And after a month of heaviness, we’re back to our usual well-rounded posts. Sometimes a band makes an album so good they end up only disappointing first album fans with follow up records that don’t quite capture the attitude and spirit of the previous album or albums. In the case of NYC’s blend of post punk rock band Interpol, it kind of depends on who you ask. Some think all of their albums are further examples of a changing style that harkens back to the seminal release of “Turn on the Bright Lights,” while others think they should've given up years ago. I’m somewhere in the middle, with ”Antics” being the best record. Today I give to you the best Interpol songs, I hope you enjoy.
10. All the Rage Back Home, El Pintor
The newest record finds the band making the best music in years, and it relates very well back to the early days of the band. This song opens the record, and for a band nearing twenty years in the game, they sound incredibly fresh. The track is immediate, and the voice of Paul Banks hides quietly in certain spots of the song, letting the music of the other members drift the forefront before the vocalist comes back to make the song whole. It’s pretty good, even if you compare it to the early strokes of genius the band gave us. If you have given up on the band, maybe it's time to revisit. The song is as good as anything they’ve ever done.
9. Pace is the Trick, Our Love to Admire
Guitar strumming highlights the opening of the song, and it’s this type of eerie atmosphere and clever lyrical usage that Interpol has become known for. This song though, truly takes the reigns during the chorus, when Banks belts out strong vocals, while the guitars and drum make the back him up to brilliant effect. When the band does this mid tempo with blemishes of power type track, they’re likely at their best. However, that’s not to say that songs unlike this are bad. “Pace is the Trick,” on the list of the Top Ten Interpol songs, really demonstrates how many different rhythmic weapons the band has.
8. Slow Hands, Antics
It’s hard to judge the band by commercial hits(having never heard them on mainstream radio), but this song is more than likely one of their best known songs, and it’s not hard to see why. The guitar is prevalent, and the imagery always make me think of a Speed Racer influenced world where the track itakes place. The chorus is full of pop sensibilities, but it isn’t cliche in the way much of pop music is. This shows how well the band is able to straddle the line between smart, thinking man's rock and roll, and still being able to write a fun, high energy track that makes you want to just lose your mind. “Slow Hands” was the big break the band needed to introduce their second album, but don’t think the track name has anything to do with the tempo. The song is fast, and over quickly, and leaves you wanting more.
7. Pioneer to the Falls, Our Love to Admire
Imagine this: A slow fog creeping over a mountain, surrounding a vastly empty lake. It’s early morning, and the residents of the lowly hillside town have no idea of the darkness and despair that awaits them. That’s what I picture when thinking about the setting to “Pioneer to the Falls,’ which comes in at number seven of the Best Interpol Songs. The drumming by Sam Forgarino keeps the slow and mysterious scenery intact, but it’s in the bridge and chorus of the track where the band shines. The shimmering effect of the guitar during the third minute of the track is mesmerizing, and the quickened drum roll that unfolds after that really hits the soul in a great way, and it elevates the song in a way that makes it impossible to resist. It also has a “Twin Peaks” type atmosphere to it, which only helps to make you picture the desperation present throughout this highly underrated track.
6. NYC, Turn on the Bright Lights
If “Turn on the Bright Lights” is the anthem for late night wandering in a big city, than undoubtedly “ NYC,” the third track on the record, is the single flickering light as you find new parts of the city you’ve never witnessed before. It’s hauntingly cold, and the echo effects that the band uses to make Banks’ voice seem distant only add to the ambience of the entire track. While this isn’t my number one, you also can’t argue that few of the songs sound similar to this one. The line “I know you’ve supported me for a long time, but somehow I’m not impressed,” is a line that makes me think of the selfishness of people, but even more the sleeping cities that people occupy at night. There’s so much to witness and experience, and sometimes you need to do it in the dark. If you do, find yourself a bike, and witness the city you live in at two a.m. through the eyes of this masterful track.
5. Not Even Jail, Antics
“Not Even Jail” is a drum heavy track that really captures the late night tendencies of people who aren’t interested in being polite, at least, in my opinion. Again, all parts of the band blend together, but it’s the bass work by Carlos D that really gives the song it’s “umph,” if you feel me. It’s barely recognizable to a casual listener, but that powerful rhythm section really drives the force of the song. The track live is also great. It’s a fan favorite, which made it even worse when Voodoo Fest cut the set immediately after the song(or was it during?). Either way, the song is powered by the drums and made even better by the layered quality of the vocals.
4. Roland, Turn on the Bright Lights
Who is “Roland” exactly? He’s clearly busy, but what is he butchering? We don’t get the answers, but it’s ok because speculation is always fun. Beyond that, the instrumentation in the song has a hip shakin’ vibe to it, and it really brings out another side to the band. This track, more than likely, is one of the more upbeat and intensely fast paced tracks on the debut record, and at the critical point on the record where it comes in, it really helps to bring the record to a more uptempo place than some of the other tracks surrounding it. It’s a great song throughout, and a big part of that has to do with the force at which the band plays. Truly a magnetic track.
3. Evil, Antics
If you haven’t even seen this video, please do so. It’s easily one of the strangest music video’s I’ve ever seen, but it fits the song so well that it’s become one of my favorites. The song itself is masterful though too. One of the best assets about this song, and the band in particular, is Banks’ willingness to tell a story in extremely non-linear, sometimes nonsensical ways. Often the lyrics don’t really follow a trend or theme, but they all play back perfectly into the narrative the band as a whole has created. Backed by the band, the vocals are allowed to soar, and when the instrumentation are this good and chipper, the vocals only have to add to it. It’s also a total drum thumper; something you can do pump your foot up and down to while merrily singing along. It’s one of the best tracks from “Antics,” and at number three on the Best Interpol songs, it’s worth checking out.
2. Obstacle 1, Turn on the Bright Lights
Such a phenomenal song, and even after all these years of having it in my life, it has never gotten old or boring to me. The song has this chipper music thing happening but the lyrics are anything but upbeat and chipper. I call this the “Shins” effect, by which the music is more upbeat but the overall message is not. But even here, the music doesn’t really stay positive for the duration. I imagine flashing lights in the rain, and forced exile in the world of the “Bright Lights,” but it works, which is the important thing. This song had quite a bit to do with the band's initial success, and it’s easy to see why. This type of band hadn’t been a big success yet, and compare them all you want to Joy Division and like minded bands, but I honestly feel Interpol took the next natural step in the post punk movement and made it their own.
1.Take You on a Cruise, Antics
And finally we come to our number one. From the album “Antics,” the best song on the Top Ten Interpol songs, “Take You on a Cruise.” The song creeps open with a slight orchestral vibe going on, and you really can picture yourself on a giant boat moving away from whatever troubles you. It’s a song that makes me imagine blue waters, winds in your hair, and the ever growing fear that it might not “be alright.” It’s just a pretty song all around, and it’s able to captivate the listener in a way that no other song by this band does. When you hear Paul Banks belt out “I am a scavenger” you really feel the tension and thought he’s giving whatever issue is at hand. The guitar parts almost serve to glisten in the blue water I mentioned earlier, and there’s not a better song for a gorgeous blue day outside enjoying the water. Maybe that’s why they wrote the song, maybe not. But either way, the song is texturally gorgeous, and a true indicator of how amazing the band is. I hope you’ve enjoyed. Thanks for reading. See you Wednesday.
Rarely in music do bands come around that are as amazing and important to a single genre as the Birmingham based Black Sabbath. Many people consider Led Zeppelin to be the cornerstone of the hard rock movement of the 1970s, but for me there could never be a band that would take precedent over an act called Black Sabbath. Everything about the name screams heavy and evil in a way that was hard to understand during that time. Today we’ll be discussing the period of time with Osbourne as the lead, because let’s be honest. the others don’t really hold a candle. The last installment of “Metal March,” The Top Ten Black Sabbath songs. Enjoy!
