Tag Archives: Heavy Metal

Musical Roadmap 10

I have to be honest and I’ve been putting this post off for a while. Not because I was avoiding it but because it’s hard to put into words how much of a live changing experience a single album can be. Words like ‘incendiary’, ‘futuristic’, ‘brutal’ and ‘masterpiece’ come to mind when I think about Fear Factory’s second album (not counting the remix of the bands first album Soul of a New Machine) Demanufacture. While I was kind of a fringe metalhead in my ‘tweens and early teens, once I heard this album the days of listening to R&B and Rap in the mid-1990’s was over. 

So many things to say about this album. Another in the long line of bands that my older brother introduced me to this one has probably the most lasting impression and loyalty that I give to few bands. The first song I had actually heard was the track “Scumgrief” (Deep Dub Trauma Mix) when it was included for a short time in the movie Hideaway which was based on the Dean Koontz novel.

This was the first album of the “Classic” lineup of Singer Burton C. Bell, Guitarist Dino Cazares, Bassist Christian Olde Wolbers, and Drummer Raymond Herrera an is still regarded as their best work (although, in my opinion the back to back albums of Demanufacture and Obsolete are probably the most solid of their career). 

Fear_Factory_-_DemanufactureReleased on Roadrunner Records on June 13,1995, this album was one of, if not the first, album to successfully blend industrial and metal together into a powerful and provocative combination and, along with Bell’s ability to go from screaming to singing, predates Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan Moody style by a decade. Demanufacture was also one of the first futuristic metal ‘concept’ albums that I ever remember being released. 

Inspired by the move The Terminator, the lyrical theme throughout the album is man’s struggle against a sentient machine army and the struggle for humanity to survive. This album’s content was ahead of it’s time in regard to creating a story throughout all of the tracks. Later bands like Mastodon continued this tradition with great concept albums such as Leviathan, but at the time nobody else was doing this kind of storytelling set to heavy music. 

The pairing of the dark apocalyptic future with the machine precise music created a whole experience through the speakers. It was as if you could hear the pounding of the machinery through the guitar and drums playing in precise lockstep rhythms. Cazares’ guitar parts were brutal and tight. I had started playing guitar before this album came out but Dino’s weight (both lyrically and physically) inspired me even more. You could be heavy, write great guitar parts and be a bigger guy!? Inconceivable! This was awesome for an overweight kid like me because unlike all of the other skinny guitar players it finally gave me one that I could identify with on a size scale. 

The album is full of great songs, however; on a “mainstream” side, the only track that got any notice was the song “Zero Signal” as it was included in the movie based not the video game Mortal Kombat. The album starts off with the title track which leads in with an ominous collection of mechanical sounds and keyboards and then goes straight to the the signature sound of Dino’s guitar in perfect time with Herrera’s drumming. Even listening to it now it gives me goosebumps and makes me want to prepare for war. “Self Bias Resistor” the album’s second track keeps the hammering going with quick, tight rhythms and blast furnace vocals switching off with the hauntingly heavy sung vocals of the chorus. 

The third and fourth songs are two of the most listened to songs on the album, for me at least. The aforementioned “Zero Signal” starts out menacing with large sounding open chords that quickly change to chugging rhythms overlaid with amazing synthesizer work by Rhys Fulber. The next song “Replica” is the musical cock-punch of the album. Probably one of the most accessible guitar parts to play is powerful and the chorus has amazing lyrics. “Filled with pain/bruised and darkened soul/ spare me from the life that’s full of misery”, chills.

Continuing to the mid section of the album tracks like “New Breed” keep the pace and story moving forward while the slower track “Dog Day Sunrise” shows some hints of a groove and showcases one of the few songs where the guitar and base are not blasting the beat at high speed. The vocals on this track are completely sung instead of the switching between heavy and melodic that encompasses the style of the majority of the album.

“Body Hammer” is probably one of my all time favorite songs on this album. I can’t quite put into words what it is about this song that makes it stand out but its chugging heavy beat could match up against any Pantera lick of the same era. The chorus “As of now I am a tool of severe impact” is perfect for pumping iron or playing first person shooters. Musically the song blends the synths over the brutal music perfectly, making sure to leave them hanging just above the heavy grounding like clouds above a dark barren landscape. 

Another song that I tend to favor on the album is the 9th track “H-K (Hunter-Killer). Machine precise, heavy, menacing. You can almost see the machine army marching through the streets while listening to this track. Re-listening to the album today having known the story it really gives scope to the cinematic capability of this album.

Next to last on the album is probably one of the most EPIC heavy songs every with the greatest lyrical ‘third act’ ever written. The meat of the song has chugging metal guitar with the snare accenting the sonic equivalent of a hammer striking nails. “Pisschrist” is easily my #1 favorite metal song of this era hands down. I cannot ever listen to this track without a feeling of intense conflict and without singing the ending “Face down, arms out/ nailed to the cross of doubt, blood runs like rain/drowning for this world in vain/crown of black thorns, human skin ripped and torn/Where is your savior now?” Damn if that is epic. This song even ends on the final question in Bell’s amazing etherial vocals slightly electronically distorted. 

The album closes out with “A Therapy for Pain”. A slower song that serves as a fitting end to the first part of what continued to be a multi-album series of themes of man vs. machine, the singularity and the re-rise of humanity among a world of machines. This song is the musical equivalent of the end of the Dark Knight in that the hope that once was, is lost with the ones who died in the struggle, but the story is not over….

This album also was was re-released as a remix album which blended more techno beats to the industrial heaviness. This strategy was previously used on Fear is the Mindkiller remix album as well and helped the band eventually as the remix albums counted in their contractual album count with Roadrunner. 

As far as albums that push you in one direction or another this one shoved me off the edge of a cliff where my love of sci-fi and metal finally came together in a band that I have remained intensely loyal to throughout the last 20+ years. 

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Top 5 Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Guitarists

Anyone who has read any of my other posts knows that I am a self proclaimed metalhead. As metal goes it has always been very guitar driven and as a result has produced some of the most technical and virtuoso guitarists in the last 20 years. I decided to put a list together of my favorite heavy metal/hard rock guitarists as both a tribute to them as well as to maybe expand your listening a bit (if you are so inclined).

malcolm-young-12aa9252-b531-486b-a595-1cc4580251f55. Malcom Young- Everybody knows his brother Angus as the flashy schoolboy outfit wearing lead guitarist of AC/DC, however; Malcom Young is by far one of the most overlooked guitarists in the hard rock genre. Without this man AC/DC would have been missing almost all of their signature rhythm guitar parts which are some of the best known pieces of their songs. With the exception of the lead from “Thunderstruck” what other parts can you really remember that weren’t written or co-written by Malcom? The answer is none. I could run down the list of great parts played by this understated by hard rocking guitarist but that would take too long. Suffice it to say that you would not be listening to AC/DC if it wasn’t for this man.

