American Death Metal has been getting a bad rap in the world lately. For some reason the Eurozone and Scandinavians tend to look down their nose at the genre championed by Americans. I’ll concede Black Metal, Power Metal, Viking Metal and several other genres for not being ours, but when you think of the early bits in the genre, the umbilical was cut in the 50 states (mainly Florida).
Admittedly, the last decade has been rough on Americans – Polish, Austrian, Sweedish and even British Death Metal have garnered more favor for doing innovative and creative things, and I jumped on the bandwagon until a few albums struck this year. It give me hope to know bands like Origin, Fallujah and Misery Index not only have some history that is decent, but new albums that move what can typically be a tight subgenre in a new direction.
So my mix this month, DEATH! Some of this year’s best Death Metal songs and a couple classics to remind you from whence it came. The standout album being from Fallujah, seriously a game changer, in subtle ways, but nonetheless a dividing point between traditional and experimental. Enjoy!
There is no question that women love heavy metal. It may not be in the same numbers as men, but the women who love to listen and create metal music can have a difficult road to what they enjoy, questioned at every turn, objectified, crucified, taken advantage of and in some instances even injured or murdered. Most recently Aaron Lewis of the band Staind (Definitely not metal, but hard rock at least) called out some douchebags at their Rockfest show groping a young girl who decided to crowd surf. By its very nature, you might have an errant finger in your butthole while someone is trying to keep you aloft of the crowd, but many times if a woman takes to the crowd, bros try to get frisky, even tearing at clothes or worse.
Unacceptable, not because they are women or young girls, but because you shouldn’t act like an animal, groping at the smell of the opposite sex just because you can. Considering the world we live in, getting groped at a concert doesn’t seem nearly as disconcerting as being raped on a bus in India, but it still makes ladies wary of enjoying themselves when they should have the freedom to do so. So cut the crap Neanderthals and grow the hell up. This month, I wanted to pick out some bands with female members who freaking rule, not because of sex, skin or any of that superficial crap, they are players and singers who dominate.
:Arch Enemy – As The Pages Burn:
:Within Temptation – Paradise (What About Us):
:Benedictum - Burn It Out:
:Walls of Jericho – A Trigger Full of Promises:
:Chthonic – Supreme Pain for the Tyrant:
:Otep – Apex Predator:
:Electric Wizard – Black Mass:
:L7 – Shitlist:
:Eths – Ex Umbra In Solem:
:Kylesa – Unspoken:
:iwrestledabearonce – Letters To Stallone:
:Jucifer – Blackpowder:
We are just about at the mid-point of 2014 (I know, hard to believe), so I wanted to give you some of what I feel are the best metal songs of the year. I have heard a few more than what I have on this list that might grow into the top 20 of the year but I had to cut it off. Unfortunately one of my favorite genres, Death Metal, has lapsed so far in 2014. Misery Index, Aborted and a few others have made great albums, but on the whole it has been about a lot of bigger names bringing new music to us this year.
I would say on the top of my list at this point is The Satanist, the record from Polish metal act Behemoth. They brought their live show through Austin with the Metal Alliance/Texas Independence Fest and just destroyed. The album marks some of the most solid writing in their career and has brought the band to the front of extreme metal all over the world. We even featured an in-depth interview with Nergal, their lead singer, on the MetalSucks Podcast this week. So check out the single and if you are feeling safe try the NSFW version of the video for Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel, as it is pretty awesome.
:Behemoth – Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel:
:Triptykon – Breathing:
:Arch Enemy – War Eternal:
:Whitechapel – The Saw Is the Law:
:Black Label Society – My Dying Time:
:Trap Them – Salted Crypts:
:Fu Manchu – Radio Source Sagittarius:
:The Haunted – Eye of the Storm:
:Junius – Battle In The Sky:
:Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch:
:Mastodon – High Road:
Honestly I had every intention of moving on past the untimely death of one of my musical and artistic heroes, but in the present day we don’t spend enough time reflecting on things that should be important. Our attention spans are worse than that of a goldfish and I for one can’t really stand it, especially when it is something as close to my heart as Oderus Urungus. I know, a character someone plays on stage, but Dave Brockie and his alter ego represented so much more than just a joke band meant to shock people, he honestly was a thoughtful and hilarious person, genuine and one of those entertainers that no one will ever be able to replace.