10. Tomorrow’s Dream, Vol. 4
Even today, the sounds coming from the speakers don’t really sound like much that’s happening in modern music. The Black Sabbath sound as a whole is a sound that is stuck rightfully so in the decade they came to prominence. The guitars by Iommi are skillfully crafted, and a warm element surges over the entire track. Much of Osbourne’s lyrics are introspective and also representative of what it must have been like to grow up in that area, and they play very well in context. On the top ten Black Sabbath songs, “Tomorrow’s Dream” is a great starting point for fans who love the vocals and warm guitar parts, but aren’t sure if some of the heavier elements in the band are for them. Trust me, it’s all pretty good.
9. Electric Funeral, Paranoid
Maybe one of the most sinister guitar arrangements with evil vocals ever to be recorded, this sound just reeks of heavy metal. Much of the bands work can be considered doomsday music, and even now the music has an element of darkness and evil to it that many bands today simply can’t touch. The lyrics and ideas presented on “Electric Funeral” are pretty easy to latch on to, even if you’ve never heard the music before. The world is doomed, and even in the 70’s the band seemed to know it. There’s just something about these guys. Everything works well, and in this song they unleash a steady stream of great instrumentation that make the song worthwhile.
8. The Wizard, Black Sabbath
I don’t throw around this word too often, but this song has always just been really keen and hip to me. It has this rockin’ rollercoaster vibe to it, and it’s more upbeat and jam oriented than some of their other songs. The vocals also play a vastly important part in the story of “The Wizard.” You just imagine a cloaked figure walking down the street. The song implies that he’s probably up to no good, but I’m sure even the most good natured of wizards are sometimes involved in murky deeds. Butler’s bass work here also makes the song pretty memorable just because of how tight the rhythm section here is. Number eight on the “Top Ten Black Sabbath songs, “The Wizard.”
7. Iron Man, Paranoid
Obviously, the importance of this song can’t be understated, and even decades after it’s release, it’s creation and recording is one of the most important tracks to ever be presented to the masses. You could not even mention the song but instead just discuss the massive influence it has, but I won’t go too deep into it today. Musically though, the guitar part and vocal style play exceptionally well against the other, and the imagery of a person cast out by humanity is something that is still prevalent in today’s metal scene. I don’t know what happened to this “Iron Man” for him to unleash his rage on today’s society, but they should have gone easier. Aside from that though, the guitar solo and breakdown in the halfway point of the song is well placed and moves the song along to the next logical step. It’s a great song, and more than likely one of the tracks that made their status that much more legendary.
6. War Pigs, Paranoid
Even from the opening of our number six track, you can imagine the world, barren and hopeless, and see the havoc that has been caused by these gluttonous “War Pigs.” The sirens over the song warn of more doom to come, and Osbourne’s story unfolds into one of the most gloomy demonstrations of what humanity is capable of. The lyrics here are so important, simply because they perfectly paint a picture of a world I’d say we still currently live in. You feel the tension when you hear the word’s of that warning that you should “wait till judgement day comes.” The song, at nearly eight minutes long, is epic, and soaring in it’s musical ideas, but it’s also just a kick ass song that draws you in quickly and doesn't let go.
5. Snowblind, Vol. 4
At number five of the Top Ten Black Sabbath songs, “Snowblind” sneaks in gives out a more classical hard rock sound than some of the other tracks on this list. It’s a steady track,and the use of metaphors in relation to drug use are subtle and really make you wonder where the band was at this time. One of the best parts of the song for me has always been “My eyes are blind but I can see.” That whole section with the pure singing from OO is one of the few times I feel like his vocals hit a level of otherworldliness in regards to him actually singing. It’s just hypnotic to my ears, and it elevates the song to a whole other level in regards of musical instrumentation and how effective vocals can propel the other concepts within a song.
4. Paranoid, Paranoid
You can’t really do a top ten Black Sabbath songs list without discussing this incredibly popular and brilliant song, so here we go. “Paranoid,” even today is ridiculously cool and influential. This to me is the perfect expression of Osbourne as a performer, and in this track he’s very much the central entertainer. “Occupy Brain” spills out over the driven guitar beats, while Bill Ward’s drumming take the song on the quickly placed road it’s supposed to be on. The song just works, in every way it’s meant to. It’s not a super long song, but when a track gets the ideas out as well and clear as “Paranoid” does, it doesn’t really need to be lengthy. It’s a modern heavy metal masterpiece, and still one of the most influential songs ever.
3 Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
The opening guitar part has always reminded me of a wolf howling into the night, and the vocal strength here is the representation of a transformation happening in the musical sense. The track takes you on a steady journey of thick, dirty guitar work, and the juxtaposition of the vocals make the song an interesting piece of music. Sections of the song are slower and more introspective, but other areas make the song a signature of the decade it was created in. It’s a great song, but for some reason it doesn’t get the attention it should. It’s natural though, when a band is this important and perfect, naturally people are going to latch onto certain songs above others. Maybe that’s what happened here. The song has all of the great elements of 70’s heavy metal, and to this day, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is a perfect example of the heavy metal ideals that make the band so worthwhile.
2. Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
An evil song that ominously approaches, like a “Figure in Black” hovering over souls he seeks to torment, “Black Sabbath” as a track is full of mystical elements, and to this day it’s one of the darker, more closed up songs I’ve ever heard. When Osbourne's voice is released, the sense of dread is palpable and forces you to face your demons head on. They’ve likely already won, but you have to try something. Everything here is played to perfect effect, and the creepiness of the track as a whole is used to create an incalculable sense of fright. The song is the literal presentation of what hell seems like to me. It’s not fast and over quickly. It’s buries itself into the deepest realms of the soul, and attaches itself to you. I mean, even now the name Black Sabbath is still one of the darkest, most evil names I’ve ever heard of in terms of band names. It doesn’t have to be gory, or gimmicky, but “Black Sabbath” as an idea is personified in this incredibly heavy, evil song that proclaims that your soul now belongs to Satan himself.
1. Children of the Grave, Master of Reality
From the second I heard this song it stayed with me. It’s easily one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever heard, and to this day you can feel the inspiration it had for many rockers growing up. Where to begin really… The drums by Bill Ward are spot on, and they ramble and thrive on in perfect anticipation of the forth coming vocals, while the vocals themselves exude a tale in which the future of the world fights valiantly to overthrow the evils in the world and allow the time in which “Love comes flowing through.” Again though, “Children of the Grave,” which comes at number one on the best Black Sabbath songs, is an example of how Tony Iommi is god. The guitar work is effortlessly cool and moving, and as an entity, I truly believe Black Sabbath was never better than on this track. The song is landmark and well orchestrated, and rocks you to the core. There are certain songs that make you want to bounce, and “Children of the Grave” is very easily on the best examples of that element. I could listen to this thumping rocker all day and never get tired of, but I’ll let you have some too. My number one Black Sabbath song, the massively awesome, “Children of the Grave.”
There are a million bands out there with political fused lyrics, but sometimes, just sometimes, those ideals grow far beyond one singular meaning and are truly able to bring about change. The verdict is still out on whether the Californian based Armenian descending band has done so, but their music has changed the world of music. Today we near the end of our Metal March segment, kick it into last gear with System of a Down’s Top Ten Songs. Enjoy!
10. Atwa, Toxicity
It rare that a song about a such a horrible, vile person can also move you, but with the case of our number ten pick for The top Ten System of a Down songs, it indeed does. The guitar opening is soft and peaceful, and visions of what “Atwa” stands for(Air, Trees,Water, Animals) are pretty easy to picture in this early segment. That doesn’t last however, and pretty soon the pace and tension is escalated. It’s a truly magnetic song that sees the band touching briefly on a world that has passed a person by. Is that person Charles Manson(Manson got behind the ATWA meaning before slaughtering innocents), or is the person mentioned in the song someone else? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s a great song nonetheless.
