Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ranking the 2009 Albums

I am back from a little bit of a hiatus imposed by bad weather conditions. Here is a final ranking of the 2009 metal albums, from my favorite to my least favorite. This is just a list, I didn't feel like commenting much:

Destroyer 666: Defiance
Razor of Occam: Homage to Martyrs
God Dethroned: Passiondale
Goatwhore: Carving Out the Eyes of God
Cauldron: Chained to the Nite
Seance: Awakening of the Gods
Dawn of Azazel: Relentless
Amorphis: Skyforger
Heaven and Hell: The Devil You Know
Thanatos: Justified Genocide
Revocation: Existence is Futile
Skeletonwitch: Breathing the Fire
Vader: Necropolis
Absu: Absu
Tribulation: The Horror
Asphyx: Death...The Brutal Way
Immortal: All Shall Fall
Hypocrisy: A Taste of Extreme Divinity
Behemoth: Evangelion
Havok: Burn
Archgoat: The Light-Devouring Darkness
Old Man's Child: Slaves to the World
Thornafire: Vorex Deconstruccion
Nile: Those Whom the Gods Detest
Bloodsoaked: Sadistic Deeds...Grotesque Memories
Suffocation: Blood Oath
Obscura: Cosmogenesis
Rumpelstiltskin Grinder: Living for Death, Destroying the Rest
Kreator: Hordes of Chaos
Megadeth: Endgame
Warbringer: Waking Into Nightmares
Stratovarius: Polaris
Alice in Chains: Black Gives Way to Blue
Napalm Death: Time Waits for No Slave
Slayer: World Painted Blood
Novembers Doom: Into Night's Requiem Infernal
Dreaming Dead: Within One
Jungle Rot: What Horrors Await
The Gates of Slumber: Hymns of Blood and Thunder
Destruktor: Nailed
Destroy Destroy Destroy: Battle Sluts
Lion's Share: Dark Hours
Ahab: The Divinity of Oceans
Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague
Dying Fetus: Descend Into Depravity
Devourment: Unleash the Carnivore
My Dying Bride: For Lies I Sire
Grave Digger: Ballads of a Hangman
The Black Dahlia Murder: Deflorate
Mantic Ritual: Executioner
Obituary: Darkest Day
HOD: Serpent
Believer: Gabriel
Saxon: Into the Labyrinth
Leif Edling: Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy
God Forbid: Earthsblood

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

About.com Best Metal of 2009

How do you become the official blogger for some of these sites? I'm opiniated. I'm outspoken. How do I get someone to pay me for my opinions? I suppose that's the line of business I'm in, what with being a lawyer and all.

Anyway, that brings us to About.com. They have their own heavy metal page. Weird, huh?


Here's their Top 20:

20. Anaal Nathrakh: In the Constellation of the Black Widow
19. Ashyx: Death...The Brutal Way
18. Coalesce: Ox
17. Candlemass: Death Magic Doom
16. Immortal: All Shall Fall
15. Amorphis: Skyforger
14. The Gates of Slumber: Hymns of Blood and Thunder
13. Katatonia: Night is the New Day
12. Goatwhore: Carving Out the Eyes of God
11. Revocation: Existence is Futile
10. Brutal Truth: Evolution Through Revolution
9. Slayer: World Painted Blood
8. Baroness: Blue Record
7. Between the Buried and Me: The Great Misdirect
6. Isis: Wavering Radiant
5. Sunn O))): Monoliths and Dimensions
4. Napalm Death: Time Waits for No Slave
3. Nile: Those Whom the Gods Detest
2. Megadeth: Endgame
1. Mastodon: Crack the Skye

Actually a pretty good list. I don't agree with #s 5-7 at all. I tried listening to BTBAM yesterday and was bored out of my mind. Lame. Everything else is pretty decent. Plus, hey no Converge this time. Weird. This is probably the last Best of 2009 list I will do unless there is something really awful. Mine is coming soon.

Pop Matters Top 20 of 2009

So here's another one. I have never heard of this site before but looking at it when examining their list leads me to believe this is a general pop culture website. Duh, from the name of the site. I probably should have seen that one coming, huh?

Anyway, I had my doubts about this one, expecting mainstream acts. I was pleasantly surprised. It's not great, I do disagree with a lot of it, but there's some decent stuff on here.


20. Revocation: Existence is Futile
19. Cannibal Corpse: Evisceration Plague
18. Krallice: Dimensional Breakthrough
17. Marduk: Wormblood
16. Liturgy: Renihilation
15. Nile: Those Whom the Gods Detest
14. Between the Buried and Me: The Great Misdirect
13. Mastodon: Crack the Skye
12. Slayer: World Painted Blood
11. YOB: The Great Cessation
10. Funeral Mist: Maranatha
9. Isis: Wavering Radiant
8. Amesoeurs: Amesoeurs
7. Sunn O))): Monoliths and Dimensions
6. Goatwhore: Carving Out the Eyes of God
5. Kylesa: Static Tensions
4. Baroness: Blue Record
3. Converge: Axe to Fall
2. Katatonia: Night is the New Day
1. Cobalt: Gin

Again, this is not a list I agree with 100% but it's not bad. There's a lot of hipsterish stuff on it (Sunn O))), Kylesa, Converge, Mastodon, Isis, Amesoeurs, etc.). I do like the inclusions of groups like Goatwhore, Revocation, Nile, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, and Marduk. Goatwhore will definitely be in my Top 10. I haven't determined anything else yet.

My list will be ready shortly, probably closer to the end of the year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Noisecreep's Top 10 of 2009

I suppose I will start looking at some of the lists of best metal albums for 2009. Mine will be ready here pretty soon along with a Year in Review post. In the meantime, I like to look at what others think and ridicule them. Because it makes me feel big. So there. Anyone who takes offense, who cares?

So here we go (http://www.noisecreep.com/2009/11/23/top-10-albums-of-2009/):
Mastodon: Crack the Skye
Suffocation: Blood Oath
Behemoth: Evangelion
Coalesce: Ox
Megadeth: Endgame
Converge: Axe to Fall
Alice in Chains: Black Gives Way to Blue
Swallow the Sun: New Moon
Immortal: All Shall Fall
Between the Buried and Me: The Great Misdirect

I'm not sure if that list is in any sort of order or not. Some of the list does not bother me, other albums do. Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, Converge, and Coalesce will appear on virtually everyone's Best of 2009 list. Except mine. Because I don't like any of those albums. Bwah hah hah hah. I'm disturbed that Swallow the Sun's new album is the same name as the recent Twilight movie abomination. I have not heard it yet, which is weird because I love the band. I'm not sure any of these albums will appear on my list quite honestly. Not to say I don't enjoy any of them, just not enough to be my favorite albums of the year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

MSN Top 100 Metal Albums of the Decade

There's something about the end of the year/decade that brings out the listmaker in people. I should know, I do it too. But whereas my taste in music is unimpeachable, other people put together horrible lists of bad music. Which brings us to MSN, and if there is any other source that has more expertise in metal than MSN, I don't wanna know about it. Or maybe I do, I dunno, whichever choice is funnier.