So whilst the metal community moves on to the next thing, Tim Lambesis getting his long awaited sentencing, the line up for Mayhem, or whatever cat video makes you forget your pathetic life, I am going to sit a brood a little longer for the loss of one of my ultimate performers. RIP Dave Brockie, some of us will never forget, I promise.
:Gwar – Americanized:
:Gwar – We Kill Everything:
:Gwar – Biledriver:
:Gwar – Slaughterama:
:Gwar – Bloodbath:
:Gwar – Saddam A Go-Go:
:Gwar – Bring Back The Bomb:
:Gwar – Penguin Attack:
:Gwar – Metal Metal Land:
:Gwar – Murderers Muse:
It is impossible for someone sitting in Austin the first week of March not to broach the topic of SXSW. I would be remiss if I were to ignore the inevitable onslaught of music that will descend upon our fine city in just a few days. Most people are stoked for whatever pop or indie act will be vended to you out of some mighty Doritos machine, but I have taken some time to sniff out as much metal as humanly possible, and I thought it would be appropriate to expose it to you. Starting on Tuesday, this year marks the year of ‘doom metal,’ the sludgy, heavy slow attack, it seems to be the trend this year, or at least what people think is in, so let’s go with it! Also on this list, plenty of local favorites, it is one of the best years for local metal bands doing official showcases, so why not celebrate it a bit.
My featured song however, not local, not doom, but a recent addition to the genre pool, Djent. Animals As Leaders are featured atop the MetalSucks.net showcase on Friday the 14th and their new record is coming out two weeks later. This song is pretty brilliant, and relaxing, an adjective not often used with metal, but you’ll see what I mean.
SONG OF THE MONTH:
:After the Burial – A Wolf Amongst Ravens:
:Windhand – Orchard:
:American Sharks – Overdrive:
:We Butter the Bread With Butter – USA:
:Kylesa – Unspoken:
:Venomous Maximus – Give Up The Witch:
:Pack of Wolves – Destruction II:
:Trash Talk – Blind Evolution:
:Power Trip – Conditioned To Death:
:The Ocean – Eoarchaean – The Great Void:
:Rivers of Nihil – Rain Eater:
Widely known as the month for lovers, at least since a greeting card company decided they need to make more money, February give us Valentine’s Day, that special time when every man’s metal is tested against his fellow cretins by what kind of crap we choose to buy our significant other. Hate not being a strong enough word for my feelings toward this made up holiday, I am choosing to help you celebrate with a nice mixture of music for that special someone in your life and how you would chop them up into little pieces if it were not for the desire to stay out of jail. Love will make a man crazy and metal dudes tend to feel things a little stronger than the average, well, we express our hatred and angst more outwardly at the very least.
SONG OF THE MONTH:
I also chose to grab a little more female friendly song for my featured song, Within Temptation’s new album Hydra hit stores this week, and on the love theme I picked Paradise (What About Us) from the list to express my longing for something or whatever. Solid track featuring Tarja Turunen and is pretty damn catchy, like herpes.
:Within Temptation – Paradise (What About Us):
:Cannibal Corpse – Stripped, Raped and Strangled:
:Type O Negative – Love You To Death:
:Death – Together As One:
:Trivium – Dying In Your Arms:
:Dethklok – I Ejaculate Fire:
:Suffocation – Entrails of You:
:Faith No More – The Morning After:
:Six Feet Under – Let Me Put My Love Into You:
:Killswitch Engage – The End Of Heartache:
:Pantera – Throes of Rejection:
:Opeth – Porcelain Heart:
January is a particularly strange month for many reasons. In the music industry the wheels begin turning again after about a month of ‘best of’ lists and compilation releases, the New Year always marks ‘new beginnings’ and I celebrate a birthday. This year I cross over the four decade mark, while still trying to act like I am only one decade old. I am celebrating by heading out on my first trip on the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise ship, I got lucky that my other job at MetalSucks.net as the host of the weekly podcast is sending me as a ‘correspondent,’ but I will be utilizing my first cruise as a celebration of my b-day at the same time! I have wanted to go since its inception and this year some of my favorite bands are on the trip too, so I figured I would give you a preview (since I probably won’t remember much) of the 40 bands that will be shredding the high seas at the end of the month. Also, John is now having us pick a “song of the month” to go with our mixes, so there’s that, too.
