Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Day, Another List

It's apparently list week over at the Metallattorney ranch. This one comes from Noise Creep who gives us a list of the best new thrash metal bands. Now, me being a bit of an aficionado for thrash metal, I could not resist taking a look at this list. It's actually one that I will have some positive things to say about (for once). I'm not really sure if this is in any kind of order or not, so we'll just cover each band. So, here we go:

Municipal Waste:
Surprisingly, I'm not very familiar with this band. I have heard a couple of songs which sounded sort of crossover-ish. Since I am not a huge fan of crossover, I decided to pass. From what I know of the band, they're not real serious about their subject matter, most of it is meant to be humorous.

This is a Brazillian thrash metal band attempting to pick up where Sepultura dropped the ball a long time ago. Admirable effort. I haven't heard much from these guys yet but will be keeping an eye out.

I am a big fan of Warbringer. The young Californian band is attempting to revive the Bay Area scene from Southern Cal. Their name adequately sums up their sound: chaotic.

Merciless Death:
This is perhaps one of my favorites of the newer thrash scene. The band sings a lot about zombies and other horror movie topics. The music is fast, aggressive, and heavy. The band takes a lot of influence from the mighty Dark Angel.

Mantic Ritual:
This band sounds like a cross between early Metallica and early Testament. The sound is a bit cliched but the band is talented enough and comes up with some pretty good songs. The album is okay, just nothing special.

Ramming Speed:
I have honestly never heard of this band.

Blood Tsunami:
I am still looking for their album which is not easy to come by in the States. This band is made up of members of Norwegian black and death metal bands paying tribute to the German thrash scene of the 80's, one of my personal favorite scenes.

Toxic Holocaust:
I have covered TH a little bit in the past. Joel Grind's influences range from Venom, Sodom, Bathory, and Celtic Frost. That's quite a bit of classic thrash/black metal. The songs are short, but powerful. The album is a ton of fun. Another of my favorites.

Quite possibly my favorite of these groups. Skeletonwitch is similar to TH in it's influences producing a dirty-sounding blackened thrash sound with great guitar riffs. I am definitely looking forward to their new album.

Another band I have never heard of, but if their Kreator influence is correct, I might have to check them out.

Notable acts listed: Ex Mortus, Cross Examination, SSS, Caustic Strike, Hellish Crossfire, Lethal, Eliminator, Lazarus A.D.

Okay, now some bands that did not make it in the article at all, but should have:
Evile: Recorded the best Slayer album in the last 15 years.
Bonded by Blood
Gama Bomb
Trench Hell: Sounds like Celtic Frost on steroids.
Rumpelstiltskin Grinder
Lich King

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hit Parader Utterly Botches Another List

I seriously wonder sometimes how people or companies define "metal". Seriously. Some of this shit is amazing. Words cannot describe the feeling I get from looking at a list like this one. That's not entirely true, actually. The words "what the flying fuck were these idiots thinking?" basically sums it up.

For this, I'm introducing a new acronym. "NFM" will hereinafter on this blog stand for "NOT FUCKING METAL" because I'm tired of typing that all the time. I have also created a tag from this day forward, so anytime that appears in a post, it will be tagged as such.

There is a lot to say about this list, but I'll start with the obvious: Hit Parader has no fucking clue what is going on. I'm not going to argue too much about the placement of the actual metal singers (with one exception), because there is so much fail here that it would be difficult to nitpick that issue to death as well.

