THE ESSENTIALS ARE RELEASES THAT HAVE TRULY LEFT MARKS OR SCARS ON MY LIFE. AND STILL TODAY I CAN PLAY WITHOUT EVER BEING BORED BUT STILL KEEP ME EXCITED AS IF I'M PLAYING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME. THEY'RE FROM THE VARIOUS METAL GENRES AND OF YEARS PASSED. SO TAKE A TRIP DOWN MY MEMORY LANE AND HOPEFULLY REMIND YOU OF YOUR OWN.
ARCH ENEMY - Wages of Sin CD
label: Century Media Records
1. Enemy Within
2. Burning Angel
3. Heart Of Darkness
5. Savage Messiah
6. Dead Bury Their Dead
7. Web Of Lies
8. The First Deadly Sin
9. Behind The Smile
10. Snow Bound
11. Shadows And Dust
Wages of Sin might start off with some nice piano on the opening cut "Enemy Within". But by the one minute twenty-five second mark, after the guitars have burst forth. The face and sound of Death Metal, Swedish Melodic Death Metal, would change forever. You would have to be a misogynist, a homosexual or a complete utter fool (aka: a disgruntled AT THE GATES fan) to disregard the fact of what happens at that 1:25 minute mark on this CD. Because it's there that Angela Gossow enters into the picture and things would never be the same afterwards.
We all know the story. Arch Enemy was brought together in 1995 by guitarist Michael Amott after his previous band, CARCASS split up. He already had his stoner rock band SPIRITUAL BEGGERS but wanted something a little more on the Death Metal side of the musical spectrum. The original bunch of musicians that accompanied Michael Amott were his brother Christopher Amott (guitar), Daniel Erlandsson (drums), and ex-CARNAGE vocalist Johan Liiva. In 1996 this band released their debut album Black Earth. As the years passed there were some line-up changes and more releases. In 1999 their Burning Bridges release garnered the band high praise but for Michael Amott it wasn't enough. The one major problem was Johan Liiva who was not willing to go all out as a participant in the band. Despite what some modern day eager young assassins of musical revisionism would have you believe, the guy was not into doing long tours. So out went Liiva and in came a replacement who surprisingly became the German blonde Angela Gossow. Like I said earlier, things changed.
ARCH ENEMY were already a good Melodic Death Metal band displaying fast yet intricate guitar work by the brothers Amott. Along with that you had the very impressive drumming by Daniel Erlandsson. So with Angela Gossow on vocals they became a great band which over the past few years has only gotten better which each release. But it all started here on a release where at first people didn't believe it was a woman doing the vocals. Even today I've played ARCH ENEMY to people not in the know and they have a hard time believing it. Once they realize it they are intrigued by the whole band's sound. Gossow's vocals whether it's her guttural growls, raspy screams or that sinister semi-whisper were far more exciting than the man she replaced. Sound-wise this release was not much of a jump away from their previous work. The music on Wages of Sin was all written before Gossow joined the band with the exception of some lyrics. But still with her vocals this release really twisted the traditional Gothenburg sound. Which by this time was pretty boring and in need of some excitement. Some people were happy with the repetitive circle jerk sound which was bleeding out of post Slaughter of the Soul Gothenburg. Thankfully ARCH ENEMY were ready to expand.
Wages of Sin is far from being a pure Swedish Melodic Death Metal release which to me is a good thing. At times it comes off like Thrash with excellent soloing by the brothers Amott. There's also some NWOBM influence (IRON MAIDEN especially) in the melodies/solos that threw some Melodic Death Metal purists back in the day. Actually they're still thrown by it and I refer you back to my first paragraph for an explanation why. Gossow's ability to use varied vocal styles, while still keeping things harsh, was also a needed change. And yet it never once went to the pathetic examples of today. I'm talking about this modern day singing with death growl vocals on one verse then switching to normal vocals for the next one. The bottom-line here is that Wages of Sin is/was/and will always be a release that still kicked ass. Strangely enough there are some that still cry about being kicked in the face. WELL GOOD!
Yeah well what more can I say. This is a Metal album for people who actually like Metal. One thing I mentioned earlier is that each of the band's following releases did get better and better. That's true I'm even a huge fan of their last one Rise of the Tyrant. To me all of the Johan Liiva versus Angela Gossow shit is childish. To still cry like a baby about it all these years later proves one thing. You're a ignorant loser. Michael Amott did something you are incapable of doing, taking a huge chance to be successful at your craft. The past few years have proven him right and all of the detractors so miserably wrong. What is it like to be miserably wrong all the time? Could someone please explain how it feels because I sure as hell wouldn't know.
