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Staff picks


Tenacious D - The Pick Of Destiny
23.01.2022 | Buddy movie

You've disobeyed my orders, son, why were you ever born?
Your brother's ten times better than you, Jesus loves him more
This music that you play for us comes from the depths of hell
Rock and roll's The Devil's work, he wants you to rebel
You'll become a mindless puppet, Beelzebub will pull the strings
Your heart will lose direction and chaos it will bring
You'd better shut your mouth, better watch your tone
You're grounded for a week with no telephone
Don't let me here you cry, don't let me hear you moan
You gotta praise The Lord when you're in my home


RIP Michael Lee "Meat Loaf" Aday
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RaduP
Budgie - Never Turn Your Back On A Friend
16.01.2022 | Hard Rock / Heavy metal

Budgie's Burke Shelley died this week, which prompted some re-evaluation of their catalogue from my side. The Welsh band are probably most well known for Shelley's androgynous vocals, and for being covered by Metallica (this picked album containing "Breadfan", the most well-known case). But Budgie, while still sitting between the hard rock and heavy metal borders from the early 70s, were pretty much the original power trio, with Shelley being as creative of a bass player as he was a distinguishable vocalist. While drummer Ray Phillips and guitarist Tony Bourge deserve just as many accolades, Shelley's star power is undeniable here. And Never Turn Your Back On A Friend is pretty much their peak, equal parts prog tinged and thunderous, introspective and loud.

R.I.P. Burke Shelley (1950-2022)
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nikarg, Dream Taster
Wilderun - Epigone
09.01.2022 | Symphonic Progressive Metal
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A lot of bands fancy themselves as cinematic or epic, but very few bands manage to mirror the actual experience of a story. Wilderun so effortlessly drag you along for the ride, and Epigone rewards every bit of patience you give it.

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Starvynth
Ethereal Shroud - Trisagion
20.12.2021 | Atmospheric Black Metal
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Ethereal Shroud come in the 11th hour to remind us both why atmospheric black metal can feel so majestic, and why you should wait until the year is over to make your best of lists for the year.



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RaduP
Deadsoulman, Starvynth, nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, X-Ray Rod, Dream Taster
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV
11.11.2021 | Progressive Hard Rock

We are, once again, a couple of days late to celebrate a groundbreaking album's anniversary. Led Zeppelin is a band with a complicated legacy, from uncredited "inspirations" to underage groupies to backmasking, but there's something truly mystical about their fourth album. Supposedly untitled, debuting the band's symbolistic emblems, and with the figure from the cover art taken from a Tarot card, Led Zeppelin IV is also probably the band's most consistent album. It's hard to pinpoint a song on this album that isn't a classic. There are no words needed for "Stairway To Heaven", which has became the band's trademark. "Black Dog" and "Rock and Roll" were rowdy even by 70s standards. "The Battle Of Evermore" and "Misty Mountain Hop" feel like early seeds for folk metal, "When The Levee Breaks" has one of the best grooves of all time. "Going To California" is a ballad that's so ethereal. And the only reason "Four Sticks" feels more forgettable is because it's in such good company, but it would've been some other bands' greatest song.

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Starvynth, ScreamingSteelUS, nikarg, corrupt, Dream Taster
The Who - Who's Next
02.08.2021 | Teenage Wasteland

I still have no idea why The Who are on Metal Storm, and I know it's a bit inappropriate to add another staff pick now when we're celebrating the work of the many musicians who passed last week. But one of the greatest rock albums of all time turned 50 years a few days ago. It's bombastic, showcases fantastic chemistry, it's bookended by some of classic rock's absolute best songs, it has slight forays into prog rock, and it has the beast that is Keith Moon on drums. I call that a bargain.
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RaduP
ScreamingSteelUS, Starvynth, nikarg, BitterCOld, Dream Taster
Type O Negative - Slow, Deep And Hard
18.06.2021 | Pissed Off Vampire

I missed the anniversary by two days, but 30 years ago, Peter Steele took the rotting carcass of Carnivore to channel the feelings post bitter betrayal and suicide attempt to create one of the most vile and hateful albums out there. This is basically the only gothic thrash album I can think of. It moves from organ dirges, slow doom riffs, gang vocals spouting "He knows you're fucking someone else", blistering crossover energy, and Steele's character going through unsuccessfully coping with his predicament and emotions.
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RaduP
Mr. Doctor, nikarg, Daniell, Starvynth, Dream Taster
Jethro Tull - Aqualung
19.03.2021 | Progressive Rock

Back in the early 70's, metal was just in its infancy, not yet able to walk on its own feet. For most of that decade, not much other than Black Sabbath were heavy enough to be called metal, but heavy music was still abound, at least by the decade's standard. Jethro Tull would end up snatching a Grammy from Metallica, but Aqualung finds a band that can write some heavy guitars, but their progressive rock is most of all whimsical, comical, vulgar, clever, and witty. The image of Ian Anderson standing on one leg playing flute is just as iconic as the riffs on "Cross-Eyed Mary" or "Aqualung". It's a fantastic album even regardless of its connections to metal, one of the best prog rock albums period, almost best Jethro Tull album, and released exactly 50 years ago today.
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RaduP
nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, Dream Taster, Daniell
Kultika - Capricorn Wolves
17.01.2021 | Post-Metal
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The start of a new year always finds some people eager to look for what said year has to bring in terms of releases in hopes of picking some early favs. I still have to properly process some releases, but the one that stuck with me the most (so far) is Kultika's post-metal opus Capricorn Wolves. Horrid artwork aside, the psychedelic and progressive touches of it ensure that the atmosphere building parts of it are compensated with melodies whose flow is everchanging.



