2007 in Retrospect

author PP date 07/01/08

In a few days 2007 draws into close, and what a year has it been musically. The number of disappointing big name artists was much smaller this year than it was last year, and even a bigger number of smaller bands burst into worldwide super stardom during the year. Here I'm talking of course about the Fall Out Boy/Panic! At The Disco phenomenon that has not just taken over the world in terms of album sales and radio waves, but influenced the recording/production process of countless artists alike. Simultaneously, metal seems to be getting more and more extreme in the mainstream spotlight, showcasing the second (or is it the third or fourth) coming of the genre. More on the specifics later. Experimental music also received a massive facelift with solid releases from a number of bands in various genres, which can be seen in our overall top20 list of the year, which bolsters no less than eight bands that fit under the experimental genre umbrella. But what's even better is that 2007 showed that pretentiousness has no place in the modern music scene, as demonstrated by the downfall of Avril Lavigne, the miserable critical failure of Linkin Park's "comeback" album, Cartel's "record an album in the bubble" failure, and the fall of one super group after another. First Audioslave broke up and its members went ahead to re-form one of the greatest bands of all time, Rage Against The Machine, and then Velvet Revolver's new album failed to meet even the expectations of the debut.. but more on specific horrible performances later.

If 2006 was the year of the rise of metalcore/emo into super stardom, then 2007 was the year when it all started to shatter into pieces. Caused by increasing saturation brought by the two genres' entrance into mainstream last year, bands in all corners seemed to run out of ideas and released one boring release after another. Industry experts and critics of the genre were keen to call this the end of the two trends, but only time will tell if 2008 is still too early to pack the two genres into bags and throw them into the back of the closet where you'll already find other bags containing things like grunge and nu-metal. My professional opinion is, emo/screamo/metalcore will live at least another year. But growth prospects for both genres seem literally non-existent. One genre stood above all the others in 2007, however, and that genre is metal. With monumental releases from genre heavyweights such as Machine Head, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Nightwish, the prospects of metal's growth in 2008 are looking inevitably great, especially with new releases in the score from both Metallica and AC/DC. m/!!

In other news, pretty much half of European festival guests this year drowned in the worst rains in more than a decade, including the majority of the Rockfreaks.net editorial staff. That didn't prevent people from having a great time, and six months later we are all laughing at the challenges we had to overcome when the god of rain and storms decided we hadn't spent enough time worshipping this year. Continuing on the less-positive overview path I've now taken, ticket prices to shows oversaw a significant increase brought on by the desperation of the falling music industry, as labels are charging more and more for booking big name tours. Of course the never-ending touting or the increasingly rip-off charges by ticket agencies didn't help either. Time will tell what this means to the 2008 festival lineup at non-profit festivals like our very own Roskilde Festival. But none of this seemed to bother the fans - crowd numbers rose in double digit numbers for the seventh year straight, and that's good news. Bands are getting more direct support from fans through merchandise and ticket sales, and this is a practice we should keep on doing in the future. In the opposite end of the money spectrum - Radiohead released their new album "In Rainbows" on the internet several months in advance of its store date - and you could decide how much, if any, you wanted to pay for it. Thumbs up.

But by now I'm sure you're getting bored of my rambling, so let's cut to the chase on what the rest of this article has waiting in the bag.

Article Content

Here's what's on the menu tonight, dear reader, and I think you're gonna like it. Just below this paragraph you'll find a clickable list of sections in this article, so if you're feeling lazy, you can just skip to the part that interests you the most, though I'd say anybody who considers themselves a music fanatic should go on to read through the entire article at once to make sure they didn't miss anything in the past year. Or that we didn't leave out your favorite part, which you can let us know in the comments if you did. So here goes:

Although everyone at Rockfreaks.net surely has an amazing music taste (*cough*), we figured that you probably wouldn't wanna sit through four or five top10 lists of each individual contributor to the site. So instead, the slave-whipper boss that I am, I ordered my minions to go through all releases of the year and to email me what they thought our top10 list should look like. Then I took all those lists including my own, and compiled them together into a definitive top10 list of the year, only to discover that although a few albums made it to pretty much every list, the majority of us have such unique music tastes that a mere top 10 of the year wouldn't really be a truthful reflection of all the great releases this year.

