Nightman Listens To – Black Sabbath – Debut (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancer! Or should I say ‘Greeeeeeeee-tiiiinnnnnnnnngs, Glaaa-aaa-aaaanc-eeeerrrrrs’? Because that’s Doom Metal – slow, foreboding, and pretty much single-handedly created by Black Sabbath. Hailing from the ‘why would anyone want to live there’ town of Birmingham, featuring Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill Ward, Sabbath is the band most people would call the first true Heavy Metal band. Now I know there’s a whole argument surrounding when Metal as a genre truly started, and that there were Metal or Metal-esque songs before Black Sabbath. In reality, that’s all bullshit. Other acts had been playing heavy music before, other bands had even coined the term, and other artists had been writing lyrics about war, death, demons, and all of that creepy stuff years earlier, but the fact is that Black Sabbath was the first to mix it all together and craft it into a uniquely evil sound – the riffs, the tone, the vocals, the foreboding bass, the thunderous beat, the lyrics and image and surrounding hysteria all swirled into a single package, and thus Heavy Metal as we know it today was born.

Some of my personal feelings on Black Sabbath; I’ve probably mentioned it elsewhere on the blog, but I’m much more of a Black Sabbath Greatest Hits kind of guy. I’m almost certain I’ve heard this album (and others) the whole way through, but in general it’s the same key songs I listen to. It’s not like Metallica or Maiden or any of my other favourite bands where I enjoy the mid-album, non-single tracks as much as their hits, no, with Sabbath it’s mainly their hits. Mainly, as there are a few non-hits I have in my rotation. With that being said, it’s a while since I’ve listened to a full Sabbath album and so I’ll be rectifying that today with their 1970 self-titled debut.

The seven songs here feature two cover versions, both given that Sabbath once-over, but it’s their original material and their title track which are the most infamous. The band was critically derided when they first arrived on the scene as sub-standard heavy blues rock with silly lyrics, but their debut was nevertheless a commercial success. Later critics would come around. It’s funny that all of the Satanic Panic hogwash was assigned to the band by their followers and the surrounding media, rather than the band themselves. Of course, they would lap it up. Before we get stuck in, lets have a gander at that cover art:

sabb

Now I don’t know about you, but that artwork has always struck me as genuinely creepy. The washed out colours, the desolate surroundings, the apparently begotten building, and of course, the pale faced banshee blasting a cursed gaze into our souls with her pit black eyes. Is she a demon? Is she a nun? Is she even a women, because with the right amount of liquor she kind of looks like Ozzy. You can see where a thousand Black Metal bands got their artwork inspiration from. When most Metal bands try to be sinister or scary it comes off as ridiculous, like when a toddler tries to punch your shin in a genuine attempt to cause serious injury. Here, I feel it works – that creature, though forlorn, has clearly been up to no good in that house in the background; she’s probably killed a family, stolen the baby and stashed it up her habit, and is now walking towards us – with every diseased step pressing decay into the very Earth, scorching the ground for eternity, with every step she gets closer to reaching out through the artwork in your hand and placing her maggot-wet fingers around your throat, squeezing as the first shimmer of a smile creeps from her lips. Or maybe she’s just the woman from the Scottish Widows commercials who got caught short on the way to pick up some Insurance. Life Insurance. For her dead husband. WHO SHE MURDERED AND ATE!

Black Sabbath: I’ve spoken before in these posts about the critical importance of first impressions. Your first song has to nail it. That’s exactly what Sabbath does with their self-titled track. It’s not a pleasant experience. Remember, this was 1969/70, the height of hippy happiness and love and all that balls. These guys open their career with the sound of rain and funeral bells. Then that huge riff comes in like a bomb, the final note wriggling like bait on a hook, while Ozzy announces the immortal ‘what is this that stands before me’. It must have been a shock when it was released, and taken as a whole there wasn’t anything else like it. There’s an ounce or two of theatricality as Ozzy howls ‘oh no no please God help me’ and when the song gets up to a gallop they unleash an unholy noise which kicked soil over the eyes of the hippy dream.

The Wizard: It wouldn’t be 70s without some harmonica. Even it is given an evil spin, yawning out like an ogre stretching out of bed before an morning snack of bones. The guitar follows the yawning before branching off into a set of furious riffs of its own. Ozzy’s vocals aren’t amazing technically, but they are unique and fit the overall tone. Even with the volume and Ward’s manic drumming, this is a jive.

Behind The Wall Of Sleep: A lesser known song, it still packs a punch. It feels like an improvised jam, but it’s very tight. It’s the central riff – not one of Iommi’s best – which brings the whole thing together. It’s another mixture of blues and heavy rock with a little taste of funk, but the growl of the guitars and the technicality send it firmly into the realm of metal.

NIB: One of the most famous bass solos ever – probably the most famous until For Whom The Bell Tolls. Then the main riff comes in, and it’s very Cream inspired. That’s fine as they crush it with sledgehammer power. It’s the first song where the lyrics seem Satanic, calling out Lucifer by name. Even though it’s a love song where the devil becomes good. It’s the middle section I really love here, on top of the great riff – everything from the ‘my love for you’ melody, all the way through the extended instrumental section is terrific. Then they swirl it all around and run through it again.

Evil Woman: Not an original I was ever familiar with until I searched it out to see what the fuss was about, Sabbath’s take is slower, lower, and grimy. It does feel quite poppy, especially that chorus, and almost doesn’t align with the tone of the rest of the album. In the US the song was replaced by the original Wicked World which probably is a better tonal fit even if it is a pretty upbeat and bouncy song too.

Sleeping Village: Yes, back on track with a sinister opening and some sort of Didgeridoo stuff going on. Apparently it’s called a Jew’s Harp, but that sounds offensive. The song loses its way after the intro and doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, beyond a series of random chords and tumbling drums. If anything it’s a showcase for how good Ward and Butler are.

Warning: We close with a cover, and it’s a long’un. 10 minutes plus. Again, I’m not familiar with the original. I don’t think I have any real need to hear it. I do like how the previous track bleeds into this one only for a funky riff to take over. It’s mainly an instrumental and each member gets to show off, but it shows how tight they were as a collective unit too. Solos and rattling and rumbling all tip over each other, compliment each other. There’s some crazy guitar in the middle of this, proving that Iommi wasn’t just a riff master but could shred with the best of them too. And it just keeps going.

Definitely a case of the first half being stronger than the second. The second isn’t bad by any stretch, but it doesn’t compare with the near perfect first half. The best of this and the best of their next album would have made for one hell of a record. As it stands, it’s still one of the great debuts and a must-listen for anyone really. Even if you’re not a rock or metal fan, no music fan should pass it over as a vital part of history. If you are a rock and metal fan, then there’s no excuse. Some of these songs should be etched into your being.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Black Sabbath!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Black Sabbath. The Wizard. NIB.

Nightman Listens To – Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! We return to the Top 500 Metal Albums series with an album I was familiar with in my youth but which I haven’t really listened too since. To me, when you mention the Big Four (which typically meant of Thrash Metal, but is really extended to cover all 80s American Metal), I always add Pantera in there. Get Anthrax out because seriously, it’s Anthrax. Out of all of the 80s metal bands, Pantera was one of the few who entered the 80s unscathed and even better than they had been in the 80s. In the face of Grunge’s authenticity and lack of bullshit, most 80s metal bands faded away. Pantera simply evolved and became their true selves.

You see, when Pantera started out, they were just as wanky as Poison and Winger and all of those other bell-ends. Towards the end of the 80s they brought in a new vocalist in Phil Anselmo who was known for a harsher and more aggressive style and they eventually moved towards a new sound more akin to the heavier end of the Spectrum. In 1992 they perfected this new sound, something along the lines of Groove Metal – fast, yet rhythmic, aggressive yet funky, and weighed down by timeless riffs courtesy of Dimebag Darrell, all sprinkled with a distinct Southern Sludge tone. Vulgar Display Of Power was the album which finally cemented the band as one of the pioneers of the genre as a whole and it contains some of their most famous songs. I don’t think there’s any question of this one being included in any Top 500 Metal albums list. It’s been a while since I’ve listened though, so lets give it a blast.

Mouth For War‘ is trademark Pantera. It has a tone all of their own and that bruising combination of drums and riffs which shouldn’t make sense but somehow whirlwind around to create a whole. Then Alsemo’s vocals rip up the stereo. There’s no glam nonsense here, just punishment. It of course collapses into a supercharge for the final moments as the thrash comes out – music to break stuff, and each other, too.

A New Level‘ is one I’d mostly forgot about, but it’s funny how it all comes back. Memories of one of the older teens walking around with a ghetto blaster while me and my metal and grunge mates tried to slide into their group without being noticed (while also being noticed). It has a truly blinding solo and more riffing and chugging which shouldn’t come off in a coherent way, but does.

Walk‘ is probably the most famous Pantera song. In the metal club I used to go to on Saturday nights, this was played every week. Even in the rock club I sometimes went to this would be the one Pantera song you would hear. Of course when I was DJing I played it too. Talk about simple but effective roots. This is basically a single note riff with a string bend. Or hammer on/pull-off depending on how you play it. As simple as it is, it’s hard to give it that flavour that Dimebag does. No metal classic is complete without a face-shredding solo, and Dimebag obliges in his unique way.

Fucking Hostile‘ is another famous one. You don’t get to be a Metal fan without hearing this one. It’s pure Thrash. It’s already four inches deep in your neck in the first second. There is no intro or chance to breath, just an explosion and you’re away. It never lets up and is played at three hundred miles and hour from start to finish.

This Love‘ is the one I always called ‘Run To You’. Because seriously, those opening notes and tone sound exactly like the intro to Bryan Adams’s song. It’s almost a ballad for the opening moments, but then the chorus flattens you. It uses a little of the quiet/loud dynamic which Nirvana had popularized, but to even more extreme levels. It flies all over the place with old school headbanging breakdowns to give you a breather and overlapping riffs and arpeggios till you don’t know if you’re coming or going.

Rise‘ is punishment for having a marginally slower song last time. It again explodes out without warning or any semblance of an introduction. The lack of intro is the intro and the riffs slow once the verse hits. It’s another collection of parts which shouldn’t fit but somehow do. The lyrics would be more powerful if it weren’t for Anselmo’s seemingly dubious politics/tongue in cheek outbursts over the years, but the sentiment remains solid and caustic – RISE.

