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Peachy's Music and Audio Gear Recommendations

 
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Peachy Dee
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 12011 4:52 pm    Post subject: Peachy's Music and Audio Gear Recommendations Reply with quote


Alright, this began as a thread solely for metal recommendations, but I expanded it and brought it to a forum I frequent a while back, and figured I'd bring it here as well, as the music section is disappointingly dead. The first section was written with those who are already fans of metal in mind, so expect some more extreme stuff. However, there is some amazing atmospheric and other not-so-harsh stuff there, too. If you're completely new to metal but are interested in it, send me a message. I'll point you towards some good bands that can introduce you to the genre and demonstrate the nuances of the various styles. Even if you're not interested in it at all, at least give the band Agalloch a look, as they almost entirely transcend genre barriers.

The second part includes recommendations in various other genres of music I listen to, then a couple of good headphones and other audio gear I've had good experience with. Inside the dashes are links to various songs that give a decent example of the band's/artist's particular sound. Others have links within the descriptions.

Hopefully you all find something you like here. Let me know if you do. ;D

Dark Angel: Thrash in its most pure and intense form.
Any thrash fan has heard the media BS of the 'Big Four' and knows how those bands took a progressive turn in the late 80s. The 'big names' weren't where thrash really was, though. In '87, real thrash was taken to its core in the form of a band named Dark Angel. Darkness Descends was a pinnacle of real thrash releases. Pure, unadulterated speed. What it was really about.

Most bands, even those known for speed, have their fast parts and slow parts. Dark Angel does too. The only difference is that their slow parts are fast, and their fast parts are 'too fast, my ass.' Do you know any other bands that can hit 286 bpm and still sound good?

It's not boring music, sacrificed for the sake of speed. Hell no. The guitar work is ridiculous, and Gene Hoglan's drumwork even more so. If anything, the album needs to be listened to just for the sake of hearing Gene Hoglan drumming better and more intensely than anybody at the time thought possible. Even on Black Prophecies, Hoglan goes on for over 8 minutes at upwards of 200bpm. You have to hear it.

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Darkness Descends Pretty low quality, but I can't find a higher quality stream anywhere.
Burning of Sodom Hoglan's the fastest thing alive.
Merciless Death One of my favorites. Still poor quality though. But what can you expect from underground metal on youtube?<
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Morbid Saint: Did I just say Darkness Descends was the pinnacle of thrash? Spectrum of Death might even be better. Their take on thrash was darker, but just as fast and aggressive, and. . .
Well, the music blaring out of those speakers fried my brain. It killed the small animals and plants outside my window. It prevented my speakers from playing 'normal' music ever again. And thus I had found the Holy Grail of thrash.

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Lock Up Your Children Yes, that's the title.
Crying for Death Oh, the drums. The drums
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Skeletonwitch: Fantastic mix of thrash aesthetic and melodic guitar work. They aren't imaginative at all as far as lyrics go, but it doesn't affect the quality in the slightest. Beyond the Permafrost is a fantastic album with the very odd ability to simultaneously seem all over the place yet exactly where it needs to be. Skeletonwitch know exactly what they're doing.

Beyond the Permafrost
Upon Wings of Black An abomination of music rips, but the guy who put up the better versions deleted his account. .-.

Destroyer 666: Destroyer may have a cliché name, but their music in no way reflects that. Their music can be described as a clever combining of black and thrash metal, with some death influence as well, but honestly, summing it up with so many genres only serves to downplay its quality. Instead, I'll simply say that they're one of the most talented metal bands out there. The musicians aren't just technical -- which seems to be all the focus with a lot of bands today -- they're very skilled at creating their tense, foreboding, nihilistic atmosphere, utilizing tight drumming, poignant guitars, amazing leads (that aren't overplayed) and the best metal vocals I've heard to date.

Unchain the Wolves, Phoenix Rising and Cold Steel. . . for an Iron Age are all fantastic albums. The first has a darker, thrashier feel, while Phoenix Rising boasts more complex composition and a sort of melodic death progressiveness (not that this is a bad thing) . On Cold Steel, however, D666 goes all out, with fierce aggression and atmosphere, tuning down the complexity of the previous album to achieve pure metal assault (I've yet to listen to their newest one).

