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[Recap] June 2011

June’s already over? Seriously? And here I’ve been blogging away on my lazy ass, listening to some great music, reading some great comments; sounds like a damn good month. Again, this month is mostly filled with album reviews. Last month put out overall better music, but there is still much to be more than happy with coming out of June. The following will be included in this recap:

  • Album of the Month
  • The Devin Townsend Project
  • Better albums
  • Lesser albums
  • FML albums
  • EPs
  • My personal favorites of the month

A little something about June’s Album of the Month…

This particular album had been announced over a year ago. They said most of the parts were recorded and the tracking process was underway (according to wikipedia). There I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the pot of water to boil. I guess the more water there is in the pot, the longer it takes to boil. Here we are, more than one year later, and the pot has overflowed. The Album of the Month for June is:

Album of the Month: Iconoclast (Symphony X)

Symphony X – Iconoclast – June 17 – Rating (A): For those of you who do not know, Symphony X is loaded with top-tier musicians that bring forth elegant, unique sound. This is no doubt the case with Iconoclast. The songwriting and instrumental execution meets the expectations that come of Symphony X. And despite the lesser symphonic impact and diversity with the record, there is already so much given that it is near impossible to find fault with it. Fans may instinctively show disdain towards where their sound has arrived at, but they would be most unfortunate to do so. Iconoclast is undoubtedly a Symphony X album; do not underestimate the connotations of that statement.

Double Devin

This month, the brilliant musician (or should I say mad man) Devin Townsend released the parts three and four of his superbly ambitious four-part suite known as the Devin Townsend Project. Not only is the project quality high, but the diversity spans an unbelievably wide range. To state the obvious, it’s great work.

Devin Townsend – Deconstruction – June 20 – Rating (A): With Deconstruction, Townsend truly portrays his ingenuity on all fronts. Yes, some things were a slight miss with me. But his scope and thought process are nonetheless mind-blowing. His layering and production, as usual, surpass excellence. And the instrumentals are simply fantastic. This is not an album for everyone, but it certainly is grower and a lover for those who can accept it. Deconstruction is one of the better and most unique albums released in today’s world.

Devin Townsend – Ghost – June 20 – Rating (B+): Basically, Ghost is an album that takes patience. Unlike much of Townsend’s work, it is not for the typical metalhead. But like the artist’s typical creation, it is heavily layered and extremely well produced and of high musical standard. In my opinion, it gives too much of the same and is much too long for its own good. However, its indulgence and patience is respectable and its natural flow is undeniably silk smooth. Ghost is a great album that could be a little better.

Good, Good

There are a couple of pretty good albums that came out. Neither compares to the likes of Deconstruction or Iconoclast. But still, they’re good.

Falconer – Armod – June 3 – Rating (B+): Armod is a good release, but can be somewhat uninteresting at times. Everything is done well on paper, but it as though the band forced the formula onto the music. It seems to be missing much of the spark and spontaneity that great music should have. There are sections throughout the album that are merely missing something. But there are also those that are well-portrayed. It is a good album, but an imperfect one as well.

Rhapsody of Fire – From Chaos to Eternity June 17 – Rating (A-): Many great things have come together to form this album. From Chaos to Eternity has an arsenal of quality symphonic arrangements as well metal instrumental parts. Its narration is more of a distraction than an additive aspect, but does not significantly detract from the stellar music. Fans of the band or genre should most definitely check out this one; it surely will not disappoint.

Good…?

There are a couple of good albums… kind of… they are closer to average than great.

Saxon – Call to Arms June 3 – Rating (B-): With all parts accounted for, Call to Arms is quite average. In general, the music is at a higher level than average. But with as much repetition as in this record, there is a definite deficit of long-lasting value. Stellar songwriting and instrumentation would be able to salvage the quality had they been present. Call to Arms is not necessarily a bad album. But for a genre that has been in existence and in circulation for so long, Call to Arms offers very little innovation or awe-inspiring performances and is definitely not a must-hear.

Yes – Fly from Here June 22 – Rating (B): All in all, Fly from Here is a decent album. There are undoubtedly aspects that can be improved upon with this release. But with the expectations the band has set for themselves, it is damn near impossible to achieve them. Fly from Here certainly fell short, but still retains a respectable quality. It is a recommendation for fans of the band, but there still are better options; no need to settle for good when there is still great.

Good… Not

Always good to be reminded of the lower extremity in which music can still achieve…

Pain – You Only Live Twice June 3 – Rating (C-): Generic, repetitive, poorly executed, diluted, excruciating – all qualities which describe the disaster that is You Only Live Twice. The music is of very low quality and basically no variation. It can be described as a bad song on repeat. Okay, maybe it is played at 1.5x or 0.75x speed, but it still is the same damn song! You Only Live Twice is a perfect example of what not to do in making unique, prestigious music.

Queensrÿche – Dedicated to Chaos June 28 – Rating (C): Once again, Queensrÿche has crushed my hopes and faith with a sub par release. Dedicated to Chaos in many ways descends beyond mediocrity. From its lyrics to its musical content, it is just an all-around poor effort. With such masterpieces from their earlier career (most particularly Operation: Mindcrime), many will find it difficult to cease clinging to the band’s glory days. Believe me, I am most certainly one of the many. But the saddest and most heart-breaking of truths is that Dedicated to Chaos should be avoided under all circumstances, fan or not.

EP Showdown

I reviewed a couple of EPs this month. I liked one better than the other, but personal preference may have came into play… probably. What can I say? I love Riverside.

Pharaoh – Ten Years – June 7 – Rating (B+): Ten Years is a great release, albeit a little safe. The execution is commendable, but the inventiveness is not exactly outstanding. The EP is at a very high level in a familiar field. Everything is done very well, from the instrumental performance to the general songwriting portion, but also has been done before. Still, it is a highly enjoyable listen and a recommendation to fans of the band or genre.

Riverside – Memories in My Head – June 20 – Rating (A-): Overall, Memories in My Head is a great EP. Unfortunately, the music demands a longer album length which the EP format is unable to provide for. But the music is great and the bands roots are fresh seemingly fresh as can be. With this release, Riverside adds another hit to their currently unscathed catalogue. There are extremely high hopes and expectations for their next (fifth) full length record.

June et Moi

Judging by how many favorable metal reviews I gave into comparison to non-metal ones, you won’t guess what my actual overall June favorites have been. Seriously, try! Think up an answer and write it down. Okay, ready?

My personal favorites of the month have been:

  • Artist: Matthew Good
  • Album: Lights of Endangered Species (Matthew Good)
  • Song: “Weapon” (Matthew Good, Avalanche)

This month certainly seems like an outlier, but I honestly happened to fall in love with Matthew Good. His latest album really hit the spot. In fact, a review of it should be coming out next month, along with a few other things. I hope you’ll all join me for it. See you around!

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