Shadowdoom9 (Andi)'s Reviews
Mnemic has touched the hearts of many modern metalheads, even after their split. The remaining founding member, guitarist Mircea Gabriel Eftemie was a master of polyrhythms, and his clear riffing and melodies that stay together with the mechanical bass and drums are what kept the band in place until things changed. He caused progressiveness from the guitar to switch out of what you hear from Opeth into a hint at a new djenty chapter...
Their debut Mechanical Spin Phenomena is a solid start of the band's futuristic industrial/groove metal journey, though it wouldn't be perfected until The Audio Injected Soul. This storm of modern sounds is something that has changed part of the course of metal in the early 2000s.
"Liquid" represents their melodic side in the chorus after a verse of guitar aggression. "Blood Stained" is a heavy tight mind-blower, often changing tempo. However, the band loses some focus in "Ghost", sounding a bit dull after that opening duo peak. "Db'xx'd" is the band's longest song at exactly 8 minutes, and has mechanical Meshuggah riff power and keyboards, all leading up to a cool ambient outro.
"Tattoos" has a bit of a Mushroomhead vibe while staying industrial. "The Naked And The Dead" is another golden highlight to make even the most serious metalhead smile. "Closed Eyes" takes a distorted drift into melody.
The title track is another highlight of progressive-ish industrial groove metal that would help bands like Sybreed and Divine Heresy find their direction and let bands of other genres like Animals as Leaders borrow their progressiveness. The chaotic electro-metal talent of Strapping Young Lad can definitely be heard. Another one of my favorites is "Zero Gravity", one more spacey 8-minute track with a slow blend of metal riffs and keyboard blasts. There's also a bonus remix of "Blood Stained" by Rhys Fulber.
After his time with Mnemic, vocalist Michael Bøgballe would keep exploring the band's sound in a more djenty level with Scamp. But this album from Mnemic has an almost entirely good metallic mix of brutal industrial attacks and melodic synth depths. If you're up for that, then crank up the volume....
Favorites: "Liquid", "Db'xx'd", "The Naked And The Dead", "Mechanical Spin Phenomenon", "Zero Gravity"
Genres: Groove Metal Industrial Metal
Seeing a review for this album appear in this site made me wonder, "I've reviewed all of my metal milestone bands, but can I review the metal albums of a rock band that would eventually shape my taste into 'true' metal, beyond this nu metal sh*t?" Answer: I CAN!! Linkin Park is probably the most successful 21st century rock band, yet metal fans call them "sellouts for kids". Some say they've expanded on the nu metal atrocity started by Korn and Limp Bizkit, others say they're a boy band with guitars. It's sad to see all this hate towards a super successful band. I might not enjoy this band as much as the metal bands I listen to now, but I won't take them for granted, that's for sure.
Linkin Park released their debut album Hybrid Theory (taken from their earlier band name) in October 2000, just a few months shy of what people think is technically the start of a new millennium (2001), and the technical new millennium started in a bang for this band. Excellent reviews and gigantic sales skyrocketed, hence making this a genuine well-sold platinum album. There may not be a big improvement in the popular music industry but Linkin Park's debut would remain one of the best-selling albums of nu metal and all time. Yep, there are 12 heavy industrial-infused nu metal tracks in this album produced by Don Gilmore. In fact, would you call nu metal "metal"?? It's cleaner and less edgy (in the music anyway)! Well whatever you want them to be called, Linkin Park have their best skills of heavy metal guitars, hip-hop rapping, and pop hooks.
It starts with...the rap rock hit "Papercut", where the rapping verses by Mike Shinoda make a great blend with the melodic vocal chorus by Chester Bennington (RIP). "One Step Closer" is their breakthrough single worth checking out for both metalheads and radio listeners. The riffing is both heavy and kid-friendly, the latter adjective maybe not the killer screaming bridge ("SHUT UP WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU! SHUT UP!!"). This is metal for Sesame Street-level beginners and that song is probably the heaviest one allowed in karaoke (I know because I've been there). The low-toned loops in "With You" are performed by the Dust Brothers in a rap metal track where its gravitation center strikes your jaw off. "Points of Authority" sounds as if Bennington and Shinoda are each reading their own poetry written in a lyric sheet, acting as a lyrical exchange. That song is kinda killer though.
The emotional hit "Crawling" is where icy synths and bass crawl through the intro before getting mudded out by the guitar heaviness and Bennington's cries. The more industrial fans might compare the song to Nine Inch Nails. The lyrical subject matter deals with Bennington's teenage years of torture and meth addiction, and he's so upset about it that he needs help from the crowd when performing the song live. More of the band's skyrocketing hooks appear in "Runaway", where the primitive tune's melodies can probably get the song into alternative radio. The fairly appalling "By Myself" is a weak track that is a real example of nu metal's bad side. The hip-hop smash-hit "In the End" has piano performed prominently by Mike Shinoda as he raps along. I don't know if that's what made that song the most popular of the album, but it is what it is.
"A Place for My Head" continues the poetic lyrical exchange between Bennington and Shinoda. This is again used in "Forgotten" but more apparent with the vocal battle between the two vocalists in the pre-chorus. That song is probably another real example of nu metal tainting the second word of the genre's name. The two and a half minute experimental jungle track "Cure for The Itch" is probably the weakest point of the album, but it's where turntablist Joe Hahn really shines. The perfect formula of the singles continue once more in the closing song "Pushing Me Away", which I still like since first listening 9 years ago. Oh how I wish that was a single...
What remains of this review is the conclusion, and that is this; Linkin Park's debut album is excellent, at least compared to what the heavier metalheads think. Surprisingly, the songs I like are perfect choices for all 4 singles and two promo singles, all that's missing is that final song. The only weak songs are the remaining 5. Seems as if my like for Linkin Park before switching to real metal has infected my mind. Sure it's mainstream, but I couldn't skip to where I am today without this band, right?! Thanks a ton, LP....
Favorites: "One Step Closer", "Points of Authority", "Crawling", "Runaway", "In the End", "Pushing Me Away"
Genres: Alternative Metal
Celtic Frost was one of the most diversely stylistic metal bands to start in the 80s. First was their black/death-influencing thrasher To Mega Therion, then they released the avant-garde Into the Pandemonium, followed by the glam-infected Cold Lake. They released a gothic-influenced thrash album Vanity/Nemesis before splitting up, and later reformed for one more extreme doom album Monotheist. Since I'm listening to Mega Therion to settle a DIS vs DAT debate, let's get right into the review!
Heading right to the point, To Mega Therion (The Great Beast) is actually one of the best 80s metal albums I've heard. I'm still not very tolerant to albums that old nor that obscenely extreme, but I can see why people consider this the most fascinating Celtic Frost album. However, there are some things to argue about...
The pompous intro "Innocence and Wrath" starts the album with a doom-ish march with background brass, specifically french horns. Perhaps that part of the inspiration for Therion, the band who got their name from this album. Then kicks off the sinister fast pace of "The Usurper". That song and its aforementioned intro very well beat other openings of albums like Into the Pandemonium. Next track "Jewel Throne" has chord patterns to reflect the balance of primal composition against riffs of thrash energy and muscular drum groove intensity. I'm sure there are many other great thrash examples throughout the decades that followed, but a true thrashy metalhead would bang their head and swing their fists to those interestingly brutal riffs. I'm not even a fan old-school dark thrash metal and I'm already doing that!
With a song title like "Dawn of Megiddo", you know how well Celtic Frost would attack. The song itself once again has the strange french horns. "Eternal Summer" continues the chord balance between primal and despair. "Circle of the Tyrants" pumps you up with apocalyptic heaviness. "(Beyond the) North Winds" needs a little time for you to really see its full potential as mid-tempo-ish piece that's absolutely underrated compared to Metallica. The upbeat ghost-like guitar leads in the bridge give the song its special scent that would inspire later extreme metal bands.
"Fainted Eyes" is an aggressive piece of heavy shock that works as a black metal prototype song, once again having its apocalyptic heaviness. "Tears in a Prophet's Dream" is an extravagant yet incomprehensible sound collage that wouldn't blow any minds. Finally we come to the gigantic closer "Necromantical Screams" complete with horns, timpani, and female vocals without neglecting the morbid heavy black thrash. OK, that has to be what inspired Therion!
Was this review convincing enough for anyone who hasn't listened to this 1985 classic to do so? Either way, you definitely don't wanna miss out on its highlights (see below) for their best extreme delivery. This important album needs more attention! Sadly, Celtic Frost would never reach the brilliance of this album ever again.... AAAARRRGGH!!!!
Favorites: "The Usurper", "Jewel Throne", "(Beyond the) North Winds", "Necromantical Screams"
Genres: Thrash Metal
A few people might think Vektor is a Voivod ripoff, but...BOY WERE THEY WRONG!! They just don't see how much of a difference this band makes! First off, the instruments really work well together with precise drumming, tight riffing, and bass with more than one note per bar. The instrumentation is really cool, but what's really amazing is the vocals by David DiSanto. Forget about his domestic violence present for a while and check out his vocal range that's beyond belief. His vocals are in the same kind of level as Destruction's Schmier, but his high soaring screams are near-impossible! I bet he does what Michael Jackson used to do, grabs his own b*lls hard.
The guitars are so unique and really stick out in this album. One unique thing that marks a different approach is the F-tuning (a half-step higher than standard E tuning). I think more bands should start tuning their guitars up to F or F# 6-string, or even C or C# 7-string. When they play a riff that sounds familiar (other than the higher tuning), suddenly a different never-before-heard riff smashes into your face, while keeping constantly high quality. What's also pleasant is, the solos are magically placed in fields where you would never expect. But in the parts where you do expect a solo, they are short and end up coming out anti-climatic. However, the guitarists are really skilled, and despite those solo setbacks, they can master them as super well as DragonForce.
The title opener is probably the best track of the album. They really balance the thrash and progressive styles perfectly without having to copy anything. "This song won't write itself," rushy people say, but it's as if that song did! "Oblivion" is another great song, but it gets a little dull. It's late-Emperor-esque intro is actually the "Spiral Galaxy" intro from their demo Demolition. After that, it's on to the actual old-school speed metal intro before the Destruction-like shrieking comes in. Also, the end is a bit rushy, another good reason why I prefer its Demolition version. "Destroying the Cosmos" is another song that was re-recorded from the Demolition demo, and while I like this one better than the demo version, it doesn't quite reach the standards of the other songs besides "Oblivion". However, that solo-riff combo throughout literally the last minute is one of the most epic song endings I've ever heard! Great strength in an otherwise "meh" song!
"Forests of Legend" is an absolute highlight and the first of three 10+ minute epics. It begins with an eerie acoustic intro that sounds like the progressive thrash "Bard's Song (In the Forest)", before the heaviness begins building up before crashing safely into early-Megadeth-style speedy thrash. After that, it's back to the eerie acoustic section before another glorious outro! "Hunger for Violence" is a Voivod-like composition, opening with strange symmetric chords before heading into Theory in Practice-like violent heaviness. "Deoxyribonucleic Acid" which is what "DNA" stands for, opens with a speedy version of an Iron Maiden riff before its scientific thrash ascension.
"Asteroid" is less technical and more rock-ish in the first few minutes, and while not quite reaching the climax, an incredible charge thunders in with solid bass, sounding like when Lemmy's bands Hawkwind and Motorhead collide and travel into the future. The second 10+ minute epic "Dark Nebula" is probably the least superior of the epic trio, but it's still great. It shows a bit more of a Pink Floyd influence than Voivod while keeping the technical thrash virtuosos. "Accelerating Universe" is the 13 minute true diverse crowning highlight, initially starting with Metallica hammering thrash, it gets more epic and heavier throughout, even developing an amazing psychedelic atmosphere in the halfway point, before building back up into a heavy speedy ending.
Black Future is an almost flawless work of progressive thrash metal art, despite a couple weak points. But those weak points are really tiny flaws and they don't bring down this 5-star rating. With this album, Vektor has reached for the progressive thrash metal stars!
Favorites: Black Future, Forests of Legend, Hunger for Violence, Accelerating Universe
Genres: Progressive Metal Thrash Metal
I've been trying to get back into the melodeath zone lately, and upon seeing this album mentioned and reviewed, I knew I needed to try again to get onto that boat. Amorphis is known as one of the most essential metal bands around, and the very first band added to the Metal Archives website. Their second album Tales from the Thousand Lakes is an early developing album of melodic death metal and one of the first Kalevala-based concept albums. This ambitious offering has carved the band's name in stone!
The album shows the band jumping from the death metal formula of The Karelian Isthmus to something more memorable. The compositions are much more melodic while keeping their deathly roots, which pretty much defines melodic death metal.
"Thousand Lakes" starts the album as an ambient piano intro that slowly embraces you with its beauty. Then "Into Hiding" kicks off the metal action, standing out with slow doomy riffing that then takes on mid-paced galloping like a horse riding in a dark forest. After the expected death growling, clean vocals enter the music, which might turn away the more extreme listeners. While I agree that it's a little unfitting from a heavier point of view, it perfectly fits the ominous mood here. While the clean vocals became part of Amorphis' sound from then onwards, the excellent rough growls still take the stage. "The Castaway" has some epic experimentation with Middle Eastern-like synths and a jazzy bridge. "First Doom" has the slow doomy melody of early 90s Paradise Lost, and is one of the darker tracks here.
