“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 feature that gathers the albums in a single piece on a weekly basis.
Here are the seven albums we picked for the week of July 8th — July 14th.
Sunday, July 8th
Tiamat – Clouds (1992)
Although 1994’s Wildhoney was the true evolutionary leap for Tiamat, Clouds is an important hinge between the grandiose death metal of The Astral Sleep and the deep atmospheric trip of Wildhoney. The song structures on Clouds are basically conventional, and on songs like “Smell of Incense” and “Forever Burning Flames,” they seem to be experimenting with writing death metal tunes without death metal tones. By turning to melancholic doom pacing while pushing their sound in a richly goth-inflected rock direction, in a way Clouds anticipates by several years the direction that the Peaceville 3 would eventually take (particularly Anathema circa Eternity/Alternative 4). Even without any of that history, though, Clouds is just a great album, especially on the “Sad But True” stomp of “The Sleeping Beauty” and the moody sprawl of “Undressed.” At their best, nobody does luxuriant sadness better than Tiamat. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Monday, July 9th
Arsis – A Diamond for Disease (2005)
A Celebration of Guilt blew away the melodeath scene when it dropped in 2004 by taking the Heartwork formula and upping the technicality to “tech” levels and adding in a ton of nutso shredding. A year later, A Diamond for Disease took any and all expectations of a follow up and surpassed them at the speed of light. The 13-minute title track that makes up the bulk of this EP uses every tool from the band’s full length debut and stretches it to a massive scope full of neo-classical flourishes and long instrumental passages. (The dueling shred break around 7:10 is as balls-out flashy as it is sophisticated.) And it’s also just loaded with irresistible riffs, vocal moments, hooks, and everything else that would make a high school kid want to dedicate every possible free moment of his life to becoming The Next Great Shredder. Throw in a killer, unabashedly cock rock Alice Cooper cover and another beastly original, and you’ve got an EP for the ages. [Zach Duvall]
Tuesday, July 10th
W.A.S.P. – The Crimson Idol (1992)
Formerly the sawblade-sporting, beastlike poster boy for cock-rock shock-rock shenanigans, with 1989’s The Headless Children, Blackie Lawless had proven himself a songwriter of surprising depth. Taking his newfound seriousness to the next level, Lawless went into full-on rock opera mode with The Crimson Idol, which was originally slated as a solo effort and then later re-branded under the W.A.S.P. banner, despite featuring no other members of the previous line-up. (Drums were handled by Quiet Riot’s Frankie Banali, and lead guitars by session players Bob Kulick and Doug Aldrich—the rest is Blackie.) The tale of Jonathan Steele, a lost boy turned rock superstar, The Crimson Idol is heavily indebted to The Who’s conceptual works, and it’s clearly Lawless’ (and therefore W.A.S.P.’s) most ambitious work, although it still faces stiff competition from The Headless Children as the band’s finest hour. Best or second-best in W.A.S.P.’s canon, one thing is certain: Arena-sized hooks abound, all delivered in Lawless’ signature scratchy wail, and The Crimson Idol rocks from top to bottom, and it showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that W.A.S.P. was far more than raw meat and naked women in chains.
