Sunday, July 11, 2010

Metal Briefs: 1995

A while ago, I did a metal briefs post on 1985 albums. So, I though, why not do 1995?

Popular wisdom has it that the mid-90's were a dark time for metal. Grunge had killed it, according to some, or Metallica's popularity killed it, according to others. Instead of the dark, thrash days of the 1980's, to many people metal was turning more mainstream with the advent of nu metal.

I strongly disagree with the popular wisdom. In fact, 1995 was one of the best years for metal ever. There are plenty of other great albums I could be discussing here--Slaughter of the Soul, Orchid, Symbolic, NOLA, The Angel and the Dark River, Pierced From Within, Astro-Creep: 2000, The Gallery, The Spider's Lullabye--but I've picked three other greats for you.

Morbid Angel: Domination

Domination Death may be the best death metal band of the 1990's. But if you listen to fellow Floridians Morbid Angel, and then listen to death metal from the last decade, it's obvious MA has had more influence in recent years. Their instrumental prowess has probably had equal effect on the technical death metal subgenre, and their ultra-heavy sound is almost single-handedly responsible for spawning brutal death metal. If Death came out today, they might be labeled a death/thrash crossover and a throwback, but Morbid Angel sounds like contemporary death. Every cut on Domination is two inches thick, charred on the outside, and bloody on the inside. It's a thing of macabre beauty, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Dissection: Storm of the Light's Bane

Storm of the Light's Bane Metallattorney introduced me to this one, placing it at number 4 on his all-time top albums list. And yes, it did come out originally in 1995, not 1996. It's black metal, but not your typical Norwegian 90's fare, as you might expect (since Dissection was from Sweden). Instead, it's got a much more progressive bent, obviously influencing current-day black metal greats such as Watain or Nachtmystium. This is an excellent album. Though it doesn't sound as contemporary as the other two albums on this list, it's still excellent, and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Meshuggah: Destroy Erase Improve

Destroy Erase Improve I recently hinted at how important this album is to my own history with metal (more will be said). But it's had equally powerful impact in the world of metal as a whole. They combined elements of hardcore, death metal, progressive metal, thrash metal, and jazz, using different time signatures for each element of the music (the drummer often uses two time signatures simultaneously, a feat which defies comprehension).
While such bold, challenging arrangements could result in a wank-fest or, even worse, a chaotic mess, Meshuggah carefully synchronizes their bludgeoning instrumentation, embracing minimalism without excess and playing to the power of the song so the listener isn't neck-deep in over-composed indulgences. As a result, "Future Breed Machine," "Suffer in Truth," and "Soul Burn" are mind-bogglingly profound, integrating body, mind, and soul into a violently precise attack, the point being that change can be extraordinarily difficult — if not maddening — but the results are transcendent. . . . The album is a bona fide '90s classic, a record boasting ideas so well-balanced — natural yet clinical, guttural yet intelligent, twisted yet concise — it muscled simplistic subgenres out of the way and confidently pointed toward the future of metal.
I couldn't have said it better myself, John Serba. I give the album 5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. The mid 1990's were a good time for underground metal, it was just a difficult time to find good bands unless you knew where to look. I did discover Down that year and NOLA is one of my favorite albums.

    As for the albums you mentioned, I am not familiar with two of them. I love Morbid Angel, but have only heard the first three albums so far. I like Meshuggah's earliest stuff. Contradictions Collapse is probably my favorite album.

    Obviously I am well familiar with Dissection. I'm glad to see you enjoyed that one quite a bit.