Archive for the Perfect Tens Category

Classic Album Review – King Diamond “Abigail” 1987

Posted in Album Reviews, Perfect Tens with tags , , , , on September 5, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  People who were already into Mercyful Fate or had heard Fatal Portrait might have had some advance warning, but the rest of the world was unprepared for the beautifully weird Abigail. Helmed by King Diamond, he of the KISS-angering makeup and laserlike falsetto, this concept album fires on all cylinders and marks a particular moment in metal history.

LaVeyan.

Litigious.

Abigail tells a story of cruelty, infidelity and supernatural revenge so potent that it  pisses on Twilight from space, but lest you think that it’s all Grand Guignol smoke and mirrors, rest assured that there is a bedrock of serious classic metal underlying the whole affair. Every solo is letter-perfect, the riffs are heavy and plentiful, and the drumming is of a calibre that may have gained Mikkey Dee his steady job. For the curious seeking proof-of-awesomeness, look no further than “The Family Ghost”, a tour-de-force featuring King doing all the voices in the narrative,  as well as some impressive guitar work from Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner:

Those unafraid of epaulettes and blurry 80’s camera work can see the official video here.

All in all, Abigail is massive metal that builds on the foundation of Mercyful Fate and stands as a pillar of serious musicianship. It’s the perfect, quintessential King Diamond record. 10 out of 10 

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Classic Album Review – Godflesh “Selfless” 1994

Posted in Album Reviews, Perfect Tens with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Selfless occupies a sweet spot between Godflesh’s sludge industrial and drum ‘n bass periods, and it contains an embarrassment of riches. “Xnoybis” sounds like a child’s pot-and-pan marching band as interpreted by construction machinery, “Crush My Soul” is as infectious as it is twitchy, and “Anything is Mine” is still a perennial contender for Heaviest Riff Ever Made. Don’t believe me? Here it is:

All this is capped off with “Go Spread Your Wings”, a mammoth dirge of terrifying empty landscapes containing nothing but a Hitchcockian level of dread.

It’s obvious what charms this album had for a younger me, what with its bottomless pit of nihilism and whalloping sound, but it wasn’t until very recently that I figured out the secret at the dark heart of Selfless: It’s a stoner rock record.

Sure, it’s what stoner rock would sound like if Stanley Kubrick got hold of it. The guitars hold no fuzzy warmth, only loose-stringed snarl, but the riff-based construction and reliance on trance-like repetition are tried and tested weapons of the druggy doom set. And I think that’s the real magic of what Selfless did for us back in 1994, it showed us a new way to be heavy. Heavy didn’t have to be bombastic, it could also bleak, or trippy, or even uplifting (Justin Broadrick’s post-Godflesh project Jesu leans even further in this direction, creating almost worshipful sounds from the same instrumentation).

Selfless is truly a special record. Do yourself a favour and give it a listen, and if you come across the accompanying EP Merciless, so much the better. It is also a work of genius, but for me pride of place must go to Selfless for making an album-length statement of earth-shattering heaviness. 10 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Nomeansno “Wrong” 1989

Posted in Album Reviews, Perfect Tens with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  There is no end to the good this record can do with its mystery. Is it Prog-punk? Art metal? Industrial jazz? It could be all or none of these things and it would still demand attention – Wrong is a heady brew which is granted power through its own  indeterminacy, and demands repeat listens to plumb the depths of its dark heart.

Working as a three-piece at this point in their career, Nomeansno would draw inevitable comparisons to a certain other megalithic Canadian power trio. To be sure, there are jazzy, virtuoso bass licks and complicated time-changes galore to be had here, and being the Rush of punk isn’t a bad mantle to wear, but the influences run towards the raw and bleeding on Wrong. Tracks like openers “It’s Catching Up” and “The Tower” snarl their way through the angry territories traditionally occupied by Big Black, and tour-de-force “Rags and Bones” marries whimsy to heartbreak in ways that would garner approval from fans of both Tom Waits and REM.

Nomeansno, by channeling all this existential dread and forcing it to contend with an exuberant, almost joyful delivery have created a timeless and genreless classic. Great records have come before and after (some of them by Nomeansno!) but Wrong is the unforgettable flag planted as the expedition reaches a new summit. If you’ve heard it, you likely understand. If you haven’t, do yourself a favour. 10 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Ministry “The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste” 1989

Posted in Album Reviews, Perfect Tens with tags , , , on February 6, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  In 1989 Ministry were at their height of their powers. The band’s live show swelled to a dozen personnel including two drum kits and three vocalists working together in an industrial bacchanal of cross-pollination. Mind/Taste is the studio document of that time, a near-perfect collection of everything that Ministry has going for it. 

 By rejecting the guitarist-as-architect ethos, Ministry first proved what famous frenemy Trent Reznor would take to the next level: that the big noise wants to be made, and it’s not only loyal to the five-piece rock band in the tour bus – it’s just as happy escaping into the world through the push of a sequencer’s button.  Don’t let me mislead you (if by a very long chance you aren’t familiar with The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste), this is a metal record, and in many ways a more elegant and richer rock document than their later riff-addicted speed racers. The seething political indictments have just the right amount of inspecificity to keep the record timeless without losing the raw anger. That’s the real success here – the ability of the material to hold up through the years coupled with massive cross-over appeal. If it’s a genre or scene remotely concerned with giving society the finger, this record has its hooks in it. 

Legendary moshpit openers “Thieves” and “Burning Inside” open the gates wide for us to enter the party and mingle. Taking a tour of the premises, you can find Chris Connelly holding court in the kitchen, Ogre making a mess in the living room, some K. Lite rap happenings on the patio and an all-star drunken singalong with everyone piled in the bathtub and Bill Rieflin banging on the radiator. Into every room, interrupting everyone, filling glasses and demanding to know your fun-status come charging our hosts Luxa and Pan. Once they’ve determined you’ve had enough, they gently ask you make sure everything’s OK with your sleeping buddies in the chill-out room before you go. It’s an evening well spent.

Although largely predicated on the contributions of its guest artists, Mind/Taste should earn some praise for Ministry themselves. After all, theirs was the party everyone wanted to be at. It was the right record at the right time, before the scene split to its sludge and coldwave opposite poles, meaning than anyone could claim this Back in Black of industrial records as their own. 10 out of 10

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