Year in review: 1989

Year in review: 1989

28/09/12  ||  Habakuk

Year in review

Do you really want to read about what happened in 1989?
Well, the Iron Curtain came down. That’s the general history lesson for
today. For more info, refer to Wikipedia. “1989 was a historical turning point for the wave of revolutions that swept the Eastern Bloc, starting in Poland.”, it reads. For some reason it however doesn’t list David Hasselhoff or the Scorpions as driving forces. Odd.

Well, in terms of metal history, we can’t really speak of a turning
point in the exact sense of the word, but one of the most important
developments sure was that a whole new direction was opened up that
year: Death metal. Sure, the signs had been there with the likes of
Possessed, Death or Massacre butchering away at their instruments in
primeval fashion, but let’s be honest – the way bands like Morbid Angel,
Pestilence or Obituary approached things suddenly presented the music
world with a whole new beast.

It’s not like that is the whole story for our year in question
though. Far from it. So, let it be laid out to you by a guy who lived
through it. To adopt the old Saxon line from “Denim and Leather”, Where were you in Seventy Eighty-Nine, when the dam began to burst? I, for one, was smack dab in the middle of it all.

Hell yeah

Plucking flowers.

Yes, that’s me in 1989. Still, I’m gonna be in charge for this one,
so you’ll have no choice than to read through what I think made this
year one of the greatest for metal as a whole. Don’t worry though, I’ve
done my research. On dandelions.

So while I unfortunately cannot provide any of my personal anecdotes
from the time, I could however assume today’s perspective and picked
only those flowers that scored high on perceived quality rather than
sentimentality. The subjective “What made the most impact on me at the
time” list would probably have to be topped by big trucks, toy blocks
and play-doh. Thus, you can take any single inclusion on this list as a
personal recommendation. And it’s going to be quite the bouquet. What a
fucken year.


Thrash Metal

Okay, so first off, we naturally have thrash metal still in its
absolute prime. It’s hard to say which year the genre’s peak was in, and
of course 1986 with “Master of Puppets” and “Reign in blood” can make a
strong case for its domination especially in terms of laying out the
general direction for years to come – but seriously, 1989 will send any
more or less serious thrash fanboy drooling like, well, a three-year
old. The list of releases is ridiculously good, and I’m not
gonna even try to sort these. Note the absence of the so-called Big
Four, and understand why I don’t really give much of a damn about that
term. Who really needs Meganthrayerica when we can have these all in one
big, chunky year:

Sodom: Agent Orange Sodom: Agent Orange

By 1989, Sodom had finally matured into a full-fledged thrash beast
after their formative years of wandering the valley between black,
thrash and retardation,
and Agent Orange is probably their absolute magnum opus. It’s
impossible to overestimate the importance this album had for the
trademark half-time e-string break in thrash metal as a whole, as well
as for the band’s career. “Agent Orange” put them on the map as a
serious contender for the Teutonic thrash metal throne for good. The
musical aspects (and everything else about it) I have discussed here
before, but I expect you to a) have heard and b) love this album to
bits already anyway. Oh, and since this is my only chance to redeem an
old mistake from that review – that “AC47” line in “Magic Dragon” is of
course correct, as it refers to the plane, not the gun. My bad.

Album on Grooveshark

Sepultura: Beneath the remains Sepultura: Beneath the remains

Considered their best album by some,
“Beneath the remains” sure as hell is the strongest straight-out thrash
record the Brazilians ever put out, before the darker vibes of “Arise”
introduced a little change which I personally dig even more.
There is absolutely no doubt that this is an absolutely flawless album
that combines catchiness, aggression, speed and relentlessly sharp
riffing. And as if that wasn’t enough, they even topped it off with on
of the best cover artworks to ever grace a metal album. Just because they could. If you don’t have this in your collection, you don’t have one. Essential.

Album on Grooveshark

Kreator: Extreme aggression Kreator: Extreme aggression

That title doesn’t leave any questions, I’d say. Like Sodom, it took
Kreator some time to mature into a truly respectable band, thus
“Extreme Aggression” marks their first consistently awesome attempt at
transporting what they wrote on the cover. Countless bad-ass riffs and
Mille Petrozza’s vicious performance make this a landmark in thrash
metal history, yet still it’s only a precursor to their real
masterpiece, Coma of souls.
It’s a high base to work off though, and songs like the anthemic “Love
us or hate us” have lost nothing of their charm to this very day.

