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All Time Top 20 Favourite Metal Bands

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Pantera

One of the real constants in my life throughout my early teens and into my early twenties, Pantera occupied a spot of high reverance and admiration in my music life for more than a decade.  I recall seeing the video to "Cowboys from Hell" on Raw Power and losing every last ounce of my shit to it and I recall every track on the debut just blew me the fuck away.  "Vulgar Display of Power" some how took things up another notch or two before the darker and more grimy feel of "Far Beyond Driven" ran through my teenage hormones like a fucking mood hoover!  I read a gig review of a Pantera show and the strap line under the photo just said "Pantera - a fucking heavy metal band!".  But they were more than that even as they bent and wah-wah'd their way into the (frankly awful) title of a Groove metal band.  As with most things that are really good, they didn't last forever and the world being such a horrible place that it is we know we are without two of metal's finest brothers with the sad loss of Dimebag and more recently Vinne, but the legacy lives on.

Key Album - Vulgar Display of Power

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29 minutes ago, MaxFaust said:

Yeah ... but what about poisonous critters, Wolf Creek and that Chopper Reid character?

Wolf Creek is losely based on a serial killer currently serving life without parole, the dangerous critters generally won't mess with you if you don't fuck with them, and unless I'm mistaken Chopper Reid is kind of dead. Now here's some good things about Australia: 8. There's very little shit weather. It's either fucking hot or fucking cold, or if you're in the Northern Territory it's fucking hot, very fucking hot, or super fucking hot. 7. You can always get a feed, there's always a BBQ going on somewhere, you can even get one at the local hardware store how good's that? 6. It's not England. 5. There's top sorts everywhere, 4. Thongs, or flip flops if you're not Aussie (like sandals but not shit), they're great, 3. Beer, beer is great, 2. Amazing beaches, go to a beach in Australia it's probably great, 1. Most Australians are mad, you will never meet nicer people then Australians.

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22 hours ago, RelentlessOblivion said:

So most of us included a little blurb talking about why we like the band. Picking an album is tough I just went for my favourites.

Ah damn, I should have read through this thread before I posted. Will edit later when I have time.

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Metallica

Perhaps a predictable entry but a valid one all the same.  I still stand by my belief that the first four albums by the band were one of the few great 'golden runs' of any metal band.  The growing maturity, consistent quality, sustained energy and stable relevance over the first five years of their career has been rarely matched IMO.  I even had a lot of time for the black album for a period despite it being a marked step up in accessibility and commercial appetite.  After that they split up as far as I am concerned and they are sadly now a mere parody band since the mid to late 90's (with 'Garage Inc.' being the only exception).  Still, a massive part of my growth in metal and a band that deservedly gets props for what they initially achieved.

Key Album - Ride The Lightning

Obituary

My DM gateway band and what a fucking gateway their debut album was for me.  I oddly only enjoy two albums by Obituary (although their last two releases have seen some play time in recent years) but such was the importance of these two releases they are enough to induct the band into my Top 20 list.  'Slowly We Rot' blew my fucking mind when I first heard it.  Trying to piece it all together whilst being more than a little afraid of it and the menacing atmosphere it presented to imperil my teenage naivety.  'Cause of Death' of course was the pinnacle of it all, a sublime display of death metal delivered with a mastery that has rarely been rivalled since.  I struggled to really identify just one key album such is the extent of the jurisdiction that these two albums hold over my metal development.

Key Album - Slowly We Rot

Slayer

Again, perhaps an obvious one to include but in this circumstance they are not here for 'Reign In Blood'.  You see I didn't hear their 1986 effort until I was about a decade into listening to metal.  I was much more preoccupied with 'Seasons In The Abyss' since this was my gateway album into the band.  I lost count of how many times that CD got played.  As with most records from my formative years I can play it in my head track by track, riff by riff (almost).  Whether it was the terror of 'Dead Skin Mask', the full assault of 'War Ensemble' or the monolithic structure of the title track that ended the record, I was just enamoured with the whole thing for years.  Although not quite the same level as Metallica in terms of their first few releases, there is still a consistency to the first seven years of the band now I have visited all of the releases from 1983 onwards, that I find is absent on most other progenitors of thrash metals' discographies.

Key Album - Seasons in the Abyss

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In no particular order, aside from number one, here's my stab at a top 20 "all time favorites" list:

Opeth - the only place for this band is at the top of my list. I was lucky enough to catch them kind of early on, at a formative time for my music taste and songwriting ideas. Tranquil melancholy, intuitive melodies, and dark aggression were held together by abstract songwriting that always had a sense of grace and clarity. I don't care for their last few recordings, but their first eight albums are all gold in my book. The first one I heard, and the one that had the biggest impact on me, was Morningrise.

Katatonia - although they've covered a good amount of stylistic ground in their 20+ years of development, from the raw, blackened melodic doom (dark metal, you say?) of their early albums to the polished modern prog-gloom sad rock of their latest, their heartfelt sense of melody remains a constant. Hard to pick one album out of a pretty big and somewhat varied discography; if forced to do so, I'd pick the one that won me over: Tonight's Decision.

Type O Negative - Gothic rock, punk aggression, 60s psychedelia, sprawling song structures, sarcastic humor, sincere explorations of shame and abandonment issues. Nobody else had Pete's voice; nobody could write songs like Pete. RIP Pete. Desert island album: World Coming Down.

My Dying Bride - another unique combination of aggression and melancholy melodies. I'm sensing a theme here. Doom-death with a growing gothic tinge, evocative guitar lines, long songs full of weird and often awkward transitions. I don't love every single album, but they're still doing good work. The definitive classic: Turn Loose The Swans.