For an intro, I recommend giving Phoenix Rising a listen, as it's by far my favorite (though all three are fantastic). If you like it, give the others a listen, too.

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I Am the Wargod This track is a masterpiece.
Lone Wolf Winter
Ride the Solar Winds
Unchain the Wolves From their first LP
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Agalloch: This band is hardly metal in the usual sense of the term, but I feel obliged to mention them in this thread, as their music is sublime. Agalloch are masters of atmosphere, creating album-long epics that are captivating and entrancing. It's the most beautiful music I've ever heard, and they're a band I recommend to everybody, regardless of their musical tastes.

They've released four albums since 1999, and each one is fantastic. I recommend the Mantle for an introduction to their music. If you can, set some time aside for the album and use a pair of phones. Though split into several tracks, they play more like pieces to a whole, flowing into each other and rising and falling with respect to their arrangement within the album. I could go into more detail, but I'd rather avoid the urge to do so, because I truly think their music speaks for itself, as long as you give it the time. I've had the album for over three years now and I still listen to it regularly; it only seems to improve with every listen.

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If you're interested in the band, send me a message and I'll direct you to a decent download (and a link to purchase it if you'd like).
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Firewind: Started by the Greek guitarist Kostas Karamitroudis (or Gus G.) in 1998, the power metal band Firewind was originally created as a showcase of his guitar work for potential labels. However, it grew into a stunning beast and is now his primary focus. The album Burning Earth is powerful, both emotionally and technically. Overall, the album is great, but it especially shines during its instrumental moments, when Gus G. is either shredding beautifully or making his guitar cry with emotion.

The Fire and the Fury The title may sound bad, but this 5-minute instrumental is one of the best things I've heard.


Krallice: Very experimental black metal sound, hardly fitting within the normal definition of the genre whatsoever. Quite the interesting album. Their second didn't seem to do anything new, though, aside from new growled vocals that didn't mix well with the super-clean production. Just give the first, eponymous album a listen.

Wretched Wisdom Unbelievable atmosphere


Mors Principium Est: Solid melodic death, with progressive influence, especially on their album The Unborn (which is the one I recommend the most).

Emperor and Ulver: These two are more of a given if you're ever heard of black metal (which is why I'm not going into as much detail), but offer a great place to start for those who haven't given the genre a chance because of qualms about religious outlook. Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse and Ulver's Bergtatt both exemplify the beauty of black metal and why the genre is worth looking to in the first place.

Alestorm: The only pirate metal band that has actually acheived what their name suggests. Their music is quite epic, though it's more for fun than to be taken seriously; it's sort like party metal. That doesn't mean the musician ship is lacking in quality, however (it's not Andrew W.K.). Check out Captain Morgan's Revenge as an example. There may not have actually been Scottish pirates, but these Scots would sure as hell be fine candidates.

Between the Buried and Me: The only progressive, [x]-core band that I really, really enjoy.

Machinae Supremacy: Another awesome power metal. They even use the Commodore 64 sound chip. Razz Redeemer's the album I've listened to, but I've heard good things about the others as well.

Powerglove: Though the idea of a metal band covering old video game music has been pretty overdone in recent years, Powerglove stands out as one of the most entertaining and creative of the lot. Just listen to their Mario track. Rather than focusing on each individual track, they often cleverly mix several tracks of the same game (or series) into a single interesting piece. You can also find some of their work streaming on their MySpace page, such as FFIV, Guilty Gear and Duck Hunt, among others. The Duck Hunt one is a completely original piece, since the game didn't actually have any BGM. Rolling Eyes

Shrum: Probably the most experimental band that I'll mention in this thread, Shrum is a metal act that did away entirely with the normal electric guitar, using only bass guitars with various pedals and effects for a very interesting sound. They pulled it off really well, as the music itself is superb. Unfortunately the band's potential came to an abrupt when member Audie T. Pitre died in a drunk driving accident, so they never released much. What they did get out is well worth checking out, however.

