Seminal 1994 Euro-metal!

Here we have a list of some of the most formidable genre-innovative releases from the year 1994. Only nine years old at the time, and yet look at all the hot new music I was getting myself into! To be fair, anybody who is somebody has heard all these albums and owned them at one point. So, this post is pretty useless…

But ah, what’s that? I write this blog for my own entertainment!? Ahahaha!


Blind GuardianImaginations From the Other Side

Rockin’ out with D&D

Blind Guardian is really some brilliance. This band is as scene-definitive to power metal as Emperor is for black metal, but with a sublime culture-infatuation akin to Enslaved. Of course, Enslaved toots the horn for viking metal, whereas Blind Guardian does it for medieval/fantasy metal. Ah, but before you roll your eyes, you should note that their music is so adept in its composition and performance that it completely usurps the genre and evokes an entirely different universe around the listener. Fortunately, this means it’s also able to destroy the cheesy qualities that fantasy power metal bands like Narnia, Edguy, or Hammerfall emanate in such thick, gooey density.

I would wager that although some of the later Blind Guardian releases, like Nightfall in Middle Earth or A Night at the Opera have some of the best BG songs (or power metal songs) ever written, Imaginations is the strongest album overall. Plus it has songs like “I’m Alive”, “My Song of the End” and “The Script For my Requiem”. A seminal metal release.

A funny story — on the first day of a university class on Norse mythology, some hombre there was wearing a Nightfall in Middle Earth shirt. I had been listening to Imaginations from the Other Side in the car on the way to class, so I felt obligated to ignite a conversation with my fellow “BG brethren”. Turns out the dude in the shirt is some kind of neo-pagan, but didn’t even know that Hansi Kursch (singer) is a Christian! Hahahaha! Imagine the look on his face when I broke the news!


Emperor In the Nightside Eclipse

Trolling about outside the castle…

If this CD is any indication, Norway is the home to the world’s most evil, solitary, contemplative teenagers as well as the meanest metal musicians (a double-entendre!). These whipper-snappers were like 19 years of age when they released this majestic compendium of totally compassion-less black metal. Included are the fan-favorites (now emo-kid musical staples!), “Cosmic Keys to my Creation and Times”, “I Am the Black Wizards” and “Inno A Satana”. The live versions of these songs are a peach! Thing is, if you didn’t hear this album by like 1998, you’re a poseur (and even that is a questionably generous parameter of time). Just to brag: the first Emperor album I bought was when I was 13. *Nyuk nyuk nyuk* (or did that make me a poseur too?!)

Emperor re-recorded some of the tracks on this CD for their Hordanes Land split with Enslaved. Enslaved’s half is more interesting (they wrote really awesome originals for it) but Emperor did record some fuzzy analog versions of a few tracks from this one. The artwork here is done by Kristian Wåhlin who I’m pretty sure also did the art for AmorphisTales From the Thousand Lakes.

I like this Emperor cover a whole lot. I should get a blown-up poster of it. But be warned: the image is such an ideal fantasy landscape that if you stare at it too long, tears will be jerked.


EnslavedVikingligr Veldi

Decomposing moustache

Vikingligr Veldi, (perhaps along with Enslaved‘s later album, Eld), is the quintessential viking metal album. I’d place some early Borknagar up there too, but if I had to choose just one band to take the cake, it’d be Enslaved. Vikingligr Veldi is five tracks, almost all of which are around ten minutes long. They feature harsh yet very listenable production (effective and tasteful tones on the instruments) and minimal but beautiful keyboard flourishes (such as on the second track, “Vetranott”/”Winter’s Night”, which is an absolute pinnacle of Norwegian metal). There is some mind-melting drumming by Trym before he went off to join Emperor and the harsh vox fit perfectly into the icy-cold aural landscape and are sung entirely in Norwegian. In other words, I can pretend that I’m cultured because it’s in a language I don’t understand.