From that 10-second piano intro of "Black Winter Day", I knew it was gonna be a total standout. The keyboards have dark atmosphere, as opposed to the synth shredding of Children of Bodom, who by the way, made their own cover of that track two decades later. The melodic "Drowned Maid" shows how much the band influenced many other melodic death metal bands. "In the Beginning" is another highlight with lyrics from Finnish passages of the Kalevala in English translation. The lyrics are understandable for those who have read the epic, but if you're like me and haven't read it yet, they make an interesting fit to the music worth jamming out to.
"Forgotten Sunrise" has a blues-like pace as you explore this pure melodic twist in the death metal realms. "To Father's Cabin" is closer to a slow take on Metallica-esque thrash. While in good quality, that's actually my least favorite track here, and it subtracts a few percentage points from the album's still perfect score. "Magic and Mayhem" transcends through melodeath bliss, along with acoustic sorrow and synth grace. There's a breakdown reminiscent of sludgy groove metal, and later some cool prog synths.
I have to admit, this is my second attempt at reviewing this masterpiece. The first time was a few years ago and I didn't appreciate it enough, and a few more years prior, I tried listening to some songs from there, but they weren't for me at that time. But now, somehow I finally get the glorious beauty of this atmospheric offering, and I didn't even have to experience any snowy winters firsthand! Tales From the Thousand Lakes might just be one of the finest melodic death albums for me with its gloomy atmosphere, despite my earlier struggles. I recommend it for many metalheads out there. If the first listen doesn't work out for you, give it some time then try again. Let it grow and glow!
Favorites: "Into Hiding", "The Castaway", "Black Winter Day", "In the Beginning", "Magic and Mayhem"
Genres: Death Metal
Isn't it sometimes strange to start your journey through a band's discography with their uncommon debut, unless you intend to go chronologically? Yes or no, I can find some mature drama here. ...And Life If Very Long is an unforgettable burst of pounding energy in the riffs, rhythms, and vocals! There's also a bit of light mathcore experimentation in the time signature changes and breakdowns, along with slow melody that was once considered unusual for deathcore. The music sticks to your mind with powerful aggression. Thick production and nihilistic writing shows what the fans love along with diverse rhythms. It's the start of their ambitious evolution!
You can still find something worth appreciating in the over two decades since this album's release. Truly you can keep up the headbanging and stomping around. The lineup is different from their later albums, and only frontman Vincent Bennett remains from the original lineup, so basically the instrumentation from this album would never be the same as in subsequent releases. While this album never received the impact of attention it needs, there is a lot to expect from metal/deathcore.
"Cable Ready Techno Sl*t" has a bit of a Mushroomhead-like groove, while staying in their usual deathly metalcore sound. Definitely a highlight, though what stands out for me is the audio sample of what the force spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi describes Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, "He's more machine now than man." I'm a Star Wars fan, what can I say? The title interlude consists of another audio sample, this one from Norman Stansfield in Leon the Professional, "I take no pleasure in taking a life if it's from a person who doesn't care about it." The melodic outro of "Roadhead Road" is a fun way to end this song of hardcore/deathcore music and vocals.
"The Widowmaker" has more of what to expect from the album, though the entire first half is instrumental. "All She Wrote" was re-recorded from a demo that was put out shortly before this album, and the guitars in the intro verse remind me a bit of The Number Twelve Looks Like You. "Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?" punches through with some groove, though the chaotic mid-section has some riffing that's slightly out of place, while not detracting the album's perfection.
"Killing on Empty" slows things down with a breakdown, where the vocals have more energy and the tone has aggressive variation. Despite being uncommon, it really shines with rage. "Noah Will Be Your Grave" crushes you painlessly with full-on grooves rolling like a speeding train. "Doppleganger" without a doubt serves as an intersection between several of the hardcore/metalcore genres from earlier and later bands; the hardcore of Strife, the metalcore/melodic metalcore of August Burns Red and Parkway Drive, and the deathcore of Chelsea Grin. Fantastic! The finale "Sloth Loves Chunk" is well-performed. A bit bizarre while having the aforementioned powerful aggression. It's not as diverse and epic as the previous track, but it still works as a great ending to this mighty offering.
Serving up some kick-A metal/deathcore, ...And Life is Very Long has admirable greatness to make the album stand out strong despite its lack of attention. With the production and sound varying from atonal heaviness to melodic softness, The Acacia Strain had already shown what's needed in any hardcore fan's life!
Favorites: "Cable Ready Techno Sl*t", "Roadhead Road", "All She Wrote", "Killing on Empty", "Doppleganger"
Sometimes I think about metal bands that are more popular but have yet to suit my interest and wonder, "Why the f*** am I overlooking a band that's so famous in one of my favorite metal genres?" I've listened to one other album and a few other songs from Killswitch Engage, but they did not hit the point of perfect enjoyment for me. It was hard for me to find the appeal of this band...until now!
This was before Killswitch Engage started taking on a cleaner modern approach in which the whiny choruses in some songs may be the reason why they don't hit me hard. The debut's sound apparently continues that of bassist Mike D'Antonio's previous band Overcast. There is very unique structure compared to the generic sh*t of what I heard.
Like the movie Michelle Yeoh won the Best Actress award for shortly before this review, everything everywhere all at once kicks through in "Temple from the Within". Without an intro, the instrumentation hits you non-stop. A great mid-paced start to this perfect experience! A good thrashy track, "Vide Infra" has more spoken/shouted cleans to fit with the screams. The brutal blasts of "Irreversal" level up the intensity, defining the sound to expect in the album.
"Rusted Embrace" has some awesome vocals here. "Prelude" is quite g****mn good for an instrumental. It's too bad not a lot of the more serious metalheads give the earlier material like that track more appreciation. It segues to "Soilborn" which is really solid.
Next track "Numb Sickened Eyes" is a killer track worth listening to. However, its ending a bit annoying and I feel the need to skip it. Still it doesn't affect the album's perfect score that's still staying steady. "In the Unblind" has more effective mixing. The powerful screaming, guitar soloing, and drumming is a great reminder of the album's strength. The outro track "One Last Sunset" ends the album smoothly, though they probably could've added some clean singing. Still a nice exit...
Although not everyone would ever enjoy this band's debut, I consider it a fantastic experience. Several years after a previous album review attempt, I finally found what makes the band one of the best of the genre, despite its difference from their later material. This is true melodic metalcore fans of the genre should enjoy. Greatly recommended!
Favorites: "Temple from the Within", "Irreversal", "Rusted Embrace", "Soilborn", "In the Unblind"
Metal's entryway into the hardcore in the 90s was often sadly forgotten. From the beginning to the end of that decade, metalcore bands back then failed to make global impact, only leaving behind templates for recent bands to use. I'm glad to be following this scene despite being 20 years too late. Spread the Disease's debut We Bleed from Many Wounds is an interesting emphasis on the metal in metalcore. Though it's not without a few hardcore screamo tricks that a few of the more metallic bands use...
I would certainly consider this album early metal/deathcore, but it's not enough. There are plenty of black/death metal structures and background keyboards without being pinned into both genres. The vocals are filled with gravelly hellfire to the likes of other bands in the extreme metal/hardcore category. Spread the Disease's riffing style is different though. While a few riffs sound punky, the rest of them show a lot of their Slayer influence. Most of the hardcore association actually comes from the band being signed to Eulogy Recordings, run by Morning Again's John Wylie. I'm guessing he must've given Spread the Disease the idea of a few hardcore riffs added to their metal.
"Quarantine" would've fit well for me 4 months before this review when I was in COVID quarantine, and it has the early deathcore sound later used by Despised Icon. "In Progress We Swallow" has some parts that remind me of the more early hardcore side of Candiria and Sikth, while unleashing the usual deathly metalcore. Midway through "Her Severed Head" is some Possessed/Slayer-like riffing, alongside occasional tremolos. The breakdowns hit hard without ever ruining everything.
"Shatter the Bolt" is a true 7-minute epic highlight. It has a bit of the melodic part of the sound planting a seed for Unearth and Trivium. Starting "Hymn for the Unheard" is some black metal riffing. "Origin" has a more technical deathcore sound that would spawn deathly bands like Origin and more hardcore bands like Born of Osiris.
Things get quieter in "Ephemerae" in the middle of its chaos. I really like this balancing contrast. "A Love Song" brings in some melodic metalcore/deathcore riffing that would be like a instrumental mix of Memphis May Fire and Chelsea Grin over a decade before those bands began their careers. "Common Grounds" is one last look towards the metalcore/deathcore sound that's much different from that of Attila.
We Bleed From Many Wounds is a pretty good debut for this band. A nice appealing way to add extreme into metallic hardcore in the late 90s ahead of time, though you might get a little sick of it in repeated listens. Sadly, this band remains deep in the forgotten hardcore/metal limbo. They distanced themselves from the plaguing trends of bands going as hardcore as Rorschach and Deadguy or as metallic as Slayer and At the Gates. They only take a bit of the energy of those bands enough to solidify their unique dark metal/hardcore sound. It's an interesting spawn point for the genre deathcore, and much better structured than their second and final album the following year....
Favorites: "In Progress We Swallow", "Shatter the Bolt", "Origin", "A Love Song"
From the ashes of his previous band White Zombie, this ghoulish metal man formerly known as Rob Straker began to rise with his own solo career in 1998. Rob Zombie started going solo, but why? Mostly because the course has run and each member moved into their own direction...
Hellbilly Deluxe is often considered a continuation to White Zombie's sound evolution that varied album by album, from noise rock to heavy metal then groove metal and finally industrial metal. Zombie had already proved right from the band's split that he's a solo guy, when he was banned from one of Korn's tours. While there's no chance that White Zombie will ever continue, Rob Zombie would become one of the most recognizable musicians in industrial metal!
The ominous intro "Call of the Zombie" has Zombie's future wife Sheri Moon reading a disturbing nursery rhyme, "Away ran the children to hide in their beds, for fear that the devil would chop off their heads". Then you can shout along to the highlight "Superbeast" and its gang-infused chorus. I saw the music video for that song quite long ago. And you can get pumped up with the single "Dragula", which I know because of a remix appearing in the Matrix, and Motionless in White's cover. That would work well for a teen to blast this song while driving their parent's car in a Halloween joyride. The title of "Living Dead Girl" is hard to take seriously despite the venomous music.
"Perversion 99" is a creepy exotic interlude, almost like a continuation of the last song of White Zombie's final album. "Demonoid Phenomenon" prevails in dark anarchy. "Spookshow Baby" is a little too spooky for me. Though not as disappointing as "How to Make a Monster", which sounds good yet hiding too deep in the low mix.
The disappointment is made up for by the punishing highlight "Meet the Creeper". Next up, "The Ballad of Resurrection Joe and Rosa W***e" sounds a bit ridiculous in both the song and the title, and who would argue with me there? "What Lurks on Channel X" is another disappointment. Same with "Return of the Phantom Stranger" which sounds too close to Marilyn Manson territory. The closing track "The Beginning of the End" is a bizarre industrial noise outro.
Zombie conjured a d*mn entertaining industrial metal spell with Hellbilly Deluxe. Pretty much most of the more well known half of the amount of songs are hard-hitting classics, with the lesser known side being disappointing and worth ignoring. Rob Zombie's solo debut has burnt his name onto the industrial metal shrine of fame....
Favorites: "Superbeast", "Dragula", "Demonoid Phenomenon", "Meet the Creeper"
Genres: Industrial Metal
As with Dead World, I was determined to complete my review journey through this band Lard. The band would go on hiatus in 2000 to focus on other projects, though there have been a few reunion shows. The core members Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and Al Jourgensen (Ministry) recently announced plans to record via email contact. So another album in the future might be possible, we'll see...
Pure Chewing Satisfaction shows the band taking a look at the dark side of America, sounding apocalyptic without the music being too bleak or extreme. Jello gives the songs unique lyrics with strange phrases you wouldn't find in other bands.
Fans of Dead Kennedys and Ministry will be lucky to hear the catchiness of "War Pimp Renaissance". However, "I Wanna Be a Drug-Sniffing Dog" is a true classic that I would rate slightly higher than the first track. Just don't sing it out loud if you don't want your parents worried. Those unique phrases appear in "Moths", an eerie tune mentioning Al Jolson and Kool-Aid, despite the lyrics centered around trying to get a job.
"Generation Execute" has fascinating heavy riffing alongside the creepy yet fun signature vocals of Jello Biafra. Apparently, the riffing was reused from what was scrapped in the Ministry Psalm 69 sessions. Give me more, all day all night! "Faith, Hope and Treachery" looks back at baby boomers and relationship failures.
"Peeling Back the Foreskin of Liberty" is catchy in the riffing, yet repetitive in the beats. While the lyrics reek of political anarchy, it ain't serious, with lyrics mentioning Jews and Hillary Clinton. Still it's quite fun with a simple structure. "Mangoat" is filled with madness, with lyrics written by Jourgensen about someone who's half-man half-goat and shaves people. Biafra shines greatly with his vocals there! "Sidewinder" has lyrics told in the perspective of a snake after environmental catastrophe.
