Welcome to the latest instalment of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. And, based on the number of posts I have published compared to how many I have left to complete, I am now at the magical half-way mark. From here on in, it is downhill.
I hope, however, that the quality and the content of this series has not gone downhill. I haven’t heard many gripes, other than ‘why is that album so low?’ or ‘I hated that disc’. But I don’t mind those comments because they can stimulate debate and, more importantly, it means that my efforts have not found their way into a big black hole where my words are never read. Apparently, the complete opposite is true and that gladdens my heart somewhat!
As always, if you’ve missed any of my previous posts, there’s a chance to redeem yourself via the links to numbers 30-17 inclusive at the bottom of this post.
And now for today’s main event…
Gentle Art of Music/Soulfood
Score of Much Metal: 9.75
It took me quite a long time for the penny to drop and for me to understand and enjoy ‘La Muerta’, the fifth album from Subsignal, the melodic prog rock band that emerged from the significant ashes of Sieges Even some ten or more years ago. In that time, Subsignal have barely put a foot wrong, creating some of the most sublime and beautiful progressive rock that the genre has to offer.
Whilst Subsignal have always been about the melodies and the songs rather than the overt complexity of the material, ‘La Muerta’ was still a big surprise for me in terms of how it veered more into the mainstream than ever before. In my review at the time, I even used the word ‘pop-like’ when describing some of the output, especially where the choruses are concerned.
I remember listening to this record almost on repeat in the lead-up to its release but despite the ‘simpler’ aspects of the music, I felt that this record still needed a lot of time and attention to properly be absorbed. Indeed, it meant that I was actually late in publishing my review. But it was worth the extra time and effort because with it came a better understanding, a greater appreciation and a deeper affection for it.
For some, ‘La Muerta’ might be a little too heavy on the accessibility and too light on the prog. However I’m listening to it once again as I put this post together and it is crystal clear to me that this is just a very smooth, sophisticated and refined record, full of classy music, executed with a clinical professionalism and total dedication from the musicians themselves.
To quote my review of 29 May 2018:
“…‘La Muerta’ is once again different from past Subsignal outings. It is at once very recognisable as Subsignal but also it embraces new influences, or at least there’s a more pronounced use of other influences. There is certainly some truth in the statement that ‘La Muerta’ is the most mainstream-sounding record that Subsignal have ever recorded, with plenty of pop-like choruses and AOR embellishments. However, it is also satisfyingly ambitious, with plenty of variety within the eleven tracks and, as it turns out, a pleasing amount of progressive intent.
I must admit that it took quite a while for me to fully appreciate the excellence of ‘La Muerta’. As ultimately accessible as this album is, it took some time for the melodies to make their full impact. And because there is so much subtlety within this collection of songs, your full attention is required at the outset to extract as much out of the music as possible. But the effort is not wasted and, as I sit here now, I’m wondering whether this might be my favourite Subsignal album of them all.
As we’ve come to expect from Subsignal, ‘La Muerta’ is a pin-sharp, smooth and hugely professional album, aided by a flawless production courtesy of RPWL/Blind Ego’s Kalle Wallner and Yogi Lang . But more than that, it is an artful and thoroughly fulfilling collection of melodic progressive rock songs that have genuine depth, plenty of sophistication and, once under your skin, become essential musical companions to gladden your heart and lighten any mood. What a superb album.”
Read the full review here.
If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30
If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:
And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years: