Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Death - Scream Bloody Gore (1987)

   The experimenting in extreme music arrived to a fixed and certain point after Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" came out. It was the first real manifestation of death metal. If we look on the rare tryings in the '80s how metal music became occasionally wilder than usual, this album showed something far more brutal, than anyone else could have imagined before, and by this point a new genre was born.
   Death and Chuck Schuldiner himself are something similarly  basic and unaviodable in death metal, like Bathory and Quorthon are in black metal. It was really something revolutionary which caused the rise up of a notorious genre, and inspired countless of other bands. It's hard to pick up any features about this album, becuase it became all-in-one cultic. The dirty, noisy sounding, which gives an impression that the music is heard from some kind of dungeon, the unstoppable sickness that forging ahead by this intensiveness and insane screamings. The rotting corruption and the stench of death could be easily felt by such musical background, horror inspired lyrics and insanely distorted vocals. Chris Reifert (Autopsy) and Chuck Schuldiner both were very young when they wrote and played up this album, but they wrote a new chapter in metal history with it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Necronomicon - Necronomicon (1986)

   Like all scenes, the German thrash scene also had unfortunately underrated events, and one of them was Necronomicon's first album. In this case contracts with bad labels and the location are the responsible features, because South Germany wasn't the most ideal place for common gigs.
   My opinion is that it was one of the most interesting albums that time as well because of their creative ideas. By first listening it's clear already that their music was heavily influenced by Venom, but they tried to go forward in that way. It's doubtless, that this debut album is quite raw, sounds pretty dirty and old school, so includes everything why an old thrash band could be liked. Their music also shows a genuine approach of this style by a lot of classical heavy metal references. Unlike other bands in this style, for instance Destruction, Sodom or Kreator, their dark topics were not based first of all on occultism or brutality, but they were more into society critics or fantasy based references. So this intense, wild, raw music includes much more than most others in this style that time.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Holy Moses - Queen of Siam (1986)

   Germany had a very strong thrash metal scene, and the remains of that scene can produce great bands even nowadays. Nowadays, when the whole genre is forced into the background. Holy Moses was one of the first bands of this remarkable scene, but still a less known one.
   Their music didn't had so a lot of fans like Destruction, Kreator or Sodom, but they were more unique and had a musical approach that was far different from the others. Some kind of weirdness that is hard to describe, but it's involved into their themes. In lyrics they also had interesting ideas. By the way they were not between the first ones only in their local thrash scene, but they had the first female vocalist (Sabina Classen) who preferred growling instead of singing. And she really did her job well, because most people that time didn't even believed that the voice of a woman they heard. The "Queen of Siam" album is probably their most intense one in their early period, it has simpler themes and songs, but the freshness of a debuting band could be heard through their noisy thrashing.

Exorcist - Nightmare Theatre (1986)

   Not only the attention of the restless youngsters was sparked by the slowly growing popularity of extreme music and their darker, unusual topics. Exorcist was a secret project of  the members of Virgin Steele, and by this act they showed some hidden inspiration, wich might sound surprising after their ordinary style.
   After the glory seeking adventures of heavy metal warriors, lyrics about witch burnings and invoking black masses could sound drastical, but this is what side projects are good for. Unlike side projects in general, which are often almost exactly the same like most main projects. The Exorcist was interesting, because their music fills the empty space between the sometimes evil sympathizing cheesy heavy metal bands and the directly aggressive and sick extreme ones. Like a bridge between the two aspects, because it could be same enjoyable for both audience. Classic heavy metal themes upgraded with fast and noisy solos, fast hammering, distorted vocals and occultism is a recipe that always could work, but not many bands made it. Plus it's a great concept album too, the theatrical horror feeling comes down well.

