I didn’t come across too much new music that really excited me this year; especially new items released in 2008. While Metallica’s latest entry Death Magnetic was certainly hard hitting and leap years beyond their previous album it didn’t really capture my imagination. Likewise Chinese Democracy was a huge letdown. While that band is Guns n’ Roses it is GNR in name only. The album tries to walk a little too close to the line between the glory of yesteryears and a modern sound; it never quite succeeds in either.
By a large 2008’s strongest release was by Opeth. Watershed is in my opinion one of the greatest progressive rock/metal albums of all time. It is a carefully constructed piece of work full of soaring melodies and intricate features of intense musicianship. If you’re at all a fan of metal, or progressive music, you should own this album. By and large this is my favorite album of 2008 from a band that lacks real name recognition outside it’s genre; which is a shame since these guys are absolutely phenomenal.
Two albums that were constantly returning to my playlist this year were 2007 releases that I discovered in 2008. Italian progressive metal band Raintime’s Flies & Lies offers a more synth-heavy approach than Opeth and manages to produce some staggeringly anthemic riffs including the heaviest cover of a Michael Jackson song you’ll ever hear. I suppose Five Finger Death Punch are a thrash band but with definate leanings towards metalcore but their debut album, Way of the Fist, features some hard-hitting tracks with some seriously impressive drumming and an aggressive sound that is impossible to ignore. That isn’t these guys only shtick as they were, for a while, doing a mini tour of Best Buys playing acoustic sets. Their acoustic version of their single The Bleeding reveals a band as technically proficient and musically talented as any other veteran band on the metal scene.
2008 was also the year of the geek for me as I delved even further in the Geek music scene. Newer video game bands eclipsed some of the older ones. Minibosses while classic, cannot hold a candle to Powerglove and few video game bands have quite the range and sounds of jazz/funk/rock band the One-ups. I also delved beyond the MC Frontalot level of the nerdcore scene, snatching up some of the RhymeTorrents compilations, and the advent of the Childs Play Benefit CD from Penny Arcade introduced me to Nerdcore rapper Beefy whose debut album Rolling Doubles features some smooth tracks.
All in all it was a good year on the music scene, though not a great one, but I look forward to a 2009 filled with many more awesome releases: God Forbid’s Earthsblood (2/29), Sepultura’s A-lex (1/26), Lamb of God’s Wrath (2/24), the JoCo concert DVD just to name a few. 2009 looks to be a good year for the metal scene; here’s hoping at least.