Some of you may know me as one of the photographers for Heavy Blog. I shoot shows in Philadelphia, NYC, and occasionally other places. Due to the thriving scenes on the east coast, almost every band I want to see tours around me. As I shot over 100 shows this year, I was exposed to a lot of different music. My opinion of a band’s music on an album changes for better or for worse when I see a band live. As this is the case, my top 20 list only consists of bands I did not see this year.
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2013 was a difficult year for me musically. Choosing ten albums that stuck with me, meant something to me, was not an easy task. No other year in my memory did I spend more time listening to albums from years past than albums from the current year. There were, however, many albums I did enjoy. Every album I gave a positive review was worth quite a few listens. My biggest problem this year was the mass amounts of hype surrounding certain albums, a few of which I really wanted to enjoy. Album’s like The Ocean‘s Pelagial started off strong enough but fizzled around the halfway mark. So, here are ten albums, and some honorable mentions, that provided me with entertainment, inspiration, and some great drives.
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01. End Of The Beginning
02. God Is Dead?
05. Age Of Reason
06. Live Forever
07. Damaged Soul
08. Dear Father
DISCLAIMER: This track by track review was written as a one time run through listen of the new album at the exclusive listening event in L.A.. This is not definitive nor refined. A more cohesive review of the album will be released when it is available.
Now that we have that out of the way, let us explore this sensational piece of heavy metal history. 13 is the first new Black Sabbath album since 1995′s Forbidden, the first with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978′s Never Say Die!, and the first with Geezer Butler since 1994′s Cross Purposes. In the current age where comebacks have been a growing trend, few others have me more excited than the return of Black Sabbath with Ozzy on vocals (though it’s sad that Bill Ward will not be on the album, who was replaced by Rage Against The Machine/ex-Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk). With so much controversy and disagreements conflicting their highly publicized reunion that was shown last year, things were put off to a point where it seemed like things might never work out. Thankfully, they did.
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If you didn’t know already, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree‘s latest solo release The Raven That Refused To Sing is incredible — a sprawling, expansive journey through every dark nook and cranny that makes prog rock so varied and interesting. It’s a testament to just how good a songwriter Wilson really is that he can so seamlessly weave together so many different approaches to the word ‘prog’ and cause, say, Emerson, Lake And Palmer and Rush to sit comfortably next Opeth and The Mars Volta.
The finale to the album, ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing‘, is just one aspect of that — alongside the dark and sombre visuals, swells of strings and piano meet Wilson’s croon in one of the most beautiful and emotive pieces you’ll hear all year. It’s a story that will tug at your heart strings. So while you’re clearing the manly tears from your ears and trying to come up with as excuse as to why you were weeping all over your laptop, maybe think about getting the Kleenex in before this drops on the 25th of February through KScope Records.
Gather ’round kids! It’s time I told you about the new Steven Wilson album entitled The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories).
Once upon a time there was a brilliant musician named Steven Wilson, who announced his new solo album due out on February 25th via KScope Records. Steven didn’t want this to be any ordinary record, so he recruited the likes of Guthrie Govan for magical lead guitar duties, Nick Beggs to hold down the lowdown on bass guitar, Marco Minnemann to create confusing percussive landscapes on drums, Adam Holzman to add the details on keyboards, and Theo Travis to serenade you to sleep saxophone and flute. This was all topped off by legendary producer and engineer Alan Parsons, who engineered the album. “Where have we heard about this line-up before,” you might ask yourself among all the excitement!
It’s the live line-up. Are you dense? Anyway, check this track list out!
1. Luminol (12.10)
2. Drive Home (7.37)
3. The Holy Drinker (10.13)
4. The Pin Drop (5.03)
5. The Watchmaker (11.43)
6. The Raven that Refused to Sing (7.57)
Now everyone say it with me… ready? FUCK YES, LUMINOL! I’ve been absolutely in love with this song since the live album and may have killed it into by listening to it every day on my way to work. Maybe. I know the track times might scare off some people, but remember who we’re talking about here.
The man knows how to keep it interesting.