Matt Heafy4. Matthew K. Heafy- While I was not a huge fan of some of their earlier records Trivium has become one of my ‘go-to’ metal artists. The first song I listened to by the band was “Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr” but oddly enough I was listening to the track for the drums. It actually took me a while to finally connect with the bands music as only a few tracks from The Crusade and Shogun really stuck with me. It wasn’t until 2011’s In Waves that I really perked up and started paying attention. 

At this point the band finally found themselves in being able to blend all of the elements of their previous efforts into once cohesive album. Heafy’s technical ability as well as his sense for melody and structure make him one of metal’s most talented frontmen and guitarists out there and his abilities are not limited to only rhythm playing, the guy can shred solos like nothing.

Mark-Tremonti-2014-BILLBOARD-6503. Mark Tremonti- Going back to his beginnings in Creed I always kind of kept an eye on this guy. While there were a few moments in that band that he was able to show a little of his skill (“What If”) he was largely held within a certain box. After Creed dissolved and was reformed as Alter Bridge (sans the Christ wannabe singer) Tremonti was able to showcase his talents on the guitar and his songwriting grew leaps and bounds. He has shown over the course of 20 years that he is a man committed to his craft and is dedicated to also helping spread the interest and love of guitar to new people. He launched his own company, Fret 12, which distributes guitar demonstration videos from some of metal and hard rocks big names including guitarists from bands like Slipknot, Stone Sour, Sevendust, Mastodon, as well as his own band Alter Bridge. 

image-placeholder-title2. Dimebag Darrell- Anyone who ever listened to metal knows Dime’s name. It has become synonymous with virtuosity and heaviness. Dime was a statesman in the world of metal and was known to be one of the most generous guys with both his time and his friends. In the early 1990’s Pantera managed to keep metal in the minds of the public as well as alive through the Grunge era when most metal bands fell out of favor with the audience at large. While Cowboys from Hell has been recognized for one of their best works and Far Beyond Driven got a lot of attention for being one of the few metal albums to debut at number 1 on the Billboard charts, the album between, Vulgar Display of Power will always be one of my favorites as there isn’t a single song I skip past. I will say that I didn’t always appreciate some of Dime’s solo’s (dont get me wrong, their great some kind of dissolve into noise for me) the more melodic ones he produced were my favorites. 

Dime’s death weighed heavily on the metal community and he is someone who will never be forgotten because he was such a big figure that did not deserve to die the way that he did. His legacy lives on in both the music and the hearts of the fans and friends alike. 

randy-rhoads-fame-735x4131. Randy Rhoads- Let’s face it, there would be no Ozzy Osborne post Black Sabbath if it were not for this man. Sadly, Randy is not looked at as highly in most people’s eyes as Eddie Van Halen, but while Van Halen was stealing all of the flash for his two hand tapping guitar tricks and fun rock music Randy was grinding it out on the LA scene with his band Quiet Riot and teaching classical guitar at his mom’s music school. Both Rhoads and Van Halen belong at the top of the mountain for innovative guitarists in the last 40 years their styles were worlds apart. Van Halen kept his innovation to a blues based rock music while Rhoads brought his classical guitar background to the metal world and redefined Ozzy Osborne’s career in the span of just two albums. 

Unfortunately Randy met an untimely death due to a plane crash in the 1982 and there were not a lot of unreleased material for his fans to be able to enjoy. Lots of us question how big he would have been in the metal world had he lived longer, sadly, we will never know. One of the best albums to hear the greatness of this little blonde wizard is the Tribute album which is a live collection of songs that were recorded during the the two tours he did with Ozzy. While the studio versions of “Crazy Train” and other classics are still amazing, the live versions go even farther in dynamics. The live versions have a slightly faster tempo and the guitar fills played on these songs make them so much better than the studio versions and showcase the ability that Randy had on the instrument. 

Musical Roadmap Part 7

Metallica_-_Metallica_coverIt is an undeniable fact that Metallica had a huge impact on any kid who grew up in the 80’s-90’s that was in to music. I know that my last piece in this series was about …And Justice for All but having two back to back Metallica albums shows just how influential their music was and is for any kid who wanted to learn an instrument back in those days. The first songs I learned were the main riffs on guitar to were written either by Metallica or Nirvana songs and it was the same for a lot of kids just starting the instrument at the time.

This album was huge for me for a lot of reasons. This was one of the first albums my brother and I bonded over. While my Dad had a huge impact on my love of a wide variety of music, my brother is solely responsible for my love of heavy music. Aside from introducing me to Gun’s & Roses as much as MTv did, he also exposed me to four of the most important albums in my catalog of heavy music.

Heavy music later took an huge role in my life. It was a way to let out my frustrations about my “tween” and teen years as well as about my home life and socioeconomic circumstances of having grown up in a poor family. It was an outlet to rebel against a lot of things. It helped me through dark times of being bullied and being a social outcast. It also has given me a creative outlet to let out anger, confusion, and (contrary to the naysayers) love.

I have to thank my brother for my introduction to the music and for providing more than a few directions on the roadmap of my musical discovery over the years. I also have to thank him for blasting Metallica whenever I saw him. It was something that I bonded not only with him over, but it also helped me get my Dad into heavy music.

Metallica was one of the first few concerts that my Dad and I went to together. We saw them in concert somewhere in the early to mid 2000’s (I cant remember for the life of me what year) and I was super excited. Unfortunately, whoever was running sound for the band that night was either drunk or bad at his job because we ended up only hearing half of the band and barely any vocals in the mix. You may ask how I know it was their sound guy, well… Godsmack had opened the show and they sounded awesome (not to mention it was just after Shannon Larkin had joined which made the show even more amazing), but Metallica sounded like shit, so unfortunately, what could have been an awesome “Bucket List” moment was ruined by somebody turning in a bad day at work. I guess even though my live experience with the band was lackluster, at least I still have amazing albums to listen to. Speaking of which…

Metallica’s self titled album also known as the “Black” album came out in 1991 when the musical landscape was changing to something completely different from the previous decade. Nirvana had managed to kill the hair metal acts that had dominated the scene for the ten years prior and changed the musical landscape completely. I would like to think that Metallica, at the time of making the Black album, were trying to create something that sounded fresh but also was more commercially successful than their last albums.

A lot of people will say that they “sold out” with their self titled effort but those people have never had to navigate the waters of being one of the most successful underground bands that still had to fight for every meal and play 340 days a year just to make it. At the time of gangster rap and grunge, Metallica managed to forge one of their most dynamic and enduring albums while appealing to a larger audience.

Many things can and have been said about this album but its impact cannot be disputed. It was simple and heavy. It has more depth lyrically than some of their earlier efforts, which in and of itself is something considering earlier albums had produced “The Four Horsemen”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, “Disposable Heroes”, “One”, “Fade to Black”, and “Master of Puppets”.

