20th Anniversary Commemoration
The nineties were quite the decade all together; several styles of music were being played on the radio worldwide, which diversified the world of music. Specifically 1998 was, arguably, a turning point and the start of a new chapter. In the world of pop and rock, the Spice Girls took the world by storm with several of their hits, as did Cher later on with her album Believe. Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals most certainly shocked the world of entertainment, while Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe also introduced a darker form of licentiousness into the mainstream. As the world of pop music and entertainment shifted and allowed room for new sounds and visuals, so did the world of metal down in the underground. Cornerstone albums were released by bands that completely redefined and pushed ahead the genre of metal, which allowed them to become trademark names amongst metalheads worldwide.
Now, in 2018, one can only wonder how twenty years flew so fast, resulting in many albums celebrating their twentieth anniversary. Such honorable examples are Blind Guardian's Nightfall In Middle-Earth, Slayer's Diabolus In Musica, My Dying Bride's 34.7888%... Complete, Apocalyptica's Inquisition Symphony, and Morbid Angel's Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, upon many others. This article, though, is not particularly celebrating the twentieth anniversary of random metal albums. Instead, the aim is to explore twenty-year-old albums released in 1998 by now-popular bands in the genre who were, at that time, small. Also, it explores albums that opened the door to new sounds and styles in metal. And, finally, to explore albums that will always be remembered as essentials in some of these bands' discographies, especially considering that some of them are debuts.
It is important to disclaim that what's written here is subjective. What might be a masterpiece of an album to one metalhead might be a total failure to another. Bands that may have impacted the genre forever in the minds of some might be bands that should never have even formed in the minds of others. Of course, the debate as to which albums were the most impactful and therefore deserve to be remembered can go on for the rest of the year. But for now, here are the twelve chosen for this article.
Aégis - Theatre Of Tragedy
Aégis, Theatre Of Tragedy's third album, has powerfully influenced the sound of many gothic metal bands, without a doubt. Being pioneers in the genre, as well as a highly experimental band, Theatre Of Tragedy really pushed the envelope on this release. Here is where they started letting go of their doom metal sound and allowing the gothic influences to take over. But why is this album worth remembering? It's simple: each track is magnificent and soothing. The ambiance the album creates, its poetic lyrics, and the beauty of Liv Kristine's voice were all produced in such an inimitable way that now, twenty years later, one can only dream of such an album being created like this again from Theatre Of Tragedy. And though they aren't around anymore to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their third album, it is definitely an album to appreciate for many more years to come.
Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka - Nile
Yes, it's just to say that the theme of Egyptology isn't foreign to metal, even twenty years ago. But for a death metal band to have an entire career in which their whole discography and all of their lyrical themes are centered around the concept of ancient Egypt - now that's something special and, back then, unheard of. In 1998, Nile released their debut album, Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka. Maybe not everyone back then knew what Nile was exactly all about. But amongst all the metal albums released back in 1998, Nile's debut stands out significantly for its technical death metal whose lyrics serve the gods of Egypt, the monstrous growls of the two vocalists, the striking yellow cover of the mummy, and their merciless-looking logo. These are just a few things to highlight about this very special release. Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka deserves a twentieth-anniversary celebration bandage.
Black Shining Leather - Carpathian Forest
The late nineties saw a turning point in the second wave of black metal. Some bands were becoming more melodic and popular, as some strove to remain as cult as possible. The birth of Black Shining Leather is an important one because it brings both of those aspects of the subgenre into one record. And, without a doubt, Carpathian Forest adding their lyrics about psychopathic perversion completes the deliverance and significance of this debut. And if the nineties are supposed to be the golden decade for Norwegian black metal, Black Shining Leather is one of the albums that make it an epic one. In fact, it may have even been the most disturbing release of 1998, though it definitely had some soft spots that deserve to be recognized. But whether being a band that is traditional and faithful to the criteria of black metal or being a band that helped slightly to introduce black-and-roll into the metal market, no argument will ever get in the way of the fact that Carpathian Forest are a band with their own sound and atmosphere?a trademark created as a result of their talent. Twenty years ago, the planet was deflowered by their debut, immortalizing the band's name.
Cruelty And The Beast - Cradle Of Filth
Countess Bathory has always been an infatuation for eighties black metal. Bands such as Bathory and Venom romanticized the countess, but it wasn't until 1998 that an entire album was released about the Hungarian legend. Still vampiric and twisted in nature, Cradle Of Filth's third release is significant not only because of its concept, but also because it is a tad more melodic than its predecessors. This sound continued to further develop throughout the band's career, but it was twenty years ago that their atmosphere began to change. Love them or hate them, one cannot deny the significance of this album conceptually and musically in metal. Thus, it deserves twenty virgins' blood for its twentieth anniversary.
Lake Of Sorrow - The Sins Of Thy Beloved
Aside from being a debut, Lake Of Sorrow is featured in this commemoration because it is another significant album in the subgenres of gothic metal and doom-death metal. The Beauty-and-the-Beast vocal theme, the macabre songs, a daunting cover that is intriguing as well fearsome, the cold violin... what more does one need to list about The Sins Of Thy Beloved's doom release? As much as some may say it isn't the strongest doom-death metal album of the nineties, there is no denying that Lake Of Sorrow has some of the most beautiful songs that the band ever composed; a true nineties classic that deserves the recognition.
