“Album Of The Day” is a Last Rites Facebook feature we started 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 13th — 19th.
Sunday, May 13th
Celtic Frost – Into the Pandemonium (1987)
You can go on and on about how Into the Pandemonium essentially created avant-garde metal, gothic metal, symphonic metal, etc, and quite frankly, you SHOULD do that, because it’s amazing how much Tom Warrior, Martin Ain, and Reed St. Mark were able to stuff into this bonkers album. But once you see past the album’s immense legacy (or quiet the voices of its detractors) what you’ll find is the band’s most diverse and creative set of songs. The more straightforward tracks like “Inner Sanctum” are given a unique feel in the context of the album. That song in particular is sandwiched by the melodrama of both “Mesmerized” (with its heavy goth) and “Tristesses de la lune” (with its string ensemble and French lyrics). Elsewhere, they get all pop metal with “I Won’t Dance,” drop some out-of-left-field electronica on “One in Their Pride,” and get eerily apocalyptic with “Rex Irae (Requiem).” From the bizarre and bizarrely fun “Mexican Radio” cover that starts it all to the final notes of “Oriental Masquerade,” this is one random, schizo, and totally brilliant album. Pandemonium, for sure. [Zach Duvall]
Monday, May 14th
Diskord – Doomscapes (2007)
If you’ve ever wondered what Autopsy’s Mental Funeral might sound like after eating a pile of orange mushrooms you found under a rotting log and then ripping full speed down an escalator on a stolen Rascal™, Diskord’s Doomscapes is just the ticket for you, buddy. Or for any person you’d like to see that happen to, I guess. Whoooaa, did you guys just see that? Did a ladybug the size of a Volkswagen just land and eat that woman’s kid over there? And is the woman now totally giving the ladybug a high-five? I didn’t know ladybugs ate meat, to be honest. Isn’t it wasps that eat meat? Or just W.A.S.P.? Why is your face sliding off? Did I say something wrong? Diskord is from Bunglefibblefritz, Norway. It’s a shit-hole town, but they’ve got the best damned under-water tonsil hockey team in the eastern hemisphere. I like it when Doomscapes gives you the spongey space cake riffs, and holy fudge can Hans Jørgen Ersvik ever hit them skins. He’s singing, too? I’ll take whatever he’s having, please and thank you. “…and in the middle of fucking nowhere he cursed: is this all there is? These shambles of bone and flesh??” [Captain]
Tuesday, May 15th
Exodus – Tempo Of The Damned (2004)
After puttering to a stop with the mixed-bag Force Of Habit, Exodus had re-united with Bonded By Blood-era vocalist Paul Baloff for a live album in 1997, but then separated a year later. Reforming yet again in 2001, that line-up was tragically and permanently severed by Baloff’s death in 2002. To move on, Exodus did what Exodus had done once before: replace Baloff with Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza, whose manic chattering growl had graced classics like Pleasures Of The Flesh and Fabulous Disaster. And in the process, Exodus also did what Exodus had done more than once before and released an absolute beast of a thrash metal album, in 2004’s Tempo Of The Damned. Gary Holt has a way with a riff—he’s proven that time and again—and the tandem of Holt and Rick Hunolt rip through a serious series of scorchers on Tempo. From the cyclical riff that opens “Scar-Spangled Banner” onward, Tempo is a rager, one of the finest examples of post-millennium thrash, bolstered by yet another killer performance from the underrated Tom Hunting and a spiteful, spitting, snarling turn from Zetro. Reworking songs from Holt and Hunolt’s interim band War Dance (“Sealed With A Fist” and “Throwing Down”), and re-recording a demo era track in “Impaler,” Tempo Of The Damned manages to feel both old and new, bridging the gap to Ye Olden Days Of Thrash and yet easily holding its own with the modern era. Reunited and re-invigorated, this second go from the classic Exodus line-up would once again prove temporary, as Zetro departed for the next decade, coming back to the fold for 2014’s strong Blood In, Blood Out, and let’s hope he stays put this time. [Andrew Edmunds]
Wednesday, May 16th
Iron Maiden – Piece Of Mind (1983)
It ain’t easy falling between The Number Of The Beast and Powerslave, but Piece Of Mind did it, and it did it with brainy aplomb, despite the fact that it always seems to land closer to the bottom than the top when metal fans in the modern age rank the “Magnificent Seven” that made up Iron Maiden’s incredible opening run. If you’re of sound mind, though, the line separating those early releases is thinner than Macaulay Culkin wandering around a Twinkie convention, and the fact that Piece Of Mind opens with five legit classics is argument enough for its permanent top-shelf status. People quite enjoy complaining about side B, however, thanks to the fairly quiet one-two-punch of “Still Life” and the admittedly corny “Quest for Fire.” But you can go straight to HELL if you’re one of those chumps that can’t find reason to enjoy the snappy vision of Miyamoto Musashi cruising around in a convertible with the top down during summer break that is “Sun and Steel.” Plus, “To Tame A Land” is an underrated closer.
