• Top 10 Discoveries: 2008 Edition

    Gen 4 2009, 1:28

    In 2006, I discovered a ton of new music, most notably leading to my introduction to 2 new genres: and . I discovered several more bands in those areas in 2007. I didn’t really know what to expect in 2008 because I had discovered SO much new music, but below are my Top 10 discoveries.

    1. Ayreon
    First track: Day One: Vigil
    Eye-opening track: Day Fifteen: Betrayal
    Favorite track: Day Two: Isolation

    Ever since I heard Tobias Sammett's Avantasia back in 2006, I was hooked on the metal opera concept. Only thing is, I thought Avantasia was the only one out there. Lo and behold, as I started looking more into the progressive metal genre, I started hearing about another metal opera called Ayreon. One album, The Human Equation featured James Labrie of Dream Theater and Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, two of my favorite prog metal bands. Needless to say, it didn't take long for the 2-CD monstrosity of an album to grow on me. 01011001 was no different. Ayreon isn’t the heaviest artist I know by any means, but I really enjoy how effective Arjen Lucassen can make music “heavy”. And with the all-star casts he employs, there’s really no reason not to like the band.

    2. Devin Townsend / The Devin Townsend Band
    First: Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!
    Eye-opener: Ziltoidia Attaxx!!!
    Favorite: Earth Day

    Strapping Young Lad was one of my more pleasent discoveries last year, so it was only natural that I would look into Hevy Devy's solo stuff. Ziltoid the Omniscient was in the same vein as SYL, with enough oddities to make it a unique project. So I picked up Terria expecting the same thing and was at first disgusted. It reminded me of the times as a kid when I poured some sugar in my hand and licked it, only to find out that it was salt. Salt isn't bad, but my brain completely rejected it. (back to Terria) I thought "What the fuck is this? Metal to sleep to? Metal to listen to on the beach?" It took me some time to grasp the radically different and atmospheric feeling I got from the album, but now it feels as powerful to me as the heaviest SYL songs. I can easily say that Hevy Devy is a musical genius. He is the reason why Canada is cool... along with Rush, of course.

    3. Muse (thanks maestrosync)
    First: Stockholm Syndrome
    Eye-opener: Knights of Cydonia
    Favorite: Stockholm Syndrome

    “Have you been living under a rock? How can one of the Top 10 artists on Last.fm be a NEW discovery?” Well, Midwest USA isn’t necessarily the best audience for British bands, and if you look at my charts, I’m not really an alt rock guy, especially post-2000. Either way, I can imagine my fellow metalheads closing this journal right now. (moving on) I heard Stockholm Syndrome only because people were claiming that Dream Theater’s Never Enough ripped it off—which in retrospect was pretty accurate—but I never really gave it the time of day. Then I played Knights of Cydonia on video game Guitar Hero III and really enjoyed it, especially with the Iron Maiden-esque galloping. After taking some recommendations from fellow Last.fm-ers and reading a blog from the mighty Robb Flynn of Machine Head (who is a huge fan), I picked up Absolution and was impressed. For a dubbed band, they had quite a proggy and heavy sound to them. Even with their poppy radio hits like Starlight, they’re so damn catchy that I can’t help but like it. Ohh, and they cover Rage Against the Machine in concert… instant bonus points!

    4. Arch Enemy (thanks El_Mago_Albo)
    First: My Apocalypse
    Eye-opener: Taking Back My Soul
    Favorite: Taking Back My Soul

    There are some bands that I can’t stand no matter how many chances I give them, then one day it “clicks” and my opinion turns around. Lamb of God is a good example, and this is another. My good friend El_Mago_Albo (Jorge) tried time and time again to get me into Arch Enemy, but to no avail. Maybe it just creeped me out hearing harsh vocals like that coming out of a female, I don’t know. He convinced me to pick up Doomsday Machine and once I heard the intro to Taking Back My Soul, it clicked. It is some very solid , and I have been able to come to terms with myself that Angela Gossow can turn me on and scare me at the same time.

