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  • My current favourite metal albums and EPs, 14 May 2013 update

    14 mai 2013, 19h56m

    My taste varies dramatically through the times. I've moved away from melodic death metal towards more old-school death metal and blackened death metal (along with early, scene-originating melodic death) since the last album list I made. Of course, I still love the albums I wrote about last time - I've just found so many amazing artists and albums since then that i figured the list deserves an update. Therefore, I bring you, the list as of today. All albums listed in the first section of the list are metal albums; non-metal favourites are listed separately below.

    ===

    Bloody Blasphemy - God Dethroned
    Blackened death metal
    Sadly defunct Dutch band God Dethroned began as a blackened death metal act, producing such wonderfully grim albums as Bloody Blasphemy before moving in a slightly more melodic direction. Played largely at high speed with occasional breathers, hurricane-force tracks such as Nocturnal and Boiling Blood are sure to delight fans of the genre. The relatively low production value enhances the cold, unwelcoming feel of the album, complementing the cover art well. This album seems difficult to find, but is very much worth it.

    The Lair Of The White Worm - God Dethroned
    Blackened death metal/melodic death metal
    Later in God Dethroned's career, albums moved in a slightly more melodic death direction, though maintaining the black metal elements. Lyrical themes moved from general hatred of religion with occasional history to mostly history and mythology. Higher production, combined with excellent guitar work including highly memorable melodies and riffs, give the album a good crossover appeal. Arch Enemy Spain and the title track are ridiculously catchy, and among the band's best songs.

    Other albums by God Dethroned
    Blackened death metal/melodic death metal
    All of God Dethroned's discography is worth listening to, from their earlier raw, unrelenting blackened death to the more refined melodic work in later years. The last few albums follow a very distinctive World War theme, becoming concept albums in a way, but you'd hardly notice it since the tracks are awesome with no filler.

    A Velvet Creation - Eucharist
    Early melodic death metal
    Among early melodic death metal pioneers (At The Gates, In Flames, Carcass, etc.) Eucharist may be one of the most overlooked. It's a shame, though, since they had potential and skill equal to if not greater than the better known acts of the day. Releasing one album, going into hiatus, releasing a second, and disbanding (for now?) their short career was nevertheless important and impressive. This, their first album, features raw and rather complex melodic death metal, though slightly repetitive and with a drummer not quite able to keep pace at all times. In the vein of At The Gates' The Red in the Sky is Ours, this album is very much worth listening to. Mirrorworlds, their second album, is similarly essential.

    Like An Ever Flowing Stream - Dismember
    Old-school Swedish death metal
    Dismember is one of the most important players in the Swedish death metal scene. Though sadly disbanded in 2011, Dismember is notable for producing a career full of brutal, unchanging death metal, in the classic Sunlight Studio chainsaw guitar tone. This was their first release, an intense and brutal slab of raw death metal. With the very raw production and the rather uniquely vicious vocals, it's among the most evil sounding recordings in the genre that one can find. The early Swedish scene produced some of the greatest death metal albums of all time, with this being consistently ranked among the best. The opening track, the brutal Override Of The Overture, is perhaps one of the most classic and recognizable death metal tracks in history.

    Death Metal - Dismember
    Swedish death metal
    While other bands of the scene tended toward death 'n' roll, melodic death metal, or other such stylistic shifts by the mid 90s, Dismember kept true to their early raw death metal formula, though with a bit of an Iron Maiden touch in some of the leads, and more focus on melody. This isn't melodic death metal, it's REAL death metal with tasteful melodies. There isn't a weak track to be found on the album, and this is perhaps Dismember's most appealing album.

    The God That Never Was - Dismember
    Swedish death metal
    Towards the end of their career, Dismember had mastered the art of injecting melodies into raw death metal to provide a style all their own without delving into 'melodeath' territory. This is noticeable on this album, one of the band's greatest. Where No Ghost is Holy and the first two tracks are near death metal perfection.

    Seven Churches - Possessed
    Thrash metal
    Possessed is one of the most influential bands of the early 80s, credited for inspiring many acts today and inspiring the development of extreme metal in general. They were one of the earliest purveyors of the black metal sound, and well before their time, though today they would would be classed much more with thrash metal despite the early black/death elements present . Their classic debut album is still as awesome today as it was when it was released.