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Virus
Michelle's Song
Tears of a Marianette
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And now for recommendations from other genres! Yaaay!

Neelix: The best EDM I have heard in a long, long time. It's progressive/psytrance. Neelix just makes me happy.

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Under Pressure Nothing like what you're thinking of.
Didn't Mean to Cry One of my favorites.
Disco Decay Sexxx.
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Felguk: A Brazilian duo that makes headphone-melting electro-house. They've even remixed Neelix. I don't have any flowery words for these guys, just let the music move your feet and take control.

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Felguk's Disco Decay Mix What remixes should sound like.
Guess What Eheheheh. <3 Felguk makes me giddy.
Do You Like Bass? A pretty straightforward question.
As Sample As It Is
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Fever Ray: I love Karin Dreijer Andersson's work. Her music is haunting and astoundingly beautiful. I lost myself completely in the Fever Ray album the first time I heard it. Both the melancholic atmosphere and innocent, almost child-like lyrics bring you into a sort of fugue, enveloping you in its dream-like world. In a stark contrast from Andersson's previous work, this one needs to be heard to be believed.

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When I Grow Up
If I Had a Heart
Triangle Walks
Keep the Streets Empty for Me
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King Geedorah: One of the best artists I've heard on the mic. Underground hip hop doesn't get much better than this. His work is killer and the man has amazing flow. If you've been looking for a reason to get into hip hop or wondering what's beyond the usual nonsense on the radio, this is a great place to start.

The Fine Print This track and the album its on are a good introduction to the man's work. Also, check out the group Monsta Island Czars, who made one of hip hop's most legendary albums.


Deltron 3030: The brainchild of a group of amazing hip hop artists, Deltron 3030 is a concept album that approaches the old 'oppressive futuristic society' idea with a musical twist. The resulting work is what proved to me that hip hop is capable of much more than I had ever imagined at the time. Del tha Funkee Homosapien is probably my favorite lyricist; his work is instantly recognizable, both from his quality and his unique voice. Most of you probably already know him from the Gorillaz, but he's got much more material than that.

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Mastermind Sick.
3030 Another highlight of the album. Superb lyricism. The entire thing is great, though. Go find it somewhere asap.
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Henry Homesweet: This is chiptune. It's the end result of an epic DJ taking a Game Boy and doing sweet, sweet justice with it. Yes, that perfectly describes it. Absolutely. It's amazing. Here's a link to his MySpace page because he has like two albums and 15 standalone tracks for download free. And of course a few songs are up for stream, along with videos of him in work. You don't have to have an account or anything.

Sabrepulse: Another fantastic chiptune artist, though Sabrepulse is more widely known, being one of the most influential in the scene. I feel obligated to mention him anyway, though, because Sabrepulse certainly deserves the credit. This is how I discovered chiptune as well, odd little niche genre though it may be. Just check some of it out (especially that second link).

Another good chiptune artist is Spamtron. Give his work a listen as well if you liked HH and Sabrepulse. DPAD was a full album and an EP for some reason; Crunchyco took the EP off their site, but I uploaded it here. Those extra four songs are worth it.

E. S. Posthumus: Modern classical music with a cinematic style. The band's work is astounding and has a tremendous impact. Though most I talk to don't recognize the name, their work has appeared in all sorts of places, like news programs, ESPN during the Superbowl, movie trailers and more. It's worth much more than that, however. The group's talent is undeniable.

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Kalki The fantastic album opener.
Unstoppable Possibly the most invigorating music I've ever heard. And I'm so glad a high-def stream is available for this album.
Lavanya This track has fantastic atmosphere and is definitely one of my favorites on the album. It's completely unrelated, but reminds me a lot of Nobuo Uematsu's work on the soundtrack for Final Fantasy X.
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Gui Boratto: Gui Boratto's work is relatively simple electronic music; it's not particularly mind-blowing if you've already a fan of the genre, but it's very vivid and a great gateway drug for newcomers. Just give No Turning Back a listen; it's definitely the best thing he has recorded. Then give the whole album (Take My Breath Away) a listen because the entire thing is brilliant. If you've never really understood the appeal of electronic music or weren't sure how to get into it, start here.

