The reign of masters
1986 was a year that’s mostly remembered for producing two albums
that basically form the pinnacle of thrash metal. Beyond that we have
many notable classics and quality obscure releases that support the
aforementioned twin titans, covered in varying detail below.
It was the middle of the decade of decadence. Jetsploitation juggernaut Top Gun and Australian cultural documentary Crocodile Dundee dominated the box office (beating out obviously lesser films like Platoon and Aliens),
America and Russia were making strides in space exploration, Sweden’s
Prime Minister was assassinated, Chernobyl became a disaster area, the
New York Mets were baseball’s best (hard to believe), Geraldo Rivera
looked like an idiot on live TV (easy to believe), the dirty busienss of
the Iran-Contra scandal and the Challenger tragedy. In the
music world female singers like Whitney Houston and Madonna were selling
albums and singles by the assload alongside blue collar icons like
Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. We walked that way (and we did it
like Egyptians). Falco was beckoning Mozart to rock him, Robert Palmer
raised our awareness of our chemical dependency on affection, Wang Chung
was preaching fun (tonight), Prince’s tiny frame was likely
near-crushed in mountains of vagina, Kenny Loggins introduced us to an
area where caution was to be taken and glammy poodle-haired hard rockers
were all clamoring to topple the mighty Van Halen, who showed no signs
of slowing down despite replacing their infamous original singer David
Anyway, fuck all that shit. What was going on in heavy metal?
It seems that there was a notable exploration of the more violent,
fast-paced thrash route, pioneering developments in multiple directions.
Also, though the genre wasn’t exactly heavily populated, doom metal
was bestowed with a pair of its own monolithic,
legendary-artist-defining full lengths. Likewise, the small but fierce
progressive metal movement took its own strides forward as pioneering
acts began to solidify their legacies and a few newcomers upped the
ante. 1986 wasn’t necessarily a bad time to be a supporter of the old
guard either, as we’ll see below, but a lot of the more traditional
metal releases didn’t receive their proper credit in their time.
However, with a retrospective look today we can scour for these
neglected albums and bring them into the light they deserve, as well as
highlight the year’s many titans.
BAY AREA THRASH
Let’s start off in sunny California, home of Bay Area Thrash.
Yes that’s supposed to be capitalized and for the appropriate effect it
should be screamed at the top of one’s lungs. Los Angeles might be
remembered for being the home of hair in the 80s but realistically it
was a haven for music in general back when there were no internets and
everything ran on steam. Something like that, I was only a year old at
this point so I spent most of the year pooping myself and making
incoherent noises. These days I can use a toilet and I record the
incoherent noises I make.
Metallica: Master of puppets
Really if you were to pick an album to encompass heavy metal in
general to an outsider you’d have few better choices than Metallica’s
“Master of puppets.” Easily the band’s best work, the LP’s running time
consists of vicious thrashing, progressive song structures and
masterful musicianship. Though the album does peak with its one-two
opening punch of “Battery” and the title track, every song is forever
memorable and some of the genre’s best riffs call “Master” home. It’s
unfortunate that this would be the swansong of the band’s lineup with
Cliff Burton as the legendary bassist would die in a horrific bus
accident while the band was on tour. However, his final studio
performance was captured on one of heavy metal’s most influential and
important releases and the man’s chapter in Metallica closed as
untouchable legend, something Metallica missed achieving about 20 years
The absolute peak of one of the best bands the genre’s ever seen. It’s
a miserable goddamn shame their golden era didn’t last longer.
Slayer: Reign in blood
The utmost pinnacle in violent thrash. While the aforementioned
‘tallica were utilizing progressive song structures and extended track
lengths, their Bay Area peers in Slayer just stripped the genre down to
its very core and then sped it way the fuck up, liberally dosing the
whole affair with that sinister riffing style that brings a smile to the
mug of most metal men (and maidens). It’s a sprint through a brutal
gauntlet that lets up on the pain just enough to make the next hit that
much more vicious. This isn’t a hard album to grasp, just try to keep
up. Mandatory (or suicide).
Pure thrash violence and energy. If this doesn’t flip your “fuck
everything up” switch then I hope you manage to enjoy your life as a
piece of shit.
Megadeth: Peace sells… but who’s buying?
I doubt Megadeth is the only band formed out of spite but they’ve
made it further than any other group of metalheads that just wanted to
show up their old bandmates. And by “they” I mean Dave Mustaine.
