Tag Archives: Doom Metal

Infamous Albums: Black Sabbath’s Born Again

Infamous Albums will be a new series of articles where Alternative Nation writers take a look at albums that are normally panned by the bands fan base, to see if they are as bad as their reputation. To celebrate their final tour this first installment will focus on metal pioneers Black Sabbath’s 1983 album Born Again.

Black Sabbath is a band that needs no intro. Formed in 1968, Sabbath is highly regarded as the “Godfathers of Metal”. Their distinct sound quickly got them fame with albums such as Paranoid and Master of Reality. However, towards the end of the decade the band would release a few flops and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne started losing interest in Sabbath. Finally, in 1979 Ozzy left the band. He would be replaced by former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. The next year they would release Heaven and Hell. This record would give the band a more updated sound helping them compete with big releases from Judas Priest, Saxon and Ozzy’s solo act. After releasing the next album, The Mob Rules, Dio would also leave the band, leaving Sabbath to find yet another vocalist.

They recruited Ian Gillan who, at the time, was out of Deep Purple. When this line up, was announced the hype was pretty big.  A rock legend working with the founders of metal? How can this go wrong? Well, to a majority of Sabbath fans it did. Though the album sold well, it was panned by critics and fans alike and is still considered to be among the band’s worst. This is the only album to feature Ian Gillan and the last one to feature classic drummer Bill Ward.

The first thing one notices when checking out this album is the cover which features a red baby with yellow finger nails and teeth. This awkward cover sets the tone for the album… whether it was intended or not.

The first track,”Thrashed”, kicks off real well until Gillan’s scream comes in. Ian Gillan is a great vocalist and his screams were the best parts of Deep Purple tracks like “Child in Time” and ‘Highway Star”, but here it sounds forced and out of place. The lyrics are pretty cool and have an anti-drinking and driving message. The riffs are pretty catchy even if they are a little simple by Sabbath standards. The production on the track is really poor, as the bass cannot be heard at all and Bill Ward’s drumming sounds very processed as if it were done by a drum machine. These same production problems are present throughout most of the album. Flaws aside, “Thrashed” is still an alright track.

Next track, “Stonehenge”, is two minutes of nothing but random sounds. The third track, “Disturbing the Priest”, is an odd one. The melodies, riffs and production on this song are actually pretty well done, but the vocals are some of the worst on the whole album. Like on the first track, they don’t fit and Gillan’s random laughing parts just sound plain ridiculous,, making what could have been a great track only average.

“The Dark” is another track of random noises this one just 45 seconds long. This brings us to the album’s most well known track, “Zero The Hero”.  Gillan’s vocals actually work here and the chorus is very catchy. The intro is dark with its creepy opening riff and ominous bells. The main driving riff is very atmospheric and sounds like nothing the band has done before. The lyrics are about being mediocre which is ironic since this is a solid track and the best on the album.

The next track “Digital Bitch” starts side two of the record as well as the album’s downward spiral. The song has an okay typical 80’s metal riff that is ruined by both the production and Gillan’s vocals (there seems to be a trend here). His attempts at Rob Halford-esque screams aren’t very good and the lyrics are pretty corny.

The title track is a power ballad, something Sabbath has never done before this point. Guitarist Tony Iommi, who is known for writing some of the best riffs known to man, just plays the same generic chords through the whole track. The lyrics feel like they were made up on the spot and the track just feels dull.

“Hot Line” is an attempt at a straight up rocker. The songwriting is very run of the mill and every issue this album has can be heard on this one song.

The final track “Keep It Warm” opens up with a good riff and Gillan sounds surprisingly good. For a second the track sounds a bit like Deep Purple. The track goes downhill fast though as Gillan’s vocals get worse and the production and songwriting problems start to show.

All and all Born Again is not a good album nor is it a terrible one. There is one solid track and two okay tracks keeping the album from being completely bad. Many good ideas can be found on this record though are ruined by the poor production, unfitting vocals and in the case of the last three tracks, lazy songwriting.

Ranking: Worth a look for fans.

Ten Of The Heaviest Bands From Australia

Australia one of the world’s biggest countries is known for having some of the most interesting and diverse animals on the planet. The country also has many bands that are as extreme and interesting as its wildlife. Here in no order are some of the country’s best metal and hardcore punk bands. Some of these bands are well known, but fans tend to forget that they are Australian.

Captain Cleanoff

Australia has been a full force for punk, hardcore and grind as early as the 70’s with classic bands like The Birthday Party. One of the bands doing it best today is the grindcore band Captain Cleanoff. With fun short songs and distinct drumming this band is a must hear for any fan of the punk side of grindcore.

