Back again with the Album A Day series, and on its new day. This is a selection of stuff I listened to in the third week of the year.
Zach Bryan – American Heartbreak
Starting off with a whopper here, both in terms of album size and in the scope of the album’s reception. Bryan was an active member of the US Navy and was doing well releasing songs via YouTube, eventually he was discharged from the Navy so he could pursue a country music career. To say that worked out would be an understatement.
American Heartbreak was the country album of 2022. It not only topped the country charts but also placed high on the mainstream chart, something kind of rare for a country record. Recalling all of Bryan’s 2022 achievements would take more space than this digest-sized post could really get into.
This is a two-hour long album with 34 songs, a double or even triple album. It had a mess of singles, with Something In The Orange being the standout hit. The album is really good, though it’s worth saying that it’s a bit samey and doesn’t really explore a lot of territory despite its size. The songs have a fairly similar structure and the mood is pretty desolate across most of the album. It is also probably as much of a folk album as a country album, an argument that has been lighting up the Internet.
Overall I really liked the album, as the “sad, simple” song deal is right up my alley. It takes a bit of time to listen to, obviously, but I’ll be spinning this again to explore it further. This was a huge album for country music last year and has a lot of ramifications in terms of an artist getting huge while not being part of the Nashville machine. Zach Bryan’s career is going to be a very interesting one to follow.
Dark Angel – Leave Scars
This got a spin as we were partying one weekend night. A thrash classic from way back when, this album saw Dark Angel add a bit more technical prowess to their songs as opposed to the rawness of their prior effort Darkness Descends. It’s a very enjoyable listen after all these years and as a bonus curiosity features a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. Fun stuff.
Warrel Dane – Praises To The War Machine
It had been a long time since I played this solo effort from the late Nevermore/Sanctuary frontman. Dane enlisted the help of longtime Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers to co-write and produce, and then-Soilwork and now-Megadeth drummer Dirk Verbeuren came long to handle drumming.
This is a nice collection of songs that differ enough from Nevermore’s output to be a worthwhile effort. It isn’t Dane just treading the same ground, he offered up something different here. August is a pretty intense song, and Brother is a super personal one. This would be Dane’s only solo album before his death, he was recording his second when he died.
Vicious Rumors – Celebration Decay
I am continuing my run through the VC catalog as I’ll be seeing them in March. This time I went to their most recent album, this was released in the summer of 2020. (oh the memories…) The band’s lineup here is considerably different than their classic era, and it’s even different now than just a few years back.
This album is a very modern-sounding affair and it delivers quite a pummeling. The band had clearly updated their sound and weren’t out as a retro act. This one is good though it’ll require me a few more listens to process it more. I figure that this sort of sound is what I’m going to hear live in March, with even their older material having a bit of an update.
Aerosmith – Greatest Hits
Not an “album” really but still a full-length compilation so good enough. I put this on for a bicycle ride so I could have something on familiar and not really have to think about what I was listening to much. This was the band’s first compilation and it covers the early prime of their career. The tracklist is fine by me, this is fairly short comp featuring the essential cuts.
The one thing about this comp – several of the songs are edited. Same Old Song And Dance is, so is Sweet Emotion. There are more edits as well, so these aren’t the album versions of the songs. In an interesting twist, if you play this on Spotify, they are the unedited versions and the comp is four minutes longer than this original version. Kind of weird but hey, that’s what odd music trivia is for.
Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army
This was a last year album that I didn’t give a lot of time to. It didn’t grab me in the same way some of their earlier material did. I don’t feel much differently about it now after another listen – I enjoy the album for what it is but it doesn’t wow me. I don’t feel that this one will be a “grower” on me, I think the book’s pretty well written on this one.
Toxic Holocaust – Primal Future: 2019
Wrapping up the last week with the most recent album from one of my favorite 21st Century thrash bands. This was the first album in six years from TH and it saw mainman Joel Grind return to his original style of recording the entire album by himself.
It was not only cool to hear the band again after such a long break, but this album is also great. It is maybe a bit more thrashy and metal than the punk-laden earlier albums but is still a signature Toxic Holocaust record. There was supposed to be touring behind the album, but of course this came out in 2019 and … well, we know what happened.
That does it for this latest installment of An Album A Day. The math would indicate I have 49 more weeks and 344 more albums to go. Doing all this a week after the fact is also proving a bit confusing at times but that’s ok, this is just some BS to do to fill space. Until the next edition, interrupted of course by my usual posts through the week.