Rush - my first "favorite" band as a kid, and one I've grown to appreciate even more as I get older. I've consistently enjoyed these guys since I first heard them almost thirty years ago. Their musicianship gives us all something to aspire to; Geddy Lee's polarizing vocals stand guard at the gate, keeping out all but the true seekers. Or something. The archetypal ur-text of prog rock in my internal mental library: Moving Pictures.

Soundgarden - ah, Chris Cornell. This guy could put anything from a delicate, intricate melody to a furious howl over pretty much any clunky odd-meter riff or weird chord change, and make it sound natural. Matt Cameron could make it groove. Kim Thayil could write it to begin with. And Ben Shepherd could... well, he played the bass. (Ok, sorry, he wrote stuff too, and also sang backup, and really helped expand their sense of what was possible in songwriting when he became Hiro Yamamoto's permanent replacement in 1990-91.) These guys could - and did - make memorable themes out of almost anything. One of the big superstars of "grunge", with a wide-ranging willingness to explore. Even the dad rock of their comeback album had a lot of great moments of genuine inspiration. Cornell's suicide hit me like a ton of bricks. Most unique statement: Superunknown.

Alice In Chains - while we're on "grunge", the story of my life wouldn't be complete without the nihilistic, drug-laden emotional rollercoaster of AIC's early albums. Honest riffing, clear and deceptively simple songwriting, and a raw, fiery edge to their trademark dual vocal attack, opening a door on the inner conflict hinted at by their cryptic lyrics. Anger, sadness, boredom, and the occasional epiphany, always with the sense of something horrible lurking around the corner. Hardest gut punch: Dirt.

Swans - primitive, abrasive fury? Proto-industrial bludgeoning? Spiteful declamations? Lush, reverb-drenched atmospheres? Gothic anthems of the bombastic or meditative natures? Unnerving soundscapes? Pains and pleasures to frighten the uninitiated, magic carpets to transport the half-awake, blankets to smother the enlightened? Anyway I like this band a lot. They've been all over the place since their inception in the early 80s, and one can't encapsulate that kind of career in a single album; but if one wants to try, one might listen to Children Of God. (If one wants to forgo the theatrics and just hit things for fun, one would be advised to listen to Filth instead.)

Enslaved - A couple teenagers from Norway in the early 1990s like the sound of black metal, but would rather write about Viking stuff than Satan. One of them turns out to be a prolific songwriting genius who develops a unique fusion of black and folk metal with psych rock and 70s prog, over the course of fourteen albums and counting. There's a mysticism in this music, the sense that you're going on a journey, or that the world is going on a journey around you; and energy is always present, even if it bubbles under the surface. Favorite mystical journey: Below The Lights.

Death - one of death metal's pioneers since their demo recordings (as Mantas) in the early 80s. Various lineups (including some serious A-list talent) under the direction of guitarist/songwriter/frontman Chuck Schuldiner put out seven influential and increasingly eclectic albums in an eleven-year period, before "disbanding" to focus on new music with a different vocal style. Chuck's distinctive riffing and soaring melodies helped define prog death for me, and probably a generation of other metalheads. A difficult choice between any of the last four albums for me, but the one that first opened my eyes was 1993's Individual Thought Patterns.

Isis - another band that opened me up to a new way of thinking about songwriting. Big, open structures, layers of different textures, lush atmosphere, and carefully considered dynamic shifts across a spectrum from sparse post-rock to harsh, abrasive sludge. When you don't know what to call it, call it "post-metal"... I was a fan of the early, noisy stuff, but they really hit me with 2002's Oceanic.

Akercocke - blackened progressive death metal with tons of great melodies, varied and passionate vocals, and tasteful synth/electronic elements, at the service of enjoyable, memorable, cohesive songs that often pull together my favorite parts of disparate influences as if by magic; what's not to love? Their early stuff is vicious, and their comeback album from a couple of years ago was stellar, but the one that cemented them in my head as a favorite was 2005's Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone.

Gorguts - a dark, uncompromising death metal powerhouse, from their enjoyable early albums through their idiosyncratic, twisted late 90s/early 2000s material to the gorgeous intricacies of their newest recordings. This band tried things few others had even thought of, and managed to succeed. I absolutely love what they've done since their new lineup formed, and in a vacuum I might prefer to listen to it, but in the context of an "all time favorites" list, my pick has to be 1998's seminal Obscura.

Amorphis - a cold wind blew down from Finland when I was fourteen, carrying with it a sense of other possibilities in death metal aside from the meat-and-potatoes pummeling I'd gotten into - stark, angular melodies, slower rhythms, brooding gloom, cultural context. They'd shift gears pretty quickly, leaving death metal - and me - behind, but (for my taste) their debut is one of DM's pillars, wrapping most of what I love about the Finnish scene into a simmering yet catchy package: The Karelian Isthmus.

Queensryche - those vocal melodies! Those memorable riffs. That tasteful lead guitar work and skillful songwriting. I've loved their music since I was ten or eleven, I like their first three albums as much as anything above, and I used to jam the shit out of even the two after that. Hugely important to my musical development. And yet I don't care much for the vast majority of what they've done, including nearly everything from the past thirty years, and a full two-thirds of their output is steaming turds. Ah well. Forget that they didn't break up in 1990, and focus on their cinematic narrative concept prog-metal masterpiece, Operation: Mindcrime.

Cradle Of Filth - years of actual filth can't obscure the ambition and brilliance of their early stuff, particularly the second, third, and fourth albums. Interesting melodies, intense drum work, detailed and wide-ranging songs that turn on a dime, topped off with Dani's unique shrieks and dense lyrics. Almost a toss-up here, but I have to go with the grandiose, impressively well-realized black/death/gothic/symphonic synthesis of Cruelty And The Beast.

