Top 5 albums of 2013 in order of my mood right at this moment. Honestly, these are probably equals. Also honestly, Steven Wilson wins because of the 5.1 mix, even though that’s incredibly unfair.
- Steven Wilson: The Raven that Refused to sing.
- White Willow: Ignis Fatuus (even though it’s a reissue)
- Leprous: Coal
- The Tangent: Le Sacre du Travail
- Marbin: Last Chapter of Dreaming
Matt and I have very similar tastes in a lot of things, so instead of listing songs, I’m just going to highlight some things that I think are worth mentioning.
Best Reissue of the year is a tie, and it makes me so happy. I esteem the value of these reissues equally, though for completely different reasons.
- White Willow: Ignis Fatuus. This is a great reissue because almost no one had a copy of this album, and it gives us young bloods a chance to have a classic and important work, without resorting to “other means.” I was so stupidly busy last fall spending 13-15 hours of my days at work and/or school during the week, and spending the weekend doing homework and spending time with my family that I haven’t had time to do anything related to Progulator. Jabob Holm-Lupo of White Willow sent me this album at the end of the summer, and I loved it. I have pages of notes waiting to be put into a coherent and respectable review for it. Something I hope can happen soon. This album is a veritable gold mine of so many things I find appealing about Scandinavian prog–it’s organic, folksy, beautifully melodic, strikingly visual, and a whole lot of fun. Though not as polished as some of their later stuff, it is full of heart, and raw ambition. If you didn’t pick it up, repent, and do so. You won’t be disappointed.
- Rush: Vapor Trails. This album. I have so many feelings attached to this album. This was the first Rush album that came out after I became a fan. This is the first tour I saw them on. This album is also one of the worst sounding albums (excluding intentionally bad-sounding albums) that has ever been made–it made the list of loudest albums in the midst of the loudness wars. I have always placed this album in the bottom 3 Rush albums. This remaster, in my opinion, completely remakes this album. It is by no means one of Rush’s greatest albums, but I feel giving it the sound it deserves has helped me enjoy the songs where before I was just distracted by how awful it sounded. If you’re a Rush fan, pick this up, and give it a try.
Other notable things. At least according to me.
- Dream Theater’s album was complete shit. I only say that because I can’t think of anything worse–I actually enjoy some of my shits, and they probably have more musical value. When Mike Portnoy left the band a few years ago, I was ecstatic. I was thoroughly convinced that he was responsible for the slow decline of their albums since the “glory days” of Six Degrees and Metropolis II. The rational part of me knows that this could just be my musical tastes maturing. But still, I wasn’t imagining his god awful rapping, the increasing amount of really mediocre riffs from one of the world’s most technically skilled guitar players, and gradual simplification of the compositions and arrangements. I thought for sure the band would be “free” to explore musical spaces that MP wasn’t too keen on. Normally their albums are hit and miss with me, but there is always at least one killer song. There’s also always one song that makes me want to punch puppies. They’ve tightened up their spectrum: most of the songs are pretty awful, and one of the songs is not quite as awful. The truth is out: Mike Portnoy was herding cats, and I wasted precious CD money buying this awful excuse of a DT album.
- Leprous is an absolutely awesome band. If you haven’t listened to their newest album Coal, go get it, and have a good sit down with it. It’s progressive metal that doesn’t use the standard prog-metal tropes, is extremely atmospheric and emotional while being technical and intricate, and will just leave you wanting more. Very highly recommended.