So, MSN put together this list and there are some pretty decent choices here, some weird choices, typical choices, and awful ones. I won't go through the whole list because there's 100 albums, but let's put them into nifty categories:

-Annihilation Time
-Spawn of Possession
-Megadeth: Endgame: This one is brand new. I don't think it's good enough to make this kind of list, so this is odd.
-Dragon Force
-Brain Drill
-The Sword

-Mastodon: Leviathan (the #1 album, no big surprise here)

-Bolt Thrower
-Prostitue Disfigurement
-Strapping Young Lad
-Lair of the Minotaur
-The Gates of Slumber

-Dir En Grey
-Blessed by a Broken Heart: Awful band blending metalcore and hair metal into one horrible mess.
-Sunn O)))
-Slipknot: duh
-Job for a Cowboy
-Rob Zombie: Educated Horses: This was the album that caused me to stop listening to Rob Zombie, also NFM.
-Deftones (sigh, why is it that every metal writer loves this damn album?)

This is the best such list I have seen so far, other than mine. There's a lot of bands that have not appeared on these types of lists on this one. There are a few of the choices I can't stand such as Sunn O))), Deftones, and Isis, but it is made up for by the unusual choices. Not bad, still not as good as mine though.

"Guilty Pleasures" and Some Random Thoughts from Heavy Metal Online Communities

The topic of guilty pleasures has come up quite a bit on the heavy metal forum I frequent. I really do not listen to anything besides metal and I am quite upfront about everything I listen to. Nevertheless, there are some bands that are often not well-received that are metal bands on that forum. Here's a few bands I listen to that are not well-liked in most metal circles.

The problem with Machine Head is that they constantly alter their sound in order to stay relevant. They were groove metal when Pantera was the be-all, end-all of metal. They were nu metal when Korn was making waves. They were metalcore when Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God struck it big. Now they are thrash. They have always been gifted with the ability to write memorable songs though.

I have no idea why this band is so hated. I enjoy them quite a bit. My particular favorite aspect of the band is Dani Filth's lyrics. They are like something out of gothic horror poetry. It's pretty amazing. The music matches the lyrics, bringing dark images to mind.

They were lambasted when they changed their sound on The Crusade to sound like Metallica, leaving behind their metalcore sound. Now they have put some more of those metalcore aspects into their style from that album. Trivium has had a knack for truly infectious melodies and choruses. They are extremely gifted musicians. Sure they want to be Metallica, but they have some good stuff.

Another band that is just infectious as hell. I listened to a couple of their albums recently and was reminded how impressed I was with the band at one time. I have not heard their newest album, nor do I plan to, but their earlier material is still a decent listen today.

They want so badly to be Pantera. Nevertheless, they have put out some memorable albums. Randy Blythe's voice is powerful and intense. Unfortunately, they seem to have run out of ideas now.

I always enjoyed Dez Fafara's voice, even when he was in Coal Chamber. I'm glad to see he started a real metal band, and yes DevilDriver has much more in common with melodic death and groove metal than nu metal. Dez has resorted to only using the demonic vocals and that is just fine with me.

I used to listen to nu metal. I admit it. I have been to see Sevendust, Static X, Staind, Godsmack, and Cold in concert. But, my music tastes have changed. I don't listen to those bands anymore. I just wanted to clear the air.

-It's fucking annoying when younger metalheads like to try to show off by claiming they never "got" Metallica. It's even worse when they try some revisionist history claiming Metallica was never really all that important. Metallica's early albums were some of the best ever in metal. Case closed.

-No one really cares what music you listen to. Covering up the fact that you listen to some of the above bands or claiming you listen to really deep underground bands is pointless and impresses no one. I have been forthright with the bands I listen to here. Yes, I hate false metal bands, but I listen to stuff that is not exactly "cool" in metal terms. My previous post was about Nitro. There you have it.

-No one really cares about this post. No one wants to read the ramblings from a lawyer about music he likes and doesn't like. Nevertheless, it's my blog. I don't care what my readers (all two or three of you) think about my listening habits (other than my fiancee of course, whose opinions I take into consideration but don't really change my habits much). My goal is to hopefully turn some people on to good music. If I am successful, great. If not, so what?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 37: Nitro: O.F.R.

O.F.R. stands for Out-Fucking-Rageous. Ugh. Between that and the band's name, and the cover of this album, it becomes pretty obvious that this is a 1980's glam metal band. Sure enough, that is very much the case here. Glam metal is very inconsistent, sometimes really good, oftentimes really bad. This one is one of those rare cases which has positives and negatives.

The music does definitely have aggressive riffing, and it is often extremely fast. The production is not great, the bass cannot be heard terribly well and the drums are a little muddy. The vocals and the guitars are definitely at the forefront. The solos are amazing. Michael Angelo Batio is an amazing soloist and classically trained. The solos are fast and very well-played. This album is definitely interesting from a guitar player's standpoint. The solos are the highlight of the album.

The lowlight: the vocals. Jim Gillette is now a bodybuilder and husband to guitar goddess Lita Ford. However his vocals are obnoxiously high at most times. Even his normal singing voice is on the annoying side. They definitely take some getting used to.

This is an interesting album, certainly not one of my favorites, but I wanted to get something from the glam metal scene. Nitro is definitely a part of that. I don't bring this out too often. That will probably continue to be the case.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Metal Pets Pt. 6: Sienna

Sienna is my fiancee's favorite. She's also definitely the most lovable and probably the craziest of the dogs. My fiancee says that she is the ditziest of the pack. She may actually be the most manipulative as well. Or so my fiancee says. I suppose it's possible. She does play some games with us. She has what we refer to as the "almost game". She will almost sit when she is told to sit, hovering just inches from having her butt on the ground. The "almost game" is also used when she gets as close as she possibly can to food without actually taking it. Sienna is also afraid of a lot of fairly innocuous things, such as floors. She refuses to walk on linoleum floors. It's pretty funny really.

Initial Impressions: Ahab, Blitzkrieg

AHAB: THE DIVINITY OF OCEANSI reviewed Ahab's last full length album here. The band does not play my favorite genre. So far, Ahab is the only band I listen to that plays funeral doom. A few things have changed this time around that affect the listening experience on this one. Overall, the album seems a little more melodic and easier on the ears. The album is not about Moby Dick this time, although the band retains the oceanic theme.

First of all, the band had experimented with some clean vocals on the last album but they were buried fairly deep in the mix. This time around, there are more clean vocal parts and they are brought more to the forefront. In addition, the vocals in general are brought out more in the production. It makes it much easier to hear what is going on.

The production was alluded to above and it is definitely true that it has improved on this album. Everything is easier to hear. On the last album, I strained to hear some of the vocals and effects. Everything is clear this time around.

The band also appears to be playing slightly faster this time around. Ahab is still very slow, but some of the tempos are picked up a little bit. The only real issue with this is that funeral doom is supposed to be extremely slow. The band may play too fast on a couple of these tracks to be considered funeral doom any more.

Overall, the changes make this an easier album to listen to and digest. It is much more challenging to listen to an extremely slow album than an extremely fast album. Ahab has quickened things a little and brought more clarity to the production. It's not as unique though as it does not have that helpless, morosely slow feel to it.

