“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 15th — July 21st.
Sunday, July 15th
Gorgon – The Lady Rides a Black Horse (1995)
Although it’s easy to think that the Black Legions (LLN) monopolized the black metal scene in France, the mostly forgotten Gorgon was right there in the thick of it, too. From Antibes, in the south of France, Gorgon’s debut The Lady Rides a Black Horse is hardly a classic, but it’s a very solid album and notable proof that the exploits in Norway spread quickly throughout the Continent. Sounding a bit like both Mayhem and early Gorgoroth, Gorgon also embraced a certain crudity that is at times reminiscent of Hungary’s Tormentor (whose 1989 demo Anno Domini was an absolutely vital element in eventually sparking the second wave, and which featured on vocals none other than Attila Csihar, later of Mayhem). As a rule, these songs blast and rocket more or less straight ahead, but with touches of keys here (the wonderful title track), a bit of cocksure rock attitude there (“As a Stone”), and even a touch of Bathory’s “Enter the Eternal Fire” on the simultaneously stomping and howling standout track “At the Memory of the Past,” Gorgon deserves more than to be entirely relegated to minor footnote status. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Monday, July 16th
Blut Aus Nord – The Mystical Beast of Rebellion (2001)
The Mystical Beast of Rebellion may be the least discussed, least famous part of Vindsval and W.D. Feld’s vast catalog, but it was an essential step in the building of a legend. After the band’s melodic, folk-tinged first two albums, they disappeared for five years, and reemerged with a vastly different sound: minimal, mechanical, and malevolent. In many ways, Mystical Beast was the warm up for The Work Which Transforms God, a test to see if this was the direction they wanted to take. The experiment worked, and with the next album, Blut Aus Nord’s place in black metal history would forever be cemented. But to view Mystical Beast as PURELY a step along the path is also wrong, as it is a deeply hypnotic and disturbing album on its own. Get the reissue with three new heavy, LONG songs included for maximum mystical beastliness. [Zach Duvall]
Tuesday, July 17th
Twisted Sister – Under The Blade (1982 / 1985)
Before they were the clown drag-queen princes of early MTV with inescapable hits “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” New York’s Twisted Sister were a decidedly rawer and rougher-edged band… who still looked ridiculous. Relocating to the UK in the midst of the NWOBHM explosion, Twisted recorded their debut album under the wing of UFO / Waysted bassist Pete Way, who lent it a roughshod production that complemented the streetwise glammy metal tunes and set Under The Blade well above any of the band’s subsequent pop metal offerings in terms of heavy metal appeal. Riff-laden stompers like “Destroyer” and “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” balance nicely against the Slade-y pub-glitter of “Bad Boys (Of Rock ‘N’ Roll)” and “Shoot ‘Em Down,” all of them distilled down to the pure essence of hard rock. The 1985 Atlantic reissue (which was also remixed) adds further glamminess in the bouncy “I’ll Never Grow Up Now,” and all of that adds up to Twisted Sister’s first, finest, and most metallic album, just a few short years before their commercial peak with Stay Hungry. [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
Wednesday, July 18th
Mütiilation – Vampires of Black Imperial Blood (1995)
If you strip away the intentional obscurity and self-mythologizing from that faction of the French black metal scene of the early 90s known as the Black Legions, there are likely two modal responses to the endless parade of demos, splits, demos, EPs, and… well, mostly a shit-ton of demos:
Modal Response #1: What a bunch of shitty, obnoxious, and laughably amateurish noise.
Modal Response #2: Hey, these French dweebs were kinda onto something with their shitty, obnoxious, and laughably amateurish noise.
If the single finest representation of the LLN vision might be the March to the Black Holocaust split between Vlad Tepes and Belketre, then certainly the finest album from the scene (keeping in mind that, well, almost none of the bands ever made an album) is Mütiilation’s classic debut, Vampires of Black Imperial Blood. Although the album engages in its fair share of roughshod blasting and croaking, perhaps its defining characteristic is the sense of sweeping melancholy which emerges, quite improbably, out of these chaotic, poorly recorded, and frequently sloppy songs. “Tears of a Melancholic Vampire” and “Magical Shadows of a Tragic Past,” in particular, brim with exactly the sort of dim romanticism that you might imagine socially awkward French teens with an ear to the ground of the happenings in nearby Norway might cook up. Damning with faint praise? Fuck you! Because things can be terrible and great simultaneously, I give you: Mütiilation. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Thursday, July 19th
Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope (2002)
“Unhinged” is the first word that comes to mind. ANb’s second record, Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope is arguably their best—although if you ask me that again tomorrow, I might tell you that that honor belongs to Altered States Of America. Whereas that 100-track follow-up undeniably refined the ANb attack, regardless of which is qualitatively better, Frozen Corpse accurately sums up the Agoraphobic Nosebleed experience: thirty-eight tracks, almost impossible to separate, and the whole of it a scattershot blend of inhumanly fast drum machine barrages, often disturbing psychotic ranting (with some admittedly questionable lyrics thrown in for good measure), sound-fx interludes, and Scott Hull’s seemingly inexhaustible grab-bag of great grind riffs. Highlights are difficult to find, simply because riffs and ideas fly by at warp-speed, all tossed into an open blender and thrown around the place like debris from a bomb blast. Almost all drum-machine-driven grindcore is mediocre, at best, but there are exceptions to every rule, and if you’re looking for a head-spinning burst of complete chaos, Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope is certainly exceptional. [Andrew Edmunds]
Friday, July 20th
Krisiun – Black Force Domain (1995)
Black Force Domain is ugly, fast, loud, sloppy, violent, and approximately eight and a half metric tons of fun. The opening salvo from the Brazilian brothers in Krisiun is thoroughly indebted to Slayer, Kreator, early Sepultura, and Morbid Angel, but perhaps even more so, it’s indebted to the sheer joy of playing rickety instruments with a clattering, grinding fury so electric that the whole mess is always just one beat shy of running completely off the rails. Shall we be blunter? Black Force Domain sounds terrible. But despite—or, more likely, because of—this hellacious roughness, Krisiun’s debut has the kind of charisma that only the manic intensity of youth can create. The furiously lashing waves of lead and solo guitar that litter the last few minutes of the title track should be proof enough of what’s possible by sheer hunger and force of will alone, but the real trick is that they keep it at the same level of livewire intensity for the whole album. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Saturday, July 21st
UFO – Lights Out (1977)
If you’d asked me a few years ago, I’d have told you Lights Out is the best UFO album—and maybe it is, although now I’m torn between it and its follow-up, Obsession. Regardless, Lights Out has long been my favorite UFO, my entryway to the band, and their highest-charting success in the US, where they’ve remained criminally undervalued for their entire existence. From the opening hard rock perfection of “Too Hot To Handle” to the proto-metal greatness of the title track to the closing epic, symphonic beauty of “Love To Love,” Lights Out is a strong step up over the also-strong No Heavy Petting and Force It, adding more progressive songwriting and a generally expanded scope to UFO’s gritty, guitar-driven swagger. Phil Mogg’s voice is on point, and Michael Schenker’s tone and taste are godly, while the Way-Parker-Raymond underpinning is literally rock solid. The cover of Love’s brilliant “Alone Again Or” is given a harder edge that doesn’t detract from that song’s psychedelic-folk sadness, and the spacey “Electric Phase” is an unsung UFO gem, but really, when it comes down to it, I can never hear this album without being 13 again, having just purchased some cheesy compilation cassette of classic hard rock and hearing that galloping wallop of “Lights Out,” and having to rewind the tape over and over to hear it again and again and again… Absolutely classic, forever and always. [Andrew Edmunds]
See you next week.