Friday, December 25, 2009

Best albums of the decade

The top ten:

1. Sigur Ros: Ágætis Byrjun

2. Tool: Lateralus

3. Radiohead: Kid A

4. Modest Mouse: Moon and Antarctica

5. Arcade Fire: Funeral

6. Interpol: Turn On the Bright Lights

7. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

8. Boards of Canada: Geogaddi

9. Neko Case: Blacklisted

10. Coldplay: Parachutes

11-25:

11. Broken Social Scene: You Forgot It in People
12. The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium
13. Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
14. Isis: Oceanic
15. Panda Bear: Person Pitch
16. Sufjan Stevens: Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State
17. The New Pornographers: Mass Romantic
18. The Shins: Oh, Inverted World
19. White Stripes: Elephant
20. Queens of the Stone Age: Songs for the Deaf
21. Opeth: Blackwater Park
22. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
23. Godspeed You Black Emperor!: Lift Your Skinny Fists like Antennas to Heaven
24. Fleet Foxes: Ragged Wood
25. LCD Sound System: Sound of Silver

Honorable mention (listed alphabetically):
  • A Perfect Circle: Mer De Noms
  • Aimee Mann: Lost in Space
  • Aimee Mann: Bachelor No. 2
  • Amon Tobin: Supermodified
  • Amon Tobin: Out From Out Where
  • And So I Watch You From Afar: ...And So I Watch You From Afar
  • And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: Source Tags & Codes
  • Animal Collective: Here Comes the Indian
  • Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavillion
  • Antlers: Hospice
  • Antony & the Johnsons: I Am A Bird Now
  • Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
  • Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock And Roll
  • Atlas Sound: Logos
  • Audioslave: Out of Exile
  • Band of Horses: Everything All the Time
  • Battle of Mice: Day of Nights
  • Battles: Mirrored
  • Beck : Sea Change
  • Beta Band: Heroes to Zeros
  • Bjork: Vespertine
  • Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
  • Blonde Redhead: 23
  • Bon Iver: For Emma Forever Ago
  • Built to Spill: You in Reverse
  • Caribou: Andorra
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah : Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • Clinic: Internal Wrangler
  • Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head
  • Deathcab For Cutie: Transatlanticism
  • Deerhoof: Friend Opportunity
  • Deftones: White Pony
  • DJ Shadow: The Private Press
  • Doves: Lost Souls
  • Doves: The Last Broadcast
  • Evpatoria Report: Golevka
  • Explosions in the Sky: The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place
  • Feist: Let it Die
  • Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere
  • God is an Astronaut: The End of the Beginning
  • Gojira: The Way of All Flesh
  • Gorillaz: Demon Days
  • Grizzly Bear: Yellow House
  • Iron & Wine: The Creek Drank the Cradle
  • Iron & Wine: Our Endless Numbered Days
  • Isis: In the Absence of Truth
  • Japandroids: Post-Nothing
  • Jesu: Conqueror
  • Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender
  • Justice: Cross
  • Kaiser Chiefs : Employment
  • Koop: Waltz for Koop
  • M83: Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
  • Mastodon: Leviathan
  • Meshuggah: ObZen
  • Meshuggah: Nothing
  • MGMT: Oracular Spectacular
  • MIA: Arular
  • MIA: Kala
  • Microphones: The Glow, Pt. 2
  • Modest Mouse: Good News for People Who Like Bad News
  • Mogwai: Happy Songs for Happy People
  • My Morning Jacket: At Dawn
  • Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  • Neurosis: Given to the Rising
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus
  • Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
  • Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet
  • Porcupine Tree: In Abstentia
  • Portishead: Third
  • Queens of the Stone Age: R
  • Radiohead: In Rainbows
  • Radiohead: Amnesiac
  • Rage Against the Machine: Renegades
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: By the Way
  • Red Sparowes: Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun
  • Royksopp: Melody A.M.
  • Sigur Ros: ()
  • Spoon: Girls Can Tell
  • Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
  • Supergrass: Life on Other Planets
  • System of a Down: Toxicity
  • The Dears: No Cities Left
  • The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
  • The Dresden Dolls: The Dresden Dolls
  • The Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat
  • The Gathering: If_Then_Else
  • The Most Serene Republic: Population
  • The National: Boxer
  • The New Pornographers: Electric Version
  • The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
  • The Ocean: Precambrian
  • The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow
  • The Streets: Original Pirate Material
  • The Strokes: Is This It?
  • Thievery Corporation: The Mirror Conspiracy
  • Ulrich Schnauss : A Strangely Isolated Place
  • Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend
  • White Stripes: White Blood Cells
  • Wilco: A Ghost is Born
  • Wolf Parade: At Mount Zoomer

