Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's taken more than 6 years, but a new post is coming! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sincere apologies for not continuing my series of my top 25 metal albums of all time, but I have been reaaaaallllyyy busy... Hope this time the next one comes sooner than 4 months later! :) My numbers 12 and 13!

12. JUDAS PRIEST : BRITISH STEEL (1980) - EPIC

In 1980,in the U.K., a new musical scene was emerging: heavy metal. Many bands came out in this time period including Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, and of course Judas Priest. British Steel has all the elements of what heavy metal was at the time and would become. It caught perfectly the slice in time when heavy metal was just starting to get noticed, but had not yet gone mainstream.

Rob Halford's vocals, Glenn Tipton & K.K. Downing's guitars, Ian Hill's bass, and Dave Holland's drumming are all in top form here. Beginning with their previous studio album Hell Bent For Leather and then with this album, the band began to write shorter and catchier songs while sacrificing little of their metallic crunch.

Those who know this album chiefly by the two singles "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight" will be surprised at how non-commercial the rest of this album is. "Rapid Fire" kicks the album off to a roaring start. "Metal Gods" is a slow-paced rocker that has an interesting bridge. "Breaking the Law" is a radio stable, as is "Living After Midnight." There are in fact no weak song at all on this album and my advise is: run out and get a copy as fast as possible, this one sure stand the test of time, perhaps better that any other record of that era! Quintisentially British, but not stiff upper lip at all! 

Line-Up : Rob Halford - vocals, K.K. Downing - guitars, Glenn Tipton - guitars, Ian Hill - bass guitar, Dave Holland - drums

PS : British Steel was recorded at Tittenhurst Park, which was the home of the Beatle Ringo Starr.

13. TESTAMENT : THE LEGACY (1987) - MEGAFORCE

Megadeth's "Peace Sells but who's buying?", Metallica's "Master of Puppets", Slayer's "Reign in Blood", and Anthrax's "Among the Living"  were the other four thrash albums that dominated at the time. But this album remains Testament's legacy and also the sadly forgotten classic! To be fair, if it had been the "Big Five" instead of the "Big Four," it definitely would have been Testament who would have been the fifth.

This is the band's best effort, mostly due to axeman Alex Skolnick's blistering riffs, powerful leads, wailing solos, and all around great guitar work. "Over The Wall" and "The Haunting" both have two amazing guitar solos which have several parts to them, and "Apocalyptic City" features arguably Alex's best solo. Elsewhere, "Raging Waters" has a propulsive rhythm which is powered by fast, cascading riffs; "Curse of the Legions of Death" shoots by with scorching, almost machine gun guitar work; and "Do Or Die" is so fast, the riffs almost sound like a buzzsaw. 

It may not be as groundbreaking as, say, "Master of Puppets," but when all is said and done, "The Legacy" is a great and important chapter in the history of thrash. A must, I repeat, MUST for metalheads.

Line-Up : Chuck Billy: Vocals, Alex Skolnick: Lead Guitar, Eric Peterson: Rhythm Guitar, Greg Christian: Bass, Louie Clemente: Drums

PS :  After the release of this album, Testament quickly managed to increase their exposure by heading out on a successful tour of America and Europe with Anthrax, who were then touring in support of their Among the Living album.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Presenting my numbers 15 and 14 of my Top 25 Metal Album countdown:

14. LED ZEPELLIN : IV (1971) - ATLANTIC RECORDS

This fourth CD by Led Zeppelin is known by many names: Led Zeppelin, Four, IV, ZOSO, Four Symbols, and Ruins. This CD turned them from mere superstars into giant behemoths of the rock world. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant knew the band had something special when they completed the album. Each song holds incredibly well by itself. The album contains many genres of music from rockabilly-inspired to folk-rock to music that technically did not have its own category

The group's roots have always been in hard bluesy British rock, and on this LP there are several good examples of this -- the most outstanding is "When The Levee Breaks." But, as with the third album, they have spliced in some folky things and these provide a pleasant contrast. "Going To California" is a dreamlike acoustic piece which segues in and out of the echo chamber. This is where Heavy Metal was plucked screaming from the womb of blues and rock'n' roll.

Every song on this album is an instant classic, from the back and forth calling of voice and guitar in "Black Dog," to the driving riff rocker "Rock and Roll," and on and on, every song here is in top form, to the more delicate and atmospheric "The Battle of Evermore," and the blues classic-gone-heavy "When the Levee Breaks." It's all great.