“Peace sells… but who’s buying?” marks a huge step-up from the debut in
just one year’s time. Every single song has at least a few memorable
parts. The instantly addictive title track, the sinister deep cuts that
Mustaine shies away from performing (“The conjuring” and “Bad omen”
namely), the stomp of “Wake up dead”‘s coda, the sleazy speed metal of
closer “My last words”… so many great moments worthy of some goddamn
BOTTOM LINE: Insanely good collection of songs.. minus one stupid ass cover. Can we have ’86 Dave kick ’12 Dave’s ass? “Whaddya mean I got sober and found Jesus!?”
9.5/10 (“I ain’t superstitious” is the only reason this isn’t a perfect score)
Dark Angel: Darkness descends
If “Reign in blood” isn’t enough Bay Area violence for you, invest
in a copy of “Darkness descends”, a cup and a diaper. Blast your ears,
take that hit to the groin and descend some darkness into your drawers.
Face-shredding riffs abound, paint-peeling shouts deliver equal
viciousness and catchy vocal lines and former Slayer roadie Gene Hoglan
added a godlike early performance to an eventually expansive resume.
“Darkness descends” is a rottweiler with a grudge. Mean ass thrash
that probably inspired a lot of up and coming death metallers.
Metal Church: The dark
Traveling to the opposite end, sonically, of the scene, Metal Church
was one of those “should have been” bands. They were on a path to
domination way back in the day, had a deal with Elektra Records and
shared stages with the biggest names around. They managed to sort of
hover between traditional metal and thrash but operated without
compromise. They could do material that was intent on sonic homicide,
soar melodically, be contemplative or whatever else they set their
sights on. “Watch the children pray” has a chorus that will get in you…
deep in you.
BOTTOM LINE: You can probably find this and a lot of other early Metal Church used for cheap. Go do it.
Possessed: Beyond the gates
People tend to argue over who was “first“when it comes to death
metal’s debut full length, Possessed or Death. Though “Seven churches”
did feature a lot of formative elements of the genre and definitely
represents a transition from thrash to something new, follow-up “Beyond
the gates” is a less aggressive release, sounding like a cocktail of
Sepultura, Exodus and Testament with maybe just a touch more heaviness
than that might imply. Decent album but disappointing that they didn’t
evolve in a more interesting manner.
Somewhat forgotten by time for a reason. Not quite aggressive enough
to appeal to death-heads and they weren’t able to compete with the
thrash gods of the scene.
As far as honorable mentions go, Hirax gets a nod even though
their “full length” “Hate, fear and power” album was only 15 damn
minutes long. It’s a strange mix of crossover and thrash with melodic
vocals and near grindcore songwriting. Speaking of crossover, 1986 also
saw debuts from the snotty bastards in Cryptic Slaughter and Attitude
Adjustment but further analysis would probably better come from someone
with homemade piercings that bathes less than me.
THRASH AUS DEUTSCHLAND
During my research for this assignment of Global Dominating I
discovered that while the Scandinavian countries had yet to really rise
and Britain seemed to have trouble wrapping their heads around this new
thrash thing, Germany was starting to kick some serious ass. Maybe the
growing unrest over the country’s division contributed to this, maybe it
was something in the sauerkraut. We’ll dive into the country’s
legendary thrash scene below and hear again from Germany when we dissect
some traditional metal later on.
Kreator: Pleasure to kill
After a tranquil introduction the violence begins. Relentless
intensity, thrash brutality, frantic soloing and demented riffing is
what follows. As far as thrash breakdowns go, the title track is quite
possibly the most neck-breaking bridge groove ever produced in the
genre. Mille sneers, snarls and spits hatred while the band attempt to
produce napalm from their amplifiers. Its rawness might take a little
getting used to but it fits the disgruntled youthfulness of the
This along with “Reign in blood” and “Darkness descends” represent an
unholy trinity of extreme thrash. Playing them back-to-back-to-back
will probably kill you.
Destruction: Eternal devastation
Destruction had a more nuanced, developed sound than Kreator, though
the band still had energy to spare. Riff for riff, a hell of an album
and a great addition to the Germanic legions. Mike Sifringer is one of
the most underappreciated guitarists in metal, building genuinely
impressive sonic architecture in his arrangements and simultaneously
letting loose with some iconic soloing. The occasional squeaky vocal
parts might put off those unfamiliar with Destruction but when you’re
used to them they have their charm.
BOTTOM LINE: Smart thrashing that doesn’t disappear up its own ass.
