Welcome to day nine of my ‘Album of the Year 2016’ top 30 countdown. Are you all still with me? I certainly hope so.
If you have just discovered this blog or this particular series, please feel free to check out the previous entries – my picks for 23-30 can be found via the links at the bottom of this post, along with links to the previous years as well. It should keep you busy for a few hours I should think.
So far, this year’s list has contained everything from prog metal to melodeath and from thrash metal, to avant-garde black metal. What can I say? My tastes really do encompass most styles of heavy music and that’s firmly reflected by this list. And now today, you can add ‘melodic metal’ to the list as I give you my choice at number 22…
Universal Mind Project
The Jaguar Priest
Inner Wound Recordings
“It is actually quite difficult to describe the musical output of Universal Mind Project succinctly because it features so many different elements. It is progressive, powerful, symphonic and highly melodic, almost veering into mainstream music territory on more than one occasion. There are dual male and female vocals plus a fair few extreme metal growls as well as demonstrably heavier moments that arguably belong more to the more extreme genres of metal than to anything else.
The list of guest musicians…is quite something too and includes Nils K Rue (Pagan’s Mind), Johan Reinholz (Andromeda), Mark Jansen (Epica, Mayan), Charlie Dominici (ex-Dream Theater), Emanuele Casali (DGM) and Diego Valdez (Helker).
Enhanced by a lyrical content that generally avoids genre clichés, striking cover artwork and a hugely impressive production…Universal Mind Project have delivered the full package. Remarkably consistent, hugely engaging and expertly crafted, it has come out of nowhere to blow me away.”
OK, so Universal Mind Project have not quite made it into my top 10 as I suggested it might via my review earlier in the year. At the time, I had no idea just how strong the year was to be overall. Nevertheless, it is still an impressively strong release that deserves a place in this list without a shadow of doubt. It certainly came out of nowhere to make a huge impact, even more so given that this is the debut album under the Universal Mind Project moniker.
Every song delivers something just a little bit different, be it the involvement of a guest artist or an injection of greater prog or cinematic overtones. However, what nearly every song has in common with each other is that the quality is consistently very high and there is always a catchy melody or hook somewhere to grab me and pull me under its spell. In some ways, ‘The Jaguar Priest’ could be referred to as a ‘feel good’ album, an dose of superb, grandiose, over-the-top heavy metal that does one thing: puts a huge smile on my face. Oh, ok, two things: it also makes me bang my head and sing out loud too.
Is there anything else an album like this needs to do?
In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30
And from previous years: