Metalocalypse - January 25, 2012
NO MAWR RAWR!
It’s been real, but this is Toby McCasker, last survivor of the Metalocalypse, signing off. Yeah, you read that right: no mawr rawr from me. At least, not in Beat. So this week, things are gonna be a bit diff. Over the course of my four-odd years doing the Metaloc thang, I’ve often received missives from you guys and gals thanking me for the corruption of your cochleae via new sounds. It’s something I love doing, so with that in mind I leave you with the best parting gift I can offer: the albums that made me the atypical metal cad I am today. All is not shred and done; you can still catch me on the abrasive trail for Blunt, Hysteria and triple j. Stay in touch on twitter, stinky children.
Death – The Sound of Perseverance (1998, Nuclear Blast)
Death’s swansong is ironically what gave life to my love for le heavy. Chuck Schuldiner was tampering with the genre’s constraints waaay before anyone else had gotten pissed off enough with them to attempt the same, and the eccentric lineup he assembled for this record makes it eternally one of a kind. Compulsory for everyone.
Opeth – Blackwater Park (2001, Music For Nations)
Bleak is my fave Opeth track of all time. Still Life might’ve been my first introduction to Mikael and co., but Blackwater Park changed my perception of just what metal was capable of being in the hands of auteurs rather than purist dullards. If you don’t understand why Heritage is the way it is, you’ve been hearing without listening.
Isis – Oceanic (2002, Ipecac)
I maintain to this day that Oceanic is a concept album about a guy whose girl cheats on him/leaves him so he wanders down to the beach and puts himself out to sea sans boat. I listened to it in the bath once and felt like I was drowning, so don’t do that. Do listen to it, though. Especially that bit at 4:58 on The Beginning And The End. Absolute power. It’s the best thing Isis ever did. Later I saw them in 2004 at The Espy for the Panopticon tour and was inspired for months.
Botch – We Are The Romans (1999, Hydra Head)
Vocalist Dave Verellen is in Narrows now and bassist Brian Cook smashes da bass for Russian Circles, but Botch was where it was at for everyone formerly involved. This is a cautionary tale about the societal swine we are becoming (again), which isn’t half-obvious when you think about the title but somehow less obvious when you actually listen to it (cryptic lyrics are cryptic).
Cave In – Until Your Heart Stops (1998, Hydra Head)
Post-hardcore’s inception was one of the most creative times for emergent heaviness, and Cave In best exemplified the movement with this monstrous and troubled album produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. True to the spirit of grunge it’s largely about the destructive pathos of heroin, but still sounds nothing like anything that’s come before or after it.
Soilwork – Natural Born Chaos (2002, Nuclear Blast)
A thing of perfect pounding clarity thanks to Devin Townsend’s typically ridiculous production work (and possible songwriting advice). Soilwork have never been better, proving that the cues Scandinavian metal was beginning to take from their American counterparts could eventuate in something more rather than In Flames’ something less. The Flameout is a personal fave. Whenever I hear it I knock over a lamp or stand on my cat or something.
Converge – Jane Doe (2001, Equal Vision)
I would be dead without this record. Whatever emotive badness has you in its clutches, this is the ultimate catharsis. You will feel better, no matter what. Whether or not your angst is familiar with Jacob Bannon’s banshee recounting of The Worst Relationship Known To Anyone matters not a lot. Stand close to this fire and embrace the burn.
Dillinger Escape Plan – Irony is A Dead Scene (2002, Epitaph)
Calculating made mathcore a thing, but Irony is A Dead Scene made a dream you didn’t even know you had come true: Mike Patton fronting the Dillinger Escape Plan. At only four tracks it’s a slim listen, but ten years on I’m still listening to it and still discovering deeper reservoirs of wtf. It will turn your mind into a car battery.
Ephel Duath – The Painter’s Palette (2003, Earache)
For me, jazz and abrasive music have a lot in common. Jazz is often renegade in sentiment, metal is often defined by being overtly annoyed. They’d go well together, I always thought. Evidently Davide Tiso thought so too, because he nixed the electro-black metal warpath Ephel Duath were on prior to this and constructed jazzcore as not many people know it today. Don’t be one of the unenlightened.
Tool – Lateralus (2001, Volcano)
My mate and I were so into this album for a significant portion of our high schooling. About the only thing I can remember from that unsatisfying period in both our young lives is getting stoned as clusterfuck and listening to Lateralus in a dark room with our eyes closed. I visited alien civilisations and I’m pretty sure he turned into a horned beast and made trouble for the Cimmerians. Those bodies holding you? Take Maynard’s polemic to the right kinda level.
Sikth – Death Of A Dead Day (2006, Bieler Bros.)
The sheer scope of the Hertfordshire six’s turgid technicality not withstanding, it was the bizarro double-act of vocalists Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill that made Sikth the sound that bands like The Arusha Accord insist on ripping off ad nauseam. Don’t even. An isolated incident of intersecting genius, there can be only one – and this record was always gonna be too weird to live, and too rare to die.