30 December 2012

2012 Top Five Disappointments

Before revealing my top album of 2012 tomorrow, I thought I'd have a look at what, in my opinion, didn't deliver.

Overall I don't think 2012 has been a vintage year and the quality of releases not as good as 2011. For me there have been some disappointments along the way as well. By this I don't necessarily mean that the releases were bad just that they didn't live up to what I was expecting...

5. Muse - The 2nd Law:

How can something that has 13 good songs be a disappointment? When it is Muse...

Whilst there isn't a bad song on this (though Panic Station borders the absurd) to my ear it doesn't work as an album. It is an album of three parts/styles and probably should have been released as three different albums with extra tracks fitting the styles.

First off is the Queen style material Supremacy through to Big Freeze, then what should be on a Wolstenholme solo album (Save Me & Liquid State) and finally the two 2nd Law tracks with their dubstep influences which I so wanted to hate but would now love to have had expanded into a whole (concept) album, nine minutes is not enough...

4. Threshold - March of Progress:

I love Threshold and was really looking forward to hearing Damian Wilson back in the band, unfortunately the album doesn't grab me.

None of the songs are very immediate and they lack the catchy choruses of albums like Hypothetical, Subsurface etc).  Much of the sound is very "samey", with little variation and the band haven't pushed on as they should over the last two albums.

Good not great and I was hoping for great.


3. Anathema - Weather Systems: 

I must confess I didn't join in with the adulation of We're Here Because We're Here in 2010, as I didn't think it stood up well against A Natural Disaster or A Fine Day To Exit (the two albums released before Anathema became cool to the prog crowd).

Listening back to it, it is not a bad album and has some nice songs (The Beginning and the End for example) and it is better than the over-hyped We're Here Because We're Here, but I think Anathema can do better.

A band who have lost their edge and now seem to be content with safe.

2. Steve Hogarth & Richard Barbieri - Not The Weapon But The Hand:

Marillion fused with Porcupine Tree, what could be better than that?

Ok, I wasn't expecting a musical fusion of two of my favourite bands but felt the this moody introspective release largely disappointing.

There are a couple of tracks I quite like, Red Kite for one, but overall I felt that Not The Weapon But The Hand did not live up to its potential.

The lesson learnt here is not to assume that just because two artists from bands you love collaborate on a project, does that mean they will produce something you like, a lesson that leads nicely to...

1. Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion:

Oh where do I start? The "long awaited" collaboration between Mikael Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson was mooted as being the ultimate progressive metal album when first publicised but what we got was, well it is hard to say what we got instead...

It is hard to believe that this album came from the talents that brought us Blackwater Park and In Absentia as it is a morose, introverted pot purri of musical ideas that appear to have been thought up after too much red wine has been consumed.

It is as though Åkerfeldt and Wilson are playing some practical joke on us producing this or maybe they are guilty of the "we produce the music we want not what the fans want" mantra that certain successful artists trot out, which usually means that their ego has taken control and a strong producer isn't there to tell them they are producing drivel. Even if they decided against making the ultimate prog metal album guiding hand of a strong producer would have helped them take the good elements this album has and turned it into something worthwhile and possibly epic.

Of course what made the whole Storm Corrosion episode even worse is that the press seem to treat Steven Wilson as some kind of prog rock Sir Alex Ferguson who cannot be criticised and therefore called the release "bold", "challenging" and "experimental" (aka WTF?!).

This is definitely a case of the Emperor's New Clothes and the press seem unwilling to tell Emperor Wilson he is stood in the nude...

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