Détente - Recognize No Authory (1986)

   Détente was a short-living, less known and not so successful band which came with the '80s speed/thrash metal wave. Their one and only full-lenght album got lost between the huge amount of similar styled records, even though it wasn't forgetable at all.
   Shortly after the release the band was split up and the names of the members became known from various other fields of the metal scene. For first impression their music reminded to Sacrilege, not only because of the shouting vocal style of Dawn Crosby, but the style was also strongly related to the speedy thrashing of Sacrilege. Of course "Recognize No Authory" was a more complex album, including diverse and very catch themes, common speed changes and ass kicking solo parts. In truth the album had no weak points, it had the same intensiveness and effective features that should be expected form an '80s speed/thrash band, but their music didn't become so influental like the bigger names in that scene. Still, "Recognize No Authory" belongs to the golden metal classics of the '80s.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sepultura - Morbid Visions (1986)

   The South American scene became so special and genuine not only because of it's more or less isolated situation things were going there a bit differently. But also because it was rise up without any reasonable wider support from an environment of deep poverty and corruption.
   Sepultura was the first in the line of those bands who developed that exciting mix of extreme music in that area, and definitely the first South American metal band who gained international success. As their main musical influences we could mention Venom, Slayer and Celtic Frost, and it's also true about the development of the mixed style of this scene. It's was a different and independent way from what happened in the USA or in Europe. Such as Celtic Frost was on some borderline, they also settled there. Early Sepultura had both the features of thrash and death metal as we hear now, but that time the second genre didn't really exist yet. "Morbid Visions" was an album of a young and eager band who were excited to do something brutal and remarkable, and even the line of accidents enhanced their fresh intensity. Like their guitars were not even toned during the album recordings. They didn't even speak English that time, only tried to translate their lyrics by a dictionary. However, that powerful start resulted the forming of a new scene, and gave a new classic to extreme metal.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bathory - The Return... (1985)

   The birth of black metal wasn't a so fast process like the birth of most other styles. When a new genre becomes known before larger audience, everything was surely done already what new that actual style could show. It's a common point, but after Bathory's debut a lot of years had to pass for the forming of the black metal genre, and it's wider success came even much later.
   Bathory is responsible for most of it's features. The first album was simpler and had pretty weak quality, but in the long run that also became the trademark of the genre. Most of the late bands were directly up to do their recordings in the worse possible quality to imitate that noisy rehearsal sound which is similar to the TV sound when there is no program signal. "The Return..." showed more from those dark topics and musical themes, which were far more extreme than everything that was made before. Musically it was more complex, had interesting experiments with the sound effects and nevertheless it was darker, noisier, more intense and far more evil. The music critics -like usually- were not so impressed or excited to hear this kind of innovation, and they couldn't foresee the wide influence that Bathory had on the main metal scene with time. Bathory's early period became cultic not only because it was the first black metal, but also for the unreapeatable feeling that this music had.

Possessed - Seven Churches (1985)

 Ahh, sweet American death metal. This album could be described as a sort of "sub-mutated" version of the death metal genre. Say what you will, this album is considered by many as "the first death metal album", predating Scream Bloody Gore by two years. Raw and thrashy, Possessed's Seven Churches comes as highly recommended for any death metal enthusiast; even if it's just from a historical perspective. Just ask Kam Lee or Dio.
 What sets this album apart from other death metal albums of this time is that it didn't follow the slower or sludgy-er feeling like Exodus or Morbid Angel. People put off by the overdone Satanic shtick should just ignore the vocals since they're hard to understand anyway, but relish the power and energy this band had in its short life span. Maybe Possessed were too heavy too soon, but the fact is that "Seven Churches" is a must have for extreme metal fans, and important for its historical value. A rather poor production, but still a vicious piece of work.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bulldozer - The Day of Wrath (1985)

