Let's get a few things straight here - in another life I would have been a rock star, travelling the world, and ripping stages and audiences to pieces with the ferocity of our extreme metal assault. But there is one tiny problem, and that is that I never had more than an ounce of musical ability. I could but dream though, and believe me, I did. I used to have a recurring dream (no, not those kind) at school that I was a guitarist for Slayer, and waking up was always a complete let down.
Fishing is what drives me, both as a passion and for my job, but my other obsession has always been music. I mean seriously obsessed as well. I have spent nearly seventeen years trying to convince my wife (then girlfriend many years ago) that there is no better music than metal, and that all other music means nothing at all. Seventeen years of trying, and still she dislikes it as much as the first time I played here Slowly we Rot by Obituary and told her that this had changed my life for the better. And she agreed to marry me !! Women eh ?
2008 was an epic year for metal, but then I feel this every single year. Just when you think that nothing can top your latest favourite album, another one comes along and blows you out of the water. Many awesome bands released great albums last year, such as Amon Amarth, Septic Flesh, Opeth, Keep of Kalessin, Deicide, The Haunted, Martriden, Meshuggah, Nachmystium, Satyricon, AC/DC, Hail of Bullets - you name it, I bought far too many as per usual, but they all give me countless hours of listening pleasure. Rest assured that many a fishing feature is written this end while nodding my head in time to the music. Writing about deftly casting a fly in some remote little river mixes just great with the mighty Amon Amarth pouring forth from my speakers......
But there is one album from 2008 that stands head and shoulders above the rest. A release so good that I am still getting my head around it now, and that is after so many listens I know virtually every single drum beat off by heart. Norway's Enslaved are of course one of the most respected bands in metal, but even they have managed to surpass their previous efforts with the mighty "Vertebrae" - from the very first spin of the CD my eyes were popping out of my head. Can metal really be this layered, this textured, this subtle even, and just so damned good ? Anybody with any interest at all in heavier music should get hold of this CD, I can't praise it enough. A part of me thinks that I should be trying to find fault with the album because I know their drummer Cato through fishing, but I can't. Rarely does an album just keep on growing every single time you listen to it, but this one does. Cato's drumming is just immense.
Don't just take my word for it - listen to a few tracks right here. Then listen to them again, because this music requires plenty of time to breathe. There is that much to it. Then get hold of the album here. There is no benefit to me saying where to buy Vertebrae, and there is no financial incentive to me saying it is as good as it is. I bought a copy of the CD, as I do with all my music, but it gets me going that much that I want loads more people to realise just how awesome Enslaved are. They have taken the term extreme metal and spun it so hard on its axis that I reckon many other bands are wondering what on earth to do next. Anybody with any interest in metal should have this CD in their collection.
You could even stop working for a minute or two and watch an outstanding video off the new album, click here to see it. I see that the extreme music magazine Terrorizer also has this new Enslaved album as their no.1 release of 2008 - great minds think alike !! If they had not chosen it, I would have cancelled my subscription as a protest.
So there you have it - 2008 was an emotional year on the music front, and I reckon there is a whole load more to look forward to this year. The new Kreator album is already on its way to me for starters. Rarely does an album rise so far above the rest though, but Vertebrae is just that. Enslaved are where it's at.