SONG OF THE MONTH:
My pick this month comes from an amazing group who have been making waves in metal since 1993. Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal of the band Cynic create stunning soundscapes and creative juxtoposition between metal and soaring vocals in the early years, to much easier but no less complicated structures on their latest album.
:Carcass – Noncompliance to ASTM F899-12 Standard:
:The Haunted – 99:
:Soilwork – Spectrum Of Eternity:
:Dark Tranquillity – The Science Of Noise:
:SepticFlesh – The Ophidian Wheel:
:Death Angel – Kill As One:
:Satyricon – Phoenix:
:DRI – Tear It Down:
:Overkill – Electric Rattlesnake:
:Leaves Eyes – Elegy:
:Obituary – Chopped In Half:
This month I wanted to offer a little more depth into the metal offerings during Fun Fun Fun Fest happening at Auditorium Shores this weekend. ACL Fest was decidedly not metal, and that’s acceptable, but FFF has always offered a little more variety, including this year’s second appearance of the mighty Slayer! The festival proper is spending more focus on punk rock at the sacrifice of metal compared to years past, but I wanted to include some of the bands playing the ‘Nites’ this year in my playlist this month.
Many of the bands who just couldn’t fit on the rearranged stage setup this year have been forced into the club circuit for late night shows after the festival shuts down, but still included with the price of admission to FFF8. Local metal bands The Pushmen, Eagle Claw and national acts like Black Tusk, Inter Arma and Coliseum are just a few of the bands you need to check out this year, and support the metals. Have a great festival!
:August Burns Red – Internal Cannon:
:The Locust – Full Frontal Obscurity:
:Black Tusk – Set The Dial To Your Doom:
:Tenacious D – Dio:
:Body Count – Body Count’s In The House:
:Slayer – Raining Blood:
:Coliseum – Everything To Everyone:
:Quicksand – Baphomet:
:Eagle Claw – Ophidian:
:Pushmen – Blaze Some More Hate:
:Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage:
:Inter Arma – Sblood:
:Pelican – Ephemeral:
:Iron Age – Dispossessed:
This month finally marks the demise of summer. By now I am exhausted from all the metal festivals, and the damn heat destroyed all the beautiful things. Fall begins to decay the rotting corpses left to char in the sunlight, and gives birth to some of the best metal of the year. To be completely honest, this set includes a song from the best album of the last decade and first from the band Carcass in almost twenty years. I am that confident in saying so. I won’t disparage the other new tracks on this list, but they can only live in the shadow of Surgical Steel (the new album from Carcass). I did include some very good releases though, wear protective headgear when listening to Fleshgod Apocalypse and Grave, whilst the couple of ‘vintage’ tracks are bands I plan on seeing live this month, because it is all about me in the end. So enjoy the preparation for the dark times, and as some have been known to say, Winter is Coming.
:Between The Buried And Me – Astral Body:
:Trivium – Strife:
:Carcass – Captive Bolt Pistol:
:The Devil Wears Prada – Home For Grave:
:Fleshgod Apocalypse – Elegy:
:Skeletonwitch – Burned From Bone:
:Grave – Morbid Ascent:
:Red Fang – Blood Like Cream:
:Iron Maiden – Powerslave:
:Orange Goblin – Acid Trial:
:Iwrestledabearonce – Letters To Stallone:
On my way home last night, my phone started going insane with the news that Jeff Hanneman had passed away at the age of 49 from liver failure. I didn’t believe all the text messages that people were sending around, knowing what kind of fan I am of Slayer even my Mom sent me a message and I knew this was real.
People die every day. Some too early, some too young, some you know others you don’t. When a legend passes, many people don’t know what it means to you, honestly I didn’t know how much he meant to me until I realized I would never see him play again.
