Friday, 10 May 2013

Top 5 Most Surprising Albums

Maybe it was an album that was so good you couldn't believe that it was from that artist, or maybe their previous album was so bad that an average album sounded like a classic by comparison. Well, this is my list of the top 5 most surprising albums.
Number 5... Astronomica by Crimson Glory

Crimson Glory is one of those bands that I absolutely love, but one thing I had always heard was that Astronomica was not a very good album, that it was really weak and that Crimson Glory without Midnight (in this case with Wade Black) was a poor attempt at an album. Well I took a listen to War of The Worlds and the title track on YouTube and I loved it, so I bought the CD and I loved every single song.
I have no idea what people are talking about when they trash this album because it is just amazing, the production is good, the guitars, bass and drums are just great and the vocals are very well done. Maybe it's just because Midnight wasn't singing or writing but I think this is an album that fans of classic metal (and power metal and prog-metal) should check out.

Number 4 is... The X-Factor by Iron Maiden
This is yet another one that people have been trashing because of 1 reason: no Dickinson. I really don't know what it is with people hating albums just because the singer is different, if the singing sucks then that's a different story, though sometimes the singing is amazing and the band just sucks (i.e - the Ripper-era Priest), but in this case neither are true. Maiden sounds great, the songwriting is solid and a continuation of the darker material from Fear of The Dark, as well as Blaze Bayley sounding great. It was listening to the Blaze-era Maiden (well, this album and 2 songs from Virtual XI) that made me a Blaze Bayley fan in the first place. He's not Bruce, he doesn't have the range but he puts everything he's got into every single note he sings, not to mention a very heavy metal voice. For those who could never accept anyone but Bruce as the singer, they wouldn't be where they are without Paul Di'Anno fans accepting him so give their 3rd vocalist a chance at least once. Also, for those who don't like Iron Maiden because of the vocals (trust me there are some like that), give this album a listen and also check out Blaze's solo work.

Number 3... Sleepwalk by Emerald Rain

Since I can't seem to upload anything from this album on here I'll put up the link to one of the songs:

I got into this band somewhat with their earlier albums, which were more in line with glam rock than anything else. I really didn't consider them anything special until I heard this album, it was heavier than their other music but it was still very melodic and catchy. When I listened to the songs they had a very different feel to them than their other material, and I still feel as if this album was the band finding their voice and creating something that was much less "in the vein of" and more a statement about who they were as a band. I suggest listening to this if you're into melodic-rock/hardrock, it's a good record and I really wish they could have created a follow-up to this record.

Number 2 is... Clash of The Gods by Grave Digger
This album surprised me, but it's not because any of their work was sub-par in fact, Grave Digger has been very consistent and has never really experimented with a different musical direction since their only album under the name Digger. The album that came out prior to this was a return to what they became best known for, songs about the Scots. The Clans Will Rise Again was exactly what was expected of a record like that, heavy, fast, intense and great to play over Brave heart. So my expectations were pretty much that this new album would be more of the same and, upon hearing the lead single Home At Last, I figured that this would meet expectations... but I was wrong in the best way. As it turned out Home At Last was one of the lower points in the album, and I was just blown away. The opener was hauntingly beautiful and a great lead into God of Terror, and the rest of the album was a balance of the heavy, the fast, the haunting, the intense and the beautiful. The use of acoustic guitars and what the keyboardist adds to the songs just elevated this album well above the majority of Grave Digger's discography, at least in my opinion. When I first heard the title track the first thing I thought of was Metallica's Wherever I May Roam, but better. This album to me is and will always be one of the best releases in music. Because of how good their prior albums were though, this album just couldn't surprise me as much as the last one on this list did.

Number 1 is... A Different Kind of Truth by Van Halen
I'll be brutally honest, I do not like Van Halen apart from Hot For Teacher... that is, until A Different Kind of Truth. I actually don't like 90% of glam (this album, the song Hot For Teacher, everything by the Killer Dwarfs / Russ Dwarf and a couple Motely Crue songs being that 10%), so saying that I enjoy this album certainly says something about it. It's not the best album in the history of mankind, but it is a rockin' album that is just fun to listen to. It feels like Van Halen has taken a less-is-more approach to this record with less Eruption and more hooks, melody and just great songwriting. There have been a lot of negative reactions to this record and I really don't understand why, it's not their earlier records but that's why I like this album so much, it's catchy, it's well written and (this is a big one for me) the music isn't just some kids showing off, it is an experienced band that can write. If you don't like the album because it's not classic Van Halen then (to paraphrase Eddie in an interview in a guitar magazine I have somewhere) put it in a vault and don't listen to it until 20 years from now.

So that wraps up my top 5 most surprising albums, if you have any kind of opinion on this or want me to create a certain kind of list or review something put it in the comments, just keep in mind we all have different opinions and such.

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