arms 6/10
Enjoyable but only in glimpses living yup to the hype.

Orden Ogan - Easton Hopes 6/10
Fast and melodic and not unlike some of Blind Guardian's stuff. The prggy elements don't really work however and some of the melodies lack some catchiness. I could easily listen to this because I like the genre, but I won't recommend it to anyone exept for fans of power metal. The thrashy parts might be redeeming to some listeners.

HIM - Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice 6/10
I've only given this one listen so far. HIM used to be one of my favourite bands, but their last efforts have been lacking something. Dark Light was too light and poppy, while Venus Doom was too dark and uncatchy. This new one leans towards the latter and I'm a tad disappointed. If you like goth rock however there will be some tunes for you in it.

Eisbrecher - Eiszeit 6/10

The Sword - Warp Riders 6/10

Orphaned Land - The never ending Way of ORwarrior 6/10
I totally digged Mabool even though it's not really my style. Quite slow, rather proggy, and featuring death elements - all things I generally don't go for. I was therefor looking forward to this, but must admit that I simply don't understand it. It's very proggy, evil, tongues would call it messy, and not nearly as catchy as Mabool. I'm not an expert on this and I know that I should listen to it time and again to let it grow on me. Sadly enough I just don't feel the urge. For lovers of the prog however I think this would be great stuff.

Throes Of Dawn - The Great Fleet of Echoes 6/10

Abigor - Time Is The Sulphur In The Veins Of The Saint... 5/10

Carach Angren - Death came through a Phantom Ship 5/10

Keep of Kalessin - Reptilian 5/10
This album is a tady too busy for me. All the guitar bonanza drives my up the wall. If it hasn't been for 2-3 songs which really sports some cool black metal and some great melodic choruses the verdict would have been even less good.

Mutiny Within - Mutiny Within 5/10

High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine 6/10

InnerWish - No turning Back 5/10
Quite bland mix of power metal and more old school metal. Not much to say really. Not horrific but not good either.

Heljareyga - Heljareyga 4/10
Folk power metal with the frontman of Týr. Moderately interesting but too much guitar wank and too few good melodies make the album under avarage. In its most folky passages it's ok, but his voice and melodic shortcomings drag it down.

Versailles( - Jubilee 4/10
Power metal light in Japanese - partly at least. While I support bands writing in their own language it doesn't really make up for the fact that this is thin and mediocre. Power metal fans should check it out, but for others there's nothing to reap from this fruit.

Astral Doors - Requiem of Time 4/10
Quite bland and boring but not without the occasional highlights. The style is more or less what we in Danish would call "bottocks rock" paired with some heavy metal and power metal elements. Not groundbreaking at all and for fans of the genre/band only.

Masterplan - Time to be King 4/10
To think that this band's debut album was one of my favourites back in 2003. Maybe they have changed or I have. Time to be King has Jorn Lande back on vocals, but I'm not such a huge fans of him like eveyone else seem to be. On top of that the music is uninspired and bland. The production is good, but it cannot disguise the lack of quality melodies and the bad lyrics. Too bad...

Icarus Witch - Draw down the Moon 4/10
I can't even remember why I didn't like this, but given the rating I gave them half a year ago I probably won't give it another listen - too bad for them (and maybe for me...).

Kerion - The Origins 3/10
Another bland and boring symphonic power metal release with a female vocalist. Neo-classical, only seldomly catchy - unless you like uninspired wank don't even go there.

Ancient Bards - The Alliance Of The Kings 3/10
While I like a few of the melodies on this album most of it is simply bland. The girl in front of the band has a good voice, but the material she's woking with is uninspired. When doing a power metal album you have nothing to fall back upon, when the melodies, soli, or harmonies are failing. In black you have the desperate screams, in death you have the brutal anger, but in power metal there's a void when your ideas are non exsisting. The instruments on this album are making one neo-classical heard a thousand times before loop after the other. Albums as this gives power metal a bad name, not because the musicians suck, but because it's so damn boring.

Audiovision - Focus 2/10
Unconvincing hard rock/metal. At first I didn't dislike it that much but soon I got very tired of the uninspired riffage and the Christian lyrics. Not that I mind Christianity as such, it just seems too much like a sermon in this case. This type of metal grew tired in the 1980's unless the people playing it are VERY good, which isn't the case here.

Abandon All Ships - Geeving 1/10
I have been advocating a blend of trance and metal for many years, but seriously - don't even try to check this band out. Yes, they use electronic elements, but most of the time it is worthless, poppy shit. The rest of the time it's an uninspired core fuck up extravaganza. To understand my hate, give the title track a listen o...m...g....


(Too strange to rate as a normal album:
Helloween - Unarmed )

(Not my style at all, so I can't really rate it:
Sigh – Scenes From Hell )