20 of my favourite albums that turned 20 years old this year. Simple enough premise but damn it took a while to get this just right. Anyway, list time!!!
20. Opeth - Morningrise
I first heard Opeth on a bootleg black metal compilation CD called "Blackened Vol. I". The song on it was "Nectar" and it fucking blew my mind. When I finally got my hands on "Morningrise", the album did not disappoint and along with "Blackwater Park" it remains an album i revisit every now and then.
19. Napalm Death - Diatribes
Napalm Death sold out. They have a rap song on this new album. That was the word on the street when this arrived on Indian shores. ND was one of my favourite bands at that point and I would not believe the rumours. As it turned out, there wasn't any rap on "Diatribes" but it was a whole new beast. Catchy riffs, more hardcore in nature than anything ND had done till then and overall an album that's stuck with me for the last 20 years. Not anywhere near the band's best but a sentimental and personal favourite.
18. Cryptopsy - None So Vile
None more brutal. This album fucking blew minds. Ridiculously heavy and pummeling death metal, "None So Vile" is an exercise in brutality for brutality's sake. It's a trememndous rush while it lasts and one of the blueprints for modern brutal death metal.
17. Type O Negative - October Rust
Initially, "October Rust" felt like a disappointment after the epic doom of "Bloody Kisses…" but over the years, this album has grown on me like a fungus. A bit more pop and less metal in some regards but the superior song writing and Steel's inimitable lyrics have made "October Rust" a perennial favourite.
16. Marduk - Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered
"Heaven Shall Burn" was the first black metal album I heard along with "Transilvanian Hunger". The Darkthrone album was a bit scary to be completely honest and "Heaven Shall Burn" definitely the easier listen. I came back to Darkthrone much later in life and pretty much discarded Marduk apart from this one and the debut. This album was a black metal gateway for me. I remember friends from that 90s describing it as "death metal with fuck all production and screeching vocals" and that still fits.
15. Pro-Pain - Contents Under Pressure
Mid 90s groove metal. This is just such a ridiculously catchy album that even today when I spin this in the car I'm singing along to every one of these songs. "Contents Under Pressure" is just filled to the brim with kickass riffs. A relic of it's time but has somehow managed to stay relevant and memorable.
14. Desaster - A Touch of Medieval Darkness
I love the first 2 Desaster albums. The debut especially. Rooted in NWOBHM and thrash metal but exploring the whole pagan side of black metal, "A Touch of Medieval Darkness" has memorable songwriting and the passion of these young Germans is evident.
13. His Hero is Gone - 15 Counts of Arson
Not much to say here. Abrasive, furiously angry American crust punk. Sometimes feel like more people should know this band. This one and "Monument to Thieves" should be essential purchases for anyone with even a little bit of interest in the whole punk/ crust/ grind scene.
12. Sacramentum - Far Away From The Sun
I didn’t actually get round to listening to Sacramentum till maybe the mid 2000s. Sometimes, a band just releases a special debut and then floats along for a couple more purely on the strength of that one album. "Far Away from the Sun" is that debut. Melodic black metal that took Dissection as a starting point but brought their own feel and immense skill to the game.
11. Corrosion of Conformity - Wiseblood
"Wiseblood" is the album Metallica wish they'd made instead of "Load". Great American rock music. Pepper Keenan was in control of the band at this point and "Wiseblood" went one step further in severing all ties to the band's hardcore roots. Superb guitar playing, great song writing and just one hell of a memorable album.
10. Burzum - Filosofem
Burzum had peaked by this time. I think parts of this album were finished in prison and the songs sometimes have a slightly disjointed feel to them. In spite of that or maybe because of that, there's a weird hypnotic charm to this album. Kind of like if "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and "Oxygene" were being played simultaneously and in close proximity to each other. Not his best but I really like this one.
9. Carcass - Swansong
I love this album. Carcass changed completely here and became a heavy rock band. Bill Steer and Michael Ammot just rocked out on these songs with groovy, catchy riffs, grooves aplenty and some neat soloing. Most people hate this one but what can I say? "Swansong" rocks like a motherfucker.
8. Lux Occulta - Forever Alone Immortal
The first Lux Occulta full length has held up really well. Blackened doom metal or doomy black metal. Call it what you will but this album has some amazing songs and the melodies are genuine ear worms that get stuck in my head for days at a time.
7. Adramelech - Psychostasia
Finnish death metal has come to be a description for a certain sound rather than just a geographical indicator. This album helped put that sound on the map. Absolutely sublime death metal.
6. Amorphis - Elegy
"Elegy" saw this Finnish band finally discard all of the death metal of their first 3 releases and instead go off in a prog rock inspired hard rock direction. Excellent song writing, some amazing melodies through out this album and the Finnish folk music touches made "Elegy" a perennial favourite and even 20 years down the line, these songs kick ass.
5. Integrity - Humanity is the Devil
Only 90s metal-core is real and "Humanity is the Devil" is one of the most important records to come out of this scene. Integrity are one of my all time favourite bands and with "Humanity…" the band delivered an album that was angry, abrasive and heavy as fuck. This is not an album for the weak of heart.
4. Skyclad - Irrational Anthems/ Oui Avant-garde á ChanceBit of a cheat here but Skyclad put out two amazing records in 1996. Martin Walkyier and his band of merry men first released "Irrational Anthems" which was a huge step up from the slightly disappointing "Silent Whales of Lunar Sea" from the previous year...
...but then went one better with the stripped down, mostly acoustic folk album "Oui Avant-garde á Chance". The band wrote some of the best music of their careers with these 2 albums and Walkyier wrote some of his best lyrics. Essential releases for fans of the band and an excellent introduction to new comers.
3. Acid Bath - Pagaen Terrorism Tactics
More refined and focussed than the debut, "Pagaen Terrorism Tactics" pushed the Louisiana sludge sound to a slightly more accessible place. Dax Riggs is a little more reined in compared to the debut and the band backs him up with some amazing song writing. Among all the defining albums of the scene, this one displays maturity and an emotional weight that has seldom been equaled.
2. Immolation - Here In After
I fell in love with this album the first time I saw the cover art and read the lyrics to "Nailed to Gold". "Here in After" has stood the test of time and is still one of the greatest death metal albums to come out in the last 20 years.
1. Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood
"Through Silver In Blood" changed heavy music as we know it. By 1996, Neurosis already had two great albums to it's credit with "Enemy of the Sun" and "Souls at Zero" but it was this release that firmly pushed the band to legendary status and got them the kind of press that they deserved. Mixing hardcore, psychedelia, tribal percussion, Swans and Black Sabbath, Neurosis blew minds and expanded on what metal could be.
And that is that. 1996 was a pretty great year. Not as awesome as 1986 though... 30 albums that turned 30 this year should be my next post. Hopefully before 2016 dies.