Method

Everyone (TL, KS, DY, AP) sent me their top10 lists, and I assigned points to each album according to their position on each list using the following logic:

  • #1 = 15 points
  • #2 = 12 points
  • #3 = 10 points
  • #4 = 8 points
  • #5 = 6 points
  • #6 = 5 points
  • #7 = 4 points
  • #8 = 3 points
  • #9 = 2 points
  • #10 = 1 point

You can see in brackets behind the album title how many points it received overall. In the case of tie-points, the better rank was awarded to the album that was on most lists, and if that was also equal, to the album that received a higher rating in its review. If the score was still tied, then the albums were deemed to be equal in rank, such as in rank 4.

Rockfreaks.net TOP20 for 2007


1. The Wonder Years - Get Stoked On It! (37)

What we said back then: "best pop punk-hardcore fusion record of 2007" [9]

What we say now: The Wonder Years is still clocking in countless plays on our iPods, and the speed doesn't seem to be slowing down just yet. The album's one of the funnest albums I've heard to date, it's infectiously catchy, and it just doesnt' get old even after several months of constant listening. [9]



2. Between The Buried And Me - Colors (29)

What we said back then: "Colors is an unparalleled experience that, if anything, should show how beautiful extreme music can be" [10]

What we say now: One of the most beautiful albums created since I don't even know when. Astonishing contrast between the extreme and the beautiful in an exhilirating, modern progressive metal mold. Without a doubt the most artistically complete album of 2007, maybe even of the decade. [10]



3. Darkest Hour - Deliver Us (26)

What we said back then: "prettier and more accessible though the raw brutality of the musical delivery hasn't been shaved off in favor of it" [9]

What we say now: Darkest Hour maybe wasn't able to match "Undoing Ruin", but considering how that album is widely considered as a seminal album, one of the best of the decade even, they did pretty darn well with "Deliver Us". Some of the best modern melodic metal around, there's no doubt in that. [9]



4. Attack In Black - Marriage (20)

What we said back then: "indie flavoured rock at its very best" [9]

What we say now: If you're looking for highly emotionally charged rock with one leg in the indie rock scene and another in post-hardcore without wanting to resort to emo, then Attack In Black should be your number one choice. It's amazing how much emotion, passion and love these guys manage to pack into their songs while keeping it down to earth and, most importantly, irreplicable and unique. Subtle melodies meet poetic lyrics - amazing record. [9]



4. The Chariot - The Fiancee (20)

What we said back then: "The Fiancee is like a 10 track extension of Norma Jean's "The Longest Last Statement", just more brutal and more aggressive, and in many ways, more experimental" [9]

What we say now: Since "The Fiancee" in many places sounds incredibly alike to Norma Jean's last year's masterpiece that was crowned album of the year of this very magazine, it's unsurprising to find it near the top of ourlists in this end of year report. Though the similarities are undeniable, The Chariot is more brutal and has more aggressive breakdowns than Norma Jean, making them the essential modern hardcore band to know from 2007. Thought Norma Jean was soft in places? Go for "The Fiancee" then. [9]



6. Pierce The Veil - A Flair For The Dramatic (19)

What we said back then: "stunningly beautiful compositions" [10]

What we say now: Giving Pierce The Veil a full 10 might have been overrating the album just a bit, but that doesn't mean it doesn't belong to the great category and consequently on this list. You thought Anthony Green was the only one that was able to sing-scream at those heights in such a touching manner? Think again. [9]



7. The Psyke Project - Apnea (16)

What we said back then: "The Psyke Project has put chaos and emotion in perfect harmony" [9]

