So, admittedly, I am not a very album-oriented music fan. Rather, I try to get into a few tracks from as many artists as possible each year. That means I love radio and the Wikipedia list of album releases for each year. That being said, along with my obsession with lists and my drive to infuse Pax Arcana with metal-y goodness, I present 10 must-have albums that came out in 2008 in no particular order.
As a bonus, I’m including a list of the top 10 girls of music in 2008. The purpose is three-fold: 1) I get to look these women up online and find their pictures, 2) Facebook, where I post my full 2008 year in review (ask Father Scott, that shit’s epic) makes posting pictures a huge pain in the ass, and 3) I want to see how much my taste bothers Padre and how angry I get when he calls them all “nothing special” like the glorious Novotel Amerstam hostess.
NOTE: The preceding paragraph was typed before researching for photos. Upon further review, the crop this year is not nearly on the level of previous years’, and Scott will take pleasure in ripping all my choices. In fact, it took a lot of research for a couple of them to find flattering pictures. The absence of new albums from Lacuna Coil (Cristina Scabbia) and Arch Enemy (Angela Gossow) hurt things a lot.
A full year in review, including a list of top 100 songs will be out it time for the new year. In the meantime, the first five albums here. Next five and the girlies after the jump.
Korpiklaani – Korven Kuningas
The next time someone asks me why I love Finland so much despite never visiting (for the record, it’s the Dudesons, the women, the general metal scene, and the fact that it’s *SPOILER* the only nation confirmed to be uninfected in 28 Days Later), I will just hand that person this album. There’s heavy metal, there’s death metal, there’s Norwegian black metal, and then there’s this: Finnish folk metal. Yes, that does in fact mean accordions and violins played over double bass pedals and guitar riffs. Vocalist Jonne Järvelä sounds like Lemme Kilminster (Mötörhead) and Dave King (Flogging Molly) merged their voiced into one to combine the greatest drinking sing-along album ever. Err, if you can learn Finnish that is. Best tracks: Metsämies, Keep on Galloping, Northern Fall
The Melvins – Nude With Boots
It’s kind of pathetic that I’m a big grunge fan and pretty much missed these guys completely the first 20+ years of their existence. Regardless, this album simply rocks. It’s a fast-paced journey of metal, grunge, and stoner rock that should appease any fan of good music (so maybe not Pax readers and contributors). If only there wasn’t a hideous dog on the cover of the album. Best tracks: Nude With Boots, Smiling Cobra (this would be one of my entrance song candidates if I were a wrestler)
Teenage Bottlerocket – Warning Device
Remember Blink-182? As in Buddha-through-Enema of the State-era Blink. Well, this album marks a return to pure pop-punk that’s been missing since 1999. None of the electronica/emo/pussy-influenced garbage that Fall Out Boy has popularized in recent years. The longest track clocks in at 2:40, and if at least one of these songs can’t catch your attention, you must not be human. Fun, quick listen by brothers (the Carlisles) better than the ones in Chevelle or Kings of Leon. Get in touch with your 16-year old “punk” self. Best tracks: Gave You My Heart, In the Basement, Crawling Back to You
Cavalera Conspiracy – Inflikted
OK, while the Carlisles from Teenage Bottlerocket are cool, the reunited Cavaleras (Max and Igor) blow them out of the water. Separated since the breakup of Sepultura, the brothers are back and bring with them members of Soulfly and Gojira. They’ve also had members of Down, Machine Head, and Pantera contribute to the album or play live with them. And you thought Hellyeah was a metal supergroup. This isn’t as heavy as Sepultura or Soulfly and has more of a punk influence. Solid through and through. Best tracks: Bloodbrawl, Sanctuary, Inflikted
Children of Bodom – Blooddrunk