Happy 35th, Piece Of Mind—you may not be the majority of diehard Maiden fans’ crowned favorite, but you’re an essential piece to the puzzle from the world’s greatest active heavy metal band. “No synthesizers or ulterior motives!” [Captain]
Thursday, May 17th
Alcest – Écailles de lune (2010)
Alcest’s already classic sophomore full length Écailles de lune is one of the biggest reasons why Neige’s main musical project remains the global leader for post rock- and shoegaze-inflected black(ened) metal. The album’s virtues are many: it uses the sounds of early Ulver as a jumping-off point, with all of the folksy passages and “naturalistic” vibes; it exhibits a clear understanding of how My Bloody Valentine employed texture to elevate the flow of the songs; it can challenge more traditional black metal bands in the category of Chilling Chord Progressions; and it has Neige’s entrancing vocal melodies and the unabashed beauty of it all. But most important is that this is the strongest set of songs Neige has yet penned in his career, a near perfect set that lasts a mere 42 heartwrenching minutes. Don’t let your tears ruin your corpse paint. [Zach Duvall]
Friday, May 18th
Pharaoh – Be Gone (2008)
Fans of Pharaoh have learned to live in harmony with a specific sort of unease relating to a lingering fear that we’ll wake up one morning and discover that the band has decided to call it a day. The years between releases continues to grow, but that number—or more specifically, the disadvantage it represents—will never lessen the indebtedness we feel for the quality of work that’s already been laid down. The opening After the Fire did the requisite job of setting the table, 2006’s The Longest Night represented a particularly loud “WE HAVE ARRIVED,” and 2008’s bullet-proof Be Gone delivered the perfect bridge to 2012’s more progressive-minded gem, Bury the Light. It’s that middle record we’re celebrating today, though—Be Gone—because it is packed to overflowing with more hooks than a Cenobite’s dom dungeon, and the full journey never fails to galvanize to the point of explosion. The good news: Pharaoh has always delivered top-shelf heavy metal. The even greater news: album number five, The Powers That Be, is slated to be released at some point in 2018 through the good people of Cruz del Sur. [Captain]
Saturday, May 19th
Scorpions – In Trance (1975)
After two albums of psychedelic proggy rock, Germany’s Scorpions streamlined their approach for In Trance—it’s their first step towards the polished hard rock that would make them superstars in the next decade, and it’s their first collaboration with producer Dieter Dierks, and also it’s the first appearance of their now-signature sci-fi-ish logo. Most importantly, it’s a collection of great 70s hard rock, still notably driven by Uli Roth’s psyche-rock guitar leads, but now balanced with more straightforward songs like the rollicking “Dark Lady,” the appropriately mechanical “Robot Man,” and the titular ballad, which may well still be Scorpions’ finest composition. (Although the later “Sails Of Charon” can also make a claim to that throne…) In Trance is both a new beginning for Germany’s biggest rock export and one of their peaks, leading them into a creatively fertile latter half of the 70s, and pointing directly toward their later worldwide commercial success, albeit still from afar. [Andrew Edmunds]
See you next week.