Another great departure from the previous albums were both the album’s production level as well as James Hetfield’s voice.  The songs sounded a lot fuller than previous albums. A lot of people can fault Bob Rock for ruining the Metallica they loved, but without him producing the album I do not think that it would have sounded as good as it did. Along with the fuller sounding music, James Hetfield’s voice sounded a lot better than on previous albums. It had more dynamics and just sounded more mature than ever before (and this was only a short time after the Justice album).

The songs on this album were so significant both for the band but also for pop culture as a whole. The songs are still played and overplayed on the radio and have not been forgotten even 26 years later. The songs are ever present in the landscape of movies, television and sports. like an effective toxin, it has permeated the pores of society.

The album starts off strong with the openers “Enter Sandman” and “Sad but True” two songs which are still some of the heaviest and catchy riff oriented songs in history, and continues punishing with “Holier than Thou”. The fourth song let off the gas a little with the “Unforgiven”. Still infinitely heavy during the verses, the real surprise to listeners came during the choruses which were subdued and melodic. “The Unforgiven” also showcases one of the best solos that Kirk Hammett has ever committed to tape.

“The Unforgiven” offers only a short reprieve to the listener, however; the next three songs on the album go right back to kicking you in the nuts with their heaviness. “Wherever I May Roam”, “Don’t Tread on Me”, and “Through the Never”move the album forward with a heavy and unrelenting attack that is coupled with iconic and poppy choruses which make the songs still accessible and memorable.

The song that pissed as many die hard listeners off as it turned new “casual” fans on to Metallica’s music is #8 on the album. While Metallica were not strangers to somewhat softer tunes, a ballad was almost taboo in the world of Heavy Metal music. Many diehard heavy metal fans associate the ballad with the hair metal bands that dominated the late 1980’s and not to their “True Metal” heroes like Metallica. Be that as it may, “Nothing Else Matters” occupies an important place in the history of both Metallica and heavy music in general. It proved that the band not only had the musical chops to pull something like a ballad off, but also proved that even heavy metal can make you fell something other than aggression. Another important part about this song that is often overlooked and often mistaken is that James Hatfield actually played the solo and not Kirk Hammett.

The album finishes out on a heavy note. The last four songs are often overlooked considering the commercial success of the front half of the album, however; this section contains three of my favorite songs on the album. “Of Wolf and Man”, “The God that Failed”, and “My Friend Misery”. Two of the songs are my favorite because they show Jason Newstead’s talent but also brings attention to the one thing that the previous album (1988’s …And Justice for All) lacked, bass.

However; the additional meaty bottom that is apparent on these songs isn’t the only reason that they are my favorites. They are consistently good songs. They show that Metallica was not content with putting ‘filler’ on the back half of an album, but wanted to produce a complete album with great and fully realized tracks throughout. These many years later I also think that these songs stand out may have to do with the fact that you rarely hear these songs on the radio. Over the last two and half decades I have been burned out on the “hits” of this album from radio overplay, but the overlooked songs I never tire of listening to.

Looking back over the course of the last three decades of Metallica’s musical output it is easy to see why so many people have endeared themselves the “Black” album. For some it was their gateway album to heavy music, and many people who love heavy music now may not have been fans had it not been for the album. For others, the album was the last really good album that the band put out for 17 years. While the Load and Re-load albums served their purpose and had a few great songs (See “The Outlaw Torn”) and St. Anger failed to live up to the promise that is could have had (this could be due either to the issues surrounding the band at the time or because of the poor choice of snare sound in the production), it remained as the one thing that long time fans could hold on to for the long years before the band returned to form with the Death Magnetic album.

I guess one lesson that I learned from all of this was my endearing love of heavy music. A lot of people don’t understand it, a lot of people hate it, but the fact remains is that it endures. The people who don’t understand the music will often call it “Evil” or “Noise” but there is something about heavy music which pulls people together instead of pushing them apart.

You will never see a more dedicated fan base than that of a heavy metal band. There is a shared love of a band that becomes the catalyst for many enduring friendships. Heavy Metal has been accused of leading some people to ending their lives, but what is never talked about is the number of lives it has saved.

Until next time… Keep listening.

Musical Roadmap Part 6

220px-Metallica_-_...And_Justice_for_All_coverIt seems strange to think of the path of my musical discovery would go from the album Body Count to …And Justice for All by Metallica, but at the same time, you have to understand that anything new in the realm of music came from visits from my brother. In my Mother’s household the only music heard regularly (when the parents were home) was either country or Mexican music from my Step-Dad. When the parents weren’t home, the latest pop music from my sister or from MTV would fill the house. So when my brother came to visit from his house (he lived with his father) we would listen to whatever he would bring with him.

Like all roads, at some point you reach a fork and end up taking one path or another to reach a destination, however, some paths weave and intersect at more points than we are aware at the time we choose. Music discovery never has a set destination if your mind is open enough and is willing to explore the side roads and tributaries of the form. While the camps of both rap and metal normally are at odds, for me both of the musical forms continued to cross paths with each other throughout the span of my life so far.

My sister was pretty resistant to anything heavy. She would just tell us to ‘turn that crap off’ because she was busy listening to Debbie Gibson, Paula Abdul and music of their ilk. As explained in a previous post, Body Count was first introduced to me from one of these visits. Next was …And Justice for All.

Much like other kids in my generation, we learned about Metallica mostly through an older sibling. A few years later everybody would know the band with the Release of their self titled “Black” album in 1991, but the people who got into Metallica at any time prior to that knew what the band was originally about. Long before the MTV airplay and radio hits Metallica were about thrash. The combination of the English heavy metal of the early late 1970’s and early 1980’s coupled with a punk “fuck you” attitude and the DIY ethos turned Metallica into an underground giant in the 1980’s.

The three studio albums that Metallica prior to ‘Justice’ show the natural progression of a band that was refining it’s craft and strengthening it’s songwriting ability over the course of album/touring cycles. While Master of Puppets is considered an early masterpiece, the band was missing one of the key ingredients of the previous albums when recording ‘Justice’, bassist and songwriter Cliff Burton. Burton had died prior to the making of the album and the band had recruited Jason Newsted to replace him on the album.

The mythos around the album has been oft repeated but bears a reminder on this post as well. In the ultimate form of hazing, the tight knit and grieving band members largely removed the bass tracks from the album. However, the lack of the lower register on the album ends up producing a razor sharp guitar attack that makes the album stand alone in the long history of the Metallica machine.

