I posted something like this last year, and I enjoyed it so much, I'm gonna do it
again! For those of you that don't know, I don't really talk about current music
all that much, as it's so much more fun for me to dive into the past and take a look
at music and metal's long rich history. So kick back (and grab something to eat,
cos this is fucking long), and enjoy!
Well 2008 has come and gone. I still didn't get to see Van Halen (perhaps the
planets are waiting for Michael Anthony to come back in, useless as he may be?)
and it looks as though I'm only able to go to concerts when I'm home and have a
car. Apparently everybody else is held back by two minor inconveniences like time
I'd say the biggest news in my little world as that Gamma Ray is
my new shit! The fact that Kai and Gamma Ray remains for the most part
overlooked by the metal media only increases my fandom of them more! Not that
I'm one of those pricks who gets all pissy when their local band gets famous
(which is why they did it in the first place), but I guess a band with a smaller
following makes you that much more willing to support them, seeing as how they
don't exactly have a lot of power or industry "cool" to run with.
But yes, how many different ways can I suck Kai's balls? If I weren't so lazy, I'd
listen to the entire Nirvana discography just so I could say that Kai was "the real
Kurt Cobain." Better guitarist, better musician (do Nirvana songs have piano?
Why I think not!) and better singer...? Well not when he's doing those Halford
imitations, let's be honest, that's where the term strangling a cat came from.
When you think about it, Kai's 90's journey was more punk than Nirvana was.
Assuming that Kai didn't leave Helloween because they were getting too famous,
he jumped off his previous band when they were about to break big, started
Gamma Ray which would already be marginalized thanks to the whole "side-
project/solo act" label, but would now be even more marginalized because Kai
didn't exactly write ground-breaking music, even if it was faster and louder than
everybody else who was doing it. This band would then be swept under the rug
thanks to the downfall of metal in 93-94, but still he would soldier on! Then after
a quick lineup change, Gamma Ray would go onto release to what only I would call
the Beggar's Banquet through Exile In Main Street run* of Heavy Metal (Land Of
The Free through No World Order)! Majestic is seen as a questionable diversion by
fans, but having just heard Land Of The Free II (wonderful timing ay?) they still
continue to lodge steel toed boots up muthafuckas asses. I certainly hope I get a
second chance at seeing them live, having missed that "LULZ WER ALL FRIENDS
AGAIN" tour with Helloween. For me, Gamma Ray = group of the year.
* I have a long convoluted way of justifying this. If you want explanation, ask me how.
I've also dug more into rap, certainly not as much as others, but I've begun to
recognize recurrent ebonic words and euphimisms that make the science being
dropped slightly more decpiherable. I also think I've found just about the
greatest hip-hop album ever! (more on that down below). I've also been
dissapointed here. Tribe Called Quest, for all their glory just couldn't make an
album quite as poppin as Low End Theory. Midnight Maruaders got kinda boring as
time went on (Clap Your Hands? Pligga Nease!), and People's Instinctive, while
enjoyable in a "before the expansion pack way" just doesn't have enough Phife
Dawg on it! Screw your hustle foo! You've got dope science to drop.
Then there's Nostradamus, I'd be lying if I said this was my album of the year,
and I didn't even listen to it that often! I didn't think it was necessarily "bad,"
but, there was just too much other shit on my agenda! Though I would like to
make a couple of remarks. a) You gotta admit, considering only Glenn and KK
produced the album, the production is impeccable. b) Those string arrangements
are pretty badass and I would love to know who actually composed them,
especially when you consider Priest aren't known for that sort of thing. c) When
you cut away a fair share of the intros, quite a few of the songs hold up. Perhaps
the whole thing could be condensed into a single disc 8-10 track album? d) I think
the album is a personal statement about Priest's sound as an "elder statesmen of
rock" more than anything else. Sure Halford can't scream liberally anymore, and
the band is probably getting too old to play as fast as they once could, but if you
examine the songs themselves, I'd say Priest are still capable of delivering the
goods. They certainly can live, as proven not only by the kickass Metal Masters
tour, but the slew of rarities they pulled out during it! Applause all around for
their efforts in doing so, and by complete fucking surprise may I add! Unlike some
other bands I could mention...
