Amateur Batfan Vol. 19 – Under The Hood

Posted: September 15, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Oh hey, haven’t seen you in about, oh, two years. I’ve been busy. Busy reading Batman. I think I had about thirty Batman books when I last wrote one of these and now it must be close to double that, or even more.

Anyway, for a long time, I avoided this book. I wasn’t a big fan of A Death In The Family, and was a bit resentful of things like magic, zombies, aliens or anything unrealistic in comic books. Yes, I know its stupid. Batman fights monster men, plant women, flying bat mutants, monsters made out of shape-shifting clay and crazy futuristic technology like jetpacks and ice-guns but no, lazarus pits are just too-weird. A bit hypocritical, ey?

Well, in the year or more since I’ve last written I’ve read all sorts of wacky shit like Batman Odyssey set in a world beneath the earth’s surface with a goblin versus dinosaur war and have come to think of this as fairly grounded by comparison.

Batman – Under The Hood:

– Writers: Judd Winick
Art: Doug Mahnke
Colours: (in this case, Brian Bollard)
Continuity: Post-Crisis, Pre-Flashpoint
Timeline Position: Mid career, post- NML, pre-Morrsion
Batman is: Bruce Wayne

– Story: A new violent vigilante, themed around the Red Hood (hey, remember that from Killing Joke?) comes to town and murders a lot of criminals. Black Mask is the king of crime and has teamed up with others such as Mr. Freeze, Deathstroke and The Society. Batman and Nightwing fight Amazo, a robot with all the Justice League’s powers programmed in (sort of like what happens in Endgame except its a robot). It turns out Red Hood is actually a ressurected Jason Todd, the former Robin who died in A Death In The Family, brought back to life by Infinite Crisis nonsense and guided by Talia Al Ghul. He’s evil now. He’s mad at Bruce for not avenging his death by killing the Joker. There’s a lot more to it than that, but go read it. Or, hey, watch the movie adaptation which is arguably the best Batman movie.

Art: Absolutely great. The Matt Wagner covers are amazing, just as great as the Dark Moon Rising ones. The actual Mahnke interiors are pretty much perfect. Better than almost any of the big trades of the era. Better than No Mans Land or Broken City or War Games or even Batman & Son (although I’d call that the beginning of a new era). Its a fine mix between cartoony and realistic and pretty much as close to comic book perfection as you can imagine.

– Tone: An interesting mix. The Amazo stuff is very cartoony. Jason storming the gangsters and murdering them is more like a Netflix superhero show. The Infinite Crisis nonesense is all the worst in comic books. The bit where Bruce talks to Clark about ressurection from death is the best of comic books.

My Thoughts: Ok, so first off. We’ve had bad vigilante goes on killing spree before. I mean, Knightfall has Azreal-as-Batman going too far. There was that story before that with the female anti-rapist vigilante, there is the guy from Prey who is a killer vigilante, there is ‘remember to say the catchphrase of… The Reaper!’ and many more. I think there was one in A Loney Place Of Dying too maybe, my memory is fuzzy at the moment. Heck, even a lot of Batman’s problems with Huntress are exactly that.

Second of all, there’s two things I hate in any story more than anything else, which is firstly adding something new in to the past and pretending like it was always there (cough cough, Hush and Court Of Owls), and the second and most galling is ressurection from death. No one should ever come back from the dead. No one ever. As such, the very premise of this story is everything I stand against.

Overall then, I should dislike this story, because its yet another violent vigilante story, with a return from the dead plot. What a recipe for a stinker.

What actually happens is that its one of the most creamy, easily readable, quick and pulpy and enjoyable comics of the whole era. Its arguably a must-have. Its also notable for introducing Red Hood back into the mythos which brought some great moments such as in Morrsion’s Batman And Robin arc, and then as an ally in The New 52. I really love Jason in Eternal and Robin War and love interactions between him, Dick and Red Robin. I know a lot of people really hated that stuff and couldn’t wait for it to die in flames, but people like different stuff and I don’t care if some people don’t like God Hates Us All, its still Slayer’s best album for me and no one can ever convince me that anything on Hell Awaits is even a tenth as good as Disciple, Payback or Warzone.

So yeah, even if what it added to the mythos was something I hate (ressurection from death, that totally removes the stakes of death so much that Damian could come back to life half a fart’s duration after he died) the way it handles it is good and the moments that resulted from it were pretty entertaining.

I also like this whole little bit of history when Black Mask was the biggest bad guy, being a sort of combined Two Face, Joker and Penguin in his role as mob boss, bruiser and horrific terroriser all at once.

Would I recommend this? Absolutely I would. I’d also recommend the movie version, its not a straight copy, but its pretty faithful at times.

Would I recommend God Hates Us All, also absolutely I would. I mean, it doesn’t have Mr Freeze in it… but then what Slayer album does. [Undisputed Attitude actually, but that’s a technicality].

What I’ve Been Listening To Lately:

Posted: September 13, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Thrash Metal Thoughts

Posted: August 16, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Thrash Metal Thoughts: I enjoyed writing my previous post, Hair Metal Thoughts, and felt I could apply that same shell to another subgenre. What better subgenre than my favourite? The one I’ve been into the longest, the one I identify with the most, the one I talk about the most.

Some of the thoughts here may contradict previous reviews but its just what I was feeling at the time of writing. Its not a set of reviews as much as a quick new appraisal. Its just some Thrash Metal Thoughts.



Annihilator – Alice In Hell (1989).
Its very difficult to choose an absolute favourite Thrash album, or make a compelling case for the best one of all time, there’s just so many and so many different takes on it. Some are raw and punky, some are traditional, some are brutal and extreme, some are progressive. Some take on political and social lyrical matter and some are sword and sorcery fantasy based. However; for me an undeniable top 5 contender has to be Alice In Hell; one of and possibly the greatest moments in 1980s Heavy Metal all around and in Thrash specifically way up there. I wouldn’t say its a mixture of all the kinds of Thrash, there’s no proto-Black Metal like early Sodom and no one could mistake it for a lost NWOBHM album like Overkill’s debut, but it does cover a heck of a lot of ground.
On top of all of that, its just got that x-factor. That undefinable greatness, those riffs, those drums, those vocals are all just miles ahead of most of the competition. This is Master Of Puppets levels stuff here. Maybe at times the lyrics and the brief moments of silliness let it down, arguably, but overall this is inches away from perfection.

Favourite Songs: ‘WTYD,’ ‘Wicked Mystic’ & ‘World Salad.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Annihilator – Never Neverland (1990).
Well, everything I said about Alice In Hell applies here. They’re sort of twin albums, equally fabulous. The new vocalist on this album sounds a bit like Phil Anselmo at times (only a little bit) and some of the more midpaced songs have a certain groove metal swagger, which lends itself well to the Annihilator sound. The rest is the absolute definition of well designed Thrash, and if you have never heard this album make doing so a high priority because you’re seriously missing out.

Favourite Songs: ‘Road To Ruin,’ ‘StoneWall’ & ‘I Am In Command.’
Not For Me: ‘Kraf Dinner’ – I don’t like it when they do jokey bits.


Annihilator – Set The World On Fire (1993).
Another album, another line-up change. Hey, Mike Magini the future Dream Theater guy is here! That’s reason enough for people to come back and check this out. Some fans called this album a bit of a sell out, partly because it had a ballad, and partly because the main music had less speed and heaviness more of the time. In all fairness though, they replaced it with Van Halen style fun (‘Don’t Bother Me’ anyone?) and never dipped in quality so I think that’s a very big overreaction. I’m very fond of this album and would defend it to anyone who had bad words for it, that’s for sure.
Also, I have to say ‘Knight Jumps Queen’ has arguably the most fun chorus riff in all of Thrash, next to maybe Exodus’ ‘Brain Dead.’

Favourite Songs: ‘Knight Jumps Queen,’ ‘No Zone’ & ‘Sounds Good To Me.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. I don’t like the jokey bits in ‘Brain Dance’ but otherwise the song is badass.



Anthrax – Fistful Of Metal (1984).
I got into Anthrax through the John Bush era live album Music Of Mass Destruction, so when I got this I thought I didn’t like it for a long time. I wasn’t keen on Neil Turban’s vocals, or the very non-Anthraxy songs. I was very predisposed to liking it because it had Dan Lilker on it and I was super into Nuclear Assault, but this wasn’t doing it for me at the time. Nowadays, after having heard a lot more NWOBHM and early Heavy Metal this record has really grown on me.

If you’re in the mood for that Scott-Ian’s-Wrist style of riffing, y’know that Iconing style that makes Anthrax Anthrax, then look elsewhere, but just because its different doesn’t mean its not good. Also, fun memory, for a long time the local independent music shop in my small Irish town in the late 90s/early noughties had just three lonely guitar tablature books, one of which was Ratt’s Invasion Of Your Privacy, and Anthrax’s Fistful Of Metal… what a) An Odd Pair b) a weird pair for the times when both bands were very uncool c) weird album covers for big glossy books all alone in a sea of generic Irish traditional music books with generic white covers and plain black text.

Favourite Songs: ‘Across The River,’ ‘Death Rider’ & ‘Metal Thrashing Mad.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. I don’t feel like the ‘I’m Eighteen’ cover fits, and I’d prefer if it was on Killer Bs instead, but I love it in and of itself.


Anthrax – .Spreading The Disease (1985).
This is probably my favourite Anthrax album. I have a Vinyl copy on my wall as decoration. Its the first Anthrax album that really has that definite Anthrax feel. Its very unique among all other Thrash bands, and nothing really sounds anything quite like it. I think its got the catchiest choruses and its varied and a heck of a lot of fun. There’s not a wasted moment and its all very charming and interesting. I don’t know what part is due to Franky Bello and Joey Belladonna coming on board, and what part is confidence and experience, or indeed what’s just sheer luck, but this was a big stylistic shift and quality skyrocket. I also think this is the best vocal performance on any Anthrax album. Also, ‘Gung Ho’ really shows off the band at their Thrashiest…its their equivalent of Fight Fire With Fire in the justification-showpiece stakes. A ‘See Slayer fans, other bands can be fast too,’ sort of thing.

Favourite Songs: ‘Lone Justice,’ ‘AIR’ & ‘Medusa.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty perfect.


Anthrax – Among The Living (1987).
Arguably the best Anthrax album, with the most hits, the most concert favourites and arguably the best production job. I love the songwriting on this one, so many catchy choruses, so many great guitar solos, such good drumming and singing, its easy to see why this is most people’s favourite Anthrax album. Its difficult to think of anything new to say on such a beloved and much discussed album, up there with the very best of the genre, along with your Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets and Rust In Peace crowd. Sometimes I feel difficult describing the most famous album as my favourite, a hold-over from stupid teen days, but in this case it really is a very close toss up between Spreading The Disease and this one. For a while, Anthrax was my absolute favourite band so those two would be among my undisputed all time favourites, of any subgenre.

Sidenote… how much does it suck this wasn’t 1986…then it would be in the gang with Puppets, Peace Sells and Reign In Blood as the 1986 Thrash Masterpieces club. Shall we all just pretend it was ’86?

Favourite Songs: ‘Imitation Of Life,’ ‘One World,’ ‘Indians,’ ‘Caught In A Mosh’ & ‘I Am The Law.’
Not For Me: Nothing at all, it is perfect.


Anthrax – State Of Euphoria (1988).
Some people don’t like this album and I really don’t see why. There’s not one song on this album that wouldn’t sound good in concert or on a compilation. I think maybe all together they might cause the attention to drift or something? I love it. I wish they’d play more from it live, especially the second half. Its very overlooked. Solos, production and vocals are all roughly equal to the last album, although the only noticeable difference is that the songwriting is less succinct.
I have the same problem with Anthrax as with Guns N Roses… there are so many amazing originals and they play three or four covers live instead? Covers get on the best-ofs instead? Well; whatever floats your boat but I’d rather hear ‘Who Cares Wins’ or ‘Right Next Door To Hell’ anytime than ‘Antisocial’ or ‘Live And Let Die.’ The album artwork is a bit ugly, but clever on a spinning disc I guess.

Favourite Songs: ‘Finale,’ ‘Schism’ & ‘Be All End All.’
Not For Me: ’13.’ I don’t feel like the ‘Antisocial’ cover fits, and I’d prefer if it was on Killer Bs instead, but I love it in and of itself. Its so Anthrax though. Its so them I can hardly believe its a cover. Its actually one of the best songs on the album too, its just not in the same spirit of the rest of the record.


Anthrax – Persistence Of Time (1990).
For a long time, this was my favourite Anthrax album. Over the years I’ve grown to think the first too songs while good, are overlong and slightly repetitive, and that Belly Of The Beast could do without the extra intro. Otherwise, what’s not to love about this album? Some of Anthrax’s finest ever work. I can’t tell you how much I loved ‘One Man Stands’ as a teenager, and ‘Belly Of The Beast’ would be in my top-ten thrash songs of all time, it just works so well, I love the version on Music Of Mass Destruction especially, with its extra drum flourishes and John Bush’s beefier vocal style. The artwork is cool and the coolest thing in Anthrax’s history is the stage-show from this tour with the clocks and backdrop of this album art.

Favourite Songs: ‘Belly Of The Beast,’ ‘One Man Stands’ & ‘Keep It In The Family.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, although some of the longer songs could do with a bit of either trimming or variation. Once again; surprise surprise, I don’t feel like the ‘Got The Time’ cover fits, and I’d prefer if it was on Killer Bs instead, but as with the previously mentioned ‘Antisocial’ I like it in and of itself and feel like so Anthrax-sounding that I can hardly believe its a cover. Both those songs are like greatest hits of the band, which rankles a little tiny bit because your hits should be your own songs, and as I mentioned before, part of what irritates me about Guns N Roses, but objectively they are great.


Anthrax – Live: The Island Years (1994; Recorded ’91/’92).
This album covers that aforementioned incredibly cool period. Its actually from two different shows, the radio show and the concert video. Its got a pretty great version of Bring The Noise which is different from the studio version, and quite interesting. Its not the greatest production job but then not poor either, way better than say, Nuclear Assault’s live stuff, but not as great as Annihilator’s.
Its got a pretty strong tracklisting and I wish they had marketed this differently because it feels like a real throw-away cash-in sort of thing (because of record label issues and cheapo packaging) but the actual product is actually way better than it feels like anyone gave it credit for.



Cacophony – Speed Metal Symphony (1987).
I wanted this album (and the other Cacophony studio album) for about a decade before I finally got around to it. Everybody knows this is what Marty Friedman was up to pre-Megadeth and that is definitely worth checking out in my book. I finally picked up a copy in like, 2013 or something and have been listening to it fairly regularly ever since, going in between liking it and not liking it but listening to it a lot to feel like I didn’t waste my money. I don’t think its as fast or heavy as I’d like, nor as succinct and compact. Its really musically impressive but not all that catchy or fun and the vocals aren’t top-tier. All that sounds like heavy criticism, but I guess I just focused on the negatives there, because it really is a rather fantastic album and I don’t want to sound like its bad… its just not as great as the more famous albums in this article. I’d take it over an Atrophy or Morbid Saint album, sure, but not over an Overkill or Metallica album if you know what I mean. Its the best of the c-list, and just because it isn’t in the big leagues doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Probably too, if I’d have bought it earlier I’d be closer to it. Sometimes the stuff you get in your early teens sticks with you the longest (although in fairness, I’m a lot closer to C.O.C and Helloween from my twenties than stuff like Spineshank and Ill Nino I bought in my early teens).

Favourite Songs: ‘Desert Island,’ & ‘Concerto.’
Not For Me: ‘Speed Metal Symphony.’