   There were other alternative locations in the early appearence of extreme metal. If we think about Italy, probably we wouldn't name awesome metal music between the 10 coolest and most famous things about the country. Actually the metal scene is quite small there, but musically it was always "fast updated". That means mostly rare, but impressing musical events.
   Bulldozer was musically inspired by Motörhead, Venom and Death SS, and by their occult, bloodthirsty topics they referring more to Venom. And such as them, they could be also marked as a pioneer band of black metal by this point of similarity. Typical noisy '80s thrashing, but they are a tiny step further too. Their music is more intense and sounds more dirty, closer to ordinary thrash metal. So "The Day of Wrath" includes everything why this style could be liked. And as one of the earliest bands in the genre, they had a huge influence on the late scene, especially because their albums were widely distributed.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sacrilege - Behind The Realms of Madness (1985)

   Sacrilege was also an experimenting band, and during their shorter active period in the '80s, they tried themselves in different styles like turning from one ending point into the other. Just like at most bands in similar cases, their earliest tryings were the best ones.
   It's interesting to listen this album, because it shows a direct connection between punk and thrash metal. How the first one had an influence on the second, how the basic features changed and became the essential parts of another genre. The heavier sound, the increased speed, and riffs are evident, such as the short, but wilder solo themes. With these features gave hardcore punk and upgrade to ordinary heavy metal. The HC punk styled shouting of Lynda "Tam" Simpson was everything but ordinary that time, because not only the extreme scene, but metal music in general wasn't famous about female vocals or musicians. So in the middle of the '80, when people couldn't even talk about any extreme scene, it was a unique line-up. Sadly they left behind this intensiveness afterwards, their music changed, and their name was forgotten after the end of the '80s, but "Behind The Realms of Madness" became an exciting classic of the decade.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Slayer - Hell Awaits (1985)

   In the race of playing wilder and more exaggerated music, Slayer could be a second milestone after Venom and Celtic Frost. But it was more than simple intestifying, some sort of elemental aggression was unleashed on "Hell Awaits".
   Slayer played way faster, than others before, and their directly evil sympathyzing and blasphemous lyrics showed some sadistic pleasure. The increased speed, better sound, noisy, wild solo themes, evil lyrics, and Tom Araya's barking/screaming vocals alltogether created that elemental aggression, that made the band an icon, and showed the overwhelming intensiveness of thrash metal. Unlike other bands with similar ambitions, it didn't sound like a fortunate result of a musical experiment, or a scandal seeking perfomance, it was about pure rage and intensity with the lack of any sense of humour or funny, unserious features. Their catchy themes and aggressiveness were well debuted on "Show No Mercy" already, but with this album the listener recieves a perfect composition of hellish rampage by a determined and experienced band. Music straight from the "fiery pits of hell".

The Sisters of Mercy - First and Last and Always (1985)

   By covering themselves into the gloomy mist of rothic rock, The Sisters of Mercy debuted as a band of the plenty of followers of the British post-punk wave. After the basic features were lie down by The Cure, in truth not many remarkable things happened in this style, but the name this band was kept in mind, while most of the others were forgotten.
   Why is that? There aren't many ways to approach that preferred gloomy, desperate sound of post-punk, and it's not easy either. The simple, basic themes a band could have operated with have to be moody and catchy the same time, must find the most suitable geniune voice, singing style, and the lyrics have to be effectively demoralizing too. This recipe could be also correct about most other genres, but to name several or more bands which could fit to the description is way harder in this one. Especially if we are looking for that well known heavy and gloomy feeling in some similar form. However The Sisters of Mercy found the way to that high level of hopelessness and added a new melancholic shade to the main depressive picture.

