20. Bloodbath: Nightmares made flesh
“Nightmares made nachos” has been praised up down and sideways
already. Why? Because it is an album made by superstars who took a
break from mountains of cocaine piled between pillowy breasts to get
back to the roots of Swedeath. The results of their noble sacrifice are
quite wonderful. For fans of Scandinavian crunchiness from the early
90’s, the first Bloodbath album was a real treat. But when they brought
in Pete Townsendtgren, put Axenrot on drum duty, and cleaned up the
production the real deal deliciousness came forth.
You know that Tag may have received a backstage pass to Armageddon
for his mindblowing growls and shrieks on here. You know “Eaten” is one
of the best fucken songs ever written. Surely you’re aware that the
slow section at the end of “Stillborn saviour” is so crushingly evil
it frequently murders every last occupant of European monasteries and
nunneries for shits and giggles. Congrats you bastards. Now back to
those snowy areolae.
19. Amon Amarth: Fate of Norns
Like I said before, Amon Amarth is a fun band fo sho, but also a
very safe one, since every one of their albums really doesn’t stick out
from the crowd much. That is, every one of their albums except for
2004’s “Fate of norns”, where Amarthoholics Anonymous really put some
effort into the songwriting, infusing every track here with its own
distinct personality, which almost makes “norns” feel like eight
miniature concept albums in one big album (I know, it sounds weird, but
You got heavier, mid-tempo cuts like “An ancient sign of coming
storm” and “Valkyries ride”, slower, foreboding numbers like “Where
death seems to dwell” and “Arson”, more up-tempo, melodic stuff like the
title track and “The pursuit of vikings”, and so on, and besides the
extremely expressive songwriting here, the lyrics are excellent; you got
the Amon Amarth-standard “going off to war” stuff, but described in
such a vividly bad-ass way that the lyrics surpass their generic nature,
as well as unexpectedly tender lyrics about death and loss in the title
track, and a nice one-two punch story about a pact for vengeance in the
final two tracks.
Add in energetic, precise drumming from Fredrik Andersson, and the unusual clarity of top ten growler Johan Hegg’s vocals, which makes it easier for us to understand those awesome lyrics, and, despite the erroneous claims of certain other staffers, you actually have yourself a great fucken Amon Amarth album (their only such to date) with “Fate of norns”.
18. The Hellacopters: High visibility
From the opening riff, this album shows itself as a tour de force in
rock and roll guitar. You pretty much have hit after rock hit and it
doesn’t let up. Along with a new guitarist it seemed that The
Hellacopters also gained more confident songwriting abilities and sound
overall much tighter than previous outings. I can’t recommend you a
single tune from this, I must recommend the entire album on repeat at
least once for full effect. That’s assuming you can even stomach rock
and roll. Whatever you do, though, don’t try to buy a new copy from
Amazon.com. The sellers will rip you off. Assholes.
17. Amon Amarth: With Oden on our side
Amon Amarth definitely had Odin on their side when making this one.
The songs are really fucken inspired. It kinda sounds like they got
their ass back together after the disappointment (relatively speaking)
that was “Fate of norns” so that they could fire on all levels on this
album, and they do, with nine strong songs, none of them bad at all, and
all of them running and trampling over most of their old material. In
fact, even on the Twilight tour, they would play at least four songs or
so off this album live, that’s how big of a staple these tunes are in
their live set.
If you want specific examples, “Gods of war arise”, “Cry of the
black birds”, “Runes to my memory” all are tunes that should live on in
the collective mind of any AA fan, probably any metal fan period. It’s
made even better by Johan Hegg’s brutal vocals – this man shits fucken
fire! This is the best album of their discography after the turn of the
decade and it may actually be their best album period. In any case, it’s
definitely worthy of a spot on this list and you should all be buying
this if you are thinking of checking out Amon Am Arsch.
16. Runemagick: Darkness Death Doom
It is rare, now that the rings of my metaltree grow numerous, that I
find an album from a new crew which really makes me shit my pants.
Just flat out drop nine pounds of dook in ze boxers and let gravity work
its magic. But it happens. Usually with a classic band that hasn’t
released much of note in the ‘00’s. But lo and behold – “Darkness death
doom” is a disc which is still somewhat obscure, yet is clearly the
band’s magnum opus, and constantly causes the back of my trousers to
look like an accident at the corn factory.
I’ve already yipped and yapped about “DDD” in my review, so the
logical thing to discuss is how much joy it has brought into my life
since. A lot is the answer. Whenever a baked
headbanging session is in order I’ll often reflexively choose Runemagick
right off the bat. Then the guilt sets in. “Fuck, why don’t you ever
listen to anything but “Darken thy flesh” or “Winter” or “Doomed”, man?
You have so much other metal just gathering dust. Throw that on
instead!” And Lord K knows I try. But after a few tracks the creeping
need to have some rune in my tunes becomes
unbearable. Next thing you know the sounds of church bells and riffs
from the Swedish section of Hell immerse all. It has everything
Daemboat wants in death/doom – coherence despite song length, humor
despite grvmness. Add classic status despite recent year of release.
