The Top 5 Albums from 2019

by Raph al Guul

Each year I try to listen to between 60 and 100 newly released albums in hopes of hearing some outstanding new music. I consider it my contribution to dispelling the silly notion that music used to be much better in the past. Not every band that made great music in the 80s is gone or washed up today. And there is also plenty of fresh talent that rises to excellence these days.

2019 was a great year in music to close out the 2010s. We’ve had plenty of excellent songs from all corners of the industry. When it comes to albums, it was the stalwarts in particular that came through again. The following five records are particularly dear to my heart. I consider them to be the best albums to have come out this year – at least when taking into account a hefty dose of genre bias.

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A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies

By Raph al Guul

IMG_3248Tender feet on stony ground, a scarlet moon in the sky. She had woken to the sound of passing time or perhaps just the shadow of a dream. Something had been calling her. And though she didn’t know what it was, she felt it best to find the call’s origin.

For too long she had been looking inward and found nothing but unrest. Years, perhaps ages she spent searching for her own genuine soul. And all that was there were burning questions born out of sheer self-doubt. Soon it would be too late for questions.

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Chasing the Sun: Metalhead Releases Pop Album

By Raph al Guul

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Chris Bay may be the frontman of a highly successful German metal band, but no one ever really doubted that he is a child at heart. If anything, his PG-rated metal act is living proof that this kind of music is not just for angsty teenagers and middle-aged bikers, but, as Freedom Call proudly proclaims, “for everyone”. But what happens when you take the shredding dress away and dig down to a more barebone sound? Bay’s first solo effort Chasing the Sun gives us a glimpse. Continue reading “Chasing the Sun: Metalhead Releases Pop Album”

Unchain the Light

Reach for the StarsBy Raph al Guul

The light has grown elusive. Lucky the man who can catch himself a handful. And we all know what he does with it.

Down to the cellar he climbs, his fist clenched shut. His arm shakes from the exertion, sweat on his brow. There lies the chest, made of wood and painted black. He heaves it open with one arm, his other ready to throw.

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Butterflies

By Raph al Guul

Its wings are dark red with a beautiful blue circle on each side. I feel the warmth of your hand on mine as you gently shift your fingers to place the little creature in my palm. A faint shudder goes through its wings as if a sudden but peaceful breeze had caught it unawares. But there is no wind and no sound, just you giving me butterflies. Continue reading “Butterflies”

Looking Down

By Raph al Guul

In essence, that’s exactly what the world is; a tiny apartment next to a giant strip club. Blurred boundaries, the strippers almost intruding into your living room. Through the kitchen window you can see the neon lights and the men underneath, sucking down the smoke from their cheap cigarettes. The world is a place where you can stare through the glory-hole and feel good about yourself for being better than complete strangers. You can silently judge them while masturbating behind locked doors.

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Top 5 Album Releases 2017

By Raph al Guul

Over the years, I have really grown to appreciate the musical album as a unit of art. I think it started with American Idiot, a record that really offered a lot more to those who sat down for consecutive and uninterrupted listening. Obviously, not every album accomplishes this, but I still like to listen to new albums from front to back without interruption, at least the first time around. And I look out for new records each year, hoping for a gripping hour or so.

Compiling a yearly top five from the results of this quest makes sense – listing is what I expect the artist to do for me. The track list is the fulcrum of listeners’ emotions during playback and what I now do is reciprocally list them like a fractal. Only this time it does not occur artfully, but at least I hope tastefully.

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