Oral - Oral Sex (1985)

    There isn't much to know about the girl band Oral, except that they appeared with an EP titled as "Oral Sex" during the NWOBHM, and they were from Brighton UK.
   Their purpose was maybe nothing more than a way to seek for attention by scandalous and provocative  features, but it wasn't a bad idea at all that time, when the stage was ruled only by male rock stars. Except a few crazy exceptions (like Wendy O. Williams), women usually took place only in the audience and in the backstage as gruppies. Probably the situation of the members of Oral wasn't different either, but unlike others, they formed their own sexual message. "Oral Sex" includes most of the actual hard rock/heavy metal influences of the '80s British scene. The direct influence of Motörhead is evident, but the music lacks the intensiveness that made early heavy metal to sound kick ass, even though plenty of great themes could be heard on this short EP. After the lyrics some female sex fiends could be expected (or hoped for), but their performance is more like girly, so the main impression isn't so effective as it should to be. The contrast of the innocent-like surface and the filthy inside was reflected, but in this case the second should be preferred, that's why it's sad that the "really bad bitch" feeling can only partly prevail. Anyway it's a less known and interesting classic of the '80s heavy metal scene!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Skinny Puppy - Remission (1984)

   The dark shades reached other genres too out of metal music, or by the indirect influence of metal. However a darker section started to grow out from the noise based industrial scene by the appearence of Skinny Puppy.
   Their new, less brightening noises are about to portray an ominous, unfriendly, and cold world inspired by horror and the sickest imaginations. Compared to the earlier issues of the genre, it's heavier, more intense, and darker toned. The lyrics were also not written to cheer up and convince the listener to throw a stress removing party at the end of the week, so we can say it was more like an unsual step in the progression of electronic music. The vocals are sounding like the distorted voice of an endlessly wretched minded murderer from a horror film. I would associate to someone similar to Freddy Krueger. So the main view is pretty sick, and successfully closing up to the similar underground tendencies of other music genres. This parallel development itself is quite interesting, and proved that deviance in music could appear in different forms and with different characteristics, and with nearly the same effectiveness.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales (1984)

   On the side of Venom, Celtic Frost was also found responsible for the forming of extreme metal genres. Their early period (including Hellhammer) also inspired countless of bands and became a main influence. The only cause why their name is maybe less known is that they simply couldn't keep calm, and always wanted to experiment with something else.
   However, none of their restless ambitions became so impressive and successful like their early ideas. "Morbid Tales" and the "Emperor's Return" gave a new and effective tone to something what could be called vile music. The dirty sound and the distortion of the music were a more genuinely supportive backup to the lyrics in leading into a darker world. Such as Venom, they also had some balance between the vileness of the music and the lyrics. Not clear singing or yowling tried to prove the sympathy for evil and narrated to dark topics, but a throathy, grunting voice, which doesn't even tried to show anything nice or funny. That experimentally created synthesis of heavy music and aggressive vocals opened the way to something revolutionary new.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Warlock - Burning the Witches (1984)

   Warlock gained wider success very soon during it's short existence under this name, and became one of the most remarkable bands in the European heavy metal scene.
   The band's characteristic singer/heavy metal diva, Doro Pesch had an important role in that. Her impressive performance and powerful voice made her an icon in the metal world, such as her leading role in the band, that counted as something quite extraordinary from a woman in those times. But Warlock didn't have any weak points at other sides either, catchy and stunning riffs were their music's most remarkable features. Except an emotional ballad the whole album rocks with it's intense energic guitar themes (by Peter Szigeti and Rudy Graf), and defining well how traditional metal used to sound like. These themes raised them up to the "elite" bands of heavy metal, and made "Burning the Witches" a cultic classic of the genre. Warlock's influence could be compared to the greatest Western German bands of the '80s.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Chameleons - Script of the Bridge (1983)

   Even though The Chameleons didn't gain so wide attention like other post punk bands in the '80s, they still had stable fan circle, and counted as a respected band.
   Their debut showed strong similarities with the late style of The Cure, except their music wasn't so intensively demoralizing. Of course their soft, calming melodies are not about to reflect the small joys of life, but shrouding the listener into the mist of strong melancholy like most post punk music did. Lyrics about inner struggles, sorrow and loneliness are assisting to the depression. On the side of the downbreaking gloom there is always something that not allows to merge too deep. Their music isn't so monotonously repetitive like in the case of The Cure for instance. Some catchy melodies or interesting musical solutions are frequently interrupting, and the main atmosphere isn't so dark either. It sounds like The Chameleons tried to stay on some middle way by their music (according to the main tendencies of this style of course), and maybe this was responsible for their moderate effectiveness at the audience, though "Script of the Bridge" is an excellent album and could nicely define the main features of the style.

