“Album Of The Day” is a 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 May 6th — 12th.
Sunday, May 6th
King’s X – Dogman (1994)
King’s X is among the most underrated bands in hard rock history. With their Beatles-y psychedelic melodies and harmonies balanced against often-heavy riffing, all coupled with their quasi-Christian spiritual bent, King’s X never fit comfortably in the metal world… or anywhere else, really. Too heavy for the late-80s alt-rock scene, and then too melodic and positive for metal, King’s X pre-dated the 90s rock wave—Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament famously said that this Midwestern trio invented grunge. So as the world adjusted itself to fit their sound, King’s X offered up their finest hour, the Brendan O’Brien-produced Dogman. Finally given the heftier sonics that their tunes required, King’s X flourished in the new decade—the title track may well be their single greatest single, with the kind of swinging heavy riff that the Chris Cornells of the world would’ve loved to write (not that he didn’t write many a classic on his own) and another of King’s X’s inescapable earworm hooks, rife with the distinctive harmonies of Pinnick-Tabor-Gaskill. But there’s more—the drifting “Cigarettes,” the killer funk-ish “Black The Sky,” the chugging drive of “Shoes”… Dogman is one of the greatest records of the 90s, and the best album from a band that made more than their share of great ones. [Andrew Edmunds]
Monday, May 7th
Ripping Corpse – Dreaming with the Dead (1991)
Any and all discussions concerning metal’s greatest “one & done” records will always and forever include the seminal debut full-length from New Jersey’s aptly named Ripping Corpse. Dreaming with the Dead dropped during a year that was stacked to the rafters with brutality, but where the Swedeath faction across the pond seemed largely concerned with finding new ways to out-heavy the heaviest, these Taylor Hams kept their focus on advancing the furious, ripping Teutonic death/thrash attack that sparked their namesake. Dreaming with the Dead upheld all the rawness a record like Pleasure to Kill mastered, but intricacy levels shot through the roof with Shaune Kelley and Erik Rutan spending virtually every second of these 34 minutes slashing through some of the most razor-sharp riffs to ever land on a record. Why no one’s managed to give this monster a deluxe LP reissue that includes added demo bonus tracks is a mystery, but at least the CD version can still be tracked down for around 11 bones. Am I dreaming, or am I dead? Pretty much the best of both worlds after allowing this bonafide classic to rip off your head. [Captain]
Tuesday, May 8th
Sarcofagus – Envoy Of Death (1980)
Finland is a mythical land in the world of heavy metal. It’s a storied country with countless noteworthy releases in about every conceivable nook and cranny across the spectrum of metal. Rewind to 1980, where the genre first began to take hold with bands such as Sarcofagus. Their sophomore album, Envoy of Death—released shortly after their debut in the same year—is a surprisingly heavy release for it’s time. On par with other genre pioneers that leaned heavily on the Black Sabbath sound (Pentagram in particular comes to mind), Sarcofagus still carry the bluesy influence of the 70s hard rock scene that characterizes the early doom sound. What the band adds, however, are the characteristics that make Finnish metal so unique: a flirtation with experimentation and just getting downright weird with it. The use of the organ and ambient chanting vocals (even using whispered vocals for an added sense of eeriness) in the opening track are elements that would later be utilized by acts such as Beherit in the early 90s wave of black metal. Songs such as “Wheels of Destruction” skirt the edges of psychedelic rock, an element Oranssi Pazuzu would later embrace, albeit with a more modern take.
The heart of the album, however, is firmly built around solid, heavy riffs. “Insane Rebels” is perhaps the best example of this. One of the more lively paced tracks on Envoy of Death, the song is about as anthemic as early doom can get, with catchy and memorable riffs and changes powering it down the highway with the top down.