What we say now: With "Apnea", The Psyke Project proves that they are the number one metal band in Denmark. Drawing in influences from math metal to the psychadelic, "Apnea" is an album that won't leave any metal fan cold, quite the contrary - exhausted from the tantalizing mosh pits and blushed from the burning venues that the band has demolished live. With menacing hardcore passages and hypnotizing atmospheric moments, the album is a huge grower and one of the metal masterpieces of the year - the best Danish album of 2007. [9½]



8. Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High (16)

What we said back then: "Fall Out Boy sound like they've always done but yet the number of new elements to the music is vast." [8½]

What we say now: As you might recall from the introduction to this article, 2007 has really been the year where Fall Out Boy seriously broke through to the mainstream, becoming the icon rockstars for all teenagers across the world. "Infinity On High" is their most mainstream release to date, but that doesn't mean the band has forgotten how to write infectious songs with great choruses, "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" being a great example. [8]



9. Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me (15)

What we said back then: "they are hyperactive, infectiously catchy and set the mood of the songs to be more summery than summer itself" [7½]

What we say now: For what it's worth Motion City Soundtrack doesn't disappoint with their joyful synth-flavoured pop punk - they are still the best pop punk band with synths. [8]



10. Angels & Airwaves - I-Empire (15)

What we said back then: "much better than the debut" [6]

What we say now: The album that has brought most controversy not just within the staff but within the entire music scene. It seems that you either love or absolutely hate what Angels & Airwaves are doing with their spacey alternative rock - it's no Blink 182 to some, but others consider it as even better. [6]

Just outside: Enter Shikari - Take To The Skies, Intohimo - Failures, Failures, Failures And Hope, August Burns Red - Messengers, Fastlane - Overdrive, Comeback Kid - Broadcasting, Portugal. The Man - It's Complicated Being A Wizard EP.

Just to re-iterate what I already mentioned in the beginning of this article: what a year has 2007 been musically. Make no mistake, 2007 was the year where you had the most quality choice available to date. There were so many amazing and great releases that even if your favorite band flopped this year, you could always search within the genre and find a release that made up for that slip up by tenfold. And this was true for pretty much every genre. But unless you are like me and work for the music press, I doubt you had enough time and effort in your hands to listen to even 10% of the releases out there, which is where this part of the article will come in handy. This is your quick way to discover who we thought released noteworthy albums this year, and of course also who we though sucked donkey balls. To make your job even easier, I spent a realistic time equivalency of "forever" and split these into genre umbrellas, so that if you really can't stand the three chord punk you won't have to read that part at all.

Rock (Alternative, Stoner, Mainstream, Grunge etc)

I thought I'd start off with something pretty neutral and simple, something that doesn't make you wanna stop reading this feature straight away, something that doesn't stir up hatred or passion in many: Rock. And although everything between metal and punk can be called "rock" depending on who you ask for, here I'm specifically referring to the alternative rock, stoner rock, mainstream rock (etc) style. I mean the 'safe bet' music, the style that focuses much more on writing a great song through the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure, where the verses are traditionally non-complex in nature, and the choruses are catchy, and perfectly suitable for the radio.

Let's start with the really big ones so you'll see what I mean. Many people weren't really sure where Foo Fighters stood after their stadium rock/acoustic double album, but "Echoes, Patience, Silence & Grace" set it in stone that straightforward rock suitable for stadium-sized venues is what this band is going to be writing for the next amount of time. A nice comeback in my books, much like Chevelle who released perhaps their best album to date after a weaker third album a while back. And let's not forget Fightstar, who against all odds again released another solid rock album ("One Day Son This Will All Be Yours"), even if it contained no surprises.

Queens Of The Stone Age on the other hand decided to go all quirky on us with "Era Vulgaris", and critical acclaim followed. Similarly, UK rock trio Hell is For Heroes show that progressive elements can be used in a rock album without making it inaccessible for the masses. Speaking of masses, that's exactly what Biffy Clyro has been playing in front of as of late, given the commercial and critical success of their latest album "Puzzle".