The album is epic. Not one of the 9 album tracks are less than six minutes. The dynamics are sharp and the timing both quick and precise. As a newcomer to the heavier side of things, I was fascinated by the intricacies of the album and the sheer heaviness. After listening to your first “true” heavy metal album you don’t go back. While I cannot honestly state that I never listened to the hair metal of the 80’s ever again, I can confess that I started listening to my Poison albums a lot less after this.

When I was in middle school there were roughly three albums that you would learn when starting to play guitar. Metallica’s Black album and Nirvana’s Nevermind were two and often times …And Justice was third. Looking back, these albums were a great gateway to learning the instrument. Not just heavy for the sake of being so, the first two albums helped you develop the heavy sound in your equipment, but also were simple enough to learn the parts. …And Justice allowed you progress your accuracy and speed while building on what you learned from “Enter Sandman” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The album was also a “gateway drug” to the sprawling landscape of the metal genre. While too heavy for the casual listener, it was really just the jumping off point for what would come.

While most people think that metal in the 1990’s was not in fashion, if you look at the landmark albums that were released just before and during the decade you will see that, while largely ignored by the mainstream media, metal was alive and well and breaking new ground during those years.

We all know that regardless of the strength of the albums prior, Metallica was largely ignored by the general public and widely panned by critics prior to the Black album, however; ‘Justice put the band in the public eye with their first ever music video for “One” which still was pretty epic, even after the song and video itself were shortened to a more “playlist friendly” time from the original seven minute plus original.

The album is a masterpiece in brutality. I’m not saying that there were still things that needed to be improved upon at the time. James Hetfield’s vocals were still not as strong as the were starting with the Black album and the production still was not the greatest, but this was the last great thrash album by the band for a long time. And Justice for All was the end of an era for the band. With the new decade came the Bob Rock years and the slick production and “alternative” sound of the Load/Reload products, but when you look over the career of the band, the mid-point had to take place in order for them to return to their thrash sound. Sadly, most of us had to suffer the strange results of the interim 20 years between …And Justice and Death Magnetic. Sure the band did start back in the direction of their original sound with the St. Anger album but, for me, that album’s production is so bad that even with the strength of some of the songs it is still unlistenable by any standard.

People sometimes criticize the long song length on ‘Justice,’ but each part is needed for each song to be complete. There were no parts that sound ‘tossed in’ to artificially increase the song length (one of my complaints about Death Magnetic) and the seamless transitions keep you interested in what is going on in the song enough that they do not get boring over their duration.

…And Justice for All remains fresh upon listening, even almost 29 years after it’s release, and will continue to be a gateway to a heavier vein of music for a lot of kids like it was for me. Body Count introduced me to both heavy music and rap, both paths I would venture down in my personal discovery of music, and oddly enough would end up melding together again within a decade after my discovery of both genre’s. The off ramp to Metallica was just the first real exit I took from the highway of the mainstream, but it certainly was not the last trip down Metal Lane that I ended up taking as you’ll see.

Until next time, keep listening.

Five Metal Bands that Nobody Knows… But Should

I started this blog with a few early articles about Metal but have been relatively quiet on the subject of the genre while exploring 90’s music and my own musical journey. Having done so has probably been at the expense of a few of my early readers but I now feel compelled to write an article about a few bands in the metal genre who either are relatively unknown (but should be) or are kind of forgotten by the majority of people outside of their fanbase. I have included links to purchase the albums if you find yourself being inclined to do so.

Kilgore:

Asearchforreason

The first band on this list is relatively unknown due to the fact that they never had a wide mainstream song that was a success. Kilgore was a band from the New England that released one major label album A Search For Reason in 1998 and disappeared after that. The band also had released an album under the moniker “Kilgore Smudge” previous to A Search for Reason Which featured a version of Pantera’s “Walk”. Throughout the years since I’ve Googled the band a few times and saw that they have performed a few one off shows in their home town of Providence, R.I. but no major activity since.

I came to know of Kilgore when I saw them open for Fear Factory on their Obsolete tour. I was thoroughly impressed with the band because the had a great sound that was not completely like every thing else that was coming out at that time (this was the beginnings of when Nu-Metal was dominating the airwaves). I went to Sam Goody the next week to pick up their album and have loved it since. Later my cd was stolen but I have managed to find it as an Mp3 download on Amazon. If you like the music do the band a favor and buy the album.

The band’s music is hard driving and melodic. Lead singer Jay Berndt’s voice is deep but also melodic and punishing (much like Burton Bell’s), although occasionally the lyrics are actually a little hard to understand, and for you readers who are also musicians there are some pretty tasty guitar licks and power groove to enjoy. The entire album is great with little to no weak songs in the 12 tracks. Some of my favorites are “Avowal”, “Introverted”, “In Media Res”, Lullaby for Your Casket”, “Prayers for the Dying”, “TK 421” (featuring guest vocals from Burton C. Bell), and “X” the album’s closing track. Also, on an import version of the CD there is a very hard to find version of the band covering Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” which is an amazing cover.

Check out the Youtube video and if you dig it, but the album.

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Flaw:

Much like Kilgore, Flaw never really achieved great mainstream success. To date the Flaw_through_eyesband has released four albums and has toured on Ozzfest and with bands such as Drowning Pool and Ill Nino. Their first major label release Through the Eyes has a number of amazing songs and still remains fairly active in my playlists to this day. While heavy and considered “nu-metal” I have always considered them “Groove Metal”.*

While lead singer Chris Volz’s voice can be criticized as not having much variation from song to song, his work as a lyricist overshadows the lack of change to his voice. For example the lyrics in the song ‘Get Up Again’:

Then I noticed a difference, in the way that I saw other insects Who were living a life of indulgence, sheltered by their parents Such an unlucky existence, not given a chance to experience And make their own decisions, I wouldn’t trade my own mistakes at all.

This album is more of a musicians album than anything. The guitars have some decent interplay over the course of the album and the rhythm section is locked in. However, the drum work is one of the parts that I love about this album. I found video of a kid doing a drum cover of the song “My Letter” from the album that is pretty amazing. Check it out.

Through the Eyes does have some songs that I skip over on listening, but there is enough material on the album to make it very listenable on a regular basis. Some of the best songs are “Payback”,“Whole”, “My Letter”, and “Best That I Am”.

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Skrape:

I discovered Skrape and Nonpoint at the same time and quite by accident. Back when there were record stores I would frequent the Sam Goody and buy cd’s and movies. Both Skrape and Nonpoint’s first albums I bought solely because they were metal and that day were on sale for $9.99, which, at the time of the $18 price for a normal cd was worth taking the chance because I got two albums for the price of one. To this day I am still a huge fan of Skrape and Nonpoint.**

NewKillerAmericaSkrape made two albums and then disbanded in 2004 after being dropped from their label after it was bought out by another larger label. The thing that struck me about Skrape’s first album New Killer America was that it was heavy and had the groove, but it also incorporated some synths and sequencing that were blended in a non-hip hop way that the nu-metal acts were using them for.

I am a huge fan of metal bands that have melody in their singing. I can’t really deal with songs that are just screaming and death metal vocals the whole time. That being said one of the major selling points for me when it came to Skrape is that the lead singer Billy Keeton has a very distinct voice and it reminded me a lot of Richard Patrick from Filter. This blended with a power groove brand of metal was something that I could really get into.

Some songs to check out are “What You Say”, “Isolated”, “Sunshine”, and “Kill Control” from the debut and “Stand Up (Summer Song)”, “My Life”, “The Ocean”, and “No Respect” from 2003’s Up the Dose. If you dig the vocals on the albums check out Billy Keeton’s new band Audiotopsy that also includes two members of Mudvayne. If you like the drums check out the next band on the list as well as Will Hunt was also part of the group Dark New Day before becoming the drummer for Evanescence.

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Dark New Day:

Dark New Day was a super group of sorts, it’s members on their debut included Clint Lowry of Sevendust, his brother Corey from Stuck Mojo and Will Hunt from Skrape. All were childhood friends. This was Clint Lowry’s first project after leaving Sevendust in 2004. Again in the Groove Metal vein, the group showcases a great deal of songwriting talent.

Singer Brett Hestla’s voice can vary from sounding like Layne Staley’s to almost sounding Twelveyearsilenceexactly like Josey Scott’s from Saliva. The music is heavy and the interplay that Lowry has with Troy McLawhorn on guitars is similar to that which he also showcases in Sevendust with John Connelly. While each member brings in their signature sound that is found in their main bands, the all meld together for something fresh and wonderful.

The group’s debut Twelve Year Silence had one major single in the song “Brother” which is one of the stand out tracks on the album. Other great songs include “Taking Me Alive”, “Bare Bones”, “Lean”, “Pieces”, and “Follow the Sun Down”. The group also released two other albums but have not toured to support them. 2012’s New Tradition and 2013’s Hail Mary which both contain some pretty strong songs on them as well.

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Silent Civillian:

RebirthofthetempleLast but certainly not least is Silent Civilian. This also happens to be probably the heaviest group on this list. Silent Civilian was founded by Spineshank’s frontman Jonny Santos after the group disbanded following their Self Destructive Pattern album which was released in 2004. In it’s creation Santos managed to find a new and heavier direction in Silent Civillian’s music. Known predominantly as a singer who played guitar on some songs in Spineshank, Santos shocked me because he is actually pretty proficient and can write some straight up shred guitar parts.

Harder vocals, music, and attitude seemed to be what Santos needed to wash himself of the nu-metal that was made overly palatable in Spineshank’s previous album. While the aforementioned vocals are harder and more akin to Spineshank’s Height of Callousness album the melody and vocal ability of Santos still shines through on the Civilian albums.

To date the group has only released two albums, 2006’s Rebirth of the Temple and 2008’s Ghost Stories. The band had put up a message on their Facebook page a while back questioning their fans willingness to contribute to a crowdfunding effort for them to produce a third album, but have been relatively silent since.

The music on both of their albums is hard and heavy. They contain elements of thrash, NWOAHM, and hardcore. Civilian covers all of the bases of a good metal group including heavy guitars, screamed vocals, guitar solos and solid blast beat work.

Some songs to check out are “The Song Remains Un-Named”, “Rebirth of the Temple”, Bitter Pill”, Force Fed”, “Blood Red Sky”, and “Live Again” from the debut. Great tracks from the second album are “The Phoenix”, “Ghost Stories”, “Cast the First Stone”, “Last One Standing”, “Atonement”, and “Dressed in Black”. I for one hope that this group does release another album because both releases thus far have been pretty amazing.

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Check these bands out and hopefully I turned you on to something new.

Until next time, Keep listening…

*This is a term I apply to any hard rock/heavy metal group that had a large amount of groove and heaviness. Bands that I consider in this genre are Deftones, Chevelle, and Evans Blue.

**I would have Nonpoint on this list with the exception of the fact that they are still active and have had songs on the radio recently.

 

20 Late 90’s/ Early 2000’s Metal Albums That Saved the Genre

Musical tastes are constantly in a state of flux and metal fans know that there will always come a time once a decade where it isn’t fashionable to admit that you’re a metal fan. The same thing happened in the late 80’s and luckily bands like Metallica, Guns & Roses and others managed to kill the Aqua-netted monster that we knew as “Hair Metal.”

Recently we had a similar experience towards the end of the last century and the beginning of this one in which metal became unfashionable among all of the Pop, Rap, and boy band crowds. Luckily, like a bad case of the crabs, metal will always have something in the pipe that will revive the genre enough to keep it going for a few more years.

I’ve compiled a list of 20 albums that, in my opinion, helped to keep the metal genre fresh and alive between the late 90’s and mid 2000’s. Many people will dispute this list and if you care to chime in you can do so in the comments section, however, if you feel the need to, please put some content in your argument. Saying “There’s not one Tool album in there” is not a valid argument (mostly because anything Tool does is pretty genre defying and amazing anyway).

These are in no particular order….

ChevelleWonderWhatsNext

  1. Chevelle- Wonder What’s Next (2002):

With this being their second album you would think that the “sophomore curse” would affect their writing, however, Chevelle had not become overly popular yet so they had nowhere to go but up. This album was a good example of how you could meld pop melodies into metal songs and come up with something simple, catchy and oddly enough didn’t have a rhyming structure to the words. A lot of people will cite “The Red” as their song, but I lean towards “An Evening with El Diablo” because of its solid groove.


Deftones_-_Around_the_Fur

  1. Deftones- Around the Fur (1997):

While still working to find their sound the Deftones first two albums were considered to be one of the bands that defined the “Nu Metal” sound. However, Around the Fur is an example of how a blend of groove, melody, and heaviness can all mix well and create a cohesive album. The Deftones third album White Pony rocketed them into the spotlight but Around the Fur offers some of the staples of the Deftones’ setlist including “My Own Summer” and “Be Quiet and Drive” My favorite song on this album is actually the title track. This album helped expand the frontiers of metal that moved it into a more open and experimental format that would make it highly popular at the turn of the century.


