Mixtape Monday, Volume 1: Eponymous Metal

For me, mixtapes and metal go hand in hand.  I’ve been making metal mixtapes for other people and for myself dating back to the time when I could get my brother to let me use his dual cassette deck (which my memory places somewhere around fifth grade).  I don’t make tapes nearly as often anymore, for obvious reasons, but I do still make mix CDs and iTunes playlists, but “Playlist Monday” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

My plan is for this to be a weekly installment, where I share some of my favorite mixtapes I’ve made over the years.  Up first, Eponymous Metal, wherein all the songs are named after the band.  The songs are listed in the order that I felt created the best flow, with one exception, which is discussed when it arises.

1. “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath (from Black Sabbath – 1970) – This one is a no-brainer, and this band needs no introduction.  Heavy metal as we know it began here, and this song still gives me the willies when I hear it.

2. “Anthrax” by Anthrax (from Fistful of Metal – 1984) – The first Anthrax album often gets overlooked in discussions of both the band and the early 80s thrash metal scene.  It’s a fairly atypical sound for the band (Neil Turbin’s vocals are certainly a large factor in that), but it’s arguably the heaviest thing they’ve ever released.  This eponymous song isn’t the best song on that album, but it’s pretty fucking good.  The re-recorded version from the Japanese edition of 2004’s The Greater of Two Evils (with the band’s third official vocalist John Bush) is also good, but then I tend to think that pretty much everything from Anthrax is good.

3. “Exodus” by Exodus (from Bonded By Blood – 1985) – Exodus was the founder of the Bay Area Thrash Metal movement (Kirk Hammett was one of the original members, and left Exodus to join a little band called Metallica after Dave Mustaine was unceremoniously relieved of his duties), and their debut album is heavy and intense, but I didn’t hear it until much later (sometime in the late 90s), and I didn’t really care much for it when I first heard it.  Original vocalist Paul Baloff (RIP) couldn’t carry a tune in dumptruck, so it was hard for me to get down with the Exodus sound (so to speak).  My introduction to Exodus came with a dubbed copy of their second album, 1987’s Pleasures of the Flesh, which a friend of my brother’s gave to him in 1988, and which featured a different vocalist (former Legacy vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza).  It took the viewing of some old live footage of the band for me to get it, but I’m glad I did.  Much of what 1980s thrash metal became can be traced back to this album.

4. “Repulsion” by Repulsion (from Horrified – 1989) – Hailing from Flint, Michigan, Repulsion is widely viewed as one of the most influential death metal/grindcore bands of all time.  Their sole full-length album, Horrified, was originally recorded as a demo (entitled Slaughter of the Innocent) in 1986, but was not released until 1989.  Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, it is a fuzzy, distorted, disgusting slab of awesome extreme metal, with horror movie lyrics about zombies, murder, and disease.  It’s not for everyone, but it is very much for me.

5. “Dunkelheit (Burzum)” by Burzum (from Filosofem – 1996)Varg Vikernes (a.k.a. Count Grishnack) is undoubtedly one of the worst human beings on the planet, but that angry, murdering, church burning, neo-Nazi motherfucker has created some pretty amazing music.  The name of his one-man black metal band Burzum means “darkness” in the Black Speech created by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the alternate title “Dunkelheit” is the same word translated into German.  I do not recommend paying for any of his music, because he really is a despicable piece of shit; this is one musician I feel perfectly okay about stealing from.

6. “Body Count” by Body Count (from Body Count – 1992) – Before he played a cop on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Ice-T rapped and sang about killing cops (but only the bad ones).  The debut album from his heavy metal band Body Count is a vicious, angry document about life in black Los Angeles in the early 90s, and it’s pretty fucking good, too, although I do not recommend playing it in mixed company (trust me on this one).  My friend Jim bought it for me on cassette for Christmas in 1994, and the version he purchased replaced the song “Cop Killer” with a less-good song called “Freedom of Speech”, which featured Jello Biafra.  I played the hell out of that tape, but I always skipped that last song.  Then one day in early 2007, I decided to stop in one of the local pawnshops, and I found an original CD copy of the album, factory-sealed in a fucking longbox!  So now I can listen to “Cop Killer” anytime I want.  Note: I placed this song directly after the Burzum song just to make Varg Vikernes angry.  I hope it works.

