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[Recap] May 2010

It has been another great month for The Golden Bird. In this past May, there have been a ton of releases that I was no less than impressed by. There were a couple disappointments, but I’ve heard an overwhelming number of new releases which have convinced me that May was a great month for new music. As for the site, things are becoming more interesting with the help of Earsplit, who have agreed to help The Golden Bird however they can. They have continuously been fantastic! It has been an eventful month, and the recap will discuss the following:

  • Album of the Month
  • May metal albums
  • The remaining rock releases
  • Earsplit
  • My personal favorites of the month
  • A few words for Ronnie James Dio

Despite the handful of great releases this past month, I found it rather easy to decide which is the best (stated as an opinion, not a fact). May’s Album of the Month is:

Album of the Month: Artificial (Unitopia)

Those who are fans of Unitopia‘s previous effort, The Garden, should know that  Artificial is no less impressive. It is extremely unique, yet is still unmistakably a Unitopia album. The fullness of the album is reflected in the diversity among the songs, as well as the fluency within the songs and throughout the album. For music purists, it is very musically technical and complex. But for casual music listeners, it is catchy and creative, and even references the always-popular Beatles. Artificial is an exceptional album that is enjoyable by all.

Metal May

There were a handful of metal releases (mostly heavy/power metal) which I found quite enjoyable. They include those by Masterplan, Sabaton, Enforcer, and InnerWish.

Masterplan‘s release, entitled Time to Be King, was made available on May 21. It features the return of Jørn Lande to the microphone, and it has evidently had a distinguished impact. The album is great in its musicianship and instrumental competence. Lande’s vocals are the highlight, but everything else is assembled very nicely. The only issue (if in fact an issue) is that much of it is very similar to Lande’s former material, and not quite at the same level. It lacks a distinct uniqueness, but is still commendable for what it delivers. It is my favorite of the four.

The power metal band Sabaton released Coat of Arms also on May 21. I had a similar problem with this as the aforementioned, in that it is too similar to former Sabaton releases to be fully appreciated. But like Time to Be King, it is well presented and easily enjoyable. It shares similar themes of battle and war with the former releases, as well as a tribute song to metal. In some ways this is good, in others it is bad. But all in all, Coat of Arms was not an exception to the many great metal albums released this month.

On May 24, the Swedish heavy/speed metal band Enforcer released their latest album, Diamonds. I have not heard the first, but the general public has preferred it to the second. Still, Diamonds is a very strong release, giving a vintage sound in a scene which rarely sees it. However, the sound is quite well established, and the album has trouble competing with the best of that particular style. That being said, it does a fine job in giving a great classic-sounding speed metal album. It is a definite must-hear for long-time fans of the album.

No Turning Back by the heavy/power metal band, InnerWish, was released on May 28. It is another great album of the past month, albeit too familiar to the genre for my liking. Though it does not offer anything overly new to the music scene, it still gives a top-notch performance on all fronts. The instruments are wonderful and the overall craftsmanship is equally respectable. No Turning Back is a very enjoyable listen, especially for power metal fans.

Rock Releases

In May, there were three rock albums that I managed to review. They include releases by The National, Meat Loaf, and Pain of Salvation.

The earliest rock release is by The National. The album is entitled High Violet, and was released on May 10. It is a real treat for anyone into the indie style rock. Almost every fan of the style loves the album, so The National obviously made a lot of right decisions with this album. I found it enjoyable, but for those who haven’t been overly exposed with the genre (such as myself), this may not seem like a special album. With respect to instrumental performance and musical creativity, I did not find anything too impressive. But it still had a uniqueness to it, and it is far from a bad album. I would only recommend it to fans of the style.

Meat Loaf had the next release, entitled Hang Cool Teddy Bear. I found this album to be extremely lackluster. It is generic and unintelligent, and much of the album is forced towards radio play. There very little about this album that is special or impressive. Of all the May albums, it is the only one that I would advise people to avoid.

The first part of the highly anticipated Pain of Salvation project, Road Salt One, was released through InsideOut records in Europe on May 17. I only recently began listening to the band, and I instantly fell in love with the first four albums. And because I was expecting an album of similar quality and nature, I was rather disappointed. However, Pain of Salvation has continuously shown change from album to album, and this is no exception. Still, this album took another step away from metal (which I find acceptable) and towards mainstream alternative rock (which is not as welcome). Some of the album is stale and unoriginal, but there are songs which I regularly listen to. They include “Sisters,” “Sleeping Under the Stars,” and “Road Salt”. However, these three songs alone are not enough to make the album a necessary listen. It is a good album, but nothing more.

Earsplit

This month, Dave from Earsplit contacted me and offered to send me material from Earsplit’s clients. Since then, they have been nothing but loyal, and for that, I extend my appreciation and gratitude. I recently received more titles of the record label Sensory (who also work with Wuthering Heights and Haken), and will soon write about them. And also, there are possible interviews with many of my favorite bands that I hope to feature here soon. All this was made possible by the generous folks from Earsplit. They have a lovely list of clients, many of which are among my favorite bands. Check them out – click here.

 

My Month of May

For this month, I ran into a heck of a lot of trouble deciding which are my favorites. But I made my decision and am not looking back.

My favorites of the month have been:

  • Band: Unitopia
  • Album: Land of the Free (Gamma Ray)
  • Song: “The Mad Sailor” (Wuthering Heights, Salt)

And though in recaps, I usually leave it at this, I would like to say a bit more before closing this one off.

To Ronnie James Dio

Most of us will miss him as an influential musician of our lives. Many of us will miss him as a kind-hearted human being. But what’s for certain is that he will never be forgotten. Mr. Ronnie James Dio, you will go on and on and on… here’s to you:

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