четвртак, 25. новембар 2010.

the lists: 1998

The first three albums seem to always change their places from time to time, but after much consideration I made a decision for this lineup.

1. The Gathering - How To Measure A Planet? (Century Media)

This was the perfect album for the Spring of 1999. After the NATO bombing, the sun was showing its gleams again and Anneke van Giersbergen made them more radiant than ever.

The progression The Gathering made was the exact same one I was craving for them to make. Even more relaxed album than the previous one, with the closing title track that fucked all the shoegaze ethereal stuff right in the ass with its ambient twenty-nine minute long cosmic orgasm. I cannot put to words how happy I was when I discovered one of my favorite bands broke the boundaries of how long the doom song could sound (without even being doom at all - welcome kocmoc-pok), with adding delay upon delay upon reverb upon delay upon reverb, thus making a shiny new galaxy of its own.

There were also other tracks that were great as much - the opener Frail (You Might As Well Be Me), a very bold thing to do, putting a slowly crawling ballad as the album opener. I loved it. The Great Ocean Road and Red Is A Slow Colour were the rockier ones. The groovy bass of Illuminating and the magnificent Travel were the highlights. The only song I didn't like so much was the single Liberty Bell. Don't know why. Maybe because it seemed like it was made on purpose to be the single.

I think I saw in some ship a version of the album with only a single CD with some tracks dropped off, and I remember thinking that was just nonsense. What the fuck? The band wanted a double album for a reason and they made a hell of a job.

How To Measure A Planet? remains my favorite hour and a half from this band to this day.

2. Anathema - Alternative 4 (Peaceville)

What to say? My favourite band released an album that got them the attention they always deserved.

This album was flawless. It was stripped to the bare bones. So minimalistic it was painful and painless at the same time.

Duncan Patterson, the former bassist, really showed amazing writing skills with this one. This was his last album with the band and the testament he left was so great. The Cavanagh brothers really improved in both playing and singing. They also turned the tunings to the normal E, which made the sound more crispier, clear and lighter.

Fragile Dreams and Empty could be the highlights of the album, although Regret was simply awesome track as well. Miniatures such as Shroud Of False, Inner Silence and Destiny showed so much substance to them, Roger Waters-approved like.

This was the band's finest hour. The Floyd influence was more obvious than ever and there was no one to blame them for that. Quite the contrary. And I still know all of the lyrics by heart even if you woke me up at four in the morning and asked me to dance to some 80's disco music.

 3. Katatonia - Discouraged Ones (Avantgarde)

I love this album so much. It was the first one I heard from this band. (the Rainroom sample I had from before was only a minute long and I got Brave Murder Day much later after hearing this one)

There's a funny story how I got into Katatonia. I was getting those Nuclear Blast catalogs for free, where I could read about what's new. Well, couldn't exactly read, cause everything was in German, but I could at least look at the photos and sit with the German dictionary, trying to translate some of the words. There was a review of this album but I clearly remember there wasn't any universal term used (metal, doom, Anathema, atmospheric, pig, whatever) that could tell me more about the songs. I just remember the final sentence being something about the band sitting at two chairs at the same time with this album and I couldn't tell if it was a good or a bad thing.

Anyway, it was the summer of 1999 and I went to that land of watermelons, fat women and dangerous jellyfish again to buy some more CD's (and sometimes, just sometimes went to the seaside when not being in the hotel room with the discman listening to the discs). So, I was entering Musicland once again in order to buy Anathema's Judgement since it was just out. There was some album playing on the stereo while I was entering the shop, and it felt so strange. I was nearly sure it was new Anathema, so I asked the guy what it was that was playing. He showed me the Discouraged Ones CD.

The two tracks that were playing while I was in the shop were Stalemate and Deadhouse, and those two remain my favorites from this album. The atmosphere of this album was unbelievable. I remember the night I came home from the seaside, because this was the last CD I bought while was there. So I didn't want to unpack it until reaching home. This was the first CD I played of all when I came back home that evening, and it was a long journey back. The vibe of the songs (Saw You Drown, Cold Ways, Relention) and the whole album was a bit similar to Alternative 4, yet the groove was different, the guitars were always playing those weird chords and the vocals were more, um, depressing.

I loved it instantly and I was so lucky because it was already August of 1999 when I got it. Soon enough I found out they were releasing a new one in a month and the rumors were that the new one should be even bleaker and better than this one. Hurray!

4. Moonspell - Sin / Pecado (Century Media)

Tiamat were so great because with the last year's Slumber they made all these other bands move to other directions as well, and start experimenting with electronic stuff, drum loops, strange synth sounds...

Moonspell really nailed it with this one. I liked Irreligious but this album was the first by the band I really raved about like insane. David Vartabedijan was airing a couple of songs and I was lucky that I got the CD a month or two after that (it came from Italy, not Greece by the way). It was may 1998 when I got it, so the sunshine effect was also doing me this warm trippy favor, along with the band's more lighter approach to this album.

Dekadance, Mute, Handmade God, Magdalene, V.C. (Gloria Domini), Eurotica... All highlights. The Hanged Man and Abysmo also. Fernando's lyrics were provocative and witty at the same time. I also liked the грех detail in the booklet (sin written in serbian cyrillic). The atmosphere was dark (goth), yet sensual (metal), a bit religious but slightly erotic at the same time - something Moonspell mastered on this album. And they'd never do it again this convincingly.

5. Theatre Of Tragedy - Aégis (Massacre)

This was the ultimate gothic metal album. Period. Be it cheesy or not, it made the goth metal thing closer to the mainstream pop. And it never went more closer to pop than this.

Abandoning the growling vocals (something all the other bands also did), the shy falsetto of Liv Kristine and spoken word of male-ish Raymond Rohonniy were backed by strong riffs and catchy melodies. The lyrics were in Latin and English and reminded of that much wanted Shakespearean drama effect.

All the songs were highlights at the same time - Lorelei, Angelique, Cassandra, Siren, Venus... Yeah, they like women. Me too. But what's with the names?

I was lucky enough to find a limited edition digipack with a bonus track Samantha that also rocked. Too bad the band went total electro crap after this one, so Aegis remained their best work to date.

6. Ulver - Themes From William Blake's The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell (Jester)

 1999 was full of surprises and this album wasn't an exception. It was perhaps the biggest surprise of them all.

Nobody was prepared for this change. Ulver were this black metal band that did two pure black metal albums, Bergtatt and Nattens Madrigal, and the acoustic one, Kveldssanger (Empyrium's Where At Night was much influenced by this one) and by leaving the Century Media label they took all the label's money, bought some suits and a fancy car (pictured for this album), recorded this masterpiece and released it on their own label. Applause.

It was daring to take the Blake's plates and make some music to them. The result was a mixture of some drum n' bass, metal, ambient, prog, techno, acoustic guitars, trip hop...  Everything that would marry the heavens with the hells. And they did it convincingly.

The Voice Of The Devil (Plate 4) and The Argument might be the highlights, although everyone should find his/her own favorite plate to feast upon. The only downside to the album was that the first disc was a bit superior to the one following it. At the other hand, the plates were massive and it was surely a hard task to make so much music and, more importantly, to vocally do all the poems/writings and still make it enjoyable to listen to.


7. Block Out - San Koji Srećan Sanjaš Sam (Metropolis)

I was having second thoughts about putting this album on the list, but hey, I listened to it as much as to all the other albums on the list, so why not.

It wasn't until February 1999, I think, that I listened to this album for the first time. My brother got it from some CD shop where they rented CD's.

I was glad that there was some Serbian band that made music like this. There were those nice guitars, nice guitar effects, strong riffs, deep lyrics. The design was horrible though, but that wasn't surprising considering Serbian bands' artworks in general.

My instant favorites were Najduzi Je Poslednji Sat, Protiv Sebe, Finansijska Konstrukcija and Raskorak. Soon enough I started to like other songs as well - the album had fourteen songs and total time of seventy-four minutes, so it was a bit harder to swallow it at once.

