The mighty year of our Lord, 2002. Do you remember it? Of course you don't, you were probably around 4 years old back then. Me, I was 21 and absolutely loved all things metal. This was also around the time that I started to really buy a lot of physical CD's. Too bad then, that 2002 perhaps might be one of the worst years in metal-history. At least to me personally. Apart from Arckanum, Arcturus, Thyrfing, Tiamat and (to a lesser extent) Vintersorg - this was really a crap year when it comes to good releases. But I will guide through some of, what I consider, were the key-releases during this sorry year...
Well, this one I covered in my latest review, so I really don't have anything special to say about it. Except that it rules. And will forever do so.
Recommended track: Yeah, "Bafomet" is perhaps THE best black metal song ever made.
After the bands' previous effort "La Masquerade Infernale" (1997), "The Sham Mirrors" might very well be the best avantgarde-metal album of all times. I would like to kind of "qoute" (at least what I can recall) a really old review of this album I read somewhere about 10 years ago, which I think is a good description of this album; "Arcturus creates a ball of cloth from all of metal's different genres, then drags it through a blizzard and finally kicks it into the burning flames of Hell". Yeah, it wasn't really like that, but it was close at least ;-)
Recommended track: While they're all as good as they can get, my personal favorite is probably "Nightmare Heaven".
Honestly, who has the stamina to sit through an entire Behemoth-album? There, I said it. These Polacks, while impressive musicians and all that, have never managed to keep me interested for more than 2-3 songs on each album. In my ears, they all fucking sound the same. And don't get me started on those 7489 layers on each of Nergal's vocal tracks. But back in 2002, they were actually better than they are today, even though my personal favorite among them is "Satanica" (1999).
Recommended track: Well, "As Above, So Below" was the one they made I video to. So I suggest you all start there.
I remember how big the hype was back in the days when this was about to be released. And with the two "main guys" from Katatonia, Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity) and Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth on vocals, the hype was not exactly uncalled for. And a fine mix of Swedish and Floridan death metal de-fucking-luxe it is. And even though I kinda prefer the overall song material on it's follow-up "Nightmares Made Flesh" (2004), this one can stand firmly on it's own merits.
Recommended track: "Like Fire" - try not to headbang to this tune and you'll win a used snus.
On their fourth album, ze Germans in Empyrium made the dreadful mistake to sing in the mother tongue. Yeah, while I have nothing against Germans, I can't say that their language actually sounds very good when sung. Sure, those Rammstein-guys kind of makes it work, but it does most definitely not fit atmospheric semi-doom folkmetal as is the case here. It's a shame really, since I am completely and in utter love with the band's previous 3 albums. Also, as the case was with "Weiland"s predecessor "Where At Night the Wood Grouse Plays" (1999), the music is less doom-metal and more neofolk, which honestly the band isn't as gifted at playing. At least not making interesting.
Recommended track: No one. Seriously.
I call myself an old-school listener of Nightfish. I discovered them with "Oceanborn" (which I still consider their best work) and also bought "Wishmaster" and liked it to some extent. With this one they started to drift off into the mediocre periphery. Say what you want about the opera-diva that fronted them during these days, but she was (and still is I guess) good at what she did. Sure, the vocals became tedious quite quickly and I think the other guys in Nightfish understood this so they wanted to balance her voice with a male counterpart. Nothing wrong with that in theory, but did they really have to get the most annoying male vocalist in the history of metal? Apparently...
There are some ok stuff here, but don't even get me started on "Wish I Had an Angel" because each time I hear that piece of crap, I wish I had a shotgun.
Recommended track: Uhm, I guess you could try "End of All Hope".
I've always thought of these Brits as a very inconsistent band - far from the geniuses in My Dying Bride and the brilliance of Anathema - and "Symbol of Life" is absolutely no exception. It's semi-boring goth metal, mainly bordering on rock with the whiny vocals of Nick Holmes. Occasionally, they do work magic, I have to give them that. But "Symbol of Life" isn't exactly an album that will go down in history as Paradise Lost's finest work.
Recommended track: Well, "Erased" was the big hit here. So go with that one.
