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Best music moments from 2010

Once more it’s this time of the year when I get to review what kind of music 2010 had to offer. I have the feeling that 2010 has been relativelly less exciting for me than 2009 was. 2009 was a year of monumental releases which included Paradise Lost’s “faith divides us’, Slayer’s “world painted blood”, Napalm Death’s “Time waits for no slave” and Heaven and Hell’s “The devil you know”. Bad religion‘s 2010 album was a surprise to me, since it is the first ever BR album which I disliked! Neither Immolation nor Unleashed, Grave or Misery Index amazed me. Motorhead once again disappointed me. Although Maiden‘s new album has 3-4  songs I really like (e.g. The talisman, Where the wild wind blows, The man who would be king) I find it boring overall (apparently since Smith has returned I cannot listen to any of the songs he composes). Anyway, here are my favorite musical moments of 2010:

1. Atheist – Jupiter

Atheist’s comeback album has been a pleasant surprise. It restored my faith in death metal’s ability to be intelligent, exciting and out-of-vogue. A release which is perfect to its last detail. Imaginative melodies, orchestration, lyrics, execution and cover painting. Every song is an invitation to a unique experience. It really feels great that there are still artists out there able to make your skin crawl. In a scene where Schuldiner no longer exists, were Immolation have not presented something innovative since 2002, Broken Hope have disbanded since 2000, it is not a hyperbole to say that Atheist is the last remaining pillar of American death metal. “Live and live again” may be the song of the year.

2. Imperial State Electric – s/t

imperialstateelectric_st_cdNicke Andersson’s new band is, as I expected it to be, awesome. Lighter than even the more recent Hellacopters moments, this album is a masterpiece. Quite diverse songs with bridges and choruses that stick to your head and never leave. Songs that scream out Beatles, like “resign” and “I’ll let you down” are breath taking. “Lee Anne” is an instant classic whose post-chorus melodies resonate (in my ears) with Andersson’s compatriots ABBA. “Throwing stones” reminds of the Detroit scene. Kiss riffing is naturally all over the place. Playing is more than excellent but not exaggerated and the production is perfect. Goddammit I love this man.

3. Desultory – Counting our scars

Desultory - Counting Our ScarsDesultory’s Bitterness album has always been a favorite among my old friends from high school. While I consider melancholic melodies and soulful vocals to be trademarks of the swedish death scene, few come close to doing them as good as Desultory. Although in recent years there have definitely been some monumental swedish death songs (e.g. christ all fucking mighty by Death Breath, combat fatigue by Dismember, and others) it’s been quite some time since I heard a masterpiece like “This broken Halo”. Overall it is an amazing album sounding something between Into Eternity and Bitterness (with a few american touches, like in “Ready to bleed” which reminds of Deicide). Slow songs like the beautiful “the moment is gone” or “leeching life“, remind of times when Sweden was ruling the musical world. Johnsson’s simple but intense drumming, which contributes to Desultory’s trademark sound alongside Morberg’s unique vocals,  is present once more and maybe more powerful than ever. The lyrics of “the moment is gone” strike me as ironic, since they are sang by a band that reformed after 14 years to play the death metal of its youth… But realising that the moment is gone is enough for Desultory to be sad and write music to express that emotion.

4. Blind Guardian – At the edge of time

Blind Guardian never disappoint! It appears their dedication to playing good music combined with inexhaustible creativity has paid off again. Moreover, I think it is in order to argue that A. Olbrich and H. Kursch constitute the most exciting partnership in metal music.  Blind Guardian’s unique music is a manifestation of this chemistry. The new album is less complicated than the two previous albums, in the sense that the songs are more straightforward with fewer changes. There are a few fast moments with songs like, “A voice in the dark”, “Tanelorn” and “Ride into obsession” but nothing like the raging first half of the 1990s. My personal favorite song is “Control the divine” which has a perfect chorus and mindbogglingly beautiful music. Well words are never enough to describe the perfection of Blind Guardian so I’ll just stop here.

5. Necronaut – s/t

Fred Estby’s comeback album is a brilliant but awkward album. The reason for this awkwardness is its musical diversity which prevents the album from being categorised in one genre or the other. I personally think that Estby committed commercial suicide by creating an album in which he composed music that he liked, without planning a consistent and conventional direction for the album. Having said that, the songs on this album are awesome! The introduction is an Autopsy-like song which puts the listener in a swampy early american death metal mood. The follow up is a punky swedish death metal song on which vocals are provided by the extremely talented Drette of Edge of Sanity fame. It also sounds like something Dismember would have written around their Massive killing capacity era.  One of the best moments of the album is the Autopsy sounding “Infecting madness” sung by Reifert himself. Really amazing monolithic riffs and amazing vocals! The two best songs in this album are however the two Sabbath/Candlemass/ Bathory sounding songs “After the Void” and  “the Tower of death”. On both songs music is exciting and heavy beyond belief. Andersson’s vocals on the Tower are awesome and so are Nillson’s on After the Void. As I listen to After the void, I can’t help imagining what it would be like if Matti was singing on it! “Returning to kill the light” is another great blackened-death metal song which would stand out in any album from bands like Nifelheim or Necrophobic. I am really intrigued to see how this experience will affect the direction of Estby’s musical future.

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