Finally, Chinese Democracy. On the one hand, I'm glad the damn thing came out,
so I never have to hear that bullshit clockwork marketing force behind it ever
again, but on the other hand I don't understand how anybody can just be
that...loyal is not even the word here, 17 fucking years? I read a quote earlier this
month from a Slayer fanboy that said if he had to wait 17 years since 1985 for
Reign In Blood to come out, he would have said "nope not worth it." You know, up
until this website, I used to believe that anybody who continued to follow Axl was
a tard. A tard who fails at life, plain and simple. To some extent I still do. Out of
respect, for the most part I've kept my GNR hating ways to myself, but for some
reason I feel the need to run my mouth. Let's drop the whole "if Slash/Duff/
Izzy wasn't there you wouldn't be complaining" bullshit. The only "original" guy in
Motorhead has been Lemmy for years, and though one out of three people say it's
not the same without Fast Eddie and Philthy Taylor, you aren't gonna find any of
those people questioning Lemmy's godliness. It's the fact that Axl Rose is pretty
much the worst thing ever to happen to rock & roll. Because of him, we've had
morons saying "it's dangerously cool to not know whether or not you're gonna get
the good rockstar or the bad rockstar/ the band is going to play the whole show or
they'll get in a fight before the nth song/ the band will show up on time or show up
3 hours late" You know what kind of morons say this? Critics. Rich, yuppie critics
who have probably never had to pay for an album, always get a backstage pass
because they have the right connections in the industry, and pretty much look
down on the people who actually support the music by buying the actual albums or
paying tickets for shows. Or in short, the people who write for Rolling Stone.
Honestly the first time I heard Guns N Roses, I wasn't that impressed. Granted I
was a 13 year old "lyrics about sex are gay" elitist at the time, but I still wasn't
impressed. Also as a result of being 13, I wanted to fit in, and apparently a rule of
being a rock fan was you had to unconditionally love Guns N Roses. Well that
period of my life is long friggin gone, and so is my love for that band, no doubt
because of Axl's faggotry. I can't even listen to Night Train or Welcome To The
Jungle anymore, he's just ruined all the songs.
Without further ado, here is my top 10.
10. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
Van Morrison has a lot of nostalgic value for me. A greatest hits tape of his was
the soundtrack to my life up until about the 7th grade. So it was cool to finally
get around to hearing an actual album of his. Van might as well have called this
album "real poetic love songs." Acoustic folk music combined with jazz
orchestration and symphonic instruments. You aren't gonna get much more prog
than that folks.
must hear songs: Sweet Thing, Cyprus Avenue
9. Snoop Dogg: Doggystyle
I have mixed feelings about Snoop Dogg. On one hand, he's one of the best hip-
hop songwriters, funkiest flowers, and all around catchiest artists to listen to, but
on the other hand I feel that him, along with the West Coast movement is one of
the reasons that hip-hop, at least commercially, sucks nowadays. Plus his lyrics
kinda suck (I've heard the line "Snoop Dogg is on the on the mic and I'm with Dr.
Dre" about 10 times on here). Kinda like most metal albums with barking vocalists,
I look at this album as having genious music, with the vocals serving as a rhythmic
counterpoint to the song.
must hear songs: Tha Shiznit, Ain't No Fun (If The Homies Can't Have None)
8. Bathory: Under The Sign Of The Black Mark
I posted a puppet tutorial video on metal here earlier. According to it two of the
genres were "Black Metal" and "Super Black Metal." What's the difference?
Bathory = Super Black Metal. Everybody else = merely Black Metal. I never have
any idea what Quorthon is saying, but holy fuck it sounds like Satan commanding
his armies to rise up and slaughter us all! "All hell breaking loose" is a way
overused phrase in music criticism, but this is definitely an album deserving of
that title. Bitchin guitar solos too.
must hear songs: Enter The Eternal Fire, Equimanthorne
7. Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend
This was about as far as I got expansion wise. But still, it's soul. Once you get
past the fact that alot of this stuff sounds extremely fucking dated (one of the
lyrics is "where the people are so gay" and it isn't in the context of anal sex with
men), you essentially open up wonderful world of strings, passioned vocals, and
what life was like before white guys figured out how to crank guitars up to the
Must hear songs: A Change Is Gonna Come, Bring It On Home, Nothing Can Change This Love, Little Red Rooster
6. AC/DC: Highway to Hell
Perhaps the most consistent AC/DC album.
Must hear songs: Highway To Hell, Shot Down In Flames
5. Kreator: Pleasure To Kill
The album that holds up the best from my Christmas run last year. Now I hate
talking about music in hyperbole, it makes someone sound pretentious and like
they think they're above the fans, meatheaded or not. That being said, when this
album comes on...RAPE! KILL! EAT! EAT! KILL! RAPE! KILL! EAT! RAEP!
