Paul's Favorite Vibes
Last updated Sept. 10th, 2004
This started out as a Top 10 list of vibes. Then it began growing,
partly because I didn't have the heart to remove older listings. :)
Now it's a list of music that's getting the most play right now, or that
has reallly affected me of late. A list
of all my CDs is located here.
Many of the harder-to-find progressive rock and metal CDs here can be
The Laser's Edge.
Extreme-metal CDs can be obtained from
The End Records or
My usual sources for more widely-available releases are
- Ayreon, The Human Equation. This stunning two-CD
release will be one of my favorite releases of 2004 easily.
Featuring the vocal talents of James Labrie from Dream Theater,
Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, my friend Devin Townsend, Mike Baker of
Shadow Gallery, Devon Graves and several more contributors, this
is an excellent, widely varied and diverse epic.
- Dimmu Borgir, Death Cult Armageddon. This black-metal
CD from one of the world's biggest practitioners in the genre also
features great orchestrations, and two of the songs were used in
the trailer for the movie Hellboy. The video for the song
"Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" is really quite good.
- Old Man's Child, In Defiance of Existence. Excellent
new CD from this Norwegian extreme-metal band.
- Superior, Ultima Ratio.
Any opinion I might offer is biased since I'm thanked in the album liner
notes of both this CD and their last one, YOUnique, but
this has easily become one of my favorite CDs of 2002 and second
only to behind -- barely -- as my favorite Superior CD.
Sometimes I even waffle on that one, too. This will be a Top 5
- Ozric Tentacles, Live
at the Pongmasters Ball, The Hidden Step, Pyramidion (EP) and
"Oakum." Newest offerings from this terrific, diverse all-instrumental
Brit band. This is the best band that almost no-one has ever heard.
This has GOTTA change. The new 2-CD live Pogmasters Ball release
will be Top 5 for 2002.
- The Last Dance, Perfect (and also their cover of the
Dead Can Dance song "Spirit" on the Carnival Within tribute
CD). Not only was their live performance at Dragon*Con 2002 the
musical surprise highlight of the con, they're really cool guys
and have become friends o' mine.
- Green Carnation, Light of Day, Day of Darkness. Simply
stunning. This is a 60-minute magnum opus of a CD: one song, one
track, with no breaks or divisions. Mostly metal with some extreme-metal
excursions and some lighter bits, this really has to be heard to
be believed. One of my Top 5 for 2002.
- The Cruxshadows, Ethernaut, as well as Wishfire, The Mystery
of the Whisper, Echoes and Artifacts and Paradox Addendum.
Excellent CDs from this Fla. goth band who've now played at
from 1999 through 2004. Excellent performances, one of the best
each year, and in 2001 they outdrew both national acts, Godhead and
Clutch, combined. Their song "Sympathy (For Tomorrow)" is
brilliant and figured prominently during their 2001 performance, where
they played it as their encore -- for me. Their new CD Wishfire
is expected to sell between 60,000-100,000 copies in Germany and the
song "Tears" peaked on the German pop/alternative charts at #2 and
stayed for four weeks!
- Pain of Salvation, Remedy Lane as well as The Perfect
Element. Great new CDs from this Swedish rock/metal band with prog
overtones. Their show at Progpower USA 1.0 has become one of the
five best shows I've ever seen; can't wait to see them again this
Progpower USA V, as I am
their sole sponsor for the event.
- Devin Townsend, Accelerated Evolution, Terria, Physicist,
Official Bootleg and Christeen (EP). All of these
are excellent, which is why I co-sponsored his solo project The
Devin Townsend Band for Progpower USA 3.0. :)
- Opeth. Progressive death-metal. No, this is not an oxymoron,
as Mikael Akerfeldt and his band have proven. Damnation is
lighter -- and still excellent. Outstanding band and besides, Mikael
and guitarist Peter Lindgren (at least) are also Ozrics fans. :)
- Children of Bodom, Hatecrew Deathroll, Tokyo Warhearts and
Follow the Reaper -- great CDs from this young Finnish
death-metal band! They'd be one of the world's finest progressive
metal bands were it not for Alexi Laiho's growling vox (and that's
fine by me).