BLITZKRIEG: A TIME OF CHANGESI glanced through my collection one day and realized I did not have many bands from the NWOBHM. I had the obvious bands such as Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Venom, and Saxon, but was otherwise missing out. This also went into my whole 1980's metal kick. I first heard about this band as a result of Metallica covering the speed metal classic "Blitzkrieg" off of this album. It was one of my favorite tracks off of Garage Inc. (yes, I'm aware it was actually recorded and released much earlier than that, one of my friends actually had a version of Kill 'Em All with this track as a bonus, I have no idea how he came across that).

This album, their debut full length, was released around 1985, although they had released several other recordings before that time. This is how Metallica was able to record a cover of "Blitzkrieg" for their 1983 album when it did not appear on a Blitzkrieg album until '85.

The music is pretty decent: 1980's style speed and traditional metal spun into a cohesive sound. Some of the songs are not real great, but then there are some barn-burners on it as well to take away from that. The above mentioned song is fantastic. It's not quite as aggressive as the Metallica version, but the vocals are significantly better. Brian Ross is a hell of a vocalist. He unleashes some powerful wails on this album.

This album was not easy to find. I ended up ordering the Japanese version of the album for a bit more than I like to spend on a CD. It was either that or spend $80-100 for the English version which is long out of print. Still I found it, and I'm glad I did.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Metal Girlfriend: Fact or Fiction

"At what point do you tell a love interest/potential mate/significant other of your metalness?"

This question has been posed on a couple of different metal blogs in recent days (MetalSucks and Invisible Oranges). I thought I would take a crack at it.

I have never been one to hide the fact that I am into heavy metal. I've never felt the need to do so and frankly I have never wanted to. In my dating history, I dated one girl who was heavily into classical music and was able to see that influence in metal. I dated one girl who was intrigued by the anger and aggressiveness of the music and became a fan.

And of course there is my fiancee (the most important of the three obviously), whose open-mindedness to the music has allowed her to see the good qualities of the music and not focus on the bad. My fiancee has often remarked that were it not for the vocals, she would probably like a lot more heavy metal. She has been able to truly enjoy some bands, such as Nightwish, Kamelot, Scorpions, Metallica, and Def Leppard, bands that are typically more melodic than others. My fiancee has had some unusual opinions of the music though, such as the fact that she greatly prefers death metal to thrash metal (she says it's the vocals). I have never felt the need to cover up any part of my music listening from her. She likes all kinds of music and can usually see some good in most metal.

There is another reason of course that I have never felt the need to shy away from announcing that I am a metalhead to members of the oppostie sex. Quite frankly if someone will not date me because I am a metalhead, then I don't want to date them either. It's quite simple.

Now for some odd moments:

The first time I went on a real date with my fiancee, we went to The Day After Tomorrow. In my car stereo was the band Tristania. I wonder if she remembers that.

I have been to two metal concerts with my fiancee: Trans-Siberian Orchestra (not completely metal, but still) and Opeth/Enslaved. She is willing to go to several others and even once tried to convince me she would go to Wacken with me, or Maryland Death Fest, or any others. I am truly lucky.

We have had discussions about having a metal song played at our reception. So far we have identified a couple of possibilities.

I went out on a blind date once with a girl who was related to my boss at the time. Nachtmystium was playing on my car stereo. Maybe that's why there was no second date. Eh.

I went to see Rob Zombie in concert with my girlfriend of that time.

So the answer to the ultimate question is: I reveal it early on, but it's more likely not a conversation topic that comes up. I don't view it as a big deal. If the question is asked, I answer it truthfully and make no bones about it. If she rejects me for it, it's her loss not mine.

Thankfully, I have found someone who doesn't mind the metal and is growing to enjoy some of it. I love you, honey.

Dawn of Azazel: Relentless

I have been waiting for this for quite awhile. Since the band is no longer on Ibex Moon Records and it was quite a while before they made a new record label announcement, I had to keep an eye on their Myspace for news about the impending release. Now that I have the album, I have just one thing to say: The title of the album is apt.

Relentless has always been one of the best terms to describe this New Zealand trio. The band is not as ferocious this time around, substituting some of their raw power for a more refined, but nevertheless, still earth-shaking approach. The underrated blackened death/thrash band brings the fury on this eleven track powerhouse of an album. The album should contend for inclusion on any year-end lists of the best metal albums, of course it probably will not due to the under-the-radar nature of the band.

The riffs are still razor-sharp and fast as hell. The drumming has gotten more technical and steady with the inclusion of Jeremy Suckling behind the kit (drums have been one of the weaker points in the band's history). The band has always used a variety of time signature changes and tempo shifts in their music. As such, a good drummer is essential to the band's sound. This time around, they have a really good one. Of course, Rigel Walshe's manic screams and shrieks are back at the forefront of the band's sound.

A couple of other things have been added to the band's sound this time around. First of all is a clean production. This has had the effect of taking some of that raw hostility out of the sound. The production is perhaps a little too clean. With this kind of metal, it is always preferable to have a dirty production and not smooth out or neutralize any of the band's innate aggression.

Another addition to the sound is the use of some surprisingly impressive guitar solos. Dawn of Azazel has stayed away from guitar solos quite a bit in the past, but some of these solos are almost Slayer-esque. Joe Bonnett has improved his playing significantly.

As for the songs, Dawn of Azazel did appear to make a concerted effort to write full songs. That was occasionally a problem with the band in the past as well, many of their songs did not have a clear direction and were simply exercises in aggressive riffing. The band clearly focused on their songwriting abilities this time around and there is therefore no filler on this album.

Dawn of Azazel smoothed out a few problems with their previous albums on this, their third full length release, and improved their sound noticeably. No, it does not have the same dirty production or raw thunder that the band has developed over the years, but it is nevertheless the first great full album the band has put out. This album should help propel the band into the genre's elite.

Inner Thought: Perspectives

This one is a little weird. I first heard this band on a Celtic Frost tribute album, playing "Morbid Tales". Their song was frenzied and violent but a little strange due to the use of a drum machine. I assumed this was due to not being able to find a drummer in time to record the song. Apparently not, as the drum machine is back on this album.

Inner Thought is a band founded by guitarist Bobby Sadzak, formerly of Slaughter (the good Canadian band, not the shitty American band), although the band does not bear much of a resemblance at all to his previous one. Inner Thought plays crunchy, choppy death metal with some interesting industrial metal moments. The drum machine is only one part of this. The drum machine is obvious in that the drums sound too perfect and sterile, not at all human and organic. The album also features some keyboard flourishes and other elements giving the overall sound a kind of mechanical vibe. The band sounds a little like Demanufacture-era Fear Factory, but with more of a pronounced death metal influence. The album basically feels like being inside a steel factory where all of the tasks are being performed by machines and robots. It's kind of an eerie feel.

The vocals for the most part are fairly typical of earlier death metal: deep, low-pitched growls, although there is the occasional blackened shriek from the vocalist, particularly on the second track "Sanctioned Situations". These unexpected moments serve to snatch the listener's attention before returning to the robotic riffs. They also incorporate some random female vocals which feature some heavy effects to give the music an occasional glimpse of light in the otherwise dank factory. The real "what the fuck?" moment comes in the sixth track with what sounds like a rapper contributing. I am not a big fan of the inclusion of rapping in metal, so this is kind of a turnoff for me.