Dark Angel:

Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986).
I think, if I’m not mistaken, this is one of the most recent Thrash albums I bought (in the same order as Overkill’s Horrorcope, I think, about a year ago this month). Its fast, ugly and brutal. Its a kind of spiritual brother to Pleasure To Kill and famous to fans of the heavier stuff, influential to more extreme bands and it brought Genre Hoglan to fame. Its production is a bit rough and its just a wee tad too extreme at times for me to absolutely love it but I have to say, I like it a lot better than I expected. I’ve listened to Leave Scars and Time Does Not Heal on Spotify recently and they totally nail what I wanted from Dark Angel, so that’s the next two on my to-buy list (only about a decade and a half after I originally wanted to get em). If you are a Black Metal fan working backwards from Emperor to Hellhammer to Sodom, then this might be another one to check out. Otherwise, don’t check this out until you’re already fairly familiar with Annihilator, Exodus and Testament first.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.



Death Angel:

Death Angel – The Ultra Violence (1987).
The band’s most straight-forward and normal album, recorded at a young age yeah-yeah, but just as professional as any of the competition. Forget about the demographics and listen to the music…
I feel like all anyone ever talks about this band is the Kirk Hammet connection or the family aspect or the age but never just how impressive that instrumental is, or how satisfying tunes like ‘Evil Priest’ and ‘Thrashers’ are. There’s some great soloing, some serious speed and energy and a real ‘spirit’ to the performances. Arguably its not always super memorable and a harsher critic than me might call it generic if they were feeling unkind, but all that would be sorted out on future records.

Favourite Songs: ‘Thrashers,’ ‘IPFS’ & ‘The Ultra Violence.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent, but some tracks are a bit overlong.


Death Angel – Frolic Through The Park (1988).
A halfway point between where the band came from and where they were about to go, this is the experimental first steps into transitioning between pure straight traditional Thrash and the more dynamic, progressive, technical stuff on the subsequent album… Frolic Through The Park can come off as a bit more jarring, wacky and odd than Act III as they hadn’t utterly nailed transitions and smoothed everything down to perfection yet, but its undeniably good in and of itself and without the Act III context is a fine album on its own, a strange follow-up to The Ultra Violence sure, but a good one. People at the time must’ve been baffled, but baffled with a touch of excitement.
I’ll confess I don’t listen to this one as much as the other two nowadays, because when I want the glory and perfection I go for Act III and when I want the purity and simplicity I go towards The Ultra Violence so this falls behind a little bit… but I’d still recommend people check it out. Overshadowed, justly, but it need not be ignored, there’s some killer stuff on here that would be a shame to miss out on.

Favourite Songs: ‘Why Do You Do This,’ & ‘Bored.’
Not For Me: The cover of ‘Cold Gin’ doesn’t really fit.


Death Angel – Act III (1990).
The undisputed diamond in the crown, this album is a masterpiece for the genre and one of the most interesting, entertaining and well-written albums the genre has to offer with heaps of innovation, but never sounding gimmicky or losing its Thrashiness. On top of that, its simply the best set of choruses and solos the band have ever come up with, and the acoustic tracks are some of the best and least forced-sounding in the genre. If you only get one Death Angel album, this is the smart choice.

Favourite Songs: ‘Ex-TC,’ ‘Disturbing The Peace’ & ‘Veil Of Decption.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.




Exhorder – Slaughter In The Vatican (1990).
Everyone tells you the same thing… this is where Pantera stole their sound from, Phil used to roadie for em. Then you go and check it out and it sounds nothing like Pantera and that’s usually the end of it. There’s a lot more to the band that just that, but its all so ‘almost.’ Their brutal production style is almost awesome, their singer is almost awesome. The songs are almost as good as Slayer’s fast stuff. I could go on but the main thing is its just a bit forgettable and I listen to it a lot to try and not feel like I’m only in it for the cheap Pantera connection, and at the time I may even enjoy it, but a day later, could I hum you even one chorus? Could I bollocks.

Favourite Songs: Nothing Stands Out.
Not For Me: Nothing Stands Out.


Exhorder – The Law (1992).
A much better album, with much more memorable songs. A huge improvement in vocals, riffs, songwriting, production, performance, the works. If they had have continued on this tack they might’ve ended up like Sepultura and Machine Head did in the mid-90s. Ugly artwork, but hey, artwork’s not that important anyway. Not as important as some of those awesome screams, or the interesting funky bass. Funk in Metal was a bit of a novelty, see Death Angel, and a few quick seconds of it without being goofy is just the ticket. If I want some Exhorder, my go-to choice is side-A of this album. Check it out if you’re interested in the band.

Favourite Songs: ‘Un-Born Again,’ ‘Soul Search Me’ & ‘The Truth.’
Not For Me: ‘(Cadence Of) The Dirge’ and the ‘Into The Void’ cover.




Exodus – Bonded By Blood (1985).
I’ve never heard an album so simultaneously over and underrated at the same time, nor have I ever flipflopped so much between liking and disliking something. Its been mostly liking in the last ten years to be fair though. I’ve got to say though, the title track is so insanely, monumentally good that the whole rest of the album just drastically pales in comparison. Like, the tile track is unquestionably on of the band’s, subgenre’s and even overall genre’s finest hours. That chorus. That chorus just does something to me. I know there’s some great moments on the rest of the record, like the acoustic guitar bit, or the aggression, or the little lead lines, but its otherwise all so c-lister compared to that absolute world class title track. I also, contrary to popular opinion really don’t think Paul Baloff is any good. I get that he was fun as a person in San Fransisco in the 80s and there’s lots of fond memories but musically, my ears just don’t gel with him. Zetro is so much better for me that its almost distracting thing about it. I like tracks from this live with Zetro. I like tracks from this live with Rob Dukes. But I don’t love it the way magazines and websites seem to say I should. Apart from the title track. Frig me, that title track is so good!

Favourite Songs: ‘Bonded By Blood,’ & ‘A Lesson In Violence.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but sometimes I’ll take a notion for a while that I don’t like ‘Piranah’ or ‘Strike Of The Beast’ or ‘Exodus’ but at other times I love them, so its hard to give a straight answer.


Exodus – Pleasures Of The Flesh (1987).
This is what I’m talking about! This is why Exodus are so important to me. This is what’s great about Bay Area Thrash. I mean, the catchiness, the power, the musicianship. Sure the album art isn’t good, and yeah, fan favourite Paul Baloff is gone, but how could you argue with these songs?

The production is also a lot less reverby than the debut. The lyrics are more interesting. The solos are more musical and damn, there’s some fuuuuun riffs. I think the difference is that this album is fun and only the title track of the previous one is fun. So, if you’re more into extremity it’d be better but if you’d rather hear Among The Living than In The Sign Of Evil, then this is more suitable.

Favourite Songs: ‘Brain Dead,’ ‘Seeds Of Hate’ & ‘Chemi-kill.’ (Three of the best
Thrash songs ever, ever written).
Not For Me: I hate the intro to Deranged, the bit about the salad, and some of the lyrics, but the song is decent. I think the title track is a bit overlong or needs more variety, and also it should be the album closer not just halfway through. Why don’t Thrash bands end with the epic as much? Most don’t actually close with the logical climax.


Exodus – Fabulous Disaster (1989).
The best Exodus album in my eyes. The closest they ever came to absolute perfection. The most memorable songs. The most varied material. The finest performances and of all the early albums the best production and songwriting. Admittedly, the lyrics can be a bit dodgy at times, like the fun bit in that documentary where they’re joking about the difference between ‘Athlete’ and ‘Ath-a-leet,’ or the line ‘devastating plaster’ but I can overlook that when the songs are so good.

The title track is one of the absolute definitions of Thrash Metal for me. Also how heavy is that opening track? The guitar tone is so biting its crazy.


Favourite Songs: ‘Fabulous Disaster,’ ‘The Toxic Waltz ‘Verbal Razors’ & ‘Corruption.’
Not For Me: ‘Cajun Hell’ is a bit weird, but still good. ‘Like Father Like Son’ is clearly better as the closer, Thrash bands should do that more. What I actually dislike though is the ‘low Rider’ cover, seems so out of place and out of character and doesn’t fit and partially derails the momentum.


Exodus – Impact Is Imminent (1990).
Almost as good as the previous few and nowhere near as bad as the weird ‘its disappointing’ reputation it has for some reason…similar to Testament’s Souls Of Black in that respect. I hate the album artwork, but again, not that important. I think the only problem musically with this one is that the songs might be a bit overlong. That and how do you compare to the amazing Fabulous Disaster material?

Special shout out to the guitar solo on ‘Within The Walls Of Chaos’ …odd tone, really makes the song.

Favourite Songs: ‘Impact Is Imminent,’ ‘Thrash Under Pressure’ & ‘Only Death Decides.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Exodus – Good Friendly Violent Fun (1991; but recorded 1989).
I only bought this one recently because its only got eight songs, one of which is an AC/DC cover, and it has really ugly artwork and I used to be more shallow. I’m glad I’ve finally taken the chance though, this is a pretty great little live album. I think the tracklist is awesome, and all that’s really missing for such a brief album would be ‘Bonded By Blood.’ Its great to have so many of my absolute favourites in one set though. Its a pretty stunning collection to be honest. The production and performances are pretty decent too, nothing to complain about. I’m not so used to this yet that I can really think of much more to say. Its good and I’d recommend it. Is that enough?



Forbidden – Forbidden Evil (1988).
The best album artwork of the 80s? The best vocal performance outside of the big-four? The best songs of Forbidden ever wrote?
Yes, Yes and Yes. Man, I’d love to have a copy of that on my wall.
You might’ve noticed I really enjoy solos and catchy choruses so this one is pretty much guaranteed to be one of my favourites. There’s such great razor sharp riffs, such fantastic drums (I think I originally bought it to get more Paul Bostaph drums since I have a bit of a drummer crush on him…those fills!). I guess there might be a wee bit of filler, but at least three-quarters of this record is best-album-of-the-subgenre quality stuff.
I have so many fond memories of school trips and stuff listening to this. Great, great album. If you don’t own it, fix that!

Favourite Songs: ‘Forbidden Evil,’ ‘March Into Fire’ & ‘Chalice Of Blood.’
Not For Me: Sometimes, but not always, I get a bit of a thing against ‘Off The Edge.’


Forbidden – Twisted Into Form (1990).
Its more progressive than the debut, but less slow and groove orientated than the next two. Its not just as world-class as the debut but it is very strong for a second-waver (man, I always remember this one line in a magazine that said ‘Forbidden never amounted to a hill of beans in the UK’ and when I listen to this or the debut I really wonder why). I always feel the need to throw Forbidden’s name in with Exodus and Testament, because it really belongs there… even if the charts at the time didn’t work out that way. Okay, side A is defiantly a little stronger than side b, but its still a great album.

Favourite Songs: ‘Out Of Body (Out Of Mind)’ & ‘Twisted Into Form.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.



Heathen – Breaking The Silence (1987).
This album came free on their website for a while. I really like it, but I always feel like I don’t really own it because it was free. Even after having it for years and years. Anytime I’m in a Thrash mood I break some of this out and I always enjoy it, but I still don’t feel like I can really accept it, because I don’t have a physical copy. Its weird. I’m weird. Whatever. When I’m not being a bit mental, this is a very good album. Not quite in the league of Testament, Exodus and Forbidden but still yet another example of great Bay Area Thrash with a high singer. The Sweet cover of ‘Set Me Free’ is even better than Saxon’s cover of it too, that’s worth mentioning. Usually, I think a cover can throw off a Thrash album but here it really works.

Favourite Songs: ‘Death By Hanging’ & ‘Pray For Death.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Heathen – Victims Of Deception (1991).
A very different musical direction. Much more technical, lengthy and elaborate. The guitar work is amazing. I love it on the one hand, but if I’m not in the right mood I’d argue it could use a few more fast songs…arguably against the point of the album in the first place but sometimes I’m in weird moods.

On the previous album, the cover really worked, but I guess the Kill The King doesn’t necessarily meet the proggy vibe here. I can’t decide if it throws me off or not. Its so good, but I guess it isn’t the right fit. I can’t decide.

I used to think that there was a different singer but I just didn’t know the singer changed his surname from Godfrey to White. I also didn’t know until researching this article that Paul Baloff was briefly in the band. I guess that makes the fact that Lee Atlus is in Exodus nowadays even more logical.

Favourite Songs: ‘Prisoners Of Fate,’ & ‘Guitarmony.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but some of ’em could use a trim.


Kreator – Endless Pain (1985).
This album isn’t one you ever hear people talk about all that often. Its almost as if Pleasure To Kill was the debut. This one is a bit slower, a bit less extreme, a bit more reverby. A bit more simplistic. A bit more samey. A bit less professional. Its not like, a joke or something, but its not Master Of Puppets either. Much, much better than Sodom’s debut though, if you want a comparison.

Favourite Songs: ‘Dying Victims,’ ‘Cry War’ & ‘Tormentor.’
Not For Me: Nothing stands out, but its all a bit too rough and dull.


Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986).
This album is deceptive. With its reputation and its ferociously aggressive first two songs you’d be forgiven for thinking this was just a brutal nasty selection of unpleasant harsh bashing. There’s a surprising amount of complexity, depth and musicianship though. Its not mindless hammering, its much more sophisticated than that. And when they slow down there’s some serious groovy riffs and memorable moments. I know the exciting story is about the speed and savagery (and of that there is no shortage) but there’s so much more to this record than that, if you take even half a second to look deeper. I think I first gave it a second chance when I heard Napalm Death’s cover of ‘Riot Of Violence’ and saw what it had to offer.

Favourite Songs: ‘Pleasure To Kill,’ ‘Riot Of Violence’ & ‘The Pestilence.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Kreator – Terrible Certainty (1987).
This is a much more focused and well-formed version of Pleasure To Kill. It takes the different song-types of that album and makes every track here a mixture of them all. Its still got that nasty tinge to it, that bit heavier and harsher than the yankee Thrashers… but there’s a good quarter of this album wouldn’t sound weird on Among The Living or The American Way either, if you know where to look. Yeah, its a bit slower and a bit more mature, but so was Seasons In The Abyss, and we all know how good that was. This feels equivelant.

Favourite Songs: ‘Terrible Certainty,’ & ‘Toxic Trace.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Kreator – Extreme Aggression (1989).
Most people will tell you this is the best Kreator album and I have no problems with that state of affairs. I think this should be people’s introduction to the band. If you haven’t heard the band before, try this one on for size before anything else. I think this is the best distillation of their essence without being too experimental or too brutal or out of ideas or anything else. This is the core Kreator. This album is Kreator to me.

Favourite Songs: ‘Stream Of Consciousness,’ ‘Betrayer’ & ‘Fatal Energy.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Kreator – Coma Of Souls (1990).
I think this is my favourite Kreator album. It definitely has my favourite two Kreator songs on it (Coma Of Souls and People Of The Lie…the catchiest two songs the band ever wrote) so that’s a big point in its favour. Its also slightly less harsh and nasty than the earlier ones. Some people say its a bit of a let down after Extreme Aggression but I don’t hear that at all. I think this takes what that built and does it even better. Admittedly, nothing on it is as good as those aforementioned two god-tier tracks, but that would be a big ask. Its consistent, perfectly produced, challenging yet not boring and has the perfect mix of heaviness with pleasantness. If Mille had’ve tried being a bit more melodic on the vocals I’m sure this album could’ve really sold crazy well. As it stands its the perfect ending to the early days.

Favourite Songs: ‘Coma Of Souls,’ ‘People Of The Lie’ & ‘Terror Zone.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.




Megadeath – Killing Is My Business (1985).
A lot rougher, a lot rawer and with the fun ‘we blew the budget on drugs’ story, Killing’ is the interesting moment in the catalogue. Weird thumpy tom sounds and reverby drawn back vocals just add to the experience. Sure its ugly, but its good-ugly. If people can listen to Burzum or Crass or early Carcass then this is Dark Side Of The Moon by comparison anyway. These songs are a great deal of fun too, I wish they’d play a lot more from this live… especially the Title Track. It feels like an absolute Megadeth anthem and I’d never make any compliation or playlist without it. It feels like the Death Rider or Metal Thrashing Mad of the piece y’know. The Running Free or Iron Maiden of the album. The one that transcends. That place goes to Mechanix and justly so, but I feel like the title track is just as good and deserves more recognition.

