Rock & Metal: Just Hear It Out (Part 3 of 3)

This is it. The final part has arrived. For everyone that has made it this far, I applaud and respect you. But be warned – this hurdle will be the fiercest and most intense of the lot. In Part 1, I suggested some softer takes on the Hard Rock genre. In Part 2, I threw in some bands that ventured into the Metal side of the spectrum. But this is what it all comes down to. If you can safely admit that you like some of the bands from today’s list, you can proudly call yourself a metalhead and look forward many years of head banging.

But after every band that I’ve suggested for this series, one question might have been lingering on your mind throughout: Why should I listen to Rock & Metal? Why should I spend my time listening to music that people seem to just turn their nose up to upon hearing? It’s a fair enough question. That’s why I’ve thought my answer through with careful consideration. All in all, I have three good reasons why you should listen to Rock & Metal:

Firstly, you’re spoilt for choice. From the exposure I’ve had to the various music genres out there, I can tell you with confidence that Rock & Metal is by far the most diverse. When I say diverse, I mean that there are countless sub-genres you can explore. You could spend your lifetime scouring the musical landscape for every band you might like, but you’ll never find them all. Believe me, I’ve tried. There are just so many different types of bands out there, ranging from Industrial and Nu-Metal to Progressive Rock. It’s a world rich with variety – and today’s list is testament to that.

Secondly, it can be an effective outlet. I watched an interesting YouTube video back along, where elders were asked to view clips of a Slipknot concert, before sharing their opinions about what they saw. A point was raised in the video, suggesting that bands like Slipknot express feelings of hatred and violence in their songs, and are therefore partially to blame when violent crimes are committed. Many of the participants agreed with this, saying that the music somehow warps weak-minded people into doing horrible things. But a few of the elders didn’t. One in particular made the following point: “There’s no connection between these things. It’s an outlet. It takes care of that.” [1] And he’s absolutely right. Just because a song is about violence, doesn’t mean the person listening to it has a violent personality. In fact, most of the time, it’s quite the opposite. Some of the most enthusiastic, outgoing and friendly people I’ve ever encountered have been Rock & Metal fans. Even the most level-headed individual can bottle up feelings – but this genre gives you freedom to vent those feelings and focus on your daily life with one less distraction.

Lastly, there’s nothing else like it. Of all the things I’ve experienced – from practising TaeKwondo to watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the cinema – Rock & Metal is what gets me excited the most. It has become such an unexpected joy that I can barely remember a time when it wasn’t a part of my life. It keeps me motivated when I’m writing. It brings people together. And it reassures me that no matter what other people think, I can always be myself. That’s the true spirit of Rock & Metal. That’s what makes it so worthwhile.

Right, then. Now that the sentiments are out the way, let’s commence the third and final list of the series. Once again, I am going to present you with 15 bands that I think you should go away and listen to. Because if you like them, you’ll go on to enjoy many, many more. Let’s jump in …

(FYI: Sorry, but as with the previous lists, only bands that have toured in the last ten years are eligible for consideration.)

 

Motörhead

Suggested Album(s): Ace Of Spades (1980), Aftershock (2013), Overkill (1979), Motörizer (2008), Bastards (1993)

On 28th December 2015, the world lost one of its greatest icons. After battling aggressive cancer, Lemmy Kilmister – frontman for Motörhead and all-round legend – died in his home. This was a sorrowful day for everyone who knew him. Fortunately, there’s at least one silver lining to this tragedy: Lemmy and his fellow band members have left behind a legacy of Rock ‘n Roll brilliance for us to remember him by. Motörhead’s best record by far is Ace Of Spades. You need only to listen to it to see why. But Motörhead have over twenty studio albums to experience. Bastards features the outstanding On Your Feet Or On Your Knees; Motörizer gives us Runaround Man and Rock Out; and Aftershock is a sheer rollercoaster of an album all the way through, with tracks like Paralyzed, Coup De Grace and Heartbreaker. But my favourite Motörhead song of all time has to be Overkill. It’s loud. It’s unstoppable. It’s utterly flawless. And we have Lemmy to thank for it. Rest in peace, you awesome man.

