I mentioned this last week, and here is where I get started.
It’s going to take the best part of two months to post these on successive Tuesdays, but below begins my top 100 tracks of the past decade (and followed by the top 50 albums). There are very few tracks from this year in the list, simply because they may not have grabbed me enough yet. Indeed I may well revisit this list sometime and see if any more from 2009 should have made it in. But anyway, enough of that, let’s get started.
But first: you may disagree with items in this list this week and in the coming weeks, as I post the rest of it, but remember this – this is my top 100 tracks that are here for all kinds of reasons, and if you disagree, tell me what you would have put in, not what I shouldn’t have included. Part two next week.
[A final note: This was written in 2009, and aside from formatting updates to match the new website style, this is unedited.]
It’s ridiculous, over the top, and apparently created by the most unexpected source (Amon Tobin), but plainly and simply, this rules. A stupendous mash-up of a handful of Slayer anthems (ok, mainly Angel of Death and Raining Blood) and fearsome breakcore, I first heard this when a DJ played it at Infest, and we were left slack jawed by it. Needless to say, it needs some serious volume to appreciate it properly…
[Note: I thought long and hard about whether this should remain. But, I wrote about it long before the news broke of Ian Watkins and his crimes, and it will remain for the foreseeable. ASW, July 2017]
Remember when this lot were good? Yep, a long, long time ago, but back when they first broke through they were quite an interesting band, and this was their first single. It stuck out as a little different at time, was fantastically raucous fun live, and even managed to mix crunching riffs with a good sense of melody. Somehow, though, moving to a major label killed the band creatively, in my opinion, becoming another identikit emo-tinged metal band. Shame.
Sick (Destroid Has No Dignity Mix)
Evil Gets An Upgrade
The original is so-so, but Daniel Myer (Haujobb, Destroid) took it by the scruff of the neck, shook out the weak bits and armour-plated the rest. So good a remix that the original is now pretty much forgotten, although I’ll be interested to hear how the new material stacks up.
It might be unfashionable to say it nowadays, but I loved this album (and, indeed, this band’s debut). Thanks to a friendly local record shop in Leeds, I was able to get hold of this album just prior to release, and this opening track blew me away, as a unerring focus had come into their material following the chaotic debut, and I suspect Machine’s hand as producer may well have had something to do with this. Yes, it’s rap-metal, yes, it’s dated a bit, but I don’t care what some of you may say – I love it, and it pisses all over the inexplicably evergreen Bartender. Some of the rest of the album headed into uncomfortably misogynistic realms, a trend that only got worse on later albums, but just a for a while this band were enormous fun.
Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa
While many are saying the latest Behemoth album (and Demigod, for that matter), is better than this, I still really like it, I think mainly as it was where I first really paid attention to them properly. This is the first track proper, and it’s insanely fast drumming stampedes through your skull, quickly following by the grimy riffs and gnarled vocals. And then the astounding choral-based breakdown to cap it off. Poland’s best musical export? As far as I’m concerned, yes.
What was it about the year 2000? Just for a while there was a brief explosion of interesting releases in the metal world, not all of which stuck to the same old formulas. Orgy’s first album a year or two before was interesting, but the second album sounded bloody huge, and non more so than on this track – a hulking, bruising brute of electro-metal that while unashamedly commercial, was easily one of the standout tracks in the “scene” that year. Proof also that not all nu-metal, as so much got termed, was bad by any stretch.
The Workhorse Movement
Keep The Sabbath Dream Alive
Sons Of The Pioneers
A band that didn’t last long in the public eye, and are now long, long forgotten, with the possible exception of this bloody marvellous slab of stoner rock that comes with a gigantic chorus nearly matched in size by the band’s ludicrous beards. Needless to say more than a bit of a nod to the mighty Black Sabbath. Go listen to this again, and then go and request it next week at your local rock club. You know it makes sense.
Eight years on, we’re still waiting for a follow-up, and I have the feeling we may never see it. Which is possibly a good thing, as frankly they will never top this. An album that possessed ten times the rage, fury and feeling of The Fragile (NIN was always the point of reference for this band), it also had none of the self-indulgence. This track was the breathtaking opening track, a triumph of quiet and VERY FUCKING LOUD dynamics.
Velvet Acid Christ
Twisted Thought Generator
Apparently an album made under the influence of hefty quantities of MDMA, this wasn’t quite VAC’s high-water mark but he’s certainly not come close to the quality of this since. Some of the slower tracks were brilliant too on this album, but the smooth pseudo-acid trance of this track was just perfect, somehow, for clubs. A shame that since this release VAC’s output has been so infuriatingly patchy. I’ve selected the album version here, although the “Bound and Gagged” remix is also astoundingly good.