9. Suite-Pee, System of a Down
The aggressive instrumental parts kicking off the song only show a hint of the madness coming forth. At first listen,I couldn’t believe how fast Serj Tankian was singing, and for many listens after it was difficult to understand. But, once you realize what he’s spouting, you realize how well he’s able to use metaphors, and how brilliant he is as a lyricist. Beyond that though, the whole band is talented, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll get to them later.
8. Chop Suey, Toxicity
If “Sugar” got them noticed by media outlets, than “Chop Suey,” the first single from their massively well received second album made their stay among well known rock bands a sure thing. John Dolmayan has a way with drums, and it’s here you can really sense how precisely he’s able to keep the song within the necessary confines. You genuinely feel the warmth and hurt coming from the song during “The Angels deserve to die” section, but there’s an urgency here that is tormented but also has a beauty in it that you don’t get too often from heavy music. This song helped the band to a new level, but the album as a whole took them to a gorgeous place few in their field have gone.
7. Tentative, Hypnotize
This album, or set of albums doesn’t enough respect if you ask me. Is it as good as Toxicity? No, but it does build the melodic charm of the band in a way that hadn’t been done. This song especially is the highlight of this album. With it’s soaring vocals, and more steady rhythm section, it shows that the band can slow it down and incorporate elements of middle eastern instrumentation. Not surprisingly though, the political themed message of the song also plays a prominent role, and the imagery of escaping from a world of dropping bands is a message that’s hard not to think about in this increasingly terminal world.
6. Streamline, Steal This Album!
I’ve always felt that this song, as part of b sides album, was one of the better songs the band ever recorded. Serj’s voice in the verses is mystic and wary, but the instrumentation from Daron is wonderfully composed and layered. At number six on the Top Ten System of a Down songs, “Streamline” is able to fit right in with the tone of “Toxicity” but also fits perfectly with where the band went musically on future releases. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a great song, and a superb chance to not only see where the band had been, as well as where they were going in trying to move the world with their message.
5.War?, System of a Down
Members of the band had been very vocal in their attempts to remind everyone of the terrible Armenian Genocide, and while this song may not be specifically about that, the images of “War?” are prominent in the struggle of the Armenian people who still live with the knowledge of that awful event. The song is an intense but short ride, and it’s one of the most political songs the band has in their arsonal. The chants of the souls near the buildup of the song is dark and enchanting, and before long the band delves right into raucous energy that implores everyone to fight for what they believe in.
4. Hypnotize, Hypnotize
On our countdown of the Top Ten System of a down songs, we come to a song that has as much heart and soul as any of their other tracks, but what sets this apart it that it sees Daron and Serj share vocal duties in a brilliant back and forth. It rarely happens in the early days of the band, but by this point they had grown much more than most thought they would. This is easily the shining star of the “double album,” but the melodies and instrumentation are simply unbelievable . It’s not a lengthy song, but that’s fine, because the world it paints is brief and wonderful.
3. Aerials, Toxicity
Is this their best known song? I’m not super sure, but whether or not is mostly irrelevant. The message of the song is about open mindedness in a world where more and more that seems to be a problem. “When you lose small mind you free your life,” is one of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard, and the song juxtaposes open ranges and beautiful skies with war and the building of walls that cripple us as a society. “Always wanna play but you never wanna lose” is another perfect example of the fight the band is trying to survive. It’s a wonderfully thoughtful song, that isn’t all sun and happiness, but those are the songs that really do the most help.
2. Questions, Mezmerize
The opening has a sort of wind chime effect happening, but it doesn’t take long before the signature SOAD sound has come to us. The vocal melody here is really strong, and the way they bring in the oddly matched voices only helps the song to keep growing in a nontraditional way. Many of their most well known songs are in your face, but what the band manages to do here is pull you slowly and at a measured pace, before finally coming at you with what we know they can deliever. Some of the guitar and bass work here is also very fast, even for them, and the epic conclusion of the song is a musical firework display that really hits you fast and leaves you stunned at it’s abrupt conclusion.
1. Spiders, System of a Down
I assume other people like this song as much as I do?Either way, my number one choice for the Best System of a Down songs is “Spiders,” from their solid debut album. The slow and steady vocals start early on, but as the tempo gradually builds, the notes go way up, and the song officially arrives. This is an early but perfect example of how well Tankian is at playing with words and using them in ways that you can relate to, but also would not have expected. This part of the band would only grow with skill and subsequent albums, but “Spiders” conveys an other worldy sadness that bleeds through on everything from the vocals, to Shavo’s bass heavy lines, to the spectacular mood building that is Daron’s guitar playing. A gem from this great band that not many people mention, but a song that’s easily their best, most powerful track. Thanks for reading, See you Wednesday.
Over the course of the 2000’s, Metal made a prominent resurgence. Some bands thrived, others didn’t. With the help of Ozzfest and MTV(Shocking!), some albums became classics. This list represents not only what I think are ten of the most important records of that time, but also some of my favorites. A few of these still even hold up quite well. Today I give you the Top Ten Metal Albums of the 2000’s. Enjoy, and reminisce
10. HATEBREED, PERSEVERANCE
During the good old Ozzfest years, one band became bigger than anyone else had expected. That band, Hatebreed, had been underground hardcore favorites for awhile before this record arrived. Number Ten on the Top ten Metal albums of the 2000’s, the 2002 major label debut from Hatebreed has everything you could’ve wanted. Jasta’s throaty growl of “Perseverance” and honesty bellowed out into the consciousness of metal kids everywhere, and before long they were getting the attention they had been seeking and deserved. Although one of my favorite albums back then, I’ve long been unimpressed with where they went as a band, but from a retrospective standpoint, this record really did help me a lot at the time, and for that, Hatebreed gets a spot on the list.
9. CONVERGE, YOU FAIL ME
We previously have discussed the importance of this band, but to not mention this album on it’s own merit is almost blasphemy to me. The album soars, pulls at the strings of emotions holding your heart together, and in song after song delivers powerful moments that make it impossible to resists. They’ve long been an insanely important metal band, but “You Fail Me” showcased that they were truly not a one trick pony, and they honestly still haven’t made a bad record. There’s a reason you get over some bands while others stay with you. Converge for me is a lifetime thing. I'll Probably always like them, and as long as Bannon, Ballou and company keep making cathartic, profoundly heavy music, they'll be a band that's deserving of my time.
8. NORMA JEAN, BLESS THE MARTYR AND KISS THE CHILD
When I first saw this band I had no idea what to expect, but the opening set of a Converge/ Hatebreed show presented me with an album that is still relevant and in my eyes a masterpiece. Norma Jean arrived at the precise time for an album like this, and this record lead them to a pretty decent career in this genre. They’ve since made some good records, some alright records, but it’s “Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child” that led them down this heavy, emotional, sometimes righteous journey. The metalcore tinges on the album are just as good as the utterly hardcore elements, and you can tell they all have a working knowledge of what makes a good record. I just wished more of their records were this great.
7. MESHUGGAH, NOTHING
Still one of my favorite bands period, this 2002 classic was one of the first times American audiences had been exposed to them, and it’s mostly all because of Jack and Sharon Osbourne. Once they were booked on Ozzfest, and featured on MTV, things changed for these Swedish pioneers of sonically heavy sounds. Everything about this band has always worked, and on our countdown of the best Metal albums of the 2000’s, it finds its way to Number seven. The drums of the untouchable Tomas Haake, the vocals of Kidman, and everything in between are fucking amazing. Seriously still the one band that evokes the coming apocalypse in a gloriously evil way. Honestly, if you’re a fan of this genre and you don’t know Meshuggah, look them up and change your life.
6. DIMMU BORGIR, DEATH CULT ARMAGEDDON
Of all the black metal bands that found their way to our shores in the early aughts, one of those are still larger, and more evil than all of the other ones. That band, Norways Dimmu Borgir had all the elements that you might like in your Black Metal. Symphonic elements, Satanic imagery, and killer drum beats persist throughout the entirety of the record.By this time the band had been going strong for nearly a decade, but it’s “Death Cult” that really saw the band take off stateside.
5. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, THE END OF HEARTACHE
Most bands wouldn’t survive what this band embraced and thieved from. They lose their singer, and somehow pick up the pieces, find someone who many consider better, and make an album that’s light years stronger than their previous efforts. At number five of the Top Ten Metal albums of the 2000’s, “The End of Heartache” brings endless riffs and joy through the speakers. Some people don’t like their metal with positivity, but sometimes it’s a good thing. Track after track has that KSE instrumentation you love, but the soaring voice of Howard Jones really shines light on everything positive and uplifting in the band. You just don’t find this kind of intricate emotional in the genre everyday, and everytime you do, you need to embrace it. As the title of the song goes, Killswitch Engage did indeed “Breathe Life” into the world of modern metal.
4. PIG DESTROYER, TERRIFYER
We’ve talked about this chaotic group before, but for my money there’s no better grindcore band of the last fifteen years. If you wanted to call “Terrifyer” their breakout you can, but the band is still pretty much unknown, even in more common metal circles. Maybe it’s the veracity of the albums, but they’re almost a band that should be stayed away from. Like, it has some good song structures, but where they really shine is in their unbridled violence of noise. The themes of the album are also twisted and brutal, but that’s what you should want in an explicitly heavy album like this. I’ve always been a fan of this band, but upon hearing this I was completely sold on the merit of Pig Destroyer. Run for you like, or pull up a chair and enjoy the carnage..
3. LAMB OF GOD, AS THE PALACES BURN
On our countdown of the Top Ten Metal albums, number three finds us at the point in which Lamb of God makes its presence. They’re likely the biggest metal band of the last decade, and upon hearing this record it’s not too hard to see why. Every song has a blistering power to it, and even beyond that certain tracks stand out. “11th Hour” lives up to its name in every way possible, while “As the Palaces Burn” starts at 90 miles per hour and doesn’t let up the entire length of the song. They may be a very well known band, but that doesn’t diminish the importance they have in the genre. These Virgini boys worked their asses off, toured relentlessly, and paid their dues, and now they dominate crowds the world over. There’s a very real chance that wouldn’t have happened if not for this punishingly brilliant album, but thank the dark lord, because this album does in fact exist.
2. CONVERGE, JANE DOE
It was difficult trying to figure out if two albums from a band should occupy spots on the same list. I had the same discussion with the number one band, but alas, at the end of the day that award belongs to Converge. This is the album that many, many people deem of the utmost importance of that decade, and while it only climbs to number two on the Top Ten Metal albums of the 2000’s, it’s still a extremely important record. To say the least, this album changed everything. Released the week before 9-11, “Jane Doe” has more spirit and fight in it than most bands entire careers, and it shows through on all the albums tracks. “Concubine” is the brutal start to a brutal record, but there’s a depth and compassion in the lyrics you don’t find all the time. Quite simply, Converge is an important band in this realm, and hopefully they keep making albums even half as brilliant as “Jane Doe.”
1. MASTODON, LEVIATHAN
Finally, the number one on our list. No band covered more ground and got bigger this decade quicker than Mastodon. From album one on they were gradually building their sound, but it’s on “Leviathan” that they really brought their A game, and also began a series of brilliant composed concept albums. I mean, how can a album about Moby Dick not be the best metal record of the decade? The album isn’t always right in your face, but it has a grandiose feel to it, and thats what sets it apart from the rest of the list. It’s a much more retro metal album than the others also, which if its your thing you should get this record. It also exceeds because the band is full of incredibly talented members, who are capable of doing almost anything they want musically. There’s not really much more you can say about this amazing band, so I won’t even try. The very deserving winner of the Top Ten Metal albums of the 2000’s, Mastodon sea worthy epic, “Leviathan.” Thank for reading, see you Wednesday
For the better part of thirty years, fans far and wide have been exposed to the uncompromising industrial explosiveness of Chicago’s Ministry. Lead by the notoriously unhinged Al Jourgensen, they’ve been bludgeoning audiences with tons of heavy riffs, evil electronic beats, and more strobe lights than an average person can handle. Today I give you the Top Ten songs by Ministry.
10. Waiting, House of the Mole
I’ve always felt that this was one of the better examples of a band coming back from a hiatus stronger than ever, and this record is part of that reason. This first album in the trilogy of George Bush hate records, “Waiting” is a song that pummels its listener with breakneck beats, and background beats that are awfully reminiscent of the sounds of warfare. Jourgensen spits poetic about “Waiting for the Day,” and how life is a waste of time in the U.S.A., but beneath all that hatred is a full force song that captures the anger that millions had during GW’s reign of terror over the world.
9. Jesus Built My Hotrod, Psalm 69
When I first was introduced to this band, this was the album that found me. As a young teenager, you really can’t even fathom what you’re hearing, but knowing what I know now, my mother should of been terrified of the images presented on this. It’s sacrilege(if you go for that type of thing)but beyond that I feel this song exemplifies the strangest parts of the band. The guitars and effects brought to us by the invaluably talented Paul Barker help keep the chaos going, and while the lyrics are often incoherent and rambling, it’s all in service to the spirit of the song. At number none of our Top Ten Ministry songs, “Jesus Built My Hotrod.”
8. Lava. Filth Pig
For me the music has always gone perfectly with the name of the song. Imagining slow, earth ruining fire gradually murdering everything around you, and you’re right in the world of Ministry in this heavy mid tempo song. That might sound like a strange description, but it’s the perfect expression of this song. I’ve heard quite a few fans of the band dismiss this record(in Favor of “Dark Side of the Spoon), but I’ve always really liked it, especially when comparing the two. Al’s vocals have this gravelly in your face tone behind them, and the sound bites throughout really add a sinister element to an already creepy, nightmare inducing track.
7. Burning Inside, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
The slow churn of an industrial fan inside of an abandoned warehouse is always the first thing I think of when this whiplash inducing beat explodes on to the eardrums. “Burning Inside,” which finds us at number seven of the Top Ten Ministry songs is a track that is rage filled, and at times you think it’s a battle between all that's good and evil in the world. You might not think this band is full blown metal, but they’ve been steadily kicking the asses of mere mortal bands for more time than some of the bands have been alive. “Burning Inside” is a prime example of why they’re still so good.
6. Reload, Filth Pig
I got this album probably five years after it had been released, but honestly upon hearing it it still sounded incredibly fresh and innovative.From the initial countdown, all the way through the song, it’s a dangerous death trip through industrial lane. Al’s patented vocals shred threw brutal guitar chords and even though I’m not sure if a drum machine is being utilized or not, it works perfectly within the confines of the song. This album in 1996 is kind of mind blowing, and once again, Al’s lyrics are top notch. Who else could come up with “You wanna lie like a dog, you’re gonna wake up with fleas.” It’s simply brilliant.
5. No “W,” House of the Mole
What’s not to love? “The Omen” opening, toppled with “Evil” and the very Bush like samples make this song an anti-government, or anti Bush song to end them all. The vocals here are insanely fast, but so is everything else. Upon hearing this album, my friends and I were totally immersed in the style and attitude, and although many people wrote them off after their hiatus, I still think this is one of the better albums they ever recorded. It’s song like this that remind you that even though you grow old, you can still throw down enough to impress the young crowd.
4. Just One Fix. Psalm 69
How many people got into this band because of not only this album, but because of this song? At this point it’s hard to say, but from the opening of “Never trust a junkie” you can sense that this is a song that is mentally tough and also uncompromising in their rationale. Jourgensen’s difficulties with a multitude of substances has been very well documented, but it’s perhaps this song that puts you into the mind of an addict. “Life keeps slipping away” is probably a very well fear for people who succumb to this terrible world, and even if for a brief moment, the listener can understand the trials of living this life.
