George Psalmanazar submitted a few reviews of albums he vehemently despises to Death Metal Underground. Enjoy!
Angel Witch – Angel Witch (1980)
Angel Witch followed the path of so many other metal bands: excellent demos lead to a spotty album with some great highlights that didn’t sell particularly well and the band broke up. Angel Witch at their best combined heavy metal riffs and a 70s hard rock rhythm section with sweep picked guitar virtuosity in energetic songs. Unfortunately Angel Witch‘s slick production aimed for commerciality and inserted tons of vocal-driven hard rock songs for a potential arena rock audience that never materialized amongst the earlier, excellent material that appeared on demos and singles. These rock songs make Diamond Head‘s “Sucking My Love” and Witchfinder General‘s “No Stayer” seem like profound works of Schopenhaurean genius. Angel Witch’s vocal-driven lite rock blunders are more Peter Frampton than Black Sabbath. The only worthwhile new composition was the excellent speed metal “Angel of Death” that was heavily influential to Metallica. Overall Angel Witch just isn’t a very worthwhile album unless you buy the 2x CD reissue with the demos, singles, and live bonus tracks. The rare Sinister History anthology is a better release containing the entire 1978 demo and even more live tracks. Angel Witch, like so many New Wave of British Heavy Metal albums, simply has too many failed overtures to a radio pop rock audience to function as an entire work.
Judas Priest – British Steel (1980)
After culminating their heavy metal career with Stained Class and the excellent Unleashed in the East live album, Judas Priest still were not wealthy rock stars playing stadiums after dressing up like homosexual bondage slaves on the semi-sell-out, half pop rock album, Killing Machine / Hellbent for Leather, which still had a few great songs like “Running Wild“. Another opportunity arose when cable television was slowly becoming more popular and MTV became something to have on in the background. For music videos, a catchy three to five second jingle embeds best deep in the brains of idiots. On British Steel, Judas Priest condensed themselves all of their rock and metal influences into radio pop; Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Motorhead, and The Scorpions became background music for commercials and commuting. “Breaking the Law” riffs more new wave than heavy metal. The lyrics accordingly changed from heavy metal virtus to Wonder Bread Bruce Springsteen anthems. British Steel paved the way for MTV to breakdown what the shills claimed to be music into three to five second rhythmic synthesized drum beats with rap later in the decade. The best thing to come out of British Steel was a punchline to Beavis & Butt-head sketches:
Manilla Road – The Deluge (1986)
Generic speed metal with vocals performed by a someone on beta blockers at a bar & grill karaoke night. All of the riffs and leads are generic heavy metal ones used to create the type of lame fantasy world that would be present in mediocre paperbacks such as Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. This is when Manilla Road feel like playing heavy metal; interspersed throughout the album are songs with glam metal power ballad parts of the type played by commercialized speed metal acts Metal Church and Testament. These are there solely to appeal who watched Led Zeppelin’s awful The Song Remains the Same film high, found it mind-blowing, and developed an interest in historical fencing. Otherwise influences from Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Judas Priest, and Metallica are used to construct rocking sing-alongs for teenagers’ Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games. Many riffs and vocal melodies are recycled from the prior album Crystal Logic. The Deluge is a record for overweight, fedora-wearing renaissance fairy neckbeards wearing leather corsets over Seinfeld pirate shirts to drink mead to while watching drunk Rip Torn fall over himself in Beastmaster.
Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane (1995)
On The Somberlain, Dissection successfully shoehorned riffing reminiscent of Emperor‘s lead work into Iron Maiden style songs. Storm of the Light’s Bane was Dissection Nuclear Blasted into outer space for a more mainstream audience just as Wolverine Blues, Domination, Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious, and Massive Killing Capacity were. After a brief intro, “Night’s Blood” surges forth and despite the unnecessary bridge is the peak of the album with its New Wave of British Heavy Metal guitar harmonies. Yes, all of the songs on Storm of the Light’s Bane are verse-chorus-verse rock formations. Storm of the Light’s Bane then falls on its smug, sell-out face. Bouncy rhythms in the riffs are tailored for jumping up and down and moshing and sappy over-emotional leads perfect for those hopped on the black metal bandwagon from Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion to play air guitar to. The riffing was again bowdlerized Emperor with David Parland‘s on Necrophobic‘s The Nocturnal Silence being a new influence. Dissection even added in a power ballad for anyone in a battle jacket who wanted to show Steve Perry their lighter. Lyrical themes revolving around The Temple of the Black Light cult provided an unthreatening, non-denominational evil for the funderground to adopt despite a few mentally unstable persons sacrificing stray cats and homosexuals. Ridiculous anti-cosmic gods don’t put yuppies off as much as imagining the Pope on the end of a rope or wanting to send the world back to the Dark Ages you know. The funderground and bar crowd worships Storm of the Light’s Bane as it was targeted toward them: Dissection were a wannabe Queensryche closer to Opeth and Pantera than they were to Alf Svensson’s At the Gates.
Amon Amarth – Once Sent from the Golden Hall (1998)
Amon Amarth take inspiration from Kreator and post-Alf Svensson At the Gates – Slaughter of the Soul to become the arena rock version of Gothenburg metal. At the Gates broke up after Slaughter of the Soul and In Flames songs had those nu-“metal”-like awful harsh-clean verse-chorus dichotomies that can cut a drunk German in a power metal shirt’s party time short faster than heat stroke. Amon Amarth fixed this with standard, verse-chorus-verse rocking singalongs to provide a safe-space version of Viking beer hall metal as of course Unleashed‘s fusion of actual death metal and NWOBHM gallops was way too musically threatening. Listening to Once Sent from the Golden Hall is like watching a bowdlerized Saturday morning cartoon version of a 1980s action movie. Amon Amarth is GI Joe core.