• The Greatest Metal Albums Of All Time

    Posted 08/19/2017 by Cal

    I could’ve done a straight-up “favorites” list like the black metal list I made earlier this year, but then there wouldn’t be the pretense of going up against the Rolling Stone list, the comedy of which is what prompted this list.

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  • Swatty's Top 15 Albums Of 2016

    Posted 02/23/2017 by cal

    So here I am, four years after my last official list. I don’t really have a valid excuse as to why I don’t do these full write-ups on a year-to-year basis. However, I could certainly say 2013-15 was fraught with turmoil, existential crises and career roadblocks. But for the most part, those days are long gone, and now I can finally focus on the important things like these little wonderfully self-gratifying “best of” lists. Twenty-sixteen was certainly a strange year for metal in my humble opinion, as the new releases didn’t flood my ear holes nearly as much as older and more established gems in my music library. Maybe that’s a consequence of me getting older, or maybe it says something about the general quality of the modern metal environment as of late. Nevertheless, I was able to glean a few diamonds from the rough, and the list below details the reasons that made these little opuses so special. Here goes:

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  • Swatty's Top 15 Albums of 2012

    Posted 01/29/2013 by cal

    Twenty twelve has been a very busy year for me, musically.  According to the database of my complete music collection, my 2012 query has revealed that I have purchased 90 new releases this year.  This, as far as I know, has given me a greater amount of material to digest and filter through than any year prior.  As such, I can only needlessly worry that I will be omitting something that will undoubtedly re-blow my mind at some later date.  But as I recently discussed with a very close friend, these lists are constantly in a state of flux, and are at best a paragon of ephemerality.  It is truly rare that we encounter those albums that have been impervious to the passing of time and place them permanently on the mantle of our reverence.  This became a constant theme for me as I assembled this list, and while I am comfortable with the inclusions listed below, I can’t help but assume their order will most assuredly change.  All that being said, here are my top 15 albums of 2012.

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  • The Best Music Of 2012

    Posted 01/21/2013 by cal

    I've finally finished, folks!  As the final strains of your next-door neighbor's crappy demo tape fade out, I can now say I've heard every single record produced in 2012.  Therefore, I can now present the definitive list of The Best Music Of 2012.  Yes, I know you are dying to see how your personal opinion matches up with the truth; you shall now have your answers.  I wish I could reveal how my own tastes line up with objective goodness, let you all in on what I'm a FAN of, an indulgence that is only permissible for music writers at this time of year; oh, to afford myself such a luxury!  But what a disservice it would be to you, my dear readers!  In the face of undeniable greatness, what is one man's opinion?  I do welcome any incorrect arguments you may have concerning omissions; please submit them in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

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  • Katatonia: Bottom Lounge, 9/17/12

    Posted 09/19/2012 by cal

    The original Katatonia formula listed genuine depression and misanthropy as its first two ingredients.  Evolution into a powerful, confident band that emanates gratitude to its small clusters of diehards probably still smarts like a betrayal to the most gothic of the original fans.  Jonas Renkse no longer lists his relationship status as “dead to love”, and an increasing percentage of the songs he writes could conceivably be played on mainstream FM radio.  You might expect that the lure of success would devastate all possible integrity, except for the indisputable evidence of Katatonia’s live show: with each successive U.S. tour at least, the band gets better and better, even if the songs don’t.

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  • My Favorite Shows Of 2011

    Posted 12/23/2011 by cal

    If I have any perennial list-readers here, most of them probably sighed preemptively as they imagined what would top my list this year, and they’re all correct: U2 (really impossible to choose between the two shows I saw), Phish (night one at UIC being the best of the seven), Secret Chiefs 3 at the Empty Bottle, Animal Collective at Pitchfork, and Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field. Oops, ya got me: I have favorite bands. I know music critics aren't supposed to reveal those, but there's no sense keeping it a secret. But rather than blather on about them yet again, it’s probably more productive for me to mention the top ten non-my-favorite-band shows of the year. So here goes. (To keep it interesting, I’m going to gloss over other obvious big names (Wilco, Pearl Jam, Primus, STS9), since they’ve all been covered plenty.)

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  • Katatonia: Peabody's, 9/25/11

    Posted 09/27/2011 by cal

    The general trajectory for metal bands is to start off heavy and caustic and noncommercial, then gradually write more accessible music amidst cries of sell-out and, occasionally, greater measurable success. Some fans of Katatonia’s early, guttural-doom albums probably gave up after 1998’s Discouraged Ones, and many who embraced the band’s more melodic direction likely jumped ship after hearing the electronic and indie rock influences on the barely-metal Last Fair Deal Gone Down in 2001. But despite those guardians of static integrity, the impact of this album went deeper than anyone could have predicted, cementing the legacy of Jonas Renske and Anders Nyström as truly unique songwriters and musicians and permanently breaking down musical boundaries for those fans open-minded enough to stick around.

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