    5. Turisas
    First: The Dnieper Rapids
    Eye-opener: To Holmgard And Beyond
    Favorite: To Holmgard and Beyond

    I am a big Ensiferum fan and was able to see them in Mokena, IL (Chicago) back in May. Their direct support was Turisas, who came out looking like this:

    I had never heard of them before, but by looks alone I knew that they were going to be awesome, and I was not disappointed. It was the first time that I danced in a mosh pit, but the best part was when they divided the crowd into two sections. I thought (along with security) that we were going to have a Lamb of God-esque Wall of Death mosh, but no. Instead, there was a folk song sing-off with help from the band’s fiddler and accordionist (the latter of which was ungodly hott and unfortunately not pictured above). It was probably the most fun I’ve had at a show; they definitely stole the show from Ensiferum in my book. But about the music... it’s folky, it’s metal, and it is EPIC. Combine it with the aforementioned look, and you earn a place in my metal heart.

    6. Cavalera Conspiracy
    First: Inflikted
    Eye-opener: Sanctuary
    Favorite: Sanctuary

    Hey look, Sepultura is back. Well actually, it’s more of a mix between Sepultura and Soulfly. Either way, it’s great to have Max and Igor Cavalera making music again. Not much else to say here.

    7. Finntroll
    First: Vindfärd / Människopesten
    Eye-opener: Trollhammaren
    Favorite: Jaktens Tid

    See #4. I just couldn’t get into these guys, even though one of my friends was obsessed with them. He had actually given me most of their discography a few years back, but I guess I didn’t get the whole troll polka metal thing when I first heard them. At that time, the only I had heard was Ensiferum, but I hadn’t really expanded my tastes to that type of music. Then he more or less forced me to see them in concert, so I made myself give them another listen before seeing the show. This was right after the Ensiferum/Turisas show so I was definitely craving that kind of music—plus I became exposed to similar bands like Korpiklaani and Elvenking—so it didn’t take me long for my opinion on them to improve. Their show was a blast, and I’ve been a fan since. This is truly what music would sound like if it came from trolls.

    8. Death
    First: Lack of Comprehension
    Eye-opener: Lack of Comprehension
    Favorite: Lack of Comprehension

    I have never been a fan of true , and seeing that this was a metal band called Death, they weren’t high on my list for bands to check out. That is, until I heard Iced Earth’s album Horror Show. I like Iced Earth but was especially blown away by the awesome bass and drums, only to find in the liner notes that both have performed in Death. I gave Human a listen—which featured the bass player who played on Horror Show—and enjoyed it. The vocals, while not quite stereotypical death metal, still aren’t too appealing to me, but overall I enjoy the band’s technicality.

    9. 3 Inches of Blood
    First: Night Marauders
    Eye-opener: Night Marauders
    Favorite: Night Marauders

    I was an admitted fan of The Darkness during their short-lived career: a sound reminiscent of 20+ years ago, crazy falsettos, and yet I couldn’t tell whether they're serious or a parody band. On the other hand, I didn’t really care either. To me, 3 Inches of Blood is The Darkness of metal. I’ve only had Fire Up The Blades a very short time, but have already fallen in love with the band. Night Marauders was my first (and favorite) listen. At first, it sounded like a pretty good power metal/melodic death metal mix (a la Children of Bodom, and then the epic Halford-esque screaming kicks in at the 45-second mark. When I heard the mighty cry of “NIGHT MARAUUUUUDERRRRRRRRS!!!!” I actually got a little giddy inside I liked it so much. This is definitely a breath of fresh air to the metal genre.

    10. Testament
    First: Over the Wall
    Eye-opener: John Doe
    Favorite: Souls of Black

    Considering I am a fan of the “big four” of (Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer), it’s a little embarrassing that I had never heard anything from Testament. I had heard their name thrown around, especially once I got on Last.fm, but that was about it. I got a DVD compilation from Wacken 2003 some time back, which featured a live version of Over the Wall. I had no qualms with the thrashy instrumentation, but the way Chuck Billy spit out the vocals sounded like William Murderface from Dethklok when working on his side project, Planet Piss (example). Needless to say, I was pretty turned off, but I picked up their greatest hits The Spitfire Collection at a used music store because it was heavily discounted. To my delight, the vocals definitely sound better in the studio. Now, Over the Wall was not only listenable, but actually quite good! I’ve got nothing but respect for these thrash behemoths, even if Chuck sounds terrible in the Christmas metal version of Silent Night.

