Vulgar Display of Power (1992) by Pantera

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I have not heard Cowboys from Hell but I have a hard time imagining that it’s significantly better than this onslaught of a record. I have no idea if this was is one of the first proper groove metal records (I doubt it) but, listening to it, it’s hard to imagine one that’s more definitive: with the exception of two semi-ballads that briefly suggest we’re in for a break (and then pummel us), this is wall to wall thrash metal with a groove (at times it actually sounds like Metallica with a groove). Also, I hear so many echoes of Read More

Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986) by Megadeath

Categories: 1986 and Music.

Megadeath have been on my list of essential 80s bands to listen to for years, possibly a decade or more. And now that I’m finally getting to them I’m so, so disappointed I don’t really know what to say. This is some pretty damn heavy music for 1986, and that part is good and cool. But I don’t like Mustaine – I don’t like the guy personally, which is probably obvious, but I don’t like his lyrics, they’re worse than regular metal lyrics. And the mix forces his vocals way up front which makes everything less heavy. Having come at Read More

Fireball (1971) by Deep Purple

Categories: 1971 and Music.

I feel like Fireball perfectly illustrates why Purple are known less than Zeppelin and Sabbath: the playing is excellent (it feels like Blackmore and Lord just keep trying to push each other), Gillan is doing his insane over-singing thing and the record is actually more diverse than you might guess, but the songs aren’t great (though I will say that some of Gillan’s lyrics here are better than some of his lyrics). That’s the problem with this record, that keeps it from being among the great early metal records. They just didn’t write great songs. I will be hard pressed Read More

Budgie (1971)

Categories: 1971 and Music.

If you watch [i]Metal Evolution[/i] or other documentaries, you will see various major NWOBHM figures claiming they weren’t influenced by punk at all, claiming they hated punk and that punk had literally nothing to do with NWOBHM. That’s not entirely true, but listening to Budgie it’s clearer as to where NWOBHM came from if it didn’t actually come from a combination of punk and the first wave of British heavy metal. Because if there’s such a thing as proto-NWOBHM (that’s a meaningless term there!) then this is it. Budgie sometimes play faster than just about every other British metal band Read More

Bullhead (1991) by Melvins

Categories: 1991 and Music.

I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to like Melvins. They make loud music, I like loud music. They have charted their own course regardless of record industry trends. They have collaborated with members of one of my favourite bands. But this, my introduction to the band, and likely one of their most seminal albums, strikes me as quite one note. I get that this is sort of the point (at least at this stage) but I don’t like my metal one-note. I get that this is likely an important record, and I hope that I can give it a little more Read More

Rising (1976) by Rainbow

Categories: 1976 and Music.

For some reason, when I first listened to this record, I felt like the keyboards completely dominated it and Blackmore was reduced to a sideman. That’s not true at all, and I have no idea why I had just a hard time hearing Blackmore’s solos when I was casually listening, as they are as great as ever. The music is actually pretty good for this kind of metal too, and maybe Dio’s lyrics are better this time out. But, for whatever reason,, I still prefer the debut. 7/10 Read More

Agents of Fortune (1976) by Blue Öyster Cult

Categories: 1976 and Music.

This is my first exposure to BOC. They’re a weird band. They try to walk a line between almost an Alice Cooper Light kind of ghoulish arena rock and a more serious hard rock band. They’re impressive musicians (I like the lead guitarist particularly, who sometimes sounds like he should be another band) but honestly I cannot tell whether they are a purposively dumb hard rock band, a serious hard rock band, or something else (certainly some of their songs are light and poppy enough that it sounds like they had dreams more of radio play). I think there’s a Read More

From Fear to Eternity: The Best of 1990-2010 (2011) by Iron Maiden

Categories: 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, and 2011.

I accidentally picked this up thinking it was a compilation of their ’80s music. Ah well. I learned a couple of things from this record: First, Iron Maiden has a formula and they stuck to it (at least on the songs considered their “best”). Second, I should never get a live Iron Maiden album. It’s pretty clear from listening to this record that Maiden is just milking their sound for all its worth. Sure, some of these songs are pretty catchy and everything is very professional and competent, but so many of these songs follow the exact same formula. And Read More

Arise (1991) by Sepultura

Categories: 1991 and Music.

This is a solid Thrash record. It’s got some great playing and it’s pretty relentless. But I struggle to love it as much as I would like to knowing that they would go on to better things very shortly. And there are only brief hints of their expansive palette of later records that make this kind of samey, which is too its detriment. But I don’t actually dislike it – it’s great stuff, it’s just not quite as good as their later stuff. 7/10 Read More

Metal Evolution (2011)

Categories: 2011 and TV.