Of course, no review is complete without mentioning "Stairway to Heaven," possibly Zep's most famous song, but to say that that one piece defines this album is to have a very limited understanding of the albums magnificence. "Stairway to Heaven" may be played to death but you can't overlook its impact.

Line-Up: Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin; Robert Plant – vocals, harmonica; John Paul Jones – synthesizer, bass guitar, keyboards, mandolin, recorders; John Bonham – drums

P.S : Owing to the lack of an official title, Atlantic Records initially distributed graphics of the symbols in many sizes to the press for inclusion in charts and articles. The album was one of the first to be produced without conventional identification, and this communicated an anti-commercial stance that was controversial at the time


15. MEGADETH : RUST IN PEACE (1990) - CAPITOL RECORDS

After being released from a twelve-step program, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine had hired drummer Nick Menza and guitarist Marty Friedman to record Rust in Peace, creating what would become the band's first stable line-up, lasting to 1998. Bassist David Ellefson along with Mustaine were the only members who were not replaced.

Politics, warfare and the environment are the main topics explored throughout the album, with songs such as "Rust in Peace... Polaris," which is about intercontinental ballistic missiles, and their effects on the world (Polaris refers to Polaris missile); "Take No Prisoners," which is about prisoners of war; and "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due," which is a two-part song containing "Holy Wars," which is not referring to any historical place or event and "The Punishment Due," which is about the Marvel Comics character The Punisher, of which Mustaine used to read at the time. "Dawn Patrol" is about the environment being destroyed by global warming and greenhouse gases.

This is a thrash masterpiece with intelligent lyrics, structure, and most importantly, musicianship. There are some progressive metal passages, and even some melodic harmonies that add even more life to the songs. “Hangar 18” is probably closer to progressive metal than thrash metal, with a strong neo-classical influence even in the riffing.

Rust In Peace is an absolutely incredible album with great songs, incredible composition, progressive moments, superb musicianship, and intense focus. All metalheads of all subgenres, and non metalheads who just want to hear great rock music, this album is a must have.

Line-Up: Dave Mustaine – guitar, lead vocals; Marty Friedman – lead guitar; David Ellefson – bass; Nick Menza – drums

P.S: Lay your hands on the re-mastered CD released in 2004, which has better production values.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Apologies, but after a long, long time... continuing the countdown of my top 25 metal albums of all time! Presenting my number 17 and 16!

16. METALLICA : RIDE THE LIGHTNING (1984) - ELEKTRA

Metallica's debut album "Kill 'em All" is widely claimed as one of the best debut albums to come out in the 80s. However, anything found on "Ride the Lightning," surpasses that of their debut album, twice over. The band, in their sophomore effort, evolves in every aspect - musically and lyrically. They replace some of the raw edge the first album had with more polished track listing in their second one.

It's heavy, it's fast and it's furious!! Take the acoustic intro to "Fight Fire with Fire" for example. When it starts out, you might think you bought the wrong album, but then the heavy guitar hits you like a ton of bricks and leaves you spellbound. Another forgotten classic, "Creeping Death," leaves its marks with it's almost visceral lyrics. Also, how can one forget the most amazing metal ballad of all time "Fade to Black"? It begins with a distant guitar solo, but the acoustic strums actually make the first part of this song rather tame. However, the choruses still have heavy riffs, and the end is an ascending and cascading solo.

Put in other songs like "For Whom The Bell Tolls," and "The Call of Ktulu," and what you have in your collection is an album that is unlike any other sophomore attempt! If you want to build a good collection of metal CDs, you need this CD more than you need your next breath!

Line-Up: James Hetfield – rhythm guitar, lead vocals, Lars Ulrich – drums, Cliff Burton – bass guitar, backing vocals, Kirk Hammett – lead guitar

P.S : "Ride the Lightning" and "The Call of Ktulu" were the last Metallica songs to feature Dave Mustaine in the credits.

17. MACHINE HEAD : BURN MY EYES (1994) - ROADRUNNER RECORDS

"LET FREEDOM RING WITH A SHOTGUN BLAST!!!"

-is a scream from the opening song "Davidian" from the debut album from the metalheads from Oakland. This one is defined by its particularly aggressive style, and Machine Head's penchant to lighten up a little on the speed of the songs in order to simply make the songs heavier by adding baselines and thundering drums. Though just that little short of being a masterpiece, Burn My Eyes is close to being Machine Head's Sistine Chapel.

Throughout the album, although Machine Head talk about societal problems, the lyrical content of "Burn My Eyes" is often anything but negative. Logan Madder's fleet fingered guitar playing on "A Thousand Lies"is the stuff of legends. Robb Flynn sings with tremendous intensity, and Chris Kontos speed thrashes through every song, while Adam Duce keeps the low end with his heavy bass licks.