The sound of Lard is developed from what Ministry has, which includes real/fake drums and menacing guitar machinery. Pure Chewing Satisfaction is kind of in the middle, between the quality of their other two major releases, while still pleasing Biafra fans. The abstract lyrics dive through the industrial rock/metal light....
Favorites: "War Pimp Renaissance", "I Wanna Be a Drug-Sniffing Dog", "Generation Execute", "Mangoat"
Genres: Industrial Metal
1996 was around the year when heavy metal was completing its 5-years descent away from popularity. There are bands that experimented with was all the rage back then, just repeated the same sound without variation, or just outright split up. Dead World did not want to repeat their sound, but they had their own experimentation going on before splitting up a few years later. John Canady's project even switched from the big record labels to smaller labels...
For this album, Thanatos Descends, there has ended up being two different styles, the earlier deathly industrial metal and ambient noise. The ambient "Thanatos" tracks were recorded two years before the metal tracks, during the Dead World era in 1993, in collaboration with David E. Williams. That is quite a difference!
I would say this is a similar format to Spread the Disease's Sheer Force of Inertia, but of course, the heavier tracks, rather than being black/death metal/hardcore, are the dark industrial metal of Fear Factory at that time, and great highlights too, including the hammering "Warhammer". When I refer to songs like "The Scourge" as deathly industrial metal, I don't mean Pestilence gone industrial, but rather industrial metal with a deathly vibe. The other two are really good, but don't reach the greatness of the first two.
Also similarly to Spread the Disease, John Canady's project ended after this album, dissolving in 1999. The Dead World project is dead, but not before this great yet unorthodox way to end. And with all this talk about Spread the Disease, I have one more album from that band to get through after two more albums from industrial metal bands.....
Favorites: "Warhammer", "The Scourge"
Genres: Industrial Metal
Broken, the only Nine Inch Nails release accepted into this site besides this EP, is a pretty good industrial rock/metal EP for fans of the genre and the band. Now I'm heading to this other EP where most of those tracks are given the remix treatment...
And it's an intense process too! Those creations are recreated and twisted into darker doom. NIN founder Trent Reznor collaborated with other expert remixers such as JG Thirlwell, Butch Vig, and the two members of Coil Peter Christopherson and John Balance (RIP both). The tracks that are guitar-focused became more industrial-focused. The beats and drums are added to the front of this sinister mix while doing the powerful original compositions justice.
"Gave Up" remix is a great example since the guitar riff blasts are still around despite the industrial parts. The 9-minute remix of "Wish", the most well-known single of Broken, is given a minute-and-a-half long drum beat intro that crescendos into the dominating main riff. "Happiness in Slavery" remix has a new touch, though still not so great.
There are 3 more remixes, starting with "Throw This Away", combining "Suck" and "Last". Now why combine the worst track of that EP with a good one? Or at least that's what I feared until I gave it a listen and it comes out decent. Another remix for "Wish", "Fist F***" has samples of Timothy Leary. I actually love it better than the first remix! Unlike the second "Happiness in Slavery" remix "Screaming Slave", which has samples of Bob Flanagan's torture in the Broken film, and is far more electronic than what I like.
Though not as vicious as the Broken EP, Fixed can nonetheless impress fans of industrial remixes and Nine Inch Nails fans who are up for hearing their songs remixed. I think it would be slightly better if they remixed the awesome "Physical"....
Favorites: "Gave Up", "Wish", "Fist F***"
Genres: Industrial Metal
Just one week after In Flames released their new album Foregone, another Swedish melodeath-gone-alt-metal band Avatar released a new album. However, instead of making almost a full return to their melodeath roots, they kept their experimental groove-ish alt-metal sound going. It's slightly better than Foregone, but here there's more pleasant weirdness, and the heavy-melodic ratio is slightly more balanced...
Avatar is not as super popular as the second movie in the film franchise Avatar, yet they can tour and support bands, as active as they could during the virus. They already heading into album #9, Dance Devil Dance! Is the music fitting for their circus-like aesthetics?
Stomping right in is the opening title track with a thunderous country-like march. Though the riffing is repetitive, the song is redeemed by the solid Judas Priest-like chorus where vocalist Johannes Eckerstrom really shines. Perhaps my favorite since the title track of Hail the Apocalypse! "Chimp Mosh Pit" is much heavier. The two guitarists battle it out with their shredding towards the end. The more frantic "Valley Of Disease" has the heavier growls of Eckerstrom. The synths spice things up before the climax.
Anyone discovering Avatar for the first time will be confused by "On the Beach", especially when the style changes in the pre-chorus. There are bands like Avatar that like to switch genres in some songs. Then the relentless "Do You Feel in Control?" takes control. "Gotta Wanna Riot" is quite jarring. The switch from Soil to Soilwork to surf music will make you be like "What the f*** is this piece of sh*t?!" The more poppy "The Dirt I’m Buried in" has better catchy groove. There's fantastic soloing in the bridge. Heaviness stomps back in with "Clouds Dipped in Chrome". Eckerstrom's crazy vocal range from screaming to singing is what makes him such a unique metal vocalist.
"Hazmat Suit" can definitely get the crowd running when performed live. It would certainly make a moshing vortex that can almost turn into a black hole. Nick Cave-like soft blues takes over in "Train", riding slow and steady in the verses before a chaotic derailing in the bridge. Powerful closing track "Violence No Matter What" features vocals from Halestorm's hard rock siren of a vocalist Lzzy Hale. With her vocals, it adds epicness to this anthem that kicks a**.
Dance Devil Dance has what Avatar like to do best, all in a mix of heavy and weird. They know what people love and they add different ideas into their cauldron. Only a few tracks are floppers, but the rest make a pretty smooth album from these hard-at-work experimental groove-ish alt-metal stars....
Favorites: "Dance Devil Dance", "Chimp Mosh Pit", "Do You Feel in Control?", "The Dirt I’m Buried in", "Hazmat Suit", "Violence No Matter What"
Genres: Alternative Metal Groove Metal
In Flames followers wanted the band to return to their earlier melodic death metal sound, and they've finally done it in their 14th album Foregone! Part of the motivation might have been from The Halo Effect, a new band formed by former members of In Flames to revive the old-school melodeath. I was looking forward to returning to listening to In Flames after a couple-year break, especially since my brother likes one of the album's singles. However, the album is a bit disappointing...
Now don't get me wrong. There's actually some positive light in this offering. After all, this marks the band's return to melodeath form that was strong in the late 90s. The band currently led by guitarist Björn Gelotte and vocalist and Anders Fridén still have a bit of sweetness in the music, and not the good type, more like a mushy love poem. The poppy metalcore part of the recent sound is no longer fully around, and when it does appear, it's in a more interesting balance with the heaviness. It's quite strong and sensible, but again, too sweet for a melodeath album.
"The Beginning of All Things That Will End" is a two-minute folk-ish acoustic intro that's nicely sentimental. The action kicks off with the single "State of Slow Decay", which pleasantly surprised fans with heavy riffing, drumming energy, and metal soloing, bringing back the glory of the band's earlier era and At the Gates. This is straight on metal heaviness that's entirely different from their previous album I the Mask. And that's the single my brother likes from this album. Absolutely strong and promising! "Meet Your Maker" is another excellent metal track. "Bleeding Out" works out quite well in the chorus. There are two title tracks that tricked me into thinking it was two-part suite when it ain't, starting with "Foregone, Pt. 1" which is the best throwback to the Jesper Strömblad era of melodeath fury with a memorable chorus. Though I wish it was longer...
"Foregone Pt. 2", on the other hand, is far too sweet, though not as weak as their previous two albums. That sh*tty composition has nothing to do with the first title track! And look, another stinker, "Pure Light of Mind"! The next track "The Great Deceiver" is pretty great, adding true heavy strength to the melody. "In the Dark" is a big shining moment for their new rhythm guitarist Chris Broderick, formerly of Jag Panzer, Megadeth, and Nevermore, as he adds technical color to the soloing.
"A Dialogue in B Flat Minor" continues the sound of Sounds of a Playground Fading as a heavier sequel. "Cynosure" is quite bad though, I'm not sure what they were thinking there. The deeper growling vocals work well in the "End the Transmission", better than the rest of the album. Unfortunately, the clean singing sounds sh*ttier than the rest of the album there. And why is "Become One" only a bonus track? That's probably the best non-single song, with the great riffing and soloing of melodeath, along with a catchy chorus. For that amazing song to be left out in many editions is a total bummer.
A band making almost a full return to their roots after a couple decades is rare, but that happened with the new In Flames album Foregone. While some songs still show the band at their worst, there's a good amount of positive surprises. They can show how capable they are in their melodeath return, despite the overpowering mainstream....
Favorites: "State of Slow Decay", "Meet Your Maker", "Foregone, Pt. 1", "The Great Deceiver", "In the Dark", "Become One" (bonus track)
Genres: Death Metal
I've heard about this band Dog Fashion Disco, having listened to a couple songs from them, and even tried listening to and reviewing one of their albums but I couldn't finish due to its experimental wackiness. I've never heard their 2003 album before this review, so I felt up to giving it some listening and a review to see if the band really is worth adding to my metal arsenal, as part of the Infinite review draft...
And let me tell you, they've really done their job well in this album, Committed to a Bright Future! It shows the band's talent at a nice pace, and it has given me the motivation to continue exploring this band instead of just giving up after part of it.
"Love Song for a Witch" opens as a fast pounder, creeping in with keyboards. The guitars and drums go almost as fast as thrash! "Rapist Eyes" is good, but d*mn these lyrics are so odd, not saying that odd is bad or anything. There's also great jazzy bass. "Dr. Piranha" continues the fast speed and cool keyboards, with a circus-like vibe. Vocalist Todd Smith really nails the bridge here. "Fetus on the Beat" was re-recorded from an earlier album The Embryo's in Bloom, having cool atmosphere.
"Worm in a Dog's Heart" starts with carnival-like keyboards with some cool bass bounce. The chorus sounds as progressive as Voivod's Nothingface, while the verses are weird in a good way. "Plastic Surgeons" is quite cool, though the xylophone soloing sounds odd in some places. Still great enough to keep the album's perfection! "Pogo the Clown" was re-recorded from another earlier album Experiments in Alchemy, a jazzy track graphically describing the murders committed by John Wayne Gacy. In saying that, the track is so amazing and versatile, with great bass! "Castaway" is a song I love so much, no words can describe it.
"Nude in the Wilderness" is a great track with a progressive bridge. Mike Patton would be proud. "The Acid Memoirs" would make Frank Zappa proud. It's so diverse! Though the bizarre lyrics are a bit bad, yet still not detracting the album's perfect score. "Deja Vu" is another jazzy re-recording from Experiments in Alchemy, this time with some atmospheric saxophone, cooling down for those who like John Zorn. Now, "Magical Band of Fools"... Is that funk?!? D*mn, the bass is so catchy, and so is some more sax!
The album has a couple hidden tracks ("Scores for Porn" and a cover of the theme for the musical/film "Grease"), but they don't hit as much as the awesome main release. Committed to a Bright Future can pretty much be one of my top 10 releases in alternative/avant-garde metal. Any fan of rock or metal should look into this bright future!
Favorites: "Love Song for a Witch", "Dr. Piranha", "Worm in a Dog's Heart", "Pogo the Clown", "Castaway", "Magical Band of Fools"
Genres: Alternative Metal Avant-Garde Metal
I just realized another thrash band I haven't reviewed an album from yet, Testament. And reviewing this album The Formation of Damnation is a good leap from Slayer's Repentless since drummer Paul Bostaph stepped in to play drums for this Testament album at a time when Dave Lombardo (who also recently rejoined Testament) continued his time with Slayer. I also remember guitarist Alex Skolnick performing with Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Testament is known as one of the SECONDARY Big 4 of thrash, alongside Exodus, Overkill and Death Angel. As famous as this band is, there's some truth that needs to be known. The greater fans of thrash stay with this band's music for their debut The Legacy, and I can kind of understand why. The quality here in this album, The Formation of Damnation, varies in lukewarm ways. Some songs are brilliant, others are just uninspired. It's a bit frustrating when one half of the album is great and the other is more average. But hey, it's not as sucky as what occurred in Slayer's Repentless...
The intro "For the Glory of..." starts the album with pompous guitar energy similar to that of Repentless. "More than Meets the Eye" crashes in with headbanging guitars. It's more mid-paced compared to the faster side of thrash, but it has strong melody and a catchy chorus. Fans of the band's debut will love this! The thrash isn't too infernal and instead more mature while sounding a bit menacing. Great start! "The Evil Has Landed" has a similar sound but slightly darker, especially in the lyrics, which deal with the most catastrophic day in the US, 9/11. The title track sets aside the earlier midtempo, replacing it with fast harsh aggression. It's a brilliant highlight if you're like me and wanna spice things up with speed.