Nevermore - this band had great technical chops and real chemistry, which tends to get a little lost in the modern polish of their recordings. Jeff Loomis could (can?) write a mean riff, and he's one of the few flashy soloists whose playing I not only admire, but actually enjoy. Warrel Dane's haunting vocal tone, forceful delivery, thoughtful lyrics, and highly personalized melody and harmony ideas were the centerpiece of their songwriting. Brilliant inflection points were scattered throughout. Even their weaker music was accomplished and engaging; at their best, they were transcendent. Most heartfelt and cohesive album: Dreaming Neon Black.

Meshuggah - their influence on modern metal, and on me, can't be denied. It's easy to think these guys had that one idea, that one time, and figured out how to make a career out of it. Their big chunky polyrhythms and half-tone/whole-tone lead lines gave rise to a lot of tiresome ripoffs; I have to admit that I hate most of the bands they directly inspired. I don't play their stuff much these days. But when they first hit their stride, they sounded like nothing else, pulling together rhythms and textures with a sense of purpose that blew teenage Alabaster out of the water. Often imitated, never duplicated. For clarity, textural variety, and focus in songwriting, the untouchable gem in my book is their second album, Destroy Erase Improve.

Dark Tranquillity - for a little while, DT was my favorite melodic metal band in the world. Well-differentiated songs full of awesome guitar harmonies, and bold twists and turns that may as well have leapt from the head of Zeus. It couldn't last; they "streamlined" their third album into a passable answer to contemporary At The Gates before making a career out of music that I can't stand. They almost shouldn't be here. But their second album is my favorite thing to come out of the Gothenburg scene, and it's still relevant to me today: 1995's majestic The Gallery.

Metallica - ugh, I really have to put Metallica on this list. I don't want to; like a few of the other bands I listed, and to a greater degree than most, they went tits up, jumped the shark, shat the fucking bed. Not only that, but I hardly ever listen to them anymore, maybe once every year or two. And yet. And yet. Wow, these guys were a bolt of lightning. They put out the first metal album I owned, and they were the first "heavy" band I liked. They wrote the first guitar part I figured out by ear. They played the first concert I went to. I saved up money working all summer to buy legit tapes of their albums and a stereo to play them on. The riffs, the vocals, the songs... it's all there at the foundation of my musical journey. Maybe the most important band in my library. That's probably true for countless other people as well. Out of the albums I still enjoy, I'd have to choose 1988's bitter, intense, sometimes unexpectedly personal ...And Justice For All.

_____

In a different year, under different lighting, any of the following bands might have made the list:

Pantera
Suffocation
Rotting Christ
Deicide
Cannibal Corpse
Beyond Dawn
Fear Factory
Faith No More
At The Gates
Darkthrone
Satyricon
Ulver
Deftones
Hedningarna
Sisters Of Mercy
Joy Division
Deine Lakaien
King Crimson
Celtic Frost
Anathema
Demilich
Ulcerate
Obituary

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Interesting list @FatherAlabaster.

Somehow I expected to see more death metal bands but Instead I was delighted to see Cradle, the Katas, and Amorphis etc. 

With bands like Soundgarden and Metallica making the list, and not a single black metal band, this has been an interesting insight. 

Enjoyable reading. 

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57 minutes ago, Requiem said:

Interesting list @FatherAlabaster.

Somehow I expected to see more death metal bands but Instead I was delighted to see Cradle, the Katas, and Amorphis etc. 

With bands like Soundgarden and Metallica making the list, and not a single black metal band, this has been an interesting insight. 

Enjoyable reading. 

The idea of "all time favorites" is a weird one for me. I decided to go with bands that had the biggest impact over the course of my life, but I almost didn't do the list because it doesn't reflect a lot of what I enjoy these days. I guess it's more of a look at where I come from than anything else. Satyricon, Darkthrone, Ulver, and Rotting Christ have about as much right to be up there as some of the others.

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Iron Maiden

Let’s get the real obvious choice for inclusion onto the list shall we?  Iron Maiden are essentially what heavy metal is to me.  Without a shadow of a doubt they were the most influential of all bands for me growing up with hardly a blemish on their record until their post-Fear of the Dark material.  I played all of their records from the debut through the aforementioned Fear of the Dark so many times that I can recite them all track by track in my head.

Growing up as a stroppy and volatile teenager, Maiden more than once brought me down from a raging, hormone infested whirlwind of a lad by me slamming the volume up to one of their records, clamping the headphones on either side of my skull and going fucking mental using a cricket bat as a guitar substitute.

I was consistently blown away by the artwork for more or less all of their records, but always get the goosebumps looking at the cover for ‘Killers’.  They just embodied for so long for me what metal actually should look and sound like. 

I actually prefer Di’Anno as a vocalist, despite him not having the range of Dickinson his style just felt more attuned to the sound of the band that I always imagined played in small clubs and venues and therefore the vocals fit perfectly.  Not that I have any problems with Dickinson though, he just isn’t my preferred vocalist.

As with the Metallicas and Slayers of my list, Maiden for me are now a shadow (indeed a book full of them - see what I did there?) of their former selves and I just can’t bring myself to listen to any of their latter stuff.  Now I have the trauma of trying to pick a key record.

Key Album - Iron Maiden

 

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Judas Priest

Priest have nowhere near the impact on me that say an Iron Maiden or a Metallica have.  My love of Priest was born completely out of 'Painkiller' and at the time of release I only had that and then 'Ram It Down' to listen to in my humble collection.  It has not been until recent years that they have taken a more prominent position in my metal journey with my library being stacked with various releases of theirs.  I think their importance is that they add a variety to my collection just by virtue of their discography alone.  From the high octane metal of the aforementioned 'Painkiller' and last year's near resurrection of that quality on 'Firepower', to the arena rock anthems of the 'British Steel' era through to the intricate story telling of 'Sad Wings...' there's something for most moods in Priest's back catalogue.  But I won't shy away from being another one (of the established many) who worship 'Painkiller', not just for its energy and intensity but also for the fact that in the year it was released it had several strong challengers (1990 was a great year) and it still stood head and shoulders above all.

