The Top Album segment is back, and it's time to take a deep dive into the world of Grunge. No music genres of the recent past have had more impact on the musical landscape than the "Seattle Alternative" wave of heavy metal.
It was Grunge that singlehandedly wiped the ever-popular glam metal scene off of the map with one fell swoop. As the Pacific Northwest music movement blew up, many bands seized the opportunity to cash in. The ripped jeans, flannel ridden soldiers took up the sword as they waxed poetic to America's disenfranchised youth.
Wearing plaid t-shirts and bell bottoms was suddenly cool once again. Grunge not only represented a shift in musical style, but it also ushered in a more widescale cultural metamorphosis.
Although the Grunge Metal genre enjoyed a very short stay at the top of the musical food chain, its impact has been everlasting.
As we head into 2021, where the fate and the future of music remain so uncertain, we figured this would be a great time to revisit the ghost of Grunge Past to uncover the best of the best records. So without further ado...here are the top ten Grunge Metal albums of all-time.
10. Mother Love Bone, 'Apple' (1990)
Who said supergroups couldn't rock. 'Apple' is one of those records that flies under the radar. The album features a combination of jazz-infused punk and funk metal. Many of the tracks share a Zeplinesque tone infused with a modern-day flavor. Standout songs include "Come Bite The Apple," "Stargazer," and "Capricorn Sister." There is no telling how great this band could have been, as their career was unfortunately struck down by tragedy before it began. Sadly, lead singer Andrew Wood would die of a heroin overdose just a week before the record's release.
9. Stone Temple Pilots, 'Purple' (1994)
Stone Temple Pilots debunked the sophomore jinx with this standout release. Coming off a very successful debut record with 'Core,' the boys were looking to take their brand to the next level. 'Purple' was just what the Dr. ordered as the record hit #1 on the Billboard Top 200. While the era-defining hits "Vasoline," "Interstate Love Song," and "Big Empty" paved the album's success, those stellar deep cuts like "Army Ants," "Silvergun Superman," and "Kitchenware and Candybars" truly defined the greatness of this masterpiece.
8. Temple of the Dog, 'Temple of the Dog' (1991)
What initially began as a side project to honor Andrew Wood's passing; quickly morphed into one of the great all-time grunge classics. The collective star power on the record was enough to light up any stage, with Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron, Mike McCready, and Eddie Vedder. Touching tributes like "Say Hello to Heaven" and "Hunger Strike" are fantastic songs in their own right. Add in tracks like "Pushin' Forward Back," 'Call Me A Dog," "Your Savior," and "Four Walled World," and the album screams elite.
7. Alice in Chains, 'Jar of Flies' (1994)
Some will shout blasphemy to include an "Ep" on a top album list. The opinion is duly noted, but hindsight's 2020. Alice In Chains entered the studio in 1994 (after a rigorous tour) with zero material written and came out having produced an absolute gem in seven days. The record features a collection of acoustic works of art that would make even Mozart bow to their throne. The collective mixture of iconic acoustic jams made it to #1 on the Billboard Top 200. Not bad for an album that was constructed in less than a week, from start to finish.
6. Soundgarden, 'Badmotorfinger' (1991)
'Badmotorfinger' is often overshadowed by its peers, but that is no indictment on the record's content. Having been released on the same day as Nirvana's 'Nevermind,' it, unfortunately, started behind the eight balls. However, this record gained momentum over time, carving itself out as a staple in the Grunge Metal hierarchy. Ravaging tracks like "Rusty Cage" and "Outshined" are epic tone setters. However, hidden gems like "Jesus Christ Pose" and "Drawing Flies" emphatically announce the album's place among Grunge's elite.
5. Alice In Chains, 'Facelift' (1990)
'Facelift' was a precursor of what was yet to come. When Alice In Chains released their debut record, grunge was not, however, a household name. While the genre had not been coined yet, this record set a series of chain events that would shape this musical transformation. Megahit "Man in The Box" became the template for future grunge metal playlists. Meanwhile, tracks like "We Die, Young," "Sea of Sorrow," "Bleed the Freak," and many others quickly enshrined the record as a standout masterpiece of the era.
4. Soundgarden, 'Superunknown' (1994)
Soundgarden perfected their craft with this epic game-changer. Fueled by the encompassing passion of frontman Chris Cornell, the band channeled that energy into every recorded track. The new composition and precision songwriting allowed the group to fine-tune their signature sound and style. "Fell on Black Days" and "Black Hole Sun" became era-defining songs. Consequently, the album is littered with deep cuts up and down, including standouts like "Fresh Tendrils," "4th of July", "The Day I Tried to Live," and "Like Suicide."
