Eventful was the time: From flamers attacking us with comments displaying a level of stupidity I never thought possible, to full-blown hacker attacks on the site, one total breakdown of the site with subsequent reloading and salvaging the server contents. This last one was quite heavy, barely avoiding loosing months of writing.
Wondrous things were happening too: For example Anneke van Giersbergen almost jumping onto the hood of my car when crossing the road right in front of me with her family in a little town by the Lake of Geneva and poor old RockmusicRaider struck speechless, sitting dumbstruck in the car. LOL! This was just around the time when I reviewed The Diary of The Gentle Storm; one of the rare records receiving a straight 10/10 rating on the blog. As you may imagine, Anneke and Arjen Lucassen were a lot on my mind at that time. Then this; I thought I’d seen a ghost.
Progressive Metal – specifically the sphere of influence around Arjen Lucassen – took on quite some importance for the Best of… – in addition to The Gentle Storm – by way of Guilt Machine hitting the blog at full speed with their one and only record. Not to forget that RockmusicRaider is now also officially a fan of Stream of Passion headed by the lovely Marcela Bovio.
Some miles further down the prog road, Under The Red Cloud just released in 2015 by Amorphis is already very good, but straight beaten off the Best of… podium by their 1996 piece Elegy.
Then the Doom Metal wave started to spice up the Best of… list in earnest starting with My Silent Wake and their excellent Damnatio Memoriae, just to be dethroned by the latest concoction thrown in by Paradise Lost. However, the friggin’ cherry on the pie really came with My Dying Bride much later in the year, letting their competitors Feel The Misery.
Leaves’ Eyes released their Viking piece King of Kings some time ago in 2015, thus placing themselves onto the Best of.. Tome II edition. And they again added some more oomph and quality to their tune. This is a steady progression of this band and they need to be watched.
Caladan Brood brought Echoes of Battle to the blog and made it into the Best of… Tome II. Judging by the song structure, lyrics and delivery, their style is classified Black Metal, but is it really? If anything, it is their very own brand of Black Metal and they got me interested in the Malazan Book of the Fallen big time. Hey, that’s at least something right there, ain’t it? But seriously, their somewhat geeky brand of #metal actually hooked me hard. I am still laughing that they are based in Salt Lake City – home of the mighty Mormons. And black metallers are not necessarily straight followers of the nailed god. Got the drift? Good ‘un. And how could I forget? Cradle of Filth also scored, only at 7/10, but they did. Nope, not for Hammer of the Witches. It is for Nymphetamine, which is much funkier and kind of unusual in style for CdF. I really like the contribution of Liv Kristine in Nymphetamine Fix – check out the video. Okay, some of you may think that CdF is for wusses, this not being Black Metal in the purist sense. Some truth in this line of thought too; but hey, as creativity goes, Dani Filth has it in him, going beyond sticking naked girls on crosses during shows.
Speaking about going off the beaten track, someone suggested to look into Tiamat as well. Now, it is not the latest 2012 disc The Scarred People (a real disappointment, boring to hell..) that got my undivided attention, but really the ’94 delivery Wildhoney. This one is really good, but you gotta be in the mood for it to enjoy the somewhat psychedelic, but thoughtful type of music. Straight metallers abstain! ‘Tis not your cup of tea.
Fall brings many good things, right? Halloween, Thanksgiving – you name it. But also old masters proving to us they can still do stellar Heavy Metal. The latest delivery Book of Souls of Iron Maiden in September 2015 is one of them. Probably one of the best records they ever did after The Number of the Beast and this already after a long and distinguished career. I am impressed. But I am also a bit sad: Once these #metal dinosaurs have left the stage (forgive me, oh mighty fans of Heavy Metal…), there is not a hell of a lot to follow. True, we have many sub-genres of all sorts in #metal and many bands getting bigger and better in there, but biggies like Maiden? Hmm.
Speaking of sub-genres, the free wheeling island thrash metallers of Blynd just made it onto this Best off… edition. Blynd from the beautiful island of Cyprus will hit us with some brutal #metal waves early November 2015 on Liber Sum. Hard tack in taste, but very good #metal in quality. But it is a brand of #metal that is for sure not for the classical nerds. Only real metalheads allowed in their backyard.
Last, but not least RockmusicRaider got on an extened review of old hard rock and #metal hitting this Best of… too, focusing on bands like Uriah Heep in their heyday, covering stellar records like Salisbury – early Prog Rock. And more of that to come. But also covering underrated bands like UFO, mainly related to the Schenker years – for now. Just think about Lights Out and Obsession, whereas the former will be beating the latter – in my opinion.
I will continue this drive during the next months, moving more into ’80s and what happened there with #metal facing the mighty disco movement. Judas Priest and Black Sabbath come to mind or Dio with the unforgettable Ronnie James of the amazing voice taking the lead after a long career covering – ironically – the former band as frontman. Of course at the same time concentrating on new releases and older ones, as they strike my fancy.