Mercyful Fate - Melissa (1983)

While Mercyful Fate is far from anything extreme or underground, just like Sabbath, they're definitely a pivotal band that undoubtedly deserves a spot on the blog. Mercyful Fate was a part of the first wave of black metal was instrumental in the use of occult and satanist themes. Notable for this band is their unlikely influence of more 70's-like hard or alternative rock. While they were pioneers in the development of black metal, their style was not as much of an influence as other first wave bands and can be more described as "heavy" or "speed" metal. Most of the bands from this movement went on to influence 90's black metal, particularly in Norway. You see a lot of late 80's and 90's thrash bands reference Mercyful Fate as influential as well.
For anyone who is a fan of the occult, you can't pass this album without at least giving it a try. If you need more convincing, in '85 the Parents Music Resource Center labeled "Into The Coven" as one of their "Filthy Fifteen" objectionable songs due to it's content. I'm not gonna lie, Mercyful Fate can be... difficult to listen to. Compositionally speaking, the music is rhythmically catchy and reminiscent of heavy metal, but it's the vocals and the content that really make this album "raised from the grave.. by the dead!" If you can manage to get through the unpredictable pitches of the vocals, this is a truly enjoyable album for any metal head, I don't think there is anyone out there who enjoys metal truly who hasn't at least heard this album. At the very least, go read the lyrics for some creative and disturbing story telling.

Venom - Black Metal (1982)

 Black Metal is the second album by English "heavy metal" band Venom. With only slightly better production value than Welcome to Hell, Black Metal is still 100% straight out of the 80's. As distinct as Venom is with their style and sound and even behavior, it's difficult to stick them in a genre, and continues to be a topic of debate, like most of the old metal albums/bands because of how drastically the scenes have changed over the last 30 years. Nevertheless, this albums lyrics and imagery were a major influence in the early Norwegian black metal scene.
 Cronos insists on calling it black metal (funny, right?) without passing judgment on the genre that flourished out of Norway.
When I first got into black metal as a genre I was introduced to all of the typically associated Norwegian bands like Mayhem and Burzum and the like. I needed more than the almost intolerable noise of trve Norwegian Black Metal; and Venom undoubtedly opened so many doors of black metal- broadened the horizon, if you will. When I first bought this album, I hadn't heard anything of them yet and was just more attracted to the imagery. I knew friends who had always been fans, and I'm not sure why no one directly introduced me to the band. I literally listened to this album for a solid week. You can't put it down and it's unarguably a pivotal album in the progression of black metal, thrash, and speed metal. Fast, raw, blasphemy.

Iron Maiden - Number of The Beast (1982)

Rivaled only by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in regards to influence and impact on the early development of heavy metal, Iron Maiden took the style of heavy metal to a new and unique level. Developing among the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the band developed their own hybrid of heavy metal that introduced melodic guitar harmonies and chuggy base lines; more energy, more aggression, and more intricacy.
 Killers was Iron Maiden's first studio album but, depending on who you ask, isn't necessarily the best nor the most influential. Number of The Beast, even the title holds it's own hierarchy throughout the metal scene, and it's well deserved. Being the third album from the band, according to Bruce Dickinson "...[it] really set the scene for the albums that followed ... but of course, albums are not just about music, they're also a product of their times." This album transformed Iron Maiden's career. The album has a distinct remembrance about it, throughout it's entirety, which is a difficult thing to accomplish for an entire album.
 Not that you should need more convincing, a strong line of metal bands throughout the era have covered Iron Maiden including Opeth, Cradle of Filth, Testament, and Lord Belial.