Top 100 Metal Vocalists
01. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin): NFM. I guess I have never understood the appeal of Robert Plant or Led Zeppelin. I guess I never really will.
02. Rob Halford (Judas Priest, Fight, Halford)
03. Steven Tyler (Aerosmith): NFM. Aerosmith, Metal? Really?
04. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
05. Bon Scott (AC/DC): NFM. Nothing more than a hard rock band.
06. Freddie Mercury (Queen): NFM.
07. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
08. Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne): This is the one nitpick I'm going to do with regard to placement. Seriously, Ozzy should be #1. His recent stuff is awful, but he was the original metal singer and still had some great albums during his solo career. Sure he's not as technically gifted, but he is the most recognizable, by far.
09. Paul Rodgers (Bad Company): NFM.
10. Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell)
11. Axl Rose (Guns 'n Roses): NFM.
12. Sammy Hagar (Van Halen): NFM. Lots and lots of hard rock bands here, very few metal bands so far.
13. Geddy Lee (Rush): I still don't like Rush.
14. Geoff Tate (Queensryche)
15. Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones): NFM. Yep, lots of hard rock bands.
16. Jonathan Davis (Korn): NFM. What the hell?
17. Roger Daltrey (The Who): NFM. More ancient hard rock bands.
18. Paul Stanley (Kiss): NFM. See above.
19. David Lee Roth (Van Halen): NFM. And again. Why is Roth lower than Hagar?
20. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana): NFM. I always thought Nirvana was overrated. I know it's blasphemy, but I don't care.
21. Maynard James Keenan (Tool): NFM.
22. Klaus Meine (Scorpions)
23. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam): NFM. Apparently metal is anything with a guitar.
24. James Hetfield (Metallica)
25. Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails): NFM. Apparently the guitar is not even necessary.
26. Serj Tankian (System of a Down): NFM.
27. Layne Staley (Alice in Chains)
28. Steve Perry (Journey): NFM. Are you kidding? The singer from Journey? Seriously, this has got to be a fucking joke. The singer from Journey? My head hurts. I can't move my right arm. Journey? Metal?
29. Gene Simmons (Kiss): NFM.
30. Joe Elliott (Def Leppard)
31. Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi): NFM. Really? In what alternate dimension is Bon Jovi metal?
32. Alice Cooper (Alice Cooper): NFM. Although, I do like Alice Cooper, much more than his imitators like Marilyn Manson.
33. Vince Neil (Motley Crue)
34. Steve Marriott (Humble Pie): NFM. One of those hard rock bands that slipped through the cracks apparently.
35. Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust): NFM.
36. Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)
37. Philip Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual)
38. Zack De La Rocha (Rage Against the Machine): NFM. Way to pick the LEAST metal member of this band.
39. Brian Johnson (AC/DC): NFM.
40. Bret Michaels (Poison): NFM. Wears a cowboy hat and bandanna to cover grotesque bald spot. Can't find love with army of skanks. Knocked out by curtain at the fucking Tony Awards. Jackass.
41. Udo Dirkschneider (Accept, UDO)
42. David Draiman (Disturbed): NFM.
43. Ian Gillian (Deep Purple)
44. Marilyn Manson (Marilyn Manson): NFM. Alice Cooper copycat.
45. Jeff Keith (Tesla): NFM. Oh man, I can't stop laughing.
46. Chester Bennington (Linkin Park): NFM. And my lungs just caved in.
47. Sully Erna (Godsmack): NFM.
48. Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead)
49. Aaron Lewis (Staind): NFM.
50. Brett Scallions (Fuel): NFM. I had to look this guy up, I had never heard of him before. Fuel, really? What the hell?
51. Chino Moreno (Deftones): NFM.
52. Rob Zombie (White Zombie, Rob Zombie)
53. Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers): NFM. Did I miss something? When were they ever considered metal?
54. David Coverdale (Deep Purple, Whitesnake): I'll give him a pass for Deep Purple, although that Whitesnake thing is pretty horrifying.
55. Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen): NFM. Okay, we have all three of Van Halen's singers here now, which still doesn't change the fact that they are not a metal band.
56. Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone): NFM. Better known as that guy that Temple of the Dog was formed to pay tribute to. That's right, his musical legacy is that a terrible band that he was not in was formed out of one slightly better band and one much better band, just to pay tribute to.
57. Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver): NFM. Drug-addled mess that may or may not be currently dead. Has anyone heard from him lately? Someone better go check on him.
58. Tom Araya (Slayer)
59. Phil Lynnot (Thin Lizzy)
60. Rod Stewart: NFM. What the fucking hell? Rod Stewart? Are you kidding me, I thought Journey was bad. What is Rod Stewart doing here? Sure he was in the Jeff Beck Group and Faces, but neither of those are his legacy and neither of those excuse the schmaltzy shit he has been peddling ever since.
61. Scooter Ward (Cold): NFM. I wonder when this list was created. There's an awful lot of nu metal bads here that dropped off the face of the earth after a couple of albums.
62. Ray Davies (The Kinks): NFM. No, just no.
63. Sonny Sandoval (P.O.D.): NFM. See Scooter Ward.
64. David Bowie (David Bowie): NFM. Lord.
65. Joan Jett (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts): NFM.
66. Josey Scott (Saliva): NFM. Top 100 my ass.
67. Perry Farrell (Jane's Addiction, Porno for Pyros): NFM. Awful bands, awful singer, awful list.
68. Scott Stapp (Creed): NFM. Now you're just trying to anger me Hit Parader.
69. Amy Lee (Evanescence): NFM. One hit wonder.
70. Don Dokken (Dokken)
71. Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit): NFM. Top 100 Moronic Douchebags I could see, Top 100 Metal Singers? No.
72. Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park): NFM. The least metal member of that shitfest.
73. Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity, Down)
74. Dez Fafara (Coal Chamber, DevilDriver): I'm not totally sure I can give credit here, because this list was probably done while Dez was still in Coal Chamber, another nu metal band that is NFM.
75. Gavin Rossdale (Bush): NFM. Banging Gwen Stefani is the most metal thing he ever did, everything else is utter shit.
76. Blackie Lawless (WASP)
77. Dave Wyndorf (Monster Magnet): NFM. I like Monster Magnet though.
78. Ann Wilson (Heart): NFM.
79. Jimi Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix): NFM. I have a lot of respect for Hendrix, but he's not metal.
80. Ville Valo (HIM): NFM. Maybe this list is newer than I think.
81. Peter Steele (Carnivore, Type O Negative)
82. Dave Williams (Drowning Pool): NFM. Not to disrespect the dead or anything, but Williams was only with the band for one album, and it's a terrible album. How the hell did he make it on this list?
83. Dee Snider (Twisted Sister)
84. Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngie Malmsteen, Deep Purple)
85. King Diamond (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond)
86. Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour): NFM.
87. Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed): NFM. Although Jasta did do Kingdom of Sorrow with members of Crowbar, which sounds like Hatebreed singing to Crowbar. It really is that bad.
88. Justin Hawkins (The Darkness): NFM. Hit Parader officially is a joke.
89. Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
90. Ian Astbury (The Cult): NFM.
91. Stephen Pearcy (Ratt): NFM.
92. Phil Mogg (UFO): NFM.
93. Biff Byford (Saxon)
94. Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil)
95. Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth)
96. Wes Scantlin (Puddle of Mudd): NFM. I had to look this guy up too. Seriously, what the fuck is Hit Parader smoking. I'm surprised the singer from Nickelback didn't make the list.
97. Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rising Force, Beyond Fear): Ripper is a good vocalist, but has never really caught on with any band for a long time. It's a little tough to argue for his inclusion here.
98. Joshua Todd (Buckcherry): NFM. I really fucking hate Buckcherry. They are even more irritating in concert if possible.
99. Kevin Dubrow (Quiet Riot)
100. Ray Gillen (Black Sabbath): I had to look him up too, apparently he was one of the one-off singers in Black Sabbath, and very little else. What is he doing here? Wikipedia says he is best known for his work with Black Sabbath, Badlands, and Phenomena. Neither of the last two bands did much of anything, and he didn't do much of anything with Black Sabbath. What a way to end this thing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Terrible List to Bitch About

I'm not totally sure what makes AOL think it has any idea about death metal. But here we go, the Top 10 Death Metal Bands from AOL Radio. Now this list isn't horribly egregious. All of the bands listed are arguably some form of death metal or other, but the way they're ranked doesn't make much sense. To add problems though, the list features the band's best album, and this is where things go wrong.

10. Suffocation, Best Album: Pierced From Within
I love Suffocation, there is no doubt in my mind that they belong on this type of list. However, they should be significantly higher, probably in the Top 5. I haven't heard this particular album, but most Suffocation albums are similar so I suppose I can't fault their choice here.

9. Six Feet Under, Best Album: Death Rituals
What the fuck? Any list that has Six Feet Under above Suffocation cannot be serious. Six Feet Under is Chris Barnes's band after leaving Cannibal Corpse. They produce fairly boring, standard groove-laden death metal. They're not a bad band, per se, but they are certainly not a great one. Their album choice is dubious as well since all of their albums since Haunted sound exactly the same. Haunted would have been the best choice as the band still sounded a little like Cannibal Corpse.

8. Nile, Best Album: Ithyphallic
I like Nile, not nearly as much as I like their frequent tourmates Behemoth, but Nile is fine. I don't know about Top 10-worthy, but they're a decent band. Their obsession with Egyptian mythology and using traditional instruments in their brutal style of death metal is fairly interesting. However, Ithyphallic was boring. This list apparently chose the most popular or well-known albums as the band's best. This should have gone to Annihilation of the Wicked or In Their Darkened Shrines.

7. Kataklysm, Best Album: Shadows and Dust
Oh c'mon. This band has no business in a Top 10 death metal list, they're just another run of the mill standard death metal band. Seriously, was any thought put in this list? They're an okay band, but like Six Feet Under, they're nothing special at all. The album is fine, I suppose. I enjoy it on occasion and haven't heard a better one from the band, but still.

6. Bloodbath, Best Album: Nightmares Made Flesh
I have a hard time accepting this band here. Sure, they're a good band, but they were created as an homage to early 90's Swedish death and other old school death metal. As such, they are not the most creative band in the world. An enjoyable, fun listen, yes, but groundbreaking, fuck no. As for the album, I prefer their other full lengths with Mikael Akerfeldt on vocals.

5. Amon Amarth, Best Album: Twilight of the Thunder God
Kind of a questionable choice as Amon Amarth fits in better with melodic death metal than just death metal, but okay. I am a big Amon Amarth fan, that said, the album was definitely botched here. This is another case like Nile where they just chose the most well-known album instead of the best. Amon Amarth has been exposed to the mainstream on this album, but this is arguably the band's worst album. Any of their prior releases would have been better here. For sake of argument, I will choose The Crusher.

4. Morbid Angel, Best Album: Gateways to Annihilation
Great band, too low on the list. For me, Morbid Angel is #2. Bad album choice though, holy shit. I don't know how the fuck AOL completely messed this up. Altars of Madness, Blessed are the Sick, and Covenant are all classics of the genre. Gateways is not even close. For fuck's sake, the album doesn't even have David Vincent on it, the voice of Morbid Angel.

