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PCR #338  (Vol. 7, No. 37) This edition is for the week of September 11--17, 2006.

The Tampa Film Review For September  by Nolan B. Canova
The True Story of the Royal Guardsmen  by ED Tucker
"The Black Dahlia"  by Mike Smith
"Hollywoodland"  by Nolan B. Canova
The 20 Best Heavy Metal Albums of All Time  by Terence Nuzum
Crazed Fanboy Live! The Musical....Andy's Expedition to Tyrone Square Mall....VHS Grindhouse: "Midnight"  by Andy Lalino
Great Company....Set Phasers on Numb....Speaking of Star Trek....Musical History....Speaking of Music....My Favorite Films, Part 37: "Hoosiers" by Mike Smith
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The Audio Philes by Terence Nuzum

The 20 Best Heavy Metal Albums of All Time

Let me start with a disclaimer. This list is The Audiophiles 20 Best Heavy Metals albums. That being said, there are going to be a lot of albums that aren't going to be on here that you might think would be. But this is a best, not an essentials list. I decided not to make it an essential list as I would have to include and write positive remarks on bands I don't really like, but are obviously influential. For example: Sepultura, Iron Madien, Van Halen, Celtic Frost, Kreator, etc. So here is Audiophiles' personal opinion of the 20 best Heavy Metal albums of all time. Some of this stuff I'm going to get flack for, and stuff I left out I'm going have to hear about, so go to the link at the bottom of the article and get on the boards and give me your lists--even if it's just a top 5 or albums you think I overlooked. So, here they are in random order......

1. Led Zeppelin -- Led Zeppelin, 1969: Though probably still regarded as more "hard rock", it opened up the flood gates for a whole new and "heavier" simplistic sound that would eventually be known as heavy metal. With the proto-speed classic "Communication Breakdown" and the thundering ballad "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", Led Zep was the first. The raw intensity found on their debut album was never recaptured by the band. There were heavier bands (Black Sabbath, Free, Mountain) but none with such musical diversity to go with the power they unleashed. Their trick of acoustic openings turning into pummeling electric endings later influenced Metallica and a whole crop of new metal artists in the '80's and '90's who used the style to great success.

2. Black Sabbath -- Black Sabbath, 1970: The original barn-burner, doom-harbringer, heavy "as fuck" metal album. The amount of money death metal, thrash, speed, and grunge rock owe this baby can never be repaid. A blueprint if there ever was one. Tracks like "The Wizard" and "Black Sabbath" paved the way for the heavy slow crunch that would eventually dominate the genre, while "N.I.B." might as well be the Hendrix "Star Spangled Banner" of the genre as it contains the origins of almost every metal style in the book. A metal album hasn't, and never will get, better than this. From witchcraft to apocolyptic images this one started it all and never has been equaled.
3. Motorhead -- Ace of Spades, 1980: The line where punk met metal was Lemmy Kilmister. After being booted from the previous band, Hawkwind (who themselves were possibly early speed-rock), Lemmy formed Motorhead (named after one of his Hawkwind compositions) a snarling, pound-your-face-in of a beast. While previous releases Overkill and Bomber were musically as good, it wasn't until Ace that the band acquired good production and, of course, went one speed notch further on the title track, forever changing the face of metal by basically in one fell swoop removing the blues from the vocabulary of metal. The image of Lemmy singing up at his overhead mic dressed all in black with a tough guy snarl and bullet belt defined what all future metal gods should look like. This band will fuck you up.

4. Judas Priest -- British Steel, 1980: If Motorhead removed all traces of the blues, then it was the Priest that took out the Prog element completely with their 1980 release, British Steel. Thrash owes its just due to "Breaking the Law", the song that took metal away from the masses and gave it back to the chosen ones, the juvenile delinquents.

5. Deep Purple -- Machine Head, 1972: While Fireball may be a cooler album, Machine Head is razor-sharp polished. From the tonsil-bleeding "Spacetruckin'" and "Highway Star" to one of the most hummable metal riffs ever on "Smoke On The Water", the album was like an unstoppable locomotive. They were always a more aggressive band than Led Zeppelin and never really got their share of respect. But Machine Head is ample evidence of their power.
6. Diamond Head -- Lighting to the Nations, 1980: Thank god to Metallica for at least one thing. Their self-proclaimed love for Brit-band Diamond Head has kept this album out of obscurity. A undervalued release that basically was under the radar even in its day and actually a hidden gem. Using lots of guitar dynamics that you now hear in bands like Metallica and Megadeth they never really continued this formula on later releases. "Am I Evil" is so awesome, it should win an award. An album that sounds like it was cut in a few hours one day is literally one of those albums that can't be done again, but we can remain thankful that at least it was captured once.

