We’re 50 albums into this list of the 300 metal albums docked on my iPod. Enjoy ten more as we inch slowly to the top!
250. Electric Wizard, Come My Fanatics … (1997)
At one point I swear I remember reading someplace that the Guinness Book of World Records named Electric Wizard as the heaviest band on the planet. I can’t possibly figure out how you measure that but they are pretty damn heavy. If it’s measured by the rumbling of the bowels due to low end concert infiltration, then they might be.
Loudest or just plain loud, Electric Wizard is a killer band. Some of the luster is wearing off as they continue to create records that sound pretty much the same as their previous one, but either 2000’s Dopethrone or Come My Fanatics… are their crowning achievements.
Their stoner rock meets doom metal power is undeniable and they vary the lyrics between the typical stoner and doom topics – weed, space and witchcraft. There are only six songs on this album but the shortest one is a little over six-and-a-half minutes with “Doom-Mantia” being one of the best tracks they’ve ever recorded. I don’t know if I will ever need another new Electric Wizard album, but their early records are almost must listens.
249. Eliminator, Breaking the Wheel (2008)
Blackened thrash is one of my favorite new mixes of music and Eliminator do a killer job of joining black and thrash metal. Breaking the Wheel is the debut album from this crew from New Jersey that have some furious riffing throughout the seven tracks on the album with severe black metal growling on tracks with names like “Holocaust War Metal” and “Prescription For Extinction… Time Enough At Last”.
The singer (who goes by the name Warchild) is the only consistent member of the band as players keep coming and going apparently and despite most of these tracks sounding like they are played on a drum machine, seems like there’s an actual person behind the kit. Either way the drumming is pretty pedestrian and that’s why it doesn’t get higher than #249. If that gets fixed for their next album though, it could be a masterpiece.
248. Candlemass, Nightfall (1987)
Candlemass has had so many different incarnations it’s tough to know where to begin listening to them sometimes. Bassist Leif Edling has been the one consistent member of the group with even the vocalists changing quite a bit.
This will be the first of five Candlemass albums to show up in this series and while not all of them feature the same singer, you’ll find that I tend to lean towards both of the Messiah Marcolin era(s) more than anything else.
Marcolin has a truly epic voice and one that I would rank up there with the best metal singers of all time. If you’ve never seen a picture he’s this big burly dude that likes capes and can hit ridiculously high operatic notes. Unfortunately if you believe everything you read on the internet, he’s also kind of a dick. But asshole or not, he can still belt and Nightfall was the first Candlemass album that you could hear the big guy sing.
I’d have to say that this record is the most epic they have ever gotten. They are known as an influential doom metal band but Marcolin’s vocals take them way beyond simple doom.
247. Dokken, Under Lock and Key (1985)
Dokken should have been the biggest band in hair metal. Some of their albums were great and some pretty bad, but I have to think all of them could have been great had Don Dokken and George Lynch had gotten along.
A riff over control, money and well, all the things that go into being a band outshined the actual music on so many occasions that it got exhausting to pay attention to the tunes by the end of the ‘80s. But even while being total dicks to each other, in the studio they seemed to understand they had something special going. Under Lock and Key is my favorite Dokken record with both “Unchain the Night” and “The Hunter” being two of the best songs they’ve recorded.
So who was the more talented player in this game? The Lynch Mob used to be pretty damn good. Dokken after the ‘80s ended were not.
246. Cinderella, Night Songs (1986)
I admit that I may be a little more biased than most to get Cinderella in this list because I heard them every four minutes growing up in their hometown of Philadelphia, PA. But then again, there are plenty of Philadelphia artists I didn’t like, so there still had to be talent there.
I think Cinderella pulled off the glam look perfectly. They were over the top with the hair and clothes, but still looked like dudes and they kept their look pretty dark with a little goth element shining through. The mix of the pink on the album covers and the bands logo with the black outfits was a nice contrast saying I’m going to be bombastic but rock your ass off too. And they did just that.
Night Songs was a hell of a debut album with “Shake Me” and “Somebody Save Me” released as singles and “Nobody’s Fool” right up there with Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” as the best metal ballad of the decade. It was a great start to their all too brief career.
