30. In Flames: The Jester Race
You knew this would be on here. I thought it would be higher, but
fuck me, I didn’t make the list. Wait, yes I did. Well it was a group
effort and I was part of the group, so technically I did kind of make
it. But it wasn’t completely me. Had it just been me, this album would
have been top 20. (Note by the Mane: Yeah, that and all those
fucking Bon Jovi albums you tried to convince us to add. Oh wait, that
was me. Um, carry on…) I just wanted to clear that up.
The third of the big three SMDM albums of
the 90’s, “The Jester Race” is probably my favorite. This is the album
that introduced me to the darker side of metal. Its influence is heard
all over today’s metal. Most notable to your metal palate are the THICK
twin guitar melodies and the (what would become) typical Swedish
riffing. This album is 90% pure Gothenburg. The Flamers add just enough
variety (acoustic guitars, 80’s pop metal, instrumentals, etc.) to keep
the staunchest of SMDM opponents listening. The In Flames of today is heavier and catchier, but my heart will always be with “The Jester Race”.
29. Meshuggah: Destroy. Erase. Improve
There are a couple of albums out there that changed the face of
music. This one not only changed the face of metal, but obliterated
everything everyone thought they knew about, well, everything. Fucking
apt album title, come to think of it. That’s exactly what they did.
This, ladies and gentlemen is pure genius and perfection in 46 minutes
and 31 seconds. It wasn’t the first time jazz devices were applied to
metal, but their particular approach, using the odd jazz fusion
principle here and there, and the employment of polymetrics, staccato
riffs, and the utilization of fucking weird, alien guitar solos make
this an unbelievably great album. Anybody who says otherwise is a
complete idiot with cotton wool for ears. This album is incredibly
classy and devastatingly clever. These musicians deserve to be openly
worshiped for releasing this album (especially since legend has it that
at some point prior to the recording of this album, Thordendal severed a
finger in a carpentry accident and Haake met with the wrong end of a
grinder). There is not one single wasted or bad track herein, and, as
fitting an album of this technical brilliance, this album is destined to
never sound outdated — neither in songwriting, execution, nor
production. Just. Plain. Perfect. End of story. In my eyes, and to my
ears, this is nothing short of groundbreaking stuff, and metal hasn’t
been the same since.
28. Blind Guardian: Nightfall in Middle-Earth
Power metal is not a style known for its originality. Hansi Kürsch
and the boys of Blind Guardian, however, have been taking power metal in
a completely unique direction since the early 90’s. Many fans would
agree that 1998’s “Nightfall…” is the band’s defining moment. I’m not
one for concepts and stories, so I won’t comment on all the narrations
and lyrics, but I can champion the music.
Whereas most power metal bands pay homage to bands like Judas
Priest, Iron Maiden, and Helloween, Blind Guardian took things one step
further. You hear just as much Queen, Jethro Tull, and Uriah Heap in
BG’s music as you hear the aforementioned stalwarts. These influences
and the band’s studio dedication result in one of the most polished and
technically dazzling albums in metal history. Although the lead guitars
are rich and the rhythms are pounding, the true captain of this ship is
Hansi. His mega-tracked vocals and varied singing will stick in your
head like a pube on the toilet seat.
27. Megadeth: Rust in Peace
From his early beginnings with Metallica, to his “battles” with
addiction, Sir Mustaine has certainly had an interesting career.
Basically, Dave was a crazy fuck. In a drunken rage, he poured a full
beer into (then-member) Ron McGovney’s bass and punched Hetfield in the
face after kicking his dog. I don’t care if these rumors are true or
not, I want to believe them. After being thrown out of Metallica, fist
in the air and pipe full of crack, Dave vowed to form his own band in
order to outshine the schoolgirls who casually disregarded him.
While never achieving the same commercial success as Metallica,
Megadeth has certainly proved to be relatively more consistent over the
years; “Rust in Peace” being the pinnacle of their achievements. “Holy
Wars” in itself represents the bastion of a classic metal song, its
lyrics more relevant today than ever before. While Mustaine was probably
higher than Pete Doherty climbing a ladder in a floating penthouse
suite when he wrote the song, it nevertheless proved that while Megadeth
was never officially “better” than Metallica in theory, officious
empirical evidence might say otherwise. Of course, to each his own. Some
people despise Mustaine’s work. Shame on them. “Rust In Piece” will
always stand out as one of the most consistent albums released in the
90s and is, without a doubt, Megadeth’s finest hour.
