20. Samsas Traum - 13 Jahre Lang Dagegen - Anti Bis Zum Tod
Though Samsas Traum's latest effort is a good album (I don't think I could ever dislike anything by Samsas Traum), this is probably my biggest disappointment this year. I was expecting a lot more from Herr Kaschte, though I shouldn't have: he keeps reinventing himself, his band, and every album is a chance to try playing in a different direction, musically. Well, old school riff-based rock isn't too much my thing in general. I wish the album was less guitar-based, but I still enjoyed this album which surely will please fans of the genre very much - as usual, Kaschte excelled in what he wanted to do.
19. Helium Vola - Für Euch, Die Ihr Liebt
From a disappointment to a happy surprise! As much as I liked the other Helium Vola albums, I don't think they would've made any end of the year-tops. This one does all that was well-done on the other albums, but it sounds slightly less experimental, though it's longer (a great 2CD experience!). In its genre, it sounds highly original yet very accomplished.
18. Editors - In This Light And On This Evening
I wasn't exactly in Editors before this year, though I had heard and kind of liked some of their older stuff. I decided to give a real chance to this album though, listened to the whole thing a couple of times, and I really loved it! The fact they added tons of keyboards to their sound probably helped (yes, I really like keyboards). It also refreshes the Indie genre which was kind of overloaded in the last few years with too many bands sounding the same (though they are not so innovative - it sounds highly influenced by new wave music from the 80s). Songs like Papillon and Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool convinced me this should be in the top 20. Well, there it is!
17. Saltatio Mortis - Wer Wind Sät
I was highly impressed by Saltatio Mortis' previous album Aus Der Asche, and I was expecting a lot from this new record. Though it doesn't, in my opinion, sound as good as the last one, Wer Wind Sät delivers what one expects of Saltatio Mortis. The mastering isn't as well-rounded as Aus Der Asche, but it still is better than all of their first albums. But again, it delivers what you'd expect from the band, and not much more - good folk rock.
16. Subway to Sally - Kreuzfeuer
With their album Nord Nord Ost, released in 2005, Subway To Sally seemed to have achieved finding their very own, well-rounded, perfectly mastered own style. The following album Bastard was a confirmation of that; it was highly accomplished, took all that STS had done well in their past years and albums and put it all together, removing superfluous elements. I had no clue what to expect from Kreuzfeuer. Maybe rightfully so, they went with continuity and stuck to their well-accomplished style. This time though, the "wow!" element has vanished already, and one could say Kreuzfeuer is a little like Bastard, but a little less good. Which still makes it really good. But it might be a sign that they should try to keep making their sound evolve in new directions, now.
15. Lacrimosa - Sehnsucht
The wait for this Lacrimosa album was long! The amazing live album Lichtjahre made fans wait, but new material hadn't come in a long time. The anticipation usually leads to higher expectations. Tilo Wolff rarely goes totally wrong, and he definitely hasn't gone wrong with Sehnsucht. I admit I didn't enjoy it as much as Echos or Lichtgestalt, but still not much can be said against Sehnsucht, such high quality music should only be encouraged by all means. Go and give it a listen, and pay true attention to it, you shouldn't be too disappointed!
14. Zeromancer - Sinners International
Well, talk about anticipation! If it had been long since Lacrimosa's last album, it had been forever since Zeromancer released anything! They had announced new material several years ago already on their website, had released new songs on singles in 2008, and finally, the new album came out in 2009. Is the album good? Yes, very much. Is its quality proportional to the wait that led to it? No. In fact, I think their ZZYZX album remains their best, but Sinners International, though too short, delivers exactly what one expects from Zeromancer. Fans have no reason to be disappointed, though it doesn't sound very daring for guys who had released their last album 5 years before.
13. Metallspürhunde - Böse Wetter
Now, here is one of my good surprises of the year! I had liked the last MSH album (Amokherz) much better than the previous ones, but Böse Wetter seems to be the best by far, now. They now seem to master their own sound really well, and the product is perfectly finished and mixed this time. They are now a must for every Neue Deutsche Härte fan - they bring originality to the genre, while using everything that makes it as good as it is.
12. Mina Harker - Tiefer
Tiefer is the first of the 2 albums I included in this list that were released in 2008. It's Mina Harker's first album, though she worked with various artists in the past, including Laibach and OOMPH! - actually one of the songs featured Dero from OOMPH! on Tiefer. Most songs are pretty catchy, though at first many might sound quite similar, and for sure there's a "commercial" feel to it, which makes it very accessible and quickly enjoyable. However, emotions do get through pretty well and I found the ambiance the song Dein Licht created is totally perfect. It might be a subjective experience, but it feels to me like the song recreates a feeling which I cannot even name precisely, some sort of melancholic yet partly happy mood, put into music. I also need to mention Tränen - these 2 songs on their own certainly made the album rank a lot higher on this list.