Oh, by the way — have you noticed that the real difference between power metal bands and black metal bands, is that the power metal guys are content to just be nerds and play Dungeons & Dragons for the rest of their lives, while the black metal guys eventually get bored of D&D and start trying to be wizards for real?

Just a thought profound truth.


Amorphis Tales From the Thousand Lakes

Thor’s Hammer? On MY internet?!

Ha! This album is great. Best Finnish metal album of all time maybe? Melodic Death/Doom metal with really really sick keyboard action off-the-hook riffage. Most of the vox are gruff, low-end growls with a few really cheesy-yet-amazing clean sections. The clean vocals (guest performed by Ville Tuomi) sound like they were sang by a guy weathering a boat during an ocean storm. I swear! This is before they got Pasi Koskinen to do all the clean singing.

Is it just me, or is “In The Beginning” one of the greatest metal songs of all time? It has like, two of the best riffs ever laid to tape! Which reminds me, I love the recording on this one. The guitar sounds like some old school ’90s death metal — meaty but a little trebly, and perfectly mixed and compressed. These days guitars are either waaaay too compressed and fake sounding (think Evanesence or Dragonfarce as extreme examples) or just too thin (too much digital or straight-to-board recording). Amorphis also tune their guitars down like 2 steps, which gives the tone a nice crunch.

This is also before Amorphis went off in their psychedelic-metal-prog direction, so this album kind of represents their signature sound at its rawest. You could say the first album, Karelian Isthmus is rawer, but I don’t think it really captures a distinct Amorphis sound as this one does.

Incidentally, it seems Amorphis’ logo is Thor’s hammer. ‘Course, I never hear Thor mentioned in their lyrics. Ah, that’s kinda classy though…don’t you think? These guys ain’t like no Amon Amarth, stating that shit all blatantly. Amorphis’ business is considerably more serious.


At the Gates Terminal Spirit Disease

It’s contagious!

The best At The Gates album is obviously Terminal Spirit Disease. I guess some might claim With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness is the better album, but at that point they’re projecting insecurities through forced elitism. Kind of like when I say I hate The Godfather movies.

Slaughter of the Soul is the famous (last) album, but we all know it’s just favored by the Hot-Topic emo-core kids. You can always tell a metal poseur by their SotS shirt. To be fair, SotS does have a couple of ATG‘s strongest tunes on it, but as an album it doesn’t hold together as well as the previous three.

What songs are so tip-top on Slaughter of the Soul? Well, first is clearly “Cold”, if only for the emo-kid break-down after the chorus, where Tomas Lindberg is screaming the final verse as the guitars drop out, leaving only the bass and drums behind the vox:

22 years of pain,

and I can feel it closing in.

The will to rise above,

tearing my insides out.

So heart-felt and emo! *cry*

Ah, why am I even talking about that album? The best one is Terminal Spirit Disease! Every single song here is quality, and the opening on the first track, “The Swarm” is super jumpin’. It has violins which segway into slick, dual tremolo guitar melodies. The vocals are raw as hell, the drums are a little muddier with recording production that makes them sound like a mid-period Death album, plus the guitars aren’t too thick or polished, so they cut through with more buzz. There are time and tempo changes midway through the songs, the aggression is sincere but tempered, and we don’t have any annoying audio samples.

Rumor has it that ATG is going to reunite and be touring with Darkest Hour and Municipal Waste. Funny, since DH‘s whole career is based on copying Terminal Spirit Disease as closely as possible (I’ll give you a hint, fellas: get a new singer!). Frankly, these days I’m not that interested in angsty, aggressive (but melodically sensitive!) metal riffing, so… I think I’ll leave that tour to the emo-kids.


Such nostalgia! *Sigh* I miss the good old days when every emo-kid/cam-whore couldn’t listen to Scandic metal, since it meant being completely ostracized from their local social scene. These days, children gallavant around together in corpse paint or black clothes.

Bah! Send those kids to boarding school! The internet, it ruins music for those of us who know, I tell you what…


~ by chaosrexmachinae on March 19, 2008.

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