Showing posts with label ghost. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghost. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

the top 50 best songs of 2018

The tagline that I've always had with this list is that it's the hardest to make, but let me qualify it: it's the one that easily requires the most work. And considering this is the year where I reviewed more albums than ever before, you'd think for the sheer volume of material this would be excruciating to assemble...

But in truth, this top 50 list actually fell out pretty quickly, at least with respect to the volume of music I've consumed. It still takes a lot of refinement to go through the best songs of any given year, but the truth about 2018 was that for as many songs as I loved, most of them were concentrated onto specific albums, which might lead to a slightly less diverse list as a whole. And if there was a year where my qualification that I can only put up to three songs from any given album on this list was tested... yeah, it was here. And yet even with that qualification, this list is kind of all over the place - little more hip-hop heavy than previous years and we'll get into why on my final list - and I'll freely admit there isn't quite as much metal or electronic music I'd prefer, but I needed to be honest with this one. Keep in mind songs from albums I covered on the Trailing Edge are eligible, and that if you don't see any songs from an album I loved earlier this year, there's no guarantee it won't show up on a different list - some albums don't put out the best individual songs and vice-versa. 

But no more wasting time, let's get this started!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

video review: 'prequelle' by ghost

I have to keep remembering to post these video updates here... anyway, solid record, but it should be better - enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2018

album review: 'prequelle' by ghost

There's a part of me that finds it really weird how big Ghost are becoming as a band.

That's not to disparage the talent behind the group, of course - in terms of metal they've hit the increasingly rare sweet spot of being able to merge progressive and heavy tendencies with actual melodies and hooks and a commitment to a gimmick that I respect a great deal. A little over-the-top and theatrical, sure, but if the music remains kick-ass like it did on the self-titled debut and Meliora, I wasn't going to complain. But that sort of theatricality tends to ostracize bands, especially with Ghost tilting so heavily into blatantly Satanic material - say what you will about Black Sabbath and classic metal bands, if you dug into their content they tended to avoid that, and even for an act like KISS that leaned even harder into their image, the content rarely backed up the spectacle.

And yet Ghost has doggedly remained committed to the content and the gimmick, and with their rising fame and in the age of the internet, that's genuinely impressive... although I had to question how much longer it would last, especially as the frontman's identity was leaked and all his former bandmates quit and then sued him for treating Ghost like a glorified solo project. And yet after a tumultuous few years for the group - including winning a Grammy - Ghost has recruited a new set of musicians and have a new record, one that was reportedly aiming to be their most accessible to date... which can be a loaded qualifier when it comes to any metal act looking to make a pivot towards mainstream rock radio, but I was curious where the hell this could be going, especially given how awesome their last record was, so how is Prequelle?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

the top 25 best albums of 2015

We're now onto my final list, the one that always produces a certain amount of frustration as I struggle to recognize the best of the best. And as I said in my last list, it's always difficult to narrow it down to the best of the best. And this year was probably the hardest yet, mostly because it started so damn strong and was able to sustain that momentum into late this year. And while I was able to trim this list down to 25. And thus for the sake of my own conscience, I need to mention a few Honourable Mentions in no particular order that just missed this list. 

Because believe me, when you have comeback records like No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney and Tetsuo & Youth by Lupe Fiasco that show huge returns to form, they deserve at least a shoutout. Hell, an album that features a creative rebirth like Baroness' Purple which dropped very late in the year deserves it too. And then you have underappreciated gems like Escape From Evil by Lower Dens, one of the great unsung synthpop records of this year. And on that note, as much it might be a bit of a contentious statement to say that hip-hop had a great year, I stand by it - when you have Earl Sweatshirt, Jay Rock, The Underachievers, Yelawolf, Pusha T and Czarface dropping stellar sophomore records, coupled with comebacks of unexpected quality from Ludacris and killer debuts from Joey Bada$$, all of which might have had a shot for this list in a weaker year, that's saying something. And that's not counting the list itself that's at least twenty percent hip-hop, but we'll get to that - hell, might as well start with...

Friday, January 1, 2016

the top 50 best songs of 2015

And now we're onto the list that's always the hardest for me to make, mostly because it requires by far the most work: the best songs of the year, overall. Not just hits, but singles and deep cuts from album ranging from widely successful to barely out of the underground.

And this year was harder than most, mostly because it was a damn great year for music. The charts may have been strong, but that was nothing compared to the cavalcade of great music we got, which meant that cutting this list down from thousands to around 630 to 165 to the fifty we have meant that there were a lot of painful cuts, so much so that I seriously considered instituting a one-song-per-album rule. In the end... I couldn't do it, because there were some records that were so unbelievably good that I had to include multiple entries. Now we'll be covering those albums in greater detail a bit later this week, but in the end I held to the rule that at most I could put three songs from any one album on this list - and that we easily had more of those makes my argument that was a damn solid year of music, probably better than last year's, all the more powerful. 

One more thing before we start: while I can describe music well and why it works for me on a technical level, most of the songs on this list cut a fair bit deeper than that, and thus I'll endeavor to provide some emotional context as to why they worked so well beyond a purely intellectual exercise. And of course it's my picks - there might some common overlap between my choices and other critics, but it would be disingenuous to choose tracks for 'cultural importance' rather than what really got to me more deeply.

So let's start with a track that completely threw me off-guard.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

video review: 'meliora' by ghost

Well this was goddamn great, thrilled to hear through this.

Next up... actually, not sure yet. Stay tuned!

album review: 'meliora' by ghost

So let's talk about Satanism. I dunno about you guys, but I went to a Catholic school growing up and I remember being fascinated by the sections on the occult near the back of our textbooks - mostly because I did the research and was amused to discover how much early Christianity appropriated from pagan faiths. But Satanism in and of itself, the "worship" of Lucifer, is something altogether different and in modern sects tend to revere Satan as a symbol of individualism more than a distinctive deity. They most often show up in the news not so much as a murderous cult but as countercultural trolls pointing out the hypocrisies in fundamentalist Christianity. And speaking as a Catholic... yeah, I can't disagree with that, given the mutated state of modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, especially in the United States.

But one of the things I always found hilarious in those old Catholic text books were the accusations that besides role-playing games like D&D leading to Satanism, there was also heavy metal music. And here's the thing: with the exception of certain black metal bands, most heavy metal acts especially in the 70s and 80s only utilized Satanic imagery to add a sacrilegious air to their music, more for image and less for message. And given I'm quite secure in my own faith, I've never had an issue listening to music that falls in this vein - it's entertainment, people, I don't exactly take much of this seriously.

So on that note, let's talk about one of the more openly sacrilegious bands, Ghost, formerly known as Ghost B.C. in the States. They're most well-known on tour for their stage presence - all of the members are consider Nameless Ghouls but for the frontman, who dresses like a Satanic Pope, is called the Papa Emeritus, and who is 'replaced' for every album. And if all of this feels a little kitschy, their first album confirmed it, with a defiantly 70s-inspired sound that calls back to Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and maybe a bit of Rainbow or Deep Purple. And since I like a lot of that style of hard rock, their debut album Opus Eponymous in 2010 really did work - not quite as crushing or heavy as most modern metal, but making up for it with potent grooves and some rollicking guitar chops. They got cleaner and heavier on their 2013 album Infestissumam, but simultaneously traded in more potent grooves for cleaner tones and theatrical bombast that only made their satanic lyricism seem goofy as hell - definitely a disappointment. But with buzz suggesting the group was going to get darker and rougher for this next album, I had reason to hope for quality, so how does Meliora turn out?