Disturbed-TheSickness

  1. Disturbed- The Sickness (2000):

In the year 2000 Disturbed burst onto the scene with a highly successful debut album that was almost unheard of from any Chicago based metal band. The Sickness managed to keep heavy riffs in focus while David Draiman monkey OOOO ah ah ah ahed their songs into popularity. I remember that back when this album first came out, not of the radio stations were censoring “Stupify” even though the word fuck was said repeatedly. Disturbed managed to insert subtle electronics into their sound to expand their sound, which was nothing new at that point. However, the reason I think that this album deserves to be on this list is the fact that Disturbed was able to successfully catch women’s interest which, as any metal head knows, a band that your girlfriend can get into is one less Taylor Swift song you have to listen to in the car. I know it’s an obvious choice but my favorite song on this album is the cover of Tears for Fears “Shout” which was done very well. This was the first of many covers that Disturbed have managed to record that actually stand up to the original.


ill-nino-revolution-revolucion

  1. Ill Nino- Revolution Revolucion (2001):

While Ill Nino may not be as mainstream as the bands preceding it on this list, they did make an important contribution to the genre. While Latin inspired drums were nothing new thanks to Sepultura, but they were very prevalent in the music of Ill Nino. Their debut album had one single “What Comes Around” however; the title track is a showcase of the heaviness the band is capable of. My favorite on this album is “I Am Loco” because of its simplicity but also its straight heaviness.


The end of heartache

  1. Killswitch Engage- The End of Heartache (2004):

I think two words sum up why this album is amazing “Howard Jones.” The man is a beast. This album was actually my first exposure to the band (I have however become a huge fan of Jesse Leach as well) and to the New England heavy metal scene that included Shadows Fall as well as others. “The Rose of Sharyn” and the “End of Heartache” were the major singles on this album but I think the entire album is a great indicator of what was brewing up in North East. This album brought back huge anthemic chorus vocals back to the metal genre that had been missing for a while.


Korn_Follow

  1. Korn- Follow the Leader (1998):

Think back to the end of the century and could you point out a bigger metal act than Korn? This album finally focused all of the elements that made the early Korn albums so great. The heaviness of the self titled album meshed with the funky-rap elements Life is Peachy, it was bound to be a monster. This album spawned hits including “Freak on a Leash” and “Got the Life” as well as included guest appearances from Ice Cube, Fred Durst, and Cheech Marin on the Cheech and Chong hidden track “Earache My Eye.” Korn was probably the biggest reason the Nu Metal genre took off and while some people will bemoan its existence to begin with, you have to admit that the melding of styles managed to make heavy music exciting again.


Linkin_park_hybrid_theory

  1. Linkin Park- Hybrid Theory (2000):

Not much can be said about Linkin Park that hasn’t been already. While we all got burned out on them at the time, they actually did metal a service by bringing in a lot of young people who otherwise would not have listened to any heavy music. While their style has grown outside of the heavy genre, they managed to have dedicated positions for both a rapper and singer that managed to play off of each other in a highly cohesive sound. It’s hard to point out any single song on this album because it is seriously one of the best debut albums front to back that has come out in years.


Mudvayne LD50

  1. Mudvayne- LD 50 (2000):

It is fair to say that there was something weird in the water in the Midwest at the turn of the century. One of the bands that managed to stand out in the mask/makeup wearing bunch is Mudvayne. The band burst onto the scene with the leadoff track “Dig” and didn’t really look back. As far as pure musicianship this band was like Tool only heavier. While the album may not have as many catchy songs as people would like it does have some great moments throughout. The band continued to define a genre and push the boundaries of experimentation and musicianship for another four albums before going on hiatus, but their pure talent started a trend that put musicianship back into the metal genre after the Nu Metal bands proved that you can do anything with a dropped tuned guitar.


Statement_(album)

  1. Nonpoint- Statement (2000):

This little known band from Florida managed to put out a number of good records with its original lineup before members started to leave. Their debut Statement stands out because of Andrew Goldman’s unique approach to guitar. Goldman managed to change the focus of riffs from being a chug-o-riffic entity the like in which 7-string playing bands were playing to something in a higher register. The album had two singles that I can recall, one being “What a Day” and the other being “Endure.” Blending funky with heavy the debut album had a number of standout tracks (in my opinion) and honestly the band should have been more popular than it was (I bought this album for $7.99) at the record store because they hadn’t had a big hit yet. This album helped push metal forward by bringing it out of the low register dirge it had been stuck in for five years.


Powerman5000ttsr

  1. Powerman 5000- Tonight the Stars Revolt! (1999):

It isn’t very often that a band manages to create its own sub-genre but PM5K managed to create “Action Rock.” This album was a stark departure from their sound on their debut album Mega! Kung Foo Radio. Gone was the percussionist and the funk influenced songs based on cartoons and comic books and the arrival of straightforward sci-fi rock had come. Bringing the entertainment factor that his older brother is known for (Spider One is the younger brother of Rob Zombie) PM5k managed to create a high-octane form of metal that managed to get you to sing along while rocking out. The album managed to put out a number of singles, however, my favorite song is “Operate, Annihilate.”


Sehnsuct

  1. Rammstein- Sehnsucht (1998):

This fucking album… what can I say about this fucking album…? Rammstein proved in 1998 that it doesn’t matter if you can understand one goddamned word being said you can still rock out. This album is full of great songs that put the band on the map in America (along with their highly unusual stage show). Rammstein is a band that you either love or hate. I had an ex that wouldn’t let me listen to them in the car because the music gave her a headache. Rammstein’s uniqueness as well as their huge guitar riffs managed to endear the band to American audiences who don’t speak a word of German. Notable songs that people will remember is “Du Hast” which sported some Reservoir Dogs references in its video, “Engel”, and the now infamous “Buck Dich.”The band has had a steady output of albums since 1998, unfortunately, because the douchebags who shot up Columbine were fans the band got a bad rap and haven’t managed to regain a mainstream foothold in the states since. Sehnsucht helped save the genre by allowing a breakdown in language barriers which allowed other European bands to have a shot at popularity in the states including bands like Japan’s Dir En Grey. It doesn’t matter what you sing about as long as you rock right?


sevendust

  1. Sevendust- Home (1999):

Sevendust is a band whose mainstream popularity has been a yoyo over the years. Despite (or possibly because of) this the band has one of the most intensely loyal fan bases I have ever seen. As a diehard “Duster” since the self titled debut in 1997, I can honestly say that this is one of the best live shows going in metal. I’ve seen them three times and never get tired of paying to see them live. Often Sevendust is hard to define because they manage to keep a heaviness that is not overbearing while providing melodies and singable choruses that are easy to remember. Home was the sophomore effort from the group that managed to have a few hits including “Waffle” and “Denial” as well as introduced the audience to a female singer with a killer voice (Skin from Skunk Anansie) on the song “Licking Cream.” For me the highlight of the album is the duet track with Chino from the Deftones titled “Bender.” Sevendust is one of those bands that doesn’t change their sound very much from album to album, but the consistency is what makes the band great and they continue to fly the flag for metal without compromising.


