40. Death Angel - Killing Season
This album definitely has some great riffs and some ass-kicking tracks, but I really just can’t get into this kind of “tough-guy” style of modern thrash. Probably won’t be revisiting this one any time soon.
39. Hibria - The Skull Collectors
Recommended to me as “power metal with balls”, and, well, I’ll give it that. But like most power metal, it just seems to me too much like a novelty—“Tiger Punch” had me pumped, but by the second or third song I just wanted to turn it off and listen to something else, even though the riffs and melodies are pretty solid (if unoriginal). I’ll stick to my Painkiller
38. Krallice - Krallice
Black metal side-projects of otherwise non-black metal musicians are often met with skepticism, and like fellow mediocre-USBM project Weakling, Krallice serve as a perfect example of why that skepticism is justified. This album has a handful of enjoyable parts, but what these guys fail to remember is that, even in a subgenre as diverse and interpretable as black metal, you need a core of good riffs to make good metal. The interesting parts of each song pop up here and there, bookending seemingly endless amalgamations of uninteresting, noodling riffs. Another plus is the audible and active bass, but on the whole, these guys should stick to their other bands and leave black metal to those who know how to do it right. (Also, what the fuck is with that name? Awful.)
37. Aura Noir - Hades Rise
I’ve never been particularly impressed (or repulsed) by Aura Noir, and Hades Rise
doesn’t change that. Definitely some cool riffs and tracks that rock, and I give them props for being tr00, but on the whole this stuff is fairly lackluster. I think they just get the balance between 80s thrash and 90s black metal wrong, really.
36. Satyricon - The Age of Nero
This really isn’t that bad. I maintain that Satyricon does this style better than their old, “tr00” style, and the catchy-as-fuck “Black Crow On a Tombstone” (yes it’s cheesy, eat shit and die and then go listen to Venom, black metal is cheesy) only proves this point. When they sound closer to straight-up black metal, they get to sounding like a parody of themselves, so I can’t rank this any higher, but there is definitely some worthwhile stuff here.
35. Gnaw Their Tongues - Devotion
The crossover between black metal and experimental noise has yielded some great projects, but Devotion
is not among these. It has real potential, but for the most part it just ends up sounding too hokey and contrived, instead of terrifying and engaging like the black/noise combo should.
34. Arcana - Raspail
Some enjoyable ambient/atmospheric “medieval” (really a very bad/false tag, but people like to apply it to this kind of music) stuff. Very, very obviously influenced by Aion
-era Dead Can Dance, and that’s probably their biggest fault; they don’t really bring anything new to the table.
33. The Gates of Slumber - Conqueror
A decent traditional doom album, if a bit standard-sounding—right down to the 16 minute, multi-chapter doom epic which bands like Electric Wizard have made us so familiar with (although this one is somewhat unique in that it’s mostly quiet/clean). If you’re a fan of the subgenre, check this out. Otherwise, there’s not too much which makes this release stand out.
32. Toxic Holocaust - An Overdose of Death
A huge disappointment. I’ve had something of a falling-out with Toxic Holocaust ever since they signed to Relapse—it’s not so much that I have something against Relapse (besides the fact that I generally don’t take them seriously); rather it’s that Toxic Holocaust is NOT a band that should be signed to that label. They’ve always been an underground band, and signing to Relapse basically means breaking big. Fast forward a few months—the new album is out (which at this point I still haven’t brought myself to hear), and a newly-made video for “Wild Dogs” appears on Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. What was once one of my favorite bands, for their music and for their underground status, was now guaranteed to be discovered by any knuckledragger who watches Headbanger’s Ball. This did not make me happy. So, even forgetting all that, how’s the album itself? Well, it’s really not much different from the past two LPs, at least in style, which is a plus. However, this album just feels lazy—the songs that had been released as demo tracks via Myspace sounded better as demo tracks, and the other new songs are pretty fucking forgettable. And what’s with that re-recording of “War Is Hell”? I mean, okay, it might be their best song, but it’d be damn near impossible to outdo the version of it which appears on Evil Never Dies
. It just feels wrong. Highlights would be “Nuke the Cross” (previously released), “City of a Million Graves” (previously released), and “Gravelord” (may or may not have been previously released, I’m not sure). If this album is your first experience with Toxic Holocaust, check out Evil Never Dies
and Hell On Earth
to find out what you’re missing. Then promptly jump off a bridge.
31. The Monolith Deathcult - Trivmvirate
A really interesting, brutal, and mostly excellent industrial/death metal album, but two things got to me and prevented me from ranking it any higher: the overstated Nile influence, and the uncomfortable track glorifying the SS RONA (a Russian military division which fought for the Nazis in WWII). I mean, I generally try to keep an artist's ideologies separate from their music if possible, and I listen to other bands with less-than-savory political views, but it’s hard to stomach a somewhat-discernible death growl belting out “Political prisoners, traitors and faggots” and “Warsaw’s Jews, Gypsies and retards/Prepare yourself for death and horror/The Kaminski Brigade enters the perimeter/And waits for the command to lay your city in ruins”. Eugh.