Monday, October 06, 2008

The Random Ten - #1

It's time for a new feature on The Blog of Steel(e), The Random Ten. Basically, I'm going to open iTunes, click the shuffle button, and listen to 10 songs and write about them. Here we go:

1. Killswitch Engage "Irreversal" from Killswitch Engage

Before Killswitch's melodic choruses were sugar-coated to the point of unlistenability, they wrote extremely heavy songs with thrashy riffs and choruses that included singing, but were still very heavy. The chorus of "Irreversal," with its call-and-response shouting against the singing was unique at the time, and the mid-point of the song is damn-near death metal in the vocals. By the time the acoustic guitar and spoken-word interlude come, you've been beaten over the head and the dynamic expression is welcome. This song was re-done as a bonus track for one of their more recent albums, with Jesse Leach (former singer) and current singer Howard Jones trading vocals back and forth. The scream that ends the song on this, the original version, brings Tomas Lindberg to mind with its throat-shredding quality.

2. Nevermore "This Godless Endeavor" from This Godless Endeavor

This song basically sums up Nevermore's existence in 9 minutes, and gives a good idea of what metal is all about as a whole. The song begins with a dark acoustic opening, then melds into an oldschool, Judas Priest-esque melodic moment and mini-solo, before opening up into a 7-string riff-fest that doesn't really let up for the rest of the song. The "Consume! Conform!" shouting near the end is about as heavy as metal can get, and this song is probably my favorite song that Nevermore has ever recorded. Pretty much everything you'd ever want in a metal song can be found here: melody, great solos, great drumming, soaring vocals, epic structuring, not-atrocious lyrics (really, that's all you can expect from metal lyrics anyways).

3. AC/DC "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" from AC/DC Live

Classic AC/DC hit with Brian Johnson handling the vocal duties. Musically it sounds great, vocally not as much charm as when Bon Scott did it on the album version, but the band is energetic, and Angus's solo is explosive. Great version of a great song, even if the original is better.

4. Primus "Too Many Puppies" from Frizzle Fry

Growing up, I knew a lot of people who liked Primus but never quite understood why. Then I heard "Too Many Puppies". Definitely one of Primus's more conventional songs, this song is a favorite of mine because of the groove and the riff. It opened me up to Primus, and I gained an appreciation for their more eclectic material when I listened to the rest of this album, which is arguably their best overall album, although Pork Soda remains my favorite. One of the few Primus songs that is as heavy on the guitars as it is the bass.

5. The Haunted "Undead" from The Haunted

I first heard this song on an Earache Records compilation, Earplugged 2, in an early demo version. I had read that this was the Bjorler brothers' (ex-At the Gates) new band, and it was refreshing to hear their inventive-yet-rooted-in-oldschool riffing combined with audible, clear, thrashy vocals, provided by Peter Dolving. This was a great start for The Haunted, who remain one of my favorite active bands in the thrash metal genre to this day.

6. Venom "Manitou" from MMV

Some Venom rules, some sucks. This song pretty much sucks, if you ask me. I was a fan of their first three albums and the album Metal Black, where they tried to rip themselves off and succeeded, but this song is just nothing special. No great riff, decent chorus, but awful lyrics, no real speed or emotion. Thumbs down.

7. Emperor "Beyond the Great Vast Forest" from In the Nightside Eclipse

People either think this album or Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk were Emperor's finest. I am in the latter camp, but I do like Nightside a great deal. The songwriting chops were there, but the production and vocals were not as dymanic or diverse on this album as they would become on later efforts. Still, for a debut full-length, Emperor sounded like seasoned vets, and this song has great atmosphere.

8. Iron Maiden "The Number of the Beast" from The Number of the Beast

One of the most revered songs in heavy metal history, what do I really need to say about this? From the spoken word intro, clever bass/guitar riff, and "Six! Six Six!" chorus, this song defines heavy metal from the 80's, and if you had to ask what Iron Maiden were all about, this song and "The Trooper" are all you'd need to hear to know. Satan's work is done, indeed.

9. Motorhead "No Class" from No Remorse

Just a classic rock-and-roll riff, from Motorhead's glory days (although, they still kick ass nowadays, just listen to Motorized for further proof), and one of their best, most-recognized songs, for good reason. Down & dirty rock and roll with a lot of attitude and a lot of volume. Makes me want to start a Motorhead cover band, grow some hairy moles on my face, and live off whiskey and cigarettes. Hell, Lemmy's 60 and still doing this, so it must work.

10. God Forbid "Crucify Your Beliefs" from IV: The Constitution of Treason

Another modern American metal band along the likes of KsE, God Forbid left a lot of their metal-core-ness behind on their fourth album, and became more rooted in traditional, melodic stylings, while still retaining the thrashiness and heaviness that got them where they are today. This song opens with an airy, melodic opening, before really thrashing out on the verses with some great minor-key riffing. There isn't a whole lot about this song that is ground-breaking, but it's solid, well-played, well-produced modern metal. Looking forward to hearing the new stuff from these guys, which should be out in early 2009.

Well, I was hoping for a bit more diversity in my first installment of the Random Ten, but when 75% of your musical collection is heavy metal, the odds can be against you when you hit shuffle. I was expecting Dr. Dre followed by Mayhem after a Dave Matthews jam, but alas, it was not to be. At least I got to hear 9 great rock/metal songs with one Venom shit-sandwich in the middle. Stay tuned for another Random Ten tomorrow!


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