“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 April 7th — April 13th.
Sunday, April 7th
Accept – Restless and Wild (1982)
“Heidi heido heida, heidi heido heida…” Opening with a brief crackling version of the German tune “Ein Heller und ein Batzen,” Restless & Wild kicks in with the blistering “Fast As A Shark,” one of the 80s’ finest metal moments and, at the time, a new level in speed. If Restless & Wild only contained that one song, it would still come recommended, but it follows with the AC/DC-leaning title track, the ripping “Demon’s Night,” and the epic “Princess Of The Dawn.” Restless & Wild is the finest moment from one of metal’s greatest bands—it’s an undisputed trad-metal classic. [Andrew Edmunds]
Monday, April 8th
Agent Steel – Unstoppable Force (1987)
One of speed metal’s greatest moments, Unstoppable Force is the perfect combination of powerful vocals, catchy riffs, shred-heavy soloing, and some absolutely first-rate tunes. The Brazilian-born John Cyriis’ voice is easily among the best in the style, and his UFO-themed lyrical focus was both intriguing and unique. But even with Cyriis’ soaring and searing scream, the force ultimately comes from the guitar tandem of Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles, who tear through these nine songs with such gleeful metallic abandon that it would be damn near impossible for anyone listening not to smile while they’re getting their skull smacked in. [Andrew Edmunds]
Tuesday, April 9th
Ministry – Rio Grande Blood (2006)
This is the fastest, heaviest, angriest, and Ministry-est the band has sounded in years. More satisfying than Al’s renewed hate for the President (I can hate Bush myself, for free) on Molé was the regression back to the uptempo industrial pummeling that defined the band’s best work. Still, that album, like the one before, suffered from consistency issues. There were great songs, but several average ones too, and one or two even less than that. But the good stuff was enough to keep Ministry fans happy with what they got. Revisiting the album after soaking in Rio Grande Blood makes Houses of the Molé look like a warm up. Sure, his single minded assault on Bush is overdone and somewhat gimmicky, even if it is warranted, but Jourgnesen’s fire bombing, consuming rage fuels the album with a seditious propulsion that was long thought dead.
Opening tracks have always been huge for Ministry (“Stigmata”, “Thieves”, “N.W.O.”, “No W”) and the title track of Rio Grande Blood follows suit. Joining Al this time around are Tommy Victor (Prong) on guitar, Paul Raven (Killing Joke and the hugely underrated industrial supergroup Murder Inc.) on bass, and Mark Baker on drums. After the requisite Bush sample filled intro the band tears into a round of white knuckle, hyper speed industrial metal, thick with prominent percussive backbone and machine gun riffing, and Hypo Luxa roaring over it all like a rabid field general. Al himself maintains his classic form, barking out unrelenting rebellion through a clever mixture vehement rage and sardonic smirk. What’s different about this time around though, is that Ministry manages to maintain that high level of energy and quality most of the way through the album. [Matthew Cooper]
Wednesday, April 10th
Boris – Pink (2006)
Pink plays like a resume, offering flavors of all the weapons in the band’s repertoire, from drone to punk rock and stoner rock to post-rock, and therefore serves as a welcome Cliff’s Notes to those who hope to catch up on one of the more interesting bands in music today. Pink is a predominantly uptempo affair, but you’d never guess it from “Farewell”, which opens the album with a gloriously hazy, post-rock meditation. The wistful, ethereal song is like an awakening to the album, serving as a bleary eyed and leg stretching warmup for things to come. In this way, the track is reminiscent, in function if not style, of “Up the Beach” from the Jane’s Addiction classic, Nothing Shocking. The leisurely pace of the plush “Farewell” strikes a stark contrast with its successor. The title track ushers in what is to the focus for the majority of the remainder of Pink, and that’s unmercifully rollicking uptempo psychedelic rock. Plainly speaking, if Pink doesn’t make you move, check for a pulse. We’re talking ass shaking good times here, folks. In fact, this album is guaranteed to make even the most stoic head nod along, if only involuntarily. Boris layers on the fuzzy riffs like true aficionados, but what makes their sound so addicting is the way they use the rhythm section and pace the songs so that just when you think they’ve hit top gear, they pull out all the stops and push the energy that much higher. Also notable, and part of what gives Boris such outstanding crossover appeal, are the smooth, and sometimes emotive vocals of Takeshi. [Matthew Cooper]
Thursday, April 11th
Darkthrone – Circle The Wagons (2010)
The nine cuts of speed / thrash / punk / heavy metal represented volley writing / lyricist ownership back and forth between the twosome, with the Fenriz side of the kiln burning a little hotter in terms of raucous speed & aggression and the Nocturno end weighing heavier on establishing a fist-pumping groove. And while Culto once again zips his lip in terms of revealing who fueled his inspiration this go-around, Fenriz gives nods toward Agent Steel, English Dogs, Omen and Savage Grace as motivators trotting alongside the already well-established Motörhead enthusiasm. “I Am The Graves of The 80’s” and “I Am The Working Class” both howl and snap like a Fenriz with a spring bunny in its sites, and Nocturno throws down a surprisingly pretty moment with the catchy “Running for Borders” that’s suitably offset by the coughing, chugging plod of “Stylized Corpse.”
