It's time to proceed with another traditional UG article -- the best records of the year. So, what was going on there? Well, it was busy! Although we've seen an increase in non-rock releases and we have had just a couple (good) CDs from metal/rock monsters, this was the year of rising bands and newcomers.
The music industry overall was greedy as usually -- compact-disc sales were down more than 10 percent from last year, as music consumers increasingly warmed to downloading music legally in 2005. Sony-BMG enraged millions of consumers paying full price for its CDs by encoding copy-protection software into its discs that left computers playing them vulnerable to Web-based viruses. RIAA continued filing lawsuits against thousands of P2P file sharers worldwide for trading music. And as an xmas present we've got a direct threat from another association (this time of Music Publishers) -- MPA -- which warned the world of starting the war against lyrics and tab sites in early 2006.
The good news?
Recording artists still managed to turn out great music in spite of all the industry drama. Stock up with beer put, relax, and read on! And remember, this list (as well as all other lists from Ultimate-Guitar.Com) is based on your votes and ratings -- our job is to sum up the obvious and make it look good.
1. Shinedown - Us And Them (108 votes)
Jacksonville-based melodic hard rockers Shinedown and their sophomore full-lenght album "Us And Them." are open the list! Having released this CD, the band made a step towards more southern sounding in comparison with their debut "Leave A Whisper." Most likely this change is due to the fact that the guys played about 400 shows during the period of 2003 and 2004 side by side with such bands as 3 Doors Down and Alter Bridge. That change wasn't accepted by the fans unambiguously -- some of them absorbed "Us And Them" as it is, the others was disappointed, stating that the band has lost the style and now sounds like a lot of other rock-bands out there. And it's impossible not to admit that there is a truth in the words, but hardly it could be a Shinedown's flop -- the guys are just searching for that unique style which could help them to competently occupy a fitting place on a hard-rock scene. -- read more
2. Bullet For My Valentine - The Poison (156 votes)
Bullet For My Valentine have just released their debut full-lenght "The Poison" and already gained quite a large fan audience. This Welsh metalcore act is one of the most intense and talented bands which recently came out on the stage. With the first notes "The Poison" fogs you with pure metalcore miasma which features perfectly composed guitar riffs, fast-paced drum parts and complex polytypic basslines. With all of these features, Bullet For My Valentine provides a real metalcore feeling which you won't find in any other bands' music of the same genre. Without hesitation, "The Poison" can be called one of the best (if not the best) CDs of 2005. -- read more
3. Thrice - Vheissu (181 votes)
California's quartet Thrice and their fifth studio release "Vheissu" occupies #3 spot. This album marks a new branch in the band's music evolution. This is their most progressive, experimental, inventive and creative as well as their softest piece of work to date. Mainly its originality is a result of utilizing a varied range of different instruments and effects -- from pianos to glockenspiels to even music boxes. For those about to ask "And what about that heavy crunching riffs and fast-paced beats?" Don't worry, they are still there but this time in smaller doses -- this is the same Thrice we all know and love, "Vheissu" just shows the other, more melodic and composed side of these emo-core guys. Perfect job! -- read more
4. Disturbed - Ten Thousand Fists (200 votes)
The next one is Disturbed with their new brainchild "Ten Thousand Fists." Before the album was released, vocalist David Draiman had promised that the new record would be different from the past -- the most evident change is a replacement of former bassist Fuzz with John Moyer (formerly Union Underground). As for the rest, Disturbed stays faithful to the music they played before. This is the same powerful rhythm section encrusted with overloud heavy guitar riffs and growling vocals. Another interesting change (or more likely 'addition') is a fact that Dan Donegan (guitar) has acquired an abilities to play guitar solos. Brsides, they don't surfeit their music with a lot of superfluous sounds, making their songs much more melodic and catchy. Well done, guys! -- read more
5. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better (202 votes)
In contrast to all those bands that always search for fresh sounding from album to album, Glasgow indie/alt rockers Franz Ferdinand decided to make their sophomore release "You Could Have It So Much Better" exactly the same as their successful self-titled debut. Songs on this album are not as consistently good as on the first one -- the overall impression after the listening to "You Could Have..." doesn't leave the same tinge as "Franz Ferdinand" has done it in the past year. The band should not rush to the maelstrom of their success after self-titled release, but thoroughly prepare and try to please the listener with something more interesting instead of duplicating themselves. Verily, 'we could have it so much better' but not with Franz. -- read more
I predict the questions why this album is on the list? Because we recieved enough votes for this albums from you, UG fellows, to put it there in #5 spot.
