DEMONSPELLS SONGS TO WATCH Anniversary Edition A Year Of Ultimate Metal Greetings, devoted readers! What follows is a brief look at most of the artists who have hosted forums here, along with some of the Launchpad songs and artists. UPDATED 11/25 to reflect the new additions made to UM since the initial posting. Alas Style: symphonic metal Notable talents: Martina Astner (ex-Therion), Erik Rutan (ex-Morbid Angel) Their sole release to date, Absolute Purity, is a highly impressive debut Key songs: Endlessly Searching, Silencing The Sorrow All That I Bleed Style: technical metal Bizarre development: The least active forum on UM. Considering that their Dying To Remember is one of the year's best debuts, they should receive more attention. Anathema Style: began as doom metal but have followed their own path since Eternity. Bizarre development: Daniel Cavanaghs departure that lasted all of three weeks. Related band Antimatter also has a forum here. Essential albums: Judgement, A Fine Day To Exit, Alternative 4 This writers favorites: Release, Underworld, Lost Control, Anyone Anywhere, Judgement, Cries On The Wind Angel Dust Style: aggressive power metal Career setback: this years lackadaisical Of Human Bondage. Essential albums: Bleed, Enlighten The Darkness Underrated release: Border Of Reality Anthrax Style: needs no introduction Career setback: September 11, endless label changes, growth under Scotts chin. Album I played the hell out of in high school: Spreading The Disease Underrated release: Stomp 442 Arch Enemy Style: Maiden-influenced melodic death Notable talents: Chris Amott Essential album: Burning Bridges This writers favorites: Sinister Mephisto, Eureka, Fields Of Desolation ('99 version) Arena Style: neo-progressive rock Notable talents: keyboardist Clive Nolan Bizarre development: Drummer Mick Pointer resurfaced in this band over a decade after being fired by Marillion. Best album: Immortal? (question mark included.) Ayreon Style: space rock with a revolving door of vocalists Notable talents: Arjen Lucassen Essential album: Universal Migrator Favorite vocalist: Russell Allen Beseech Style: goth-tinged doom Bizarre development: the ABBA cover Man After Midnight, a bonus track that has become a popular download at mp3.com Best album: Souls Highway Blaze Style: straight ahead metal Career setback: Maiden fans who thought Virtual XI was disastrous (raises hand) This writers favorites: The Tenth Dimension, The Launch, Born As A Stranger Borknagar Style: progressive black metal Favorite with Garm: A Tale Of Pagan Tongue Favorite with Simen: Colossus Favorite with Vintersorg: Soul Sphere Children Of Bodom Style: over the top melodic death Notable talents: Alexi Laiho, Janne Warmen One of the few songs I can tolerate: Deadnight Warrior Dan Swano Style: depends on project, has reportedly given up on death metal though Favorite Nightingale: Thoughts From A Stolen Soul Favorite Edge Of Sanity: Twilight Favorite from others: Uncreation (solo), Amon Ra (Odyssey), At The End Of The Bridge (Unicorn), 2 (Pan-Thy-Monium), etc. Dark Tranquillity Style: increasingly keyboard-heavy melodic death Career setback: abrupt stylistic change on Projector, later refined on Haven and Damage Done Essential album: The Gallery Favorite from new album: Hours Passed In Exile & The Treason Wall Devin Townsend Style: progressive, aggressive, schizophrenic. Essential album: Terria (featuring an amazing trio of emotional paralyzers in Deep Peace, Nobodys Here, and Tiny Tears. Also witness Stagnant.) Favorite from Ocean Machine: Funeral Favorite from others: Kingdom Enchant Style: emotionally charged progressive rock Notable talents: Guitarist Doug Ott Bizarre development: The band nearly falling apart during and after Juggling/Dropping, permanently losing two members and temporarily losing another, only to recover with... Their best album: Blink Of An Eye Evergrey Style: dark progressive metal Career setback: Sven Karlsson joining Soilwork full time Essential album: In Search Of Truth (featuring one of the best combinations of three to open an album ever, ending with Watching The Skies, possibly my favorite song of 2001.) Favorite from others: Nosferatu Hypocrisy Style: melodic death Notable talents: Peter Tagtgren In Flames Style: nu-me lodic death? Career setback: post-Clayman/RTR backlash and Tokyo Showdown Essential album: Whoracle James Murphy Legendary thrash guitarist, help donate to his cause. Katatonia Style: shoegazer doom metal (not my words) Notable talents: Anders Nystroms simple but often mesmerizing textures This writers favorites: I Am Nothing, Had To Leave, A Darkness Coming, Dispossession, Future Of Speech Lefay Style: aggressive power metal Career setback: prolonged label troubles, alcohol-induced breakup Underrated album: all of them, but especially Sanctified Favorite from last two: Child Of Time (not to be confused with Deep Purple) Maudlin Of The Well Style: astral metal (their words, not mine) Bizarre development: Just read a random thread on their forum, almost as trippy as their music. Essential albums: The simultaneously released Bath & Leaving Your Body Map Nevermore Style: visionary, dystopian metal Notable talents: Jeff Loomis and Van Williams playing is savage. Essential albums: all of the last three Underrated songs: Sea Of Possibilities, 42147, Deconstruction, All Play Dead, Evolution 169, Insignificant Novembers Doom Style: adventurous doom, not as slow as most in the genre Notable talents: Paul Kuhr Best