2020 has been a year with a lot of new music but also a year with very much good music, and a lot of really fantastic music. Just picking out three artists is virtually impossible. But, that’s what I’ve done, and they come in random order and are not ranked.
Some albums just do something amazing with you, and you become incredibly fascinated and just have to hear the music over and over again! Katatonia and the album City Burials is such piece of music and the band are veterans and have a close to thirty years history as band.
Katatonia (Catatonia) is a psychiatric condition often associated with schizophrenia. It is characterized by a general absence of motor activity or violent, hyperactive behavior. The word catatonia (κατατονία) is also a Greek word for low tone, under tone or commonly down-tempo.
Katatonia – City Burials
City Burials stands as Katatonia’s new triumph of deep & enigmatic progressive rock – the fruits of a rejuvenating and profound chapter in the band’s legacy. A catalyst for its creators, with a collection of moments constructed out of the fragments of an ever-evolving life. The track Lasquer,
Compiled into one of their most important modern works and statements to date, the finely-honed instrumentation provides a multi-textured backdrop with the voice of Jonas Renkse guiding us through these latest trials of loss and ruin. The track The Winter Of Our Passing,
City Burials is an album that sees the band reclaim part of their heavy metal roots, via several moments of exuberant, old school classicism, deftly woven into these new songs’ kaleidoscopic fabric.
Katatonia have evolved throughout the decades transforming their sound from their blackened death/doom roots in the 1990s, to becoming modern day masters of their craft in the realm of dark, atmospheric progressive metal. The track Behind The Blood,
On City Burials Katatonia allow themselves to continuously push to evolve and modernize their sound that best can be described as progressive, dark and atmospheric with elements of electronic rock.
City Burials is nicely produced by guitarist Anders Nyström and vocalist Jonas Renkse. The duo obviously cooperates very well and City Burials is also a very good album. Creative and experimental songs butKatatoinia continues to evolve and to be even better than ever. Many intricate but beautiful melodies are a delight to listen to. It also seems thta the long hiatus have left the musicians hungry to create real good music.
Ayreon – Transitus
Arjen Anthony Lucassen and his music projects including Ayreon I have listened to with great pleasure for many years. Very often it is music that grabs me and that I enjoy hearing. The 2020 album Transitus is no exception and probably the best Ayreon album ever!
Arjen Anthony Lucassen born Apr 3rd, 1960 in Hilversum in The Netherlands is composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who’s worked with a bevy of bands, projects, and different musical styles in his 30+ year career.
Ayreon /ˈɛriən/ is a musical project by Dutch songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Ayreon’s music is described as progressive rock, progressive metal and power metal sometimes combined with genres such as folk, electronica, experimental and classical music. The majority of Ayreon’s albums are dubbed rock operas or metal operas if you prefere that. Because the albums contain complex storylines featuring a host of characters, usually with each one being represented by a unique vocalist.
Arjen Anthony Lucassen states, «In case you’re not entirely convinced yet… I’m very proud to present you the 7-minute trailer with lots of info and music, edited once again by David Letelier. Hope you enjoy the magical world of Transitus!».
The guest artist are many and very talented! Arjen Lucassen is joined by a host of guests including former Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider, guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani, Epica’s Simone Simons, Kamelot’s Tommy Karevik, guitarist Marty Friedman and more – with former Doctor Who actor Tom Baker narrating the sprawling concept album.
The record will focus on a new story that’s not connected to the Ayreon universe, and will fuse a sci-fi theme with a gothic ghost story, partially set in the 19th century starring lead characters Abby and Daniel.
Lucassen states: «I was looking for a real storyteller with a mature, deep, warm voice. As a kid, I was a huge Doctor Who fan and my favorite doctor was Tom Baker. I couldn’t believe my luck when he agreed to do it! We went to the UK to record him, and it was one of those unforgettable experiences».
As for the wider album, Lucassen adds: «When I started this I just had no idea that it was going to take me this long! It took about three years from start to finish, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone musically and creatively».
«But I always need that challenge. The harder it is, the more fun for me to work on it! This is without a doubt the most cinematic and outrageous album I’ve ever done».
Sweden delivers um and this year many excellent band and one of my absolute favorite band from Norway’s neighbors is Pain Of Salvation. P.O.S. have delivered a lot of very good albums through the years. This year the swedes return with the album Panther.
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Panther is Pain Of Salvation`s follow-up release to 2017’s In The Passing Light Of Day album, was recorded, mixed and produced by Daniel Gildenlöw with Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Meshuggah, Devin Townsend) and comes with a comprehensive artwork-theme with illustrations made by André Meiste.
The progressive innovators now launch the album’s title-track, Panther as single and in a video clip scripted/directed by Lars Ardarve and Daniel Gildenlöw and filmed/edited by Lars Ardarve, to be seen here:
Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlöw checked in with the following comment about the song:
Of course we need to introduce you to the title track of our coming album. Panther. In many ways, the lyrics and concept of the Panther album have grown out sideways from our previous album IN The Passing Of Daylight– branching out like a new tree from the stem, specifically from the track Full Throttle Tribe. Another trigger for the album was the chorus of the song Panther:
«How does it feel to be you?» she once asked me.
«I said I feel like a panther trapped in a Dog’s world».
«Panther is an album with many layers, but at the heart of it you will find my lifelong struggle to calibrate my interface towards mankind, trying to calculate the offset to a species that I have on some levels always felt myself estranged to. A feeling I think many can relate to. This is depicted in the title track, which is one of the album’s corner stones».
«Storm-born, lull-bred, semi-tamed – we seem to be the same, but I pretend…».
«The work on this song was intense, almost feverish, and I felt obligated to let it become what it wanted to become, without fear or prejudice. This pushed me into very specific sounds and approaches. You may not think it, but this song is in fact among the most guitar dense tracks in the history of the band. There are 16 tracks of guitars in this song. Yep. Only, many of them may sound different to what you are used to. What you might think are loops are actually played guitars».
«I have always felt that music is at its best when it comes from a source of passion, frustration, courage and curiosity. That has been, and will always be, my northern star in creativity. Panther is all those things. I was attracted to hard rock and metal as a kid because it sounded new, it sounded brave and it was pushing things, restlessly being on a journey to somewhere. If metal is to make any sense to me, it needs to keep pushing and keep being brave. And progressive music needs to keep progressing».
«Damn, maybe this sounds too pretentious, forget it, just step on the rollercoaster and ride with us! Find your inner panther… 🙂 ».
And Gildenlöw added the following about the video clip itself:
«Due to the situation in the world right now, we find it more important than ever to provide our fans with visual representation of what we are and what we do, artistically, since touring is not an option. See it as our equivalent of FaceTime and you are all our beloved grandmothers. And now we are calling you up again to ask you how you are doing and to let you see your grandkids (they are growing up so fast). Today you will be talking to another, your third grandchild from our upcoming album with the same name».
Here is the track-listing for the standard edition of the album:
Keen To A Fault