Key Album - Painkiller

Deftones

Yes, that's right, the Deftones are in here.  There was a time when I had drifted from the metal shores of my established kingdom and was in danger of falling out altogether with the genre.  Deftones actually served as my gateway back into metal with their blend of accessible, melodic and hazy/gazy songwriting coupled with that aggressive, hormonal teenager with a knife nu-metal style that all the cool kids listened to.  'Around the Fur' and 'White Pony' hold special places in my heart but it was actually 'Diamond Eyes' that originally grabbed my attention one Sunday afternoon when I was feeling bereft of music and needed something to slap me upside the head.  Worked a treat.

Key Album - Diamond Eyes

Kreator

I get the talents of Destruction and Sodom when talking about Teutonic Thrash metal and I enjoy most of the aforementioned two's output over the years but it was the evil intent that sat behind 'Pleasure To Kill' that really made me sit up and take notice of the German Thrash scene, above even 'In The Sign Of Evil' or 'Obsessed by Cruelty'.  Mille Petroza's vocals were like acid in my ears and the raw atmosphere of the record coupled well with the structure of the songs that gave it a menacing edge over the likes of 'Seven Churches' even.  Since the sophomore I have gone on to own all of their records through from the debut, up to and including 'Coma of Souls', and find myself visiting them all with regularity.  

Key Album - 'Pleasure to Kill'

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Alright, everyone is posting they top 20 bands, so am I, but I will write very shortly with no description since these bands are rather well known (maybe not all), and these are my current favourites, but of course Im discovering new bands often :

20. Korn (its here only because of nostalgia - it was first ever metal band I have listened to when I was 15, with Linkin Park at the time, although now Im skipping that) - Follow The Leader / Untitled

19. Belphegor - Conjuring The Dead / Totenritual

18. Cannibal Corpse - Red Before Black 

17. Morbid Angel - Kingdoms Disdained / Domination

16. Satyricon - Now, Diabolical 

15. Decapitated - Anticult 

14. System Of A Down - Every Album, Period 

13. Gorgoroth - Instinctus Bestialis 

12. Made Of Hate (if you never heard of it its Melodic Death Metal, something to chill rather, some Pirate Themes also) - Bullet In Your Head 

11. Tsjuder - Desert Northern Hell

10. FrontSide - Zmartwychwstanie

9. Deicide - Overtures Of Blasphemy

8. Hate - Crusade Zero

7. Burzum - Filisofem 

6. Paradise Lost - Medusa 

5. Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

4. Dimmu Borgir - Eonian

3. Behemoth - The Satanist / Evangelion 

2. Darkthrone - Every album has one of my favourite tracks, really hard to choose 

1. Bloodbath - Nightmares Made Flesh / The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn 

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W.A.S.P.

Forget the theatre for a minute here.  I knew all about Lawless and co’s stage antics and shock lyrical content, but it was not any of that brazen, cocksure headiness that drew me to the band.  Nope it was purely the music.  I would argue that from the debut through to ‘Crimson Idol’ they rarely put a foot wrong.  Yes, ‘Inside The Electric Circus’ perhaps needed a trim and ‘The Last Command’ too.  But neither were turkeys and I played both of them to fucking death as a teenager being energised by the likes of ‘Jack Action’, ‘9.5. - N.A.S.T.Y.’ and ‘Wild Child’.

’The Headless Children’ showed some real maturity with actual structure to the songs and a little more teeth and less tongue in cheek than what had come before (although ‘Mephisto Waltz’ sucked and blowed and the same time).

The final piece of the maturity scale came with ‘The Crimson Idol’.  To hear a band more infamous for tits n tattle perform a concept record and not get lost in the story and let the music still be centre stage was a real treat.  I spent so many of my teenage years playing W.A.S.P. for a good portion of each of them it seems criminal that nowadays I don’t pick up their CD’s off the library shelves more.

Key Album - The Crimson Idol

Morbid Angel

The mind bending sonic wizardry of Trey on Morbid Angel’s first 2 albums just blows me away still to this day. Despite my affection/nostalgia for Obituary as my death metal gateway band, Morbid Angel occupied my turntable/CD drawer for a large percentage of my teenage years also.  There was a poise about MA that I felt no other band had at the time. Vincent looked like a shampoo model who ate puppies at children’s parties and the cool menace of his vocals further cemented the image.  Sandoval was a fucking beast on the skins and Brunelle worked the riff engine, stoking the fires with near passive effort.

’Altars of Madness’ and ‘Blessed Are The Sick’ change places as being my favourite MA release more often than I change my duds!  I even forgave the dry sound to ‘Covenant’ after many years off being put off by it.  Hell, even when Vincent has been sacked, had handbags at ten paces with Trey or just decided that Country is his thang, Tucker steps right in and the band molds accordingly, creating some great records along the way.

A common theme in my list is bands who mature, whose songwriting goes up a notch within mere years.  The step up from the debut to ‘Blessed...’ is so obvious and the whole record is caked in fucking atmosphere to the extent that you can ice it, slice it and serve it dinner parties.

Key Album (today at least) - Blessed Are The Sick

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Immortal

Weighing up my list thus far it is obvious that Black Metal has only been influential in my latter years (I would say in the last decade only did I start to listen to BM).  It seems natural that I would list one of the more traditional metal sounding BM bands in Immortal.  ‘At The Heart Of Winter’ was the gateway record for me with it’s big riffs, solid structures and memorable atmospheres.  The further back I went into their back catalogue and got wind of the walls of noise that were ‘Pure Holocaust’ and ‘Battles in the North’, the more attuned to the real essence of what the band and genre were really about I became.