    Other Discoveries
    Zimmers Hole (thanks ShadowFury)
    Amon Amarth
    Raunchy (thanks apujols)
    Austrian Death Machine
    Power Symphony
    Single Bullet Theory
    Straight Line Stitch
    HORSE the band (thanks Armacost)
    Transport League
    Sear Bliss

    Like previous years, I knew that I would discover some new bands in 2008. I dove a little further into power/prog, but one thing that I was proud of is that many of my discoveries were from bands that I had discarded in the past, back when I was more closed-minded in taste. Shamefully, there were some bands recommended from past journals that I still haven’t checked out, so I’m including them here as a reminder to me to give them a listen in 2009.

    After Forever
    Subterranean Masquerade

    Feel free to provide any comments, add some of your new discoveries, or give me some additional recommendations.
  • Top 10 Discoveries: 2007 Edition

    Feb 9 2008, 23:26

    Yeah yeah, I know, it's over a month into 2008. I blame procrastination... seems like an easy scapegoat.

    Looking back at my Top Discoveries of 2006 journal, I was pretty amazed at how the bands mentioned have made an impact on my charts. 11 of my Top 50 Artists were from bands that I hadn’t even heard of 2 years ago, including my #1. (all hail Dream Theater!) 2007 didn’t disappoint me either, and below is a list of my top 10 discoveries, followed by some honorable mentions.

    1. Machinae Supremacy
    First track: Attack Music
    Eye-opening track: Return to Snake Mountain
    Favorite: Kings of the Scene

    I guess Last.fm lived up to their motto of giving us new music to discover. I found these guys on my dashboard because they had free songs available for download. They had a unique sound: pretty good with… a Nintendo? Well, technically it’s a Commodore 64, but coming from someone with a love for oldschool video games, this was a recipe for success in my book. Plus, I tend to like things more when they’re free, and half of their discography is available for free on their website.

    2. Strapping Young Lad (thanks BeerMonster, Anna-Lee)
    First: You Suck
    Eye-opener: You Suck
    Favorite: Love?

    HELL YEAH YOU FUCKIN’ SUCK!!! I heard that on Sirius radio one day and didn’t know whether to laugh hysterically or fall in love with this band. So I did both. I picked up City on some recommendations, and while it took a little time for me to get used to the that Devin Townsend puts out in this band, but eventually I had to come to terms that tongue-in-cheek humor never sounded so badass. Once I heard “Love?”, I was hooked. The main riff to the song is mind-boggling awesome. I’ve just recently picked up Devin’s solo stuff, and I can honestly say that Hevy Devy is a genius!

    3. Chimaira
    First: Painting the White to Gray
    Eye-opener: Nothing Remains
    Favorite: Nothing Remains

    I heard "Painting the White to Gray" years ago when I was on a rock/metal message board called Shoutweb (which has been in the shitter for years, but that’s neither here nor there). I thought it was alright, so I went to a used music store and picked up a Chimera CD and was horrified to discover that Chimaira () is VERY different from Chimera (). After solving that whole mess, I got a dosage of some solid groove metal, a la Machine Head and Lamb of God. They definitely give me that warm and fuzzy feeling when I listen to them, and by “warm and fuzzy feeling” I mean “urge to kill somebody”.

    4. Symphony X (thanks sataf, Anna-Lee)
    First: Inferno (unleash The Fire)
    Eye-opener: Inferno (Unleash the Fire)
    Favorite: King Of Terrors

    I love mentioning these guys in this journal, because they were actually recommended to me through my “Top Discoveries of 2006” journal. I first heard these guys right after getting off massive Dream Theater and binges, so this was exactly what the doctor ordered: AND power metal! And some of the riffs in The Odyssey are reminiscent of Pantera… can this get any better?

