Saturday, January 20, 2007

top50 - #30 to #26

26. tool - '10,000 days'
Epitomizing the 'progressive' tag while avoiding what bands-who-really-want-to-be 'progressive' do, Tool just keep evolving, mutating, rooting themselves deeper. They progress, in fact. No need here to indulge in pointless 15-minute songs that could easily have been written for 5 and do note scale acrobatics. Tool's music is deep and complex, and at the same time incredibly primal and intuitive - it has the ability to move you at whatever level you choose to take it. At times retrospective ('Vicarious' as a 'Stinkfist' for the new generation), at times introspective and challenging (the two 'Wings' songs), '10,000' days, like the band itself, is always interesting, always exciting and it always matters.

27. krux - 'krux ii'
The great Leif Edling, doom grandfather extraordinaire, probably seeking a bit of rest from the current problems of Candlemass, re-activated his other band in 2006 to present every doom aficionado with a true modern classic of the genre. 'Krux II' sounds ancient and modern at the same time - this album is clearly the product of matured, experienced, classic songwriting talent, but the fire and the passion with which it's played feels like it's being played by a bunch of hungry newcomers. The riffs pile on, thick and dense but also rocking while Mats Levén howls his heart out and proves himself as one of the best vocalists around in the process. When someone asks you what doom is, put 'Krux II' on. And when it reaches the third song, the gargantuan 'Sea Of Doom', tell them that's not only doom, that's doooooooom.

28. red sparowes - 'every red heart shines towards the red sun'
Unbelievably, especially if you think of the utter desert of ideas in the instrumental rock/metal field just a few years back, it's a genre growing into the next big thing. Suddenly a lot of people have realized that applying Neurosis atmospherics together with metallized Slint-like dynamics and shutting up the vocalist sounds really really great. The best thing is that in most cases it does, and the most fascinating case (also probably the one most responsible for this wave) is RedSparowes. This sophomore album is not a huge departure from the genre in general or from their debut in particular, but it is still an evolution, especially in scope. 'Every Red Heart...' sounds huge, not only in the soaring expansive parts but also in the more introspective, emotional parts. When it ends, a vocalist will be the furthest thing from your mind.

29. the haunted - 'the dead eye'
Probably realizing that they (or anyone else, for that matter) could never out-thrash the bone-crushing urgency of their 1997 self-titled debut, The Haunted, fortunately reunited with their original frontman Peter Dolving, embarked on something new with 'The Dead Eye'. The first few songs are conventional enough (for The Haunted standards), but soon the record starts to mutate into something much more interesting. From 'The Reflection' and its Tool (more on them in a bit) feel to the near-doom of 'The Medusa', The Haunted create a thick miasma that is both creepy and brutal. Dolving's voice is much too versatile for him to shout all the time, and he finally uses that versatility to spine-chilling effect, with singing, screaming and speaking all being used. All this while the Björler/Jensen pair riff dissonantly away like Coivod-on-steroids. If they keep this up, brace yourselves for the next one!

30. stuart a. staples - 'leaving songs'
As it is usual in this kind of situation, the Tindersticks vocalist's first foray into solo waters had a shadow of doubt cast over it. Could Stuart shake off enough of his band's influence and produce his own work, able to stand on its own and not on past indie glories of its creator? The answer is, fortunately, a very vocal yes. Given the minimalism of the Tindersticks, it's hard for solo-Stuart to totally escape sounding a bit like them, but these melancholic, heartbroken songs have enough of a hushed country influence coupled with a few Al Green-isms to become fully-formed individual entities. A remarkable singer-songwriter album.

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