In the heady mid-90s when Pantera had the #1 album in the US, Phil Anselmo did more than his fair share of spreading the wealth, taking his favorite underground metal bands out on tour and plugging them in interviews every chance he got. That’s how I first heard about Neurosis.
Long story short, I didn’t get it. They were too slow. They looked too normal. I remember seeing them on MTV when I was in high school, listening for a couple minutes, and changing the channel. Yawn.
Fast forward almost 10 years to when I found this video (see below) on YouTube.
"Oh, god! What’s wrong with dude’s eyes?! Is Satan making the keyboardist fist-bomb his bass pedals?!"
By this time, I’d heard a handful of Neurosis songs from every era, but nothing really clicked for me until the palpable mania of this clip. I finally got it. I dived back into their catalog, unearthing the treasures of a band that is a true primary source for the genre I’ll begrudgingly label “post-metal”.
I’d missed them a handful of times live, but I’d heard people go on breathlessly about what a profound and spiritual experience it was seeing them perform. I didn’t NOT believe this, but I approached my first Neurosis live experience with the healthy incredulity of someone who knows the sound of hype and who has a tougher time than most with live music. Perhaps it’s my control freak tendencies, but I have trouble “letting go” whilst at a concert in the way I see others do with ease. I was excited, but wasn’t expecting to see the face of Christ.
The ONLY thing that stood out for me this evening was Neurosis. This was perhaps the most deeply felt and spiritual musical experience I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. I can’t attribute this to anything other than witnessing what Kant describes as the “thing-in-itself”, a beast of selfless propagation without moral or value.
Ascribing any of this to surface qualities like set lists or instrumentation is as relevant as talking about the shirts each band member wore. It was a celebration of life without whitewash or feel-goodery akin to psychically downloading Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God.
Neurosis do what they do and do it well, and what they do well IS quantifiable. They have a preternatural coherence as a group, every part working independently to define and color an ur-riff whose simplicity always belies its depth.
By fusing the leanness and immediacy of punk with the sprawl and ambition of prog, Neurosis make better on the promise of both, infusing animus into the latter and refinement into the former. “Through Silver in Blood” and “Locust Star” sound like the future in the same way that Blade Runner or Alien look less dated than The Phantom Menace. Vision gives rise to relevance.
The night ended with no encore nor a single word from band to audience. Perfect. Thank you, Neurosis, for a fantastic healing night – and probably the roughest moshing I’d done since I was in high school.
Out of Montreal Canada, and consisting of vocalist Lord Worm, guitarist Jon Levasseur, bassist Eric Langlois, and drummer Flo Mounier, this album was released on Sweden's Wrong Again Records in 1996.
This album is simply; "the fucking masterpiece" to say the least. What we have here is a near-perfect blend of brutality, technicality, song structure, and atmosphere. There are few albums as sickening, as vile, as hate-filled as Cryptopsy's sophomore effort.
"None So Vile" was the first Cryptopsy album to feature bassist Eric Langlois, and the last to feature lead vocalist Lord Worm until his return on the "Once Was Not" album, the fifth album by this Canadian technical death metal band.
"None So Vile" took the extreme and technical elements of speed and death metal and merged them and is now considered a benchmark of the "technical death" metal sub-genre.
The riffs vary from extremely technical ("Crown of Horns"), to more grind-core oriented ("Dead and Dripping"), to more standard death metal ("Graves of the Fathers"), to melodic and beautiful, ("Phobophile").
The lyrics reek of vehement hatred for Christianity, but never reach the point of insincerity like some hardcore band's lyrics do.
Here they could be best described as demented poetry due to the free-form style in which they are written and performed. Nonetheless, deliberately disturbing and violent in subject matter.
Here is a small section of the lyrics of "Crown of Horns", the opening track:
"Sire of sin, You embody me Undivine... To you we congregate; None so vile, Your magnificent Crown of horns Inspires deeds maleficent.
Destroy the parasite [x3], Destroy Jesus Christ.
They'll crawl in their perdition, The righteous will be lost Where gutted angels lie fucked... Beneath the funeral cross; We'll dig them a mass grave soon, And bring to their knees Those who would have rescinded The laws of disease."
