“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 May 12th — May 18th.
Sunday, May 12th
Melechesh – Emissaries (2007)
Like so much quality metal, Emissaries is a triumph of execution and stylistic mastery rather than genuine creativity. The riff-oriented songwriting and reliance on winding, sand-swept octatonic melody will draw comparisons to—who else?—Nile, but there’s no question that Melechesh are first and foremost a black metal band. Look no further than top-drawer opener “Rebirth of the Nemesis” for proof; the band substitutes swirling blastbeats and wonderfully thematic tremolo-picked guitar lines for cheesy theatrics. Unlike many black metal bands, these dudes require little aid from acoustic interludes or keyboards to elicit Lovecraftian visions of pre-ancient desert gods and demons. Melechesh is equally adept at mid-paced numbers, as they prove on follow-up “Ladders to Sumeria,” which sees the first of the band’s nicely understated chant-like sung vocals. Like their European peers 1349, these guys wisely elect to abandon the traditional kvlt black metal production and opt instead for a clear, biting guitar tone and even mix that brings their deft riffing capacity to the fore. The performances on this album are simply excellent; guitarists Ashmedi and Moloch employ a rather limited melodic vocabulary (they rely almost exclusively on Near Eastern melody) but use it to great effect. Meanwhile, Ashmedi’s black metal howl is fairly traditional but bears far more incantatory force than the average whispery rasper. The real standout, though, is Dutch drummer Xul. Neither overbearingly technical nor simplistic, his skinwork is diverse, groove-sensitive and extremely well-suited to Melechesh’s complex, linear songwriting. [Doug Moore]
Monday, May 13th
Novembers Doom – Into Night’s Requiem Infernal (2009)
With 2007’s The Novella Reservoir, doom/death stalwarts Novembers Doom branched away from their more mournful, gothic tinged death/doom stylings and delivered a sterner, more direct death metal album. That development has continued with excellent results for the band’s 7th album.
With a minor line-up change that sees current staffer Sasha Horn take over drums, Into Night’s Requiem Infernal has the same death metal hues as The Novella Reservoir, but also has the same somber undercurrent as their past albums and injections of truly effective ballads, mostly in part to Paul Kuhr’s always amazing, evocative vocals. The production from bassist Chris Djuricic is full, bolstered by the help of Dan Swano’s mixing efforts and the end result comes together as a fluid death metal release that shows how good Novembers Doom really are—able to release stellar albums in two genres over a 15 year span to boot. [Erik Thomas]
Tuesday, May 14th
Morbid Saint – Spectrum of Death (1988)
The Sheboygan-based thrashers in Morbid Saint were one of the late 80s’ most unfortunately overlooked acts—a long-lost gem, Spectrum Of Death (originally self-released under the title Lock Up Your Children) didn’t make anywhere near enough of a splash when it initially came out in 1988. Produced by Death manager Eric Greif, Spectrum is filled with pure ripping aggression, treading that line between the faster and heavier side of the thrash movement and the beginnings of the then-blooming death metal scene. From the glorious gory goofiness of the peeled-skull album art to the neck-snapping greatness of “Burned At The Stake” and “Crying For Death,” Spectrum is full-throttle furious fun. [Andrew Edmunds]
Wednesday, May 15th
Whiplash – Power and Pain (1985)
When an album contains one of the best songs (yes, we’re talking about “Power Trashing Death”) of the decade that shaped metal, its place in this very list of essential commodities should require no verbal justification. However, make no mistake taking Whiplash as some kind of one-hit wonder, because their debut full-length, in particular, is a real headbanger’s feast if there ever was one, introducing riff after adrenaline soaked, behemoth-sized riff and rounding things off with screeching solos that sway between faux atonality and meticulous phrasing with enviable ease. While more than just a sum of its parts, Power and Pain might not be your typical display of skillful metal composition, but what the songs might lack in dynamics they make up tenfold in take-no-fucking-prisoners aggression and lust for blood. And yeah, the vocals kind of suck…but so do our lives. [Juho Mikkonen]
Thursday, May 16th
Terrorizer – World Downfall (1989)
Los Angeles’ Terrorizer might well be the only band that ever recorded an outright classic AFTER breaking up. By the time this posthumous recording began, drummer Pete Sandoval had already joined Morbid Angel (whose bassist David Vincent would also perform on World Downfall), and guitarist Jesse Pintado (RIP) would spend the next fifteen years in Napalm Death. Even with three-quarters of its line-up soon to be legendary, World Downfall would live up to the pressure—it’s near-perfect early death-infected grindcore, with dirty punk-metal riffs, Sandoval’s spot-on blasting, and Oscar Garcia’s politically charged lyrics. One of grindcore’s greatest moments, and absolutely mandatory… [Andrew Edmunds]
Friday, May 17th
Pestilence – Consuming Impulse (1989)
A mere 450 days after Pestilence’s possessed thrasher Malleus Maleficarum, these Dutch doozies went full-on death metal for Consuming Impulse. Not only does their sophomore smash-’em-up herald the Schuldiner-y shift for these riffsmiths, but it allows main-throat Martin van Drunen the chance to drop his scream by an octave, settling into the raging range heavy metal fans would recognize at first howl for decades to come. While the album is clear of the jazzy, syncopated steps of its younger siblings, it keeps your attention with concise slices of pure, flawless death metal. It’s immediacy is its legacy. And what a legacy it is. [Ian Chainey]
Saturday, May 18th
Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1984)
The age-old argument of which Metallica album is greatest has always come down to Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. It’s a discussion we’re all passionate about, and might even be the most popular debate throughout all of heavy metal. To me, it’s no contest. Lightning had just the perfect amount of Mustaine, Burton and Hetfield… Just the right amount of experimentation without all the filler. With the exception of “Escape,” every single track on this album is an all-time, must-have, how-the-fuck-can-you-claim-to-like-metal-and-not-know-all-of-these-songs-by-heart 80’s classic. One of the most important 80’s albums of any genre, and one of the most essential albums in the history of heavy metal. But, since everyone already knows this, it’s about that time we break it out again and keep it in the rotation forever. [Konrad Kantor]
See you next week.