My end of year list this year is a bit more metal than the one from 2013. There are quite a few metal songs on it, and two of them are from Insomnium’s latest album, “Shadows of the dying sun” – which I really really dig. This is the first one of these tracks, called “Ephemeral”. It’s catchy as all hell (that riff!) and I’ve spent many a car ride cheerfully bellowing along with “Dying doesn’t make this world dead to us/ Breathing doesn’t keep the flame alive in us / Dreaming doesn’t make time less real for us/ One life, one chance, all ephemeral!” (Which is probably why it’s my #2 most played song of the year, according to last.fm)The lyrics have a nice message, too. And yet it’s not even my most liked song of the album, that one’s still coming up. Enjoy! (genre: melodic death metal)
Rise Against – “Satellite” is my most played song of the year, and I’d like to award it with the title of ‘song i’ve sang along the most & loudest to’. I stumbled over this one because way the fuck back when i fell in love with ‘prayer of the refugee’ while playing Guitar Hero 3, and it ended up on my Stof en Schitteringen playlist for obvious reasons (it’s Valeria’s song).
Earlier this year I was checking out their other work and then found ‘Satellite’. It’s 1) incredibly catchy, 2) incredibly positive/hopeful and 3) i can so imagine this being the end credits to Bloed en Scherven that it’s not funny anymore. (‘We’ll sneak out/ while they sleep/ and sail off in the night/ we’ll come clean and start over/ the rest of our lives / when we’re gone, we’ll stay gone / out of sight, out of mind/ it’s not too late/ we have the rest of our lives’).
In Vain, “Floating On The Murmuring Tide”. Tijs passed me their song “Against The Grain” earlier this year, which i really loved, but then I listened to the rest of the album and “Floating” is even more awesome.
Let me explain to you why. This song is tagged as progressive metal, and I understand why, it does things not all metal does. It goes places; it takes its time to tell a story with its music, it has some bitching solos… a couple of which are done by a SAXOPHONE. it’s beautiful. and when you think it’s over at 4:25, nope, now we’re building up to the good part.
Sometimes it happens that songs end too quickly, or they peter out, or they just lose their impressiveness halfway. “Floating On The Murmuring Tide” does not. It builds up to epicness (4.30), then sets the bar even higher (4:30-7:00), *goes there* (7:00 to outro), and leaves you utterly satisfied (♥). The song lasts 9:15 minutes, and every single minute of it is worth it. It needs to be your thing, of course. But damn, it is mine!
Foals – “Spanish Sahara”. I heard it on Spotify one day when using the similar artists feature, starred the song because I liked it, and then completely forgot about it. And then a couple of weeks/months later I really listened to it and thought…. ‘wow, what a gorgeously pretty song’.
Any Given Day & Rihanna – “Diamonds” (mashup) is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. The thing is, I really don’t like Rihanna. I’m sorry. She’s a terrific artist, but her songs are really not my thing (the only song of her I could ever tolerate was “Umbrella”). Until this one. When metalcore band Any Given Day covered her song “Diamonds”, they cranked up the tempo and made it much more according to my taste. And then some genius DJ mashed up both songs, and it turned into this. And this is fucking AMAZING. Talk about singing along loudly when driving to work. I’ve never pictured myself singing along to Rihanna like that, haha The song is actually a lot of fun, and with the increased tempo and the added grunt vocals, it’s become a really interesting and catchy poppy metalcore song. I should be ashamed of liking this, and yet I am not.
Sleepmakeswaves – “Perfect Detonator”. Anyone who knows me even a little, knows that i adore Australian post-rock band sleepmakeswaves, because they are the frigging shit. Their song “I will write peace on your wings” made it to my end of year song of 2012 and is still one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. So you can imagine I was pretty hyped when they released their new album, “Love of Cartography” this spring. And it didn’t disappoint! It has some beautiful songs on it, but “Perfect Detonator” takes the cake for me. That song just does everything right – from the catchy guitar riff, the dreamy synths, the lovely bassline… and it has a perfectly executed tension arc – the climax at 5:00 never fails to make me smile
Baroness – “Sea Lungs” scores very high on my end of year list, because apart from the fact that it’s a great song, the lyrics hit me like a punch in the face.
“Why so sad, your tears are no match for mine. I am eternal sea, and you are a drowning man.” Also: “And when my ship comes in, I’ll find a way, to breathe again”. You can probably figure out why it reminds me so much of Sirka – the hopeless situation, the stupid hope she harbours that she’ll get out of it at some point – somehow… ugh. Baroness is listed as progressive metal, but this song would be more prog-rock, I think. Please listen and enjoy, this song is fantastic.
Amon Amarth – “As Loke Falls”. I owe the biggest of apologies to Amon Amarth because I never took the time to start appreciating them before. I actually didn’t check them out at Graspop because everyone and their brother walked around in Amon Amarth t-shirts and I just kind of figured they were too black metal for my taste. Then there was that motivational video om youtube with “Live for the Kill” that I thought, huh, maybe they’re cool. And then Olli dragged me along to their concert… and they proceeded to blow my mind at their gig that made me wonder what the hell I’ve been thinking because these guys are AMAZING. How could I have missed this? These guys are MELODEATH!
