A decade ago: 2005 in retrospect

Apparently, 2005 wasn't a very good album year in metal. At least not for me personally and this is what this blog is about. But there were at least a few gems amidst the layers of crap.

Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies
As I discussed in my review of the band's latest album, I don't care particularly for this album. It's definitely not bad per se, but compared to the rest of the tiny Arcturus-discography, it doesn't hold up. No song is flat out bad either, it's just that the album overall sounds a bit tedious and many of the songs tend to float into each other, making it difficult to remember what song you just heard. It's Arcturus though, so it's a lot better than most other metal records.

Recommended track: Difficult choice since they all kinda sound alike, but I'd have to go with "Evacuation Code Deciphered" since I love those lyrics so much.

Candlemass - Candlemass
Candlemass' best vocalist was Johan Längqvist who sang on their masterful debut album and that's a fact. Sure, they have a couple of solid tracks with the good old monk as well, but I have always been baffled as to why he always seems to be regarded as the Candlemass-singer. Anyway, 10 years ago, this band got together and recorded this here comeback album, which in reality isn't very special. There are a few good songs here, but this band made other albums both before and after this one that I consider more quintessential.

Recommended track: Again, there's a reason why "Black Dwarf" is the opener. It is that much better than the rest of the songs.

Falkenbach - Heralding - The Fireblade
If I have understood things correctly, this is sort of a re-recording of old tracks that either never were released, released on crappy demo-tapes, re-recorded etc. And it somewhat shows since some songs really sound teenage-like in their songwriting-approach. The new version of "The Heathenish Foray" is vastly superior to the original that can be found on "...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri" (1998), "Of Forests Unknown" and "Walkiesjar" are two other solid tracks where the band man effectively mixes Bathory-like viking metal with more modern sounding black metal. All in all, this is a very good album from Falkenbach, although not his best.

Recommended track: You guessed it, "Heathen Foray".

Lik - Besvärtade Strofer - Toner Från Gammelbyns Fäbodar
Lik was (is?) a one-man project from the guy behind the underrated Armagedda. The music is some sort of groovy folk/rock with black metal-influences. Does it sound weird? It isn't and it works extremely well for some bizarre reason. Think of Isengard but with better execution, more sincerity and a better vocalist and you're sort of there. Don't know what else to say other than the fact that this is easily amongst my top-5 albums of 2005.

Recommended track: They're all good, even the intro and instrumentals, but I guess that "Åkallelse" best demonstrates what this is about.

Lumsk - Troll
This was a way overhyped band when they released their debut album in 2003. I bought the hype as well and imagined that I liked said album. I took me a year or so to realize that it was quite ill-conceived and not very thought through. Needless to say, I had no expectations for the follow up but it is miles better than the debut, I can tell you that. This is classic folk metal with that nordic feel, albeit it sometimes feels too forced and they like to venture into the prog-swamp at times as well. They went full prog-retard on their third and final(?) album, so I guess we should've seen that coming. A couple of solid tracks on this album.

Recommended track: Easy decision, since "Perpålsa" with it's deep, dark vocals and groovy swing is the best song this band has ever done.

Månegarm - Vredens Tid
Once upon a time, I used to really dig this band a lot. Now I know better, even if I don't dislike this sort of music. It's just quite bland from time to time. "Vredens Tid" though, is easily Månegarm's best album with songs such as "Sigrblot", "Skymningsresa", "Dödens Strand" and their best work ever; "Hemfärd". That last song is something I still occasionally put on. Not much else to say about this, it's viking metal with good melodies but a lack of depth.

Recommended track: Hear hear! "Hemfärd".

Sentenced - The Funeral Album
As the album-title reveals, this was the swan song from the drunken Finns in Sentenced. They basically became a semi-boring goth metal (but with a thing for good melodies) band around 1996 and never looked back. Apart from their debut album (which was pure death metal), they have had an extremely uneven discography filled with peaks and valleys. "The Funeral Album" is no different as it mixes solid songs such as "May Today Become the Day", "Ever-Frost", "Vengeance is Mine" and "End of the Road" with crap such as "We are but Falling Leaves", "Her Last 5 Minutes", "Despair-Ridden Hearts" and "Drain Me". So there you have it. I miss these guys some days.

Recommended track: Yes indeed. "End of the Road" is the band's last song ever and it is also their most honest and soul-crushing.

Solefald - Red for Fire - An Icelandic Odyssey Part I
Ah, I'm feeling a bit bored now and at loss for what to write. I like Solefald as much as the next avantgarde-sucker, but I don't hold this album very high in their discography. It's part one of a concept album about vikings and Iceland, I think... There a couple of songs that stand out here, but they're nothing special if one compares to the rest of their discography. It's the usual avantgarde-weirdness but in reality, there's little new to offer here.

Recommended track: The insanity of "Survival of the Outlaw" is something I like.

Taake - Hordalands Doedskvad
I like Taake and their somewhat melodic take on tr00e Norwegian black metal and "Hordalands Doedskvad" might just be one of this band's' best, if not the best work. Had I reviewed this I would've given it several minus points for naming each of the tracks "Hordalands Doedskvad Part I" and so forth. There's no other excuse than laziness for such a thing and the band did it for their two previous albums as well. Honestly, if they have had proper song-titles, I think I would listen to this band a lot more.

Recommended track: When you start an album with the battle cry 'Helnorsk svartmetall!', you simply can't go wrong. So it's obviously called "Hordalands Doedskvad Part I".

The Vision Bleak - Carpathia - A Dramatic Poem
I found out about this band way too late, but for the last few years, I've been listening to them a lot. The Vision Bleak call themselves "horror metal" and that's a quite apt description since it's basically gothic/heavy metal with ominous keyboards and soundscapes. "Carpathia" is a concept album about god knows what, but that's not as important as the music itself. Sonically, this might not be the band's best work, but they tend to always release quite uneven albums, so that's okay. There are more hits than misses present here and this has to be one of my favourite albums of 2005.

Recommended track: "Secrecies in Darkness".

Thyrfing - Farsotstider
When this Bathory-esqué folk metal album was released, I was actually quite disappointed. I'm not really sure why, cause I hail this as the band's most solid work so far. Negativity is the keyword on this album and the Swedish lyrics just reek of death, demise and misery. There's really no weak track on the entire album and it flows like perfection. I think this just might have to be my absolute favourite album of 2005, so it feels good to end this ranting on a good note for once.

Recommended track: "Höst" is amazing in it's own way but so i also "Tiden Läker Intet".

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