This is the second installment of a new five part series I will be writing this week. In this series I will be looking back on what I view as my favourite album from every year I have been alive – which usefully is divisible by five!
Whilst yesterday’s four albums had a very progressive theme running through them, today’s pick sees more straight forward rock and metal coming to the fore. I have found myself making some very tough decisions on this list, opting for a few surprise candidates.
1997: Porcupine Tree – ‘Signify’
I made a rule that no band could have more than one slot in this list, however, ‘Signify’ blows its 1998 competition away and hence the rule didn’t last long. This was the first proper Porcupine Tree album made as a complete band and it reaps the rewards because of it. ‘Signify’ is easily Porcupine Tree’s best album when marketing them solely as a prog band, as they manage to turn the often endless jams found on the predecessor, into well executed songs.
‘Signify’ is the coming of age of Wilson, producing an album with no fat and beginning to find more of their own sound. Tracks like ‘Waiting’ and ‘Sever’ are sophisticated, hauntingly beautiful and for lack of a better word, complete. ‘Dark Matter’ is the highlight of the album, featuring a solo worthy enough to match the legendary David Gilmour and lyrics which are eerily relevant: “gun down a school or blow up a car, the media circus will make you a star”.
1998: Godsmack – ‘Godsmack’
I know, I know, it’s an odd choice, I admit that.
Godsmack, for all intents and purposes, are an Alice In Chains tribute act that write their own material. This, their eponymous debut album, alongside successors ‘Awake’ and ‘Faceless’, provides arguably the very best grunge-drenched metal has to offer. In its (and to a certain extent, their) day, tracks like ‘Keep Away’, ‘Moon Baby’ and ‘Bad Religion’ could kick-start any dreary festival crowd. ‘Godsmack’ and its follow ups have never really gone too far astray of my CD player and for that reason it makes it onto the list.
In 1998 Godsmack were far superior to the rest of the nu metal peers that they were lumped in with, offering heavier hitting tracks, a rare maturity when everyone else seemed content with teen angst, interesting song arrangements and great guitar playing influenced heavily by blues.
1999: Nine Inch Nails – ‘The Fragile’
This is the hardest year so far. Slipknot’s debut, Opeth’s brilliant ‘Still Life’ and one of the best concept album’s ever made in Dream Theater’s ‘Scenes From A Memory’.
However, Nine Inch Nails earn their place with the double album ‘The Fragile’. From the screaming guitars of ‘No, You Don’t’ to the hauntingly beautiful ‘La Mer’, this record covers everything Nine Inch Nails are and shows the full musical vision of Trent Reznor. ‘The Fragile’ contains some of my favourite NIN tracks, including the moment when the aptly named ‘The Frail’ runs into the monolithic anthem that is ‘The Wretched’.
2000: Placebo – ‘Black Market Music’
As the years get closer to 2013, the number of albums I own that all came out in the same year vastly increase. A very honorable mention has to go to all the nu metal albums from that year including Deftones, Linkin Park, Mudvayne, Disturbed, Godsmack and Marilyn Manson, as well as other efforts such as Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ and A Perfect Circle’s ‘Mer De Noms’.
Placebo have been one of my favourite bands for years and perhaps that convinced me of their place on this list. ‘Black Market Music’ shows Placebo at their best, full of drug references, sexual angst and spunk, converted into four minute long, glam-influenced, Bowie-esque rock songs like ‘Taste In Men’, ‘Special K’ and ‘Black Eyed’. Although ‘Black Market Music’ is Placebo’s third album, it’s their first album that finds the right balance of bombastic excess and introverted melancholy, providing a great listening dynamic, forming an album that keeps the listener interested from beginning to end.
Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed this blog please like, comment and subscribe to email updates. Yesterday’s blog can be found at https://rockatlantic.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/twenty-years-in-music-part-one/