I usually ignore the majority of speed and death metal lyrics, (Slayer/Metallica/Megadeth excepted), because I only need the syllabic content to power the musical experience and set the scene in my mind's imagination.
But disregarding these lyrics would count as a crime in my book.
I remember hearing a rumor that Lord Worm was drunk when they recorded the vocals and he growled and screamed improvising lyrics along to the music, completely forgetting the original lyrics.
Well it worked out either way, and they still provide for a good read.
The vocal performance on "None So Vile" truly is one of the most superb in hardcore metal. The syllabic grunts and passion could not be more accurate.
The description that suits Lord Worm the lead singer is "king of inhuman bellowing".
His screams, which are used sparingly, sound as if he is being butchered alive. Each Mastiff-like dog bark and guttural grunt fits extremely well with the rhythm and the hateful atmosphere of the music.
Speaking of the music, the musicianship is nothing short of stellar. Guitarist John Levasseur often alternates between pummeling grooves and frantic technical riffs, all of which are memorable.
The guitar solos are quite melodic, and contrasting to the stoic intensity of the riffs. This is thoughtfully constructed guitar work. Practically every riff and solo on this album sounds original.
The technicality of the bass matches the lead guitars. Bassist Éric Langlois is relentlessly plucking away in the background and thankfully, the bass is clearly audible in the mix.
In addition, the drummer is equally up to the task. Veteran drummer Flo Mounier delivers a crushing performance on "None So Vile", ridiculously fast yet meticulously precise.
The double bass drummer's "machine gun" blast beats are furious, yet kept to a minimum, with even more creative beats and fills being used instead.
Flo throws in short, quick rests in his drumming before going all out again, under scoring the jolting, arresting, and sporadic nature of the lyrics and vocal performance.
The musicianship and the vocals come together splendidly to produce one of the most demented-sounding, nefarious, sinister death metal albums ever.
"Technical death metal" is usually criticized for lacking "soul" or atmosphere, but this is not the case on "None So Vile".
This album radiates a shining glow of intense hatred and malice.
32 minutes of brutal pounding without mercy.
One of the greatest albums in the technical death sub-genre and anyone who considers themselves a fan of extreme, hardcore music will enjoy this disc forever.
“Blood Fire Death” is definitely my favorite Bathory LP and also one of my favorite metal albums of all time.
Lead vocalist Quorthon managed to compose and record several amazing LPs. But if one would ask me which LP of his I like most, then it would be “Blood Fire Death”.
An amazing originator of what we know nowadays as; "black metal", “Blood Fire Death” is one of the most influential and significant metal albums of all times.
Not only is that due to the music it contains, but also because this LP started something everybody knows today as “Viking metal”.
“Viking metal” is basically any sort of metal music with lyrics about Viking myths and other Nordic stuff.
Prior to this album Bathory was dealing with satanic and other typically dark matters, but with “Blood Fire Death” Quorthon changed some of his lyrics creating something totally new to the scene.
No other band had made an entire album exploring the Vikings theme so much.
And the future Bathory records continued in this vein and single-handedly created a new sub-genre of metal.
I can only honor and admire Quorthon’s impact on the evolution of the metal scene. His early works have been a great influence on Norwegian black metal and then he created and influenced another group of bands – mainly Scandinavian – with something different once more. What a creative person he was.
Amon Amarth, Unleashed, and all the prominent Viking Metal bands of today mention Bathory's "Blood Fire Death" as an important influence.
Anyway, “Blood Fire Death”, released back in 1988, is the fourth album of Quorthon and the boys, and if you listen to all three previous records it will be certain that none of them sounds like its predecessor.
Each album intentionally brings something different to the sound and style of the band.
Starting with their 'Venom-esque' self-titled debut, then going through the more darker and utterly evil; “The Return…” and finishing off with the wonderfully catchy, but epic, dark and evil and way better composed; “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” – each LP is different.
But “Blood Fire Death” is something uniquely daring. Once more Quorthon and his band turned in a different direction than anybody would expect.
On the one hand the album has a handful of savage and fast thrash metal songs, then on the other there are some monumental, more melodic and almost beautiful songs.
These latter songs take the epic side of the previous LP into another dimension.
I guess my - and everybody else’s – favorite songs from “Blood Fire Death” would be the title track and “A Fine Day to Die".