This is an in depth examination of metal by the man most associated with covering metal on film (though I have yet to see either of his movies). The positive side of this show is that it is a landmark: I don’t think there’s anything like it out there to focus on just a single genre of music. It’s an in depth, it’s informative, it’s enjoyable. The negative: despite it’s length, it somehow manages to miss a bunch of major subgenres (Black, Death, Stoner, Grindcore) but it also feels cursory in its examination of some major bands (FNM!). Also, the Read More

Killers (1981) by Iron Maiden

Categories: 1981 and Music.

I like this record, I do. But I can’t escape the feeling that I’ve heard this all before. This record sounds a lot better than their debut and that is great. But it’s no surprise to learn a lot of the music was written earlier and didn’t make the cut of the debut. It’s like their Strange Days – the band sounds more self-assured, everything is better produced, but the material just isn’t quite as good. 8/10 Read More

Come Clarity (2006) by In Flames

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Call me crazy, but of the two In Flames releases I’ve heard, I like this one more. It feels a little more varied than the other album of theirs that I’ve managed to listen to, and it feels like the band may have some (slight) versatility. This is still not my favourite stuff – the melodic vocals too often remind me of post grunge, for example – but I can appreciate their attempt to expand their boundaries (if only slightly) more than when it sounded like they were resting on their laurels. 7/10 Read More

Clayman (2000) by In Flames

Categories: 2000 and Music.

I struggle with a lot of the name metal bands out there because it feels like it’s not only acceptable but expected for metal bands to one thing (or, in this case, a couple things) well, stick to it.  But that doesn’t work for me. My favourite bands are almost all diverse; for whatever reason I like it more when a band can do many things well or even when a band tries to convince itself and its fans that it can do many things well, even if it sometimes fails in the attempt. And so I find myself listening Read More

Vincebus Eruptum (1968) by Blue Cheer

Categories: 1968 and Music.

For years and years I have been telling everyone who would listen that Jeff Beck’s Truth is the first heavy metal album of All Time. If people mentioned Blue Cheer, I dismissed them outright (despite only ever hearing their cover of “Summertime Blues” once or twice) or assumed that The Jeff Beck Group beat them to it. Well, the latter is obviously not true. RYM calls this “Heavy Psych.” I’ve honestly never heard that term until I looked up Blue Cheer. It’s hard to really decide if this quite qualifies as metal, since metal has changed so much, but also Read More

Rust in Peace (1990) by Megadeth

Categories: 1990 and Music.

I have listened to a fair amount of Metallica and so I guess that instantly puts me in a “hey, this doesn’t sound like Metallica?” mindset which isn’t helpful. I feel like there is more of an influence on precision in this band, then the heaviness plus precision of some other bands. It’s a little too clean for me, I think. But that’s not to say there’s something wrong with it/I feel like, had I gotten into this early in my metal-listening career, I might have been a little more into it. It’s clearly a well done record, despite my Read More

Ritchie Blackmore’s R-A-I-N-B-O-W (1975)

Categories: 1975 and Music.

Rainbow is like a combination of Uriah Heap and Purple. Or, if you prefer, Uriah Heap with a better lead guitarist, a better singer, slightly less ridiculous songs (both a plus and a minus) with better riffs but nearly as ridiculous lyrics. Some stray thoughts: It sounds to me like Blackmore is holding himself back and I don’t know why. Dio is an acquired taste, and I still haven’t acquired it yet, but I can’t deny that this is an influential record and that his approach to both singing and lyric-writing has been incredibly influential. Is “Black Sheep of the Read More

British Steel (1980) by Judas Priest

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I have heard that this was sort of the Black Album of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal – the genre’s more popular and most accessible record to date. I don’t know Judas Priest, and I have no idea how much of a departure this was from earlier Priest albums, but it’s certainly sginificantly more accessible than Maiden or Motorhead (also, obviously far more “metal” than the latter). For years I have struggled with purposefully accessible music, wondering if artists sell out when they make their sound easier to access for the public. When I was young the idea Read More

Iron Maiden (1980)

Categories: 1980 and Music.

My knowledge of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been confined to Motorhead and the genre’s influences (primarily Thrash) for most of my metal-listening life. I was aware of its importance but never really had the time to give it much of a chance.The joke in the older metal camp is that Maiden is just faster “Achilles Last Stand” ad nauseum. That couldn’t be far from the truth. In fact, I barely hear the gallop here.Instead what I hear is a band that has managed to almost perfectly united the conventions of mid ’70s metal (especially the guitar Read More