No Good‘ is maybe the mid album step down. It’s still good, it just becomes forgettable in the middle of everything else. Great drums and bass throughout and particularly towards the end.

Live In A Hole‘ opens with another one note riff, though that does become something else after about fifteen seconds. It then uses voice-box for comedy effect before launching off into another series of riffs and vocals. The one note riff makes up most of the chorus once it returns. The solo is one of the most interesting the band has recorded – not because of what it is but because of how it works and what surrounds it – the beat ever quickening, then following away, then entering a dissonant stretch of industrial waste before picking up and returning to the chorus.

Regular People‘ does have a riff or two which seem like they were borrowed from And Justice For All. It feels like another which gets buried under the weight of the more famous songs – it’s good enough on its own but rarely gets a chance to stand out. Another typical Dimebag solo – very fast, lots of divebombs and riffs that go four steps up, one step down each time.

By Demons Be Driven‘ opens with a different sort of riff than what we’ve seen so far on the album. It doesn’t feel very Dimebag, but that is quickly replaced by one which is 100% pure Dimebag. The chorus ends with a sequence which I always used to replace with ‘Breakin The Law’. I still do. The solo is almost one huge screech – it’s easy to see people being put off by this, but then such people shouldn’t be listening in the first place.

Hollow‘ also known as Fade To Black Part 2 is the band on rare introspective form. It’s a ballad for adolescent males who don’t know how to emote. To me it always simply felt like a chilled out ending, albeit one with an edge and a crushing conclusion.

My wife isn’t a metal fan, at all. But for some reason she likes Pantera. There’s something seductive in those low-down riffs – the predatory way they growl and repeat and the fact that they are funky, like it or not. This album has some of their best riffs and is one of the quintessential Metal albums. If you don’t have at least three songs from this album on your playlist, you’re not a Metal fan. Like a lot of metal albums there are songs which get drowned out by the good stuff or by the more obvious stuff – here those songs tend to be good but do suffer a little during an album run through. On one-off listens they don’t lose any power, but in a single sitting a few aren’t as potent. To remain potent in a metal album either the songs have to be short enough that we fly through them, or each has to be completely unique. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly one of the genre’s greatest albums and Pantera were one of the few shining lights to start in the 80s but find their feet in the 90s with albums like this.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Mouth For War. Walk. Fucking Hostile. Hollow.

Nightman Listens To – Dio – Holy Diver (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! Last time around I was treated to some Dio fronted 80s Black Sabbath and today we listen to probably the vocalist’s most heralded and famous work, Holy Diver. I used to listen to this quite a bit but I thought I would cover it again because it has been a long time since I’ve been through the whole thing.

Stand Up And Shout‘ blasts furiously out of the stereo and doesn’t let up. It has that early Maiden relentless charge, but Ronnie’s vocals blow Di’Anno out of the water. The band chooses to avoid that awful chorus chanting which so many bands employed at the time – any other band of the era would have had a host of voices singing ‘shout’ together, but that’s another reason why Dio stood out from the crowd – that added class and intelligence and subtlety. There is one moment of this later in the song but we can excuse it and it’s sandwiched between two brief but battering solos to soften the annoyance.

Holy Diver’ is one of the most famous title tracks in metal and a song every metal fan should have on their playlist. Possibly a precursor to prog metal thanks to the airy synth, atmospheric slow building, and assorted sound effects. You can tell Dio had a definite tone in mind when creating this – the move into verse is a little too abrupt but that’s just me. The slower pace might not work with a lesser vocalist but it allows him to wrap those vowels neatly and placing a desire on the listener to copy along. It takes a powerful song to make such an impact on the metal world when it is this slow – add to this the fact that the chorus is a non-event. The eye watering solo surely has something to do with it – a series of layered riffs and almost careless playing which moves both leisurely and frenetically. Lyrically, Dio has also been a step ahead of most other metal bands, adding to the mythology of the genre more than any other artist since Black Sababth emerged.

Gypsy‘ kicks off with a mini solo right off the bat and takes us in an AC/DC direction, a sordid tale of lust and ladies delivered with a raunchy roar. It’s a little silly but again Dio’s authenticity and vocals carry it through.

Caught In The Middle‘ has a lighter, positive feel – metal with hope and joy without cheapening itself by finding joy between a pair of tits. Not like that’s a bad thing either, but it’s such a cop out and a sign of an unimaginative band. Dio had an imagination and the tools to unleash that on us. It doesn’t manage to soar or truly stand out, but it’s quite lovely.

Don’t Talk To Strangers‘ has the requisite acoustic opening – we could do without the whisper, but elsewhere it’s a darkly skimmed intro and verse. Then it explodes into another pulsating series of chords while Dio lets his full theatrical side out. We get the most blistering solo of the album so far – it just keeps going – and leads to a suitably thumping climax.

Straight Through The Heart‘ is the song I’ve always found most catchy from this album. Those verse melodies, complete with growls and yearning howls are plain on the surface but have a knack of sticking in my brain. It’s not the most complex song in the world, it’s very drum prominent to the extent that the guitars almost take a back seat, but there’s something irresistible about the melody, even as I recognise their simplicity.

Invisible‘ has a lovely extended intro hinting at another moody near-ballad, nice use of harmonics before the synthetic vocals come in. Lighters up, in other words. This switches shortly after the minute mark, transforming into a thunderous stomper. The production shines again – everything is crisp and meaty and given equal space. The heavier portion of the song isn’t the most exciting, the riffs now feel generic though the scratchy solo is still suitably manic like it has been lifted from another song on another planet.

Rainbow In The Dark‘ is the first song which feels full 80s, thanks to some synth stuff in the intro accompanied by crunching guitars. Again Dio’s vocals lend credibility to it all and the verses soar from screech to hook. The chorus feels like a natural continuation of the verse and the solo is another encouraging call to all metal-heads to grab their nearest guitar and give it a crack.

Shame On The Night‘ starts with dog howls and a brief repeating riff before fading down to another very slow stomping rhythm. The song again isn’t the most interesting, but it’s Dio who gives it an invigorating quality. The bass and drum led verses are punctuated by more screeching harmonics and some of Ronnie’s finest wails. The intro riff returns, feeling like it drifted in from a different song entirely, and we close with a growing collection of mournful voices mimicking one final riff in disdain.

Although released just as heavy metal was exploding almost forty years ago, the album still backs a punch and sounds fresher than many released in the genre in later years. I think that comes down to the musical choices made and Dio’s vocals. The vocals never age and are eternally powerful while the musical choices are not hindered by the fashion and tropes of the genre which would soon become prevalent. Quite a few of the songs are of middling quality on their own – you feel as if they would not be as interesting if another singer was performing. It’s a sign of just how unique Ronnie was, but a reminder that he could have been even bigger with the right song to sing. Other bands of the era starting writing better songs yet lacked a truly great vocalist, while those who merged frontman talent with songwriting skill became huge. Nevertheless, this was a game-changing moment in metal, melding the NWOBHM attack with Dio’s penchant for lyricism and 70s songwriting. As such, and on the strength of the stellar handful of songs in the first half, this remains a must-have for any metal fan.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Stand Up And Shout. Holy Diver. Caught In The Middle. Don’t Talk To Strangers.

Nightman Listens To – Judas Priest – British Steel (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

See the source image

Greetings, Glancers! I realise it hasn’t been that long since my previous (first) Judas Priest album, but I’m following Martin Popoff’s list chronologically and he seems to have a thing for men in leather. British Steel is of course an album I’ve heard of and it frequently hovers near the top of the Heavy Metal Premier League. I don’t know much about the album, and in these reviews I want go in with limited knowledge so that I don’t add any further bias. I do look at the album cover and the tracklisting – the cover is very familiar to me, and I’ve heard a couple of the songs – at least two are metal classics familiar to most metal fans of a certain age. The cover is fine – not quite iconic, not embarrassing, though I could have done without the cute little spiked bracelet. Then again, this is Judas Priest. I mostly enjoyed my last JP outing so I’m hoping for a similar positive experience today. Lets do this.

‘Rapid Fire’ gets us off (matron) to an almost blistering start. Simple guitars, furious drums, plain vocals and melodies. They repeat the main chord slide as if it’s some revelation, but it’s one of the first things you try when you learn power chords. They discard this thankfully for some more intricate solo play in the next section, but bring it back for the final stages. Halford finally shows his pipes on the last note and some stormy percussion takes over, leading into…

‘Metal Gods’ – a slower song. It’s very plain again and doesn’t make any interesting choices until the synth-like singing of metal gods before the decent solo. It isn’t notably forceful or melodic, but it does allow for the sound of a whip cracking which always raises a giggle.

‘Breakin The Law’ is of course a classic. It’s one of the most famous metal songs of all time, in that people who don’t listen to metal know it. They get away with the chanting nature of the chorus by not shouting it, by not making it melodic. It’s a literal chant, and all the more musical and memorable for it. It has a great riff and the verses and bridges are melodic, and it’s both short and punk-driven rather than trying to pulverize you. Then the lyrics compliment that rebellious streak which Metal is supposed to embody, in a cheery 80s sort of way.

‘Grinder’ has a driving bass and beat and that unique 80s way of conveying masculine swagger. It’s another song which sacrifices speed for stomp and doesn’t go out of its way to provide a vocal hook. The main chord line is fine again – very simple and doesn’t leap out.

‘United’ is the slowest song yet. It still stomps. It has the most bizarre chorus – it’s ridiculously cheesy and soft – I get the message they’re going for, but it feels like Queen via Westlife through an ill-advised football chant. It’s truly awful, but props for trying something like it. The pre-chorus isn’t as bad, but seriously, wtf?

‘You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise’ sounds more promising. Props to the clean production – everything is crisp, clear, and meaty. This 30 second intro already feels more like an anthem than whatever that last disaster was. Halford at least sounds like he’s biting on this one, wrapping his gums around the words and spicing them up. There’s a touch of AC/DC here, which can either be a very bad thing, or not so bad, and Halford goes a little Plant at times. It’s not the fastest son in the world, something as a whole the album seems to lack.