3. Vader, Best Album: The Art of War
I like Vader a lot, but they don't belong here. The band has always been closer to death/thrash than death metal. Vader has had a very long, solid career and never put out a truly bad album, but the site's choice here is laughable. The Art of War is a 15 minute long EP with only five actual songs on it. Granted, "What Color is Your Blood" is the best song Vader ever did, but they have eight full length albums, it couldn't be that hard to pick one of those. De Profundis or Impressions in Blood are the better answers.

2. Cannibal Corpse, Best Album: Bloodthirst
Again, I like this band, and they should be on this list, but not this high. They should be in the Top 5 though. Cannibal Corpse helped bring exposure to the genre and should be rated highly. But then, what the fuck is with the album choices? My god. This is nowhere near the best CC album. Eaten Back to Life, Butchered at Birth, Tomb of the Mutilated, The Bleeding, Vile, and Kill are all better choices. This is one of the worst actually. What the hell.

1. Death, Best Album: Symbolic
I agree with this band, its placement, and the album. Although Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy also deserve mention.

So that was a bit of an ordeal. Let's see some bands that probably could have made it over some of these choices: Dismember, Grave, Deicide, Obituary, Immolation, Vomitory, Krisiun, Hypocrisy, Cryptopsy, Entombed, Carcass, and Behemoth.

My list would be:
10. Carcass
9. Obituary
8. Deicide
7. Amon Amarth
6. Cryptopsy (solely for their stuff with Lord Worm on vocals)
5. Cannibal Corpse
4. Suffocation
3. Immolation
2. Morbid Angel
1. Death

Friday, July 24, 2009

Slam Update: Devourment Initial Impressions


This is a compilation of sorts for Devourment, featuring one of their demos, and their entire first full length, Molesting the Decapitated, and another track. It is pretty much the absolute, stereotypical, slam death metal album. It is the standard-bearer for the genre, especially with the inclusion of the most fundamental slam metal song "Babykiller". The breakdowns (or slams, whatever the fuck you want to call them) are heavy and pound away at the ears. The drums feature frequent blast beats. There may not actually be a bass guitar. The vocals are delivered in typical guttural style, sometimes even deeper, to the point where no normal person could possibly figure out what the fuck is being said. Wayne Knupp (R.I.P.) is one of the better slam death vocalists in the genre. I won’t get into the actual lyrics, suffice to say, they are not for the weak of heart or stomach. The song lengths are a little long for this type of music, but overall, this is a very solid release for the genre, which means it’s not all that great overall. Still a fun listen though.

Unleash the Carnivore:

Devourment seems to be softening in their old age. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely not a Nickelback album, but their sound is not as extreme as it once was on this album from 2009. Of course by softening their sound, Devourment has emerged as a very competent brutal death metal band, more in line with groups like Suffocation and Pyrexia. There are some slams still present, but for the most part, they are simply more complex musicians. The sound is fuller and all of the instrumentation can be heard. The production is also significantly better. The vocals this time around are handled by Mike Majewski, whose guttural vocals are not as extreme as prior vocalist’s Knupp’s but are extreme in their own right. The band has lost a little bit of their slam charm, but has emerged as an example of brutal death metal with breakdowns done right.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 27: Corrosion of Conformity: Blind

I thoroughly enjoy Corrosion of Conformity. I'm not totally sure when I first heard them or what the circumstances were, but I can probably make a fairly accurate guess. Back in middle school (the formative years of my metalhead status) there was a decent radio station called The Blaze. Technically, it still exists, but not in the same format. Back then, you could hear metal played at any time. Now, it focuses on modern rock, with a very occasional metal song. C.O.C. had released their masterpiece Deliverance and The Blaze played a couple of songs from it frequently.

This was the album that came out prior to Deliverance and is a completely different album. C.O.C. is a band that has gone through several stylistic changes. The band was originally a hardcore band, then slowly began incorporating thrash metal influences. Soon, much of the hardcore was gone. After that, the band drifted towards Southern metal/sludge metal. This has been the most consistent and well-known style for the band and mostly began taking place when Pepper Keenan joined the band and took up the major songwriting role.

This album marked the beginning of the Pepper Keenan era, but he was not yet the principal songwriter. Keenan also had not yet taken over vocal duties. Karl Agell, formerly of School of Violence, was the vocalist on this, his only full length recorded with C.O.C. Keenan does sing on one track, the explosive "Vote With a Bullet." Agell's voice is better suited to thrash metal, he has a clean vocal style but one that sounds like he is perpetually sneering.

Musically, this is the band's thrash metal album, the only album by the band that has ditched its hardcore roots. The songs are typically fast, melodic, and heavy. Of course there's some filler at the end of the album, but everything else is straightforward true heavy metal at its best.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 26: Suffocation: Effigy of the Forgotten

I've been listening to a lot of tapes this week because I have been driving my dad's truck, which only has a tape player in the truck. So today's edition is Suffocation.

Suffocation holds a special place in metal history. They are highly revered in the metal scene despite helping to launch two metal subgenres that are widely reviled: deathcore and slam death. I enjoy slam death a little bit but haven't cared much for most deathcore that I have heard, other than Through the Eyes of the Dead.

This is the band's debut full length album and they already exhibit all of the characteristics that have made the band so well-regarded. The band utilizes heavy breakdowns, razor sharp riffs, heavy low end, deep guttural vocals, and blast beats. Suffocation was quite possibly the first brutal death metal band, and they basically invented blast beats. The band had already reached its potential. Suffocation has never put out a bad album.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 25: Carcass: Necroticism-Descanting the Insalubrious

I actually bought this one by mistake a little more than a year ago. I was trying to pick up the album on CD but unwittingly bought the cassette off of ebay. Oh well. Just another addition to the cassette collection.

Carcass has had kind of an odd career. The band started out as one of the early grindcore bands out of England along with Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower. Like their countrymen, Carcass began incorporating more and more death metal influences. Necroticism is probably their closest album to straight death metal. There are some grindcore influences and parts, but for the most part, the band had become a death metal band. However, after this album, the band released Heartwork, which is considered one of the earliest melodic death metal albums. And after that, they went in a death 'n roll direction on Swansong.

On this album, Carcass presented their most basic death metal sond. The band also had its most classic song on this album "Corporal Jigsore Quandary". The songs are mostly fast paced, with complex grinding riffs and a very heavy low end. The guitar solos come out of nowhere and are blazing fast and melodic. The vocals are delivered in a lower register rasping growl.

As for the lyrics, Carcass has made a career out of taking words straight from medical textbooks. This album, in addition to "Corporal Jigsore Quandary" also features "Lavaging Expetorate of Lysergide Composition" and "Forensic Clinicism".

After all is said and done this is one of the best death metal albums out of England. It is dynamic and powerful. A great album by the legendary band.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 24: Queensryche: Promised Land

Queensryche was one of the earlier bands I got into that was not a thrash metal band. They are far more of a progressive/ traditional metal band. This particular album though, does not have a whole lot of metal in it. This is an album I tend to listen to when I am in a more mellow mood. It is typically slower, with a few ballads, and even the harder songs, are really not that hard. The lyrical content though is fairly deep and dark. Ranging in topics from depression to mid life crisis, to mending a relationship with a parent, to child abuse, Queensryche touches on several darker topics. It's not the easiest listen in the world, but it is touching and emotional.

