“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 December 23rd — December 29th.
Sunday, December 23rd
Elite – We Own the Mountains (2008)
Elite’s third full length offering represents a giant next step in the impressive evolution of the band’s sound from traditional, if unspectacular, to more modern black metal. Whereas you will hear many of your old BM favorites in bits and pieces, Elite adroitly infuse elements of thrash, death, and Viking metal into their brand, resulting in a diverse, bracingly fresh sound. Flashes of Immortal and Dissection can be heard, as well as late-era Bathory and even a little Amon Amarth-ian melody. What makes this album special, though, is the passion with which the band delivers its shiny new black metal package. The sense of urgency on this album is palpable and Elite manage to maintain the energy throughout the endeavor. The riffing is tight and aggressive; the vocals are sincerely vicious and properly grim; the drums are cold and dry and deftly run the range from super tight blast beats to pummeling double bass; and the bass guitar, even while serving its subordinate, utilitarian role, often becomes much more, as on “Født til Vanvidd,” during which the sweet, swelling bass line takes center stage. [Lone Watie]
Monday, December 24th
Isole – Bliss of Solitude (2009)
Isole have quickly become one of the more consistent bands in the sorrow-soaked gloom-doom realm, and 2008’s excellent Bliss of Solitude did a superb job of expanding on the somber foundation laid down by the band’s previous works. Impressively smooth transitions from surprisingly heavy moments to quietly bleak measures—along with the band’s signature ethereal vocals—are what make this band and this particular album a bona-fide classic in the realm of seriously down-trodden doom.
Tuesday, December 25th
Pseudogod – Deathwomb Catechesis (2012)
Pseudogod doesn’t rely much on stock tremolo patterns or expected death metal riffing tropes. Most of the guitar figures are angular, sharp, and quick in their repetition, resembling most traditional death metal only in their fevered delivery. Shades of the twisted ambience of Morbid Angel and Immolation appear at times, but are more apparent in the massive shifts and bends in the compositions than in any similarity in the riffs. The shifts in tempo and drum arrangements always feel large and dramatic, and are just as crucial to Pseudogod‘s hellish atmosphere as the riffs themselves. Topping off the instrumentation is a howling, desolate vocal performance that never loses its edge despite remaining in mostly the same register throughout the album. With so much pandemonium, Deathwomb Catechesis can blur together a bit on the first few listens, and while the occasional doomy slowdown or sparse interlude is effective at changing up the pace, the album is fairly one-dimensional from start to finish. But repeated listens will reveal the level of thought that went into the songwriting, and the subtle intricacies and hooks will thus begin to reveal themselves. I highly recommend listeners read along with the lyrics at least once while spinning this album. While they are of a predictably blasphemous nature, they are nevertheless evocative and well-crafted, and deciphering them makes the music feel more digestible and gives certain segments an enjoyable anthemic quality. [Chris McDonald]
Wednesday, December 26th
Astral Doors – Jerusalem (2012)
Where Jerusalem succeeds above its brethren is simply in the quality of its songs – these are some great trad metal tunes, with Nils Patrik Johannson’s leathery vocals and a series of catchy riffs. Originality be damned, these tunes just rock—the belated G.W. Bush-baiting of “Operation Freedom,” the soaring chorus of “Suicide Rime,” the nearly Dio-quoting “Child Of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” which evokes the man’s own “Rock ‘N’ Roll Children” without blatant plagiarism. The production is solid, polished without sounding slick, and the performances fit the songs perfectly. [Andrew Edmunds]
Thursday, December 27th
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve (1995)
To say that this material is iconic would be an understatement; over the years, classic Destroy tracks like “Future Breed Machine”, “Soul Burn”, and “Suffer In Truth” have been embraced by many fans as definitive Meshuggah songs, and there isn’t a track among these ten that is anything less than fucking excellent. Say what you will about the way these guys write riffs, but everything about this album is simply superbly done; the perfect production highlighting each and every instrumental texture, the incredible musicianship, and the endless supply of hooks and memorable moments amidst the outfit’s stuttering mathematical assault. While not as mechanical and uncompromising as future efforts by the band, Destroy Erase Improve was one of the most original and intense records of its time, and its quality and influence still stands up today. [Chris McDonald]
Friday, December 28th
Darkthrone – Dark Thrones and Black Flags (2008)
We still find evidence of the band’s newfound lightheartedness on tunes such as “Hanging out in Haiger” (featuring the year’s snazziest opening drum beat) and “Hiking Metal Punks” (further solidifying a life ambition to sit by a campfire and yap with Fenriz about the importance of Vulcano and Whiplash while eating peanut butter out of a jar with a booming schnapps buzz), but thanks to the Nocturno side of the coin, Dark Thrones and Black Flags ups the ante in terms of more straight-forward harshness and traditional metal. “Death of All Oaths (Oath Minus)” not only charges with an elder Kreator thrash riff at its onset, it also features a beautiful Soulside Journey-styled breakdown around the 2:15 mark. And “Grizzly Trade,” “Launchpad to Nothingness” and “Norway in September” (one of the album’s absolute highlights) all roll out slower, doomier measures, with the latter coming across rather creepily because of the added ghostly/wobbly effect on Nocturno’s lead guitar. The only Nocturno tune that’s not touched with grimness is “Blacksmith of the North (Keep that Ancient Fire),” a song with riffs clearly rooted in the trademark Darkthrone sound, but delivered in a surprisingly upbeat manner that’s catchy as hell. [Captain]
Saturday, December 29th
Walpyrgus – Walpyrgus Nights (2017)
Dear brothers and sisters, dear enemies and friends: it is okay to smile. Walpyrgus, the outstanding new(ish) project from members of Twisted Tower Dire, While Heaven Wept, and Daylight Dies that is more interested in heavy metal as an idea than heavy metal as a single sound, is here, I think, to make you smile. On their rambunctiously fun debut Walpyrgus Nights, the band seems to have crafted these tremendous songs such that, at least several times per song, the attentive listener will do just that. [Danhammer Obstkrieg]
See you next week.