This album signaled the beginning of metal trying to throw off the whole grunge scene and step it up to the next level and get to the roots of the modern "extreme" metal scene. Standout tracks are "Davidian," "Old," and "Blood For Blood." Machine Head's debut stands the test of time as one of the best debut metal albums ever. All in all, a milestone for modern metal.

Line-Up : Robb Flynn - vocals, Guitar, Logan Mader - Lead Guitar, Adam Duce - Bass Guitar, Chris Kontos - drums

P.S : In 1994, this album quickly became Roadrunner Records' best seller and was the label's best-selling debut album for a number of years, until the release of Slipknot's 1999 self-titled debut.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Numbers 19 and 18 of my top 25 Metal Album countdown!

18. LAMB OF GOD : SACRAMENT (2006) - SONY/EPIC RECORDS

In the burgeoning genre of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, Lamb of God stands head and shoulders above the others., and have already inspired a string of band in their still-young careers. Lamb of God, in my album of the year 2006, skillfully combine elements of progressive rock with harder, edgier elements of thrash.

This album is a speed rush all the way through, with guitars that match the fibrillating double bass drums and trill going even faster. If a song briefly drops to half-speed, it’s only to make the next stretch sound even more breakneck. Take, for example, "Forgotten (Lost Angels)." This monster chugger is as metallic as you can get. The opening 22 seconds of "Foot to the Throat" reveals a thrash battery that equals, or surpasses any other band's offerings.

Singer Randy Blythe's vocals can't always be understood, but who needs to when you have great songs such as "Redneck," which has a southern rock twist to a blistering riff, and "Descending" which offers great drama and a growing sense of dynamics. Other notables include "Requiem," "Walk With Me In Hell," and "Blacken The Cursed Sun."

Like great metal bands, Lamb of God have now transcended their category, and are in a category by themselves. This is the new standard for pure new American metal!!

Line-Up: Randy Blythe – Vocals; Mark Morton – Guitar; Willie Adler – Guitar; John Campbell – Bass; Chris Adler – Drums

P.S: Lamb of God were formerly known as "Burn The Priest" but didn't want to be only known as a crappy Satanic band, so they changed it to this "equally-religious-sounding-yet-not-as-offensive-as-the-earlier" name


19. PANTERA : COWBOYS FROM HELL (1990) - ATLANTIC RECORDS


The cowboys from Texas were a cover band the early 1980's, until they start writing their own music. They formed a band, Pantera, that released their first album when Diamond was only 17. They continued releasing "hair/glam" metal albums until 1990.

Cowboys From Hell was the first offering from Pantera with a major label, and they put themselves on the map with supercharged metal riffs and screaming vocals. They made heavy metal heavier. Case in point, "Primal Concrete Sledge," which has industrial elements, but compounded machine-gun guitars. "Heresy" has matchless thrash riffs and great double bass drumming dexterity. While "Cemetery Gates" pushed Pantera into metal mainstream, the title song "Cowboys from Hell" has a mosh-worthy progression. Dimebag Darrell proves his status as one of the best metal guitarists ever as the riffs on almost every song are mind blowing, as well as the solos.

The real standout of the album, though, is "Psycho Holiday" which has
the 45 second-long, wailing guitar solo that has three parts to it. These solos would become renowned worldwide and a Dimebag trademark. If Metallica contributed to the progression of metal in the 80's, Pantera drove it to through the 90's and started with this album.

Line-Up: Phil Anselmo – Vocals, Dimebag Darrell – Guitars and backing vocals, Vinnie Paul – Drums, Rex Brown – Bass

P.S: RIP Dimebag Darrell, the greatest riffmaker of all time!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Number 21 and 20 of my countdown of the top 25 Metal Albums of all time!!

20. ANTHRAX : AMONG THE LIVING (1987) - ISLAND RECORDS

Unlike Metallica and Slayer, the problem with the guys from New York was that they never took themselves too seriously and this resulted in an album slightly on the lighter side than those of their rivals, but it still had enough power to make my top 25 of all time. The lightness, is of course, speaking about the overall vein of the album as there is nothing light about the music itself. The riffs are truly excellent throughout the whole album. You will find that every single one of them forces you into uncontrolled head banging mayhem and air guitar heroism.

Stand out songs are "Among the Living," "Caught in a Mosh," "Indians," and "I Am The Law." But the beauty of this album is that not a single song can be considered filler. The opening track explodes with incredible energy and this energy doesn't wear off all the way to the speedy "Imitation Of Life".

