2011 is coming to its halfway mark already, and suffice it to say, we rock fans anticipate some heavy hitters on deck: Soundgarden and A Perfect Circle have reunited, both with respective circulating stories surrounding new material; Rammstein are finally touring their “once in a lifetime” sets for us North Americans; 3 of the “Big 4” touted Jagermeister’s banner last year; Mastodon and Liturgy are, in varying ways, experimenting with the metal medium as we know it; Disturbed and Machine Head are returning to the Mayhem Festival bill for its fourth year, booking Megadeth and Sweden’s own In Flames as supporting acts.
This is phenomenal news. We in the hard rock categories–despite Clear Channel radio–are vying for major support and getting it by all means. What’s a moshin’ kid to do? Who do we root for? The progressives? The ol’ school thrashers? How about speed or thematic metal? You would think we have been enveloped by spikes and sweaty concert tees all for naught. The sad truth is, no one could effortlessly peddle 13 albums encompassing the past 10 years; misses were made, but in retrospect, ’tis still a labor of love.
Please note that this list is in no particular order or sequence of any kind, I merely winged it and tweaked when necessary. To Static-X, Slipknot, Type O Negative, Amon Amarth, Borean Dusk, and otherwise noteworthy bands that did not make the list — feel free to crucify me later, it was not meant personally. Love me or hate me, letters to the usual address (that goes to our Comments section, too).
Meanwhile, as I replay my copy of Iowa for the 1,000,000th time…
…the following is a tiny audio assortment I personally thrive on with my car’s shitty stereo, my computer’s shittier speakers, and my iPod’s blessed earphone jack. One-half egotistical, one-half introductory–from the turn of the millennium to last New Year’s–this is a testament to the tunes I head-bang or wax poetic alongside, a list which noticeably consists almost entirely of CDs this site has not reviewed (go figure). [For a handy reference to any of the below, check out the Map of Metal.]
The hard rock lives on, and should you want to square off with yours truly for a rough tumble in the dirt, meet me at Mayhem 2011 in Raleigh, NC next week. I might be inclined to have a beer with you, shoot the shit at where I went wrong, or something else degrading for the sake of putting rears in the audience.
Nothing on film, though. That’s my word.
Senior Staff Writer
Powerglove – Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man (2007)
While Juggalos and WoW enthusiasts tend to sacrifice most of their own dignity up front, it was once stigmatizing to be labeled a gamer or a metal fan. Though self-deprecating humor of the “comedic vengeful nerd” variety has become commonplace now, present-day game geeks realize the legacy inherent to things like Commodore 64s and Ataris, whereas metal fans never fail in pulling some classic 80’s hair and thrashing for nostalgic purposes.
To access a little of both worlds, however, we run to Powerglove. If there was ever true tribute to be displayed, it runs through the veins of this band. Prior to things like rap/video game music mash-ups a la Vinyl Fantasy, The Ocarina Of Rhyme, etc., Powerglove dropped 2005’s Total Pwnage–a short but sweet seven-track CD release, comprised of metal-stained covers from Sonic the Hedgehog to Super F-Zero to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (the original series). It’s dorky; it’s even been done before by orchestras or live bands, especially the Super Mario Bros. theme. It was a debut full of heart and honesty but lackluster in the length and production department.
What is so special about Powerglove, aside from “so bad” a name?
Powerglove’s 2007 sophomore album is proof that (A) slumps are not always a given and (B) “duck grinder” is a title you wish you could have copyrighted upon purchasing–and annihilating–Duck Hunt, although your wrath may have only been directed at the laughing brown dog. Super Mario Bros. gets a radically more impressive do-over than most re-imaginings I’ve heard, Mortal Kombat was already sitting there in angst over waiting to be truly dominated in electric six-string, and I dare anyone to listen to “Red Wings Over Baron” and not get psyched up as hell for some innocuous triumph only you really know to be triumphant–maybe finally getting laid?
Where’s Lonely Island when you need ’em?
This is not the best album in history, nor the best album containing video game score aggrandizement. It does happen to be my favorite of the latter, and I invite you to join the ride. Power, wisdom, courage… and shredding. I guess that’s the Quad-Force? Moving on.
Marduk – La Grande Danse Macabre (2001)
Allow me to educate: “Death metal” focuses primarily on post mortem subject matter; “black metal” just tends to be vaguely reflective of dark topics. Death makes its presence known in both but more predominantly inside its namesake genre.
Marduk is a death metal/black metal band from Sweden (genre differs, depending upon what era you’re privy to). This band comes complete with bare essentials in songwriting, namely blasts against Abrahamic religions and wartime. Marduk’s history is bulging with lineup changes, and as such, the sound has shifted over time, with La Grande Danse Macabre following a drastic alteration from death to black metal, thanks to its predecessor, Panzer Division Marduk.
There is shock, gore, and even its own originator claims he was motivated to form the “most blasphemous band in the world.” This is all purposeful, should the debut demo, titled Fuck Me Jesus, be absent of any hints. Marduk’s recent albums are better built in terms of sound, and if we were focusing purely on importance, La Grande Danse Macabre lands as evidence of atmospheric changes being beneficial toward a second coming (no pun intended).
I’m partial to the word “macabre,” but that’s just me. If you’d like a taste of the game this act is playing, kindly take a gander at the songs “Bonds of Unholy Matrimony”, “Ars Moriendi”, and “Death Sex Ejaculation”. Never a dull moment, and this is coming from a Cannibal Corpse fan.
Mastodon – Crack The Skye (2009)
As if I’d be brazen enough to ignore this. Please.
It appears as though the ol’ ATL has more going for it than OutKast, and no other metal band of the ’00s sounds exactly like Mastodon. Spanning a catalog soon to be five LPs strong, I first heard of this band when seeing promotion for 2004’s Leviathan in a copy of Revolver; later down the road, I took CoS to cover their stunningly under-attended main stage set at 2008’s Mayhem Festival. What a mind-blowing surprise that turned out to be, friends.
A proper send-off was littered with advertising for the above album — 2009’s Crack The Skye, a loosely-thematic record with emphasis on astral projections and the legend of Rasputin’s cult, as opposed to previous works of elaborate sludge and stoner metal circa Kyuss on brimstone. Why select this release? Get inebriated, pop it in, and you be the judge. One listen through “Oblivion”, “Divinations”, or even the ominous warning song titled “The Czar”, is enough to induce feelings of traveling through black holes. Something tells me Crack The Skye will be deemed a metal classic in the coming years, but maybe I’m biased to a vocalist who occasionally sounds like a non-British version of Ozzy Osbourne.
From Russia, with love. From Georgia, with acid. Who knew?