Pete Pardo gives his take on all things relating to Sea of Tranquility, as well as news and events in the world of progressive music.
Read on for the full article.
It's been a few months since my last update, and I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and if you live in an area that is experiencing some cold winter months, stay warm!
We have had a lot going on at Sea of Tranquility, most notably adding a few new writers to the fold. Hopefully you have had the chance to read some of the reviews and interviews from Steve Ambrosius, Brad Pingel, Ken Pierce, and Josh Petraglia, and you can look forward to the work of Steven Davies-Morris and Elaine Garvican in the upcoming weeks. I feel very strongly that SoT has built an impressive and talented cast of journalist's that will help make your daily, weekly, or monthly visit to the site worthwhile.
Our annual Best CD of the Year poll proved to be a lot of fun this past month, as over 1300 votes were cast for an extremely varied list of excellent albums that were released in 2004. Just to explain how our poll works, each SoT writer submits their list of Top CD's of the year (which we post separately for our readers to view) and we then do an analysis of all the writer's choices and how they ranked on each list. We then calculate which CD's showed up the most often on our staff picks, and how high they rated, which is how we come up with our overall Top 20 of the year which the readers then vote on. While some readers feel each year that perhaps their favorites didn't make the list, what we do is more of a "these are SoT's top picks of the year, tell us what your favorite is out of all of them" sort of thing. What other site has albums by such a varied cast like IQ, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ahvak, Proto-Kaw, Far Corner,Threshold, Chris Caffery, and Iced Earth, among many others, all on the same poll? You would be hard pressed to find one anywhere, which is why we feel that SoT is a little different than most webzines. It was a strong battle most of the month between IQ's Dark Matter, Ayreon's The Human Equation, Marbles from Marillion, and Threshold's Subsurface, but in the end Chris Caffery's Faces/God Damn War CD was the overwhelming favorite, thanks in part to Caffery's legion of fans who voted in droves over the last week of the poll. Chris had this to say about his win:
"To the staff, writers and visitors of Sea Of Tranquility,
2004 has been an amazing year for me, actually the past 18 months, from the
time I signed my recording contract with Black Lotus, through the recording
process, the ensuing press tour, the release of the CD and the latest TSO tour, which was highlighted by a childhood dream of playing Madison Square Garden! I was anxious and nervous when Faces/God Damn War was released. Less than six
months later I was notified that I had been chosen for album of the year for
2004 on this site. Faces was my first ever solo release, and this is my first
ever award for a solo CD. It will remain special for a very long time. I want to
thank Pete Pardo and Ken Pierce for their continuous support and friendship. I
want to thank the entire staff for the nomination. I last but not least want
to thank the fans that came forth and voted. Next step...I will see you on the
Early 2005 has already seen some very promising music get released. Prog fans are lapping up the latest from neo-prog veterans Arena called Pepper's Ghost, a truly enjoyable CD that goes back to the sound they perfected with their first few releases. Check out our Roundtable Review in the CD Reviews section for the complete rundown.. Spock's Beard is also back with another strong album, Octane, and although the presence of Neal Morse is all but gone from the Beard's music, they have shown that they can make it on their own with some hard rocking, progressive, and melodic songs. Prog-Metal is also off to a great start with the amazing CD from Mercenary called 11 Dreams, an adventurous mixture of symphonic and technical prog with melodic death metal. Bands like Soilwork and Dark Tranquility are also set to release their brand new platters, both of which are sure to please the metal crowd searching for aggressive yet melodic and intelligent music. Labels like InsideOut America (looks for a new release from newly signed Shadow Gallery!), ProgRock Records (with an upcoming live CD from Under the Sun), Musea, Cyclops, Cuneiform, Century Media, Nuclear Blast, Metal Blade, and many others are gearing up for an exciting year of new music, and although 2004 will be a hard year to top, I'm sure we will see many stellar releases this year from many news and veteran bands.
One of the things we'd like to do in 2005 here at SoT is provide more feature interviews, not just with bands and musicians, but also with key people in the industry. Two of the projects in the works are a featured piece on the various artists who create the wonderful album covers we have come to love, as well as in-depth interviews with the people who put together our favorite prog and metal festivals. In addition to these exciting and different projects, we also have a surplus of interviews with all of your favorite artists as well as many up and coming groups that I am sure you will enjoy reading. One of the challenges that we face is providing these interviews in a format that is easy to read, informative, and yet devoid of clichés. The latter is the hardest part actually, so we are going to try and present these in styles that make for a different reading experience from what you would normally expect.
Another important announcement that I have to make is that we intend to beef up our Reviews section with coverage of older releases as well as to keep you up to date with the latest CD's from all the current crop of artists. That means that in addition to 2005 releases, our staff will also be reviewing many classic albums from all of your favorites like King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, and countless others from the 70's to the 90's. If it's in the genres of prog, metal, and fusion, it's fair game to Sea of Tranquility. The goal for 2005 is to have 3,500+ reviews in our database, and right now we are well on our way to that goal. We would like to cater not only to the readers who count on us for the latest CD reviews, but also to the crowd that likes to regularly scan website databases for reviews of older albums that they are considering adding to their collections. I am fully confident that SoT can provide both of these two very different functions, and in doing so we will greatly increase our readership.
We have gotten a lot of positive feedback on our concert reviews, so we intend to send as many of our writers to as many shows as possible in 2005. While of course we love attending the shows, but it is also quite rewarding to give the bands coverage, which not only helps promote their shows, but also prompts many readers to check out their CD releases as well. Look for more exciting coverage of many regional live events in the weeks to come, as well as major pieces on the various festivals like NEARfest, ROSFEST, ProgPower, and a few others later in the year.
Lastly, I'd like to give our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was tragically and senselessly murdered by a crazed fan back in December. This was a great loss for the metal community, as Dimebag's guitar prowess was legendary, and will long be remembered. Sadly, the guitarist left a body of work that, while exemplary, left room for so much more. Sure, the handful of Pantera albums and the one with Damageplan are great, but the guy was so young and should have had years of more killer guitar riffs to share with us. Unfortunately, that was just not meant to be. Please people, take music for what it is, enjoy it, and allow the artists to thrive and create more for us. What happened to Dimebag was truly tragic. He will be missed.
Well, that about wraps it up for this installment of The Publisher's Corner. When next we meet, I'm sure I'll have plenty of news and info to discuss with all of you. In addition, I'm sure I'll have some baseball rants for you as well, as we might have a handle on whether Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran are helping my New York Mets any.
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