As most of you are aware, in the year 2015 giant moth people will attack earth killing nearly 90 percent of the population and taking the remainder back to their home planet to work in mines as slaves. Those wearing sweaters will be eaten first. When that year comes it will be important that you have listened to as many great metal albums as possible. Who wants to have their body eaten by bloodthirsty alien moths from space without accomplishing everything that they could?
Here’s a list of four albums that you might have never listened to. They are great records and they will help soften the blow of becoming moth food.
Arcturus-The Sham Mirrors
Arcturus is a Scandinavian black metal super group that recorded several dynamite albums in the late 90’s and early 2000s. The term super group usually strikes fear into people’s hearts because they heard a few Asia songs, but in this case it’s really a good thing. Take musicians from Mayhem, Borknagar, Ulver, Winds, and Emperor, lock them in a room and have them write surreal progressive space rock. Some of the record sounds like Angel Dust era Faith No More other parts feel like they come right off of a Danny Elfman soundtrack and other parts are simply great heavy metal. Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg (or Godhead or Trickster G or Trickster G Rexx or Fiery G Maelstrom or whatever he’s going by this week) might well have the best voice of any living human. He is flat-out sensational on this record. The man can make the word “Wormholes” sound like the Kabbalistic articulation of the name of God. That, my friend, is talent.
Dispatched is an underground metal band best known for their amazing cover of Europe’s The Final Countdown. Thanks to poor labeling by ten or so people who discovered the song, most people think Children of Bodom recorded it. To make things even more confusing, Norther, who sounds like a much weaker version of Dispatched, also recorded a cover of the song which is often confused with the Dispatched cover. Oh, and if you’ve made it this far, let me add that there is another band called Dispatch that does mildly annoying white man overbite funk rock. The band’s history is as close as heavy metal gets to an Abbott and Costello sketch. If you actually made it through all these levels of confusion, you discovered one of the best melodic death metal bands ever to come down the pike. Their style is extremely reminiscent of Walls of Jericho era Helloween, but much edgier. In spite of its “horrors of war” lyrical theme, it is actually an incredibly bright and cheery album. The thing just puts a spring in my step…I can’t explain it.
Convulse first album is the death metal classic “World Without God”. It was an excellent record that garnered them a committed underground following. Then, they basically went out of their way to enrage everyone who loved the first record by putting together a progressive rock record with death metal vocals. This is the sort of thing that doesn’t bother anyone too much today, but back in the 90s it would get you a 3 AM visit from 13 angry faux-Vikings covered in corpse paint and sheep’s blood. The thing of it is, the second record “Reflections” is one of the catchiest, most intense pieces of death’n’roll ever recorded. I heard the song “Memories” on one of those awesome Relapse Records samplers and I was hooked. The solos sound like what happens if you play 33s of Rush and Jethro Tull on 45. Wild ideas and crazy grooves bang back and forth through your speakers for the entirety of the record. The record just smokes from head to toe. There is nothing to do when you pop the thing in but sit back on your couch in awe of the whole endeavor. I still have never heard anything like it.
If you ever want to watch a room full of people collectively yell out “What the heck is this???” all at the same time, throw on a copy of Neonism. It has my vote for the most creative album ever recorded. This is something different then anything else you will ever hear. Solefald has referred to their style as “radical designer rock’n’roll”. That’s about the best description you are going to get. Two singers’ completely unique voices harmonize back and forth at the same time with an organ exploding behind them all the while the bass and guitars weave intricate, hypnotic patterns of mayhem and destruction. Trying to explain this album to someone is like attempting to tell someone about the Alejandro Jodorowsky movie “The Holy Mountain”. You say a bunch of things that sound good but don’t really describe the experience to even one-tenth of the degree you want to. You end up throwing your hands up in the air and just announcing “You had to be there!”