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The best albums of 2009

Okay, we're done. I now present to you the best albums of 2009:





Sunday, December 6, 2009

Albums that missed the cut

I present to you now the bridesmaids of 2009 -- a list of albums that failed to make the Best Albums of 2009 list. Some of these are quite good and worth a listen:
  • 3: Revisions
  • Between the Buried and Me: The Great Misdirect
  • Black Moth Super Rainbow: Eating Us
  • Brendan Benson: My Old, Familiar Friend
  • Cass Macombs: Catacombs
  • Delorean: Ayrton Senna EP
  • Destroy Destroy Destroy: Battle Sluts
  • Dethklok: Dethalbum II
  • Devendra Banhart: What Will We Be
  • Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings
  • Discovery: LP
  • Dredg: The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
  • fun.: Aim and Ignite
  • Ghostface Killah: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
  • Imogen Heap: Ellipse
  • It Hugs Back: Inside Your Guitar
  • Jeniferever: Spring Tides
  • Jesu: Opiate Sun
  • Lamb of God: Wrath
  • Marianne Faithfull: Easy Come Easy Go
  • Muse: The Resistance
  • Paramore: Brand New Eyes
  • Patrick Wolf: The Bachelor
  • Peter Bjorn and John: Living Thing
  • Phosphorescent: To Willie
  • Psapp: The Camel's Back
  • Rain Machine: Rain Machine
  • Riverside: Anno Domini High Definition
  • Robyn Hitchcock: Goodnight Oslo
  • School of Seven Bells: Alpinisms
  • Shadows Fall: Retribution
  • Sondre Lerche: Heartbeat Radio
  • Suffocation: Blood Oath
  • Tegan and Sara: Sainthood
  • The Big Pink: A Brief History of Love
  • The Gourds: Haymaker
  • The Swell Season: Strict Joy
  • The Temper Trap: Conditions
  • Thermals: Now We Can See
  • Tommy Keene: In the Late Bright
  • Volcano Choir: Unmap
  • Wilco: Wilco the Album
  • Woe of Tyrants: Kingdom of Might
  • Wolfmother: Cosmic Egg

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sufjan Stevens: The BQE

Artist: Sufjan Stevens
Album: The BQE
Date Released: October 20, 2009
Genre: classical crossover, classical, post-rock
Rating: 7.4

Neon Indian: Psychic Chasms

Artist: Neon Indian
Album: Psychic Chasms
Date Released: October 13, 2009
Genre: indie electronic, electronic, alt-rock
Rating: 7.9

Jonsi and Alex: Riceboy Sleeps

Artist: Jonsi and Alex
Album: Riceboy Sleeps
Date Released: July 21, 2009
Genre: post-rock, experimental rock
Rating: 7.8

Pelican: What We All Come to Need

Artist: Pelican
Album: What We All Come to Need
Date Released: October 27, 2009
Genre: post-rock, post-metal, instrumental rock
Rating: 8.3

Moderat: Moderat

Artist: Moderat
Album: Moderat
Date Released: April 21, 2009
Genre: electronic, experimental techno, techno
Rating: 7.3

Kylesa: Static Tensions

Artist: Kylesa
Album: Static Tensions
Date Released: March 17, 2009
Genre: metal, alternative metal, indie metal, sludge metal
Rating: 8.2

Katatonia: Night is the New Day

Artist: Katatonia
Album: Night is the New Day
Date Released: November 10, 2009
Genre: metal, death metal, alternative metal
Rating: 8.0

Every Time I Die: New Junk Aesthetic

Artist: Every Time I Die
Album: New Junk Aesthetic
Date Released: September 15, 2009
Genre: metal, alternative metal, indie metal, screamo, metalcore
Rating: 7.2