DESTROYER 666 - Unchain the Wolves CD
released: Modern Invasion Music
1. Genesis to Genocide
2. Australian and Anti-christ
3. Satan's Hammer
4. Tyranny of the Inevitable
5. Six Curses from a Spiritual Wasteland
6. Rome Wasn't Destroyed in a Day/Unchain the Wolves
7. Damnations Pride
8. Outward to Arktoga
Some of you are probably wondering why choose this one as an essential over a BESTIAL WARLUST release. DESTROYER 666 was never intended to be a serious full time band. It was simply going to be a side project for K.K. Warslut to kick out some Thrash driven cuts. Fortunately he continued on and made a full time band that's still with us today. So in the future you might see something about Blood & Valour. But for now we'll place K.K. Warslut's post BESTIAL WARLUST band's second full length in the Scumfeast Metal Essentials file. For me the choice is easy because this release is a perfect example of Australian Extreme Metal. It's the best DESTROYER 666 release of their few to choose from career. Although the jury vote might have to be retaken because of a supposed release in 2009. It's also a prime example of what Blackened Thrash is all about. Strangely enough it reminds me of BATHORY in the sense that the sound on Unchain the Wolves is both savage and epic. This is especially true after listening to the first song "Genesis To Genocide" with it's tolling bell, howling wind sample and eerie syth opening. Then the guitars kick in and it becomes this hypnotic Black Metal epic lasting just over ten minutes in length. I love how the guitar solos on "Genesis To Genocide" seem to walk in from a backroom like an uninvited guest. They're very melodic in style and yet convey power. It's really an anthem for anyone who is willing to embrace the dark side of the Extreme Metal realm. The lyrics are calling to the listener, "What if we called in the dead of night? Would you leave your woman and fight? Would you join us?" I already have my friend.
The following cut, "Australian and Anti-christ" has this great opening sample of a crowd screaming "Confess Confess" to which K.K. Warslut screams back "Fuck You Fuck You". Not as good as Barbara Steele's comeback in the horror movie classic Black Sunday but it does suffice. This is a great full on Thrash number simple powerful and spewing of political incorrectness and Satanic philosophy. Plus it has a catchy as all hell chorus. "Satan's Hammer" is another speedfreak number with some haunting soloing in it's early moments. The damm riff driven brutality, the hatred, the pulverizing heavy as fuck metal sound. It makes you want to grab hold of Satan's Hammer and pound some loser's head in with it. And I do know some well deserving individuals in need of some pounding but then don't we all.
"Tyranny of the Inevitable" kind of has this haunting Western sound quality. I can imagine them playing this at some ghost town in the outback of Australia. The cut is paced slowly but still an epic masterpiece none the less."Six Curses from a Spiritual Wasteland" is another Thrash favored number perfect for banging one's head to. The title song is another long epic number and it's also my favorite cut on here. How could I not go insane when you hear lyrics like "Summon the werewolf blood! Summon the wolves to war! UNCHAIN THE WOLVES, UNCHAIN THE WOLVES, UNCHAIN THE WOLVES! SET THEM FUCKING WILD"! The song is fantastic. The same with the following cuts "Damnations Pride" and "Outward to Arktoga".
Unchain the Wolves represents a balance of all Extreme Metal genres and yet it still holds true to the Blackened Thrash side. It's a call to arms for anyone with a strong dark side. It was reissued in 2005 so it's easy to find.
RAINBOW - Rising LP/CD
label: Polydor Records
1. Tarot Woman
2. Run With The Wolf
4. Do You Close Your Eyes
6. A Light In The Black
Of the three Dio-era Rainbow studio releases this one, the second, will always be my favorite and definitely an essential when it comes to medieval inspired epic metal. It also proved to the music world at the time that Blackmore could create greatness without DEEP PURPLE. In fact Rising was light years better than the last two DEEP PURPLE releases that Blackmore appeared on, Burn and Stormbringer. And the post Blackmore DEEP PURPLE LP, Come Taste The Band was simply a fuckin joke. Even Blackmore's first solo/RAINBOW release, Richie Blackmore's Rainbow, was better than that piece of garbage. And I'm a huge DEEP PURPLE fan. Rising also contained the best RAINBOW line-up of all their career. Consisting of Dio on vocals, Blackmore on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass, Tony Carey on keyboards, and Cozy Powell on drums, this line-up would go on a world tour in 76 in support for this release.
All six cuts on Rising are incredible. "Tarot Woman" opens with swirling synthesizer passage provided by keyboardist Tony Cary. Blackmore takes over afterwards with typical blistering riffs. And of course Dio's vocals shine through this whole rocker. "Run With The Wolf" is a signature Blackmore bluesy cut reminiscent of his DEEP PURPLE Mark II line-up days. "Starstruck" is also in the same vein and tells the true story of a stalker in Blackmore's life. "Do You Close Your Eyes" is considered by many as the album's lone throwaway track. I disagree of course since it contains a strong powerful vocal performance by Dio. In fact each band member's performance combines together as a unit on this track more than other. As opposed to the others which give time to each in order to perform a solo.
