What The Experts Have To Say About Your Favourite Metal Albums…
How do some of your most revered records stack up when put through the ultimate test? Featuring quintessential gems from Metallica, Death, Bathory, Slayer, Sleep, Iron Maiden, Emperor, Meshuggah, Testament, Pestilence, Opeth, Sepultura, Ulver, Lamb Of God, Panopticon, Autopsy, Nile, Drudkh, Morbid Angel, Agalloch, Decapitated, and more!
As we all know, popular things are garbage. McDonalds, Religion, Tobacco, The Big Bang Theory, Bruno Mars, Anime, Cats, Water, Sports, Water Sports, Minions, Bud Light, Laughter, Fast & Furious, Vitamin D, Fossil Fuels, Renewable Energy, Minecraft, Yoga, Family Guy, Populism, Herpes, Michael Bay. All popular. All garbage. This well-established paradigm is also widely recognised across essentially all forms of artistic endeavour. In fact, there is perhaps nowhere that this notion is more readily apparent than in the realm of music.
Popular music is shit. You know this because you’re a metalhead. You didn’t spend years delving into the deepest darkest corners of the genre searching for an album that could potentially appeal to some entry-level plebeian. There’s nothing worse than when someone finds out you’re “into that real heavy shit” and says they “love Metallica too!” and wants to discuss how much better the old school stuff was back in the day, before Linkin Park got too big. Ugh. Thankfully, there’s a place online where metal’s sanctity is still intact, unsullied by the false.
The hallowed pages of the Encyclopaedia Metallum are universally ackowledged as the resource for our chosen genre. If you want info on who played bass on track sixteen of that unreleased Satanic Witchgoat demo from 1987, the Metal Archives is your place. Over the years, the metallic Borg-like hive-mind has collated all the data you could ever want access to, and more, and also, some more. Then more. This precious information is carefully curated by a select few. These guardians of the unholy grail stand watch, denying entry to whichever trendy bullshit pop-core bands the kids these days submit in the hope of passing off as authentic metal.
The review section however, is governed with a much more lassez-faire attitude. Which unfortunately means that some of the genre’s most mundane “classics” have comically inflated ratings, as the vapid populace will clearly lap up whatever they’re told is excellent. You see, even in metal there is a tendency for the herd mentality to cloud common perceptions; and as the sheep ceaselessly fawn over even the most banal records, dubbing them “genre-defining masterpieces,” we need to seek the wisdom of those who can see through the bullshit, those who aren’t affected by popular opinion and are not afraid to say how things really are. If you manage to wade through the hordes of biased reviewers dishing out 99% scores to these best-sellers, you might be fortunate enough to find a lone voice opining for objective truth. Here are a few excerpts from the rational analyses of some such modern-day heroes:
Slayer – Reign In Blood
(1986) 32 reviews – avg. 85%
Another thing about Slayer’s song writing is they do not like melody. The whole album sound extremely chaotic and to people who aren’t used to metal music probably sounds like a bunch of random notes played with a lot of distortion, which is kind of what it actually is.
This album is a below average thrash album that almost every mediocre high school garage band is capable of writing. Other than some fast palm muting and a good drummer, the band has zero talent, or if they do have talent they sure don’t show it on this album or any other they’ve released. – 20% torment159 (2010)
Due to all of the songs being so short, this album feels less written than its predecessor, “Hell Awaits,” and feels like a jam than a completed album. Furthermore, almost all of the songs are ridiculously fast paced. Almost as though the band said, “Let’s see how fast we can play,” and topped it off with Tom Araya screaming evil sounding shit over it. – 54% Evil_Carrot (2011)
Bathory – Blood Fire Death
(1988) 21 reviews – avg. 93%
I noticed when I was checking out this album that not a single person gave it a low review. Maybe it’s just because nobody who dislikes this album is intelligent and can write a decent review, in which case I question my own intelligence for giving it a 55.
Now, wind sound effects and lengthy songs works if you are a progressive band but when the whole purpose of your music is to sound like drunken vikings and be as brutal as possible the excess is not needed.
The band sounds skilled enough but they just don’t do anything. They thrash around make loud noises and scream. – 55% elfo19 (2009)
Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
(1988) 20 reviews – avg. 90%
I remember the days when this album was published. Iron Maiden wanted us to believe that the 7th son of a 7th son has supernatural powers. Even if this were true, it unfortunately does not mean that a concept work about such a creature is fascinating. My only son, who is the first son of a first son, is much more fascinating. – 59% Felix1666 (2017)
Sleep – Dopesmoker
(2003) 13 reviews – avg. 82%
Maybe I have to be high to understand and enjoy this 63-minute, one-song stoner metal album. I’ve never tried listening to it on drugs, but here’s what I got from it anyway.
