Best of 2008 - Mr. Mogul

Top Ten:
In alphabetical order

Disfear – Live the Storm
Disfear isn’t doing anything new on Live the Storm, they just do it better than anyone else. On this release they achieve their sound more successfully than any previous album. With super fast guitars, pounding D-Beats, and catchy choruses, they’ve put forth something enjoyable from start to finish. A definite must listen.

Firewater – The Golden Hour

After such a long hiatus, I’m always curious to see what a band will do. The Golden Hour is a combination of laptop recorded musicians from around South Asia and the Indian Subcontinent and studio performances from some of the Firewater regulars. What’s surprising here are the moving, angry, danceable songs combined with heart felt music and lyrical longing. These songs are less rock than previous Firewater outings, but still arguably stand up as their best work yet.

Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life
Fucked Up has never been a band to follow traditions, and the Chemistry of Common Life is no exception. They have distilled themselves down to their core here, releasing an album pretty much solid throughout. The primary difference between this album and 2006’s Hidden World is the slower riffing, and more fully realized songwriting, and they fill the space with more moments of darkness and beauty.

Gojira – The Way of All Flesh
At first listen, I was thinking “more of the same” and I put the album on a shelf. Disagreement from my partner in crime, Kurt Von Awesome, spurred repeated listening. And I gotta say, this album rules. Metal fans can be fickle, so the first two tracks satiate long-time Gojira fans, and then the album opens up. Starting with “A Sight to Behold” Gojira lets you know you’re in for a little more than you expected. An interesting, technical, and complete album – almost worth the listen for the drum work alone.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
I started listening to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds a long time ago, and honestly over the last 5 years or more they sort of fell off my radar. I caught their tour this year, and in preparation started listening to the catalog and picked up DLD. You never quite know what you’re gonna get with one of these albums, but I was pleasantly surprised by the tunes here. It’s a pretty deep album, almost a retrospective on the Bad Seed’s career, but damn if the songwriting isn’t fresh and complete. Grab this album.

The Night Marchers – See You in Magic
So I didn’t like this album at all first couple of listens. Even after seeing them live and enjoying the hell out of the show it took a few months for me to dig back into this infectious, catchy, album. The core of well written pop is here, combined with some things I liked about the Hot Snakes and Rocket from the Crypt. Listen a few times and you be unable to get these songs out of your head, it’s just that catchy. The converted are the most faithful, and if you don’t like this album, you have no soul.

Opeth – Watershed
After 2005’s Ghost Reveries I really felt I didn’t need to listen to any more Opeth. That album was great, but also seemed to be the pinnacle of what Opeth could do. I picked up Watershed anyway. Man this album smokes. Less partitioned than previous Opeth outings (if you have listened to them, you know what I mean) they stride their entire musical range within 30 seconds, and keep going. What is more impressive is that this album, with an average song length right around 7 minutes, still manages to be exceedingly accessible (almost poppy at times), even for a first time listener. How do they do that?

Testament – The Formation of Damnation
Persistence in the face of adversity: This is the best phrase that comes to mind when thinking about Testament. 25 years after they formed they still managed to come out with one of they’re best albums. Formation almost seems to pick up where Practice left off with one exception: the Death Metal that has been creeping into Testament’s later albums is still present, if not the centerpiece, which adds to their time tested formula, helping to keep the album sounding fresh. There are a couple of low points, but the album as a whole is fantastic.

Torche – Meanderthal
This was an easy decision for me. Torche does what they do so well, every album feels like an improvement over the last (is that possible?) Strolling from poppy, punk influenced sing-a-longs to droney, doomy gloom this album has it all. Production is the key here, as every note, every instrument (including vocals for once) are crystal clear. No band dances around most of my favorite genres as successfully as Torche, while retaining their own identity, and this is their most successful outing yet.

Young Widows – Old Wounds
The young widows are not easy. They have never been easy. That said, I loved Settle Down City, with a few complaints about the production of the album. Old Wounds is a better album start to finish. The production is worlds better, the songs are more complete and better realized. I dub Young Widows the kings of Post-post. All this said, Young Widows are not for everyone, which is a shame.

Honorable Mentions:
The Bronx - 2008
Genghis Tron – Board up the House
Protest the Hero – Fortress
The Sword – Gods of the Earth

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