And now, back to 2008. As per last year (and the year before that, etc), it’s time to begin my musical run-down of 2008, and I’m starting with the stuff that has disappointed me. This isn’t just albums this year, it’s a mix of observations on the music scene as I see it. Obviously, as with any list like this, these are my opinions – feel free to disagree where you see fit, and indeed tell me about what you think has let you down this year.
Also coming up on the following Tuesdays, Best tracks of 2008 (09-Dec), Best albums of 2008 (16-Dec), Best gigs of 2008 (23-Dec).
Many of you may remember the almighty fuss caused when it was initially announced that Faderhead were not going to release FH3, due to having their record contract terminated and the losses sustained on previous albums, despite the apparent success of the band. So it was something of a surprise when it was announced that a new deal was in place, and FH3 was coming out after all.
If nothing else, it brought a lot of expectation for it, as FH2 was quite a lot of fun. Sadly, FH3 didn’t deliver anywhere near enough. While there are a handful of cracking, upbeat tracks (Electrosluts Extraordinaire and TZDV in particular), the album is weighed down by a number of overwrought, slower tracks, with the nadir being the desperate power ballad (no, really) Let Me Go. FH2 got the balance between the two just right, and sadly this album seems to have been a stretch too far, and more than anything took all the fun away.
Blood Death Ivory
I had similarly high hopes for this album, after previous album Krankhaus surprised me with it’s energy, power and sneering punk-like attitude. Sadly, this album, again other than a handful of tracks, struck me as a watered-down repeat of previous ideas, lacking the bite of the last time ’round, and at points being downright boring.
2012: Zwanzig Zwölf
Way back when, this lot used to be an intriguing band, now they are just becoming a bad metal parody that do their best to be offensive (one of their albums was banned in Germany due to apparently ironic use of a Swastika on the cover). Much of the clever electronic/industrial touches – and spaced-out humour – have been discarded for a lumpen metal crunch lacking in tunes and anything of real interest.
This isn’t by any stretch a bad album, it’s simply not the step forward that As We Fall was. Instead, this is simply IR retreading the same steps, and as such is not as good as I’d hoped. There are some shining moments, though, like the back-to-back Giving Up and Torn Down, which are both fantastic.
Psychogenic Fugue + A Damaged Symphony for Depraved Dementia N.2
Wherein Karloz delves deeper into the darkness, and also into far more dark ambient areas in the main. In fact, aside from a couple of tracks, it seems, the beats have all disappeared. This would be no bad thing, aside from the fact that I could swear that Navicon Torture Technologies have covered similar ground before, and the savage misogyny and myriad references to/samples of sexual activities leave something of a nasty taste (exhibit A: the track Rape upon Rape upon Rape. Gee, thanks).
I only wish there was something as memorable – in a good way or not – on this. Instead, this is MSI toning down their act for mass acceptance, losing much of the fun, the tunes, and the rock. Shame, really. Only the one track on the entire album – 21 tracks-worth for the UK edition – is worth checking out, and incidentally this is the only track where they seemed to remember how much fun they used to be. This track is Get It Up, and you should buy that track individually on iTunes or something rather than wasting your time with the rest of this CD.
It’s a similar problem – but much, much worse – here. Pendulum exploded out of the “underground” with a clutch of spectacular drum’n’bass anthems that cleaned up in drum’n’bass clubs, mainstream clubs, rock clubs, industrial clubs, then took the whole thing live as a full band and cleaned up on the live circuit too. And at this point, they took the wrong turn, deciding to record as a band, and somewhere along the way forgot the drum’n’bass bit. Live they are supposed to still be great, but this album is a limp mess.
This year, for me at least, has been a poor year for metal albums, with only a handful of note that I have even considered for the best of the year, and many, many more are this end of the list. Three in particular stick out at me for not being as good as I might have liked (particularly as they were all hyped up a fair bit in advance). The first of the three is Hate Eternal’s Fury & Flames which while technically brilliant, had nothing else to show for it. The problem with both Amon Amarth’s Twilight Of The Thunder God and In Flames’ The Mirror’s Truth were that they offered little or nothing different from the previous releases. My attention to the metal scene is waning fast – a lack of invention coupled with a torrent of reformations is seemingly surpressing any moves forward, instead with every single band seemingly wanting to look to the past.
I’m normally quite lucky with gigs, and it’s therefore pretty rare for me to get a really bad gig, but this was certainly one of them. I’ve said enough about this one, but suffice to say this was one of the most disappointing gigs I’ve been to in years.