Such a shame that "Dangers of the Faithless" lose the skill the band had in that earlier part of the album. "The Persecuted Won't Forget" is an exciting thrash storm, though as it goes on, it becomes much less exciting. The better "Henchmen Ride" drives through with slight speed in the bass and drums, and what makes the song memorable is the smashing chorus. It really makes up for the two previous tracks while still not regaining their earlier skill. "Killing Season" has longer guitar soloing, but it just lacks anything memorable and comes out as pretty much aimless.
"Afterlife" is more melodic while staying in heavy aggression. While a couple of the other songs in the album attempt that mix and fail, it sounds much more original in this one. It's cool and straight with being a total face-basher. "F.E.A.R." (False Evidence Appearing Real) doesn't fall flat on its face, just driving through with a bit of gloom in the pre-chorus. Not as triumphant as the first few tracks, but a solid highlight. "Leave Me Forever" is pretty much a ridiculous stinker, especially in the floppy verses.
All in all, The Formation of Damnation has a few soulless tracks while the rest is really good. The flawless highlights are certainly worth listening to, especially for thrash fans. Yet a few poor tracks leave me ending another encore to my Ultimate Pit Test with a slight foul taste in my metal mouth....
Favorites: "More than Meets the Eye", "The Formation of Damnation", "Henchmen Ride", "Afterlife", "F.E.A.R." (False Evidence Appearing Real)
Genres: Thrash Metal
As I've said before, Breaking Benjamin is one of the first rock/metal bands I had slight interest in over a decade before this review when my brother was (and still is) listening to this band and other bands. I mentioned that their debut Saturate had a post-grunge/hard rock sound, but I think this was only based on a few tracks I still remembered. With this album now fully in my mind after thorough listening, I've realized that it's a little more than just those two genres...
This was back when the nu metal scene was still on top, and Breaking Benjamin was part of it. However, they sound heavier than the songs from nu metal bands that are played on the radio, while their choruses are still worth singing along to.
"Wish I May" starts heavy before a Linkin Park-like singalong chorus. "Medicate" is similar, but closer to a grunge vibe. "Polyamorous" is the album's first single. It shows vocalist Benjamin Burnley having his ability to sing and perform background screams. A catchy tune that I still remember throughout all these years! "Skin" is more radio-friendly, once again mixing heavy and catchy in the choruses.
Modernizing the Bush sound of post-grunge is "Natural Life". However, the best song here for me is "Next to Nothing", despite sounding softer, which deserves as much fame as those 3 singles. I should also note that two of those singles ("Medicate" and "Polyamorous") were originally in the band's 2001 self-titled EP, and another one of the songs from the EP is "Water". This one starts with an experimental intro that almost made me think this would lead to an Atheist-like track, but it leads to this band's usual sound that's like a heavier Matchbox 20. Another song from the EP, "Home" is a heavier track I still remember and enjoy, with lyrics based on the Wizard of Oz.
"Phase" is a little more stripped down while still shining in heaviness, with a bit of tribal percussion. "No Games" has more of the mainstream Lifehouse/Calling side. That's the kind of style I want when balanced with the heavier stuff. "Sugarcoat" has more of that heavy potential. "Shallow Bay" is the last song to be re-recorded from their EP and the best of the heavier songs, which I still remember today. "Forever" is a soft hidden track ballad that's OK, but kind of an afterthought.
Saturate is a pretty good start to Breaking Benjamin's active career (active despite their hiatus throughout the first half of the 2010s). They have a great amount of songs with potential, though some of them miss that mark. This is worth picking up for the highlights and playing it loud and proud....
Favorites: "Wish I May", "Polyamorous", "Next to Nothing", "Home", "Phase", "Shallow Bay"
Genres: Alternative Metal
I decided to, after listening to and reviewing Hell Awaits, jump ahead from 1985 to 2015, sort of like Marty, Jennifer, and Doc in Back to the Future Part II. So here I am reviewing their final album Repentless, which is also their only album without founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman after his untimely passing two years earlier. Also absent was their mighty drummer Dave Lombardo. Does this album work without them? Eh, not so much...
Jeff Hanneman was known for his creative thrash songwriting. He knew how to add in spooky experimentation to the band's songs, while the band's other founding guitarist Kerry King wrote the typical upbeat tracks. With King in full control of most of the songwriting in this album, you might think this would be full-on fast thrash.
You might certainly think that with the first few tracks offering a promising start, beginning with the intro "Delusions of Savior", which I think is actually a better title for this album than that of the next track. The actual title track really sums up humanity in a nutshell. Bad-a** thrash right here! "Take Control" has just what longtime fans expect from this genre, fast riffing and aggressive soloing. Then the songs after that is just low-tuned mid-tempo groove metal, unfitting for what I expect from this band.
However, one song "When the Stillness Comes" is a pleasant surprise. King tries to add in the earlier scariness, which isn't too bad. Fantastic riffing appears in the last minute. There really should've been more after that, like enough to extend the song by a couple more minutes, but no, it's just an abrupt anti-climatic ending. So sad... Fortunately, there's more speed in "Implode", which was oddly released over a year earlier. "Piano Wire", the only song in the album to be posthumously written by Hanneman, is different from the other mid-tempo tracks, but it's still stuck in the middle.
"Atrocity Vendor" is also thrashy yet uninspired. The album's true highlight for me is "You Against You", having the mighty side of thrash sounding as fresh and f***ing p*ssed they can be. "Pride in Prejudice" ends the album (and the band's discography) blandly with one more groove song, though slightly more interesting than the others.
Some songs in Repentless are quite enjoyable. Guitarist Gary Holt does some great soloing work as if he has learned from Hanneman himself. Drummer Paul Bostaph is also good, while not the same as Lombardo. King performs some of the greatest riffing in thrash. Tom Araya continues his experienced aggression in the vocals and bass. And while Repentless is not how I thought they would end it all, I recognize the earlier Hell Awaits as a classic essential enough for my potential in The Pit. So long, Slayer.....
Favorites: "Repentless", "Take Control", "Implode", "You Against You"
Genres: Thrash Metal
Two of the UK founders of industrial metal, Godflesh and Pitchshifter started their journey in 1989, the year the former released their debut and the latter was formed. It's clear that those bands are contributing to the branching out of music from the birthplace of rock/metal pioneers, England. Industrial metal was created in the late 80s, not just by Godflesh, but also American bands Ministry and Malhavoc, both of whom add some Amebix-like hardcore thrash elements. A few years later, German band Die Krupps would start their own brand of industrial metal straight from EBM. And how does Pitchshifter make their industrial metal sound?...
It's a little hard to explain. Pitchshifter entered the 90s with a more deathly industrial metal style, and as the albums went on, they branched with pieces of groove, thrash, and alternative metal, the latter especially in their final few albums. There's more of a depressive soundscape in the earlier material. The band released their debut a couple years Godflesh's debut. After that, they submitted a very good EP Submit. Then comes the dividing lines between their two eras, Desensitized!
"Lesson One" begins the album with a short droning spoken sample. Then we head to the right start with "Diable", loud and dynamic while marching through riff-patterns for strangely good atmosphere. The grand "Ephemerol" has the band's earlier sludgy sound in the intro. The spacey vibe is much more catchy than depressing. It doesn't beat the next track though... "Triad" is an impressive hymn with catchy rhythm. It kind of hints at their later dance-y material while staying in their earlier heaviness. This kind of blend really works in songs like that!
"To Die Is Gain" can be considered pure industrial metal, but the samples and vocals overlap with each other, only saying the song title. "(A Higher Form of) Killing" reveals the thrashy side of the band, though it's mixed up with what they usually have. "Lesson Two" is a similar interlude to the intro, though it's just a man saying "Listen to me. Listen to me!" The complex "Cathode" is a thrash-ish monolith of tempo variation.
Another short interlude "N/A" can be considered "Lesson Three", though it's quite random. "Gathering of Data" has hypnotic dissonance in the riffing. JS Clayden can add his usual abrasive vocals to the melody that sometimes goes quiet. More samples appear in "N.C.M.", as the riffs jump around in dynamic speed. "Routine" finishes things as a rather unrelated-to-music track. It is then followed by 23 minutes of silence, after which a hidden track appears. It's a re-recording/sequel to "Landfill" from the band's debut Industrial. It's a great highlight, I don't know why we have to wait 23 boring minutes for that cool track.
Desensitized is close to a masterpiece, one where the music and sounds fit well with the different times. The band would later evolve throughout the rest of the 90s, while staying within their industrial metal grounds. There's barely anything for me to complain about in this Pitchshifter album, which marks another great contribution to industrial metal. And there's more to find in the happiness in bleakness of the genre!
Favorites: "Ephemerol", "Triad", "(A Higher Form of) Killing", "Cathode", "Gathering of Data", "N.C.M.", "Landfill" (hidden track)
Genres: Industrial Metal
Now this is a much better improvement compared to this band's debut! The death-doom part of the sound in Collusion became much less in this album The Machine, and they started using a drum machine. Their take on death-doom in Collusion was a bit monotone at times, which didn't help with half of the amount of tracks being interludes. The Machine makes up for that sh*t by a lot, despite some obvious lyrics of social commentary. The music of mid-paced industrial metal is the real deal...
The production fits with frontman Jonathan Canady switching his vocals from growling and talking to just whispering, fitting well with the instrumentation. I like the standard guitar tone and audible bass fuzz. You can find lots of melodic riffs played in downtuned guitar. All of that make up for the somewhat lame drum machine.
First off, "Cold Hate" is perhaps the most aggressive track here. There's a Nine Inch Nails-like intro before Jonathan's vocals enter. During the chorus, the steady drum machine gets toned down for some riff aggression. A nice guitar lead comes in midway through. "Lies" is slower with a similar formula. Although instead of being aggressive, the sound is cold and dreamy. I prefer that one slightly more. "180" is a nicely bleak instrumental highlight.
"Kill" is a pretty good throwback to the earlier doom, though the Marilyn Manson-like lyrics cause some complications, "Football on the TV, beer in the hand, the extent of his rational depth. He's a god fearing man, a wife beating f***, a vacuous flag waving fool." Next up, "Blood Everywhere" has mild ambience before a movie sample appears.
The title track has Voivod-like riffing while staying slow and doom-ish as usual. One more ambient interlude, the 10-minute "Orgy of Self Mutilation" is quite busy despite just letting everything flow in dreamy space. The closing track "El Shaddi" I'm guessing is kind of a sequel to similarly titled track from Collusion. It begins with simple drumming, and is more relaxed than the other non-interlude tracks, making an atmospheric ending to the album.
I would not say The Machine is the ultimate industrial metal masterpiece, but it's really great, and much improved compared to their debut. Any fan of industrial and/or metal should get this offering. Welcome to the Machine!
Favorites: "Lies", "180", "The Machine", "El Shaddi"
Genres: Industrial Metal
Are there times when legends from two different bands collaborate with each other, but ultimately it turns out bad? Sadly, yeah. But when people first heard about Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra and Ministry's Al Jourgensen forming their own side-project Lard, they thought "That would be awesome! What can go wrong?"
The project was formed sometime after Jello left Dead Kennedys. He was already in a few other side collaborations. Jourgensen is still in Ministry, and he has done some other side projects as well. When those two innovators join forces for a different project, asking that question, what could go wrong? Practically nothing! The Last Temptation of Reid is an underrated creative album with fast music and politically-fueled lyrics, and a step up from their EP.
Opening with funky bass, "Forkboy" has fast heavy/industrial metal/hardcore fury. A fantastic opening track and the best here, with Jello's unique vocal creativity. Thrash fans might recognize the Flotsam and Jetsam cover. There's a feeling of death and betrayal here, all in a fun listen. "Pineapple Face" is a f***ing mindblower, keeping up the speed of the first track, though there's a slow psychedelic chorus that nonsensical but genius. The crazy political lyrics are odd yet having a deep meaning. Another track that you wanna keep around until the end of time! "Mate Spawn and Die" brings back the earlier hardcore of Dead Kennedys. The lyrics are sung in spoken rhythm. It's not as memorable or energetic as the first two tracks, but it has a catchy charm within the lyrics.
"Drug Raid at 4am" is still a song, but instead of lyrics, there are some samples including the famous "This is your brain on drugs", along with Jello playing the role of a police officer inspecting a house storing drugs, yelling aggressively at the suspect as the fast instrumentation plays. Then ending on a humorous note, the officers says "Oh, sorry, wrong house." Next track "Can God Fill Teeth?" The lyrics are pretty much entirely spoken word. After some conspiracy theory accusations, the guitar and drums speed up as fast as thrash, while painful yet humorous sounds of dental torture come in. Apparently, wires leading to the brain of the patient record all that's happening the appointment. So odd and mesmerizing, yet as creative as the first two tracks! Smooth bass once again starts up "Bozo Skeleton", mid-paced with catchy vocals flowing together with heavy instrumentation. This legendary hardcore/industrial combo continues to impress me!
The most metallic track here, "Sylvestre Matuschka" is quite awesome, and why not? The sinister vocals and chords make this a fun standout worth headbanging to. Then there's a cover of Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away". Jello does a fun job singing this song. The marching snare fits well with the vocal insanity. Oh, the show-stealing joy! The final song "I Am Your Clock" is somewhat interesting. It's a 15-minute disorganized guitar jam with Jello presenting a speech throughout. I enjoy many long epics, but this one sounds better as a 5-minute track, but it just keeps repeating that d*mn riff with only one or a couple breaks. Really not my thing...
