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A Dose Of Essential Metal II

Every once in a while, I take it upon myself to step back from the slew of new releases that bombard our ears each week and fill my time with metal that has stuck by my side for years. ?Why?, you ask would I do this? Sometimes we all need a reminder of why we enjoyed the bands that brought us to this point in time when all we ever talk about is ultra elite shit that we ?fap, fap, fap? over. Sometimes it?s healthy (and necessary) to step back and keep things in perspective. Constantly, I?m reminded of why I think this way, whether it?s the number of kids who praise anything that has drone, black, or doom attached to it or the fact that I?ve personally witnessed a number of users go from loving bands like Isis or Opeth to hating everything within their given genre in less than a year. There?s something wrong here and I feel that music is underappreciated in many different forms, thus bands go unnoticed or never get the credible attention they deserve. Maybe it?s because I do things the old fashioned way still, you know, buying albums and giving music its fair chance to sink in? Either way, that?s why I need to do lists like this, to remind even my hypocritical self of where I stand now and how I got to this point in time when it comes to metal (added bonus if I can convince anyone to check out one album off this list). Please my fellow metal community, it?s a huge genre and if you think you can become elite shit overnight, remember that there are still old men like myself to punish you with the past that you seem to neglect. Enjoy the list and deions.
Whisper Supremacy

?None So Vile? is a classic in the technical death metal genre, I will give it that, but Whisper Supremacy is better. Before you get all butt-hurt, let me remind you that None So Vile could have benefited greatly from a better production job and a lot less Lord Worm. The production actually works well with the bands tightened focus on drop-of-a-hat time signature changes and helps emphasize the wickedly executed guitar work and the pulverizing rhythm sections. Also, Lord Worm just flat out sucks the big-one while Mike DiSalvo blasts a good dose of discernable grunts, growls and just does the music some vicious justice.

Picking this as an underappreciated album might make all the ?Winds of Creation? fans say ?What the fuck?? Surely, there is much debate about which album is better and that?s not that point of this deion at all (both rule your moms vagina). The question is, ?What the heck do you do after creating a death metal masterpiece like ?Wind of Creation??? While they were still young and na?ve at this point (18 years old), ?Nihility? takes the amazing display of speedy death metal from their debut, grinds it down to a sharp point and stabs you to death with some of the catchiest death metal this side of the 21st century. Remember when you first heard ??Spheres of Madness? and you couldn?t help but bob your head to the infectious rhythm section? Exactly!
3Front Line Assembly
Hard Wired

Wait a minute, Front Line Assembly aren?t metal! To those who are big on the industrialized metal, FLA were not only created some of the best modern industrial metal albums in the genre (this and 'Millenium'), but they were also helping to shape the next batch of young metallers into position (nu-metal). I also hate to break it to you, metal and industrial seem to go hand in hand, both incorporating a collage of subtle details, dark and dreary soundscapes, and making you feel the need to move your body. When FLA lock onto that body moving groove, they throw in a mechanical guitar riff with some jaw scrapping noises that go bump in the night. This is heavy on the hip-swing and heavy on the Robocop metal. Unfortunately, FLA would drop their metal influence after this stellar album.
Discouraged Ones

Albums like ?Last Fair Deal Gone Down? and ?Viva Emptiness? are regarded as some of Katatonia?s best. However, if it weren?t for ?Discouraged Ones? humble alternative metal posturing, these albums wouldn?t be what they are for this simple fact. ?Discouraged Ones? also features some of Katatonia?s best songs to date whether it?s through the whale calls in ?Deadhouse? or the awesome riffage of ?Stalemate?. Classic!
Hunger of Elements

Symphonic black metal seems to be a glimmer in most people?s eyes, coming in the form of Emperor and uhhhhhhhh Emperor. Dirka Derrrrrrr, can I say ?Hunger of Elements? is the most consistent symphonic black metal album ever released? Perfectly coupling a varying array of black metal tempos with symphonic elegance, this is an album that should be taken in as a whole and admired for its entire composition. Dude needs to release his sophomore album dammit!
To Walk a Middle Course

With the success that ?Static Tensions? has garnered, I feel it would be wise to stop humping the shit out of that album and realize that ?To Walk a Middle Course? is much better in all departments. While ?Static Tensions? was great, it feels stripped of aspects that made this album so damn ingenious. ?TWaMC? features riffs, riffs, riffs galore, swirling, monstrous rhythm sections and a punky sludge coating to nicely finish off the dual performance between two singers that would rival most modern hardcore bands commanding barkers. If you think ?Remission? by Mastodon was the first example of catchy sludge, then your opinion is null.
7Machine Head
The More Things Change...

