Matt’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time: #5-#1
Posted by RiffRaff
Is it the end already?! That went faster than I thought it would. Well, it was a lot of fun actually sitting down and drawing the whole thing out and asking myself why I love these records as much as I do. While some I dug just cause they were f’n great albums, others I found I had quite a bit of history with. I loved catching up with some classics I may haven’t listened too in a while and also rediscovering some records (some of which missed the Top 100, but I’ll make an honorable mention post in due time). The other big fun I had with this list was as well as posting all of it in its glory here on Metal State I was posting entries on a Facebook forum dedicated to metal where many others were doing just the same thing. It was/is (many are still posting theirs and some other have just begun) great to talk about all these albums with many other people and also see what their lists had to offer. I have to say, my mind is inundated with a ridiculous amount of music to check out and I look forward to hearing it all. If you’re feeling like talking some metal and use Facebook you can join the group through this link. There are cool metal nerds within and some very fun metal discussions. If you don’t have FB, I’d still love to see your list so post it to your blog, write it in the comments, or send it to me through email.
Anywho, here are the final 5 entries in my Top 100. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did making it and I hope you discovered some cool new albums to check out or were inspired to revisit something you may not have spun in a while. So, without further ado, we come to the end of ‘The List’ (which I now feel slightly depressed is over, will make up for with my top cover songs list which will begin at the start of the new year). Drum roll please! Drtrtrttrrttrrttrttrtrrttrtrtrtrrttrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtr! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!!
#5 Robot Hive/Exodus by Clutch
By the time Robot Hive/Exodus was released in 2005 I was already a Clutch super-fan with every single one of their albums on heavy rotation and at least 10 shows on my belt. It seemed neigh impossible that the Appalachian rockers could get any better, but they did. Making a slight line-up change with the addition of Hammond (electric piano) player Mick Schauer, Clutch expanded their sound even further and to perfection. This album really has everything a Clutch fan could want: Camaro cruisin’ grooves, speeding headbangers, infectious hooks, killer jams, blues and gospel music infusions, and some of the best and mindboggling lyrics that Neil has ever written. I guess what really makes this album stick with me is that while there is some complexity to the album, everything is kept nice and simple. Nothing is overdone nor under and Clutch plays with so much joy it’s impossible not to get sucked into their good time. If I was able to keep a play count across all the different formats I have this record on it would rival many classic albums I’ve been listening to for years (eg. Iron Maiden). If you have yet to discover the Americana sounds of Clutch, I couldn’t recommend this record enough, just about everyone I play this record for or drag to a Clutch show becomes an instant fan and beer appears in their hands out of thin air.
#4 Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath
The diminished 5ths, the pattering rain, the drums bellowing thunder, the evil atmosphere. Ozzy’s first line “What is this that stands before” me pretty much sums up exactly how I felt the first time I heard this record. While it’s arguable that Black Sabbath created heavy metal, they were the ones who refined the sound and brought it to the masses (or black masses that is 😈 ). There is no doubt in my mind that their eponymous debut is one of the finest musical creations ever. Not only did Iommi and Co. create some truly demonic sounding songs like “Black Sabbath” and “NIB” (which doesn’t stand for Nativity In Black as popular belief will tell you, but it is the nickname of drummer Bill Ward’s beard, the source of all evil), they also knew how to let loose and have some fun as proven with “The Wizard” and “Evil Woman”. And then there’s the dark blues suite “A Bit of Finger-Sleeping Village-Warning” where the band pours their souls into the music and creates on of my favorite songs ever. If you haven’t at least listened to this record for its historical purposes you need to listen to it because it is simply an amazing, trailblazing album.
Another thing that fascinates me about this record is how many close-minded people assumed that Black Sabbath were about promoting Satan and their songs were written to intentionally imbue the listener with demonic possessions, where instead the lyrics of the record promote the good. For example, the song “NIB” tells the tale of Satan falling in love and becoming a good person and “Black Sabbath” recounts the horror of going to Hell. Black Sabbath, also the fathers of Faith Metal. Something something book covers…
#3 Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory by Dream Theater
From the ticking of the clock during the opening seconds to the fade-to-static ending, every single millisecond of this record screams prog rock perfection. I dare not go into every minute detail that makes SFAM such a masterpiece in not just prog, but in the whole realm of music, but I will say that the boys in DT were sure paying attention to every inch of music when recording this album. Given, there is the usual top-notch musicianship DT are known for, but where that excels on this record is the sheer amount of heart that goes into their performances this time around. When John Petrucci plays a solo his electric energy makes every hair stand at attention, when Mike Portnoy bashes away at his drums his wicked black magic possess every muscle to get your whole body into the music. John Myung not only helps sand down the frameworks, but also add a fullness to the music that is rarely heard nowadays. James LaBrie’s voice is also in top-notch on this record as he gives his best vocal performance to date singing with conviction behind every syllable that reverberates from his vocal chords. And the newcomer for this album, keyboardist Jordan Rudress, quickly proves not only that he is the best for the job, but truly belongs with the band as he gels with them perfectly. Musically, simply outstanding. But, what sends this record over the edge for me and grants it entry into the Top 3 is the narrative that they conjured up.
Told in multiple acts bouncing between 1928 and present day America DT weaves a tale of love, betrayal, murder, and suicide with plenty of twists that has kept fans of the record analyzing the story to this day, 14 years after its release. While it may sound like a typical ‘Murder She Wrote’ episode on paper, the way that DT unfolds the tale is unlike any murder/mystery I’ve seen/read/listened to. The lyrics unveil the story through both character perspectives and through dream sequences. And beyond the lyrics, every note of music works to play into the story creating a listening experience unlike anything out there.