Any fan of Dead Kennedys and hardcore punk and/or Ministry and industrial metal should listen to this offering. The Last Temptation of Reid shows the two most well-known members of those bands at their most creative. Lard would make one more album 7 years later than go on hiatus. Recommended for hardcore/industrial listeners anytime!
Favorites: "Forkboy", "Pineapple Face", "Can God Fill Teeth?", "Bozo Skeleton", "Sylvestre Matuschka"
Genres: Industrial Metal
There are some industrial metal bands that are better off as studio-only, whether by their own choice or by fan demand, mainly due to heavy usage of electronics and samples as opposed to metal instruments. The band performed at Holiday Star Theatre in early 1990 and recorded it for a live album... In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up! The performance has actually enhanced some songs better than in the studio versions. I'll review the video edition of this album for a more complete experience...
The CD version consists of 6 songs from the albums The Land of Rape and Honey and The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, 3 songs per album. They selected some of the best songs from both albums, with some of them having good improvement.
Only present in the video edition, "Breathe" has the Jourgensen-sung madness of its original album's first two tracks, this time deliberately more intense! It takes your head off and slam-dunks it back between your d*mn shoulders, caused by driving drums and vocals repeatedly telling you to "BREATHE!!! ...YOU F***ER!!" Then the song tears your head off again like a fish in the kitchen. One of the best here! The keyboard-guitar hybrid riffing rolls in "The Missing", which is mid-paced and can deliberately force your head into a different place. "Deity" is a roaring Metallica-like thrash tune as the drums and riff thunder around.
"So What" is extended from 8 minutes to a massive 11 minutes here, but it's more than an epic, it's an anthem with harmonic guitars and catchy bass as Jourgensen declares, "So what!? it's your own problem to learn to live with. Destroy us! Or make us saints!! WE DON'T CARE!!! IT'S NOT OUR FAULT THAT WE WERE BORN TOO LATE!!!!" This song of the generation's apathy will get you screaming/singing along to an anthem that's unlike any other. After an ambient intro, "Burning Inside" kicks in a propulsive beat and repetitive guitar to keep you awake. This pounding tune is helped out by the vocals. When I wrote this review after waking up this morning, this song fired me up way more than coffee! "Thieves" starts with a hyper guitar riff over a dance beat, then the verse has Al Jourgensen's distorted screams of "THIEVES AND LIARS!! MURDERERS!!! HYPOCRITES AND B****RDS!!!!" Then the chorus stops for a stretched guitar chord until one more scream of "THIEVES!!! LIARS!!!" Then the drums go full-on thrash, but they should've used real drums instead of programming in the original studio version. I'm guessing they couldn't find any drummers going that fast.
One of the best tunes displayed here is "Stigmata" with its fuzzy keyboard riffing. Al would enter the scene with a howl of maximum distortion. The riff and beat drives the song through well. This is where the CD edition ends, but in the video edition, it is followed by Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys and Ministry side-project Lard reciting a parody of the Pledge of Allegiance. He would later be sucking his thumb and Nazi saluting during the final encore. The title track of the Land of Rape of Honey is a menacing crawler, standing out with its creepy vibe.
It's quite great hearing the songs from The Land of Rape of Honey get the heavier live treatment to suit the band's expanding metal sound. On the other hand, in the songs from The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, there more weight in the groove rather than tightness. Both separate aspects combined, they foreshadow the sound in their later albums becoming more metallic. Ministry made a great performance showcasing the songs from their late 80s metal era. Not the best live album I've heard, but quite a memorable one in industrial metal....
Favorites (two per studio album): "Breathe", "Burning Inside", "Stigmata", "The Land of Rape and Honey"
Genres: Industrial Metal
I need to catch up with BTBAM again. I really do! The Great Misdirect is known as one of the greatest albums from the band besides Colors, and was a masterpiece for me when I was still listening to them. But in the past year or so, I've only listened to a couple songs from their first two albums when assembling the Revolution playlists. With this nice revisit, let's see what I still think of this album...
Between the Buried and Me can chug through progressiveness faster than a train. Colors was once a true landmark for me. It continues the transition they had through their first 3 albums. With the new lineup of bassist Dan Briggs, rhythm guitarist Dustie Waring, and drummer Blake Richardson maintaining their places, the progressive hints from their earlier albums have evolved into a new essential part of the sound in Colors. The songs are longer and they all transition to each other like a multi-part suite. The earlier heaviness kept going, mixed with some fun wacky parts. Colors was a f***ing masterpiece for me, and so was The Great Misdirect. What do I think of the latter now?
Similarly to Colors' intro, "Mirrors" begins this album as its intro that almost doubles as a short soft song. A bit of the soft wackiness is already hinted in the jazzy bridge. "Obfuscation" can fit well as a single that should've been recorded and released between Alaska and Colors. It also shows the soft-hard blend they've used since The Silent Circus. All in all, a good start to the progressive action!
The best song for me is "Disease, Injury, Madness", having a different execution the same soft-hard blend. It starts in a progressive deathcore frenzy, then switches to soft and clean, all leading up to an excellent bluesy section in the second half. A unique standout! After that, "Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain" is a grand hint at the band's move away from their early metalcore. The first couple minutes show vocalist Tommy Rogers impersonating Mike Patton in a circus-like metal sound, a bit like a heavier The Decemberists. Then the rest is the usual extreme progressive metal before ending with an epic rising climax.
"Desert of Song" is the album's weakest link, though it's a nice bridge before the epic storm to come. It's a 5 and a half minute semi-acoustic ballad with some vocals by lead guitarist Paul Waggoner and well-done bass. It's a good place to breathe before one final adventure you won't forget... The 18-minute epic "Swim to the Moon" is the band's longest song to date, though the length hasn't surpassed Opeth's "Black Rose Immortal" or a few of Dream Theater's epics. I enjoy these progressive epics, but nowadays, I find the song's length to be a bit f***ing draggy. The soloing section has non-stop shredding in both the guitars and keyboards for a few minutes. Impressive, but fits more as a live jam. There's also an Alaska/Colors-like breakdown. Then it ends mellow after reusing the earlier riff. The track is still an epic highlight despite the extensive length.
Despite a bit of error that I now recognize when the band make literally one of their finest hours, it's still not too big of a deal. The transitions are almost never forced, and most of the songs are set up well overall. Tommy's vocals range from explosive growls in better quality to melodic cleans that no longer sound robotic. He appears less while still around a lot, allowing the other members to shine, including Blake whose drumming is so unique and heavy in the patterns. Between the Buried and Me continue the progressive journey they've had since The Silent Circus, and while The Great Misdirect isn't as perfect as I once thought it was, it's their finest hour of coherence!
Favorites: "Disease, Injury, Madness", "Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain", "Swim to the Moon" (despite being a bit draggy)
Genres: Progressive Metal
Slayer is not a band you should underestimate. They've been known controversially for their lyrics and cover arts of violence and Satanism, and real-life incidents such as frontman Tom Araya literally p*ssing on Venom's Conrad "Cronos" Lant during a tour for this album. Nonetheless, I'm glad to finally get into the thrash action of this band...
Their 1983 debut Show No Mercy has been known as more of a Maiden/Priest-influenced album, albeit more satanic. Basically a more melodic and less brutal thrash sound. Haunting the Chapel has been known as the EP that hinted at their darker heavier direction. I think choosing this album to review that sits right after moving out of the classic heavy metal-influenced sound and starting their full-on thrash sound that would reach its most brutal in Reign in Blood is a wise move of mine. So let's go! HELL AWAITS.
The title track is the perfect opener for one of the evilest-sounding albums on Earth. An unsettling reversed chant of "Join us..." fades in, ending with a growl of "WELCOME BACK!!!" Faster than you can respond to that demonic greeting, you're pulled into Slayer's demented realm with slow sludgy riffing. It's not until the 3-minute mark when the second half of fast thrash begins. It's quite a killer classic, I must say. "Kill Again" greatly gets you hooked into a menacing story in the lyrics, filled with as much graphic violence as a slasher film. The speed goes faster than a speeding cheetah. And there's more malicious violence to come... "At Dawn they Sleep" sounds quite evil, not just in the slower tempo but also the lyrics of bloodthirsty vampires, growled by Tom Araya.
"Praise of Death" is perhaps the best song here for me, though not as famous as the first track. The guitar's raw power add a lot to the evil sinister themes. The perfect top-notch drumming shows what a thrash genius Dave Lombardo is, hitting the kit hard and well. More of his infernal drumming fire is unleashed in "Necrophiliac", sounding as admirable as the rest of the instrumentation.
The riffing and different tempos get more complex in the longer "Crypts of Eternity". Araya's vocals have more extensive experimentation that he really nails. His bass is more audible while not getting much of the front stage. The guitars end up sounding quite thin, detracting a bit of heaviness. It's doesn't affect the song's greatness in any way, but it's quite noticeable and worth mentioning. However, what really gets me scratching my head is the closing track "Hardening of the Arteries". It seems quite rushed when the band wants to get everything finished before the album comes full circle with a similar riff to the album's beginning. It's good, but not the best attempt at finishing an album.
For those who enjoy wicked evil thrash anthems, Hell Awaits is what you want. Slayer made an album that has never disappointed heavier metalheads. Thrash fans shall headbang to the speed, structure, and darkness that made Slayer the unique thrash band they've been known as. This is mandatory for extreme metal fans. Welcome to Hell!
Favorites: "Hell Awaits", "Kill Again", "Praise of Death", "Crypts of Eternity"
Genres: Thrash Metal
If there is something that is hard for me to admit, but I still feel the need, it is this: Until now, I couldn't really get what's appealing about one of the most famous metal bands in the world, Metallica. Their debut has made me realize the band's earlier strength! Kill 'Em All (originally titled Metal Up Your A** until their record label manager suggested changing the album title and cover art) combines the more speedy and punky elements of Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest into the ultimate start of thrash!
Kill 'Em All sounds as if they covered the heaviest tracks from different early heavy metal bands and increased the tempo and added more heaviness to the riffs, solos, and vocals, thereby updating the classic formula. Of course, these are all original songs, and very unique ones too.
Already putting the thrash sound in place is the fun opener "Hit the Lights". However, "The Four Horsemen" is a better standout, sounding tighter than Megadeth. Apparently, that band Megadeth has their own version called "Mechanix", for their own debut album two years later. Megadeth's founding frontman Dave Mustaine was originally the lead guitarist for Metallica before he was fired for his abusive behavior and replaced by Kirk Hammett. The band took the "Mechanix" composition Mustaine wrote and rewrote it into the 7-minute riff monster that it became. So Megadeth's version is a re-recording of the original written by Mustaine. "Motorbreath" has more of the potential for the band to kick-start thrash metal, though the phrase "thrash metal" wasn't coined until next year when the late Kerrang! journalist Malcolm Dome was describing an Anthrax song.
Another highlight is worth partying to, "Jump in the Fire", having more of a hard rock groove. The chorus is so unforgettable, you'll be singing it in the shower out loud for the neighbors to hear. The instrumental "(Anesthesia) – Pulling Teeth" has the best performance here from bassist Cliff Burton (who sadly lost his life 3 years later when, while touring for Master of Puppets, he fell from the band's bus that tipped over and crushed him. RIP). He performs impressive bass soloing for that track. "Whiplash" has more powerful riffing. The excellent verses have clear contrast with the catchy choruses. As a result, that song is quite memorable, and nothing's a waste of time.
"Phantom Lord" bursts through greatness, especially in the innovative drumming. Same with "No Remorse" which, as the title implies, is remorseless. Things get more mid-paced in "Seek & Destroy" while staying destructive. "Metal Militia" can surely bring joy to both longtime and new fans, and the bass can heard quite clearly, compared to what people keep mentioning about the band's 4th album ...And Justice for All.
With all that said, I don't think there's much I can say to criticize, except maybe the bass-driven instrumental can be more of a bonus track, no disrespect to Burton. Kill 'Em All is perhaps the first full-on thrash metal album, so listen before you judge, and...well, have fun!
Favorites: "The Four Horsemen", "Jump in the Fire", "Whiplash", "Phantom Lord", "Metal Militia"
Genres: Thrash Metal
Pleasure to Kill is known as what made Kreator one of the most popular legends of thrash. There's lots of deathly aggression that can hail this album a kick-A classic to the heavier metalheads. However, a few riffs here are a bit repetitive and don't stand out as memorable for me.
But how is this album besides the riffing issue? Very good! Drummer Ventor and Guitarist Mille have an awesome motive of each song using vocals from one of them. Ventor has a shouting style, while Mille is a thrash growler. Ventor performs some d*mn kick-A drumming with a bit of hammering technicality. Mille performs an OK blend of smooth and crunchy in his guitar, though his guitar work could've used some improvement. Rob Fioretti performs audible bass that helps the brutal rhythms stay steady.
