Five albums to remember
We all have our own personal slights when it comes to what the heavy metal era chooses to like and dislike. For some reason every now and then a version will just come amazes you, and, surprisingly, no one else cares. The Philistines on RateYourMusic give it a 3.2, a few people on Facebook are sharing it, and then, with the constant flood of new releases, this new favorite album disappears beneath the waves, never to be enjoyed again.
One could say that it is good; our own personal tastes shouldn’t dictate what everyone likes. But it’s always frustrating to see great albums washed away by a tide of new stuff, and as someone whose inbox is almost literally swept like this on a daily basis, it can be tiring. However, it turns out that waiting until the end of the year before deciding which releases we should be talking about is not a viable editorial strategy, and so the cycle continues as we do our best.
That being said, we’re launching this column in an effort to unearth some of those albums from the past that failed to find the love we think they deserved. You may disagree with whether or not they were “liked” – we didn’t set any objective standards on submissions – but they deserve it nonetheless. Expect future editions as we harbor additional grudges.
Pale rider–For the dust you are
Pale Horseman is a Chicago institution that has been producing skull crushing sludge for almost a decade now, and they never have once considered giving it nothing less than their everything. Regardless of the size of the venue, whenever I saw them perform live they showed double rocking stacks and a bass rig designed for small scale demolition. While their new drummer (although he played on the years 2017 The fourth seal thus) reduced the size of the drums a bit compared to the giant that their previous percussionist employed, the total commitment starts with the equipment and it goes right down to their work ethic. This is their fifth full-length, essentially operating entirely independently, and their cyclic form of sludge crushing remains as anti-trend as it gets. These are heavy, slow riffs with apocalyptic vocals and wicked fills, with no intention of compromise.
I’m part of the problem here, as this release caught me off guard last year (not for lack of warning, just time management) and I was barely able to include it in our Metal Outputs column. to come, not to mention giving it a listen, it’s deserved. But as I found the time to do it last year, the rock-solid endurance of this record cemented it as one of the best of the group. For best results, turn on your speakers manner and let it spray you.
A frequent theme in the music is the group that emerges with a finely sharpened and punchy start and then returns to the mists with just that singular permanent recording of their existence. These fleeting nuggets of glory blanket the landscape of metal, covered in layers of subsequent releases and similarly isolated, sprinkling the plains between towering mountains with legacy names and the backing of major labels.
Georgia’s Adversary is one of those groups. The beginnings of the quintet in 2014 Ruined is a crisp melodic death metal record that conveys tales of adventure, exploration, grief and loss. Less a concept album and more a collection of vignettes centered on these themes, Ruined is a refined and far more than proficient exercise within the group’s limited palette of crisp guitars, gatling-gun drums, and a clear vocal and growl hybrid that has, at least for me, sustained years of repeat listening .
Yes twilight of the thunder god is steak and potatoes melodeath, Adversary’s Ruined is a game stew. It’s pretty similar on the surface, but a more nuanced listen reveals a depth of flavor and breadth of influences absent from its more popular cousin. The song structures push the band’s vision of their accessible genre to more complex extremes, their use of frequent tempo shifts and rhythmic changes never disrupting the album’s cohesive overall flow and complementing the sophistication of the lyrics.
For those who have been lucky enough to have paid attention at the right time, or better yet, to have been involved in the local scene in which these groups have lived, these one-off records often hold a special place. They evoke a moment in time, a particular state of life in which this record had special power and meaning, in which this group represented something greater than their physical selves to the people who encountered them.
The last post on the Adversary Facebook page was in 2015, but comments from a year ago hint at a follow-up album in the works that will be released the following year. I tried to contact the band in preparation for this column, and in the meantime, I can only hope that this new music will see the light of day soon.
America and gore imagery go hand in hand – hell, we started death metal, right? One of the groups that is often overlooked when it comes to greatness should be Impaled / Ghoul: the same people are in both groups, the first being an incredible Carcass clone and theirs. Mondo Medical be the best part 2 of Carcass’ Necrotic. Ghoul, on the other hand, throws more thrash into its own volatile mix with random silly things like psychobilly riffs making them more like melodeath more municipal trash and their own bloody images and winking costumes. at GWAR.
Dungeon Bastards was the band’s fifth album and still the most recent, released in 2016, when the world could have really laughed; it was my album of the year. The album is a vague concept of a dictator named Commander Dobrunkum, born and raised to be the absolute ruler of Creepsylvania (the band’s country of their own creation). A track like “Ghoulunatics” is a thrash masterclass; beating drums giving way to insane riffs and even sections that have a Middle Eastern vibe, certainly more diverse than you might expect from the band on the surface.
With more fun tracks like the self-proclaimed nationally “Word Is Law” note to more of what you would expect from the band, especially their Splash days like “Shred The Dead” (which sounds exactly the way you think) it’s just a blast from a record and it continues to kill to this day – it just deserved more fanfare when it was originally released . Shred the dead!
lethargic–The waters of death
I’ve spent years trying to get people to give this one a more solid listen. I interviewed the group, reviewed them, told everyone they reigned, and it seems my one man machine just isn’t enough to make up for how much Lethean is doing. don’t care to fit into the metal scene. . Deep down, Lethean is a gorgeous, moody epic heavy metal that, while it fits that description perfectly, is unlike anyone else that could be described that way. The emotional melodic voice of band singer Thumri Paavana is far too acrobatic to compare to typical male singers who normally approach this stuff, and the guitar playing leads more to heights and valleys of melody than to hymns to the Manowar.
Just as a dragon rising from a mountain to roast hobbits is epic, so is the desolate ocean, and the Lethean leans toward it. Dark is a good word that describes what the Letheans are; they’re almost sober, creating soundscapes more than heavy jagged riffs, but even that fails to encapsulate the band because the band riffs really loudly. When I reviewed the album a few years ago, I said the closest comparison was Argus playing with the melancholy of Warning performed by Thumri, and I stand by it; The waters of death is an album of contrasts that works much better than it should on paper, and I desperately hope that we will have more soon and that the reception will be good enough to force them to form a live band.
Vengeful Specter–Vengeful Specter
Before we explain why Vengeful Specter rips so hard, you should know that Vengeful Specter rips hard. The Guangdong-based band’s debut album isn’t all about this, but it’s imperative to recognize that it’s a torrential storm. The fact that the six-chapter story of Swordsmen, War, Betrayal, and Vengeance is still semi-readable through the language barrier and shriveled voice is testament to Vengeful Specter’s ability to hit the notes. emotional needs of a story arc. Of course, Black Kirin’s expected comparisons aren’t inaccurate, but each group is built from different fundamentals. While Black Kirin is more theatrical, Vengeful Specter is sacred. There is little empathy spared here. Honestly, there isn’t much time for empathy in the midst of stuffy black metal.
Vengeful Specter distinguishes itself by reusing traditional Chinese instruments in the service of storytelling. Without them the album would still tear, but implemented with this finesse, Vengeful Specter is a masterful black metal setting. The group ignores the delicate tones usually associated with these instruments and instead uses them to amplify the severity of their pieces. There is a short break during “The Expendables” where the plucked strings act like a war rally. Or note the brisk pace of “Wailing Wrath”, which embraces more of what one expects from epic black metal, yet resembles a warrior on the verge of exhaustion. Strings advance the song more than absolutely demonic riffs or vocals. Vengeful Specter surpasses the appeal of music tourism. They shoot at the throat, tear your eyes out with frenzy, and wrestle like a soldier acting on instinct, all with the weight of an epic war.