Album on Grooveshark

Okay, so with these three albums alone we have a great year
already. Yet these are only the usual suspects, and let’s not just
scratch the surface here. ’89 had a lot of less canonical thrash albums
that, while maybe not as universally recognized, need not in any way shy
away from the big names.

Accu§er: Who dominates who? Accu§er: Who dominates who?

Don’t trust the internet. This album rips. Trust K
instead, for once. This should be listed above the line we just drew
there, but for some obscure reason it isn’t. It never is. Maybe because
these Germans didn’t have the usual trademarks of German thrash, but
just played an awesome, brutal and in-your-face style that is bound to
first bash your face in, then groove all around your sorry ass, complete
with an awesome, rough vocal delivery in fluent English.
Seriously, this is one of the best thrash albums out of my home country,
ever. And that is saying something, see above. Do yourself a favor and
check it out. There’s not a single bad tune to be found.

Who dominates who?

Cro-Mags: Best wishes Cro-Mags: Best wishes

You’ll probably find more appreciation for these folks among Hardcore fans, but when listening to Best wishes
alone, that doesn’t make much sense, as its nothing but a great thrash
record through and through. Looking back, it’s quite a comforting
thought that hardcore bands actually got inspired to go out and thrash –
nowadays, bands just insert Dubstep wobbling if they try and change
their style.

Death camps

And it’s not like these guys were the only hardcore band turning towards thrash, 1989 alone saw the notable release of D.R.I.‘s “Thrashzone” as well as “Brazil” by Ratos De Porão, which both followed a similar direction. And if you like those, well then you can’t go wrong with Wehrmacht’s “Biērmächt”
either. So much for the generally known stuff, but on researching a
little, I actually found a band you have definitely haven’t heard of: Bombers from Burundi!
If any of the above bands sound good to you, then go and check out
these guys’ crossover thrash. Extra super bonus points for coming from
my hometown of Munich. I’ve never heard a good old school band from
Munich. YES!

D.R.I.: Thrash Zone on Grooveshark

Ratos de Porão: Brasil on Grooveshark

Wehrmacht: Biermacht on Grooveshark

Bombers from Burundi: Butcher

Nuclear Assault: Handle with care MORE THRASH!!!

It’s not like thrash metal needed the new input yet – Many of the
already more established, so-called second tier bands of the genre rose
to new heights in ’89. The year saw the releases of many of those bands’
best efforts yet (Dark Angel’s between the chairs release “Leave
scars” being a not-so-honorable exception) – Nuclear Assault’s riff feast of Handle with care which – thanks to killer Exodus: Fabulous disaster
songs like “Search and seizure” or the insanely infectious “Critical
Mass” – even lasted through the band’s efforts to kill it with pointless
“fun” songs. Coroner’s No more color
which saw the band taking its first big step of evolution to the legend
of dare I say, “intelligent thrash” they are today, and also Exodus’ Fabulous disaster
featuring what’s probably the best song of their entire career, the
legendary mosh anthem “The Toxic Waltz”. And we’re not even half-way
through it all. The list of releases reads like a thrash metal 101 – Coroner: No more color Testament, Overkill , that Holy Moses album K swears by, Annihilator’s “Alice in Hell”, what have you. Well, we have more fucken THRASH
coming from all directions! It’s like all these bands saw the end of
the whole Cold War angst coming and dished out every fucken
post-nuclear, post-biological, post-chemical warfare, mass hysteria
themed album they could come up with. Just look at those classic covers
like Toxic’s “Think this” Toxik: Think this – another one of these albums that you don’t read about too often. Sure, this one alongside Watchtower’s “Control and Resistance”
have those classic squealing metal vocals that could only have made it
on disc in the eighties, but still, damn are those albums great. If you
dig Coroner, then these are two bands that should be on your list. Oh,
and Voivod released “Nothingface”, too. What the hell, ’89? As you can see by the sudden absence of review links, even your Voivod: Nothingface
favorite metal site will have to do some catching up in the “technical
thrash from 1989” department. The good thing is, it’s not like all
these albums are just rehashes of one and the same formula, but identity
was still an option for bands, and weirdly enough, they managed to
actually work off that base. I see no other option than that there must have been something of pretty high quality in the thrash water. Dandelions?

