00s Essentials – Volume Four

No, this isn’t a collection the decade’s ugliest album covers; this is yet another cross-section of the most elite heavy metal the past ten years has seen. Equal parts beatdown, sophistication, throwback, and progress, Volume 4 is an absolutely killer slice of the 2000’s.


DYING FETUS – DESTROY THE OPPOSITION

If you really want to blame deathcore on someone, try Dying Fetus and their indisputable pinnacle, Destroy the Opposition. Long regarded as an underground Suffocation clone, their Relapse debut infused even more clarity and hardcore into their sound, resulting in a punishing album full of sick, slamming grooves and calamitous blast beats. John Gallagher’s über-deep growls and grunts became the band’s trademark, as did their ability to create mosh pits. Look no further than the huge the title track or “Epidemic of Hate” for the blueprint of hardcore meeting death metal in a bare-knuckle fist fight–at a political convention. [Relapse, 2000]

• • • •

GREEN CARNATION – LIGHT OF DAY, DAY OF DARKNESS

 

How does one compose a single-song, sixty-minute album that truly is one song and not a collection of movements or stanzas? Ask Green Carnation. Never an overwhelming or daunting listen, Light of Day, Day of Darkness is a brilliantly woven and bombastic epic featuring exceptional vocals, instantly memorable riffs, and a kind of flow that every “progressive” band should strive for. A tour de force of composition and musical excellence that belongs in the collection of every fan of progressive music, not just metal. [The End, 2001]

• • • •

MESHUGGAH – NOTHING

Nothing was a highly divisive release for Meshuggah. It helped the band reach new heights of popularity, but it was shunned by many long-time fans for its increased simplicity and focus on lumbering groove. Regardless, Nothing was quite distinctive when it was released, and even now, seven years later, no one really knows quite what to make of it. A foreboding mix of machine-like pummeling and otherworldly ambience, songs like “Straws Pulled At Random” and the devastating “Perpetual Black Second” capitalized on the band’s off-kilter approach to heaviness while simultaneously proving the outfit’s atmospheric potential to naysayers.  [Nuclear Blast, 2002]

• • • •

REVEREND BIZARRE – IN THE RECTORY OF THE BIZARRE REVEREND

Late Finnish doom trio Reverend Bizarre dropped this hefty debut in 2002, the first of three records before their 2007 breakup. In these epic grooves lie sluggish, hefty riffs, moody and melancholic vocals, and an air of misery that owes much to classic doomsters like Candlemass and Saint Vitus.  With four songs clocking in at over ten minutes each, and one of those (album closer “Cirith Ungol”) over twice that long, this one’s a long, bleak trudge through doom mastery. Oppressive. Depressive. Impressive. [Sinister Figure, 2002]

• • • •

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE – THE AUGUST ENGINE

Impeccably crafted and masterfully executed, The August Engine epitomizes all that is great about Hammers of Misfortune. From the blistering medieval/industrial riffing of the resplendent two-part title track, to the beguiling air of delicate “Rainfall,” this album runs the gamut of emotion with unparalleled intensity. While the stupefying twin lead melodies and solos of John Cobbett and Mike Scalzi are, in and of themselves, worth the album’s price, it is the attention to fine detail in the songs that makes this record truly special. [Cruz del Sur, 2003]

• • • •

EXODUS – TEMPO OF THE DAMNED

It was a rough road back for Exodus. Following a (third reunion) in 2001 for the Thrash of the Titans benefit, they announced plans for their first studio album since Bonded By Blood to feature legendary vocalist Paul Baloff. Sadly, Baloff passed away following a 2002 stroke, but the rest of Exodus vowed to carry on in his memory with vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza. The result was this 2004 thrashterpiece, which gave their classic sound a modern sheen and reminded everybody of just why they loved them in the first place. Tempo of the Damned still stands tall today as the best of their post-Baloff work. [Nuclear Blast, 2004]

• • • •

DARKANE – LAYERS OF LIES

It’s debatable whether or not this is Darkane’s finest hour….well, debatable amongst many, but we’re firm in our decision to call this their crowning achievement. Take the superior traits of all prior releases and then code, stir, and you have the embodiment that is LoL, but it’s no laughing matter. There’s a hook in every turn: Sydow’s vocal stylings, the Ideberg/Malmstrom chorded chaos connection, and, of course, Wildoer’s marksmanship. Pummels with finesse. [Nuclear Blast, 2005]

• • • •

WITCHCRAFT – FIREWOOD

Witchcraft’s debut was a fascinating retro curio of Pentagram worship, but with its sophomore release, Firewood, Witchcraft dodges the dreaded slump and fires back with a magnum opus. Their stripped-down sound leaves the band bereft of a wall of distortion to hide behind, forcing them to live on the strength of their songwriting and the passion of their performance. With a much stronger batch of songs, a newly developed flair for stinging solos and a whole lot more swing in their thing, on Firewood, Witchcraft is smoking hot. [Rise Above, 2005]

• • • •

I – BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

Featuring two original members of Immortal, the lead shredder of Enslaved and the one-time King ov Hell on bass, Norway’s simply monikered I offered up one of 2006’s most pleasant surprises with the amazing Between Two Worlds. Equal parts melodic metal and snaggletoothed Motörhead tribute, this beast of a debut was born to shadow a ripper’s dusty journey to the next watering hole or knife ‘n’ chain rumble. And Abbath’s 2-pack-a-day troglodyte vocals add just the right amount of grit to the pleasing, epic charges of kingly tunes such as “Warriors.” [Nuclear Blast, 2006]

• • • •

ULCERATE – EVERYTHING IS FIRE

A band that has always shown promise, Ulcerate take their moniker to heart by turning loose this ruptured monster of an album. As Chris McDonald stated in his review, the lines of Immolation-styled death metal are erased by shades of the cavernous Deathspell Omega, the complexities of Gorguts, and their own unique aesthetic…resulting in one of this year’s most incendiary–and somewhat groundbreaking–works of extreme metal art. A major accomplishment. [Willowtip/Candlelight, 2009]

• • • •

 

Ready for Volume Five?

Posted by Last Rites

GENERALLY IMPRESSED WITH RIFFS

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