The Perfect Symmetry
Building An Empire
Until I saw these guys supporting Anathema last year, they’d passed me by, and they would continue to have done so were it not for this extraordinary track that they closed their live set with. An epic, nine-minute near-prog metal track, that takes it’s time to get going, but is worth it alone for the deliciously dark and melodic chorus, as well as the rousing climax. I really must listen to the rest of the album more, too, but this track is so good it always drags me back.
The icy-cool synthpop thrills of this group deserve to be heard well beyond the industrial-EBM-electro scene, and I’ve no doubt that they will breakthrough to the wider “mainstream” at some point. Exhibit A for why is this glorious pop tune, that took me a few listens at first, but seeing it burst into life at Infest last year sealed the deal. The new album is pretty handy, too.
The Dark Inside Me
Cause and Effect
Solitary Experiments always seemed to be unfairly maligned by press and other DJs, in my opinion – their solid EBM-electro is melodic, catchy and certainly rather more interesting than some of their contemporaries who had more success. I was initially going to put Pale Candle Light in this list, but I chose in the end this, a rather more downbeat track where the lyrics address the failing of self and how to counter one’s demons. Something that resonates a little too close to home at points, and it’s mournful melody gets me every time.
I always thought that this US band was a most odd signing for Alfa-Matrix – rather than their usual EBM-electro, here was a female-fronted electronic rock band that sounded distinctly different to their peers. While Havestar was the track that got them noticed, the album had some real gems tucked away on the second half in particular, and this was the pick. A driving, urgent vocal pulls the electronics during the verses, before a glitterstorm of a chorus that comes out of nowhere. A follow-up is finally on the horizon, too (and not before time, either). Any chance of a UK visit next time, folks?
System of A Down
SOAD were always at their best on the first album when taking on political issues (War? was a particular standout), and the same happened on the second album – this seething opener took on the “prison complex” issue in the US and the futility of the “war on drugs”. Not as radio-friendly as the singles that became ever-present, but far more coherent thanks to it’s lyrical themes and musically it’s quite simply batshit insane.
We can argue until the cows come home as to whether KMFDM’s best days are behind them or not, but there is no denying that recent album BLITZ has seen something of a return to form, and for me this track is the best thing the band have done in at least ten years. A thumping, stomping monster that is anthemic (even though it’s in Russian) and catchy, and a track this full of life certainly is unexpected coming from a band now 25 years old.
Boy Hits Car
Boy Hits Car
I forget where I first heard this – quite possibly through Rock Sound or something, but I did – and still do – love this track. Another sun-kissed, hippie-ish stoner rock band from California, they never even came close to the storming thrills of this track. They vanished for some time, and then re-appeared a year or two back, toured the UK…and I missed their opening date in Huddersfield due to other commitments. Fail.
All Long Black Spirals
Love No Longer Lives Here
Tony Young’s output up to this point had been solid if a little unspectacular, hugely atmospheric and well-constructed but a little…cold. Parts of this album were a huge step forward, in particular this – crunching guitar riffs and swaggering breaks provided a whole new dimension to the sound, and indeed this has been taken further since with the recent new album. This track however was chosen due to it being the all-important initial step in this direction (and the fact that it’s great, too).
Selbstportrait mit Kater
The album this comes from was also the album I saw them touring – one of the best gigs of my life, by the way – and was a distinctly mellow album, in the end, some way removed from the mechanical and industrial chaos of their earlier heyday. Either way, the more mellow approach worked in some ways, and in particular on this, with the calm, quiet verses bulldozed by the monstrous, industrial percussion in gleeful style. The translation of the title – Self-portrait with hangover – makes the contrast of the sounds all the more obvious as it mirrors the sound of an almighty, drink-induced headache…
Orthodox Devil Worship
In the past ten years, not a lot of Black Metal has come through that has really been a patch on the nineties heyday, but there are exceptions. Like this brutal cut, from a recent project of ex-Myrkskog member General K, which was firestorm of fury that had a fantastic clarity to the production that only exacerbated the track’s power (proof yet again that you don’t need to record BM in your garage to make it sound grim as fuck). No follow-up album ever came, I don’t think, although Encyclopaedia Metallum suggest there was an EP in 2008 that I must have missed.
Cause of Death: Suicide
Axis Of Evil
This was a hell of a shock when it arrived – an eight minute club monster that was so perfectly paced and constructed, that the eventual single edit the following year was a pale shadow of the album version. That wasn’t the real shock, though, it was a shock in that Johan Van Roy finally proved that if he put his mind to it, he could write lyrics that weren’t just poor cliches. An extraordinary burst at those who choose the “cowardice” of suicide, it set the stage for what was (and is) easily SC’s best album, particularly since lyrical themes since has descended back to the poor quality of before this.