|Metal: Cult Classics Pt. V|
It's been a bit longer than usual, so this time I decided to discuss 15 albums instead of 10.
First Daze Here (The Vintage Collection)
A compilation, but one that remains an important relic of a time when metal was still in its infancy. At times the songs on this album sound even more "blues rock" in tone than what Black Sabbath did on their debut. Pentagram would go on to release two stone cold classics of old school doom, but the collection of songs on the First Daze Here is not to be missed.
Another example of the fact that unique, wayward death metal was already being made way back in the early 90's. The band would quickly discard the metal genre altogether, but at least they left us this peculiar piece of work: like death metal being played in a surreal, decrepit theatre while the environment surrounding the building has been ravaged.
Lead and Aether
Stormcrowfleet of course is an amazing album, but the follow-up remains sadly overlooked in comparison. Is it different from the sound already established on the debut? Not really, but again it's another example of gloomy, ghostly and utterly bleak atmospheric metal done to perfection.
Every time I see the average to this I almost end up choking on my protein shake. Samael's first is a definite statement of Celtic Frost-like black metal. The atmosphere is one of all-consuming darkness, the snarling vocal work is the most vicious of any Samael album.
To me, this album along with the two follow-up records prove to me much more endearing than the industrial techno-metal the band started to peddle later on in their career.
Stained Glass Revelations
I know, this is a fairly recent album, but along with Cultes Des Ghoules I feel Negative Plane is one of the more exciting modern black metal bands. The band makes use of a peculiar brand of dissonance and melodicism that, together with a slightly psychedelic aura, manages to create a sound they could call their own. Stained Glass Revelations is the culmination of their work.
Together with Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and Jag Panzer, Omen was one of the greatest exporters of US epic metal. Battle Cry is a debut they never bettered: no frills heavy metal riffs, excellent melodic work, a great vocal performance and a great deal of attention paid to the typical old school metal art of storytelling.
Slow Transcending Agony
Another fairly recent album, but one that established Ataraxie as a band covering an unique niche area situated somewhere between funeral doom and straight up death/doom. Despite being used sparingly, one of the album's main selling points are the moments where vocalist Marquis lets loose some of the most chilling scream-cries ever recorded.
Mystifier continued with the sound fellow countrymen Sarcofago created on their legendary debut: blackened death/thrash the Brazilian way - with a few of their own touches of course. Goetia finds the band perfecting their formula and evokes a righteous sense of evil.
North From Here
Sentenced would later on evolve into a goth rock band, but on this album the band managed to create an original mix of proggy, almost jazzy death metal and melodic black metal, while operating within an almost cinematic noir-like framework. As far as I'm concerned, this is the band's pinnacle and here's wishing they continued with this isolated sound instead.
The Force is where Onslaught went full thrash metal and it produced a rifftastic classic: reasonably long songs where the bands work their way through a myriad of riff-ideas, while the vocalist who may not be instantly likable gives it his all and ultimately gets the job done like a pro.
Another example where the band themselves weren't exactly proficient musicians at the time of playing, but somehow managed to produce a primitive but filthy, grimy, ferocious piece of old school death/thrash. Every riff is a winner, the vibe is inexplicably antagonistic. This is metal tailor-made for sticking guns in people's faces.
Behind the Shadows Lie Madness
It's easy to see where Mithras' main inspiration came from: Morbid Angel's underappreciated Gateways to Annihilation - which in itself makes it commendable how the band succeeds at making this sound their own. The main attraction of Mithras' sound is the echoing leadwork that evokes a supernatural extraterrestrial ambience. Behind the Shadows Lie Madness is the band's finest work to date.
Nær Solen Gar Nider For Evogher
Like Dissection, Sacramentum and Vinterland, Dawn is one of the classic names of the typical Swedish melodic black metal. The three aforementioned bands put their own spin on this particular style and Dawn is no different. On their great debut album, Dawn creates outstretched, almost cinematic compositions with a downright haunting sense of melody. While the follow-up is solid, this remains a debut they never surpassed.
Into the Abyss
I could call this the German counterpart to the early work of Sepultura (specifically the great, ridiculously underrated Morbid Visions), but that doesn't do justice to one of the greatest metal demo-ep's of all time. The aggressive ferociousness of the sound at times gets unbearable sinister and intense, while when the band strangely (but completely unforcedly so) decides to get melodic and atmospheric, they manage to make it come across as weirdly pictorial (there's a part in the song "Slaves (of the Crucifix)" that basically sounds spaghetti western-like - yet...it works).
Another overlooked thrash gem that managed to garner a dedicated cult following. Instrumentally speaking this is thrash with a keen sense of melody done to perfection - but it's especially the way the vocals are positioned against the music which makes this such a peculiar record. Mind Wars is slightly better than the debut, but both are not to be overlooked.