‘Living After Midnight’ is another famous one. Could be another case of an album being acclaimed because of a couple of hit singles. That’s the way these things usually go. It’s not as good as Breaking The Law, but it’s a fun metal-lite song, catchy, and the sort of song people who don’t like metal can mistakenly head-bang to.

‘The Rage’ opens with bass plonking all over the place, then it sounds like they’re going reggae, then the crunch sweeps both away. Halford sounds more keen on this one too. Decent solo, back to the reggae, back to the crunch. It’s not bad.

‘Steeler’ is the fast song I’ve been waiting for. A quick check lets me know this album came before Screaming For Vengeance, so maybe they hadn’t quite latched on to the speed angle yet? This proves they have the chops – the drums and guitars outshine most of the rest of the album, though it’s not the most creative and the melodies aren’t there. I can tell the influence this had on other British bands of the era.

Well, that was a disappointment considering how I felt about Screaming. Aside from the two songs I knew going in, the rest of it seems and sounds average. Maybe because I’ve heard so much metal in the years since this was released this feels very tame. Tame and lacking in creativity and energy. Still, it’s obvious they can play, it’s obvious they can write a hit, it just seems that they needed another couple of years to hone in on their most potent skills. It’s not a bad album – distinctly average in the grand scheme of things, and a let down because of the hype.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Breaking The Law. Living After Midnight. Steeler.

Nightman Listens To – Heaven And Hell – Black Sabbath (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! It didn’t us long to get back to Black Sabbath. This time though we ring the changes, as Ozzy Osbourne has been replaced by the great Ronnie James Dio. I definitely know at least two of the songs on offer here, but I’ve never heard them in relation to the album. There honestly isn’t a lot to say about the album artwork – it’s not very Metal, but it does have smoking and gambling and big-titted Angels, so I guess it kinda sorta almost qualifies. I don’t have much else to say, so lets do this!

Neon Knights: Well, this certainly has a different sound from early Sabbath. It sounds eerily similar to Broken Algorithms by Manic Street Preachers. Dio’s vocals are a major part of the transformation but even before he start singing the guitars are chunkier, the tone isn’t as melancholy, and the sound is more upbeat. This being Dio, he’s singing about more fantastical subjects. It’s faster than what I tend to think of when I think of Sabbath, there’s not a slow, doom riff, but there is a blistering solo.

Children Of The Sea: This is one I do know, and again it feels more like a Dio song than a traditional Sabbath song. Lyrically, tonally, there is a definite shift. Possibly this is as much to do with the time that had passed since Sabbath first emerged and that they didn’t want to plough the same fields. In any case this is a slower groove, opening in an acoustic ballad style before crunching chords and funky bass come in. The two parts meld well and there’s another Iommi skin-melter in the middle.

Lady Evil: A fat bass intro hints at a more traditional Sabbath sound, but that’s blown away when the guitars drop. The drive and tone is more like a halfway point between 70s Rock and 80s Hair Metal. It’s silly fun, you’ll punch the steering wheel if you drive to this, but it doesn’t have the atmospheric edge of Sabbath’s best or the grandiosity of Dio’s. A perfectly fine album track.

Heaven And Hell: The title track and the other one I know. I hate to keep repeating myself but once again it feels like a Dio song rather than a Sabbath song. It also feels like a Maiden song – specifically Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. It goes without saying, but Dio’s vocals are exquisite. Like that Maiden song, there’s a long and meandering instrumental section. This one picks up during the instrumental, solo and drums gathering speed before a frenetic climax and half a minute of quiet tinkling.

Wishing Well: Another light-hearted rocker with that 70/80s hard rock vibe. Not much to say beyond the fact that it’s a driving rock song – more great bass work, the drums haven’t been as noticeable on the other tracks but they do standout here. It’s a simple, straightforward, fist-pumping song that everyone can enjoy.

Die Young: An atomospheric, spacey intro goes into more prog sounding territory than what Sabbath would usually try. It doesn’t last and we rapidly thunder into the fastest song so far. This one is very Maiden-esque too, it’s only lacking the double guitar thrust. We withdraw into a nifty little quiet, spacey section before embarking on another leg of insanity.

Walk Away: A mid-paced stomper raised by Dio’s character and quality. It’s a simple song once more with not many detours, although we do still get a decent standalone section for the solo to fit into.

Lonely Is The Word: The closest thing to a riff led song so far, this has a very simple, very repetitive riff. It’s a slow one with a terrific layered guitar section from around the two minute mark which just keeps going, reminding us what a talent Iommi is – not just a master of riffs he can peel off fiddling fret work with the best of them. Dio does his best with the vocals but the melodies don’t allow him to hit any real emotive heights. As if to highlight the master of the guitar work the band steals one of Page’s moments from Stairway To Heaven and deploys it as a keyboard refrain as the song fades out. An epic closer which could have been better if the vocal melodies were more potent.

A very consistent album with no weak link, this is an album which sounds fresher than it should given that it was released in the 1980s. It manages to circumvent most of the problems metal would suffer from in the 80s. While none of the songs, on first listen, have the impact of an Iron Man or a Paranoid, they are a lot of fun and the band feels almost rejuvenated. It always takes time to hit your stride when you onboard a new vocalist, but this is a promising start. I haven’t heard much of Sabbath’s 80s input but if it’s all like this then I’ll have no complaints.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Die Young. Neon Knights. Children Of The Sea. Lonely Is The Word.

Nightman Listens To – Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Horns up, Glancers! It’s time to fill another gap in my metal knowledge with an album I really should know. There’s a possibility I’ve heard all of this before, given that I grew up with a lot of people who like Ozzy, and I know from looking at the tracklist I know a couple of the songs for sure, as they’re metal staples, and I’m sure I’ll recognise others when I hit play. The album came out in the 80s, just as glam was turning into hair metal and Ozzy’s habits were overshadowing his work. The ace in the hole of course was Ozzy bringing Randy Rhoads on board – one of the most electrifying guitarists to ever lay finger to fret. We can be sure there will be some virtuoso guitar on display. First though, lets have a jook at the cover art.

40 Years Ago: Ozzy Osbourne Releases 'Blizzard of Ozz'

It’s not the worst. It’s not great, but it was a specific point in time and Ozzy was more than likely completely baked. Is he a vampire attempting some sort of sado-masochist display of pain endurance – clasping at the crucifix while the sun’s rays swaddle his rear? Is he channeling his inner Crowley and performing a demonic ritual, complete with unnecessary cape, cat, and skull? Or is he simply going about his daily, regular Ozzy business – clearing out his attack and having a bit of cosplay fun between reading through old copies of the Beano he’d chucked up there ten years earlier? We’ll never know, or at least I can’t be arsed to Google and find out.

I Don’t Know: A Sabbath-like surge followed by charging guitars. The sound is immediately thinner than what Sabbath had. It’s an easy opening barrage by Rhoads, but every so often he adds some double-tapping or other trickery to spice things up. Ozzy’s vocals are heavily effected with echo as is the norm. There’s a strange middle section which feels separate from the rest of the song. It’s a very plain opening song which wouldn’t be memorable outside of the guitar work.

Crazy Train: The one everyone knows, whether they know it or not. Most people forget the rather unusual intro, the shout, the bass, the weirdness. It isn’t until the second riff drops that people recognise it. It’s not the heaviest song in the world and would scarcely classify as metal if it wasn’t in Ozzy’s name. The verse and chorus melodies are famous, even if they’re not amazing. Rhoades kicks of a great solo in the middle. It’s much more on the pop side of metal, especially if you compare it with Sabbath in terms of tone and construction.

Goodbye To Romance: What the hell is this, is what any self-respecting metal fan should say when the opening notes and croons of this drip from the speakers. It may as well be The Osmonds. It doesn’t even sound like Ozzy singing – it sounds like someone recorded Ozzy talking and ran it through some special software which turned it into a melody. One of those songs that the metal guys could shed a tear to back in the day because that hot girl they liked told them to get out of their bathroom. Shucks, it’s all nice though.

Dee: It makes sense that a short and sweet instrumental would come after that soppy fart. This is just Rhoades playing something random and sweet.

Suicide Solution: The controversial song. Everything that the Republicans got their titties in a twist about in the 80s was deemed controversial, and almost always for reasons completely out of context. Some things don’t change, eh? The song is clearly about the dangers of substance abuse, but some people took it for condoning killing yourself. The chords have a little bit of Beat It about them, but beyond the controversy it’s not that memorable a song.

Mr Crowley: Of course, a song about famed occult loony Aleister Crowley would being with some spacey organ synth stuff. It’s a much stronger song melodically and rhythmically. It’s still simple but there is some surface pausing and phrasing. Another fantastic solo, followed by a neat one near the end which sounds eerily like The Final Countdown. 

No Bone Movies: A countdown and off we go. It’s surprising to me how much of a rock album this actual is – very few songs come close to being classed as metal in any sense of the word, and the main reason those songs do is because of Randy’s guitar skills. Plenty of non metal bands have terrific guitarists though. What would make this more metal is if Ozzy actually was singing ‘no bowel movements’ instead of it just sounding like that. It’s a silly shouty chorus that gets on my nerves.

Revelation: Here we go, another ballad. I have no issues with ballads in metal, as long as they have an edge. This starts more promisingly than the other one. It’s more downbeat. Verse is good, I’ve no idea what’s going in in the chorus – the singing is badly out of tune with the music. Then the second verse goes weird, Ozzy struggles to keep it together, we get some robot voices. A nice instrumental interlude in the middle suggests we’re going for the epic – there’s even some synthetic string blasts. Then Rhoads busts one out and it’s brilliant. This really should have been much better, they just needed to fix up the vocals, bring them down a notch.

Steal Away: A faster song to close us out. At least it’s not as screechy as much of the metal of the time. The song is quite plain, at least in it’s opening half but we can always rely on Randy to give us something different in the middle.