Nuclear Assault: Handle with care on Grooveshark

Coroner: No more color on Grooveshark

Exodus: Toxic Waltz

Testament: Practice what you preach on Grooveshark

Overkill: The years of decay on Grooveshark

Holy Moses: Def Con II

Annihilator: Alice in Hell on Grooveshark

Toxik: Think this on Grooveshark

Watchtower: Control and resistance on Grooveshark

Voivod: Nothingface on Grooveshark

Gammacide: Victims of science Gammacide: Victims of science

Here’s one example that deserves special mention. Why? Because it is
another one that is largely unheard of for no good reason, even worse –
unfairly so. And it has its unique qualities. Victims of science
is probably one of the best examples of (by now we can probably call
it) traditional US thrash metal turning into a more death metal-oriented
style, with the incorporation of blast beats, low-end and more
intricate grooves, yet keeping it all within the thematic boundaries and
general direction of thrash. This is a brutal slab of excellent thrash
that you should have heard.

Album on Grooveshark

And for those that haven’t had enough of that sort of material,

Evildead: Annihilation of civilization there is also Evildead‘s blunt force assault “Annihilation of civilization” from 1989 – check out Gone Shooting
for a good idea about these guys’ trade. And when we put “brutal” and
“thrash” in one sentence, no article can of course stay without a
reference to my personal heroes Demolition Hammer whose brilliant Necrology Demo also saw the light of day through the plexiglass of tape deck’s throughout the scene that year.

Evildead: Annihilation of Civilization on Grooveshark

Demolition Hammer: Hydraphobia

Did somebody say THRASH?

And since the list so far has been largely America dominated, I’ll actually take a bit of time here and go into a few more
thrash albums that might have stayed under your radar so far. Now this
stuff might not be 100 % awesomeness for everybody from start to finish,
but let me tell you I included all of it for a reason. So even though
they appear at the bottom of the thrash section and might not have
reinvented any wheels, these albums will definitely appeal to any
thrasher, for it is quality that runs through their veins. And when I
put this together, I found that for some reason all this shit comes from
the UK or Germany respectively, so it’s been sorted that way. I’ll just
start with Britain since they won the war.

Xentrix: Shattered Existence Xentrix: Shattered Existence

Why, the fuck I might add, isn’t this talked about more? I’m not
sure if I ever heard a better thrash album from the UK. Like, ever. This
is an absolutely bad ass record with a stellar, I repeat, stellar
sound. Crunchy, with a thick bass backing, clear leads and a singer that
actually sounds angry enough to give that bit of extra edge to the
already great songs. “Shattered Existence” shows a band that knows
exactly what they want to achieve and actually have the means to reach
that goal. It is not to do anything out of the ordinary but to THRASH, and it does just that.

Album on Grooveshark

Sabbat: Dreamweaver Sabbat: Dreamweaver

Sabbat had made themselves a bit of a name with “History of a time
to come” already, and what they understood like few other bands was to
weave a little atmosphere into their otherwise actually quite ferocious
thrashing. Acoustic parts, Celtic Frost-like spoken word passages and
the likes serve to illustrate that this band was focused on creating
more than just another thrash album, which probably also led to that
cover choice that would rather suit a Blind Guardian disc. Keep your
fucken mushrooms off my thrash booklets! Still, the only thing that
remains of their legacy is their guitarist Andy Sneap producing legions
of bands in the exact same – or more favorably, distinct – way today.
For shame.

Album on Grooveshark

Energetic Krusher: Path to oblivion Energetic Krusher: Path to oblivion

In all honesty, it’s actually pretty obvious why most people have
never heard of Energetic Krusher: Path to oblivion. That is probably the
lamest band name of the whole year. It’s not only that the Crusher gets
less ambiguous with a tough “K”, he is in fact also energetic, in case
you were expecting a low-energy crushing. That aside though, these guys’
only full-length is a damn enjoyable thrash disc with loud bass and
great death metal vocals. In a fair world, these guys would have gotten a
thicker production job for their second album and toured the galaxy. In
reality you have to find their one single album of greatness on Grooveshark.