This album will rip your face off and spit it back out at you. And it’s not even really death metal. More like “melodic death metal crossed with power metal.” That’s what we’ll call it while their genre debate is settled. Anyway, this continues the dominance of my adopted homeland, as the band was even named after the (apparently) infamous Lake Bodom murders that took place in Finland. Another bonus of this album is that half the tracks could be the score to a horror movie. Think of the synth effects in Nightmare on Elm Street. Hell, even the album cover is reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s death scene. Best tracks: Hellhounds on My Trail, Blooddrunk, Banned From Heaven
Slipknot – All Hope is Gone
At first, this was one of the most anticipated and disappointing albums of the year for me. For some reason, vocalist Corey Taylor decided to go into full-fledged butt-rock (read Nickelback, Hinder, etc.) mode half-way through the album, and the masked Iowans all but killed off the percussion and turn tables to incorporate guitar solos. Despite these problems, this album is a great mainstream introduction to metal for 2008. It may take a few listens, but it has some awesome, awesome songs. However, if you’re looking for “Wait and Bleed,” I’m thinking those days are over. Best tracks: Vendetta, Sulfur, Gematria (The Killing Name)
Street Dogs – State of Grace
The Dropkick Murphys sold out. Mike McColgan, the lead singer of the Street Dogs, was the original singer of the Dropkicks before becoming a fireman. For the uneducated, that’s him on classics like “Barroom Hero” and “Skinhead on the MBTA.” The Street Dogs stay true to form here and launch a hook-laden track in “Two Angry Kids” that should (but won’t) surpass “Shipping Up to Boston” as the iconic Boston song of the moment. Keep it real Mike, keep it real. Best tracks: Two Angry Kids, Mean First
Walls of Jericho – The American Dream
Or, to clarify, as Candace Kucsulain (see women list) screams on track 3: FUCK THE AMERICAN DREAM! I wholeheartedly agree, but we’ll save my rational and logical political beliefs for another day. I just love heavy metal bands featuring female vocalist, although this is easier on the ears than Arch Enemy. Still, even though she’s a girl, Candace sounds more deathier than Children of Bodom. Best tracks: The American Dream, The New Ministry, Feeding Frenzy
Anti-Flag – The Bright Lights of America
Wooo! Anti-American poltical, economic, and social system songs! Yes Anti-Flag might not be as angry as they once were. Yes, they may have jumped to a major label. But they still keep their core beliefs intact, and they grew their music this time around with the inclusions of bells and choirs. The question now becomes: what do they have to yell at and print hoodies about now that Bush is (finally) gone? Best tracks: Bright Lights of America, Good and Ready, Tar and Sagebrush
DragonForce – Ultra Beatdown
This quote from allmusic.com has become a bit over-cited, but it is still completely accurate: “Look up the word “juggernaut” in the dictionary and you may just find Dragonforce’s photo alongside the definition.” Some call them power metal geniuses. Others scoff and write off their “masturbatory” guitar play. I just call them the epitome of awesome. Anyone who has played Guitar Hero III has had the pleasure of trying to shred along with these guys, and if you don’t get this album, you are lame. Best tracks: ALL OF THEM!
You know who’s not on this list? Katy Perry, because she sucks. Danity Kane and The Pussycat Dolls are also eliminated. Tried to stick to rock to make it interesting.
Honorable Mention: Carah Faye Charnow (formerly of Shiny Toy Guns). When I first heard the new STG single “Richochet,” I loved the chorus but wondered how in blue hell Carah thought her vocals sounded good. Turns out she didn’t because the rest of the douches in the band kicked her and her tattoos out for an ugly ex-contestant on the Pussycat Dolls reality show. The fuck?
Annual Metal Girl of the Year: Candace Kucsulain (Walls of Jericho)
10. Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls)
9. Jemina Pearl (Be Your Own Pet)
8. Harriet Campesinos! (Los Campesinos!)
7. Katie White (The Ting Tings)
6. Charlotte Cooper (The Subways)
5. Lyn-Z (Mindless Self Indulgence)
4. Sharin Foo (The Raveonettes)
3. Kate Nash
2. Zooey Deschanel (She & Him)
1. Jem Griffiths (a.k.a. Jem)
Stay tuned for more later in the month!