Monday, March 12, 2012

Top 20 debut albums - Part 1

Due to boredom and severe backproblems, I decided to make a list today. So here's my top 20-list of important debut albums. And as always, these positions and albums are based on my opinions and probably differs quite a lot from the general metalmasses so to speak. But what the hell, it's my blog right?

20. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)
Anyone heard of these four Brits? They created heavy metal and are also responsible for unleashing one of my favourite genres (which you will see later in this list) - doom metal - to the world. I can only imagine (since I wasn't born then) what impact their selftitled debutalbum must have had upon an unsuspecting world that benchmarked metal with the more rock-oriented likes of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple back in the days. The sinister opening track "Black Sabbath" sent shivers down people's spines with it's eerie guitars and haunting vocals - and it still manages to do the same to me today. And no list including great debutalbums is complete without the godfathers of metal...

19. Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness (1989)
Although I've personally always preferred the Swedish way of playing death metal over the American - I simply cannot deny the importance of this classic. The coverart alone would scare people shitless back in -89 and as the case with spot number 20 - I can only imagine (here I was 9 years old but I was completely unaware of metal whatsoever) the initial impact it had.
As I mentioned earlier, this is quite far from being a death metal favourite album of mine and I'm not particulary fond of David Vincent's snarling vocals which was quite far from the more demonical sound he would develop later in the band's career. But the guitarsound is evil as fuck (though not as badass as it's Swedish counterparts) and the songwriting is definitly very good coming from a bunch of guys that were so young when they wrote this. Being first does not always mean that you're the best, but this debut is so impressing that it still would be a shame to not have it on this list. Today, this band is sadly a mere shadow of their former selves and I would think that the teenage Mr. Vincent would've kicked his own ass if he could see what abominations his Morbid Angel are doing today.

18. Dissection - The Somberlain (1993)
Even though these Swedes made an ever better record two years after this - named "Storm of the Light's Bane" - it is almost impossible not to be amazed by the sheer quality of this debut. Combining death metal melodies with icy cold black metal guitar playing, topped with the impressive vocal work of Jon Nötveidt - Dissection helped to pave the way for the so-called Gothenburg style together with At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and an unimportant and untalented band called In Flames. But when the aforementioned bands looked to traditional Nordic folk melodies and/or thrash metal - Dissection turned it's eyes to black metal and forged a majestic sound that has been copied by thousands of bands (hello Thulcandra) ever since. Though sadly disfunct as a band today, (due to bandleader Jon's suicide in 2006) Dissection managed to keep a spot-on discography without any weak points and will always be remembered for that.

17. Metallica - Kill 'Em All (1983)
Eventually, this band would become one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) heavy metal bands of all time, but I don't think many people thought this when they released their debut album in -83. The guidelines and rules for these four teens was that thrash metal was THE one religion and the gods they worshipped were Diamond Head and Motörhead. But everything is not about speed even though that seems to be the case with "Kill 'Em All". This record also produced immortal thrash metal anthems such as "Jump in the Fire" and "Seek and Destroy" and I must acknowledge the importance that they have had even though I seldom listen to any of those tracks today. Standouts for me on this album are spelled "Motorbreath", "The Four Horsemen" and "Phantom Lord". The production value on this record is below zero, the vocals from James Hetfield are ludicrous and the song structures are not even nearly thought through. Still, it is an important piece of work that would pave the road to such masterpieces as "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets". Oh, and I should also say that they probably influenced every metal band formed after 1986 in one way or another...

16. Ghost - Opus Eponymous (2010)
Sure I've praised these anonymous satan-worshipping Swedish ghouls on this blog before, but it must once more be said that this is one hell of a debut. This is still not my cup of tea musically, but I get dragged along in some weird way anyway - and this has nothing to do with them being hyped as the biggest thing in 2010. I doubt that I would find them very interesting if the were about something else lyricwise. Furthermore, it sounds like it's not produced in 2010 - I won't say that it sounds like it comes straight from the seventies, since I don't have that sort of knowledge about most of the metal/hardrock productions back then and I've never owned a vinyl player. But the fact remains that this sounds old, but in a very positive way. The songwriting is catchy as hell, the lyrics are about hell and the vocalist is not the best I've heard - but he doesen't sound like hell at least. Did that make sense? Good.