 

Bring Me The Horizon

Suggested Album(s): That’s The Spirit (2015), Sempiternal (2013)

If you’re familiar with the latest work from Oli Sykes and the rest of Bring Me The Horizon, you may be surprised to find them on this list. That’s The Spirit, while being a decent album in its own right, isn’t exactly heavy by Metal standards. But that’s partly the reason I’ve chosen to include them here; because if you took That’s The Spirit and compared it to an earlier album of theirs (say Suicide Season), you’d barely recognise them as the same band. Even though they’ve always been an experimental group, it’s baffling to contemplate how they’ve gone from writing some of the heaviest music out there to becoming what’s essentially a pretty-boy punk band. Yet this monolithic jump presents new audiences a great opportunity. Here’s my suggestion: listen to That’s The Spirit before any other Bring Me The Horizon record. Get to know all the different songs, like Drown, Throne, Happy Song, Avalanche and Doomed. If you take a liking, then move onto Sempiternal.  For me, this album has some of the band’s greatest and most hard-hitting efforts. Can You Feel My Heart and Sleepwalking make it more accessible. But then you also have fiercer numbers like Shadow Moses, Empire (Let Them Sing) and The House Of Wolves. Maybe one day, you’ll develop a taste for this northern band’s earlier music. If that day does come around, then their 2010 album would be the logical next step. But for now, stick to these two.

 

Alestorm

Suggested Album(s): Sunset On The Golden Age (2014), Back Through Time (2011), Captain Morgan’s Revenge (2008), Black Sails At Midnight (2009)

Pirate Metal. Yes, it’s a thing – and it’s a barrel-full of fun. If anything is going to make you feel like Jack Sparrow on an epic quest, it’s this. Alestorm have single-handedly brought this wild-hearted movement into the limelight and with four respectable albums now in their discography, they continue to dish out great, swashbuckling numbers for a widespread and somewhat intoxicated fan base. Back Through Time delivers favourites like Shipwrecked, Rum and The Sunk’n Norwegian; while Black Sails At Midnight treats audiences to one of the best sing-along choruses of all time thanks to Keelhauled. Then there’s Wenches And Mead and the title track from the group’s hearty first album, Captain Morgan’s Revenge. The greatest treasure Alestorm have given us, however, is Sunset On The Golden Age. There are so many great songs, like Drink, Surf Squid Warfare, 1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena), Walk The Plank and even an oddly applicable cover of Taio Cruz’s Hangover. Random, I know. But you’ll grow to love it, just like everything else about this whimsical band.

 

Bullet For My Valentine

Suggested Album(s): Fever (2010), Venom (2015), The Poison (2005)

Back in the day, Bullet For My Valentine were on course to becoming one of the most popular Metal bands around. They could have secured a top festival slot without a hitch. Lately, this doesn’t seem to be the case; which is a shame, because the group’s most recent record, Venom is REALLY good. Matthew Tuck’s lead vocals are polished to perfection, when the more aggressive back-up vocals from lead guitarist Michael Taget hit harder than ever before. This is demonstrated most effectively in the likes of No Way Out, Broken and You Want A Battle, Here’s a War. Meanwhile, a journey through earlier albums such as Fever will reveal that Bullet were a force to be reckoned with. The Last Fight, Your Betrayal and Dignity get the hearts of fans truly racing. With regards to the band’s first effort, The Poison – although I’m not a fan of Tuck’s delivery – Tears Don’t Fall and Her Voice Resides are absolute bangers. Overall, if you’re new to screaming in your music, Bullet For My Valentine might well be the ideal band to ease you into it – as they can offer you the ideal balance of both the rough and melodic approaches.

 

Linkin Park

Suggested Album(s): Meteora (2003), Minutes To Midnight (2007), Hybrid Theory (2000), Living Things (2012)

As was the case with many teenagers, Linkin Park were one of the first ‘Metal’ bands I ever grew to like. They may well be a bunch of privileged white fellas making music about pain and suffering (come on, guys –  appreciate what you have), but there’s just something about what they do that resonates. Whether you prefer the earlier, angrier stuff from Hybrid Theory, or the more electronic sound of later albums like Living Things, it’s clear to see why they’ve become so popular. Chester Bennington’s signature scream thrives with Mike Shinoda’s clear-cut rapping, forming a Nu-Metal trend unlike any other. Stand out tracks include Numb and Faint from Meteora; Bleed It Out and What I’ve Done from Minutes To Midnight; One Step Closer and In The End from Hybrid Theory; and Lost In The Echo and Burn It Down from Living Things. These are, for the most part, some of Linkin Park’s heavier efforts. Yet every so often, they do show off their softer side. This is revealed in ballads such as Valentine’s Day and Castle Of Glass. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Linkin Park have nevertheless earned their place. Give them a try.

