1. Radiohead - Amnesiac (Capitol)
So much balls to this album. Amnesiac was recorded at the same time with Kid A sessions and the band showed even more experiments and progressesed even further with this one. Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box resembled the minimalism of Everything In Its Right Place with more accent on the beat and not on the synth, while Pyramid Song showed Radiohead in all their glory with the grand piano and the drumming that could be described as majestic - when the ride cymbal gets in I simply shiver in awe every single time I hear it. Pyramid Song is one of the best Radiohead tracks ever made, creating a perfect antidote to Idioteque, another marvelous track from the previous offering.
Knives Out is another jazzy kind of track that just has a nice drive to it with already-infamous voice of Yorke waving over the chords. I Might Be Wrong reintroduces the sinister analog synth feel while the band explores silence and minimalism of the single amp/single guitar while the room is breathing itself in Hunting Bears, not too far off Neil Young's Dead Man motion picture soundtrack. Amnesiac is a twin brother of Kid A and those two albums together present few of the albums that truly marked the 00's in music.
Vanja and Pera were going to a Sziget festival where Anathema was playing. I couldn't go but a friend of mine was kind of enough she brought me Danny's autograph. She went to Sziget with her friend Maxa and it was soon after Sziget on some gig in Belgrade where we met for the first time.That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship...
Vanja and Pera not only watched Anathema but did an interview with Danny as well. We aired it at Stevie's Alternova show and aired one brand new track as well. I was a regular guest at Alternova (it was aired on radio Politika on Fridays from 7 to 9 PM i think) so this Sziget fest special was a real treat. A Fine Day Yo Exit was to be released in September or October but Pera got hold of the promo CD from Danny in August. In era of slow downloading, getting a promo CD two months prior to the actual release was pretty much flattering.
I was one of the rare ones that really liked the album. Old goth fans bitched about the "alternative leftfield road" the band was having. It was obvious that bands such as Radiohead or Portishead were influencing the band and the music was all good, so why give a flying fuck what genre it would be named after?
Temporary Peace was, and still is, one of my favorite Anathema tracks - maybe the favorite one of them all. Barriers was another Anathema ballad that Danny sang, not Vinnie, and it was a bit weirder and more experimental than say, Angelica or Lost Control. Underworld was this rockier one and Panic was sort of Empty part 2. Looking Outside Inside and Leave No Trace were those excellent tracks that weren't grabbing the listener on the first hook. The only song I didn't like that much was the opener, Pressure. There was even a video clip that was made for this track but the media such as MTV refused to air it cause it was "too slow" (or some bollocks like that). It will be years later Haavard would tell me (when he would visit Belgrade with Antimatter) that Pressure wasn't made to be the album opener but the instrumental track, much heavier one, that got lost during the recordings or something.
Anyway, Anathema missed the next step of breaking new grounds and getting new audience and that surely brought them some disappointments. Sometime in 2002 Danny announced he was leaving Anathema and that wanted to join Duncan Patterson in Antimatter. That was during the Spring and I still remember that period well cause I did this graduation work at the end of fourth grade in high school for English class, named Anathema - An Enigma No More. After presenting the work in public, I played One Last Goodbye on my guitar. The second guitar was played by Miloš Savić, who was also playing in Consecration at that time. I could play the song on my own, but I wanted to play this big solo as well so I wanted someone to back me up with the chords while the solo was played. What an attention whore I was back then. Anyway, the teacher was thrilled and she was really ace person as well. She told me she felt really privileged to witness that kind of graduation work presentation cause no one did anything similarly original ever before. I told her that I loved this band so much that I wanted the others to feel that love too.
Katatonia broke some new grounds with this album. Finally. They were making some hit singles as well, as Teargas and Tonight's Music were grabbing you with these opium scented claws, only to caress you with them the next second when the catchy chorus arrived.
The production was more organic and the drums were higher/heavier in the mix. They got the real drummer this time. Not that before he wasn't real, this one was the one whose drums playing was his top priority. The bassist was added too, so the band could do a first proper tour upon releasing this one. Last Fear Deal Gone Down would be also the last Katatonia album to be recorded on analogue tape.
Katatonia were gaining fans quickly across the globe, although their fan spreading fever wasn't as quick as Opeth's were; the fans Katatonia got would seem to show more loyalty in the future and not just the in thing that was characteristic for Opeth (or any metal band that came out of the blue and gained instant success). Katatonia were more underground and less metal.
We Must Bury You was this great track that showed the band wasn't afraid to experiment with loops and electronica. Sweet Nurse and The Future Of Speech showed lots of interesting guitar techniques of Anders for creating layers and layers of sounds, something that wasn't as evident before. The lyrics were also more introverted than ever and the listeners just couldn't help themselves but to feel sympathetic enough to involve in all of them. (how could this go so very far / that i need someone to say / what is wrong / not with the world but me)
They did it again. And what a breakthrough album this was. Mikael and Peter were starting getting features in Guitar World and such magazines and it was really a sign that Opeth finally became huge. According to Blackwater Park, they fully deserved it.
