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[Recap] May 2011

The Golden Bird is back! Kind of… there were a great deal of posts coming out of this month. Of course, all are reviews. But still, this is the most productive the site has been in a very long time. It feels glorious, that’s for damn sure! Yes okay, it started off slower than one would wish. But once I had adjusted to this new lifestyle, The Golden Bird took off like a bird out of hell. And hey, there’s still lots more to come. But for this May, it is the following:

  • Album of the Month
  • Runner-up
  • The great!
  • The very good
  • The “not too shabby”
  • The “meh”
  • My personal favorites of the month

Many many good releases came this month. Two of them are of utmost remarkable quality, and deciding which to name Album of the Month has kept me up many nights… but here it goes. May 2011’s Album of the Month is:

Album of the Month: Human Remains (Hell)

No, I’m not a satanist. Actually, Human Remains is truly lovable in spite of its occult basis, though its darker themes certainly complete the album. And amazingly enough, this record is Hell‘s first release in nearly thirty  years – what a comeback! All in all, it is impossible to find any significant faults with Human Remains (if any at all). Everything simply works! The production, the songwriting, the instrumentals, the natural flow… it’s all perfect. It is a true miracle that after almost 30 years, a band can come together and put forth what is basically a masterpiece. Well done, Hell!

Album of the Month 2

Album of the Month – tough decision which I am still unsure about. Either of these albums basically could have been placed at the altar, but it is what it is and that’s how it will be kept for now. Come year end, who knows which, if either, will take Album of the Year…

Funnily enough, that which rivaled the Album of the Month is the christian symphonic prog release by the musical mastermind Neal Morse. The album is Testimony 2 and is the long-time-coming continuation of his highly acclaimed release, Testimony. To say the least, Testimony 2 is an amazing album. It is a master craft of the brilliant Neal Morse and his extremely talented recruits. The record has smooth flow yet an immense range of dynamics. Though the second disc feels unnecessary and slightly out-of-place, it is filled with solid material. This is the first album I have heard by Neal Morse, and I am most certainly won over. Christian or not, the grandeur of this record is undeniable and must not be passed up.

Great

A couple releases this month were truly great. One was kind of expected, the other was a delightful surprise.

On May 23, Wolverine is released their fourth and most recent album entitled Communication Lost. Overall, it is a great album. At times, it can sound basic and mainstream, but to the point in which the music is compromised. The album is filled with wonderful songwriting and a great deal of diversity. It is certainly one meant for repeated listens – an excellent addition to an already solid discography by Wolverine.

On May 24, the worldwide popular Journey released their latest album. I was very surprised and impressed with Eclipse. I did not anticipate anything much greater than average, but Journey certainly delivered. It is a great mixture of instant catchiness and substance, and the instrumental performance is more than commendable. There is a fair amount of variety, but there is also a lingering shadow of repetition. The very miniscule issues are most certainly overwhelmed by the positives. Eclipse is a sign of renewed life with the band and definitely should not be passed up – especially not by Journey fans.

Quite Good

Though the following are short of amazing, they are still recommendations. They are very good releases that could not quite break the boundaries as the aforementioned have.

On May 3, Argus released their newest album through Cruz Del Sur records entitled Boldly Stride the Doomed. It is a very good release and it is certainly a showcase of what the band is capable of. However, there was so much buzz going around the debut (which I have yet to listen to) that I was hoping for something absolutely stellar. In comparison, “great” is not overly awe-inspiring. Still, from the general musicianship to the band chemistry, everything with this album is very good – a definite recommendation to fans of doomish heavy metal.

The Canadian metal veterans Anvil released their latest album entitled Juggernaut of Justice on May 10. All in all, it is a very good album. There are some parts that are stale and generic, but there are some neat tracks. I personally preferred the latter half to the first, my favourites being “Swing Thing” and “Paranormal”. This record is well-executed heavy metal with a strong vintage feel. However, it is still undeniably, unmistakably, highly predictably metal… a good metal band giving what is expected; no less, no more.

Above Average

These ones were a good one-time listen, but definitely no way I shall be seeing them again.

HammerFall released their latest album entitled Infected on May 20 through Nuclear Blast. Overall, it is better than average. There are some really good things done, but also some bad things. Some parts are overly generic to the point of being irritating and the album as a whole remains safely within the definition of heavy-power metal. Still, many things are done at a level higher than what is expected from the genre. The bottom line is that there are too many negative aspects compromising the greatness this record could have attained.

On May 20, the prog-power band Pagan’s Mind released their latest album entitled Heavenly Ecstasy. It is not bad, but it surely has bad aspects to it. And to make matters worse, its negatives are scattered as opposed to localized. This adds an unwanted level of inconsistency to the album, which definitely hurts its overall quality more so. Additionally, it could use more depth to increase its value. But for what it is (a straight-up power-prog record), Heavenly Ecstasy is a decent, but not completely necessary, listen.

Amorphis released their latest record on May 27. It is entitled The Beginning of Times and was released through Nuclear Blast. It is a fine record. There are some noticeable issues throughout, none of which are too grand though. But sometimes, it can feel slightly one-sided, predictable, and repetitive. And there are riffs and leads that are less substantial than others. That being said, the album still maintains a high standard and overcomes its negatives with positives. There are many good melodies and the instrumental work on many fronts is commendable. Yes, there are weaker points, but for the most part, The Beginning of Times is decent music.

May 31 was the release date for the latest USX (or U.S. Christmas if you prefer) album entitled The Valley Path. Overall, it is a decent album. It suffers greatly from its repetitiveness and lack of depth or variety. But it does create some great atmospheres and gives much patience to the music. There is much commendable songwriting involved and everything feels fluent and natural. However, I think the album is too ambitious for its own good. There are so many goals and they all seem half-done. It is a great attempt, but only a good result.

Average

Okay… Yup, that’s what these albums are…

Make it Dark is the newest album by the heavy metal band Twisted Tower Dire. It was released on May 3 through Cruz Del Sur Records. There is nothing overly fantastic done in the album. The vocals are good and the tracks for the most part are decent. But as an album, it is much too repetitive and standard. And most surely, it cannot stand up to the vigour of the classic metal albums of the genres which the band is so bluntly attempting to emulate.

Rev-Raptor is the title of the most recent release by U.D.O. made available on May 20 through AFM records. It is neither bad nor good; it is simply average. From the instrumental performance to the musicianship, nothing outstanding is done at all. It is an album easily comparable to much of what is already out in the heavy metal scene. It is not an album that must be heard. Actually, you’ve probably already heard a better version of this at some point in your life.

My Month of May

There’s been so much new music in May, it’s hard to keep up with the old stuff. From what I can remember,

My personal favorites of the month have been:

  • Artist: Nevermore
  • AlbumThis Godless Endeavor (Nevermore)
  • Song: “The Nomad” (Iron Maiden, Brave New World)

Whew, that was a long recap! Maybe I should post less… kidding! I plan on coming back next month with equal valor. So yeah, stick around and have a wonderful June!

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