Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Top 20 debut albums - Part 2

10. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)
This should come as no surprise to anyone that's even remotely interested in the heavier aspect of music. I've said before that I actually prefer the more epic and keyboard-oriented side of Gn'R which they so effectivly pulled through in the early 90's with the Illusion-records. But hell, this is one monster of a debut album and it dominated most of my childhood and actually taught me more of the english language than school could ever do. I am pretty tired of the classics here (especially "Sweet Child O' Mine") but songs such as "Nightrain", "Think About You" and "Rocket Queen" always gets me in a certain party mood. It's an iconic debut that almost everyone on the planet has heard and it will doubtlessly go into history as one of the greatest albums ever created.

9. Otyg - Älvefärd (1998)
As I mentioned in the previous blogpost - this is my blog and my personal opinions - but I can understand that people think I might be crazy for putting the debut album from a little folk metal band from northern Sweden that almost no one has heard of, before iconic debuts such as "Black Sabbath", "Altars of Madness" and "Appetite for Destruction". Nevertheless, this album has been played on an almost weekly basis in one way or the other for the last 10 years in my life. Mr. Vintersorg and Otyg brought me the wonders of Swedish folk metal to my ears and I must say that it will probably be the metal genre for me for many, many years to come, even though I'm beginning to grow slightly tired of it. This record is not the best produced, Mr. V's voice is definitly not his best work + the fact that he had a cold when the vocals was recorded. But who the hell cares when you have extremly catchy compositions such as "I Trollberg och Skog", "Fjällstorm", "Myrdingar - Martyrium", "Fjälldrottningens Slott" and "Draugen" to name a few? I definitly don't. But if you do care, then perhaps you should check out the follow-up "Sagovindars Boning" seeing as the vocal work is way better and the songs are almost as equally good.

8. Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine (1992)
This is another album that dominated so much of my younger years and it is indeed a true classic. I remember when a guy at the local youth recreation center played this for me just when the album had come out. I was immidatley blown away by it's fresh mix of rap and heavy riffing. I bought the record the week after, learned every little piece of lyric on it and never looked back. Sadly, this band never could match the intensity or the songwriting from this debut and it feels like it's kind of cemented in time - because "RATM" definitly felt like a breath of fresh air in 1992 (it sold triple platinum goddamn it). It took the band four years to come with a follow-up and by then, the magic was gone. Nevertheless, I'm glad I got to see the band live in 2000 which easily ranks in my top-5 concerts ever.

7. Arckanum - Fran Marder (1995)
This could also be seen as a forgotten jewel since I don't feel that one-man band Arckanum has gotten the attention they deserve. Internet-ninjas seem to feel at ease with just writing about how funny and ludicrous the video to "Gava Fran Trulen" is and that's it. Sure, the video is definitly ludicrous in every aspect, but the song is a fucking black metal masterpiece - way better than anything ever recorded by Mayhem, Emperor or Immortal. The lo-fi production has it's pros and cons, but I mainly feel that it helps to create an amazing atmosphere on the album, even though I wish that it would be a bit louder - but with the same crappy sound. This is not a recording where you analyze how good or bad the drummer is or what cool stuff the guitars comes up with. This is an album that reeks of honest intentions to produce damn good black metal and, as I said before, an amazing atmosphere. Also, I think that Shamataee is one of the absolutly best black metal vocalist in the genre. He attacks the microphone with a frenzy that perhaps only Mortuus (of Marduk and Funeral Mist-fame) could challenge and it feels as the man means every single word he vomits from his throat.

6. Dismember - Like an Everflowing Stream (1991)
If you go back and read Part 1 of this list and check out what I wrote about Entombed's debut album - it pretty much sums up this position as well. The reason that I have this on a much higher position than "Left Hand Path" is the following:
A. I prefer Matti Kärki's vocals over L.G.'s - at least on these recordings.
B. "Like an Everflowing Stream" has, though similar to Entombed's, a much more "rustier sounding" guitar sound.
C. And most important of all - it actually has a way better consictency when it comes to the actual songwriting.
And if you are still in doubt, I only have five words for you: Override. Of. The. Fucking. Overture.