This slab of Norwegian black metal light is a mixed bag indeed. Some songs hints about what the future was about to bring - such as the rock n' roll-ish hit song "Fuel For Hatred", but most of the songs are plain boring quasi-black metal that just plodders on without any real aim or intent. Then there's "Repined Bastard Nation" which easily is the saviour of this disc. Frontman Satyr described it as a "freight-train waiting to run you over" and that's the truth of today.
Recommended track: Definitely "Repined Bastard Nation". Good lyrics as well.
While I prefer both it's predecessor "Crimson" (2000) and it's follow-up "The Funeral Album" (2005), "The Cold White Light" does have it's moments. And some of those moments are also boring goth-metal without direction. This far into their career, I kinda feel that Sentenced was perhaps a bit too comfortable with their sound, thus making a couple of songs without any afterthought. At least that's how I feel when I listen to this album.
Recommended track: My favorite has to be "Neverlasting", but there are a couple of other solid ones as well.
In 2002, this was the shit. It was so god damn fun to hear actual black metal-musicians make fun of the entire genre - combined with ski-sports that is. I guess it's only fun if you understand Swedish, and when I listen to it today, I can't really say that I'm smiling. I was 21 years old at the time and that was my sense of humor back then. OK, so some thing are occasionally still quite amusing, but the music itself is so boring it all becomes pointless pretty quick.
Recommended track: Not really, but "Lady Magda (Satans Lönnmördare)" is the funniest one lyrically.
This is solid, classic Norwegian black metal. Nothing more, nothing less. I really don't know what else to say, since it's just so in-the-middle. Not once does it really become boring and only one or two times does the music rise above a certain level.
Recommended track: Well, they all really sound quite the same, so why don't you try "Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik I" which (logically) is the first one...
While not as impressive as it's predecessor "Deathrace King" (2000), The Crown's 2002 opus isn't exactly horseshit either. Original vocalist Johan Lindstrand had here been replaced by well-known screamer Tompa Lindberg (known from At the Gates, Grotesque & Lock-Up to name a few). And while enjoy Tompa's voice a lot, I actually prefer Johan - his vocal delivery on both "Deathrace King" and "Hell is Here" (1999) was beyond outstanding. Otherwise, this is what The Crown do so very well; a solid slab of death metal mixed with thrash. Catchy, aggressive and plain great!
Recommended track: Most tracks here are really solid, but I guess my favorite one is the "The Speed of Darkness" with it's awesome Knight Rider-theft.
Hands down the best album that this band has made so far. There are a couple of outstanding songs on "Vansinnesvisor" and it wont be easy to chose a favorite among the lot. This is a masterfully crafted album with a solid production that has it's dirty roots in doom-ish black metal with lots of hints towards folkmusic. I never quite got the hang of this album when it was released, but it's a real grower, I'll tell you that.
Recommended track: On the whole, I guess that "Draugs Harg" wins, but the chorus to "Kaos Återkomst" is maybe even more impressive.
Until "The Scarred People" was released this year, "Judas Christ" was perhaps the most consistent of all Tiamat-releases. It's got everything from slow love-songs to up-tempo pop/goth-metal songs that makes you wanna dance. If you can manage Johan Edlund's insanely broken school-English, be prepared to be swept along by a couple of masterfully crafted songs.
Recommended track: Difficult, but I have to say "I Am in Love With Myself" (because I really am).
I started listening to Vintersorg around the change of the new millennium and it soon became my favorite band. So you can understand how high hopes I had for this album. I was really disappointed when I bought the album, since it sounded so different from the previous albums. Today, I can appreciate the progginess a bit more, but I still think there are some tracks on there that ain't exactly spot-on. Still, there's phenomenal songs such as "Universums Dunkla Alfabet" and "Spegelsfären" and good songs such as "Vem Styr Symmetrin?", "A Metaphysical Drama" and "The Explorer" on it.
Recommended track: Definitely "Universums Dunkla Alfabet" which combines aggressiveness, heavy riffing, atmospheric keyboards and a really impressive chorus.