3. Stigmata, In the Land of Rape and Honey
This is an early track, but a goodie nonetheless. Finding its way to Number three on our Top ten Ministry songs, “Stigmata” cuts through the nonsense and gets right into the thick of it. The opening notes have always reminded me of a killer running through the woods with a chainsaw searching for the next specimen. The band initially began as something less severe, but by 1988, the band veered more in the direction of where they ended up being at their best. “In the Land of Rape and Honey” is the prime example of how that transition happened.
2. Thieves, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
Remember when Limp Bizkit covered this song? Yes, sadly this is an actual thing. Anyway though, this song is equal parts heavy and bouncy at the same time, which isn’t super easy to do. One of the things Ministry does best is employing samples throughout their songs, and this is no exception. “Thieves,” on our top Ten Ministry tracks, is a track that melds both fast beats, but also is able to momentarily slow it done. What that does though, it essentially makes the return of the fast paced moments more exhilarating when they occur. It’s a tricky thing to do, but it works well here.
1. N.W.O., Psalm 69From the onset, this song is an onslaught of industrial magic. It’s simply incredible, and more than likely one of their best known songs. This record as a whole is incredible, and it was upon the release of this that saw the band catapult to big time fame. “N.W.O.,” number one on the Top Ten Ministry songs, is a track that has everything a fan of the band could want. Al’s lyrics and vocals are scratchy and furious, while the industrial metal tinged instrumental sections make yu want to go out and rule the world, for better or worse. If you never gave this record a chance, please do, it’s tracks like this that make it an extremely important album of the 90’s.
Thanks for reading, see you Monday
Among the countless bands that came up during the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” period, the most well known was clearly Virginia based Lamb of God. Over the course of fifteen years they redefined what modern metal was. In my opinion this band, along with Mastodon have become the landmarks of this movement. Today I give to you the top ten songs by Lamb of God.
10. Omerta, Ashes of the Wake
For me, there’s always been something about the opening monologue that vocalist Randy Blythe brings out that makes the song that much more potent and riveting. All over the song we hear the deliberate pace of the song, and the drums are one of the best aspects of the entire song. That’s not to say that everything else isn’t constructed and handled with exactness, because it is. When people talk about modern metal bands, one of the best examples of it being done well is Lamb of God, and this song, off their fourth album(If you count Burn the Priest), is a great example.
9. Contractor, Wrath
While this album is the first one that made that didn’t completely blow me away, this super intense song has everything you’d want in the band. It’s much faster and crazier than some of their other tracks, but it’s a superb song. It’s a song about destruction,and the bass part midway through is a gateway to the nightmare that continues as we dissect the illusions of the American Dream. Track nine on the Top Ten Lamb of God songs shows us just how precise the band is, and as the song reaches its ultimate climax, you know the purpose of the band, “guaran- fucking- tee.”
8. Now You’ve Got Something to Die For, Ashes of the Wake
This song starts with a bouncy beat thats reminiscent of the power groove we discussed with Pantera, and it’s obvious that the band was inspired by the “Cowboys from Hell.” There’s only so many bands that can pull off a strong, forceful beat that makes you move adequately, but LOG does it well. The lyrics are dark and uneasy, and tells of “Send the Children to the fire” really set the tone. For me this song is about retribution and the way the government forces things down our breathes. With his lyrics, Randall Blythe has always skirted the line between faith in the world and the corruption of those in charge, but on “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For: he sets the bar even higher than normal.
7. In the Absence of Sacred, New American Gospel
Even from this early album, you can sense the visions and direction the band had in mind, and over their albums they cultivate a sound that only builds on the framework that “New American Gospel” represented. One shining star on the album though is “In the Absence of Sacred,” which finds us at Number seven on our Top Ten Lamb of God songs. It’s a continuously brutal song, and the drum work of Chris Adler, toppled with the guitar and rhythm sections from Willie “Shit his pants” Adler (That’s a joke from their first home video if you haven’t seen it) and Mark Morton really shape the song into a determined beast.
6. Descending, Sacrament
From the building guitar parts that open this song, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes you hear a song that just moves you in a way that many don’t, and this song was one of those for me. It’s still one of their most powerful songs, and all around it’s a powerful track. When Blythe screams “The Pieces to all that we’ve lost,” you feel it in your bones, and it’s as if he’s fighting for his very soul, and the music brings it all around in a wonderful, albeit dark way. The track blends back and forth and delivers messages that are on the edge of darkness and light, but if you listen closely, it’s almost as if Randy feels like they're the same entity and both of them are out for themselves, and whatever damage they bring about is fine with them, as long as they win.
5. Ruin, As the Palaces Burn
The song that opens what’s probably considered their best album finds us at number five on our Top ten Lamb of God songs. “Ruin” pummels you from the instant it begins, and the mechanisms it brings to the table are turning at a high rate of intensity. This track has a dirtier feeling that some of the other tracks, but it’s all in purpose to the theme of not only the song, but the album. The album title “As the Palaces Burn” fits perfectly because the entire album, and this song completely fit the bill and set the stage of a world where dissolution needs to happen, and that long standing structures need to be torn down piece by piece to make way for a new world. “This is the Art of Ruin.”
4. 11th Hour. As the Palaces Burn
Another one from this landmark records finds us at Number four. This was for many the first taste of this great band, and it’s a perfect way to showcase them. This song lacks in almost nothing, and it fulfills all the things a good metal song should do. It has dark lyrics, the musicianship is strong and necessary, and the visuals painted bring out the purpose of the song in the best way possible. Also can we talk about the breakdown at the tail end of the song? It’s kind of incredible,and when you hear the words “Ever again and again and again” you lose your mind to the music in the best way possible.
3. Walk With Me in Hell, Sacrament
The real star of this song is the guitars that are employed. The riff’s are simply amazing, and with Adler and Morton working in tandem there’s not really anything else you could ask for. It’s a great way to kick off the album. “Walk With Me in Hell,” on our Top Ten Lamb of God songs at number three, brings the determination of the writers to a place they hadn’t previously reached. It’s a song about loss, and about the pressures of stepping into and being embroiled in something you aren’t sure you can escape. MORE
2. Vigil, As the Palaces Burn
The finale of “ATPB” finds us in a slower, but equally ominous world. As a dark figure hovers over sleeping children, the evil that is present takes hold, and from there on out we’re surrounded by sin and carnage. Blythe’s vocals here are as deep and ghoulish as anything he’s ever written, and the band as a whole really knocks this one out of the park. Having seen this song live also is a great representation of the talent of the band. Quite often you find that last songs on records aren’t the strongest, but in this case it couldn’t be more untrue. Everything, even the bridge at the three minute mark is brilliant, and the venom spewing from the lungs of the band is at it’s most potent. When Bkythe screams “I Defy you to Continue” you know you’re never getting out of the depths you were banished to.
1. Black Label, New American Gospel
If you've ever seen the band live, you are aware of the insane brutal event that goes with this show closing number. That event is the infamous “Wall of Death,” which sees the crowd split in two and forced to charge each other at the breakdown of the song. It’s so hardcore the band was told not to do it at Ozzfest. Yea. The song though, lives up the intensity of the act, and even though it’s off their first album, it’s an unbelievably high energy song that really gets the blood flowing. This is the first song I ever heard by the band, and obviously it ,meant a great deal to me since I clearly still am a fan of the band. For me, this song is in the hall of fame of Modern Metal, and it’ll likely inspire plenty of headbangings for years to come. Number one on the list of Top Ten Lamb of God songs, “Black Label” from the album “New American Gospel.” See you Friday.
Certain albums stay with you, even though you haven’t listened to them in years. One of those records for me is 2000’s “Violence” from Nothingface. For a few years they were easily one of my favorite bands, and while I haven’t delved greatly into past albums lately, I still regard this band as having not only a distinct sound, but also a profound effect on my life. Today’s addition to the Albums of My Life Series, Nothingface’s “Violence.”
