Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Musical 2017

I want to say goodbye to 2017 on a positive note and there is nothing more positive than music in my eyes.

So if you will allow me a moment of self-indulgence I would like to share with you the music that crossed my path this year. 2017 was a great year in terms of music that allowed me once again to consolidate my collection with a couple of new artists and a couple of established ones.

First of all, I acquired the latest album by heavy metal superstars Metallica, called Hardwired..To Self-Destruct. As you can imagine, subtlety is a word that struggles to establish itself in any Metallica song and this is something that endears me to them. They may be getting on a bit now but the music is still terrific. Here is Now That We’re Dead:

Riverside, a magnificent Polish progressive rock band, released an album that is really a tribute to their guitarist, who sadly died in 2016. The album, Eye of the Soundscape, features experimental material that was released over the past few years as bonus tracks on other albums and is like nothing they have done before; it is mellow and atmospheric, and totally instrumental. The good news is that the band will carry on, which is great for me because at the moment they are one of my favourite bands. Here is Machines:

Also, in 2017, I enhanced my collection of Devin Townsend albums adding four of them, all of which are completely different. Ghost is an ambient album featuring flutes and laid back songs that you can listen to with scented candles in a dimly lit room. Ki is more subdued but with hints of Devin’s metal mayhem. Epicloud is a fantastic album featuring a mixture of ambience, pop, rock and heavy metal but the craziest album is Deconstruction, which is 75 minutes of pure heavy metal mayhem that grabs you by the throat and screams at you. Here are two songs, one from Ghost and one from Deconstruction. Do you think it is the same artist? Believe me it is. First here is the title is a song called Texada from Ghost:

Now we have Juular from Deconstruction. The song is as crazy as the video.

And with the promise of four albums in 2018, I am looking forward to next year.

Veteran rockers, Deep Purple also released an album in 2017. The album may prove to be their last but it proves that they still have something. Here is Time for Bedlam:

Gary Numan is also still going strong. He was very prominent in the 1980’s when I was into electronic music and his new album, Savage: Songs From a Broken World, reminds me of that time, albeit with a much darker sound. Here is My Name is Ruin:

Supergroup Black Country Communion reformed for a new album, featuring Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham. The album, BCCIV, is an excellent collection of hard rock and blues rock songs. Here is The Last Song From My Resting Place – a truly beautiful piece of music:

Foo Fighters also returned this year with a new album Concrete and Gold.  And they didn’t let me down with some great songs, my favourite being Run with its highly amusing video:

You may not have heard of Neal Morse, but he is a progressive rock legend who was a founding member of a band called Spock’s Beard. Now he has a band called, unimaginatively, The Neal Morse Band that grabbed my attention because it features Mike Portnoy, the ex-drummer of Dream Theater. I decided to listen to an album they released a year or two ago, called Similitude of a Dream, which is a concept album based on The Pilgrim’s Progress. Neal Morse is a born again Christian and the album very much embraces this but that doesn’t detract me from enjoying what is a superb progressive rock masterpiece that I am proud to have in my collection. Here is Man in the Iron Cage:

I plan to investigate Neal Morse and Spock’s Beard next year.

Steven Wilson also released a new album this year and to me that is a major event. To the Bone marked a more pop oriented direction and he actually made a dent in the charts, forcing an appearance on BBC news as “the most famous British artist you have never heard of”. I hope this is the beginning of the recognition he deserves. The album itself is not as good as the previous masterpiece but still has amazing songs, my favourite of which is Detonation, a song about terrorism:

And finally – do you remember this pop song from the early 1980s?

The bass player in the band, Nick Beggs, has been playing with Steven Wilson for the past couple of years but has also branched out to form his own band called The Mute Gods. I picked up their second album called Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth. I was amazed at how good it is – and it is a far cry from his Kajagoogoo days. Here is the title track:

And if you are wondering, Tardigrades are microscopic animals that are, apparently, indestructible, able to survive radiation, extreme cold and heat and have even survived in low earth orbit, subjected to the extremes of space. It stands to reason they will be around after we have destroyed ourselves and the planet. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen for a while.

I am truly looking forward to a musical 2018.

Happy New Year to each and every reader

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