Three Shades of Metal*

Posted: July 9, 2013 in metal endorsements

Megadeth: Killing is My Business … and Business is Good!
This is a time machine of American heavy metal. No matter who and how old you are, by listening to this album, you will be delivered to LA in 1983. You will be sixteen and male. You will have long hair and tight jeans. You will be ready for the pit. This is not dark music. It is fast and loud. It is immature fun. The lyrics involve comic book heroes, Monty Python rabbits, and the sexual fantasies of a gas station attendant. Still, you get a hint of Megadeth’s potential. In particular, Dave Mustaine shows himself to be an undisciplined prodigy on the guitar. That discipline would come, but not yet. It’s 83. Enjoy yourself.

Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Maiden offers a different version of heavy metal. For me, this album marked the end of their Golden Era, which includes four albums (this one, Somewhere in Time, Powerslave, and Piece of Mind). I’m almost certainly wrong about this, but I believe it’s the first fully-fledged metal concept album. It is the complete though not exactly flawless story of a doomed prophet and his doomed people. Where Megadeth offers low-end riffs, solos out of nowhere, and pure speed, Maiden offers harmonized guitars, operatic singing, and attention to detail. Each song is a composition, as is the album.

Ash Borer: Cold of Ages
These guys have a fraction of the track record of Maiden and Megadeth. They have a fraction of that fraction’s rep. They’ve put out a couple of albums and LPs, but they’re representative of the best of metal today. The songs are much longer and much darker. They offer no lyrics, just guttural screams. They depend upon a reverb/distortive quality that reminds me, really, of Sonic Youth. No guitar solos. They do not play mosh songs. They do not tell stories. I kind of wish I could still stay awake till two in the morning, alone with a quart of Mickey’s Ice, just to see what they sound like then. I mean, they just seem designed for lonely insomniacs. Still, I find Ash Borer interesting. They’re finding new sounds, new ways of being metal. Thank God. I don’t always want ’83.

*If you’re looking for more genre specific adjectives like “speed,” “thrash,” “black,” or “postapocalyptic-post-rock-avant-black-atmostpheric” heavy metal, you’ve found the wrong blog.

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