After the hyperbole that was ?The Blackening?, I don?t blame peoples outlash at this band. It was a great album, I will give them that much, but they?ve done better. Before their big egos and going all Metallica on our asses with multiple progressive song structures over the course of a single tune, Machine Head were once grounded in just making the best straight-up American heavy metal anyone could ever ask for. Do you like speed? MH destroy with speedy numbers such as ?Struck a Nerve? and ?Bay of Pigs? that may be straightforward in their approach, but simply crush with ease. Do you like a slow build? ?Violate? and ?The Frontlines? will make your blood boil with anticipation for that face smashing ending. Do you like variation in your metal? So do I!
8Morbid Angel

?Covenant? is one of the most essential old-school death metal albums you can own, even more so than ?Altars of Madness?. BLASPHEMY! You see, when bands as great as Morbid Angel produce phenomenal debut albums such as ?Altars??, the need to follow it up with something better becomes so necessary that bands generally fail on meeting these high demands. Morbid Angel dodged this trend, not only throughout their next two albums (which are stellar as well), but ?Covenant? is a perfect example of a band growing better with age. Through these ten meaty tracks of savagely brutal death metal and excellent guitar work, courtesy of Trey Azaghtoth, it?s hard to pick a favourite on here. One of the most consistent death metal albums in existence that offers enough variation in tempo and the riff department to keep the most seasoned fan happy. This is not to be overlooked by any fan of the genre.
Instinct: Decay

Whoever wrote this band off is fucked. Sure, they strayed far off the black metal path with ?Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1?, but claiming they suck only goes to show how dumb you how dumb some people really are. If you missed the Pink Floyd references that were so meticulously placed throughout the album, let alone the album title, then surely you probably had a problem with Nachtmystium?s first experimentations into spack rock with 06s black metal opus ?Instinct: Decay?. Once again, you?re dumb if you think that they?ve strayed too far from their black metal roots that were extremely generic to begin with. They clearly never wanted to be branded black metal in a burning-church sense, thus making them far superior than most bands that chose to stagnate their sub-genres to no end. Think of their experimentations as the icing on the cake, injecting a much needed, ballsy edge into a stagnant black metal sound. Spacey black metal for music lovers that enjoy something different.

Feeling a little depressed lately? Does winter have a grip on your psychological well-being? Are you in the mood for some depressive black metal/ doom to make the day seem a bit shorter? Nihill might be the cure if you?re contemplating a wrist-cut. This is the first of three albums the Norwegian band has released (the second album ?Grond? came out in 09) in a concept series that explores Gnosticism, philosophical abstraction and death. If you?re looking for a band that does a unique take on black metal and doom (not blackened doom), look no further. Harsh, noisy black metal tracks are contrasted against a drapery of doom metal dirges that will chill you to the bone. Why not warm up to some black metal and doom on a frosty winter night?
Voices of Omens

Do you hear that? Could it be the sound of sludge?s best kept secret that no one?s paying attention too? Plodding riffs and gigantic song structures aren?t the only things Rwake are about, they?re also interested in seeking out those areas of experimental subtleties that not only make their songs shine, but also show you why sludge is one of the most interesting sub-genres running in metal today. I can?t wait to see what they have in store for 2010!
Disembody: The New Flesh

Leading the way in the Bay Area Scene in the mid nineties was Machine Head, a competent band who would take American heavy metal to thunderous new heights. With any leader comes a follower and Skinlab easily take second place next to their contemporaries. While not sounding entirely original to begin with on their debut, ?Disembody: The New Flesh? is a tightened focus on the Machine Head groove that barely lets up for forty minutes. Take your pick from anyone of these neck-snappers and lock into to your favourite head swing. Whether it?s the furious, straightforward approach of ?Know Your Enemies? or the punishing rhythmic swings of ?So Far From the Truth?, you?re bound to find a nice groove provided you?re not the elitist piece of shit you?ve convinced yourself of.
Progression Through Unlearning

If this had been released five years earlier, ?Progression?? would have been a masterpiece. Hardcore is a tough genre for me to consider worth looking into, especially throughout the past decade. Seriously, too many ideas are recycled and their supposed ?hardcore? convictions and messages are awash in bullshit. With a few sparing hardcore bands that have caught my attention throughout the 00s, I always find myself reverting back to the mid nineties when hardcore fucking ruled and took chances. Snapcase fuses hardcore and metal into an explosive ball of fire that utilizes windy leads and excellent rhythm variation to keep things inventive and not-too-experimental to still maintain their ?true? hardcore spirits. Kids, fucking get a life and learn that Snapcase rules too hard for you to consider them the masters of the genre. Metal-as-fuck too!
14Soilent Green
Sewn Mouth Secrets

New Orleans is a place that I refer to when I think musical diversity. This is also true of metal bands that hail from the swampy city as well. Most notably, Down have been keeping the NOLA metal scene alive and thriving, but Soilent Green did it the best in my eyes. Black metal, sludge, southern blues; they do all this and then some. ?Sewn Mouth Secrets? is a knockout from start to finish of wicked riffery and everything evil that metal has been doing for the past thirty years. Dirty, gritty; try grasping your ears around this and see if you can hold on until the end.
A Deeper Kind Of Slumber

?A Deeper Kind of Slumber? is exactly just that, a lulling break from all things angry in the heavy metal world, maintaining a restful approach throughout the duration of the disc. While this isn?t what I would call heavy metal, its roots are still quite rooted in the genre while it gently allows you to focus on everything beautiful that heavy metal could become if it were commanded by hippies. Anybody wanting to hear a little Pink Floyd in their metal shouldn?t hesitate picking this up as well. Simply put, Tiamat doesn?t hump the leg of Pink Floyd, but rather embraces their psychedelic influence and takes it to new heights unlike some other bands that like to wave their Pink Floyd flag as if it were their rainbow colours at a gay pride parade (*cough Anathema *cough).
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