Once again, we take a look at the music that gives my iPod a headache as we countdown the 300 metal albums that have heavy rotation in my head.
190. Entombed, Left Hand Path (1990)
Left Hand Path is not only a great album but it’s a pioneering metal disc in that it was supposedly the first record to include the buzzsaw guitar sound that a million Swedish death metal bands over the years would attempt to recreate. In the early to mid-90s when this was still a fresh sound, I couldn’t get enough of it and it still permeates through a lot of my favorite death metal records today. I always liked Entombed because there was a lot of melody in their brand of death and Left Hand Path is a classic example of their sound and of a whole genre of music really. “When Life Has Ceased” is one of my favorite songs of all time.
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189. Celtic Frost, Monotheist (2006)
Monotheist came out of nowhere in 2006 being Celtic Frost’s first studio record since 1990. After leaving the scene on a sour note in ’90, Thomas Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Ain reunited and worked on this album for close to four years creating a hauntingly dark and bleak landscape. The album is filled with doom-laden tracks, but both the guitar tone and Fischer’s vocals make the whole album extremely evil sounding. “A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh” is one of the creepiest songs I’ve ever listened to and “Os Abysmi vel Daath” isn’t puppy dogs and sunshine either. Fischer has now moved on to Tripykon after him and Ain couldn’t decide on a common direction, so Monotheist is most likely the final Celtic Frost album.
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188. Candlemass, Ancient Dreams (1988)
One of the things I struggled with when putting this list together is with bands like Candlemass that have so many great records, do I include them all, just one, a sampling? In the end, I decided that if it was on my iPod it was going in this list even if a dozen records from one band shows up. While there aren’t a dozen from Candlemass here, five do show up in this list because they are just so damn good. Of their ten studio albums a whopping eight might actually get consideration which is even more impressive since they changed their singer quite often over the years. Ancient Dreams was album #3 for the group and their second with Messiah Marcolin. I’ve read that their previous record Nightfall, may be the best doom metal record ever recorded and while it’s good, this one is even better. I constantly bitch about the wrong singer with the wrong group but Messiah Marcolin always has been and probably always will be the best singer for the group and Ancient Dreams showcases his talents so well.
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187. Deicide, Deicide (1990)
And just like Candlemass, you’ve seen these guys on here before and you’ll see them again. This is the debut disc from my favorite death metal band and shows them at their rawest. They got legendary producer Scott Burns right from the start which helped them maintain an underground sound made to be dirty and grimy like late ‘80s, early ‘90s death metal. A song like “Oblivious To Evil” even had a slight thrash metal sound to it, but it was the brutal riffs and weird growling on “Dead By Dawn” that did it for me.
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186. Bolt Thrower, In Battle There Is No Law (1988)
In Battle There Is No Law, a very true statement indeed set forth by the awesome Bolt Thrower. In Battle is the debut record from them and without a doubt the rawest album they’ve recorded. At nine tracks and only 30 minutes it doesn’t pull any punches. The heavy riffs are there and while some are a bit awkward and underformed it’s a brilliant starting point for a kick ass band. And this is where it started for bassist Jo Bench who’s considered the first female to break it in an extreme metal band.
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185. Gojira, The Ways of All Flesh (2008)
Listening to this one after Bolt Thrower gives you a good indication how far production values have come over the years. This is the most recent of four Gojira records and the best one they’ve done. Fans had mixed reactions though because they flipped the script on this a bit and included more electronic elements and groove parts than they had in the past. It’s the cleanest of the four albums and I guess that didn’t work for some people. Personally, I love the disc. It’s a great blend of chaotic sounds somewhere in between death, thrash and groove metal with a mixture of growling and clean vocals. “A Sight To Behold” is certainly the track that most metal fans find a bit odd as it’s based in electronics and sounds more like a nu-metal song than the rest of the disc.
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184. Gama Bomb, Tales from the Grave in Space (2009)
Gama Bomb is another one of those leaders of the new wave of thrash but what’s really cool about these guys is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. The music is ripping with crazy thrash riffs on every song but lyrically you get songs about zombies, war, ninjas, mummies etc and an overall feel that these guys really have fun creating their brand of music. Now granted, I bet you a lot of fans would say if I was going to choose one Gama Bomb record to include in this list it should have been 2008’s Citizen Brain simply because Tales from the Grave in Space is essentially the exact same album so it’s not like they progressed very much, but to me this is the more fun of the two albums.
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183. Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction (1992)
Big deal, so Countdown to Extinction was way more rock oriented and polished than anything else Dave Mustaine had released up until that point. Bands like to get paid now and again and I guess I’m one of those fans of metal in general, so I really don’t care if bands progress and change their sound as long as what they are putting forth is still killer. Besides, this record has plenty of thrash riffs throughout and even singles like “Skin O’ My Teeth” show that off. It’s really tough to not love “Symphony of Destruction” and at least respect “Sweating Bullets” for bringing something unique to the table with Dave talking to himself in the track. “High Speed Dirt” is another favorite of mine and should have been a single as well. Either way, despite some of the great music Megadeth made before this casual fans will always know them for the songs on this album.
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182. Metallica, Kill ‘Em All (1983)
Here’s another obvious inclusion in this list, if recorded by thousands of other bands it would easily be the best thing they ever did. But it’s either the third, fourth or fifth best Metallica album. If I were to make my own Metallica greatest hits comp, there would be no way to narrow it down to one disc, maybe not even two since the length of their earlier songs would take up the majority of the time but off Kill ‘Em All there’s just no way I could leave off “The Four Horsemen,” “Whiplash,” or “Seek & Destroy.” And of course I’ve have to give consideration to the brutal riffs in “Metal Militia” and “No Remorse” as well. One day a proper Metallica greatest hits disc will be released and unless it’s five discs long it won’t even come close to doing the band justice. They’d be much better off to never let one out the door.
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181. Korpiklaani, Tales Along This Road (2006)
There is no doubt in my mind that Korpiklaani is the best folk metal band making music today. One of the things that make the group unique from many of their folk metal peers is that they began as a folk group and added metal into the mix later, rather than the other way around. I was always a little gun shy about folk metal not liking anything about folk music. But I’ve come to realize that when done correctly, it’s pretty damn awesome. Most of the lyrics are in Finnish but there are two main themes in most of Korpiklaani’s music – drinking and partying (what, no fucking in Finland)? They create music that’s remarkably upbeat and anthemic, to the point where you just want to lift up a pint and sing along. The lead track (“Happy Little Boozer”) is my favorite folk metal song ever recorded.
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