Favourite Songs: ‘Killing Is My Business,’ ‘Rattlehead’ & ‘The Mechanix.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Megadeath – Peace Sells But Who’s Buying (1986).
If you lose the novelty cover, then this is utterly perfect. I mean, the title track is one of the most important songs in Metal history, for a start off. Then you’ve got the likes of ‘Wake Up Dead’ and ‘Devil’s Island’ with their just other-worldly catchiness. Then you’ve got the variety of Good Mourning and The Counjuring. You’ve got that utterly charming dry production. I mean, do I need to say more. Its peace flipping sells for goodness sake. If you don’t like it you should probably stop reading this.

Favourite Songs: ‘My Last Words,’ ‘Devils Island’ ‘Peace Sells’ & ‘Wake Up Dead.’
Not For Me: ‘I Aint Superstitious’ – Save it for a B-Side.



Megadeath – So Far So Good So What (1988).
I think this one is my favourite Megadeth album. If it had a slightly better production, an Ed Repka sleeve and it ditched the cover tune, I’m sure it would get the same treatment its successor and predecessor do. Such things oughtn’t concern us though, when the album has In My Darkest Hour on it, should it?

And hey, he said the word ‘Megadeth’ there …that’s worth some points, no?

Ok. I know not everyone is convinced and maybe it is going to feel overlooked forever, especially with the less-famous line-up, but just because its a bit rough around the ages, doesn’t mean its not fantastic fun, musically strong and full of damn memorable material.

Favourite Songs: ‘Set The World Afire,’ ‘Liar’ & ‘Hook In Mouth.’
Not For Me: The intro to ‘Mary Jane’ but not the rest of it. The ‘pull over shithead’ line in the otherwise perfect ‘502’ and the bloody Sex Pistols cover, save that for a B-Side.


Megadeath – Rust In Peace (1990).
The title track to this one speaks to me on some near-religious level and can conjure in me feelings almost nothing else can. It is one of the most compelling reasons to enjoy Thrash Metal that I can name. Then you have all the concert favourites, Tornado Of Souls, Hangar 18, Holy Wars. Then you have those awesome deep cuts like Take No Prisoners and Five Magics.

Then the artwork, the beautiful, beautiful artwork. Then the super clean production. Then the damn guitars, I mean seriously, those guitars! I’m struggling to think of an album on this list that can even compete.

For a few years I didn’t realise how much everyone loved this. I thought it was all about Peace Sells and Countdown To Extinction. Good to see nowadays you cannot attend a single Metal gig without seeing or hearing something to do with Rust In Peace. That feels like justice somehow.

Favourite Songs: ‘Rust In Peace …Polaris,’ ‘Take No Prisoners’ & ‘Holy Wars.’
Not For Me: ‘Dawn Patrol’ – I almost always skip it. It reminds me of subterranean mole people.

Metallica – Kill Em All (1983).
It took me a long, long, loooong time to like this and about a decade more to really get it. Even with all the articles and documentaries, I don’t think it was until 2014 when I started looking into Angel Witch and Diamond Head and Motorhead and the like that this finally totally clicked. I remember it finally growing on me in about 2005, but not quite this much. Nowdays I’m very keen on this and its one of my go-to Thrash choices, I guess because Metallica are always so much more and so much bigger and farther ahead of the pack that sometimes you almost forget about them as a Thrash band and they are their own Zeppelin-esque superstar law unto themselves…. but this one still has that teenager in a leather jacket in the garage vibe. I know I’ve seen tracks from this at WCW events or live on million dollar productions, but the actual album versions still feel human, achievable, ahead of the times sure but at least within reach of us mere mortals.

Favourite Songs: ‘Hit The Lights,’ ‘Whiplash’ ‘No Remorse’ & ‘Seek & Destroy.’
Not For Me: I know its controversial, but I hate that flow-killing bass solo. Yes Cliff Burton was good but that solo in the middle of a Thrash album just flat out disrupts everything. Also, sometimes if I’m not in the mood ‘Motorbreath’ and ‘Jump In The Fire’ feel a little half-baked, although most times they’re just charming. One thing that sometimes happens to me though is that I feel weird about ‘The Four Horsemen’ … I actually heard ‘The Mechanix’ first and it was quite a while until I heard Metallica’s version and sometimes I just get that Mustaine “You can either hear it our way or their way” speech from Rude Awakening and it makes me feel oddly guilty. I also prefer Mustaine’s delivery of the chorus. That’s not a hipster trying to be cool thing though, its an actual preference.


Metallica – Ride The Lightening (1984).
The cool album to like. Justice and Puppets are so popular you can’t like them the best, the debut is the debut so you can’t look like a hipster, so the person of dedication has to logically choose Lightning. Y’know, if you’re mental and think of things in those terms. Or you could, y’know, love em all. Or like things because you like them and not because of what it represents.
Anyway, how heavy is Fight Fire With Fire? Heavier than the band’s usual. How catchy is ‘Bell Tolls? Very memorable indeed. How passionate and awesome is Fade To Black? You just can’t argue with that tune. How charming is that production? How cool is the idea behind the title track?
This is a perfect storm of x-factor. Its no surprise the band who made this record ended up as the entire genre’s biggest and most important band. How could they not?

Favourite Songs: ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ ‘Ride The Lightening’ & ‘Creeping Death.’ (Three of the best Thrash songs ever, ever written)
Not For Me: Never been that into Ktulu, and chorus of ‘Escape.’


Metallica – Master Of Puppets (1986).
Do I even actually even have to type something here?
This is the business as long as you remember it is and don’t let it get outplayed or act like you’re too cool for it. There’s a reason so many lists have it as the finest anyone has ever written and I won’t insult you going over the reasons why. If you’re reading this, you’ve heard this, and you either agree that it is great or will already have been told you’re wrong before. No need for another voice in the choir. There’s a redundancy in telling the world’s fattest man that he’s fat, y’know, I think he’s heard it all before, and that’s what its like for Puppets.

Oh, and if you’re burnt out on Puppets or have gone cynical over time… if you haven’t actually listened to it in a while, just clear your schedule and drink it all in whilst acting as if you’re hearing it for the first time. It can really reignite it for you. Works for me when I forget every few years just how good it is.

Favourite Songs: ‘Battery,’ ‘Master Of Puppets’ (Two of the best Thrash songs ever, arguably THE best two) & ‘Damage Inc.’
Not For Me: I’m not as into ‘Orion’ as I think I should be.


Metallica – And Justice For All (1988).
I have so many fond, fond memories relating to this album. I can still remember the sofa I was sat on when I first ‘got’ this album after a few years as a Metallica skeptic (It was green & white checkered, and cloth rather than leather). I can remember the baddies from the videogame (Devil May Cry 2) I was killing at the time I first heard the chorus to ‘Eye Of The Beholder’ and finally totally accepted Metallica were just fundamentally better than all their competition. I remember trying to learn the awkward title track on drums. I remember singing Blackened at the top of my lungs with friends in the park one drunken teenage night, I remember seeing ‘Harvester Of Sorrow’ live in Dublin and feeling like I was in on some secret.

I never really had a problem with the production either. Maybe its because as a teenager my brother and I would play guitar and drums together often without a bassist and the lack of bass just doesn’t bother me as an individual? I love Hetfield’s voice here. I love the lyrics. I love the artwork. I love footage of this era. I love that anything this dense and challenging and proggy (and miles ahead of the competition) is so ubiquitous and necessary for every single Metal fan to hear. Ace Of Spades aint as Proggy as this, nor is Paranoid or Back In Black or British Steel …heck, even Number Of The Beast isn’t THIS dense or epic. Its amazing really that THIS is so popular, famous and beloved when you think about it.

Sometimes I think about Lulu or Beyond Magnetic or some of the more embarassing scenes from the excellent and underrated Some Kind Of Monster documentary and I forget that the band made this. Every time I come back and actually hear it, I’m slightly taken aback by just how good it is.

Favourite Songs: ‘Blackened,’ ‘…And Justice For All’ ‘The Shortest Straw’ & ‘Eye Of The Beholder.’
Not For Me: Not one second, it is perfect. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking I don’t like ‘One’ anymore because it is overplayed or like, because the Korn version doesn’t have a guitar solo, or something, but when I actually hear the actual studio version… especially the bits they cut out’ve the video version like the extra solos, well, its absolutely awesome and I think that the staccatto ‘LANDMINE. HAS TAKEN MY SIGHT. TAKEN MY SPEACH. TAKEN MY HEARING’ bit is one of the singular greatest bits of record music I’ve ever heard and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. It just really grabs me, so, so much.


[Side note, I know we aren’t supposed to count The Black Album because purists get so uppity about it; but ‘Holier Than Thou,’ ‘Don’t Tread On Me,’ ‘Trough The Never’ and ‘The Struggle Within’ are four of the best ever Thrash tunes and its madness if you rob yourself of them just to make a point.]



Nuclear Assault:

Nuclear Assault – Game Over (1986).
When you think about how un-heavy the guitar tone is (sounds like a 15 year old with a tiny clip-onto-the-belt novelty amplifier) and how love-it-or-hate-it the distinctive vocal style is, you may be forgiven for thinking at first glance that this is some poor, half-baked nonsense.

If that happens, persist, because I promise you this is actually one of the genre’s finest ever releases and easily up in the very top tier with any classic you care to name. This is absolutely essential for Thrash fans and I couldn’t recommend it any stronger. Like Thrash? Please, please try this.

Favourite Songs: ‘Sin,’ ‘Nuclear War’ & ‘Game Over.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but I’m not always in the mood for ‘My America’ and ‘Hang The Pope’ …I get what they’re tryna do, but I have to be in the right mood. Same thing with ‘Lesbians’ from some versions.


Nuclear Assault – The Plauge (1987).
I got it free as bonus tracks to my Game Over and listened to that disc end to end constantly for a few years so the distinction between the two is sometimes lost on me and I may mis-attribute one song from one to the wrong one at times. Its great either way. Even if I sometimes forget its technically a separate release.

Favourite Songs: ‘Nightmares’ & ‘Justice.’
Not For Me: Sometimes I’m not in the mood for ‘Butt Fuck’ …I like the music but the comedy is just lame. I agree that drink driving and manslaughter are bad, but I’m not always in the mood for this.


Nuclear Assault – Survive (1988).
This is the second most I’ve ever paid for an album. I think the only time I ever paid more for anything was Powerman 5000’s Anyone For Doomsday which had literally been almost entirely recalled and destroyed by the record company, save for a few copies left for radio stations and magazines. Anyway, this was just out of print and not yet reissued and I couldn’t wait. I think I spent something stupid on it I’m embarrassed and too forgetful to list here.

Its got one of the best album artworks of all time (I wore a t-shirt of it quite often for a good few years and have a vinyl copy on my wall for decoration) and more importantly, the music is good. Its got the singles, the opening two being concert staples, the singles all being career highlights, and all the deep cuts being great. Apart from the token joke tracks and a stray Zeppelin cover this is pretty perfect and I’d highly highly recommend it. Especially now its been reissued.

Favourite Songs: ‘Survive,’ ‘Fight To Be Free’ & ‘F Sharp.’
Not For Me: It could do with trimming away ‘PSA,’ ‘Got Another Quarter’ and the Led Zeppelin cover. I guess you could argue that this is what gives it character though.


Nuclear Assault – Handle With Care (1989).
Which is the best Nuclear Assault album? You could honestly choose any of the first three and you’d be right either way. The debut had the charm, the sophomore has the songs and this one has the speed, power and musicianship. Which album should you try first? Do you want a mixture of Iron Maiden and DRI…go Game Over. Do you want a mixture of Anthrax and Sacred Reich…go Survive. Do you want a bit of Kreator meets SOD? Then this is for you.
Great lyrics too, on the non-joke songs.

Favourite Songs: ‘New Song,’ ‘Critical Mass’ & ‘Search & Seizure.’
Not For Me: ‘Funky Noise’ and ‘Mother’s Day’


Nuclear Assault – Out Of Order (1991).
Unfairly overlooked. Not just as amazing as the previous stuff but almost up there. Its highlights are very good. If just two more songs were amazing I think it would’ve titled the scales and public perception would be totally different. Also, such ugly, ugly artwork… but that’s not important. Also, the keys on the lengthy title track are a fun surprise that totally works and doesn’t feel gimmicky. A foreshadowing of Dream Theater?

Favourite Songs: ‘Quocustodiat,’ ‘Stop Wait Think’ & ‘Save The Planet.’
Not For Me: ‘Ballroom Blitz’ though excellent, doesn’t fit.


Nuclear Assault – Live At The Hammersmith Odeon (1992; Recorded 1989).
The artwork, packaging and production make this seem like cheap crap. I was so in love with the band at the time I had to get it, but every time I hear it I just feel like I wasted my money. I’m sure its better if you have the video with it, but on its own its just a bit poor. Not the best sound, not the best performance and not the best package containing those. Good tracklisting though. I feel bad disliking it… I feel like I SHOULD like it or at least lie about it or something, because the band feel like underdogs for some reason when they should be up there with Megadeth and Anthrax, but unfortuantely this specific product just isn’t their best.




Onslaught – The Force (1986).
I bought this to try some British thrash for once. Its pretty much taking the Slayer track ‘Chemical Warfare’ and stretching it out to a whole album, complete with reverby toms. The vocals aren’t the best, the songs aren’t super memorable and the song lengths are a bit too long for the amount of ideas, but it is pretty decent. A solid album but never an amazing one.

Annoyingly, when I was in a band once I lent one of the members this when in the car on the way to a Gama Bomb gig, and the band broke up before I got it back…but small price to pay for a free gig I guess.

Favourite Songs: ‘Thrash Till Death’ & ‘Metal Forces’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but its all a bit overlong, grimy, and rough.




Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985).
It sounds a bit more ’83 than ’85, and there’s a few noticeable playing mistakes that made the final recording, its a bit of an influences-on-the-sleeve affair and the filler isn’t up to the standards of the best moments. That said. That said I say, this is amazing. The real highlights of the title-track and band’s-name-track are an absolute win for the band, and of the absolute utmost quality. Live, there’s almost nothing off this album that wouldn’t put a smile on my face. Its such a strange mixture of Priest/Maiden worship, punky rough and ready charm and theatrical drama, but when it all converges it births the Overkill sound and just really really works.

Favourite Songs: ‘Feel The Fire,’ ”Overkill & ‘Rotten To The Core.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but the drums on ‘Raise The Dead’ seem out of time at times.


Overkill – Taking Over (1987).
This is pretty much a perfect album. Its the perfect Heavy Metal album. If someone had to show an alien or a lost jungle tribesman who’d never heard of Metal and had no idea of any preconceived notions about the music or culture at all… this is what I’d give em to succinctly deliver the pure heart of metal. This is the album Anvil and Metal Church wanted to make but didn’t quite achieve.

Favourite Songs: ‘In Union We Stand,’ (better than any of Priest or Manowar’s anthems) ‘Deny The Cross’ & ‘Wrecking Crew.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. ‘Overkill II’ doesn’t have the same fun as the first one, I guess, but that’s just nitpicking.


Overkill – Under The Influence (1988).
I like this, and the single ‘Hello From The Gutter’ is great fun, but of the early material this one is the one I listen to or indeed like the least. I have nothing negative to say about it, but for some reason it just isn’t as good as the other four of the early five. Its well produced, chocked full of character, its got variety, its got heaviness, its got no weak moments…. but something just doesn’t sit right with me and I just don’t connect with it the same. No idea why. Maybe I’m just being weird?  I also kinda think Bobby’s vocals get a bit to cartoony on this album, maybe that’s it? I’m not sure.

Favourite Songs: ‘Hello From The Gutter,’ ‘The End Of The Line’ & ‘Never Say Never.’
Not For Me: Same goes for Overkill III, not as good as the first one. Also, I find it difficult to connect with the progressively structured Shred.