Musically, the band, as mentioned before, is a little lighter this time around. There are several piano melodies and even a saxophone part in "Promised Land". There are a couple of harder songs, but they are nowhere near the anthemic styles of the band's earlier heavier hits. Still though, the songs are often catchy and keep me coming back to the album even though I have probably heard it a thousand times.

Geoff Tate is one of the best vocalists in metal and he is still quite good on this album. He strains a little bit in places, but for the most part can still hit those spine-tingling highs he has become known for.

This was the band's last good album. They are still together but have not put out anything worthwhile since this one in the early to mid 1990's.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Story Behind the Song Pt.1: Lion's Share: Barker Ranch

Lost and gone or buried as the family died
After decades of grief without executions
The moment is here
One more song of hatred, it is all I can give
While I dig in the dirt with high expectations
To bring back the peace

And I'm going back to Barker Ranch
'Cause it has to be the end
Going back to Barker Ranch
I will take you home

Forty years of sadness
And the wounds never healed
In the nights I can't sleep
It'll haunt me forever
Nightmares on repeat

And I'm going back to Barker Ranch
'Cause it has to be the end
Going back to Barker Ranch
I am justice
So I'm going back to Barker Ranch
I will take you home

I'm going back to Barker Ranch
'Cause it has to be the end
Going back to Barker Ranch
I am justice
So I'm going back to Barker Ranch
'Cause it has to be the end
Going back to Barker Ranch
I will take you back home
Take you back home

These are the lyrics to "Barker Ranch" by Lion's Share which was mentioned earlier in my Best of 2009 So Far post as possibly my favorite song of the year. So far it doesn't have a lot of competition. I knew from the first time I really heard it that it had to be telling a story, I just didn't know what, so I looked it up. Ah, wikipedia.

Barker Ranch was the last hideout of Charles Manson and the Manson Family after the Los Angeles murder spree in 1969 is located in Death Valley National Park. At the time the Manson Family was captured, they were arrested on charges of vandalism. Soon though it became apparent that the prisoners were much worse than ordinary vandals.

In 2008, 40 years later, investigators returned to Barker Ranch to perform testing to determine if there were any other murder victims hidden there. This investigation was spurred by frequent rumors of additional victims. The investigators found several sites consistent with clandestine grave sites but no evidence or human remains were found.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Great Band, Terrible Album Pt. 5: Celtic Frost: Into the Pandemonium

I haven't been posting much lately, work has pretty much sucked all of my brainpower. However, I heard this album again this afternoon, and I must speak out.

Celtic Frost is hugely influential in extreme metal. The Swiss metal masters came around in the early 1980's and helped to influence the thrash, death, and black metal scenes. This was through their years as Hellhammer and through their first full-length album To Mega Therion. The band though has a couple of clunkers. However, I have never heard the glam metal Cold Lake. This album though, I have heard. This was the beginning of the band's avant-garde style, and it is fucking weird.

The album starts off strange, with the cover of Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio". It's not a bad song, but the original is horrendous which makes me wonder what the hell the band was thinking when deciding to cover it. The next track is "Mesmerized" which is a pretty good song, but kind of bizarre vocally. Tom Warrior's vocals are typically delivered in a husky grunt, but this song showed Warrior's cleaner vocal style. The sound is more of a wail and it is certainly interesting, but this is just the beginning.

The next track is standard Celtic Frost proto-death, but then we get to "Tristesses de la Lune" which features a female opera singer, singing in French over heavy usage of keyboards. What the fuck? Afterwards things become a little more normal, until we get to "One in Their Pride", which sounds more like a hip hop instrumental, than a Celtic Frost song. Much of the rest of the album is closer to typical Celtic Frost.

Yes, there are some typical Celtic Frost songs on here, but there is an awful lot of filler and it makes this an incredibly uneven listening experience. The good songs are great, but the filler songs are awful and are painful to listen to. After the masterful To Mega Therion, this cannot be seen as anything but a massive step backwards.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 All Star Game

Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved the All Star Game. I know that there are baseball fans out there who don't agree, but it used to be the part of the season I looked forward to the most. That was back when the Red Sox were not very good. Indeed, when I started watching the team, the Red Sox were actually losing more than they won. The first All Star game I remember really watching was in 1993 when Scott Cooper was the team's only All Star. Yes, the immortal Scott Cooper. He would also be the team's only All Star in 1994, making him quite possibly the worst player in MLB history to be an All Star twice.

In my years of watching the event, I have seen All Star MVPs go to Pedro Martinez and J.D. Drew for the Red Sox, and home runs from David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Drew. I have seen some impressive performances, Martinez was absolutely electrifying in 1999. The players that have represented the team in the years I have been watching have been: Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Jeff Reardon, Scott Cooper, Mo Vaughn, Erik Hanson, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Tom Gordon, Jose Offerman, Carl Everett, Derek Lowe, Manny Ramirez, Shea Hillenbrand, Johnny Damon, Ugueth Urbina, Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Matt Clement, Mark Loretta, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Hideki Okajima, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, and Tim Wakefield.

So last night's game was pretty good. It was definitely short, barely over two and a half hours. The Red Sox performances were pretty decent: Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis each had base hits and Jonathan Papelbon had a 1-2-3 inning. My major disappointment though was that Tim Wakefield was not put in the game. He was certainly well-rested. It was disappointing because Wakefield is 42, soon to be 43, and this was his first time. He probably will not have another chance. It's too bad. Josh Beckett and Dustin Pedroia also failed to get in the game, although Pedroia was not present, choosing to be with his wife.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Metal Church Breaks Up

This is a shame. Metal Church rose to prominence close to the same time as Metallica. They have always been a pretty damn good power/thrash metal band. Now, they have called it quits, potentially mostly as a result of their label SPV's money problems. You see people, if you would stop downloading all the damn time and actually buy albums, quality bands like this would not have the problems that they do.

"The situation with SPV is NOT the reason that we have decided to stop; it is just one small part of the trouble this band has had in trying to keep going. SPV has always been great to us, and it's very sad that they are not going to be around in the same capacity anymore. Our original statement didn't make that point clearly, and we apologize to SPV for any confusion."

Pretty sad. I only just recently got into this band after last years Wasteland. It's sad to see a great band hang it up. Good luck in the future.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 23: Nocturnus: The Key

This one is kind of weird. Nocturnus was an early death metal band out of the active Tampa, Florida scene which also produced Morbid Angel, Brutality, Death, and Deicide. However, Nocturnus were not as straightforward as the other bands, they were far more experimental.

The first thing that separates Nocturnus from the rest of their brethren is the fact that the band uses keyboards. They don't just use them occasionally though, their music is filled with them. They also used sound effects to a great extent. The result is death metal similar to that of Death with frequent keyboard flourishes giving the music an epic and grandiose effect. The music is over the top and a litte cheesy, but it's a lot of fun. Beyond those pioneering sound efforts, the band is for the most part a typical early death metal band. Drummer/singer (you read that correctly) Mike Browning delivers his vocal lines in a style closer to thrash metal, utilizing raspy vocals over death growls.

Another interesting aspect about the band is the fact that they are quite possibly the nerdiest band in metal, which is really saying something given the litany of bands influenced by Dungeons and Dragons (Rhapsody of Fire) and Tolkien (Battlelore), and even other bands into science fiction (Voivod). However, Nocturnus on this album cover plagues ("Andromeda Strain"), androids ("Droid Sector") and time travel ("Destroying the Manger"). The time travel one is most important because it involves going back in time to stop the birth of Jesus, very Terminator-esque. What a bunch of dorks.

