1-100 Retrospective

So I’ve gotten through 100 albums. I figured I’d do a special post regarding them. It took a while to get through them (as I did nothing for the entire month of April, for shame) but once I got on a roll it was pretty smooth sailing. To give you some quick stats, here’s the tallies on everything here.

Number of artists in first 100 albums: 79 artists. That’s a bit more repeats than I would have expected.
Number of tracks: 1193
Total length of albums: Here’s the biggie. The total length of everything I listened to in these first 100 albums (and this is just listening through once, let alone how many times I listened to the stuff I really liked) is 88 hours, 25 minutes, and 32 seconds. Or labeled more simply as 88:25:32. That is certainly more than I expected. It’s honestly a bit of a staggering number.

The main focus of this is not to list off some stats though, I really wanted to go through everything again, listening to bits here and there and focus on what I considered the best of these albums. Of course my first thought was a simple top 10, but considering the random nature of how I listened to the albums (I don’t know if I’ve specified before, but I literally put a big list of albums into a randomizer to choose what to listen to next) that wouldn’t be fair because the randomizer could pick nothing but good albums or only the crappy ones. So it’ll just be a “Top However Many I End Up Listing”. Let’s begin shall we. And I figure we will make things simple and go alphabetical.

1. Angra – Aurora Consurgens

This album really surprised me. I was a little familiar with Angra, I’d liked a few of their songs but had never really gotten too deep into them. I also had heard through the grapevine over the years that compared to the album that came before this one, this Aurora Consurgens was a disappointment. I went in with low expectations and came out having heard a pretty stunning power metal album, mixing some different styles while never quite straying from the band’s unique sounds. The melodies are catchy and stick with you, and it never really bores at any point.

2. Arcturus – The Sham Mirrors

This album is a perfect showing of just how great wacky music be. It flies in the face of what you would expect at all times while still having a unifying feeling of cold and space. It’s kind of like a rediscovery when I remember that this album exists, it’s just a lot of fun.

3. Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Usually the idea of listening to a classic like this is daunting. It’s extremely hard to listen to an album like this and take it on its own merits. Not only had I heard some of the songs plenty of times before, and multiple versions of them, but the entire aura around the album that gave it universal acclaim almost certainly filtered how I first took the album. What I took on my own after a few listens was the sounds of a band doing something very much unique and discovering their own sound. The songs on here, even at their worst, ooze with effort and creativity. Completely deserving of the word ‘classic’.

4. Blind Guardian – Imaginations From The Other Side

This however is an album that did not take multiple listens to figure out or understand. It does however get better with listens, as all the brilliance of the arrangements and layering show forth past the simple joy of the songs. I absolutely can’t resist singing along with Hansi, and the riffs are impeccable. Literally a near perfect album.

5. Bomb The Music Industry! – Scrambles

I sadly ignored this album for a few years for some odd reason. I was huge into BTMI! their first few years, tracking when a new album was gonna come out and becoming very excited when it was announced that they were using a real drummer on a next album, etc. For some reason they just dropped off my radar. I didn’t dislike them, I just didn’t listen to them. This album does not deserve to be ignored though, it has so much love and creativity and the emotions the band can evoke are fantastic. There are still some issues, like the hardcore songs that have never done anything for me, but pretty much any time Jeff uses some synths is magical.

6. Devin Townsend – Ziltoid The Omniscient

This album is simply a wonder to me. It has so much variety and great moments in it, and I still can’t believe how it was made. The idea that Devin essentially locked himself in his studio for a few months, performing every vocal and instrument (well, and a drum machine) and producing and mixing it himself is incredible. I can’t imagine doing anything like this on my own and churning out something this good. You are doing yourself a disservice if you have never heard this album, or Devin Townsend in general.

7. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events

There are a couple rough spots on this record, I admit it, but when the band is good and on, it’s damn good. The longer tracks honestly match some of their earlier work, and I’ll freely admit that I’m pretty much a sucker for almost everything Dream Theater. I won’t say that these guys can do no wrong, but even when they are playing it safe it still feels refreshing to me. This album in particular, they had a new air to them and they rectified some of the complaints from their previous albums, like having too few songs, not being able to hear the bass, and falling victim to the loudness wars.

8. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

I had no idea what to expect going into this album, and came out extremely surprised and happy. The amount of emotions and style here is pretty surprising. From making me reminisce about 80s movies to feeling like I can do anything this album is great. I believe I mentioned it during the review, but just like some more atmospheric black metal (Drudkh for example) I get the exact same trance type effect of getting lost in the music.

