Back in 2008, our team of writers here at Bloggers Gamut were beginning to expand our musical horizons and develop the eclectic and diverse respective taste in music we now possess, and that forms a large part of who we are as people. The love for music each of us share today can be traced back to many of the seminal 2008 releases that at the time we probably didn’t realise how much of an impact on us they would truly have, but today can and have acknowledged – more than just acknowledged, these projects & their impact we appreciate greatly, so decided to reflect on aspects of certain records that embedded themselves significantly into our heads, and our lives.
Kanye West – ‘808s And Heartbreak’
The first Kanye West CD I ever owned after finding it in the CD and DVD market stall in my tranquil hometown Saturday market, for a mere £2 is arguably the best £2 I ever spent. ‘808s And Heartbreak‘ was an album driven by exactly that for Kanye, as much of the creation of the project and resulting content drew directly from the tragic personal affairs that massively gutted the seemingly invincible and certainly arrogant Mr. West: The death of his dear mother, Donda West.
Kanye made it very public how much he loved his mother and how important a relationship theirs was to him, as he not only referenced and dedicated lyrics to her multiple times in his songs but made a whole song all about her and his admiration of her (‘Hey Mama‘) – the death of one of his favourite people in the world caused Yeezus to come with a much more sombre and introspective approach to the crafting of ‘808s‘. Kanye appeared more vulnerable and humbly relatable than ever before on this album, as he was projecting exactly how he felt.
While this was apparent in the content, it was illuminated amazingly by the prominent use of at-then very innovative and fresh technique of auto-tune gave Kanye far more sorrow in his vocal delivery which allowed for him to express the correct tone and deliver the ‘Heartbreak‘ he was feeling passionately, atop vibrant ‘808s‘. The influence of this album on all popular music, spanning countless genres since is very hard to actually map out, but it’s certainly extensive. – AS
Metallica – ‘Death Magnetic’
The band reinvigorates themselves to keep you up ‘All Nightmare Long‘ with odes to their original thrash beginnings, galloping at merciless pace. Some 25 years into their illustrious career at the top of (mainstream) metal, Metallica crafted a body of work that is as aptly titled as it could be – ‘Death Magnetic‘ is truly what the album SOUNDS like. Widely regarded as an emphatic return to form for the metal titans, the complex multi-layered song structures consisting of a barrage of solos, electrifying riffs and a pinch of groove, this album is still absolutely worth it’s god-damn heavy weight.
The project is a testament to the four horsemen as musicians as they never seem to run dry of exciting new ideas while still keeping it metal as fuck (this was before the questioning venture of ‘Lulu’). Spawning some of my more favoured ‘Tallica cuts, like the fantastic ‘The Day That Never Comes‘, James Hetfield and co harnessed maturity to once again cover themselves in glory by providing so many moments of epic musicianship that balanced sounding young, hungry and fresh with wise, vigorous songwriting.
I remember my Dad buying this album and spending many car journeys to and from football matches, as well as evenings in our house listening to this illusive barrage of harsh hammer-blows together; leading me wondering how at the third or fourth change of pace and the next merciless rippling solo it is possible to concoct such powerful metal ballads that span up to eight minutes while retaining your full attention. Furthermore, this extensive run-time of eight minutes wasn’t just a feature on one or two of the 10 song strong track-list, it was an average duration. – AS
Nickelback – ‘Dark Horse’
Before Nickelback became derided and diminished in the public eye to meme proprietors and subject to lots of downward cast eyes largely by the cut-throat opinion savagery ushered in by the internet and social media dominance, they were a force of rock’n’roll to be reckoned with and to rival the best of ’em. Music to make you want to drive faster than you should, scream along with Chad‘s iconic wailing and feel like nothing could stop you then have you deep in retrospection & thoughts of a sombre tone, ‘Dark Horse‘ ̶h̶a̶d̶ HAS it all.
An album with feeling, power, emotion and tasty blends of country rock sharpened with a real hard edge: ‘Dark Horse‘ is a straight up hard rock gem and you cannot convince me otherwise, a large part of this love I have for the rousing, stomping album is how intertwined with positive memories of better times of my teens it is. With one of my best friends from those times we would play this album as a soundtrack to chilling in either of our rooms, admiring and dissecting the emphatic, unrelenting classic American hard rock that was fuelling our love for music as more of a hobby than most of our friends.