Risk: Hell's animals Risk: Hell’s animals

Onwards, to Germany! Its thrash underground in ’89, that is.
Probably one of Deutschland’s oldest metal bands (and also one nobody
has ever heard of) is Risk, formerly known as Faithful breath, who
turned towards thrash in 1986, released a fantastic debut
under this new moniker and in 1989 came forward with their sophomore
release, “Hell’s animals”. If you want to know what Speed Metal with
just as much focus on groove as on speed, and with a decidedly
thrash-oriented singer sounds like, these guys will definitely be worthy
of your attention. Their first album is a little better even, but
“Hell’s animals” also is a damn good slice of superdry, riff-centered
headbanging material.

Monkey Business

Poltergeist: Depression Poltergeist: Depression

Originally German, then Switzerland-based, Poltergeist probably are
most known (if at all) for their singer André Grieder having a brief
intermezzo with Destruction, which I by the way consider one of the most
enjoyable releases of said band due to exactly that. Poltergeist’s 1989 album “Depression”
gets a little lost sometimes, but is still worth checking out if you’re
looking for a dry sound, clearly audible bass, good thrash shouting and
enough killer riffing to always get you back on track.


Protector: Urm the mad Protector: Urm the mad

And last but not least we have Protector: “Urm the mad”, a low-fi
yet groove-heavy sign of what was to come for the band who released
their follow-up masterpiece
blend of thrash and death metal two years later. It already features
the great, hollow death grunts of Martin Missy and the thick wooly
guitars, it’s just that the punch and overall conciseness of “A shedding
of skin” hasn’t been reached. On that album basically every riff hit
home though, and I guess you don’t produce material like that every
other year.

Urm the mad

Black Metal

Apparently the only thing that happened for black metal in 1989 was
related to the imagery, with lasting effects on the second wave of black
metal bands. King Diamond had supplied the corpsepaint, the rest
started here:

Call of the winterrrmrmooooonnnn

Admittedly, I’m no expert on the genre, but to my research and
knowledge ’89 marks a definite gap between the first and second wave of
black metal, yet I know of at least one notable album that can probably
be considered a part of the “first wave of Black Metal” still, and it’s
from – of all places – Italy. Nope, not by Bulldozer, but:

Schizo: Main frame collapse Schizo: Main frame collapse

These guys also are among the first acts to merge thrash and blast
beats, yet this time around with decidedly black metal sound to it, and
filthy at that. Main frame collapse
might not have the thematic focus of later acts, but I’ll be damned if
this isn’t one dirty, bad-ass sounding thrash disc foreshadowing what
many other bands that later called their style “blackened thrash” would
attempt down the road. Plus, those nods to eighties Celtic Frost
production definitely makes this listenable to this very day.

Delayed death

Oh, and can I file Milli Vanilli here, too?

Glam Rock

And yes, we were still in the eighties. Glam rock hadn’t died –
quite the contrary, two shining examples of the genre deserve mention.

Mötley Crüe: Dr. Feelgood Mötley Crüe: Dr. Feelgood

Having reached a commercial high, the Crüe got themselves a perfect,
as in technically perfect, production job. Money talks. This album
sounds absolutely awesome, although I wouldn’t say so for all of the
song material. “Kickstart my heart” is a definite personal favorite of
mine though. And yes, this album needs to be listened to solely based on the production job. Apparently it was a major inspiration to Metallica’s sound for the Black album as well, and the one thing that was good about that was the knob job, which was also done by Bob Rock. Go figure.

Album on Grooveshark

Skid Row: Skid Row Skid Row: Skid Row

Releasing their debut in 1989, these guys were definitely late to
the party, yet still made it to somewhat of a household name for the
genre. Song-wise, this still sounds a lot hungrier than their bigger
brothers (see above), and tunes like “Youth gone wild”, “Big guns” or
“Sweet little sister” prove that these guys were at the very height of
their game straight from the get-go. If you have but a passing interest
in glam, I would not pass on this album. It did definitely not reinvent
the wheel or electric hairdryer, but the guys understood (late…) what
the game was all about and played it exceptionally well.