- Godhead, 2000 Years of Human Error. Although it's not
quite the CD I would have made, this is still a very good CD.
Can't wait for the new stuff to come out! Nothingness, an
older CD, is at least as good. I still prefer Power Tool
Stigmata the most.
- Bella Morte, As the Reasons Die, The Quiet and Where
Shadows Lie -- a neet mix of goth meets punk, these guys are
roughly what you get if you mixed a Misfits look with Bauhaus. Great
live performances, very energetic, and they've become good friends of
mine along the way. They're metalheads "stuck" in a paying goth
- Dream Theater, Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory.
Their finest work overall since Images and Words and in some
ways, notably production, this even eclipses that big-label debut.
Destined to become a legend of the progressive-metal movement.
Best CD of 1999.
- Pain of Salvation, One Hour By the Concrete Lake
(2nd Best CD of 1999); Evergrey,
The Dark Discovery; Wolverine, Fervent Dream; Marcel Coenen,
Guitartalk; Lemur Voice, Divided -- these are all CDs
by bands who played at the ProgPower
Festival in The Netherlands...and all the CDs are great, as were the
- Incubus, Make Yourself and S.C.I.E.N.C.E..
Bernd Basmer of Superior
made me a CD-R of the latter, thinking I'd like it since it's a bit like
Clawfinger, and brought it
over when he came to the States for
The Wedding. He was right, of
course; it's excellent. Intricate, tight musicianship and excellent
vocals make it easy to overlook the rap-vocal stylings and
occasional scratching. Make Yourself was a bit mellower but a bit
more musically-mature, and became one of my favorites of 1999.
Terrific performance here in support of Primus, who they overshadowed
in some ways. Singer has a great voice and also plays the didjeridoo and
djembe live -- pretty kewl show all around, and they stayed and signed
autographs afterward for a long time. :)
- Ozric Tentacles, Waterfall Cities. Okay, I'm biased
since I'm listed in the thank-you's, but this is yet another
excellent CD from a band that virtually never disappoints me.
Their gigs here have been terrific; here's an
- Godhead, Power Tool Stigmata. A great example of how
seeing a band perform live really enhances listening to their CD.
This band is one to watch; both Dave Brockie of GWAR and Jen from
Genitorturers wanted to take them out on the road with them "while
they still can," i.e., while Godhead is still small enough to be
an opener.....because that's gonna change. :) From the
heaviness of "Lies" to the synthy neetness of "Headache Symphony"
(composed entirely by keyboardist The Method) to their outstanding
cover of "Eleanor Rigby," this CD hasn't left my CD changer since
they left town -- the first time. They've played here numerous times
since. The guys in this band are all extremely cool,
which is why we let them crash on our living-room floor. :)
I'm counting this as a 1999 discovery because I mostly discovered this
band during 1999.
- Strapping Young Lad, No Sleep Till Bedtime -- live EP
from Melbourne, Australia. Awesome sounding, really heavy, and
the two added studio tracks are excellent! Plus you get to hear
"When we were sixteen...Iron Maiden was really
cool! I had a Wasp silk wall-hanging on my wall! I had a Judas Priest
hat! I made a pair of fingerless gloves from my mother's fuzzy purple
mittens! This next song is an homage to metal.....and the cheesy voices
that come with announcing it. This is 'Far Beyond Metalllll!'"
"The purpose of this exercise is to accentuate the CHEESIER parts!" :)
- Fear Factory, Obsolete -- great CD overall. Track 9 is
particularly interesting and includes some hard-core industrial parts
as well as chamber strings. Ahhh, diversity is fun! :) Also got
Demanufacture recently and it kicks ass too, as do the
bonus tracks from the digipack versions of both of the above. One
is a cover of Gary Numan's "Cars" and includes Gary on vocals.