I met Nikola Vranjkovic, the guitarist and the band's lyricist, at one of the band's gigs. They were promoting their double live album in Dom Omladine, and it was February 2001 I think. The connection we made was interesting, cause I knew he was producing records. I finally decided to record something with Amaranth and I knew he was the right person to produce it. He invited me to the studio one February night. He was doing mixdowns of his own acoustic record, Zaovdeilizaponeti and I fell on my ass when I heard this track, Svako Putuje Za Sebe, before the final mixdown, on studio monitors/speakers. I realized how everything sounded ten times better, clearer, closer and more intimate in studio (no homo).Maybe it wasn't exactly then, but soon enough I decided, rather subconsciously at first, I guess, what would become my biggest occupation from then on in my life - playing and recording music.

Najduzi Je Poslednji Sat remained my favorite Block Out track ever, to this day. I remember I told that to Nikola while I was at his studio that first time and I remember that that meant so much to him. I took notes - musicians not only liked to hear their music meant to somebody else, they needed to hear that. It has something to do with mutual love and understanding or something.

Anyway, I remember I was having hard time trying to figure out the chords to this song. I knew the chords but there was something that I just couldn't figure out. Some notes were too close, clashing one with the other (that would be half steps) and that meant they had to be played on two different strings. It was either a couple of months or years before I figured it out - the highest E string was dropped to D. That's why those A majors sounded so strange and beautiful at the same time. It was such a minor trick, but it changed all the usual chords so much. I told him that I needed like, so much time to figure out the weird tuning, and he replied in his own witty style, yeah, it took me too much to figure it out too.

I liked the tuning so I stole the trick with the dropped E string and used it later on some Consecration songs - Aligator, .avi, Idiot Glee, Djavo, Vertikala.
Although Nikola played in standard E and my tunings for those songs were B; from low to high, B-E-A-D-F#-A, except for Idiot that had the sixth string dropped to A, so Idiot would be, low to high, A-E-A-D-F#-A.

So, introducing me to this album was also the beginning of a nice friendship between Nikola and myself. To be continued on that one...

8. My Dying Bride - 34.788%... Complete (Peaceville)

What a slap in the face this album was. And it wasn't just the front cover.

The kings of doom and gloom really made with this one every goth girl cry, for all the wrong reasons. Yorkshiremen got crazy and I liked it.

The experimentation they did on this one was really a brave move to do. They were still My Dying Bride, but they wrapped themselves up in a slightly different context. Heroin Chic was the obvious reason why many fans hated all the swearing and the cheap-drugs-free-porn dialogue throughout the song. But I loved it. It was like, we were those miserable guys playing miserable music, but let's fuck with that despair a little bit, shall we lads?

The Whore, The Cook, The Mother remained one of my favorite Bride tracks ever. The atmospheric mid-part with Aaron doing a monologue with what sounded like an escort agency's answering machine, is simply wonderful.
Base Level Erotica was also this mammoth track With those crawling riffs and Aaron, while down on drugs or whatever, still begging/ordering the girl to strip down. The essential detail in any band's lyricsography.
Too bad the Brides got scared off by the hateful fans and returned to the old formula after this already.

 9. Opeth - My Arms, Your Hearse (Candlelight)

The story about this record was pretty much similar to Katatonia's - it was impossible to know only one of those two bands and not hearing for the other.

It was summer of 1999 and I'd been already into Morningrise for some time. I bought this album in Rock City by a wild guess (I asked the guy to play me the record but the CD player in the shop couldn't read the disc). I bought it anyway and when I came to the hotel room and put the headphones on... It melt my brains into a mushy slime.

This record was much darker than Morningrise. The guitars were gritty and Mikael's roars were sinister. During the first listen I wasn't sure if I should feel a bit disappointed or shiver in awe. That's because a part of me wanted the whole album full of To Bid You Farewell's, but that'd happen some five years later on some other album by the same band. I eventually shivered in awe and especially liked the concept behind the record. April Ethereal, Karma, and especially Demon Of The Fall were so heavy and mean I thought that I became a death metal fan all of a sudden. Credence was nicely put like that waterfall on the cover sleeve, while the face of death was Demon Of The Fall.

Lucky as I were, there was another Opeth record coming out soon, so... There were three Opeth records for me to discover that year. 

10. Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Virgin)

This was also one of the records that I avoided like plague at the time it came out. Couple of years later I gave it some spins but it wasn't until 2003 and the Sziget festival where I saw them live, when I understood them. And not only that - I shat myself right there on the spot.