In terms of new entrants to this scene, both Sick Puppies and Boys Night Out released albums worth checking out. The latter strayed even further away from their screamo roots without sacrificing their signature sound, even if it didn't live up to the expectations set by their earlier material.

When you're a big band, it's difficult to flop entirely. That's why the new The Hives album sold a decent amount of copies, despite it not being anywhere near their impressive earlier works. At the same time Angels & Airwaves improved significantly from their debut, though still causing incredible amounts of division and controversy not only in the music scene at large, but also within our very own editorial staff. Was it good or did it flop? Result = inconclusive. The Higher's sophomore album, however, did flop, as nobody wanted to listen to R&B spiced rock. But even their album sounded good compared to "Libertad", the sophomore album from Velvet Revolver, which was miserable to say the least. I don't even wanna mention the Linkin Park failure.

Indie

Indie rock is an interesting genre label because it covers so many bands that sound so different, but yet they can still be grouped underneath the same category, because one common factor persists within the indie rock releases - not a single one of them can be called heavy, fast, aggressive, mainstream (disputable) and so on. So I figured, while we're onto softer music already having covered alternative rock (etc), we might as well talk about some softer stuff before we jump straight into the genres that many consider largerly non-radio wave friendly anyway. And while I was at it, I figured I'd throw in the songwriter-singer-solo artist stuff as well.

To start off things really predictably let me just name Radiohead, who released an album that has been appreciated almost like no other album this year. And they did it for free - you could choose how much you wanted to pay for the album, even if that meant you'd want to pay nothing for it. It has been referred to as their career best yet, but at the same time some have disliked it. Nonetheless, it's an album anyone interested in how electronic indie rock at it best sounds like should check out.

While we're on the topic of slightly experimentalist approaches to the genre, it's necessary to mention The Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse, who both put out solid albums this year. Don't forget Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Bright Eyes either. But nobody matched the experimental amazingness of Portugal. The Man and their EP "It's Complicated Being A Wizard", which is pretty much the most artistically complete album this year.

In the slightly more 'rock' side of the genre, first Circa Survive amazed everyone with "On Letting Go", which pretty much improved on every aspect of their debut album and brought it to near perfection, then Strata did the same with "Strata Presents: The End Of The World", and finally Attack In Black released one of the albums of the year in "Marriage". But one must not forget Say Anything and their fantastic double album "In Defense Of The Genre" either, these guys are geniuses.

Danish I Am Bones put out an album sounding a lot like The Strokes, but at the same time showed the latter how things are done on their sophomore album "The Greater Good". The Dear & The Departed showed AFI how to do the whole melancholy thing properly as well. Looks like the small are standing up to the big!

Copeland put out a nice remixes & b-sides album that reminded all of us how good this band can be, a vibe that had deteriorated after their last years album "Eat Sleep Repeat".

If you're more into the songwriter stuff, don't forget to check out both Mikkel Schack Band and Jacob Faurholt, who both put out interesting efforts.

Experimental/Progressive/Instrumental Music

We already briefly discussed a couple of pretty experimental releases in the previous section, but all those belonged to indie rock, more or less. The bands that you will find in this section are all the kind that cause people like me problems - there's no way you can place them into just a single genre because of the nature of their music. Example? Thrice and the two first parts of their quad album "The Alchemy Index". Are they metal? Hardcore? Indie? Alternative? Kind of like trying to place Deftones into a single genre. Nonetheless a superb album that needs loads of time getting used to. Kind of like the new Coheed & Cambria album, Three's new record, Pure Reason Revolution, and of course the new Nine Inch Nails release.

Then you've got the really freaking weird sounding bands, like Forgive Durden, Fair To Midland, and Small Leaks Sink Ships, who all released great albums, and especially the latter made a lasting impression on me.

Adjusting from really weird to only slightly-weird, one can only be astonished by the beautiful soundscapes bands like Pelican and And So I Watch You From Afar can create without utilizing any vocal work whatsoever, both definitely worth checking out even if you're not a big fan of instrumental music to start out with.

