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06.19.06 Top 10 'Heavy' Albums

Top 10 'Heavy' Albums

My top ten favourite heavy albums.
1Converge
Jane Doe


Although usually if you ask me, I'll say that 'You Fail Me' is the better album, or at least the one that relates to me more, you simply cannot deny Jane Doe. Like every album in this top 5, everything in it has been brilliantly thought out and carved out to create something really special. But as far as heaviness goes, this album just as little bit extra over it's peers. Every riff in fantastic (a dream to play on bass or guitar) and don't even get me started about Ben Koller's drumming. There's not really a lot to say here because everyone knows what an excellent album this is. Let's just say, if you combined everything I have mentioned that is good about the previous four albums, you will find it in here. here being, in my opinion, the best 'heavy' album of all time.
2November Coming Fire
Dungeness


- The second of two UK albums in this list, and not only that, the most recent album of the list. When this band emerged out of the already established Canterbury/Kent hardcore scene with fantastic ep 'Black Ballads', no one really expected them to be anymore than the excellent metalcore band renownked for their energetic live performances and passionate attempts to keep the scene alive (most noteably, getting Converge to play a small sout hut in Ashford, Kent). But when NCF released 'Dungeness' in February 2006, they completely blew away anyone's expectations and preconceptions they might have had. Because this album is SO intelligent and SO original and SO passionate that for it to go underappreciated will be a crime against music and possibily even humanity. See, November Coming Fire have such a range of influences, such a passion for music and such an energy and belief in what they do that they have created one of the most original, inventive AND heavy albums i've ever heard (it's been four months since it's release and I'm still listening to it consistently and trying to crack it open). And how do they do it, you ask? By combining that original hardcore/metalcore sound that they grew up with, applying it with pacey punk-rock, the originality and creativeness of Mastodon and the passion of Converge to make something really, really special. EVERY song on this album is perfect. Let me make that clear straight away. Every single riff, rhythm, lyric, and shift in mood and been so painstakingly thought out that the idea that this album still manages to leave the imagination of it's listener run wild is unbelieveable. But that is what it manges to do. It is such a unique, energetic and passionate sound that no one, and I mean NO ONE, sounds like November Coming Fire right now. From the grandiose emotion of 'Powerstation' to the punk hardcore madness of 'That Black House Made of Rubber' to the brooding ballad of 'Mascot'. This album is PERFECT. So why isn't it number.1? Because I'm afraid it got pipped to the post by a slightly better album, both overall and in heaviness, that is far more accepted and to be fair, without it, NCF's album probably wouldn't be the same.
3Converge
You Fail Me


- I'm in constant debate with myself about which is the better album, this or number. 1 in this list. And this, to be honest doesn't really get me any closer. As I've previously explained. I'm looking at good albums are at being heavy, not neccesarily how good they are overall. But maybe I'll never find out. Because really, it's not important. The point is, both these albums are perfect. Sadly, 'You Fail Me' was incredibly overlooked, particuarly by the 'Converge Purists' who had been there from the start and thus instantly knew everything about Converge and what they should do. For some, this album was too different. For others, me included, it was both the natural and perfect progression. It was on this album where Converge finally started to to do something different, rather than try and beat the sound that they had already improved upon twice and then evenetually accomplished. 'You Fail Me' is arguably their most darkest listen yet. All Converge albums are emotional journeys. But this, is a much more reflective, ingelligent, and mature one. The thing about 'Jane Doe' is that it's instantly after where things went wrong for Jacob Bannon, so 'Jane Doe' captures the isntant reaction. 'You Fail Me' is much more brooding, and follows on from 'Jane Doe' as a much more thought-out album. The difference is that it's not as easy to adjust to with short little bursts like 'Heartless' or 'Death King'. This is the album that saw Converge experiment in their maturity, with 'Last Light' and the equally stunning 'You Fail Me'. It even featured an incredibly haunting acoustic track to mark the middle of this dark journey in 'In Her Shadow'. But ultimately, it is their most creative and mature album, that's why it's so good, and it's only left fans waiting for more.
4Botch
We are the Romans


