Educating Omand - Year 2: Top Five

In an effort to further her musical education, Susan Omand has been set "homework" of listening to albums released after the 1980s that she has missed out on. Now the year is at an end, she picks her Top Five...

See the full list of #EducatingOmand: Year 2 albums here

I’ve really enjoyed this year’s Educating Omand challenge, it has really taken me out of my comfort zone and given me lots to think about. The challenge this year was to not “shut down” when I hit something that I just didn’t get on with (there were a few) and I had to try to explain WHY I didn’t like it, which made me analyse it a lot more indepth than just dismissing it as a nope. This in turn has given me a new appreciation for the construction of a lot of rock/metal songs, not just liking (or not) the overall work, as there were so many tracks that I found a lot more interesting once I had mentally stripped out the vocal layer. Yeah, I guess I’m still not over the RAAAAAR thing, I can’t understand what is enjoyable about it and so that part of me pretty much didn’t get educated. But a lot of metal is very orchestral in its makeup, just with different instruments. A lot of it has strict tempo, thanks to the concentration on bass and percussion, and many songs have almost symphonic “movements” or sections or even stories to be told a la opera. It’s a far more complex area of music than I ever gave it credit to before when, apart from one or two classic metal bands, the rest was “just noise.” More than that though, it has also rekindled my interest in classical music because I know there is so much out there that I haven’t tried and I need to keep going with the “out of the comfort zone” thing and keep challenging my ear and my musical brain.

So thank you to this year’s tutor Mr Ames, both for educating me this year; for introducing me to some fantastic new-to-me bands that had heretofore totally passed me by as well as putting up with me dissing some of his very favourite albums in the process (sorry!)

Now, before I get to my top five Year Two albums, an honorable mention must go to Deftones’ album Diamond Eyes, purely for the one track, Prince, the bassline of which still makes me go all inappropriate and has to be my favourite single track of the whole list.

But on to the list proper, in reverse order, as always. It took a LOT of narrowing down this year, with four out of the five jostling for position several times before I decided on the order, however the number one slot had been decided ever since I first heard the album and it has been a regular on my playlist ever since. You can read my full review of each album by clicking on the band-name but I’ve also chosen a quote from each review which, I think, sums up the album for me.

5 Chiodos - Illuminaudio

“There is a lot going on with changes in tone from sweeping synth to thrash metal to ambient noise, leading to a very unsettling feeling but in a good way.”

4 Periphery – Periphery 2

“am I educated by listening to Periphery? Oh, hell yes. Along with being mightily impressed, slightly confused, more than a little spooked and absolutely, utterly enthralled.”

3 – The Dear Hunter – The Lake South, The River North

“it’s sometimes hard to believe that they come from the mind of one man but in other ways it fits so well together that it could ONLY have come from a single creator”

2 Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

“It’s not often that new (to me) music will make me stop whatever I’m doing and physically sit down between the speakers of the hi-fi and just… listen. This album is one of those.”

1 – Thank You Scientist – Maps of Non-Existent Places

“If jazz metal isn’t a genre it should be because that’s the only way I can describe this.”

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