This release can be almost sure one of the best Thrash releases ever!

Line-Up: Joey Belladonna – Vocals, Dan Spitz –Lead Guitar, Scott Ian – Rhythm Guitar, Frank Bello – Bass Guitar, Charlie Benante – Drums

PS : I had the fortune of seeing this classic line up during their reunion tour in 2006 in San Francisco!! What an evening!! :)


21. CRADLE OF FILTH : DUSK... AND HER EMBRACE (1997) - MUSIC FOR NATIONS

A symphonic black metal album in my top 25 - beat that! This was Cradle's third release and their second full-length album. It was a lot different from their previous album in terms of sound. “Dusk & Her Embrace” might sound cluttered and chaotic, and honestly, I perceived this album as 'could have been produced better.' However, the tone is exactly right, with a balanced mix of brutality and atmosphere. This is probably Dani’s most dramatic vocal performance on any of their releases. The shrieks are very high and very fast. The songs are continually changing and the complexity of the arrangements and musical commentary cannot be ignored.

The entire album is an incredible collection of unforgettable songs, so I’d be hard pressed to pick out one favorite. Take for instance, the signature riff and the timeless bass-line on “Heaven Torn Asunder”, the heartbreaking sadness of “Funeral In Carpathia”, the classic flair to “Dusk & Her Embrace” and its outstanding drumsolo. All these songs paint a vivid picture in the mind of the listener and somehow transport you to a decaying, snow-ridden, dark world. With this record, the band proved that even the most brutal and intense music can be beautiful and although hated by a few, each band must be given a fair chance.

Line-up : Dani Filth - Vocals, Stuart Antsis - Guitar, Damien Gregori - Keyboards, Robin Eaglestone - Bass, Nicholas Barker - Drums, Gian Pyres - Guitar

PS : First read the lyrics which are virtually of Shakespearean quality !

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Continuing my countdown of the top 25 Metal Albums of all time!!

22. A PERFECT CIRCLE : MER DE NOMS (2000) - VIRGIN RECORDS

"A Perfect Circle is not a side project," proclaimed the members of Perfect Circle and it certainly sounds nothing like one. Although the frontman of the band is Tool's James Maynard Keenan, the creator and genius of A Perfect Circle is guitarist/song writer Billy Howerdel who has worked with quite an impressive list of artists, such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie and more.

When I bought the album, I wasn't sure what to expect but I thought that it would soon burst out into something that Maynard does in Tool. I had heard the angry anti-"your god" ballad, Judith, and I thought that this would be the way the whole album worked. Then, as he questioned his relationships, his spirituality and his place in the world, the whole album seems to bloom and released delicate pearls like "Orestes," "Magdalena," and "Rose." As a Tool fan, I was not pleased with the pleasantries, but I learnt to appreciate the depth and melodic contribution of APC.

And the lyrics are nothing but ethereal... Just sample a bit of Orestes:

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue,
Keeping me from killing you
And from pulling you down with me here,
I can almost hear you scream

Phew! Safe to say that in spite of Tool's influence, APC, and more specifically, Mer De Noms has a life of its own!!

Line-up: Maynard James Keenan, Billy Howerdel, Josh Freese, Jordie White, Paz Lenchantin, Danny Lohner

PS : Also check out their sophomore album, The Thirteenth Step


23. DIO : HOLY DIVER (1983) - WARNER RECORDS

I apologize to the entire world that I did not listen to this album till 1992!! By the time he formed his own band, DIO, Ronnie James Dio has been a vocalist for bands like Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath. If there is anything quintessential about 80's rock, it's Dio. Holy Diver, in my opinion, was one of the greatest releases in that era. It was hard,melodic and had hooks in abundance. Future Def Leppard stringer, Vivian Campbell plays on this album and has some of the greatest guitar licks you'll hear.

Songs like "Rainbow in the Dark" and the title track are metal classics, but it doesn't stop there. Check out "Don't Talk to Strangers", and the excellent "Invisible." This album proved that Dio's departure from Black Sabbath had not affected his spirits. In fact, he sounded most inspired here, aided by his new, hungry backing band. Dio was the heavy metal hobbit and believe me, this is how metal should be!

Line-up : Dio: Ronnie James Dio (vocals, keyboards); Vivian Campbell (guitar); Jimmy Bain (keyboards, bass); Vinny Appice (drums).

PS: Check out Killswitch Engage's cover of "Holy Diver" from Kerrang!! - High Voltage