“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 February 3rd — February 9th.
Sunday, February 3rd
Infernäl Mäjesty – None Shall Defy (1987)
Album #1 from Canada’s Infernäl Mäjesty stands as one of the seminal releases responsible for bridging the gap between furious thrash and the quickly advancing death metal invasion. None Shall Defy spent equal amounts of time crudely shredding as it did evilly chugging, and Chris Bailey’s gruesomely barked vocals trotted alongside similarly fundamental grumblesnarlers such as Jeff Becerra (Possessed) to help usher metal into a new level of extremity. Bright, melodic leads swirl about piles of shredding riffs, but a clear and intrinsic focus on heaviness unquestionably delivers None Shall Defy‘s killing blow. To this day, the album’s title track remains one the heaviest tunes in thrash’s deep history. [Captain]
Monday, February 4th
Sacrifice – Torment in Fire (1986)
One the earliest entries from the Canadian thrash scene sounds just like you’d expect a bunch of teenagers to deliver: loud, fast, raw, and more than a little pissed off. Although they did take some cues from the likes of Venom, Possessed, and fellow Canadians Slaughter, Torment In Fire is the sound of a band more interested in leaving their unique mark on a burgeoning genre than in just jumping on some bandwagon. Whether or not they succeeded is up to debate (and some would argue that follow-up Forward To Termination is the superior effort), but the fact that this album is still spoken of with such reverence over 25 years later is testimony enough to its place in thrash history. [Dave Pirtle]
Tuesday, February 5th
Suicidal Tendencies – How Will I Laugh Tomorrow… (1988)
This was the point when Mike Muir and company had finally transformed their classic hardcore/skate punk sound into fully fledged thrash metal. The difference from the 10,000 or so other bands thrashing it up in 1988? Muir still thought he was that rebellious teenager who wrote “Institutionalized,” resulting in a brand of thrash stuck in two different worlds. Possessing both a street gang goofball side (“Pledge of Allegiance”) and hints of true maturity (the title track), How Will I Laugh Tomorrow… had actual layers that were hitherto unheard of for Suicidal Tendencies. It may not be the most (in)famous of ST albums, but it is certainly their most balanced, and it kicked off the most consistent era of their career. [Zach Duvall]
Wednesday, February 6th
Grave Digger – Witch Hunter (1985)
Many folks would probably be surprised to learn that Grave Digger was around in the 1980s, but to make this list may be even more surprising. Although cases could be made for Heavy Metal Breakdown (their debut) or War Games (their first foray into conceptual work), it’s their sophomore effort that gets the nod here. Musically, it is basically a continuation of that debut—teutonic speed/thrash topped with Chris Boltendahl’s one-size-fits-all vocal delivery. It’s raw and ripping, and a far cry from what they’re doing nowadays. However, they do earn creativity points for daring a power ballad (the slightly awkward “Love Is a Game”) and an Alice Cooper cover (“School’s Out”) when it might have been better to wait until they were more established to make those moves. Choice cuts include “Get Ready For Power,” “Fight For Freedom,” and the title track. [Dave Pirtle]
Thursday, February 7th
OZ – Fire In The Brain (1983)
Hailing from Finland, OZ was one of Scandinavia’s earliest heavy metal sensations. Coming from the studio and producer that would later bring us acts like Bathory, Fire In the Brain is a glimpse at pre-black metal Scandinavia, from the Van Halen-esque “Megalomaniac” to the occultism of “Black Candles” to the Motörhead swagger of “Free Me, Leave Me,” all mixed together with the twin-guitar attack that only a five-piece band can bring. Clocking in at a mere 27 minutes, Fire In the Brain is best enjoyed on repeat. The modern black-and-roll scene and bands like Midnight owe an incomparable debt to OZ. [K. Scott Ross]
Friday, February 8th
Coffin Texts – The Tomb Of Infinite Ritual (2012)
To get the inevitable out of the way: yes, Coffin Texts is a death metal band with a lyrical and thematic focus on ancient Egypt, so unless you’ve been living under some remarkably insulated rock for the past decade and change, your mind will immediately go, “Nile!” Still, the fact that Coffin Texts, despite just now releasing its second album, formed all the way back in 1994 (just a year later than our favorite Ithyphallic South Carolinians) should go a long way toward allaying the creeping fear that this is some kind of trend-hopping sadfest. Instead, The Tomb of Infinite Ritual is an absolutely unrelenting procession of riff after glorious, shit-kicking riff; barbaric death metal in its purest, utterly trendless form. Coffin Texts forgoes any of the ambient trappings and additional instrumentation of Nile, instead erecting massive riff-pyramids in the heat-bent image of Morbid Angel circa Altars of Madness, with a bit of the gruesome restraint Krisiun showed on last year’s The Great Execution. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Saturday, February 9th
Jag Panzer – The Scourge of Light (2011)
Where Jag Panzer has always been stronger than most is in balancing aggressive metal riffing with those dramatic and layered vocal melodies, all the while never sounding happy, wimpy or unbearably bombastic. Make no mistake, they are bombastic — it is power metal, after all, and “The Book Of Kells” virtually defines bombast — but like Nevermore, with whom they share a similar reliance upon shredding and melodrama, they avoid the pitfalls of power metal cheese through both skill and sheer conviction. Jag Panzer has refined this style of aggressive-but-melodic power to sharp focus, and while it offers little in the way of expansion beyond the band’s tried-and-true style, The Scourge Of The Light is nevertheless a grand example of why, three decades after they helped to kick-start it, Jag Panzer remains at the forefront of the American power metal scene. [Andrew Edmunds]
See you next week.