- Therion, Vovin. Part opera, part metal, pure bliss.
I was offered $20 cash to part with my copy. Sorry, kid! It's
mine! Arguably their best in this style although I also like
Clawfinger and Use Your Brain. Bernd Basmer of
Superior sent me a cassette dub of
their self-titled CD -- really cool stuff, with a hip-hop feel to the
lyrics but very heavy and very tight. They sound as if
they could be from inner-city Detroit by way of LA, instead of Sweden.
- Angra, Holy Live and Angel's Cry. The first I
found at Exploding Ned's table at the Atl. Record Show, the second
The Laser's Edge the
same day. :) Their CD Holy Land is also excellent and was
previously featured here.
- Ocean Machine, Biomech.
My favorite CD of all time.
This is a terrific CD. Some stuff is heavy, some stuff is lighter,
but it's all well-crafted and well-handled by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist
Devin Townsend. (Devin's other, better-known heavier band is the
mighty Strapping Young Lad.) You won't find
this in stores unless you're very lucky; you have to get it from his
HevyDevy Records, for about $15
or from CDNow (listed under
Devin Townsend) for $32 or so (!). Email
email@example.com to inquire and
tell 'em I sent ya.
One reason why this is my favorite CD of all time is that Devin
financed the entire project out of his own money for about
$60,000. He could have bought a house, sure, but instead he
composed and produced a CD his way. There is so much
emotion on this CD (particularly "Funeral," which was written for
his brother, who died) that it's clearly a very personal project.
Thank you, Devin, for this terrific effort!
- Liquid Tension Experiment. Second best CD of 1998.
Sure, we knew it would kick ass since we'd heard it played over the PA
before Dream Theater's set, but this is fine, fine work indeed from
some of the most talented musicians in the rock realm today. Tony Levin
on bass, John Petrucci on guitar, Mike Portnoy on drums and Jordan
Rudess on keys. Kids, it just doesn't get any better than this.
- Ozric Tentacles, England's outstanding instrumental-groove
band -- I've yet to hear a CD from them that's less than "great."
They are now among my all-time favorites:
- Ozric Tentacles, There Is Nothing. Found this almost
as an afterthought at Atlanta's Tower Records (not known for their
great selection of odd stuff). Great and long!
- Ozric Tentacles, Curious Corn. Excellent as always.
- Ozric Tentacles, Sliding Gliding Worlds. Old stuff,
and great stuff. As far as I'm concerned, these guys' shit don't
- Erpsongs -- found this at Chicago's Tower
Records. This CD has some audio flaws in it; sounds like they
entered during the mastering process. It's also their oldest
- The Bits Between the Bits -- just found this at Atlanta's Tower
Records (so there!) Has a permanent skip during track 3, but
otherwise it's okay.
- Pungent Effulgent -- the newly-released CD, an
import but generally available in the States, contains both the
original version and as a bonus, a great live rendition of "Ayurvedic."
- Strangeitude -- Like the title says, this one's a
bit stranger (a tad less groove-oriented) than some other Ozrics
CDs, but it's still great!
- Tantric Obstacles -- another terrific CD from these guys.
I was lucky enough to find this one at a record show for $8.
- Live Underslunky -- splendid live CD
from Ozrics, good and long, too. This CD is quite rare in the US; I
got it via mail-order. One of the five best live CDs I'll
- Arborescence -- this one grew on me; it also seems
to be their most-recent easily-findable CD in the US.
- Jurassic Shift -- Ozrics continue to be one of the best
discoveries I've made recently. Thanks to my friend Dirk from Tennessee
for hooking me up with 'em!
- Become The Other -- great CD, plus another great album
cover from Blim. :)
- Dream Theater, for whom the Sun doesn't set. Here are a few
of my reviews:
--And I like Falling Into Infinity, too. :)
- Mutha's Day Out, My Soul Is Wet --
my friends' band from Arkansas, now sadly defunct. I've put some
rare demo and live tracks up on the
Web page I maintain for them.