My apologies for going AWOL last week. The family was sick and well, sickness wins over metal sometimes. But the kick-ass metal is back!
With False Metal, Dead! we’re taking a look at the 300 metal albums that reside on my iPod in the order I prefer them. On a scale of 1-10, every record that you are seeing now would get a 9.
The list was finalized back in April so some of the great records of 2010 won’t be in this as won’t some of the artists I’ve just discovered (sorry Pro-Pain) but after listening to thousands and thousands of metal records, I honestly think this is a killer list and no matter what genre of metal you like there’s something for everyone in this.
230. Tarot, Spell of Iron (1986)
Spell of Iron is the debut album from this Finnish band featuring Marco Hietala who does double duty with Tarot and as lead singer of the more popular Nightwish.
Fortunately, being part of Nightwish has brought more popularity to Tarot and some of this earlier material has been reissued in the last few years.
Spell of Iron is a straight heavy metal album but with riffs a little more sophisticated the time.
Sure, their most famous song “Wings of Darkness” sounds very ‘80s, but the best track, “Dacning on the Wire” I would have placed in the early ‘90s. Maybe they were just a little too far ahead to ever be a big success but they are still a pretty awesome band and Spell of Iron was a pretty spectacular debut.
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229. Steeler, Undercover Animal (1988)
Another pretty straight forward heavy metal band, Steeler is known as the band that gave its start to now solo guitarist, Axel Rudi Pell.
Undercover Animal is the final of four albums they released in a short five year period and I think showcases the amazing axemanship of Pell the best of any of their output.
“Rely on Rock” is the centerpiece of the record (what traditional heavy metal record doesn’t need a record about how aweome rock is?) and not only features a fist-pumping chorus and an opening right out of the AC/DC playbook but some cool soloing from Pell as well.
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228. Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman (1981)
On one hand you have to feel a little bad for Ozzy. Black Sabbath kind of went to shit before he left the band and then after only two killer solo records his guitarist dies. I mean, listening to Randy Rhodes guitar work in “Flying High Again” is enough to buy this album alone, but this – the second solo LP from Ozzy – is really the final statement of how great Randy Rhodes was and this was Ozzy’s last moment of true greatness for quite a while.
But then on the other hand you lose some of that sympathy for the Prince of Darkness when he had Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin rerecord the bass and drum parts for the 2002 reissue because he didn’t want to pay the original musicians. Okay, that had to be Sharon’s idea but still. The 2011 30th anniversary editions though are going to be the original recordings again. Can’t wait for that one.
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227. Acid, Maniac (1983)
Acid was a short lived Beglian speed metal band that ended up with three official albums in their half decade career. The band had a pretty diverse look with a couple hippy-ish looking dudes, the drummer looking like he just completed the work for the new Air Supply record and this big-haired, leather-wearing dominatrix female lead singer. And on top of that their main lyrical theme was satan.
While the image didn’t quite match the music the group did generate Maniac in 1983 which would be their only good album. Their debut sounded more like a demo of people that hadn’t played together very long, but Maniac is tight and speedy with excellent guitar work and pretty solid drumming for the genre. “Max Overload” and “Black Car” both showcase both of these elements the best.
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226. 220 Volt, Mind Over Muscle (1985)
220 Volt was an awesome Swedish group with a cool back story. The five members of the band apparently met while playing a game of miniature golf. I mean, you don’t get more metal than forming your band while trying to shoot a golf ball in a hippo’s mouth.
They released Mind Over Muscle in ’85 and then four of the guys had to join the Swedish military, so they had to take a three year hiatus. Who knows if that hurt them or not, but Mind Over Muscle was easily the strongest of their three releases up to this point and the most mature sounding record they had done. The album was a very fresh sounding anthem take on Swedish metal at the time, something they couldn’t recreate when they released their final album in 1988.
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225. Cranium, Speed Metal Slaughter (1998)
I was initially drawn to the group because they started all their album titles with “Speed Metal” (Speed Metal Satan, Speed Metal Slaughter and Speed Metal Sentence) and by the silly names of the members of the group – Chainsaw Demon on guitar, Grave Raper on vocals and bass and Necro-Nudist on drums.
By all accounts I probably shouldn’t like this. It’s kind of silly with songs like “Slaughter on the Dance Floor” and “Sluts of Satan” and vocals that are so over the top they make you wince at times, but it all kind of works great. It’s the perfect length too, 7 songs in 32 minutes. Any more and it might get old real quick.
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224. Iron Maiden, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son would be the final great Maiden record for more than decade but even with the ‘80s ending and the musical climate changing Maiden stuck with their signature sound for this and created a masterful heavy metal record.
The album offers a killer trio as the backbone with one of their most recognizable in “Can I Play with Madness” followed with the triumphant “The Evil That Men Do” and the epic ten minute long title track. The songwriting is stellar, the riffs are amazing the whole shebang just gelled together wonderfully on this record.
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223. Havok, Burn (2009)
Burn is Havok’s first attempt at a thrash metal record and the biggest complaint from fans of the genre is that it sounds like snippets from a million other bands. And they are right. So why does something so unoriginal make it to this list? Well, it fuckin’ slays. Does it need more of a reason than that?
If you look at a picture of these guys, it’s like they were lifted right from 1988 and since they are from Denver, Colorado which isn’t known for its heavy metal, I’m assuming these cats stand out as they walk the street.
The music is a very traditional ‘80s sounding thrash record reminiscent of Testament, Exodus, Megadeth and probably most other bands from the second tier on up which kind of makes the track “Identity Theft” kind of ironic. So if you’re looking for a thrash record that pushes the genre forward, this definitely isn’t it. But thrash is really about slaying the competition with riffage and Havok definitely does that.
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222. Helstar, Burning Star (1984)
Burning Star was the Helstar debut album and is normally considered by metal fans to be good, but the worst of their first four albums. I tend to disagree with that assessment, but maybe not originally. I’ve always liked the album from the first listen, but over time I’ve grown to find more enjoyment with each successive spin.
Really, I think I started enjoying Helstar more when I learned to like Maiden. Now, I go back and listen to this power metal album with the soaring guitar solos, fantasy themes and ear piercing falsettos and completely get it.
The soloing in “Run with the Pack” is really awesome and if it just was a few minutes longer it would get that “epic” label. And that’s really the only thing that holds this back from being higher on the list – this is an album of power metal songs in the 3-5 minute range. Power metal needs time to unfold and then come back together and just simply needs a few 8-9 minute songs here and there. Sure, you could say that if it’s good, why mess with it, but there are plenty of tracks on Burning Star that feel like they have more left in the tank.
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221. Riverge, Rebirth of Skull (2009)
It’s impossible to not be blown out of your seat by the immediate power of Rebirth of Skull. From what I know about this thrash group, they formed in the mid-80s and put out a few demos and played shows but never put out an album. Then out of the blue in 2009 comes their debut album on Rock Stakk records. Don’t try to find this in U.S. stores as this Japanese band didn’t have wide distribution for this. But you can dig it up on-line.
Each song is a quick burst of crazy energy with Japanese screaming and grunting that would make any thrasher happy. One listen to “What a Creature!” and you know what these guys are about – old school thrashing, chainsaw riffs and solos to make your face melt.
Many of these songs are re-recordings from those ‘80s tracks but even so, sound remarkably killer now. Eight tracks and 27 minutes later your neck hurts like hell.
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