We were admittedly captivated to a point of slight addiction to the sweet caress of ‘Dark Horse‘, listening ‘Just To Get High‘. After all, when it was “midnight, damn right, we’re wound up too tight” only one godly ̶b̶o̶d̶y̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶ musical masterpiece would suffice in supplying that angsty release and teach us about life. If Nickelback announced they were to ride this ‘Dark Horse‘ once more in the form of an anniversary tour, I would snap tickets up in a FLASH. This isn’t even close to a joke – I would bloody love to relive the nostalgia that album provides me and hear them deliver a set comprising of some of my most favoured hard rock tunes from my teenage days and shaping the eclectic music taste I herald today – plus you know with Chad Kroeger (what a totally awesome and rockstar name, btw!!) and co, you’re always gonna get your nickel back…
Thank you, ‘Dark Horse‘. In fact I have decided the love I herald for this project is so great, it warrants it’s own dedicated anniversary piece, which you can expect to see appear here on BG around 18th November (the date everything changed; the ‘Dark Horse‘ release date). – AS
Bring Me The Horizon – ‘Suicide Season’
In an industry that demands constant evolution, it isn’t uncommon for bands to change their sounds. Bring Me The Horizon, a rock/metal band from Sheffield, exemplify a group whose sound has developed over the years. And with 10 years since the album’s release, it’s time to look back at ‘Suicide Season’.
The album was released at a time where front man and vocalist Oli Sykes’ reputation was, at best, questionable. ‘Suicide Season’ surprised many by being a mostly coherent and consistently okay collection of songs. Sitting comfortably in the ‘metalcore with pop influence’ styling, it’s impossible to deny that there is something solid and unforgettable about the 2008 BMTH sound. From the name of the tracks – ‘No Need For Introductions, I’ve Read About Girls Like You On The Backs Of Toilet Doors’ springs to mind – to the choral singing, and the good but repetitive lyrics, ‘Suicide Season’ is a stand out album in the bands history.
That isn’t to say the album is particularly good. It isn’t. In fact, in comparison to their more recent releases, the songs seem desperate to show aggression and very little else. But it isn’t irredeemable.
The irreverent way in which the songs are constructed, from the in your face guitar and drums to the repetitive and slightly on the nose lyrics – Sykes’ urinal incidents and their unsubtle reference in the lyrics, for example – are, for me, the redeeming factors. An album that doesn’t take itself too seriously is one that we, the fans, should take with a pinch of salt. The progression from pure deathcore to metalcore and the drive to continue creating, regardless of negative reviews, is commendable and set a precedent for the evolution of music the band undertook.
‘Suicide Season’ turns 10 and it’s safe to say that time hasn’t been too kind on it. The way I see it is a little like this: Styles change, and whilst this album consistently leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you keep going back until you’ve built a tolerance.
Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome after the sheer number of times my angsty teen self played the album, or just a part of being a fan, but I can’t help but think that with a little re-mastering an anniversary tour would be… not the worst idea. With the edges softened and a less throat destroying approach to the vocals the show could be enjoyable. Lighter guitar, more classical instruments added in to the mix – I’m looking to you ‘Chelsea Grin’ – and a dash of nostalgia and that’s a gig I’d willingly spend money on. – JC
M83 – ‘Saturdays = Youth’
French electronic act M83 released 5th studio album ‘Saturdays=Youth‘ ten years ago and it is still regarded as one of the best albums the band have ever made.
When looking at the record it’s important to note that the band remained true to their ambient and synthpop style sound, but adding some fresh and exciting to the mix, which contrasts to their last release ‘Digital Shades Vol. 1’ what emphasised on more shoegaze and ambience inspired instrumentals. So listening to the New Wave sound that is prominent in such tracks like single ‘Kim and Jessie’ and ‘Graveyard Girl’ are examples of songs that feature this sense of nostalgia that is littered through and help to make this not only a standout record in M83 library, but one that will shape future releases as well.
Another important element we have to discuss is the incredible production that is layered throughout the album. Frontman and primary member of the band Anthony Gonzalez and producers Ken Thomas and Ewan Pearson helped give a unique take on the electronic style the band have been playing the last few records and the inclusion of genres like shoegaze, dreampop, synthpop and new wave not only adds to the catchiness of the album, but also probably some of the more exciting sounds of that year.
We also have to note how introspective the lyrics are. While we have to note the incredible instruments with tracks like ‘Couleurs’ which is an incredible eight minute piece that relies on a shoegaze inspired guitar and synths to make it standout. The lyrical work in tracks like ‘Skin of the Night’ have a sense of beauty and hope with words like “Queen of the night, Well she is deep inside. She is haunting me.” And ‘We Own the Sky’ that has lyrics such as “Keep blowing and lightning, because we own the sky.” Which refers to the sense of freedom and energy the listener experiences when hearing these tracks.