Fuck… I’m Dead

The country also delivers when it comes to the more metal side of grindcore. Fuck… I’m Dead are a goregrind outfit from Melbourne. Their groovy sound should please any fan of bands like General Surgery and Haemorrhage.

The Amenta

From South Wales comes one of the country’s most overlooked and original bands. Formed as Crucible of Agony in 1997 the Amenta plays a fusion of death metal, black metal and industrial.  The result is a sound that is really heavy as well as haunting.

The Berzerker

One of the most well known grindcore bands, The Berzerker’s music is a good gateway to those looking to get into the genre. The band played an electronic music influenced death metal/grindcore fusion with some of the fastest drumming known to man. Live, the members sometimes wore monster masks and the shows were known for intense energy. The band is now broken up, but with all these recent reunions maybe one day they will return.

King Parrot

From Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records comes the one and only King Parrot. The band plays a mixture of thrash, grindcore and sludge with parrot squawk vocals and comedic lyrics. They are mostly known for their live shows which consist of the band throwing water at the audience and vocalist Youngy mooning them the whole set. Last year the band toured with Superjoint Ritual and responses to their set were pretty positive.

Sadistik Exekution

Kinda like the Mortal Kombat franchise, this band loved using the letter K in the place of the hard C sound. Sadistik Exektion was a old school death metal band from South Wales. They were mostly known for their second album We Are Death… Fukk You!   This was a reaction to music critics mislabeling the band as a black metal band and also shows they had a sense of humor. Ironically their later albums contained black metal elements. Sadly this band is no longer together.

Nazxul

Most of the time black metal bands that use keyboards tend to be very cheesy. Nazxul are not only one of the exceptions, but are one of the best at it. The keyboards add great atmosphere and the vocals sound completely inhuman (in a great way). They played Maryland Deathfest in 2010.

Hobbs’ Angel of Death

Named after vocalist/guitarist Peter Hobbs, this hidden gem plays 80’s thrash in the vein of old Slayer though the band prefers to be labeled as “virgin metal”. Though a big name in Australia, they were always pretty obscure elsewhere. In recent years they have been getting more worldwide exposure, slowly making them a new favorite among old school thrash fans everywhere.

Portal

One of the strangest metal bands out today, Portal plays a style they call “avant garde blackened death metal”. Their sound is extremely heavy with ultra deep vocals and off beat droning riffs. They are also known for their bizarre on stage look which includes vocalist The Curator wearing various objects on his head. The band has played Maryland Deathfest in both 2010 and 2015.

Destroyer 666

Since the sub-genre’s inception, Australia has always had a plethora of blackened thrash bands. The greatest and most well known of these are Destroyer 666. Playing a take on this style that sounds really evil and really epic at the same time help make this three piece one of the best post-80’s thrash bands. In 2001 the band relocated to Holland. They are scheduled to play this year’s Maryland Deathfest and have their first new album in seven years to be released in late February.

 

Top 10 Metal Albums From 1995

1995 was a year for change in metal; mainstream groove metal was in full swing, old school death metal was dying out and being replaced with all kinds of spin offs, and black metal was starting to get mainstream attention. Many new ideas also started to come out of the genre, including several that are still influential in metal today. Here, in no order, are ten classics from that year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCtjAmtIGf0&w=420&h=315]

At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul

The fourth album by Sweden’s melodeath creators and the bands most well known, Slaughter of the Soul is more melodic than the band’s previous efforts and contains some of the band’s most well known songs. While not their best album, it’s still a solid release that helped evolve the sub genre.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8uw0L_csZk&w=420&h=315]

Immortal – Battles in the North

Immortal’s most well known album is one of the most popular Norse black metal releases. Like the previous two albums, the lyrics are about winter, fantasy and the forest. This is the first album to feature songs about the Blashyrkh, a theme that will appear on all later albums. A great album for those looking to get into Norwegian black metal.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhY6hy4Rfwg&w=420&h=315]

Abigor – Nachthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom)

Abigor’s classic record succeeds in incorporating symphonic elements that are very subtle and don’t drown out the other instruments, while also containing very distinct riffs and vocals.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hppxFR0KJDM&w=560&h=315]

Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains

Affectionately called Tripod by fans, the third Alice in Chains studio album displays the band’s usual sludge metal/grunge fusion with even more melodic songwriting sensibilities, mixing elements from the first two albums and the Jar Of Flies EP, making it the band’s most depressing release to date.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtSTzXU0mTY&w=420&h=315]