Slipknot_Iowa

  1. Slipknot- Iowa (2001):

Say what you will about Slipknot, the fact still remains that they are probably one of the hardest metal bands to create and maintain a mainstream success that has lasted two decades. While their incendiary debut album put them on the map, Iowa was their finger to the mainstream that shouted in defiance that they would continue to make their brand of metal and the maggot masses would continue to love it. Slipknot managed to save the genre by making people scratch their heads at their approach. Nine members?! How can you afford to live having to split shit nine ways? Yet somehow they managed and also managed to combine all of the elements the nine members contributed to create a hard charging, in your face kind of metal that tells you it’s ok to scream “People = Shit” out of your window at full volume while stuck in traffic. Slipknot have managed to have socially conscious lyrical content without coming off preachy or overbearing. Every metal head should be able to relate because most of us are pissed off and intelligent enough to see what is going on.


Soulfly

  1. Soulfly- Soulfly (1998):

Soulfly managed to take everything great about Sepultura and bring it into the new era. Max Cavalera managed to break free from his former band and create new and exciting music that brought his musical roots more into the forefront. I saw Soulfly in 2000 and was amazed by their stage show and intensity. Unfortunately, Max also managed to take a promising new band and fuck it up by writing basically the same fucking album for the next decade. The poly rhythmic style of Latin beats set Soulfly apart from Sepultura in a way that made it its own entity. While lumped in with the unfortunate Nu Metal sludge riffed masses, I think that the first Soulfly album helped the genre by showing that embracing your cultural roots and including them in the metal genre could work and work well. Ill Nino owe a lot to Soulfly for creating an audience of Latin American metal heads for them to convert into fans. One stand out song on this album is “Tribe” which I managed to see live once where Max brought out a number of drummers to do a drum line.


Dysfunction

  1. Staind- Dysfunction (1999):

Of all the albums on this list I think this one will be the one I get the most shit for. ‘It’s just a guy whining over heavy music’ some might say, but the honest truth is that Aaron Lewis is baring his soul for people. This album is important to the genre because it showed that you can have the realness and emotionality that made a band like Alice in Chains so great and still manage to make it heavy. Their rotation on MTV (back when they actually played music videos) may have burned people out on them, but those who loved it understood that you can use lyrical content as therapy, and a lot of people will be able to relate to it. With a number of great singles to choose from, oddly enough, my favorite song is the hidden track “Excess Baggage” because it was a representation of my feelings at that time in my life (all 19 years of age of me).


Spineshank_The_Height_of_Callousness

  1. Spineshank- The Height of Callousness (2000):

My god what an album… While some people will argue that Spineshank was another Nu Metal band that utilized electronics to augment their sound, the truth is they were much more than that. Spineshank managed to bring heavier screaming vocals to the Nu Metal genre, which was very focused on rapping at the time. Pure and simple, this album is heavy as fuck but doesn’t sacrifice listen-ability for weight. Some people may remember “Synthetic” being on the MTV back in the day but the last few songs on the album are the strongest for me. “Seamless”, “Negative Space”, and “Transparent” are probably the strongest three songs to end an album of this weight in the era it was release.


SW

  1. Stabbing Westward- Darkest Days (1998):

Stabbing Westward was always an odd duck on the landscape of heaviness. They managed over time to carry the torch of industrial while infusing elements of pop and funk into their sound. Darkest Days is probably remember most for the song “Save Yourself” which was a big hit in its own right, but the lyric and musical content was more expansive in terms of covering mileage in the sonic landscape. “Everything I Touch” harkens back to the days of early grunge while “Haunting Me” manages to add some industrial/dance elements to the album. Stabbing Westward contributed to the metal genre by blending everything going on musically at the time into a dark landscape and spitting it out to create a Tim Burton-esque land of Oz. While SW has been done for a while The Dreaming (which consists of the singer and keyboardist from SW) continue to carry sonic contributions that Stabbing Westward left us with.


220px-Static-X_-_Wisconsin_Death_Trip

  1. Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip (1999):

Speaking of genre creating bands… Fuck! Static-X created and owned “Evil Disco” until the end of the band. I had the pleasure of meeting the original lineup before they were an MTV hit and can honestly say that they were the most down to earth, endearing, and funny guys I ever met. This album was like a star exploding, because with the force it hit MTV it caused an impact that the band managed to maintain for the life of the project. While their style changed and grew heavier the deeper you go in their catalog, there is something about the birth of Evil Disco that was just amazing. Static-X managed to add some excitement back into the genre at a time when everybody was depressed and bitching about their parents. Nonsense lyrics, Zombie-esque audio samples, a straightforward guitar attack made the male fans want to bang their heads and the females shake their asses and any music insider can tell you that that is a hit. Bar none my two favorite songs on this album are “Trance is the Motion” and “December.”


StrataAlbum

  1. Strata- Strata (2004):

I don’t expect many people to know about this band, but they are important in the fact that there was elements of all three things that I consider important to music. 1. Emotionality, 2. Musicianship, 3. Power in the message. While they might be considered a “screamo” band by some, I classify Strata with the likes of the Deftones or Evans Blue as a genre I call groove metal. There is a definite groove to the music, but there is a connection to the emotion that is conveyed in the songs. I think that Strata made a contribution to the genre by bringing an arena rock element in the big choruses and subdued verse formula. It could be that I’m just emotionally attached to the album due to its significance at a point in my life but I don’t care, fuck it, it’s a good fucking album. “The Panic” was the one video I ever saw on MTV from these guys but with the exception of “Trustkill” the entire album has a high level of repeat listenability. By far my favorite song on the album is “When It’s All Burning.”


Ascendancy_album_cover

  1. Trivium- Ascendency (2005):

Last but not least is Trivium’s major label debut Ascendency. With one album these young guys from Florida (WTF is it with the swamp?) managed to reignite the fire of thrash in the new century. I remember hearing “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” for the first time and being blown away. The best of thrash without all the bullshit.

 

These guys can flat out play period. Don’t believe me? Check out Matthew and Corey from the band rip a solo for the King Diamond song on the Roadrunner United album. Their most recent three albums In Waves, Vengeance Falls, and Silence in the Snow have been fucking amazing and they continue to grow musically with each release. Trivium is important to the genre of metal because these are the guys that are going to fly the flag for years to come and hopefully inspire the next generation of guitarists to learn how to circle head bang while shitting out riffs from hell.

Well that is my take on shit. If you feel compelled to contribute your voice to this then leave a comment.

Heavy Metal Albums Every Metal Fan Should Own: Released in the Last 30 years

First off I’ll preface this list by stating that I’ve been an avid metal fan since I was 12. Thanks to my brother, who had a pretty heavy influence on my musical tastes for a bit, I was introduced to Metallica, Fear Factory, and Pantera. This is my list of albums that I feel anybody who likes heavy metal should own. I in no way am saying that it is expansive enough to cover everybody’s tastes, but it does give a broad range of styles. I know that a lot of people will argue for certain Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Juda Priest or Dio Albums, but this is my blog so they can suffer. Overall, as usual, I chose most of these for pure listenability and the fact that I don’t skip any of the songs on the albums. So…. Here we go.

