The Best Metal Albums of 2013: Introduction

Adrien nails what metal is, was, and can be, and in the meantimes lets extremity wander to it’s own pasture, free of metal’s confines. An elegant and – more importantly – right feeling answer to the conundrum of 21st century ossification through classification.

basement galaxy

I could not have gotten into heavy metal at a better time. In 1983-1984, a mere 13 years into its evolution as a proper musical genre, it shifted from its nascent period to full-blown maturity. It was a perfect storm of potential being realized, youth culture, and the zeitgeist, making for a period of musical discovery a budding music fan could only dream of. Over the course of the next seven years metal would evolve at an unparalleled rate. Something groundbreaking would come out every month or two, it seemed, and for those a few years younger than me who would come of age right when the more extreme side of heavy metal truly started to take shape in the early 1990s, it was very much the same thing, an incredible rate of progression and innovation.

We had no idea at the time, but we were spoiled. The possibilities seemed…

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Heavily Troubled – My Salvation in Sound

steelforbrains:

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It’s 1997, and in the back of a green five-subject spiral notebook are the words: “But suicides have a special language.” I cringe and laugh a little thinking about it now. Though my tenth grade universe had been gracious enough to grant me a gateway to Anne Sexton, I’d returned the favor…

Please read. Depression is real, and music can truly be salvation.

Heavily Troubled – My Salvation in Sound

Stacks: 2013 Favorite Live Albums

heystacks:

Since I spent my year talking about live recordings I thought it only fitting to wrap it up with a handful of my favorite live albums of 2013. No bootlegs this time around, only stuff you can buy from your local record store (or from the Zappa family through their website). Alphabetical order, with an arbitrarily awesome Deep Purple tune because they were top of the bill.

Deep PurplePerfect Strangers Live

When the classic Mark II lineup of Deep Purple got back together in 1984 folks were stunned. The falling out had been public and hurtful, and no one expected these guys to work things out. But they did, and Perfect Strangers became my introduction to all things Purple that weren’t “Smoke on the Water”. However, like most 12-year-olds, I didn’t get the chance to see this revitalized band take it to the stage. For nearly 30 years I’ve heard stories of their live prowess; now, with the release of this Australian show, I finally can experience it myself. It’s a great set, and the band even lays off the interminably jammy 30 minute versions of “Space Truckin” and “Child of Nature” to add more fire and concision to the show. It’s not the definitive Deep Purple live record (that’s still Made in Japan, despite the aforementioned interminable jams), but it’s the one I’ve waited to hear for years.

Bob Dylan & The BandLive at the Isle of Wight Festival, 1969

Another live disc thrown into a stupidly expensive box set (this is part of The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)), and another one I’ve heard thanks to streaming services. While tracks have appeared here and there over the years, the entire show has been unavailable outside mediocre bootlegs. It’s not a revelation, but instead is the sound of a man getting his sea legs back under him. He always had great rapport with The Band, and they were the logical choice to back him on his first show after a three year absence. The big draw of the Wight night is hearing their interpretations of songs from John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline; it’s an alternate history, where he took them with him from the fabled Woodstock basement instead of using session pros and Nashville regulars. It’s a “what if” I’m glad never happened, but the glimpse into that possibility is a fun one.

Humble Pie – Performance – Rockin’ the Fillmore: The Complete Recordings

I’ll have more to say about this later, but for now let me tell you that 4 full slices of primo Pie are worth it despite them all being basically the same thing. Humble Pie were a band that made compromises in the studio to appease the disparate styles of Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton, but live they found a better balance. They also used space in a way few others did, dropping to dead silence when necessary to let the music breathe. Well worth the time to listen attentively; the more you give them the more you receive in return.

The Velvet Underground – Live at the Gymnasium

Released as part of the new deluxe White Light/White Heat swanky box set, the Gymnasium show is one of the best examples of the John Cale-era Velvet Underground I’ve ever heard. And though I’ve had a boot of it for years, it does sound a bit better and have some tracks (like a live instrumental version of “The Gift”) that evaded the bootleggers for one reason or another. I’ve only gotten a chance to hear it through the legal streaming services, so if some kind soul wanted to send me the box set that’d be cool.

Frank Zappa & the MothersRoad Tapes Venue #2

By late1973, Frank Zappa & the Mothers were rounding into what would prove to be his finest form, as captured on the studio records Over-Nite Sensation and Apostrophe(‘), and the live album Roxy & Elsewhere. This band is surprisingly well documented, with dozens of quality boots and youtube clips, as well as Zappa’s own “official bootlegs” (Piquantique and Unmitigated Audacity) and appearances on the live compilation series You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore. It makes yet another live set seem unnecessary. In all honesty, it probably is. But this is the era of Zappa I love; the band is loose but razor sharp, Frank’s misanthropy merely present and not yet virulent, and they all appear to enjoy being on stage together. So to hear an uncirculated recording, crafted from two Helsinki shows that didn’t even have known set lists, is a treasure for the fans. This likely isn’t too many folks idea of a must-have, but it sure is one of mine.

—Erik

 

Evidence of Infinity – A Conversation With Tom Gabriel Fischer

steelforbrains:

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You hear the name Tom Gabriel Fischer and perhaps you immediately think of his other monikers Tom G Warrior or Satanic Slaughter. The finer points of Celtic Frost‘s immeasurable influence on heavy metal are discussed in detail with impassioned debate over which album is better. The…

Please, go read this interview. Even if you have no idea who Tom is, or you do and don’t like his music, give it your time.

Evidence of Infinity – A Conversation With Tom Gabriel Fischer

2013 Favorites Collected Links

Here in list form, with links to individual entries:

FAVORITE ALBUMS

1. Retribution Gospel Choir – 3

2. Earthless – From the Ages

3. Roomrunner – Ideal Cities

4. In Solitude – Sister

5. Pinkish Black – Razed to the Ground

6. Shooting Guns – Brotherhood of the Ram

7. SubRosa – More Constant Than the Gods

8. True Widow – Circumambulation

9. The Bevis Frond – White Numbers

10. VHÖL – VHÖL

11. Snailface – Snailface IV

12. Clutch – Earth Rocker

13. Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark

14. Gorguts – Colored Sands

15. Coliseum – Sister Faith

16. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – UZU

17. Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu

18. The Cult of Dom Keller – The Cult of Dom Keller

19. Hawkeyes – Poison Slows You Down

20. Power Trip – Manifest Decimation

21. Russian Circles – Memorial

22. Radkey – Cat & Mouse EP

23. Lycia – Quiet Moments

24. Eluvium – Nightmare Ending

25. Tigon – The Anniversary / Cathedral – The Last Spire

FAVORITE TRACKS

1. Radkey – “Cat & Mouse”

2. Pigs – “If I’m In Luck”

3. Laura Mvula – “Green Garden”

4. Snailface – “In Herzog’s Headphones”

5. In Solitude – “Pallid Hands”

FAVORITE REISSUES

1. Otis Redding – The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection

2. Unwound – The Kid Is Gone

3. ZZ Top – The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990

4, Harry Nilsson – The RCA Albums Collection

5. The Clash – Sound System