Sodom: Obsessed by cruelty
Sodom were kind of late bloomers compared to the other Teutonic
titans (though they remained a quality act while Destruction and Kreator
released shit and mediocrity respectively during the ’90s) but
“Obsessed by cruelty” is still worth a few listens. The production is
extremely crude and unfortunately the drums really hold things back.
Chris Witchhunter is one of the most frustrating skinbashers in metal,
playing amazing fills and then completely losing the beat. There’s
still plenty of darkness here if that’s what you’re after, Euronymous
from Mayhem named his label after this album’s first song for a reason.
Not as catchy as the debut EP and it lacks the songwriting of the bands
subsequent releases. Sloppy and amateurish but enjoyable.
Tankard: Zombie attack
Tankard always struck me as kind of the Anthrax to the Big Three’s
resemblance to the Bay Area’s trio (because let’s face it, Anthrax don’t
belong in the same company as Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth). The
important difference being that Tankard managed to stay interesting
after their second album. Anyway, even though Tankard has a reputation
as drunken party-thrash veterans, they still bring a bevy of great if
somewhat standard riffs. The individual riffs might be a little stock
at time but they come at such frequency and are performed with such
ferocity that the real keepers pop up pretty frequently.
BOTTOM LINE: Accessible enough for n00bs, riffy enough for veterans.
Holy Moses: Queen of Siam
If Tankard is the German Anthrax than Holy Moses has got to be the
country’s Heathen. They definitely don’t have a sound or attitude
resembling each other but both bands were (and still are) hugely
underrated to a goddamn criminal degree. It should be noted that Holy
Moses were active before any of their thrash peers and even though it
took them a little longer to get through the demo stage, by the time
“Queen of Siam” rolled around they were ready to run with the big dogs,
before being “Finished…” with them, of course.
BOTTOM LINE: All hail Sabina Classen’s metal ovaries of death.
Deathrow: Satan’s gift
Deathrow aren’t exactly a household name but (like many of the
second-tier German thrash bands) they weren’t lacking quality material
and whatever they were missing in professional polish they made up for
with attitude. The tracks featured on “Satan’s gift” (also released as
“Riders of doom” with alternate artwork… only in metal could four
skeletal horseman displaying a severed head be a “censored” cover) show
advanced songwriting mixed with youthful energy. The vocals are like a
Schmier-ed up Paul Di’anno, a sort of street savvy swagger to
bassist/singer Milo’s intonation.
BOTTOM LINE: Great underdog thrash, replete with Slayerisms and a good balance between savagery and songwriting.
The German contingent of the movement really could do no wrong
in ’86, as I’d be remiss not to mention Exumer’s excellent firstie
“Possessed by fire” as well as Necronomicon’s not-quite-excellent but
decent Destruction worship that filled their self-titled debut.
EVEN MORE DAMN THRASH
We’re already balls deep in patched up denim vests, flying V’s
and cheap booze but we’re not done yet. Beyond the bay and outside West
Germany, gems of the genre germinated.
Sepultura: Morbid visions
Although they mostly came to prominence during the second wave of
thrash, developing their sound a little too late to be considered
pioneers, I still maintain that at their peak these guys were peerless.
“Morbid visions” pre-dates the pinnacle of the Sepultura sound but it’s
still an essential addition to this list and to any decent collection
of 80’s extreme metal. Sepultura had a dark atmosphere and songwriting
style that foreshadowed early 90’s death metal coupled with the energy
required for a classic thrash metal band. These guys also get credit
for kickstarting the scene in Brazil and South America at large.
BOTTOM LINE: Even Sepultura’s fourth-best album kicks an ungodly amount of ass.
A side mention to Vulcano for also representing Brazil,
releasing a somewhat muffled and noisy, though surprisingly aggressive
entry into the thrash pantheon. Also, an important compilation
featuring Sarcofago, Mutilator, Holocausto and others was issued through
Cogumelo Records, a sort of headquarters for the developing South
American thrash movement.
Flotsam and Jetsam: Doomsday for the deceiver
F & J are probably best known as the band that Jason Newsted
left behind for Metallica. While that’s not even remotely fair to them,
if it brings more people to check out their fantastic and jaw-dropping
debut full length “Doomsday for the deceiver” so be it. This one
straddles speed and thrash similar to how Metal Church did but with
exclusively more melodic vocals. Speaking of, goddamn can this guy
wail. Brain-melting solos, infectious choruses and some great
developments in the extended songs.
BOTTOM LINE: If you can’t feel the epic in the title track than you lose serious metal points.