The OneUps: The most fascinating of VGM cover bands. I'm not even sure I want to call them that, because what they do goes far beyond simple cover work, reimagining familiar tunes into breathtaking musical pieces. The OneUps are some of the most versatile musicians I've ever heard, able to play everything from jazz to hip hop, and even a super-crisp heavy metal rendition of Bowser's Theme from Super Mario 64. You can find the group's entire work on their Bandcamp site. Some very impressive tracks are Aquatic Ambience and Schala's Theme from Vol. 1 (or that entire album, really), Ghost Valley, Battle Mode and Rainbow Road from the Super Mario Kart LP, Sagat's theme and the Metroid track from Vol. 2. . . hell, all of it. Their work is just damn smart. They do such an amazing job and have singlehandedly broke through every bad stereotype of both VGM and poor cover bands. Everything they make stands entirely on its own, abandoning any need for the listener to recognize the source material. I absolutely love them.

Benga: Essential dubstep artist, definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in dub or if you're an EDM fan in general. A very accurate term I've herd for it is "brostep-free dubstep," as it actually has real talent and production value behind it, unlike the majority of mediocre DJs that have oversaturated the genre. 'Diary of an Afro Warrior' is a work of genius, give it a listen.

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The Cut
26 Basslines
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Saltillo: A brilliant mix of trip hop and electro-acoustic/orchestral composition. It is both intense and somber, poignant and ambiguous. The influence is there, but the resulting mix is starkly unique. And it's a wonder to listen to. You can find a track to listen to as a decent preview here, but this one begs to be listened to in its full form. Ask for a link in a PM or the thread.

Others worth checking out:

Helios - Eingya (beautiful ambient/post-rock)
Psycho Abstract - Independent Love (psytrance, similar to Neelix)
Primordial - To the Nameless Dead (Great metal, a lot of black and celtic influences)
Kruder Dorfmeister - The K&D Session (long time players in the electronic scene. Definitely worth checking out)


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Audio Gear

Yes, I'm making an audio gear section, because I'm a quality freak (if you couldn't tell how long it took me to stop complaining about video quality), and I'm always on the hunt for great quality 'phones at good prices. About a year ago, though, I found the pinnacle of hidden gems; a relatively obscure, old pair of phones from a well-known player in the audio market that sound more than 5 times their measly cost of $30. What are they?

These babies right here.

These 'phones are no joke. I ordered a pair on cnet's word and went into a musical coma the first time I heard them. The bass is amazing and it makes love to the treble, which is clear and pronounced. Perfect balance, with all ranges of sound coming in strong, but never overpowering. I've never once had to mess with an equalizer or amp with these headphones; the sound is always satisfying at default level. They aren't the most high-end headphones in the world, but they make music come alive in a way no other pair can. At least no pair for 30-some dollars. If you think your Skullcandies are good, give these a try.

Since I've purchased these, I've convinced several friends and my stepfather to buy them, and have even convinced people in my classes I don't know well to get them. They spread the word with their sound alone. I'm not exaggerating.

I used to prefer IEMs (in-ear speakers) for the size and because most on-ear 'phones were uncomfortable, but these were made with that issue in mind, featuring speakers that angle to fit the form of your ear (but without retarded pieces that easily break). They also come with a lifetime warranty if something does manage to happen. They also come with a gold-plated 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter that isn't necessary, but nice to have.

If you have more money to spend and want to upgrade to an even more amazing pair of phones, the Grado SR80i are unmatched. They aren't as bass-heavy for those of you who listen mostly to EDM or hip hop, but they have a one-of-a-kind sound that more than makes up for it, especially if your preferred genres have more than just bass lines. They're an astounding pair of phones and are more than worth the money if you're willing to spend it.

On the recording side, there's a similar piece of hardware that's of stellar quality for about the same price range: the Behringer XM8500.