The latter song – opens with a three minute long introduction called “Odens Ride Over Nordland”. Then one of the finest nine minutes of music in all of metal, definitely the best nine minutes which Quorthon has ever composed, begins.
This song is just perfect, the riffs are just amazing, so are the vocals. I just love the way the whole song builds, and how it develops. It creates tension, keeping the listener with mouth open in amazement.
Would anyone expect Bathory to open the album with acoustic guitar and clean vocals, creating a rather peaceful aura? No, and maybe that's why they did.
“A Fine Way to Die” is both thrilling and memorable! With lyrics about the warriors going into battle it feels almost like a fantastic movie soundtrack…just close your eyes and you can see the men, standing in the battlefield, roaring and holding swords, axes or spears, ready to fight or die.
“Along the black mountainside, scattered
by the campfires awaiting the dawn. Two times a hundred men in battles. Tried by the steel in the arrow, axe and sword.”
Another epic and impressive song is the title track, coming in at over ten minutes, it finishes the album in a very similar vein to the way the album opens, and you get a strong feeling at the ending, of "completeness".
The riffs on this entire LP are just excellent. Short acoustic themes are quickly followed by thunderous drumming and heavy dark riffs. Some songs are accompanied by thematic keyboards, and there is plenty of variation going on during the songs.
The song structure is often simple, but effective and unique as hell. All the songs are written and composed by Quorthon (aka, Tomas Forsberg r.i.p.).
I always get shivers when I listen to this disc. The vocals of Quorthon are just excellent! They’re way cleaner and more melodic than his usual harsh, raw voice and more understandable. This became something he would continue to do on the future Bathory albums.
This is an album where you can just close your eyes and see all that Nordic stuff…so clearly, it is really awesome!
"For All Those Who Died", “The Golden Walls of Heaven”, "Pace 'Till Death" and “Holocaust” – if we speak of just side A of the vinyl - are all excellent songs.
“Holocaust” is just insane, barbaric and it definitely is the fastest song.
But of course most of the fans of hardcore metal remember Bathory mainly for the epic, visually stunning music that “Blood Fire Death” delivers.
You have to have this LP in your collection if you love hardcore, black metal or viking metal.
Hell, build an altar for it if you haven’t got a whole Bathory chapel in your basement already!
Standout tracks: “A Fine Day to Die”, “Blood Fire Death”, "For All Those Who Died", “Dies Irae”.
A masterpiece of the Black Metal, Viking Metal genre.
Smear Campaign is the twelfth album by legendary grindcore metal band Napalm Death.
Napalm Death were formed in 1981 in the UK.
They were initially inspired by the early wave of London punk, in particularly the "anarcho-punk" movement (a subgenre of punk that focused on anarchist political discourse).
Then they went on to become one of the innovators of what is now called; Grindcore. Grindcore is basically a type of "death-metal" with a noisy dense sound utilizing down-tuned guitars, overdrive bass, double bass-drum blast beats, and vocals that consist of low growls and/or high shrieks. The Grindcore legends like; Anal Cunt, (aka AxCx) and Napalm Death, accompanied their songs with elements of "artistic or deliberate randomness", introducing random fluctuations into their music to obscure the lyrical content or vocal tracks.
While none of the original members remain in Napalm Death, the lineup of vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera has remained consistent for most of the band's career.
My favorite album by Napalm Death has this lineup.
It's called; Smear Campaign.
The lineup on this utterly brilliant 2006 album is;
Just drop the needle, push play, track one, however you make your music player start, just start it and LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE!
You will be in "grindcore bliss" until the album is done and completely over.
Russell is a musician and writer as well, with decades of experience. He has worked in every kind of metal rock genre.
Russ is also adept at producing classical, blues, jazz, acoustic pop, country, hip-hop, trip-hop, drum & bass, reggae, psychedelic space music, folk, dance breakbeat, and glam-thrash-boogie to name a few.
In other words Russ is a music junkie, a music nerd, like yours truly, and a man after my own heart.
Russell has such clarity of artistic vision, and such deep artistic integrity that most of the bands he produces are unheard of beyond their host genre.