Overkill – The Years Of Decay (1989).
The best Overkill album, with about half of it all being my favourite Overkill songs (can you follow that sentence’s logic… 50% of the album’s contents are among the best of the band’s entire work). The mixture of doom, speedy Thrash, epic progginess and fun charecterful uniqueness is the solidification and perfection of everything the band have been trying to do before coming together and really gelling. Some of the most memorable material they’ve ever come up with.

Favourite Songs: ‘Elimination,’ ‘I Hate’ ‘Evil Never Dies’ & ‘Birth Of Tension’
Not For Me: ‘Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher’ is a bit boring if I’m not in the mood, although its actually a cool Sabbathy doom track, just…not what I want when I’m in a Thrash mood.


Overkill – Horrorscope (1991).
I’ve wanted to get this forever. I finally did last year, over a decade and a half after my origional Overkill love-fest began. I saw the video for the title track once and was afraid this album was one of those weird 90s album fails like Exodus’ Force Of Habbit if you know what I mean. When I finally got around to it I’m glad I was wrong, its one of the best things they’ve done. Its one of those Thrash-perfection albums, with a stunning production, some damn fun and inventive riffs and fills, and a pure and simple great collection of songs. There’s a touch of groove here and there, but no more than Never Neverland… a hint at Pantera but still very much in the Thrash tent.

Favourite Songs: ‘Coma,’ ‘Blood Money’ ‘Nice Day For A Funeral’ & ‘Thanx For Nothin.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, but it took me a few listens to like ‘Horrorscope.’


Sacred Reich:

Sacred Reich – Ignorance (1987).
This is a very solid yet unremarkable album in the Nuclear Assault mould only without the crossover bits and quirky moments. Its all technically fine on every level, the only thing missing is that x-factor or charm. Like, nothing is bad, but nothing makes you say ‘well, this is my favourite song’ either. I tend to listen to it shuffled in with other thrash bands so its part of a nice Thrash smorgasbord, as any song on its own works fine, but I don’t always sit through the whole original track order.

Favourite Songs: Nothing really stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing really stands out.


Sacred Reich – Surf Nicaragua (1988).
If you don’t get any bonus tracks or anything, its pretty short. The music is awesome. Each track would be the best track on Ignorance and a good song on The American Way. There’s not too much else to say really. Its awesome, just a shame its not a full length… maybe that’s just me being greedy though. Hey, if the two best songs off of Independent were on this, it’d be like, the best Thrash EP on the market.

Its weird that this is more famous and iconic than their albums. Was it just the novelty of the surf part? I hope not. It deserves more than that.

Favourite Songs: ‘One Nation’ & ‘Surf Nicaragua’ …although I think itd be better without the actual surf part in there.
Not For Me: I could do without the Sabbath cover.


Sacred Reich – The American Way (1990).
The best album of their career. One of the most flawless albums of the subgrene. Amazing vocals, such good choruses, awesome lyrics, the perfect production and some nice, niiiice riffs. The final track is a novelty track that technically spoils the word ‘flawless’ but if you consider it a bonus track I can justify the ‘flawless’ tag. I wish they made one more clone of this before moving on. The first four albums are all so different from eachother, could’ve done with a bit more of each, but maybe I’m just being greedy. Anyway, I don’t know what this is, but I really love this album, its got character, charm, x-factor or something. Its just that little bit inexplicably better than almost everything else. Apart from the world-beaters like Years Of Decay and Peace Sells But Who’s Buying and Spreading The Disease… well, this just about the best you can get. Trust me, you need this.

Favourite Songs: ‘Who’s To Blame,’ ‘The American Way’ & ‘Love… Hate.’
Not For Me: ’32 Flavours.’


Sacred Reich – Independent (1993).
Much like ‘Bonded By Blood’ the title-track is dramatically better than everything else. Its a bit repetitive and forgettable towards the end and although the highlights are amazing its not as good towards the deep cuts. It also of significance for introducing the world to Dave McClain. I mean, its great but I am writing a lot of these and I’m getting a little too honest for my own good. Even more than I’m even honest with myself. Or I guess I’m allowed to change my mind. I really like it sometimes and sometimes I’m not as in the mood as others.

Favourite Songs: ‘Independent’ & ‘Supremancy.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.



Sepultura – Morbid Visions (1986).
This just aint my cup of tea. I get it in a curiosity sort of way and I can see why some of the extreme crowd might be into it, but yeah, not for me. Also; Is it true that Igor couldn’t afford a pedal so he played the kickdrum by actually kicking it?

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.



Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987).
A lot better than the previous album, but nowhere near as good as the next two. Its still a bit too rough, its still a bit harsh and its still a little bit samey, but boy is it better than the previous album and EP.

I remeber reading the linear notes of this whilst at a bus stop and my highschool English Teacher gave me a dissaproving look. I was actually listening to Set The World Afire by Megadeth at the time, but he gave me the whole ‘why do you listen to this nonsense, grow up’ thing. If we were talking Schizophrenia I’d have been tempted to agree with him, but you can’t mess with Set The World Afire.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Sepultura – Beneath The Remains (1989).
The title track is awesome and I love it, but apart from that I don’t really listen to this often enough to distinguish the other tracks. Its a little bit samey though much, much better than the previous material. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this album, but I don’t know, I have some sort of mental block. I agree with anyone and any review that says its good, but I can’t ever seem to just stick it on and get into it.

Favourite Songs: ‘Beneath The Remains’
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Sepultura – Arise (1991).
It took me a long time to get into this. I remember for a little while I didn’t know Sepultura had a past, I thought their debut was Chaos AD and their Breakthrough was Roots. This resulted in quite a while of calling anything prior to this ‘Old School Seps.’ Of all the old school Seps albums, this one is the most varied, accomplished and not only realistic, but impressive. I am not in love with it or any Sepultura pre-Chaos AD but it is objectively great. I think they’re better at parts than songs, and there’s tonnes of sections I enjoy but this isn’t an album isn’t something I listen to that often.

Also how weird was it to hear this in Taledega Nights? So unexpected,

Favourite Songs: ‘Arise,’ ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ & ‘Infected Voice.’
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Slayer – Show No Mercy (1983).
I avoided this album for years based on the silly cover and the silly make-up photo on the back, but hearing both ‘Die By The Sword’ and ‘The Antichrist’ on Decade Of Aggression made me take a shot, and I’m glad I did. I really, really like this. Its very NWOBHMy, charming and unique. It almost feels like a different band from the guys who made Reign In Blood or Seasons In The Abyss, but I love it all the same. Its like two different bands, but two awesome bands. The production job is really interesting, there’s nothing quite like it… Overkill and Megadeth’s debuts have charming production but its still different than this. Also for all the Venom influence that gets talked about regarding this band, y’know who this reminds me of? The other Newcastle guys… Raven.

Favourite Songs: ‘Crionics,’ ‘The Antichrist’ & ‘Final Command.’
Not For Me: ‘Metal Storm/Face The Slayer.’


Slayer – Haunting The Chapel (1984).
This EP is a lot heavier and more Slayer-y than the debut. I feel like these tracks would fit in with Hell Awaits a lot more than Show No Mercy should they be packaged together at some point. For such a famous and oft-played song, ‘Chemical Warfare’ is a bit dull, but the rest is pretty nifty. Nowadays I don’t listen to this much on its own, but I get decent coverage from it when listening to all Thrash on shuffle.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Slayer – Live Undead (1984).
This one feels a bit pointless, like, a live album done in the studio with a tiny crowd, and tracks from only the debut and one more EP. Like, who is this really for? I don’t dislike it, but I’ll never love it. I guess there’s a certain charm to it. I don’t listen to it often, but when I do I don’t feel like its been a complete waste of money. Not that I’d recommend it either. But if you’ve already got it, don’t throw it in the trash just yet.



Slayer – Hell Awaits (1985).
Its a bit monotonous, a bit slow and a bit too reverb-y, but its still a pretty strong album. I think the performances are the least aggressive of any Slayer album to date, and the production makes it feel a bit muted, but the songs themselves are pretty boss. Also, there’s not one, but two prototype riffs for the iconic Raining Blood riff from the next album, check em out, its like they were trying to figure out how to make the best riff in the whole genre.

Favourite Songs: ‘Kill Again’ & ‘Hardening Of The Arteries.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986).
This album was so hyped and so highly recommend that I felt it was actually a big disappointment for me. It actually took me a rather long time to get into and for years I’d speak of it in mocked derisive tones. If I ever used the word ‘overrated’ it was probably in conjunction with this. The main exceptions to my cold shoulder to this where Raining Blood and Post Mortem because they are Slayer’s best two songs period. Nowadays I’m actually pretty keen on this record. It works better as a whole than in bits though. I more routinely shuffle music nowadays, but getting a random ‘Epidemic’ or ‘Jesus Saves’ doesn’t really blow my skirt up in the way a deep cut off an Overkill or Annihilator album might. Its a complex relationship I have with this. In awe, respectful, but resentful, but also too self aware to stay resentful. Oh yeah, and what about that production? Hands down the best Thrash production of the 1980s.

Favourite Songs: ‘Raining Blood,’ ‘Postmortem’ & ‘Alter Of Sacrifice.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Slayer – South Of Heaven (1988).
When you read about this one, the articles always act as if its the slowest album ever recorded. When things like Silent Scream and Live Undead are pretty darn quick I just don’t get that. I’d argue Silent Scream is faster than at least half of Reign In Blood. Its not the slow broody numbers or the speedy bangers that really set this album apart though, the mid paced and famous tracks are the most memorable moments here for me. I don’t care if they are outplayed, The Title Track and Mandatory Suicide are a real high water mark for Thrash in my opinion. Oh, and the artwork is cool.

There’s a famous moment in my family where my dad got a McDonalds when not used to it and was expecting some gourmet burger and instead got soggy gross fast food. He proclaimed it a ‘dollop of slop’ and threw it out. I was listening to this album at the time. Anytime I see discarded slop on the roadside, I think of Slayer and my dad and I smile.

Favourite Songs: ‘South Of Heaven,’ ‘Mandatory Suicide’ & ‘Silent Scream.’
Not For Me: ‘Spill The Blood.’ Also as a sidenote, I didn’t know for years that Dissident Agressor was a cover and it was my among my favourite ever Slayer songs.


Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss (1990).
This album is pretty near flawless. Its got some really heavy nasty stuff, some nice groovy catchy stuff, some interesting slow creepy stuff, a mixture of lyricaly topics from social, fantasty and real life serial killer content. The production is absolutely immense, especially the drum sound and each band member’s performance is arguably their career best. No Slayer fan should be without and I’d argue no Thrash fan should either. I got this one slightly later than other Slayer albums (in the same purchase as Megadeth’s Killing Is My Business, in the same week my friend Paul lent me a copy of Sepultura’s Schizophrenia for the first time) but having owned it for many many years now I can definitely say I think its subjectively the best Slayer album and if you catch me on the right day I’d swear blind its always been my favourite Slayer album.

Favourite Songs: ‘War Ensemble,’ ‘Blood Red’ ‘Skeletons Of Society’ & ‘Seasons In The Abyss.’ (Four of the best ever Thrash songs)
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Slayer – A Decade Of Aggression (1991).
This double album is one of the best live albums released in the actual Thrash era (There’s plenty of amazing ones from later, like Testament’s Live In London from 2005), with a longer and deeper, and more representative tracklisting than most live Thrash releases from the time and a really decent sound and mixing job.

You can imagine why an 8-track Exodus live album seemed a bit too short after this.



Slayer – Divine Intervention (1991).
With the exclusion of the opening track, Killing Fields, I absolutely love the drumming on this album and have a little bit of a drummer crush on Paul Bostaph. I also like the fact that Dittohead is faster than anything on Reign In Blood although the band weren’t in their fast-fast-fast period at this time. There’s a few tunes on this album that are slow and groovy with a sort of insidious menace and very different vocals than usual from Tom. I think that although I don’t know very many people who dislike this, I still feel its underrated. I don’t know if I’d call it my hands-down unarguable favourite Slayer album, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be without it. If you only have the three most famous Slayer albums, consider adding this to your collection.

Favourite Songs: ‘Dittohead,’ ‘Sex. Murder. Art,’ ‘Circle Of Beliefs’ & ‘Fictional Reality.’
Not For Me: ‘Killing Fields’



Sodom – In The Sign Of Evil (1985).
I have to say I don’t like this; never have, probably never will. Part of it is the style, part of it is the execution. My gut reaction is to say crap music made crappily but that feels so harsh and unfair to say. When judging it purely on the merits of comparison to other Heavy Metal albums and not taking into account things like people’s feelings, legacy, influence or budget, or the fact that I’ve never made anything better, and just going on a scale of ‘If we’re comparing this to everything else in the same league as Master Of Puppets and Reign In Blood’ then I have to say that this really is the worst Thrash album I own, the one I like the least as well, and one which I’ve found very offputting. Buying this made me take less chances buying Thrash albums because I never expected I could dislike one so much before I tried this one out.
I’m sure if you have Blaze In The Northern Sky bedsheets and you dog’s name is Sarcofago then maybe you’d enjoy it but for me, it really doesn’t do it. I got into this music for Caught In A Mosh and Battery and Peace Sells. Sorry if that makes me a wimp.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Sodom – Obsessed By Cruelty (1986).
I’m not a fan of this. I know its held as a classic by Extreme Metal fans but nope, it really isn’t what I like about Thrash or Metal. I don’t want to be harsh or critical because I know its dear to many people, but as a pure personal taste issue I just can’t get along with this and it distorted my view of the whole band for a while. Its hard to call myself a fan of a band when I dislike this so much.
Years later I see much more value to it but when I first bought this I thought it was pretty much garbage and struggled many years trying to get any enjoyment of it at all. I used to actually feel guilty for having wasted money on it. Which with my current brain I think is a pretty stupid way to feel and would hate to say out loud or hurt the band’s or fan’s feelings about…but when I was a teen I’d tell anyone who’d listen that this album royally sucked and any time I see this album in my collection that is the first thing that flashes across my mind. I guess its not fair to complain that a young band on a budget were making mistakes or not making masterpieces but at the time it seemed like such a big deal… I mean, Metallica were young guys too once and they managed to Make Kill ‘Em All.

You know when you’ve got Thrash on shuffle though, and you hear a run of something like ‘Bonded By Blood,’ ‘Hit The Lights,’ ‘Rotten To The Core’ and ‘The Mechanix’ and you couldn’t be musically more satisfied and then ‘Witchhammer’ vomits over the speakers and snaps you back to reality and all you can do is wonder if you should delete it from the playlist but then you get guilty about wasting money and can’t do that and then you look in the mirror and you are me. I hate when that happens. Or you like it, but then Sarcofago sheds his fur all over your Darkthrone bedsheets, and that’s a nuisance too.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Sodom – Expurse Of Sodomy (1987).
This little EP shows the band expanding their sound, honing their skills and producing some memorable material. Hey, didn’t Cradle Of Filth cover ‘Sodom And Lust’ …I knew I’d heard that somewhere before. Its brief, but it works.

Favourite Songs: ‘My Atonement’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.



Sodom – Persecution Mania (1987).
This album is a huge improvement over the debut. Its a lot less murky, a lot better played and more professional sounding, the tones are more to my individual tastes and there’s a lot more ambition in the structuring and songwriting. If I was being critical I’d point out that its perhaps a bit too samey and it doesn’t have many real stand out moments but that’s only if I’m being really harsh. I wasn’t that keen on it when I first got it and sometimes have to overcome a bit of mental prejudice against it but I actually enjoy it rather a lot these days.

Favourite Songs: ‘Conjuration,’ & ‘Outbreak Of Evil.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Sodom – Agent Orange (1989).
Ah, now this is what I wanted. This is everything the band had been missing… complex and intriguing songs, memorable lyrics and patterns, melody in the leads, variety, clear production. On top of it all, its not just stylistically more to my tastes but actually better as well. This is actually one of the best Thrash albums in my opinion, overall, when you take every individual marker into account. Oh and the punky ‘Auesgbombt’ is such fun. Damn, even the album art is good!