9. Ghost – Opus Eponymous

Here’s a mother of an album. A bunch of friends kept going on and on and on about this album, and I didn’t think it could live up to that kind of praise. It completely does. Whenever I think of any part of any song off this album I suddenly want to listen to the whole thing. It’s so absurdly good that it makes me afraid how much I am going to hype up Ghost’s upcoming second album.

10. Helloween – Rabbit Don’t Come Easy

I kind of put this album in the same line of thought as Drudkh. My opinion on it wavers from time to time and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it included in a ‘best of’ list. Then to test it out I went back and listened to some of the album and my god is it catchy. A song or two may not be great, but man does this album make me feel good.

12. Helloween – Unarmed – Best Of 25th Anniversary

Honestly this Helloween album has the same issue, but like Gogol Bordello the few ‘excellent’ songs validate its place on the list. I still think this is an insanely cool idea for a band’s anniversary album as well. Instead of simply reissuing the same songs we’ve heard before, they did something genuinely new and different with the songs, and in the case of at least a couple of them I prefer these newer versions.

13. Kamelot – The Black Halo

Definitely an odd case here for me. In a reversal of the last couple ones on the list, I actually like the individual songs on their own a lot better rather than thinking of this as a whole album. It’s hard to describe what I mean, but basically I know this album has great songs, but I can’t really think of it as an amazing album at the end. Before anyone cuts my head off, I certainly don’t consider it a bad album but for some reason listening to a whole Kamelot album just rubs me the wrong way, despite liking the songs.

14/15. Less Than Jake – Greetings From Less Than Jake / TV/EP

I’m just going to save a bit of time and combine these two, mostly because of their length. They are fantastic little EPs, and the change in direction Less Than Jake has undergone since leaving their major label is amazing. In 2006 I would have said the band is out of creative juice, but these two little slices are absolutely fantastic.

16. Moonsorrow – Verisäkeet

Moonsorrow is good any day of the year. This is a band I’m not afraid to throw out the word ‘epic’ when describing. Their compositions are of course lengthy and well worth investing in, but their productions are pretty absurdly layered and there is always something new to listen for.

17. Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor

This album is full of great riffs and choruses, but by far the highlight is Sentient 6. This is one of those types of songs that I can see myself still listening to 20 years from now and really should have gotten them more recognition.

18. Oingo Boingo – Good For Your Soul

There’s no surprise here and in the next couple of albums. Boingo is by far my favorite band and I keep coming back to them and somehow there is always something new they are offering me, even in songs I’ve heard dozens and hundreds of times before. Good For Your Soul is sort of the end of a certain era of Boingo, the fast angry Boingo. Not my favorite album of theirs in a sense, but my god the songs on here are all just so brilliant.

19. Oingo Boingo – Nothing To Fear

Nothing To Fear is still this same type of Boingo, but they were really starting to experiment a bit at this point. Some songs were a bit more subdued, and the arrangements even somehow managed to improve. Almost certainly one of my favorite albums of all time. Seriously.

20. Oingo Boingo – Only A Lad

Only A Lad still can blow my mind like Ziltoid can. The production quality here for their first album is pretty astounding, and the band is completely on point. I literally cannot understand why these guys were only popular in southern california. These may not be the most technically proficient songs and playing, and the lyrics may not be the most poetic or politically charged, but there is a magic here than I can’t fathom.

21. Oingo Boingo/Danny Elfman – So-Lo

Same idea here. As I said in the previous post, I have no idea how none of these songs were enormous hits. Most bands I’ve ever heard struggle to write a song as good as Cool City. Just unbelievably brilliant, and like I said this band is always, always good to me.

22. Pain Of Salvation – Remedy Lane

What a damn good album to start this whole escapade on. The music challenges you, and each listen of the album ingratiates you more and more until the album is a part of you. It’s kind of like playing a video game that seems way too tough at first: once it clicks it feels really damn great.

23. Queen – A Day At The Races

Just like Black Sabbath, this album and band are absolutely deserving of being called timeless classics. This is definitely a pure album experience. Sure, you can find a few faults with a song here or there, but you listen to the album through and you’re better for it. And it’s worth noting that yes, some of the songs still get me pretty friggin’ close to tears.

24. Radiohead – OK Computer

A few days or weeks ago I didn’t think this album was going to end up on this list. I would have noted it at the bottom of this post, but I wasn’t going to list it as one of the best. It clicked with me though. I don’t quite yet considering it a life-changing record (which is a leftover of that little issue of outside perception I mentioned with Sabbath) but it definitely resonates with me.