    Bathory - Bathory
    Proto-black/thrash metal
    Perhaps one of the most raw and evil sounding recordings ever produced. The late great front man, and generally the only member of Bathory through the rest of its career, was one of the earliest black metal musicians, and this album is often referred to as the first black metal album. Again, though, today it would be classified closer to thrash metal as black metal has developed in its own sound. Nevertheless, an influential and essential album.

    The Somberlain - Dissection
    Melodic black metal
    Storm of the Light's Bane is often considered, rightly so, one of the greatest and most sophisticated black metal recordings ever. However, Dissection's previous album, The Somberlain, certainly deserves mention. The two albums are more similar than different, though clearly stylistically divergent; The Somberlain is a bit more raw, and while not as accessible as SotLB, remains a brilliant album in its own right, every bit as good as its more famous following release.

    Beyond the Permafrost - Skeletonwitch
    Blackened thrash metal
    Retro-thrash has made great strides in recent years, attempting to combine classic thrash with some of the more modern metal elements. Most of these acts suck, but a few, such as Toxic Holocaust and Skeletonwitch, are excellent, and seem to have successfully bridged the gap between classic thrash and blackened death metal. This is perhaps the best album of the retro-thrash lot. There are a lot of 80s influences on this release, culminating in the Maiden-esque Within My Blood. Great stuff.

    Left Hand Path - Entombed
    Old-school Swedish death metal
    Dismember and Entombed may well be the best of the early Swedish death metal bands, though Entombed soon moved away from the classic raw Sunlight Studios chainsaw guitars towards a more groove-inspired path. Nevertheless, this album remains their best offering, vying with Like An Ever Flowing Stream as the greatest early Swedish death metal album of all time. Listen to both to see for yourself - you definitely won't regret it.

    Dechristianize - Vital Remains
    Death metal
    Vital Remains, a rather intense death metal act in the veins of Deicide, became even more like that band by pulling in Glen Benton for vocals on their later albums. This album, and its classic title track, is one of the best death metal releases of the 'modern' metal era, though it can be said that the tracks do drag on for longer than necessary. With structures that are more repetitive than progressive, this usually causes problems, but as the writing is good and the guitar work is impressive, I still find myself loving every second of the longer tracks. For fans of Deicide, Vital Remains will prove an excellent listen.

    Hell Awaits - Slayer
    Thrash metal
    Many people have found themselves revisiting Slayer after Jeff Hanneman's unfortunate passing. I've been enjoying Hell Awaits for years now, and this is perhaps a good opportunity to introduce this excellent album to those listeners new to Slayer or listening again after a long break. Hell Awaits is an excellent album, the perfect balance between the early, somewhat gaudy Show No Mercy to the much faster and choppier Reign In Blood. All are great listens, but this album and the EP listed below are perhaps the best in Slayer's discography.

    Haunting the Chapel - Slayer
    Thrash metal
    This EP is considered by many to be the best Slayer release. The excellent, memorable riffs and top-notch thrash metal songwriting fuel this notion, and I must concur that Haunting the Chapel may well be their best work. Every track is a classic, though sadly under-appreciated.

    Illusions - Sadus
    Thrash/death metal
    Sadus is a bit more obscure than other late 80s thrash acts, but unlike most, which were mediocre at best, Sadus managed to produce an album that still stands today as one of the greatest moments of the genre. 'Illusions' roars past at a blistering pace, with an intensity very near death metal; indeed, many death metal elements are present, reminding one of early Death albums. The album may be quite short, but like Reign In Blood, there's a lot going on in that short time. Any fan of high-tempo thrash - and bands such as Slayer, Kreator, or Sodom - is encouraged to seek out this album.

    The Key - Nocturnus
    Symphonic death metal
    Nocturnus has been slightly overlooked by many death metal fans, but they definitely deserve attention. The Key contains some of the best use of melody and symphonic elements in real death metal of any album ever produced. It's a very memorable album and one of the great hidden jewels of death metal.

    ===

    My Head Is an Animal - Of Monsters and Men
    Indie pop with folk touches
    Just about everyone knows the song 'Little Talks' by now, which is indeed the highlight of the album, but the rest of the release is good as well. Fans of indie pop with folk elements shouldn't miss it.

