“Album Of The Day” is a new Last Rites Facebook feature we started recently whose purpose is quite straight-forward: highlight one album per day and say a few words about it. Understanding that not everyone chooses to participate in the booking of faces, we thought it might be nice to toss in a new feature that gathers the albums in a single piece on a weekly basis.
Here are the seven albums we picked for the week of April 8th — 14th.
Sunday, April 8
Cirith Ungol – Frost and Fire (1981)
Cirith Ungol’s King of the Dead is properly regarded by all truly beautiful souls as one of the best metal albums of the 1980s. The band’s debut Frost and Fire, while not quite ascending to the heights of its successor, is nevertheless a powerful and idiosyncratic creature in its own right. Although Tim Baker’s love-it-or-get-the-hell-out banshee vocals are still the most recognizable aspect of the album, on Frost and Fire the band’s songwriting was still getting teased out in some interesting ways, so that you find the germinal doom/power hybrid on the title track butting up against the heavily ‘70s hard rock-indebted psych bluesiness of a tune like “I’m Alive” or “Edge of a Knife.” Let’s be blunter: on Frost and Fire, the songs had yet to figure out how to match the swords and sorcery of Michael Whelan’s artwork. But no matter: if you can’t move your body to the funky-fat bass and second-string magician’s opening theme keyboards on “What Does It Take,” you just might be lost to the cause of fun. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Monday, April 9
Root – The Temple in the Underworld (1992)
The legacy of Root’s two albums is undeniable; they helped to shape not just Czech black metal, but black metal outside of Scandinavia, period. However, there’s a pretty easy argument to be made that Root didn’t truly become ROOT until The Temple in the Underworld. This was the album, after all, on which Big Boss really unleashed his cackling croon, and where the riffs of Petr “Blackie” Hošek took on that extra smooth, hefty-but-catchy quality. Most importantly, it acted as a preview for their greatest future triumphs while delivering a beastly set of tunes, chief among them the build and release of “The Wall” and Big Boss’ soaring vocals in “Casilda’s Song,” It might not quite equal albums like Black Seal or The Book, but Temple’s highs are among the band’s greatest. [Zach Duvall]
Tuesday, April 10
The Gathering – Mandylion (1995)
Despite having two solidly atmospheric doom/death albums under their belt already, it was with Mandylion that The Gathering truly came into their own. The key reason for this is face-slappingly obvious the moment brand-new vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen (o supremest and sublimest muse) opens her mouth on “Strange Machines.” Not only does van Giersbergen have one of the most purely beautiful voices of all time, but her bell-tone voice was a perfect match for the increasingly streamlined songwriting on Mandylion, which maintained something of a gentle doom throughline, but embellished it with relatively unobtrusive atmospheric and gothic experimentation that makes it sit rather nicely alongside contemporaneous albums like Tiamat’s Wildhoney or the 3rd and the Mortal’s Tears Laid in Earth. The van Giersbergen era of The Gathering would eventually culminate in the all-time classic How to Measure a Planet, but Mandylion found these Dutch charmers already inhabiting a world entirely their own. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Wednesday, April 11
Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
Happy birthday, son. The fact that you’re 30 on this day is a bewilderment not only due to the truth that you continue to defy age by looking and sounding as fresh in 2018 as you did in 1988, but also because it makes your mother and I realize just how fossilized we’ve somehow managed to become over these many years. We fell in love with you that very first day we swaddled you in blankets and took you home as a tiny cassette—brand new cassettes sometimes smelled like wild and precious berries back then, and you certainly were no exception. In the interest of full disclosure, it was admittedly difficult for us at first to accept the strangeness of your keyboards and to keep up with your seemingly endless enthusiasm for wandering and exploring new worlds. But that uniqueness quickly became something extraordinary, and it set you apart from your siblings and stands as one of the many strengths that makes you so important to so many for three decades and counting. In the end, it’s actually rather difficult to find the perfect words to express just how much we love you, son, but maybe it’s enough to simply know that we do, and we always will. [Captain]
Thursday, April 12
Impetigo – Horror of the Zombies (1992)
Bloomington, Illinois is not generally a place brought up in the discussion of the early years of death metal. Impetigo seemingly developed in a vacuum, creating their own breed of grind-infused death metal. In keeping with the band’s aesthetic of B-movie gore, their sophomore effort, 1992’s Horror Of The Zombies, is the sonic equivalent of a grindhouse horror film. Set to punky d-beat drumming as well as more traditional death metal runs and breakdowns and complete with movie sample transitions between songs, the album is a fun romp through what is some of the more disgusting old school extreme metal. The vocals snarl and gurgle, they sound like they are coming through an old tinny drive-in speakerbox, which really creates one of the more fascinating aspects of the record. This pairs well with the overall production, which is full of grit and grain while still audible and well-mixed. Highlights include “I Work For The Streetcleaner,” “Mortuaria,” “Staph Terrorist,” and the album closer, the deliciously filthy “Breakfast At The Manchester Morgue.” Horror Of The Zombies is an essential for any fan of early Carcass, Autopsy, and Repulsion. [Ryan Tysinger]
Friday, April 13
Ratt – Out Of The Cellar (1984)
Ah, the Sunset Strip, that neon-lit Mecca of glorious poofy-haired, glammed-out hedonism… And of all the classic cock-rock bands, none were cockier than Ratt. Born in Hollywood (where else?) as Mickey Ratt, early Ratt took its gutter-dwelling namesake to heart — they epitomized the sleaze of the city that spawned them, all pretty-boy glitz and trashy machismo behind Pearcy’s croaking vocals and DeMartini’s post-EVH guitar wizardry. But more importantly that that, they stood at the crossroads of the hair-spray-and-mascara scene that would soon come to dominate MTV and a heavier, riffier metal that still holds up today, falling somewhere between 80s Priest and Scorpions and the party-boy antics of Van Halen. Alongside Shout At The Devil and early WASP, Out Of The Cellar stands strong as one of the undisputed champions of hair metal greatness, filled to bursting with classic Ratt like the mega-hit “Round And Round,” the brooding “Wanted Man,” and the anthemic “Back For More.” Sleazy hard rock perfection, this one, and still damned fun. [Andrew Edmunds]
Saturday, April 14
Absu – The Third Storm of Cythrául (1997)
Barathrum revealed Absu’s talents, and The Sun of Tiphareth their full black/thrashing intensity, but The Third Storm of Cythrául added an essential element of Absu that we may now take for granted: personality. This is the album on which Proscriptor, while still not handling all vocal duties himself, became fully unleashed. “Highland Tyrant Attack” was the band’s first bona-fide “earn your stripes by screaming along accurately” challenge, and “Swords and Leather” is among their most unabashedly fists-pumping-head-banging-Morbid-Screaming Heavy Metal moments. Plus, the album’s more epic bookends go a long way to making Third Storm the most atmospheric Absu album. Tara may (rightfully) get the lion’s share of the accolades, but there’s a reason Third Storm still sits atop some folks’ Absu rankings. [Zach Duvall]
See you next week.