If you only own Obsessed By Cruelty and therefore think that the band suck, try this, you’ll be very surprised.

Favourite Songs: ‘Agent Orange’ & ‘Tired And Red.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Sodom – Better Off Dead (1990).
This is one of the newest Thrash albums I own, not like, it is released newest, but like, the one that I bought the most recently. I just had the first three Sodom albums for yeeeears and finally got around to getting the fourth recently and damn, I was missing something. This album is totally to my tastes and I really, really recommend it to Thrash fans. It is the professional, well written and immensely catchy Sodom album I’d been waiting for. I wish I’d heard this before I’d heard Obsessed By Cruelty and I’d probably have had a much better opinion of the band all these years. Hey, if you aren’t yet keen on this band just check out ‘The Saw Is The Law’ …no, Black Metal Fans, it aint exactly Witchhammer, but it works for me.

Favourite Songs: ‘The Saw Is The Law,’ ‘Never Healing Wound’ & ‘Capture The Flag.’
Not For Me: The Thin Lizzy cover doesn’t really fit.



SOD – Speak English Or Die (1985).
I like Anthrax, I like Nuclear Assault. This album is Scott Ian and Dan Lilker (yeah I know he was on Fistful Of Metal too, but still…) so I was all geared up to like this and bought it with excitement (mental note, in the same Omagh CD & Record’s fair where I got that Death Angel boxset, the same year as I got Mastodon’s Leviathan). I don’t actually really like this album very much at all though. The humour isn’t for me, the songs aren’t as memorable as Anthrax songs or Nuclear Assault songs, the singer isn’t to my tastes and in general its just a bit forgettable. There are some seriously great Scott-Ian’s-Wrist riffs in there, but that’s not enough on its own to save this for me. I’ll listen to it quite often to try and get my money’s worth because I don’t WANT to dislike it, but I don’t get much out of this one, sorry, I know its got its share of fans who’d call it a classic but sadly I’m not one of ’em.

Favourite Songs: I like a few of the very Scott Ian mid paced riffs here and there.
Not For Me: Most of it



Testament – The Legacy (1987).
Arguably the darkest and heaviest Testament album (definitely of the ’80s at any rate) and one of the most relentless Thrash albums on the go, The Legacy is definitely a must-have for any Thrash fan and not just in a ‘people say that but its not my cup of tea’ way, I genuinely recommend this, it is a master-class in heavy metal music.

I really enjoy the performance on this album, its incredibly tight for a debut and there’s a certain edge to the playing.

Favourite Songs: ‘Apocalyptic City,’ ‘Alone In The Dark’ & ‘Raging Waters.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Testament – The New Order (1988).
Well this is just jam packed full of concert favourites and perennial compilation inclusion choices, now isn’t it? How could anyone who likes this type of music fail to enjoy this? I’ve heard a few people complain about the production but for me, its not an issue at all. The songwriting, singing and playing are all absolutely excellent and how can anyone mess with the absolute anthem ‘Disciples Of The Watch’ ? I’m tempted to throw out some ‘if you don’t like it, you don’t like Thrash’ type hyperbole, so much is it amazing.

Side note: I recently re-arranged the track order so it opens faster and goes slower as it progresses and it works a bit better. I think the instrumental, the Aerosmith cover and the slower tracks feel better as a conclusion than interrupting the fury.

Favourite Songs: ‘Disciples Of The Watch,’ ‘The Preacher’ & ‘Into The Pit.’ (Three of the absolute best Thrash songs ever)
Not For Me: The Aerosmith cover is an odd choice. ‘Hypnosis’ is a bit pointless.


Testament – Practice What You Preach (1989).
A bit more melodic than the previous two, and boasting a ballad (imaginatively titled The Ballad) some greebs back in the day might’ve cried sell out (back in the day when people though having lyrics about Black Magic constituted something being Black Metal, rather than the now recognised separate musical genre). I don’t know, if you don’t want to give an even catchier Testament a chance then your loss, but for me this is exactly the right balance of heaviness and tunefulness and what I’d argue good Thrash is all about. It doesn’t sound like a compromise, it sounds like an improvement. Anyway, I reckon its only the real nitpicky Burzum t-shirted folks who make a distinction between this an the rest of the Testmanet work. Sorry, sounding a bit defensive there …old resentments. Any-old-way – This is heavy, punchy, memorable Thrash with all the lead guitar heroics, chugging and crunch you need.

Favourite Songs: ‘Practice What You Preach,’ ‘Sins Of Ommision’ ‘Nightmare (Coming Back To You)’ & ‘Perilous Nation.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent. Yes, even The Ballad!


Testament – Souls Of Black (1990).
Criminally underrated. Criminally. I often read people say this album was rushed, or that it is repetitive or doesn’t live up to their previous albums. For me, this is one of, if not the best Testament album and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t like it. If feels like the perfection of everything they’d been building to at this point.

Side note – the album cover is one of my all time favourites, I want to get a vinyl copy and get it framed and put it up on my wall as art.

Favourite Songs: ‘Souls Of Black,’ ‘Seven Days Of May’ ‘Face In The Sky’ & ‘The Legacy.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Testament – The Ritual (1992).
This album feels like a missed opportunity to sell out and become millionaires. I mean; Metallica had the Black Album, Megadeth had Countdown’ and Anthrax had Sound Of White Noise, so it seems like Testament could’ve gone down a more hard-rock route and made tonnes of cash, but that was not the case.

At the same time, it wasn’t business as usual either. They doubled the number of ballads from the previous two records (both are decent though, and neither are particularity commercial or cynical), they added a few slow tracks, made more progressive song structures and had a few really good single type songs.

You can’t argue with the likes of ‘Electric Crown’ on its own but the album suffers slightly a lot from a very jumbled track order that doesn’t flow very naturally.

Favourite Songs: ‘Electric Crown’ ‘Agony’ & ‘Let Go Of My World.’
Not For Me: ‘So Many Lies’



Vio-lence – Eternal Nightmare (1988).
‘Vio-lence;’ that name always slightly annoys me and is difficult to say out loud. Why not just ‘Violence.’ Well, legal reasons probably. Anyway, every time I listen to this, my main though is how much heavier and angrier than Reign In Blood it is without being remotely Death or Black Metal sounding. Sodom or Possesed or Sarcofago may be super influential to extreme Metal, but this is one of the angriest Pure-Thrash albums I’ve heard.

The album was notable at the time of my purchase for featuring Rob Flynn from Machine Head on guitar and then even more interesting when Phil Demmel on this album also joined Machine Head (and ever since as he became more than just a fill-in guitarist and turned into a star in his own right). When I read the phrase ‘Bay Area Crunch’ the two things that imediately flash across my mind are Exodus’ Fabulous Disaster and This, before I start thinking about whoever else.

Favourite Songs: ‘Phobiaphobia’ & ‘Calling In The Coroner.’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.


Vio-lence – Oppressing The Masses (1990).
This album isn’t as constantly fast and blisteringly heavy as the previous one, there’s a lot more meaty and groovier sections and a much better vocal performance. It feels a bit longer and if you aren’t in the right mood, maybe a bit samey, but there’s some seriously good lead guitar work and a very crunchy production that makes the riffs sound perfect.

I don’t feel like I listen to this often enough, but its one of my go to albums to listen to when I feel like I’m not listening to something enough, so I’ve listened to it more under those circumstances than properly.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Vio-lence – Torture Tactics (1991).
This quick three-track EP focuses mainly on comedy lyrics and silliness. Musically its the same ballsy Bay Area Thrash as the previous two albums, but with stupid lyrics like “12 Inches Of Dangling Doom” …not to my taste, even back as a teenager. I have this as bonus tracks on Oppressing The Masses, but there’s a certain vibe to these songs that doesn’t fit with the songs from that record, so nowadays I have it as a separate entry in iTunes. I don’t listen to this one that often but have nothing against it per se.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.



Voivod – Killing Technology (1987).
Killing Technology is the Progged-out Canadian Thrash band Voivod’s third album. My clearest memory of it, is my first listen when I was building a flatpack CD shelf from B&Q, my first ever attempt at furniture assembly. I can’t say I really like this, but I’ll go into more details below.

Favourite Songs: Nothing stands out.
Not For Me: Nothing stands out.


Voivod – Dimension Hatross (1988).
Of the two Voivod albums that I own, this one is less specifically Thrash, but more good (wow, my writing skills amaze me sometimes.) The song that made me check out the band, ‘Tribal Convictions’ is on here, but its about the only song on here I like all the way through. There’s loads of good parts on the album, and the production is a lot clearer than the previous album, but all the dissonance, weird music and unpleasant scratchy music is bigger, longer and more prominent. The things that actual Voivod fans would probably go gooey over aren’t really for me. Despite being a big fan of bands like Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, the gnarlier side of Voivod just isn’t for me. I listen to this album (and the previous one) quite a lot to give them a fair shot, feel like I didn’t waste my money and try not to feel intellectually inferior to imaginary bullies in Burzum t-shirts, but try as I might, this band and album just aint for me.

Favourite Songs: ‘Tribal Convictions.’
Not For Me: It really doesn’t need a Batman theme-tune cover.




Obviously, there’s more to Thrash than that. But this article’s gotta end some time, hasn’t it?

Hair Metal Thoughts:

Posted: June 13, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

I’ve decided that since I’ve been listening to so much of it recently, but that I don’t feel ready to be writing full-length detailed reviews yet, I’m going to write a post about Glam/Hair Metal. So the following is a list of my current collection at time of writing, a piece on each, and a list of my very favourite and my disliked tracks from each.

When I first got into music, this stuff was the enemy, it was the devil. It was everything wrong with music. It was the worst excess, the lamest sell-outs, the biggest compromise, the lowest common denominator, all of that. My generation was endlessly informed to hate it and warned against it. Many people wanted to write it out of history. Heck you can see in the documentary Metal Evolution that presenter Sam Dunne can’t even do his job and be objective about it and present it fairly, he just throws in tonnes of personal anti-Glam bias. It was actually just how annoyed with Sam’s lack of objectivity that I became whilst watching the show which first got me interested in trying this music out. I was very much of a mind that, this guy is being a dick and I’m not going to write it all off so easily as he does anymore. That, and Metal Hammer Podcast presenter James Gill quite often gave glam bands really kind words, and I trusted his opinion a lot… I miss that show.

For me, even after accepting that Glam can yield good music my go-to position is to love the stuff, the early stuff that’s still very Metallic and hard to distinguish from a spare Saxon or Judas Priest song, and to fear and dislike the Ballad, the keyboard, or the songs about beautiful girls.Its not just glam however, it pervades everything… I had to first hear blistering tracks like ‘On Fire’ and ‘Atomic Punk’ before I let myself enjoy Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ …quite embarrassing really. All these years into my twenties and I’m still influenced by some preteen rules about being true that I never even conformed to anyway with all the Green Day albums in my collection. I’ve worked hard to get over that in the past five years. In saying that however, I am who I am and I like what I like, so it still sometimes shines through.

Also before a flurry of genre-misfile comments come in; I know there’s people who will say that Bon Jovi or Guns N Roses aren’t Hair Metal, and either that its just Rock Music or just Pop Music or its not from LA so it doesn’t count. Whatever; my mind always lumps them in, so for the purposes of this blog they’re Hair Metal. Hey, if I’ve had to spend the last decade and a half hearing that Linkin Park and Slipknot are supposedly the same sub-genre, we’ll just put all ‘this doesn’t fulfill the criteria’ arguments to one side.

Here we go…

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi.
This album came before the band’s big commercial breakthrough, its a lot less polished, arguably harder and has much less sugary ballads. In that way, it has more credibility among a certain section of fans but on the other hand it is also a bit of a yawn-fest for others. I remember Gill from the Metal Hammer podcast a few years back extolling its virtues and lamenting that the band didn’t play more from it live.

For me, I like it. Its a bit samey, and its not my go-to album, but I pretty much only have positive things to say about it.

Favourite Songs: ‘Runnaway’ & ‘Come Back’
Not For Me: Nothing really, its pretty consistent.

Bon Jovi – 7800 Fahrenheit.
This one is a bit of a weird one, partly because of the over-reliance on keys and synths, partially because of the track order. I mean there’s plenty of good songs here, plenty of fast songs and a few hard songs, but it doesn’t feel that way when you listen to it in the correct order. I have it in a custom order that goes from heaviest to lightest. Not that heavy is necessarily equal to good. ‘King Of The Mountain’ isn’t heavy at all but its great fun.

Favourite Songs: ‘King Of The Mountain’ & ‘Tokyo Road’ and hey, closer ‘Secret Dreams’ is pretty heavy for Bon Jovi, arguably one of their heaviest. I’ love to hear this one with good production and a confident performance. It reminds me a bit of Dokken in the chorus and ‘Girls era Crue in the verses.

Not For Me: ‘(I Don’t Wanna Fall) To The Fire’ – y’know I actually like it objectively, it’d be good on Roger Waters’ Radio Kaos, but it just doesn’t sound like what I want from Bon Jovi. ‘Silent Night’ is a bit too drippy for me, I’m not anti-ballad per sae, if Hammerfall or someone covered it would float my boat, but this is a bit too far for me especially with the production and specific synth tones.

Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet.

Well how do you even argue with this? Multi-platinum, some of the most famous singles ever. With the exception of the nauseating too-far ballad, its pretty perfect. A nice mix of fast and slow, powerful and sweet. I’ll admit that I like the hits more than the deep cuts, but I’m very partial to things like ‘Social Disease’ too.

Favourite Songs: ‘I’d Die For You’ ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ & ‘Living On A Prayer’
Not For Me: ‘Without Love’ – Yuck!

Bon Jovi – New Jersey.
Bigger than Slippery’ but a bit more uneven, its a mixed bag but mostly all hit and little miss. The fun acoustic stuff feels more like bonus tracks, but is still some of the best stuff on the album. The guitar solos on this album are amazing too. I didn’t get why Ritchie was so famous until I heard this.
I don’t listen to this one so often as its too big, too eclectic and too far from what I bought it for, but will totally acknowledge that on its own merits its good… but I’m not as often in the mood to listen to as it was intended. I like hearing the best songs on shuffle though, or cracking through it in a get-my-money’s worth kind of way. Funny story, I bought all four of these Bon Jovi albums about thirty minutes after sitting a really difficult exam, and was so brain dead by the end of it I bolted up to the city centre to get something colourful and distracting after all that studying for weeks then the actual explosive test. Aced it… But unfortunately Bon Jovi usually reminds me of revision stress.

Favourite Songs: ‘Bad Medicine’ & ‘Born To Be My Baby’
Not For Me: ‘Living In Sin’ …but again its not a ballad thing, because the chorus of ‘I’ll Be There For You’ has me pumping fists in the air every time.

Dokken – Breaking The Chains.

Around the time of the aforementioned Exam (well Exam, there was like five of them, because the Uni I chose seemed to do about twice as many assessments as any of our neighbours did for no clear purpose I can see, at least that’s what future colleagues always informed me afterwards) I decided to get some boxsets. I like boxsets. One day I was just in the mood for boxsets and got a Dream Theater one, which I knew I’d like after being won over by Images And Words, and beside it for a good price was Dokken’s first four albums plus a live album. Sold.

Their debut sounds like a mixture between early Priest and early MSG (Who I also got into around the same time through such a boxset. I work in patterns and phases, you see). Its not too overproduced, its not too slick and its not all pompous or overblown. Its just a kick ass hard-rock or soft Metal album. The guitar work is awesome, I think Lynch is one of the best players in the whole scene. If you like guitar solos, this album is for you.

Favourite Songs: ‘Live To Rock (Rock To Live)’ & ‘Paris Is Burning’
Not For Me: Nothing. Some songs are a bit lame on first listen, like ‘I Can’t See You’ or ‘Seven Thunders’ and the lyrics to ‘Young Girls’ may be a bit peado-y nowadays (just like Motorhead and Saxon each have one) but I love it all. No duds. All good.