15. Grand Magus: Iron will
From the first second to the last, “Iron Will” is pure and honest
passion. Grand Magus give us a fantastic slab of traditional heavy
metal, coupled with a crushing depth borrowed from the doom and stoner
genres. JB’s vocals are, as always, the highlight of the album. The true
dedication behind every syllable comes across as if he was standing in
the same room with you, and the sheer power in his output renders an
automatic hard-on in every lover’s of hard rock pants. Apart from the
fucken manly execution, the amazingly catchy and memorable
melodies, riffs and arrangements have you pounding your air instruments
along with your head until the record stops – and then you go for
another spin. And another. And when you’re done, the tunes will still be
roaming your mind, until the end of time. Listen to “Like the Oar
Strikes the Water”, “Fear Is the Key” or my absolute favorite “Silver
Into Steel”, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
14. Iron Maiden: Brave new world
So who didn’t get an instant erection at the news Bruce Dickinson
was returning to Iron Maiden? Oh, I admit I turned my back on Iron
Maiden, I pretended Bruce never left and there was no such thing as
Blaze Bailey. But now Bruce is back and singing as beautifully as ever
(no more husky Bruce), and holy-fucken-shit, he’s brought Adrian with
him too! Ok, that clown Janick Gers is still there, but we can deal with
that because Bruce and Adrian are back!
The most pleasing aspect of this album is how invigorated the band
sounds. From the opening track, there’s an energy that pervades the
album that was non-existent in their albums of the ‘90s. Somehow,
reforming the band has seemingly given them back their youth. Everyone
is on top of their game, the tunes are killer, the choruses are anthemic
and everything you look for in a Maiden album is present and accounted
for. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened
metalheads. Make no mistake about it, “Brave New World” is a classic
and without a doubt the best Maiden album since “Seventh Son of a
Seventh Son”. Up the Irons!
13. Insect Warfare: World extermination
“World Extermination” is twenty two minutes of venomous, rancorous,
unrelenting fucking grindcore done right. These nihilistic Texans
brought back a certain uneasiness to grindcore with their misanthropic
view of humanity. The title says it all. Fuck the world, fuck your
sister, fuck you, you can all fucking die.
The musicianship may not be top notch but Insect Warfare possess an
early 90s feel of the genre. It’s fast, violent, and not overproduced.
They’ve also got a certain political punk aspect. This is the stuff that
epitomizes what grind core is all about. Insect Warfare is a band in
the spirit of Napalm Death and Brutal Truth, but they’ve personalized
the music and made it their own.
12. The Project Hate MCMXCIX: Hate, Dominate, Congregate, Eliminate
If you know this site, you are probably already familiar with The Project Hate OMNOMNOM,
which is a shame, because you and your fellow in-the-knowers are not
exactly numerous, and this album should be heard by everyone with but a
slight interest in metal.
I’m not a universal stooge when it comes to TPH,
and believe it or not, it is not mandatory to be one in order to stay
on staff. “Hate, dominate, congregate, eliminate”, however, deserves
this spot. When I discovered the band via this album, nothing else
would go into my player for a long time. This album is the crowning
achievement of a band that found its sound. They, or rather K, decided
to move on afterwards, which is fine by me, but it won’t ever be as good
as this. More advanced, more intricate, more detailed maybe, yes, but “HDCE” is boss.
This is where it all comes together: Perfect death grunts originating
somewhere deep beneath Bowser’s Castle, stellar, and forgive me when I
say “angelic” female vocals (it’s not the princess), chugging, downtuned
guitars whose simplicity equals their awesomeness – which has to be
multiplied tenfold due to the ultra-heavy layering going on.
I’m not a fan of female vocals, I’m not a fan of overly long songs,
I’m not a fan of overdone lyrics, synthies or drum computers – which are
all present on this album, but somehow they work, and I like it. Why? I
guess one could say quality plays a role. This is, in short, a must-listen.
11. Wintersun: Wintersun
If there ever was an album that put exceptional musicianship to good
use, it was Wintersun’s self-titled debut. Jari Mäenpää – the man, the
myth, the mastermind – puts on a show highlighting not only his guitar
and vocal skills, but more importantly his composing and arranging
expertise. Somehow he’s managed to merge melodic black metal with folk
music and progressive heavy/power metal, and the mix doesn’t sound
cheesy or fucked-up at all. The quality of the material is high as a
hippie, and supreme execution courtesy of Mäenpää‘s mind-blowing solos,
inhuman riff precision, authoritative shrieks and passionate clean
vocals together with Kai Hahto’s immaculate and groovy drumming heighten
the experience tenfold. Needless to say, the end result is nothing
short of grrrrrRRRREAT! As Tony the Tiger would say. Believe him. Or
die. Tony always tells the truth.