11. IAMX - Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction
I mostly knew IAMX for their song Spit It Out, which I loved, but I wasn't too familiar with the rest of their stuff. I gave this album a try and had very mixed feelings about it at first, but after giving it a real chance and a bunch of listens, I found I absolutely loved it. It might sound a bit too calm overall for fans of the genre, or as I thought at first, one might first feel it would win by the addition of more guitars. I quickly changed my mind though, the album is great as it is, and a song like The Great Shipwreck of Life shows Chris Corner knows how to use guitars when he really needs to ;) Running is also amazing, it captivated me right away with its contemplative mood.
10. Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe
Though I know they are legends and incredibly hyped, I never was a huge Depeche Mode fan (though I never had anything against them, really). I think they got criticized by fans for using electric guitar on this album, on songs like Fragile Tension. I guess what disappoints others rejoices me - this is precisely what I particularly loved about this album, and Fragile Tension might be my favourite song on there... Though it's hard to decide - one can see they have been doing this job for long, they sure know how to construct a song that will please lots of people. Their melodies are catchy, pleasant, easy to sing, and the mastering and mixing are perfect. Good job DM!
9. Mono Inc. - Voices Of Doom
I just discovered Mono Inc. this year and I really loved their 2008 album Pain, Love and Poetry. Voices Of Doom doesn't change much to the style of the other, but I think it wasn't much needed, as they have already reached a good level of originality within their own genre. The unique vocals make Mono Inc.'s particularity... I have a hard time comparing their singer to any other voice I've heard, and he also has a very unique way of singing and pronouncing. Musically, they do nothing overly original, but their style of music is one that particularly pleases me, and they do it damn well!
8. Letzte Instanz - Schuldig
Ever since their (awesome) singer Robin has left, Letzte Instanz have very quickly evolved, and Holly, the new singer, probably tried to make sure that as awesome as Robin was, Letzte Instanz didn't depend on him. With Schuldig, I can finally say I do not miss Robin a single bit anymore. Ins Licht was very good, yet a little something was missing. Wir Sind Gold was really awesome... some fans thought it was a bit too soft, but softer doesn't mean worse. I still had a hard time forgetting how good and original Robin's voice was... now, I can say they gave me a good way to forget. Schuldig is accomplished in a way I didn't even think Letzte Instanz could reach. Except the cover art, which I find quite ugly, but visual art is not what I'm reviewing here. It has depth, lots of it, nice melodies, but also all the good elements that made Letzte Instanz's fame in the past, like the violin and the cello. Most incredibly, it has a lot of original "hit-songs" that I could easily see as first singles from an album: Komm!, Der Garten (feat. Aylin Aslim) or Finsternis, not to mention their actual first single Flucht Ins Glück (though ironically, this song didn't impress me as much). I can now hardly see how Letzte Instanz will ever get better, but hey, they might as well impress me again!
7. Farin Urlaub Racing Team - Die Wahrheit Übers Lügen
Here is the second album from 2008 in my list. It took me a lot of time to appreciate this album fully, especially as Am Ende Der Sonne, Farin Urlaub's last solo album, had fulfilled every expectation I had. Die Wahrheit Übers Lügen went into another direction, making it more similar to the first album. More upbeat, happier, yet a lot more rocking than the first album (and with shorter songs mostly). It might have helped that I had lots and lots of fun playing it on guitar, but I ended up falling in love with it in the summer (6 months after its release). I think it probably is a summer album, meant to be enjoyed in the warm sun, with a good cup of iced tea. My new motto: ich find das gut!
6. Rammstein - Liebe Ist Für Alle Da
Don't get fooled, for a Rammstein album to not even make it to the top 5 of my yearly charts can be seen as a big flop, kind of. And I feel like I'm going to rant a lot about it, but let it be said: if Rammstein was a new band, I would think this album is really really good, and promising for the future of the band. But let's face it: Rammstein isn't a new band, they are the ones who composed Sehnsucht... Reise, Reise, and the huge masterwork that is Mutter!!. I am not able to not compare, because their older works show their actual potential. And Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, in this way, is a big disappointment for me. It's a great album, and that's pretty much all there is to it. I could write a long review of it, but to wrap it up quickly, I can't believe a song like B******** could actually be preferred to something like Donaukinder for the main CD. Maybe they decided heavier and more aggressive meant better. I disagree. The opening track starts really well with an awesome intro, then gets a bit boring (I mean, the opening track itself gets boring). Then, the album has ups and downs. It has some great highlights (Ich tu dir weh, Frühling in Paris), but overall, it seems to me like it lacks polishing. If you listen to Mutter 50 times closely, with every listen, you'll discover new things that give depth to the songs, it's an amazing job of orchestration they have done. LIFAD has no depth at all, the only element they seemed to really care about was the "in-your-face!" element. I'm not even going to talk about Pussy, because I don't think it deserves to be talked about. Lyrically, of course - musically, it's pretty good, yet quite unoriginal. I could rant on for a while. Then, why put it #6, above all these other great albums, might you rightfully so ask. Well, because despite all the rants deserved when compared to masterworks like Mutter, it remains a really good album overall. Just don't play the comparison game with older Rammstein material. Please note I take the bonus limited CD into account here, because they contain some of the best quality tracks of the album. And I don't mean the 2 (not-so) different versions of Roter Sand (I can't stand that whistling on three songs within 30mins, come on!).