Album on Grooveshark

Accept: Eat the heat Accept: Eat the heat

Nope, this is actually filed correctly. Glam rock. Accept. Just this
album. Having gotten a replacement singer for Udo Dirkschneider and
having found him in an American called David Reece, Accept turned to a
more Americanized sound indeed. The bad thing, traditionalists might
argue, is that “Eat the heat” sounds like glam. The good thing is
though, it keeps a hard heavy metal edge and thus forms a pretty damn
awesome glam album. Too bad if you hate that genre, but I can definitely
get some enjoyment out of this.

Album on Grooveshark

Death Metal

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we get to the really, really
essential stuff. This is a death metal focused site, after all, and if
you’ve made it this far, well, here’s your absolute codex of the genre’s
very beginnings. It’s almost absurd how mindblowingly packed with LEGENDARY the line-up here is:

Morbid Angel: Altars of madness Morbid Angel: Altars of madness

Best debut, third best album of the eighties, fifth best growler, best album cover.
Is there anything this album hasn’t achieved? Hardly so, and it is
probably one of the most defining albums for the entire world of death
metal. It’s superfluous to go into more detail here, this has been
dissected in glorious fashion on this site in all its aspects. Let me
tell you it’s for a good reason, but if you don’t know that yet, you
should probably not be reading this but going to your closest store
picking up the album. Altars of madness emanates the chaotic menace of death from start to finish.

Album on Grooveshark

Pestilence: Consuming impulse Pestilence: Consuming impulse

This album came in just behind Morbid Angel’s debut on out best of
the eighties list, and while Pestilence did their best to spoil their
legacy as an old school death metal act (van Drunen carried on the torch
with Asphyx instead), this album rendered those efforts useless. The
quality of this, their sophomore release,
is undeniable. The album’s sick vocals, catchy riffing and its overall
relentless urge forwards are traits that make this one of the best
releases that 1989 spewed forth. They could maybe have come up with a
better cover, but nobody’s perfect, right?

Album on Grooveshark

Obituary: Slowly we rot Obituary: Slowly we rot

While many others were still testing the boundaries in terms of
speed, Obituary decidedly took another direction and opened the young
genre of death metal for sick, dragging grooves and a big Celtic Frost
influence. And while others again tried to get more and more “extreme”
topics into metal lyrics, Obituary only at first sight followed that
direction (read the song titles), but actually went one step further
towards actual nihilism and did the almost logical thing to
just scrap lyrics altogether. For some reason, not even they themselves
stuck with that approach for too long, but this by all means immature
yet in a way uncompromising way of expressing themselves can definitely
be seen as a literally “extreme” moment in extreme metal history. So, Slowly we rot
sees their very own John Tardy spit his soul out without any direct
meaning except for that of sheer transgression of the borders of the
acceptable. The vocals serve solely the purpose of groove and flow, and
indeed “Slowly we rot” (nomen est omen) shines most when delving into
that typical Allen West style, dragging, chromatic riff that sluggishly
pounds the listener into submission.

Album on Grooveshark

Autopsy: Severed Survival Autopsy: Severed Survival

If you’re looking for the originators of filthy as shit Death metal,
look no further. The band around drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert opted
out of the blast beat mania of many later bands before the question
about it even arose. Driven by a massive bass guitar, “Severed survival”
rumbles, crackles and roars on its path through about 40 minutes of
primeval death halfway between Mantas and Incantation. And let’s not
forget that it grooves like a motherfucker. And while I might not be a
fervent fan of Autopsy’s whole discography, this piece still is a
must-listen. It does have the dragging grooves as well as speedier
parts, it’s nasty but coherent and earthy in tone yet still sporting
hooks of sorts. There are absolutely no flaws to this album, as any old
schooler will agree.

