Note: I realized on 2/23/15 that I had mis-numbered my Mixtapes, beginning with Volume 4. When I fixed the numbering, I realized that this one should have been Volume 9, but if you read the introduction to this volume below, you’ll see why I could not make it Volume 9. This is why Volume 8 and Volume 9 are out of order.
It’s been too long since I’ve posted here, and I intend to stop letting day-to-day bullshit get in the way of this. We’ll see how that goes. One day at a time, I suppose. At any rate, I’ve put together what I believe to be a pretty sweet mixtape for your listening (dis)pleasure. Today’s theme, which I cannot think of a way to simplify properly, is metal songs from 1994, which was one of the years when music media would have the world believe that heavy metal was dead. A cursory glance at this list proves that music media was as full of shit then as they’ve ever been. Death metal and black metal were chugging along, and while it’s true that pretty much all the major thrash metal bands had slowed things down by 1994, causing a lot of metal fans at the time to accuse them of selling out and the like, let’s be honest with ourselves here: would you want to do exactly the same thing for a living day after day, year after year, just to make other people happy? Quite frankly, there are very few bands that have been able to pull off never changing their style. In fact, The Ramones, AC/DC, and Motörhead are the only three that come to mind.
I stole the title of this mixtape from Anthrax’s eighth album, which does not appear on this list, as it was released in 1998 (but which will be discussed in the future). The songs appear in the order in which the albums they appeared on were released. Let’s get down to gettin down, shall we?
Pantera – “Becoming” (from Far Beyond Driven – 3/22/94) – I’ve written about the impact this album had on both me personally and on metal in general before, so I won’t go into details here. The whole thing is great, and it may have inspired and influenced a lot of inane bullshit, but it stands the test of time.
Cannibal Corpse – “Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead” (from The Bleeding – 4/11/94) – This is the first Cannibal Corpse album I heard, and the last Cannibal Corpse album with original vocalist Chris Barnes, who went on to make his side project, Six Feet Under, a full-time gig. I personally prefer his replacement, George “Corpsgrinder” Fisher (The Man With No Neck), and I don’t like all the songs on this album, but a few of them are undeniably heavy, creepy, and amazing. This is one of them. It’s the story of a man (I assume it’s a man, as I can’t begin to imagine Chris Barnes attempting to write a song from a female point of view) who appears to be dead on a table in the morgue, but is in fact alive, and unable to communicate that fact to the doctors. Pretty creepy shit.
Mayhem – “Freezing Moon” (from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas – 5/24/94) – This was the debut album of one of the founding fathers of Norwegian Black Metal, although it was not one of the first releases in the genre. The story of Mayhem can be read in hundreds of places, so I won’t get into it here. Just dig this weird, creepy song.
Napalm Death – “Plague Rages” (from Fear, Emptiness, Despair – 5/31/94) – This is the first Napalm Death album I owned, and it’s still my favorite, regardless of what vocalist Barney Greenway thinks of it (spoiler alert: he does not like it). It marked a notable stylistic change for the band, and a lot of Napalm Death fans did not appreciate the shift. I like all Napalm Death, but I definitely prefer this album and the stuff that has come out since to any of the albums that preceded this one. Fun fact: opening track “Twist the Knife (Slowly)” also appeared on the soundtrack to the Mortal Kombat movie (and can be heard briefly in the movie itself). It was a pretty exciting moment for 18-year-old me to hear Napalm Death over a movie theater sound system.
Overkill – “Where it Hurts” (from W.F.O. – 7/15/94) – Overkill have been one of the more consistent of the original thrash bands, in that they have consistently put out good albums. On W.F.O., the band slowed things down a bit, which was the style at the time. It’s maybe not as good overall as some of their other albums, but it’s still more stylish than wearing an onion on your belt.
Acid Bath – “Cassie Eats Cockroaches” (from When the Kite String Pops – 8/9/94) – Acid Bath were ahead of their time. Hailing from Houma, Louisiana (southwest of New Orleans), they existed for six years and only released two albums, but the world is a richer, scarier, more beautiful, and more fucked-up place because they existed at all. Both of their albums defy genre, and are absolutely essential.
Obituray – “Don’t Care” (from World Demise – 9/6/94) – Fun fact: Obituary’s hometown of Gibsonton, Florida (a bit south of Tampa) is perhaps best known as the town where carnival freaks go to spend their winters and/or retire. Obituary are one of the most successful death metal bands of all time, and are also one of the first. Their Gibsonton upbringing shines through the muck in the songs; Obituary sounds pretty much exactly like you would expect a band that formed among circus freaks living in Florida humidity to sound. I had been aware of them since their sick and twisted debut album, 1989’s Slowly We Rot, as I’d read about them in the hallowed pages of Metal Maniacs magazine, but “Don’t Care” was my sonic introduction to Obituary.
Testament – “Legions (In Hiding)” (from Low – 9/27/94) – My love for Testament has been covered pretty extensively throughout this blog, so I won’t get into it here. This is my favorite song off Low.
Slayer – “Dittohead” (from Divine Intervention – 10/4/94) – This is one of the better songs off what is the beginning of Slayer’s notable decline in album quality, which I have discussed elsewhere.
Rotting Christ – “Non Serviam” (from Non Serviam – 10/11/94) – The Greek black metal monster that is Rotting Christ will get inside your mind and build a home there if you let it. I first heard them about three years ago (on their unbelievably good full-length debut, 1993’s Thy Mighty Contract), and they promptly built a full-on castle in my brain. They have since downgraded to a condo, where they come to stay now and then, but they will always hold citizenship in my head.
Mercyful Fate – “Nightmare Be They Name” (from Time – 10/25/94) – King Fucking Diamond.
Megadeth – “Train of Consequences” (from Youthanasia – 10/25/94) – The last of the slowed-down thrash bands on the list, Megadeth pretty much ceased to exist after Youthanasia, as far as I’m concerned. The album is not flawless (in fact, only about half the songs aren’t bad), but the other half-or-so of the album is good, and some of the songs are really good, even. I saw Megadeth live on the Youthanasia tour, with Fear Factory, Flotsam & Jetsam, and an up-and-coming band called Korn in support. Korn brought the house down.
Brutal Truth – “Displacement” (from Need to Control – 10/25/94) – Brutal Truth has also been discussed here before, and will be discussed more in the future. If you don’t own this album yet, you’re really doing yourself a disservice.
Bolt Thrower – “Remembrance” (from …For Victory – 11/29/94) – Bolt Thrower are from Coventry, England, and have been one of the most consistently high-quality death metal bands since the early days of the genre. Their name comes from a weapon used in the tabletop strategy game Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and their lyrics are heavily influenced by the Warhammer games, as well as dealing with the topics of real-life war and its consequences.
That wraps up another edition of Mixtape Monday. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to stay heavy.