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Wayfaerer's Top 20 of 2005
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It’s that time of year again! Time for everyone to think really, really hard about all the metal they heard this year and figure out what was good, bad, and what kept you from going into the mental institute. As always, I like to start out with the bad. Well, not necessarily bad but these are my biggest disappointments of 2005. Here they are:

Chimaira – Chimaira: A noble attempt at trying to lose the metalcore tag, unfortunately when they lost it, they lost all the interesting parts of their sound.
Arcturus – Sideshow Symphonies: I know I came down hard on their last release, The Sham Mirrors, but Sideshow Symphonies even makes THAT disc sound phenomenal.
Meshuggah – Catch 33: What ever did happened to the Meshuggah that wrote songs that didn’t put you to sleep? This was nearly as bad as Nothing.

Though I admit it had it's fair share of crap, 2005 was yet another year of great metal releases and I was hard pressed to crunch down my list to twenty discs from a total of over 200. So with that in mind, here are a few that I thought deserve mention, even if they just missed the top 20 cut:

Fear Factory – Transgression
Opeth - Ghost Reveries
Grimfist - 10 Steps to Hell
Arise - The Beautiful New World
Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine
Detonation - Portals to Uphobia
Crionics - Armageddon's Evolution
Divine Empire - Method of Execution
The Duskfall - Lifetime Supply of Guilt


Now on to my favorite part; without further adieu, here are my top 20 discs of 2005:

20. Crimson Moonlight – Veil of Remembrance: It was a toss-up between this and FF’s Transgression, but when I thought about it, 9 tracks of solid, brutal black metal easily beat out an effort that’s stained with a few clunkers. A must-have for fans of Dissection and melodic black metal.

19. The Agony Scene – The Darkest Red: While my personal interest in metalcore seems to be waning by the day, The Darkest Red is a shining example of how things can be done well in the genre. Catchy clean vocals (even if sometimes whiny) and heavy At the Gates riffing have kept this one in my rotation for months now. Plus, "Scapegoat" is just an asskicking song.

18. The Absence – From Your Grave: Proof that all American metal doesn't have to cite Killswitch and Shadows Fall as influences. Straight-up melodic death done the way it should be. No clean vocals need apply (well, for the most part).

17. Terror 2000 – Terror For Sale: The Swedes really found their sound on this one. Laughable lyrics courtesy of Speed Strid are only made more impressionable by frantic, speedy thrash with nods to older traditional metal. Crack open a beer and enjoy!

16. Aborted – The Archaic Abattoir: The masters of gore return with their most polished and mature effort to date. Solid songwriting that is memorable enough for non-brutal characters to enjoy, yet technical and heavy enough for long-time fans to appreciate.

15. Charon – Songs For the Sinners: Yet another consistently strong disc from what is arguably the best goth-metal band going. With the exception of “She Hates”, this is easily the band’s strongest effort yet.

14. Mors Principium Est – The Unborn: Talk about coming out of nowhere! I was far from impressed with MPE’s debut, but with some tinkering I couldn’t get enough of The Unborn. Effective female vocals, a shift in sound towards the futuristic and mechanical (as opposed to the Bodom-esque debut), and sometimes dizzying guitarwork get my stamp of approval.

13. Rapture – The Silent Stage: Seems like this disc came and went without anyone really noticing it. Silent Stage is Rapture’s finest hour, firmly enhancing their sound and further attempting to break out of the mold that many have cast them in as early Katatonia wannabes. Great depressing death/doom.

12. Darkane – Layers of Lies: Darkane’s latest sees the band upping the technical aspect once again, yet keeping catchy melodies in mind at the same time. Huge choruses and frantic guitar work are abundant, making this a disc to remember.

11. Scar Symmetry – Symmetric in Design: In what is arguably one of the best metal “supergroups” around, Scar Symmetry play melodic death that is not unlike the newer discs of Soilwork, albeit heavier and with the fantastic vocals of Christian Alvestam. Absolutely fantastic debut.

10. Deadlock – Earth.Revolt: Melodic death a la early Dark Tranquillity, with some metalcore and black metal influences thrown in for good measure. A concept album with a message, going through all of the emotions in the process, from anger and rage to sorrow and sadness. “Awakened by Sirens” is still spine-tingly good six months later.

9. Arsis – A Diamond For Disease: I’ve always made it a point not to include CD-singles or EPs on my list, but I’ll be damned if this little 3 song disc doesn’t kick more ass than the majority of full-length discs released this year. From the 13 minute title-track to the Alice Cooper cover, to the short but sweet “Promise of Never”, Arsis is ready to make the case that melodic death can still be innovative and original, even in this day and age.