Overall, this band never got the recognition my friends and I thought they deserved, and unfortunately now it’s too late. The album opens with a powerful drum entrance, courtesy of Chris Houck, but pretty soon Matt Holt’s signature throaty roar is presenting itself. The music is often described as “alternative metal,” but honestly I never considered it that. It’s a bit more glossy than other metal of the time, but I still think it’s metal. “Make Your own Bones,” which opens the record, is a great starting place, not only because it’s an immediate type of a track, but because Holt demonstrates his ability to scream and sing. This was a little bit before Killswitch Engage came on the scene with a similar style of vocals, but like I said earlier, Nothingface never got the credit they deserved.
Track two, “Bleeder,” is probably their best known track, even if it’s not their best overall song. The music presented on “Violence” is able to be clear and concise while also hitting the finer points you want from this genre. Drummer Hauck, along with Tom Maxwell on guitar and Bill Gaal on bass really meld a heavier sound with the modern rock feeling of the era, but the star quality of the band is time and time again Matt Holt’s voice. He’s able to bring one of the throatiest screams around, while also singing deeply and gorgeous at other times. His presentation comes through even more in regards to his choice of lyrics. For the time there really wasn’t anyone else putting words together like him, and it makes the band more interesting than the run of the mil “I Hate my parents” style of writing and lyricism of the genre at the time.
During my time as a huge NF fan, I was fortunate enough not only to see them live, but also get to hang out with the band. It happened in 2001, when they opened a Disturbed and Mudvayne show here in New Orleans. No One knew who the hell they were, but my buddy and I were there hours earlier trying to meet the band. Anyway, out of nowhere Matt Holt comes out, and we both freaked out. Regardless, he didn’t seem to mind and was actually really happy about seeing fans who were there almost entirely for his band. After getting in an argument with Venue security about who we were, He brought us on the bus, and we got to spend probably an hour with him, talking music and hanging out. It was kind of incredible, and even a few years later when I again met him, he remembered it, which to me meant a lot.
Just like there was something about his genuine approach to meeting fans, the honesty reaches out in the bands music. Maybe it’s his voice, but everything they write and record seems from a real tangible place, and when making music, that help’s an obscene amount.
One of my favorite songs on the album finds us at number five. “Can’t Wait for Violence” has this riveting guitar part that burns and hisses through the song, but the drums also play a noteworthy role. When Holt bellows “I Can’t Wait for Violence,” you feel the urgency, especially since the powering guitar part swells right under the vocals to create a really cohesive element in the song.
One of the most important parts of a record is the middle section, mostly because it either loses focus, or keeps the energy level up. “Violence” succeeds in doing the latter, and song after song really drive the importance of the record home. “Dead Like Me” is an incredible song that still resonates, and would probably be a hit on radio even today, while “Blue Skin” may or not be a drug induced song about the green stuff(I never got actual confirmation, but the lyrics seem to fit the theory). “Skin” especially opens with a very cool but ominous bell effect that quickly escalates into more potent musical energy.
“Hidden Hands,” track nine, is the song that features Holt singing the opening, and it’s honestly unfortunate that he doesn’t sing more, especially on this track.. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals are great all around, but he does both so well that I wish there was a bit more singing(On the next record he would end of challenging himself more in the singing department, and it pays off)
The bass and drums here are where it’s really at though, and the musical arrangements really amp up the song as a whole. At the time of release this album was a moderate hit, and although the band didn’t get the dues and support they had hoped for, the record holds us very easily after nearly fifteen years living in this world.
“Everlasting Godstopper,” the second to last song on the record, really starts to bring everything back around, and it’s one of the most intense and angry tracks on the album. Holt brings the tension to the situation by imploring “I Want it all Back,” and in this moment you understand how important it is. However, the last piece on the record, “Piss and Vinegar,” lives up to the name that was bestowed upon it. The quick and to the point guitar part at the early stages really surprises you, in a good way, and the vocals arrive to destroy the record one more time. The drumming here is also great, and has that ability to be present and in the forefront one second while seemingly disappearing the next second. This is what’s called good drumming. You don’t always have to know it’s there, just as long as it helps the song to reach it’s full potential.
This album really still is excellent, and listening to it after all these years reminds me of all the happiness it brought me, and although this band doesn’t exist anymore, I’m unlikely to ever forget them. Thanks for reading, see you Friday!
Since this month is dedicated to the idea of Metal March, I thought I’d make a special edition of
Good songs by bands I Don’t like. Without Further adieu, here we go.
Iron Maiden, Run to the Hills
Certain bands just never made an impact on me. One of those are Iron Maiden. I of course
get how important and influential they are to the genre, but the vocals always turned me off.
Except on this song. The song, which depicts the struggle between Native Americans and the
Europeans who came to destroy their culture, the song is obviously still a giant hit, and with the
strong vocals of the Bruce Dickinson, it’s a track that’s difficult not to rock out to. The guitars are
also great, and the song manages to still sound great even after all the decades. It’s still a great
Meta song, and you can see how many bands have been influenced by them.
Type O Negative, Black Number 1
This creepy odd number thrives based on one thing: the deep ominous voice of Peter Steele.
I’m pretty sure he was classically trained vocalist, and it really shows on this number. The
strength he gives to the song makes it worthwhile, and although the band isn’t around anymore,
Steele’s voice is still one of the more unique voices to ever venture into the world of heavier
music. While we’re talking about it, the video is very much a nineties video. It simply couldn’t
have been filmed in any other decade, but for the source material, it fits.
Machinehead, Blood, Sweat Tears
Another band that I simply lost track of, but I’ve heard that they still put on a killer show. This is
probably the song from Machinehead that I like the most, and it still holds up. The drumming on
the track is superb, and they make music that is heavy but also is easy to bob your head to. To
add to the drumming, Rob’s(?) voice gives the missing piece that the track needs to be a great
metal song. He’s able to give a growl, but also is able to harmonize and sing when it’s needed.
That’s always a good combo to have, and on “Blood, Sweat & Tears” it’s done very well.
Cradle of Filth, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
More than anything I just like the female spoken word opening, but the song is a good reminder
of what the band was in the early days. Most people have since forget them,and with real black
metal bands like Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth and 1349 doing their best to keep the genre alive,
you don’t really need Cradle of Filth. Beyond that though, the song is dark and gloomy, full of
the orchestral elements and adequate amounts of synth that you can tolerate in metal. Dani
Filth’ vocals are high pitched and bring the song to the places they intended, and overall, it does
Judas Priest, Hell Bent for Leather
Never liked the band,and seeing them play between Slayer and Black Sabbath were two of the
longest hours of my concert attending life, but for some reason I really dig this song. It’s utterly
ridiculous, but the song kind of just makes you feel like a bad ass(even though i generally think
people who were copious amounts of leather are silly). The guitar work is exquisite, and is still
at the top of the Power metal hierarchy, but it’s Halford’s vocals and lyrics that give the song it’s
real attitude, and in the metal game, attitude is half the fight.
Back in high School, this band was a favorite, but over time, the music just wore on me, and i
abandoned the way of the Tribe. That being said, this song consumed my life, and it was one
of my favorites of that period in my life. It’s heavy and powerful, but what stands out here are
the guest stars. Will Haven front man Grady Avenell nails his parts, but the real star here is Deftones
front man Chino Moreno. The Deftones are still a band I obsess over, but this was one of the last
guest spots he did, and it’s awesome. It’s an intense song, and the vocals from everyone are
great additions to a musically strong song.
Lacuna Coil, Heavens a Lie
Really, the song is decent. but it Cristina’s voice that makes the whole band. If the didn’t have
the two singer gimmick and a female vocalist going for them they wouldn’t ever have gotten
anywhere, but it’s not a bad song in the context. Her voice is great, but the video is cringe
worthy at it;s best moments. I just don’t know what they were thinking. There’s just not enough
bad things you can say about the video, even if the song is good.
