Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Buyer's Guide (Melodeath/Doom/Goth)

Other Sections:

-Symphonic/Power/Folk Metal
-Accessible Metal
-Classic Metal
-Mainstream Rock
-Extreme Metal


Although it may not seem like it to non-fans, melodic death metal is one of the most artistic genres of music. The genre continues to live on past the glory days of In Flames, At the Gates, and Dark Tranquillity, and fans have a wide variety of great 2007 albums to choose from. Doom and Goth metal may not have had the same kind of year, but there still were some worthwhile representatives from those genres as well.

Silent Waters

Amorphis have abandoned their melodic death metal sound on recent releases, but Silent Waters marks a compromise between their melodeath roots and their recent experimentation with progressive metal. Unfortunately, the album itself isn’t strong enough to warrant a place among the top albums of the year, but it is a high quality album that should please fans of progressive and melodic death metal. When a band has changed their sound as many times as Amorphis has, it’s nearly impossible to please everyone. Although it comes at the expense of a truly creative experience, Silent Waters is an album that might actually come close to pleasing all fans of Amorphis. Hopefully they will go back to experimenting on their next album, but Silent Waters is an album that shows a great deal of balance between Amorphis’ many sounds, and almost any fan of the band should find something to like here.

Arch Enemy
Rise of the Tyrant

Rise of the Tyrant is an album that should please almost any Arch Enemy, and despite a lack of variety, fans of melodic death metal should at least give it a listen. The album starts off with a bang, and although that bang never changes, it remains great throughout. This may, in fact, be the best Arch Enemy has ever sounded. The Amott brothers’ guitar work is superb, the keyboards are a beautiful contrast the album’s consistent brutality, and Angela Gossow’s vocals seem to only get better with time. If Arch Enemy can take the outstanding sound they’ve settled on with this album and add some variety to it, the next album should be truly incredible. As it stands now though, Rise of the Tyrant is a high quality melodic death album that would make a perfect gift for any melodic death metal fan that has yet to add this one of their collection.

Dark Tranquillity

It’s a shame that only metal fans will be able to appreciate the latest Dark Tranquillity album. Regardless of genre, this is one of the best albums of the year. Although it’s unrealistic to expect anyone who isn’t already a fan of metal to enjoy an album as heavy as Fiction, it’s too good to recommend to fans of a specific style. In terms of quality, Fiction is an album that deserved to be appreciated by all fans of music. The incredible vocals combined with the sometimes soothing and often brutal instrumentals are a wonder to behold, and no other album 2007 album mixes heaviness and beauty quite like Dark Tranquillity does on Fiction. It’s simply superb from start to finish, and all metal fans should experience it. This is one of the best albums of the year, and it could easily be called the absolute best album released in 2007.

Dir en grey
The Marrow of a Bone

Dir en grey’s inclusion on this list is proof that music can only be evaluated on a case by case basis. 2006’s “Saku” topped my Worst Songs of the Year list last year, and yet Dir en grey has come back to create a worthwhile album that should please both those who disagree my criticism of this band in the past and even those who weren’t as impressed with Dir en grey’s previous work. For better for worse, The Marrow of a Bone is an album unlike anything else released this year, and although a few of songs are remakes that could be called inferior to the original, it marks Dir en grey’s first great album since changing their style to heavy metal. There’s no doubt that this band is exceptionally talented, and this is the first time they’ve put everything together in a cohesive package. The Marrow of a Bone is a solid and varied album that isn’t spectacular, but it should please almost any fan of metal.

Dimension Zero
He Who Shall Not Bleed

He Who Shall Not Bleed is an album only for melodic death metal fans. If you’re not a huge fan of the genre, you have no business getting an album that could only be called above average for the genre. That being Dimension Zero is not a bad band, and He Who Shall Not Bleed is not a bad album. If you don’t expect anything too unique, it’s worth a listen. This is an album that contains some fairly high quality melodic death metal, and if that’s what you want, that’s what you’re going to get. Just make sure you already own the new Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, and The Absence albums before getting this one.

Novembers Doom
The Novella Reservoir

More than anything, The Novella Reservoir is solid. In a time without a large amount of quality doom metal, fans of the genre should take advantage of it. Consistency is certainly a virtue here, and there’s not a bad track to be found. Nothing on The Novella Reservoir is amazing enough to be recommended to anyone outside of the genre, but is still among the best doom metal albums of the year. In all actuality, it’s a must-buy album for doom fans, as this is the best example of traditional doom metal the genre has seen in years. It could even be argued that this is the best and most consistent album in Novembers Doom’s discography, and it’s a hard to imagine a fan of the band being disappointing with this release.

Paradise Lost
In Requiem

Paradise Lost is one of the more unique gothic metal bands out there, and their new album should please existing fans. Despite the band’s unique style, they’ve created a borderline formulaic approach for each album, but they play that style exceptionally well. If you like Paradise Lost, you’ll almost certainly like this album. If you’re not a fan, then it’s doubtful this will change you mind. However, if you want a quality gothic metal album that’s different from the rest of the pack, In Requiem is a quality choice.

Swallow the Sun

“Hope” may be a strange name for a doom metal album, but Swallow the Sun may be the only hope the genre has to return to greatness. To play exceptional doom metal, a band has to capable of creating higher art. This is shown by bands like Katatonia that have been able to adapt to other styles of music and still be just as incredible. Swallow the Sun has the potential to the same, and they are higher art at their best. Hope may not as good of an album as Katatonia’s greats, or even Swallow the Sun’s debut, but it’s easily the best doom metal album released this year. There are moments of the album that are among the best of the year, and those moments make Hope a recommendable purchase to all fans of heavy metal.

The Absence
Riders of the Plague

If you’re a fan of melodic death metal, you need to own Riders of the Plague. It’s as simple as that. It’s rare that a non-Swedish band can craft a truly outstanding melodeath album, but The Absence has done just that. Riders of the Plague is not a typical melodic album, and its uniqueness combined with a very solid core sound makes this one of the best albums of the year. The Absence made headlines by criticizing Trivium earlier this year, but unlike the band they band they criticized, The Absence can back up their criticism with a great album. This is as great of an American melodic death metal album as there has ever been, and fans of metal would be wise to give a chance.

Type O Negative
Dead Again

Dead Again isn’t a mind blowing album by any stretch of the imagination, but Type O Negative doesn’t need to be at their awe-inspiring best to release a quality album. It certainly isn’t a masterpiece, and one could even say that the album’s biggest problem is consistency, which has never been a problem with Type O Negative. What can be said about Dead Again though is that it’s not formulaic, and it isn’t your typical doom/goth metal album. As long as you don’t expect anything masterful, Dead Again is worth recommending. It’s a unique album by an arguably legendary band in a genre of music that desperately needs more truly unique albums.

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