With melodic guitar, "Choir of the Damned" is a friendly intro, the calm before the storm... Hooking you up right away in the thrash action is the great "Ripping Corpse", with a chorus of total bloodshed. "Death is Your Saviour" doesn't lighten up a bit, staying heavy and deathly all the way.
The title track is a brutal headbanging thrash classic, though it has neat melody in the chorus. "Riot of Violence" is a more mid-paced and crushing track, with catchy riffs that are quite killer. Same thing in the 7-minute epic "The Pestilence", though with different tempo changes, switching from slow and soft to fast and brutal. This makes me think of what tech-death band Pestilence were doing for their thrashy debut.
The searing speed continues in "Carrion". Then "Command of the Blade" is another favorite of mine from this album, sounding quite dynamic especially in the riff-solo bridge that would certainly remind thrash fans of Slayer. "Under the Guillotine" is quite notable, closing the album like the life of the executed by the device the song references. The skull rolls as a chorus that's quite good yet predictable rolls on with Mille's growls, making the song sound close to proto-death metal. It's quite a brutal way to end the album, but it could've been less predictable in my opinion.
All in all, Pleasure to Kill offers the kind of headbanging metalheads really need for some f***ing extreme thrash as explosive as the creation of the universe. Still a few of the riffing and chorus should've been less repetitive, and they make the album just a tad overrated. Despite that, the wicked heaviness is something that can't be lost....
Favorites: "Ripping Corpse", "Pleasure to Kill", "The Pestilence", "Command of the Blade"
Genres: Thrash Metal
As the thrash metal scene continued to grow in the mid-80s, there were other bands who were planting the seeds for other metal genres to be formed. There has been the US power/speed metal of Metal Church, the first-wave black metal of Bathory, and the proto-death metal of Possessed, all of whom are so different and can't be mistaken for one another. Another different style is the crossover between thrash and crust punk known as stenchcore. Filled with political angst, one of the founding bands of the genre (besides Amebix), Sacrilege severed the border between hardcore and thrash in a darker sound with their debut Behind the Realms of Madness!
To level up their uniqueness, the band has front-woman Lynda "Tam" Simpson doing some of the grittiest female vocals since Joan Jett, though Tam can't keep compete with other crossover thrash vocalists out there. Despite that, the vocals add to the well-executed dirty vibe of thrash. There are some songs that actually foreshadow the sound Destruction would have in Eternal Devastation next year, albeit in a more punky fashion.
"Lifeline" shows the band unleashing their wall-breaking sound that can scream both Discharge and Slayer. Next up, "Shadow from Mordor" has a more sludgy intro, with terrific soloing to add to the greatness. "At Death's Door" is a little mediocre in the riffing, and draggy even during the headbanging riffs.
The hyperspeed of "A Violation of Something Sacred" brings back the album's quality in the guitar with the hardcore of Discharge, the speed of Motorhead, and the thrash of Destruction, all combined into one. The thick riffing with driving punches in "The Closing Irony" might remind some more of Anthrax, Metallica, and Tankard, closer to metal territory than punk. One last anthem, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" is fast with more meat in the riffing.
In the end, Behind the Realms of Madness can be considered an underrated classic. The lack of attention is mind-boggling, though it's understandable due to the UK stenchcore scene being nowhere near as prominent as the US thrash scene. Nonetheless, Amebix and Sacrilege are known as the king and queen (in terms of vocalists), respectively, of the genre. And somehow, Napalm Death would take their own crust punk roots into a more popular (and more painful for me) genre grindcore. For those looking for a band mixing the sounds of D.R.I. and Tankard, look out for Sacrilege. I'm quite amazed to find this stenchcore sound that really kicks a**!
Favorites: "Shadow from Mordor", "A Violation of Something Sacred", "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"
Genres: Thrash Metal Stenchcore
It was hard for me to decided which crossover thrash album to give a listening/reviewing session to see if I have what it takes in the subgenre, but ultimately I chose the second album from Corrosion of Conformity, Animosity. This band has had a similar stylistic direction to Neurosis. Both bands started off as thrashy hardcore for their first two albums in the 80s, then from their early 90s 3rd album onwards, they started taking on a sludge metal sound, though Corrosion of Conformity has a more stoner/sludge style, while Neurosis became a major force in post-sludge. Animosity is Corrosion of Conformity's own Word as Law...
Animosity is more than just a thrashy hardcore album actually. It's different from the hardcore style they had in Eye for an Eye. This band and Suicidal Tendencies are known as two bands who started adding more metallic influences to their thrashy hardcore to create a different subgenre, crossover thrash! Solos and heavier riffs are added to hardcore, though not as metallic as metalcore which was not invented yet at that time. The instrumentation shows the band refined talent as the band play like professionals. There's great flow in the rhythms and sinister harmonies to make punky metal anthems. Animosity has that insidious energy to fill this offering. So get ready for a crossover the heavier metalheads will surely never forget!
"Loss For Words" already sets the band's heavier motive. Punky thrash anthem "Mad World" attacks in an invasive battle that only the strong can beat. And clearly I'm the strong warrior! "Consumed" is also quite d*mn killer.
The more sludgy sound is hinted in the mighty "Holier", though it's still quite thrashy. "Positive Outlook" has nice thrash. With that mixed with their usual punk, it pretty much sets the idea for crossover thrash. "Prayer" has the fast thrash that hints at Slayer would have in Reign in Blood, along with the hardcore that Hatebreed would later use for their metalcore sound. "Intervention" has some static distortion to add to the sinister atmosphere.
The incredible "Kiss of Death" nicely blends raw metal with energetic hardcore. "Hungry Child" is an OK punky song, though it would be better if it was longer. The title closer creeps in sounding closer to Black Sabbath. The thick bass sounds more dense than the earlier speedy drive. Quite a foreshadowing way to end a cool thrash album!
Animosity is a swift album sealing the thrash-hardcore blend known as crossover thrash. The riffs punch through static and atmosphere to create some evil dark punky metal anthems. The aggression has made this album a classic for mostly punk fans. The metalheads wish for the sound to be more metallic. Still this is an album I would recommend to anyone looking for an earlier blend of hardcore punk and metal, worth some good listening....
Favorites: "Mad World", "Holier", "Prayer", "Kiss of Death", "Animosity"
Genres: Thrash Metal
After my horrid experience with testing out a couple cybergrind releases, I needed something to cleanse my palate, and what better way to do that than to head to the melodic opposite end of The Horde spectrum by revisiting a melodeath band I once enjoyed, Dark Tranquillity! They were still standing on top of the Gothenburg melodeath game in the 2000s, at a time when At the Gates was absent and In Flames was heading for a more alternative metal sound. When melodeath was still reigning in my metal interest, Damage Done was one of my favorite albums of the genre alongside At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul. Dark Tranquillity's 2002 album hooks you up with more melody, thrash, and groove in the riffing, as opposed to the old-fashioned writing of the 90s. There's more detail in the devil!
The sound has had more shape in the 21st Century so far, sounding more cohesive than just technical. There's less focused on the lo-fi speed that some of the more famous extreme metal genres had in the 90s. The sound here is less extreme, becoming as melodic as heavy/power metal, which explains why I only listened to a lot of this band when my metal taste was more melodic about 7 years before this review. Still this kind of accessibility doesn't detract the extremeness and is suitable for some of the heavier fans. However, the accessibility fits better with In Flames. Dark Tranquillity is all about the deep darkness, especially in the growls of Mikael Stanne.
"Final Resistance" already kicks things off with the upbeat speed and melodic texture of the genre. There's some more melody in "Hours Passed in Exile" in the wonderous riffs, though the slight half-second break that starts the last minute isn't highly called for. Some catchy keyboards can be heard in "Monochromatic Stains", which is an anthem to growl along to. Don't be shy!
The arrangement in "Single Part of Two" is a little too much in the synths, but what's promising is the usual melodic Gothenburg sound that's meant for the album. "The Treason Wall" is more active in the drumming by Anders Jivarp. The keyboards in the verses have better searing potential. "Format C for Cortex" has more of the dark character of the album, with the growls continuing to step forward. The title track fires away with thrashy melodeath that would remind some of the band The Crown, while reminding me of my favorite album that this one has likely influenced, Trivium's In Waves. The rage is halted for an interesting melancholic keyboard/guitar outro.
"Cathode Ray Sunshine", which appears in the Brutal Legend soundtrack, has more beautiful electronic aspects and modern drumming. "The Enemy" is the lightest, most ballad-like song here, though the rough darkness surpasses that of In Flames' classic melodeath era. Another track "White Noise / Black Silence" drives through strong riffing, and I remember that making up for what's missing in Haven. The weirdly cool 4 and a half minute instrumental "Ex Nihilo" closes things smoothly.
When I was new to the melodic death metal sound, I considered Damage Done to be one of the best releases of the genre. While there are other masterpieces that surpass this one now, melodeath is still where I wanna get most of death metal, rather than the standard violence of Death and Morbid Angel. The album is deathly within the growled vocals and dark music, though the keyboards stand out as equally as the guitars despite a few bumps. Even during those few years of not listening to this album, it has kept living in my head. Perhaps it is the catchy melody and smooth atmosphere. Damage Done is a killer example of the melodic death metal sound this band has mastered!
Favorites: "Final Resistance", "Monochromatic Stains", "The Treason Wall", "Damage Done", "Cathode Ray Sunshine", "White Noise / Black Silence"
Genres: Death Metal
Sometimes you can compare a metal album to a PB&J sandwich. The peanut butter, which I like, is any kind of metal that focus on extreme rather than experimental. When it's smooth, the heaviness is pleasant. When it's chunky, the heaviness is very bumpy. The jelly, which I'm not a huge fan of, is the overused experimental aspects like cyber synths. This EP shows that I'm more of a "smooth peanut butter" guy than a "chunky PB&J" fellow...
The debut EP from Genghis Tron, Cloak of Love, has the chunky peanut butter of grindcore mixed with avant-grade synth-metal jelly to make a new genre sandwich known as cybergrind. It's pretty good, but not something I would return to.
"Rock Candy" has ambient synth jelly as sweet as actual rock candy, while adding the chunky grindcore peanut butter that gets in your teeth. That combination is cavity central! There's some more stellar electro-synth jelly in "Arms". The mathy chunky grindcore is mixed together with Daft Punk-like synths and Polysics-like ambient rock guitar, while the grindcore screeches still interrupt out of nowhere.
"Ride the Steambolt" has the most of the chunky grindcore cacophony while fused with the poppy jelly. Next track "Laser B***h" starts with synth-dance jelly, a bit like New Order. The sweet-as-candy jelly only lasts for a minute before the chunky grindcore mayhem continues again, as if a nightclub dance keeps turning into moshing. By then the poppy elements are more like extra oil add to the chunky PB&J. Still the heaviness remains stable, and the changes don't sound forced. Unlike in "Sing Disorder", in which everything's out or order, making a disorganized mess.
There are a few things to praise about this EP, yet it only lasts 12 minutes with different styles stirred up into a messy joke. Still a couple songs are quite interesting and make their sound quite genuine. I don't plan on taking on more of this band's releases though. One chunky PB&J sandwich is enough for me, thank you very much....
Favorites: "Arms", "Ride the Steambolt"
Let's end the main initial part of my ultimate Pit test with one more album I enjoy! The second album from Sepulcher, Panoptic Horror has quite an evil thrash metal sound that has rarely touched the genre in the present compared to the past. It's basically a revival of earlier thrash metal with blackened guitars. I personally like the rough pain in the vocals. There's interesting bass and solid drums, the latter being subtle yet shining.
The songs in the first half have pretty much the same structure with riffing transitions from slow and fast without being too overpowering. The riffing is quite memorable and, for the newer thrash fans, worth coming back for.
First off, "Corporeal Vessels" blasts straight into thrash right from the intro. This peculiar yet killer sound is as fast as you would expect in thrash, but it slows down into dark dissonance with evil riffing. After going fast then going slow throughout the song, the tempo then sits in the middle with an awesome section, which then leads into a final fast searing riff. "Towards an Earthly Rapture" has bit of a progressive structure like Opeth, though the sound stays nice and firm at their usual blackened-ish thrash.
"Corrupting the Cosmos" is slow and sludgy, but in the last couple minutes, the band go as fast and thrashy as Vektor. "Ethereal Doom" takes a break from the Opeth-like progressive structure in their thrash for just full-on...thrash.
"Abyssal Horror" is quite the mind-blower, with a memorable beat stirring up a sound similar to early Voivod that you can enjoy. "Scourge of Emptiness" is filled with furious speed/thrash metal. "Haunting the Spheres" ends the album as a prime example of the classic thrash revival, often switching from powerful fast verses to a long slow bridge. The drumming continues to be interesting with tremendous transitions. Absolutely memorable!
Panoptic Horror is worth helping out in the mission to revive classic thrash with different elements of chaotic dissonance. If you're up for Leviathan-like arrangements added to Opeth-like progressive structure injected into a thrash sound reminiscent of Vektor and early Voivod, this album has it all!