Dimmu Borgir, The Wildhearts, Evile, Lock Up, Defecation, Meathook Seed, The Berzerker, The Rotted, Space Ritual, Amorphis, New Model Army, Luna Riot, Heretic, Evil Scarecrow, The Peccadillos, and three dozen more that you also probably never heard of.
But this doesn't mean the producer or the artist sucks, since you never heard of them.
To the contrary, it just as likely means what they have executed is so precisely well done, that it's only for that target audience. Its not watered down, its not trying to "go commercial", or any of that sell-out crap to gain mass approval, or more money and etc.
It means that not even the target audience was as important to the producer and the artist as achieving the artistic goals of the music itself. Like I said, a man after my own heart.
Anyhoo, "Smear Campaign" is an uncompromising, intense, yet tasteful album. It is 45 minutes of pure hardcore metal with key changes, tempo shifts and varied moods. Just how I like it! They sound as hungry, angry, committed, and inspired as ever.
There is the experimental and yet restrained opening track, "Weitschmerz", which features acoustic guitars and organ-like keyboards, and a melodic female vocal by Anneke van Giersbergen.
Conversely on: "In Deference," they are every bit as brutal and extreme as anything the grindcore gods have ever been. About 90 percent of this album is an uncompromising, crushing, take-no-prisoners onslaught.
Russ Russell has corralled the boys and their immense vitriolic, bludgeoning delivery into a very cohesive unified expression.
There is organization in the frighteningly fast tempos and a devastating intricacy.
Much like death-metal gods; Slayer, I could only wonder how many times they rehearsed these songs before Russ accepted a final take. They were nearly "subconsciously" tight on the entire album.
Danny Herrera unleashes lethal double bass-drum blasts, and Mitch Harris' guitar riffs are positively smoking hot, and his leads are just as ridiculous.
In fact, it all goes by so fast that the listener doesn't realize they just spent 45 minutes listening to it.
All you remember is being caught in a whirlwind of guitars, drums, and Barney's belligerent vocals and blood-curdling screams.
The scathing, "anti-everything" lyrics are simply added frosting for your casual reading afterwards. You really won't understand them as he sings them, but that has always been part of the mystique of hardcore and grindcore music.
It's about an attitude; "Just feel me, feel me inside." - GG Allin "Don't worry about the semantics of whatever I said." "You either feel me or you don't." "This is punk-grindcore-hardcore metal, not a doctoral thesis at Oxford." "You guys care more about what I said, than I do!" - Ozzy That said, every grunt, bellow, growl, snarl, bark and shriek is perfectly stated and articulated.
The record's production style helps to contribute a clarity to the raw, primal urgency of the overall mood.
"Sink Fast, Let Go", "Fatalist", "Puritanical Punishment," are all highlights. There is an avalanche of great riffs throughout the entire album.
But not every track is maniacal and overwhelming.
There is restrained heaviness on "Freedom Is The Wage Of Sin" and this adds some strategic texture to the album.
"Short-Lived", "Identity Crisis", and "Eyes Right Out" all begin at the speed of light, but then a well-placed tempo change kicks in and takes the songs down into a mid-tempo heavy groove.
Lastly, "Warped Beyond Logic" moves in reverse, because it begins fairly slowly but then works its way up to a blinding speed with buzzsaw riffs and teeth-shaking double bass-drum blasts throughout.
In short, Napalm Death are as strong now as they were twenty-four years ago.
This album shows "the core four" members have no desire to age, tone it down, or mature. Just what the metal doctor ordered; "Keep going balls out until they send for the hearse!"
"Smear Campaign" could have used a few big anthemic hooks, or some individually memorable riffs, and this would have created a single standout track from the disc.
But Russ Russell doesn't work that way.
The albums he makes are conceived as a "singular art piece" and this is one of the best hardcore metal/grindcore examples of that methodology ever recorded in this genre.
Surely Napalm Death's finest effort in at least six years.
A mandatory purchase for all extreme/underground/hardcore metal fans.
Prepare to be devastated.
By James Clark with A. Stutheit
Trufact: Napalm Death have released fifteen studio albums and are listed by Nielsen SoundScan as the seventh best-selling hardcore metal band in United States history based on sales statistics.
Leave a comment or your opinion for debate and discussion.
So finally, our review of Celtic Frost's legendary "MegaTherion" Album.