 

Wilson

Suggested Album(s): Full Blast Fuckery (2014), Right To Rise (2015)

“Here’s one we wrote earlier,” claims Chad Nicefield, lead singer of Wilson, before right jumping into AC/DC’s Back In Black. Just one example of the excessive and bonkers nature this band fosters. Yet, for a wholesome taste of the kind of music you can expect from Wilson, you need look no further than the name of their 2013 record: Full Blast Fuckery. The album jumpstarts with the animosity of My Life, My Grave, and is followed by equally fast numbers like Better Off (Strictly Doods), College Gangbang and I Can Beat Your Dad. The whole thing is unhinged and all-over-the-place, but is so much fun to listen to. Their next album, Right To Rise, opts for an alternative, more sophisticated sound. It sports a catchy title track, which is then accompanied by Hang With The Devil, Guilty (You’re Already Dead) and the calmer, chanting throes of The Flood. A lesser known band, certainly – but incredible nonetheless.

 

Skindred

Suggested Album(s): Roots Rock Riot (2007), Kill The Power (2014), Union Black (2011)

This is no exaggeration: Skindred are one of the best live Metal bands touring today. On every occasion they have blown competition out the water and wowed unprepared audiences everywhere. With the reggae-style vocals of Benji Webbe (who’s actually Welsh) paving the way, Skindred manage to create a sound unheard of in the Rock & Metal community. And boy, does it make an impact. Roots Rock Riot is about as uncaged as an album can get – tearing into our eardrums with the likes of Ratrace, State Of Emergency, Destroy The Dancefloor and Trouble. Kill The Power, on the other hand, sports a killer title track, plus Ninja and Proceed With Caution. If, however, you wish to experience the catalyst for the infamous Newport Helicopter (type it into YouTube), then you better give Warning a listen. It’s arguably the band’s best song (at least from the Union Black track list) and is a treat to see first-hand in a festival arena.

 

Metallica

Suggested Album(s): Kill ‘Em All (1983), Death Magnetic (2008), Master Of Puppets (1986), Metallica (1991), … And Justice For All (1988)

Let’s face it. Metallica had to be on this series at some stage. As the godfathers of Thrash Metal, they are among the most recognisable bands in the Rock & Metal genre. This, of course, is with good reason. But before you decide to look into their newest outing, Hardwired … To Self-Destruct, I would suggest listening to the music that led up to it. Master Of Puppets, released in 1986, is iconic to put it lightly – meaning songs like Battery and the ground-breaking title track launched Metallica to stardom early on. Yet there’s still plenty more on offer today. I have a definite soft spot for Death Magnetic, as it features some of their hardest progressive songs to date, including All Nightmare Along, A Day That Never Comes, The End Of The Line and That Was Just Your Life. Blackened and One from … And Justice For All are also two solid tunes. Yet they are dwarfed by the magnificent Enter Sandman from Metallica’s 1991 self-titled record. It’s the song that got me into them and I wouldn’t be surprised if history repeated itself. Having said this, I believe the perfect place to kick start your Metallica obsession is Kill ‘Em All, as it presents the band’s sound (especially James Hetfield’s vocal technique) in its purest form. The choice is down to you, though.

 

Mastodon

Suggested Album(s): Once More ‘Round The Sun (2014), Crack The Skye (2009), Leviathan (2004), The Hunter (2011)

I am a strong believer that you should never judge the quality of a band solely on the first listen. Mastodon are a textbook reason for why this should be put into practice; because despite this unconventional four-piece group not appealing to me initially, they most certainly do now. In fact, they’ve now become one of my favourite bands. The members share the burden of frontman between themselves, meaning there isn’t really a lead singer. This, in itself, is intriguing to behold. But it’s not the all-round singing talent that makes Mastodon epic. It’s the music itself. Take Crack The Skye. The title track, Divinations, The Last Baron, Oblivion … they all prove that Mastodon have an undisputed dedication and mastery of their craft. Then there’s Leviathan, a startling concept album based on Moby Dick, which contains legendary numbers such as Megalodon, Blood And Thunder and Iron Tusk. 2011’s The Hunter is also a decent listen, centring its focus on memorable riffs for Black Tongue, Dry Bone Valley and Blasteroid. All of this great material, however, could simply be seen as an appetiser for the main course. Mastodon’s lastest studio album, Once More ‘Round The Sun is mind-blowing, from the vivid artwork to the biblical track list. I’m particularly fond of The Motherload, Chimes At Midnight, High Road and Halloween – the latter of which features the best outro I’ve ever heard.