Wow, this band right here. I was a big fan of them for some reason, but thankfully i grew out of
it. The came about during the whole Slipknot, Mudvayne craze, and obviously they were too late
to capitalize. This track though, is good enough for this list, and it’s probably the only track from
this album that has even remotely held up over time. There’s not really much to say about this
song, but if you like taking trips down memory road and fads you may have liked, this might be
worth your time.
If you love heavier, more direct music, and you happen to be from the Boston/ Salem Massachusetts area, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have heard of Salem’s own Converge. This band has been making noisy awe inspiring music for over twenty years now, and if you’ve heard their last few records, you know that they’re only getting better. Today I gave you my Top Ten Best Converge songs. Rock on, and enjoy!
10. Jane Doe, Jane Doe
We open our Top Ten Converge songs with the first of four title tracks(For some reason they take up the first four spots on our list.) Anyway, many consider “Jane Doe” to be the landmark metal record of the time, and it’s well within reason. The album as a whole is blistering and emotional, but it’s this song, which clocks in at over eleven minutes long that seals the deal in regards to the albums overall greatness. Jacob Bannon screams and tears through the track, but the real star here is the melody and scope the band manages to present. When Kurt Ballou belts “I Want Out,” you feel the intensity of the situation. Having said that, it’s not an easy thing to keep the in your face momentum, but Converge seem to do it without missing a beat.
9. Axe to Fall, Axe to Fall
“Axe to Fall” is an unrelenting track in an unrelenting world. Theres’ no other place to start really. The song is unbridled in it’s appetites for destruction, but that’s how it goes in the world of Converge. The song comes in at a quick and you’ll miss it two minutes, but it’s so insane for it’s duration that even that length leaves you needing a breather. The drums are completely rabid here, but that’s not to disregard the other important musical moments. Few bands are as furious as Converge, and it’s a song like this that makes you aware of just how good the band is.
8. You Fail Me, You Fail Me
Number eight on our Top Ten Converge songs comes from what’s probably my second favorite album the band has ever done. This album was hailed upon it’s release, and it’s extremely well deserved. The guitar parts here are brooding and dark, and the overall themes of the song pull you into a chaotic trance that follows you all day everyday. I love the way the background vocals simply poke out every so often, and how they move the song alone. Going back to the guitars though, the chord progression around the two minute mark is done superbly, and it’s pulled straight from a dark, midnight suspense thriller. When I hear “You Fail Me,” I can’t help but imagine a dark, smoky cabin in the woods, and the people there who have no idea that not only has trouble found them, but that it’s already too late.
7. All We Love We Leave Behind, All We Love We Leave Behind
More or less, Converge seem to get better as they go. I’m not trying to say they might be the metal Radiohead, but how they build their craft, as well as the dynamic they seem to have with each other makes me think of the aforementioned British band. This song, off their most recent record, is a prime example of how far they’ve come. The gradual build of guitar, bass and drums is perfect, and quite simply, it’s a more mature and contemplative song than they may have been capable of years earlier. Ben Koller’s drums are as precise and rapid as drums can be in the genre, and the beat never leaves them. Bannon’s vocals also depict hopefulness in a world where it’s hard to find, but ultimately it’s too late. In this case, sadly the title of “All We Love We Leave Behind” is true.
6. Hell to Pay, Jane Doe
This steady song takes the bands places that they hadn’t ventured to before, but it’s an awesome song nonetheless. The lyrics though are the main attraction for me on this one. It’s a cool calm type of delivery that you don’t get too much in the genre, but maybe more bands need to take a cue from this Salem boys, because clearly they’ve been doing the right thing for a long time now. “Hell to Pay” is no exception. The bass part is highly original and really fuses the unnerving aspects of the song into one nice, albeit dark bow. There’s a reason this record is held with such high regard.
5. First Light/ Last Light, You Fail Me
If “Jane Doe” is the band's masterpiece, then “You Fail Me” is the point in which it became clear that this band was going to keep evolving and challenging themselves and their listeners with brilliant music. The opening of “First Light” forebodes coming anger, but by the time “Last Light” echoes out in the world, it’s already too late to turn back. It’s a song full of positivity and light, and the lyrics drive that point home. Converge is able to go dark when it’s needed, but they’re also adept at giving light to hopeless situations and informing us that all is not lost, and that we need to “Keep breathing, Keep living, Keep searching, Keep pushing.”
4. Hanging Moon, You Fail Me
Another off this solid record, number four on the Top Ten Converge songs list comes to “Hanging Moon.” The drumming, and volatile sound propels the song in a exacting direction, and although it’s not exactly danceable, there’s a certain groove to the song that makes it easy to let go in. Bannon’s vocals and the way they get delivered are erratic in the best way possible, but there’s a human element there that really speaks to me. It’s almost as if he’s not even trying to sound perfect because in songs like this the spirit and energy of the message are what’s of the utmost importance.
3. Fault and Fracture, Jane Doe
There’s no better description for this song than the title, and that might be why this killer of a song works so well. It rampant in it’s need for danger, and the crashing of the cymbals and the aggression of the guitar only solidifies it’s ferociousness. Having been fortunate enough to see this band twice over the years, this song really captures the intensity of the live show, and trust me, it’s absolutely insane to see this four guys murdering it on stage. It’s a sight, and on songs like “Fault and Fracture,”the band doesn’t leave any stone unturned.
2. Dark Horse, Axe to Fall
One of the best opening songs on any albums, this tracks starts the album off in a perfectly driven way. the chants during the chorus, adding intensity to the ever growing stubbornness of the guitars and drums to never give up, really make the song one of their best songs period. The whole album has a sort of immediate response to it, but in the end it’s the number wo song on my list of the Top Ten Converge songs that sets it going in the right direction. I mean, c’mon, that guitar part is face melting at it’s best, and Converge deserve all the recognition they get for truly pushing the boundaries of what metal should be.
1. Concubine, Jane Doe
“Concubine,” which opens the seminal “Jane Doe” album not only delivers in its brutality, but it also brings us into the world of the unsuspecting “Jane Doe.” The song, at a brief one minute and nineteen seconds, explodes from the first seconds and doesn’t let up. Ballou’s guitars, Bannon’s vocals,and the overall anger of the song drive points home that sometimes get lost in modern metal, but like i said previously, Converge is one of the only bands doing things in the genre that are worthwhile. A Big part of that is the genius behind the severely revered record. It’s been probably ten years since this song was first introduced in my life, but as you can see, it’s still their best song to me without question,and “Concubine,” as well as the entirety of the “Jane Doe”record, really drives home the importance of the band. Thanks for reading.
In the world of heavy metal, especially since the 90's, few bands have become more recognized and revered than the “Cowboys from Hell,” Pantera. Over the course of five major label studio albums, they redefined the sound, and brought millions of people on a trip that no band today can even come close to.
Now, by the late 80's, Pantera was already gearing up, but things took a major change when the core of the group, the Abbott Brothers, decided to go for a heavier, more abrasive route. Not only did the sound change, but other obvious things changed also. Guitarist “Diamond” Darrell become “Dimebag” Darrell,and a new vocalist, in the way of New Orleans native Philip Anselmo entered the fold. Anselmo's voice even today still has the fire and wrath it did when they emerged with the first record, “Cowboys from Hell.”
The album itself is pretty decent,but not amazing( I'm in the minority here), but you get the idea of where they're heading as a band. From the opening chords of the title track, they have a distinct bounce that few bands of the genre had at the time. They'd become to be known as the pioneers of the “power groove.” It almost perfectly describes their sound. With an otherworldly rhythm section, and perfect guitar player, all the pieces were there. Some of the record is super heavy, while other parts are a little more glossy and clean than you might expect. Subsequent albums are dirtier, and thus help to move the sound in a different direction. “Primal Concrete Sledge” is one of the better tracks on the record, but for me it all points to a sign of things to come. News of the bands emergence and new sound bleed out, and before long they were up and coming.
