Sounds from the Dark Side top albums of 2017 (until now)

the_dark_side_of_the_moon toplist 2014

Time flies when you’re having fun so let’s saw 2017 into half…


Amy Macdonald – Under Stars

The year started out with what might be Amy Macdonald’s best and most mature album so far. Under Stars shows the Scottish singer/songwriter has all grown up and is relevant far beyond This Is The Life. (RP – SftDS review).


Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Prisoner was an unexpectedly good album fueled by Adams’ divorce from singer Mandy Moore. The album has a nice pace and flows along very naturally. Don’t worry about us Ryan, we still love you (WRM).

Avatarium – Hurricanes and Halos

With Hurricanes and Halos, Avatarium moves further away still from Leif Edling’s Candlemass-infused doom roots and sounds tighter and more convinced than ever (RP). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Necks – Unfold

Balancing on the verges of jazz, avant-garde rock and classical The Necks take you down a very deep rabbit hole. Unfold is a perfect album to get lost in, and only ends when you feel that the end is there. (WRM – SftDS review).

Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars

Early this year Ex Deo returned to the fray to deliver a concept album about the exploits of Hannibal. Not the one from The A-Team or the beloved cannibal, but the Elephant Man. Or something. An unbelievably tight death metal record straight out of Ancient Rome. (RP – SftDS review).  


Scott H. Biram – The Bad Testament

The Bad Testament is a songbook made of a lifetime of bad decisions. Outlaw blues and brutally honest lyrics FTW, so you better believe it Roger Waters! (WRM – SftDS review).

Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want?

I’ve no idea if this is the life I really want, but Roger Waters’ new album has been a long time in the making and does not disappoint yet. A very strong contender to top the list at the end of this year. (RP – SftDS review).


Thundercat – Drunk

Goofy R&B fusion that comes in pints. Thats enough reason to get one right? It’s nice enough to put on as background music but is far more enjoyable when you’re able to understand Bruner’s honesty and heartache as dark humor (WRM – SftDS review).

Deep Purple – Infinite

Deep Purple is saying goodbye with a presumably last tour and album, and there are far worse ways to close off a career than with an album as strong as Infinite. A fine classic rock album and one of the better ones from latter day Purple (RP – SftDS review). 

Arca – Arca

Arca’s search for some form of identity is intriguing. At times it is bombastic but it also comes to a standstill at the right moments.  It’s punishing, yet beautiful. (WRM – SftDS review).


That’s it for now boys and girls. Be sure to check in every now and then and enjoy your summer holidays.

Wander Meulemans & Ralph Plug – 300617

Further surfing:

W’s Sounds from the Dark Side on Spotify


Sounds from the Dark Side top albums of 2016 (until now)

the_dark_side_of_the_moon toplist 2014

As you might have guessed last solstice was reason enough for us to draw up a list with our best albums of 2016 until this day. Here goes!


hinds-leave me alone_frontHinds – Leave Me Alone

Hinds delivers a stable fundament, a catchy upbeatness and a strong no-nonsense sentiment on their first studio album. A splendid achievement of a group of young friends who again prove that the future belongs to the young (WRM – SftDS review).


Iron Savior - TitancraftIron Savior – Titancraft

After an excellent, old school comeback, German metal machine Iron Savior shows that lightning can indeed strike twice. An excellent power metal album, with a host of varied and pumping tunes (RP).

Channel the Spirits - The Comet Is Coming_FRONTChannel the Spirits – The Comet Is Coming

Channel the Spirits breaks through the traditional jazz swing and brings very danceable jazz funk. The ensemble taps into the work of free jazz pioneers such John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra. Highly recommended (WRM). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blood Ceremony - Lord of MisruleBlood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule

Getting slightly less dark and more retro rocking with each new release, this American band is still a standout in the barrage of retro bands kicking about at the moment. Less heavy, but a little more mature than before (RP).

The Heliocentrics - From The Deep FrontThe Heliocentrics – From The Deep

Finally The Heliocentrics definitely found their niche by bringing together all experience they have gathered around them in recent years. From The Deep is raw and conceptually challenging but moreover. It’s a piece of work to turn inside out over and over again (WRM – SftDS review).  


Rotting-Christ-Rituals-2016-300x300Rotting Christ – Rituals

The brothers Tolis return with another collection of their own particular brand of ethnic-upped black-ish metal. Which is something you’d not read on the back of the box very soon. Ethnic-upped probably isn’t even a thing. Still, a great album (RP – SftDS review).

