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CE's Top 20 of 2007

The last two years have seen a little resurgence of metal, particularly in the folk, progressive, and doom genres, I think. I'm sure I still haven't heard everything there is to hear from 2007, and the following list might change. (Note: I consider Cruachan, The Morrigan's Call a 2006 release, so I didn't include it here.)

20. Nightwish, Dark Passion Play - Not great, but acceptable. They have a new energy, and I don't mind the new singer; I just wish they'd be more creative with their guitars. Bring back the neoclassical harmonies; ditch the boring nu-metal riffs, damn it!

19. Riverside, Rapid Eye Movement - Not their best work, but showcases the strong lead vocals. Dark, slightly progressive stuff reminiscent of Anathema and Evergrey.

18. Amorphis, Silent Waters - Repeating the formula that won them back their fans with Eclipse, and I don't really mind.

17. Novembre, The Blue - Not up to their usual standard. Continues further down the Materia path of atmospheric gothic death metal with pop (!) touches, i.e., not nearly as progressive, complex, and textured as their masterpiece, Novembrine Waltz. That said, it's pretty catchy if you enjoy this slightly sad, wistful sound.

16. Turisas, The Varangian Way - I usually don't like "epic metal," whether it's the faster stuff (Ensiferum) or the plodding stuff (Moonsorrow). But the cheese factor is just low enough on this one for me to stomach it. A fun listen.

15. Funeral, From These Wounds - A pretty interesting straight-up doom album, with occasional gothic touches. I don't really like their 90's material, actually, but this is solid.

14. Symphony X, Paradise Lost - The lavish layout aside, the music here is really a rehash of The Odyssey, which is disappointing yet kinda fun still.

13. Dream Theater, Systematic Chaos - Not great or anything, but I think it's an improvement over Octavarium, which I hardly ever listen to. Heavier, like Train of Thought, but unfortunately doesn't break the mold.

12. Porcupine Tree, Fear of a Blank Planet - Not metal, but they're part of this site, so there!

11. Drudkh, Estrangement - He's starting to repeat himself quite a lot now, but this was a welcome return to form after the mediocre Anti-Urban EP.

10. Cage, Hell Destroyer - A bit generic at times, but you can't help but get caught up in the energy. They need to chop off the last 4 or 5 songs, and this would be less hard to listen to, all the way through. Only really good trad-metal release this year, unless you count Candlemass.

9. Mekong Delta, Lurking Fear - A comeback album from one of my top 20 bands of all time. Still proggy, still thrashy, still doing remakes of classical symphonies. I would have appreciated a little more original material on this one, but it's still a lot of fun.

8. Circus Maximus, Isolate - Amazing vocals showcase something that sounds like the second coming of 1980's-era Queensryche, but even more progressive!

7. Behold...the Arctopus, Skullgrid - Their first real full-length album, conceived as such, it's a little more predictable than their early stuff, but only a little. The best technical metal out there. You know how awesome that Mastodon song, "Capillarian Crest," is? Every Arctopus song is like that.

6. Korpiklaani, Tervaskanto - Not as awesome as Tales Along This Road, but still really damned good folk metal.

5. Candlemass, King of the Grey Islands - I don't buy the criticisms of this album. Rob Lowe is so much better than Messiah Marcolin these days. Yeah, I said it.

4. Primordial, To the Nameless Dead - This Irish atmospheric metal band can always be counted on for emotional intensity, and they remain at the top of their game. Criminally underrated band.

3. Sigh, Hangman's Hymn - A return to thrashy, symphonic black metal-ish stuff, right up there with Imaginary Sonicscape for their best album, although it lacks the good production of the latter. Fix the mix, guys!

2. Lumsk, Det Vilde Kor - Not metal, actually, but they used to be metal. This is gorgeous progressive folk rock.

1. Therion, Gothic Kabbalah - Despite the loss of most of the symphonics, it's one of the top three albums of their career and my album of the year.

January 7, 2008
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