Thursday, June 22, 2017

Heavy metal reckoning

Update [6/30/17]: I also participated in a podcast discussion of the RS metal list, with my colleagues Kory Grow, Brian Hiatt and Brittany Spanos. We were joined by none other than Rob Halford of Judas Priest!

Here, as published Wednesday on, is a list of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time. My friend/colleague Kory Grow and myself spearheaded the project, and we were joined by a squad of enormously talented writers, too numerous to shout out here. As I stated in this follow-up interview with Metal Insider, Kory's expertise really drove the project, though everyone involved was essential.

I have long identified as a metalhead, though working on this list put me in my place a bit. The truth is that, despite having spent the past 25 years or so immersed in metal and related styles, there's just so much I haven't heard or really spent good time with, including many of the stone-cold classics and cult favorites found throughout this list. Chalk that up to my diverse musical interests, I guess — I've never claimed to be a completist, only a passionate and dedicated listener who makes a habit of following his nose.

Anyway, I'll just say that I feel proud to have participated in this project, both behind-the-scenes and as a writer, and I hope that the final product at least proves to be an interesting — if, like any by-nature-subjective list, somewhat maddening — read.

Many of my favorite metal records did thankfully end up on this list – among them Morbid Angel's Covenant, probably my stone-cold No. 1 if I had to pick; five incredible Metallica records (my personal top picks being Justice and, of course, Master); six by the mighty Black Sabbath (Sabotage is probably my truest jam among them); Dio's towering Holy Diver; Slayer's impeccable Reign/South/Seasons run; Pantera's '92/'94 knockout combo; Danzig's flawless self-titled debut (I'm more of a III guy, but all that early-period stuff is essential); Tool's engrossing Ænima (though Lateralus is probably my favorite by them); Rage Against the Machine's shattering debut; and outliers like Helmet's Meantime, Eyehategod's Take as Needed for Pain, Melvins' Bullhead, Type O Negative's Bloody Kisses, Life of Agony's River Runs Red and Death's Human. I've been keeping a running tally of metal albums I love that didn't end up on the RS list for various reasons. Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the ones that are most dear to me, with links to coverage where appropriate:

Autopsy: Mental Funeral

Axis of Advance: Obey [J. Read post]

Behold... the Arctopus: Skullgrid, Horrorscension 

Black Sabbath: beyond the ones on the list – Mob Rules, Born Again, Headless Cross, Dehumanizer, The Devil You Know (the latter credited to Heaven and Hell), 13

Bolt Thrower: every LP from The IVth Crusade through Those Once Loyal

Cannibal Corpse: The Bleeding, every LP from Kill through A Skeletal Domain

Carcass: Necroticism — Descanting the Insalubrious, Surgical Steel

Christian Mistress: Possession [mentioned in 2012 year-end round-up]

Clutch: Passive Restraints (I love many Clutch releases, but this might be the only one I'd actually feel comfortable pegging as metal)

Confessor: Condemned [Steve Shelton round-up post, Modern Drummer article]

Coroner: Punishment for Decadence, No More Color, Mental Vortex, Grin

Crowbar: basically every LP from 1993's Crowbar through The Serpent Only Lies, with special mention of the self-titled, Odd Fellows Rest and Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form

Cynic: Focus, Traced in Air

Danzig: II: Lucifuge, III: How the Gods Kill, 4p, plus Deth Red Sabaoth [Samhain live review and Glenn Danzig–obsession overview]

Death: Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic, The Sound of Perseverance

Defeated Sanity: Passages Into Deformity

Deicide: Legion, Once Upon the Cross

Dismember: full catalog, with special mention of Like an Ever-Flowing Stream and Massive Killing Capacity 

Dysrhythmia: Test of Submission

Entombed: Wolverine Blues, Uprising, Morning Star [some discussion here]

Fucking Champs: IV, V

Gorguts: Obscura, From Wisdom to Hate, Colored Sands, Pleiades' Dust

Immolation: full catalog, with special mention of Close to a World Below, Unholy Cult and Majesty and Decay

Incantation: full catalog, with special mention of Onward to Golgotha, Mortal Throne of Nazarene and Vanquish in Vengeance

Iron Maiden: The Book of Souls [mentioned in best-of-2015 round-up]

Keelhaul: II, Subject to Change Without Notice, Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity

Khanate: Things Viral, Capture and Release

Krallice: Ygg Huur

Loincloth: Iron Balls of Steel

Mastodon: Remission, Leviathan (which does appear on the list), Once More 'Round the Sun, The Hunter, Emperor of Sand

Meshuggah: The Violent Sleep of Reason

Morbid Angel: full catalog beyond the aforementioned Covenant (yeah, even a handful of songs on Illud Divinum Insanus), with special mention of Altars of Madness, Domination, Entangled in Chaos, Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic

Necronaut: Necronaut

Necrophagist: Epitaph

Obituary: full catalog, with special mention of The End Complete, World Demise, Back From the Dead and Inked in Blood

Pallbearer: Sorrow and Extinction

Pantera: beyond the ones on the list – Cowboys From Hell, Reinventing the Steel

Revenge: Victory.Intolerance.Mastery; Behold.Total.Rejection [J. Read post]

Sepultura: Arise, Chaos A.D. (on the list)

Sorcery: Arrival at Six

Suffocation: full catalog, with special mention of Effigy of the Forgotten, Pierced From Within, Blood Oath and Pinnacle of Bedlam

Voivod: Killing Technology, Dimension Hatröss (on the list), Nothingface, Angel Rat, The Outer Limits, Target Earth (mentioned in 2013 round-up), Post-Society

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