Saturday, May 24, 2014

Killer Obscure Bands Promotion!

Let's talk music for once. I'd like to bring up some killer but unfortunately, relatively unknown 80-90-2000s bands in order to, well, introduce and/or promote them to you! We're mostly talking Thrash, Progressive and Power Metal here. Jag Panzer
Probably, one of my favorite power metal bands ever. They had a long and troubled history, with lots of changing members and crappy albums, but when they got strong lineups, man they gave out a show. Their early style is raw and angry brand of speed/power metal, bordering thrash at times, while the later efforts are more restrained and progressive. Also, they have one hard rock album and one groovy one, both with non-canon singers.
Best album IMO: Ample Destruction

Fifth Angel
Sadly disbanded now, these guys from Seattle have managed to record two excellent albums in the 80s, led by a talented guitarist James Byrd. Their style is traditional heavy metal at its finest, with the best parts of the first album ('Fifth Angel') being about the fast-paced songs. On 'Time Will Tell', the speed metal element is almost gone, but it lives up to predecessor's quality anyway.
Best album IMO: Fifth Angel

Voivod
One of my all-time favorite bands, if not the one. These nuclear physicists from Canada had it all: conceptual lyrics that flowed like sci-fi stories, incredibly stylish cover arts, 8 minute long songs, lots of technical, progressive and even psychedelic influences. They started off as a garage thrash band, then switched to progressive metal, then to psychedelic hard rock, then to industrial, and the metamorphosis goes on, sadly darkened by the passing of their guitarist and main composer Denis 'Piggy' D'Amor. Still, their 6 early albums are a must listen.
Best album IMO: Dimension Hatross

Dark Angel
This band made me forget about Slayer's 'Reign In Blood'. They played a more traditional metal alloy back in the day, but some of the characteristics I gave to Voivod can be applied to them as well: ultra-long songs (246 riffs on their 4th and last album!), lengthy and complex lyrics written by then-unknown Gene Hoglan who also provided annihilating drumwork and a few years ago even received an email of gratitude from yours truly, read it and even replied! Overall, it's easily the most brutal and destructive band of the 80s - there's a reason fans call them Dark Fucking Angel.
Best album IMO: Darkness Descends

Twisted Tower Dire
I've found out about these guys only recently, and it was one album only, but it blew me away! Seriously, one of the best new heavy metal bands out there, and unlike some of the referenced above, they need your love and promotion RIGHT NOW!
Best album IMO: Crest Of The Martyrs

Vio-Lence
This band nowadays is mostly remembered for providing 3/5 of Machine Head, including Robb Flynn. As any well respected thrash band of the 80s, they tried their best to be the loudest, the heaviest, the angriest, and their effort didn't go unnoticed, as their first albums and EP are considered the genre's gold, with their lengthy songs and punk rock vocal approach from Sean Killian.
Best album IMO: Eternal Nightmare

Forbidden
Again, this band is kept from obscurity by the memebers' future careers, particularly Paul Bostaph, who of course is one of the most demanded thrash metal drummers, providing his artillery for Slayer and Testament among others. And similar to Vio-Lence, Forbidden's best albums happen to be the first two, combining speed, aggression and high technical abilities. Surprisingly, they have managed to reunite and even put up a new album quite recently!
Best album IMO: Forbidden Evil

Sacred Reich
Alright, I will be thick-skinned and biased about them. I don't like any of their albums except 'Ignorance' and the 'Surf Nicaragua' EP, and I'm convinced that a string of weird stylistic decisions was what led the band to demise. Oh well, at least 'Ignorance' and 'Surf Nicaragua' are still there, regarded among the tharsh/speed metal's finest hours. I'd also like to note the interesting political lyrics on both.
Best album IMO: Ignorance

Nuclear Assault
This is an offspring of Anthrax's Danny Lilker and his friends, who inherited the punk approach of Anthrax and sped it up to unbelievable cycles for the time. Another sign of punk heritage were the straightforward politically correct lyrics, aimed at everything that was bad in the world and, surprisingly, still is. The music may be more 'lightweight' than other bands of the era, but the energy and speed compensate that by a mile. Their last album was released in 2005, after which they sadly disbanded. Hopefully, we'll hear from them again sometime soon!
Best album IMO: Game Over

Agent Steel
From politics to sci-fi! These LA thrashers are still doing well and kick as much (if not more) ass as they were in the 80s. Rumor had it, they were one of the first metal bands to sing about UFOs visiting the Ancient Egypt and yadda yadda, but what I know for sure is that their 80s albums are quintessential speed/thrash in its most raw and unpussified fashion. When they reunited in 1998, they updated the style, making it heavier and groovier, yet retaining the speed and battering power. That's what I especially like about them - all their albums are different yet awesome for their own reasons!
Best album IMO: Omega Conspiracy

Scanner
This band is an offspring of German 80s power metal craze ignited by Helloween. Led by the guitarist Axel Julius, they took an interesting approach with making all their odd-numbered albums conceptual and actually sounding not really like Gamma Ray or, say, Blind Guardian, with all the samples and technical elements. Haven't heard their last album, 'Scantropolis', but they say it is unlike anything they've put up before, combining progressive rock and female vocals (?). Oh well, at least their early stuff is some of the best in German power metal.
Best album IMO: Hypertrace

Iron Angel
Another kick-ass speed/power band from Germany, only a little more evil and blunt this time. Their style is a perfect mixture of Kreator and Running Wild, so I can't even imagine what can be unlikeable about it! Their album covers are pretty funny, too, especially 'Winds Of War'. A few years ago Iron Angel actually tried a reunion and even released a couple of archived live records, but sadly, after the 'Back To Hell' demo the project fell apart again. Still, would be awesome if they solve all the lineup troubles and put up a third record no weaker than 'Hellish Crossfire'!
Best album IMO: Hellish Crossfire

Angel Dust
The last band for now, it may be one of my all-time favorites from the whole German power metal scene. Somewhat similar to Agent Steel, they've recorded a couple of cool albums in the 80s and fell apart to reunite in the 90s and completely change their style, bringing more groove and doom metal elements with slower songs, large amount of keyboards and sad gloomy atmosphere, which owes a lot to Dirk Thurisch and his awesome vocals. I think this band, especially their 90s stuff, would be a good listen to the Gothic rock/metal fans out there for their heartbreaking sadness mixed with all the metal brutality.
Best album IMO: Enlighten The Darkness