- Sorry for that over-enthusiastic rant about number 5. But it's an album I'm very passionate about. This though, (as the higher rank suggests) is even better. We Are the Romans was the last full-length release by Botch, and it was such an incredible one that now it has become a massive influence in heavy, original music today, while the band members themselves are busy being in Minus the Bear, These Arms Are Snakes, ROY and many other projects. The thing about Botch is, they managed to combine the incredible originality and fast-paced sound of Converge, added some more jazz and blues influences to it, and somehow, made it sound Melodic. That isn't to say vocalist Dave Verellin didn't do his fair share of screaming rather than singing, but due to Botch's stripped down, one guitar sound, it didn't just sound like a wall of noise (something Converge are constantly accused of); you could actually pick out all the riffs and instruments that went into their music. On the face of it, if any other band had played the music Botch do, it wouldn't have worked. They used technical riffs and rhythms, obscure time signiatures, and in some songs were so de-tuned (A!) that it sounded like death metal. But isntead of drawing attention to these things like most metal bands, they made it sound and look so easy that it could have just been simple background music; every instrument in Botch is carefully catered for, and that's what makes them so good. And the reason this album in particular is so good, is that, not only does it work as a whole album, but you could pick out any song off it, and find something you like about it, even if it's the slightest thing. If you had this album in it's entirety (even the hidden Drum 'N' Bass track programmer Matt Bayles came up with) on your MP3 player and a track came on, on shuffle, you'd be so pleased that you would just have to notice.
5 Pale Horse
Gee that Aint Swell


- Sadly such an overlooked album not even Last Fm can tell the difference between them and the DC Hardcore band. Pale Horse are - or were - (or at the least the one I'm refering to) one of the most unique, original and heaviest bands the UK have ever produced. (Christ, the first on only two UK bands in this list!) In 2002, In between recording Million Dead's excellent first album 'A Song to Ruin', Ben Dawson and friends (including Tom Fowler who would go on to be Million Dead's guitarist on their second album) created a band that never really aimed very high, and as a result never really got the recognition they deserved. Funny to think that what started out as an excuse to jam for a bit of a laugh would actually become potentially (it's still too early to tell) an incredibly influential band. And why am I raving so much about a band you've probably never heard of I hear you ask? Because their one and only album, 'Gee This Ain't Swell' was such an original, moving, and heavy piece of work that it has since become one of my favourite albums of all time. The reason they're so unique? Pale Horse managed to combine the fairly standard and well known sound of Sludge Metal from bands like Neurosis - using two detuned and distorted to **** bass guitars as the melody section - and applied it to the far less conventional screamo sound of bands like Saetia and I Hate Myself. The result, as this album proves, was cataclysmic. The meeting of these two already fairly draining and depressing sounds made the end of the world seem like nirvana. But it was made with such intelligence, integrity and originality that it somehow, became enjoyable. Listening to "hit single" 'Holy Trinity Church Student Bar' for the first time, chances are, for the first two minutes you'll hear lots of growling and say "WHAT THE **** IS THIS?" I should know, I did too. But once you make it past those first two and a bit minutes, you're suddenly invited to a more sensitive side of Pale Horse (which is where the Screamo influence comes in) as the remainer of the song hushes until a wonderful, heart-rendering cresendo. And by the end, you'll listen to it again, now knowing what is coming at the end of the track, and will grow to accept and eventually love it. And this whole album is full of little surprises like this. Yes, it is at times crushingly heavy and depressing, (but perfect if you're in a ****ed off mood), but because it has that more sensitive side constantly jostling for power, you'll notice that the balance is just right and that this album is incredible. Sadly, in 2003 after only a handful of shows, Pale Horse was forced to end because of Ben and Tom's ever increasing commitments to Million Dead. The tension of everything surrounding Million Dead, including Pale Horse being forced to extinction, eventually meant that not long after MD's second album "Harmony, No Harmony" was released, they split up. Now, in 2006, four years after this album first came out, Pale Horse, with a slightly shuffled line-up, are back together again and doing a headlining UK tour after it seemed all hope was lost. I strongly encourage that you see this band live if you have the chance, I'm still amazed that I'm going to be able to. http://www.myspace.com/thispalehorse
6Deftones
Deftones