Overall if you’re getting into a diehard fan or are just getting into the band, this album is an incredible listen and one that will get you feeling all sort of positive energies when listening. – HUH
Lady GaGa – ‘The Fame’
Not many songs can stir a memory of a certain year quite like ‘Just Dance‘ can. The opening notes take me right back to the beginning of high school and thinking for the first time ‘Hey, maybe pop music isn’t so bad after all.’ After that, it was like falling down a rabbit hole…
‘The Fame‘ is an album in which it is safe to say that every song is an absolute banger, with a replay value that has lasted ten years, without once becoming grating. If you can tell me you wouldn’t lose your cool if ‘LoveGame‘ came on in the club, I’d tell you you’re lying!
Songs like ‘Paparazzi‘ and ‘Poker Face‘ are impossible not to bop along to, regardless of how much you don’t want to. GaGa not only catapulted herself into stardom with the album, but began a revolution where the crazier you were, the better, which made the pop music industry a thousand times more interesting and made her mark on music unforgettable.
However, it wasn’t all about the gimmicks and the feel good catchy beats in tracks like ‘Summerboy‘, GaGa’s incredible vocals were also evident in her debut. Songs like ‘Brown Eyes‘ had me feeling all the feels as a preteen, and still tug at the heart strings today.
It would be great to see the album’s anniversary commemorated in a tour, as with the huge body of work and discography full of hits GaGa has built up over the years, there will never be an opportunity to be hit with a throwback of these early bangers without it.
Plus, it would be an amazing excuse for her to go all out with the costume design and stage again and give the crowd the same chance for a glitter-filled costume-donned ball, and to put their paws up like the good old days! – AD
Bullet For My Valentine – ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’
‘Scream, Aim, Fire‘ truly was the album that had it all.
If you wanted to drown your teenage angst in guitar riffs and rough vocals, ‘Waking the Demon‘ was there for you. If you wanted to cry about your first ever heart break, ‘Hearts Burst Into Fire‘ made the perfect soundtrack. ‘Forever and Always‘ was the song to listen to on the school bus and stare out of the window as if you were the first person to ever have emotions.
‘Scream, Aim, Fire‘ was the album that solidified my love for the Welsh rockers that are BFMV and had me forcing their music onto friends, making new friends and buying more hoodies and knock off merch than I could fit in my wardrobe. It had me jumping round my room and whisper-shouting along like I myself was a rockstar.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I had my mum walk into HMV with a crisp £20 ready to buy this album, and subsequently damage my ability to hear properly by playing it at full volume for the next few months, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
An anniversary tour for this album would be amazing, as it would give the older fans a wave of nostalgia that would last a full set and relive their youth. It would let us feel all the feelings we felt ten years ago and fall in love with the album all over again. But it would also let the newer fans hear some of the classic tracks in the flesh for a first time, and experience Bullet live as they were in their glory days. – AD
Rise Against – ‘Appeal To Reason’
Riffs that rip around your head like a circle pit opening up in your mind. Pleas for help disguised as war-torn cries. A melodic-punk masterclass that mixes proto-political protests with powerful personal statements across a polished platform of American alt-rock and old-school American punk. Rise Against’s ‘Appeal To Reason’ was a far-cry departure albeit a logical progression from their semi-hardcore punk that had already threatened to go viral on previous effort ‘The Sufferer & The Witness’. Whereas ‘The Sufferer…’ gave Rise Against anthems, ‘Appeal To Reason’ gave them a platform to play those anthems on.
The commercial breakthrough that followed up undoubtedly their critical breakthrough, away from the pop-punk patter (and charm, of course) of super-hit ‘Saviour’, ‘Appeal To Reason’ is a punk band firing on all cylinders. Crafting songs that navigate the crossroads between the disillusionment of American politics and the disenchantment of living a personal life in modern-day American, much of ‘Appeal To Reason’ is filled with double-meanings, the messages conveyed entirely yours to uncover.
I heard ‘Appeal To Reason’ at fifteen years of age, a few years after its release, and it lit a spark in a rebellious teenager unlike any other. The electrifying rip-roaring riffs of ‘Re-Education’, and its gang-chanting chorus; Hero Of War’s acoustic accosting of the perception of a soldiers viewpoint on war; the pop-sensitive heartbreaker that is ‘Audience Of One’; it’s all here. ‘Appeal To Reason’ is an album that’s full of songs primed to educate the mind, open up the eyes, and heal the wounds.
It gave Rise Against the commercial platform they needed to play their music, and more importantly it gave them the confidence to create its equally important follow-up ‘Endgame.’ They’ve released another three albums in the ten years since ‘Appeal To Reason’, and it’s clear on all three the legacy ATR has left upon the band themselves.
