After last year, I didn’t think that 2015 would improve in terms of musical discoveries and new material but the truth is that it has been an awesome year.
There have been discoveries, rediscoveries and lots of new recordings. I spent a lot of money on music this year and could have spent a lot more.
Arena are a British progressive rock band and, thanks to a free CD on a classic rock magazine, I had two songs by the band in my collection. At the start of the year, I decided to check the band out a little more thoroughly. I now have three albums by the band: The Visitor, Immortal and Contagion and I have to say that they are all excellent albums, particularly Contagion which has a superb driving rock song called Witch Hunt, the highlight of three brilliant albums:
Way back in the early 1980’s Gary Numan was one of the most popular pop stars of the time, and has influenced a lot of fellow artists over the years including Nine Inch Nails, one of my favourite bands. In 2015 it came to my attention that he was still active when I caught an interview with him. I discovered that he had released an album in 2013 so I searched for it and had a listen. I was amazed. The album, Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) is a triumph, dark, brooding and expresses the feelings of a mind in the deep throes of depression. Here is a brilliant song from the album called Love Hurt Bleed:
Thanks to a chance search on Google, I found a collaboration between one of my favourite artists, Steven Wilson and a Polish artist I had never heard of called Mariusz Duda, who is the lead singer and bassist of a Polish progressive rock band called Riverside, who are absolutely magnificent.
I now have their first three albums, Out of Myself, Second Life Syndrome and Rapid Eye Movement all of which form a concept trio called the Reality Dream Trilogy. This band are and will be massive in my collection and I am amazed they are not more widely known in progressive rock circles. Here is a beautiful song called Conceiving You from the best of the three albums, Second Life Syndrome:
Old Favourites with New Material
A lot of old favourites have released new material this year and here are the cream of the crop. First, Joe Satriani, my favourite guitarist, is back with a cracking new album called Shockwave Supernova. Here is a great driving rock song from the album called On Peregrine Wings:
Old favourites Whitesnake also released a new album this year. Rather than writing new material, David Coverdale, the lead singer, went back to his days with Deep Purple and recorded cover versions from his time with the band in an album called The Purple Album. To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised at the result; he has brought them into the 21st century and they are superb. Here is their version of my favourite Deep Purple song with Coverdale at the helm:
Muse also returned with a great new concept album called Drones. The thing I like about Muse albums is that there is always one absolutely driving classic rock song on each album that I can use to drive Mrs PM up the wall with. Drones is no exception and that song is particularly annoying because it contains a lot of swearing. Here is the song, called Psycho – reader discretion is required:
Psycho was very nearly my song of 2015 – but two pipped it to the post.
The band I discovered last year, Nightwish, released a brand new album this year called Endless Forms Most Beautiful, and it is a symphonic metal masterpiece. The band has a new female lead singer called Floor Jansen who has an absolutely amazing voice, able to reach operatic levels and deep growling heavy metal snarls. The last track of the album, The Greatest Show on Earth is a magnificent 24 minute symphonic metal epic, complete with orchestra that would fit snugly into a classical music connoisseur’s collection. If you fancy something new, look it up on YouTube – you won’t be disappointed if you like classical music with a hint of majesty and a generous helping of heavy metal. My second favourite new song of 2015 is called Yours Is An Empty Hope – a down to earth heavy metal opus backed magnificently by orchestral arrangements. Get your air guitars and violins out:
What can top that, I hear you cry. Sadly, for Nightwish, Steven Wilson also released a new album in 2015 called Hand. Cannot. Erase. This guy is a genius and I was lucky enough to see him live earlier this year, performing the album in its entirety. The album tells the deeply sad story, based on fact, of a young woman who was found dead in her flat and despite being popular, nobody missed her for three years.
The album is a triumph and, as the concept suggests, deeply sorrowful and thought-provoking. Perhaps the most poignant song on the entire album is a song about a woman who uses her daily household routine to keep her sane after suffering a real tragedy in her life. When this song was performed live, the beautiful animation you are about to see was played on a screen at the back of the stage and I am sure that there were a few years shed at the end of it. The song is called Routine and is a beautiful, yet deeply tragic song. Prepare to have your heart strings well and truly tugged:
I’m really looking forward to 2016 as it promises to be even better. New albums are due from Steven Wilson and Dream Theater and I have already discovered a new artist that will almost certainly feature heavily on my playlist when I next visit a music shop.
Here’s to a musical 2016 and I wish every single reader a wonderfully Happy New Year.