Still though, the music is quite good and I am a sucker for old school death metal. This album is a good listen.

Hot Girls in Metal Pt. 7: Vibeke Stene

Vibeke Stene is the former singer for Tristania, which has always been my personal favorite band from the gothic metal with female singer pseudo-genre (also derisively referred to as prom dress metal). Tristania has always had creepier atmosphere, to the point where the music sounded as if it would fit well in any horror movie.

Phil Fasciana Pt. 2

As I updated later on, there does not appear to be any evidence that the events of that day ever happened anywhere outside of Phil's head. The police completely denied it. So what does Phil have to say about this? Well' he's insisting it did happen, and that he also ran down a homeless man. Apparently at this time, the police were not too bothered by it either and let him go on his blissful way. Here's the thing though: anytime someone dies as a result of the actions of another person, there's going to be a fucking investigation. Apparently Phil Fasciana is completely insane.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Metal History Pt. 1: The First Album

I’ve decided to look back a little bit into my history as a metalhead, and probably reveal some rather embarrassing things about it (I used to own albums by KORN!!!!!). Anywho, let’s start at the beginning.

At first, there was nothing. Some time after that I heard Metallica.

Seriously though, prior to my metal addiction, I listened to some random crap that I’m not even sure I own anymore. Mostly R.E.M. though, which is fucking weird to think about now. My older brother started getting into a little bit of heavy metal though, and that’s when I started becoming interested. He was listening to groups like Faith No More, Motley Crue, Metallica, Megadeth, Alice in Chains, Danzig, and White Zombie. He also listened to a laundry list of other artists from genres like alternative rock (the grunge scene was very big when we were growing up) and rap. That was the beginning for me.

Back then, MTV played these things called music videos. They are very rare these days. Most kids have never seen one on MTV. Also back then, they played a rather diverse grouping of music videos. As the decade wore on, they scaled it back completely to rap and pop music, but they would occasionally play metal videos in the early 1990's. My older brother, being the trendhopper that he was back in those days, picked up anything and everything played on MTV that was not pop music. MTV played groups like the ones listed above, and my older brother bought into them. He used to play his music as loud as possible when we were the only ones home, so I heard a lot of this stuff. I also saw them on MTV.

It all started to change when MTV started playing live videos from the recent Metallica box set Live Shit: Binge and Purge. They played videos from lesser known songs (at least for the mainstream) such as "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Fade to Black". These songs quickly became favorites of mine. When my 13th birthday rolled around, I went birthday shopping with my grandmother. We stopped off at the usual places a 13 year old boy likes to shop at: baseball card store and comic book store, then we ended up at the mall to get some clothes. It was there that I decided I wanted a tape. I had it in my mind that I was going to get the Metallica tape that had those songs on it. We went into the music nook, literally a corner of the store with a temporary wall full of tapes put up, looked around until I found it: RIDE THE LIGHTNING. I remember my grandmother asking if the band swore at all, I really didn’t know so I just said no. She would not have bought it for me otherwise. This was my very first metal album. The rest is history.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Other 522 Albums from Metalsucks

I was hoping that Metalsucks would do this: they released a list of every album that received votes. Looking through this list makes me wonder just what the fucking hell is wrong with some people. Let's see some of the highlights:

Isis, Oceanic – 98 POINTS: I suppose Isis is frequently considered metal, I'm not sure I agree, but at least they are closer than some of this shit. I feel like the rest of the world is crazy, like I'm in the Twilight Zone, because I rarely hear negative things about this band in the metal community. Is it me? Or is everyone else just fucking dumb?

The Dillinger Escape Plan, Miss Machine – 79 POINTS: See Isis. I don't understand what anyone sees in this band. They are just noisy, they are technical, but they couldn't write a memorable song to save their lives. NOT FUCKING METAL.

Celtic Frost, Monotheist – 72 POINTS: The swan song from this great, pioneering band. This is a vastly underrated album. It's good to see it get a little love. Truly one of the heaviest, most frightening albums I have ever heard.

Glassjaw, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Silence – 60 POINTS: Oh yeah, here we go. This band FUCKING SUCKS! And, to make matters worse, they helped usher in the current emo scene. What the fucking hell? NOT FUCKING METAL.

Dillinger Escape Plan, Ire Works – 56 POINTS: NOT FUCKING METAL. What the fuck do you not understand?

Slipknot, Iowa – 51 POINTS: NOT FUCKING METAL. My god.

Down, Down III – 46 POINTS: Great album by a great band. This deserved some merit. I would have had it, but it pales in comparison to their first album, which is just amazing.

Nile, Annihilation of the Wicked – 42 POINTS: Nile is a tough band to choose albums from. They are just so consistent that picking their best is almost impossible. This might have been my choice.

Thrice, Artist in the Ambulance – 38 POINTS: Are you fucking kidding me? NOT FUCKING METAL.

The Mars Volta, Deloused in the Comatorium – 37 POINTS: My god, do people not know what metal is? How does this fucking band get here? What the fucking hell? NOT FUCKING METAL.

Enslaved, Below the Lights – 34 POINTS: Okay, I'm okay. I'm breathing. This album contains Enslaved's best song.

The Crown, Crowned In Terror/Crowned Unholy - 31 POINTS: This is a great, often overlooked band. They are one of the great bands from the Swedish thrash scene. I'm surprised to see them here.

Avenged Sevenfold, Sounding the Seven Trumpets – 29 POINTS: I hate, Hate, HAte, HATe, HATE this fucking band! NOT FUCKING METAL.

Glassjaw, Worship & Tribute – 28 POINTS: Seriously? Did you not fucking learn up there? NOT FUCKING METAL.

Symphony X, The Odyssey – 28 POINTS: Hey it's an album from my list.

High on Fire, Death is this Communion – 24 POINTS: Very good album from an up and coming band. Doom and thrash thrown into a blender.

At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command – 22 POINTS: NOT FUCKING METAL. The precursor to The Mars Volta.

Andrew W.K., I Get Wet - 21 POINTS: Seriously? This is incomprehensible. It blows my mind. My mind is blown. NOT FUCKING METAL. NOT EVEN FUCKING CLOSE. MY GOD I AM SERIOUS, I DON'T FUCKING UNDERSTAND.

Behemoth, The Apostasy – 21 POINTS Behemoth, Demigod – 21 POINTS Behemoth, Zos Kia Cultus – 21 POINTS: Huh. Poor Behemoth. Great band, Zos Kia Cultus made my list.

Muse, Absolution – 21 POINTS: That smacking sound you just heard was me pounding my head into the wall. What do people not understand about "TOP METAL" albums? NOT FUCKING METAL.

Sunn O))), Flight of the Behemoth – 21 POINTS: I hate this band more than any other metal band, ever, EVER.

Thrice, The Alchemy Index Vol 1 – 21 POINTS: Really? NOT FUCKING METAL.

Swallow the Sun, The Morning Never Came – 18 POINTS: Hey, this made my list!

Rotting Christ, Theogonia – 18 POINTS: So did this!

The Darkness, Permission to Land – 17 POINTS: Where's my gun? NOT FUCKING METAL.

Coffins, Buried Death – 17 POINTS: This is way out of left field. Great death doom band frm Japan.