6. Children Of Bodom - Are You Dead Yet? (213 votes)
The next spot in our list is reserved by Finnish metalheads Children Of Bodom and their fifth studio album "Are You Dead Yet?" This disc could hardly be named "groundbreaking," but it obviously shows some new aspects in their music. Be sure, the main concept of "Are You Dead Yet?" is built on the brutal, but still melodic and catchy riffs as well as fast and heavy guitar and keybord solos. But now the group also has some industrial elements and an unmistakable progressive metal edge, which can be recognized in the ingenious interaction between Alexi (guitar/vocals) and Janne (keyboardist) with ease. As to Alexi's singing skills, there are no significant changes, except that the vocal parts become more stronger and powerful. All in all, "Are You Dead Yet?" is a solid and impressive album, but it doesn't put Children Of Bodom to the next level of their musician's abilities -- they surely can do better. -- read more
7. Avenged Sevenfold - City Of Evil (245 votes)
The magic number 7 of our list is California metal act Avenged Sevenfold with their summer release "City Of Evil." This is the band's forth full-lenght album and the major label debut. The band has made a huge step forward with this album. They are not screamo/post-hardcore/emo-metal band anymore -- they deliver high quality, heavy metal inspired music now. Besides the obvious heavy metal basis, "City Of Evil" also features flamenco-style solos, western acoustic guitar breakdowns provided by guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance, and choral interludes. Changes in M. Shadows' vocal parts are also evident. After a throat surgery he can't yell as he used to on the previous records, but it's turned out for the better -- the more objective, more deliberate lyrics with topics' range from war to confused feelings to even Dimebag murder delivered by M. Shadows' clear, sometimes soaring vocals. -- read more
Well, the next position is our 'compilation of compilations'. This year was sufficiently generous for all kinds of record collection, and our list features four of them. Here they are:
9. Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back (287 votes)
Ok, let's get back to the 'normal' releases. British act The Darkness occupies the ninth spot in our chart with their second album "One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back." You could perceive them as a serious professional rock band, but with the deeper study of their work this belief could be destroying to your brains. Who knows how long their 'Sex, Drugs & Partying' concept will work, but it works OK today, and it's quite enough for the guys. Don't get it wrong though, The Darkness didn't rely on their breakthrough debut "Permission To Land" -- along with their usual pitch singing and classic rock songs structure, the band introduced some new and fresh aspects to the music this time, such as sitar solos, synth, pan pipes and bells sounds and now there is not much Justin's falsetto singing as it used to be. -- read more
10. Korn - See You On The Other Side (617 votes)
The tenth and the last in our list are good ol' Korn and their latest disc "See You On The Other Side." Are these guys as good as they used to be? This album became an apple of discord for the long-time band's fans. The first camp really likes this album, the other doesn't. "See You On The Other Side" is very contradictory piece of work -- korn made it in a very industrial key, instead of their common alt/rap-metal path. Their sound is not as heavy as on the past albums, something like thrash/r'n' mixture, which turned out to be a result of their experiments with the sound: "We wanted to experiment with a lot of different things because what we were doing started to feel kind of stale," says guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer (read the full interview). It's not as bad as it seems, the fact proves that the band evolve while guys are searching for another feature which will fit in their unique music concept. -- read more
The Winners - System Of A Down - Mezmerize/Hypnotize (940 votes)
And now it's time to announce the leader of our Top CDs of 2005 list... System Of A Down and their double "Mezmerize/Hypnotize" pack! These Armenian metal gurus once again occupy the highest rank in the chart. Nowadays there are not many bands that can create two absolutely original masterpieces and release them half a year apart. But SOAD did it. Both "Mezmerize" and "Hypnotize" combine all the aspects that characterize a unique System's style. The music's basis is still the same outstanding rhythm-section's platform, aggressive but melodic guitar riffs with soft, sometimes sonic bridges, and all of this is flavoured with double vocal parts. -- read more
The addition of Daron Malakian to the vocal part of the band aroused a storm from critics camp. His lead vocal parts were named as weaked and non-impressive by fans, and this has a grain of truth. His voice doesn't suit the band's sound as Serj Tankian's vocal abilities do. Overall, these guys have made a marvellous job this year and we all looking forward to their further progress. In the case you want to know little more regarding the topic 'how Sysytem Of A Down spent this year' you should read our another xmas article.
Yes, there are a lot ot albums, released this year, that were not mentioned in the chart -- Foos' "In Your Honor," White Stripes' "Get Behind Me Satan," Coheed and Cambria's "Good Apollo..." Trivium's "Ascendancy" and many many more. But don't blame us too much, this list was drawn up guiding by your and only your, our dear UG fellows, opinions.
We hope the next year will bring us at least the same good results as we had in 2005 -- there are 2 records we look forward to hear, new Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers -- and we hope to hear more new original stuff, instead of general tendency to get back to the rock roots. We wish you Merry xMas, a Happy New Year, and rise of your guitar skills.
Rock On! See you in 2006, UG Team.