Dokken – Tooth And Nail.
Everything about the debut, but doubled. Its the best Dokken album in my opinion and one of the best I’ve heard for the genre. I don’t see why any fan of Iron Maiden or Anthrax couldn’t like this. Apart from the single ‘Just Got Lucky’ there’s nothing even remotely wimpy or light about it. These songs just flat out work, and this is a good album to play to any Judas Priest/Saxon fan who is afraid of Glam. I think that this, along with You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll and Shout At The Devil should be mandatory listening for anyone who doesn’t yet see the link between Metal and Glam.

Favourite Songs: ‘Tooth And Nail’ & ‘Dont Close Your Eyes’
Not For Me: None – Its Awesome. Although it took me quite a while to get used to ‘Just Got Lucky’ which felt overtly commercial, but once it sinks in, man, its unavoidably entertaining. The first time I heard it I was all like ‘Yuuuuuk’ but nowadays I’m singing and dancing away like an ’80s housewife, and loving it.

Dokken – Under Lock And Key.
Another very good Dokken album. The artwork, production on the ballads and length put me off on first listen and I thought this mightn’t have been so good. Time has been kind however, and the more I hear it the more I like it. The tracks ‘Til The Living End’ & ‘Lightning Strikes Again’ are arguably my two favourite Dokken tracks period. I think this might be the best album for Don’s vocals ever.

Favourite Songs: ‘Til The Living End’ & ‘Lightning Strikes Again’
Not For Me: ‘Slipping Away’ – Sequenced too early in the album, less catchy than the other ballads on the record, and a bit too saccharine for me.

Dokken – Back For The Attack.
I think there’s a certain sameyness to this one. Everything is good. Nothing is skippable, but all in a big line it blurs a little. Only a little though, its still better than many band’s best albums. I tend to think of this as one of the better Dokken albums, but its sort of a journey, start to finish. You gotta either just listen to the out of place heavy-as-balls instrumental, or else you’ve gotta strap in for the full duration. Its ironic, but the album might work better with a few less good tracks, because its just all so uniformly good that its all a bit, well, uniform.

Favourite Songs: ‘Mr Scary’ & ‘Kiss Of Death’
Not For Me: Nothing.


Europe – The Final Countdown.
So yeah, Glam in terms of big hair, keyboards and that reverby drum sound, but its not from LA. A lot of people would argue against its inclusion here but I’m stuck in my ways unfortunately and if I think Twisted Sister or Ratt I then also think Final Countdown. I haven’t ever heard another Europe album so I dunno how it fits for them, but to me, as this one-off singular entity this is a pretty great piece of rock. Danger On The Tracks, Ninja, On The Loose. What’s not to like? As long as the title track hasn’t been overplayed to you recently (y’know the Smells Like Teen Spirit and Ace Of Spades problem) then its one of the best songs of all time. Too high praise? Maybe, but its the mood I’m in right now.

Favourite Songs: ‘The Final Countdown’ & ‘Rock The Night’
Not For Me: ‘Carrie’


Extreme – Pornograffitti.
Over-cooked prog Glam. Its intersting, this album sounds like if early Dream Theater tried to re-create Doctor Feelgood’s success. The production, the big-ness. All feelgood. The weird intros, the length, the musicianship …early Dream Theater. I find the horns offputting, but I hate them in any music usually, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns N Roses and Motley Crue don’t get away with it either for me.

The album is quite hard work and takes a lot of listening to get in to, and it feels like a real tonal mismatch, the verses of ‘Money (In God We Trust)’ and its choruses sound like two different bands.

Favourite Songs: ‘He-Man Woman Hater’ & ‘(Its A) Monster’
Not For Me: ‘When I First Kissed You’ – Yuck! So offputting. Not the sentiment, just the music. Its so offputting. I quite like ‘More Than Words’ so its not just an anti-ballad snobbery, but, wow, yuck… I hate this song.

Guns N Roses

Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction.
One of the best albums of all time, that’s what we’re told every day. We’re told it so often we get jaded and almost forget its actually true. I could happily pass a law forbidding Sweet Child Of Mine from ever being played on radio again, but when it hits me fresh, it actually really sets me off. There’s not a bad second on this album. Who doesn’t like You’re Crazy? Paradise City might be overplayed but when it speeds up towards the end, you forget and get carried away all over again. There’s no point in doing a detailed write up because there’s just been so much written about this already, but my two cents: The deep cuts here are better than every other glam band’s biggest hits combined. The first time I ever heard Mr Brownstone was on a bus home from school and it made me sit up and completely re-evaluate my years of pre-teen hatred for this band. Even if I sometimes disagree with hype, no one’s ever telling me Mr Brownstone or My Michelle aren’t amazing songs.

Favourite Songs: ‘Think About You’ & ‘My Michelle’ & ‘Night-train’ & ‘Out Ta Get Me’
Not For Me: None. When I was younger I didn’t care for ‘Rocket Queen’ but that’s since passed. I may have been too young and maybe it was a bit obscene?

Guns N Roses – Lies.
I don’t listen to this often, but I have nothing against it. Just an OK EP. I like how much energy the live stuff has, I wish they’d added ‘Shaddow Of Your Love’ to it so it wasn’t so rare but that’s not really an issue with Lies. Just random thoughts. Also, I know the title is GNR Lies but to me its title is Lies. Just Lies. I can’t ever get used to saying GNR Lies.

Favourite Songs: ‘Nice Boys’ & ‘Reckless Life’

Not For Me: ‘Patience’ – never ever liked this one; I’ve soften hugely to it in recent years and especially this year after getting Live Era; but still, I’ll keep it here for historical reasons.

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion 1.
Sometimes I think I don’t like this, sometimes I think its my favourite one. Guns N Roses profile gets in the way of the music. All the million dollar music videos and the cover songs and the behind the scenes stuff can occasionally make you forget the awesome fast and heavy material on the UYI albums. The best songs on this rival anything any classic band have ever written. Just a shame the bloat can distract you at times. I used to dislike Coma for a few years, but I’ve since re-evaluated that.

Favourite Songs: ‘Right Next Door To Hell’ ‘Back Off Bitch & ‘Double Talkin Jive’

Not For Me: ‘Live And Let Die’ – If I never hear it again I’ll be pleased, and it doubly rankles that it takes up space in live sets that could be used for originals. Also ‘Dont Cry’ is awesome but we don’t need two almost identical versions, coulda saved the alternative version for a B Side of a single, and left one version of UYI2.

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion 2.
Well, what I said for the previous one applies to this one too. They’re kinda the one album aren’t they. Does anyone really own one and not the other, how weird would that be?

This one has better ballads and epics; and ‘Estranged’ is an ultimate show-stopping masterpiece. If I’m in the right mood this can be one of my favourite albums…14 Years!? Locomotive!?

Sometimes I think its a bit to thin or wimpy… the rant in Get In The Ring puts me off sometimes. So childish. But overall, good stuff.

Favourite Songs: ‘You Could Be Mine’ & ‘Civil War’
Not For Me: ”Knockin On Heavens Door’ – Yuck, easily the worst thing in the band’s whole discography… I wish they’d stop playing this live too. ‘My World’ – not really a real song, but its a jarring end to the album, what’s the point?

Guns N Roses – The Spaghetti Incident?
Well it’s not really a studio album is it, covers albums are more like compilations in my mental-filing. This album doesn’t really do it for me, I like some of the fastr funner punkier tunes, but the main problem is it just isn’t as good as Guns N Roses own meterial is in now?

Favourite Songs: ‘Attitude’ & ‘New Rose’
Not For Me: ‘Since I Don’t Have You’ – My feelings for this rival what I said about that Extreme ballad.

LA Guns

LA Guns – LA Guns.
One of the most recent additions to this list. I got it as a Christmas gift from my brother and also bought it for myself by mistake so I have two copies. Its one flaw is that it is overlong, so it gets a bit of the same problem as Dokken’s Back For The Attack. Every second of it is golden, but you can get tired of it or stop appreciating it towards the end. But take any one song from it and put it in a compilation and its one of the best songs in that compilation.

Favourite Songs: ‘Electric Gypsy’ & ‘No Mercy’
Not For Me: None, but its a bit overlong and samey at times so something should be trimmed.

Motley Crue

Motley Crue – Too Fast For Love.
First time I heard this I hated it. I also heard it when I was reading The Dirt and the band’s horrible sexist, selfish, thieving, ungrateful, disrespectful personalities put me off even more. How can I like the songs when the guys screwed their landlady out of rent, or caused actual bodily harm to innocent Japanese commuters who were just minding their own business?

Anyway, after about a year, I cooled down and separated the music from the book. ‘Live Wire’ is such a cut above the rest of the album it puts everything else at a real disadvantage. It is an all time classic. It is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Its like, the best Saxon or Grim Reaper song never released, but its randomly here among bublegum powerpop with weak-tea production and half-hearted performances.

After a further time of only liking Live Wire, I got to like the album itself on its own level for what it is, with its sort of pop-punk feel and demo-charm. I wish there were a few more speed metal moments and a bit more bite to the performances, but its pretty good overall.

Favourite Songs: ‘Live Wire’ & ‘Take Me To The Top’
Not For Me: ‘Merry Go Round’

Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil.
I think this is arguably the best Glam album of all time. The thing is that it has balls and umph. Just listen to the kick-drum during the title track, it hits you in the chest.

I think there’s some flaws in the sequencing of the album, like I’d skip the intro and make the acoustic guitar solo that’s sat halfway through the record into the intro instead. I’d also have the Beatles cover as a bonus track at the end, because these songs stand on their own without needing novelty to boost them.

Otherwise I just love the balls on this album. Bastard and Red Hot? Just greasy speed-metal umph you don’t expect. Ten Seocnds To Love and Looks That Kill? So catchy. I think its an unstoppable record, and one to win over anyone like myself who hate the band beforehand.

Favourite Songs: ‘Shout At The Devil’ ‘Bastard’ & ‘Red Hot’
Not For Me: ‘Helter Skelter’ ..although I like it. I just wish there wasn’t a Beatles cover on such a beast of an album.

Motley Crue – Theater Of Pain.
Almost as good as Shout’ and very overrated. The album, I’ve said a thousand times already, has a massive sequencing problem. The ballad and the cover should be at the end. The fast songs should be at the front and the actual opening track is such a deep-in-side-two type of track that no other band ever would be so daft as to open with it. When I listen to it its always with a custom track order where the thunderous duo of the catchy speed-metal number ‘Use It Or Loose It’ and then
‘Louder Than Hell’ which is the second best ever Motley Crue song in my opinion, open it up. Comedy and Tragedy, Entertainment Or Death. I wish they’d stuck with the original title, I wish they hadn’t badmouthed it in their book and put their own fans off it.
Anyway, for me, this is one of the best Crue albums and no one is telling me otherwise.

Favourite Songs: ‘Use It Or Loose It’ & ‘Louder Than Hell’
Not For Me: ‘Smoking In The Boys Room’ – very fun in and of itself but doesn’t belong here, should’ve been on a non-album soundtrack or b side or compilation. Also, ‘Home Sweet Home’ should absolutely be the last song and the conclusion and fitting closer. Having a show stopper so early is a bit of a waste. I can think of a phrase to describe it that involves the word ‘wad.’

Motley Crue – Girls Girls Girls.
This album is a lot of fun. I know some people don’t like the more comercial direction and think there’s too much filler but not me. This is a pretty great record. I wish they played more deep cuts from it live. Who wants to hear more Sex Pistols covers and guitar solos when you could hear ‘All In The Name Of’ or ‘Dancing On Glass’ or ‘Five Years Dead’ instead?

Favourite Songs: ‘Wild Side’ & ‘Girls Girls Girls’
Not For Me: ‘Youre All I Need’ & ‘Nona’ – not bad in and of themselves, but I’m never in the mood for them after the pounding fun of ‘Dancing On Glass’ or ‘All In The Name’ …also if a band didn’t even release the ballad as a single or show it off live for the next two decades, then that really is suspicious.

Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood.
Too many ballads, too many horns and whistles and studio nonsense. Pointless intro. Not enough fast music. Awful lyrics. BUT… the two big songs ‘Dr Feelgood’ & ‘Kickstart My Heart’ are so good you almost forgive it all. I feel like the band saw what Kiss and Areosmith got in the 80s and wanted some. It works for most people, but not so much for me. I don’t hate this album, but I don’t like it anywhere near as much as the previous ones.
One thing, I always forget Don’t Go Away mad isn’t a ballad. Its just a Kiss-esque rock song but when I go to count the ballads I always add one for this, wrongly for some reason, but I still can’t learn my lesson.

Favourite Songs: ‘Dr Feelgood’ & ‘Kickstart My Heart’ …also in my head cannon, ‘Primal Scream’ is here, and is a favourite.
Not For Me: ‘Time For Change’ & ‘Without You’ …also I could lose the horns from ‘Rattlesnake Shake.’


Poison – Look What The Cat Dragged In.
Maybe the most embarrassing Glam band to admit to liking, but this is just some nice breezy fun. So what if its a bit vacuous, its just silly fun. The band do lack the heaviness I prefer, but the songs are enjoyable enough here to still enjoy it.

Favourite Songs: ‘Look What The Cat Dragged In’ & ‘Let Me Go To The Show’
Not For Me: ‘I Wont Forget You’ – but really its just the sequencing, if all the light songs were towards the back and the heavy to the front, it’d be more up my street.

Poison – Open Up And Say …Ahh!.
Its a slightly less metallic version of the previous one, with the Kiss influences dialed up. As such, very fun. The songs aren’t just as good, but its pretty similar. My version has very bad production, but I think that’s just a bad transfer rather than the record itself’s fault.

I have a very strong memory of a drunk peer playing ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ at a few open mike nights when I was a teenager, during the whole Limp Bizkit era. It seemed pretty out of place.

Favourite Songs: ‘Look But You Cant Touch’ & ‘Nuthin But A Good Time’
Not For Me: None, but some of it like ‘Fallen Angel,’ ‘Love On The Rocks’ and ‘Good Love’ are a bit forgettable.

Poison – Flesh & Blood.
Diminishing returns, its really not as good as either of the previous two. Its 100% removed from any metal at all now and while that’s not bad in and of itself, its not what I want or am in the mood for, There are good moments here, but not as many as before.

Interestingly, just in case you think I hate ballads altogether, I think ‘Something To Believe In’ is a banger!
Favourite Songs: ‘Valley Of Lost Souls’ & ‘Don’t Give Up An Inch’
Not For Me: ‘Life Goes On’

Poison – Native Tongue.
I’m not sold on this yet. I get that its a different think with more gospel and soul and I’m excited by that, but it hasn’t yet sank in and won me over completely. I’ve only gotten it recently so maybe a few more listens are required to turn the tide. Who knows? I’ll keep you updated.

Favourite Songs: ‘Seven Days Over You’ & ‘Strike Up The Band’ …also the intro is bad ass!
Not For Me: I don’t know yet, its still too new to me.

Quiet Riot

Quiet Riot – Metal Health.

I have a vinyl copy of this up on my wall as decoration. Its one of my favourite of all the albums on this list. Its a pretty flawless album. One of the only ones that benefits from the cover song. One that benefits from its ballads. Its got a great mix of tempos and moods. Its very varied, and constantly great. I highly, highly recommend this to every human that likes rock music.

Favourite Songs: ‘Metal Health’ & ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’
Not For Me: ‘Battle Axe’

Quiet Riot – Condition Critical.

A prettymuch straight up copy of Metal Health, and for that I love it. There’s also a few more fast and heavy moments, so that’s an extra cherry on top for me and my sensibilities. Also that gigantic drum fill during scream and shout just gets me every time, I’d love to see em in concert and air drum along. Not technical but just so effective. Sometimes I like this even more than Metal Health, but Metal Health is just that bit extra special. Its a Burn My Eyes/More Things Change or Court Of The Crimson King/Wake Of Poesidon relationship.

