Holy shit, it’s been a while hasn’t it? We took a pause during December because Mellowmas and death metal just don’t play nice together and then a couple weeks off to catch up and get back in the flow, but it’s time to finish this puppy off. And I thank all of you that e-mailed me wanting to know when it was going to start back up again as it was sort of the kick in the rear I needed.
So, we’ll keep looking at the 300 metal records that grace my iPod. Everything we’re talking about right now would get 4 1/2 stars out of 5 if we did that sort of thing.
To recap: Here’s a list of what we’ve talked about so far in the first 17 posts. (The List)
131. Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1993)
Holy Mountain is really the record that all stoner bands try to live up to. Matt Pike is a true master of the brain-numbing stoner riff and Al Cisneros’ bass work makes your insides rumble like nothing you’ve felt. Weather it be “Dragonaut,” “The Druid,” “Holy Mountain” or “From Beyond” you’ll be totally trippin’ by the end of this. The only reason this isn’t a perfect 5-star disc is that quite a few songs on the album sound virtually the same. I saw the group live in 2010 when they played the majority of this album and I swear I thought I was listening to the same song at least five times. Good thing it’s a great song.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZVn6Kkn-eMo" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
130. Immortal, All Shall Fall (2009)
It’s funny to read about Immortal on the web. A quick search gives you more links to people picking on the absolute ludicrous band shots and cover art in their albums. And no one is wrong. They have put forth some of the absolute silliest artwork in the history of metal. Even the video here is pretty silly and part of that comes from the way they put on their corpse paint, often looking less metal and more like their kitty just died. And it’s all a fucking shame because Immortal has been one of the most consistently good black metal bands since they began in the early ’90s. They push the boundaries while still maintaining enough of their roots and raw black metal feel to stay relevant. All Shall Fall takes them into a direction that’s more accessible than they’ve ever been probably pissing off black metal fans but winning over some new kiddies that never listened before. That wouldn’t normally be a good thing but it is when you kick ass while doing it.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/O01gxYeS_3c" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
129. Korpiklaani, Karkelo (2009)
Ten years ago, maybe even five years ago, you would have had to put a gun to my head to make me listen to anything at all with “folk” in the genre. But bands like Korpiklaani consistently do folk metal the right way. There are only a few topics tackled in the entire genre — battles, desolate forests and drinking and no folk metal band does the drinking song better than these guys. They are like the Tankard of folk metal. The whole album is just a blast but it’s “Vodka,” “Bring Us Pints of Beer” and “Juodaan Viinaa” (English: “Let’s Drink Booze”) that stand out. One day I’m walking into a bar with a group of people, standing on the stools and yell “bring us pints of beer, we’re going to drink now we’re here!”
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/xv5B6DwSpu8" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
128. Darkthrone, Circle the Wagons (2010)
I’m very glad that I didn’t grow up listening to black metal or Darkthrone because I wonder if that would cloud my judgement. What you’re listening to in the video below isn’t even remotely what they sounded like up until the mid-part of the last decade. They used to be a raw, primitive black metal band and then in 2005 they had a revelation that they’ve pushed black metal as far as it could go and were also tired of a billion bands biting off their style that they started removing the black metal and became a crust punk group. And when they did, they became awesome. They did however, piss off a lot of people because in true black metal fashion they didn’t just move on and let it go. They wrote songs about their former genre, they did interviews where they basically said black metal sucks and in the meantime pissed off quite a few people. I never bothered with them until 2009, so none of this concerns me in the least bit. All I know is that Circle of Wagons is a fucking punk blast.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/UGxjQPFp1yI" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
127. Melvins, (A) Senile Animal (2006)
King Buzzo and Dale Crover teamed up with the two dudes from Big Business starting with this album released for Mike Patton’s Ipecac label, their first record as just the Melvins in four years. With eight Melvins records in my 300, I clearly like them, though I understand why a lot of people don’t. That said, I don’t know if this is a place people should start with or stay away from. (A) Senile Animal is as straightforward as you’re going to get with these guys. It’s a rock record with some great riffs and melodic moments such as “Civilized Worm” which is a virtual pop track. But for the most part it’s loud and ferocious. So why not direct people here? It’s certainly not representative of their work as a whole so I think to start off, you go to Ozma but then again, they’ve changed so much over the years, so who knows. Essentially, if you already know you like them, then this record is killer. And speaking of straightforward, check out the nice, normal video for “The Talking Horse.” And of course by “nice, normal” I mean totally bizarre.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XBaxRYGtrkI" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