I already had an inkling, based on what I’ve heard of this and Ozzy’s other stuff before, that I wouldn’t think much of it. I’m surprised and a little let down by how tame it is. I won’t get into the whole ‘is it rock, is it metal’ debate, but the truth is that this sounds and feels a hell of a lot less heavy than much of the other heavy music at the time. It’s not quite pop like the later hair bands would be, but it lacks the boundary pushing of metal – the extra riff, the additional time-shift, the drive to take the song as far as it can go. Stick a different guitarist in there and take Ozzy’s name off it, and you have a forgettable rock album. There’s no sound musical or critical reason why this should be lauded so highly on a Best Heavy Metal albums list. I’ve heard genuine pop artists be more metal than this. Even if it is more on the lighter side, the songs themselves don’t get you (me) pumped up, the riffs are forgettable, and there’s nary a crowd-pleasing chorus in the bunch. A distinctly average effort.

Let us know in the comments why I’m wrong about Blizzard Of Oz!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Crazy Train. Mr Crowley. Revelation.

Nightman Listens To – Screaming For Vengeance – Judas Priest (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! Well looky here, my first ever official ever listen to a Judas Priest album ever – ever! For the longest time I’ve always named Priest as the largest single blind-spot in my metal knowledge. They are undoubtedly one of the biggest selling and most important metal bands of all time, with output stretching back to the 1970s and I know a lot of their songs. I just never cared enough to give them full attention. Back in my formative metal days in the late 80s and early 90s they were one of the bands I was most aware of – part of the biggest of the big along with Metallica, Maiden, G’n’R, Megadeth, Pantera, Slayer, Anthrax etc. For whatever reason I didn’t have as easy access to their stuff as I did the aforementioned bands, and by the time I started buying my own music I wasn’t interested in spending on them. Maybe it was Halford’s voice, maybe it was that all the leather just looked silly, but from that point on I’ve never bothered checking them out further. So join me as I react to Screaming For Vengeance for the first time. Before we get to the songs, lets check out the artwork:

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That’s respectable, right? There’s no nudity or leather or immediately cringeworthy ingredients, unless you have something against birds of prey zooming through a radioactive sun while toothpaste oozes form their flange? I have no idea why, but the first word to come into my mind when I see this image is ‘Lego’. It doesn’t even look like Lego, but that’s what I’m thinking. The image presents a sense of speed, the metallic gleam is very 80s – almost to the point that the body looks like it’s sweating rather than simply shiny. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s striking or depicts anything beyond an almost stereotypical depiction of what metalheads think is cool, but it was probably eye-catching enough back then to moisten the pits of many adolescents. Maybe there’s some connection to the album content. Lets find out.

The Hellion: Gets off to a curiously familiar start – nice atmosphere, dual guitars, simple and introductory. I think it sounds familiar because I’ve heard so much metal from this era. There’s some comforting, confirmation bias stuff going on when you here something you’re familiar with or from your youth, a soothing blanket of nostalgia even if the individual piece is completely new to you.

Electric Eye: This joins with the first song and gets off to a ripping start. It feels quite Maiden. It’s not hugely heavy or aggressive – that nice middle ground between inviting the uninitiated and not pissing off the experienced. The vocals aren’t the ear-shredding highs I was expecting. Melodies and production quite good, I don’t need the effects on the vocals, mandatory solo. Gets you pumped up.

Riding On The Wind: More comforting sounds, more fast paced fun. There isn’t a lot of complexity so far, but a lot of energy. There’s the vocals I was expecting. Halford sounds so young. A tasty solo maintains the frenetic pace. This is fun without being overly cheesy.

Bloodstone: A slower start with a lone guitar. Has that 80s stomp to it, visions of hard lads strutting the streets looking for trouble. Melodies aren’t amazing, but the authority and conviction of the delivery smooths over any cracks. I believe this was around their 8th album so they must have been fairly confident by this point. The songs are each short, driving rock songs so far with as much in debt to punk as earlier metal albums.

Take These Chains: Where did this come from. It feels very different. I had to flick back to Youtube to check it wasn’t one of those wonderful mid-album adverts they throw in. This is quite unusual, the melodies going to unexpected places, the vocals deeper again, and more complexity in the structure than before. The vocals almost sound out of tune at various points – I assume this was on purpose. It’s quite poppy in the chorus, even the lyrics are what you would expect from a pop rock band, but they pull it off.

Pain And Pleasure: A slower song. It was the 80s so we have to expect some effects on the vocals, but Halford is a good enough singer that we don’t need any of that shite. Some S&M stuff going on here, combined with the effects and the general sauntering rhythm and some of the backing vocal shouts makes this the first truly cheesy song. We can forgive them, as long as it’s a one off. The chorus isn’t bad.

Screaming For Vengeance: A hellish scream and a chaotic clashing of drums and guitars gets us back on track. Lots of nifty blues riffs played with caterpillar fingers before Halford starts howling. Now this feels just like the 80s metal I know so well – fast, brazen, high-pitched, noisy. It’s certainly not subtle, but a hatchet in the lip isn’t supposed to be. It doesn’t have the finesse of a Maiden or Metallica, but it’s one song and it’s lightening fast fun designed to bust you neck and your mother’s best sofa. I may have heard this before, can’t quite put my finger on it.

You’ve Got Another Thing Coming: I do know this one. I don’t have a specific memory or relationship with it but it’s one of that handful of Priest songs that always seemed to be around. The vocals always felt very rap adjacent – they’re almost spoken in places and the steady beat almost demands you start spitting rhymes. I think the rhythm feels like Lost In America, though this is faster. It does feel like an unusual hit – there isn’t an obvious hook, but the overall tone and rhythm combines to create this driving, free-wheeling force which is compelling.

Fever: Going for a ballad? Nice, swirling atmospheric guitar intro which plays havoc with my orientation as it switches from left to right in my headphones. This absolutely nails that 80s rock vibe I love – everything from the pounding bass matching the rhythm of the drums to the sustain on the guitars. It takes me back even though I don’t believe I’ve heard it before. It fits in with a lot of other songs from the era, but is pretty great on its own. I think they missed a trick with the solo, but it doesn’t take too much away.

Devil Child: Big chords to open the closer. It’s another stomper, but it replaces the atmosphere of the previous ones I’ve liked with a balls-out confidence which can be irksome. That’s just me. It feels closer to the more middle of the road, one-hit wonder metal bands of the era, rather than an act that blazed trails. It has a big crowd-pleasing chorus and a crazy solo, Halford goes full Halford, and I imagine most fans will see it as an appropriate closer.

Well, that was far from the cheese-fest I was expecting. There’s definitely enough here for me to want to listen to it all again and get me hyped for the next Priest album on the list – which is. I won’t go as far as shouting ‘where have you been all my life’, but it does make me feel bad that I didn’t listen earlier. I would have loved this when I was young. It’s the best album I’ve heard so far on this metal journey and while it’s not perfect and I wouldn’t rank it alongside some of the others listed in Popoff’s Top Twenty, it’s one I’ll gladly catch up to again.

Let us know your thoughts on Screaming For Vengeance in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Take These Chains. Riding The Wind. Screaming For Vengeance. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming. Fever.

Nightman Listens To – Van Halen – Van Halen (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Van Halen (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! You can probably guess, but I’m not a fan of Van Halen. They were one of the biggest hair metal bands and hair metal has always represented everything that metal shouldn’t be – fun times, happy go lucky pop songs, box-checking business led metal, technical skill for the sake of technical skill, poser artists only in it for money and women and drugs, lyrics about tedious bullshit like women, going fast, and fast women. Hair metal is basically the mainstream RnB of the 80s – seriously, compare any major RnB song and hit hair metal song of the day’s lyrics, and they’re basically the same thing.

And yet, I’m talking in generalizations and I haven’t given most of the major bands a fair chance. I’ve heard the big songs, I probably have heard some of the albums but I don’t remember, and my preconceptions and criticism of the genre have possibly blinded me to some good stuff. This album was a huge success, Eddie Van Halen is one of the great guitar Gods, and maybe as this was their first album there is a more raw feel before hair metal became drained down to the faux-pop it undoubtedly is. I’m here to learn, that’s part of the point of me going through these posts and albums – I don’t expect to be converted and I’m fully prepared to hate it even more than I already do, but I hope to at least find some new songs I’ll enjoy.

So, before Grunge and European Metal came and thankfully cleansed us of all of this masturbatory, self-worshipping, reality TV-precursing, pouting, watered down stain, Hair Metal was King – silly, shouty choruses were being sung by bankers, soccer moms, children, and chavs alike. The album cover is about as respectable as it gets for Hair Metal – it presents the four members of the band in a live setting, so at least we assume they can actually play. I’m not sure why two of them appear to be on fire, one seems to have a steam of stench emanating from his shoulder, and Roth is doing the Robert Plant thing. Urgh, here we go.

Runnin’ With The Devil: If you’re going to have a metal album, and a debut, you’ve got to give your first song a great title. It’s better if it’s a great song of course, but a cool title helps. No complaints on that front. Of course I already know this song, and it looks like the first half of the album is stacked with the hits. I’ll admit it takes balls to have an instrumental and a cover in your first three songs. It begins with a siren/alien spacecraft/car screeching by sound before a single repeating bass note sets the pace. The drums are 80s a few years early, very steady and plain, and Roth’s vocals have a deeper tone than you may recall. The verses are mostly uneventful, while the chorus has that Desmond Child/Def Leppard shouting thing I can’t stand – one of the key factors which hurts hair metal for me. It’s a very plain opener – even the guitars don’t offer anything out of the ordinary, and for me isn’t a great representation of what the band could do.

Eruption: This is one of those tracks which budding guitarists have on their wishlist shortly after picking up the instrument. We make the list of songs we want to be able to play from our favourite artists, but then there’s the holy grail list, usually starting with Johnny Be Goode and running up to this. This showcases what Eddie brought to the band and how he almost single-handedly revitalized the instrument. Plenty of other guitarists had played with speed and intensity and brought the tapping style, but here the showmanship and ferocity and focus on doing it fast opened the door for the next gen. It begins simply enough, with a cascade of drums and a bit of guitar wankery, but once that first dive-bomb hits it picks up. It’s brief and it has since been surpassed, but at the time this must have been a revelation and sounded almost unearthly.

You Really Got Me: Although it’s louder and chugs more, it’s somehow less metal and sexy than the original. It’s something about the cheesy harmonies in the chorus and the cleaner sound. Naturally the solo is crazy and short, but all the vocal grunting and squeaking is very silly.

Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love: Another famous one and I’ve always quite enjoyed the lead in riff – there’s a touch of that shadowy atmosphere I’m always going on about. The vocals are much too plain and anti-melodic for my liking. It’s almost a punk or old blues approach to the vocals, while the chorus is still shouty without being annoying. In essence I don’t think the rest of the song lives up to the promise of the riff – I don’t think they knew what to do with it.

I’m The One: A furious guitar attack intro is joined by some really shitty sounding drums. It’s a shame because the actually drum technique is satisfactory. The pace is maintained throughout but again the vocals and melodies are the link which bring the whole chain dangling down. The song feels like a jam – Eddie just says ‘fuck it’ and busts one out, Alex is clearly off his face and tries to keep up, and the other two randomly shout and play the first thing that comes into their heads. I’m not sure what sort of melody they actually could have slapped around the guitar and drums so it’s probably as good as you could hope for.

Jamie’s Cryin’: A down and dirty sluggish riff is accompanied by a higher pitched squealing guitar. The mocking vocals come in and it feels like the band is taking the piss. The chorus is the same as all the others – sing the title while harmonies repeat it at the same time. Some cool drums before the second chorus. It’s inoffensive easy listening stuff and to its credit the chorus hook is more memorable – it does get annoying after the twentieth time though.

Atomic Punk: You can tell where G’n’R got their intro idea for Mr Brownstone from – this begins with a similar phaser style. Then the verse starts and feels like Di’Anno era Iron Maiden with a US twist. The punk of the title isn’t just in name only, there is a punk influence here but it’s taken in a more metal direction thanks to the guitar ability. It’s not the most exciting song, the riff again is good and it does pack a punch.

Feel Your Love Tonight: A more traditional hard rock, blues infused riff and feel. Again the harmonies just don’t work, because they’re not really harmonies – it’s just singing the same lyrics in the same way in a slightly higher register. That stands out to me and I can’t shake how futile it feels – if you’re going to add harmonies, do it right. The vocals aren’t the best – very anonymous – and there isn’t a single hook to hang your bandanna on. I get why people probably think it’s fun.

Little Dreamer: Another plodder. I wasn’t expecting the nods to the blues so much, but they take what they don’t like from that genre – samey vocals. Luckily the backing vocals are better this time, the ‘oohs’ doing what the harmonies of the previous song failed to do. The guitar solo almost feels out of place – there’s this little blues ramble and a lead guitar firing off at a billion miles per hour. This one is catchy, more than I can say for most of the others.

Ice Cream Man: I know I mentioned the Blues before and I expected people to vent in the comments about how there’s no way any of this is blues. Then this disaster drops and it’s completely taking the piss. Beyond the funny lyrics this is complete nonsense – I’ve said before that Blues is the easiest music to copy and one of the most limited genres. Listen to any three or four blues songs, hand someone a guitar, and they’ll come up with the same thing. That’s what this is, but of course they bring the metal half way through. It doesn’t add anything beyond volume and some more furious guitar.

On Fire: A punk influenced closer – lots of yelling, pretty chaotic, and lots of wacky guitar. A few riffs charge about, lots of running up and down the fret, lots of shrieks, and buckets of energy. No melodies though.

On the whole I was pretty much spot on with my introduction – this doesn’t feel like a true hair metal album as it came a few years before that genre truly started. It’s something like mashing together Aerosmith, a batch of US punk bands, a touch of NWOBHM, a sprinkling of what Hair Metal would become, and capped off with Eddie’s guitar. It’s the guitar which makes this noticeable – without it this would have been a long forgotten average rock album, but because every riff is at worst solid, at best iconic, and the playing what you remember. Which is good because most of the actual songs are very ordinary, throwaway straight rock with barely a tune between them to whistle while you work. Roth was a better stage presence than he was a singer, making up for a lack of character in his voice with a series of leaps and twerks, and the other pair aren’t really noticeable for the most part. So, it’s not horrible but it lacks any real stand out tracks.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Eruption: Jamie’s Crying.

Let us know what you think of Van Halen in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Accept – Restless And Wild (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s perhaps apt that I begin this metal journey with a band whose name starts with an ‘A’. Accept isn’t a band I have a lot of experience with, at least not that I am conscious of. As with many of the bands and albums coming up, I’ve probably heard their stuff and just ignored it or not known who it was. I know fo’ sho’ I’ve heard a number of songs by Accept – their 1983 hit Balls To The Wall is familiar to most metal fans of a certain age. They’re a band who have been going since the 1970s and are still recording an touring today – when you’re metal, you never stop. Hailing from Germany, we may be in for some unintentionally hilarious lyrics or accents, and we’re sure to hit some top speeds. I know the band are one of those European bands named by later, more successful bands as an influence so I’m hopeful I get this series off with a blast. This 1982 release was apparently their fourth album, just before they hit it big with Balls To The Wall so maybe this has some of the hit-making qualities which paved the way.

Fast As A Shark: Ah yes. I know this one – it’s in the classic Demons – a movie about people trapped by zombies/demons in a cinema. It has a comedy false opening with some sort of folk song which gets obliterated by a shriek and some lightening drumming. As was standard for the genre and the period, the vocals are somewhere north of crotch-crushing. The production isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst and gives it that added grimy touch – like watching a VHS tape. You won’t be able to make out most of the lyrics, but this is all about the speed and energy anyway. You can tell where the likes of Metallica got their influence from – many thrash guitar solos which would emerge in the next few years sound just like this.

Restless And Wild: Here we get a slice of Maiden-esque galloping. It’s a great intro which falls apart in the verses as the instruments withdraw and the vocals go to strange places. For metal fans, there’s plenty here to charm you but it’s not going to entertain anyone else. There isn’t much subtlety and you can understand your average listener dismissing it as noise. The rest of the band gets in on the vocal act, chucking in deeper harmonies in that classic 80s shouty way. The solo is another belter though.

Ahead Of The Pack: A more restrained, cultured intro if you will. Of course it’s only seconds before we descend into another series of adolescent-pandering slogans and screams – just the way we like it. It’s a very classic metal feel. The verses do this interesting pause thing once each time which catches you off guard. It doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose. There’s a cool effect before the solo smashes in, and the tone of the lead guitar is dirtier than a whore on Friday.

Shake Your Heads: A slower song with a simple riff/structure. Those vocals though, they sound like a eunuch being throttled. Imagine Bon Scott being fired to the moon via a firework in his anus, and you’ll be somewhere close. Still, that’s what everyone was at those days. The solo has more room to breath with this structure, but it’s a very basic one. Maybe one the fans can practice playing along to.

Neon Nights: I just had to pause in my writing there, because that intro is fantastic. There are a few moments which remind me of much bigger metal songs, eerie and otherworldly, and then there’s a great fuzzy boom and guitar tone before the song properly starts. The vocals are more restrained, nowhere near the sphincter melting heights of every other track. The solo goes back to that fuzzy tone of the intro as the rhythm section slops along. This one was written with a little more skill and attention.

Get Ready: A more straightforward classic rock intro with a little metal kick. The vocals are back. This one feels cheesier than the rest. It’s still fun and quirky for the modern metal listener and it’s decent enough for me who remembers a lot of this sort of thing from my childhood. I’m not a big fan of the ‘shout along handful of word chorus’ approach which Def Leppard would later perfect – it’s prominent here.

Demon’s Night: It starts okay, but loses steam in its simplicity. Decent rhythm, chugs along – it’s a bit of a precursor to Creeping Death but with little of that song’s brilliance and spark. Lots of pleasingly headache inducing guitar inflections and twists – a pity of the vocal melodies and approach don’t shape up.

Flash Rockin’ Man: An intro suspiciously like Two Minutes To Midnight. Ha ha, a quick look down the comments and everyone has mentioned the same thing. METAL! The verse goes in a completely different direction from that classic and it doesn’t have a chorus – instead going for some bonus guitars. Well, it eventually gets to a chorus. I’ve no idea what he’s shouting about. It just reminds me of a time when every metal band sounded like this and some of the local hoods would walk around with ghetto blasters pissing off the oldies by playing this stuff. Some nice twists in the second half.

Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away: This one comes closest to having an actual melodic, singalong chorus. Yeah, if you want to rip your throat to pieces by trying to sing along with any of the songs on this album, by all means go ahead. It’s another simple one which gets immediately to the point and stays there with no frills. Not much to say beyond that singalong chorus.

Princess Of The Dawn: Jeepers, this one has a Two Minutes To Midnight feel too. Then it turns into Maiden’s The Clairvoyant. It’s another strong intro and this time they go all in on the melody. As much as they’re creatively able to at least. The vocals are patchy in places, mumbling and veering between the lower range and the painful high stuff. Who is the princess of the dawn? She Ra? Great solo. The best production and attention seems to have gone towards keeping the solos crisp. There’s excellent drum-work as the solo draws to a close and the final couple of minutes throw in a batch of other ideas which raise the song to further heights.

If I’d been a born a few years earlier and had access to more funds and the ability to buy stuff, I imagine I would have listened to a lot more stuff like this. As it stands, I was only exposed to the biggest bands and everything else was one-off songs until much later.  By the time I had money, it was all grunge and Brit-pop. There’s enough ability here that you can tell the band weren’t just making up the numbers in the metal community. They weren’t just playing fast and loud, they were expanding and trying other things. They don’t go very far in that direction here – maybe they do on later albums – but maybe those were enough to encourage the next wave of bands to go further. Metal fans of my age and older will enjoy this, but I don’t see many metal fans younger than me going for it – it does feel too much like a relic of another age, and it you weren’t a part of that age the style and approach may be too foreign to you. Still, I’m glad I’ve heard it and there are a few I’ll be listening to again even if I wouldn’t class any as a great.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Neon Night. Faster Than A Shark. Princess Of The Dawn.

Nightman Listens To – Martin Popoff’s Top 500 Metal Albums Of All Time!

Greetings, Glancers! Sigh. I know. You’re sick of all these music posts. I can’t help myself. I know they don’t make for the most interesting read, but I’m just not that interesting a person. I’ve spent swathes of my life trying to make myself look and seem as boring as possible but still the boatloads of supermodels keep dropping onto my shore and begging for me to squirt cream all over them. Sun cream, you dirty b’st’rd.