7. Venom -- Black Metal, 1982: Besides giving a name to an entire genre, Venom also probably was the first to employ the so called "death growl" (it can be traced back to the Who's "Boris the Spider", oddly enough) and preceeded Slayer in their use of pro-Satan lyrics. I hear they were rather silly and over-the-top in concert, but this record, while not a traditional black metal album as we now think of one, is a real slice of doom.
8. Mercyful Fate -- Don't Break The Oath, 1984: Eschewing the over-the-top opera levels his voice would contain on his solo releases, vocalist King Diamond remains subdued here and creates a ghostly wail that excentuates the supernatural themes of the songs. An otherwordly and haunting album as metal has ever produced.
9. Exodus -- Bonded By Blood 1985: In the 1980s much like the late '70s and early '90s, a new movement formed to topple the music world that had become too safe. Punk in the '70s toppled prog, '90s grunge toppled hair-metal, and in the '80s, underground metal at least tried its hardest to topple new wave. Bands like Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Exodus always were a little more punk than those death metal stooges like Sepultura, Celtic Frost, and Mayhem. That gave than an edge and kept them from being cartoonish and one-dimensional. Exodus' Bonded By Blood was one of the first, and it sounding seemingly more thrash than metal. Its influence was eventually felt by a lot of bands, but especially Megadeth.

10. Slayer -- Reign In Blood, 1986: Supposedly part of group of albums called the Unholy Trinity of 1986 that also included Kreator's Pleasure to Kill and Dark Angel's Darkness Descends. OK, let this be known. No other band matches the intensity on record of Slayer. While not as techincally heavy as, say, Metallica and thankfully never incorporating the silly "death growl", they still somehow managed to create some of the must brutal music ever. Their best-made album is Seasons In The Abyss but Reign of Blood has to come first on any list as it is unlike any thing they did after. They were always "on" but they were never "on" quite like this. Pretty much the band punkers can like, too, it's overwhelming sense of dread and coming apocalypse never get silly, thanks to Tom Araya's passionate vocals. Somewhere between desperation and anger, he blends in perfectly with the bass and guitar chaos that gives Motorhead a reason to question their speed. I can say in all honesty it is the most devastating heavy metal ever recorded. It'll make your ears bleed, son.

11. Anthrax -- Among the Living, 1987: Add in their snotty punk-like lyrics and their not-so-heavy, but oh-so-fast riffs, and some would say they are punk and not metal at all. Nevertheless, I put 'em on here. Mostly releasing uneven albums, 'Thrax at least put out one great one. With a classic cover depicting the villainous Reverend from Poltergiest 2, the album's focused, tight playing and inspired vocals, along with horror themes, make it a late '80s classic. Playing some of the best guitar of their lives, the band never delivered anything this good again.
12. Metallica -- Ride The Lightning, 1984: Some kind of monster is right. Somehow they managed to combine the sloppy energy of thrash, the heaviness of Black Sabbath, the spacial huge sound of Led Zeppelin, and the on-the-edge-ready to-fall-apart chaos of punk all into one beast. And although they still haven't had a release this good to this day, this one still stands the test of time. It has it all, doom rock "For Whom The Bell Tolls", metal ballads "Fade to Black", and epic "The Call of Ktulu". They took the throne and haven't been succeeded.
13. Megadeth -- Peace Sells.....But Who's Buying?, 1986: You gotta admit there is no better reason for the birth of a heavy metal band than revenge. Dave Mustaine once part of Metallica, kicked out for drug use (hypocritical asses they are. Look at Hetfield--he, at the time and up until recently, was a drunken wreck), formed his own band Megadeth. Megadeth is his revenge. While not quite making a wound with their first album, their sophomore release upped the stakes for Metallica. Not only was Mustain playing as heavy as them, he was playing faster and adding in technical prog-like guitar-noodling that the boys in Metallica couldn't play if they tried. And unlike Metallica, songs like "Peace Sells" were valid political rants that would eventually earn them a Humane Society of the United States Genesis Award in 1993 for "Countdown to Extinction".