    5. Dethklok
    First: Thunderhorse
    Eye-opener: Detheme
    Favorite: Murmaider

    I’m a Guitar Hero addict and found Thunderhorse to be one of the more fun songs to play in GH2. I got The Dethalbum from a friend but hadn’t watched “Dethklok: Metalocalypse” before, so I didn't really get it. But once I saw my first episode, I was hooked on both the show and the music. It’s actually pretty good , but the Spinal Tap-esque humor takes it to a new level. They certainly live up to the title of . To top it off, they have a clown that does cocaine… KUH-KUH-KUH YEEAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

    6. Within Temptation
    First: Mother Earth
    Eye-opener: Our Farewell
    Favorite: Dark Wings

    I heard this group though a friend of mine and was pretty impressed with the album Mother Earth. Sharon den Adel’s voice is the most beautiful voice I’ve heard in , hands down. I knew I’d heard it somewhere and eventually linked it to Farewell on Avantasia’s The Metal Opera, which is one of my favorite songs off of one of my favorite albums. It’s a shame that they’ve turned to generic , a la Evanescence. I don't hate Evanescence or anything, but I MUCH prefer Within Temptation’s earlier sound.

    7. Manticora
    First: Present. If (Intro)
    Eye-opener: 1934. King of the Absurd
    Favorite: 1934. King of the Absurd

    Ever since discovering bands like DragonForce, Avantasia, and Blind Guardian, I’ve been on a search for all things power metal. And while I’ve enjoyed most of the bands I’ve heard, I got burnt out after awhile. Then I heard Manticora’s prog/power effort 8 Deadly Sins. It’s been a long time since a song has blown me away on the first listen like "King of the Absurd" did. Truly one of those songs with an amazing build-up that does not let go of the reigns, and it actually continues through the entire album. These guys aren’t a very well-known band (less than 5,000 listeners on Last.fm), but I’ve definitely got them under my radar and need to pick up some more of their music.

    8. Rodrigo y Gabriela
    First: Orion
    Eye-opener: Orion
    Favorite: Stairway to Heaven (live)

    I love Metallica. After all, it’s a prerequisite for being a metalhead. Seems like everyone in the genre has covered them, but my favorite covers came from string quartet Apocalyptica. That is, until I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela. My girlfriend introduced me into their cover of Orion and I fell in love with their acoustic Spanish rendition. Call it blasphemy, but I prefer it over the original. On an impulse buy I picked up Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled CD and was blown away with the sound that they could produce with just 2 guitars. The best part was on the bonus DVD, which had a live version Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, but it doesn’t have to be a cover for them to put together some brilliant music.

    9. Into Eternity
    First: Isolation
    Eye-opener: Severe Emotional Distress
    Favorite: Severe Emotional Distress

    If you take every subgenre of metal and mix it into one band, you get Into Eternity. Power metal, , , these guys can do it all… in the same song! I heard Isolation a few years back on a compilation CD and wasn’t abnormally impressed. Then I heard Severe Emotional Distress with a new vocalist and—after getting over my “what the fuck?!” shock—my opinion changed for the better. After seeing them live twice (once with Dark Tranquility and The Haunted, again with the mighty Dream Theater), I was hooked and had to buy The Scattering Of Ashes. Not sure what to think about the rather lyrics and music videos, but with the vocalist’s range and the “metal on A.D.D.” sound, I can let it slide.

    10. Queensÿche
    First: Silent Lucidity
    Eye-opener: Damaged
    Favorite: I Don’t Believe In Love

    For years, the only exposure I had to these guys was Silent Lucidity, so I brushed them off as just another power ballad from some band. Which is why I got really confused when I first got into Dream Theater and heard these guys thrown into the mix as pioneers of prog metal. This… metal? I laughed it off until I went to a garage sale and saw Promised Land for $.50 (it’s tempting to tag 50 Cent here). It was pretty good, and then I got their Greatest Hits, which was pretty impressive. After listening to it, I realized that there were a few other songs that I’d heard of theirs (Jet City Woman, Sign of the Times). Oddly enough, even though I initially brushed them off as hair metal, my favorite song of theirs is “I Don’t Believe in Love”, which I could actually see performed by a hair metal band… go figure.