As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, when I listen to any of the Nightman Listens To albums I don’t take notes, or save a draft to update later with witty witticisms or funny… funnyisms… I simply listen and type at the same time, my fingers tap tapping whatever the first thing to come into my head happens to be. I’m putting the minimum effort into this stuff as possible. But I’ll try to make them more interesting. More funnyisms, more pics of cats, more… I don’t know what’s popular these days… racism? If you thought I jumped the shark with my quest to listen to every album released in 1966 I wanted to dive in to what I knew best:

csm_18_schrecken_und_lust_6c74f43317

Yep, heavy metal, the dirtiest two words in any music dictionary – even dirtier than ‘Idol’, ‘Factor’, or ‘lopsided sweat-flap’. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while because:

  1. I have always been a metal fan, since my 80s childhood
  2. I have no qualms both defending and ridiculing the genre, given that I have listened to so much of the stuff over the years I am qualified to do so
  3. There are large portions of metal I have either avoided or missed or just not heard, and I’m willing to give anything a chance – no point in yapping if you haven’t actually heard the stuff
  4. It gives me an excuse to listen to those albums I always meant to but never got around to

I was faffing around my laptop the other day and found one of my many ‘things to buy’ spreadsheets. In it was a list of books, so I was skimming down them to remind myself how drunk I was when I was writing it, and to see if I had actually read any of them yet. Near the bottom were three books by Martin Popoff – A Collectors Guide To Metal, Top 500 Metal Songs, and Top 500 Metal Albums. Who was this Popoff guy, and what the hell was he ‘Popping Off’ about? A quick Google revealed all, and plenty of people had helpfully transposed his choices into a nice list form without me having to go and buy the book. Maybe I still will, if it appears in one of those Bargain Book Shops, like Bargain Bookshops (though I think that has been bought over). A quick look down the Top Twenty assured me that I’d already heard most, if not all of them, so maybe this would not be such a difficult and time-consuming undertaking – maybe now was the accepted day of my (writing this post) Salvation?

So yeah, I’m going to listen to them all and comment on them. The usual rules apply – if I’ve heard it, I won’t cover it. If I’ve heard it but don’t really remember it, I will. If I think it’s going to come up in one of my existing series, I’ll probably leave it for that series. I’ll probably ridicule the album covers, because lets be frank they range from spectacular to ‘no, Mummy, why must I look at this horror’. I’m going to give a loose score to each with the criteria below:

1: Deserves to be on list/is good

2: Maybe deserves to be on list/I don’t care either way

3: Doesn’t deserve to be on list/is shite.

I’ll clarify the above in each review – some albums (I’m looking at you Hair Metal) will be shite, but will be mega-selling and probably influenced a tonne of imitators, so from a cultural standpoint probably deserve to be on the list. For example. Below, I’m going to list all 500 albums, and highlight the ones I’ve heard already – red means I won’t review, blue means I haven’t heard in ages, standard black means I haven’t heard. If there’s a link, it’s a link to some sort of review of the album.

If there are any metal fans out there, feel free to join in and share your favourites and your thoughts on the list. I believe Popoff pulled his information from a variety of other sources – I don’t believe the list is his personal choices. Also, it’s not a recent book, so many of the biggest releases of the last ten years are not here. Don’t go hunting him down if you don’t agree. Or me, because I’m bigger than you.

In almost every list of Best Metal Albums ever, you can almost always guess the Top Five, if not the Top Ten. It’s always the same albums, with the order slightly different. Check out the bottom of the post where I give some notes on the little discrepancies you may notice if you take the time to look through the list. Here we go:

  1. Metallica: Master Of Puppets: 1
  2. Iron Maiden: The Number Of The Beast: 1
  3. Slayer: Reign In Blood: 1
  4. Metallica: Ride The Lightning: 1
  5. AC/DC: Back In Black: 1
  6. Black Sabbath: Paranoid: 1
  7. Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime: 2
  8. Iron Maiden: Piece Of Mind: 1
  9. Van Halen: Van Halen: 
  10. Guns ‘n’ Roses: Appetite For Destruction: 1
  11. Megadeth: Rust In Peace: 1
  12. Judas Priest: Screaming For Vengeance
  13. Iron Maiden: Powerslave: 1
  14. Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath: 1
  15. Ozzy: Blizzard Of Ozz:
  16. Black Sabbath: Heaven And Hell
  17. Dio: Holy Diver: 1
  18. Metallica: Kill Em All: 1
  19. Metallica: And Justice For All: 1
  20. Pantera: Vulgar Display Of Power: 1
  21. Judas Priest: British Steel
  22. Motley Crue: Shout At The Devil
  23. AC/DC: Highway To Hell
  24. Deep Purple: Machine Head
  25. Black Sabbath: Master Of Reality
  26. Judas Priest: Painkiller
  27. Metallica: Metallica: 1
  28. Slayer: Seasons In The Abyss: 1
  29. Ozzy: Diary Of A Madman
  30. Led Zeppelin IV: 1
  31. Megadeth: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?: 1
  32. Iron Maiden: Killers: 3
  33. Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  34. Judas Priest: Sad Wings Of Destiny
  35. Mercyful Fate: Don’t Break The Oath
  36. Helloween: Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II: 1
  37. Accept: Restless And Wild
  38. Deep Purple: Deep Purple In Rock
  39. Rainbow: Rising
  40. Black Sabbath: Sabotage
  41. KISS: Alive!
  42. Judas Priest: Live In Japan
  43. Motorhead: Ace Of Spades: 1
  44. Slayer: South Of Heaven: 1
  45. Black Sabbath: Mob Rules
  46. Black Sabbath: Vol 4
  47. Dream Theater: Images And Words
  48. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti: 1
  49. Anthrax: Among The Living
  50. Venom: Black Metal
  51. Judas Priest: Stained Class
  52. Alice In Chains: Dirt: 1
  53. Megadeth: Countdown To Extinction: 2
  54. King Diamond: Abigail
  55. Def Leppard: Pyromania: 3
  56. Iron Maiden: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son: 1
  57. Slayer: Hell Awaits: 2
  58. Accept: Balls To The Wall
  59. Led Zeppelin 2: 1
  60. Pantera: Cowboys From Hell: 1
  61. Bruce Dickinson: The Chemical Wedding:
  62. Judas Priest: Defenders Of The Faith
  63. Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden: 3
  64. Kiss: Destroyer
  65. Metal Church: Metal Church
  66. Carcass: Heartwork
  67. Sepultura: Arise
  68. Twisted Sister: Still Hungry
  69. Mercyful Fate: Melissa
  70. Iron Maiden: Somewhere In Time: 1
  71. Aerosmith: Rocks
  72. Bruce Dickinson: Accident Of Birth
  73. Dio: The Last In Line
  74. Pantera: Far Beyond Driven: 1
  75. Rush: Moving Pictures
  76. Riot: Fire Down Under
  77. Exodus: Bonded By Blood: 1
  78. Scorpions: Blackout
  79. Judas Priest: Killing Machine
  80. Led Zep 1: 1
  81. Fear Factory: Demanufacture
  82. Aerosmith: Toys In The Attic: 1
  83. Black Sabbath: Born Again
  84. Rainbow: Long Live Rock And Roll
  85. WASP: WASP
  86. Nevermore: Dead Heart In A Dead World
  87. Iron Maiden: Live After Death: 1
  88. Deep Purple: Made In Japan
  89. Helloween: Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1: 1
  90. Motley Crue: Too Fast For Love
  91. UFO: Strangers In The Night
  92. Queensryche: Empire
  93. Deep Purple: Burn
  94. Sepultura: Chaos AD
  95. Faith No More: The Real Thing: 1
  96. AC/DC: Powerage
  97. Savatage: Hall Of The Mountain King
  98. Blind Guardian: Nightfall In Middle Earth: 2
  99. Rush: 2112
  100. SOD: Speak English Or Die
  101. Yngwie Malmsteen: Rising Force
  102. Montrose: Montrose
  103. Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger: 2
  104. Anthrax: Sound Of White Noise
  105. Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales
  106. Emperor: Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk
  107. Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion: 1
  108. Queensryche: Rage For Order
  109. Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar Babies: 1
  110. Possessed: Seven Churches
  111. King Diamond: Them
  112. At The Gates: Slaughter Of The Soul
  113. Skid Row: Slave To The Grind
  114. Nirvana: Nevermind: 1
  115. Scorpions: Love At First Sting
  116. Whitesnake: Whitesnake
  117. AC/DC: Let There Be Rock
  118. Ratt: Out Of The Cellar
  119. Celtic Frost: Into The Pandemonium
  120. Morbid Angel: Altars of Madness
  121. Kiss: Kiss
  122. Thin Lizzy: Jailbreak
  123. Anthrax: Spreading The Disease
  124. Van Halen: Van Halen 2
  125. Annihilator: Alice In Hell: 1
  126. Motorhead: Overkill
  127. Slayer: Show No Mercy: 3
  128. Tool: Aenima
  129. Iron Maiden: Brave New Blood: 1
  130. Motorhead: No Sleep Til Hammersmith: 1
  131. Manowar; Kings Of Metal
  132. Testament: The New Prder
  133. Quiet Riot: Metal Health
  134. Led Zep 3: 1
  135. Rush: Hemispheres
  136. Amorphis: Tales From The Thousand Lakes
  137. Rage Against The Machine: Rage Against The Machine :1
  138. Deep Purple: Perfect Strangers
  139. Testament: The Gathering
  140. Scorpions: Lovedrive
  141. Angel Witch: Angel Witch
  142. Helloween: Walls Of Jericho
  143. Machinehead: Burn My Eyes
  144. Ozzy: No More Tears
  145. Nevermore: Dreaming Neon Black
  146. Led Zep: Houses Of The Holy: 2
  147. Testament: Practice What You Preach
  148. Ozzy/Randy: Tribute
  149. Pantera: The Great Southern Trendkill
  150. AC/DC: High Voltage
  151. Van Halen: 1984
  152. Type O Negative: October Rust
  153. Emperor: In The Nightside Eclipse
  154. Def Leppard: Hysteria: 2
  155. Strapping Young Lad: City
  156. Death: Human
  157. KISS: Creatures Of The Night
  158. Van Halen: Fair Warning
  159. Helloween: Better Than Raw
  160. Dream Theater: Metropolis Pt 2
  161. Judas Priest: Sin After Sin
  162. Slipknot: Slipknot: 3
  163. Blind Guardian: Imaginations From The Other Side: 1
  164. Uriah Heep: Demons And Wizards
  165. Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet: 1
  166. Type O Negative: Bloody Kisses
  167. Iced Earth: Something Wicked This Way Comes
  168. Tool: Undertow
  169. Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
  170. Sepultura: Roots: 1
  171. Halford: Resurrection
  172. Skid Row: Skid Row:
  173. Pearl Jam: Ten: 1
  174. Accept: Metal Heart
  175. Danzig: Danzig
  176. Alice In Chains: Facelift: 1
  177. Queen: A Night At The Opera: 2
  178. Fates Warning: Awaken The Guardian
  179. Korn: Korn
  180. Badlands: Badlands
  181. Faith No More: Angel Dust
  182. Saxon: Strong Arm Of The Law
  183. Soundgarden: Superunknown: 1
  184. Testament: The Legacy
  185. Death: Scream Bloody Gore
  186. Dokken: Tooth And Nail
  187. Gamma Ray: Land Of The Free
  188. Death: Symbolic
  189. Alice Cooper: Love It To Death: 1
  190. Mayhem: De mysteriis dom Sathanas
  191. Corrosion Of Conformity: Deliverance
  192. Queensryche: The Warning
  193. Rush: A Farewell To Kings
  194. Blue Oyster Cult: Agents Of Fortune
  195. White Zombie: La Sexorcisto
  196. Therion: Theli
  197. Thin Lizzy: Thunder And Lightning
  198. Motorhead: No Remorse: 3
  199. Uriah Heep: Look At Yourself
  200. Death: Leprosy
  201. Megadeth: So Far So Good So What: 2
  202. Overkill: The Years Of Decay
  203. Down: NOLA
  204. Testament Low
  205. Carcass: Necroticism
  206. Crimson Glory: Transcendence
  207. Manowar: The Triumph Of Steel
  208. Tesla: Mechanical Resonance
  209. Blue Oyster Cult: Secret Treaties
  210. White Zombie: Astro Creep
  211. In Flames: Clayman
  212. Ozzy:  Bark At The Moon
  213. Saxon: Power & The Glory
  214. Bathory: Under The Sign Of The Black Mark
  215. Def Leppard: High ‘n’ Dry
  216. Kreator: Pleasure To Kill
  217. Dissection: Storm Of The Light’s Bane
  218. Stratovarious: Visions
  219. Thin Lizzy: Live And Dangerous
  220. Opeth: Still Life: 1
  221. Morbid Angel: Blessed Are The Sick
  222. Sepultura: Beneath The Remains
  223. Voivod: Nothingface
  224. Black Sabbath: Dehumanizer
  225. Guns N Roses: Use Your Illusion 2: 1
  226. Manowar: Hail To England
  227. Savatage: Streets A Rock Opera
  228. Death: Individual Thought Patterns
  229. Dokken: Under Lock And Key
  230. Fear Factory: Obsolete
  231. Dream Theater: Awake
  232. Paradise Lost: Gothic
  233. Black Sabbath: We Sold Our Soul For Rock And Roll
  234. In Flames: The Jester Race
  235. Motley Crue: Dr Feelgood
  236. Savatage: Gutter Ballet
  237. Iron Maiden: Fear Of The Dark: 3
  238. Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare: 1
  239. Entombed: Wolverine Blues
  240. Slayer: Divine Intervention: 2
  241. Whitesnake: Slide It In
  242. Megadeth: Youthanasia: 3
  243. KISS: Dressed To Kill
  244. Opeth: Blackwater Park: 1
  245. Rising Force: Marching Out
  246. Dimmu Borgir: Spiritual Black Dimensions
  247. Armoured Saint: Symbol Of Salvation
  248. Cradle Of Filth: Cruelty And The Beast
  249. Krokus: Headhunter
  250. Manowar: Into Glory Ride
  251. AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  252. Angra: Angels Cry
  253. Iced Earth: Horror Show
  254. Jag Panzer: Ample Destruction
  255. Van Halen: Women And Children First
  256. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? 1
  257. Motorhead: Another Perfect Day
  258. Deicide: Deicide
  259. Morbid Angel: Covenant
  260. Candlemass: Nightfall
  261. Dark Angel: Darkness Descends
  262. Trouble: Manic Frustration
  263. Destruction: Infernal Overkill
  264. Iced Earth: The Dark Saga
  265. Saxon: Denim And Leather
  266. Entombed: 666
  267. Savatage: Edge Of Thorns
  268. KISS: Alive II
  269. Trouble: Trouble
  270. AC/DC: For Those About To Rock
  271. Cradle Of Filth: Dusk And Her Embrace
  272. Queen: Queen
  273. Saxon: Wheels Of Steel
  274. King Diamond Conspiracy
  275. Dimmu Borgir: Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
  276. Dimmu Borgir: Entrone Darkness Triumphant
  277. Cradle Of Filth: Midian
  278. Ted Nugent: Cat Scratch Fever
  279. Danzig: Danzig II
  280. Judas Priest: Point Of Entry
  281. Samael: Ceremony Of Opposites
  282. Diamond Head: Lightning To The Nations
  283. Anthrax: Persistence Of Time
  284. Cannibal Corpse: The Bleeding
  285. Hammerfall: Glory To The Brave
  286. Michael Schenker Group: Assault Attack
  287. Ozzy: No Rest For The Wicked
  288. Entombed: Left Hand Path
  289. The Cult: Electric
  290. Savatage: Sirens
  291. Voivod: Dimension Hatross
  292. KISS: Hotter Than Hell
  293. Malmsteen: Trilogy
  294. Deep Purple: Purpendicular
  295. Manowar: Battle Hymns
  296. Slayer: God Hates Us All: 2
  297. Paradise Lost: Icon
  298. UFO: Lights Out
  299. Van Halen: 5150
  300. In Flames: Whoracle
  301. Alice Cooper: Killer: 1
  302. Entombed: Clandestine
  303. Overkill: Taking Over
  304. Megadeth: Killing Is My Business And Business Is Good: 2
  305. In Flames: Colony
  306. Pantera: Reinventing The Steel
  307. Overkill: Horrorscope
  308. Venom: Welcome To Hell
  309. Ministry: Psalm 69
  310. Moonspell: Wolfheart
  311. Motorhead: Orgasmatron
  312. Savatage: Power Of The Night
  313. Fastway: Fastway
  314. The Gathering: Nighttime Birds: 2
  315. The Gathering: Mandylion: 1
  316. Judas Priest: Turbo
  317. Hammerfall: Legacy Of Kings
  318. Kyuss: Blues For The Red Sun
  319. Thin Lizzy: Johnny The Fox
  320. Dark Tranquility: The Gallery
  321. Twisted Sister: Under The Blade
  322. Judas Priest: Jugulator
  323. Queen: Sheer Heart Attack
  324. King’s X: Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
  325. Amorphis: Elegy
  326. Godsmack: Godsmack
  327. Scorpions: Taken By Force
  328. Death Angel: Act 3
  329. Fight: War Of Words
  330. Rhapsody: Symphony Of Enchanted Lands
  331. Destruction: Eternal Devastation
  332. Paradise Lost: Draconian Times
  333. Armoured Saint: Delirious Nomad
  334. Boston: Boston
  335. Corrosion Of Conformity: Wiseblood
  336. Testament: Souls Of Black
  337. Tygers Of Pan Tang: Spellbound
  338. Metal Church: The Dark
  339. WASP: The Crimson Idol
  340. Dokken: Back For The Attack
  341. Kreator: Extreme Agression
  342. Suffocation: Effigy Of The Forgotten
  343. Anthrax: Fistful Of Metal
  344. Black Sabbath: Technical Ecstasy
  345. Extreme: II Pornograffitti
  346. Kyuss: Kyuss
  347. Metal Church: Blessing In Disguise
  348. Motorhead: Iron Fist
  349. Scorpions: Animal Magnetism
  350. Exodus: Fabulous Disaster
  351. My Dying Bride: Turn Loose The Swans: 1
  352. Dio: Dream Evil
  353. Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine
  354. WASP: The Headless Children
  355. Nevermore: The Politics Of Ecstasy
  356. UFO: Obsession
  357. King’s X: Dogman
  358. KISS: Revenge
  359. WASP: The Last Command
  360. Bathory: Blood Fire Death
  361. Black Label Society: Stronger Than Death
  362. Meshuggah: Destroy Erase Improve
  363. Rush: Rush
  364. System Of A Down: Toxicity: 1
  365. Voivod: Killing Technology
  366. The Cult: Sonic Temple
  367. Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse: 2
  368. Raven: All For One
  369. Aerosmith: Get Your Wings
  370. Death Angel: The Ultra Violence: 2
  371. Trouble: Psalm 9: 1
  372. Queen: News Of The World
  373. Twisted Sister: You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll
  374. Prong: Cleansing
  375. Emperor: IX Equilibrium
  376. Korn: Follow The Leader
  377. Ratt: Invasion Of Your Privacy
  378. Vai: Sex And Religion
  379. Manowar: Fighting The World
  380. KISS: Love Gun
  381. Neurosis: Through Silver In Blood
  382. Rhapsody: Legendary Tales
  383. Cinderella: Night Songs
  384. Sentenced: Down
  385. Anvil: Metal On Metal
  386. Carcass: Symphonies Of Sickness
  387. Budgie: Budgie
  388. Alice Cooper: School’s Out: 2
  389. King Diamond: Voodoo
  390. Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile
  391. Queen: Queen II
  392. Scorpions: Virgin Killer
  393. Tiamat: Wild Honey
  394. KISS: Rock And Roll Over
  395. Motorhead: Motorhead
  396. Rhapsody: Dawn Of Victory
  397. Grim Reaper: See You In Hell
  398. Savatage: The Wake Of Magellan
  399. Saigon Kick: The Lizard
  400. Edge Of Sanity: Crimson
  401. Rainbow: On Stage
  402. My Dying Bride: The Angel And The Dark River
  403. Opeth: Morningrise: 2
  404. Cream: Disraeli Gears
  405. Sex Pistols: Nevermind The Bollocks: 1
  406. Warlock: Triumph And Agony
  407. Death: The Sound Of Perseverance
  408. Judas Priest: Live
  409. Nightwish: Oceanborn: 1
  410. Primal Fear: Jaws Of Death
  411. Cinderella: Long Cold Winter
  412. Motorhead: Bomber
  413. UFO: Force It
  414. GnR: Use Your Illusion 1: 1
  415. Tesla: The Great Radio Controversy
  416. Children Of Bodom: Hatebreeder
  417. Exciter: Violence And Force
  418. Stratovarious: Episode
  419. Faster Pussycat: Faster Pussycat
  420. Kreator: Coma Of Souls
  421. Life Of Agony: River Runs Red
  422. Monster Magnet: Powertrip
  423. Tool: Lateralus: 1
  424. Angra: Holy Land
  425. Motley Crue: Theatre Of Pain
  426. Fates Warning: No Exit
  427. Metallica: S&M: 3
  428. Suicidal Tendencies: How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today
  429. Black Sabbath: Headless Cross
  430. Nirvana: In Utero: 1
  431. AC/DC: The Razor’s Edge
  432. Carcass: Swansong
  433. Flotsam And Jetsam: Doomsday For The Deceiver
  434. Vanderberg: Vandenberg
  435. Aerosmith: Pump: 1
  436. Nazareth: Hair Of The Dog
  437. Sanctuary: Into The Mirror Black
  438. Voivod: War And Pain
  439. Rush: Fly By Night
  440. Cathedral: The Carnival Bizarre
  441. Deep Purple: Fireball
  442. Poison: Look What The Cat Dragged In
  443. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis Bold As Love: 2
  444. King Diamond: The Eye
  445. Coroner: Mental Vortex
  446. Stone Temple Pilots: Core: 2
  447. Symphony X: The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
  448. AC/DC: If You Want Blood
  449. Aerosmith: Get A Grip: 2
  450. Black Sabbath: Live Evil
  451. Blue Oyster Cult: Fire Of Unknown Origin
  452. Ace Frehley: Ace Frehley
  453. Riot: Thundersteel
  454. Dio: Strange Highways;
  455. Uriah Heep: Sweet Freedom
  456. Helmet: Meantime
  457. KISS: Lick It Up
  458. Ted Nugent: Free For All
  459. Autopsy: Severed Survival
  460. Mercyful Fate: 9
  461. Scorpions: Tokyo Tapes
  462. Avantasia: The Metal Opera
  463. Def Leppard: On Through The Night
  464. Europe: The Final Countdown
  465. Rush: Permanent Waves
  466. Disturbed: The Sickness
  467. Dream Theater: When Dream And Day Unite
  468. Armoured Saint: March Of The Saint
  469. Motorhead: 1916
  470. Witchfinder General: Death Penalty
  471. The Dillinger Escape Plan: Calculating Infinity
  472. Exciter: Heavy Metal Maniac
  473. Jethro Tull: Aqualung
  474. The Who: Live At Leeds: 1
  475. Blue Oyster Cult: Blue Oyster Cult
  476. Fates Warning: Parallels
  477. Van Halen: Balance
  478. Kick Axe: Vices
  479. Steve Vai: Passion And Warfare
  480. Witchery: Restless And Dead
  481. Bad Brains: I Against I
  482. Accept: Russian Roulette
  483. Marilyn Manson: Mechanical Animals
  484. Budgie: Bandolier
  485. Love/Hate: Blackout In The Red Room
  486. Sweet: Desolation Boulevard
  487. Rainbow: Down To Earth
  488. Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral
  489. Ted Nugent: Double Live Gonzo
  490. Amorphis: Tuonela
  491. Metal Church: The Human Factor
  492. Rush: Signals
  493. Nightwish: Wishmaster: 2
  494. Raven: Wiped Out
  495. Cheap Trick: Cheap Trick
  496. Nirvana: Bleach: 2
  497. Riot: Narita
  498. Holocaust: The Nightcomers
  499. Savage: Loose And Lethal
  500. Y&T: Black And Tiger

