My Personal Top Ten Favorite Metal Albums (As of Today)

I was tasked with listing my ten favorite metal albums.  Shit like this is hard for me, and I lend it far too much importance, as evidenced by the fact that I turned a simple, friendly facebook tagging thing into an entire blog post.  Here it is then…

Note: this list does not include Iron Maiden or Testament, as either band would quickly take over the list.  The albums are subject to change without notice, and the list is presented here in no particular order:

1. Voivod – Dimension Hatröss (1988) – Headfucked spacey French-Canadian thrash metal that tells a story about a nuclear vampire who creates a portal into a new dimension and visits there in an attempt to extract the knowledge and wisdom of its residents.  Dissonance abounds.  Recommended track: “Experiment”.

2. Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1984) – Best Hetfield vocals ever, plus “The Call of Ktulu”.  Recommended track: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

3.  Anthrax – State of Euphoria (1988) – My first Anthrax album, and it left a huge impression on 11-year-old me.  I know it’s not their best (that honor obviously goes to Persistence of Time), but it’s my favorite.  Recommended track: “Be All, End All”.

4. Brutal Truth – Need to Control (1994) – This shit is heavy…weird and heavy.  There’s a didgeridoo on this bastard, for fuck sake!  Recommended track: “Godplayer”.

5. Slayer – Reign in Blood (1986) – Not a wasted second on this motherfucker. Recommended track: “Raining Blood”.

6. Nile – Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (1998) – South Carolinian self-taught Egyptologist Lovecraft fans show late 90’s death metal a new path.  It’s tight as fuck.  Recommended track: “Opening of the Mouth”.

7. Carcass – Reek of Putrefaction (1988) – I might be the only person on earth who likes the first Carcass album the best, but it’s honestly the only one I ever listen to all the way through.  I’m fascinated by its foulness, repugnance, and lack of budget.  Recommended track: “Suppuration”.

8. Pantera – Far Beyond Driven (1994)My gateway drug into extreme metal.  Recommended track: “Strength Beyond Strength”.

9. Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare (1988) – These Bay Area Thrash Metal lunatics came along in the Second Wave of Thrash Metal and not-so-gently reminded everyone that thrash bands could still play fast.  The vocals are a deal-breaker for some people, but I fuckin love them!  Sean Killian sounds like a complete lunatic, gibbering and jabbering away like a rabid animal, only seconds away from becoming totally unhinged.  Recommended track: “Serial Killer”.

10. King Diamond – Abigail (1987) – I had some difficulty choosing between this and Mercyful Fate’s first full-length, Melissa.  Ultimately, the Abigail storyline gave it the edge, as I tend to thoroughly enjoy cohesive and well-executed concept albums, but it was awfully hard to deny “Satan’s Fall” and “Curse of the Pharaohs”.  I wish someone would make Abigail into a movie, and not totally fuck it up in the process.  Recommended track: “Abigail”.

What are your favorites?  Feel free to discuss in the comments.

Until next time, stay heavy.

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The Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads of All Time

In the Olden Days, thrash metal bands sometimes made slow jams, because, to quote the late, great Cliff Burton, “We do what we wanna do, and if they consider that selling out then, whatever…maybe you don’t play a thousand miles an hour the whole time, y’know?”  I’m gonna let the songs speak for themselves as much as possible.  Note: I don’t necessarily believe these are the Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads of All Time; they are simply ten comparatively mellow songs that I really like, performed by otherwise super-fast, super-heavy thrash metal bands.  Likewise, they are listed in no particular order.  I used that title and numbered them from 10 to 1 just to see if it pisses anyone off, and to see how many people actually read the introduction.

Without further ado…

10. “Return to Serenity” by Testament (from The Ritual – 1992)

This was Testament’s last album with guitar maestro Alex Skolnick until 2008’s The Formation of Damnation, and it saw the band slowing things down a bit.  It sounds a little slicker than anything else the band had done up to this point, and in no way hinted at the savage beast that was 1994’s follow-up, Low, which boasts a damn fine ballad of its own called “Trail of Tears“.

9. “Fade to Black” by Metallica (from Ride the Lightning – 1984)

I can’t think of anything to add.  There’s very little chance you don’t know this one.  I still miss Metallica.  This live version is from the Cliff ‘Em All home video, and it fuckin rules.

