We’re back…time to crack the spine and delve back into the musty pages of the Binder of Forgotten Metal™ one more time. I had a blast the last time listening to a bunch of music (strangely almost all from 2005) that not only had I practically forgotten about, but was most likely instrumental in bringing me into the fold of extreme metal.
Looking through the entries I picked I’m sure we’re going to have quite the same hit to miss ratio of lost gems, but there’s no telling until we dive in so once again get on your hip waders and let’s do this…
Crematorium – The Process of Endtime: I can’t for the life of me remember what made me pick this album up in – yes you guessed it – 2005. Maybe it was the fact it was on Prosthetic, which at the time hit it big with me due to All That Remains and This Darkened Heart? This is perfectly serviceable death metal with some core-isms that unfortunately don’t do the record any favors. Neither do the song titles, like “Bloodwake,” “Born of the Deadtide,” and my favorite: “Testicular.” It chugs, it breaks down, it barks. If you don’t need anything else, maybe this will do it for you. For the rest of us…?
Verdict: I think this can safely go back to the folder – there are dozens upon dozens of better examples of this to be had.
Fall River – Lights Out: Now those are some vocals! Metallic hardcore with some serious angular riffing, this was sadly the only album before the band imploded, although vocalist Alison Bellavance and guitarist Matt Boylan would go on to front the dance/punk chaos of Spark is a Diamond. Fall River is all the rough edges, angry and frantic one minute, almost NOLA levels of doom the next on “The President Has Been Kidnapped by Ninjas.” 10 songs. 26 minutes. Not much more needs to be said.
Verdict: Not sure what I thought before, but damn this hits the spot now. Brought back to the light.
Eidolon – The Parallel Otherworld: Unlike some of the other albums, I remember exactly why I picked up this 2006 power/progressive metal slammer. The guitar/drums are by the Drover brothers, who backed Dave Mustaine on one of the most underrated Megadeth albums, United Abominations. The music on The Parallel Otherworld definitely leans in a more European power direction, particular with the vocals of Nils K. Rue, who also fronts the similarly kickass Pagan’s Mind. But the riffs are mighty, the solos rip with a deadly precision, and there’s a beefiness to the production that gives everything more heft. Just check out the 11-minute behemoth title track that opens the album, and if you’re still not convinced, you can cheek out “Leave This World Behind” that was recorded in 2015, giving us hope we haven’t heard the end of Eidolon just yet.
Verdict: I’m a sucker for this kind of metal. Bring it forth and let it shine!
Grimfist – 10 Steps to Hell: Punishing death metal that swerves into Down/NOLA land…I used this description earlier, but here it feels more natural. Back in 2005 Candlelight Records was putting out some incredible stuff – at first Grimfist doesn’t seem to fit in with the blackened vortex of roster-mates like 1349 and Blue Aus Nord, but a closer listen to tracks like “The Power,” “Separation of My Soul” and later “Reap the Fire” show a band fully capable of grinding your bones to dust, but also willing to change the tempo a little bit to add some evil flavor to the tracks. By the time you get to the battering ram of the closing track, “Fight or Die” things have become so furious you wonder how these guys didn’t get bigger…I’d think Norwegians getting into some swampy grooves between blasts of blackened fury would’ve been cool.
Verdict: Hells yeah. This is brutal and nasty and balls of fun.
Torture Killer – Swarm: Before Chris Barnes’s distinctive growl barks its introduction you can feel the old school death debt this is paying homage to. Opener “Swarm!” is just a killer mid-paced stomp that Six Feet Under or Obituary would have created in their heyday. And hearing Barnes bellow “I’m not a man, I’m a fucking beast!” tickles me in just the right spot. This feels like what Six Feet Under should sound like and lost somewhere after 1999 (let’s chalk it up to Graveyard Classics). The band, hailing from Finland really know their way around this material: check out the meaty wads of riffage on tracks like “Cannibal Gluttony” and “Obsessed with Homicide” and you’ll understand the fun to be had here, fun that sadly has been missing for years on actual Six Feet Under albums.