Plus, ‘Saviour’ – for all its mainstream bullshit – is a bloody anthem. Period. – JP
Kanye West – ‘808s And Heartbreak’ (Again)
Looking back, it seems somewhat surreal that a thirteen year old was enamoured by the warped world of an egotistical American dropped back to the earth like Icarus, suddenly aware of his own mortality at the hands of the loss of his mother. Most thirteen year olds these days are too interested in how many followers they’ve got, what filters they look cutest in, and who’s coupling up with who; when I was thirteen, I was stuck somewhere between the trappings of the mainstream radio, musical influences from my father I couldn’t quite grasp yet, and a rebellious love for my heavy metal that came from wrestling videogames (and flourished a little while later, surprisingly, thanks to my father.) What I didn’t expect was to be captivated by a record like Kanye West’s ‘808s and Heartbreaks‘. It was the first hip-hop album I fell for; it’s not my favourite hip-hop album, I’m not even sure it’s top five, but it’s pivotal. There wouldn’t be a top five if I hadn’t heard that record. I wouldn’t have let my dad turn me on to N.W.A. and Dr. Dre and Eminem (who I’d rediscovered, having heard a lot growing up), and I most definitely wouldn’t have gotten into Drake, The Weeknd, and 6lack who are most definitely disciples of the pulsating, twisting depths ‘808s‘ is riddled with.
‘Love Lockdown‘, however cliché it is to pick the single, was the one. From it’s pulsing heartbeat opener with Kanye’s isolated vocals that cloud your mind; the way the keys collide chaotically with the clapping percussion, symbolising Kanye’s own mind at the time; to the straight-line lyrics that portray a man confused with what he wants, a state we’ve all been in.
At the age of twenty-three, I find ‘808s & Heartbreak‘ a difficult listen. It’s far too autotuned, far too removed from ‘Graduation‘ yet too important to the makeup of the overzealous ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘, and it’s far too paranoid. But, it’s painstakingly relatable and relevant. Kanye West is human. Yes, he thinks he’s a modern day incarnation of Christ. Yes, he likes to say and do things most others don’t agree with. But, he’s human. He’s like me, he’s like you. He’s got feelings. I’ve worked hard, made a lot of sacrifices, and have watched many friends settle down, get married, and have kids whilst I’m paving out a career for myself and on this record, Kanye makes me realise that the deep dark feelings that sometimes creep in during the realisation of it all, is, surprisingly, perfectly normal.
The line that resonates with me the most is perhaps one of Kanye’s finest, and yet it’s possibly one of his simplest, almost a throwaway even: “My friend showed me pictures of his kids and all I could show him was pictures of my cribs; he said his daughter got a brand new report card and all I got was a brand new sports car.” Here’s a man who thought he had everything, and in reality, he’s got nothing. That, that concept of expectation and reality, everything and nothing, is, at the core of it, the heart of ‘808s & Heartbreak‘, and that’s why ten years on, it’s special. It sparked a movement in hip-hop, not just in its autotune-appreciative late-night electro vibes, but also in its heart-on-the-sleeve I’m-just-like-you approach; ten years ago, Kanye West broke down the walls between rappers and us, and that’s not something a lot of people can say. – JP
Frank Turner – ‘Love Ire & Song’
“Let’s begin at the beginning; we’re lovers and we’re losers, we’re heroes and we’re pioneers, and we’re beggars and we’re choosers…” The opening salvo of folky troubadour and punk poet Frank Turner’s I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous is a line that’s stuck with me for years, like much of Turner’s lyrical wax on life, love, and loss. This opening salvo sets the sounds, the scenes, and the situation for the album that follows; and quite honestly, without Love Ire & Song, I certainly would not be the acoustically-adept over-thinking writer I am now, because everyone needs a little Frank Turner.
It’s the honesty riddled throughout the album that sticks out the most. It’s the raw punk attitude littered through Turner’s folky musings that mesh with me, and many others, like we’re some collective kindred spirit. It was the anthemic Reasons Not To Be An Idiot which set me off on a whimsical, somewhat romantic, occasionally tearful, and mostly cheerful affair with Frank Turner’s music throughout the years, thanks to its video airing on Kerrang! After All Time Low. The gentle repetitive strumming that wraps round your mind throughout the entire song, the lyrics that reach out to you as if Turner’s having a conversation with you, and you only, as if he’s in your head and your heart, the fact that it’s an underrated undersold banger. It captivated me.
Personally, Tape Deck Heart, an album that followed many years later is my nearest and dearest Turner record. However, Love Ire & Song was my introduction to Frank and it has been here for me more than many albums, and friends for that matter. When first loves, crushes, and breakups were too much, Substitute was my calling card; When I was down in the dumps hanging at the end of my tether, Better Half gave me a morbid-coloured glimmer of hope; when long-distance relationships became a routine and a chore rather than something worth it, Jet Lag made me feel somewhat sane.
Simply put; on Love Ire & Song, Frank Turner taught me it was perfectly fine to be in touch with your emotions no matter what they are. – JP.