Fans and collectors take note: The Crimson Idol was re-recorded and re-released in 2018 as Re-Idolized (The Soundtrack To The Crimson Idol), and though that version is largely similar (and remarkably shows Blackie’s voice only a little worse for the wear, nearly thirty years later), it’s mostly notable for the inclusion of several previously unreleased songs, including a version of “Miss You” which would later be re-worked for 2015’s underrated Golgotha. [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
Wednesday, July 11th
Horna – Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne (2005)
Most who are snuggly with Finland’s Horna would likely point toward 2008’s Sanojesi Aarelle as the definitive release in the band’s hilariously roomy catalog. It’s an understandable vantage point; that particular record sets fire to your ears from open to close. But 2005’s EnVaAtNaGs EfLoS sOlF eSgAnTaAvNe gets the nod here today because it represents the perfect balance of viciousness, disease, touches of punkish fury (whether intentional or not) and that perfect pinch of hopelessness that lead-architect Shatraug is recognized for, and it delivers everything in a package that’s beautifully raw and hotter than smoldering iron crammed into the giblets. The riffs are surly and grumble like a dog with an ear infection, and Corvus’s revolting snarl validates the truth that he will likely always be regarded as the eminent voice of the band. [Captain]
Thursday, July 12th
Cenotaph – The Gloomy Reflection of Our Hidden Sorrows (1992)
Cenotaph’s debut album The Gloomy Reflection of Our Hidden Sorrows is a truly underappreciated gem. Although likely best known as the band from which Daniel Corchado would split in order to form The Chasm, Cenotaph’s atmospheric but explosively powerful debut is more than strong enough to stand on its own merits. (Interestingly, Cenotaph would later gain Julio Viterbo, who eventually went on to join Corchado in The Chasm.) Although based in Mexico, at this stage Cenotaph had more in common with such European luminaries as Amorphis and Sentenced than with the much geographically closer American death metal scene (although “Evoked Doom” sounds at times like a much heavier version of Incantation than Incantation was in ‘92). Weaving acoustic guitars and subtle keys into ripping and extremely riff-heavy death metal, Cenotaph at times previewed the stunning atmosphere and songwriting fluidity of The Chasm (see clear highlight “In the Cosmic Solitude), but at other times they clearly just wanted to barrel at top-speed into whatever breakable objects were closest to hand (“Repulsive Oder of Descomposition”). Fans of arcane death metal that brooks no bullshit and yet still possesses an unshakably magical aura, Cenotaph is waiting for you. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Friday, July 13th
Flourishing – The Sum of All Fossils (2011)
For just a few years early in the decade, Flourishing delivered an incredibly unique, caustic combination of death metal and post-hardcore; like an even noisier version of Gorguts’ Obscura raised on Fugazi instead of Suffocation. The Sum of All Fossils is their one full length, and it’s a noisy, rude, and abrasive collection of brooding dynamics, technical prowess (but never showmanship) and churning brutality. But for something so technically proficient and densely written, Flourishing’s music had a looseness to it that most death metal bands lack. It has the vibe of music that was jammed to life organically, with Band Feel being the first goal, and the complex arrangements second. It’s an all-too-rare element in extreme metal, and one that will thankfully live on in emerging act Aeviterne, which sports two thirds of the old Flourishing lineup. [Zach Duvall]
Saturday, July 14th
KISS™ – Lick It Up (1983)
After the poppy messes of Dynasty, Unmasked, and Music From “The Elder,” KISS™ was in need of rejuvenation, and they earned it with the markedly harder-edged Creatures Of The Night. Then, to one-up themselves, for 1983’s Lick It Up, everyone’s favorite marketing machine took off their horror-show make-up and somehow became even scarier. Add to that frightful unveiling the addition of guitar whiz Vinnie Vincent in place of the disillusioned Ace Frehley, and Lick It Up was already one for the KISStory™ book. Of course, it didn’t need all that hype because it turned out to be a damned good KISS™ record, and pretty much the last one truly strong one they’d release before hair metal ho-hummity ushered them into the nostalgia act circuit. Bolstered by the blistering “Exciter,” the titular anthem to unabashed hedonism, the menacing syncopated feel of “All Hell’s Breaking Loose,” and Gene’s requisite creepy sex song “Fits Like A Glove,” Lick It Up was, if not equal to Creatures (as its creators maintain it isn’t), then only a hair’s breadth behind. Sadly, their second time at the top of the mountain was not to last nearly as long—Vincent’s uncontrollable ego clashed with those of his employers, and he was fired, reinstated, and then fired again, replaced briefly by Mark St. John and then by Bruce Kulick. Still, as KISS™ line-ups go, the Stanley-Simmons-Vincent-Carr incarnation is second only to the classic era in terms of the quality of their output, and Lick It Up is the second and final proof of that. [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
See you next week.