3. Nirvana, 'Nevermind' (1991)
If this were a popularity contest, 'Nevermind' would certainly take top honors on this list. The album undoubtedly created a musical revolution, the likes that we have very rarely seen. The band combined an influential blend of punk and rock that struck the core of America's youth gone wild. While "Smells Like Teen Spirit" captured the spirit of even the most casual fans of rock. Meanwhile, standout songs like "In Bloom," "Come As You Are," and "Lithium" catapulted the record to the depths of its rabid cult following. This record is ground zero for the grunge era.
2. Pearl Jam, 'Ten' (1991)
After Nirvana dropped 'Nevermind,' Pearl Jam emphatically shouted, "HOLD MY BEER!" If 'Nevermind' is the motherload, then 'Ten' is its daddy. While 'Nevermind' follows a more distinct punk style playbook, 'Ten' veers more closely down a classic rock highway. 'Ten' is Pearl Jam's, Mona Lisa. So many great tracks it's hard to name just a few. One would venture to find one mediocre song among the entire album. "Even Flow," "Alive," and "Jeremy" are cornerstones of the era; lesser-known gems like "Porch," "Garden" and "Deep" are solid gold.
1. Alice In Chains, 'Dirt' (1992)
'Dirt' is not only the magnum opus for Alice In Chains, but it represents the Mount Rushmore for all of Grunge. While every album in the top ten is excellent in its way, the songwriting on this particular one stands out. Between the doom-laden harmonies of Cantrell and Staley's lyrics and the ever-evolving sound of fantastic musicianship, 'Dirt' sets itself apart at the top. Obvious hits like "Them Bones," "Rooster," and the title track "Dirt" emphasize the magnitude of the album's greatness. "Hate to Feel" may be the most-least recognized deep cut masterpiece in the history of metal! Pop it in and crank it to Ten!
Written By Jason Voorhees.
Many people ask the question; if there was a BIG 5 of THRASH…who would be the fifth band amongst METALLICA, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer?
Some enthusiasts would say that Exodus belongs on this list. Others would emphatically argue that it's Overkill. Still others would vote for Voivod or Celtic Frost. And some place-some where, Kreator fans are angrily banging their fists in disagreement.
The truth is, no matter what band that you believe belongs on this Mount Rushmore, it's always going to be a matter of opinion. However; you know what they say about having an opinion: opinions are like assholes...everyone has...nevermind.
With that being said, one fact remains. If there were a Big 5 of thrash, Testament would rise above the rest...
Testament is an American Thrash Band that was formed in 1983 in Berkley, CA. Considering the Band played the San Francisco Bay area, they received widespread exposure in the underground metal community, just as fellow bands METALLICA and Megadeth had done.
The band was originally formed by guitarist Eric Peterson…and has been through numerous line up changes ever since, during it's 37 years of existence.
Many people don’t know this, but Testament was originally named Legacy, which actually became the title of their first album…and was released in 1987.
Originally joining Eric Peterson in the band was Alex Skolnick, a Joe Satriani disciple. Also joining the band was lead vocalist Chuck Billy, who replaced Steve Souza, who then went on to form Exodus.
When 'Legacy' was released in 1987….Testament quickly became a popular trademark in the thrash metal community. In order to promote their new album, they began a tour with Anthrax, who were actually promoting their own new album 'Among the Living'. The record has since become a staple for the signature thrash metal playbook.
The bands earlier records focused on dark themes while taking a deep dive into the occult. As the records mounted, Testament continued their rise to the top of metal charts across the world.
Their 3rd album, 'Practice What You Preach' was released in 1989. It was the band's highest charting record to date and shared more realistic themes like politics and world corruption.
Then came the "Grunge Era" and Testament was failing to connect with their fans.
At this point the band released a slower, more mainstream metal album called 'The Ritual'. This marked a turning point for the band as the record rose to 55th on the Top 200 Bilboard List. It was the most successful record up until that point and found them at the top of their game!
The single “Return to Serenity” received favorable reviews as it topped the charts at 22. This song received extended radio airplay…allowing the band to attract a larger audience.
Testament has assembled quite an extensive catalog over the years. In fact, 2020 saw them release their 13th studio album, 'Titans of Creation':
1) The Legacy (1987)
2) The New Order (1988)
3) Practice What You Preach (1989)
4) Souls of Black (1990)
5) The Ritual (1992)
6) Low (1994)
7) Demonic (1997)
8) The Gathering (1999)
9) First Strike Deadly (2001)
10) The Formation of Damnation (2008)
11) Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
12) Brotherhood of the Snake (2016)
13) Titans of Creation (2020)
Check out Philly Rock Radio Blog - PHILLY ROCK RADIO to see the band's albums ranked worst to first.