8. Soilwork – Stabbing the Drama: It’s no secret that Soilwork are one of my favorite metal bands and StD is another exercise in melodic metal goodness. New drummer Dirk added a new dimension to the band, and Speed’s always improving clean vocal range is showcased well in songs like “Distance” and “Nerve”. Then there’s “Blind Eye Halo”, which proves the band can still play the speedier material if they choose to.

7. The Black Dahlia Murder – Miasma: I recently attempted listening to Miasma and Unhallowed back-to-back and there is no comparison. With all the affection showered upon Unhallowed, it cannot hold a candle to Miasma. A heavier approach with tighter songwriting that drew them further from At the Gates and more towards Floridian death metal is just one reason that fans of the debut should already own this.

6. Dark Tranquillity – Character: A more complex follow-up to the heavily-acclaimed Damage Done shows that the band are still the kings of the throne of Gothenburg. Even though it was released very early in the year, it has held my attention since then, and might just surpass Haven as my personal favorite DT release.

5. The Project Hate – Armageddon March Eternal: I hadn’t really kept up with TPE since their debut, but this is a monster of an album. Dedicated to Mieszko Talarczyk, the band truly put forth a monumental effort to further their unique fusion of brutal death metal with angelic female vocals and electronics/industrial atmosphere. Jorgens vocals are absolutely punishing and I’m convinced that female vocalist Jo Enckell is one of metal’s best kept secrets.

4. Construcdead – The Grand Machinery: Construcdead’s lastest brought them from an “well, they’re okay” band to a “holy jesus that was good” band. Casting aside all the more melodic elements from the past record, The Grand Machinery is streamlined Swedish thrash at it’s best. Additionally, vocalist Jens Broman puts on a hell of a performance!

3. Fear My Thoughts – Hell Sweet Hell: The fact that I’ve literally played out 2 copies of this disc that I’ve burned to put in my car has got to say something about Hell Sweet Hell. I think that this disc, more than any other this year, I’ve growled/sung the lyrics to while blazing down the road, mostly due to songs like “Windows For the Dead”, “Sweetest Hell”, and “Tie Fighting” (the coolest Star Wars-inspired song ever). The idea that they ditched all elements of their metalcore roots to create such a fantastic melodic death release gets them some kudos as well.

2. Hypocrisy – Virus: Granted, I thought that The Arrival was a terrific return-to-form after Catch 22 but I really longed for some devastating, speedy Hypocrisy songs. With the combination of a more growling Peter and new drummer Horgh, Virus contains just the right combination of classic, speedy Hypocrisy anthems with the more mid-tempo stuff the band is known for. In fact, this may just be the strongest Hypocrisy disc ever, or at least a rival to Abducted. Finally, cheers to Peter for FINALLY including the lyrics…it’s about damn time!

1. Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor: Anyone who has followed this site and my reviews this year shouldn’t really be surprised by this one. From the first time I heard this, I knew it was something special and no disc this year has been able to come close to over-throwing this disc from it’s rightful throne. Dane’s vocals are stronger than ever and Loomis and Smyth’s guitar work is second-to-none. At this point, I can say without question that this is my favorite Nevermore disc and it really is coming close to moving past Katatonia’s Viva Emtiness and Lilitu’s Delores Lesion as my pick of the 21st century. Anyone who even considers themselves to be a metal fan should at least hear this once.

Finally, I leave you with some random ‘top awards’ to cap off the year with:

TOP THREE CONCERTS ATTENDED:

Fear Factory/Soilwork/Strapping Young Lad/Darkane - 4 kickass bands and no metalcore filler, not to mention it was Darkane’s first US tour.
New England Hardcore and Metal Festival - Expanded for three days, with the 3rd day being incredible (Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Hypocrisy, Mnemic for starters)
Opeth/Nevermore/Into Eternity - Not so much for the snooze-worthy Opeth live act but Nevermore played “This Godless Endeavor”, I’ll admit I was damn close to drooling and IE’s live act finally got me “into” them.

TOP THREE SONGS:

Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor: This song is just about as close to musical perfection as I’ve heard. I’ve heard the song countless times now and my spine still tingles!
Fear My Thoughts – Windows for the Dead: The crunchy “breakdown” accompanied by the growled “windows for the dead” made this song this year’s answer to Bloodbath’s “Eaten”.
Arsis – A Diamond For Disease: A 13 minute song, created for a ballet! Technical, yet not wanky and I love how it comes back to revisit earlier parts of the song as it progresses. A melodic death classic.

Worst release of the year
Catheter – Dimension 303: Not even worth the plastic used in its creation, just noise that suits no purpose other than to annoy all the people that got it as promos, because no self-respecting individual would actually enjoy this enough to go purchase it.

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January 1, 2006
Harm.us - Death, Black, Doom and Gothic Metal WebZine, bandlist, cd reviews, interviews, mp3 and forum
Harm.us - Death, Black, Doom and Gothic Metal WebZine, bandlist, cd reviews, interviews, mp3 and forum
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