The nights are long, dark and cold, the airwaves are being filled by The Pogues and Slade in an endless swirling of christmas nostalgia and, as the year draws to it’s end, we here at Insanity HQ begin to look back on what has been a fantastic year in music. Of course, it’s not done yet, but for now the Music Team shall be guiding you through their picks of the best albums of the year. Dive in!
Michael Bird- Bring Me The Horizon “Sempiternal”
In an exciting year for rock music as a whole, Sheffield’s finest soared to the top of the heap with their stunning fourth album. Ripping apart the idea of what a heavy metal band could and couldn’t be, Bring Me the Horizon freely incorporated elements of electronica, pop and ambient soundscapes into their ferocious hard rock sound, forming an album unlike anything else released this year, or indeed ever. Frontman Oli Sykes said he wanted BMTH to be “the metal band for people that don’t like metal” – indeed, you don’t need to be a fan of heavy music to appreciate Sempiternal.
Songs like “Sleepwalking” and “Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake” have massive hooks that rival anything on a pop smash hit, while slow-burning album highlights “And the Snakes Start to Sing” and “Hospital for Souls” are closer to atmospheric film soundtracks than anything you could call metal. On the other hand, those seeking their fix of heavy riffs will also find much to enjoy here. “Shadow Moses” fuses an arena-ready chorus with huge grooves perfect for the mosh pit, and “Antivist” is even more intense, a profanity-laced refrain perfectly matching the musical ferocity.
If any band are prepared to lead the charge for heavy music out of the underground and into the mainstream, it’s Bring Me the Horizon, and Sempiternal is proof that they’re going nowhere any time soon. Regardless of whether you’d typically listen to metal, give this album a try – you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Recommended Tracks: “Shadow Moses”, “And the Snakes Start to Sing”
Michelle Archer- The Civil Wars “The Civil Wars”
Grammy award winning duo Joy Williams and John Paul White experienced incredibly well deserved success from their debut album ‘Barton Hollow’ in 2011. Their second self-titled album ‘The Civil Wars’ was released earlier in August this year. It is truly unfortunate however that names can be self-fulfilling, as the duo is experiencing its very own civil war. Williams stated to Rolling Stones that “over time, creative tension can breed personal tension and then personal tension ca
n breed creative tension. … In my opinion, that’s sort of how we found ourselves in [this] conundrum.” This means that it’s very much ‘up in the air’ as to whether they will go back on tour again, or if indeed we shall ever see a third album. One can only hope! Nevertheless, this album is certainly my pick for album of the year. Why? Because it is so diverse, and not a cliché of the country genre it is supposed to represent. Their voices blend so effortlessly together you would have thought they had known each other all their lives; it’s just magical. So without further ado, here are track reviews of my highlights from the album;
Same Old Same Old: Williams stated that “if you want to know what happened to the band, listen to the album.” ‘Same Old Same Old’ probably represents their internal troubles the most from the album. That being said this is definitely a song for those with relationship troubles! Aside from that, there is a gorgeous acoustic guitar to accompany the heart-breaking lyrics.
Dust to Dust: This song is soon to be used in the new film adaptation of ‘Carrie’. Fun fact for all you film buffs! This song is gorgeous defined, with such a chilling and peaceful tone, which makes this song brilliant for any wind down Sunday.
Matt La Faci- Foals “Holy Fire”
Let’s be honest, guitar music does not matter anymore. Guitar bands are irrelevant. For a long time the most important, innovative and compelling work has been done by groups who eschew the six strings for the computer keys, so how is it that Foals, undoubtedly profiteers of the noughties indie -boom, have made without doubt the best album of the year. One word: progress. And not just progress for progress sake, they have made an album with big tunes that sounds fresh, harks to the past as well as staring the future unflinchingly in the eye. An album with songs on the radio as well as deep cuts that are truly fulfilling listens. We all know how effortlessly catchy ‘My Number’ is and no one can deny the chemical reaction that occurs during the drop in ‘Inhaler’, but equally as good are album tracks such as the slow burner ‘Milk and Black Spiders’ and underrated single ‘Out of the Woods’. Cynics would counter this thesis by declaring that Holy Fire, whilst progressive, is still not as progressive as some of their contemporaries, like fellow Mercury award nominee and eventual winner James Blake, but really this is a tired concept in an age where everything has been done before. Everything. The simple rule that music should follow, be good. And Holy Fire, from top to bottom is the goodest.
Part II on it’s way soon! If you’d like to write one then go ahead and send them onto [email protected]!