Jameszoo - Fool_FRONTJameszoo – Fool

Dutch musician Jameszoo combines Hip hop, jazz, dubstep, R&B and Brazilian music and also is inspired by the medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch. Jameszoo himself calls his debut album Fool a collection of “naive, computer jazz”. I fully agree, so I pitty the fool who doesn’t pick up on this album soon… (WRM – SftDS review).


fleshgod-apocalypse-kingFleshgod Apocalypse – King

King is the culmination of years of work for this Italian band, finally marrying classical music and black metal like a Rhapsody of Fire steroids. A triumph for Fleshgod Apocalypse, and an album to keep coming back to (RP).

thao & the-get-down-stay-down - a man alive_FRONTThao & The Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive

A Man Alive is an adventurous album and offers listeners a record that is simply full of plain old fun and at the same time is interesting enough to keep playing throughout 2016. Outstanding job Thao (WRM – SftDS review)!  

David Bowie - BlackstarDavid Bowie – Blackstar

Almost half a year in, Blackstar is still the most intruiging, mysterious and downright fascinating record out there. Bowie’s last album is a masterpiece of jazz fusion and its dark as night itself, both musically as well as lyrically. Unsettling and brilliant (RP – SftDS review).


Indeed, jazz fusion, free jazz and jazz funk are gaining terrain. How about that!? Perhaps it has something to do with age, who knows. Anyway, have a nice summer and see you on the other side. 

Ralph Plug & Wander Meulemans – 290616

Further surfing:

W’s Sounds from the Dark Side on Spotify

Album Year List (2015)

the_dark_side_of_the_moon toplist 2014

Happy belated non-denominational winter holiday of your choice, everyone! We’re back with another tombola filled with musical endeavours of our choosing. Round and round it goes, where it stops, no-one knows. Except we do, and here are what we thought were the best albums of 2015. Enjoy.

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Sounds from the Dark Side top albums of 2015 (until now)

the_dark_side_of_the_moon toplist 2014

Summer, summer, summertime…‘ Yep, we’re both huge fans of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Especially at this time of the year. For that exact reason these are our best releases of 2015 until today.


Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red MirrorBlind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror

An absolute triumph of intricate, song-writing makes this the band’s most ambitious record. With two choirs and two orchestras in tow, the Blind Guardian never forgets that it’s a metal band first, and delivers on all promises. A true power metal masterpiece (RP – SftDS review).

viet-cong-album-cover-300x300Viet Cong – Viet Cong

Viet Cong made this January a month to remember by throwing down the gloves with some sharp edged post-punk. And developing a record in while touring in front of live audiences is kind of experimental though? You better believe the hype. If not, that’s your bad (WRM – SftDS review).

Therapy – DisquietTherapy? – Disquiet

Ireland’s noisiest trio return to their catchier brand of songwriting on a fun and accessible albums which immediately reminds of their Troublegum heydays. Great fun all in all. (RP).

little-wings-explains_coverLittle Wings – Explains

An empty living or a stuffy bedroom still is the best place to listen to Little Wings.  Frontman Fields waywardly plays around breaking the conventions of alt-country.  A close listen to Explains therefore is mandatory for everyone who’s enjoys progressive music (WRM – SftDS review).

Virgin Steele – Nocturnes of Hellfire and DamnationVirgin Steele – Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation

David DeFeis strikes again with a daunting collection of epic songs, once again combining classical influences with the rawness of rock and metal. (RP).


Alamo Race Track – Hawks

For the fourth time now Alamo Race Track changed its sound to a new adagium but without losing their touch for high quality and well thought out indie pop song structuring. Did they found true place in the universe? I’d like to think so (WRM – SftDS review).


Paradise Lost – The Plague WithinParadise Lost – The Plague Within

Paradise Lost’s much awaited return to their death/doom metal roots pays off on a varied and intensely moody album, which might be their best since their early Icon-days (RP).

kamasi_FRONTKamasi Washington – The Epic

I didn’t get the chance to review this 172-minute, three-volume jazz set that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir, and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score. But trust me, I’ll get back to that later. For now you will have settle with my comment that the titles says it al (WRM).

Battle Beast – Unholy SaviorBattle Beast – Unholy Savior

A keytar-fuelled cheesefest if there ever was one, but Battle Beast third outing hugely profits from the amazing vocals of head-banshee Noora Louhimo and some immensely catchy songs (RP).