must hear songs: Riot Of Violence, Pleasure To Kill
4. Children Of Bodom: Follow The Reaper
A turning point in Bodom's career. Between the drunken Mozart feel of
Hatebreeder and the straight rock approach on Hate Crew Deathroll lies this neat
little bridge album. I'm sure die hard fans of early and latter days can come to a
must hear songs: Children Of Decadance, Kissing the Shadows
3. Gamma Ray: Powerplant
Damn right better than Land Of The Free. (Though not better than Somewhere
Out In Space) I don't think I need to say anything else that I've already said
about these guys. Though I will say that the closing line in Armageddon is more
poignant than anything that's come out of Bob Dylan.
must hear songs: Send Me A Sign, Armageddon, Razorblade Sigh
2. Death: Symbolic
Right from the first riff, this album gets your mouth waterin' on some "OH
SHIT!" and keeps you there to the very end. Not to mention a pleothra of
wonderful lyrical statements from Chuck, ranging from nostalgia to paranoia, to a
look at how society would function without faggot jocks and cunt cheerleaders.
This album also features drum god Gene Hoglan, and its a wonderful display of
what he can do when he isn't playing on an album beginning with "Darkness" and
ending with "Descends." Finally this album has brilliant riffs and licks!
(difference: riffs are on low end, licks are on high end. See also: the Stones).
Previous Death albums were brutal as fuck but the riffs weren't that memorable
to anyone who doesn't listen to non-stop Death metal all day. Sure there was a
break here and an intro there that shined through, but nothing that you could hum
to yourself when your iPod isn't around. Not only are the riffs and songs on
Symbolic highly memorable, some of this shit comes pretty close to groovy (much
to the dismay of fucktards). Next time some MTV teen-bopper says you can't
"get yo freak on" to metal, just put on Zero Tolerance, wait for the break, and get
down wit yo bad self!
Must hear songs: Zero Tolerance, Crystal Mountain,
1. Wu-Tang Clan: 36 Chambers
I said Gamma Ray was my group of the year. But all most of their classics have at
least one song that is either shit or does not belong there. Even Blast From The
Past had "Changes." And as super-metal as it would be of me to put another metal
classic at the top of my list, the fact is no metal album this year has had me
reciting lyrics [riffs?] from it 9 months after buying it, at any given time you
could have caught me rhyming to myself...
"Champion gear that I rock, could get your boots knocked
Then attack you like a pit that lock shit DOWN
As I come and freaks the sound, hardcore
but giving you more and more, like ding!"
"Raw I'ma give it to ya, with no trivia
Raw like cocaine straight from Bolivia
My hip-hop will rock and shock the nation
like the Emancipation Proclamation"
"Yo RZA, yo razor!
Hit me with the major
The damage, my Clan understand it be flavor
Gunnin, hummin comin atcha
First I'm gonna getcha, once I gotcha, I gat-cha
You could never capture the Method Man's stature
For rhyme and for rapture, got niggaz resigning, now master
my style? "
"Drop the needle to the groove, I gets rude
And I'm forced to fuck it up
My style carries like a pickup truck
Across the clear blue yonder
Seek the China Sea, I slam tracks like quarterbacks sacks from L.T."
"The Wu is too slammin for these Cold Killin labels
Some ain't had hits since I seen Aunt Mabel
Be doin artists in like Cain did Abel
Now they money's gettin stuck to the gum under the table
That's what ya get when ya misuse what I invent
Your empire falls and ya lose every cent
For tryin to blow up a scrub
Now that thought was just as bright as a 20-watt light bulb
Should of pumped it when I rocked it
Niggaz so stingy they got short arms and deep pockets
This goes on in some companies
With majors they're scared to death to pump these
First of all, who's your A&R
A mountain climber who plays an electric guitar
But he don't know the meaning of dope
When he's lookin for a suit and tie rap
that's cleaner than a bar of soap
And I'm the dirtiest thing in sight
Matter of fact bring out the girls and let's have a mud fight"
Not necessarily because they're great rhymes (which they are), just something
about them got them stuck in my head the same shit from Manowar does. That's a
fucking accomplishment. Aside from a useless "original version track" with a
seperate beat, this album is flawless. The music is also dark as hell, but its
stradles the line between accepting and alienating (something that Liquid Swords
would fail at. While lyrically on point, its just too cold to wholeheartedly endorse).
Shit this just might usurp Low End Theory as my favorite Hip Hop album of all
time. 15 years later this album still crushes everything in its path. AND IF YOU
WANT BEEF THAN BRING THE RUCKUS...!
Must hear tracks: Ain't Nothin to Fuck With, 7th Chamber Pt. II, Protect Ya Neck
Pink Floyd: Meddle
Sleep: Holy Mountain
Possessed: 7 Churches
Boogie Down Productions: Criminal Minded
Marty Robbins: Gunfighter Songs & Trail Ballads
Venom: Black Metal
Judas Priest: Nostradamus
Celtic Frost: Into The Pandemonium