The Cure - Pornography (1982)

   The appearence of The Cure caused a gothic-post-punk wave, and their latest, and I think best album in their early and most depressive period was "Pornography". Their previous albums also don't had any message of endless happinness, and the desperately suffering voice of Robert Smith worked well too as narrative instuctions for the listener, to find the darkest corner of the room and hide there. But on "Pornography" they reached the top with their melancholic and depressive music.
   "It doesn't matter if we all die..." To start an album like that is really cheerful, isn't it? Anyway the atmoshpere and the music itself are also more intense like on their previous albums, and this is the main cause why it became more effective. Their music stayed so simple like it was, but this small change resulted a deeper impression which may cast down the sensitive soul of the unsuspicious listener into more endless depths. Out of the borders of post-punk, The Cure's early period is an important event in alternative music too in general.

Venom - Welcome To Hell (1981)

   The second big milestone in the development of extreme metal music was performed by Venom. Their appearence with the NWOBHM, which wasn't taken seriously at the beginning, lately had influence on countless bands and led directly to thrash, black and death metal subgenres.
  They went further in "sympathizing with evil", like any other bands before by turning the main view as vile as it's possible. Their lyrics were more deviant, and unlike previous bands who showed sympathy to similar dark topics, they didn't tried to dance back to proper religion like Black Sabbath did, or to ease their blackness with romance ballads. They only tried to show a picture filthy and rotten to the core. Most negative critics they recieved because their music wasn't enough complex and progressive according to the mainstream musical development, and they were judged that they only played so fast as their could to cover their lack of technical knowledge. Well, this noisy sounded, untalented thrashing just formed new possible ways to progress musical minimalism, and the cheap attention seeking of the "trio of buffons" became an icon as well. The dirty sounding and intensity of "Welcome to Hell" is an everlasting old school classic, and except it may not sound so shocking now like in the '80s, it could be the same enjoyable for nowadays metal fan audience, like it was back then.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bauhaus : In The Flat Field (1980)

   Gothic rock and post-punk are not really related to the main concept of this blog, but because of the dark tone and pulling-off feeling that Bauhaus showed at the beginning, they have a place here. Plus they were a main influence for these genres, and they just approached things for a start just like the way how I like this style.
  Their music was still in some experimental form, and during listening their songs losing more from their dark tone, and slowly a more popular, synthpop-like feeling is exchanging the dark, gothic mist. That tendency was the same with their late albums too. The feeling which made the "Bela Lugosi's Dead" debut and the "In the Flat Field" album unique events, couldn't be found in their late music anymore. Their musical experiment was interesting, because it gave a different impression to musical minimalism after punk, by showing a different possible way. This impression also included the feeling of heavy self-destruction of the '70s hard rock with a huge dose of depressing and demoralizing side effects. On the side of Bauhaus, The Cure had an important role to give a hint for that direction, and kept the features which they shortly left behind.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)

   It's always hard to write about bands that everyone knows, and a lot of people wrote about them over a million times already. However, Black Sabbath couldn't be avoided, and this band used to be a common reference if someone's into metal reviews. For this band had the largest influence on the metal genre, and they are mainly responsible of it's forming. We can thank directly them the birth of heavy and doom metal, and therefore indirectly the birth of the rest subrenges.
   Their music, sound and lyrics alltogether were so different from other bands that time, that they became an icon, and could be easily distinguished from others in the '70s scene. The deepest, heaviest and loudest band of all time with their lyrical topics of occultism, societal problems, rebelling behaviour, drug overdose, apocalypse were more than unusual on the side of the common songs of love, loneliness and heartbreak. It's another question how Black Sabbath could authentically include all of those, and create an organic picture. And the question may stand even in only one topic, cause while once in their lyrics they signed God as the only way to love, next time they turned into complete atheism. Probably it was up to the type, quality and amount of drugs they used, so there is really no need to merge into a philosophical analysis of their "ars poetica". Only to enjoy that omnious, sometimes depressive, sometimes powerful feeling they created with some psychedelic touch.