  1. Fear Factory- Demanufacture:

TDemanufacturehis is the album that started it all for me. Industrial Metal at its best. Period. The terms “machine gun riffs” is an accurate descriptor of the sound. Dino Cazares was one of the first in metal to utilize the 7-string guitar for the extra low string that it could offer and his extremely accurate picking makes the riffs killer.

Best track:

This is difficult because there are more than a few really good ones. “Pisschrist” is the one that stands out most. Not because it is overwhelmingly technical or melodic but instead it has one of the best endings of a song ever!


  1. Metallica- Master of Puppets:

As far as metal albums go, this one is pretty much a no brainer. Although I started at the “Ride the Lightning” album, Puppets is still the standMetallica_-_Master_of_Puppets_coverout of the earlier albums. Melodically and structurally, the songs are just solid. This album is pretty much a greatest hits package unto itself with songs like the title track, Orion, Disposable Heroes, and The Thing That Should Not Be.

Best track:

I can’t choose just one on this album, but I take all three of the last songs together as the best core of the album. Starting with “Leper Messiah,” moving on to “Orion” (which showcases the playing of the late great Cliff Burton) and finishing with “Damage, Inc.”


  1. Megadeth- Youthanasia:

Youthanasia

I know a lot of people would choose earlier albums like “Killing is My Business” or “Countdown to Extinction” as the Megadeth album to be included in a list, however, I feel that this album really showcases the strengths of the Mustaine/Friedman/Ellefson/Menza lineup. Overall it shows the strength of the songwriting at this point of Megadeth’s career and has few tracks that I ever skip over.

Best Track:

For this album I would have to say that “The Killing Road” is probably the best one. It has the chugging riffs that you would come to expect and probably one of the best solos on the album.


  1. Helmet- Meantime:

As far as metal bands go, Helmet didn’t really get a lot of the attention the deserved. With the exception of the videos on Headbanger’s Ball for “Unsung” and “Milquetoast” they were not really recognized by mainstream media. Meantime does include “Unsung” and was probably one of their bestselling albums over time, but the music tHelmet_Meantimehat they produced was more meaningful than it was given credit for. Helmet blended industrial and metal together as well as Nine Inch Nails or Ministry and they should have been able to contend with both for real estate on the Industrial scene but somehow they were left out of the pack. I personally think that Page Hamilton’s riffs are underrated.

Best Track:

“Unsung” is one of the strongest tracks on the album and it still stands the test of time in listenability, however, “You Borrowed” is also a strong song in a similar vein as “Unsung”.


  1. Faith No More- The Real Thing

The_Real_Thing_album_cover

I know that this is the album that everybody knows from FNM due to the popularity of “Epic” in the MTv rotation, but as far as their heavy side, it is also the best post-Mosley album that they have. Songs like “Surprise, You’re Dead!” showcase straightforward metal riffage not particularly utilized on the more funk/poppy songs like “Falling to Pieces”. Front to back this is a solid offering and should be included in any metal head’s library.

Best Track:

“Zombie Eaters” and “Underwater Love” are two of my favorite tracks on the album. Both are a little outside the box for metal but are still great. Another great song it the title track because you cant help rock out to the drum beat. As a Post script to this, there is a great cover of “Zombie Eaters” by Ill Nino that you should check out.


  1. Deftones- Around the Fur

Deftones_-_Around_the_Fur

Ok, Ok, I know that they are classified as “Nu Metal” however, I think that the Deftones have long established that the tag no longer refers to them. For this instance I bring up the sophomore effort. Heavy play of “Be Quiet and Drive” and “My Own Summer” helped the Deftones establish themselves in the mainstream on this album. However, the album overall is stronger and more focused than their debut album.

Best Track:

“Around the Fur” is one of the strongest tracks on the album in my opinion. It shows the Deftones’ ability to set up a grove and craft a pop-worthy song.


  1. Pantera- Vulgar Display of Power

PanteraVulgarDisplayofPowerBar None, one of the best metal albums released in the 90’s. Period. Most people flock to Cowboys from Hell or Far Beyond Driven, but in the progression of things, I think Pantera hit the nail on the head with Vulgar. Songs like “This Love”, “Walk” and “Fucking Hostile” showed the power and melody of Pantera. For me, this is the definitive. Solos and riffs are on point and the rhythm section is solid as hell.

Best Track:

Besides the obvious ones stated above, the bookends of the album stick out to me. Starting it off with “A New Level” and finishing with “Hollow” showcases both sides to Pantera, the power and the ability to craft melody as well as for Dimebag to play a full melodic solo instead of half a solo and half noise shows a band in transition, but also at the top of their game in the power metal art.


  1. Trivium- In Waves

Triviuminwavescover

I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this album. It covers the spectrum of metal, from power, hardcore, melodic, and a little bit of black metal it shows the influences of an already solid metal band. There are plenty of good songs on this album and it really shows how Trivium have managed to continue to progress as songwriters over the span of their career.

Best Track:

As far as the standard release goes, I really enjoy both “Forsake not the Dream” and “All These Yesterdays”. However, I purchased the Special Edition when this album came out and the inclusion of “Shattering the Skies Above” that was previously on a God of War soundtrack makes it my favorite song on the release.


  1. Slipknot- All Hope Is Gone

Put it simply, I love this album. To All_Hope_is_Gone_(original)me this is a great culmination of the elements of Slipknot that are endearing. They allow melody and a “pop” sense to some of the songs not detract from their heaviness. The anger shows through well, but the sorrow and desperation also shine on this album. This may have additional sentimental value being that it is the last album that Paul Gray worked on but honestly, it is a great album throughout.

Best Track:

Two tracks on this album stand out the most for me, “Snuff” and “Child of a Burning Time.” “Snuff” makes me emotional pretty much every time I listen to it because we all have had a person that we feel the sense of despair and loneliness that the song conveys to me. This is an example of a song that keeps building throughout and finishes strong. “Child of a Burning Time” is hard to explain as far as my affinity to it. It’s just one of those songs where the chorus I just have to sing out loud every time I listen to it.


  1. Sevendust- Cold Day Memory

This particular album is a little more recent in their catalog, Cold_Day_Memory_album_coverhowever, the return of Clint Lowry brought back a feel to their music that hasn’t been present since he left. This album has the power, the melody, and the anthemic choruses that anybody who loves Sevendust has missed on some of their interim albums. No offense to Sonny Mayo, he did a great job, but when you have the original chemistry, you have the original power.

Best Track:

This one is difficult because I’ve loved 7D since I bought their first album in 1998. If I had to pick one however, I would have to say that “Unraveling” is my favorite. With some albums, there is a song or an entire album that fits a specific time in your life and for me, “Unraveling” was very fitting for the point in life that I was going through when the album came out.