Dark Tranquility – The Gallery

While many melodeath albums have been released at this point (including one by these guys), this album helped to further define the genre. The Gallery is full of both clean and growled vocals, keyboards, depressing lyrics, and acoustic parts. All of these would later become part of the band’s signature sound. Bands like Kalmah and Omnium Gatherium would probably not exist without this album.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoHa48lqsqE&w=560&h=315]

Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve

One of the most important metal albums of the whole decade. On their first album the band played thrash with prog mixed in. On this album the band takes on a style of its own. The album’s full of groove, technicality, and free jazz influence. This style would give the band legendary status. Many bands would try to copy this style. Sadly, they missed the point.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjW_7N9dfCs&w=560&h=315]

Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Other Side

Blind Guardian’s previous album, Somewhere Far Beyond, showed hints of the band transforming from traditional metal to power metal. Here is where the transformation is complete. While most power metal is very cheesy, Blind Guardian keeps the cheese level to a minimum and focuses on just being awesome, and IFTOS is one of the best releases from a band that never disappoints.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfAHfZc0pWE&w=420&h=315]

Down – Nola

Throughout the 90’s, Eyehategod, Pantera, Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity all released some solid work… so what better to do then have the bands join forces! Their combined might gave birth to Down! Mixing Black Sabbath with the sounds of the south, Nola is one of the best efforts by any of these musicians.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8raOyF92iQ&w=560&h=315]

Suffocation – Pierced From Within

Long Island’s Suffocation are most known for being forerunners to both the technical death metal and brutal death metal sub genres. Here on Pierced From Within, they perfected their style. Tons of amazing drum fills, guitar riffs, and grooves are heard here, resulting in one of the best death metal albums of all time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-uM6oDkw8c&w=420&h=315]

Dissection – Storm of the Lights Bane

Last and nowhere near least is Sweden’s Dissection and their album Storm of the Lights Bane. The band’s sound is a perfect mixture of black metal, death metal and melody. Here on their second album, the band does it best. The album gives off a haunting feel mixed in with its fantastic guitar work and dark fantasy lyrics. To this day, the track “Where Dead Angels Lay” is one of the most acclaimed black metal tracks of all time. The band may be long gone, but their legacy lives on!

Doug McCausland is co-editor and reporter for Alternative Nation. If you have any questions or tips you can email him at dmccausland1(at)gmail.com

 

10 Astonishing Metal Bands From Israel

This June, yours truly will be making the third trip of his life to Israel. In honor of this upcoming trip, I’ve decided to do some reflecting on my favorite bands from the country home to “The Holy Land”, in order of formation date. Metal is viewed as sacrilegious particularly in Israel. Many venues will not host shows on the Sabbath. Despite this, several of the bands below have endured the controversy and have become well-respected in the metal underground.

Salem – Tel Aviv – Formed in 1985

The name was taken from the horror film “The Witches Of Salem”. Their style is a blend of death and doom metal with occasional oriental influences. Drummer Nir Nakav, has stated in an interview for the documentary “Global Metal”, that their lyrics pertaining to Jewish suffering has had the band butting heads with Varg Vikernes (despite Varg admitting to appreciating the music). In 1994, they released their debut full-length Kaddish. The title pertains to the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer for dead relatives, included in three daily synagogue services.

The opening track, “The Fading”, received regular airplay on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. The 9th track on Kaddish, “Ha’ayara Bo’eret” (The Burgh is Burning), is a cover of an Israeli folk song, sung in Hebrew, and its lyrical content is associated with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust. They’ve released 4 other studio albums since then, and in 2011, Kaddish was re-released. A special concert to commemorate the re-release took place in Tel Aviv, where GN’R guitarist “Bumblefoot” joined the band on stage.

 

Orphaned Land – Bat Yam – Formed in 1992

A progressive metal band which incorporates elements of Middle-Eastern and Arabic music. Each of their albums contain the concept of two extremes clashing; Shadow to Light, East to West, Past to Present, or God to Satan. Their lyrics have often promoted a message of unity and peace between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Their debut on Century Media Records, Mabool, tells the story of three angels, one from each of the Abrahamic religions, on a journey to warn humanity of a flood invoked as punishment for its sins. Despite several biblical references in their lyrics, most members of this band identify as agnostic or atheist. Overall, the one message this band wants to relay to all who listen is as follows: “People should be judged by their hearts and inner sincerity, not their religious beliefs.”