The songs are as catchy as they come, they play very well, their crowd is fun, and they have bucketloads of stage presence. One of the best gigs of the year, and “As Loke Falls” which I had not heard before previously, got stuck in my head for days. And really, can you blame me, with that riff?
Flood of Red – “Lashes”. Flood of Red was a band I’d never heard before, before they kind of blew my mind as supportact for Maybeshewill. (who is also still coming up, btw. it wouldnt be an end of year list without Maybeshewill in it :D)
They were utterly convincing and awesome on that tiny little stage in Haarlem and I loved their work. IRL they’re more screamy, btw, this is a lot gentler than what happened on the stage. Last.fm tags them as post-hardcore, but on record it’s definitely not – just rock. It’s still very highly recommended. “Someone show me the way out where the light shines brighter than I’ve ever seen before… I think I’m ready, I think I’m ready, to grow up, move out and move on…”
5) The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”. I’ve been singing along to this song for years until at some point I suddenly realised that he’s actually singing about his FRIEND WHO DIED. The first time I understood the lyrics was like a punch in the teeth and I still want to curl up inside when I hear the song sometimes. It’s a piece of great storytelling, a sad story and a great catchy song all rolled up into one. I’ve listened to a lot of Gaslight Anthem the past half year, and I discovered many more great songs by them (Biloxi Parish, Blue Dahlia, Handwritten, Get Hurt, etc) but this song remains firmly my favourite.
4) Insomnium, “While We Sleep”. It’s their second song on my list. Honestly, it’s a great song. It has a lovely catchy riff, the lyrics are kind of heartbreaking and keep reminding me of Seamon and Sirka because all of the bridge-burning and self-loathing that’s going on, and “We need to slow down so I can catch you, we need to slow down so you can catch me” breaks my heart, especially at the break at 4:50. It’s a beautiful song and everything melodic death metal should be. The #4 spot is very much deserved. Enjoy!
3) Maybeshewill – “All Things Transient”. I kind of begin to feel like a dick, because the past FOUR years they’ve made it to my top 5 and under any other circumstances, they would have taken the top spot last year with their incredible “Red Paper Lanterns” if it wasn’t for those pesky kids from And So I Watch You From Afar. Let’s be honest here; if I had to name my two favourite bands at the moment, it would be Maybeshewill and sleepmakeswaves. I really wanted to give Maybeshewill their top spot this year, especially in the light of their mindblowing show at ArcTangent and the fact that “Fair Youth” is a BEAUTIFUL album full of warm feelings and wondrousness. The title track, In Amber, Into The Blind, Permanence, Volga; they’re all such things of beauty.
“All Things Transient”, however, I’ve known longer than the album. I heard it played for the first time at the EKKO in Utrecht last year, during their live show. The song was yet untitled then, and I already loved it from the first time I heard it. I immediately searched youtube for bootlegs of the song and listened to it many times before the album came out, proudly featuring this song. The title then went on to fuel one of the main themes of my NaNoWriMo story this year, because Maybeshewill just tends to inspire the shit out of me, you know? So sorry for not giving you the top spot, Maybeshewill. If it makes you feel better, you ARE the band I played the most this year, and you gave the best gig of the year, as well.
2) Ghost Brigade – “Elämä On Tulta”. My runner up for song of the year has been the actual contender for quite some time. And it’s not even in the english language, but in finnish! While the song is quite simple and obviously built around that one riff, the riff itself is amazing and their singer is simply at his best when he’s screaming instead of singing. (sorry dude). There’s this very dreamy 1:40 intro, that fantastic guitar screech at 1:43 that makes me cringe and laugh at the same time, and then we’re off. The riff is fast-paced, the background synths are beautiful, and it just takes me places, okay? I’ve belted ‘TULTAAAAAAAAAA’ along while rocking out in the car many a time.
The only reason that the song didn’t take first place (also because my actual #1 is just fucking fantastic) is because the outro (which essentially starts at 4:30) lasts three minutes, and that’s just too long for the song. As an album closer I get it, of course, it’s a fantastic outro to a terrific album. As a stand alone, though- it’s not enough for the #1 position of my song of the year… but as it stands, it comes terribly close.
END OF YEAR SONG 2014:
1) Nordic Giants – “Drumfire”. Have you ever heard a song that not only gave you goosebumps immediately, but that almost made you go completely still and quiet inside? Well, I have, now.
I missed these guys at ArcTangent last year, but they came back this year, so I spent some time listening to these guys. And between all the listening, and falling in love with their beautiful atmospheric stuff, and their TERRIFIC act at ArcTangent ’14 with those videos of which one scarred my mind forever, I completely missed this song. I don’t know how. Last.fm claims that I’ve heard this song in May already for the first time, but I must have been out of the room or something. Because early December this year I was listening to their EP and then this kicked in, and I completely stopped whatever the fuck I was doing and my HEART, people, my heart… There’s this break at 2:25 that just KILLS ME. It kills me, revives me, and fills me with wonder. The only way I can describe the feeling is when you stand on a hill on an unusually bright night, and the stars above you are glorious and bright and they go on forever. That is the feeling I get at that moment. It’s glorious. And that’s why it’s my song of the year. It’s so fucking deserved.