Verdict: Keep this, throw away any SFU records after Maximum Carnage.
Symphony in Peril – The Whore’s Trophy: Is this metalcore? I think this is metalcore. Christian metalcore, at that. I’m guessing it was more the cover more than anything else that drew me to the CD. Maybe they got a decent review in Decibel. Listening to it now it feels like a lot of the Christian metalcore I heard back in the day: a lot of breakdowns and quasi-djenting, vocals that sound on the verge of cracking. It’s all polished and shiny, but ultimately this just isn’t a sub-genre I was ever that interested in. I think if you were a certain age coming into this music it might be a different story, but I was already in my 30s at this point, so my angst was filled with bands like Metallica and Exodus.
Verdict: there’s nothing at all offensive about the album, but it doesn’t hold me in its thrall like the cover did (and still does).
War of Ages – Pride of the Wicked: Another Christian metal band on Facedown records. I know at this point in my life my faith was at a crossroads, but I still wasn’t ready to commit or cop to being an atheist, so maybe all these records was some attempt on my part to try and get at the nagging nit in my belief. War of Ages hits that New Wave of American Heavy Metal style of metalcore that made Lamb of God and others big…here, it mainly works: the choruses are big, the riffs are punchy, but for whatever reason it didn’t resonate with me back in 2006. Listening today I get a better sense of fun, even though the lyrics on tracks like “Rise From the Ashes” are a little on the nose. But the music on Pride of the Wicked is agile and muscular in a way some of the more serious metalcore like Symphony in Peril above wasn’t, and I’m inclined to be more forgiving of its resemblance to the vast glut of releases at the time.
Verdict: YMMV, but for today I forgive its sins and grant it respite from the dusty Binder.
Torchbearer – Yersinia Pestis: Oh, give me some more of that Swedish death/thrash! This 2004 debut album from Torchbearer is just a ridiculous silly album that moves all over the map in terms of its aims, namely to write blackened death thrash about plagues, but never really settles on something that works. It doesn’t help that the production is pretty crappy, giving a crackling buzz to everything, but this is just another example of something passable but with little in the way of personality, even with that sweet-ass cover. Torchbearer would fare a little better a few years later with their second album the war-themed Warnaments (ha!), but Yersinia Pestis is a hollowed out tree of an album. That said, there’s a certain pleasure to be had in the rough-hewn work of tracks like “Sown Are the Seeds of Death” and “Dead Children, Black Rats.”
Verdict: We can keep this one safely tucked away in the binder, thank you.
Biomechanical – The Empires of the Worlds: I can imagine this came into my possession after I fell in love with Symphony X and was jonesing hard for some progressive power metal that emphasized the “metal” over the “power” part of the equation. That plus the fact the cover features a fetus against a robot fetus and I was probably sold without hearing a note. Once you actually listen you get that Symphony X epic ness by way of later Judas Priest, Queensrÿche, and early Pantera, particularly on the guitar sounds. The title track has a tone straight out of Cowboys From Hell, and it works in the context of the narrative, which I’m assuming is about the robot fetus. Biomechanical turn out to be surprisingly heavy, and The Empire of the Worlds, although suffering from some misguided rapping that almost killed the similarly themed Pain of Salvation at times, has enough interesting ideas to warrant resurrection.
Verdict: I’m feeling generous so sure…why not?!
Once again, it might be my age showing through, but I’m feeling more and more forgiving of the music I shuffled aside so many years ago. There’s nothing in this batch to equal the revelations of Gospel or Starkweather from the last batch, but there’s nothing here that’s so offensive I would toss it in the microwave to watch it snap, crackle and pop.
So one more time: do any of you recall these records? Have a different opinion than the ones I proffered? Sound off in the comments, and I guarantee there’s one more entry in this series, and I shudder to think what’s left at the back of that binder…
Everything listed here should be readily available on your preferred streaming platform with the exception of that Crematorium album, but that might not be a bad thing…