The only track I didn't like so much was the opener, The Leper Affinity. But the rest was ace. Bleak was an instant hooker, while The Drapery Falls summed up all the stuff Opeth were about. I remember we were in studio with Nikola Vranjkovic recording Amaranth that summer and we swapped CD's. I lent him Blackwater Park and he borrowed me the next album on this very list below. Vranjkovic's reply upon hearing The Drapery Falls was, this was the best song ever recorded by anyone ever, with a significant smile all over his face.
The production of the album was top notch. I don't think anyone could top what these guys achieved with this one. Steven Wilson was the name being mentioned too in the credits, as some strange guy who helped them with the vocals and the production. Soon enough the fanboys would find out that the same Steven Wilson had his own band as well, named Porcupine Tree.
The marriage of Morbid Angel and Nick Drake sounded ridiculous on paper, but Mikael and the guys nailed it. Whatever "genre" they decided to play, be it death metal, acoustic folk, frosty black metal or some good ol' doom riff a la Sabbath played in modern style with modern production - they all fucking nailed it. This was also the second time I heard of the amp called Laney being used during the recordings. Hmmmm.
Nikola Vranjkovic played me Parabola in studio one day while we were setting up the stuff for Amaranth recordings - I was blown away by the song. I heard of the band before but didn't care much checking them out. I was subscribed to Terrorizer at the time and they were all seriously raving about this new album, so I was curious to check them out. The mistique around them I liked and it was obviously doing them some favors - I was not the only one thinking that way.
This whole album was something new to me. It contained the prog of one King Crimson but played in modern times with tons of metal riffs. Yummy. The voice I did like very much too, as he was giving the music another dimension, adding more of this depth and not just being a regular rock-star-so-much-in-front-of-every-other-instrument vibe. The music was meaningful and when the voice got in, the music was getting more meaningful and important as well. The voice was giving favors to the music itself; the music was not just backing up the singer and that approach was something that bought me instantly. Let's say I became at least interested in what were Tool doing.
And what a band it was - the drummer was insane with this polyrhythmic stuff, the bassist was grooving like hell, and what I liked the most was this guitar style of Adam Jones that married Jimmy Page, some Metallica riffing and lots of King Crimson.
I checked out the back catalog soon. I liked Aenima too - but the impact Lateralus had on me this first time could not be repeated with any other Tool record, ever. It's always the first albums you hear that kick you the hardest...
This was a strong one. If the previous Times Of Grace was this bursting fire that broke through the walls, A Sun That Never Sets was this warm fire that stayed through the night and had this silvery shining pulsing red stones all over the ashes.
Neurosis got more serious, more old and -more heavy. The hidden strength of The Tide and the title track - the whole album actually - were all only the introduction to Stones From The Sky, a closing track that had such a strong climax it is probably the most convincing climax ever done on any recording.
Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly were discovering their voices again and all what they could do with clean singings. This record was more Willard Grant Conspiracy and Anathema then say, Swans or Crass. The lyrics were going deeper into the blood and its roots visualizing all the songs off the album on DVD, making A Sun That Never Sets an overall transitional release to the more silent waters of the future.
Just when you thought there was nothing else that could be said and played concerning the doom metal stuff, this showed up. American bands were always late with giving the answers to the European underground metal genres that were popular, were it doom, black, goth or whatever. But these two records were so special and fresh it was pretty much joyful to step into their ambiguous realms.
Maudlin were doing doom with jazzy style, prog with atmospheric pieces, bonded by metal. And every combination was tasteful. Saxophone, trumpets and all other unusual instruments for metal music were never used or played by force. Every song had a characteristic moon and the mirror concept of two records reflected pretty well on the lyrics as well.
The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth was this perfect opener off the Bath, with the right mood set while the following They Aren't All Beautiful married prog with death metal; leading only to Heaven And Weak, the most delightful track off the first disc. At the other hand, Stones Of October's Sobbing was the second disc opener and while it resembled some of the Bath's opening sequences, it was a beast of its own. It was my favorite track for some time. Leaving Your Body Map was a bit heavier album, the Bath being a lighter one. I prefered Body Map a bit at the time I got these albums, although right now I'd maybe be into Bath a bit more.
Both albums were hidden jewels that didn't reveal their secrets easily, also an essential listen to every open-minded person who knew the European scene well. It would be just plain wrong to call these albums experimental, cause those bunch of guys obviously knew what they were doing. And they were doing it so convincingly they would evolve even further on a couple of years later.
