“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 29th
Raw Power – Screams from the Gutter (1993)
Raw Power remains one of the most respected hardcore punk outfits to ever crawl from Italy. Born in 1981 and named after The Stooges third record, the band found its way into the hearts of the American scene after Toxic Shock Records caught wind of them opening for The Dead Kennedys in LA back in 1984. In 1985, TSR released their third album, Screams From The Gutter, which sold an astounding 40 thousand copies in the U.S. alone. Similar to peers such as Corrosion Of Conformity, Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I., The Accüsed and Agnostic Front, Raw Power helped pave the way for the burgeoning crossover scene with a sound that was every bit as raw and volatile as their American counterparts, but with an even more intense touch of metallic fortitude thanks to their penchant for lightning leads and Helder Stefanini’s absolutely intense drumming. Simply put, Screams From The Gutter crushed everything that came out during and prior to the year of its release, and it continues to crush most anything released in the realm of hardcore punk today. Crossover extra credit: A still unknown Guns N’ Roses opened for Raw Power in 1986! [Captain]
Monday, July 30th
The Michael Schenker Group – The Michael Schenker Group (1980)
After the first of his several splits from British hard rockers UFO, the mad axeman Michael Schenker formed his (sometimes) eponymous solo group, recruiting Scottish vocalist Gary Barden, Rainbow keyboardist Don Airey, and session rhythm aces Mo Foster and Simon Phillips for this debut album. Newly sober after temporarily besting his demons, Schenker’s focus is evident from the outset—”Armed And Ready” is as much a statement of purpose as it is a strong, arena-made opening salvo, filled with meat-and-potatoes hard rock riffing and Schenker’s godlike midrange tone, and it’s backed up immediately by the funky swing of “Cry For The Nations,” the straight-ahead stomp of “Victim Of Illusion,” the shredtastic instrumental “Into The Arena,” and the killer menace of closer “Lost Horizons.” Like UFO’s later efforts, The Michael Schenker Group blends radio-ready hard rock with a progressive sensibility that manifests mostly in Schenker’s guitar workouts and some interesting arrangements. The band’s follow-up album, 1981’s MSG, sported an almost entirely different line-up, but one with equal spit and fire, and later albums would move closer to pop-metal, although to some strong results with Robin McAuley replacing Barden—nevertheless, Schenker’s playing is rightly hailed as some of the greatest guitar-work in hard rock history, and he and his band are in prime form for their opening night. [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
Tuesday, July 31st
Tad Morose – Modus Vivendi (2003)
It’s not that Sweden’s Tad Morose isn’t well known—you can’t survive for 25 years with nine releases under your belt without being well known in metal. But the fact that the band isn’t more celebrated in the U.S. is a bit of a mystery, considering the fact that their brand of power metal is much more in line with what most would consider the “American style” that’s darker and burlier compared to the bouncy and blithe Hammerfalls and Freedom Calls of Europe. Album number six, Modus Vivendi, gets the nod today because it represents the pinnacle of what most would consider to be the classic line-up of Tad Morose: Christer Andersson and Daniel Olsson on guitars, Anders Modd on bass, Peter Morén on drums, and the unmistakable voice of Urban breed behind the mic. The record is tough, melodic and as shadowy as the album cover that adorns it, but it’s the relentless catchiness of most every song that pushes it into the realm of bonafide masterwork. [Captain]
Wednesday, August 1st
Kawir – Isoteos (2012)
Kawir are considered one of the cornerstone acts of Hellenic black metal, however unlike most legacy acts, they don’t rest on the laurels of their classic material. If anything the band has shown a steady progression in the quality of their music as they expand and grow. In 2012 they reached a watershed moment with their fifth full-length effort, Isoteos. While Kawir have always embraced the epic pagan sounds of Hammerheart-era Bathory, the huge production on Isoteos really brings a larger-than-life sound to the Greek legends that Kawir use as their muse. Peppering in traditional instruments and vocal choirs add to the overall bombasticness of the band’s sound on a record that truly reflects the gigantic scope of the mythology of Kawir’s native land. [Ryan Tysinger]
Thursday, August 2nd
Tsjuder – Desert Northern Hell (2004)
Here’s another album that will help you beat the heat… more than that, it’ll descend upon the lands like The Others, bringing all the darkness and cold with it. The true beastly peak from Tsjuder (pronounced “shoo-dur,” durrr) is one of the rippinest, roarinest, riffiest, raucousinest, roudiest bits of black metal ever put to tape. It’s exactly the right amount of raw, exactly the right amount of epic, and exactly the right amount of actual heft. Desert Northern Hell is pure Second Wave worship (which makes sense since Tsjuder is a band that started during the Second Wave but couldn’t quite get in the air until a little later) with the violence turned up to maximum levels. It will flay you, beat you to a pulp, level your house, and poison your yard, all while giving you a big, spiky love hug. Black metal doesn’t get more downright fun than this one. [Zach Duvall]
Friday, August 3rd
Vinterland – Welcome My Last Chapter (1996)
One of the all-time greatest “one and done” albums, Vinterland’s sole album Welcome My Last Chapter is a beautifully of-its-time album of icily melodic black metal that can stand proudly toe-to-toe with marquee names like Emperor and Dissection, but also alongside slightly lesser-hailed champions like Hades, Aeternus, and Dawn. Stylistically, there’s nothing that sets Vinterland apart from other similar-minded artists of the same era, which means that Welcome My Last Chapter’s deservedly legendary status was earned entirely on the back of its brilliant songwriting and ferocious, impassioned performances. Sure, there are some subtle keys here and there (some courtesy of Dan Swano) and a bit of acoustic guitar, but the real joy here is the realest joy: line after line after line of emotive guitarwork, an audibly warm bass presence, drums that lash with no unnecessary flash, and a harrowingly spiteful vocal performance. Although the band apparently reformed several years ago, it remains to be seen if any additional recordings are planned. Selfishly, because of how perfect this first chapter is, I’d prefer it to remain their last. For now, let’s all join hands in that castle so crystal clear. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Saturday, August 4th
Aeternus – …And So The Night Became (1998)
In the early days, Bergen, Norway’s Aeternus occupied a fairly unique sphere that blurred the lines between black and death metal, with each subsequent release drifting ever further from the former and into the latter until the band eventually became 100% death metal around 2001. In 1998, however, the black metal side of the coin was still very much in play, and it was MAGNIFICENT. …And So The Night Became is a moody, epic, complex, HEAVY, beautiful masterpiece, and the only thing that comes close to eclipsing the outstanding riffs and overall guitar work of Ares (the band’s only current original and founding member) is the absolutely savage drumming laid down by Vrolok (Erik Hæggernes) from open to close. [Captain]
See you next week.