- This, is a sadly terribly overlooked album. Ask any Deftones fan what their favourite album is, and chances are they'll say 'Around the Fur' or 'White Pony' depending on wether the interviewee has long hair or not. However, this album manages to have both the stunning riffs of 'Around the Fur' and the eclecticism and creativity of 'White Pony' and yet still it went completely unnoticed and unappreciated. Why is beyond me, when this album has everything. From the opening riff meets obscure rhythm (a reletively new thing for Deftones) on the stunning Hexagram to arguably one of the Deftones most loved songs in the beautiful Minerva. And the album contiutes to charm all the way through while sustaining a certain intelligence and absolutely MASSIVE sound that rivals the likes of Isis or Pelican. Bloody Cape for instance catching the whole essense of what this album is about, along with the electro laden Lucky You. It is altogether, not only Deftones best and most varied album, but their most complete.
7The Dillinger Escape Plan
Miss Machine


- Ah, Dillinger. A hard one for some, but it's very hard to deny their latest effort. 2 years may have passed now, but it still remains a stunning album. How, you say? Because they managed to fit all the mind-boggiling complexity and technicallity of their otherwise unnaproachable earlier works, with an uncomprehensible melodic and poppy side. For instance, if you sat the breakdown laden yet still bizarre 43% Burnt next to Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants you'd be amazed that it is the same band. Fair play, they have a new vocalist now who can handle some fantastic vocal melodies, but a chorus in 4/4 timing for Dillinger?! Surely not! And this album continues to surprise and entertain, without losing all the fantastic over-indulgant riffs of their earlier work. Note: the stupidly epic Sunshine the Werewolf should explain everything.
8Refused
Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent


- Again, I made this clear at the beginning that I am looking at best Heavy albums. Not 'overall'. This, therefore is why I have chosen this Refused album over their much more acclaimed swansong The Shape of Punk to Come. The riffs on this album are just unbeliveable. This in ways, is a much better album than their finale because it is the one that perfectly captures everything Refused stood for before they changed their direction (for the better) to The Shape of Punk to Come. This album expresses all the ****ed-off aggression and tension of growing up in a small ****-hole industrial town where nothing happens you could ever possibly want, along with all the political views this band stood for. It was on this album that it became apparent what Refused were trying to do on their slightly immature previous efforts. Again, this is another album that's sheer rip-roaring speed will amaze and inspire, combined with thrashy Slayer riffs and the Hardcore breakdowns they grew up with. One of the most intelligent Hardcore/Metalcore crossover albums still to this day, as well as one of the most influential; in ten years, this is still an incredible album.
9Every Time I Die
Hot Damn!


- If the list was based on 'overall quality' rather than having a distinct skew on 'heaviness', this would be far higher up on the list. As it stands though, there are much better 'heavy' albums out there, it's just this one is fantastic for other reasons. As far as heavy goes though, it's still way up there. Like Lamb of God, Every Time I Die exploded with the Metalcore genre, but, also like Lamb of God, represented the more intelligent side to Metalcore; the purist's choice. And it's no wonder why. Stunning riffs, obscure time signiatures and odd rhythms, and yet this album still remains to be remarkabley melodic! Let alone being the fastest album in this list (not only because of it's 28 minute length, but also because of the sheer velocity the riffs are played at) The main thing that makes this album so great though is how intelligent it is. Things are put in this album, that usually are fairly simple, but just work so well. Not only this, but Keith Buckley's presence in this album is amazing; without him, you couldn't really picture Every Time I Die. His vocal range from screaming to crooning (much like Chino Moreno of Deftones, see no.#6) and his lyrics alike are the icing on the cake of this album.
10Lamb of God
As the Palaces Burn


- This, is slightly more thrashy, 'less intelligent' album of the list, hence why it sits at a steady 10th. This of course isn't to say it's not a brilliant album. Arguably, this is the perfect 'Heavy' album; fantastically constructed riffs, excellent, pissed-off vocals, and a real energy that runs right through this album that just makes the listener want to throw themselves at walls, or at least pick up a guitar and do so. Every isntrument is used to perfection on this album, and is so far, the only one LoG have got just right. Just listen to the almost hardcore esq beats of As the Places Burn or the the incredible, riff laden 11th Hour. The first four tracks are so perfect you are in fact in denial by the end of them, and this is only a third of the way through the album! The rest, as it turns out, is just as excellent. The ultimate headbang album.
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