“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 15th — 21st.
Sunday, April 22nd
Amon Amarth – Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds (1996)
Many of the elements that eventually made Amon Amarth a sensation were evident from the start—the battle-hewn harmonic progressions, mercilessly pummeling drums, and Johan Hegg’s unmistakable bellow—but never was the band more haggard than on their debut EP. The riffs are sharp but unclean, like a dented and damaged sword just following a battle, and the drumming is frequently in danger of imploding on itself. There’s plenty of the army-charging melodeath, doomy, ultra-melodic moments (the expansive passages of “The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter”), and the parts where you know Hegg is fist-pumping with mead dripping from his beard. But listen hard enough and you’ll hear the band’s only flirtations with black metal; certain chord progressions are downright Drudkhian, seven years before Forgotten Legends. Make all the jokes about Amon Amarth’s range you want, but they’ll surprise you. [Zach Duvall]
Monday, April 23rd
Judas Iscariot – To Embrace the Corpses Bleeding (2002)
As one of the earliest and finest practitioners of American black metal, it’s reasonable to imagine that without Judas Iscariot, we wouldn’t have seen the subsequent proliferation of one-man black metal acts such as Leviathan, Xasthur, I Shalt Become, and so on. Although Akhenaten’s often raw and fairly orthodox black metal frequently tilted to the droning and hypnotic side of the genre, for his final (and likely greatest) album as Judas Iscariot, he produced a milestone recording of whirlwind blasting and riffs, riffs, riffs, riffs, riffs. Seriously, To Embrace the Corpses Bleeding should come with an advisory sticker: “Beware: Extremely Extreme Amounts of Extreme Riffs Within. Also: More Riffs.” No matter how compellingly the genre expands and innovates, there are days when the only thing I want from black metal is the absolutely frantic riff-fest of a song like “Bathed in Clouds of Blood” or the glorious Panzerfaust stomp of “Spectral Dance of the Macabre.” Get to this album, and get right with riffs. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Tuesday, April 24th
Celebrating its 35th Anniversary!
Savatage – Sirens (1983)
Long before they became heavy metal’s equivalent of the more dramatic face of Meat Loaf (with varying degrees of success and an emphasis on those capital letters), Savatage was a metal tank with nary a piano in sight and one of the most talented guitarists our scene has ever witnessed. The band’s debut, Sirens, was an absolute smoker, but it landed in a year that also happened to include Melissa, Piece of Mind, Holy Diver, Show No Mercy and Kill ‘Em All, so standing out at yon Headbanger’s Ball wasn’t exactly an easy feat. Still, those in the know did whatever it took to track down the record, because the melding of the Oliva brothers was absolutely energizing and 100% ensorcelling. Granted, 1987’s Hall of the Mountain King will always be regarded as the band’s most acclaimed work, but revisiting a song as fantastic (and frantic) as “Scream Murder” makes a clear case for commemorating the 35th anniversary of the classic Sirens. This October also marks 25 years since the tragic passing of Criss Oliva, and his impact still shines as brightly today as it did in 1983. Hail Sirens, hail Savatage, and hail Criss Oliva. [Captain]
Wednesday, April 25th
Celebrating its 35th Anniversary!
