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 411mania » Music » Columns

The 411 Music Top 5 3.19.14: Top 5 Albums that Grow On You
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 03.19.2014


Criteria: Not every album strikes its way into our hearts right away. Some of the best albums in history have challenged viewers by going in surprising yet innovative directions, or have been so dense or different that they took some time to get used to. This week in the Top 5, that's what we're looking at: those albums that we didn't initially like but eventually grew to become ones we loved.


5. Iron Maiden - X Factor

Most of these albums I'm going to talk about will give you a little more about me as a person/metalhead, or at least how I was as a person/metalhead at the time. This is the one entry that doesn't do much of that; well, besides prove that in high school, I wasn't good at forming opinions.. This album had the problem that it was constantly shit upon by almost everyone that I knew, and as soon as I heard this album, I agreed with them. "This album wasn't Iron Maiden, it was slow, boring, the singer sounded different, and he sure wasn't as good as Bruce". That was what I said to myself the first time that I listened to this album. Granted, some of my criticisms at the time still stand now as they did then. Sure, some songs are a bit long and slow, but what I came to appreciate over my next few listens was that while Blayze Bayley isn't Bruce, he's a great singer, and he REALLY fits the dark, ambient sound that the album exudes. This album really suffers from unfair mid-90s metal hatred because like many bands, Iron Maiden decided to go try another sound. This album isn't in my Top 5 Maiden albums, but it is a lot better than it gets credit for. Now 'Virtual XI', not so much!

4. Pantera - Far Beyond Driven

This was the last entry for the list that I thought of, and the more I think of it, the dumber that I was for being lukewarm to this album as a wee metal laddie (that was like age 16). When I first got into metal, I was all about metalcore and bands like Killswitch Engage, I was really drawn to the more "brutal" aspects of the genre, but I didn't want to fully jump into the metal waters fully, so the singing helped cut the brutality down. But as I started getting more into metal, I found myself drifting to bands like Pantera because they were heavy and badass. But at the time, I thought that every Pantera song should sound like "Walk" and "Cowboys from Hell". In I come into the album expecting something like their singles, and I get something like "Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills", so stupid me was like, "This really brings the album down". Little did I know that after I got my head out of my ass and listened to that song, and some of the other songs that were different, I came to realize that this album was ten thousand times better than I remembered it. I even said in public on this site that I thought this album wasn't that great, pretty embarrassing in retrospect.

3. Megadeth - So Far...So Good...So What!

This is another album that I kind of wrote off after listening to a few songs, I decided that this album was not that good. The really funny thing is that I decided that I only liked a few songs off of the album because I would only listen to about 1 or 2 songs, and I only listened to those. I eventually started branching out and decided that I liked a few more of the other songs, as well. Here is the thing, I counted them up, and I really liked 5 of the songs on the album...it was an 8 song album. I don't know where I got it into my head that I found this album bad, but it just happened. The sadder thing is that it took about 2 years for me to do the math and figure out that this album was pretty good after I listened to them all in a row. I need to call my list, "albums that I liked once I got my head out of my ass".

2. Metallica - Metallica

Remember when I mentioned me getting into metal and finding that I liked the heavier stuff more and more. Metallica were one of the reasons that I started to get into the heavier side of metal (at least heavier in terms of aggression), and I clung to them very closely until I got into Megadeth, and they loosened my grip just a little. But even when my grip on Metallica was loosened, the only Metallica that I listened to was early Metallica, and didn't give them 90's stuff a try until I got really familiar with their 80's work. The first thing that went through my mind when I started the album up was, "Damn, this is kind of weak". I knew "Enter Sandman" wasn't their heaviest, so I waited for some heav tracks to show. I did get them in songs like "Sad But True", but I found the album to be absolutely nothing in comparison to works like 'Ride the Lightning'. I came back to this album about a year or two ago with an open mind, and while I felt like this album is highly overrated by the media as an album, I understood what it represented as a moment in time, and while I found some songs to still be filler-y, I came to liking a majority of the tracks. Call it me maturing as a person and as a listener, but I found that this album was much much better the second time around!

1. Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light

Here is the most recent album on the list and the only album that I actually really liked when I first heard it. When I first heard "Lighting and Snow", I was hooked. I listened to the song over, and over, and over again until the album came out and I went and bought it. While there wasn't much black metal on the album like I had hoped there would be, the album was still pretty good. So I bet you're all wondering why this is at the top of my list? It's because as the CD found its way into my car over and over, I became really consumed with the lyrical themes and the sound that came with them. Instead of only liking a few select songs and just skipping through from "Lightning and Snow", to "Kiss My Ashes Goodbye", and "Finality" on a loop, I started loving every song almost equally. I became entranced with the topics that David Gold would write and talk about, topics like love, death, loss, relationships, and the afterlife really made me think long and hard about life and they still do. The absence of black metal in the album went from a problem the first time I listened to the album, to less so after I spun the disk over and over. Singing along with the music has become something that I always enjoy, even when the topics are a bit morose in nature. This album went from an album I liked, to possibly and probably one of my favorite albums of all time just due to my love for it growing so much. If you've not given this great cut of doom and metal a spin, please do, you wont be sorry!


Honorable Mention: Portishead - Third, Marilyn Manson - Mechanical Animals, Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy, Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs, Kanye West - Yeezus, M.I.A. - Arular

5. Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile

I've been a Nine Inch Nails fan since the Broken EP, but like many there was a point when I questioned whether Trent Reznor had lost his touch. For most people it's later in his career that they became disappointed with his work, but for me it was the album right after The Downward Spiral. The Fragile was an album that, while I always understood its ambition, felt bloated and strange. This was the album in which Reznor began to find a little bit of piece and while it's not entirely optimistic, it does have a very different edge than Downward Spiral. It wasn't until several years later, after With Teeth and Year Zero, that I gave in and decided to give it another listen. To my surprise, it was a much better album than I remembered. I still think it could have used some small amount of trimming to cut the fat out but it was the first sign of a more mature and interesting Reznor and it's become, if not one of my favorite NIN albums, one of the better LPs from that period of time.

4. Justin Timberlake - Justified

I'm not ashamed to admit it: I came into Justin Timberlake's solo career wanting nothing to do with him. He was Britney Spears' ex-boyfriend, the boy band member who thought he could make something of his career. I scoffed at the very idea and I never gave Timberlake a chance. After I heard one song I decided I was done and let it go. But the truth is, Justified is an amazing LP, especially for a first solo LP from an artist. It showed all the potential Timberlake was capable of and I consider it one of my favorite solo debut pop albums at this point, without question. Hey, sometimes you're wrong.

3. Fleetwood Mac - Tusk

Tusk was a doomed album. No really, it didn't have a chance. This was the album that followed up Rumors, which is popularly considered to be one of the greatest albums of all-time and sold an insane amount of copies. No album could ever hope to live up to even half of that. And then you add in the fact that the band was just as fractured as they were during Rumors. That kind of tension can produce one amazing album, but it can't make two in a row. And so this one had a bad reputation. Knowing that reputation tainted my appreciation of this album until after Fleetwood Mac reunited for The Dance on VH-1 in 1997. It put a couple of the songs from Tusk in a better frame of mind for me and I gave it another shot. I'm glad I did because it's not Rumors of course, but it is a fantastic piece of work.

2. Tool - Lateralus

Tool is one of those bands that always takes me multiple listens, and Lateralus is probably their most challenging album. I mean "challenging" in a good way, by the way. But it does mean that you need time to get into the LP and understand what's going on. It's not radio-friendly at all, with most of the songs running well over the usual six-minute acceptable length and the music is dense and emotionally hard to crack. But it's truly brilliant work.

1. Radiohead - OK Computer

I don't have a problem admitting it: I'm one of those people who didn't "get" OK Computer. And so were you. (That's to a good 80% of you out there; I know some people did.) Radiohead's 1997 album had their record executives freaking out and dropping sales expectations because they considered it "uncommercial." And make no mistake: it is not a commercial album. It's not built for radio play and is frankly one I can understand why execs were nervous about. I certainly couldn't stand it the first time I heard it. OK Computer creeps up on you bit by bit. You like it a little more each time you listen, and it never really stops getting better. It's considered the high mark of the band's career for good reason and it certainly takes patience, but it is well worth it.

As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:

5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it


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