    Electra Heart - Marina and the Diamonds
    Indie/electropop
    Female-fronted indie pop/electropop has skyrocketed in popularity as of late. Marina and the Diamonds seems a bit hit-and-miss, but several tracks are real standouts in a genre saturated with so many songs of its type. Primadonna and Bubblegum Bitch come to mind, as does Oh No! from M&TD's album 'The Family Jewels'.

    Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
    Indie/folk
    Fleet Foxes is well-known in indie circles. There is a reason for this - their work is top-notch. Listen to the haunting White Winter Hymnal and, if you like this genre any at all, I think you would quickly agree.

    You're Already Mine - Burn the Ballroom
    Pop punk
    I'm usually not a fan of pop punk, save for a few songs here and there, but Burn the Ballroom seems much higher in quality than the countless semi-emo, faceless acts in the genre that fill the Internet. Angels in the Wind and Broken Dove are now among my favourite songs, and show a level of musicianship that's rare in pop punk-ish music.

    The Adventure - Aviators
    Synthpop
    One of the best pony music releases. Great synthpop, well-written and performed.

    Sounds Of Equestria - Resonant Waves, etc
    Ambient
    Beautiful, haunting ambient music from multiple artists.

    Nightfall - HeyLasFas
    Progressive rock
    Progressive rock is rare in the pony fandom, but HeyLasFas has pulled it off very nicely. A concept album, and rock epic, per se.

    Looking to the Stars - Kyoga
    Ambient/rock
    Kyoga has long been my favourite musician in the fandom. Many of his best tracks, his work ranging from ambient soundscapes to melodic instrumental rock, are represented on this compilation.
  • My current favourite metal albums and EPs.

    8 oct. 2011, 7h08m

    Fragments Of D-Generation , Disarmonia Mundi
    Melodic death metal
    A crown jewel of melodic death metal. Highly memorable riffs and ridiculously catchy songwriting. But don't let that description discourage you - for being an album that's at first glance somewhat commercial-sounding, this is one of the best Gothenburg-inspired albums of all time. Featuring Bjorn Strid of Soilwork sharing vocal duties with the two other consistent members of the lineup, this album contains some of the most mesmerizing keyboard work in metal, along with ridiculously intricate melodies and patterns that take many listens to fully discover. You will find something new every time you listen to this. Those who dislike melodic death metal will probably want to pass this over, but anyone with even a slight interest in the genre is encouraged to get this immediately.

    The Treasures Arcane , Crown of Autumn
    Epic melodic black/death metal
    A HIGHLY overlooked and underrated metal treasure. This album is filled with so much atmosphere and melody that I would describe it as epic metal, its lyrical themes notwithstanding. The album is a journey, an epic journey that I recommend all fans of symphonic/epic metal embark upon as soon as possible.

    In the Nightside Eclipse , Emperor
    Symphonic black metal
    Not much can be said about this, as it's one of the best-known black metal albums ever made. My favorite tracks include "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times", "I Am the Black Wizards", and "Inno A Satana." Emperor successfully mesh an incredible soaring atmosphere with many memorable riffs emerging from the thick wall of buzzsaw guitars and screeched vocals. The abysmal production only heightens its raw, cold feel. A timeless classic.

    Stronghold , Summoning
    Atmospheric black metal
    Just about everyone that will read this already knows that Summoning is awesome. But for those who haven't heard them, Stronghold is probably their magnum opus. Best described as the soundtrack to AWESOME.

    Journey's End , Mirkwood
    Atmospheric black metal
    What many of you here may NOT be familiar with is the other Mirkwood - not Silenius' side project, but the black metal act from California. Some may dislike its MIDI-sounding bits, but all the songs on this EP are excellent atmospheric/melodic black metal tracks. There isn't much to compare this to except perhaps Summoning. Listen to Journey's End and see for yourself.

    Fiction , Dark Tranquillity
    Melodic death metal
    While all of DT's work is great, Fiction is perhaps the best example of a classic Gothenburg metal band 'modernizing' their sound and still sounding excellent, hardly different from their early-career work. The songs here are memorable and very much earworms without being watered-down.

    The Jester Race , In Flames
    Melodic death metal
    I might have too much meloidic death metal on this list. Oh well. In any case, this, along with Slaughter of the Soul and The Gallery, is one of the holy trinity of Gothenburg metal. The Jester Race is close to perfection.