From 1999-2008 the band failed to produce an album. During this time Chuck Billy was diagnosed with Cancer and had to temporarily quit the band. The band then reunited and toured from 2005-2008.
Finally, in April of 2008, Testament released 'Formation of Damnation', which marked the return of Alex Skolnick who had left the band after 'The Ritual'. Then in 2012, they released 'Dark Roots of Earth' which marked the return of the original lineup. This album saw the band return to their heavy roots and signature form.
Testament continues to be a major force in thrash today. 'Titans of Creation' is an extremely heavy and in your face record. They remain one of the hardest working and most consistent bands of the thrash metal era. With that being said, they definitely rank among the best of the generation.
One always wonders who would make the list of the Big 5 if there was such a thing. Well, I am here to tell you that Testament fits that bill closer than any other bands on the list! The new order has arrived and the titans of creation have spoken. Testament, welcome to the BIG 5 of THRASH!
Written By Jason Voorhees for phillyrockradio.com
Release Date: October 23, 2020
Metal Blade Records
John Bush (Vocals)
Joey Verra (Bass)
Phil Sandoval (Guitars)
Jeff Duncan (Guitars)
Gonzo Sandoval (Drums)
1. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
2. End of the Attention Span
4. My Jurisdiction
5. Do Wrong To None
6. Lone Wolf
7. Missile to Gun
8. Fly in the Ointment
9. Bark, No Bite
11. Never You Fret
Armored Saint is back and back with a vengeance they are.
The band released their eighth studio album 'Punching the Sky' back in October and haven't looked in the rearview ever since. Saint has never wavered in style and sound as they refuse to be held back by labels or formulas. They're just a kick-ass metal band trying to have fun.
While the band always releases killer material, they have always remained a mystery as far as name-value goes. Armored Saint may very well be the most underrated band in all of metal.
The veteran headbangers know a thing or two about making an excellent record, and this release harkens back to the classic era of the band. One thing that sets Armored Saint apart from most bands is their strong work ethic. This hard-working mentality enables the group to combine their elite musicianship with pristine songwriting.
As mentioned, 'Punching the Sky' has the band firing on all cylinders.
There are zero filler tracks as this record represents plug-and-play at its finest. When one can listen to an album repeatedly, that is a tell-tale sign of an excellent piece of art. I've had this masterpiece on a loop from the moment it came out, and it never gets old!
To summarize, 'Punching the Sky' is the band's most gratifying record since 'Symbol of Salvation' way back in 1991. The album combines all of the trademark elements of Saint with an added punch of modern flavor. It is a balls to the wall record that keeps the pedal to the metal.
The album starts with an ode to Irish folk music before rapidly changing paces. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants" is an epic thriller that takes the listener on a magical journey. While clocking in at just under seven minutes, the track shares many twists and turns.
A slow build intro quickly ramps up to a signature John Bush bellow. Beefed-up dual guitar leads set the tone, and the rest is masterful music to your ears. Bush's powerhouse vocals are on full display as the song begins to beat like a battering ram of metal madness. Clean, crisp lyrics resonate throughout, and the song features a catchy chorus to boot.
The track then meanders through the bridge and hooks, like a fish out of water, before descending into a stellar lead guitar solo. The opening song is easily one of my favorite tracks on the record and maybe one of the band's best all-time; it's that good, folks.
If you thought the first track was transcendent among their catalog, then you better get a load of track #2. "End of The Attention Span" kicks ass. It's that simple. If track #1 is robin, then track #2 is undoubtedly the album's batman. A meat and potatoes platter that leaves you with a fistful of forks.
It features pissed-off vocals, driving guitars, aggressive riffs, loud drums, and bashing bass, the kind of song you turn the volume up to ten on and let er' rip! The musicianship on this track is pristine and tight. While the lyrics paint a picture of society's obsession with social media and the dangers it poses. Another "A" list track that I rank at the top of their all-time best.
The hits keep coming with tracks like "Bubble" and "My Jurisdiction," which provide a similar sound to early style Armored Saint. Full of raw attitude and emotion, they are hard rock anthems to the core. Another gritty, hard-nosed rocker, "Do Wrong to None," continues the gut-punch assault on its audience. All three tracks could find themselves among the local watering hole's setlist.
At this point, we come to the middle of the record.
And here lies the ace in the hole, the breaking point where many albums go off the rails and drop off musically. Not this one, though, folks. Instead of veering off the tracks, this song has its sights set on a crash course for stardom.
"Lone Wolf" is undoubtedly this album's masterpiece; if you're looking for 'Symbol of Salvation' vibes, then this is your pick! The track features all of the bells and whistles of a kick-ass metal tune. The song has it all: a stellar intro, up-tempo riffs, killer lyrics, pinpoint rhythm section, melodic vocals, harmonizing guitars, and epic awe-inspiring solo!