Insomnium, Above the Weeping World – 17 POINTS: Another one that made my list.

Grand Magus, Iron Will – 17 POINTS: Again.

Amon Amarth, With Oden on Our Side – 16 POINTS: Like Nile, just too hard to decide between the albums. I did not choose this one, but definitely considered it.

Bolt Thrower, Those Once Loyal – 16 POINTS: This barely missed my list.

Thrice, Vheissu – 15 POINTS: NOT FUCKING METAL. Again? Really?

Avenged Sevenfold, Waking the Fallen – 13 POINTS: WHAT THE FUCK?! NOT FUCKING METAL.

Melechesh, Emissaries – 13 POINTS: Great album, made my list.

Underoath, Lost in the Sound of Separation – 13 POINTS Underoath, The Changing of Times – 13 POINTS: EEEEEEEMMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOO!

Goatwhore, The Eclipse of Ages into Black – 12 POINTS: Woo hoo! Goatwhore!

Diabolical Masquerade, Death’s Design - 11 POINTS: Such a bizarre album. The soundtrack to a movie that never came to fruition. Weird album, but entertaining.

Naglfar, Pariah – 11 POINTS: This made my list.

Akercocke, Words That Go Unspoken… – 10 POINTS: These guys are so weird, they're hilarious. The band plays blackened death metal, while wearing 19th Century English suits. You read that right.

Cold, 13 Ways to Bleed Onstage – 10 POINTS: NOT FUCKING METAL, although I used to love this album. Even saw the band live.

Horrorpops, Bring it On – 8 POINTS: WHO?! I haven't even fucking heard of this band. Just guessing: NOT FUCKING METAL.

Lacuna Coil, Karmacode – 7 POINTS: Terrible album by a formerly good band. Still, Cristina Scabbia is hot.

Horrorpops, Hell Yeah – 6 POINTS: Really? NOT FUCKING METAL.

iwrestledabearonce, It’s All Happening – 4 POINTS: First of all, NOT FUCKING METAL. Secondly, it wasn't even out when the people were voting. What the fuck, and it fucking sucks.

Opeth, Still Life – 3 POINTS: Okay, this is my favorite Opeth album, but it was released in 1999, not qualified.

Okay, that was fun. Now I'm done for a little while with this crap.

Phil Fasciana (Malevolent Creation) Kills Robber in Self Defense

Holy shit. Phil Fasciana is the guitarist for Malevolent Creation. I'm not sure of the facts here, because only Phil's side of the story is presented and this apparently has not been picked up by too many other news outlets. Essentially the facts are these from what we can tell:

1. Phil had a craving for chocolate milk (the most metal of all milks) and stopped off at a convenience store.

2. The convenience store was currently in the process of being robbed.

3. The robber fired four shots at Phil at 10 feet away, none of which hit him.

4. Phil, after realizing he was not hurt tackled the robber and wrestled his gun away from him.

5. The robber reached for another gun and Phil shot him twice in the head.

Pretty amazing story, if true. There is certainly an argument for self defense, as the robber attempted to shoot Phil just as he walked in the door. I'll be curious to see facts as they further develop.

UPDATE: This looks to be false. Not sure of the motivations behind fabricating this story, perhaps to get people to buy Malevolent Creation albums. It's disappointing, that was a pretty incredible story.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finally: The Metalsucks Top 21, For Real

Oh, for fuck's sake. Here is the final list (after that ICP bullshit), complete with gripping commentary from yours truly. I own 11 of these albums, claim not to own one of these (my girlfriend knows which one), might have owned one, and used to own three of the others. That leaves five that I have not heard, and of those five, four are from bands I am fairly well familiar with. The only one off of this list that I have little to say about is the #5 album. So, my opinions are coming from an individual familiar enough with the list to completely detest it. Only one album from this list appeared on my own list, and that one (which is #3 here) was #21 on mine. My list is way better. Nyah!

21. Slipknot: Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses
And we start things off with a bang. First of all, NOT FUCKING METAL. Secondly, I was extremely skeptical about this list as soon as I read through the contributors, but this definitely proved that my concerns were well-founded. Even for a Slipknot album, this is horrendous. It was at this point that the band began incorporating radio friendly hard rock into their sound. I listened to this album a couple of times when I first got it (I used to listen to the band when I was younger) and I honestly hated this album. It collected dust for years and probably continues to do so downstairs. I will probably dig it out and sell it. Apparently people like this shit, they’re crazy.

20. Shadows Fall: The War Within

I actually discovered Shadows Fall randomly while working at Target. I was looking for something new to listen to and happened upon an album by the band for very cheap. It was not this album, but the preceding album. I really enjoyed it and started listening to the band. This album presents Shadows Fall at their greatest, nothing they have done since this album comes close to it. Shadows Fall has always been a little ahead of the metalcore scene because of their heavy melodeath and thrash influences. In recent years they have dropped the core, but this album is still their best. They were better when they combined their core influences and metal influences. Not many bands can say that.

19. Mastodon: Remission
Unfortunately, I have not heard this album. I don’t much care for Mastodon’s newer material, but this was their first full length. I did pick up their second album and did enjoy it. It is at least somewhat likely that this is a good enough album.

18. Lamb of God: New American Gospel
This is another band that I am familiar with, while not having heard this particular album. I like some of Lamb of God’s material, they do kind of blend Pantera-style groove metal with metalcore, and they do kind of have a tough-guy image, but the music is enjoyable enough, if not overly interesting.

17. Hatebreed: Perseverance
NOT FUCKING METAL. Hatebreed is a ridiculous tough-guy modern hardcore band. They have very few, if any, metal influences. And they write the same fucking album every goddamn time. There’s not a single thing interesting about this band. I used to own one of their albums (possibly this one, but I don’t fucking know because they’re all the fucking same), and it was boring as watching paint dry.

16. Machine Head: The Blackening
When I first got into Machine Head, they were playing a cross between groove metal and nu metal. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the most interesting music. In looking farther back in their career, they started as a groove metal band and singer/guitarist Robb Flynn was previously in Bay Area thrash metal band Vio-Lence. On this album, Machine Head ditched metalcore and nu metal and went full on thrash. Apparently they’re kind of trendwhores. Oh well, this is a quality album and while I don’t love it, I like it quite a bit. It certainly did not make my list but it was a good enough album.

15. Nachtmystium: Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt. 1
This is kind of a weird one. Nachtmystium combines black metal, psychedelic rock, and post hardcore into a compelling mixture. The band was formerly a raw black metal band until they began incorporating more and more Pink Floyd influences. They are still one of the highlights of the American black metal scene. This is their most accessible album released thus far. It is an enjoyable album and I considered it for my top albums of 2008, but it just missed. Also, excellent use of a saxophone on a metal album.

14. System of a Down: Toxicity
NOT FUCKING METAL. I first discovered System of a Down back in high school. It was at that time that the nu metal wave hit. System of a Down, unfairly or not, were lumped in with that crowd. I will admit they play more of a hard rock style than nu metal, but still, they are not metal. I enjoyed their debut self-titled release, but this one immediately dashed any lingering enjoyment of the band. I just could never get into the album and I don’t see what other people see in it. To me, it’s the band’s descent into mediocrity.