    Gambling with the Devil , Helloween
    Power metal
    Helloween is another good example of a classic band putting out an amazing album in the latter half of the previous decade. Gambling With the Devil is memorable from beginning to end, and is sure to please any power metal fan. I don't care what others say, Andri Deris is a very capable vocalist!

    Soulside Journey , Darkthrone
    Old-school death metal
    Darkthrone played a raw and actually rather complex form of early death metal before becoming involved the early Norwegian black metal scene. I actually find their death metal work to be better than a lot of their later work, but I know others will disagree. A must-have for fans of early black metal and early death metal.

    Traveller , Slough Feg
    Power/folk metal
    A little-known power/folk metal band from the US. Traveller is a surprisingly good and underrated album. It follows a concept, but is done very well.

    Ghost Opera , Kamelot
    Symphonic power metal
    It's rare when I can find an album that I love every song on. This is one of those albums. Overrated, perhaps, but I simply adore every track.

    Silent Night Fever , Dimension Zero
    Melodic death/thrash metal
    Dimension Zero is probably the 'heaviest' Gothenburg-styled band I know of. It borders on thrash metal. This and the preceding EP are fucking awesome for fans of early melodic death metal played at high speed and with great gusto.

    At the Heart of Winter , Immortal
    Black metal
    Another classic album in the annals of black metal history. This is a landmark BM album, released rather late in the Norwegian scene of the 90s, which balances atmospherics and raw black metal flawlessly to create a spectacular album which is guaranteed to stand the test of time.

    Shadows of the Sun , Ulver
    Electronic / dark ambient
    This.... is very different. After hearing some of Ulver's first work, I checked this out, and was dumbfounded. I hated it at first, but once ambient music in general started to grow on me, I listened to it again. Now this is one of my favourite albums of all time. It's far from metal in any sense of the word, but is one of the greatest ambient albums I've ever heard. The melancholy spirit of the CD is so thick that it practically oozes off the album and onto the floor. Beautiful stuff.

    Altars of Madness , Morbid Angel
    Death metal
    One of the first death metal albums and still one of the very best. Altars of Madness is an incredibly dark and complex piece of work, containing some of the most memorable songwriting in death metal history.

    Powerslave , Iron Maiden
    Heavy metal
    If you claim to be a metal fan, and don't like this album, there is something wrong with you. That's about all I need to say.

    Live , Blind Guardian
    Power metal
    Just a little note to every band ever... THIS is how you make a live album. That is all.

    Storm of the Light's Bane , DIssection
    Melodic black metal
    Dissection is a well-known band in the mid-90s black metal scene. Despite a heavy share of controversies, Dissection managed to put out three excellent albums in an unfortunately sporadic career. Of them, this is my favourite at the moment. The songwriting is amazing and the lyrics are extremely well-written.

    Marrow of the Spirit , Agalloch
    Doom/folk/black metal
    I have no idea how to classify Agalloch. Orgasmic metal would seem to do well, because Marrow of the Spirit is THAT good. They truly have a sound of their own... although I'm sure you already know that. Black Lake Nidstang is a haunting epic, and no song on the album is weak.

    The Stench Of Redemption , Deicide
    Death metal
    Deicide's never-compromising formula has led to a number of excellent death metal albums, but, like Helloween and Dark Tranquillity above, are also very much capable of releasing quality albums even in this day and age. This 2006 album is brutal, in-your-face, and contains some of the most awesome soloing in all of death metal. This is a must-have for fans of death metal in any form.

    The Secrets of the Black Arts , Dark Funeral
    Raw black metal
    Raw black metal, played as fast as possible. Doesn't get much better than that.

    The Red Jewel , Tartaros
    Symphonic black metal
    DJ-Pingas led me in the direction of these guys, and I must say this is a real gem in the annals of underground black metal. These guys sound a LOT like Emperor, but turned up to eleven. If you like Emperor's work, definitely check out Tartaros.

    ColdWorld
    Depressive/atmospheric black metal
    Coldworld only has two albums out, and I couldn't choose which one to feature here. They are both BRILLIANT masterpieces of depressive black metal.

    AND THAT'S ABOUT ALL, FOLKS. SEE YA.