“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 September 2nd — September 8th.
Sunday, September 2nd
Sanctuary – The Year The Sun Died (2014)
Comeback albums are always a dicey prospect. Some are absolutely killer, like Brave New World or In The Shadows. Some are very much okay, like Angel Of Retribution. Some are “why bother,” like the return of Smashing Pumpkins. In that spectrum, The Year The Sun Died is very much in the first category, and it marked a return that I was very much awaiting, the reunion of the ever-underrated Sanctuary. Vocalist Warrel Dane had gone on to rightful acclaim as the frontman of Nevermore—releasing a string of great albums in the process—but to this metalhead who came of age in the late 80s, Sanctuary will always be Dane’s true home, from that first falsetto shriek in “Battle Angels” through this massive rejuvenation. Songs like the title track and the goth-tinted “Exitium” were as great a Sanctuary tune as I could’ve hoped for, taking some of Nevermore’s melodramatics and paring back the shred factor to just straight ahead moody power metal. Sadly, Sanctuary will never get to offer a proper follow-up, but at least they went out on an absolute masterstroke. [Andrew Edmunds]
Monday, September 3rd
Catacombs – In the Depths of R’lyeh (2006)
In the already hopeless and despair-ridden world of funeral doom, very few albums quite out-despair Catacombs’ single full length, the appropriately Lovecraft-themed In the Depths of R’lyeh. The album begins at the perfect crossroads of minimal and crushing and only takes the listener to more horrific depths across its unrelenting 72 minutes. While a lot of funeral doom embraces beauty at its core—look no further than the achievements of Skepticism and Mournful Congregation—In the Depths of R’lyeh is utterly and completely devoid of anything comforting. This is among the most extreme and outsider examples of one of the most extreme and outsider forms of musical art. Crushing, terrifying, and captivating. [Zach Duvall]
Tuesday, September 4th
Tragedy – Fury (2018)
Eschewing the Darker Days Ahead feel and returning to their roots, Tragedy has burst back onto the scene with another self-released, highly limited EP. Metal fans and punks alike should delight in this absolutely furious ripper that combines the ferocity of their self-titled with the production value of Nerve Damage. Limited to 100 copies this bad boy is red vinyl complete with hand-stamped center labels housed in a screen-printed, double sided, fold-over jacket. [Manny-O-War]
Wednesday, September 5th
Dark Tranquillity – Damage Done (2002)
Gothenburg’s famously Gothenburgian sons Dark Tranquillity had been around for just over a decade by the release of Damage Done, and to that point they had changed up their approach on every album. Damage Done brought a far more technical, thrashier, and dense approach to the polished sound of Haven, and in doing so became the album the band had been trying to release since they helped define the early melodeath scene with Skydancer and The Gallery. In a way, Damage Done was almost the back bookend of melodeath’s peak; the band’s greatest peers had either broken up or turned into commercialized messes, and Dark Tranquillity themselves were never again able to replicate this level of greatness. Character was a clone and Fiction combined every era of the band on one album, and while both were very good, they couldn’t quite reach this level. Subsequent albums have merely furthered the divide between Dark Tranquillity’s masterful peak and merely decent present, but on Damage Done, this band was perfect. [Zach Duvall]
Thursday, September 6th
Nightmare – Waiting For The Twilight (1984)
During the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, France began going through the birthing pains of their own heavy metal scene. Typically, the first bands that come to mind are Sortilége or ADX, or perhaps even earlier with Trust (though probably more for the Anthrax cover), today’s fabled Album Of The Day thrusts the spotlight on the 1984 debut of Nightmare. While later albums largely failed to capture the magic of Waiting For The Twilight, this odd little LP stands out, primarily for its curious approach to vocals and the admittedly horrid yet endearing haze of production. Nightmare brings gallops and soaring leads to the table for what could arguably be a proto-power metal release. The almost carefree vocal delivery is a little tough to digest at first, but ultimately adds to the atmosphere of the album and the mysticism of the music. [Ryan Tysinger]
Friday, September 7th
Def Leppard – High ‘N’ Dry (1981)
Before they were multi-platinum pop superstars, Sheffield’s Def Leppard was a scrappy hard rock band, equal parts AC/DC grit and Queen / ELO pomp. The basics of the sound that would make them enormous are certainly embedded within High ‘N’ Dry—those big harmonized choruses cannot be escaped—but this one’s a much rawer take on it, much more gut-level and guitar-driven than the Mutt Lange-(over)produced hits to come. Elliott’s scream is still formidable, and Clark and Willis toss off Young brothers-esque riffs in killer cuts like “Let It Go,” “You Got Me Runnin’,” the rollicking instrumental “Switch 625,” or the somewhat title track “Saturday Night (High ‘N’ Dry).” Big ol’ ballad “Bringing On The Heartbreak” would be the most endearing hit of the bunch, remixed later with some lame synth stabs, but all of High ‘N’ Dry is great hard rock, and easily Def Leppard’s pinnacle, no matter what the sales figures will tell you. [Andrew Edmunds]
Saturday, September 8th
Immortal – Battles in the North (1995)
If Pure Holocaust was the album that proved Immortal could play with the big boys in the Norwegian black metal scene, Battles in the North solidified that status with the harshest, most unyielding album of their career. Everything about the record—from the icy production and sudden track cutoffs to the INSANE speed and Abbath’s spitting, poorly pronounced English—made the album feel as as inhuman as the far north of the band’s homeland. And yet, it brings a surprising (if still small) amount of variety to this formula. The opening title track is a torrent of icepick blades raining down upon the listener… but remains catchy (it goes without saying that some catchiness for early Immortal may have been retroactively realized upon the band’s transformation into a more arena sound), there are smatterings of some simple but very effective clean guitars, and “Curse Realms of the Winterdemons” is among the darkest, most damning songs the band ever did. This is also where Blashyrkh was born. Norway’s winters evidently aren’t intense enough; Immortal had to make up a colder place. [Zach Duvall]
See you next week.