26. Dark Tranquillity: The Gallery
There isn’t a way of avoiding clichés now. Terms “Gothenburg death metal” and “NWOSDM”
will be used, because this album, along with In Flames’ “The Jester
Race” made it oh so popular — with merits, of course. “The Gallery” is
melodic and intricate but never losing intensity, a scheme that injected
new elements of attraction without leaving the listener appalled by
While there are elements such as female vocals, clean vocals and
acoustic guitars here and there, the credit for such renewal is given to
the melodic twin guitar attack. While so obvious on the British heavy
metal and so blasphemous on death metal, it was the one characteristic
that managed to lift Swedish death metal into new heights. This album,
along a few others, spawned a whole new generation of bands, a glory
only a few can claim.
The Dark Tranquillity troupe was also responsible for a new view on
writing lyrics, which content departed from either gore, Satan or
political issues. They might not sound as deep now, its introspective
approach expanded the horizons of many kids towards subjects that
couldn’t be found in horror movies nor left or right winged manifestos.
And it has “The Emptiness From Which I Fed” and “Punish My Heaven”, c’mon. This is fantastic stuff!
25. Cryptopsy: None So Vile
Chaos is the name of the game here, that which can be compared to
Deicide’s “Legion”. A wave of sounds hits you as soon as you hit play,
with technical drumming done at uncharted speeds, groovy bass lines,
technical guitar playing, and those grunts. How can someone not like
Lord Worm’s grunts? Plus, he drinks from a glass filled with worms
during their live shows, which is more than I can say for Deicide.
24. Strapping Young Lad: City
“City” is a special album for a lot of reasons. For one, nothing
else on the planet sounds like it. For another, Devin Townsend’s
massive riffs and throat searing screams combine perfectly with Gene
Hoglan’s percussive domination — rarely have two guys ever been as in
sync as they are. To say that SYL created
some really angry, slightly humorous and completely over the top
industrial thrash metal is like calling the Parthenon a “building”. The
statement is technically true, but it just doesn’t do the thing
Let me put it this way: Have you ever been so pissed-off that your
vision is blurred by patches of brilliant, white-hot rage? Ever been so
filled with paranoid hatred that you wish to destroy everything in your
path, because all of it, your possessions, your family and friends,
your enemies, yourself and even the very the world upon which you stand,
is so infected, so imperfect that it deserves nothing less than
annihilation? Well, “City” is the thrum you hear in the background of
that state, amplified and clarified for your listening pleasure. What
makes “City” such a sublime album though, isn’t just the relentless
self-destruction and sonic violence. It’s that even as he’s blindly
lashing out at everything, Townsend is winking at you, smiling beneath
the curses and letting you know that it’s okay to laugh and cry and just
be pissed. It’s all just part of being, you know, human.
23. Dismember: Like An Ever Flowing Stream
If Dismember released “Like An Ever Flowing Stream” one
year before Entombed’s “Left Hand Path”, the band would be cherished by
the underground hordes as deserved. That classic album featured all the
production tricks that defined the almost-patented “Sunlight sound” but
yet employing a healthy dose of melody and thrashing grooves that makes
it hard not to love every damn second of it.
Maybe it lacked the brutality needed to succeed on conquering a huge
amount of fans back in the day, but the truth is that the blend
presented on “Like An Ever Flowing Stream” is probably the one that
sounds mostly unaffected by time when you get to listen to all of its
contemporaries. If they had the right support, they would have skinned
half the planet alive and it would be beautiful.
Now the world is all about thrashy riffs blended into aggressive
music, right? Dismember did it before your shitty band ever thought of
metal, you fucking assholes. Stop flicking buggers out of your nose and
bow to them!
22. Bolt Thrower: The IVth Crusade
The fucken Bolts. “The IVth crusade” is the one album that put Bolt
Thrower on the map for me. What they released prior to this one was
half-assed, untight and boring death metal, but with this fucker they
turned the tables and wrote some of their finest material ever. They
don’t play anything technical, they don’t put on any fancy bullshit in
their tunes. Bolt Thrower just kill, and kill again. The title track’s
opening riff goes down as one of the best riffs I have ever heard, from any band. And it’s not like the rest of the album is a hella lot worse. Fantastic. Completely fan-fucken-tastic.
21. Mayhem: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
The album that started it all… This groundbreaking record started
the second wave black metal scene, and from that point on, all hell
broke loose. With all the murders, church burnings, and other crimes,
this album was so publicized that it got a lot of hype. Thankfully it
lives up to all the hype, and is more than a historical time piece, but a
damn good piece of music as well.