    Honorable Mentions
    Bad Religion
    Edguy (thanks Anna-Lee)
    Dream Evil
    Gamma Ray (thanks sataf, FjordSweetFjord)
    Olympos Mons
    Galactic Cowboys (thanks happydufus)
    Pain of Salvation (thanks Anna-Lee)
    Roadrunner United
    The Dillinger Escape Plan (thanks Anna-Lee)
    Nocturnal Rites
    Time Requiem
    Fates Warning
    Virgin Steele
    Jag Panzer
    Callenish Circle
    Iron Saviour
    Running Wild

    2007 was definitely a productive year for me, and this site was a big help in getting me exposure to new music. Many of the artists were recommended to me through people here, and I discovered countless others with the “Similar Artists” feature. And to think only 2 years ago I had never heard any power or progressive metal… I had been missing so much!!! A month into 2008 and I’ve already got a few new finds under my belt that will probably make it to a journal at the end of this year.

    Feel free to add comments or give recommendations for 2008.
  • Top 10 Discoveries: 2006 Edition

    Dic 30 2006, 9:55

    This year has been my best year in discovering new music, by far. I’ve become increasingly disgusted with radio over the last few years, and have finally begun making conscious efforts to break out of the radio mainstream. Last year opened my eyes to Machine Head, Ensiferum, and Avenged Sevenfold. The following are my top 10 discoveries of 2006, followed by some honorable mentions.

    1. Fear Factory
    First track: Replica
    Eye-opening track: 0-0 {Where Evil Dwells}
    Current favorite track: Demanufacture

    I heard Replica on a video game years ago, along with radio singles Linchpin and Cars. All sounded good, but I never managed to give these guys much of a listen. I had been missing out... dearly. I fell in love with Obsolete on the first listen. The aggressiveness here was unmatched from anything I’d ever listened to. If I ever saw a baby while listening to these guys, I would most certainly punch it, probably while spitting out the lyric “I’VE GOT NO MORE GODDAMN REGRETS!” Whenever I’ve wanted to create a perfect band (before hearing FF), this is exactly what I visualized it sounding like.

    2. Dream Theater
    First: Caught in a Web
    Eye-opener: The Glass Prison
    Favorite: The Glass Prison

    I like Rush. I love . Combine the progressiveness of the former with the sound of the latter, and you get something amazing. My first listen (Awake) was pretty good, but Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence completely blew me away. How a song can keep me in awe for 14 minutes is impressive, but doing it every single time takes something special, and “The Glass Prison” does exactly that. The second disc/sixth degree is nothing short of a masterpiece. Definitely one of the most talented bands I listen to.

    3. DragonForce
    First: Through the Fire and Flames
    Eye-opener: Through the Fire and Flames
    Favorite: Through the Fire and Flames

    Ohh. My. God. A free download on lyrics website The Music Made Me Do It (MMMDI) introduced me to something amazing—. I can still remember the sporadic thoughts running through my head during the first listen: “Wow, this is fast... the singer’s got some nice range... this is like Iron Maiden on speed... is that a keyboard?!?” Then came the intense soloage, which literally made my jaw drop. I was obsessed with “Through the Fire and Flames” for months. While I’m slightly disappointed by their lack of variety (in my opinion), these guys pointed me in a great musical direction.

    4. Avantasia
    First: Prelude
    Eye-opener: Reach Out for the Light
    Favorite: Reach Out for the Light

    The Metal Opera? Looking at the album title, I didn’t know what to expect, and actually chuckled a little. As suggested somewhere, I followed along to the story as I listened to it the first time. It had a marvelous plot had a sound that was (at the time) very unique to my ears (in a good way). I tend to shuffle my music, but it’s difficult to listen to one song from these guys without having to play the entire album front-to-back. DragonForce may have introduced me to power metal, but Avantasia made me fall in love with it.