My Arms, Your Hearse - Opeth
As one looks back, the late nineties were a really melodic time for metal, opposite of the early nineties. One style that was still developing significantly was progressive metal. In 1998, the world received Opeth's third album, the classic My Arms, Your Hearse. Opeth is one of metal's most significant progressive bands for a reason. It's their sound. The equal amount of acoustic guitar passages and electric ones, as well as Mikael Akerfeldt's clean vocals and mighty grunts, their complex compositions, and melancholic moments are only a few things that have contributed to the band's trademark, as well as their image. All of that is present on their third release. Though still a smaller band twenty years ago, My Arms, Your Hearse somewhat foreshadowed where the band was destined to go (although this became clearer with their fourth release the following year). The addition of a new drummer and bassist also assisted in this premonition. And when it comes to acoustic music and progressive metal back in 1998, My Arms, Your Hearse definitely topped that category.
Oceanborn - Nightwish
One thing that is significant about the nineties is the progression and evolution of symphonic metal. And though one may actually be able to find its traces in the previous decade, it is unquestionable that Nightwish played a role in the development of the style. Nowadays, many frown upon this band for some of their misfortunes that have taken place in the new millennium. But when one forgets about all of that and rewinds back twenty years, it would be unfair to completely discredit and ignore the value of Nightwish's Oceanborn. It is an album of very heartwarming and breathtaking operatic songs. Speed metal and gothic metal elements are also present. And, it is the album that contains a lot of Tarja Turunen's best vocal work. Oceanborn probably gave metal the most feminine and beautiful kiss of 1998.
Once Sent From The Golden Hall - Amon Amarth
What imbecile can say the word "METAL" without noting the Swedish warriors from Valhalla Amon Amarth? Yes, it has been twenty years since the release of their debut album, Once Sent From The Golden Hall. Amon Amarth are very important in metal due to their loyalty to their fans, their unique style of melodic death metal, and their endless pride in their Viking heritage. The year 1998 saw the release of this debut that has some of their classic tracks, including "Victorious March", "Friends Of The Suncross", and "Ride For Vengeance". Also, the world of metal was introduced to Johan's voice, which almost immediately became recognizable. Many barrels of beer deserve to be brewed for this album's twentieth anniversary.
Stigmata - Arch Enemy
Another highlight from 1998 is Arch Enemy's classic second studio album, Stigmata. This may not be the most memorable album of that year, but one mustn't forget its highly melancholic moments. Doom atmosphere, keyboards, melodic metal, Johan Liiva's voice, and subconscious lyrics are all key tune-elements that contributed to the sound of old Arch Enemy. Stigmata is no exception from their releases of that decade. Along with its predecessor, Stigmata is one of those albums that goes to show that melodic death metal can have its slower moments about self-reflection and internal struggles racing against kismet. Love it or hate it, Stigmata is not an album that any band can replicate.
The Sound Of Perseverance - Death
Probably the most highly influential album of 1998. As several debuts were released that year, the world of metal also saw the release of Death's final studio album, The Sound Of Perseverance. It's fair to say that many of the technical and progressive death metal bands that have formed in the new millennium take their inspiration not only from Death, but from this record specifically. The main highlights are, really, the guitar work. And now, for two decades, this album has been the go-to example album when it comes to technicality in metal. Also, this was the release where Death reached the peak of their career with songs like "Spirit Crusher" and "Bite The Pain", before anyone thought that they'd cease to exist not long after. This masterpiece that turns twenty this year deserves to be recognized as an important cornerstone in metal, as well as a milestone in the band's career.
Thyrfing - Thyrfing
Viking metal is, indeed, well-appreciated within the world of metal. Deep in the underground of Sweden, Thyrfing released their debut that is filled with black metal riffs, vocals, and harmonic keyboards. Though their sound didn't become clearly defined until their second release, Thyrfing's debut made a clear statement as to what this band is about. Each track is, in a sense, a story that takes the listener on a journey through pagan history on Scandinavian soil, fully expressing how the band feels about their Viking heritage. The artwork of the cover perfectly portrays this musical journey. One look at the blue water and one can already sink into some deep, legendary Viking songs that are performed in both English and Swedish. Though the album has a lot of black metal elements, what is amazing about it is that it has many emotional and melancholic moments that can be heard right from the opening track as well. As 1998 was quite a shifting year, it is no coincidence that the genres of black metal and Viking metal received this gem that is named after the legendary magical sword - the first album from an amazing band.
Whisper Supremacy - Cryptopsy
From one of death metal's most eccentric and infected bands, 1998 also saw the release of Cryptopsy's Whisper Supremacy. One of its significant traits is that it is the first album sans Lord Worm on vocals. But, also, it is one of those albums that demonstrated brutality and aggression during death metal's flourishing decade. And even though some fans were hesitant about this release due to the shift within the lineup, many fans still appreciate this album as one of Cryptopsy's best releases. It's also interesting to think of it as being a prophetic album that foreshadowed the future vocal and style changes that were yet to happen to Cryptopsy (hinting at 2008). Whatever polarization metalheads experience over this band today, it started twenty years ago after the release of Whisper Supremacy.
The year 1998 was definitely a year of changes, shifts, new sounds, hesitations, eccentricity, and unnoticed prophecies. Who really knew about the set of sequences that were meant to happen to bands such as Arch Enemy, Theatre Of Tragedy, Death, Nightwish, and The Sins Of Thy Beloved? This goes to show that the releases of 1998 were a bridge that assisted in transitioning the world of metal from the classic sounds of the early nineties and eighties into the dawn of the eclectic new millennium. It was a time period that will be remembered for many years to come as fans across the globe continue to appreciate and listen to these classic albums.
Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
Comments: 9 Visited by: 36 users
Hits total: 3124 | This month: 17