Converge: Axe to Fall

Artist: Converge
Album: Axe to Fall
Date Released: October 20, 2009
Genre: metal, punk metal, metalcore, hardcore punk
Rating: 8.5

The Black Dahlia Murder: Deflorate

Artist: The Black Dahlia Murder
Album: Deflorate
Date Released: September 15, 2009
Genre: metal, death metal, metalcore, deathcore
Rating: 7.0

The Arusha Accord: The Echo Verses

Artist: The Arusha Accord
Album: The Echo Verses
Date Released: November 2009
Genre: metal, indie metal, alternative metal, progressive metal
Rating: 7.6
Very heavy and highly technical indie metal from the UK, these guys draw influences from such bands as Dillinger Escape Plan, Tool and Machine Head.

Behemoth: Evangelion

Artist: Behemoth
Album: Evangelion
Date Released: August 11, 2009
Genre: metal, death metal, blackened death metal
Rating: 7.3

Running out of time...

We're now well into December and I haven't finished reviewing all the albums for 2009 that I want to. So, what I'm going to do is post the albums anyway and skip the written reviews for some. Time permitting I will add some notes about each album retroactively.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peaches: I Feel Cream

Artist: Peaches
Album: I Feel Cream
Date Released: May 5, 2009
Genre: indie electronic, techno, electro-techno, dance, dance punk, synthpunk
Rating: 7.6
Former elementary school teacher turned potty mouth techno-dance musician, composer and producer, Peaches has released her fourth studio album -- and it's solid. Her lyrics are sexually explicit and provocative as usual; the beats, synth pulses and grooves are highly addictive and laden with ear candy. The album's got a lot of attitude and is a ton of fun. Track highlights include "Billionaire," "I Feel Cream," and "Take You On."

Health: Get Color

Artist: Health
Album: Get Color
Date Released: September 8, 2009
Genre: noise rock, alt-rock, indie-rock
Rating: 7.1
Health is an American noise rock band from Los Angeles, California. The band has collaborated with Crystal Castles and toured with Nine Inch Nails -- and it's fair to say that their sound is firmly situated between the two. Health's dark, noisy and experimental flair is offset by its predilection for synthy, high-energy and upbeat music.

On Get Color, the band is once again loud, noisy and digitally distorted in surprisingly beautiful ways. The tracks are fun, inventive and highly listenable -- though you have to have the patience for this kind of music. Track highlights include "Die Slow," "Before Tigers," and "We Are Water."

Black Crowes: Before the Frost/Until the Freeze

Artist: Black Crowes
Album: Before the Frost/Until the Freeze
Date Released: September 1, 2009
Genre: American trad rock, blues-rock, rock & roll, hard rock, blues
Rating: 8.2
Few people have noticed, but the Black Crowes are awesome again. It all started last year when the veteran band got back together to put out the outstanding War Paint album; the momentum has been carrying them forward ever since.

Witness this year's effort: An ambitious double album of new material recorded in front of a live audience at Levon Helm's barn in upstate New York. The tracks are vintage Black Crowes with distinctive hints of The Band, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (Chris Robinson sounds downright Dylanesque on "Appaloosa"). And the production values are exquisite; rarely does a live album sound so damn good. Add some incredible performances and strong tracks and you have an absolutely stellar album.

Given their surprising resurgence and reinstated relevancy, the Black Crowes are making a strong case for being one of the best blues-rock bands of all-time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pyramids: Pyramids With Nadja

Artist: Pyramids
Album: Pyramids with Nadja
Date Released: October 27, 2009
Genre: metal, post-metal, alt-metal, experimental, avant-garde metal, ambient, minimalism
Rating: 8.4
Pyramids with Nadja (streaming audio available) is a massive collaborative effort between Pyramids, Nadja and a number of other musicians. All members of Pyramids (f. coloccia, m. dean, m. kraig, r. loren, d. william) and Nadja (Aidan Baker & Leah Buckereff) perform on all four tracks on the record.

In addition to this, Pyramids with Nadja also features Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil (performs bass on track one and four), Albin Julius of Der Blutharsch (performs vocals on track four), Chris Simpson of Mineral (performs vocals on track two), Colin Marston of Dysrhythmia and Behold the Arctopus (co-produced/engineered track one) and James Plotkin of Khanate, Khlyst, O.L.D. Phantomsmasher (mixed and mastered the entire album).