25. Rx Bandits – Mandala

Yet another that I can describe as a great album experience. This one definitely took me a few listens to really get, as it was yet another slight change of style and tone for the band. I absolutely love it though and don’t find myself bored at all.

26. The Aquabats! – Hi-Five Soup!

I bare no remorse for adding this album on here. It’s super incredibly catchy and fun, and by god if I don’t love listening to it every change I get. It just blows my mind how much I love this.

27. The Dear Hunter – Act I: The Lake South, The River North

This band is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Just a brilliant mix of styles, and it’s got enough elements of avant-garde music to keep it interesting the first few listens, and then the power of the melodies and vocals keep you hooked for pretty much forever.

28. The Phenomenauts – For All Mankind

Same idea as The Aquabats!. I’m surprised how much I like this album. It’s so incredibly catchy and their mix of modern lyrics and rockabilly stylings is so absurdly cool.

29/30. Therion – Lemuria / Sirius B

Just a brilliant set of albums, and Therion are by far the kings of operatic metal. I’ll point out that again these are great album experiences, as a lot of the songs can’t be fully enjoyed out of context in all honesty.

31. Týr – By The Light Of The Northern Star

I can’t say enough good things about Týr or this album. TO some they may seem simplistic, but there’s a certain melodiousness to them that just completely and utterly appeals to me.

32. Týr – The Lay Of Thrym

Same thing here, I can’t get enough of this band. They are a band that truly live up to the title of folk metal, and not because they throw in corny instruments, but because most of their basis is in songs that would be sung at a bar or by a campfire put to metal. Just brilliant.

Whew, that got a bit bigger than I expected. And now I can say that if I had tried to pick ten of those only then this post wouldn’t have been completed for at least a week. To put into perspective how much this concept of one album per day has helped me, half of those top 32 albums I had either ignored or just never even tried listening to before. And of those 15, definitely a few rank in my top albums ever. Definitely been a huge benefit to me. However, some people may get annoyed at certain things I left off, so let’s quickly go through the

Honorable Mentions

1. Atheist – Unquestionable Presence

This is an album I pretty much have to talk about for a few minutes simply because of the influence it has had. I really do enjoy it, but I don’t consider it a favorite.

2. Candlemass – Nightfall

Kind of the same idea as Atheist here. This album has left a huge mark on metal, and I highly enjoy some songs but it hasn’t quite struck me and been life changing.

3. Disillusion – Three Neuron Kings

This is pretty much a perfect EP, but because of its length I neglected to include it on the main list. You should still absolutely go listen to it right now.

4. Dream Theater – Falling Into Infinity / Demos

While I can’t list either of these as amazing albums, I wanted to include as a what could have been. The finished album sounds great but leaves me wanting, while the demos could have been an amazing double album but the unfinished quality of it makes me not necessarily want to sit down and really listen to it too often.

5. Drudkh – Autumn Aurora

There are some great tracks here and I love getting lost in those few songs, but something about that I can’t quite describe keeps me from listing it as an absolute top album.

6. Gogol Bordello – Super Taranta!

When I first heard this album right around the time it first came out I was obsessed with it. I played it over and over. My appreciation for it has waned a bit, but there are some extremely great songs on here not worth missing.

7. Rhapsody Of Fire – Triumph Or Agony

I just can’t bear to put this on the main list. It’s a good album experience, and the big track is brilliant but there are just too many flaws to ignore.

8. Sonata Arctica – The Days Of Grays

I really wanted to flat out love this album, but I just can’t. It just feels like too much, but there are some amazing songs on here.

9. Stephen Lynch – Superhero

Being more of a comedy record than an album, I didn’t quite feel right including it in the main list, but it is still fantastic.

10. Summoning – Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame

I absolutely love the sound only Summoning does but this album, despite being rated pretty highly, doesn’t quite strike me enough to be on the main list.

11. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

I’m sure someone eventually would have smacked me for not including this. Once again the influence it has had is undeniable, and I recognize that it is a good album, but it’s not quite for me.

12. The Bridges – Limits Of The Sky

I’m including this one simply because of the surprise it gave me. I didn’t think I could ever enjoy an album in this style, and yet here we are. It really makes me believe that I could probably like any style of music assuming it’s done well.

13. The Vandals – Oi To The World!

And we’ll end it here. This isn’t too brilliant of an album, but I really do honestly enjoy most of the songs and it’s a good, surprising Christmas album.

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