15. Theatre of Tragedy - Theatre of Tragedy (1995)
During the mid-90's, before the crappy likes of Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and - dare I say - Evanescence made it big, there was only one gothic metal band featuring female vocals that was worth caring about. Theatre of Tragedy's self-titled debut album is hailed as the originators of the so called beauty-and-the-beast-metal where soft female vocals duelled with death growls on top of a foundation of gothic- and doom metal. For this alone, this album deserves a spot on my list - but it also contains damn good compositions that actually have survived the flooded goth metal scene and feels somewhat relevant in 2012 (unlike the beforementioned bands). The opener "A Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal" and the closer "Dying - I Only Feel Apathy" are well-worked songs that I still listen to from time to time. Even though they flipped out totally during the -00's and produced some of the worst garbage known to man ("Musiqué" and "Assembly") they still deserve the credit for pioneering this type of music on this album. Also, be sure to check out the follow-up "Velvet Darkness They Fear" which is even stronger in it's compositions.

14. Falkenbach - ...En Their Medh Riki Fara... (1996)
This German/Icelandic one-man band is definitly influenced by the Swedish outfit Bathory in two ways or another. This brings me to why the classic debut of said band is not in this list - the simple explination is that I never could stand the vocals of Qourthon. Sure, the guy had a few riffs and compositions here and there during his long career, but the vocals immideatly destroyed everything for me, which in in a way, is quite sad. On to Falkenbach then.
This debut album is full of references to vikings and times of yore. One could call it a mix between viking- folk- and black metal but nevertheless, the winning factor here lies in the strength of the compositions. Apart from the two way too long and dull instrumental pieces, all of the songs are gold in their own way. Songs such as "Heathenpride" and "...Into the Ardent Awaited Land" are epic compositions featuring mostly clean vocals (which aren't the best - but fits the music spot on) and catchiness beyond this world. Then we also have sheer agression in the likes of "Læknishendr" and "Winternight", but it is black metal attacking that never becomes boring because the guy knows how to write a catchy song - whether it's black- or viking metal. This album is somewhat of a forgotten gem that way too few people have heard. Give the vocals a chance I say, and once you've got used to them, learn the lyrics and you'll never stop playing this album.

13. 3rd & The Mortal - Tears Laid in Earth (1994)
The debut album (and predecessing EP) by this Norweigian outfit was more or less the only material they released that was metal - before they changed their sound to a more experimental pop/industrial sound later on. The cover is spot on with the music on this album since it has a very "foresty feeling" and it almost feels like you're on a long journey through the Norwegian countryside. The album is regarded as the start of the so-called atmospheric doom metal - namely really slow and crushing doom, featuring female vocals only. Despite the album having lots of keyboards and the addition of female vocals - it feels wrong to use the word "gothic" when describing "Tears Laid in Earth" - hence the atmosphere in the doom metal. Got it? Kari Rueslåtten is one of my favourite female vocalists ever and it's a shame that this band never did any more records in this vein.

12. Entombed - Left Hand Path (1990)
You all should know this. This is the record that was the first to be released after a flood of Swedish death metal demos. This is the record that made all other Swedish bands pilgrimage to Sunlight Studio just to get that certain guitar sound that this album has. I like the record for what it is and I definitly announce it's importance in the history of metal, even though I really don't care for the vocals all the time and that I feel that the songwriting really is below par at most times. Also, that cover painting by Dan Seagrave is beyond monumental.
This album thrusted Entombed into super stardom in Scandinavia and it's legacy spawned a thousand new death metal bands in Sweden wanting to be as big as Entombed. One thing that this album seldom gets credit for, is the fact that it helped fuel the fire and aggression in Norway and their hatred towards the Swedish death metal scene which they called life metal. To put it in other words, I don't think that bands such as Mayhem and Darkthrone would have written such monumental pieces as they did if it weren't for death metal - and in particular this record - becoming so big in Sweden. And since I kinda prefer black metal over death metal I must say thanks to Entombed.

11. My Dying Bride - As the Flower Withers (1991)
If we're talking underrated records, it's a crime not to mention the Bride's debut in my opinion. Sure, it's nowhere near the sheer brilliance of albums such as "Turn Loose the Swans" or "The Angel and the Dark River" but it has that certain something anyway and it's a perfect mix of death- and doom metal, with most focus on the latter. I mean, it contains classics such as "Sear Me" and "The Forever People" - even though I class the latter as one of the worst songs MDB has ever written. It's boring death metal deluxe if compared to the incredible "Vast Choirs" which effectivly fuses death metal into doom metal with brilliance. The growling vocals from Aaron are the best he's ever done in MDB's long career and even though I feel that the record would've been even better with his clean vocals and more of Martin Powell's violins - it still holds up today. It is also perhaps the most aggressive MDB-recording so if the tough death metal guys ever would want to get immersed into the romantic/depressive side of doom metal - this is where to start.

1 comment:

Mig said...

Bra lista! Framförallt för att du inkluderade MDB och The 3rd & The Mortal. Alldeles för få känner till detta fantastiska norska band. Tycker debut-EP Sorrow är ännu starkare än fullängdaren.