“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 30th — October 6th.
Sunday, September 30th
Anthrax – State Of Euphoria (1988)
Although it’s inferior to the two albums before it and the two albums that follow it, Anthrax’s fourth record deserves a bit of re-evaluation. Sure, State Of Euphoria is lesser, but not by a huge margin. Coming off the career-defining thrash of Among The Living, these Bronx-born thrashers played it a little too safe, rushing into the studio and turning in a record that fell in line with Among, and yet had little hope of equaling it. Still, there’s merit in the drive of “Be All, End All,” in the Blue Velvet-inspired greatness of “Now It’s Dark,” in the requisite Stephen King nod “Misery Loves Company,” and in the classic re-make of Trust’s “Anti-Social,” a cover knocked so far out of the park that the song may as well be an Anthrax original at this point. Even the weaker numbers are still fun rockers—”Make Me Laugh” trashtalks the 80s’ easiest punching bags, money-grubbing TV preachers, while “Finale” at least gets some snide jabs in. (“I drink three six packs just so I can look at your face!”) Euphoria isn’t perfect, and it would soon be eclipsed by the darker, meaner, more developed aggression of Persistence Of Time, but looking back on it now, it’s still a classic Anthrax album. But seriously, though, that album art sucks. [Andrew Edmunds]
Monday, October 1st
Confessor – Condemned (1991)
There have to be others out there who discovered Raleigh, North Carolina’s Confessor the same way I did: through Paradise Lost. Well, Nick Holmes, to be exact—he wore a Confessor shirt in the band photo for PL’s debut, Lost Paradise, and that was one of the ways we uncovered new bands back’aforn the interwebs. If you trusted ol’ Nick and had the means to track down Condemned, you likely spent the bulk of the record’s 41 minutes trying to figure out just what in the holy shit was going on from one song to the next. The record towers and twists in a sort of proggy Watchtower/Control And Resistance kind of way, but the foundation is a form of wobbly doom, with riffs that bend and zigzag (occasionally awkwardly), a (helluva) drummer who sometimes sounds as if he’s putting down beats for an entirely different record, and a wailing vocalist who clearly beamed in from the same planet as the blue woman in the opera scene for The Fifth Element. In short, different. VERY different. In fact, in the great pantheon of metal records to throw on for the explicit purpose of making those around you wonder what the hell’s going on, Condemned simply must fall somewhere inside the top five. [Captain]
Tuesday, October 2nd
Napalm Death – From Enslavement To Obliteration (1988) (30th birthday!)
Scum was the initial salvo, the raw-throated punk-fueled warp-speed madness that laid the groundwork for grindcore, but Napalm Death’s second album was their first masterwork. Refining the roughshod approach of Scum‘s attack, From Enslavement To Obliteration runs the gamut from the Swans-y trudge of “Evolved As One” to the crusty thrashing drive of “Unchallenged Hate” to the blast-happy burst of “Your Achievement,” Enslavement‘s nod to the band’s tongue-in-cheek microsong legacy. Mick Harris does his human tornado drum schtick, while Embury and Steer rip through riffs with reckless abandon, all beneath Lee Dorrian’s grunt-to-a-shriek acrobatics—it’s the classic grind formula, presented in one of its earliest incarnations, and its gloriously and gleefully abrasive and ugly, even as it’s the swansong of Napalm’s second line-up. Guitarist Steer would depart to form Carcass; vocalist Dorrian would leave to found Cathedral. Replacement vocalist Barney Greenway would jump ship from Benediction and join up, while guitarists Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris would come over from Terrorizer and Righteous Pigs, and the whole of that new line-up would travel to Morrisound in Tampa to push the band in a death metal direction with the killer Harmony Corruption. Still, even as the end of Napalm Death’s pure grind period, thirty years later, From Enslavement remains one of the highest highs from a band that has rightfully achieved godhood. [Andrew Edmunds]
Wednesday, October 3rd
Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010)
Coming four years after the interminable drabness of A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier is a beautifully satisfying album that righted the good ship Maiden in dramatic fashion. If the title track (with its way overlong intro) and “El Dorado” are ultimately a bit of a throwaway, the rest of the album opens up wonderfully, from the sentimental (and kinda sorta “Wasted Years”-ish) “Coming Home” to the mysticism of “Isle of Avalon” to the taut gallop of “The Alchemist” (would could have wandered out of Powerslave if you squint just right). But friends, for this particular terrible nerd, The Final Frontier is all about the back nine, with the wistful and haunting tale of “Where the Wild Wind Blows” and, chief above them all, the MOTHERFUCKING TALISMAN. Let us conclude in contradiction: Iron Maiden should not be in the business of making 76-minute albums, but I never want them to stop making 76-minute albums. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Thursday, October 4th
Grinder – Dead End (1989)
Album number two from Germany’s Grinder dropped right alongside a number of true heavyweights in the thrash game back in 1989. The album (and the band, for that matter) never quite managed to make the same splash as their associates, but those who ate up records such as The Years of Decay, Agent Orange, Blessing in Disguise and Dreamweaver were treated with a similar blueprint that emphasized a more austere mood (apart from one silly song concerning train raids) that incorporated plenty of traditional metal’s tenets. Great vocals (similar to Blitz’s lower croon from the early days), moody acoustic breaks, and loads of really pleasant lead work—Dead End is the sort of record that falls short of classic status, but never fails to satisfy once it starts spinning. [Captain]
Friday, October 5th
Paradise Lost – Icon (1993) (25th anniversary!)
It’s raining somewhere right now, overcast and somber, the world cloaked in grey and the air heavy. And wherever that may be, Paradise Lost’s gothic doom metal is the perfect soundtrack. Coming off the death/doom landmark of their debut, through the genre-building classic Gothic, and the transitional excellence of Shades Of God (my favorite of this era, even if it’s not one of the band’s multiple peaks), Icon perfected the band’s blend of accessible melody and somber heaviness. Holmes’ growl downshifted into a Hetfield-ian snarl, barking atop Mackintosh’s signature downtrodden guitar lines, and the whole of it is just truly (ahem) iconic sad-metal. As the band began its journey into a less metallic melancholy, Icon harks directly towards Draconian Times‘ forthcoming mastery of an even more melodic mopiness, before One Second and beyond saw a full-fledged foray into goth rock, and then an eventual return through the stellar Tragic Idol to more peaks in the pairing of The Plague Within and Medusa. No band does sadness better than Paradise Lost, and Icon is one of the many high points of their emotional lows. [Andrew Edmunds]
Saturday, October 6th
Tankard – Chemical Invasion (1987)
Today’s AotD is dedicated to Marlo Reghenas, one-time Last Riter and permanent favorite of everyone on the Last Rites staff.
Before becoming the svelte, debonair statesmen they are today, Tankard were pissed off kids who unwittingly paved the way for literally every drunken, beer-themed metal band that’s ever managed to keep it together long enough to release an actual album. Their sophomore release, Chemical Invasion, is Tankard’s thrashterpiece—the quintessential collision of their punky, loose, primitive debut with a slightly (hard emphasis there) more sophisticated approach that made it clear that the band actually, you know, practiced together. To this day, Chemical Invasion remains the most appropriate record to drunkenly trash a hotel room to, and there’s obviously been a lot of of competition in this regard thrown our way over the years. Get blitzed. [Captain]
See you next week.