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Dream Taster, musclassia
Mountain - Nantucket Sleighride
28.12.2020 | Heavy blues rock

I wasn't planning to do any more staff picks this year, and especially not of early protometal stuff, since I just did one in which I also linked ten other 1970 protometal songs, including Mountain's hit, "Mississippi Queen". But Leslie West, guitarist and vocalist of the band, just died. Instead of going the usual Climbing! route, I propose a different trail, with 1971's Nantucket Sleighride, whose 50th anniversary isn't that far away either. Though none of the songs here have the immediate awesomeness of the riff and cowbell of "Mississippi Queen", the blues licks and jammy tone of this one as it moves through psychedelic, progressive and heavy undertones, coupled with some fine ass drumming as well, it's one of the best showcases of why Leslie was so appreciated as a guitarist, and perhaps it's time we saw that instead of just listening to that one song. Or we could go the live route with 1974's Twin Peaks, that somehow referenced Lynch's show before it even aired.

R.I.P. Leslie West (1945-2020)
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RaduP
ScreamingSteelUS, nikarg
Sir Lord Baltimore - Kingdom Come
21.12.2020 | Hell hounding proto metal

With 1970 being such a landmark year zero for metal, it's easy to forget that there were other pioneers besides the likes of Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. Released roughly 50 years ago this month, Sir Lord Baltimore's Kingdom Come is an album so heavy and energetic that it really feels like the early 70s didn't have the means to properly capture all that on wax just yet. Though they toured with Black Sabbath and were one of the first bands to get coined as "heavy metal" by journalists, a combination of poor album sales, personal differences, and drug abuse led to the band's early demise, though it's also that they were just too ahead of their time. Even though two of the three members having passed away, while the other remained in obscurity, the direct or indirect influence that Kingdom Come, and its more psychedelic follow-up Sir Lord Baltimore, had on heavy guitar music is something that lives on.

Here's some more unpicked year zero stuff: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
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RaduP
ScreamingSteelUS, Mr. Doctor, nikarg, Daniell
King Crimson - Lizard
11.12.2020 | Progressive Rock

Lizard is definitely one of the most underappreciated of King Crimson's albums. Being caught between the Greg Lake era and the John Wetton era, it was one of the two transitional lineups which never performed live. However not only was it the first King Crimson record to include Mel Collins, who is still a member today, but it was also the only one to have Gordon Haskell in the lineup doing vocals and bass, and whose passing this year might bring just a bit more attention to Lizard. Though there has yet to emerge a properly cropped version of the cover art, it's fantastic how Lizard shuffles between the grandiose symphonic prog and meddlings with avant-jazz and just a bit of absurd quirkiness.
Picked by:
RaduP
The Bipolar Disorder Project - Anna
09.11.2020 | Avant-garde / Progressive Metal
Bandcamp music player

Yesterday I was greeted by the tragic news of Robert Cotoros' passing. I didn't personally know him, but I know a lot of people who did, and it was indeed a really great loss for the music community in my country. Though his talents would find him as a producer more often than a musician, his musical career would find him guesting on the latest E-an-na album, being a longtime member of Hteththemeth, and releasing a collaborative split with Karmic Thread (review here); but all pale in comparison with Anna, the labor of love project concept album that was 6 years in the making. Meticulous and creative beyond belief, the progressive and slightly avant-garde metal of it is something I wish would have lead to an even more matured follow-up. That will never happen now.

R.I.P. Robert Cotoros (1994-2020)

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RaduP
nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, BitterCOld, Dream Taster
Killing Joke - Killing Joke
05.10.2020 | Industrial Post-Punk

Quite akin to the previous album I staff picked, this is a release by a band before they became metal. It would be another 10 years before the industrial part of Killing Joke's sound became rough enough to warrant the "industrial metal" tag, but even from the beginning their cold and mechanical post-punk oozed of the sounds of industrial music, though more focused on barrages of bass, cold and anxious atmospheres, and feverishly angry vocals. It laid the groundwork for industrial rock 40 years ago today, though its influence was even more far reaching than that, and you could say that it ranks among those albums who inspired everyone who heard them. Even if Killing Joke committed the cardinal sin of having two non-consecutive self-titled albums.
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RaduP
BitterCOld, nikarg, Daniell, Darkside Momo
Fields Of The Nephilim - Elizium
28.09.2020 | Gothic Rock

Not only did we miss this album's 30th anniversary by a couple of days, but this is also an album from before the band became metal (the opposite of what most bands are doing). Though Fields Of The Nephilim would start becoming more "brutal" with the next albums, it can't be understated how influential their gothic rock phase was to the soon-to-emerge gothic metal scene (which they would eventually join in a feedback loop of influence). Elizium is the apex of Fields Of The Nephilim's gothic rock sound, and honestly of gothic rock in general, at least out of the bits we have here. Dark, ominous, romantic, and magick. And even by goth rock standards, very atmospheric. It isn't hard to get why this was so influential, and why Fields Of The Nephilim have a Metal Storm page (and might've still had one even without their later albums) and The Sisters Of Mercy don't. All while we hope there would be another record sometime in the future.

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RaduP
Mr. Doctor, nikarg, Daniell, BitterCOld