14. Danzig -- Danzig, 1988: When Glenn Danzig's great deathrock band, Samhain, got a major label contract, he decided to rename it, add more metal to the mix, and just a little more theatrics. The infectious riffs of "Twist of Cane" were unique to the Glenn Danzig canon and "Mother" eventually earned him a hit single. His deep Elvis-like moan and swampy slide-guitar brought the blues back to the genre.
15. Alice in Chains -- Dirt, 1992: Wrongly lumped in with the punk/grunge crowd, AIC were always old school '70's Sabbathesque metal. Layne Staley bellowing the most tortuted vocals ever backed by Jerry Cantrell's excellent guitar work, recreated the mood of the lyrics musically which were of pain, doom, and punishment, seemingly all related to drug abuse. Totally underappreciated in its time, Dirt influenced probably 90% of all metal on the radio today. Too bad they don't have the same talent as AIC and, fortunately for them, not the same muse as Staley. Drugs eventually killed him in 2002.
16. White Zombie -- La Sexorcisto - Devil Music Vol.1, 1992: Before he became the horror film buff's darling director, Rob Zombie rocked the house. His brand of metal always displayed a love of cheesy horror flicks. Lyrically, it wasn't all that, but musically they were a tight funky metal machine. "Thunder Kiss '65" is infectious as hell and I personally believe Rob's vocals, in particular on previous releases, must have had more than a little influence on James Hetfield's vocal change from Metallica's early days to the low groovy growl of the Black Album.
17. Korn -- Korn, 1994: OK, we all are thankful that the embarrasment of Nu-metal (rap metal) is behind us. But Korn aren't quite Nu-metal on their debut. Jonathon Davis was still singing and not rapping and there was no guest appearance by Ice Cube. The tales of alienation were copped from grunge, but the heavy bottom bass was one bit Lemmy and one bit Flea. Guitarist Munky can acutally play, unlike his contemporaries, and Davis uniquely turns death metal's infamous death growl into a melodic cry for help. That, and these guys incorporate bagpipes into a song!
18. Tool -- Lateralus, 2001: One could easily see how this album was influenced by prog-rockers King Crimson. Crimson, after all, recorded perhaps the first metal song, "20th Century Schizoid Man". Tool's previous releases were all way too much energy and not enough control. On Lateralus, the band gets technical to the point of almost making it math rock. By this point, they have perfected their soft-verse chaos/crashing-down chorus to an art. Again, a great example of another band who gets the power in going from vast space to crashing heaviness. Keenan Maynard's vocals achieve almost a gospel psalm quality only adding to the album's Far East musical interludes. And his angst-in-a-bottle that can't quite get out vocals on the heavy choruses make for emotional and impactful metal like no other. Truly unique.

19. Free -- Tons of Sobs, 1968: At one time the blues was part of Heavy Metal. In fact that's how it started, bands took the blues and added thundering bass and heavy crunch. Before Black Sabbath did it on their debut and before Led Zeppelin pefected it, Free did. On Tons Of Sobs, the bluesy, aged-beyond-his-years gravely soul voice of Paul Rodgers and the Hendrix-obsessed guitar playing of frazzled, minor guitar genius Paul Kossoff, melded to create the heaviest metal blues laid to wax. Dark and misery-laden soul vocals aided by Kossoff's murky guitar solos and backed by Andy Fraser's dungeon bass make this a spooky album. It pioneered certain themes for sure. It was ahead of Black Sabbath in the gothic image and album cover and ahead of Led Zeppelin with the saoring vocals and heavy blues workouts. Though they turned to hard rock and soul later, and Zep and Sabbath may have done it better later, Tons of Sobs was first.

20. Black Sabbath -- Paranoid, 1971: Talking about Paranoid is like talking about Sgt. Peppers. It's all been said and said better so why eloborate on 30 years of great articles and reviews. Just know this it is the standard, the image, and the sound by which all heavy metal must live up to.

So that's my list. If you thought my list was crap, biased, leaving off vital albums, or maybe forgetting others, then please go to the link below and post your top 5, top 10, top 20, or just complain.

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    "The Audio Philes" is ©2006 by Terence Nuzum.   All graphics (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.