It's strange to watch some concert on your own, cause no matter how good the concert was, you were there on your own and you don't have anyone to talk to after the gig to share the experience. The feeling stays within you and at some point you start wondering if you tripped out the whole concert or not.

I had the same thing with Massive. They were promoting 100th Window at that time, but the songs off Mezzanine blew me away harder. I also got some flashbacks of the stuff off Mezzanine I heard long times ago. As soon as I returned home from Sziget I relistened to the whole album again. And became a fan.

Angel had this ultralow pulsing/pumping bass that could easily throw your heart out if you weren't with right people. Risingson and Inertia Creeps were crawling under your skin before you knew it. Teardrop introduced me to this lady named Lis Fraser and later on I discovered ethereal touches she had with Cocteau Twins. Massive got me into The Prodigy later and all that Nineties modern dark madness thing.

Oh yeah, and that Massive concert was the first gig ever where I felt some weed would actually be a nice companion. And I wasn't even a ciggy smoker.

11. Saturnus - For The Loveless Lonely Nights (Euphonious)

This was an EP and not the LP, but it was so good I had to put in the top ten list.

When I was buying Paradise Belongs To You I expected to see this song Starres on it, but I was wrong. I was a bit disappointed because from those two tiny samples I had at the time, I prefered Starres than Christ Goodbye a bit more. The sample of Starres I had was only a minute long and it contained the second verse and the chorus. I played the sample infinitely until I got my hands onto this one.

It was a bit painful to get this CD, but when I finally did, I was mad with joy for a couple of days. I liked Starres so much I even wanted to cover it with this band we were making later. It was a band that had only a couple of rehearsals. It was the summer of 2003 and the band should have been called We Die We All. It consisted of four of us, all doom metal fans. Maxa from Tibia was the drummer, Milan who played in Consecration at the time was the bassist, and Igor who played in Kramp at the time (nowadays in Awaiting Fear) was the second guitarist. We never did anything more than those two rehearsals, but the atmosphere on those rehearsals was great. We also covered some My Dying Bride (The Cry Of Mankind), some Katatonia (For My Demons), Anathema (Eternity pt.1) and Saturnus' Christ Goodbye too. Milan and I liked the Christ Goodbye cover so much we decided to play it live with Consecration as well.

Funny thing on those rehearsals were the tunings. Since My Dying Bride and Saturnus were tuned to C#, I tuned my guitar to C# as well. But Igor had some kind of locked Ibanez so the lowest he could go downtune was D#. So we played in two different tunings and still succeeded in covering those songs. They sounded nice - except the Anathema one, I think there was some counting thing at the end of the song that we couldn't agree upon.

Anyway, not only Starres was this great track, but all the other tracks were as well. Martin left My Dying Bride at this point so the violin was missed; For Your Demons had some violins included in it and it was a nice touch. Thou Art Free was this fine acoustic track, although the better version would appear on the next full-length couple of year later.

This super EP also included two songs played live at Roskilde festival, Christ Goodbye and the Rise Of Nakkiel. Both included a complete choir on stage, which sounded rad and even if I was never much crazy about live versions of the songs, these two rocked like hell. Kim Larsen's solo in Nakkiel was superb and I started to like this guy's playing even more.
The final track on the EP was named Consecration and it was full of this atmosphere of solemn dedication and included some twisted whispers from the band too. Milan, former Consecration bassist, was also a big fan of the band, so the name stuck.

There was this cafe for metalheads called Venom. It was the only cafe for metalheads in Belgrade at the time. It was a shithole but metalheads never cared how comfy it was as long as there was some metal in the air. It was some January night in 2002 when we decided it'd be better to change the band name from The Lack Of Motivation to Consecration. The only thing that we didn't have in mind is that the Serbs would have a hard time pronouncing it. Some couldn't even write it down properly. So until this very day we had lots of twisted versions - consecrtation, conseqwation, consecation and so on. So there you have it. We named the band after Saturnus' song. I think the lack of motivation thing came out off some Paradise Lost song, a lyric off Draconian Times or something. Although we all liked Consecration more. It had depth that gave us boners.