 

Steel Panther

Suggested Album(s): Feel The Steel (2009), All You Can Eat (2014), Balls Out (2011)

Steel Panther lean more towards the Glam Rock side of things than Metal, so you may be surprised I haven’t mentioned them before this list. But there’s one good reason for leaving them until now. For the uninitiated, this outrageous four-piece are a shock to say the least. I can safely say they’re the crudest band I’ve ever listened to. But they’re also one of the funniest. Lead singer Michael Starr and the rest of his crew dress up like something out of the 80s and talk about drugs, sex and Rock ‘N Roll both on and offstage. That’s it. By doing so, they’re actively parodying bands like Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard to great effect. But the most ironic thing of all about Steel Panther is that despite being a comedy band, they’re actually really talented musicians. Their first record, Feel The Steel has hilarious tracks like Death To All But Metal, Party All Day, Fat Girl and Eyes Of The Panther. After this came Balls Out (with a borderline pornographic album cover) that treated fans to Just Like Tiger Woods, It Won’t Suck Itself and 17 Girls In A Row – the latter of which now prompts seventeen girls to join the band on stage when played live. Then, in 2014, they brought us All You Can Eat, which included Gloryhole, Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World, Ten Strikes You’re Out and Pussywhipped. If you’re after music that’s tame, look elsewhere. Whatever your view about Steel Panther, I’m sure you won’t be forgetting about them any time soon.

 

Avenged Sevenfold

Suggested Album(s): Nightmare (2010), Avenged Sevenfold (2007)

This band is huge, there’s no doubt about it. At first, I couldn’t understand why. I always thought their music was decent, but not good enough to warrant a headline slot. This was my attitude until I saw them live. Suddenly, it all made sense. The fact of the matter is that Avenged Sevenfold put on one hell of a show. Their progressive style blends seamlessly with the clean vocals frontman M. Shadow has adopted in recent years – allowing the band to deliver music that’s both harmonic and relentless. Their self-titled album possesses hits like Almost Easy, Afterlife and A Little Piece Of Heaven; while Nightmare creates a spooky atmosphere with a phenomenal title track, as well as God Hates Us and Welcome To The Family. The hidden gem, however, is Buried Alive. Starting off as a soulful ballad, it gradually builds until hitting the listener with tight riffs, solos and lyrical brilliance. What’s more, with a new album (The Stage) now available, there’s no better time to add Avenged Sevenfold to your music library.

 

Tool

Suggested Album(s): 10,000 Days (2006), Lateralus (2001), Ænima (1996), Undertow (1993)

If Progressive Metal doesn’t appeal to you, my guess is that you either don’t like songs when they’re over three minutes long, or you haven’t listened to Tool yet. While Maynard James Keenan (MJK) adopts minimal screaming in Tool’s music, the mood created by this group’s music is hard to ignore. Songs like Undertow and Prison Sex, as well as Forty-Six & Two, Eulogy and Hooker With A Penis (from Ænima) are clear examples of this. Although these two records are spot on, Lateralus is an album that transcends all else, thanks to tracks like The Grudge, Ticks And Leeches and Schism. Then you have 10,000 Days. While most of the band’s creations explore dark themes in general, this album touches upon more relatable subjects. For instance, Vicarious is all about how our society watches the rest of world suffer through the safety of our televisions, while Right In Two delves into the idea that humanity is incapable of sharing the gifts it’s been given. But even if you only look as far as the surface, 10,000 Days is still a unique and vivid experience. Be sure to look out for Jambi, Rosetta Stoned and The Pot too.