Moving onto the more progressive bands, Scandinavia fared quite well in the area. Pain of Salvation delivered the goods as usual, while new entrants Boil (DEN) and Come Sleep (SWE) had me spending a dozen extremely enjoyable hours with their less metallic take on progressive rock.

But the one real progressive masterpiece this year was without a doubt Bokor's Anomia I, which was one of the most underrated albums this year, if not in the last few years. Why nobody knows more to this band is a mystery to me, but now you do, so by this time next year I expect you to have emailed me how you found your new favorite prog band that isn't Tool or Mastodon.

Emo/Screamo/Post-Hardcore (etc)

These are the genres that everyone loves to hate. And those that like it don't usually only like it, they are absolutely passionate about the screams, the softer breakdowns and the introspective lyrics. Many readers will inevitably just skip this section and shun me for even including it, but really, I'd like to convince you otherwise, because other than metal, this is where some of the best releases this year can be found, love emo or not. One quick listen to Taking Back Sunday's execellent retrospective "Notes From The Past" should be enough to convince you so.

Again, this is a genre which boasts so many different styles. You've got the screamo bands, the emo and emocore influenced bands, the post-hardcore bands that settle somewhere in between those two, and then just those you can't really lump into any of those categories because they kind of belong to all of them at the same time. Let's start with those to clear all confusion. For example, it would be wrong to label a band like The Fall Of Troy screamo, because they are so incredibly technical and borrow from many other genres as well despite the (mostly) screamed vocals. Their new album "Manipulator" did well, but was a bit of a let down from their older material, although strictly artistically speaking the album was definitely an advancement for Erak & Co. Ice Nine Kills wrote one of the best EPs this year in "The Burning" (review later), utilizing the same insane technicality on one hand, and pure screamo/emo dynamics in the next moment. Enter Shikari introduced eurodance synths into the whole post-hardcore/screamo thing, and single-handedly started off the nu-rave movement in modern music with their debut album "Take To The Skies". And let's not forget the post-hardcore/southern rock hybrid He Is Legend's new release either.

Let's move onto screamo, which had a couple of excellent albums to offer this year. First of all, The Blood Brothers wrote a great album, which was received so well that the band decided it calls it quits and broke up. Then Dance Gavin Dance reminded us all how awesome the screamo genre was when we first discovered it a few years back with "Downtown Battle Mountain", although they later fired their main vocalist due to drug abuse. Before we realized, Life In Your Way came around having the same effect on many of us after they released Waking Giants, combining the best parts of screamo and melodic hardcore together. Danish Trusted Few held the flag up high with a very promising debut EP, and other newcomers Penknifelovelife showed what a difference great production can make to your sound. This all while From Autumn To Ashes showed that their ex-drummer fares well as the new vocalist and Sweden's Intohimo showed that quality screamo can also come from Sweden.

In the less-screaming, more clean emo vocals category, the best efforts were clearly by Pierce The Veil, Armor For Sleep and Anberlin, with the latter two especially making it big in the States this year, with Europe sure to follow in 2008. Similarly, the Further Seems Forever live record, their last release ever, is worth mentioning as notable.

Behind Crimson Eyes reminded us about the early days of modern emo/screamo hybrid with the re-issue of their EPs and more, while Silverstein arranged us with more of the same, "now starting to get boring"-material on their latest album "Arrivals & Departures". And let's not forget that Jimmy Eat World did more or less the same in the "before screaming became popular" emo category. At least A Thorn For Every Heart offered us something new.

The heavyweights in the emocore/emo didn't fare too well, with The Used releasing a catchy but all too forgettable album (way overrated), and Funeral For A Friend went even softer and further away from their roots with "Tales Don't Tell Themselves", even if a few from this very staff thought it was okay. Maybe both should take note from The Junior Varsity, whose album "Cinematographic" confused the hell out of our writer, and successfully earned a good rating. Unlike a certain Sound The Alarm, who sold out to a major label and bent under pressure, releasing one of the most disappointing debuts of the year. Where are all the screaming and interesting song dynamics, guys? At least Emery did a decent job.