As the number of contributors would suggest, the music on Pyramids with Nadja is a remarkable integration of diverse sonic influences, a palate that includes ambient, industrial, shoe-gaze, and experimental/minimalist metal. While Pyramids and Nadja dominate the album, there's no question that this is a product of many musical minds.

The album itself consists of four long-play tracks that weave in and out of the listener's conscious awareness. Pyramids with Nadja is about slowly morphing texture, mood, and walls of soundscapes; it's a very 'visual' album in this sense. Remarkably, despite the minimalism and atmospheric bliss-outs, the album contains a definite melodic quality. Without a doubt, this is one of the most original and remarkable albums of the year.

New feature: Sort by genres

By popular demand I have added the ability to sort all genres listed on the Best Albums of 2009 site. It's located in the right-hand sidebar just below the list of rankings. Thanks to Lucas for setting this up. Enjoy!

Loney, Dear: Dear John

Artist: Loney, Dear
Album: Dear John
Date Released: January 27, 2009
Genre: alt-rock, indie-rock, indie-pop
Rating: 8.0
Loney, Dear is the pseudonym of Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen. Dear John is Loney, Dear's third full-length album and the follow-up to his critically acclaimed Loney, Noir (2007).

On Dear John, Svanängen often treads perilously close to music that could be considered quite glossy and flowery, but his richly detailed arrangements and gorgeous soundscapes never allow the music to reach that point. Svanängen manages to darken these tracks with delicate moments of minimalism, his (almost uncomfortably) intimate vocal delivery, and plenty of minors and fifths.

Take the track, "Under a Silent Sea." Svanängen starts off with an unassuming acoustic guitar, but the arrangement slowly builds into one of the most powerful and dramatic tracks put out this year by any artist. The comparisons to Sufjan Stevens are not out of place.

Dear John is a difficult album to categorize and its charms aren't immediately recognizable. Stick with this album, though -- it's a real beauty.

Them Crooked Vultures: Them Crooked Vultures

Artist: Them Crooked Vultures
Album: Them Crooked Vultures
Date Released: November 17, 2009
Genre: rock, hard rock
Rating: 7.7
There's been a lot of hype surrounding the release of Them Crooked Vultures -- and for good reason: the band is a supergroup consisting of John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) [I can't help sing to myself at this point, "These are a few of my favorite things..."].

The band is clearly dominated by its guiding force, that being Homme, who performs all vocal and rhythm/lead guitar duties; the album often feels like it could easily double as a QOTSA effort, but that's not to diminish the contributions of the other two band members. John Paul Jones's rhythmic structures and bass progressions bring late-era Zeppelin to mind, while Grohl continues to show why he's one of the most talented and coveted drummers in the business.

Them Crooked Vultures is raw, nasty and heavy -- exactly what you'd want and expect from these particular guys. Track highlights include "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I", "Elephants", "Scumbag Blues" and "Interlude with Ludes."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Latest adjustments to rankings

I've made some adjustments to the rankings:

Demotions:
Promotions:

Not done yet

We're quickly approaching the end of the year, but I've still got a bunch of albums that need to be reviewed; the BAo09 list is far from complete, so stay tuned for more.

Also, I'll be posting the best albums of the decade sometime in mid-December so watch out for that. And finally, I'll also be posting a list of decent albums from this year that failed to make the cut.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Very Best: Warm Heart of Africa

Artist: The Very Best
Album: Warm Heart of Africa
Date Released: October 6, 2009
Genre: international, world music, African traditions, Afro-beat
Rating: 8.4
Esau Mwamwaya is a singer from Lilongwe, Malawi who is best known for his collaboration, The Very Best, with the British DJ/production duo Radioclit. Together, the music of The Very Best is an Afro-Western mix of dance, hiphop, pop and the traditional music of Malawi.

Warm Heart of Africa is the follow-up to their excellent 2008 debut, Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit are the Very Best. And the album is aptly titled: the music is upbeat, fun and extremely catchy. But most of all it sounds extremely fresh. There's no one right now mixing African, dance and pop traditions to the same effect as these guys. And when you add guest appearances from M.I.A. and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend it's instant win.

Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt. II

Artist: Raekwon
Album: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt. II
Date Released: September 8, 2009
Genre: east coast rap, hardcore rap, gangsta rap
Rating: 8.7
Corey Woods, better known by the stage name Raekwon, is an American rapper and a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. He released his solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., back in 1995, and has continued recording solo and with the Wu-Tang Clan since then. This year, Raekwon released the much anticipated sequel to his critically acclaimed debut with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II.

Like the original, the album follows a crime-laced cinematic approach. Lyrically, the concept follows the story of a mafioso crime boss and is told primarily from the third person perspective. It is combined with carefully placed skits weaved into the beginnings and ends of songs. The lyrics are raw, honest and very explicit -- not for the feint of heart.

The album is laced with incredible talent, both from the production and performance side of things. Featured members include RZA, Ghostface Killah, Jadakiss, Cappadonna, Pete Rock, the Alchemist, and even Dr. Dre. Raekwon also weaves in some incredible samples, including Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on "Kiss the Ring," Odetta's "Hit or Miss" on "Penitentiary," and Styx's "Castle Walls," on "Surgical Gloves."

The only word that seems to do Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt. II justice is epic. The performances are spectacular and the production is remarkably creative, diverse and tight. Definitely the not-to-be-missed rap album of the year.

Lightning Dust: Infinite Light

Artist: Lightning Dust
Album: Infinite Light
Date Released: August 4, 2009
Genre: indie rock, alternative rock, indie folk, acid folk, sadcore
Rating: 8.1

Lightning Dust, a Canadian indie rock band from Vancouver, British Columbia, is a side project of Amber Webber and Joshua Wells, both members of Black Mountain. But unlike Black Mountain, Lightning Dust has a sound that's softer and more melodic. As Wells has noted, the band arose from a desire to "do something that was sparse and minimal, and with a lot of space around it." Webber, who performs vocal duties, described the band as an opportunity to "explore her goth side."

And it's clear from the opening track, "Antonia Jane," that this is not a Black Mountain album -- far from.

Infinite Light is a lyrical, gentle and atmospheric album. It's also very sad and dark -- a mood that's punctuated by some spacey sonic elements, and of course, Webber's lyrics and vocals. Indeed, Infinite Light is an acid-folk tour de force for Webber's singing and she clearly takes center stage. Her warbly and somber delivery is an indelible part of the Lightning Dust sound, a style that's reminiscent of a much more subdued Grace Slick.

Another solid release from a very talented and prolific duo.

Bear in Heaven: Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Artist: Bear in Heaven
Album: Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Date Released: October 13, 2009
Genre: indie rock, neo-psychedelia, progressive rock, alternative rock
Rating: 7.9

Beast Rest Forth Mouth is the sophomore release from Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven, a band that incorporates influences from prog, psychedelia, electronica and krautrock. Thanks to bands like Mew and Muse, prog-rock is no longer a dirty word -- but as far as Bear in Heaven goes they're much more like the former than the latter. Where Muse wears its pretension like a badge, Mew and Bear in Heaven take a more subdued and ethereal approach to their music.

Beast Rest Forth Mouth is a prime example. It's an album of steady and hypnotic beats, synthy and spacey rhythmic sequences and dreamy vocals. The tracks are paced and have a shoegaze element to them at times, while frequently coloured with power-chords and some very heavy synth pulses.

Sonically, the album is gorgeous from start to finish; but stronger tracks and a clearer commitment to melody would have propelled this album from good to great. Track highlights include "Beast in Peace," "You Do You," and "Lovesick Teenagers."