Let’s face it, their discography is not flawless and at times is downright forgettable.  But the avenue into the genre that Immortal gave me was invaluable.  As I got to grips with their harsher, colder and more primitive releases, I in turn lent an ear to the likes of Mayhem, Darkthrone and Burzum.

The world post-Abbath looks sufficiently grim based on the excellent ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ which proved Demonaz to be the true force in the band.

If I am honest, there’s no other BM presence in my list of 20 (spoiler alert).  Only Emperor came close to an entry but although I champion the first two records from them they made little in the way of being an influencer on me like Immortal were.

Key Album - ‘At The Heart Of Winter’

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Pretty much the same list I would write years ago. It’s becoming increasingly hard for me to find bands that leave some kind of everlasting bond:

 

1. Deathspell Omega - K/A: Paracletus

2. Peste Noire - K/A: Ballade...

3. Immolation - K/A: Close to a World Below

4. Baise Ma Hache - K/A: Le Grand Suicide

5. Grand Belial’s Key - K/A: Judeobeast Assassination

6. Arghoslent - K/A: Hornets of the Pogrom

7. Hypocrisy - K/A: Virus

8. Goatmoon - K/A: Voitto Tai Valhalla

9. Mgla: K/A: Groza

10. Aosoth: K/A: The Inside Scriptures V

11. Svartidaudi: K/A: Flesh Cathedral

12. Ulcerate: K/A: Everything is Fire

13. Dissection: K/A: Storm of the Light’s Bane

14. Teitanblood: K/A: Seven Chalices

15. The Chasm: K/A: Deathcult for eternity

16. Drudkh: K/A: The Swan Road

17. Diapsiquir: K/A: A.N.T.I

18. Funeral Mist: K/A: Maranatha

19. Clandestine Blaze: K/A: City of Slaughter

20. Angelcorpse: K/A: The Inexorable

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2 hours ago, MattCantina said:

Pretty much the same list I would write years ago. It’s becoming increasingly hard for me to find bands that leave some kind of everlasting bond:

 

1. Deathspell Omega - K/A: Paracletus

2. Peste Noire - K/A: Ballade...

3. Immolation - K/A: Close to a World Below

4. Baise Ma Hache - K/A: Le Grand Suicide

5. Grand Belial’s Key - K/A: Judeobeast Assassination

6. Arghoslent - K/A: Hornets of the Pogrom

7. Hypocrisy - K/A: Virus

8. Goatmoon - K/A: Voitto Tai Valhalla

9. Mgla: K/A: Groza

10. Aosoth: K/A: The Inside Scriptures V

11. Svartidaudi: K/A: Flesh Cathedral

12. Ulcerate: K/A: Everything is Fire

13. Dissection: K/A: Storm of the Light’s Bane

14. Teitanblood: K/A: Seven Chalices

15. The Chasm: K/A: Deathcult for eternity

16. Drudkh: K/A: The Swan Road

17. Diapsiquir: K/A: A.N.T.I

18. Funeral Mist: K/A: Maranatha

19. Clandestine Blaze: K/A: City of Slaughter

20. Angelcorpse: K/A: The Inexorable

Awesome list.  Nice to see Diapsiquir get mentioned here too!

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Remembered I still haven't updated this, so I'm doing it now, because it's 6 AM and I can't sleep haha.

There are many bands I believe I could exchange in the bottom ten on this list, but I'm sticking with what I have here. Some of these depend on whether I've been listening to them recently or not, but most, especially top ten, are solid. I could, however, substitute any number of bands - Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Dark Funeral, Candlemass, Dream Theater, and so on and so forth. So these 20 are not quite written in stone as favorites, except the top 6-8. 

Anyway.

20. Motley Crue - Shout at the Devil

I like the Crue, although I must admit I have to listen to glam with a grain of salt. I believe this is their best album, it's by far their heaviest, and pretty much every song on here feels iconic of the LA scene in the early 80s. It's also got my favorite guitar work from Mick Mars, who in my opinion is one of the most underrated guitarists ever. 

19. Scorpions - Love at First Sting

Sort of the same deal here as with Motley Crue. This is the kind of stuff I listen to in the background at work. Heavy enough to keep my interest, but for the most part, completely non-threatening and free of any introspective feelings or ideas like most of the music I listen to is more or less completely immersed in. It's just fun to listen to and the band sounds great.

18. Immortal - At the Heart of Winter

I could say this or Pure Holocaust is my favorite, depending on my mood. The riffs on this album are massive, but Pure Holocaust is their best work overall, in my opinion. Immortal is not my preferred black metal, although I do find myself listening to this album sometimes, when I still want to listen to black metal but want a small break from the completely grim and serious.

17. Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime

Or, as I like to call it, Operation Mindfuck. One of the most underrated bands of the 80s, and I think it's unfortunate they have been saddled at times (inaccurately) with the "glam" or "hair band" labels. Right out the gate with their self-titled EP, these guys are a sonic punch right in the face. Geoff Tate's vocals are so unique and powerful, and I love how they build intensity in their songs. Honestly, I probably could have picked any album as a favorite up to and including Empire, but Operation Mindcrime, lives up to its positive reviews in just about every way. 

16. Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind

Similarly, I could probably pick just about any Maiden album up until Fear of the Dark as a favorite. For a bands that's been around since what was essentially the birth of metal, they're pretty damn consistent from album to album, although I can't say I enjoy their later albums with the same zeal. There are just so many classics in their discography, and Piece of Mind is probably the album I've listened to the most cover to cover. 