In post-hardcore, however, things were much better in 2007. Lovehatehero, for instance, released an incredible sophomore album, the UnderOATH drummer Aaron Gillespie's band The Almost put out an excellent debut, and The Receiving End Of Sirens's new album met our expectations as well. Idiot Pilot's experimental take on post-hardcore impressed as well and Madina Lake struck into our consciousness with their Lostprophets-sounding debut album. But none of these came even close to the masterpiece that Poison The Well put out in "Versions", one of the biggest grower-albums of the year. If it didn't strike you back then, go back to it, because not only did it push the genre boundaries into places they haven't been to before, but it also was an amazing record, worthy of all the praise it received earlier on in the year.

Punk / Hardcore / Ska

Originally I inteded to divide punk & hardcore into two separate categories, but then I realized that they overlap each other so much that it would just accelerate the speed of your confusion over whether I have been high, on crack, drunk or all at once while writing this article. Obviously this means I have to separate things like pop punk into other paragraphs, but I'm sure you'll be able to follow. But let's start with hardcore since we finished off just before with post-hardcore. But before I go any further, it's necessary to divide hardcore into two categories - modern hardcore and punk hardcore. The latter consists of bands falling underneath the oldschool 'hardcore' label, ala Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, or oldschool Bad Religion to name a few, whereas the modern version is the one with countless brutal breakdowns, and is actually closer to metal than to original punk rock.

Starting off with modern hardcore, bands like Twelve Tribes, Gavin Portland, and Full Blown Chaos all released predictable, but still solid albums this year. Oh, Sleeper released something in between UnderOATH and Norma Jean that was well received at our staff, but the real winners in this category were The Chariot and Denmark's very own The Psyke Project, who both released albums that can safely be regarded as masterpieces, but especially The Psyke Project is a must hear, competing in the album of the year category.

Moving onto punk hardcore, Good Clean Fun kept on spreading positivity with a b-sides release, while bands like Madball (review later) and Capital put out solid releases this year. Especially Capital will make everyone who loves melody in their hardcore drool, trust me on this one. But they're not alone: Comeback Kid released their best yet album in "Broadcasting", also filled with enough melody to wet your pants over. The now defunct Champion was the big winner, releasing the best live album of this decade, a must check out for everyone whose into straight edge lifestyle at all. In contrast, NOFX's second live album flopped pretty badly.

The line between punk hardcore and punk rock is small, but big enough for me to draw the line between "us and them". If I throw out a name like Anti-Flag, who released a decent benefit album for the victims of violent crime, or Bad Religion's excellent new album New Maps Of Hell, you'll surely understand what I mean. The Ghost Of A Thousand and Gallows impressed everyone this year with "This Is Where The Fight Begins" and "Orchestra Of Wolves" respectively, successfully bringing back the 80s punk rock attitude and putting a few modern touches into it to make it more relevant for today's rebellious youth. Don't miss these two. While we're on the topic of newer bands, Daggermouth's "Turf Wars" was punk rock + melody godhood, just like the highly anticipated Lifetime re-union album. The wait was worth it, the album is freaking good. Get it now. Armsrace also made a successful entry with their debut EP that brought back memories of oldschool Thrice, only with Enter Shikari influence. But the real winner in this genre was A Wilhelm Scream, whose album "Career Suicide" was everything but what the title suggests - best punk album of the last few years? I think so.

As you've maybe noticed, there is a logical sequencing in this article, and therefore the next batch of bands that did well did so in the melodic punk category, a slightly more accessible and more readily likable genre. Against Me! showed that you can be punk and signed to a major label simultaneously, and No Use For A Name reminded us why they're one of the biggest punk bands ever with a 26-track best of album. If pop punk is too soft and punk rock too harsh for you, NUFAN is the answer. Alkaline Trio's b-sides album left their previous album completely in its shadow, but I suppose that wasn't a difficult task. Bayside, the band that will always be known as "the band that sounds just like Alkaline Trio without being as good", tried to shut up critics with "The Walking Wounded" and actually did a pretty good job at it.