The riffs are heavy, with a deep bottom end. The songs are mostly short, with the entire album clocking in at only about 34 minutes. That's pretty nice actually. If there's one thing Fear Factory could have improved on, it's shortening their albums and not meandering so much. There is the occasional moment where the only thing heard is a lilting guitar solo, but it will quickly revert to the mechanized riffing once again. The production is also clean, emphasizing the sterile environment forged by the riffs and drum machine. The album does not sound like anything humans could create.

The beginning half of the album is filled with decent songs and heavy riffs. The latter half tends to lag just a bit, which is the major thing keeping this from being rated more favorably. There is also the above mentioned rap part in the sixth song "Autodogmatic". This is made up for in the barn burner follow-up "Rack of Lethargy" which features a fast thrash riff underneath some keyboard noodling and frequent samples. The last song, the title track, then slowly fades out.

This album has a definite science fiction feel to it, again similar to the aforementioned Fear Factory. Inner Thought's factory is lot more fearsome though than the boys from California. And this is coming from someone who was a huge fan of the band in his formative years as a metalhead. Unfortunately, there just is not enough here to really grab hold of the listener and cause them to come back frequently. It's an interesting listen, just not essential.

Initial Impressions: Necrovation, Godless Rising, Anacrusis, Cadaver Inc., Deceased..., The Crown, Fates Warning


Necrovation is a throwback. The band is clearly influenced by early death metal acts such as Morbid Angel, Immolation, Incantation, and others. They wear this influence proudly on their sleeves. They play old-school grimy, muddy death metal with an occult twist. This makes them a highlight in a somewhat stale, modern death metal scene.

The production is thick, which makes this album sound that much better. The riffs and drums are powerful and thunderous. The solos are crisp and clear and come from the Slayer school of cramming into them as many notes as possible. The vocals are delivered in a painful rasping growl. The vocals are the only thing somewhat lost in the meaty production. Necrovation's songs fly by quickly, relying on speed and power.

It's hard to believe that this album came out last year. It sounds so much like the aforementioned bands, one would think it would have come out in the early 1990's. Necrovation is in a class with groups like Thornafire in that respect.


I received this CD as a throw-in along with my Necrovation order off of Amazon. Pretty cool actually. This is just the promo CD although everything is here and probably unchanged on the official album. Not a big deal.

Godless Rising features a couple of former members of Vital Remains, back when they were a more legitimate band and not a Glen Benton sideshow. Guitarist Paul Flynn and vocalists James Gruslin made the leap to this band. The band's sound is similar to that of Vital Remains, old school death metal with an emphasis on pounding riffs and ferocious vocals. The production is clean and clear, allowing the listener to hear everything going on in the music.

This album is incredibly short, which makes it an easy, fast listen. It is a very good album and hopefully the band will follow it up with some more material in the near future.


I went to the used music store in my hometown while my fiancee and I were there last weekend. She remarked to me that she would be surprised to see me find anything interesting. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. That day, I found a lot of stuff. Underrated bands that have been basically forgotten, other than by the most ardent heavy metal fans. This album, along with Cadaver Inc., Deceased..., The Crown, and Inner Thought, were all found that day.

Anacrusis is often credited with being one of the first bands to try to blend thrash and progressive metal. I'm not sure how accurate that credit is, but I am sure they did it fairly early on. As such, they were a very important part of the American thrash scene in the late 1980's/early 1990's.

The music is impressive. Starting out as a basic thrash metal band, but often changing into a more progressive metal interlude, almost jazz-like at times. The songs often change tempos and time signatures repeatedly. The vocals are a little tough to get used to, very high-pitched and often shrieked. But, if the listener can get over the sometimes grating vocals, the music is extremely rewarding.

My fiancee pointed out that the album cover is horrible. It is, just look at it. But still, this is a great album.


I first heard this band, known simply as Cadaver at the time, on a cheap Black Sabbath tribute album. The band covered "Sweet Leaf". The music was close to Black Sabbath, albeit with more distortion, but the vocals were completely different: death metal growling. That album also included the first songs I had heard from Cannibal Corpse (other than the Ace Ventura appearance), Exhorder, several others. The band changed their name after their reformation because another band was already known as Cadaver.

Cadaver Inc. is a death metal band from Norway. Norway does not have a real strong death metal tradition, so it's hard to pinpoint what exactly Norwegian death metal sounds like. Darkthrone of course was more of a death metal band in the late 1980's/early 1990's before becoming a black metal band. Mayhem was the same way. If one had to form a comparison for Cadaver Inc., it would be like a combination of Darkthrone and Mayhem in their early death metal form.

The music is raw and primal, with fast riffs, crashing drums, and near-black metal shrieking on the part of the vocalist. This band captures the spirit of early black metal but encompasses it in death metal riffs. It's really a shame that this band was not more well-known.


Somewhat of a disappointment as this was an EP released solely to satisfy a contract with the label, therefore it is short and there are several covers on it. Deceased... is another extremely underrated band. Most people have never heard of them. They initially played death metal, but soon changed their style to more of a tradition 1980's thrash/traditional metal with death metal style vocals. At this point in time, they were more of a death metal band.

The first couple of songs are original and pretty much give the fans of the band what they want. Aggressive, primal death metal with incendiary guitar solos and King Foley's manic barks. The first song is based on the hilariously awful move It's Alive about killer babies. The next few songs are covers of Tankard, D.R.I., Warfare, and Anthrax. None of the covers are particularly noteworthy, other than the one by D.R.I. is 37 seconds long. Holy shit. The final song though is the most interesting. It is a ten minute, five movement opus regarding the West Memphis Three, three individuals accused of brutally murdering three little boys in a trial fraught with problems. Perhaps I will discuss this trial in greater depth at some point. It's fairly popular in metal as the three Defendants were fans of the genre and they were seemingly railroaded by the prosecution facing heavy pressure from the town residents to find the killers.

The album is good, but I probably would not have purchased it had I known that it was essentially a filler album. Deceased... is becoming one of my favorite bands. I just wish their albums were easier to find.


Don't ask what the title means, I have no idea. The Crown is an awesome band, extremely fast and brutal. They are one of the fastest, most powerful bands in Sweden. They recently reformed too, which takes the sting out of some of the other band reformations this year (I'm looking at you Creed).

This one is fairly standard for the band: not their best, but certainly not bad at all. The album starts off with some horror movie samples, then some eerie tone-setting riff, and then it launches into a lightning fast riff. The band employs its trademarked brand of death/thrash in full force on this one. The album is not as memorable as the incredible Crowned in Terror, but it certainly comes close.

This album also features a bonus disk which includes demo recordings from when the band was known as Crown of Thorns. I have the band's debut album under that name so the bonus disk is a little superfluous, but it's a nice feature.

This is a decent, fast-paced Swedish death/thrash album and while it is not as good as other by the band, it's definitely worth hearing.


This is another of the bands that I have recently latched onto in my ongoing quest to discover more 1980's metal bands. Fates Warning is one of the earlier progressive metal bands and came out of Seattle, along with fellow prog-metallers Queensryche. Fates Warning doesn't just share a hometown and genre with Queensryche though, FW sounds very much like their earlier material. Vocalist Ray Alder sounds extremely similar to Geoff Tate, completing the comparison.