Of course this album will always be known for it's two over eight minute long tracks which close it. First off "Stargazer" is the LP's masterpiece and shows off the classical elements this line-up had in hand. Cary's spacey syths, Powells powerful drum solos, Blackmore and Bain's guitars cranking in and of course Dio's majestic vocals. The song is flawless and contains one of Blackmore's longest and elegant solos put to tape. For it's time the production and arrangements on here were perfectly in sync. Cary's keyboard playing sets this otherworldly atmosphere while Blackmore bends notes to soaring degrees. Near the end Dio sings "I see a rainbow rising" and chills just run right through you. Whenever you listen to this it becomes debatable which LP showed off Dio's talents better as a vocalist, this or BLACK SABBATH's Heaven and Hell.
The final climax of Rising is "A Light In The Black", a rousing number which contains the best guitar/keyboards duel since Blackmore's DEEP PURPLE days. In fact the song is so reminiscent of DEEP PURPLE. It's as if Blackmore is telling his former bandmates to stick it. I'm sure he did it many times but on here it's a recorded slap in the face. And speaking of slaps whenever I read or hear someone attack "Power Metal" I think of this LP. For all intensive purposes this era of RAINBOW is the beginning influence on the genre. Years later other bands like SAXON and MANOWAR would really define it. But the early beginnings were paved on Rising.
I know there are a few "Best of RAINBOW" releases out there for people to pick up. I've got one from 1981 the double LP compilation on Polydor Records. But your best bet will always be to get this original in all it's glory on vinyl or disc. It's also been remastered on CD and you can find it cheap over the internet if you look for it. For all of you true collectors I've also got this on CD titled RAINBOW Rising Rough Mix Bootleg. It's a recording put to CD which was directly copied from the original pre-mixed tapes that belonged to drummer Cozy Powell. It's exactly the same as the original but you can hear a few missteps in the openings of two songs. Plus "StargazerI don't want to talk about my RAINBOW live at Budokan 1976 double CD boot, which is slightly different than the official On Stage live LP from 1977. Oh did I mention it? Sorry about that atleast I didn't mention that I first saw RAINBOW during their 1978 Long Live Rock and Roll tour in 1978. I saw them a few years later during their Joe Lynn Turner pop faze too with RIOT and the SCORPIANS (doing Blackout). RAINBOW did do "Smoke on the Water".
Sorry to say this but there are no RAINBOW official band sites but here's a treat for ya.
RAINBOW LIVE FROM THIS ERA
MORBID ANGEL - Altars of Madness CD
label: Earache Records
1. Immortal Rites 4.04
2. Suffocation 3.15
3. Visions from the Dark Side 4.10
4. Maze of Torment 4.25
5. Lord of all Fevers & Plague 3.26
6. Chapel of Ghouls 4.57
7. Bleed for the Devil 2.23
8. Damnation 4.10
9. Blasphemy 3.32
10. Evil Spells 4.12
11. Maze of Torment (Remix) 4.24
12. Chapel of Ghouls (Remix) 4.56
13. Blasphemy (Remix) 3.22
Altars of Madness is the most important release in the history of Death Metal. Not many bands can have that said about their full length debut. But in MORBID ANGEL's case it comes easy. There are many things about Altars of Madness which makes it an essential for anyone into Extreme Metal. First off there's the production/sound quality which by today's white washed standards would in all intensive purposes be considered crap. The sound on Altars of Madness is simply "unclean". Most people won't understand that but the extreme ones do. It's completely heathen in it's approach to sound and style. Complete unadulterated filth and we love it. The raw unpolished quality is what makes this extreme. Can you just imagine the faces of the unaware when this onslaught was turned on them?
"What is that", they ask?
Another important part are the vocals by bassist David Vincent which are unmatched in their terrifying hatred of everything. Vincent's vocals are simply inhuman sounding. The guy was possessed during the recording session. Listen to his voice on "Bleed for the Devil". It's as if he's singing in the first person not just reciting lyrics he'd written. That's freaky and I don't care how much Black Metal you've numbed yourself with. Vincent is the Devil on Altars of Madness.
"What is that", they ask?
What more could be said about the demonic guitar duo of Richard Brunelle and Trey Azagthoth? The riffs/rhythms on here are monsters running wild amongst the sheep. The solos are fiery meteors raining down upon the unshielded fools. On "Chapel of Ghouls" the solos sound like unleashed flaming bats on the attack. The rhythms are haunting like actual zombies are rising up. You can't run because they have you by the ankles.
"What is that", they ask?
Pete Sandoval was a sadist when it came to the drumming on here. Be it the steady pounded rhythms or the torturing blastbeats the guy was getting off on inflicting pain. All through this album here was this mad man delivering S&M styled beatings without any "safe words" to be uttered.
"What is that", they ask?
You really wanna know what that is? It's your end fuck face!
Like I said earlier, this is the most important Death Metal release of all time. If you've grown tired of it or are one of these pussy boy, indie rock, snobs who only likes Death Metal that has progressed from what they consider it's "neanderthal" beginnings. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS LOSER? GET OUT!