Nuclear Assault: Game over
Game over, man! Okay, I know I already kind of trashed Anthrax
earlier, but, well… I’m going to again. I can’t feel it’s more than
just coincidence that as Dan Lilker leaves the band, they start a
downhill roll while his band immediately starts kicking ass of the
serious variety. Well, not completely serious since this album also
features the comically fast “Hang the pope” as well as 30 seconds of ice
cream truck music. Fuck, Destruction did the Pink Panther theme at the
end of “Mad butcher” so why the hell not? Oh, also I’m cool enough to
have this on tape so my copy has “Lesbians” on it as well.
BOTTOM LINE: (Nuclear apocalypse + occasional lightheartedness) x thrash your goddamn face² = Yes.
I’m fully willing to admit that Voivod might go right over my fucken
head. I get and respect that they were definitely in their own world
and definitely stood out from the pack. I seem to love bands heavily
influenced by them (Obliveon, Vektor, etc) and I keep seeing their
iconic logo on the chests of metal dudes I respect, but… they’re just
not among my favorites, not by a long shot. Anyway, I think either you
like Voivod or not and it won’t take too long to figure out if this is
for you or you want something else. This is on the thrashier, less
progressive end of their sound.
BOTTOM LINE: Interesting but occasionally awkward, frantic but occasionally aimless.
Onslaught: The force
I mentioned earlier that Britain didn’t really contribute much to
thrash. While that’s true, that doesn’t mean the land from which metal
originally hailed was without a few highlights. The first real thrash
classic from the UK was “The force” by Onslaught, a sort of mix of
Slayer, Exodus and some slight speed metal tinges. This album contains a
sort of sinister yet playful sound. On one hand you can hear some
pre-extreme metal elements, on the other there’s a lot of headbanging
raucousness. Well executed and underappreciated.
BOTTOM LINE: Melodic meets maleficent. Magnificent.
Though thrash might have been the hot new thing, there were
still plenty of more traditionally-minded geezers expanding their
discographies. There’s definitely a range here, albums that represent
both the nadir and zenith of the respective band in question.
Iron Maiden: Somewhere in time
Though no one would have known it at the time, “Somewhere in time”
marked the second-to-last entry in an unrivaled streak of classics.
Iron Maiden came out of the gate hard, kicked the shit out of the rest
of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, looked around and asked “what’s
next?” The band managed to balance an instantly recognizable signature
sound with an open format approach to stylistic songwriting. They were
just as comfortable writing speedy and straightforward screamers as they
were penning sprawling epics. The latter style was featured more this
time around, likely due to increasing progressive tendencies in the
band. Though the b-side is much stronger than the first half,
“Somewhere in time” marks the sixth goddamn time in a row that Maiden
struck gold and stands as one of their best still.
It meanders just a bit (comparatively speaking) after the opener but
Side B absolutely annihilates. Fucken add “Alexander the great” to the
King Diamond: Fatal portrait
If I remember right, this was the first Class6
that I added here at Global Domination. “Fatal portrait” acts as an
excellent bridge between Mercyful Fate and King’s later career,
featuring the occult riffing of the former and the more bombastic
atmosphere of the latter. Not one to fuck around, this was the kickoff
of King’s late 80’s dominance and the beginning to the best solo career
BOTTOM LINE: Get over the vocals and accept the King into your heart
Ozzy Osbourne: The ultimate sin
I’m a sort of recovering Ozzy snob. I was one of those “Randy or
nothing” guys after taking a more critical look at the recent albums.
The Zakk Wylde albums were hit-and-miss and I don’t give a fuck what
gets put out under Ozzy’s name these days but I’m going to eat my words
about not bothering after the sophomore album. Jake E. Lee deserves so
much more goddamn credit than he does but it seems no one really talks
about the man. That in itself is kind of a compliment since this guy
replaced Randy goddamn Rhoads. If he’d done a subpar job we’d be
burning effigies of him.
BOTTOM LINE: Why only two albums with Jake? Apparently this was his baby and he must’ve been one proud mother(fucker).
Accept: Russian roulette
Prior album “Metal heart” showed German metal legends Accept moving
in a slightly more commercial direction. Despite the absolute
classicness of the title track, I consider it a huge step down from the
band’s definitive release “Balls to the wall.” Ironically, moving
further in the same direction is what it took to produce another kickass
slab of wax. Catchy refrains, addictive guitarwork and shockingly
tuneful vocals in places. Apparently original vocalist Udo
Dirkschneider was unhappy with the direction of the band and “Russian
roulette” would turn out to be his last album before he launched a solo
Surprisingly Udo and the boys can do more melodic stuff extremely
well. If you want “Fast as a shark” ten times over than this ain’t it.