Lyrics deal with marijuana and Biblical themes. Note: allusions to the Bible don’t make you a lyrical genius. The words are mostly unintelligible, even though you’re able to catch the occasional “WEEEEED” or another marijuana reference – 36% Insin (2015)
Autopsy – Mental Funeral
(1991) 15 reviews – avg. 91%
This progressivism rapes the album everywhere, the band taking the long winded route, but keeping the songs short so we are left with works of no real substance.
Finally, I suppose this is listenable, after all it’s only 38 minutes, but it isn’t recommended. – 41% Deathdoom1992 (2016)
Panopticon – Kentucky
(2012) 12 reviews – avg. 87%
In addition, author adopts a social cause. It explains the many interviews excerpts or folkish songs heard throughout the album. Taking the miners’ side, lyrics depict poverty, labor struggles and other indignities suffered by American miners during a long history marked by conflicts between proletarians and owners. Nothing could be farther from Satan and his followers! – 50% Asag_Asakku (2012)
Morbid Angel – Altars Of Madness
(1989) 26 reviews – avg. 89%)
Relentless riffs? You must mean tremolo heading towards a dead end.
Nothing keeps me hooked in, and the solos are spontaneous notes in non-consecutive rhythm. Overall the album goes nowhere and doesn’t really have any particular style. – 15% OzzyApu (2009)
Lamb Of God – As The Palaces Burn
(2003) 19 reviews – avg. 70%
They do de-emphasise the guitars sometimes, but only to make really grooved stomp riffs, which aren’t exactly the greatest thing ever, but at least we’re not tempted to assrape the poor guy again just to kill him. It’s not a great album, and at times it sounds too hardcore to be really good, but it does have the occasional really cool riff. – 44% UltraBoris (2003)
Drudkh – Autumn Aurora
(2004) 20 reviews – avg. 89%
It’s my job to clue you all in: Drudkh sucks. More to the point, Drudkh has ALWAYS sucked, and even their oldest material is no exception.
I haven’t heard a single Drudkh releases that deserves anything more than a $2 price tag in a bargain bin, and even this, their ‘greatest’ album, is no different. Please, force the black metal scene to have some standards and don’t listen to shit like this. You’re only making it worse when you do. – 20% Nokturn (2011)
Death – Leprosy
(1988) 22 reviews – avg. 89%
A lot of the album is fast-paced without actually feeling like it. A lot of blame is on the drums, but the unmemorable riffs that seem to just blend into each other carry most of it. Some of them include a sort of gimmick to differentiate from the others, but usually it just doesn’t work and ends up sounding artificial. – 45% MacMoney (2009)
Testament – The New Order
(1988) 21 reviews – avg. 74%
The official length of this album is 39:19, but really about half of it is complete noodling around in the way of atmosphere. Very formulaic, and it kinda resembles that Talking Heads song that goes “We’ve got computers, we’re tapping phonelines, we know that that’s not allowed”. (I forget the song title, something like “Life During War” or something.) “A Trial By Fire” has the dumbest verses…
Then we get into “Hypnosis” which is some fucking around on guitar for a few minutes. Sucky. Then, the next song, is more fucking around.
There really aren’t all that many different, interesting, memorable riffs on this album. Maybe eight. Compare with Dark Angel’s 246. Yeah, you’re fucked. The last song is more guitar fucking around. – 29% UltraBoris (2002)
Alex Skolnick and four other losers. – 74% Idontsuckdick (2008)
Opeth – Still Life
(1999) 22 reviews – avg. 83%
Other people, most definitely, have different opinions to me considering this albums somewhat legendary status. I can see why people would like this band, they’re quite dynamic, talented, pretty original and definitely have enough/too much emotion in their playing to keep people in a mood for it. But I just don’t like it. – 52% SufferingOverdue (2003)
That right there sums up all there is to know about Opeth – too many dumb musical ideas. – 6% Ultra Boris (2003)
Sepultura – Beneath The Remains
(1989) 26 reviews – avg. 94%
You have to wonder what happened between Schizophrenia, a thrash masterpiece, and this album, which is as mediocre as they get. This album is full of the oh-so-typical dundundundun-du-da-du riffs, with the various songs having various variations thereof. The guitars are accompanied by the same sort of drumming that typified the drumming on Schizophrenia, only this time because of the lack of intense and interesting guitar-riffs, it’s a mis on the hit-or-mis scale. – 64% Egregus (2004)
Meshuggah – obZen
(2008) 20 reviews – avg. 73%
Maybe Meshuggah is a true colossus of post-industrial terror, or maybe it is the dynamite truck of some friendly folks striving to achieve the unbelievable through their odd signatures and some of the worst riffs in the history of music, adding some tuff guy screams on the top.