7. “Exhorder” by Exhorder (from Slaughter in the Vatican – 1990) – Exhorder is considered by many to be the fathers of the “groove metal” genre, and some people have gone so far as to criticize Pantera for ripping off their style.  The similarities are definitely there, and it’s true that in their early days, Pantera was a glam metal band, but Exhorder vocalist Kyle Thomas stated in an interview that he’s tired of hearing those comparisons, and that Pantera “worked a lot harder than we did to earn their success.”  Pantera’s first album in the “groove metal” direction came out the same year as Exhorder’s debut so it’s really just a pissing contest between fans of the two bands.  Without a doubt, the title of Exhorder’s debut, along with the not-so-subtle cover art, had at least a little bit to do with their lack of mainstream attention.

8. “Voivod” by Voivod (from War and Pain – 1984) – Voivod came out of the gates ahead of their time.  Their first two albums (War and Pain and the aptly-titled Rrröööaaarrr) are pretty much straight-ahead thrash metal, but signs of the weirdness that would come were already evident.  They are one of my favorite bands, and will be discussed at length in the future.

9. “Total Fucking Destruction” by Total Fucking Destruction (from Peace, Love, and Total Fucking Destruction – 2008) – Total Fucking Destruction was formed by Brutal Truth drummer Rich Hoak after Brutal Truth broke up in 1999.  They play pure grindcore, and I love them.  The song is 13 seconds long, but I can’t find it on YouTube, and I lack the knowledge and skill necessary to make that a reality, so instead here’s my favorite song from the band, from that same album.  This one is called “Non-Existence of the Self”, and contains one of the very few melodies you’ll find in the band’s entire recorded output.

10. “Paradise Lost” by Paradise Lost (from Lost Paradise – 1990) – I don’t know much about this band, other than the facts that they are English, they began as a death/doom metal band, they have gone through several sylistic changes over their career, and the Editor-in-Chief of Decibel magazine loves them.  This album is the only one I’ve heard from them, but I like it a lot, and I also really like guitarist Gregor Mackintosh’s side project, Vallenfyre.  As with song #9 on this mixtape, I couldn’t find a youtube clip of this song by itself, so what you’ll find below is the entire album, and I’ve cued it up to the beginning of this song.  Well, technically I cued it up the last second of the song before it, but I tried.

11. “Sacred Reich” by Sacred Reich (from Ignorance – 1987) – Sacred Reich was/is a political-minded second-wave thrash metal band from Phoenix, Arizona.  They are often overlooked in discussions of thrash metal, and I think that’s a shame.  They were a great band, but their debut album especially is rock solid from beginning to end.  They got a bit of radio airplay in 1993 with a song called “Crawling”, from their album Independent.

12. “Overkill” by Overkill (from Feel the Fire – 1985) – New Jersey’s Overkill are another oft-overlooked thrash metal band, and they are simply amazing.  Their second album (1987’s Taking Over) is one of my all-time favorite thrash metal albums. Like other East Coast thrash metal bands (Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, etc.), Overkill shows more punk influences than their Bay Area contemporaries, who tended to fly their New Wave of British Heavy Metal flags just a little higher.  Fun fact: Overkill has two other songs that I originally included in this mix [“Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues)” and “Overkill III (Under the Influence)”], but I ultimately decided to whittle it down to one.  This one isn’t my favorite of the three, but it fits the definition of “eponymous” better than the other two.

13. “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden (from Iron Maiden – 1980) – Iron Fucking Maiden.  Here are three versions, just because.

Original studio version, with Paul Di’Anno on vocals.

Live version from 1981, with Paul Di’Anno on vocals.

Live version from 2008, with Bruce Dickinson on vocals, in front of the most insane crowd of Metalheads I’ve ever seen.

That’s it for the first edition of Mixtape Monday.  Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe even found a new favorite band or song.  If you have any thoughts or song additions, share them in the comments, won’t you?

Until next time, remember to always stay heavy.

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