Their music coddled me through some tough times, gave me hope for music in the dark ages, and inspired me to plug away each week on my radio show. The world of metal is so much darker without Jeff Hanneman in it, and he can never be replaced. If you have never had the pleasure of listening to Slayer, take a few moments and listen to a few songs I have selected, and for you fans, give hails to another metal legend gone too early. Peace be with you Jeff, we will always stay metal in your name.
:Slayer – Raining Blood:
:Slayer – South Of Heaven:
:Slayer – Disciple:
:Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss:
:Slayer – Hardening Of The Arteries:
After the death of the touring festivals for more mainstream music in the ‘90s, metal took the reins via Sharon Ozbourne and Ozzfest. It revived the tradition of pairing some of the largest names in metal with new up and coming artists, as well as local bands, and unfortunately some occasional crap, too.
The festival(s) in the last decade have taken on a new skin with parking in one location and getting fans, which have the cash to travel, to come to them. Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella, Voodoo, ACL and so on, have become an elitist haven for watered down lineups meant for the highest bidders to make a pilgrimage of douchery, and have an excuse to rip off their shirts and complain about how hot it is standing outside while waiting for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
:Rob Zombie – Call Of The Zombie:
:Amon Amarth – The Pursuit of Vikings:
:Behemoth – Prometherion:
:Mastodon – Quintessence:
:Born Of Osiris – Recreate:
:Machine Head – Locust:
:Children Of Bodom – Bodom Blue Moon:
:Job For A Cowboy – Regurgitated Disinformation:
:Emmure – When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong:
:Five Finger Death Punch – Under And Over It:
Springtime officially begins this month and we celebrate so many things, Spring Break, March Madness and for many SXSW blocks off a major portion of the calendar. In years past metal has taken a prominent role as one of the major genres at play, and this year is no exception. Though the official showcases may be a little light in the metal field, there is no shortage of the extreme to be found during the music portion of the conference.
March has also been declared Metal Month by some blogger, or website or label or something, so since my proclivity to the metal art leads me to hail to our month of metal by drinking a lot of bourbon and jager, while at the same time giving you a nice list of SXSW metal to peruse at your leisure. If you are in Austin for the conference and you want to join in the metal mayhem, be sure to see my Big List O’ Metal for the latest updates too, and maybe I’ll buy you a shot as we jam to Clutch.
:A Life Once Lost – Vulture:
:The Beards – You Should Consider Having Sex With A Bearded Man:
:Chelsea Grin – Lilith:
:Skeletonwitch – The Infernal Resurrection:
:Clutch – The Mob Goes Wild:
:Pallbearer – Devoid Of Redemption:
:Exhumed – The Matter Of Splatter:
:Orange Goblin – Red Tide Rising:
:Howl – Heavenless:
:Norma Jean – Bayonetwork:
:KEN Mode – Obeying The Iron Will:
:Mutilation Rites – Realms Of Dementia:
:Lacuna Coil – Heaven’s A Lie:
The tendency to shy away from all things heavy happens every time a terrorist attack happens or a school shooting takes place. It is typical for people to want to be comforted by some crappy sappy tunes to console themselves in times of trouble, but with the recent round of shootings I have been disturbed with another trend happening. Guns, yeah, violent video games, yeah, mental health issues, all possibly culpable, but no one is blaming metal anymore and I am tired of being left out.
I want to hear Diane Feinstein or Chuck Shumer reading violent lyrics from Cannibal Corpse and Slayer in front of Congress, I want to see them try and vilify those they deem fringe again and be faced down in court. For some reason our music is not an influential force in creating chaos in the public arena anymore (if it ever really was), not since Columbine, and they blamed Marilyn Manson ugh. When is the NRA going to point fingers at us metalheads and grow our audience again…well, if nothing else, I will do my part. To grow the audience, not kill innocent people.
February is the month of love and crap, but it is also the time when all those albums that would get released the last two months finally hit stores. Here are some of the metal jams you need to be on top of this month, like your lover.