Darkthrone doesn’t have much use for critics. Hell, it’s written in black and white as “The Choir of the Whining Professors” in the latter portion of the album’s liner notes. It’s a contempt that’s quite understandable, as the two have been busy laughing in the face of critique for damn-near 20 years now. Fenriz and Culto seem content to continue rutting a unique path that remains true to what they’ve always felt heavy metal should be: raw, defiant and most importantly, honest. That’s precisely what you get with Circle the Wagons. [Captain]
Friday, April 12th
Les Discrets – Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées (2010)
One of the things I love about independent artists (or at least those that cater to the spirit of independent art), is their ability to condense all the intricacies of making that art into something that speaks to the beholder personally. That is, whatever the medium, it places me right smack in the middle of the world created by that piece and envelops me so resolutely as to meld that world completely with my own. Such is the case with Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées, a record that, for forty-three minutes, whisks me utterly away to an exquisitely animated alternative reality teeming with shimmery atmosphere and lush melody.
The evocative nature of Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées is evident at once in the beautiful and compelling chord progressions that lead off the album’s first proper song “L’ Échappée,” a track also featured on the split with Alcest. Pensive and mysterious, they set the stage for a series of songs that effectively draw the sonic parallel with our most pondered, rarely resolved concerns: life, love, loss. “Les feuilles de l’olivier” underscores the gravity of such questions with rolling double bass and heavily strummed acoustics, while the ethereal leads of “Song for Mountains” implore us to look outside ourselves in that song’s Agallochian appeal to Nature. [Lone Watie]
Saturday, April 13th
El Paramo – El Paramo (2009)
Krautrock inspired by the Palm Desert scene and refined in the halls of the Chicago School of Atmospheric Post-Metal, by way of Madrid, Spain. Unless you’re already familiar with El Paramo, or studied in these styles, you’re likely as confused by that description as I was while typing it out. Really, all we’re talking about is an experimental brand of instrumental stoner rock that cruises comfortably along side Kyuss, Colour Haze and Los Natas, but isn’t content to merely roll along in the middle of the desert ratpack, instead venturing off into post-metal territory where it merges with the weighty atmospherics of Pelican and Russian Circles, and recent Isis (LA is near Palm Desert, anyway, if only geographically).
Whereas the word “experimental” can sometimes set off warning bells, conjuring thoughts of discombobulated wankery and pretentious self-aggrandizement, in this case it refers simply to the glory of the jam. El Paramo brings with their loose structure a natural ease that results in the sort of free-flow sonic discourse indicative of a bunch of guys that play what they play because they can’t imagine doing anything else; it is who they are. This apparently bloodborne free-form flair is ubiquitous on El Paramo, though it isn’t entirely boundless, as every track is fringed by wide swaths of hypnotic repetition that work to slot the listener right into the groove, where he’ll be content to ride it as far as the band will take him. [Lone Watie]
See you next week.