We’re about to exit the four star world with next week starting the albums that I would give four-and-a-half stars out of five. But we’ve still got ten more albums to look at here as we visit the 300 metal albums that have found their way to my iPod.
161. Motorhead, Inferno (2004)
It’s a pretty amazing feat that to this day Motorhead still sounds alive and quite rockin’. Inferno is one of those late period albums that show just how much energy the band has. The band doesn’t try to do anything they aren’t familiar with here with each track being a very typical slab of Motorhead punk. “In the Name of Tragedy” is one of my favorite Motorhead tracks of all time – a blistering three minute slab of catchy riffs. “Terminal Show” is a brilliant way to start off the record with tons of energy, much of which is provided by Steve Vai on guitar. And “In the Year of the Wolf” is remarkably groovy.
160. Sunn O))), Black One (2005)
To this day I’m still unsure if drone metal takes talent to make or the simple ability to hold a note. It certainly does seem like anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of music could pull it off but yet at the same time it still fascinates me to no end, especially Sunn O))). What Black One does is creep me the hell out more than any other record in this world. The Immortal cover “Curses Realms (of the Winterdemons)” is one of the scariest tracks ever recorded. The combo of feedback and massive screaming throughout the song gives me shivers. Close to that is the previous track “It Took the Night To Believe” which also kind of feels like the devil is crawling out from inside you. The album also has no tracks over 16 minutes long, which for Sunn O))) is really quite a feat.
159. Skid Row, Slave To the Grind (1991)
“Yaaaoooooooooooo, Come On!” It’s with that scream from Sebastian Bach at the beginning of “Monkey Business” that you know Skid Row ain’t playing no games. At no point in his crazy career has Bach sounded better than with Skid Row’s second album, Slave to the Grind. Their debut was hair metal for true rockers and this moved them forward even more. For what it is, the riffs still hold up relatively well and the album only sounds a little dated. This would be the last Skid Row record to matter though as the hair metal genre was slowing dying.
158. Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
“All Aboard!” and it’s with that scream from Ozzy at the beginning of “Crazy Train” that you know he ain’t playing no games. Ozzy sounds pretty spectacular on his solo debut of course with Randy Rhodes shredding the axe like no one else could. Between “Crazy Train,” “Goodbye To Romance,” “Suicide Solution” and “No Bone Movies” there are just some classic Ozzy tracks on Blizzard of Ozz that still hold up against the best of his solo work.
157. Deicide, The Stench of Redemption (2006)
The guitar duo of the Hoffman brothers left Deicide after 2004’s Scars of the Crucifix and Glen Benton brought in Ralph Santolla and Cannibal Corpse guitarist Jack Owen to shred on this record. The result is more of a buzzsaw guitar sound and an invigorated energy from the group as a whole. This album is no less attacking of higher powers than the previous record and yet most fans ignore titles like “Death to Jesus” and “Homage to Satan” when talking about this record compared to the last one. “Crucified for the Innocence” is totally brutal and “Walk with the Devil in Dreams You Behold” is strangely catchy for a death metal tune.
156. Danzig, Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (1992)
With each Danzig album we creep higher and higher up the countdown here. All the elements aligned on this disc bringing together the best elements of the first two records together in one. You get the slow, menacing, dark rock mixed with the blues and some killer upbeat riffs as well. And Glenn’s vocals are at their best on this album. Danzig III contains the creepy opening track “Godless” as well as the bluesy “Bodies.” But what makes this album so good are the killer riffs of “Do You Wear the Mark” and the melodies of “Dirty Black Summer.”
155. Carpathian Forest, Defending the Throne of Evil (2003)
Carpathian Forest are pretty fucking cool. They are another of a small handful of bands that base their music on traditional black metal but add many other genres of music on top of it. There are symphonic elements, rock guitar riffs, thrash moments and maybe a little crust punk. The only thing they don’t do is bore the hell out of you with generic black metal. “Skjend Hans Lik” has the familiar chainsaw sound but is really quite upbeat and punky for black metal. “Cold Murderous Music” even has a programmed drum beat and a saxophone behind it making it sound like a BM version of a Portishead tune. Lyrically the album is an evil picture of mankind and anti-Christian views with lyrics in “Put to Sleep like a Sick Animal!!!” of “Get me out of this fucking hellhole / I can’t stand the fucking smell / I can’t stand your hypocrisy / You’re going to hell” and “There is no comfort in dying / There is no peace in death / You are worth nothing / Put to sleep like a sick animal.” It’s dark, depressing, evil, challenging, interesting and unique all at the same time.
154. Mercyful Fate, Melissa (1983)
I have to be honest and say this was a very last moment decision to include Mercyful Fate in this list. I might be the only metal head in this world that hates King Diamond’s voice. That ear piercing falsetto set the tempo for thousands of other bands since he began singing. I get the influence but it still makes me cringe. There is no way in hell that any King Diamond solo record would get in but I can’t deny that the musicians behind him in Mercyful Fate could rip it up – led by guitarist Hank Shermann. This is going to be the one and only Mercyful Fate record to show up in this list and it makes it this high only because I’m able to isolate songs into parts pretty well, so I focus on the guitars and Diamond’s voice becomes secondary. And if you like his voice, then this might be an almost perfect album. “Evil” has some great riffs with that “Eye of the Tiger” breakdown around the 3:30 mark and “Curse of the Pharaohs” just simply soars. And while I don’t even think it’s the best track on the record, the title track is a metal classic.
153. Cirith Ungol, Frost and Fire (1980)
Cirith Ungol’s debut album is the one that sounds different from the rest of their work. They started out blending a traditional metal sound with some NWOBHM and recorded this pretty raw and yet catchy rock record. The guys claimed they set out to get radio play so they put as much commerical sounding stuff on the album as possible. Obviously that didn’t work for them but it wasn’t for lack of trying as “A Little Fire” could have easily been on the radio. Seems that Enigma records really didn’t know what to make of them and therefore didn’t distrubute and market them well, so it was a hard album to locate. This is part of the reason it took them four years to create a follow up. After this they would move towards more of a progressive doom sound and you can hear that a little bit in “What Does It Take” which adds a very intriguing keyboard riff into the mix throughout. It’s a pretty great debut even if it didn’t live up to expectations at the time.
152. Stormtroopers of Death, Speak English or Die (1985)
I don’t remember this back in 1985 but I wonder how polarizing the title Speak English or Die would be if it were released today? S.O.D. was the brainchild of Scott Ian who started playing some crossover just fucking around in the studio while recording an Anthrax record. Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante and bassist Dan Lilker recruited friend Billy Milano to sing and created what would at the time be a one-off album which at 21 tracks and just 28 minutes kind of fucks you, puts the money on the dresser and gets out quickly. The album can be both funny and a little fucked up depending on how you listen to it. I mean “Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues” is kind of sick with Milano speaking in the voice of a girl but “Douche Crew” is kind of funny. And the album ends with tracks that are :09, :07 and :04 (that’s an “extended version”) respectively. Very cool.