Albums You Should Hear 1
Hello fellow Metal Stormers! Having graduated a few days ago I finally have some time on my hands that I can donate to our wonderful website and I'd love to start by posting the first in a series of blog entries where I will provide you with albums that I think are worth hearing. Don't treat this as some kind of "Jup's top-list" or anything like that since I never believed in having definite favorites. Instead, consider these posts to just be lists of interesting albums from all metal genres (and some that are not metal but I think are worth mentioning). I will naturally be providing a little description of every album as well. Inevitably some of these albums are bound to be records that already exist on a lot of people's top-lists or are simply generally considered as classics. I will try not to include too many of these albums though, since we all have access to conventional charts and can easily find information about well-known albums. Instead, treat these blog entries as "Jup's Guide to Interesting Left-field Music". Don't get me wrong - some of these albums might not even exactly be masterpieces (although most will); however, there is always going to be something interesting about them that is worth checking out. I think any serious music fan should hear them. Hopefully these entries will help to introduce some of you to some great, albeit forgotten, underrated or simply extremely hard to find music. Ok, so here we go:
Big Black - Atomizer (1986)
Big Black's LP debut completely shook the music world when it came out. Let me explain what sort of music we are dealing with here - guitars distorted to the point that they can no longer be "hummed" along with, harsh, acerbic, screamed vocals, angular drum machine rhythms and lyrics that can be considered shocking even by today's standards. Needless to say, in 1986 all this was quite a lot to stomach... Big Black proved to be extremely influential in the long run. The genres of industrial rock and metal, alternative metal and noise rock all owe a lot to the band's music. Steve Albini also ended up being one of alternative music's most sought after producers. "Atomizer" is a must-hear for any fan of alternative music, although something tells me the album's large dose of aggression and general harshness will also be to the liking of fans of extreme metal.
Chrome - 3rd From The Sun (1982)
Chrome is one weird band. They started off as a pure industrial band back in the late 70s, only to evolve into a strange fusion of rock, metal and industrial that preceded similar experiments by bands like Ministry or Godflesh by almost a decade. "3rd From The Sun" is one of the band's later albums and features a sound that precedes yet another highly popular sub genre - post-metal. Thats right, already in 1982, Chrome was making music similar to what Isis or Pelican are churning out these days. Of course, the production etc. is different but one can definitely hear the similarities. Naturally, the historical importance of this record shouldn't be the only reason for checking it out - and it isn't. "3rd From The Sun" features some extremely good, weird and off-beat songs. Listening to Chrome is like listening to a rock band from another planet. On the one hand, it all seems familiar but then there are elements that make it all seem so alien.
Christ Agony - Elysium (1999)
Although most people think of Graveland and Behemoth when black metal from Poland is mentioned, Christ Agony has indeed been making great music for just as long and is a very influential band in its own right. "Elysium" is not as groundbreaking as the band's previous album "Darkside" (which featured acoustic ballads and even some techno beats); however, it is a more consistent and impressive album overall. Actually, we are dealing with fairly slow-tempo black metal here, similar perhaps to Samael. The riffs are crunchy and heavy and the production is better than most releases from this genre. Basically, this is black metal that is quite unlike what most people think of when the style is mentioned. The band and especially their vocalist, Cezar, is also very capable of conveying despair and misery with their music, which adds a doomy quality to "Elysium".
Armia - Legenda (1991)
Of all Polish hardcore bands Armia is definitely the most well known, respected and revered. This album is great proof as to why they deserve this sort of praise. This is before they became really Christian too, so people who are bothered by Christian themes in their music needn't worry. "Legenda" is hardcore punk with a huge metal influence, especially noticeable in the abundant use of lightning fast double bass drumming. Armia's trademark - French horn harmonies used in conjunction with hardcore riffs - is also present on almost every song here. Lyrics are naturally all in Polish but even if you don't understand the language the music is worth checking out.