Time to move on again. We're still getting happier and softer, which might have lead you to guess we're onto pop punk now. First Fall Out Boy became one of the biggest pop punk bands on the planet after releasing "Infinity On High" in early February, then Yellowcard demonstrated that their previous album was just a slip up and they're back in business with "Paper Walls", and finally Motion City Soundtrack showed why they are everyone's favorite summer band with "Even If It Kills Me". As all these bands are taking pop punk into their own, more modern direction, Four Year Strong and The Wonder Years returned back to the glory days (mid 90s) of pop punk, releasing "Rise Or Die Trying" and "Get Stoked On it!" respectively. Let's not forget that the latter was crowned as the album of the year earlier in the article. But for every great album in the genre, another one flopped. Sum 41 returned to their old, silly sound, Cartel had absolutely no idea what they were doing inside the bubble, The Academy Is... didn't become the next Fall Out Boy, and New Found Glory's movie soundtrack sequel left many disappointed. The Ataris? Don't ask.

All that's left now is to talk about ska and other things that "kind of" belong under the punk / hardcore umbrella. Take Dropkick Murphies's new album "The Meanest Of Times", for instance. It's speedy enough to be called punk but it doesn't really belong in any of the above categories with its folksy sound. It was a great return to form nonetheless. In the ska side of things, Reel Big Fish got a little more unserious on their new album, but didn't manage to live up to great releases from Streetlight Manifesto and Big D & The Kids Table.

Metal

As with punk/hardcore, the problem with Metal is that there are so many different subgenres to it. And there are a hell of a lot more metal bands out there, not only because it's one of the oldest genres around, but also because it has been getting a massive facelift in the last few years because of the rise of metalcore. People are just getting into more and more extreme music. How else would you explain how a band like Job For A Cowboy sells over 13,000 copies of their debut album "Genesis" on its first week? And they are death metal. Likewise, The Black Dahlia Murder has been growing at a steady rate, and just released an excellent new album in Nocturnal. I guess the Danish death metal bands figured their time has come, as both Spectral Mortuary and Compos Mentis released superb albums in the genre.

But even more interesting releases can be found in extreme metal: The Red Chord will tear you a new asshole, much like the ultra-vicious new Pig Destroyer record "Phantom Limb". As for grindcore, The County Medical Examiners are pretty freaking weird considering nobody knows who they are in real life. But if you desire some technicality on top of your brutality, be sure to check out Psyopus, who will show you a new meaning to the words 'fast' and 'technical', while The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza wins the award of the heaviest album of the year while still maintaining an impressive level of technicality.

But hey, not all of us desire our metal to be fucking brutal, while we still want it to maintain a level of artistic integrity. That's where bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dodheimsgaard, and the System Of A Down vocalist Serj Tankian's solo project come in handy. But still, none of these are of match to the majestic Machine Head album "The Blackening" or the incomprehensible perfection of Between The Buried Me's "Colors", both of which can be crowned as the two best metal albums of the year without a second thought.

Some of us like our metal fast, and that's where thrash metal comes in handy. This age old genre has long been plagued by its revivalist old-school Slayer mentality, but this year Demiricous's second album, the new Skeletonwitch album, and the latest Municipal Waste record demonstrated that innovation and greatness can also be found in an otherwise stale genre.

Nevertheless, it is melody that attracts many of us the most, which is why metalcore bands have been in the spotlight for the past two or three years. Even this year, fantastic new bands like Anterior popped up, while the older names like August Burns Red and As I Lay Dying kept the pace up. Although Himsa has been steadily moving away from metalcore like the latter band, "Summon In Thunder" can still be labeled just that. Lost Eden started aping Trivium and Parkway Drive released another decent metalcore effort, even if our scribe AP did not like it too much.

