Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Metal Briefs: 1985

1985 was a formative year in metal. Thrash was just getting into full gear, and the seeds of death, black, and progressive metal were being sown. So, I thought I'd review three important albums released that year. Of course, it's tough to review in the context of that time (I was potty trained at the time, but not particularly knowledgeable about the metal scene), but I'll see what I can do.

Slayer: Hell Awaits

Hell Awaits A year later, they would release the legendary Reign In Blood, but with 1985's Hell Awaits Slayer had already established themselves near the top of the thrash metal game. Hovering around 4-6 minutes, the songs are much longer, and the Venom influence is much more apparent. It's a little slower than the classic, but the songs are still well-written. Maybe not indispensable to a thrash metal collection, but very nearly so. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Fates Warning: The Spectre Within

The Spectre Within At first, it sounds like it could be an Iron Maiden tribute band. They have the same kind of rhythm, and the vocals sound like a good karaoke (if there is such a thing as good karaoke) version of Bruce Dickinson's. But if you listen more closely, you'll hear a little more virtuosity in the instrumentation. This album is often credited as one of the very first progressive metal albums. It doesn't stand the test of time quite as well as others, but it's still a fine listen. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion

To Mega Therion It's a little tough to classify this album. Mostly it's thrash, but these Swiss have a very different approach to the genre. It's a little slower, and has many more atmospheric elements (like female vocals and horn-like effects). As such, Celtic Frost is credited as an enormous influence on black metal. You can actually hear the bass in the production (why didn't early black metal artists get influenced by that part?), the vocals are among the best in thrash, and the songs still hold up perfectly well today. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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