Fates Warning is a little more on the progressive side of things though, whereas Queensryche had quite a few albums that were more straightforward heavy metal. Particularly when it comes to the nearly 22 minute closer, "The Ivory Gate of Dreams". The rest of the tracks, comparatively, fly by the listener. Even to the point of not really knowing when one ends and another begins.

The music is extremely melodic and Alder's vocals fit in very well. The guitar solos are masterfully played and the riffs are definitely influenced by groups like Judas Priest and other metal icons.

I knew a guy in law school who was a huge fan of Dream Theater even though he really did not care for the metal genre as a whole. However, he recognized that I knew a little about Dream Theater and would frequently push me for more suggestions similar to that band. I pushed him in the direction of Symphony X and Queensryche, but I wish I would have known about this band at that time. Without Fates Warning, Dream Theater probably would not exist.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

8 Year Anniversary of the Death of Chuck Schuldiner

Today is the 8th anniversary of the death of Chuck Schuldiner. This one is a bit more important to me as I am a much bigger fan of Death than Pantera. Chuck was Death. Plain and simple. The band had several other members but only Chuck stayed. Chuck died of brain cancer. The band's lyrical themes clearly changed as Chuck fought for his life. The last two albums are almost heartbreaking with songs like "Spirit Crusher" and "A Moment of Clarity". R.I.P. Chuck, you were clearly a death metal pioneer.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Initial Impressions: The Gates of Slumber: Hymns of Blood and Thunder

I have mentioned on a couple of occasions that a lot of newer bands are playing older styles of metal these days. There are bands with more of a traditional metal style in the vein of Judas Priest, bands copping the sounds of the NWOBHM, of course there's the retro thrash metal movement, and then there are bands striving to sound like the early doom metal bands. The Gates of Slumber is one of the latter bands.

Knowing that the band is a traditional doom metal band immediately brings to mind a certain sound. The band definitely sounds like a mix between early Black Sabbath, Candlemass, and Pentagram. The songs have powerful riffs and are slower in tempo, for the most part.

Their last album, Conqueror, was one of my favorite albums from 2008. This one doesn't match up quite as well. The band has solidified their sound significantly, but the vocals are not as powerful and there are not as many great songs on it. I enjoy the album quite a bit. It just is not a step up from the last one. If anything, it's a slight step backwards.

Despite the slight decline, this is still a great album from this year. Traditional doom, when done right, is great and this band does do it right. They just didn't quite meet my expectations this time around.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Heavy Metal in Case Law

Well I just settled both of my trials set for next week, so I've been sitting here wondering what to do with myself now. I'm kind of a rare breed of lawyer, not to toot my own horn or anything. My fiancee's mom remarked to her once that if anyone saw me when I was not wearing a suit, they would never guess that I am a lawyer. That's very true. When I am not working, my style of dress includes jeans and a black band t-shirt (I have several, including Goatwhore, Suffocation, and others), occasionally some manner of jewelry (necklace, studded bracelet, etc.), and boots. I remember law school classmates of mine thinking I was a little odd, although there were a couple of others like me.

At any rate, there's not much funnier than the stereotype of stodgy judges and snooty lawyers discussing heavy metal. I happen to be a lawyer, but I'm not snooty. Arrogant, sure, snooty, no. FYI, you HAVE to be arrogant to be a lawyer. It's a fact of life. I began thinking of heavy metal in the courtroom, and since I have a nice, free search engine at my disposal, I ran a search for cases discussing heavy metal.

Here's what I have come up with:

Schoneboom v. B.B. King Blues Club, 2009 NY Slip Op 30419 (2009).
This is a personal injury case in which the Plaintiff was injured at a concert. It's mostly amusing because none of the bands mentioned at the concert were metal bands. Kill Your Idols and the Crumbsuckers (referred to here as Crumb Suckers) are NY-based hardcore acts. I quote this case mostly for the rather funny explanation of slam-dancing described in the Plaintiff's deposition as "[a]lot of people bouncing around, bouncing off each other. A Jot of people having a good time." But, uh-oh, some of the people were out of control. Shocker. The Plaintiff was kicked in the back of the knee and went down, bringing this action for breaching the duty of safety. The Complaint was dismissed as neither the Plaintiff, nor his friends complained about the maliciousness of the big, bad moshers to security. Thus, there can be no claim that the club breached its duty of keeping people safe there.

Wallace v. State, 956 A.2d 630 (DE 2008).
I won't get too far into this case as it is a murder case. The relevant portion is the information on the Defendant's arrest. He made a bunch of comments in the police car (never, ever, ever do that), in which he asked how much jail time he was facing (essentially an admission, duh), asked the officer about his bullet proof vest (was he going to shoot the guy?), and then asked the officer to find some heavy metal on the radio, specifically Slayer. Dumbass. Of all the music acts you want to let the arresting police officer know you listen to when you are arrested for murder, Slayer probably ranks approximately 1,942nd, somewhere lower than 50 Cent, but above Cannibal Corpse, thanks to subtle songs like "Dead Skin Mask" and "Criminally Insane".

People v. Williams, 148 P.3d 47 (CA 2006).
Hey kids, did you know that prosecutors will ask you questions about your heavy metal listening habits to link your activities to Satanism? No? Well, they do. Thankfully the court in this case didn't see any evidence of Satanism other than the Defendant listening to heavy metal. Oh, what a world we live in.

People v. Ramirez, 139 P.3d 64 (CA 2006).
Mr. Ramirez was found guilty of the Night Stalker murders and sentenced to death in 1989. I remember none of this. Ramirez was appointed a psychiatrist to determine his fitness to stand trial. No shit, when this is your statement prior to imposition of sentence:

"As for what is said of my life, there have been lies in the past and there will be lies in the future. I don't believe in the hypocritical moralistic dogma of this so-called society and need not look beyond this room to see all the liars, the haters, the killers, the crooks, the paranoid cowards, truly the trematodes of the earth, each one in his own legal profession. You maggots made me sick. Hypocrites one and all. We are all expendable for a cause, and no one knows that better than those who kill for policy, clandestinely or openly, as do the governments of the world which kill in the name of God and country and for whatever else they deem appropriate. I don't need to hear all of society's rationalizations. I've heard them all before and the fact remains that is what it is. You don't understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil. Legions of the night, night breed, repeat not the errors of night prowler and show no mercy. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells within us all."

Someone has a big opinion of himself.

The Court saw fit to follow up by stating in a foot note to the words "Legions of the night", the following:

The phrase "legions of the night" had been used in "heavy metal" rock lyrics around that time. The song "Legions" by Savatage, released in 1987, calls on the "legions of the night" to "To do our deeds." ( [as of Aug. 7, 2006].) Similarly, the band Testament released in 1987 a song entitled "Alone in the Dark" that says that "Faustus prepares the legions of the night." ( [as of Aug. 7, 2006].)

I have no idea why the Court decided to offer that explanation. It boggles the mind. The mind is boggled. Boggled, is the mind.