However, if you want truly melodic metal, then we must stray away from metalcore into just this paragraph. Type O Negative returned to form with their excellent new album "Dead Again", Nightwish released a symphonic metal masterpiece, and Dark Tranquillity showed why everyone fucking loves Gothenburg twin guitar harmonies with their latest masterpiece "Fiction". And while we are waiting for the next Opeth release, Spanish Nahemah released their take on melodic progressive metal to great critical acclaim. With Passion's "What We See When We Close Our Eyes" impressed with its ultra technical melodies, while Darkest Hour showcased that "Undoing Ruin" wasn't the only great album they'll write. Lastly, let's not forget the best folk metal release of the year: Vargstenen by Månegarm.

Other notable metal releases, that I simply didn't know where to place or didn't listen enough to talk about them 'knowingly', were the new Volbeat album, Chimaira's masterpiece "Resurrection", and of course the new Hatesphere record, which the Danes should be proud of.

Over the course of the year we sat down with a total of 40 bands for a chat, either in person, over the phone or via email. Not all of them were that interesting of course, but here's an overview of the biggest and the best interviews that we managed to secure this year. Look out for some massive ones coming in next year!

In case you found the genre by genre analysis of the great releases this year either confusing or not comprehensive enough, we're also providing you a summary of all the reviews that received a high grade on this magazine. It contains every single release that was rated in the range shown below, except for the "good" or 7-8 range, where only select releases were chosen that stood above the others to keep the list at a manageable length. Our editorial staff wrote 396 album reviews in total, amounting to more than one a day! Just 2% of those albums scored higher the "perfect" mark, and just 12% were deemed as "great". So even though at times it may seem we often give high marks to many bands, a quick look at these numbers shows that only the best of the best reach to the highest of marks. With that being said, those 14% of albums you should already own, and if not, you should be checking them out as you are reading this article, regardless of your genre preference. Albums scoring this high in any genre will sound great to everyone, not just to the people at the inner circle of the particular genre.

9½-10 or perfect: This is an album we feel is simply one of the best albums released in the last five years. It's one of those that you can listen to over and over again and it never grows old on you.

8½ - 9 or great: An album rated 8½ or 9 means it's one of the best albums of the current year, and a must-have purchase for any music fan. The album doesn't necessarily have to be groundbreaking, but just freaking good at what it does.

7 - 8 or good: Any album rated 7-8 is good and very listenable, but just doesn't cross the boundary of becoming one of your favorite albums of the year. It's one of those records you'll listen to occasionally and think "this is really good stuff". Might have one or two tracks you simply skip. We still recommend buying any album receiving an 8, while a 7 should probably be sampled first.

Final Word

To say something overall about 2007 it seems to have been "the year of the dark horse". A retardedly large number of big or semi-big bands managed to release albums that were in no way worthy of the attention and expectation they had been given. On the other hand a large number of seminal releases from bands coming seemingly from out of nowhere. To name a few, bands like Dance Gavin Dance, Pierce The Veil, LoveHateHero and The Psyke Project managed to blow away all expectations while bigger names managed to fall flat on their faces (see Linkin' Park). While it's always a shame to be disappointed by a band you've had great expectations for, it's easy to get over the loss when the music scene still seems to be putting out more and more fresh and surprising names, especially taken into consideration that even the most extreme are starting to get some of the credit they're due instead of just staying buried deep in the underground. Keeping this all in mind, it's hard not to be excited for 2008, anticipating the return of Panic! At The Disco and Bullet For My Valentine early in the year, not to speak of Protest The Hero's upcoming album, which, keeping in mind how "Kezia" was one of the very best records of 06, is a record everyone should look out for. Then again, if 08 is anything like 07 the records that'll blow us all away will probably come from bands we have yet to get to know. In any event, we thank all you for reading Rockfreaks.net in 2007 and hope you'll keep visiting, looking out for all those records and bands by means of our site. If you will, then stay on the watch for the 2008 preview article we'll post within the next few weeks, where we go even deeper into which records you should keep an eye out for.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIX Rockfreaks.net.