album: To Welcome The Fade Writer's favorites: Not The Strong, The Spirit Seed, Dark Fields For Brilliance Opeth Style: In a word, Opethian. Notable talents: About a quarter of the people on the UM forums worship Akerfeldt, and for good reason Essential albums: all of them Opinion on Deliverance: Awesome. Last two songs are among their most adventurous to date. Power Of Omens Style: technical metal Notable talents: Drummer Alex Arellano, guitarist Dave Gallegos Bizarre development: Upcoming release Rooms Of Anguish being rescued from an unappreciative label by Metal Ages. Writer's favorites: Word On A Line, In The End, A Toast To Mankind Reading Zero Style: progressive metal Claim to fame: Has played at two of the three American Progpower festivals. Best album: The two indie releases The Actual and Satellite Sessions are about equal. Sinergy Style: bombastic power metal Bizarre development: Marco ditching them for Nightwish Essential albums: none, theyre all highly inconsistent Guilty pleasures: Razorblade Salvation, Gallowmere, The Sin Trade Soilwork Style: melodic death growing further apart from the Gotheburg norm. Bizarre development: Being amongst the first acts praised by Rob Halford after suddenly rescinding his "metal is 100% dead" stance. Best album: Natural Born Chaos Writer's favorites: Black Star Deceiver, Song Of The Damned, Grand Failure Anthem Sonata Arctica Style: passionless, watered-down power metal with horrible keyboards (Yes, I am aware I just insulted one of the webmasters favorite bands ) Spastic Ink/Watchtower Style: insane instrumental tech-metal/pioneering early tech metal Notable talents: Ron anyone who listens to rap should be killed Jarzombek. Essential album: Control & Resistance Albums coming soon (for about a year now): Ink Complete/Mathematics Steve DiGiorgio Style: thrashs master of the fretless bass Career setback: short-lived stint with Jon Schaffers ego er, Iced Earth. Albums coming soon: Appears on Vintersorgs next (see entry) Tad Morose Style: aggressive power metal Interesting fact: shares hometown with Morgana Lefay. Best album: Matters Of The Dark Testament Style: thrash metal that gets heavier with each release Essential albums: Practice What You Preach, Low Underrated album: Souls Of Black The Black League Style: gothic doom metal Notable talents: Taneli Sentenced sucks without him Jarva (not my opinion) Cool song available only on official site: Pain Without A Name Threshold Style: progressive metal Career setback: frequent vocalist changes Favorite with Damian: Wounded Land Favorite with Mac: Hypothetical Travis Smith Style: not a musician, leading artist in the metal scene. Best cover for a band on this list: Devin Townsend Terria (also Tonights Decision, Souls Highway, A Fine Day To Exit) For one not on this list: Winds Reflections Of The I Vintersorg Style: increasingly progressiive melodic...can I really call this death? Bizarre development: folk metal cover of Holy Diver (with Otyg) Essential album: Visions From The Spiral Generator Zero Hour Style: ultraheavy ultratechnical metal Notable talents: Brothers Jasun and Troy Tipton Bizarre development: Side project Death Machine, in which three-fourths of the members use pseudonyms Essential album: The Towers Of Avarice THE LAUNCHPAD a collection of artists who have songs available on Ultimate Metal. Notable among these is the sites ongoing partnership with the company that has become the mailorder site of choice among metalheads, The End, and their growing roster of artists, which includes some of the most innovative acts in the scene today. First and foremost is Green Carnation and their incomparable mega-epic Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness. Among the first of their acts to make waves was Agalloch, who established themselves as one of Americas best melodic death acts (and possibly our answer to Opeth) with Pale Folklore, and their critical standing should only improve with The Mantle, out in August. (Which, as you might know from my frequent postings and subsequent STW installments, I now regard as a masterpiece and one of the absolute best albums of 2002.) Also featured are the technical death of Scholomance and their ambitious Immortality Murder releases, and the somber romanticism of Virgin Black. Another great discovery from the Launchpad, and the Opeth forum, is Farmakon, who is one of the best unsigned bands Ive had the pleasure of hearing in a while, along with another hosted act, Lilitu, whose Memorial is a great album reminding one of Opeth and the best in doom metal. Britains Area 54 has quickly gained a strong following for their straight ahead metal. Ossian and Cascade also sound promising. I greatly enjoyed putting this special together. I apologize for not including every act, there are some I havent heard a complete album from yet but sound promising (Forest Stream, Lunaris, Sun Caged) some I dont care for (i.e. Cannibal Corpse), some I am still in the process of formulating an opinion of (Kalmah, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Skyfire, all three have some great songs), etc. Thanks to the fans, the staff, all of the bands (especially people like Mikael Akerfedlt, Niklas Sundin, Dan & Dag Swano, Warrel Dane, Anders Nystrom, Tom Englund, Anders Nordin, and all others who have posted on their respective forums. I also cant forget the LOTFP and Progpower forums, you guys rule.), and anyone associated for making Ultimate Metal the best metal community on the web.