Inspired by the paintings of Swiss artist H.R. Giger and the poetry of Aleister Crowley, "To MegaTherion" (meaning the great beast in Greek), is a very important heavy metal recording.
Influential on both death metal and thrash metal, "To MegaTherion" is only superseded by Kreator's; Pleasure to Kill, Possessed's; Seven Churches, Megadeth's; Killing is My Business, Metallica's; Kill 'em All, and Slayer's; Reign in Blood. I'll leave out Venom's debut since "Black Metal" is indeed what that album definitively is.
As far as thrash and death goes, Celtic Frost's "To MegaTherion" helped create the sub-genre we today call thrash metal.
Released in 1985 it is a classic in every sense of the word. To "MegaTherion" not only helped in the creation of a new metal genre but it also foresaw the future of the genre and manages to stay forever relevant. It is a seminal document in the thrash and death metal canon.
Celtic Frost is a band from Switzerland that arose from the ashes of Hellhammer, an early hardcore metal band, with two of its members crossing over to form Celtic Frost.
Regarded initially as a Venom-influenced “pioneering” black metal band, thanks to their first EP, Morbid Tales, it wasn’t until their sophomore release, "To MegaTherion" that the band truly found their niche.
Powered by more expressive but simpler power chord patterns than their debut, it’s Tom Fischer's (guitars, vocals) delivery that really makes their second album so IMPRESSIVE.
Even by today standards – Tom (now known as: 'Tom G. Warrior') relishes in lucid vocals that are so charmingly evil, you can’t help but become attracted to them.
It might sound like indecipherable grunts in between the well placed; "HEY!" and "UH!", but where Tom Warrior really outshines himself is in the lyric sheets.
I dare you to pull up the lyrics for the songs on this album and find anything unimaginative about the occult. Tom G. Warrior culled his references straight from reading the best esoteric books.
Verses like: "Silver horses brought us here, to the edge of the universe / We left the falling walls as the stars' collapse began." (From: Jewel Throne).
And: "Humiliated in human form/We have to die to be reborn!" (From: Dawn of Megiddo).
The lyric images that Tom Warrior paints with his vocal performances are inevitably going to make your mind drift away to battles between good and evil, fallen kings and fallen angels, desolated wastelands, and Celtic/Viking lore from the pagan past.
Coupled with female backing vocals (not overused, but on a few songs), some tracks go even further up on the visionary scale when the female and male voices come together. (Necromantical Screams being the prime example).
The instrumentation is no slouch either; Dominic Steiner's bass provides one hell of a rough ride and lends a gritty backbone to the music.
Reed St. Mark's drumming is not really that diverse, but he keeps the pace really nicely, like a steady walkway ladder leading you down to the depths of an abyss. (Circle of the Tyrants, Return to the Eve, for examples).
Overall, they end up making the album feel genuinely evil, by always managing to get a chilling performance from all involved in the recordings.
The album has the sign of great musicianship and songwriting all over it.
Relating more to thrash and death metal than the sub-genre they were first known for; black metal, Celtic Frost manage to make one hell of an album.
By blending their initial black metal influence into a thrashing death metal sound they introduced many of the clichés well known in today’s hardcore metal scene.
Instrumentation, sound effects, backing female vocals, occult and mystical lyrics - all are delivered in such an honest and precise package that it is really easy to forget some of the minor flaws.
Some riffs tend to repeat themselves for a tad longer than necessary, and become monotonous. There is an instrumental that doesn’t add that much to the album (Tears in a Prophet´s Dream).
And just the way they threw their fans into a tizzy with a musical approach more aligned with thrash metal than what anyone would expect after the sludge of black metal they featured on their debut.
But these are all minor complaints. If someone was to ask me what I thought 80's Black Metal and its epitome was, I would answer by pointing towards Venom's "Black Metal" and Celtic Frost's "To MegaTherion".
It is a great album that doesn’t depend on Black Metal gimmicks. It creates a new vision for the genre by forging a Black Metal essence with the emerging relevance of death metal and thrash metal. This was pretty radical for 1985,
when Black Metal bands and Thrash, Speed, and Death metal bands were solidly entrenched in different camps.
''To MegaTherion'' manages to use all these period influences masterfully, and in turn created an album as relevant today as the classic it was then.