Anyone with an appreciation for heavy metal history will be pleased with how snugly this fits into the lexicon; and even outside of that context the album holds up as a release well worth digging up and visiting. [Ryan Tysinger]
Wednesday, May 9th
35 Year Anniversary!
Fastway – Fastway (1983)
Formed by the titular duo of Fast Eddie Clarke (ex-Motorhead) and Pete Way (ex-UFO), Fastway was the supergroup that never was. Both musicians were dissatisfied with life in the bands that made them famous, and they decided to collaborate, recruiting former Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and future Molly-flogger Dave King on vocals. But then Pete Way couldn’t get out of his recording deal with Chrysalis, and he ended up accepting a touring gig with Ozzy Osbourne, and the way was gone from Fastway before a single note was recorded. Luckily, Eddie soldiered on, releasing this eye-searingly checkered debut, wherein the music vastly outperforms the cover art. Lead by Eddie’s bluesy rock riffs and King’s soaring tenor, Fastway is a classic rock album at heart, filtered through the hard rock sheen of the early 80s, and riding high on great rockers like the shoulda-beena-bigger-hit “Say What You Will” and the ultra-boogie of “Easy Livin’,” which is not the Uriah Heep song. The Clake-King lineup of Fastway would manage three more albums before splintering—the solid All Fired Up, the lackluster Waiting For The Roar, and the silly but super fun soundtrack to the metalsploitation horror film Trick Or Treat. Clarke would continue with a different singer and hired guns, and King went on to Katmandu (the band, not the city) and eventually found a second success in Celtic punk outfit Flogging Molly. RIP Fast Eddie—Fastway wasn’t Motorhead, and never could be, but for a handful of albums, it held its own very well. [Andrew Edmunds]
Thursday, May 10th
Assück – Anticapital (1991)
The funny thing about getting or dishing out a complete ass whooping back in your early teen years is that you probably spent the better part of the whole damn day staring at the clock and obsessing over how things might transpire, and then the actual event—including shoves and insults—lasted for a grand total of about ten minutes. Well, büddies, welcome to the dirt lot behind the gymnasium that is Assück’s bullying Anticapital, a vicious knucklescraper that even managed to throw in an extra five minutes to allow you to patch up that busted lip before going home and trying to convince someone that dodgeball was to blame.
Assück was a damn tank in the 90s, and the reason their brand of sunny, Floridian grind mixed so well with the metal-lords of the day was because, 1) Paul Pavlovich’s voice was deathly as hell, 2) Rob Proctor’s drumming was as vicious as Gene Hoglan caught in a typhoon, 3) Steve Heritage cranked riffs that sounded like furious bees, and 4) THEE Scott Burns was called in to produce and engineer the damned thing. THIS AFTERNOON. THREE THIRTY. PARKING LOT. BE THERE. [Captain]
Friday, May 11th
Arch / Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance (2011)
Anyone at all familiar with Connecticut’s crowned kings of progressive metal, Fates Warning, understands that a fairly divisive line separates the more trad-metal stylings of the early John Arch years and the decidedly more proggy Alder-age that’s been fueling the engine for the last three decades and counting. Some only choose to acknowledge what was produced between ’84 and ’86, others exclusively what followed, but the more pragmatic metal fan recognizes the legitimate truth that there’s good-to-great behind all of it, and those particular individuals had a great year back in 2011.
It’s been seven years (!!!) since the release of Sympathetic Resonance, and the record has lost zero of its shine since—as close to a perfect modern interpretation of both sides of Fates Warning as one could ever hope to experience. The fact that Matheos initially intended the first three cuts to land on the follow-up to FWX seems ludicrous now, as Arch’s unique operatic tenor seems custom-fit for the record’s harder, riff-driven approach. One thing for certain: great things happen when these two minds mingle, and Sympathetic Resonance is solid gold proof of that reality. [Captain]
Saturday, May 12th
My Dying Bride – 34.788%… Complete (1998)
Unfairly viewed by many as an experimental disaster, My Dying Bride’s 34.788%… Complete is, while not perhaps as good as you might hope, certainly better than you have been told. Considering the nightmare of a snoozefest that preceded it (1996’s Like Gods of the Sun), it was the perfect time for MDB to prove that they could broaden their sound without completely betraying their style. And yes, of course, not everything here works (the less said about “Heroic Chic,” the better), but the best moments of 34.788% can still stand strong, even twenty years later. Album opener “The Whore, the Cook, and the Mother” may have brief dalliances with trip-hop and a touch of post-grunge on Aaron’s vocals, but it never forgets to lead with riffs. This will probably never be anyone’s go-to My Dying Bride album, but if you’ve never heard it (or if it’s been a long time since you tried), cast your ears toward the triumphantly galloping rocker that closes out the album and remember that time heals all kinds of wounds. [Dan Obstkrieg]
See you next week.