 

Five Finger Death Punch

Suggested Album(s): War Is The Answer (2009), The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell – Vol. 1 (2013), Got Your Six (2015)

This band is a bit of a paradox, if I’m honest. They’re called Five Finger Death Punch, yet while they do make their fair share of thrashing metal tunes, they also make hell of a lot of ballads. I can’t fathom it. Nevertheless, lead singer Ivan Moody thankfully has the range to tackle both styles without breaking a sweat. The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell – Vol. 1 has a good mix of the two, with faster tracks like Dot Your Eyes, Watch You Bleed and Lift Me Up (starring Judas Priest’s Rob Halford), as well as the calmer, more emotive The Wrong Side Of Heaven. I didn’t think I’d ever call a Five Finger Death Punch song emotive, but there you go. Additionally, last year’s album Got Your Six has some fitting head-bangers; including No Sudden Movements, the title track and Wash It All Away. It’s a shamelessly ridiculous outing from the band. Then again, anything with zombies on the cover is bound to be. The band’s best work, however, can be found on War Is The Answer. Dying Breed, No One Gets Left Behind and Burn It Down are hands down the fastest, hardest songs on their portfolio, while Bad Company and Far From Home offer some welcome balance to the record.

 

Rammstein

Suggested Album(s): Mutter (2001), Sehnsucht (1997), Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (2009) Reise, Reise (2004)

From one preposterous band to another, this one takes it to the extreme. Although this German industrial band writes all its music in their native language, thankfully you don’t have to understand German linguistics to enjoy it. In fact, it’s probably best if you don’t, seeing as some of their lyrics can be a tad obscene. With the stocky Till Lindemann front and centre, Rammstein are famous for their all-out live performances – which consist of everything from pyrotechnics to a very unsubtle foam cannon. But it’s Lindemann’s vocals, paired with some of the best, power-driven riffs of all time, that make Rammstein so great. Liebe Ist Für Alle Da gets down and dirty with Rammlied, Waidmanns Heil and Ich Tu Dir Weh; Reise, Reise delivers Mein Teil, Keine Lust and Morgenstern in all their majesty; and Sehnsucht introduces us to Engel, Tier and the awe-inspiring Du Hast. But their best album (and quite possible the perfect industrial album) has to be Mutter. Every single song on it is marvellous. The ones that carry the most fervour are Fruer Frei!, Mein Herz Brennt, Ich Will, Sonne and Adios – the last of which they NEVER play live, for some stupid reason! Regardless, if you ever get the chance to see Rammstein in the flesh (whether it’s at a festival or an arena) I urge you to take that opportunity.

 

System Of A Down

Suggested Album(s): Mezmerize (2005), Toxicity (2001), System Of A Down (1998), Steal This Album! (2002), Hypnotize (2005)

Here we are. The last band of the series. System Of A Down. With five studio albums to their name and one of the largest, most dedicated followings in Rock & Metal, the influence and prowess of this group cannot be overstated. But I’m going to try to anyway. Lead vocalist Serj Tankian utilises an unspoiled singing range for his music, which goes nicely with the wilder take lead guitarist Daron Malakian throws into the mix. Ultimately, System Of A Down have written some immovable hits over the years. Their self-titled debut features just a few of these in the form of Sugar, War? and Suite-Pee. Chic ‘N Stu, Fuck The System and I-E-A-I-A-I-O give Steal This Album! a lasting prominence. And then there’s Vicinity Of Obscenity, Holy Mountains and the gut-wrenching Soldier Side from Hypnotize. But listen to all these, and you’re still left with two crown jewels. One is 2001’s Toxicity, hosting frenzied numbers like Chop Suey, Needles, Jet Pilot and Prison Song. The other is Mezmerize. Much like Rammstein’s Mutter, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad track on this record. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible. From B.Y.O.B. to Sad Statue; from Revenga to Violent Pornography; from Cigaro to Question!; whether you like your tracks served hard or soft, System Of A Down can cater for all tastes. It’s kind of their thing.

 

There you have it. Finito! That’s the end of my Rock & Metal blog series. I sincerely hoped you enjoyed the ride and got to discover some new bands. If you still don’t consider yourself a metalhead, then fair enough. All I can say is thank you for taking part in my experiment and for giving Rock & Metal a chance – because that’s what this has all been about. If, on the other hand, you wish to carry on exploring this vast genre of music, then you’ve made me a very happy person. I would love to continue suggesting bands for you to try out, but this series was only ever my attempt to get more people into the genre. So, from here on in, you must find your own way.

Do you think I missed out a band from one of my lists? Leave a comment and help me improve my perspective. Maybe one day (if you’re lucky) I’ll include your suggestion in another list. With that, all that’s left to say is thanks again for sticking with my series, and keep an eye out for any new series I post in the future.

Farewell, readers! Live long and rock on …

 

Sources

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYCiTx7TwEI

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