Fudge Tunnel - The Complicated Futility Of Ignorance (1994)
The mid-90s saw the emergence of many similar-sounding bands mixing alternative metal, hardcore and grunge into a monolithic and heavy as hell hybrid. Think bands like Helmet, Therapy?, Clutch, Prong and even to an extent the Melvins and Pantera. Well, in my opinion Fudge Tunnel with their "The Complicated Futility Of Ignorance" easily outplays all of the other bands in this particular style. These are some of the heaviest, most monolithic and crushing riffs ever recorded! Meanwhile, the bass throbs in the background, while the drums spew out the angular rhythms. Alex Newport's vocals are a clear highlight - he easily goes from bellowed, yet melodic verses to insanely screamed refrains. Of course, all bands of this style can be described in the same way as above; however, Fudge Tunnel are simply immensely powerful at the formula.
Lard - Last Temptation Of Reid (1990)
This is required listening to anyone who is a fan of either Ministry or Dead Kennedys (or both). Basically, Lard is Jello Biafra on vocals and the guys from Ministry on all other instruments. The results are somewhat predictable - fast industrial-thrash - however, in this case could we really ask for anything else (or tolerate it if it were)? Anyway, how can one not fall in love with the aggressive "Forkboy" or the silly "Can God Fill Teeth"? Since this album is indeed a recognized classic I don't think I need to recommend it any more - just go and listen to it.
Weakling - Dead As Dreams (2000)
USBM has always been accused of being either derivative or uninspired; however, this particular band easily outshines the output of many of the best black metal bands out there, regardless of nationality. Weakling is black metal in the purest sense (icy production, shrieky vocals, abundant blasts etc); however, the band also has many elements of progressive music and free jazz. The results are stunning and fans of black metal would be very unwise not to check them out.
Today Is The Day - Willpower (1994)
Today Is The Day is known to be a band eager to go to extremes. Although most metal heads should probably check out "In The Eyes Of God" due to its large amount of grind/death elements, to me "Willpower" will always remain the band's masterpiece. The reason is simple - unlike their other albums, which are basically as balls-out angry as can be, "Willpower" is a haunting testimony to misery and despair. Few bands are capable of conjuring such intense emotions in their music. The music is also slightly less harsh than is the norm with this band, with Steve Austin even utilizing clean vocals on a few tracks (I would not be surprised if Converge weren't particularly inspired by this sound).
Misery Loves Co. - Not Like Them (1997)
Misery Loves Co. began their career as a hybrid between Die Krupps and Nailbomb; however, on their second album, "Not Like Them" they indeed proved that they are... not like those other bands. What we have here is a form of alternative metal that is so dirty and harsh that it makes ears bleed. Everything is distorted beyond recognition. Despite this, what is truly most impressive about this album is how extremely emotional it is - on par with "Willpower" as described above. The band's vocalist is also extremely versatile, offering alternative metal crooning together with some of the most throat-ripping growls there are.
Lycia - The Burning Circle And Then Dust (1995)
Finally, Lycia. Truly, I cant think of any other band that sounds like them... Essentially, they are somewhere in between goth rock and darkwave, creating very atmospheric and lush music with minimal means. The guitars sound somewhat similar to what we have in black metal (all the reverb and trebbly sound) although of course they are much slower. The vocalist spends his entire time basically whispering all of the lyrics. "The Burning Circle And Then Dust" is the final Lycia release following their old style, before they started incorporating female vocals and more conventional goth rock structures. It is also one of the most impressive albums ever recorded.
Well, here it is. This is just the tip of the iceberg, hopefully. I'll be back with more recommendations, in the meantime don't hesitate to give me any feedback and if you heard any of these album, let me know what you think of them!
|Written on 18.06.2007 by With Metal Storm since 2002, jupitreas has been subjecting the masses to his reviews for quite a while now. He lives in Warsaw, Poland, where he does his best to avoid prosecution for being so cool.
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