Album on Grooveshark

Sempiternal Deathreign: The Spooky Gloom Sempiternal Deathreign: The Spooky Gloom

…and if you like Autopsy, chances are you should give these Dutchies
with the great band name a go. They might not have had the naming thing
down to a t (“Creep-o-rama”, “The spooky gloom” – scared yet?), but
what they lacked in feel for english, they made up for with dark, in a
cheesy b-movie way menacing death/doom with lots of slow open note
riffing and a few faster numbers to break things up nicely and (by a
year or two) foreshadow what should soon later become a typically
“Dutch” sound, think Asphyx, Thanatos and the likes. So yes, this is a
definitive originator.

Resurrection Cemetery

Terrorizer: World Downfall Terrorizer: World Downfall

Ranked #4 on our albums of chaos , and at least a #18 on the best debuts list,
this album was the first to merge death metal and grind successfully.
To give you an idea of the awesome times we are talking about here – it
was a year when you could just put the (outside of tape-trading circles)
still unknown Jesse Pintado and Pete Sandoval into a room for a bit of
jamming, produce one of the greatest death/grind albums of all time and
just get David Vincent (!) in for session bass, who later apparently
claimed he didn’t even like the album all that much. Oh well, what else
should he have done with his time! Okay, I was exaggerating a bit, these
guys actually produced quite a few (may I say excellent, as I have kept
whoring them forever) demos, on which they gradually evolved towards
the complete beast whose existence culminated with “World downfall” – a
legacy best left alone, as we should confirm over 20 years later. This
album captured best blending of the ferocious energy of grind and the
cold precision of the emerging Floridian Death metal, resulting in
calculated outbursts like “Corporation Pull-in”, “Dead shall rise” or
the iconic “Fear of napalm”. This album is nothing short of a milestone
for death metal and grind alike. Own it.

Corporation pull-in

And when we talk about merging death and grind, there’s more stuff
that can’t be quite placed with either one of both genres, the only
thing that’s for sure is the awesomeness permeating the following
recordings. 1989 served (proto-)grind in spades:

Repulsion: Horrified Repulsion: Horrified

If you like grind, well, you will like this album.
It’s raw, it’s got the mother of all fuzz bass sounds, and it’s
probably impossible to ever recreate. In that, this sits comfortably
next to Napalm Death’s early work whose sheer intensity just completely
annihilates everything in its path. This is one of the prime examples
why shiny production, thought-out arrangements and instrumental prowess
are one thing, but spirit is another. If you ever see a top three of essential grindcore releases without this album listed, look for another.

Album on Grooveshark

Carcass: Symphonies of sickness Carcass: Symphonies of sickness

Musically, we’re dealing with an absolute trainwreck here. How a
track like “Ruptured in purulence” could ever made it onto a full-length
record is beyond me. Those drums are probably the worst thing I’ve ever
heard on a studio album. Yet somehow, this album manages to unveil a
unique quality under the thick layer of dirt, to show something that
certainly had never been done before. And by that I don’t mean raping
instruments and recording it.

Album on Grooveshark

Bolt Thrower: Realm of chaos Bolt Thrower: Realm of chaos

Early Bolt Thrower might be a different story than everything they released post War master , but on Realm of chaos
, everything fell into place. Shit was still fucken filthy to the bone,
and with a distinct blend of grind influences (the obvious example
being blast beats, later dropped by the band entirely) and a primal
death metal heaviness, the Bolts made sure no-one made it out alive. The
instrumental performances show, let’s put it this way, that the band
was definitely going for their limits, decades before the honest and
commendable “well, we can’t write any better shit anymore”
self-assessment stage they found themselves in post- “Those once loyal”.
1989 was too early for adult shit like that, instead the band ventured
into lead guitar hell and the blast beat maelstrom without really
knowing exactly what they were doing. And in the same process they just
somehow came up with their future trademark “wall of sound”. So, “Realm
of chaos” just shows that the ambition to play brutal music didn’t
necessarily entitle you to be a perfect musician – yet. Bolt Thrower
chose the path of knowledge and mastered their craft later on, but that
doesn’t mean their early stuff loses anything of its appeal to me. At
all. In fact, I rank this among their best releases.

Album on Grooveshark

Righteous Pigs: Live and Learn Righteous Pigs: Live and Learn

This one is definitely an acquired taste. Walking the thin line between greatness and massive suck (the worst vocalists in metal list might give you an idea) this album alongside Stress related
has a special place in my collection, yet I happily admit it isn’t for
everybody. To save you some time, just listen to “Misconduct” and judge
if you like that one. It won’t get better, as they at least could hold a
fucken rhythm on this one, more or less. You really have to dig Napalm
Death’s Mitch Harris in order to enjoy this, but then it’s a bit of a
raw gem.