5. U2 - No Line On The Horizon
It took me a whole lot of time to get into this U2 album. It isn't quite as commercial or accessible as their previous works, and many listens are necessary to fully enjoy it. However, I can now say that as a whole it is my favourite U2 album. Not many tracks are absolutely amazing on their own, except maybe Magnificent, but taken as one work, from an end to the other of the album, it is incredibly enjoyable. It makes you go through many moods, it is very well constructed, played with intelligence and experience, and it leave a very positive feeling overall. If one negative remark could be said, Get on Your Boots is the worst song of the album, and I can't believe it was the first single. And I really, really do not get why people compare it a lot to Vertigo - to me it sounds nowhere like it. Nowhere. But that song is the only complaint I can have about the whole thing, really ;)
4. Dúné - Enter Metropolis
I discovered Dúné in concert only 2 years ago, and while their pop-punk element was quite good on their first album, what really made them stick out is their awesome use of keyboards, which they found a way to use a whole lot in a way I had never heard in that genre. While I liked the first album, I didn't spent too much time stuck on it, it might have lacked some depth. For sure, I would never have bet on their next one making my top 20 albums of the year. Enter Metropolis totally caught me, and I couldn't help listening to it 2, 3... 4 times a day, for... well... several weeks! I just couldn't help it. I had the songs running in my head day and night. One by one, I started loving every song more than the other, and ended up not knowing which I preferred. A few do stand out, but overall, most of the album terribly caught me. Let yourself be warned: if you are allergic to anything that sounds commercial and catchy, you won't like this album. You might like their first one, though. Enter Metropolis sees the band get a much fuller and accomplished sound. I like it, but many might see it as a sellout thing. Thankfully, the originality of their style survived, and their use of keyboards still is quite unique. I never really got tired of it like one usually get of "pop" music - several months after, I still enjoy it just as much, and I rediscover it with every listen.
3. Muse - The Resistance
At first, The Resistance disappointed me a bit. At this point, I could say Muse might be my favourite band overall, and my expectations were immense. Uprising, the first single, was good, yet not as good as their best songs of the past. With time, I ended up adopting the album, and deciding it is a pretty damn awesome album, though when compared to Origin Of Symmetry or Absolution, it is weaker. Let's get through with the bad things: it's too short. They divided an awesome 15mins orchestral thing into 3, as it seems, to make it appear as if there were more songs, but in fact, it's a quite short album. And the symphonic track should be all together as a whole. Now, the good stuff. Every song is really, really different in style. Not only did they care about renewing themselves compared to older albums, but they also took care of the actual album being very varied in styles, which is not so easy for an artist with a strong fan base like them, as it is a bit risky. Every song has its reason to be on the album and seems essential to it, I guess that's the nice part of having a shorter album (which is not THAT short either). It would probably be nice to have a few more rocking tracks, but one can album go back to Absolution for that. As a short side-note, I am a huge fan of most past Muse music videos, but the ones from The Resistance didn't impress me at all, sadly, they seemed a bit rushed.
2. Down Below - Wildes Herz
I wouldn't have imagined having Down Below so high on my yearly list, but their latest album Wildes Herz hit me exactly at the right place. They did exactly the style of music that I love, in the way I love it - and they stopped singing in English to give full place for German, which for me is a big plus. This appreciation of the album is pretty personal. A perfect mix of NDH, indie, rock, and catchy melodies and singing. All of it produced perfectly, with a failureless mixing (the best example would be the song Wildes Herz). Well, there you go, this recipe would probably get me every time, but sadly for me, it's quite rare to have such combination so well executed. I never get tired of it, it's stronger than me! ;)
1. Apoptygma Berzerk - Rocket Science
Talking about a perfect mix of NDH, indie, rock and catchy melodies, that's exactly what Apop had delivered with their last album You And Me Against The World, which had ranked as my top album of 2005. Well, they struck again with Rocket Science, and though there is some continuity in the sound, there is also a big change, somehow. The "theme" of the album (conspiracy theories, mostly though not entirely) has gotten me to wonder about tons of things, and do lots of research on my own for several weeks, and saying it was very interesting would be an understatement. Tons of things could be said about it here, but it's not really the purpose of this journal entry. Musically, it is a little more diverse than You And Me Against The World. Songs on their own stick a little more out, while as a whole, the album seems a little less of a musical "experience". But track-by-track, it impressed me a lot, and I got totally addicted to it after a bunch of listens. Asleep Or Awake? was my alarm clock song for several months, and I'm still not tired of it, miraculously. The more I listened to Green Queen, the more I could enjoy to the full the blast of energy it delivers. State of Your Heart (Sh*t End of the Deal) is absolutely beautiful, its melody creates instantly emotions in me, which are hard to describe, but which I see as a continuation of the feelings in Lost in Translation from the previous album, which is one of my favourite songs ever. To me, it makes no doubt that all around (considering the music, lyrics, etc.), this is the best release of the year. Though getting properly into it took me some time, it was well worth it.