13. Mastodon: Blood Mountain
I had just recently discovered this band when this album was released. I was pretty excited for the album because "The Wolf is Loose" is an awesome song. This was my first Mastodon album and it took several years before I would check out another. I like their heavier songs, but they play a lot of songs that do not keep the interest level quite as high. It’s an okay album, but it is highly overrated. There are a handful of good songs and some filler as well. It was on this album though that Mastodon started moving away from metal, which is a shame because Mastodon could have been the next great metal band. I’m talking about a level with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica, they were that good, at least on Leviathan.

12. Tool: Lateralus
NOT FUCKING METAL. Just like the above System of a Down album, this is the Tool album that convinced me this band was not fucking worth listening to anymore. I loved their Opiate EP and the Undertow album because both of those albums actually contained coherent songs. Aenima was where the band starting getting way too proggy and experimental for their own damn good. However, it still had some enjoyable songs on there. On this album, half of the fucking tracks are pure noise, there are maybe a couple of actual songs on there, and everything else is static. Awful, I sold this album.

11. Deftones: White Pony
NOT FUCKING METAL AT ALL. I can kind of understand thinking Hatebreed, Tool, System of a Down, and Slipknot are metal. I don’t like it, but I can kind of understand it. But, fucking DEFTONES???!!! My god. I never did understand what in the hell I was thinking when I bought this fucking album. It’s essentially a more aggressive post-hardcore album with maybe .5% metal influences at all. It’s also an extremely boring and pretentious piece of shit. Thank god I sold it.

10. Opeth: Ghost Reveries
This is one of my least favorite Opeth albums (not my least favorite, that title belongs to the all-prog-no-metal Damnation). It starts out great on "Ghost of Perdition", but as it goes on, the prog parts become much more drawn-out and meander a great deal more than on previous albums. The production is at its best on this album: it is crisp and clean and all of the instruments can be heard well. The songwriting just was not as good on this one as some of the band’s previous efforts. Not a bad album, just not as good as their earlier works.

9. Gojira: From Mars to Sirius
I’ve never been quite sure how to categorize this band. They play some sort of mix between death metal, thrash metal, and progressive metal. The album is heavier than hell, it really is. The riffs are extremely bass-heavy giving them massive bludgeoning power. The drums are pounding and the music in general is fairly slow to further emphasize the heaviness. The song "From the Sky" is one of the heaviest songs I have ever heard. Lyrically, the band is interested in eco themes. It is a very interesting album, but it can get a little tedious as it plods along. Still though, this was a fairly interesting choice for the list because it’s not as mainstream-friendly as many of the other bands. Mainstream, yes, but not as accessible.

8. In Flames: Clayman
In Flames was once one of my favorite bands. I thought about trying to get one of their albums into my list, but I could not justify choosing any of their albums of the 21st century over any of the albums in my list. My favorite In Flames albums came out in the 1990's. This album is not bad, but it is a step down from their prior album, Colony. I am not at all surprised to see In Flames make it on this list, I just would not have chosen them. I would have rather seen some of Dark Tranquillity’s work make it in opposed to this. Still though, I don’t have a problem with the choice.

7. Lamb of God: Ashes of the Wake
This was the first album I had heard by Lamb of God. Yes it’s kind of dumbed down groove metal in the vein of later Pantera with some metalcore influences thrown in. But, it is brutal, aggressive, and menacing. In that vein it’s certainly not a bad album. There are much worse albums out there, of course. This is the best I have heard from Lamb of God, but the band really isn’t doing much that Pantera hasn’t done before. There are much better albums out there as well, which makes the inclusion here a little dubious. Still though, at least it’s a decent enough album.

6. Killswitch Engage: The End of Heartache
This is pretty much the quintessential metalcore album. It features riffing influenced by Swedish melodeath bands, clean and rough vocal interplay, and breakdowns. As such, it is pretty much a no-brainer to make this incredibly mainstream list. It’s an enjoyable album, I will not try to deny it. It is catchy, with its pop-inflected chorus lines, and decent guitar riffs. It just gets a little old after awhile. I loved it when I first got it, but the novelty has worn off a little bit. I still listen to it occasionally, but not nearly as often as I did when I first bought it. The later releases from the band do not come close to matching this one, which further adds to its inability to stay relevant.

5. Converge: Jane Doe
NOT FUCKING METAL. I have neither heard this album, nor this band so I can’t really comment much on them. However, I know they are not metal and that they are greatly responsible for the endless wave of shit called metalcore that we are still dealing with. There are some good metalcore bands, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

4. Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing
This is the band’s debut release. I have not heard this album, but I have of course heard other albums by the band. This one is a little different though because Jesse Leach, not Howard Jones, is the singer. I have only heard him on a song on the Roadrunner United album and he is an impressive vocalist. I keep meaning to check this album out, but have not gotten around to it yet.

3. Opeth: Blackwater Park
At last, one we can agree on. This album reached my list, the very end of my list, but at least it was there. This is widely considered Opeth’s masterpiece. It’s not my favorite of their albums, but it is certainly up there. It is also the one qualifying album from the band that should be here. After this one, Opeth got a little too proggy and their quality suffered. This represents their best balancing act of the prog and extreme metal elements, however they were always better when they were not trying to balance the styles. They were better when they focused on the extreme metal aspect and threw in prog influences once in awhile. This is a great album and should be on the list. It just shouldn’t be this high.

2. Lamb of God: As the Palaces Burn
I’m not sure I can agree with any list of top metal albums that gives Lamb of God three fucking places. I have not heard this album, but I can’t imagine it’s that much different than Ashes of the Wake, the #7 album. Lamb of God is not a bad band, they just aren’t a great one. I’m not sure how they managed to be as lucky to have the success they do. Perhaps, people just desperately wanted another Pantera. I can’t imagine why.

1. Mastodon: Leviathan
As mentioned earlier, this is a great album and I won’t dispute that. It is a little uneven in places and there are tracks here that I don’t really care for, which is why it did not make my list, but there are some other great tracks that help to make up for the misses. If Mastodon had built on this album and continued to develop the heavier stuff, then they probably would be considered the next really big metal band. However, they built upon the more progressive parts and started to move away from metal on their next album. By the time Crack the Skye was released, most of the band’s metal elements had already been stripped away. There are moments that still show the band’s metal influences but they are now few and far between. But that doesn’t affect the enjoyment of this album which is a very good album. Now, I wouldn’t consider it one of the best of the 21st century, but for a mainstream metal album, I suppose it would qualify.

Ha Ha Ha

Well, I had the whole post written and ready to go, just waiting for the #1 album to be announced today and those bastards over there ruined it by naming Insane Clown Posse's double album released in 2000 #1. So now, my post dealing at length with the choices is going to have to wait until they release THE REAL #1. Bastards. Fuck.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Metalsucks Top 21 Albums of the 21st Century Ends Tomorrow

About fucking time. I've been waiting with baited breath for them to get this thing over with. I have a post ready to discuss their entire list detailing my feelings on this horrendous hack job, which will be posted after their #1 album is posted tomorrow. For now though, let's look at the list:

21. Slipknot: Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses
20. Shadows Fall: The War Within
19. Mastodon: Remission
18. Lamb of God: New American Gospel
17. Hatebreed: Perseverance
16. Machine Head: The Blackening
15. Nachtmystium: Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt. 1
14. System of a Down: Toxicity
13. Mastodon: Blood Mountain
12. Tool: Lateralus
11. Deftones: White Pony
10. Opeth: Ghost Reveries
9. Gojira: From Mars to Sirius
8. In Flames: Clayman
7. Lamb of God: Ashes of the Wake
6. Killswitch Engage: The End of Heartache
5. Converge: Jane Doe
4. Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing
3. Opeth: Blackwater Park
2. Lamb of God: As the Palaces Burn

#1 will most likely be Mastodon: Leviathan. Tune in tomorrow for my angry rant.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ranking the 2009 Albums So Far

Since 2009 is half over, I thought I would present a ranking of the albums from this year that I have heard so far. I have only heard 28 albums thus far this year and I have ranked all of them, from the first demo release of an Omaha, NE band to the latest album from a reincarnation of the original metal band, everything is here. If something is not here, the reason is simple: I have not yet heard it. We'll do this in descending order.