I cannot recommend SFAM highly enough. It breaks barriers as to what music can do and also serves a great experience on single song basis. In the days leading up to posting this entry I must have listened to this record a dozen times and each time is just as engaging as the first time I ran to my car from the record store doors on release day to give it a first spin.
#2 Mr. Bungle by Mr. Bungle
Clowns, crude humor, intelligent lyrics, fornication with food products, funk, metal, fapping, jazz, circus music, asses on fire, portraits of insanity. Really, what more could you want of an album? Being an CD I bought mainly because I thought the cover looked cool (I had no idea that musical madman Mike Patton was spear-heading this project), Mr. Bungle’s eponymous debut album blew my mind and then reassembled it in the most twisted manner possible. Based around a theme of drunken psychotic clowns, this record introduced me to the world of avant-garde music and ultimately worked to really broaden my horizons on what could be done in music. And while every single track on Mr. Bungle absolutely f’d up beyond belief, there remains a flow and semblance of structure that keeps making me return to the album after ~18 years of it sitting in my record collection.
I love how the music can be completely evil, dark, and sinister at one moment and then make a quick transition to bouncy and happy sounds. The contrast makes the darkness so much scary. Think of a clown brutally bludgeoning someone with the blunt end of a whiskey bottle and when his victim is nearly at the edge of death the man of motley dashes the bottle over his victims head breaking the bottle in two. Then using the jagged edges of glass he starts to have some real fun breaking into joyous laughter while dancing a jig as he cuts the viscera from his victim. The real fun starts when he then starts inflating his now unrecognizable victim’s intestines like balloons and making balloon-animals out of them and hands them to the horrified onlooking children that he forced to watch ‘something really funny’. Ya, if you’re a victim of coulrophobia you may want to pass on this record, all else be prepared for on wild ride.
I think some of my friends think I have some kind of mental disorder for enjoying this album as much as I do. Some of my favorite Mr. Bungle uses are/were testing the limits of new friends by inviting them for a ride in my van (a Ford Econoline covered in rust, metal band stickers, and goofy paintings which had a distinct look of a rape-van that John Wayne Gacy would drive around if he were a metalhead) and blasting this record at full volume out of my 15′ speaker sound system. If you didn’t run for your life, actually hung out with me again, or even better enjoyed the album, you were alright. I also liked to drive said rape-van around Seaside Heights (see: the place where Jersey Shore was filmed) with my buddies blasting this album and slowly roll along next to drunk juiceheads and laugh at them and furiously headbang during circus music parts. Ahhh, memories. For more more on this topic and some kind of review, check this post out.
So, anyway, I love this record and you should check it out if you’re in the mood for something ‘different’, like disgusting jokes, and want to hear some music that is surprisingly well executed and written for how fucked up it is.
#1 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden
As big of an Iron Maiden fan that I am, I do have to admit on all of their albums there is a song or two that doesn’t quite live up the high standards that they have set for themselves. While this filler track or two doesn’t necessarily suck, it doesn’t stand out. Luckily all the other songs on their albums are so strong that these ‘meh’ tracks are easily overlooked and don’t mar otherwise amazing records. But there is one Iron Maiden record that I consider absolutely flawless. Not only just living up to the Maiden standards, but far exceeding anything they have written before and after by miles. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is not only the best Iron Maiden album money can buy, but it is also the best metal album available, and, what the hell, the best 44 minutes of music ever committed to tape, vinyl, CD, 8-track, MP3, FLAC, or what ever. Ya hear that Beethoven?!
Just pop this record in and instantly you will be transported to a realm of metal that only Iron Maiden can provide. “7 Deadly sins, 7 ways to win, 7 holy paths to Hell and your trip begins. 7 Downward slopes, 7 bloodied hopes, 7 are your burning fires, 7 your desires” Cue in the instantly memorable synthesizer intro and prepare for one hell of a journey through the world of 7. Seriously, no album intro gets me as hyped up for listening to a record quite like “Moonchild” does. And when the song delivers on every possible plane a of thing awesomeness can be delivered on, I am a happy metal head.
Not being content with just releasing yet another great record of Maiden tunes, Steve, Bruce, and Co. take the sound that they established and pushed its boundaries as far as they could be pushed. Adding a heavier prog rock style to 7th Son and the concept of the number 7 in folklore (in particular the myth that Satan is the 7th son of a 7th son), this record contains Maiden’s most unique and best work. Even though they are pushing personal boundaries, they also retain that classic Maiden sound so fans get the best of both worlds. Seriously, every track on the album is my favorite track ever, especially “Infinite Dreams” (so I guess you could call it my favoritist favorite Maiden song). I could easily go on a track-by-track gush-fest but I’ll spare you all the messy cleanup. Just know there is nothing close to a dull moment on this whole record as it takes you through a diverse myriad of metalriffic soundscapes.
The artwork of the album is also of note, making the whole package more perfect. Derrick Riggs puts forth his best Eddie work to date with such an awesome and surreal package of artwork it’s impossible not to have his images tattooed on your mind (in my case, tattooed on my skin also).
Simply put, in my opinion, this is the best album ever written and after having in my collection since release date (1988) and not even once come close to tiring of it, the test of time proves that it will remain so for a long, long time to come. Up The Irons!!! Scream For Me Metal State!!!!!!!!!
About RiffRaffJust takin' it easy for all you sinners.
Posted on November 20, 2012, in Matt's Top 100 Albums and tagged Best Albums, Best Metal Album Ever, black sabbath, Clutch, Dream Theater, iron maiden, metal, Mr. Bungle, Music, Robot Hive/Exodus, Rock, Scenes From A Memory, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Top 100. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.