Favourite Songs: ‘We Were Born To Rock’ & ‘Scream & Shout’
Not For Me: ‘Mama All Weer Crazee Now’ – the cover is just a novelty this time and doesn’t work as well at all. Also covering THE SAME BAND, is just shameless.

Quiet Riot – Terrified.
I really like this one. It took ages to track down and eventually I gave up on cds and had to get a weird version from iTunes with generic, non-artwork with like a photo of guitar and the work ROCK MASTERS on it. Its even called Cold Day In Hell instead of Terrified, but its the same album just weirdly marketed. It looks like a Father’s Day CD in a gas station.

Anyway, this album is a little slower, with a bit of a Physical Grafffiti meets Heaven And Hell vibe at times but still very much in the Metal Health mode. The faster moments are rarer, and its all a bit moody and serious and there’s less silly fun and more searching for credibility. In saying that, when you’re not analysizing motivations its just a plain good album.

Favourite Songs: ‘Little Angel’ & ‘Rude Crude Mood’
Not For Me: ‘Itchichoo Park’ – more bloody novelty covers!


Ratt – Out Of The Cellar.
Pretty flawelss. Majorly catchy. Such good guitars. Vocals reminiscent of Dave Mustaine. Ratt’s debut is a sleeper hit for me. I thought on first listen it was dull and samey and lacked any power but ever time I listen to it it proves me wrong all over again. Its one of the better glam albums and the chorus of ‘Round And Round’ is the same as Dokken’s ‘Just Got Lucky’ in that while a Metal fan might snort in derision the first few times, it’ll be stuck in your head all year once you get over yourself.

Favourite Songs: ‘Im Insane’ & ‘Wanted Man’
Not For Me: Nothing, its flawless.

Ratt – Invasion Of Your Privacy.
Similar to their previous album and almost as good. It’s difficult to really write anything about it, it just goes along nicely fulfilling all my expectations. It might take a few listens to realize it isn’t bland, but its totally worth it.
I have a really clear memory of my hometown music store having a guitar tab book of this album in it, which was also the first time I’ve ever heard of Ratt or Anthrax, they also had a tabbook of not Among The Living, but Fistful Of Metal…of all things. What kind of 2003 music shop has a tabbook of only Invasion Of Your Privacy and Fistful Of Metal?…and not Back In Black or Led Zeppelin 4 or something!?

Favourite Songs: ‘Got Me On The Line’ & ”You Should Know By Now
Not For Me: None.

Ratt – Dancing Undercover.
Wow, painted myself into a corner here, I don’t have much to say about this. I don’t get why documentaries try and say this is a weak one, why do glam band’s hate their third albums? Like Theater Of Pain I wholeheartedly reject any suggestion of lower quality.

Songs like ‘Dance’ and ‘Looking For Love’ easily rival anything off of the last two albums. I don’t know what kind of stone-hearted monster couldn’t be moved to dance by those choruses. Am I missing something here?

Favourite Songs: ‘Slip Of The Lip’ & ‘Drive Me Crazy’
Not For Me: None.

Ratt – Reach For The Sky.
Of the first five, this is my least favourite. Its functional. But doesn’t hit the same high water mark. I think, if you slagged it off I’d defend it. But when I make Ratt playlists, there aren’t many songs from this that make me go ‘I’ve got to stick that one in there’ as for the other albums.

Favourite Songs: ‘Chain Reaction’ & ‘I Want To Love You Tonight’
Not For Me: ‘Way Cool Junior’ – Although it’d be awesome if it was a different album. I like it objectively but I want more Priest-esqe stuff. You see, horns again? Trumpets don’t suit glam to my ears. I can get with a bit off Less Than Jake, but I don’t want it in my Ratt.

Ratt – Detonator.
The best Ratt album? I think so. This has that sort of Dr. Feelgood feel of bigger bigger bigger, but with the twist that its actually all excellent. Save for one misfire, there isn’t a song on here wouldn’t make it into a list of best ever Ratt songs in my book. Its so catchy, so larger than life and so much fun. I can sing lines from Top Secret or Shame’ for days. I think this is everything great about the subgenre.

Favourite Songs: ‘Shame Shame Shame’ ‘Hard Time’ ‘Scratch That Itch’ & ‘Top Secret’
Not For Me: ‘One Step Away’ – Although its way better when Bon Jovi do this sorta stuff.

Skid Row

Skid Row – Skid Row.
Flawless, fun, catchy. Again, one of the best examples of the subgenre and what it has to offer. I can’t tell you how big a smile Sweet Little Sister puts on my face. There’s an energy and an attitude to this album that just elevates it. This puts most of what Twisted Sister or Poison did in a shadow. You’re good, but you’re not Skid Row good!
Sebastian Bach may be a bit of a weird tv celebrity now like Ozzy has become, but nobody can deny the sheer Rock Star glory of his vocal on this album.

Favourite Songs: ‘Sweet Little Sister’ & ‘Big Guns’
Not For Me: None, its pretty perfect.

Skid Row – Slave To The Grind.
A kind of weird mix of their previous album with Pantera. A weird mix that works. Heavier than 90% of Glam and with that sort of GnR lack of frills. This is sort of more than just another Glam album, its sort of something different.

Favourite Songs: ‘Get The Fuck Out,’ ‘The Threat’ & ‘Slave To The Grind’
Not For Me: ‘Wasted Time’ but on the other hand, ‘Quicksand Jesus’ is awesome.

Twisted Sister

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade.
This is more like a NWOBHM album than any other Glam album I’ve heard. Is anyone seriously able to draw an unbreakable barrier between ‘Tear It Loose’ and ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ or ‘Damage Case’?

The new york thing makes me think Overkill too. Its not thrash, but I can hear similarities to Feel The Fire at times. Destroyer for example, its got this weird almost Doom Metal vibe that makes you think of SkullKrusher.

The version I’ve got comes with a live DVD which I haven’t watched yet but may report back to you on in the future.

Favourite Songs: ‘Sin After Sin’ ‘Shoot Em Down,’ ‘Tear It Loose’ & ‘What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)’
Not For Me: None, but sometimes the line ‘how bad can a bad boy be if it sets you free’ makes my eyes roll. Also if I’m not in the mood, ‘Day Of The Rocker’ is too ploddy.

Twisted Sister – You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll.
This is probably my favourite Twisted Sister album. Again, its most NWOBHM, I think more of Die With Your Boots On than Girls Girls Girls when I hear it. Also, its one of the more consistent and less uneven records in the band’s repertoire. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it flawless but its as close as the band get.

This is another good one to show people who are afraid of Glam just how Metallic it actually is.

Favourite Songs: ‘The Power And The Glory’ & ‘You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll’
Not For Me: ‘Youre Not Alone’

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry.
Its an ok album, with very great singles. Its weird, the singles are so different than the deep cuts. Its like they could’ve written the best sell-out ever and didn’t go for it. Bucking my usual trend, the comercial singles here are way better than the honest, NWOBHMy deep cuts. ‘Stay Hungry’ feels like a less good version of a track from the last album, whereas ‘I Wanna Track’ sounds like a generation defining classic.

Favourite Songs: ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ & ‘I Wanna Rock’
Not For Me: ‘Captain Howdy’ …but not ‘Street Justice.’

Twisted Sister – Come Out And Play.
The logical next album only without the mega-hits. Very solid. Very professional. Only a few misteps. Arguably lacking a certain charm or magic but undeniably OK.

I feel like if You Cant Stop Rock N Roll had this album’s production, that mix would be an all-time classic.

Favourite Songs: ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ & ‘I Believe In Rock N Roll’
Not For Me: ‘Leader Of The Pack’ and ‘Be Crool To Your Skool.’ …and I hate the intro to the title track even though the song is good, but its hard to edit out the intro due to how it overlaps with the song.

Twisted Sister – Love Is For Suckers.
Very mixed, varied and almost experimental. I know it was meant to be a solo album and not a Twisted Sister album. I know a lot of people don’t like it. I know I don’t listen to it as much as the others. But still… I think its decent.

If you told me you didn’t like this one, I’d totally understand why though. Not like the third Ratt or WASP albums for example.At least the reason is clear.

Favourite Songs: ‘Love Is For Suckers’ & ‘Tonight’
Not For Me: ‘One Bad Habit’


W.A.S.P – W.A.S.P.

One of my favourite albums, one of the ones I listen to the most, one of the ones I’ll defend the most passionately. If you don’t like this, I don’t understand why. I feel like I’ve written ‘possibly the best ever’ or ‘possibly my favourite ever’ a lot, but this time I really, really mean it. This towers overs the competition.

Favourite Songs: ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ & ‘The Torture Never Stops’
Not For Me: Nothing it perfect. Also, my in head-cannon, ‘Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)’ is part of the album. I can’t imagine the album without it.

W.A.S.P – The Last Command.
More of the same, but not as tight. Songs are often about a minute or two longer. It lacks the urgency but is more fleshed out. A fair trade-off. A lot of people like this more than the debut, not me, but I can sure see why. A very strong album.

Is it just me or is the drawing on the front cover very weird?

Favourite Songs: ‘Ball Crusher’ & ‘The Last Command’
Not For Me: None, but sometimes I skip ‘Widowmaker’ and ‘Blind In Texas’ if I’m in a funny mood.

W.A.S.P – Inside The Electric Circus.
Tight again. Some people call this unispired. Some people say its music by numbers or on autopilot. I don’t see that. Third album Glam criticism syndrome at its finest right there. This album is a rager. Some seriosuly catchy and instantly loveable tunes here. I listen to this fairly regularly and have practically nothing bad to say about it. Even the goofy bonus of ‘DB Blues’ is ok in its own silly way. If you don’t like ‘Mantronic’ or ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ but like WASP you’ll really have to explain that one to me in detail, because to me this is among the best of their output, and I doubt I’d be able to comprehend why without some thorough analysis.

Favourite Songs: ‘Inside The Electric Circus’ & ‘Shoot From The Hip’
Not For Me: ‘Flesh And Fire’

W.A.S.P – The Headless Children.
Of the early stuff, my least favourite. They were heading towards maturity, and heading towards progginess but they didn’t quite nail it yet. The songs are longer but for no reason. The songs are less heavy and less fast, but without anything interesting to repleace that. Its just WASP, but not as good, for longer. That said, its not a poor record by any stretch, just in comparison to the other four around it.. kind of like Deep Purple’s Who Do We Think We Are. It aint Fireball, no, but its still got Black Satin Dancer on it.

Favourite Songs: ‘Mean Man’ & ‘Rebel In The FDG’
Not For Me: ‘Mephisto Waltz’

W.A.S.P – The Crimson Idol.
Masterpiece. Enough said really. Also, those drums! Its like the 80s version of Brann Dailor. Absolutely off the wall, unhinged drumming. I can’t believe how good this came out after the slightly disappointing Headless Children. So what if the story is similar to Streets?

Favourite Songs: ‘Chainsaw Charlie’ & ‘The Invisible Boy’ …also ‘Hold On To My Heart’ …one of the best ballads in the whole genre I’ve heard so far.
Not For Me: Nothing, but the bonus tracks ‘Phantoms In The Mirror’ and ‘The Eulogy’ don’t do it for me. Main album though, pretty perfect.


Warrant – Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin Ritch.
Its pretty new to me so I don’t know it all that well, but nowadays, work colleagues are constantly exposed to Warrant via my humming, whether they know it or not. They’re a very hummable band. I’ve lost count of the amount of days I’ve spent humming Cold Sweat for 12 hours a day.
Its weird that in the liner notes they even admit the guitar solos had to be played be a session muscian becuase they weren’t good enough to solo yet… and got signed anyway.

Favourite Songs: ‘So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)’ ‘Cold Sweat’ & ‘D.R.F.S.R. ‘

Not For Me: ’32 Pennies’

Warrant – Cherry Pie.
I can’t tell if I like this album more or less than the debut. I got em in a two-pack and listen to them together a lot and to be honest, to me, they’re essentially the one album. Its hard for me to seperate any thoughts about one from the other.

I’ll also say that if I’d seen the music video for Cherry Pie when I was 14, I’d have never, ever, ever, eeeeeever liked this band. When I was full on into Nuclear Assault and Exodus and super quick to dismiss stuff, that would’ve got lifetime blacklisted. Luckily, I get to listen to this silly manufactured but nonetheless enjoyable guff today without any teenage rules.

Ok maybe a little, I wouldn’t tell anyone in a Behemonth t shirt that I like Warrant. But, I’m only human.

Favourite Songs: ‘Love In Stereo’ & ‘Sure Feels Good To Me’
Not For Me: ‘Ode To Tipper Gore’ – its not a song, but its not really necessary.

And there you go. There’s some thoughts on all the glam records I legally own. Now that I’ve finally caved in and got Spotify, I’ve tried some more stuff, like from White Lion, or Quiet Riot 3… the weird one I was warned never to try, but for the actual owned-by-me ones, that’s a wrap folks.

Musical thoughts update

Posted: April 12, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

So its a quarter way through the year already. I haven’t really gotten a sense of where the musical time has gone. I haven’t really been getting new releases or getting into new upcoming bands. I don’t really have a sense of how 2016 sounds, so to say.

What I’ve been spending my money on, is for a large part getting a few holes in my collection filled. I’ve never actually gotten around to getting Nirvana’s Nevermind, despite being into the band since about 2000 or 2001. I got a few Van Der Graaf Generator and Camel albums that I’ve been planning to get since about 2007 or 2008.

I’ve also been listening to plenty of Pop Punk, expanding my Offspring and NoFX knowledge. There was a time in my very early teens I liked the look of Pop Punk, but got a bit snobby and give it a miss to explore Metal instead, and now I’m closing the gap.

In the spirit of closing the gap, I’ve decided to take a bit of a plunge into two bands that are huge in my world but that I’ve been absolutely ignoring. If you go to any Metal concert these days, you’ll find lots of hoodies, t shirts and tattoos for the bands Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold. Heck, if you go to a Metal festival they’re probably playing. If I see their videos I usually skip em. If I see an article in a magazine, I don’t read it. I don’t really know why… when I was in university I knew plenty of people who’d have their posters on their wall or wear their t shirts. I’ve known people who’d learn their songs on guitar. For some reason though, they’re a giant blindspot to me. I have heard two of Avenged Sevenfold albums previously, but I’ve decided to actually make an effort now. Furthermore after literally years of being told how big and important Bullet For My Valentine are for British music and Heavy Metal as a whole, I never really bought that line. To me, it was something for other people and maybe a bit of a scam? I don’t know. I am not a Metal snob who only listens to Slayer and Bathory and refuses to listen to Slipknot because I think they’re kiddie music… but that was kind of what happened with those two bands. Maybe it was the guyliner? I don’t know. Subconscious though. Despite being raised on Limp Bizkit, I live in suspicion of fads and trends with no substance. Somewhere along the way, I got afraid to try something commercial and popular especially if the looked trendy. That must’ve been between 2004-2009 for a while, when Metal credibility seemed so important to me, especially when I was really into 1980s Thrash. It wasn’t a conscious choice but just a side effect of reading the interviews and attitudes of those bands and their fans. When I started growing up and expanding my mind and losing my prejudices, I was able to relearn a bit of the original innocence and just be able to like something because its good and not worry that I might be dissaproved of by some phantom someone wearing a bullet belt.

After spending the last three years listening to all the Posion, Warrant, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue I could get my hands on, I’ve since lost my fear of guyliner and Pop Metal. I feel obliged to give these guys a fair chance. I am forever feeling slightly miffed when someone tells me Korn or Pantera or Killswitch Engage are kiddie music and that the only good music was all released before 1990. It rankles me a little to find myself having a bit of that attitude towards these two bands. Especially because, upon closer listen, Avenged Sevenfold are really rather heavy. Their later day output is a bit more commercial and hard-rock influenced, but the early stuff is like the heaviest stuff off the early Shadows Fall, Trivium and Killswitch Engage independent albums.

