2019 Music And Books

This has been a strong year for metal.

Tool and Rammstein both returned after prolonged absences to deliver some of their original metal.

Reading is a commercial free pleasure that always offers too many worthy titles.

The long-awaited follow up to “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “The Testaments ” by Margaret Atwood brought an end to the dystopian saga.

Stephen King’s “The Institute” provided plenty suspense while Colson Whitehead’s “The Nickel Boys” examined the disparities of our penal system.

Here I briefly remind my kind readers to pick up a good read for a sharp mind.

Music first. In no particular order these are my favorites for 2019.

Top L-R: Tool and Opeth.
Bottom L-R: Candlemass, Rammstein, and Dragonforce

Rammstein/ Untitled the German steel unleashed their seventh studio effort this year. A minimal art image on the cover of an unstruck match allows for infinite interpretation.

Like previous records in the band’s arsenal they convey their messages in masterfully crafted bursts of metal blended with synth and industrial sounds.

I had to listen more than once to appreciate the sonic aptitude of the music involved here.

Despite the fact that all their songs are in German as a metalhead you come to realize it’s the most amazing synergy with this genre.

Tool/ Fear Inoculum had a lot riding on it’s success or failure. After 13 years the band delivered their most assured set.

Complete with epic length songs, interludes, and fantastic artwork it brought fans new and old into their fold.

Opeth/ In Cauda Venenum is an earthly delight from the doom metal stalwarts.

A funeral trip that engages a sense of hope beyond the grave. This is a band that remains focused from first riff to last outro growl. A true opus.

Dragonforce/ Extreme Power Metal I feel energized when I listen to the galeforce delivery here. Infused with great keyboards and tasty metal licks with thick choruses you too will hail our bright future.

Bright and colorful with brilliant musicianship, this album testifies to the kinetic energy inherent in power metal. It’s like Styx on steroids!

Candlemass/ The Door To Doom Death metal has had a strong year. This veteran group released quite a slab.

A tight set that runs 48 minutes. ‘Splendor Demon Majesty’ opens with a grand salute to the dark lord.

The record builds on all the classic instrumentation of Black Sabbath. A 1970s groove permeates. And this is a great result.

In fact, Sabbath founder Tony Iommi is featured on track 3—‘Astorolus-The Great,Octopus ‘. Sludgy and deep riffs abound.

Doomy choral backing vocals add to the impact. You will want to open this door many, many times!

Notable authors provided a feast for readers in 2019. Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Colson Whitehead, Delia Owens, Dean Kuipers, and Elizabeth Gilbert made my cut.

Where The Crawdads Sing/Delia Owens has now been near or at the top of The New York Times bestseller list for over 60 weeks!

It deserves this honor. A great story of survival against all odds. A young girl’s family abandons her in the marsh.

She will grow up alone in their beach shack. And along the way she gets accused of murder.

Teaching herself to become self sufficient she teaches her would be enemies in the art of love and forgiveness.

City of Girls/ Elizabeth Gilbert is a story set in 1930’s and 1940’s New York City. A young woman drops out of an elite college.

Sent to live with her eccentric aunt in the city who runs a playhouse.

A friend recommended this novel. If you love theater you must check it out!

The Nickel Boys/ Colson Whitehead a story of two boys incarceration in a reform school in Florida. Unknown to out of state authorities the systemic horrors of Jim Crow are alive and well.

The Deer Camp/Dean Kuipers a memoir of growing up in rural Michigan.

How a boy grows up to become an activist in New York only to discover that his estranged father needs him for his own life. His family’s survival depends on it.

A great exploration of healthy masculine ideals.

The Institute/Stephen King Young Luke Ellis is abducted, his parents are killed, and that is just the start of his new life as a subject of the mysterious lab he is now a part.

King keeps the suspense gripping and the facts that cometo light illuminate our current horrifying climate of espionage and black site operations.

The Testaments/ Margaret Atwood the conclusion of the dystopian tale of women’s demotion back into handmaids.

Gilead’s secrets are about to be leaked globally. A runaway becomes the symbol of a final reckoning that will reduce this cruel social to rubble.

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