Krokus – Headhunter (1983)
Beginning life in the mid-70s as a progressive rock band, by the 80s, inspired by AC/DC’s power, Switzerland’s Krokus had morphed into a straightforward hard rock band, finding an international fanbase with new singer Marc Storace. By 1982, they’d had three successful albums, hitting it biggest with the secondhand Angus-and-Bon-isms of One Vice At A Time. (Witness the dunderheaded glory of “Long Stick Goes Boom.”) For 1983’s Headhunter, they were a hard rock band on the rise, and they delivered their finest hour. Headhunter rips out of the gate with the title track, Krokus’ most metal moment then and now, all double kick drums and Storace’s soaring sneer—it’s catchy, riffy, and it still rocks, some thirty five years down the road. Almost half of Headhunter shows up on any of the band’s greatest hits collections, and with good reason: After the title track comes the bluesy swagger of “Eat The Rich,” and then the crowning moment, the radio hit ballad “Screaming In The Night,” arguably Krokus’ best and most lasting composition. The metal god himself Rob Halford makes a guest background vocal appearance on “Ready To Burn,” and the cover of Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Stayed Awake All Night” is surprisingly strong. Even now, still going four decades in, Krokus’ ties to heavy metal are pretty tenuous—they’re ultimately a hard rock band, like their primary inspiration, and that’s fine—but back then, in 1983, they crossed the line for a temporary stay, and in the process, they dropped their greatest album, one that makes up for the slicker, poppier hair metal they tried later (even if the slick poppy The Blitz would prove to be their biggest commercial success). Beavis & Butthead may have mercilessly mocked them, but Krokus could rock when they wanted to, and Headhunter is proof. [Andrew Edmunds]
Thursday, April 26th
Dødheimsgard – Monumental Possession (1996)
Over the years, Norway’s DHG/Dødheimsgard has built a well-earned reputation for shape-shifting. While their second album, Monumental Possession, was nothing like the seismic shift that would soon become evident on the Satanic Art EP and the truly epochal album 666 International, it nevertheless found the band moving away from the grimly diverse delights of their Kronet Til Konge debut. Monumental Possession is shorter, angrier, riffier, and generally much more direct. Although vocals are split between Aldrahn, Vicotnik, and Apollyon, Monumental Possession is at its most gleefully crude with Aldrahn’s wickedly sneering snarl out front. (Smart choice, then, that he would soon take over lead vocals entirely.) Whether the black/thrash sharpness of “The Crystal Specter,” the seriously doomed crawl of the title track, or the muscular riff overload of “Lost in Faces,” Monumental Possession overflows with the only thing that has remained constant throughout this singular band’s entire career: playful malevolence. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Friday, April 27th
Faith No More – Introduce Yourself (1987)
Before the arrival of uber-vocalist Mike Patton, before the commercial breakthrough of The Real Thing, before the genre-warping excellence of Angel Dust… there was Introduce Yourself. Technically the second Faith No More album, after the independent We Care A Lot (which didn’t see wide release until many years later), Introduce Yourself was the band’s first for Slash, and therefore served as FNM’s (ahem) introduction to most of the world. Musically, it’s nowhere near as adventurous as what would come, but it’s no less a winner in its funk-punk mash-up, with Chuck Moseley’s tuneless ravings buoyed by Billy Gould’s bouncy basslines and Mike Bordin’s powerhouse drumming. An updated version of the sarcastic celebrity send-up “We Care A Lot” stands as the album’s highlight, along with the punked-up 1:30-long title track, but there’s long-forgotten gems like “Chinese Arithmetic” and “Anne’s Song,” as well. Introduce Yourself didn’t catapult the band to stardom, but it gave them a foothold. Moseley was gone hereafter—and for the betterment of the band, no offense intended—but here’s where the Faith No More story effectively begins. You should care a lot. We do. [Andrew Edmunds]
Saturday, April 28th
Swans – Cop (1984)
A brief list of descriptors for Swans’ sophomore album, Cop: oppressive, brutally heavy, just plain brutal, utterly bleak, drenched in desperation, light-consuming, soul-devouring, emotionally draining, terrifying, uncompromising, stalking, preying, rumbling, plodding, Earth-flattening, assaulting, unrelenting, uncomfortably harsh, scathing, comfortably harsh, doomed, unsafe, perilous, violently grooving, wailing, berating, malfunctioning, self-flagellating, the very definition of hopelessness, a never-ending funeral. Cop is more final than whatever you think reeks of finality. It is the purest portal into the hell that is Michael Gira’s mind. It is the maniacal ace-in-the-hole you play for a friend that finds Streetcleaner to be easy listening. Cop is a collection of horrifying sounds made more powerful by a horrifying band’s horrifying determination. It is the end. [Zach Duvall]
See you next week.