Judas Priest: Turbo
This one must have hurt. Up to this point Judas Priest had
basically only released one album that was lesser than masterpiece
status (“Point of entry”) and had made up for it twice over by ’86.
Apparently this was touted as part of a double album with 88’s “Ram it
down” but realistically the band should’ve just done a lot of editing
and combined the best of those two (leaning more towards the material
meant for the heavier “Ram”). From my perspective this wasn’t as bad as
I thought it would be, but if I was a much older bastard and heard this
at the time I’d be pretty pissed off.
BOTTOM LINE: There are literally about a dozen albums from Priest you should get before this but it’s not exactly a disaster.
I’m still pretty much a student of Motörhead 101, still working
through the basic courses of their daunting discography. Anyway, it
takes about the length of one song to get what Lemmy and crew are about
and the band is praised for their long-running streak of consistency.
So once again, here we have raunchy rock metal with that trademark dirty
riffing and sleazy gravelly vocals. In general it seems this one is
considered just outside of the top circle of ‘head offerings, but just
barely. Priest should’ve taken notes about changing one’s sound on a
BOTTOM LINE: You already know what this sounds like, either that’s awesome or uninteresting to you.
Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi: Seventh Star
This is a low point in the Sabbath discography and some would excuse
this blight on an impressive career since it wasn’t intended to be
Black Sabbath in the first place, rather a Tony Iommi solo album. The
thing is, Iommi was already the only consistent member of the band and
when he finally did release a solo album in 2000 it ended up sounding
more like Sabbath than the Tony Martin era releases. Anyway, while
there are moments of promise here and there for the most part this is
buttrock deluxe. Ultra radio-friendly but probably not cutting edge
enough to even appeal to that crowd. It’s not absolutely garbage but
even the decent stuff comes off as straightjacket stiff.
BOTTOM LINE: I’d rather just listen to Tony Iommi warm up than this.
4/10 (FEATURING Tony Iommi? That makes so little sense I’m not going to bother explaining why it’s retarded)
Cirith Ungol: One foot in hell
Despite their Tolkien moniker and fantasy nerd art, Cirith Ungol
mostly present down-to-earth, straightforward heavy metal with some
idiosyncrasies, most notably the bizarre vocalizations of Tim Baker.
His shrill tone reminds me of Mark Osegeuda of Death Angel and not
everyone’s going to be a fan here. The songs are catchy, ranging from
mid-paced delivery (the appropriately named “Doomed planet”) to firey
speed metal (the also appropriately named “100mph”).
BOTTOM LINE: The vocals could DEFINITELY use work here, still decent stuff.
Manilla Road: The deluge
Manilla Road are really the definition of a band that just soldiers
on, never caving into trends, never catering to the mainstream. They’re
fifteen albums in at this point, not really seeming to mind their
status as a bit of a cult band. The constant raining of riffing,
soloing and some top-notch drum arrangements make this album really live
up to its name. These guys were already a fairly experienced act and
this album really shows both a maturity and a willingness to embrace
some then-modern elements.
BOTTOM LINE: Mediocre vocals but excellent musicianship and amazing instrumental performances make up for them.
W.A.S.P.: Inside the electric circus
This was to be the last W.A.S.P. album, but as it turns out it was
more of an end to a trilogy of the band’s formative works before moving
into slightly darker and more ambitious territory. Well, kind of. My
personal experience with the band is only a few albums but I get the
impression that they’ve pretty much got their style down pat.
Everything’s just a touch upbeat, Blackie’s got a damn narrow vocal
range and the riffing tends to stay pretty basic, coming across like
typical mainstream 80’s metal with a darker, more serious edge.
Formulaic but if you’ve got the right itch, this will scratch (sting?)
it. That being said, Blackie knows what he’s good at and can pen a damn
catchy chorus. By the way, the cheesy, sterile drums can be excused,
but that cover art cannot. Blackie, you look like Tony the tiger raped
Elvira. I specifically say “raped” because no love could’ve been
involved in creating whatever it is you’re trying to portray here.
Listen to “I’m Alive” and try to get it out of your head. Either
you’re putting your foot up on your coffee table like an impromptu stage
monitor or you’re cursing my soul.