This album stands confortably as their least worst album in the gallery of horrors that followed Destroy Erase Improve, because it actually has some riffs that come close to catchy. Because of the annoying drumming combined with less than unmemorable riffs, Meshuggah failed most of the time.
This is all I can say of an album which is fairly good by Meshuggah standards. Boy, isn’t it cool to be an unthinking man. – 33% cinedracusio (2008)
Nile – Annihilation Of The Wicked
(2005) 18 reviews – 83%
This is often hailed as Nile’s peak. I’ve only heard three of their albums and I would have to choose which one pisses me off the least. The name of the frontman, Karl Sanders, reminds me of Colonel Sanders.
If I found out that this asshole changed his first name to begin with the letter K, I’d dock this album’s score just because I’m an irrational prick. Yes, I’m sure it’s just a stage name or whatever but we may have to do something about South Carolina if we indeed have chucklefucks there naming kids Karl.
The theme of Annihilation of the Wicked centers around ancient Egypt.
What I wanted was a juicy burger and what I got was a two day old chicken sandwich. Oh…okay. What’s this? Waiter! I ordered exciting death metal and you brought me sleepy randomness with extra gimmick. I’m hungry now. – 20% Arboreal (2008)
Agalloch – The Mantle
(2002) 31 reviews – avg. 88%
The Mantle is a boring, half-assed attempt at “atmospheric” metal.
Yawn. It’s barely metal. Grey, soulless half-metal.
This album will make suicide seem like a desirable act – at least you when commit suicide, something HAPPENS. Unlike The Mantle. – 15% LordOfTerror (2009)
Pestilence – Consuming Impulse
(1989) 17 reviews – avg. 91%
The songs are mostly interchangeable…
The vocals are allright: hoarse shouting half-growls that ocasionally reach into the hysterical territory (VanDrunin’s trademark), but they really can’t save this. As mentioned previously, the riffs do have a certain novelty to them…possessing a certain unpredictable pattern that makes it seem as if they were written upside-down. – 41% Abominatrix (2003)
Mastodon – Leviathan
(2004) 14 reviews – avg. 76%
There are plenty of prog rock time shifts, tempo changes, and polyrhythms in evidence, as well as a drummer who seems intent on out-wanking Mike Portnoy (yeah, good luck, chump), but instead of soaring leads and sweeping keyboards, you get…chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga for all eternity. Disgusting sludgy, down-tuned rhythm clunking batters the ears like latter-day Sepultura played really fast.
There’s a concept of some sort, apparently involving a white whale (Moby Dick?), but the moronic, unintelligible vocals do not encourage the listener to pick up the booklet. Dream Theater have infinitely better vocals, more interesting riffs, decent leads, and no groove/core bullshit (except in Train of Thought). Sorry, Mastodon, but you and your record are not cool. Not cool at all. – 55% Woolie_Wool (2007)
The Chasm – Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm
(2009) 10 reviews – avg. 86%
Chasm may try to rock out rather hard but you can’t really tell…
You know it’s a fairly tame death metal if you forget the album’s on and end up playing Minecraft halfway through the first song. – 50% caspian (2016)
Emperor – In The Nightside Eclipse
(1994) 19 reviews – avg. 90%
By “grandiose”, I’m referring to this album’s composition, which I suppose could be best compared to that one early episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where the title character, a complete wimp as far as talking cleaning appliances go, decides that considering his circumstances as a weakling, the best way to impress people is to buy some cheap inflatable roid-loaded arms and walk around wearing them like he’s hot shit. And everyone in the show believes it, too! Everyone sees this complete doofus walking around with these dorky intertube arms slapped over his usual yellow twigs with fingers on the end, and they all buy into it hook, line, and sinker! That’s basically In the Nightside Eclipse: the riffs are SpongeBob, and the presentation is Anchor Arms.
Ihsahn’s vocals here mostly just feel like a beetle attempting to narrate an epic journey, except you can’t trust what he has to say about it because he’s a fucking beetle, what is he supposed to know?
“ISN’T MY SYNTH WORK SPOOKY!? CAN YOU HEAR IT YET? IT’S PRETTY SPOOKY, ISN’T IT? TELL ME IT’S SPOOKY!” – 55% MutantClannfear (2015)
Decapitated – Organic Hallucinosis
(2006) 14 reviews – avg. 80%
Wait, isn’t Decapitated supposed to be a death metal band? Moreover, isn’t that style of music supposed to be focused in brutal?
The problem with ‘Organic Hallucinosis’ is that the songs don’t make any fucking sense.