State v. Bennett, 81 P.3d 1 (NV 2003)
Last one for today, and boy is it a doozy. The Defendant and another individual attempted to rob a convenience store. The Defendant shot and killed the clerk while the other guy shot, but did not kill, a customer. The Defendant's principal stated "heavy metal music seemed to lead Bennett in the wrong direction due to its hypnotic effect, that this music may have led him to drugs..." Granted, the principal was happy that Bennett was now turning his life around, but here we have the testimony of one person who clearly believes that the source of the problem was heavy metal music. Oh my god. The state, in an effort to color the Defendant as a possible devil-worshipper, offered several of his cassettes into evidence. We also have this sentence: "Also during the penalty hearing, the jury heard testimony that Bennett was led in the wrong direction by his fascination with heavy metal music and was influenced by Beeson as well as his other peers." Wow. I've said it before and I will say it again: heavy metal is entertainment. It takes an extremely weak-willed person to go out and murder someone because of heavy metal. The Defendant in this case is sick. That's all there is to it. He may have been fascinated with heavy metal, but heavy metal did not lead him astray. Look at me: I am a lawyer, I have no criminal record, yet I am a huge fan of heavy metal and listen to it everyday.

One last quote before I go. In The People v. Petznick, 114 Cal.App.4th 663, 7 Cal.Rptr.3d 726 (Cal.App. Dist.6 12/18/2003), we have this "Russell said he and defendant both liked heavy metal bands that played music with violent lyrics. Insane Clown Posse was such a band." {facepalm}.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

5 Year Annversary of the Death of Dimebag Darrell

Yeah, I know it was yesterday but I was busy dealing with the blizzard. At any rate, Dimebag has been gone for five years now. I have never been a huge fan of his. I admit, he had some great riffs, but I was never hugely impressed by him. Nevertheless, it is extremely sad what happened to him. Pantera wasn't one of my favorite bands but I did like them well enough. I never bothered checking out Damageplan though. R.I.P. Dimebag.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Decade's Best Lists

Well since 2009 is almost over, a bunch of sites have been running their best albums of the decade lists. Earlier in the summer I ran one in conjunction with MetalSucks in which I disagreed vehemently with most of their picks, going so far as to question the metal-ness of most of their picks. That's because I'm an asshole and an elitist. So there. My #1 pick was the godly Destroyer 666: Cold Steel...For an Iron Age. So who can we make fun of today?

The Onion
Nothing says metal quite like The Onion. No sirree. For some reason The Onion started a metal blog last summer. It's actually not terrible, but kind of hard to stomach based on the rest of the content on the page. Their list wasn't ranked but here it is:

Agoraphobic Nosebleed: Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope
Amon Amarth: Twilight of the Thunder God
Anaal Nathrakh: The Codex Necro
Baroness: Blue Record
Blut Aus Nord: The Work Which Transforms God
Boris: Pink
Converge: Jane Doe
Deftones: White Pony
The Dillinger Escape Plan: Ire Works
Earthless: Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky
Electric Wizard: Dopethrone
Goatwhore: Carving Out the Eyes of God
Harvey Milk: Life...The Best Game in Town
High on Fire: Blessed Black Wings
Isis: Oceanic
The Mars Volta: Frances the Mute
Mastodon: Leviathan
Melechesh: Djinn
The Melvins: (A) Senile Animal
Meshuggah: Catch Thirty-Three
Opeth: Watershed
Orthrelm: OV
Pelican: The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Pig Destroyer: Phantom Limb
Queens of the Stone Age: Songs for the Deaf
Skeletonwitch: Breathing the Fire
Slayer: Christ Illusion
Sleep: Dopesmoker
The Sword: Age of Winters
System of a Down: Toxicity

Well, so there it is. I take it back, that's a pretty terrible list. There's a lot of hipsterish shit (Pelican, Isis), a whole lot of non-metal albums (Deftones, System of a Down, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fucking Mars Fucking Volta?), mainstream metal bands that seemingly everyone names (Amon Amarth, Opeth, Slayer, Meshuggah, Mastodon), and then the surprises (Melechesh, Sleep, Skeletonwitch, High on Fire, Electric Wizard). So there you have it: a waste of space. On the internet no less. It's not easy to actually waste space on the internet.

Noisecreep listed 10 albums. I'm not overly familiar with this particular blog, but I'll find something to bitch about anyway:

10. Nachtmystium: Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1
9. Mastodon: Crack the Skye
8. Between the Buried and Me: Colors
7. Lamb of God: As the Palaces Burn
6. Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing
5. Sleep: Dopesmoker
4. Isis: Oceanic
3. Opeth: Blackwater Park
2. Deftones: White Pony
1. Converge: Jane Doe

Ugh. Okay that one's even worse. Seriously? Converge? Deftones? What the fuck is it about the motherfucking Deftones that everyone likes? I owned the album once. Never understood why I bought it, hated it from the beginning and promptly got rid of it. But for some reason a bunch of metal writers are all over their nuts. It's disgusting. Everything else is typical for metal writers, no one has any originality.

As you may recall, I did a top 21. Here was my list:

21. Opeth: Blackwater Park
20. Into Eternity: The Scattering of Ashes
19. Scar Symmetry: Pitch Black Progress
18. Behemoth: Demigod
17. Amorphis: Silent Waters
16. Grand Magus: Iron Will
15, Ahab: The Call of the Wretched Sea
14. Skeletonwitch: Beyond the Permafrost
13. Thornafire: Exacerbated Gnostic Manifestation
12. Melechesh: Emissaries
11. Wintersun: Wintersun
10. Naglfar: Pariah
9. Insomnium: Above the Weeping World
8. Kamelot: The Black Halo
7. Rotting Christ: Theogonia
6. Symphony X: The Odyssey
5. Behemoth: Zos Kia Cultus
4. Amon Amarth: The Crusher
3. Swallow the Sun: The Morning Never Came
2. Immolation: Shadows in the Light
1. Destroyer 666: Cold Steel...For an Iron Age

Of course, my lists are impeccable so no one can argue against them. Take that.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2010 Grammy Nominations for Best Metal Performance

I hate the Grammys and I am sure that most metalheads would agree with me. Ever since the first year the award was given out for Best Metal Performance, no self-respecting metalhead has taken it seriously. That first time was one of the most infamous fuckups in award show history. They gave the Grammy to Jethro Fucking Tull. Over Metallica. Over Metallica's "One", a masterful song. That same year the other nominees were Iggy Pop, AC/DC, and Jane's Addiction. What a way to start the award off with a complete fucking disaster.

Since then, Grammy awards under this category have been awarded to non-metal and false metal bands like Nine Inch Nails (twice), Rage Against the Machine, Tool (twice), Deftones, Korn, and Slipknot. The worst year was 2003 when not a single nominee was actually a metal band. That year featured Korn winning with nominations for P.O.D., Slipknot, Stone Sour, and Rob Zombie.