15. Suicidal Tendencies - Lights...Camera...Revolution!

I love how these guys meshed thrash metal with hardcore punk without becoming some bullshit metalcore band. Love the guitar work on this album, lyrics are ultra relatable. Some of my favorite music to listen to when I'm pissed off. Mike doesn't mince words about stupid people and fucked up society, a great way to put things back into perspective when I'm made to feel like I'm the crazy one. Just great, ass-kicking music.

14. Death - Symbolic

Ah, Death. I'm much more on the black metal side of things, but I have a soft spot for Death. Not only were they such an innovative band, and with this album specifically, but the misanthropic themes on Symbolic really speak to me, and there are few bands I can say can express this theme with the same level of fury and honesty. "Empty Words" and "Crystal Mountain" are timeless classics and personal favorites of mine.

13. Gorgoroth - Antichrist

I prefer Gaahl-era Gorgoroth (Incipit Satan is pretty damn hard to beat), but Antichrist just has a certain atmosphere about it which I find especially enjoyable. I'm not sure if it's the production, or perhaps because they almost approach doom metal at times (especially the closing track), but this is exactly the kind of thing I love to listen to on a cold, rainy night. And, I mean, it's Frost behind the kit, can't go wrong there.

12. Moonsorrow - Voimasta Ja Kunniasta

Black metal with a heavy dose of folk influence? Yes, please! I typically have to be in a certain mood to listen to this sort of thing, but this album is so good, every song on here is equal parts beautiful and aggressive. They're also not as annoying as a lot of other similar bands can sometimes be. Rarely, if ever, do I feel compelled to quit listening to them halfway through an album.

11. Korpiklaani - Tales Along This Road

I don't listen to this band as much as I used to, and in retrospect, a lot of what they do is just the same regurgitated tropes (though still good fun in the right setting). I do, however, still really like this album, especially "Tuli Kokko", which may well be my favorite "folk metal" song ever.

10. Turisas - Battle Metal

Again, not a band I listen to as much anymore, though their much smaller discography makes it easier to revisit them over the course of an afternoon. Battle Metal and The Varangian Way still hold up and I still like them, Battle Metal being, in my opinion, groundbreaking in its own way. Sadly, I think this band has fizzled out after a rather short career.

9. Finntroll - Jaktens Tid

I won't lie, I love Finntroll. I love every single album they've ever done. Not a 100% serious band, nor do I believe they ever were, but I like what they do. Really difficult for me to pick a favorite, and all of their albums get equal rotation from me, but there's an intangible about Jaktens Tid which bumps it just a bit higher than the others.

8. 1349 - Hellfire

I'm not entirely sure if this band would rank as high on my list if they had a different drummer, but I still love their sound and aesthetic regardless of Frost's genius. I appreciate that they continue to maintain an authenticity to black metal when so many others have for the most part abandoned the genre. Again, tough to pick a favorite album, but I tend to listen to Hellfire the most.

7. October Tide - Rain Without End

October Tide itself, is not what I would say have been a terribly influential or groundbreaking band by any means throughout its existence, given the fact that this genre was already sort of established at the time, but goddamnit do I love this album. It's like the extra early Katatonia album (more on that later) with such a perfect atmosphere, memorable riffs, beautiful lyrics, great vocal performance. An obscure jewel of an album.

6. Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky

Okay, here's where we're getting into what I would call something like "The Most Untouchable Metal Bands in Depraved's Humble Opinion". To say this album was hugely influential and still such a classic is an understatement. They really mastered and perfected the sound, and to think it was one of the first Norwegian black metal albums ever recorded, really speaks to its importance despite the direction the band began to move in after Transylvanian Hunger. Simply put, it's one of the most perfect Norwegian black metal albums ever written.

5. Paradise Lost - Draconian Times

Where do I begin with them? I believe they're the quintessential gothic metal band, whose influence was quite far-reaching, more so than was probably originally thought. What they became after this album I believe was a travesty, despite their efforts to redeem themselves in recent years, but their earlier material - and this album especially - are untouchable. Some reviews I've seen say it's a little cheesy or compare Nick Holmes's vocals to James Hetfield (???) which I don't agree with at all (actually never drew any connection with Hetfield until I read that and I guess I can kind of see why some people would hear a similarity, but still sounds nothing like a "gothic Metallica" or some other stupid things I've read). Paradise Lost did everything right with this album, the songwriting, the lyrics, the clean tones, the artwork, even the samples. There is something inexplicable about this album - which is usually a great sign when it comes to music - which can't be expressed in words, but this album creates such a specific mood. This album takes me alone to a graveyard in autumn in the rain, that sort of quiet, internal sorrow and existential introspection. It's that feeling, in musical form. 

4. Opeth - Orchid

I know I'm an outlier for choosing Orchid here, but early Opeth, up until Still Life are some of my favorite albums ever written. Opeth was actually the first metal band I really listened to, and so maintain a certain special place in my heart, and at one time I would have told you they're my favorite band. That's not exactly the case anymore, but I still thoroughly enjoy their early material whenever I revisit it, and Orchid is probably the only album of theirs toward which my feelings still haven't changed. Like Draconian Times, it's difficult for me to put my finger on what it is specifically about this album that I love so much. The riffs, that goes without saying, but it's something more than that. The structure of the songs, while unconventional and sometimes meandering even by Opeth standards or those of progressive metal as a genre, is very unique, in a way that makes each piece feel like a journey. The acoustic parts are beautiful, too. Some people might say it's a bit of an amateur effort, but I don't really see it that way. For whatever little they lack in technicality, they make up for in scores with passion and innovation.  