Porcupine Tree is easily one of my favorite bands. Their evolution from trippy space-prog to prog-metal over the past twenty years is nothing short of the workings of a musical mastermind Steven Wilson, and The Incident was a personal favorite of mine from 2009, both musically and in concept. Anyone who follows the band know that Wilson also has a flourishing solo career, and released Grace For Drowning earlier this year to widespread praise, myself included. However, as for Porcupine Tree, the day isn’t as bright.
Wilson has stated that it is on hold for the time being. Originally expected to record their new album and possibly even release it this year, Wilson has said otherwise. According to him, the biggest priority for him is his solo career, he is sick of metal, and he doesn’t know what direction Porcupine Tree will take next. Considering they went from Pink Floyd-inspired stuff to being the inspiration themselves, I’m interested to see where they go next.
“The honest answer is I don’t know. The solo career for me now is probably the most important. I think about it more than anything else, I’m more focussed on it than anything else, I enjoy it more than anything else and I’m brimming over with ideas. Whereas with Porcupine Tree, I’m not quite sure what to do with the band next. We’ve made 10 albums over a period of almost 20 years. The problem is, when you establish such a strong brand or trademark, and you spend years building it up, people expect you to become a machine, endlessly putting out an album, then touring. I promised myself many years ago that I would never ever allow myself to let this become a job. For me, it’s still about being very selfish and doing what I want to do. I know I’ve been fortunate that there seems to be enough people out there who respect me enough and still want to listen to whatever I do. Right now all my thoughts and energies are wrapped up in the excitement and the buzz I’m getting from the solo work.”
You can read the full interview here. Details as they come, per normalcy.
So the prog nerd dream team collaboration of Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) was pushed back to May, but to compensate, Roadrunner released all sorts of details about the release, including the cover art (above) and tracklist, which is as follows:
01. Drag Ropes (9:52)
02. Storm Corrosion (10:12)
03. Hag (6:28)
04. Happy (4:53)
05. Lock Howl (6:09)
06. Ljudet Innan (10:20)
Also accompanying the press release is a trade-off of quotes between Mike and Steve (sounds like a radio DJ duo, doesn’t it?) that describes the album. Check it out:
The sound of STORM CORROSION can best be described as enchanting, orchestral, ambient, epic (half the album’s tracks clock in around the 10-minute mark) and nothing short of surprising to the new ear. However, the musicians’ respective fanbases will be primed to appreciate the new output, with Wilson’s recent solo album, “Grace For Drowning”, and OPETH’s “Heritage” having brought them to a logical place to understand STORM CORROSION. This eponymous collection is almost viewed as one side of a musical triangle.
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It’s kind of mind-boggling to me that none of us at HBIH have mentioned this legendary duo, but allow me to remedy that mistake. For those who do not know Storm Corrosion is the upcoming musical project between Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree.
Their upcoming album is said to be some sort of conclusion to a loose trilogy of albums that began with Opeth’s latest release, Heritage, and Wilson’s latest solo album Grace for Drowning. Neither of those albums were particularly metal, and both were a pretty big departure for the musicians involved, so you can expect the same sort of experimentation to seep into the sound of Storm Corrosion. I personally loved both of those releases, being two of my favorites of 2011, so I’m expecting nothing but the best from these two.
Anywho, today the star duo finally announced their official signing to Roadrunner Records. In the press release the two talked about their excitment for this project, and Åkerfeldt went so far as to say it will be one of the most beautiful pieces of music he’s ever been involved with:
“Some of the music on this record I think is the most beautiful music I have participated on ever… There’s some magical sections on there. Musically I think we’ve created something earthy, a bit frightening, exhausting, profound and rather intense. All at the same time. I can safely say I don’t know any other band or artist that sounds anything like Storm Corrosion. I guess that was also one of our goals, so to speak.”
That’s a big promise there. Let’s hope he can follow through with that statement. Storm Corrosion’s self-titled album will be released April 24th on Roadrunner Records. You can read the full press release regarding the duo’s signing below. Cheers!
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