This man was insane. Insanely creative. There's so much stuff that could be said about sir Richard. The man sort of invented braindance genre (rather called IDM by the press) with his fantastic debut Selected Ambient Works 85-92 he made at his own flat accompanied with lots of analogue synths, cheap 303's and cats who used to gnaw some of the tapes as well. It is one of my favorite ambient records ever, along with two first Autechre albums (Incunabula and Amber). I Care Because You Do excelled at playing with the analogue stuff, while Richard D. James showed sir Richard's newfound love for software vs. hardware, united against human race.
Come To Daddy and Windowlicker were those great-songs-that-turned-to-a-great-joke thanks to Chris Cunnigham who directed the clips. The two singles became huge in the media and sir Richard knew what he was doing. He made those songs hit singles rather consciously to break huge in the charts and even noted later that he was responsible for stopping the further represses of Come To Daddy - he saw it topping the charts and didn't want for it to become too popular.
Drukqs were long awaited. Sir Richard confessed later that it was a rushed record a bit. At one occasion he left the demo tapes on some plane and he was afraid of a leak on the net before the actual release. So he sat down and rushed the finishing touches a bit to have the Drukqs released before the leaks started.
Drukqs is a great album. Although it was a bit longish (30 songs over two discs), it showed every virtue of sir Richard yet. Gwely Mernans was this great ambient track that reminded of ambient works of past. MT Saint Michel+Saint Michaels Mount was this jungle-meets-drum n' bass beast that halfway through a slaughterhouse suddenly stopped and went through the passage of analogue light reminiscent of I Care Because You Do. Kesson Daslef, Jynweythek and Avril 14th were those little piano pieces that showed emotional side of Richard - and it showed much more in a single minute than some artists had over entire album. Afx237 V.7 was this piece that would become Rubber Johnny couple of years later, a rather sick video (in a nice sense), shot again by Cunningham. however, the opener Vordhosbn might be the best track on Drukqs, as halfway through the speedcore drill comes that melancholic synth melody so aphexesque it's unbelievable. Those kind of melodies and moods will be emphasized on future Analord records couple of years later.
This was one of the best albums ever made regarding electronica and I put it a bit lower in the list just because I discovered it a bit later. I put the other albums higher for rather nostalgic reasons. And obviously, sir Richard wouldn't be happy knowing something like this topped anyone's list.
This album was a fucking statement. This was how most tortured, horrible doom should sound. Atroicous vocals of Alan had to be heard to be believed. The feedbacks of Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))) on guitar and James Plotkin on bass plus the powerful drumming, really delivered something monstrous.
I have the fondest memory of one of Lazar's famous armageddon parties where we used Pieces Of Quiet to clear the party up. One person left and it was Yeqy, our drummer. he was asleep whole time - we always wondered if he dreamed of anything during the Khanate song and what should that be... Well, some things weren't supposed to be known.
Khanate's debut is one of the most powerful doom (metal?), fuck it, extreme records ever made. If you're ever feeling too cheerful or thinking you might have problems, think again. Put this on and think again.
This one was a moody one. Acoustic and calm, but centered around that mood so much the band gave their best to try to capture that mood on tape in studio. I read an interview in Terrorizer where they noted it was a bit stressful, trying to play the songs from the moods they had in their heads first, and then trying to have that captured forever on some piece of tape. It seemed like the guys knew what they were talking about, as one of them was Jan Transit of In The Woods. Skiftninger had some more visitors from the Woods camp - Synne Diana was a special guest on a couple of tracks and X.Botteri with his famous E-bow too.
Nylon strings were played and they were played well. Minimal and sparse yet so emotional, Dose Dager was perfect example - every time I listen to this song I get some weird nostalgia for times long past. Someone said that nostalgia was a dangerous thing in music. One might easily feel nostalgic about some music, but the essence of nostalgia in music was rare. And Naervaer were doing it. Some songs were sung in native Norwegian (or maybe not) and Vi Så'kke Land was great example of both researching silence with jazzy chords and discovering the groove within.
Not everything was moody, smiles were given too - one track was even named Bob Dylan Is The Fucking King, while others, such as Nummen were a perfect companion for a walk in the woods, or to the shore (similar to that cover of Anathema's Fine Day To Exit, although in a more rural environment). Nostalgia in music was rare indeed and Naervaer were masters of it.
While I was DJ-ing in this shitty club Underworld for some time a couple of years ago, we always had the best time while playing Ave Satani, The Godfather, Rosemary's Baby or Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I always played lots of Patton but the best party was with Fantomas - they rocked so much and played/put so much stuff in two minute songs it was a bliss to air rock with them together with some alcohol the seed.
There wasn't any funnier and more enjoyable album like this since Mr. Bungle's California. The covers of famous soundtracks the guys did were just plain awesome. The band was a supergroup consisting of Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle, Buzzo of Melvins and Dave Lombardo of Slayer. The debut album was fun but too much abstract and bizarre at some places, yet this one was a real treat. Essential awesomeness of couple of geniuses enjoying themselves and making it funny for the rest of the world as well.