 

Melechesh – Jerusalem – Formed in 1993

They may be residing in The Netherlands now, but Melechesh have a history in Israel and are still being marketed as a band from Jerusalem. Their name derives from two words with Aramaic and Hebrew origins. The meaning of the conjoined words is “King of Fire”. Up until 1998 the band recorded and gigged in Jerusalem where they were harassed by law enforcement officers with deeply held religious beliefs, prompting their relocation to The Netherlands. Their debut was controversially titled As Jerusalem Burns. They refer to their sound as Sumerian metal. Just think Absu, but with more oriental influence. On their most recent album, Enki, from this year, they had the opportunity to collaborate with Max Cavalera.

 

Distorted – Bat-Yam – Formed in 1996

They took influence from progressive and gothic metal bands and an oriental influence from their country-mates Orphaned Land. They didn’t release a debut album or tour outside of the Tel-Aviv area until 10 years after forming. The success of the debut, Memorial, earned them a deal with Candlelight Records.

 

Winterhorde – Haifa Region – Formed in 1999

Originally called Autumn Palace, they changed their name to Winterhorde two years later after some soul searching and line-up changes. The success of their demo grabbed the attention of Greek label Burning Star Records. The label would release their debut album, Nebula, prompting positive feedback and demand for Israel’s answer to theatrical melodic death/black metal to tour Europe. Their 2010 sophomore album Underwatermoon was met with similar positive response, and the band is currently working on album number three, Maestro. They have shared the stage with several international acts with similar musical influences. Such includes Keep Of Kalessin, Negura Bunget, Crematory, and later this year they are due to open for Ne Obliviscaris in Tel-Aviv.

 

The Fading – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2000

They began at the dawn of the new millennium as Excessum, then changed their name to “The Fading” (me thinks named after the opening track on Salem’s debut) in 2006. Two years later, The Fading competed in Israel’s division of the Waken Metal Battle for a spot on the WET stage at that year’s Waken Open Air. They competed against several Israeli metal bands including one with their former producer, and won. They also won the global division of the Waken Metal Battle, held while they played the festival. Their prize as such, was a record deal with the festival’s record label. Under this deal the band recorded their debut album, In Sin We Find Salvation.

The success following the debut, has earned them the opening spot on several shows with international metal bands coming through the Middle-East. They are often matched up with melodic death metal favorites such as In Flames, Children of Bodom, and Arch Enemy. In 2013, the band announced work on a sophomore album, self-produced. As of this year, they have announced via Facebook that ‘Till Life Do Us Part, is due to be released later this year.

 

Nail Within – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2001

Like The Fading, Nail Within play melodic death metal, though the latter is a little more aggressive and thrashy. While recording their debut album in Germany, the band got to meet figures of the Teutonic Thrash Metal scene, as well as At The Gates singer Thomas Lindberg, all whom made guest appearances on the eponymous album. The band ended up being short-lived, breaking up soon after their release show, yet being highly influential to Israel’s melodeath scene. They played a one-off reunion show in Tel-Aviv with Salem’s drummer as well a guest appearance by Thomas Lindberg.

 

Dagor Dagorath – Afula – Formed in 2003

Filed under Tolkien-named metal bands. Specifically, their name refers to “The Battle Of Battles”. They faced a four-year hiccup due to some members’ mandatory civic duty of military service. Hence their debut album, Yetzer Ha’ra, was released 6 years after their formation. They have been featured in an issue of Metal Hammer UK as well as the first volume of Burning Roots, an anti-nsbm compilation.

 

Whorecore – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2003

A six-piece grindcore/death metal act, from “The city that never stops”. Known for playing as many shows as they can with a total disregard for venue or audience. They are considered Israel’s best live actin the punk, grind, and metal communities. They have two full-lengths under their belt, with their debut album, Protection, released in 2006. Also featured in “Global Metal”. “Supporting violence against stupidity since 2003” (Facebook excerpt).

 

Hammercult – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2010

Considered a supergroup in Israel’s metal scene that featured two members of The Fading. Their unique blend of thrash and death metal won them the Israeli Waken Metal Battle of 2011, as well as the Global Waken Metal Battle that same year. They’ve done several European tours with the likes of D.R.I., Sepultura, and Napalm Death. Their first album, Anthems Of The Damned, was released by German label Sonic Attack in 2012. Continuing to promote their second album, as well as a potential third album, they will be the support act for Overkill’s show in Tel-Aviv this June.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Acropolis – Melodic Power Metal with Trance influences  – Tel Aviv

Buzzer – Stoner/Sludge Metal – Tel-Aviv

Edited by Doug McCausland