8. “A Room With a View” by Death Angel (from Act III – 1990)

I watched my video-taped copy of this video from Headbanger’s Ball so many times, it’s pretty much unwatchable these days.  The lyrics are about a wise old man (blind, I believe), and the song is beautiful.  Lead vocals are sung by guitar player Rob Cavestany, with backing vocals by lead vocalist Mark Osgueda.  Also recommended from Act III: “Veil of Deception“.

7. “In My Darkest Hour” by Megadeth (from So Far, So Good…So What! – 1988)

Lyrically, this is a Break-Up Song, but the dark emotion in the song was inspired by the death of Cliff Burton.  Dave Mustaine’s songwriting output has contained some real turds, but when the man got it right, he got it fuckin-a right.

6. “Wading Through the Darkness” by Flotsam and Jetsam (from Cuatro – 1992)

This album is underrated as fuck (just like so many other metal albums from the early-to-mid 90’s).  Just before this video premiered on Headbanger’s Ball, Riki Rachtman told me that if I turned the brightness up all the way on my television, I would be able to see another video happening in the background.  I was at my cousin’s house, and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the settings on his TV, so I never tried that, but it sure looks like another video is lingering in the background on this sumbitch.

5. “Spill the Blood” by Slayer (from South of Heaven – 1988)

This song is spooky as shit.  It’s the last song on Slayer’s last essential album.  Rest in piece, Jeff Hanneman.

4. “Alone” by Suicidal Tendencies (from Lights, Camera…Revolution – 1990)

While ST will always be best known for their crossover classic “Institutionalized”, their late-80’s-to-early-90’s output contained some (comparatively) mellow, soul-searching, beautifully touching songs.  I chose this one because Lights, Camera…Revolution is the first ST album I ever owned/heard in its entirety (it’s also my favorite).  See also: “Nobody Hears” from 1992’s The Art of Rebellion, and “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow” from 1988’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today.

3. “I Never Said Goodbye” by Sacred Reich (from Independent – 1993)

This Sacred Reich ballad, from their near-breakthrough major label debut, deals lyrically with the loss of a family member (seemingly a parent).  They had a minor hit on this album in “Crawling”, which I used to sometimes hear on Indianapolis, Indiana’s “alternative” radio station, X103, along with “Nobody Hears” by Suicidal Tendencies (mentioned above), “Thorn in My Side” by post-hardcore juggernaut Quicksand, and bullshit like “Glycerine”, by Bush.  The early-to-mid-90’s were a weird time for music.

2. “Freedoom” by Voivod (from Angel Rat – 1991)

French-Canadian metal gods Voivod had already evolved past the point of being a thrash band on 1990’s Nothingface, but any band that has an output like their first three albums will always be considered a thrash band to me.  This song is fucking amazing, and as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, it contains some of my favorite Voivod lyrics, and one time, while tripping on psilocybin mushrooms, I used it to control the weather.  It was pretty badass.

1. “Bare” by Anthrax (from Stomp 442 – 1995)

I think it’s safe to say that most Anthrax fans can be neatly divided into two groups: Joey Belladonna Fans and John Bush Fans.  I, for one, love all eras of Anthrax equally, including the Neil Turbin-era (although I am glad Dan Nelson is a thing of the past).  For as much shit as Bushthrax often gets, Stomp 442 and its follow-up, 1998’s Volume 8: The Threat is Real! both get shit on more than a statue in Central Park (Stomp 442 has an overall ranking of 57% on Encyclopaedia Metallum, while Volume 8 boasts a whopping 58%!).  They sound different, no doubt (even when compared to the two Bush-fronted albums that bookend them), the riffing is simpler and slower, and I don’t listen to them beginning-to-end as often as most other Anthrax albums, but they contain some great songs, and I still love them both.  “Bare” is the final song on the original edition of Stomp 442, and it is a heartfelt motherfucker.  More will be written about both of these albums in the near-ish future.

That’s all for today, heavy people.  What are some of your favorite thrash metal ballads?  Discuss it in the comments, why don’t you?  And while you’re calling me names discussing, be sure and stay heavy.

Thanks for reading!