Yeah, 20 bucks. That probably sounds sketch, because everything on TV sells for 19.99 and everything that's sold on TV is garbage, but these are usually 30 bucks and Amazon is just awesome like that (which is why I've been using Amazon links). I came across the XM8500 while looking for a microphone for my senior project last semester, as I needed to record CD and wanted something of good quality that I could afford. I heard about these from TyTe's review on humanbeatbox.com (probably a more convincing read than this). I took a chance and grabbed it and a 30 dollar behringer preamp that got decent reviews since I needed a mic anyway and absolutely knew I found something amazing. The XM8500 has insane quality for what I paid for and it's still hard to believe. It even has a mic stand clip and comes in a hard case, too. For 20 dollars. Read TyTe's review, he knows more about it than I do.

TyTe also has a review on another mic by Behringer that he says is better but costs a bit more. If you have money to spare, check that out.

If you really prefer IEMs to classic 'phones and have a bit more cash, check out the Klipsch Image s4. These have topped several 'top headphones of all time' lists and have gotten great reviews from many big-name audio communities, like Head-Fi. They're a bit flimsier, but they come with a two-year warranty, which allieviates much of the risk there. They do need to be broken in to reach their full potential in quality, though (Klipsch says 50 hours or around that I believe), so don't be alarmed if they sound off when you first listen to them. Once they are, though, the quality is definitely worth it. Just remember, as with all IEMs, you'll have to get a perfect seal with the tip to get the best possible sound.

Another pair of IEMs that aren't nearly as good as the others I've listed but are still pretty solid are Altec's Backbeat Pros. The original price tag for these was a ridiculous 99 dollars, but through the magic of Amazon you can pick a pair up for like 25 bucks (seriously, the next cheapest price is around 50, but despite even that Altec still sells them for 100 on their site). They aren't nearly worth 100 bucks, but for 25 they're a decent buy if you don't have the money for the Klipsch and still don't want to get the Porta Pro for some reason. :p They're also quite durable; the cord is wrapped in cloth and a layer of plastic insulation, so you get maximum durability (though wrapping them up tightly is still a stupid idea -- I wear mine around my neck). I had these for a while before the pros and they're definitely better than most things in that price range. The cord does make a bit of noise if its rubbing against something (like your shirt), but it's not really interfering or noticeable most of the time. I don't recommend them for use during running or anything, though.

(Make sure to do some research yourself as well; I suggest looking around Head-Fi. If you still can't decide upon a pair, talk to me and I'll help you find a pair that suits your needs. You can also join and ask for help on their forums if you'd like).

If you're looking for a great mp3 player that isn't the iPod or a Zune and costs much less, check out the Sansa Fuze. The Fuze is a modest 8 gb player with everything you would expect, but it has extra features that make it really shine. The biggest highlight is a micro SD card slot that essentially gives you unlimited music storage. With one 15 dollar card you can double the size of the system's music capacity. And it even supports .flac right out of the box, which is super-duper awesome as you rarely get that with popular music players. I believe it's easily hackable with rockbox, too, if that's your thing; I've heard the hacked GUI is better than the default one, though I haven't really had problems with it.

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So I hope you guys got something out of this thread. It's not very extensive, but I update from time to time, and if you still find yourself wanting more by the end of this, or you just want to talk, I'm always up for a decent music discussion. If this thread was useful for you in any way, or if you find any errors/broken links/etc, let me know. Razz
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Last edited by Peachy Dee on Thu Feb 17, 12011 4:12 pm; edited 9 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 12011 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


didn't really like many artist from the "metal" part, but then I have to say that I don't like most of the metal =p

but all the other music you had was mostly nice =)
haha, and you had Henry Homesweet in your list, awesome xD
and I really liked Deltron 3030, but his vocals sound very familiar to me, even though I never heard of the group =p
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Peachy Dee
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 12011 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


You probably heard him through the Gorillaz, like I mentioned in the description. Del also has many of his own albums and has been in other projects as well. He was even featured in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, I believe (at least the PS2 version).
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 12011 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


oh, probably from gorrilaz and tony hawks pro skater then xD
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