28. Seppeku: Seppeku: It’s probably unfair to put this up against these other bands, as this is only a first demo, but it meets my only qualification for consideration: it came out in 2009, so here it is.

27. God Forbid: Earthsblood. This is easily the biggest disappointment so far this year. I had high hopes for this album, and I’m not sure what happened, it’s just kind of bland. This just did not meet my expectations. It’s not bad, just disappointing. Maybe it will grow on me.

26. Leif Edling: Songs of Torment-Songs of Joy: I’m not sure where these songs of joy come in, this album is just slow and depressing. The promo for this was sent to me for free in an order I placed with Hells Headbangers. Edling is the bassist and principal songwriter for Candlemass and this is his first solo album. Not bad, but there’s not much going on really.

25. Saxon: Into the Labyrinth: One of the last remaining NWOBHM bands left. This is a strong album that would have been even stronger had the band lightened up a little on the hard rock songs. The metal songs are great, but there’s a lot of filler.

24. Believer: Gabriel: A fine reunion album for this band, but only the first half is really worthwhile. There are far too many filler songs on the second half, particularly the throwaway sample and noise tracks at the very end. Still, welcome back Believer.

23. HOD: Serpent: HOD is a newer band from the filth and grime that is Texas black metal. The band has quite a few death and thrash metal influences as well to further add to the hostility of their music. A good album, but not something that other bands aren’t doing and doing better. Still, a band to watch.

22. Mantic Ritual: Executioner: This band is part of the new thrash resurgence. The band takes a lot of its influences from Bay Area thrash metal bands like Metallica, Testament, and Exodus. This is a decent debut album, but not wholly original.

21. Grave Digger: Ballads of a Hangman: The German longtime power metal band proves that they have quite a bit left in the tank. The album kind of loses steam after awhile, but it is filled with memorable songs. A pretty good album by a band that has been around forever.

20. My Dying Bride: For Lies I Sire: The somber, doom legends are back with one of their strongest albums in years. The music is typical for MDB: slow, long, and melancholic. A good album, but extremely depressing. The violin is back, adding to the atmosphere.

19. Devourment: Unleash the Carnivore: This album hails the return of the slam death metal pioneers. It’s a little less slam, and a little more brutal technical death metal, and it is a fairly good album, despite being a little repetitive.

18. Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague: Cannibal Corpse releases the same album every time, luckily for them it’s a very good album. I’ve never been as big a fan of Corpsegrinder as I am of Chris Barnes. Still though, this is a quality release, Cannibal seems to be getting more technical.

17. Lion’s Share: Dark Hours: This is a new album by the longtime Swedish melodic metal masters. I was not aware of this band until this year and they are quite good. A bit of a low ranking as there have been a lot of good albums this year, but their song "Barker Ranch" is possibly my favorite song of 2009 so far.

16. Destroy Destroy Destroy: Battle Sluts: This is a band similar to Children of Bodom, Kalmah, and Norther. They play power metal with harsh vocals. I was expecting something a little closer to traditional metal, but this isn’t bad. They are better than COB and Norther at least.

15. Dreaming Dead: Within One: Dreaming Dead is a newer band that combines black, thrash, and death metal into one explosive mix. They have a beautiful female singer who is extremely capable behind the mic. This is a very good debut release from a promising band.

14. Kreator: Hordes of Chaos: The German thrash metal masters are back. This album blends thrash and melodic death into a frenzied flurry of riffs. A good album, but not a great one.

13. Rumpelstiltskin Grinder: Living for Death, Destroying the Rest: These guys are just having a blast. The riffs are fast and furious and coupled with the staccato shouted vocals provide and energetic, fun listen.

12. Obscura: Cosmogenesis: This is an extremely good technical death metal album. I am not always a fan of this genre, but this band pulls things off extremely well. They are not just random riffs, they form a coherent song structure. Lots of other random effects make things much more entertaining.

11. Bloodsoaked: Sadistic Deeds...Grotesque Memories: This is the sleeper album of the year so far. I got this because Comatose Music was out of stock on another album. It’s an extremely impressive combination of modern brutal death and old school death metal, and it’s a one man band. Very interesting release.

10. Old Man’s Child: Slaves of the World: Galder, also of Dimmu Borgir, presents the latest album from his side project. This is a melodic black metal album, and it is a very good representation of the genre. It’s heavier and has more death metal influences than Galder’s other band.

9. Tribulation: The Horror: Tribulation is a new Swedish death metal band drawing upon influences from the classic Swedish death metal bands and adding their own grotesque take on the genre. They are heavier, more brutal, and have a creepier atmosphere than their contemporaries. Definitely a band to watch.

8. Absu: Absu: Absu is one of the earliest and most interesting American black metal band. This is their return album from a long hiatus and it is quite good. It’s a little bit closer to blackened thrash, but I do greatly enjoy that combination. There are some great riffs and some extremely interesting drumming found on this album.

7. Heaven & Hell: The Devil You Know: I’m sure my one or two loyal readers are getting sick of me talking about this one, so I won’t spend much time on it. It’s not as good as it could be, but it is still a very good album.

6. Amorphis: Skyforger: One of my favorite bands, Amorphis released another melodic progressive metal masterpiece. Not quite as good as Silent Waters, but still an amazing album.

5. Seance: Awakening of the Gods: Seance is a lesser known, but very heavy band from the early days of the Swedish death metal scene. They recently reunited (as did many others such as Evocation) and released a new album. This is a fantastic example of true Swedish death.

4. Goatwhore: Carving Out the Eyes of God: This band is quickly becoming one of my favorites. They blend death metal, black metal, thrash metal, sludge metal, and Lousiana attitude. Their sound is loud, brash, and in-your-face. Truly one of the greatest American bands to form in the last 15 years.

3. Cauldron: Chained to the Nite: Cauldron formed when Canadian true metal warriors Goat Horn broke up. Cauldron picks up where their predecessors left off, playing fist-pumping, traditional metal anthems.

2. God Dethroned: Passiondale: I was a little hesitant to pick this up thinking that this band is basically a clone of Behemoth, Naglfar, or Lord Belial, but I am glad I picked it up after all. This is a very good album by a band that has started to find its own voice. It’s a concept album about the Battle of Passchendaele in WWI.

1. Razor of Occam: Homage to Martyrs: This is basically Destroyer 666 but with a more cosmic lyrical bent. This is a great piece of blackened death/thrash. It is extremely aggressive and heavy and there are great songs on here. A shoo-in to be one of the best albums of the entire year.

Some of the albums that have released already this year that I have not gotten yet are: Thanatos, Destroyer 666, Obituary, and Destruktor.