“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 22nd — July 28th.
Sunday, July 22nd
Skepticism – Alloy (2008)
If you know funeral doom, you know Skepticism. Period. To outsiders looking in, most every band populating this peculiar branch of metal likely sounds the same—painfully slow, monotonous and as dark as the bottom of the ocean. These particular Finns, however, are not only considered pioneers of the genre, they’re pioneers of pushing funeral doom forward. Songs don’t always have to be 10 minutes or longer—in fact, they’re under as often as they’re over—and keys / organs aren’t just “an atmospheric effect,” they’re the linchpin. Full-length number four, Alloy, stands out not only because it brings the guitars back into prominence after the fairly hushed Farmakon, but it also finds the band (eternally colonized by the same four members) truly validating the statement that funeral doom doesn’t HAVE to be morbidly dark. There is as much hope as there is darkness here, and even when the mood is cloudy, it feels like a celebration of its appearance. [Captain]
Monday, July 23rd
Speedwolf – Ride With Death (2011)
Some albums know how to hook the listener in right from the get-go. Speedwolf’s only full-length album to date, 2011’s Ride With Death, does just that with the eponymous “Speedwolf,” a tension-building, engine-revving intro that kicks into full gear. The energy never relents, taking the classic rock-and-roll swagger of Motörhead and feeding it a steady diet of outlaw biker meth and riding it through the mountainous back roads of the band’s home state of Colorado. Featuring catchy but aggressive speed metal riffs and a powerhouse drum performance, Speedwolf tear through the album’s forty minute runtime at breakneck speed, leaving nothing behind but exhaust and a trail of burning rubber.
A word of caution: playing this while driving will most certainly result in involuntary disregard for speed limits, pedestrians, and flashing blue lights. [Ryan Tysinger]
Tuesday, July 24th
Lost Horizon – Awakening The World (2001)
Bombastic, epic, soaring, vigorous, exhilarating, quixotic, ludicrous, and above all else, melodic to the point of literal detonation—Sweden’s Lost Horizon represented all of these things to excess, and the fact that they only managed to deliver two full-lengths still feels like one of power metal’s most cruel misfortunes. The primary concern: keeping vocalist Etherial Magnanimus, aka Daniel Heiman, in the nest, who left shortly after album number two. The band still claims “On Hold” status after 15 years of dormancy, but there simply cannot be a Lost Horizon without Heiman, because he remains, quite literally, the best power metal vocalist in the game today. The band’s meteoric debut, Awakening The World, is a power metal lover’s dream come true, and it only takes a few moments of listening to discover why getting Daniel back into the fold remains priority number one if there is ever to be any moving forward. Please come back, Etherial Magnanimus. Power metal needs more Lost Horizon. [Captain]
Wednesday, July 25th
Anaal Nathrakh – Eschaton (2006)
If you were disappointed by Anaal Nathrakh’s recent descent into Summer Slaughter Tour Opener quality, why not return to the gold standard? The Codex Necro was a brilliant explosion of black/grind insanity, and Domine Non Es Dignus brought in more of Dave Hunt’s incredible sung choruses, but Eschaton is where Anaal Nathrakh’s full sound truly solidified. By maintaining the early riff ferocity, upping the industrial elements, finding the absolute ideal production, and delivering an impeccable collection of songs, the duo was able to deliver an album that they were never quite able to top (and if “Forward!” is any indication of the future, they never will). Plus, you’re not likely to ever to find a filthier, more resigned-to-failure track in all of metal than closer “Regression to the Mean.” A statement of their entire philosophy, that one. [Zach Duvall]
Thursday, July 26th
Thergothon – Stream from the Heavens (1994)
Finland, just what in the hell is in that goddamned water up there? Between the likes of Skepticism, Unholy, Tyranny, Colosseum, Wormphlegm, Shape of Despair, Stabat Mater, and Profetus, funeral doom may eventually displace timber as one of the country’s top exports. If it ever does, though, credit must truly go to Thergothon, whose sole album Stream from the Heavens is not only arguably the first true funeral doom album but is also a titanic and rightfully legendary album that sounds both impossibly timeless and constantly on the verge of complete collapse. The template was all set right here: insanely deep gurgles, sloooooooooow riffs upon riffs, and a maleficent blanketing of keyboards. And although many of their followers would refine and clarify the funeral doom sound, Stream from the Heavens remains unimpeachably classic because no other band has EVER captured the same idiosyncratic sound. Who rides the astral wings? Dudes, it could be all of us. Let’s go get crushed. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Friday, July 27th
Manilla Road – Open The Gates (1995)
“Arise, all ye faithful to the sword”
So begins Manilla Road’s fourth studio album, Open The Gates. A fitting introduction to the album that really solidified the band’s sound following 1983’s undisputed classic, Crystal Logic. Mark’s singing bolsters a greater confidence, and Randy Foxe’s drums crackles through like a warm fire beneath the irons of a heavier guitar tone. The songs are exactly what define Manilla Road in their peak era and throughout their entire career—uplifting and triumphant with a very honest and heartfelt approach to fantasy lyricism. In fact, its it’s this honesty that really sells the record; the band have always felt like a labor of love first. What’s more, they have the weaponry to back it up. Open The Gates is packed to the brim with Shelton’s memorable and instantly recognizable riffs. The rhythm section is timeless: Foxe and Park thrive off one another, locking into an impenetrable groove that feels like it come with effort. From the hook-laden chorus of “Weavers Of The Web” to the anthemic “Heavy Metal To The World”, the battle hymn of “Open the Gates” to the empowering “Road Of Kings,” Manilla Road solidify their position as the kings of American traditional metal.
Rest In Peace
Mark “The Shark” Shelton
1957 – 2018
Saturday, July 28th
Rainbow – Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll (1978)
Although it’s often overlooked in favor of its immediate predecessor, the godly Rising, Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll is no less of a knockout. The title track is a barnstormer, a hard rock song that rightly sings the praises of hard rock, with an instant chorus and some of Blackmore’s typically killer guitar work, and later tracks like “LA Connection” and “The Shed” rock like hell atop Cozy Powell’s powerful rhythms. But really, what defines Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll are its more epic, fantastical moments—the stomping “Gates Of Babylon,” the driving and oft-covered-but-never-replicated “Kill The King,” and the swaggering “Lady Of The Lake,” or the ballad “Rainbow Eyes,” which presages Blackmore’s later shift to Renaissance Faire music. The final of the band’s three with Dio, before Ritchie rode the Rainbow into a more AOR direction, Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll remains one of the finest hard rock albums of the 70s and a clear precursor to the heavy metal that would populate the following decades. [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
See you next week.