245. Avenger, Killer Elite (1985)
How about this for a history of the band? Back at #297 we talked about Blitzkrieg – both singer Brian Ross and bassist Mick Moore were in that group before moving on to form Avenger. But before the first album was recorded, Ross left to front the band Satan. Satan singer Ian Swift then decided to join Avenger and recorded these two albums with them before breaking up. In ’89 Avenger drummer Garry Young would join Blitzkrieg. Musical incest here.
244. Swashbuckle, Back to the Noose (2009)
Swashbuckle is a thrash metal band from New Jersey that’s adopted a pirate theme. Back to the Noose is their second such pirate record and while that may give many people the impression that this is simply a joke, it’s clearly not when you listen to the actual music.
Everything here is about pirates, from the tongue-in-cheek title of “Scurvy Back” (they’re bringing scurvy back) to “Rounds of Rum” and “Peg-Leg Stomp” down to the numerous sea shanties used as interludes. In a world where there are ten million thrash bands doing the same thing, it’s refreshing to hear something different. And it’s not just a simple gimmick they are getting by on. These guys have some serious talent. The thrash songs on this rarely hit the three-minute mark pounding you with furious riffs in short bursts and singer Admiral Nobeard gives off a ridiculous amount of energy as the front man.
The only reason this isn’t higher in the list is that the interludes can get a bit overwhelming at times, kind of interrupting the flow (take them out and you have a serious gem here) but even so, this is a blast. No matter what you think about the overall pirate theme, it would be hard not to recognize that these guys seem to be having a fucking blast doing what they do and that energy comes through in the music.
243. Danzig, Danzig (1988)
As good as the debut is, it’s a little undeveloped compared to the next three albums but even that was good as this point. It was certainly a different sound than what everyone was used to in 1988 and of course Glenn has a very distinct unique voice.
It’s interesting to go back and listen to this now and hear how much Glenn Danzig’s voice has changed over the years and really how much the band changed. I love the newer Danzig sound too, but this is the classic lineup of Danzig, Chuck Biscuits, Eerie Von and John Christ which not only had a raw punk sound, but elements of goth, doom and a lot of blues to them as well.
This is the rawest album in the Danzig catalog featuring the original Danzig version of “Mother” but the amazing “Am I Demon” and “Twist of Cain” which features uncredited vocals from James Hetfield.
242. Sunn O))), Monoliths and Dimensions (2009)
It would be very hard to fault you if you have never listened to Sunn O))) (pronounced “sun” – the “O)))” is simply a picture). I would think that drone metal is the most challenging of any metal genre to get into. Not a lot of people really want to listen to two notes spread across 26 minutes. But with the right band it can be a rewarding experience. Sunn O))) is that band.
There are a lot of drone metal bands that really do what I described above – simply hold a note for as long as they can and call it a song. I have no skills at all on any instrument but if you tune a guitar and/or bass correctly for me, I could create a lot of those albums. But Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have been around the block more than once and add some excitement into their songs.
Monoliths and Dimensions is pretty much considered their masterwork up until this point most likely because it’s the most accessible thing they’ve done throughout a career most would label as nails on a chalkboard. It’s a great album without a doubt though as they hit their trademark sounds while using a key person – composer Eyvind Kang. The strings add a new feel to the music, but it’s not straight up orchestra. As usual, the duo almost deconstruct the instruments and concentrate on core sounds and feedback and use them to add ambience and abstraction to their normal vibe.
If you are going to bother with the group (and you should) this is probably the place to start and if you like this one, go back chronologically.
241. Mastodon, Crack the Skye (2009)
Here’s really what I want to know. When is Mastodon going to create a bad record? Fuck, even a mediocre one. This is a band that can seemingly do no wrong, that both critics and fans love equally, maybe critics even more. Really, when does this happen anymore in a world where any schmuck like me can talk about every piece of music ever recorded? Now granted, they’ve only had four real new studio records, so it’s not like we’re talking that critics loved all 45 albums but they are so consistently good that they are really hard to ignore.
With each new Mastodon record I keep hoping that they will get some more radio play or some mainstream recognition, because a band like this deserves to be heard outside of just the metal circles. It’s power metal, it’s sludge, it’s prog-rock all molded together into this concoction of power. The four part opus, “The Czar” and 13-minute ender “The Last Baron” are highlights, but I just love “Quintessence” which to me is the glue that holds the shorter, more concise songs together with the epic length ones.