This year's nominees were announced on Thursday and they're not as egregiously, mind-blowingly, awful as usual. Huh. Maybe they're learning. Probably not. As my fiancee said to me many metal bands have become better known in the last few years. She has heard of all of these bands. So, here's the list:

Judas Priest: "Dissident Aggressor": I have no idea why they picked this particular track off the band's recent live album. The song itself is 30 years old.
Lamb of God: "Set to Fail"
Megadeth: "Head Crusher"
Ministry: "Senor Peligro"
Slayer: "Hate Worldwide"

Slayer has won a couple of Grammys for this category recently, so they could easily get it again. Ministry seems to be nominated every year (five times total), so it would be nice for them to finally win it, though I doubt they will as they are extremely inaccessible. Megadeth has been nominated eight times, without a single win. Judas Priest has been nominated four times without a win. Both Megadeth and Judas Priest deserve it for their larger body of work, not necessarily the stuff for which they were nominated.

In short, I think Slayer will win it, but I would like to see it go to Judas Priest or Megadeth. I will not watch the show as they give out this award during the pre-show. Stupid bunch of shit.

Metallica and Alice in Chains were nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance. Metal bands nominated for Hard Rock? Sigh.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Swedish Death Metal

Swedish Death Metal. It is one of those series of words that can be uttered and automatically, a vision (or in this case the audio equivalent of a vision) is played in the minds of those fortunate enough to know just what the hell I'm talking about. Norwegian black metal is another one and German thrash metal is another one still and Milwaukee polka fusion (okay, that last one I may have made up). Swedish death metal had a style and sound all it's own. It was so popular that there was even a book written on the subject titled Swedish Death Metal (hint: Christmas idea for your favorite blogger) by Daniel Ekeroth.

The scene traces its origins to Stockholm. The sound is intense and aggressive: buzzsaw-sounding guitars attained through the use of down-tuning and distortion pedals, pounding drums, and deep growls and psychotic shrieks. The guitar sound came to be known as the Sunlight Studios guitar tone after the studio in which many of the bands often recorded.

So, what are the origins? Let's look at some bands:

First there was Nihilist and Carnage. I am unfortunately not terribly familiar with Carnage, so I can't say much about them. Nihilist recorded a bunch of demos, but never an actual full length album. The recordings were raw but that guitar tone was definitely present and the stage was set. Both Nihilist and Carnage soon split. Carnage members went on to form Dismember and Arch Enemy. Dismember will be discussed soon, Arch Enemy not so much in this post. Nihilist was finished when Johnny Hedlund left to form Unleashed. Which brings us to the next era in this sound and the time when it began taking on a life of its own.Dismember is one of the better groups from this wave, and my personal favorite. The band has quite simply not put out a bad album. They began as aggressive, take-no-prisoners death metal and they remained that way throughout their discography. They may have added some additional melodies occasionally, but their bloodlust still remains. The band is quite simply one of the best death metal bands, period.Unleashed is somewhat similar to Amon Amarth in that they often sing about Vikings and they play death metal. But where Amon Amarth has been accepted into the mainstream music scene somewhat (as much as any extreme metal band is capable I suppose), Unleashed has remained on the outside looking in. Why is that? One may never know.After Hedlund formed Unleashed, the remaining members of Nihilist formed the great Entombed. Entombed's first full length album was a re-recording of some of the Nihilist songs and set the gold standard for Swedish death metal. Left Hand Path is the album against which all other albums are measured. Unfortunately it was downhill from there. Not long after wards (their third album to be exact) the band started experimenting with other styles of metal. This style became known as death 'n roll. I will spare the descriptions, just imagine what the name would entail. This style wasn't bad, but it wasn't the same.While Entombed no longer plays this style, Dismember and Unleashed have remained true to their roots. Other bands that have played or do play Swedish death metal include Grave, Nominon, Hypocrisy, Chaosbreed (Finnish band, who knew?), Hail of Bullets (to a certain degree, definitely inspired by many of the bands), Aeon, Bloodbath (definitely a tribute band), Seance, Evocation, and many others.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Super Huge Initial Impressions Roundup

Okay, this is it for new pickups for now. Let's do this.

This album kind of slipped by a bunch of people. I had seen the cover before but never really thought much of it. I wasn't even totally sure of the type of metal this band played. Nevertheless, I traded a bunch of old CDs in a couple weeks ago and picked this one up. Not a bad pickup really.

Infernaeon plays symphonic blackened death metal. The album starts off with a soft piano intro and quickly segues into a powerful thrashing riff and the deep growled vocals that will be present for the rest of the album. The symphonic parts do continue throughout adding to the eerie feeling of the entire album. The band essentially adds to the attempts by groups like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth by layering their symphonic elements onto the blackened death metal. The whole effect is basically that of a deranged, evil symphony.

This is a good album, but it is entirely too short and the band hasn't really been heard from since its release. We'll see what happens in the future. I have a feeling they just missed the boat as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth have waned in popularity in recent years.

I needed to fill in some holes in my collection and this was a big hole. This is Black Sabbath's debut album, and therefore the first metal album ever. Wow. I have no idea why it took me so long to pick this up. Perhaps it is because Black Sabbath was basically just a real heavy blues rock band at this time while only hinting at what was to come on some of the songs. Nevertheless, there are some true classics on this album, and overall, it is a metal album, although no one knew what metal was at the time.

The album starts off with the incredibly evil title track (also the band's name). "Black Sabbath" is one of the most sinister songs of all time. It tells the story of one coming across a dark shadowy figure, allegedly a true story that happened to bassist Geezer Butler one night. The song uses the tritone to form the main guitar riff, once considered to be a way of summoning demons, it's clear that Black Sabbath was out to shock the world with it's debut. From there, the songs range from the mid-paced metal stomp of "N.I.B." to the heavily blues-inspired "Warning". All of the elements that would make the band famous are present and accounted for: Tony Iommi's flesh-melting, downtuned riffs, Geezer Butler's thunderous bass, Bill Ward's pounding drums, and Ozzy Osbourne's haunted vocals and demonic lyrics.

The fact that this album was released at the height of the hippie movement is icing on the cake. Black Sabbath took a happy, drug-induced movement and brought it to its knees. The band was hated early on by critics and never really achieved the same kind of hindsighted praise that Led Zeppelin did. Perhaps that's because this album was the beginning of heavy metal, a genre overall ignored by critics. It's a shame. This band was one of a kind. All hail Black Sabbath.

Ah Danzig. Danzig was one of the earliest metal bands I discovered. The band was somewhat popular at the time I was getting into metal on account of the live version of "Mother" off of the Thrall-Demonsweatlive EP. Somehow that track made it onto regular rotation on MTV. This was of course at the time that MTV a) played the occasional metal video during regular hours and b) played music videos at all, both statements now false.

This album is Danzig's debut album, although he had previously released albums with The Misfits and Samhain. The Misfits was something of a horror-influenced pop/punk band, a more intimidating version of The Ramones. Samhain took that and added a metal edge. Danzig delved even deeper into metal and gloom and doom.

This lineup released the first four Danzig albums together, afterwards the band became a bit of a revolving door of musicians other than the eponymous Glenn Danzig. The riffs were heavily blues-inspired and Danzig's vocals were sort of a grotesque Jim Morrison meets Elvis. The song topics were a little controversial, touching on perverse sexuality and evil.

Danzig was dangerous. This was just the beginning.

Ronnie James Dio left the relative obscurity of Rainbow and joined Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne was booted. After a couple of very strong albums, he left and formed a band named after himself. Their first album was the iconic Holy Diver, featuring hits "Holy Diver" and "Rainbow in the Dark". This was the band's second release and it builds on the foundations laid out in the debut. This is good, powerful, traditional heavy metal that takes no prisoners.