    5. Nevermore
    First: Poison Godmachine
    Eye-opener: Born
    Favorite: The Heart Collector

    The aforementioned MMMDI had a feature on this band, with the line “The throne of modern metal kings rightly belongs to Nevermore, hands down.” With a statement like that, I had to give these guys a shot. Warrel Dane’s Halford-esque voice was a nice alternative to the screaming that I had been listening to for months prior (not that there’s anything wrong with that). After a few downloads, I bought Dead Heart, In A Dead World and This Godless Endeavor. The sound is brutal and the lyrics are amazing. On the flip side, they have some powerful ballads that have the gut-wrenching effect without the cheese (which I still love). It’s great to hear a guitar cry like Loomis does in “The Heart Collector”.

    6. Lamb of God
    First: Laid to Rest
    Eye-opener: Redneck
    Favorite: Laid to Rest

    My friend evan0322 has been a fan of these guys for some time, but I couldn’t get into them. I even saw them live with Slipknot last year, and even though they stole the show (in retrospect), I couldn’t get used to Randy Blythe’s harsh vocals. The instrumentation was always impressive, but I couldn’t get over the voice. Three and a half years later and after embracing vocalists like Rob Flynn and those in Killswitch Engage, LoG started to grow on me. After hearing “Redneck”, I gave Ashes Of The Wake another shot and was quite impressed. I wish I liked them like I do now when I saw them in concert, but hopefully I can redeem myself on their next tour.

    7. Children of Bodom
    First: In Your Face
    Eye-opener: In Your Face
    Favorite: Hate Crew Deathroll

    I had heard the name tossed around in comparison to In Flames, one of my favorite bands, but never gave them a shot until downloading the video to “In Your Face”. While I didn’t really notice much likeness to In Flames, I loved their technical style. Their sound was reminiscent of a power metal version of Megadeth, at least to me. I don’t think I can headbang any harder to a keyboard. While the lyrics are a bit subpar (at best), the band has an amazing feel that I can’t turn down. And c’mon, this is metal we’re talking about... half the time people can’t tell what they say anyway.

    8. Blind Guardian
    First: Mr. Sandman
    Eye-opener: Battlefield
    Favorite: Into the Storm

    Technically, Blind Guardian was the first power metal band to reach my ears, but I didn’t get too into them until discovering DragonForce and Avantasia. They’re definitely the most distinguished band in the genre and (thus far) the most unique and diverse one I’ve heard, so they deserve some credit. From thrashy to absolutely powerful , these guys can do it all.

    9. Trivium
    First: Dying In Your Arms
    Eye-opener: Master Of Puppets
    Favorite: Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr

    I despised “Dying in Your Arms” and immediately brushed these guys off as . Then I heard some other song, along with their cover of Master of Puppets, which made me rethink my initial reaction. After seeing them on the Sounds of the Underground tour, I was hooked. Just as I had nearly become obsessed with Ascendancy, I picked up The Crusade. Different? Absolutely. But I grew up on oldschool like Anthrax and Metallica, so I wasn’t turned off at all.

    10. Dimmu Borgir
    First: Allegiance
    Eye-opener: Burn In Hell
    Favorite: Progenies of the Great Apocalypse

    I am not a big fan of . The growling voice makes my ears bleed, and frankly, it tends to bore me. I don’t know what made me give Dimmu Borgir a chance, but I’m glad I did. Their symphonic style made black metal... listenable. The occasional addition of clean vocals makes their music stand out from everything else I’ve heard in the genre. And I must give credit to their cover of Burn In Hell.

    Honorable Mentions
    The Haunted
    Iced Earth
    Lacuna Coil
    As I Lay Dying
    Coheed & Cambria
    Sonata Arctica
    Dark Tranquility
    Demons & Wizards
    10 Years

    Overall, 2006 brought in a heavy dosage of power metal and metalcore music, but I was opened up to a few other metal genres. My “rock” radio station has played a combined total of 7 songs from 4 of the bands listed for this year, so I have certainly made significant strides in breaking out of the box. If my musical discoveries of 2007 are half as good as those in 2006, I would call it a productive year.

    This is my first journal entry, and I spent way too much time on it. Comments and/or recommendations for 2007 are welcome!