Recommended tracks: The Usurper Jewel Throne Dawn of Megiddo Circle of the Tyrants Necromantical Screams
This album and "Morbid Tales" (their debut EP) are beyond essential for your hardcore metal collection.
- By Geadom edited by James Clark
(The original cover artwork is featured below, from a painting by the renown H.R. Giger entitled "Satan I")
"play at 0.5 speed to soak it in" ISR BOOKS, ISR Honeys, ISR Humor, ISR Hunks, ISR LIVING INSPIRATIONS, ISR MOVIES, ISR RADIO HALL OF FAME, ISR Salutes, ISR SportsTalk, ISR STYLE MAVENS www.InternetStreetRadio.com
21 years have passed since the formation of Sinister, one of Holland's most persistent death metal acts.
Though most of their albums are good, the band has sadly never achieved the level of recognition that many of their peers rose to. It's a shame, because their first few albums are better than the overrated early 90s output of a Deicide, Hypocrisy or Cannibal Corpse. I can't claim that any of the 8 Sinister albums is a masterpiece, but "Diabolical Summoning" was certainly a Dutch gem which stands alongside Pestilence, Creepmine and Gorefest as a strong offering to the genre.
For the period, Sinister were quite a tight, prolific, unrelenting band. "Diabolical Summoning" pops with controlled aggression, whether it's the sick-fuck drumming of Aad Kloosterwaard, the unending guitar-axe brutality, or the gruff barking of Mike van Mastrigt. The band was every bit as moshpit friendly as their American counterparts, with alternate bursts of speed and breakdowns, very much comparable to an early Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse, and on this album, better.
Tracks like "Magnified Wrath" and "Sense of Demise" groove with abandon, hellish drum battering and bludgeoning guitar tones that sound heavy as fuck even by the standards of the 21st century. The album grows a little more interesting during its latter half, with the punishing "Leviathan", the riffy, grinding "Desecrated Flesh" and the mystical destruction of "Tribes of the Moon."
In closing, Diabolical Summoning is sick. Sick enough for any fan of brutal death metal. You should own it and relish its insanity. The riffs are consistently entertaining, the leads sear and the drumming should hold the attention of the A.D.D. brutes who demand it.
I would say this still ranks as my favorite Sinister album.
Many seem compelled to call The Antichrist the 'comeback' album for Destruction, but this not chronologically nor logically the case. The sound here is one lifted straight from its predecessor; "All Hell Breaks Loose", but pummeled into perfection. That album was a fresh act of violence borne from a stagnant musical relationship, while this is like a freight train hitting you at a thousand miles an hour, a mushroom cloud being formed over your conscience, an instant window to everything you loved about this band in the 80's and then some.
This is accomplished with a tone as hard as steel girders being lobbed from a high rise down upon the audience, crushing spines and craniums aplomb. Special credit must be given to the Abyss Studios' and Hypocrisy/Pain mogul Peter Tägtgren for producing and recording the finest work of his studio career, because the mix easily surpasses "All Hell Breaks Loose" and clings to the remarkable songwriting like leathery plates to a mutant armadillo. Actually, an armadillo does not do "The Antichrist" justice. It's more like the bony frills of a triceratops. Truly an impressive work of engineering which perfectly places into perspective the storming payload of Sven Vormann's percussion, the unfathomable riffing riots of Mike Sifringer, and both the bottom end sewage and malicious bark of Marcel Schirmer.
All of this might seem meaningless without the songs to match the unparalleled sonic muster, but The Antichrist has them to spare. Remember when thrash metal albums had songs that you could repeat over and over in your head and to your friends until they hated your fucking guts? A brief flyby of the lyric sheet will reveal references in the lyrics to Exodus, Kreator, Possessed, Overkill, Living Death and of course Destruction themselves in what might be the most thinly veiled, shameless self-promotion in thrash history; the chorus of: ''Immortal soul, takes control, immortal soul, thrash 'til death!''
In all, this is 42 minutes of calculated brain concussion. No filler to be found anywhere. Simple yet strangely effective lyrics. A formula of devastation so assured and convincing that Destruction have been using it repeatedly since with diminishing returns, since few of their later albums hit home quite so hard.