The album starts out fairly strong with the anthemic "We Rock" and doesn't let go of the throttle. The album is catchy and powerful with Dio's terrific vocals leading the charge. The guitar riffs are rooted in traditional metal. The songs are all a reasonable length for the style of music that is played.

Dio is one of the icons of heavy metal. This was only his second solo album but he had been around for years before that. This is a great testament to one of the greatest vocalists in metal history. Get well soon Dio.

The great Slayer hit the ground running with their debut album Show No Mercy which was an album full of Venom and NWOBHM-inspired riff madness. This second album cuts much of the NWOBHM-isms and finds the band finding their own voice.

This album is a combination of two distinct sounds: the NWOBHM and the early days of thrash. Slayer has begun making the transition into the powerful, riff-hungry, thrashing death machine that would later completely encompass their sound and image. The riffs are generally faster, the drumming is louder, and the vocals are angrier.

The next album would be the all time class Reign in Blood. Unfortunately, that album kind of takes over much of the focus in the band's discography. Their earlier material was much more raw and edgier. It's a shame that most people don't even look at their material prior to that album. The band was truly something in the early days.

To be fair, this probably is not an initial impression of this album. I have heard most, if not all, of these songs many times in the past. Particularly since my older brother was a big Alice in Chains fan and this is then, one of the first metal bands I have had much exposure to.

Alice in Chains is a metal band dammit. There are a lot of purists out there who disagree with that statement, and maybe in certain songs in their later years they are correct. Not here though, this album is metal through and through.

This is the band's masterpiece. It contains many hit songs like "Would?", "Rooster", "Down in a Hole", and "Them Bones". This album strips everything down and is heartfelt, emotional, heartbreaking, and angry all at the same time. Layne Staley was having problems with drugs and his lyrics and vocals conveyed his pain and the music emphasized it. Jerry Cantrell's guitar solos were masterful and his vocals harmonized with Layne's provided a haunting soundscape of emotion.

This album is incredible. There is no doubt in my mind that Alice in Chains was an amazing band, filled with amazing musicians. It's too bad their time in the sun was spent hiding from the glare. Layne is sorely missed.

Late 1990's death metal was not real exciting. There was a bit of a lull in all things metal at the time. The genre was still reeling from the grunge movement which killed a lot of bands. Nu-metal was becoming much more popular and was drawing attention away from the genre. Many of the early death metal bands were declining in quality and there were not a lot of bands to take over.

Which brings us to Embalmer, one of the death metal bands to form in the late 1990's and do reasonably well. Death metal had become even more underground and there was a thriving scene in Cleveland, where Embalmer, Nunslaughter, and other bands formed.

Bands from the late 1990's death metal genre were typically a little more stripped-down and basic. Embalmer is a gore-obsessed death metal band that plays a very primal, raw form of death metal that is also extremely brutal. There is little technical proficiency involved. The band just plays straightforward riffs. There is a very thin line between brutal death metal and slam death and Embalmer seems to be toeing that line.

This is a collection of Embalmer's recordings and it is clear that this band was a decent entry into late 1990's death metal. The album is pure brutality from opening to closing. It is a quick and easy listen taking up less than half an hour. Not bad.

The Black Dahlia Murder is somewhat unfairly lumped in with the metalcore movement, often being mentioned alongside groups like Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and Trivium. The truth is that the band actually has very little -core present in their music. The group is basically a throwback to At the Gates and other early Swedish melodeath bands.

TBDM play fast, extremely fast. The riffs fly by at a mile a minute and the drums pummel away. The vocals are often high-pitched raspy shrieks with some deeper death growls thrown in for good measure. This album is typical fo their current style, I'm not sure if they ever had any -core influences or not, but there are certainly none here.

I can't decide if I like this one better than Nocturnal or not, so I'll go with no. But it's not by much. TBDM is well-schooled in extreme metal and they typically show it. Since At the Gates is no longer around, this band steps into their shoes. They've always been considered one of the better metalcore bands, but that's selling them way too short. TBDM is not metalcore, they are clearly melodeath.

Primordial is a folk/pagan black metal band out of Ireland. They are a little strange for that genre though as they use frequent clean vocals. They also use some black metal-styled shrieking and growling, but the clean vocals definitely are the most recognizably Primordial.

This is one of their early albums that was re-released this year due to the band's burgeoning popularity after their last album. At this time, the band was not quite as melodic and melancholic as their latest album, but this is nevertheless a very strong album and a sign of things to come from the band.

As part of the reissue, there is a bonus live disc. I sometimes like to hear the live stuff because I don't get to go to a lot of concerts. All I have to say about this one though it that this band better sound better than this now. Maybe it's the really shitty production, but this sounds terrible. I really do not know if I will be listening to this live album much in the future. It does no justice to the band's sound at all.

Other than the live bonus, the album is perfectly fine. I like Primordial quite a bit. They are a bit softer than most other black metal bands, but there is nothing wrong with that. I can use a little melancholy now and again.

Morbid Angel is quite possibly the most important and best death metal band of all time. They put out three classic death metal albums early on and despite declining in quality afterwards, those three albums are still easily on par with any three albums by any other death metal band. This is their second album.

Morbid Angel's first album was all about extreme speed and thrashing, down-tuned riffs. Things are starting to slow down a little bit on this album, although it would be a few more albums before the band really opts for a mid-paced attack a majority of the time. This album balances the all-out blazing fast attack and slower, doomed-out madness. Trey Azagthoth's out-of-this-world riffs are still present as well as David Vincent's frightening vocals. The problem is that it just isn't quite as memorable as the albums that came before and after it. It's a great album to be sure and perhaps it will grow to be as favored as the other two.

I mentioned earlier being on a little bit of a 1980's metal kick. W.A.S.P. has always been a band that has intrigued me and yet I was never terribly familiar with their music. Blackie Lawless has always seemed like such a larger than life character. He wears a flame-shooting codpiece, throws raw meat into the crowds, was considered for the role of the T1000 in Terminator 2 (he was determined to be too tall), and in general is kind of a badass. He's also got some bizarre political theories which I won't go into here. Yet for some reason I never really got into the band.

I saw this double CD reissue of the band's first two CDs on a recent trip to the music store and decided to pick it up as the band was on my list of 80's metal bands to check out. These were not the optimal albums I wanted to hear, but no big deal, I figured if I liked them well enough perhaps I will find some of their other material.

W.A.S.P. arose out of the same scene as Motley Crue and Quiet Riot among other glam/hair rock/metal bands. So, of course their music is kind of sleazy and their lyrics are sex-obsessed and misogynistic. Oh well. The music is catchy as hell and the band was basically a joke anyway at the time so no one took them too seriously. The albums are similar, each one having some barn-burners, some slower tracks, and some mid-paced anthems. At this point the pattern of rock single, then power ballad had not yet been established. There are no blatant radio-manufactured songs on these albums.

W.A.S.P. was always a little sleazier than the other bands from those days. Perhaps that's what made them more interesting. This double album was a pretty decent pickup, especially for the price and the relative obscurity of the band's earlier material these days.