The next album,released in 1992, “Vulgar Display of Power,” is a huge leap for the band. It stormed the billboard charts, and they had officially arrived. Everything about this record goes perfectly with the the title. Even the album cover is intense. Apparently they paid a guy money for every punch in the face until they found the desired look. That's commitment. This album is pure power and aggression, and it sees them embrace the sound they were veering towards on the previous album. Songs like “A New Level,” showcase just how tight they had gotten as a band, and everything turned up to eleven. The drumming on this record is just insane, and the complimentary guitar goes exactly where you want heavy metal guitar to go. Some of the most well known songs in the bands history also emerge. “Walk” is a warning to everyone not to encroach on the bands foundation, unless they want to get stepped upon. The opening of that song is so insanely powerful that you get sucked in. The Abbotts had a way to do that with their instruments. Add in the loaded lyrics Anselmo brings to the table, and you have a song thats worth chanting loud and strong after a frustrating day. “Re-spect, Walk,” is a mantra among the metal community at this point, and it shows the strength of the band, even more than a decade after their dissolution.
The real gem of the record though is the appropriately titled “Fucking Hostile.” From the onset this track is very intense, and it's take no prisoners attitude is what makes the song memorable. The guitars, drums, and vocals are all going at a quick pace that lends itself to the immediate nature of the track. You feel the hostility brewing from their recording, and it's not only a highlight on the record, but a highlight of the whole bands history. The guitar solo itself is worth just talking about. It's searing in it's awesomeness, and essentially brings the song to a place it wasn't before it began. This is also the record where they mastered the balance of a slower song with the power of the band. It takes a certain kind of talent to be able to meld a more melodic track and intertwine it with moments of power and speed. The track I'm referencing here is “This Love.” It's a dark song about all the bad aspects of love, but the real star here is Anselmo's voice. The depth and gravitas he brings in his vocals show true potential and a range that you don't really see from him too often, I wish he would show it more to be honest, but you kind of just have to go for the ride.
So how do you follow up your major arrival into the world of metal? Quite simply, you go stronger, faster, tighter and more driven. The result, once you mix all those ingredients is the genre defining “Far Beyond Driven.” This album is probably their most popular record, and while it's not my favorite, the admiration is well deserved.
Take a song like “Becoming,” with it's incredible opening drum beat, and thumping arrangements. I still don't know how Darrel got that mechanical sounding hook in the guitar part, but it's masterfully done, and with all the other elements, it makes the song potent. While Pantera had always been a more anger driven band, this song is more in line with religious undertones that you don't see the band use to often. This song is all about strength and victory, and to do this, the “Becoming” of the title has to be realized. And if that guitar doesn't do it for you, the double bass kick drum undoubtedly will. Simply put, Vinnie Paul is the man.
Pantera was becoming a major force not only in metal, but music overall. Not since Metallica had a extreme band become so popular, and while Metallica is more well known, Pantera was roaming the world and slowly taking over. The band does this by relentless touring and the energy of their live show were main reasons they continued to soar. However, around this time is when things start to get a lot darker within the confines of the band.
For years Anselmo had been going hard, both onstage and off. This eventually took a major toll on his body. His back and neck were completely broken, and surgery was required. However Anselmo feared the length recovery time would derail the bands progress, and once painkillers stopped working, the next “logical” step was taken. That step was Heroin.
More than likely the band should of taken a hiatus and regrouped at 100%,but after the highs of the last few years, they had hit a creative stride and wanted to continue. By the time the criminally underrated “The Great Southern Trendkill” was released in 1996, the band was on different pages. Anselmo overdosed, nearly died, and that was the point that his addiction had finally come to be known by the rest of the band. That's what it took.
Sadly though it didn't bring the band closer, but further instead apart. For my money “Trendkill” is the definitive metal albums of the 90's, but it's a very dark album. Hatred, contempt for the scene, and oneself inundates the albums core, and you are given a pretty frail picture of the struggles Anselmo was dealing with at the time. From the opening song, it's full blown metal, and while the lyrics are dark and reflective, the music is arguably the best the band had done. The band toured the world over again, and the show was as insane as ever. If you've ever seen the Pantera 3 home video, you get the idea. If you haven't, you need to. It's long, and extensive, but it's probably one of the best band tour videos I've ever seen, and although I know now the struggles the band was going through, it's a great insight into the band itself.
Song after song on “TGSTK” are very strong, and Anselmo manages to give his all on both the vocals and lyrics. It's a very introspective record, and you feel the pain and frustration present in the band throughout. It got so bad in fact, that Anselmo's vocals parts had to be recorded away from the band, in Trent Reznor's Nothing Studios in Anselmo's hometown of New Orleans. Things weren't great.
But often times the best art comes from pain and tension, and this record is no different.
Among the highlights of the album include the one two punch of the “Suicide Note” tracks. “Suicide note Pt. I” is song that's slow and steady, but full of purpose and build up. The instrumentation is actually quite pretty, and it's a very open and brutally honest song about the despair one must be feeling while in the throes of a major addiction. The song discusses “taking the pain away,” and about the mistakes one has made. It's one of the darkest songs in the bands cannon, but also one of the most sincere and unapologetic.
Before long though, the song begins to fade out and “Part II' finds us, and this song is full of the intent that is only referenced in the previous song. It's fully on during this track, and it takes no prisoners or sanctuary from anyone. It might even be the most intense track on the record. The scorching guitar part, on top of the brutal screams of Philip, makes the song a combustible inclusion on this album.
The real high note of the record though, is track nine, titled “Floods.” at seven minutes, it’s murky, dark, and beautifully orchestrated. Rarely do songs hit you so hard initially, but “Floods” is one of them for me. I wasn’t even a fan of the band when this song entered my brain. That’s power and soul you don’t see too often. It’s a slow burn of a track, but Anselmo’s smoky vocals, and the western style guitars are incredible. Seeing this song live, it changes you. One of the best parts is the massive guitar infused lightning and thunder segment. It’s empowering, and mighty.
After another round of massive touring(with White Zombie, EyeHateGod and others) the band reconvened to record “Reinventing the Steel.” While a decent record all around, it’s missing something, at least in my opinion. “Hellbound,” which opens the record, is a good opener, and upon first listen, it’s good ole Pantera, but something had changed. Honestly there’s no need to go into much detail here, other to say the band had turned into something uglier.
One good thing that came from the record, at least for me, was finally being able to see the band live. Truthfully it was one of the best metal shows I’ve ever been to. Supported by Soulfly, Morbid Angel, and Nothingface, Pantera played well over two hours. and as it was held in Houston, was essentially a homecoming show. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life though, was a moment where a wheelchair bound man was crowd surfed from the floor to the stage. To this day it was one of the top five most memorable things I’ve ever seen.
Following the “Steel” tour, the band was supposedly going to release Home Video Four, as well as a new album. That clearly never happened. This is where it gets even messy though. The Abbotts claim they were told Anselmo was taking a year off to refocus, only to record new albums with Down and Superjoint Ritual. Anselmo says that never happened and the brothers simply disbanded the band prematurely. We’ll never know for sure. A war of words escalated between both sides, and in my opinion all parties made mistakes. Sadly in December 2004, all hope of an eventual reunion were dashed when “Dimebag” Darrell was murdered by a fan during a Damageplan show. The reason was never stated, as the coward and bastard who killed Darrell was shot only after taking four lives.
Pantera though, will continue to have a legacy forever in the metal genre, and hopefully new fans will be getting hooked on the awesome power of the band for a long long time. The sound itself is still untouchable, and in my honest opinion we won’t ever get anything like what we got with Vinnie, Darrell, Phil and Rex again. RIP Darrell Abbott. Thanks for reading, see you Friday.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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