Favorite albums of the year, part I

I whine about there being many books and little time quite a lot. But it’s also true that there’s a ton of wonderful music (okay, mostly metal) I listen to every year. This year brought me some anticipated progressive metal releases and some pleasant surprises.

Kamelot – The Shadow Theory

Okay, to me this album sounded like a second pressing of Haven– which is my favorite Kamelot album, but I didn’t feel like I learned anything new in The Shadow Theory. The compression in the production is a bit much. But there’s amazing guitar work, synths, and the vocals are fantastic. Add in the cool science fiction story and it’s worth a listen if you’re already a Kamelot fan.

 

Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura

I discovered the band this year, and they already have a special place in my heart. The frontman is my grandmother’s congressperson. Weird and awesome, right? Chthonic¬†show the world the tumultuous 20th century history on the island of Taiwan and that the struggle for democracy is something recent and special. This album makes me hopeful for the future. Also, the music. It doesn’t quite sound like any other band. Worth a listen for anyone interested in traditional Taiwanese music or any kind of metal. Also deserves some distinction for the lone woman in the band not being the singer.

 

Light the Torch – Revival

Howard Jones got eaten by stress and diabetes. Being a vocalist has its own perils because of all the touring, and that the instrument is so delicate. So in the past six years, Jones has apparently gotten control of his blood sugar and is back with Light the Torch. Revival is their third effort (this band was previously known as Devil You Know and changed its name when it changed some personnel). I enjoyed the elements of metalcore, prog, catchy choruses, and of course Jones’s amazing big voice.

 

Angra – Omni

Angra offer something other power metal bands generally don’t: awesome South American folk elements. Bittencourt and co.’s latest offering holds together better than most of their other albums. The band tries a little of everything while still making a cohesive listen.

 

 

 

 

Adventures in NaNo

I’ve been revising and editing for long enough that I’d forgotten what putting words to keyboard/screen without having it all sketched out feels like. Granted, I still have a rough outline for what goes into the scene, but now I have the freedom to play with more generative plot hooks.

The key is finding that balance between freedom and having something to write about. If I don’t have enough guidance for myself, I run into choice paralysis and can’t write anything. But some good things do come to me spontaneously while I’m drafting, and I don’t want to miss out on too many of those. I would bet that the balance is different for every writer.

So far in drafting, I’ve unearthed some interesting character details and an important motivation for the antagonistic forces. Maybe the month will bring me more storystuff to fill in the plot holes. But for right now I’m plowing ahead with what I already outlined.

Anyway, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck to you! Whether you’ve written a hundred or a hundred thousand words by the end, you’ll have something you wrote. You’ll have created something.