Favorites: "Corporeal Vessels", "Corrupting the Cosmos", "Abyssal Horror", "Haunting the Spheres"
Genres: Thrash Metal
Hypnosia was a more unknown and underrated band. They were formed in the late 90s and tried to revive the withering thrash metal scene with a few releases, including this album Extreme Hatred released in 2000. Sadly, they did not get the amount of fame they were hoping for, and they split up a couple years later. There's no chance they will ever reform, due to the passing of drummer Michael Sjöstrand from skin cancer. RIP...
When the band was still active, their music did not affect metal's formula or popularity at the time, yet you can't deny the goodness of the music that's worth many listens. Extreme Hatred can be considered a tribute to the classic 80s era of bands like Sepultura, Kreator, and Slayer, in practically a higher level.
The title opener is actually my least favorite song here. Still it's quite good with the vocal screams, drum blasts, and guitar riffs worth starting up this album. Taking off further is "Circle Of The Flesh". Then "The Last Remains" continues the thrashy nature of the previous track, reminding some of late-80s Sepultura. This album is so solid so far, should I keep up the track descriptions? Yes I should, it's my thing!
The riffing in the chorus for "Operation Clean-Sweep" is a bit bumpy, like the two guitarists don't know what the h*ll they were doing. Hypnosia takes us past the midway point of the album with the great "Comatose", with a slower crushing pace. Highlight "Act of Lunacy" blasts through beastly thrash in the bass and drums.
"Gates of Cirith Ungol" is a 3-minute instrumental. It's not a long crusade that the instrumentals made by Metallica and Death Angel are, but it's quite excellent. Great riffing and slow evolution from acoustic to heavy. "Hang 'Em High" is just two minutes of fast fury. Finally, "Traumatic Suffering" can surely make a classic! Thrashing in the riffs and drumming all the way to the end with the final fade.
The thrash metal scene is no longer how it was in the classic 80s era, though the Swedish death metal scene was expanding in the early 2000s to include thrash, with bands like The Haunted and The Crown. Different from the popular 80s thrash bands while touching upon what made them great. If you wish for more of the aspects of Sepultura, Slayer, and the Teutonic thrash Big 4, in a short-lived yet different and unique band, Extreme Hatred is your answer. Nothing wrong if you're up for the riffs chopping you and drums running you over like a train before you're pieced back together by the end!
Favorites: "The Last Remains", "Comatose", "Act of Lunacy", "Gates of Cirith Ungol", "Traumatic Suffering"
Genres: Thrash Metal
This is my first experience with material from this band Deceased. Many fans of the band might have discovered them as early as 1997's Fearless Undead Machines, but I've only just found this band via this album As the Weird Travel On, almost two decades after its release. It's a weird yet great and underrated gem that mixes pieces of speed metal, heavy metal, and death metal into their own brand of deathly thrash, worshipping horror films and literature in their lyrics are aesthetic, while staying more underground than the buried dead. It's amazing how this band can be at the height to their evolution despite not releasing any full albums in the 80s.
Though this album is far past when mixing death metal with thrash could be considered a milestone, this is quite a timeless sound, one that I have much more leeway for now than in my more melodic teenage years. There's more complex structure in the heaviness and melody, without going technical or progressive. Half the amount of songs each range from 6 to 8 minutes in length. The riffs and different tempos are catchy, though sometimes predictable. Still there are fresh things that often appear like a great rhythm, a tasteful lead, or background keyboards in the gloomy night. Guitar duo Mark Adams and Mike Smith do some grade-A leads and solos that are close to Guardians territory, but you're still reminded about the album's rightful place in The Horde and The Pit. In fact, fans of Morbid Angel might like this more than fans of DragonForce.
"The Kept" opens the album, blazing through a hypnotizing 8 minutes. This can mark a modern classic, sounding joyful yet menacing. There's barely any gloomy atmosphere, instead just metal triumph as their deathly thrash throne still stands. "The Funeral Parlour's Secret" has bit of a progressive structure like Opeth, though the sound stays nice and firm at their usual deathly thrash. The intense hyperspeed of "A Witness to Suspiria" is filled with rock-on rhythms while firing away with deathly blast beats, all performed by drummer Dave Castillo. RIP
"Unwanted Memories" has an unwanted intro, but it's made up for by the killer deathly thrash, a mix of brutality and melody that metalcore band Hatebreed would adopt in later albums. "Missing a Pulse" also mixes the melody of old-school Voivod with the heaviness and speed of Demolition Hammer. "Craving Illness" has a post-apocalyptic-sounding intro, though the walking dead rises in a vicious eruption to tear any human survivors apart.
"A Visit from Dread" is perhaps my favorite highlight of this album. Right from the start, aggressive riffing crashes through with some melodic mid-tempo parts, and you will be headbanging right through the catchy chorus. After some heavy rhythm, a guitar solo plays that is one of the most haunting I've heard in the more extreme genres, even more so with the background synths. That song has everything you could ask for in deathly thrash, not just in the top-notch riffing. "Fright" is the intriguing 8-minute closing epic, though it can't beat the darkness of the previous track.
All in all, As the Weird Travel On can pin your back to the wall with blissful yet destructive horror-film-inspired deathly thrash metal. The ghastly lyrics accompany the melodeath/speed metal parts melded into their highly unique sound. Some might think of this as an Iron Maiden-ized Rigor Mortis or a more melodic Merciless. Quite accurate, though King Fowley and co. keep themselves steady in their unique direction of genuine coherence. And they certainly add more fame to the Swedish death metal sound despite being from America. I would've never had the courage to explore this band, album, or metal genres a decade before this review, but now I do. It's great to hear such energetic speed with different ideas of horror, like Helloween but far more brutal. So get ready for this f***ing fright night, metalheads!
Favorites: "The Kept", "A Witness to Suspiria", "Missing a Pulse", "A Visit from Dread"
Genres: Death Metal Thrash Metal
The other Megadeth album I reviewed, So Far, So Good... So What! was an odd reviewing experience for me. It's a mildly positive 4-star album, but those 4 stars were only for 5 of the 8 songs, with the other 3 being total jokes. The rating curve has improved since then, so the review for Megadeth's strong classic should be less confusing...
To say that this band is a joke would be blasphemy to any metal community, but fortunately, there's nothing in Megadeth's sacred highlight album Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? that can ever be considered a joke! Without the Big 4, the majority of the next generation of thrash wouldn't have existed. What can be considered a joke is the sh*t that band and Metallica released in the late 90s. Peace Sells... is what got Megadeth into the Big 4, though the success isn't as huge as Metallica's 3rd album that year.
Already proving itself to be as much of a classic as the Anthrax and Destruction albums I reviewed, the album starts with "Wake Up Dead". It's quite odd when the bass and drums enter, then the riffing, then the low drunken whisper-ish vocals of Mustaine. A solo comes in, along with differences in tempo. The riffing is not yet at its memorable stage but when it is, it closes that solo, then there's some more crushing riffing and thrashy soloing. Then a faster tempo, with crazier soloing, among pentatonic riffing. Then more of the crushing riffing and atonal leads. More memorable riffing, then Dave's vocals obviously tell a tale about a man being caught cheating on his girlfriend. And as if the structure can't get odder, it stops. Then the beat switches to a slow crushing pace with a vicious riff (makes me think of the intro for "THAT METAL INTERVIEW" videos) followed shortly by perhaps the greatest, darkest, most harmonic solo in the album, filled with anger and aggression. Finally, Mustaine keeps screaming the song title over that riffing ("WAKE UP DEAD!!!"). Quite an under 4-minute adventure, almost as adventurous as Sikth's "How May I Help You"! The insane "The Conjuring" doesn't work well in their attempt to imitate Slayer in the sinister intro. Still there's great thrash all over, when the song has more of the crazy tempos, riffing, and soloing.
The semi-title track, "Peace Sells" is quite simple compared to Metallica at that time. It spawned Megadeth's first music video (though "Wake Up Dead" would have its own video later). Getting into MTV was a big step in the band's popularity, though they're still behind Metallica. However, when Metallica released their first music video two years later, the subsequent high popularity caused that band to go a different direction and make the f***ing Black Album. On the other hand, Megadeth stayed with their style, but they probably shouldn't have gone the MTV route if they didn't want criticism in the long run. Anyway, it makes sense why that song was chosen. It's accessible while still thrashy. It's a true charm that shall be enjoyed! It's a great song that can be considered a classic or not. The lyrics work best for any metalhead wanting to flip off the system. "Devil's Island" thrashes though nice and straight. It starts as a slow crusher, then after some soft bass, it really speeds up. It's decent, but I wouldn't consider that one a favorite. And now for a true piece of art, the two-part, nearly the heavy dark 7-minute epic "Good Mourning/Black Friday". Here's a joke based on the first part's title and a Cartoon Network show: What did Uncle Grandpa say in a funeral? "Good Mourning!" (lol. Get it? Anyone?). Anyway, the track is quite extreme, almost catchy up with other American thrash bands, Teutonic thrash bands, and Sepultura. It starts in sinister doom, including a solo of f***ing dark emotion. After that creepy one-minute intro, the heaviness booms in, though with guitars sounding more clean than distorted. The solo ends, but the riffs are still clean. Dave comes in with his vocals. Then after asking "What the f*** is this?", BOOM!! The guitars and his voice rapidly ascend. Kick-A riffing and soloing go back and forth. The speed cruises and crushes keep until the end when the killer storm of madness makes a grinding halt. Not the right ending, but the rest of that track is so amazing!
"Bad Omen" is also dark, yet more of a regular song than an epic. It starts sinister, then goes heavy, than odd. A great thrasher all the same! The cover of "I Ain't Superstitious" by Willie Dixon... Well, it's better than the Sex Pistols cover in their next album, but C'MON, blues in thrash!? We should be grateful for blues spawning rock, rock spawning heavy metal, heavy metal spawning thrash. It's just that, the cover sounds too silly, but it still has slight goodness. The last song of the album is quite masterful, that one being "My Last Words", having sinister guitar in the intro evolving from clean to distorted. Soon the song goes as f***ing heavy and fast as speed/thrash metal. Despite being a unique standout, the song has some riff repetition through the two minutes that follow the one-minute intro. A bit annoying, and it's not until over the 3-minute mark when some new riffing of speed metal kicks in, going fast as f***. Adding to the redeeming insanity, a powerful solo of great melody is played. It ends with the last of that riffing with Dave's final repeated line of "You! Come on! Next victim! Your turn to die!" Ain't that a silly reminder of the lyrics based on Russian Roulette. Still, what a way to head out!
So there we have it, another 4.5-star thrash album classic! Peace Sells... is a great influential album from another master band of classic thrash. There's a bit of rough weakness in a couple songs, but they're easy to overlook so you can focus on this music that any fan of metal/thrash can't live without. With the young genius minds of Mustaine and crew, they know how work out their true charm. Well, it has often been suggested that their true charm isn't finalized until Rust in Peace, but I'm talking about the classic 80s thrash era here, an era that's part of my ultimate Pit test, a part that I just finished in the test, with this album of thrashy madness. A true classic winner!
Favorites: "Wake Up Dead", "Peace Sells", "Good Mourning/Black Friday", "My Last Words"
Genres: Thrash Metal
After their debut album of blackened-ish thrash, Destruction took on a more intense and killer pure thrash metal sound in their second album Eternal Devastation. This is such powerful energy with some of the best of classic Teutonic thrash!
There's a lot of top-notch riffing in here! It's different from what I normally expect in classic thrash while staying firmly in that style. The riffing dominates with catchy strength without ever having to drag in improvisation. It's quite d*mn enjoyable! The memorable riffing is indeed what makes those songs quite brilliant. Though one or two songs might not reach total perfection while they're still great.
The opening "Curse the Gods" starts clean and quiet before becoming heavy and killer! The aggressive riffing and drumming can easily cause listeners to headbang and air-guitar to that thrashy tune. The riffing will stay in your head due to all of its catchy fun. If you ever wanna play some of those impressive mind-blowing riffs on guitar for your friends to hear...why not? "Confound Games" is another catchy classic, especially in the chorus and fast riffing that will attack together with the excellent drums and vocals. How much more insanity is there!?
"Life Without Sense" is another great song filled with their trademark energy fitting quite well for its mid-tempo pace. There's more intensity on the guitars than the drums, showing how bombastic they can be without going so fast. "United by Hatred" shreds through in the intro with some brief neoclassical sh*t, then the riffs will get you headbanging through another long-stand thrash anthem.
"Eternal Ban" also starts with some shredding. The song is shorter and quite catchy, though the goofy lyrics are basically a declaration for attention in the world. Oh this band would get the well-deserved attention after this album's release... The 4-minute instrumental "Upcoming Devastation" changes the tempo quite a bit, with some more guitar fury. The ending track "Confused Mind" is quite upbeat. It starts with a soft intro that would keep you on your seat for the last bit of destruction that finally arrives. The guitars have made a memorable impact enough to stay in your mind even after it all ends.
All in all, this album is filled with a neck-breaking thrashy riff-fest that can scare the sh*t out of the weak, and make the strong stronger. The heavier classic metalheads will be up to joining in this bad-a** fast offering of mass thrash destruction!
Favorites: "Curse the Gods", "Confound Games", "United by Hatred", "Confused Mind"
Genres: Thrash Metal
Anthrax is the kind of band who can brain-storm. They can think up better and new ideas at ease. With the classic thrash scene rising, and their side-project Stormtroopers of Death, Anthrax made a different sound that combines hardcore punk and speed metal into their own form of thrash metal, making them part of the Big 4.