Slayer: World Painted Blood

Artist: Slayer
Album: World Painted Blood
Date Released: November 3, 2009
Genre: metal, thrash metal, speed metal
Rating: 7.7

Hey, no one's more surprised than me that Slayer has made the BAo09 list -- but credit where credit is due. These beloved metal veterans have put it all together this year on World Painted Blood, the follow-up to their rather meh Christ Illusion. This album has all the Slayer hallmarks: headbanging rhythms, ear-splitting riffs, bone-chilling leads and a merciless percussive attack. Combined with one of the best vocal performances from Tom Araya in years and you have what is a very solid metal album.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

White Rabbits: It's Frightening

Artist: White Rabbits
Album: It's Frightening
Date Released: May 19, 2009
Genre: alt-rock, indie-rock
Rating: 7.2

It's Frightening is the sophomore release from White Rabbits, a sextet featuring two drummers and a piano player. Hailing from Columbus, MO, the White Rabbits refer to their music as "honky tonk calypso" -- a sound that isn't too far removed from other bands like The Walkmen and Spoon. In fact, for It's Frightening, the band recruited Spoon's Britt Daniel to produce.

The end result is undeniably Spoonesque and not nearly as fresh as their beloved debut, Fort Nightly, but it's a solid album nonetheless. The infectious and upbeat rhythms work beautifully with the ever-important White Rabbits piano, but this time around the band has refined their sound by adding the dynamism of improved guitar and vocal arrangements.

It's Frightening may not capture the spontaneity of their debut, but White Rabbits are quickly maturing as a band whose primary focus is in producing expertly arranged and well written songs. Track highlights include "Percussion Gun," "Rudie Fails," "They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong" and the Radiohead inspired "The Salesman (Tramp Life)."

Alice in Chains: Black Gives Way to Blue

Artist: Alice in Chains
Album: Black Gives Way to Blue
Date Released: September 29, 2009
Genre: hard rock, grunge, alternative metal
Rating: 8.0

With Black Gives Way to Blue, Alice in Chains wins the most surprising album of the year award.

It's fair to say that expectations were justifiability low given that it's been 14 years since their last album and seven years since the untimely death of vocalist Layne Staley. Moreover, given the recent surplus of over-the-hill bands trying -- and mostly failing -- to recapture former glory, it would be easy to dismiss this as another self-serving money-grabbing effort.

But not so fast. Black Gives Way to Blue is a very good album. Jerry Cantrell and company have introduced William DuVall to the team, and while he doesn't have that wounded-animal quality that Staley had, his vocal presence is nonetheless impressive and completely aligned with the band's characteristic gloomy sound. With DuVall onboard, Cantrell can once again arrange those gorgeous harmonies that were an integral part of their sound from a decade ago.

And the songs are great. Right from the opener, "All Secrets Known," the band plays goose-bump inducing grunge that picks up right where they left off. Other track highlights include "Check My Brain," "Your Decision," and "Acid Bubble."

Call me sentimental, but it's great to see this band back together again and sounding so damn good.

Om: God is Good

Artist: Om
Album: God is Good
Date Released: March 2009
Genre: stoner metal, minimalist metal, psychedelic rock, post-metal
Rating: 7.1

Om is a duo formed in 2003 by the rhythm section of the disbanded stoner doom metal band Sleep. God is Good is their fourth studio album and was recorded at Electrical Audio by Steve Albini. It's the first studio album by Om to feature the new drummer Emil Amos of Grails.

Om's music is slow and droning and at times similar in structure to Tibetan chanting. On God is Good, the album's four tracks feature the drawn-out wailings of sitar, tamboura, steady tappings of the ride cymbal and mantra-like vocal stylings. The arrangements are sparse and spacious. There is no rushing here; the band takes their time to express meditative and heavy music. Fans of Sun O))) and Earth will feel right at home with Om.

Nile: Those Whom the Gods Detest

Artist: Nile
Album: Those Whom the Gods Detest
Date Released: November 3, 2009
Genre: death metal
Rating: 7.5

Death metal veterans Nile have long been known for their high-speed and frenetic metal attack, but they are also renowned for their Discovery Channelesque attention to historical detail. In a genre laden with Satanic references to the point of nausea, Nile have gone against the grain by incorporating ancient Egyptian themes to heavy metal, along with Egyptian scales, modes and other Middle Eastern ear candy.

Their latest album, Those Whom the Gods Detest, is no exception. More than ever, Nile have seamlessly integrated these otherworldly elements into their music while remaining one of the heaviest and most brutal death metal bands in the business. As always, the band's talent as performers bleeds through the deathiness and growly vocals; Those Whom the Gods Detest features some fantastic guitar solos and relentless drum blasts.

Death metal fans will be pleased with this effort.