Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Top 25 all-time best metal albums Pt. 3

All right, we’re getting out of some of the completely obvious territory and into the land of self indulgence. Okay, the entire thing has been self indulgent, but at least the top 12 were pretty spot on, even if you disagreed with the order.

I freely admit that some of the albums coming up are only here because I really like them. They might not have had the impact of some of their counterparts, but they should have.

#13 Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory: This is actually my all-time favorite album. However, in the interest of the list, it’s down further than I’m comfortable putting it. In fact, this is such a personal choice, that it’s higher than most people would put it. Most folks would have Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime in this spot. However, since Queensryche is, or was, rather, progressive metal, I put DT here because they completely and in every way pwn Queensryche.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Dream Theater in my youth. I’ve only gotten into them in the past few years, but they have fast become my favorite band. Dream Theater has made a name for themselves by producing intricate compositions, being some of the most skilled musicians in the world, and writing catchy songs on top of amazing time signatures that change as often as a woman changes her mind. This album in particular is amazing evidence of all of that and is a great concept album.

#14 Motley Crue - Shout at the Devil: Yes. Before the term glam metal existed, there was Motley Crue. Progenitors of an age where huge, teased hair and makeup actually made you look tough. But aside from the laughable image, these guys’ sophomore album rocked. It didn’t contain the balls-to-the-wall speed or machine-gun guitar riffs that many other metal bands possessed, but it had a solid, blues-based power driven by a truly gifted singer. Each song on here is an anthem to the pagan god of metal -- the aggressive spirit in every twelve-year-old boy looking for some release.

However, Crue’s next album, Theater of Pain, took them down the path of girlie band sissiness. Their only claim to metal being a pumped drum track and a little distortion on their guitar. Maybe they’ve recaptured some of their former hardcoredness during more recent “Get Us Out of Debt” tours, but for one, brief and shining moment, these guys wrote a really good album. Then, my hypothesis, anyway, is that the lifestyle got a hold of ‘em. Oh well, it happens.

#15 tie Ozzy Osbourne - No Rest for the Wicked and Black Label Society - The Blessed Hellride: I appreciate everything Ozzy has done for heavy metal. But after Black Sabbath, I think his real talent has been finding really good musicians. The reason that these albums are here is because of the guitar genius of Zakk Wylde. Hade Ozzy not found him in the late ‘80s, he might very well still be languishing in semi-loserville waiting for his VH1 special instead of standing astride a thriving musical empire. Zakk is not only a gifted guitarist, he has one of the most unique sounds in all of music, EVER. You can tell Zakk is playing in fewer than 20 seconds. His guitar tone, scale choices, rhythm style and his signature pinch harmonics (that screaming note that permeates his music) all give him away and it’s a good thing.

No Rest for the Wicked is the real holder of this spot. In my opinion, it is the quintessential Ozzy album. It encapsulates everything that bad recording quality, drugs, inner turmoil and tragedy barred him from earlier in life. He tasted greatness with Blizzard of Oz, and it’s a truly phenomenal album, but I think it’s production values rob it of much that it could have been. Starting with No More Tears and really tearing it up with this album Ozzy and Zakk shred into a new dimension for Ozzy where he could stand on top of the metal wold.

BLS shares the spot mainly because I like them so much that I had to mention them. I honestly can’t say what impact they’re having because I’m disconnected with the youth of today. However, based on the popularity of his concerts, how well his albums sell, how many BLS T-Shirts I see around, and the fact that Zakk was on an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, it’s a safe bet he’s still a vital force in metal today.

#16 Danzig - Danzig: This is, again a more personal choice. There are plenty of bands out there who have a sound similar to Danzig’s blues-based metal (though his sound has changed in recent years). But Glenn Danzig is important to metal primarily because of his punk band The Misfits. Their sound significantly impacted many of the early ‘80s LA metal bands – Metallica primarily.

This album is probably his best work under his own name. It’s a solid, blues-rock album and has some good jams on it. He has since become a parody of the things he sings about in his songs. Too bad really.

#17 Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss: Many would argue that this is actually the best Slayer album. And they may be right. I did a post on it before. That post probably explains better the impact this album had than I can right now. I guess with Seasons … Slayer finally put out the album that had been stewing in their collective minds for many years. You can tell that there’s a sense of collective relief and joy on their part within the music. An artists pride is evident the quality of what they produce.


Well, that wraps up this installment. Not sure when I’ll get to the next. I’ll be on dial-up while on vacation, so I doubt I’ll even be around too much. I hope you all have great holidays!

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