First, some basic clarifications; I’m going by memory here, and like most things built in The UK, my memory is faulty. Some of the albums I’ve highlighted in blue (meaning I’ve heard bits of it) maybe should be red (meaning I’ve heard it all and don’t need to again) but I just can’t remember, and some should be black (meaning I haven’t heard it at all) and that I may be mixing one album up with the next. I know I’ve heard some Overkill and Kreator and Savatage albums, I just can’t remember which songs are on which album off the top of my head. Next, for the majority of those albums left in black, I’ve probably heard one song from each. For the vast majority, I’ll have heard multiple songs by the artist, but won’t know which album they’re from – basically, just because it’s black doesn’t mean I know nothing about it. There are however, quite a few albums I’ve never heard of and likely haven’t heard songs from – Dissection’s Storm Of The Light’s Bane for example.

Now for the slightly more detailed annotations – I’ll go into even more detail when I come to actually listening and reviewing each – this post is stupidly long already, even by my gargantuan standards. Operation Mindcrime is an album I would have heard a lot when I was much younger – I liked parts of it. I’m aware it’s heralded by many critics so if it’s your cup of tea then by all means give it a 1. Because it’s been so long, I’m listening to it again to see what I remember and if my score changes. The same goes for most of the Ozzy Sabbath albums – by name and virtue alone they deserve to be on the list, but I’ve always had a hit and miss relationship with the band – their first album I’ve given a 1 because it has a few great songs and was basically the first true metal album. I’m going to listen to it again because when it comes to Sabbath I tend to take the 2-3 songs I like from each album and ignore the rest.

Holy Diver and Vulgar Display Of Power again I listened to a lot when I was a kid, and not much since. Those I loved at the time and I’m aware of their significance, but I want to listen again to see how I feel about them now. Same applies to Peace Sells, Ace Of Spades, and Pyromania. And Cowboys From Hell. The two Dickinson albums I’m already going to listen to as part of my Maiden series. Bonded By Blood and Toys In The Attic – again time has past and I want to re-evaluate. The two Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums again are from my youth – it’s reached the point now where I don’t really remember the difference between them, except that I recall liking Part 2 more. The Real Thing is a case of not remembering which songs are on it versus Faith No More’s other albums. Same with the next two Celtic Frost albums, though I know To Mega Therion is a favourite of many people I know/used to hang around with.

No Sleep Till Hammersmith and Rage’s first album I’ve heard most of, not all, but know they are called classics. Def Leppard’s stuff in general I’ve never liked, beyond when I was about 8 and singing their hits, but I’ll give it all another go. Slipknot’s debut I haven’t heard all of, but I’ve not liked what I’ve heard and they just seemed like another cookie cutter Nu Metal band for angry little boys. Again, I’ll give it a go. Sepultura’s stuff I listened to a lot as a kid, but not sure where the songs fall and I don’t remember listening to a full album – maybe Roots. I’m not going to go through the rest of the list – if anything looks weird, it’s probably a similar reason to something in the above two paragraphs.

For any naysayers, and anyone who’s still reading but doesn’t know much about Metal – remember, this isn’t my list, or my choices. There are quite a few bands here who are completely over represented and there are a lot of albums I wouldn’t dream of including. I’m sure you’re the same. I wouldn’t have so many live albums and absolutely no greatest hits. For the uninitiated, Metal fans love nothing more than bitching and moaning about what is and isn’t Metal, where it started, what’s good, what’s not etc. I won’t get into that much here, other than to say Metal is at its simplest a sub genre or extension of Rock. Sometimes it’s louder, sometimes it’s faster, sometimes the subject matter and delivery is darker and more vicious. To me, Metal has also always been about attitude, sometimes moreso than music. To me, The Holy Bible by The Manic Street Preachers is one of the greatest Metal albums of all time – most Metal fans wouldn’t call it Metal, but it is much darker, and angrier, and honest than most Metal albums. To me, Eminem is more Metal than most of what came out of the US in the 80s – his technical ability and brutality far outweighing the pop with guitars and faux attitude of Sunset Strip’s posers. In other words, Metal is a very broad umbrella and everyone has their own take on it.

The list covers bands such as Led Zep and Queen – purists might object because they have never been ‘Metal’, but were instead building some of the foundations of what would become Metal. It contains a lot of grunge (not so much punk) which your traditional Metal fan won’t like, mainly because grunge took one look at the painted celebrities of 80s Metal and recognised them for what they were – ABBA with guitar solos. Grunge bands brought Metal out of the stadiums and back into the bedrooms and cellars where kids rightfully pissed off at the world could channel their own anguish and rage. Of course it ended up back in the stadiums. There’s an awful lot of, for lack of a better term ‘cheesy shite’ – Manowar, Saxton, KISS, Dokken, Scorpions and the like, but those acts ranged from cult to massive so you can’t really ignore them. You have your early and big hitter Death and Black metal bands – two genres I could never take very seriously, but there’s a more distinct lack of female fronted bands and later sub-genres from folk to epic to viking and whatever other crap there is now. There should be something for everyone.

So if you are new to Metal or an expert looking to dip their toes into a few unknown territories, why not join me on this epic quest? For anyone new to Metal, I’d recommend you go listen to the ones I’ve highlighted in red first if you haven’t already – those are among the most popular and best the genre has to offer, and have less of the extreme edges you probably think of when someones mentions the type of music. Even better, go back to the earlier roots and heavier rock albums of the 70s  – Led Zep, The Who, Alice Cooper, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd – each of those and more had their own distinct influence on Metal but are a more gentle introduction. They’ll get you into the groove, the attitude, the style of playing, and will ease you in rather than getting your face ripped off by the opening twelve seconds of Angel Of Death. I can’t say when I’ll start this quest – at time of writing it’s 3rd July 2019 and I haven’t even posted my 1966 balls yet. I’ll get to it some day, hopefully starting by the end of this year (Nightman – Feb 2020 – Ha!). So yeah, listen along, chime in with your comments, and let me know what you think.