3. Satyricon - Nemesis Divina

Somewhat underrated compared to their contemporaries, but Satyricon's first three LPs really capture the atmosphere and meaning of the genre. I absolutely love Dark Medieval Times and The Shadowthrone as well, but Nemesis Divina is their magnum opus in my opinion and a culmination of their earlier creative efforts. Listening to these albums is like a mesmerizing, dark, grim fantasy, which no other band has seemed to be able to recreate in quite the same way. I believe this is due, in part, to the use of piano and acoustic bits here and there where they're least expected. Something about that, combined with the rawness of the riffs and Satyr's demonic vocals, makes this album such a great listen and is one of the best black metal has to offer. I've already mentioned Frost a couple of times in this post, so I don't really need to talk about him again (wait - what am I saying?) If this album was already perfect for its riffs and melodies, Frost's drumming puts it over the top. His style is so aggressive, urgent, and complex and really fits with the mood of the album. He's one of my all-time favorite drummers - if not my favorite - and some of his best work is showcased here. 

2. Katatonia - Dance of December Souls

They're almost number one on my list and they may well be tied for that spot. Such an original sound, heavy and melancholic without sacrificing melody. I could fanboy for hours about their early material and it almost makes listening to their later output sort of bittersweet, simply because it's always felt overshadowed by their first two LPs. My first introduction to them was Brave Murder Day, and I didn't think metal could get much better than that, but then I listened to Dance of December Souls and I was completely blown away. I'm not sure what it is, and it feels foolish to attempt to express how I really feel about this music in words, but I think these guys demonstrate better than anyone else the very definition of artistic expression through music, all while (in the early-mid 90s, at least) pushing the boundaries of creative license. I don't think I'll ever be able to quit talking about Dance of December Souls. It's so haunting and beautiful and gut-wrenching all at the same time. Kingpins of doom/death for sure.

1. Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

I'm not sure what I could possibly say about them that hasn't already been said. De Mysteriis... is, in my opinion, black metal's finest hour. Dead's lyrics, Euro's riffs, the aggression and atmosphere this album creates...the only thing which could have made it better is if they had been able to record it when Dead was still alive. I'm not a huge fan of Attila's vocals, but it's not like they ruin the album or anything. Perhaps the reason these guys are at the top of my list is mainly because of their legacy and influence, but the early material still blows me away. I don't think anyone who came after has been able to touch them, as many good black metal bands as there have been. Mayhem's classic lineup just had something intangible about them; the perfect storm gone horribly awry, but it's the lyrical themes and hair-raising guitar tone that keep me going back to their debut full-length.

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2 hours ago, True Belief said:

^^ So much win with this list.

 

 

Lol why thank you! I have no life, so I just listen to a bunch of metal all the time. I have nothing better to do. Or rather, listening to metal, apparently, is my life.

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@Depraved, yes, great list, we share a lot of bands here, and our top 2 are the same, although mine is around the other way, but almost arbitrarily so. 

Of the bands that you've listed that I haven't, I could easily have Motley, Finntroll, Turisas, Gorgoroth, Immortal in my list, and I like all of the other bands. 

You can come around to a Castle Requiem party any time. 

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24 minutes ago, Requiem said:

@Depraved, yes, great list, we share a lot of bands here, and our top 2 are the same, although mine is around the other way, but almost arbitrarily so. 

Of the bands that you've listed that I haven't, I could easily have Motley, Finntroll, Turisas, Gorgoroth, Immortal in my list, and I like all of the other bands. 

You can come around to a Castle Requiem party any time. 

Doing this list and being forced to rank them made me realize just how many bands I listen to, and it was really difficult to leave some out or choose between them. Not only that, having to explain why I like some of this stuff, I could almost tell you I have no idea haha, other than that in most of these cases especially nearing the top of the list, there is something in the music which speaks to me on a very profound level which perhaps transcends the conscious mind. 

I remember the first time I ever heard Katatonia. I actually got into them through Opeth, and hearing Brave Murder Day felt like I had finally found the music I had been looking for all my life. The way they express sorrow/despair/other difficult or extreme emotions...it's never come across as all "oh, woe is me", but instead there is a real honesty and maturity in it, even in the early days, which few bands can convincingly pull off. Never has it ever felt contrived or insincere. Don't even get me started on Nystrom's guitar work. Some of the most beautiful and instantly recognizable tones I've ever heard. Even their later material (say, after Tonight's Decision) is really good, despite being such a rabid fan of their early stuff. Although I must admit, Last Fair Deal Gone Down is one of my least favorite albums from them; among their later material, I much prefer Viva Emptiness. :P 

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3 minutes ago, Depraved said:

Doing this list and being forced to rank them made me realize just how many bands I listen to, and it was really difficult to leave some out or choose between them. Not only that, having to explain why I like some of this stuff, I could almost tell you I have no idea haha, other than that in most of these cases especially nearing the top of the list, there is something in the music which speaks to me on a very profound level which perhaps transcends the conscious mind. 

I remember the first time I ever heard Katatonia. I actually got into them through Opeth, and hearing Brave Murder Day felt like I had finally found the music I had been looking for all my life. The way they express sorrow/despair/other difficult or extreme emotions...it's never come across as all "oh, woe is me", but instead there is a real honesty and maturity in it, even in the early days, which few bands can convincingly pull off. Never has it ever felt contrived or insincere. Don't even get me started on Nystrom's guitar work. Some of the most beautiful and instantly recognizable tones I've ever heard. Even their later material (say, after Tonight's Decision) is really good, despite being such a rabid fan of their early stuff. Although I must admit, Last Fair Deal Gone Down is one of my least favorite albums from them; among their later material, I much prefer Viva Emptiness. :P 

Oi!! ‘Last Fair Deal’ is one of my all time favourite albums and my favourite from the Katas! 

