Some simply sublime metal albums are turning 30 years old this year…..here’s ANOTHER 6 of ’em to get you started!
Believer – Dimensions [USA]
Genre: Technical / Progressive Thrash
Home to the kind of syncopated riffs which must have had the guys in Meshuggah scheming their own eventual rise to dominance, Dimensions was the third album from Christian progressive / technical thrash metal band Believer and it shook the foundations of thrash to its very core!
While 1990’s Sanity Obscure runs it a close second, Dimensions should be considered Believer’s masterwork with bewildering tempo changes and psychic interplay transforming 3 mere musicians into a colossal force of heavenly proportions.
Nonchalantly throwing in the violin/viola of Scott Laird and Julianne Laird Hoge’s exquisite soprano/operatic vocals added even more layers. Take, for instance, the sheer audacity of “The Trilogy of Knowledge,” a 20-minute excursion into pure brilliance inspired by the greats of progressive rock such as Pink Floyd, Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer which somehow surpassed the majority of them; a series of ‘movements’ (so to speak) which need to be heard to be believed!
An uncompromising, labyrinthian progressive / technical metal milestone, Dimensions‘ ability to send your brain into orbit remains undiminished.
Conception – Parallel Minds [Norway]
Fans of symphonic power metallers Kamelot take note; ex-lead singer Roy Khan first made his mark in Norway’s Conception, the progressive power metal band that created an unheralded early 90’s gem in the shape of Parallel Minds.
Suffice to say, Khan’s vocals are outstanding here and while the overall sound of Parallel Mind smay have been out of sync with prevailing trends, it’s the soaring vocals, power metal melodies, expressive keyboards and crunchy mid-paced riffs, that render Conception’s approach timeless.
Well crafted songs – ingenious in their perceived simplicity – masked a band capable of delivering something which bordered on regal; a case of power metal royalty claiming the throne before they’d even been fully conceived!
Detritus – If But For One [UK]
An anomaly for (ironically) more than one reason, Detritus‘ second full length album remains one of the most experimental UK thrash albums in existence – one which found this Christian thrash act branching out in all manner of unexpected directions.
Still resolutely thrash, it’s the far-reaching compositional skill that elevated this album into the category of ‘must-hear’ with subtlety and acoustic dexterity nestling nicely next to honest-to-goodness thrashing (and a thrashed-up sea shanty, for fucks sake!).
Truly a one of a kind album, those thrashers who enjoy a band who go for broke and take thrash into pastures new need to hear this album to fully appreciate the talent and potential on display.
Morta Skuld – Dying Remains [USA]
Genre: Death Metal
Wisconsin’s Morta Skuld kinda got lost in the early 90’s barrage of quality death metal bands, despite Dying Remains proving to be a highly atmospheric, incredibly well executed, descent into outstandingly heavy, mid-tempo death metal.
Predominantly playing at an Obituary-esque pace, Morta Skuld‘s material trod a fine death/doom line but sudden bursts of thrash-like speed kept it from wallowing in the Peaceville gutter alongside early Anathema, Paradise Lost etc. Ironically, Peaceville Records re-released a fully remastered edition of Dying Remains back in 2013, giving OSDM fans a chance to devour this beast once again.
A saturated genre may have stalled Morta Skuld‘s carrer in the early 90’s but with 2017’s Wounds Deeper Than Time and 2020’s Suffer For Nothing proving particularly effective, it seems Morta Skuld‘s time may still come!
Pestilence – Spheres [Netherlands]
Genre: Progressive Death Metal / Jazz-Fusion
From thrash metal (Malleus Maleficarum) to death metal (Consuming Impulse) to progressive death metal (Testimony Of The Ancients) to Spheres; an album so eclectic it fits all previous descriptions and throws some jazz-fusion into the mix to create a spacey, avant-garde, progessive metal masterpiece.
Pestilence‘s 4th album may have split fans straight down the middle back in 1993 but there’s no escaping its timeless appeal today.
Easing fans gently into ever challenging terrain, Spheres is cannily front-loaded with death metal indebted tracks designed to appeal to the fanbase before unleashing the triumvirate of “Personal Energy”, “Voices From Within” and “Spheres”; songs that barely register as death metal and thrilling examples of a band tapping into otherworldly influences.
Resurrection – Embalmed Existence [USA]
Genre: Death Metal
Florida’s Resurrection may have arrived a little late to the Floridian death metal party – and you’re really gonna be up against it when the likes of Deicide, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Atheist and Death are your nearest competition – but their 1993 debut, Embalmed Existence, should still be considered more than just a footnote in the annals of early 90’s death metal.
Fully embracing the progressive nature of the majority of their peers, Resurrection‘s skill lay in tempering the blast beats with slamming grooves, varied pace and a penchant for otherworldly and eerie experimentation.
The over use of soundbites is a distraction but the music on display is nothing less than impressive throughout, with a strong sense of Obituary‘s circa Cause Of Death informing much of the work found on Embalmed Existence. Not that Resurrection were copying John Tardy and the boys wholesale. Instead, their series of slowly decaying anthems and, sometimes, measured and sedate pace, draws comparison with Obituary‘s sophomore album while affording them their own cloying sense of overriding menace.
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