5. The Vision Bleak - The Deathship Has a New Captain (2004)
This is my latest discovery in the metal world (from a few months back) and it feels so bizarre that I never looked up this band when I first heard about their debut "The Deathship Has a New Captain" back in 2004. I knew that one guy was of Empyrium-fame, but since I didn't listen that much to them as I do nowadays, I think that's one of the main reasons I never bothered with this band. Also, they're Germans and apart from Falkenbach and Empyrium, I can't think of any band from Germany that I listen to.
The Vision Bleak is essentially goth metal for the 00's and feels very different from what you would label that during the 90's. They call their own style horror metal and for once, this label actually fit the music very well. The music is melodic, catchy and agressive at the same time. There's everything from thrashy riffs to haunting piano interludes which gives the album a very even feel and never bores the listener (which often can be the case with this type of music). The first four "real" songs (the intro excluded) "Night of the Living Dead", "Wolfmoon", "Metropolis" and "Elizabeth Dane" is a troika of phenomenal songwriting and the four ones that comes after aren't bad in any way. Other things worth pointing out is that the remainder of TVB's discography (three more albums when this is written) is just as even and contains great music.

4. Ásmegin - Hin Vordende Sod & Sø (2003)
Yes, I know that I've ranted A LOT about this record in many previous posts on this blog, but I just can't help it - "HVS&S" is one of the most impressing debuts I've heard in a long time. The combination of folk- black- and viking metal is still surpassed by any band to this day and the record has so much intensity and variation that I still continue to be amazed. The production is still very flawed and way too modern-sounding. And that drum sound is perhaps the second worst I've heard in modern times. Of course only surpassed by that drivel on Metallica's "St. Anger" - coincidentally released the same year. For a more in-depth rant (unfourtunatly only in Swedish) about my thoughts on this phenomenal record, check out this earlier blogpost.

3. Vintersorg - Till Fjälls (1998)
This one made the first place in my top-100 albums of all time, but I'm not sure that I'd put it there if I were to do the list one more time. It is too flawed to deserve the award for that. There have been many nights where I have thought: "What if the production and especially drum sound on this recording were more like it's sequel "Ödemarkens Son"?" "Or what if the vocal delivery from Mr. V were equal to the depth on that record as well?". Then "Till Fjälls" would be the perfect record, because there's absolutely nothing wrong with any of the compositions - they are catchy, melodic, aggressive, beautiful and well thought-through. Mr. V's ability to write a chorus that gets stuck in your head are beyond amazing and it's really impressive that this is his debut. The production values and songstructures were to change during the years, but this full-length debut still stands on it's own feet and the pianodriven epic title track has become a little semi-classic of it's own.

2. Candlemass - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986)
The production on this Swedish doom metal icon hints of the 80's and it could probably have been done better. But the important thing here is that the songs themselves are timeless and that's all that matters. The band originated from mastermind Leif Edling's band Nemesis and never released a demo as Candlemass. Instead the man wrote 6 long songs of pure epic doom metal and recruited one of the best vocalists ever - Johan Längquist in his sole contribution to metal ever - and the result is breathtaking. From the soft, almost ballad-like beginning of the epic funeral dirge "Solitude" to the massive sing-along lines in the closing "A Sorcerer's Pledge", this record has it all. Unfourtunatley, the world was a weird place back in the 80's and people worshipped Europe and their embarressing "The Final Countdown" instead of "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" - where the true talent lied.

1. Moonspell - Wolfheart (1995)
This is an album that I've already dived into earlier, but unfourtunatly only in Swedish. Here's a bit what I had to say from my conclusion then:
"You have to understand. For a record that comes from a - in metalcircles - handicapped country such as Portugal and released as early as 1995, "Wolfheart" was extremly monumental and ahead of it's time. The songs are even and there are no real peaks or lows - the records flows from beginning to end."
To think that this band's previous work (the MCD "Under the Moonspell") was released only one year prior to this masterpiece is nothing but a remarkable effort. The band definitly played over the own capability on that recording and the structures of the songs are a far cry from the wolf at hand.
This is one of the few albums that I have two copies of, simply because I wanted to have the newly released edition with new artwork, liner notes and a bonus live disc. The liner notes calls "Wolfheart" "the ugly duckling of European black metal" and I so love that statement. Because it is the combination of black metal, gothic overtures and Portugese folklore that makes "Wolfheart" so dynamic and so goddamn impressive for a debut album from what was basically a bunch of teenagers that had a difficult time to even find a rehearsal place.

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