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just SitCourtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett or Tobias Jesso Jr? That’s a Devil’s choice. I think I’ll go for Courtney. Why? Well, it’s an ideal mix for some good old fashioned spirit lifting and at the same time is nice enough to play as background music (WRM – SftDS review).

There you go, something for everyone huh. So altough temperatures are rising high at the moment we’re still keen to push things foward for the rest of 2015.

Ralph Plug & Wander Meulemans – 010715

Further surfing:
W’s Sounds from the Dark Side on Spotify

Album Year List (2014)

the_dark_side_of_the_moon toplist 2014

Although it’s always difficult to pin down a musical year in a few words a lot of critics do it anyway. Thus, we can’t stay behind on that, can we? However, before we end 2014 in style, let us loosely say we enjoyed working in the dark to serve you the reviews of the music we like and that nothing is true and yes, … everything is permitted.

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Sounds from the Dark Side top albums of 2014 (until now)

the_dark_side_of_the_moon toplist 2014

Hey y’all, summer solstice lies behind us so it’s time to saw the year in half. These are our top albums of 2014 until now and in no apparent order. Metal, Latin, Hip Hop-Jazz, Western funeral march music… we’ve got it all!


Uriah Heep - OutsiderUriah Heep – Outsider

Britain’s most resilient hard rock underdog returns with a new album, building on 2011’s Into the Wild’s strengths to deliver a well-rounded album that fits well in Heep’s ever expanding oeuvre (RP).

angel-olsen-burn-your-fire-for-no-witness_FRONTAngel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Burn Your Fire For No Witness is richly produced and gives way to Olsen’s strong voice. Oh, its also full of bone breaking honestness too. All spotlights on Angel Olsen please! (WRM – SftDS review).

Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead_Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead

A remarkably strong album by Germany’s power metal institute, Empire of the Undead takes Gamma Ray to heavier, darker places than before, and it’s a better album because of that (RP- SftDS review).

Meridian Brothers - Salvadora Robot_COVERMeridian Brothers – Salvadora Robot

Tropical madness in its full glory is probably the best way to describe Salvadora Robot. All forms of Latin just tumble over each other creating a madcap carnival for those who have a few screws loose (WRM – SftDS review).

Epica - The Quantum EnigmaEpica – The Quantum Enigma

Although the album bursts at the seams with sonic bells and whistles, choirs and orchestration, The Quantum Enigma is arguably the strongest album the Dutch female fronted band has released since The Divine Conspiracy in 2007 (RP).



If you’re into instrumental hip hop and don’t mind a whiff of fusion, these Canadian youngsters have something special to offer: a krauty hip hop-acid-jazz crossover record that is. And indeed, it’s awesome (WRM – SftDS review).


Sonata Arctica - Pariahs ChildSonata Arctica – Pariah’s Child

Something of a return to form for the Finnish melodic metal band, after years of alienating friend and foe with faux art rock (RP –SftDS review).

Timber-Timbre-Hot-DreamsTimber Timbre – Hot Dreams

Although the title suggest otherwise, the new Timber Timbre is in fact a pretty haunting listing experience. Over the top somber guitar play, frightening violin sections and tolling funeral bells will certainly turn a sultry dream into an endless nightmare. Delightful album, if you ask us (WRM – SftDS review).

Triptykon - Melana ChasmataTriptykon – Melana Chasmata

With Triptykon’s sophomore album, Tom Gabriel Fischer cements his status as a death metal legend. Melana Chasmata oozes dark, metallic brilliance from all pores (RP).

ELYSIAN-FIELDS-For-House-Cats-And-Sea-FansElysian Fields – For House Cats And Sea Fans

Mix up some smooth late night jazz with a touch of gloominess and you’ll have your perfect dayender right here. Also we’ve only recently discovered cats truly love Jennifer Charles’ sensual voice. Can’t ague with that (WRM – SftDS review).

So, eyes front, and on to the horizon, because 2014 still has a lot in store, and things might even get more diverse as we head into the year’s second half.

Ralph Plug & Wander Meulemans – 300614

Further surfing:
W’s Sounds from the Dark Side on Spotify


Album Year List (2013)

The year is almost over, so it’s time to draw up the musical balance. We probably missed out on one or two nice albums in the proceedings of this year, so there is all the more reason to keep watch in 2014. Before doing that, let us close 2013 with two proper year lists.

