Saturday, 14 March 2009

an autobio in albums cont'd... The Decline of Western Civilization: My Metal Years

I'm cheating so bad with this 20 albums thing (and certainly taking my time) it's like I don't even know how to play. The list below represents (at this very ephemeral moment) the records that probably affected me most from adolescence into cranky old playing-at-being-an-adulthood.

So, without further ado, here are some of the most memorable (and here and there, the best) albums of my ongoing metal years:

Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath : The beginning of metal? Of doom? We could endlessly debate genre origins, but Black Sabbath has my vote, and this record has a prominent place on the soundtrack of my life.

Metallica - Master of Puppets : Lovecraft, guitar tabs and laser light shows; this wasn't my first Metallica but it landed with the most powerful impact. 

Megadeth - So Far, So Good... So What? : Vinyl, electric guitars, and playing by ear; throughout several surreal teen months I sang, perpetually and anywhere, including a couple from this album. I still recall a chick from my English class remarking on how happy I must be since I was singing all the time...

Suicidal Tendencies - The Art of Rebellion : metal on community radio, guitar picks (and my inability to catch them), my own homemade 'best of'... Really, this ST entry should cover three albums - Art of Rebellion, Lights... Camera... Revolution, and How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today - but it wasn't until Art of Rebellion that I realized they were my favourite band, at least for a while. 

Cemetary - Godless Beauty : Swedish death metal (probably starting with An Evil Shade of Grey) taught me to appreciate death metal vocals. With this record I learned to sing along in a mezzo soprano counterpoint.

Anacrusis - Manic Impressions and Screams & Whispers : I didn't often get to introduce the boyfriend to metal bands he hadn't heard of, especially great ones - Anacrusis and Edge of Sanity might be the only bands in this category.  Besides producing some delightful intelligent thrash, Anacrusis also recorded a wicked Anti-Nowhere League cover that I love to this day. 

Edge of Sanity - The Spectral Sorrows : Melodic death metal, Sisters of Mercy-style goth, out Manowar-ing Manowar... Edge of Sanity was visceral musical love, an immediate ecstatic experience. And to think I bought this used at Encore on a whim because I liked the art, the label, and some of the artists they thanked. 

Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses : Self-loathing goth metal that doesn't take itself too seriously? How could I resist. A musical influence, essay fodder, interview eccentricity and lots of cheesy entertainment. 

My Dying Bride - Angel and the Dark River : Melodic doom I can drown in. Another musical influence, therapy, and ongoing favourite.

Anathema - Serenades : I've devotedly followed all Anathema's stylistic twists over the years, but it's still the less polished doominess of Serenades that I love the best.

End of Green - Infinity : I don't know how many Sunday mornings getting ready for crappy retail work this album got me through. Also known as 'bad mood music.'

Skunk Anansie - Paranoid & Sunburnt : Not exactly metal, but heavy enough, with a lot of attitude and a vocalist that kicks ass. I heard rumour recently about the band playing a reunion show in the U.K. ... anyone got spare change for a plane ticket?

Devin Townsend - Ocean Machine : I had this album for months before its genius hit me. Sitting at the computer, writing an essay, with Ocean Machine in the background, I suddenly paused, really listened, and had a musical epiphany. 

Virgin Black - Sombre Romantic : I loved this band from their first demo cassette, but it wasn't till I heard the opening track of Sombre Romantic that I understood how much.

Fear Factory / Voivod : I can't narrow this entry down to one album, though Demanufacture/Obsolete and Negatron/Phobos are at the core. You might say I have an MA in Fear Factory and Voivod.

Le Confessional soundtrack : Amidst a constant bombardment of metal I fall for a soundtrack that mixes Sarah Vaughn with Depeche Mode and Portishead. Turns out the film is really good too.

Nightingale - The Closing Chronicles : It's possible that I've listened to Nightingale (again, not metal) more than any other band and it's highly probably that I've listened to Dan Swanö more than any other artist. Of all Dan's Nightingale material, The Closing Chronicles may be the most deeply imprinted on my brain, but it's a close contest.

Green Carnation - Light of Day, Day of Darkness : Edge of Sanity's Crimson turned me on to the one song / full album concept but Green Carnation convinced me that it was a really good idea. Now LoD, DoD is also the album I associate most with The Energizer.

Katatonia - Last Fair Deal Gone Down : Aside from a few individual tracks, I didn't really get Katatonia till this record. From here I learned to love their back catalogue, sang along, played along... plus they get points for the Robert Johnson reference.  

Lacrimas Profundere - Ave End : It's catchy, it's cheesy, and it rocks. Billy Idol, eat your heart out.

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