Friday, February 19, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of the Last Decade: 2007

Once again, the ground rules: each band can only be on the list once. Each year is allotted five albums, i.e., 5 for 2000, 5 for 2001, and so on. I do not attempt to rank them from 1 to 50, or even 1 to 5 within a year, because they are all excellent. Ranking them would be a pointless endeavor.

Also, instead of filling out all 50 slots, I actually have only picked 3 for each year, because, as I learned with my last top X list, I don't know everything about metal (though I do know a lot more than I did then). I probably am unaware of at least two other great metal albums in each of these years, and I want to encourage you to add the rest by commenting.

As I said last week, my list for 2007 has some picks which are very different from those already on the list. So let's get to it.

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Ire Works

You might guess I like strange music, having picked Disillusion last week, and you'd be right. Yes, Dillinger are a metalcore group, but they are the best kind of metalcore: mathcore. While there are some accessible, almost 90's pop punk style moments, these don't serve to make the album mainstream at all. Instead, they seem to emphasize the abrasiveness of the rest of the album. The sound is extremely complex and abrasive, the way I like it, but it's not just aimless complexity. It all makes sense. Both rock magazine Kerrang! and extreme metal magazine Decibel gave the album perfect scores. My top picks include "Black Bubblegum" (which combines mathcore with a dance tune), "Milk Lizard" (which includes brass), and "Horse Hunter" (which is highly counter-intuitive, yet still works).

Symphony X: Paradise Lost

Up until this pick, I have neglected to include any power metal, and I'm sure any European readers were foaming at the mouth over that. I'm not a huge fan of the genre, although I do have some favorites (Brainstorm, Firewind, and of course Iced Earth). Hopefully the inclusion of this progressive symphonic power metal band will help (even if they are American). Anyway, the album is epic in concept, epic in scope, and epic in execution. It's absolutely brilliant, from the Carmina Burana-like opener "Oculus Ex Inferni" to the dramatic closer "Revelation (Divus Pennae ex Tragoedia)" which clocks in at 9:17. The vocals are some of the best in power metal as well. The band seems to have backed off the symphonic part of their work a bit, as it had been accused of derailing their music before, and the result is breathtaking: Rather than overwhelm the metal or make it wimpy, the symphonic elements merely emphasize it (much like on a certain Norwegian band's album I picked for 2003). A truly excellent album.

Volbeat: Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil

These Danes have a unique approach to heavy metal: They combine it with 1950's style rock music (a la Elvis). The approach which could be seen as part of the larger "retro metal" movement, but I object to any comparison which puts them in the same box with the likes of crap like Wolfmother; no, Volbeat's approach is a fusion genre, not a return to a prior metal style. The juxtaposition of styles creates a stunning result, with the seemingly wholesome elements of the 50's rock, including both musical and lyrical elements, twisted into a scary metal interpretation. This is in evidence on top tracks such as opener "The Human Instrument" (which takes a twist on all those I-love-her-but-she-doesn't-know-it 50's songs), the aggressive love song "A Moment Forever" (which includes scatting), the murder story (including a wrongly-accused husband) "Mr. and Mrs. Ness," and especially the mythical "River Queen."

I hope you enjoyed my picks for 2007. Be sure to add your picks for the other two songs for 2007 in the comments, and come back next week for 2008, where I go back to some death and thrash. When they're all posted, you can see the whole list by clicking here.


  1. I really enjoy the Symphony X album but am not crazy about either of the other two. I don't care for The Dillinger Escape Plan at all and never heard much from Volbeat. My favorites of 2007 are Sigh: Hangman's Hymn, Rotting Christ: Theogonia, Amorphis: Silent Waters, and Thornafire: Exacerbated Gnostic Manifestation.

  2. I have to be in the right mood for Sigh. I love the Amorphis pick though. Never heard Thornafire; I'll have to check into that one.

  3. Thornafire is a death metal band out of Chile that sounds like a cross between Morbid Angel, Immolation, and Death. It's not for everyone, but I like their stuff quite a bit. Sigh is a little tough sometimes, but the 2007 album is better than most of their stuff, at least to me.

  4. Well, I'm a huge fan of Death, and really like Morbid Angel. I'm not too familiar with Immolation. I'll have to check both of them out.