Wander’s Eclectic Top Ten List of 2013:

As far as I’m concerned this year brought us a more than a few solid releases. Especially artists that have been with us for quite some time now were still able to amaze. Some of those truly returned to form, although mostly upheld their high standards. Those of you who dared to look a bit further also found that there was room for some refreshing innovation that was mainly inspired by non-Western traditions. This potential could be endless for its based on something very simple, playfulness. To be honest I’m pretty pleased 2013 showed me the oldies still got it and some emerging bands truly surpassed my expectations.

10. Matt Elliott – Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart (SftDS review)
9. Goldfrapp – Tales Of Us (SftDS review)
8. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away (SftDS review)
6. Lola Montez – Kolaveri Di (SftDS review)
5. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze
4. Meridian Brothers – Devoción (Works 2005 – 2011) (SftDS review)

bill-callahan-dream-river-album3. Bill Callahan – Dream River (SftDS review)
There’s no denying it, Bill Callahan just keeps on making the one beautiful song after the other. So I suggest you’ll wait until the day is about to end, pour yourself a nightcap and surrender yourself to Callahan’s short poems. 

Deerhunter-Monomania 300x3002. Deerhunter – Monomania
I don’t have any excuse for not reviewing Deerhunter this year. So here is my opinion in a nutshell: Monomania is absolutely f$#k@*g splendid! If you ask me this is by far, the best indie-rock album of 2013. Got that?

The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees of Reality_cover1. The Heliocentrics – 13 Degrees of Reality (SftDS review)
13 Degrees of Reality is built upon a diversity of sounds coming from all corners of the world.  The Heliocentrics successfully blend this diversity into something new and progressive. Don’t be afraid to pick up this one at your local record store if in need of some forshadowing tension.

Concerts of 2013:
– Ibrahim Maalouf – North Sea Jazz Festival. Ahoy Rotterdam 13-7-2013 (SftDS review)
– Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – HMH. Amsterdam 4-11-2013 (SftDS review)
– Matt Elliott – Le Guess Who? Leeuwenbergh Utrecht 1-12-2013

Anticipated for 2014:
– Beck – Morning Phase – Expected 14-2-2014
– Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams  –  Expected 1-4-2014
– Modest Mouse – TBD

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Ralph’s Unholy List of Infernal Racket of 2013:

There have been worse musical years, especially when you are into more the old-fashioned sounding heavy metal of yesteryear. The retro virus is apparently still spreading and the swampy, seventies vibe still roams through the metallic land. There have been a number of surprises for me this year and at least one more than convincing comeback, and drawing up a list of ten best (or favourite) albums felt like a herculean effort. So without further ado, here’s my top ten list of 2013:

10. Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise
9. Rotting Christ – Κατά Τον Δαίμονα Εαυτού (SftDS review)
8. Chthonic – Bú-Tik (SftDS review)
7. Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn (SftDS review)
6. Avatarium – Avatarium
5. Kvelertak – Meir (SftDS review)
4. Ghost – Infestissumam (SftDS review)

David Bowie - The Next Day3. Bowie, David – The Next Day (SftDS review)
Bowie’s first album in ten years totally came out of left field, but managed to both convince and surprise. A perfect marriage between the man’s older and newer material, The Next Day is up there with his best efforts.

Twilight of the Gods - Fire on the Mountain2. Twilight of the Gods – Fire on the Mountain (SftDS review)
No one expected this Bathory cover band to come out with their own material, but Fire on the Mountain is a real scorcher, and not to be missed by fans of traditional and epic heavy metal.

Atlantean Kodex - The White Goddess

1. Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess (SftDS review)
Really putting the ‘e’ in ‘epic’, the German Atlantean Kodex pulls no punches on their terrific sophomore album. The White Goddess is one of those rare albums that is way ahead of the competition, and is destined to become an all-time classic metal album in the years to come.

Concerts of 2013:
– Rush – Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, 2-6-2013
– Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Goffertpark Nijmegen, 22-6-2013 (SftDS review)
– Roger Waters – Gelredome Arnhem, 18-7-2013 (SftDS review)

Anticipated for 2014:
– Iced Earth – Plagues of Babylon – Expected 1-6-2014
– Alcest – Shelter – Expected 17-1-2014
– Iron Savior – Rise of the Hero – Expected 28-2-2014

That’s it for now so see you next year. Have a nice one, and oh,… ‘keep on trucking’.