While I do really like ‘Viva’ I tend to find the guitar tone to be too abrasive for some reason, and the great tracks like ‘Evidence’ and ‘Criminals’ are couched in too much filler material. 

‘Last Fair Deal’ blew me away when I first heard it in 2001. Still does. 

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20 minutes ago, Requiem said:

Oi!! ‘Last Fair Deal’ is one of my all time favourite albums and my favourite from the Katas! 

While I do really like ‘Viva’ I tend to find the guitar tone to be too abrasive for some reason, and the great tracks like ‘Evidence’ and ‘Criminals’ are couched in too much filler material. 

‘Last Fair Deal’ blew me away when I first heard it in 2001. Still does. 

Haha yeah that's why I told you. :P

I would agree with your assessment about Viva Emptiness, though. In general, the later you go in their discography, the more everything becomes more...same-y sounding? Not that it's bad, but it gets to a point with all bands that they can only do so much. They do the shoegaze-inspired progressive death rock (or whatever you want to call it) thing quite well, but after Tonight's Decision I find myself skipping around. Last Fair Deal Gone Down does have its moments, but I've never really been able to connect with that album on a deeper level. Maybe I just haven't spent enough time with it. 

Also - what a fucking tragedy they left "Unfurl" off The Great Cold Distance. It's the best song from that album by a long shot. Can't say I particularly enjoy anything past that, though. Their last few albums have just felt too soft and/or formulaic to me. Like they've been continuously diluting their sound.

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21 hours ago, Depraved said:

Haha yeah that's why I told you. :P

I would agree with your assessment about Viva Emptiness, though. In general, the later you go in their discography, the more everything becomes more...same-y sounding? Not that it's bad, but it gets to a point with all bands that they can only do so much. They do the shoegaze-inspired progressive death rock (or whatever you want to call it) thing quite well, but after Tonight's Decision I find myself skipping around. Last Fair Deal Gone Down does have its moments, but I've never really been able to connect with that album on a deeper level. Maybe I just haven't spent enough time with it. 

Also - what a fucking tragedy they left "Unfurl" off The Great Cold Distance. It's the best song from that album by a long shot. Can't say I particularly enjoy anything past that, though. Their last few albums have just felt too soft and/or formulaic to me. Like they've been continuously diluting their sound.

You are 100% correct on 'Unfurl'. It was a tragedy that it was left off the album and I would enjoy 'The Great Cold Distance' a lot more if it was there. It would have given the album more variety, as I find it doesn't really have many peaks and troughs to keep me interested. Pretty sure I mentioned 'Unfurl' in the Katatonia thread in the Gothic Metal forum too. Damn, we share a lot of the same opinions when it comes to music. 

For me, 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down' is the final Katatonia album that has a bleak sound to it - it has such a unique and engaging production. The albums after that all have a full 'modern' production, and I agree that it tends to render those albums more generic or something. There is also a lot of filler on every album from 'The Great Cold Distance' through to 'The Fall of Hearts'.

In my opinion, no band has better B-sides and bonus tracks than Katatonia. 'Help Me Disappear', 'Unfurl', 'Wide Awake in Quietus' and 'Wait Outside' are basically their best tracks and none of them appear on the albums hahaha. It's just crazy. 

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1 hour ago, Requiem said:

You are 100% correct on 'Unfurl'. It was a tragedy that it was left off the album and I would enjoy 'The Great Cold Distance' a lot more if it was there. It would have given the album more variety, as I find it doesn't really have many peaks and troughs to keep me interested. Pretty sure I mentioned 'Unfurl' in the Katatonia thread in the Gothic Metal forum too. Damn, we share a lot of the same opinions when it comes to music. 

For me, 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down' is the final Katatonia album that has a bleak sound to it - it has such a unique and engaging production. The albums after that all have a full 'modern' production, and I agree that it tends to render those albums more generic or something. There is also a lot of filler on every album from 'The Great Cold Distance' through to 'The Fall of Hearts'.

In my opinion, no band has better B-sides and bonus tracks than Katatonia. 'Help Me Disappear', 'Unfurl', 'Wide Awake in Quietus' and 'Wait Outside' are basically their best tracks and none of them appear on the albums hahaha. It's just crazy. 

Completely agree with you. My biggest issue with The Great Cold Distance is that it seems to lack a lot of lyrical themes I'm used to from these guys. The "darkness" kind of feels a little too safe and accessible, if that makes sense? Renkse's earlier lyrics are truly disturbing and evoke (or soothe, depending on who you talk to) some really troubling emotions in the listener; the band still does a pretty good job at creating that sort of mood, but I find the lyrical themes began to shift with that album. Also their later stuff feels more ambient, which isn't really a bad thing, but I do miss those heavier riffs that were present even on Tonight's Decision.

Viva Emptiness is sort of a concept album to me. I can't remember if they ever called it that, but there's definitely a continuous narrative in the lyrics from song to song. In terms of songwriting, it has a few duds, but overall there's enough there to keep my interest. It's also backloaded, which is really annoying. There's some great guitar work in "Burn the Remembrance", "Walking By a Wire", "Complicity", "Evidence", and (my favorite) "Omerta", but then you're skipping half the album to get to them.

From Last Fair Deal Gone Down, I love "Teargas" and "Help Me Disappear" (another song I still don't understand why they left off the original as a b-side) but otherwise there's not a whole lot from that album which is memorable to me. I would agree with you about the production on the albums which came after, though. A lot of newer music I just cannot bring myself to listen to because the production is way too clean, feels sort of plastic-y and unnatural. I can only think of maybe 2 or 3 bands off the top of my head who still sound organic on their most recent albums. When I have to struggle to tell the instruments apart because it's so damn compressed, we've got a serious problem hahaha.

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