So, Saturnus proved to be important for Consecration in many ways. The Danish confirmed being my new favourites with this one. Mmmmmmmmm. Danish...

honorable mentions:

12. HIM - Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 (BMG)

I loved this record when it came out. I remember David Vartabedijan playing it on air and soon enough I bought the CD-R version of it.
Funny thing is that all the world, at least Europe, went crazy for these guys only after their sophomore record, but with this one they were pretty much anonymous everywhere. In Serbia they weren't, at least in Belgrade in my high school, where all my friends loved it and HIM became one of those bands that everyone of us liked.
Wicked Game was this obvious choice for a hit single, but we all liked The Heartless, Your Sweet Six Six Six and It's All Tears much more. When Love And Death Embrace was this doomy ballad and (Don't Fear) The Reaper was a nice cover too. My favorite for some time was For You because it had this badass low end guitar riff and thundering drums that kicked all your teeth out, while the Jim-Morrison-went-gay voice of Ville Valo was waving with a shot of heroin with roses and a couple of bottles of wine. Or something.
What was funny also was that I liked this guy's guitar tone so much. It would be years later that I'd discover he played Laney amps with some fuzz in front of it (probably a Zvex), in B tuning, on a Gibson SG. Hmmmmm.

13. Stille Volk - Ex-uvies (Holy)

I love this album. These guys really made a remarkable avantgarde album in the vein of Arcturus' La Masquerade Infernale, yet this was not black metal. It was folk music that clashed with metal and well, pure avantgarde. Experimental this was, all the way. For a couple of years I believed this album was released in 1999 together with Yearning's Plaintive Scenes, cause those two records were perfect for a back to back listen (and they were on the same French label). I was wrong, but the year of the release didn't change the feelings I had for this record.  
Ex-uvies was a very brave album. The band was pretty much unique already on their debut Hantaoma by playing all those medieval instruments, and now they added some distortions too. The idea might sound supercheesy but I liked how it turned out. The best track here was Selena Koronna though, which was purely acoustic. On the other hand, Ténébrante Azurée and Chimères were so good combining the metal elements with all of the others. The other tracks were just too bizarre for the majority of people I reckon, but I fully understood every single break, noise or theatrical scream used on this record. I guess I would do it the same way if I was in those Frenchmen shoes.

14. Therion - Vovin (Nuclear Blast)

I liked this one so much better that Theli.1998 was a great year for metal music, so here it is on #13 spot. I have very fond memories of Vovin, because I listened to it a lot (along with Theatre Of Tragedy's Aegis) while I was preparing for the exams for high school. After I got in I listened to them albums some more to celebrate. The albums were also making the stress go away, especially Vovin.
The Rise Of Sodom And Gomorrah was the highlight, although The Draconian Trilogy was excellent too. 
This one was for true jewel for all lovers of classical music topped with some mild metal riffing. 

15. Sentenced - Frozen (Century Media)

Ville, the new singer, got more relaxed (and drunk) on this one, so the whole band improved more since Down.
I got this CD the very first day I started to attend my high school and the mood was set right with Autumn closing in. Frozen had lots of highlights such as Grave Sweet Grave, Drown Together, Farewell, The Suicider. I liked Drown Together so much I stole a line from the lyrics and used it for Amaranth's Spleen later. This was, and still is, my favorite Sentenced album. Metallica meets Paradise Lost in Finland getting drunk on vodka.

16. Evereve - Stormbirds (Nuclear Blast)

This record came out of the blue. It could be said about the band as well. David Vartabedijan aired a couple of songs and I was instantly hooked.
I liked the diversity of the band. It was gothic metal, yet with some proggy and blackish touches. Although it was not gothic metal in the style Theatre Of Tragedy were doing it, this was more of a clash of the two genres - the pathos of goth vocals vs. pure metal licks and riffs.
The album was huge with fourteen songs, although some songs were interludes and even a waltz-like song was a closer. My favorites were the title track, The Downfall, Fields Of Ashes, As I Breathe The Dawn and Spleen. Yup, I stole the name Spleen for the Amaranth song from them, although it was Charles Baudelaire's poem it was based on.
Too bad the singer committed suicide shortly after the release of this album. Stormbirds remained the testament of a band that could do much more, yet later releases by the band showed they couldn't manage to do it on their own without Tom.

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