Sunday Sesh: The Transition Album
Greetings and happy Sunday, Flushkateers. Today we’re putting on our thinking caps and probing at the tenuous sinews that bind us. Our topic? Those albums that marked the end of one band and the beginning of another. Sometimes metal bands continue to change over time (often for the worse, in the case of Opeth and In Flames) while retaining the same name. Other times, personnel changes attend name changes, yet the writing was always there on the wall. Those are the albums we want to explore. So here’s your question:
What final* album from one band was essentially the first from another?
Unsure? Well let me provide you a few examples. The first that immediately comes to mind is Emperor‘s Prometheus. Though aesthetically still a black metal album, Prometheus found Ihsahn indulging his progressive tendencies as he toyed with more diverse song structures, dense tracks, and loads of bombast. These characteristics, especially eclectic instrumentation, would soon be recognized as the hallmarks of Ihsahn’s solo career, and in retrospect, Prometheus sounds more like the natural starting point for his spiritual trilogy beginning with The Adversary. [Sidebar: let’s just ignore Peccatum for now, though the progressive and avant-garde indulgences of that band certainly informed the solo career as well.]
Similarly, Celtic Frost‘s Monotheist hews much more closely to the sonic landscapes created by Triptykon than those heard on older work like Morbid Tales. The music is slower, with a pounding despondency and deeply sinister narrative flow that rarely indulges the raw aggression of past Celtic Frost. Monotheist is heavy as all hell, but its thick production and malignant gloom sound almost identical to Eparistera Daimones.
You could also make an argument for Death‘s The Sound of Perseverance and Control Denied, but the waters are a bit muddied there due to the fact that Chuck was working on The Sound of Perseverance and The Fragile Art of Existence at the same time.
So what’s the take here? Why does any of this matter? Discussing these albums raises a larger question, especially in comparison to the first two bands listed in this article (Opeth, In Flames); is it better for a band to change their name when there are abrupt stylistic and/or personnel changes, even if the next series of albums are in the same vein as the transition album? Or should bands continue to use the old banner because of #branding? Would people support Akerstache’s elevator prog if he wrote it under the name Goblin AD? Should you as a fan just buy what albums you like and not care about this? Probably.
Did I miss any transition albums? Sound off in the comments below.