Defecation: Purity dilution Defecation: Purity dilution

Another Mitch Harris project released its debut right before he
joined Napalm Death, and the general direction is already showing – no
wonder, with Napalm’s Mick Harris occupying the drum seat. The guys’
little sideproject of stripped-down blunt aggression definitely
gravitated towards death metal a lot more than their earlier works. What
can be heard here is basically a precursor to “Harmony Corruption”,
Napalm Death’s third, should I say “coming of age” album. So while the
main band in the huge bunch of related projects, Napalm Death, kept it
rather quiet in ’89 with the exception of the “Mentally murdered” EP,
the situation in and around the band was everything but standing still.

Vestige of earthly remains

Industrial Metal

Godflesh: Streetcleaner Godflesh: Streetcleaner

…and speaking of Napalm Death, of course Justin Broadrick’s
brainchild Godflesh is one of the most important offspring from their
folds. Streetcleaner
marks their debut, and compromises were not to be made: “Bleakness” is
the word here. Combining death metal heaviness with dehumanized,
mechanistic drum computer beats sounds good to you? Well, this album
will too.

Album on Grooveshark

Ministry: The mind is a terrible thing to taste Ministry: The mind is a terrible thing to taste

One cannot pass on Ministry when talking about Industrial Metal, and
if you like your aggression cold, sharp and sample-laden this is an
album for you. Part of the whole idea is a certain monotony that you
will have to put up with, though. For a 1989 album, this shit sounds
pretty damn “modern” if you ask me, and while I’m not a huge fan of this
style, you gotta give credit where it’s due.

Album on Grooveshark

Rest Metal

So, you think we’re done? Wrong. 1989 had more aces up its sleeve.
Let’s round this off nicely and talk traditional metal, doom, power,
heavy, prog and whatnot. Rest metal. Doesn’t mean they’re any worse than
the stuff above though. Just see / listen for yourself:

Faith no more: The real thing Faith no more: The real thing

This is one of those album that just went completely off the rail.
Metal wasn’t supposed to groove like a funk album? Yet these folks went
with it and basically created the first new metal album – in nineteen
eighty-nine. Mike Patton rapped, shouted and sang clean over a
bass-centered (huh!?) instrumental base that managed to incorporate
piano melody lines just as well as strings and organs while keeping a
healthy edge throughout. If all new metal actually sounded this new, the
genre possibly would have seen a lot more love. Derivative as it
however turned out to sound, it might as well have ended after this very
album. If you consider yourself open-minded, here’s one to put that to
the test.

Album on Grooveshark

Melvins: Ozma Melvins: Ozma

With about one trillion albums on their record, there actually was a
time when the Melvins were a somewhat new act, and 1989 saw the release
of their second album, “Ozma”, which already made filthy, sludgy sauce
ooze from speakers years before the stoner and sludge terms caught on to
a larger fanbase. With a ton of relatively short songs, “Ozma” has a
collage-like, almost experimental feel to it. The band’s creativity
seems to be floating freely from funk to suffocating groove and
psychedelic randomness. Less of an album than an outburst of creativity,
this album is an early testimony of the spontaneous awesomeness that
shaped the Melvins.

Album on Grooveshark

Running Wild: Death or glory Running Wild: Death or glory

Think about Ruminq Wild what you may, but you cannot tell me Death or glory
is not an absolutely spectacular heavy metal album. The vocals are
ballsy and energetic, and safe for that bass-centered instrumental, all
other 9 songs are awesome takes on the anthemic style Running Wild used
to be known for, yet all of them with very distinct traits and
specialties. If you asked multiple persons for their favorite songs off
the album, after three to four guys you might just have the tracklist
completed. The one thing all songs do have in common is that they are
completely permeated by a special catchiness that (in theory) every
classic heavy metal song should be centered around – It’s nothing but a
feat to listen through the awesome buildups in “Riding the storm” or
“Running blood”, lead work and catchy choruses intertwine perfectly, and
a crowdpleaser like “Evilution” works as well as the almost 8 minutes
of “The battle of Waterloo”. Everything had been done right for this
disc. And hey, they even had a real drummer back then. Breaking news:
That helps. To me, Heavy Metal doesn’t get much better than this album,
really. To further prove the quality of this recording, I can only
encourage you to check out Stormwitch’s “Eye of the storm”. Same year,
same formula, same costumes, vast difference in quality. Not everybody
can pull this shit of.