:Clutch – Earth Rocker:
:Zombified – Pull The Trigger:
:Cult Of Luna – I The Weapon:
:Tomahawk – Oddfellows:
:Devourment – Fifty Ton War Machine:
:Suffocation – Cycles Of Suffering:
:Ghost – Secular Haze:
:Rotten Sound – The Solution:
:Hatebreed – Put It To The Torch:
:Philip H Anselmo And Warbeast – Birth Of A Psycho:
:Helloween – World Of War:
:Lightning Swords Of Death – Chained To Decay:
A long time ago there was an ancient ritual, a rite of passage for young ones coming of age, a time when we believed in myth and circumstance, and suspended disbelief and left any notion of reality at the door, until you discovered that what your parents had been portraying for years were lies. Of course I am referring to Jesus. Actually I am really talking about Santa Clause, but you could go either way.
I hated Christmas for years, as a metal guy, the punishment of sappy songs and carolers sickens my earholes, yet many people would never think there was holiday music in the style of metal. Though there was a little resistance to doing a Christmas playlist, I could not help myself. You might not have known these songs were real, but now you can never unlisten to these gems. I hope you enjoy, Happy Holidays and stuff …
:ATHF – I Sure Hope I Don’t Have to Beat Your Ass This Christmas:
:Venom – Black Xmas:
:August Burns Red – Sleigh Ride:
:Spinal Tap – Christmas With The Devil:
:Austrian Death Machine – Jingle Bells:
:Psychostick – Holiday Hate:
:Bob Rivers – I Am Santa Claus:
:Lemmy – Run Rudolph Run:
:Corey Taylor – Merry X-M@$:
:King Diamond – No Presents For Christmas:
:Dio And Tony iommi – God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman:
:I Declare War – Jingle Bell Rock:
:Halford – Get Into The Spirit:
Speaking of Kurt Ballou, that bastard represents some of the best qualities alive in metal today. Full of heart and vigor, helping bands whittle out their sound from the void while somehow reserving some of the best ideas in his playbook for All We Love We Leave Behind. I am not entirely sure how it is possible to keep a reserve of music on standby just for your band, but somehow Ballou can work with Black Breath, Trap Them, Gaza, All Pigs Must Die and so many more while maintaining a level of musicianship with Converge that is unrivaled. This album had moved around in my list from #1 but found a comfortable spot here, undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year.
:Converge – Trespasses:
4. Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
After 30 years of thrash, Kreator has every right to put out a pile of crap and have metalheads buy it and actually enjoy it. They could rest on their catalog and play album tours, or just decide their career was over after Extreme Aggression and head back to Germany feeling great about themselves, but somehow these metal warriors outdo themselves every few years with another album. Phantom Antichrist does not revive thrash metal, imitate it or spoof it, it IS thrash, and a big win for Kreator. Their stage show left a little to be desired, but this album blew me away.
:Kreator – Phantom Antichrist:
3. Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas
This is probably one of the more divisive choices for my top 20 list, Anaal Nathrakh stretches the boundaries of how metal can be imagined. I don’t want to go into depth on this record, you need to experience it blind and either enjoy it, or cringe in sever pain. Totally satisfying.
:Anaal Nathrakh – To Spite The Face:
2. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
Not a single critic can argue with having this album at or near the top of the list of the best albums this year. Gojira created what I can only describe as a masterpiece with L’enfant Sauvage. Musically it does not stray from their signature aggressiveness, guitar squeals, barking vocals and forward thinking timing structure, but this album has a sophistication not seen previously from them. The sense of purpose, surrounded with sometimes delicate sounds juxtaposed with an intensity unrivaled in this years group of records. I own their entire catalog, but feel like I had never heard Gojira until this album.
:Gojira – Mouth Of Kala:
1. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
When Matt Pike and company played the first show of their Fall tour in Austin it was kismet, at least in my mind. I listened to this record more than any other this year, and one of the main reasons I placed it at the very top of this years Metal Albums of 2012. What may seem to be an easy choice, I struggled with, although so many records were in my playlist for so long, De Vermis Mysteriis had a sense of anticipation attached to its release like I had not felt in so long. High on Fire clings to my imagination and made the album that reached into my cynical metalguy and spoke directly to my inner child, this is how I felt when I first read Lovecraft, Orwell or Wells. Congrats to them, from a critic and a fan, this is the best album of 2012.
:High On Fire – Bloody Knuckles:
The Sword – Apocryphon
Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
Goatwhore – Blood For the Master
Vision of Disorder – The Cursed Remain Cursed
Napalm Death – Utilitarian