Today I bring you Part 3 of my “Half-Way Through 2013 – The Best So Far” series. Hopefully you’ll find something within this blog to pique your interest – it is certainly a more mixed bag today with one surprise choice nestled in here. Keep reading to find out what that is…
There is something special about this band, something unique. This Jewish Israeli band has managed to do what politics, negotiation, diplomacy and war have yet to accomplish – the unification of the Middle East. Ok, so I might have dressed things up with a little hyperbole, but the fact remains that small sections of Jews, Muslims and Christians will come together, ignore religion and enjoy an Orphaned Land album or live show.
Based on the music of “All Is One”, it’s not difficult to see why. Bombastic progressive metal assaults your ears from the very beginning and sets the framework for an ambitious album. Ethnic instrumentation appears in abundance to create authenticity, whilst vocalist Kobi Farhi has abandoned his death metal growling almost entirely to allow his words to be heard more clearly. Big choruses and melodies also make this record one of their most accessible to date, in spite of some of the bleak and emotional lyrics that will move even the most hardened of metallers.
Leprous – “Coal”
Leprous have an approach and a sound that is truly unique and worthy of the tag ‘progressive’. Each album is different whilst maintaining that quirky Leprous core and, within seconds of listening to “Coal”, you know it’s them. Frankly, it couldn’t be anyone else. The guys are fantastically talented and, when it comes to writing music, apparently bonkers and not shackled by the constraints of convention.
The music is genuinely heavy and aggressive but at the same time, sounds delicate and fragile. It is an impressive feat and leads to a listening experience which is as challenging as it is rewarding. On this record however, I’d venture to say that there’s a touch more immediacy and melodic intent, making the music just that little bit more accessible. Prog metal fans cannot afford to miss out on this.
Soilwork – “The Living Infinite”
It’s a massive undertaking to record a double album. It’s an even bigger undertaking when you’ve lost your principle song-writer and creative force for the second time. However, that’s exactly what Soilwork have done with “The Living Infinite”, their ninth recording. It was as if the remaining members wanted to stick a metaphorical two fingers up at those who thought they couldn’t hack it without Peter Wichers at the helm.
And they’ve done it too. No less than 20 songs over the two discs and there’s rarely a duff moment to be found anywhere. It is arguable as to whether Soilwork can be described as melodic death metal anymore, but what’s not arguable is the quality of the output here. The music remains aggressive and heavy, the choruses are huge and melodic and the performance from vocalist Speed is one of the strongest of his career. But in addition, there’s also a variety within the compositions that has perhaps hasn’t previously been present, including a brief foray into doomier territory. It all adds up to one hell of a fine release.
Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”
I have never been a fan of either Killswitch Engage or their specific subgenre of metal. I have always found the whole thing rather cringe worthy and just a little bit fake. The aggressive verses juxtaposed with clean-sung melodic choruses have always felt a bit clunky and fake, trying to be all things to all metal fans. Until now that is.
I don’t know what made me listen to “Disarm The Descent” for the first time. However, I did listen and it has blown me away. The riffs are huge, the songs are powerful and the choruses are so damn catchy and often border on the anthemic. Plus this album sees the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, who puts in a very fine performance indeed. One of the surprises of 2013 so far and if you’re surprised to see this in my list, give it a try and hopefully you might just agree.