Savatage took a misstep with “Fight for the rock” (though it was
quickly amended with the following year’s classic “Hall of the mountain
king”), Angel Witch pretty much carved in stone that they weren’t going
to come anywhere near their debut with “Frontal assault” and in the
interest in spotlighting more unfortunately forgotten oldschool metal,
I’d like to give mention to Omen. Their ’86 opus “The curse” displayed
tons of power metal energy with oldschool bravado and some impressive
New Genres Emerge PART ONE: DOOM
Doom wasn’t exactly a “new” thing per se, technically speaking
the first metal song written, Black Sabbath’s eponymous dirge, would sit
comfortably with this tag. But what happened in the next 15 years?
Pentagram (and a couple related projects) were inconsistently active,
Witchfinder General popped out a pair of albums and… uhhhh… Anyway, by
the mid-80s, things were starting to get interesting and two the genre’s
most important releases were issued in ’86.
Candlemass: Epicus doomicus metallicus
Although Leif Edling and the gang came along a bit later than the
other classic doomsters of the period, to my ears Candlemass undoubtedly
perfected the style. “Epicus doomicus metallicus” is exactly what the
title says, a darkly dramatic slab of deliberately down-tempo heavy
metal. It crushes and crunches, mourns and mangles and carves up choice
pieces of RIFF. Haunting vocals and wrecking ball guitars form a tragic atmosphere.
BOTTOM LINE: I don’t care if you don’t like doom, if you buy ONE album in the genre – get this.
Saint Vitus: Born too late
This album represents a somewhat opposite, though parallel,
expression of doom than Candlemass. Saint Vitus have a much more
intimate, raw and blues rock influenced sound than their Swedish
brethren, invoking a sort of proto-stoner vibe that doomgod Wino would
further delve into in the years to come. The rhythm guitar sound is
something I’m not a fan of (I tend to prefer crunch over fuzz) though
the leads absolutely scorch. Honestly this isn’t completely my thing
but it’s pretty damn obvious Vitus were good at what they were doing.
BOTTOM LINE: If I wasn’t the only guy with dreadlocks that doesn’t smoke weed I’d probably love this.
New Genres Emerge PART TWO: PROG
Metalheads were starting to realize that Rush was pretty damn
cool apparently. Obviously the influence of prog rock on heavy metal is
more complicated than that but both classics listed below find some
common ground in that simple notion.
Queensrÿche: Rage for order
I’ve mentioned “growing pains” that can sometimes appear in a band’s second album while reviewing the sophomore full lengths of Bathory and Metallica.
In both of these cases, the band in question began introducing the
elements that would ultimately define their best work but on a
song-by-song basis created an album slightly inferior to its
predecessor. Add Queensryche to the list. “Rage for order” is
mandatory for fans of the band’s early work (any other kind of QR fan
I’m not interested in addressing, unless it’s to slap them in the back
of the goddamn head) but it’s neither the Maiden-esque, science fiction
nerd odyssey of “The warning” nor is it the metal opera, theater nerd
juggernaut of “Operation mindcrime.” Maybe they were just better at
doing concept albums? From the songs present we do have some keepers,
but like Megadeth, that fucken cover song has GOT to go.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s worth it for “Surgical strike” alone.
Fates Warning: Awkaen the guardian
Probably the best compliment I can give this album is that it would
be an excellent next step after “Somewhere in time” if you dig Maiden’s
slight dip into the prog pool. Maiden also serves as a decent starting
point to describing Fates’ sound, though the progressive metal masters
have their own distinct blend of sonic elements. The band’s biggest
strength is how organic they sound, easily shifting into syncopated
sections and unorthodox riffing. None of it ever sounds jarring and
even though there are some extremely memorable solos, there’s a lack of
excessive “showiness” that adds to the appeal.
BOTTOM LINE: Epic, nerdy, progressive melodic metal.
So there you have it. I might’ve been just barely alive (I don’t
count people under 16 as humans for the most part) way back in 1986 but I
have an eternal fondness for many of the albums released that year. I
can remember Slayer’s “Reign in blood” was just long enough for me to
wake up to “Angel of death” and leave for the bus just as “Raining
blood” descended into whammy bar madness. I remember reaping the
benefits of a drunken woods party thrown by older kids, the aftermath of
which produced a misplaced copy of “Master of puppets” that snuck its
way into my collection. Stumbling across a treasure trove of secondhand
German thrash at my local CD shop, scooping up the 80’s discographies
of Sodom, Kreator and Destruction practically in one fell swoop. Given
my love of the era, maybe I was, like Saint Vitus, born too late?