If there's one thing I'm fanatical about (that isn't STAR WARS, comic books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or YA lit) it's Conception. Not the act--the epically, fantastically, revoltingly great Norwegian prog-power metal band who released four albums and then broke up so that their lead singer, Roy Khan, could go front Kamelot, and their rhythm section could become Ark. In retrospect (heh), really not a fair trade, as much as I adore Kamelot.
Now I have all four of these albums and listen to them on repeat in the car. During a recent commute to work, as I was air-guitaring the amazing solo from "Cardinal Sin," I realized that some fan was going to have to put together a greatest hits album, because Cthulhu knows the record companies aren't going to do it. My manfriend would not approve of this venture--he doesn't approve of greatest hits albums, period--but a band like this you need to ease folks into. So here's my set list for a greatest hits compilation (ten tracks, since each of their albums has ten tracks and The Last Sunset, while better than anything else that other bands have ever released, is not as good as the following three), though really you should just listen to all four of the albums, at least once every day. Look, I will mail you burned copies. Brown paper wrapper, of course.
10. "Soliloquy: Sweet Lavender; Non-Electric Redemption; In These Rooms" (Parallel Minds): A three-part virtuoso of a song, this truly epic 9-minute masterpiece completes the Parallel Minds disc, making it one of the few cases in which my favorite track is the last track.
9. "Retrospect" (In Your Multitude): This album is one of the more "metal" albums in Conception's catalogue, and this track is no exception, with its galloping guitars and almost industrial drum; the lyrics are pure vintage Khan-as-questioner.
8. "The Last Sunset" (The Last Sunset): A very different sort of song from the rest of its album, The Last Sunset's title track is soft, introspective, almost romantic.
7. "Cardinal Sin" (Flow): Containing one of the most perfect guitar solos ever recorded and some textbook atheism, "Cardinal Sin" is maybe the best of Flow and certainly a pinnacle in Conception's career.
6. Roll the Fire" (Parallel Minds): The first Conception song I ever heard, and thus the first I ever loved, an amazing track that manages to flow and challenge at the same time. Note: if you only watch one of these videos, MAKE IT THIS ONE. It's the only music video the band released (to my knowledge) and it features a very young Khan in his East German pirate fashion phase.
5. "A Million Gods" (In Your Multitude): Forget guitar solo--this song has a multi-instrument duel in the middle section which sounds exactly like those million gods fighting for dominance.
4. "Gethsemane" (Flow): Yet another foray into the issues of religion, this track is a rippling space metal-esque monologue in Christ's voice.
3. "Bowed Down With Sorrow" (The Last Sunset): This early track is a good indication of what Conception would become, and at the same time completely different from anything that would follow: agonizingly slow and almost doomy, electrifying guitar, orgasmic vocals.
2. "Cry" (Flow): The most straight-up romantic track on any of the four albums, "Cry" is a make-out song for metalheads.
1. "Some Wounds" (In Your Multitude): Lyrically surreal and oblique, the vocals are what make this song shine; the backing sound weaves in beautifully with Khan's lead.