Interestingly, having started this, I’ve started obsessively listening to Avenged’ over and over again and what I’m enjoying the most is actually their self-titled album, which a lot of the more ‘Metal’ Metal fans disliked or found disappointing. Their most popular album, City Of Evil, I’m enjoying but the first half is a lot stronger than the second half. I’m not that familiar with it yet. I love the title track from Nightmare, and ‘God Hates Us.’

Of the first two albums, y’know, the heavier ones that I should probably love based on my usual tastes, I’m not that into yet. I think they’ll be growers, but initially, they’re not grabbing me.

So, yeah. Avenged Sevenfold… a much more enjoyable and serious prospect than I’d considered. I’m still afraid of some phantom Celtic Frost fan making fun of me for admitting to liking them, but, hey one bit of personal growth at a time.

Speaking of things phantom judgmental people whould have a go about; I’m listening to Bullet For My Valentine for the very first time ever right now as I type this, and am two songs into their debut album presently, and to my surprise it all seems very reasonable. I was expecting something really poppy, saccharine and bland. This is actually nice, thrashy Metalcore, not as watered-down as I’d imagine either. Similar to Rise To Remain for these first two songs at least. I don’t know why they get so much hate (maybe these first two songs aren’t representative?). Anyway, since I started listening to the Metal Hammer podcast in 2009 I’ve constantly been hearing about how these guys are the biggest and most successful British Metal band since Iron Maiden and its been gnawing at me that I didn’t know anything about ’em, so I thought I’d best check em out, and with three albums in a boxset for the price of one, it won’t be too big a waste of money if its not amazing.

I’m actually struggling to get through music at the minute. I’ve been overextending myself recently; I haven’t slowed down my intake of new albums (and I make it worse for always opting for boxsets and multi-album deals) but don’t have the same free time to take it all in. With my Birthday and Christmas gifts, on top on the big bunch of 2015’s new-releases I got with my first paycheck back in September, I’ve had too much to get through already. On top of that I’ve just constantly been picking up stuff. A random MDC download here, a pair of Rancid albums there, a King Diamond Boxset here, and so on and so on. I’ve now got a musical to-do list that has completely exceeded my available time. With the delivery of all these new Metalcore albums I’ve decided to try and take a month or two off getting anything new and try and actually absorb what I’ve got.

There’s a good twenty albums on my ‘not listened to anywhere near enough’ list and about sixty on my ‘not listened to enough’ list. I’ve downloaded a 7 Seconds album that to my memory I’ve never actually listened to once, at all. Its getting a bit irresponsible now.

I think I’ll use my need-to-buy something impulses on something different, like Batman, and try chill out with the music already.

On a side note, can you believe Cliff Burton died aged 24? I’d have assumed it was 27 like Hendrix and Cobain. Imagine having already written and released Master Of Puppets by the time you’re 24!? What the hell did I ever achieve by then?

Anyway, here’s what I’ve listened to for a quarter of the year:

1.Anvil – 288
2. Rancid -165
3. Trivium – 136
4. Motörhead – 115
5. The Offspring – 114
6. Helloween – 111
7. Tygers of Pan Tang -111
8 Avenged Sevenfold – 107
9. Manowarr – 102
10. Megadeth – 102
11. Saxon – 99
12. Anthrax – 96
13. Queensrÿche – 94
14. Green Day – 88
15. Coal Chamber – 84
16. The Crookes – 84
17. Alkaline Trio- 83
18. Pennywise – 81
19. Jethro Tull – 80
20. Pantera – 79
21. Baroness – 77
22. NOFX – 75
23. Grim Reaper – 73
24. The Fratellis – 73
25 Powerman 5000 – 72

Blind Guardian – Tales Of The Twilight World Review

Posted: April 5, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-blind_guardian_talesIf you enjoy Power Metal then this is an album that will either be already in your collection or pretty high up on your to-do list; since 1990’s Tales Of The Twilight World by the German band Blind Guardian is a pretty big deal, this album helped the band reach new heights, helped the band to separate their style from precursor Thrash and Speed stylings and into more purely Power territory, as well as introducing the world to their concert favourite ballad ‘Lord Of The Rings.’

‘Twilight World occupies a sweet spot in the band’s discography where it still has all the raw charm of the early material, but introduces a lot of the tropes from their better known material, such as Queen-inspired harmonies, choral involvement and progressive structuring and arrangements. Hansi ‘s vocals are really developing into the style fans know and love and Kalle Trapp’s production job sounds even better than on the previous two records.

Like several other Blind Guardian albums; the album boasts guest appearances from other musical greats including Iron Saviour’s Piet Sielck and frequent collaborator, Gamma Ray’s Kai Hansen. The lyrics reference a lot of popular fiction, like Dune, E.T. And The Tommyknockers, as well as all the Tolkien you can expect from the band who famously made a whole concept album about the Salmarillion.

If you are into the catchy choruses, there’s plenty to love here, and you’ll be humming melodies from this record all week long after hearing it. If you are into the guitar heroism, the leads and solos are delightful as always, and if you want riffs there’s plenty of Thrash in here to get you excited.

Highlights include the strong opener ‘Traveller In Time,’ as well as the excellent ‘Lost In The Twilight Hall’ and of course the aforementioned ‘Lord Of The Rings.’

If you are into the band, this album is a real no-brainer and if you are into the genre, its something you really ought to try out soon. There’s some seriously high quality memorable material on here, plenty of impressive solos and fills, and some fairly interesting lyrics. This really was the first of a streak of Blind Guardian gems from the 1990s, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this type of music.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS, Volume 81: Morbid Angel – Covenant

Posted: March 28, 2016 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

220px-morbid_angel_-_covenantI’m a music nerd. You’re a nerd too (whether its about Make-up brands or Craft Beer, everyone nerds-out about something). Today in the spirit of being a giant nerd I’m listening to Morbid Angel’s Covenant album for the first time and describing the discovery in real time.

I’ve never been the biggest Death Metal fan. I’ve never been the kind of guy to say if it aint got blast beats or death-growls then its kiddie music. I’ve also never been one of those guys who want to like Children Of Bodom or Arch Enemy due to the guitar magazines but then throw the cd in the bin when they start to scream. Its not like Black Metal where I almost actively avoid it, but its also not one of my favourites.

My experience of owning Death Metal is fairly limited. I got into Cannibal Corpse like every 12-year old did at the time due to the funny artwork, lyrics and song titles, through friends who were also talking about it at the time. I eventually did become an actual fan (The Wretched Spawn is still genuinely one of my favourite albums) but not a die-hard, in fact their output as a whole is a little forgettable and its only the two or three stand-out tracks per album I actually care about if I’m being brutally honest.

In my early teens I got into Napalm Death in a big way; getting every single, compilation and album I could get my hands on back in the day. Napalm Death’s Harmony Corruption and Utopia Banished albums are basically old-school Tampa Death Metal even if magazines still want to call it Grindcore. I got a Deicide best-of and their two supposedly worst albums (Incinerathymn and In Torment In Hell), and the three Zyklon albums. I got one Decapitation compilation and my brother got two of their albums, but the only song I ever liked was ‘Spheres Of Madness’ for its catchy riff.

I also became a fairly sizable Entombed fan, although more of their later-day stuff than the actual Swedish Death Metal of their first two records. I mean, don’t get me wrong I enjoy ‘Severe Burns’ and ‘Sinners Bleed’ but my real love is for stuff like ‘Say It In Slugs’ and ‘That’s When I Became A Satanist’ …music that is bouncy, catchy and fun. So yeah, Entombed, kind of. Then from there on it got pretty slim; I remember also at different stages getting a lend of three Death albums, two of the later-day proggy ones, and their debut, Scream Bloody Gore which I didn’t really fall in love with.

I heard an Obituary song on MTV2 a few times (the one with the pollution themed video) and got the one song ‘Enshrined By Grace’ by Morbid Angel which I still love though rarely listen to, mainly because I don’t own a full album by them (until now). I’ve heard plenty of one-off Death Metal songs over the years but never really got interested. A Nile song here, a Dying Fetus song there, but no actual purchases, no fandom.

Reading all the books and watching all the documentaries I now have, I really have a sort of interest in the Tampa end of Death Metal. I’ve always had half a mind to pick up Like An Ever Flowing Stream from the Swedish end, but books like Choosing Death, or Cannibal Corpse’s excellent documentary really make you interested in bands like Massacre and Incantation. Also, there’s a big four thing going on.

In all of the other genres I listen to, I usually end up with the big four/big five band’s discographies… be that Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer/Anthrax/Exodus, or Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden/Alice In Chains, or Motely Crue/Ratt/Quiet Riot/Posion/Twisted Sister, or… you catch my drift.

In my mind, due to the magazines at the turn of the century, its very much been sold to me that Death Metal’s big four was Cannibal Corpse/Deicide/Obituary/Morbid Angel. (Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant, my brain just wants to hear the first four albums by each of those bands now and there’s no escaping it)

Big fours are nonsense anyway. “Anthrax over Testament?” …you’ve heard it all a billion times.

That doesn’t stop me wanting to hear Obituary and Morbid Angel every time Deicide or Cannibal Corpse come on my stereo (or computer or phone).

A few days ago, I found a Morbid Angel cd pre-owned for £3 in a small local music shop (that was also a coffee shop and apparently also a venue for unsigned bands to play gigs somehow) and decided what the hell? Why not?

I’m not Johnny-Death Metal, but I do still like a bit, and it’ll tickle my historic/learning centers if not my actual enjoyment ones… and £3 is really rather reasonable.

So. Let’s have at it. Whether or not they’ve been supplanted by Black Dahlia Murder or aren’t as cool as Gorerotted or didn’t contribute to the genre like Death or whatever, they’re a big missing link in my mental-map of the music I spend so much of my life on, so let’s see what they’ve got to offer me:


‘Rapture’ opens up with what sounds for a brief moment like Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’ before the drums come in with patterned Double Kicks that reminds me of Darkness Descends by Dark Angel. A few bars later and the blast beats kick in; we’re very much in the territory of the first three Deicide albums then. Its a bit less frantic and messy than say, Butchered At Birth by Cannibal Corpse, and without the sort of Thrash charm of the aforementioned Harmony Corruption album by Napalm Death, but it is very solid, clean, well-produced for the time and genre, and easy to follow and understand. The guitar solos are in the Andreas Kisser/Kerry King mould rather than the Priest/Maiden mould (I guess Melodeath wouldn’t be a separate subgenre if it wasn’t different to regular Death Metal. ((Or as I understand it, the correct name is now ‘Brutal Death’)). Its very pleasant, not an assault on the ears at all. Sometimes, when listening to more modern Death Metal or even Deathcore, you just feel pounded, its just viscous and caustic sounding and very hard to take for prolonged periods, but this is fine. I also prefer their style of Blast Beats over Napalm Death’s. Napalm Death, especially due to the production just have this wall of almost static and it just makes me fell like I’m not listening to music anymore but rather waiting for the blasts to end (and when they do its awesome, because the riffs and beats and vocal patterns on those early-’90s records are amazing) but here it feels like a logical and necessary part of the music.

Next comes ‘Pain Divine’ which opens with blasts then a bunch of D-beats, and alternates between very Kerry King influenced riffs and what I’d call truly Death Metal riffs. The ones that sound like a spiraling drone that is somehow telling a story. Cannibal Corpse use them a lot on the early albums, they have a sort of ability to conjure images of old horror films or scenes of hell from old movies (maybe they’re inspired by the music from those movies, it wouldn’t surprise me)… a very famous example is the opening riff to ‘I Cum Blood’ or a less famous example is the riff ten seconds into Deicide’s ‘In Hell I Burn.’ If I knew enough about music I’d state that they’re downtuned and maybe atonal but I don’t know enough to confirm either.

I like the drum-fills and I really like the production on the toms. This song seems like an example of Death Metal in its purest form where it really found itself and separated itself from the precursor subgenres. Myself, I always like it when you can hear a bit more of the Thrash. I like a bit of chug in there. This song is fine for a deep cut but I wouldn’t go putting it on any compilations.

The slow riff that opens track 3, ‘World Of Shit (The Promised Land)’ really reminds me of Cannibal Corpse’s slow tracks. There’s something very similar, I don’t know what it is (Drop B tuning?) but I can hear a huge similarity. Also, towards the end of the song when its sped up and there’s guitar solos I can hear how they influenced Zyklon (which makes sense since Zyklon cover ‘Dominate’ on their debut album’s bonus tracks).

The next track ‘Vengeance Is Mine’ is fast as hell, its got that off the hook Sodom/Kreator thing in the verses, but when the d-beats stop and the double kicks come in its really impressive. How can his feet move that fast? The whole song is entertaining in a ‘wow, these guys are talented’ kind of way, and the guitar solos break it up nicely.

One thing I notice is that Dave Vincent is quite good at ennunciating his vocals. Its not just a nonsensical gurgle like Chris Barnes, you can hear every word much more clearly than you’d expect.

‘The Lions Den’ really reminds me of Deicide, the way the song structure twists and turns. I like the bendy riffs. I like when the guitars cut out but leave the kicks flying. I like all the fills. I like the low ratio of blasts (none at all). When the solos kick in you forget you’re listening to Death Metal and its more like you’ve got Beneath The Remains or Arise on instead. Towards the end, with the fun drum pattern, its just downright catchy.

‘Blood On My Hands’ goes a bit proggy with its opening, flipping between lots of different ideas in a very short space of time. When it finally settles into a verse, its quite Entombed actually, its got one of those slow buzzing spiralling drone patterns I was talking about over a Dave Lombardo-beat. As it goes on its not afraid to continue flipping between ideas and changing directions. Its a bit hard to follow structurally but entertaining nonetheless. There’s a really great riff towards the end but its not capitalized on. I’dve made a whole song out’ve something that good.

A surprise next, as ‘Angel Of Disease’ is very punk influenced. Its quick and bouncy and feels like it might be a novelty cover for a while until you notice its six minutes long, composed by Trey Azagoth and after a while sticks lots of more-Death and less-Punk parts in there. Its got a great slow jagged bit in the middle that could be Machine Head. Even the blast beats are slower than usual and feel like a cool build up rather than obligatory punishment. Then there’s a nice slow Sabbathy bit with very musical bass that reminds me of the slow parts on Biohazard’s Urban Discipline of all things! This song is a real winner for me. I wonder how the true Death Metal elitists feel about it? Do they think its a bit of a sell-out for being, y’know, good?

‘Sworn To The Black’ comes in next, its got that reverse-feedback suck-in sound effect that Deicide use a lot. Its quite rhythmic. The drums are nice and busy and complex and very non-standard Death Metal in style. A touch of the Portnoys about them even. At the two minute mark it takes a cool turn, going off on some guitar heroics you wouldn’t expect. I really like this tune too. I like this band in a groove. Blasts and speed are good in short doses and this album does a very good job of not over-saturating you with them.

‘Nar Mattaru’ comes next with a creepy sound effect filled intro. I don’t know what the title means, I’m presuming its latin and biblical but that’s pure speculation. Oh hey, its not the song’s intro. The whole song is an intro. A build up to the final track.

‘God Of Emptiness’ closes the album out. I remember that it had a music video back in the day, that I’ve never seen all the way through. I remember it being slow, and I thought it was one of the ones from later in their career with the different singer. Apparently not. This song, with its menace, is infinitely heavier than just growling and blasting. The processed vocals are a bit silly, they sound like a cartoon frog, like a primitive ‘Beware The Birchmen’ thing from ‘Circle Of Cysquatch’ by Mastodon, but only a little silly. Not song—breakingly so.

There’s a lot of cool ideas in this song. Its a bit complex. Very inventive and awkward, with some unique guitar moments and a very hard to air-drum to rhythm section. Its a good way to round out the album. A fitting closer. I like how they weighted the record with speed toward the front and groove and prog towards the back.

Hey, I liked this a lot more than I thought I might. I’m still a bit of a Death skeptic… I don’t listen to Tomb Of The Mutilated every day or anything, but I can still dig on this. Its not too dull, too repetitive or too brash.

Well played, Morbid Angel, well played.