This is actually markedly worse than most modern death metal (which is already bad) because most modern death metal just adheres to an established pattern and at least succeeds in creating music that makes sense. – 38% Nokturn (2010)
Ulver – Nattens Madrigal
(1997) 25 reviews – avg. 86%
It may satisfy the Century Media crowd, but real black metallers should pass this up and invest their time in something more worthy. – 20% Noctir (2011)
Necrophaghist – Epitaph
(2004) 23 reviews – avg. 74%
But it got worse for the album; it has now occurred to me that this isn’t even Death Metal. That’s right, I can’t bring myself to call this death metal. It’s the first example I’d heard of the modern pussified tech death guitar tone. Honestly, I’ve heard keyboardists with a more intense tone. …basically, the notes don’t run together as a real riffs. – 32% lordghengis (2008)
Over recent times, it seems that a few metal bands are trying to appeal to soccer mums (that’s moms for you Americans with your crazy spellings). Bands like Agalloch will sate many a parents who likes their Enya and Coldplay, much of today’s symphonic power metal sounds almost exactly the same as ABBA or one of those other old disco bands, and then you have Necrophagist. I’m not exactly sure what kind of soccer mums these guys were going for, at a guess I’ll say those who like listening to those new age albums full of dolphin sounds and waterfall field recordings, and maybe Cindi Lauper fans. Incredibly hilarious jokes aside, though, this is probably one of the tamest death metal records I’ve ever heard. More good descriptions would be Sonata Arctica with downtuned guitars, or possibly Nightwish with Chris Barnes fronting. – 20% caspian (2008)
Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss
(1990) 22 reviews – avg. 78%
Honestly, I just expect more from the band, and if they can’t deliver more, I expect much, much less. – 41% Nokturn (2008)
Sepultura – Chaos A.D
(1993) 25 reviews – avg. 65%
All you hear is this megalomaniac asshole talking with his funny accent, like a badly designed Hitler making a badly designed speech. – 21% UltraBoris (2004)
Metallica – Master Of Puppets
(1986) 32 reviews – avg. 79%
The dumb acoustic opening on the first song, ‘Battery’, completely puzzles me. I can’t figure out why I’m listening to an altered version of Morricone’s ‘The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly’, before being hit with an all out thrasher about the heavy metal nightclub scene.
It’s definitely clear that after the first couple of albums, Metallica needed a better lead guitarist to take them to another level.
And last but certainly not least, a special mention for the late, great, Cliff Burton, who’s contribution and bass playing, while not being able to save this album, shows that he was so much better than the other three members. Just listen to the middle part of ‘Orion’, which is truly exceptional. The rest of the song is complete and utter rubbish though
All of the riffs on this album are really good, as are the origins of some of the riffs, but most of the solos are really boring – 25% West_Ham (2016)
…the album became a bad attempt of technical/progressive thrash metal. An example is once again, the terrible title-song which repeats the same mid-paced riff during more than seven minutes! Indeed, that repetitive riff that would be featured in songs like “Holier than Thou”.
This album has nothing interesting to contribute to the metal world, but just some riffs for non-metal bands like Nirvana (e.g., the intro guitars of “The Thing that Should Not Be”). It is just recommended for die-hard fans of the band. – 5% ballcrushingmetal (2016)
It takes some DAMN GOOD reasoning to give this album such a low rating. The zero implies the absolute nadir of musicality, a level that can only be dreamt of by mere mortals as Fred Durst and your blender. What in Satan’s name could this album have done to deserve such a low rating?? It pretty much singlehandedly ENDED heavy metal, that’s what. Now, on a strictly musical level, I would give this album a 62 or so. It’s not bad. It really isn’t. It’s certainly not as bad as Saint Anger, proud owner of a former record-low “3%” rating. It’s not even as bad as the album that would follow it, And Justice for All, and when all is said and done, it pretty much sums up the averageness of the thrash movement perfectly.
So… the songs. There is some ownage here. Battery, for example, is fucking heavy, and works brilliantly well, as a destroyer of worlds.
Fifth up is Disposable Heroes, eight minutes of thrash, showing that, if pressed, the band could still deliver the goods.
Hetfield probably had his heart in the right place, but he was a complete fucking pussy.
Random hippie crap, combined with a few random recycled Mustaine moments, all held together by the glue of Hetfield’s average riff constructions – perfectly suitable for an average, mediocre, fifth-rate garage thrash ensemble.
After the obligatory Mustaine composition comes the long section of hippie crap, that is not only the worst song on the album, but THE final stake through the heart of heavy metal. I hear Orion, and I hear Opeth.
On Damage Inc – “This is James Hetfield’s dying cry as Lars Ulrich finishes him off. In fact, if you look carefully, you can see the exact frame where his heart rips in two.”.
And at the head of this machine is the midget himself, Lars Ulrich. He holds the world in his hands… his band, his “music”, his scene.
“Best not to listen, kids. If you have any decency, any individuality, any self-respect. THIS is why I gave the album a zero, because it is the album that will slowly draw you in and destroy you too. Let this be your warning.
‘Master of puppets, I’m pulling your strings…'” – 0% UltraBoris (2004)