Album on Grooveshark

Candlemass: Tales of Creation Candlemass: Tales of Creation

This whole album
is pretentious as shit, but god damn are those riffs badass. If you
ever need to teach somebody a lesson on simple, awesome riffing, this
disc will be your perfect companion. It is proof that heaviness does
work with clean vocals – even Messiah Marcolin’s irritating (on paper)
vibrato assault cannot change that this is a damn awesome album. His
vocals might just add to it even, but the jury’s still out on
that one. They can take their time for that for all I care, as long as
Leif Edling and friends can be heard unleashing one behemoth of a riff
after another. Whatever they do, it works – even that awesome
Helloween-ish instrumental. Yep, the guys were still at the height of
their game here.

Album on Grooveshark

Fates Warning: Perfect Symmetry Fates Warning: Perfect Symmetry

Being not much of a proghead myself, I can still appreciate it when
done well. Enter Fates Warning and their 1989 opus “Perfect symmetry”,
their fifth album already. Back when wankery was not a mandatory
inclusion to be labelled progressive, Fates Warning managed to keep
shit engaging by interesting song structures and rhythmic patterns, and
in Ray Alder brought a singer to keep it all together, Geoff Tate style.
This album might not be particularly heavy, but it retains a good deal
of edge to impress on first listen as much as on later exposures when
one is able to appreciate the detail work as well.

Album on Grooveshark

Black Sabbath: Headless cross Black Sabbath: Headless cross

I have to admit I’ve never really looked into Black Sabbath much,
apart from the stuff you cannot miss. So, putting together this feature,
one of the albums I “discovered” for myself was this one. Yeah, I

Look what I found Ma, they’re called Black Sabbath!

Discovery of the year

Anyway, I’m happy I did, as this totally not what I would have
expected from the fathers of doom. Despite the cover, this is decidedly
non-occult, but an epic, soulful heavy metal album big on catchiness and
tasty solos, although the guitars actually don’t play the main role,
which is reserved for Tony Martin. His voice is absolutely perfect for
the album, as he easily grabs your attention, but never goes over the
top in terms of range, which also means of course that he comes across
as absolutely comfortable in everything he does. Great album, hands
down. After about three fantastic choruses I stopped counting.

Album on Grooveshark

And for those more into the classic heavy way of metal, 1989 served Kind Diamond’s “Conspiracy” that, if you can take his falsetto, is probably one of the better albums by the dude, Stratovarius still sounding a bit thrashier and heavy metal oriented on “Fright night” than what they are now known for, Blind Guardian maturing further into a nerd’s wet dream with “Follow the blind” and of course the fantastic video to Savatage’s “Gutter Ballet”.
Who fucken paid for that? All of this stuff will definitely be up
anyone’s alley who’s into somewhat ballsy heavy/power metal, but my love
ends here. As does this feature.

King Diamond: Conspiracy on Grooveshark

Stratovarius: Fright night on Grooveshark

Blind guardian: Valhalla

Savatage: Gutter ballet on Grooveshark

Phew. In conclusion, 1989 was a year where thrash had been
well-defined already, and it was now for the genre’s bands to stretch it
in all kinds of directions, from progressive to riff-centered and
stripped down – with mostly fantastic outcomes. Yet the real new ground
was broken by death metal acts, which took the game one step further.
Transitional as it was however, the year also featured some late
Eighties gems in glam rock and heavy metal side by side with music that
was way ahead of its time incorporating funk or industrial influence
into metal. This year had it all. Actually, I’m not sure why we even got
more years afterwards.

Now get the fuck out of here.

This shit is OVER.


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This entry was posted on June 14, 2014 by in Best of, Year in Review.
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