126. Motorhead, Sacrifice (1995)
It’s weird how good Sacrifice was since producer Howard Benson was preoccupied with other things, Wurzel didn’t seem to give much of a shit at this point (this would be his last Motorhead album) and 1995 was the middle of a period where old farts experimented to try to stay relevant in music. But instead, Sacrifice is pretty brilliant, with Lemmy sounding downright excited to be singing these tracks and eleven songs that form a coherent record from start to finish.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/IpVpMbGOvhI" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
125. Bathory, Destroyer of Worlds (2001)
I’m glad I write this column for a site mainly known for it’s pop music because I’d probably take a beating if this was on a purely metal site. Destroyer of Worlds is the most polarizing release in the Bathory catalog for sure. It’s not composed of the early black metal sound, nor the later viking metal tunage he would turn to. Instead, it really has no focus at all. There’s rock, black metal, punk and even a song about ice hockey. I suppose a song about hockey from a group like this should automatically eliminate it from contention to be in the “best of” any list other than “best songs about hockey” but I don’t care. Destroyer of Worlds feels like a comp but from start to finish it’s a fantastic album.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/0wYJPEGrLIg" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
124. Iron Maiden, Brave New World (2000)
Brave New World is not just a good album. It also marks the return of Adrian Smith and more importantly, Bruce Dickinson into the fold again. I’m sure I put it this high not only for the quality of the songs but because coming after the previous two Blaze Bayley records this is fucking gold. As I listen to this again today, I don’t know if it would be up here. But I made this list back in early 2010 and it’s final, so it is what it is.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/iFZJY1JR0eI" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
123. Kalmah, The Black Waltz (2006)
Kalmah is a pretty damn great melodic death metal band. They blend the brutality with melodies, great keyboard work and lyrics that toe the line between growls and singing. They tend to have a progressive power metal element to them which is usually something I can live without but it works wonders with this group. The Black Waltz was their most consistent album up to that point but the peak would come a couple years later, of which we’ll get to that soon.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/EBXQy1MAYlM" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
122. Enslaved, Vertabrae (2008)
This is it, the absolute peak of the great Enslaved catalog. As discussed when Ruun showed up at #144, Enslaved pretty much moves forward with their sound with each disc so from one to another you really never know what’s going to show up. With Vertabrae, you get a well produced album, eliminating a lot of the rawness from the black metal sound. But the focus is really on progressive movements as well as atmosphere and the balance between the clean and dirty, the mellow and aggressive and the black metal and prog-rock are masterfully put together. The only reason this album doesn’t get a perfect score in my book is that hearing the black metal vocals over such a clean sound is weird now and again, but that’s such a minor thing that you can focus on the great transitions between passages.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3acIH2PhMe0" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
121. Melvins, Stag (1996)
So what the fuck were Atlantic records thinking about when they signed the Melvins? Now, I’m not saying they didn’t make some good records and also ones that might have been slightly listenable but if there was ever a band that shouldn’t be on a major, this is it. I guess that’s kind of a funny thing to say when two of their three major label records are in this list including one much higher than this (which I believe is their best) but the Melvins just don’t seem like the type of band majors like very much. Though their days with Atlantic (1993-1997) were the days when you signed everything and hope it stuck. The best thing Atlantic provided them was a real studio and the ability to experiment with different types of sounds which kind of created a blueprint for what you would hear from ’97 forward. Stag goes from quiet to loud to prog and back to loud again, effortlessly and it’s produced with a quality that wasn’t heard from them before.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/S9x5jwi9w7Q" width="600" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]