That was the right call! Among the Living is full of insane relentless thrash lightning, almost competing with bands like Slayer and Dark Angel. The tempos, vocals, and attitude are in better influential elements than in bands like Megadeth. Most of the instrumentalists also provide background vocals to add in a "gang" kind of vibe, which is kind of what Exodus has done also. The vocals often hits the highs as much as Judas Priest and Metal Church, in contrast to grittiness of Metallica and Slayer.
The album's title track is not really the best here, but it has excellent structure, despite the bizarre melodic vocals. The speed here is quite neck-breaking like a motherf***er and adds to the anger. That track is based on one of the Stephen King's tribute The Stand, and it's a nice tribute. "Caught in a Mosh" is a brilliant moshing thrash anthem almost rivaling the anthems of Metallica and Exodus, with out-of-this-world speed. The headbanging breakdown is definitely worth moshing to, brushing aside the comedic lyrics that are still genius ("Stomp stomp stomp the idiot convention, which one of these words don't you understand?"). The chorus to shout along to is the most impressive here. There's hardcore thrash in this house! Next, "I Am the Law" is one of the more classic thrash hits, but I don't enjoy the singing here. The moshing riffing is fun though.
"Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" (If you wanna know what it stands for, type the word backwards or guess the acronym) is really great, telling a more serious tale. They let things loose with well-focused riffs, mystical melodies, and nice soloing. The lyrics protest against drug abuse, which comedian John Belushi tragically succumbed to. The band really thinks outside the box and breaks boundaries, though not as progressively as Anacrusis and Watchtower. "Skeleton in the Closet" is another song based on a Stephen King story, this one being Apt Pupil. It's quite good for the mosh-pit, but it doesn't really spread a message as it should. The chorus with hammering vocals by Joey Belladonna and his backup gang will really get you headbanging. The fun "Indians" starts off by making h*ll of a tribute to Iron Maiden in the leads, then speeds up into their usual thrash. Still a lot of things there tribute to Maiden including Joey's high vocals and the break for a moshing solo. F***ing great attitude, including the speedy chorus. Great classic!
Now there's more madness to come in "One World", in which the structure is just pure thrash aggression similar to Metallica. Loud riffs, Priest-esque vocals, nice drums, and vicious leads make the song worth checking out. "A.D.I./Horror of It All" is a two-part 8-minute epic, reminding some of the ones Exodus could do. It's more mid-paced, while still having strong riffs, powerful vocals, and nice riffing. It tributes to Metallica's fallen bassist Cliff Burton. Anthrax wanted one more chance to "say goodbye". Mesmerizing triumph despite breaking from what the Big 4 is known for. "Imitation of Life" sounds like a forced letdown. Though the comedic lyrics are quite fun, convincing record executives to let them rise in success, which actually worked (obviously).
Among the Living can be considered the highest point of Anthrax's career, showing them as a much better band than when they made Sounds of White Noise. So tip your hat off, like the guy in the middle of an emotionless crowd in the album cover, to one of the most influential classics in thrash metal history!
Favorites: "Caught in a Mosh", "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)", "Indians", "A.D.I./Horror of It All"
Genres: Thrash Metal
1985 was the year when a few notable speed metal albums were released, one of them being the second album by punky metal band Warfare, produced the late Lemmy of Motorhead. It sold poorly, and they couldn't do any big tours. They didn't want to spend all their money on a special opportunity to support Metallica at the Hammersmith Odeon. To protest their management with a big "f*** you", the band rode their truck to the parking lot outside the venue while Metallica was performing, and played their own show. They caused destruction to many different cars, including one owned by the Odeon manager. They were arrested after the chaos, but it was f***ing worth it for them.
SEE!?! That's the kind of crazy sh*t that has never happened in the nu metal scene! This band speaks out their attitude with actions rather than words. Of course, vandalism and public disturbance should never be condoned, but it really shows the band what a wild group they can be. And the music they made for Metal Anarchy expresses their attitude even further, more rebellious than even The Revolution clan.
The 40-second "Intro" is an odd one, though it sets the tone. The serene theme of The Sound of Music plays, but once you hear the happy singing of "The hills are alive with the sound of music", it abruptly gets cut off by an evil laugh among other noises. "Electric Mayhem" blasts off in speed and fury. "We will show no mercy, watch you f***ers plead, as we crank it higher, watch your ears bleed". The perfect opening track that's heavy as f***, parodying heavy metal more than Manowar could! The band's title track is longer and a bit slow. The transitions that occur in "Death Vigilence" can be a slight flaw, but the song still works well.
"Wrecked Society" is an over 6-minute epic that starts slow then speeds up. Another track "Living for the Last Days" sounds quite great, but could use some more potential. "Disgrace" has more of the speedy grace.
"Military Shadow" is more melodic while keeping the speed. The perfect anthem of punky metal has got to be the album's title track. It really does show the band raising their fists in anarchy, along with the music video of being metaphorically caged in. "Psycho Express" is one more psychotic track to end the album, though the very end is a bit weird. Not the best finale, but I'll take it anytime.
Metallica is known as one of the heaviest and loudest bands on Earth, though Warfare wanted to rival them...with attitude! Feel the restless madness throughout this album. You might very well enjoy it. However, it might not be for everyone, nor a perfect 5-star masterpiece. Still, I had no idea before now punky speed metal could be so thrilling!
Favorites: "Electric Mayhem", "Warfare", "Wrecked Society", "Disgrace", "Metal Anarchy"
Genres: Heavy Metal Speed Metal
The wolves of metal have been really rising in the first two decades of the new millennium. Two of which include heavy/power metal acts Wolf and Powerwolf. And there are probably more obscure bands that also "wolf" in the name. One interesting band in the wolfpack is Speedwolf, cooking up a fresh new punky brand of speed metal. Though they are 25 years late in the scene compared to the other speed metal albums I've reviewed and, if we go slightly earlier, the proto-speed of Motorhead.
Only one album was made during their run from 2008 to 2016 (the same period as when Obama was the U.S. president). Ride With Death throws mighty punches for fans of hardcore/crossover thrash to enjoy. The vocals have kind of a Motorhead/Sodom vibe, while the distorted bass sounds like the bassist has learnt from the late Cliff Burton.
The band's own title track (NOT of the album) has a draggy two-minute intro, but then it speeds up right away, perfectly taking you on a wild ride. Things cool down slightly with the rocker "Up All Night" that sounds closer to Iron Maiden in the riffing. They then pick up some early-80s Slayer-like speed in "Out on Bail". There's another faster track "I am the Demon", in which the riffing would fit well for early Venom.
"Time to Annihilate" fires away again with massive energy, though with a slight modern taste. Another track "Never Twice" seems like they fuse power metal and technical thrash in the instrumentation. I like when they rock out in songs like "I Can't Die". Interestingly, "Death Ripper" sounds close to old-school black metal, especially in the vocals.
"Hell and Back" brings forward the band's attitude of alcoholic motor-bikers. When "The Reaper" speeds up, it reminds me a bit of Living Sacrifice's debut, but with more melody. Perhaps the best standout for me is the title track, a pure thrashy speed metal assault, reminding some of classic Tankard and other thrash bands' 80s breakthrough albums, all while keeping the melodic riffing going through the fast tempo. "Denver 666" is not the best way to end the album, but it keeps up the speed once more.
With the recent revival of thrash metal and speed metal, Speedwolf made a pretty great representation of reviving the latter genre's 80s essentials. The mix sounds different in this current age while giving listeners what to enjoy from its powerful past. A new rebellious metal generation out there is ready to ride, drink, smoke, and howl in the night!
Favorites: "Speedwolf", "Out on Bail", "Time to Annihilate", "I Can't Die", "The Reaper", "Ride With Death"
Genres: Speed Metal
OK, I'm back in the speed metal part of the ultimate Pit test. And I just encountered an album that balances out that part, taking on a more aggressive thrashy form of speed metal that seems appropriate for The Pit. Well, despite the Accept influences...
Living Death released their debut album Vengeance in Hell in 1984. They then hired Harald Lutze for a tour to support the album, with fellow German metal band Warlock (Doro's former band) by their side. After that, Lutze was fired for some reason and taking his place was Andreas Oberhoff (RIP). The following year, 1985 saw the release of the EP Watch Out, hinting at a different progression of their sound. Their different sound is solidified in this album, Metal Revolution!
This aggressive style already makes it entrance with the opening track "Killing Machine" that's like a more thrashy Accept. The next track "Gripping a Heart" is fast while looking back at the earlier part of the 80s. Another track "Rulers Must Come" is slower and more mid-paced.
The heavier "Screaming from a Chamber" is a 6-minute slow monster that takes a break fast thrashy speed metal aggression that covers most of the other tracks on the album. Though I'm happy with this occasional slow approach. The team have really built a wall of sound so impenetrable. The riff really thunders through in that slow track, as opposed to the faster tracks' intense energy. Side B starts with a one-minute-and-a-half intro. I have a feeling these two vinyl sides are switched, like the album should've started with an intro then ended with a 6-minute epic. The speed snaps back on in "Shadow of the Dawn".
Then "Panic and Hysteria" follows as another good song. Honestly, I still think side B should've been side A, but never mind that. Summing up the style further is "Road of Destiny". There's still the faster speed metal, but some slow guitar sections can occur. The vocals by Thorsten Bergmann are never weak in any way, having his trademark high abrasion. Love it or hate it, when it comes to speed metal, this is the good sh*t! However, there is slight weakness in his vocals in "Deep in Hell", though his strong side still dominates. The guitars can be heard quite clearly in the mix, thanks to the beefy production, along with audible bass to continue building this wall of sound. The drums even have a nice snare. Whether or not the vinyl sides have truly been switched, a good ending either way.
So is this album really closer to The Pit? The answer, in my opinion, is yes. I think of most of the songs of a kind of speed metal that is like old-school melodic thrash with the cleaner riffs and vocals of Accept. It shows Living Death evolving with good progress in their own unique sound. This is enjoyable thrashy speed metal energy! Anyone who likes Accept but wants more speed than that band's album Restless and Wild might dig this....
Favorites: "Killing Machine", "Screaming from a Chamber", "Shadow of the Dawn", "Road of Destiny"
Genres: Speed Metal
This is my first experience with material from this band Merciless, and let me just say, there's nothing disappointing about this album. Merciless is a band from Sweden that combined thrash metal with aggressive influences from death metal and even a bit of black metal. In the late 80s, the band released two demos. They recorded this album The Awakening in 1989, and released it less than a year later in 1990. What's also worth noting is, it's the first album released via Deathlike Silence Productions, operated by late Mayhem guitarist Euronymous. Two years later, he would publish 8 black metal albums within a couple years before his murder by Burzum's Varg Vikernes. Back to this band Merciless, The Awakening is pretty much the last Swedish extreme metal album released in this earlier era before a different one of full-on death metal.
Now I know what you're thinking, "You seriously interrupted the more melodic speed metal part of your Pit test for a deathly thrash album from the 90s thrash metal part? That's quite an odd switch, what's the deal there!?" Yeah, those speed metal albums were quite melodic for Pit releases, one of them doesn't have any rights in the Pit! So I decided to check out the remaining album from the 90s thrash metal part before going any further, and it's a heavy polar opposite. Quite killer despite its mere 27-minute length. Time flies when you have fun listening, so you have to savor in some thorough listening for a full experience worth appreciating.
"Pure Hate" starts things off with what you expect to hear, straight from the top. It's clear that the band was taking the last bit of thrash left in the 80s, and it's worth sharing to the heavier members of Metal Academy. The violent deathly thrash riffing really pleases me. Some might even think of 80s Kreator. And you might even scream along to his vocals, "PURE HATE!!!!" Next track "Souls of the Dead" is full-on deathly thrash. Same with the title track that kinda reminds me of Living Sacrifice's debut from next year.
Next track "Dreadful Fate" pushes the early Kreator-like style further. "Realm of The Dark" does the same, with the intensity I really like and prefer. "Dying World" has interesting original riffing that sounds both inspired and inspiring.
Towards the end, cool melody finally arrives in "Bestial Death". Still the band is focused as ever on the brutal speed. They never go complex or progressive, instead having straight-up violence. If the album cover art doesn't tip you off about that, it's still worth trying for killer tracks like that one. The savage extreme thrash is back once more with "Denied Birth", ending the album as viciously as it began.
All in all, the sound is quite great, including the production. Without ever having to use a professional studio, it sounds so unique and raw. The mix in the instrumentation is done in a way that barely has any flaws at all, giving in a more primitive vibe. The majority of this album is quite memorable, as well as underrated compared to the heavier bands that stretch past my brutality limit. I might not entirely be in the mood for deathly thrash metal, but if I am, I'm up to giving The Awakening an occasional listen. I would certainly recommend it to fans of earlier death/thrash metal for some of this anger and merciless hate!
Favorites: "Pure Hate", "The Awakening", "Realm of the Dark", "Bestial Death"
Genres: Death Metal Thrash Metal