Bush screams with a vengeance. Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan leave you saying KK. Downing and Glenn Tipton who. Gonzo Sandoval tells Dave Lombardo to stand at the back of the line. And Joey Vera leaves Nikki Sixx in the dust. Stellar musicians at their absolute best here!
Wow, how do you follow up such a magnificent track moving forward? Quickly...you reset the bar! "Missile to Gun" is an Anthrax-Esque rocket of thrashing metal. This missile is ready to fire, and it's all guns blazing. The tone of the track is set early as the rocket reaches take-off. An anthem that appears destined as a regular live set staple, John Bush flexes his vocal muscles showing why he's still the best in the biz.
As the album moves along, we now reach a crescendo of sorts with "Fly in the Ointment." A change of pace is in order as this one screams Alice in Chains. Bush does his best Layne impersonation, which sounds eerily similar to the fallen great. Another full-fledged hit as this album has now reached star power status.
The album is rounded out by "Bark, No Bite," "Unfair," and "Never You Fret." "Unfair" is a harrowing ballad that rings out true. In contrast, the final two tracks are bursting apart at the seams with energy and volume.
'Punching The Sky' is a standout record from beginning to end. Elite album composition sees the tracks flow together in seamless transition. It is no wonder that Armored Saint is one of the hardest working bands in metal. They represent all of the good things in music while displaying a top-notch professional demeanor.
The band has hit a home run with 'Punching The Sky'. They deserve credit for defying the odds and putting out such a killer record so late in their careers. These guys are genuinely underrated at their craft and should be celebrated!
'Punching the Sky' gets a 9/10 rating and ranks at the top of their best all-time albums. Right on cue, many music media outlets had the record at the top of their top album lists in 2020.
John Bush, Joey Verra, Phil Sandoval, Gonzo Sandoval, and Jeff Duncan...keep kicking ass and taking names! While fans are left punching the sky, Armored Saint is on their way to punching their ticket to platinum!!
RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2020
Reb Beach has announced that his long in the works instrumental solo album will now see the light of day. “A View From The Inside” is slated for a November 6th release via Frontiers Music Srl. An album that showcases the dynamic talents of the guitar virtuoso, hard rock fans will be transported back to the days of when giants like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani dominated the mainstream consciousness (and airwaves), while also simultaneously being shown a guitarist ever pushing himself forward into the future.
Reb Beach is one of the indisputable guitar giants of the current hard rock scene. His resume with ‘80s/’90s mega-stars Winger alone would earn him this distinction, but his legacy is cemented by his current membership and work with the legendary Whitesnake, his past efforts with Dokken, and his recent release with supergroup Black Swan, also featuring Jeff Pilson, Robin MacAuley, and Matt Starr.
Influenced by the legendary hard rockers of the ‘70s, Reb spent his teen years jamming along with the greats of that era like Aerosmith and Montrose, but it was Steve Morse, then with the Dixie Dregs, that had the biggest influence on him. The complexity and the speed of the Dregs was a unique challenge compared to the blues-based playing of most musicians of that era. The Dregs were ultimately the catalyst that drove his playing to the level he is now so well known to music fans the world over for. Beach eventually graduated from his home practice space to the Berkeley School of Music, but after a couple of semesters he moved on and soon became one of the most sought-after session players in the music industry, working with such all-time great talents as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Roger Daltrey, Chaka Kahn, Howard Jones, and Twisted Sister.
While living in NYC, he hooked up with his future bandmate, bassist and frontman Kip Winger. Reb and Kip formed the band Winger and the rest is history. The two proved to be incredible writing partners, crafting multiple platinum records that featured no less than six Top Forty singles. with music that was commercial yet complex.
After Winger went on a hiatus in the ‘90s, Beach’s career continued thanks to collaborations with Alice Cooper, Dokken and Night Ranger and he debuted as a solo artist in 2002 with the album “Masquerade".
Following the Winger reunion in the ‘00s, Reb wound up getting a gig with a gentleman he'd been sending tapes to for many years, David Coverdale. The band? Whitesnake, of course. Since 2003, Reb has toured the world with the band and released multiple albums with them, such as “Good to Be Bad,” “Forevermore,” “The Purple Album,” and the recent “Flesh & Blood,” plus a number of live albums.
Reb Beach will now release his first instrumental album, but this is not a mere exercise of self-indulgence. It is the culmination of over 30 years of study and extremely hard work on his craft. Fans of Steve Morse and Joe Satriani will find a lot to love in the 11 songs on offer here, but while there is certainly a lot of ear candy for the musician types, fans of hard rock in general will find a wealth of melodies and transcendent moments where the songs simply make you forget there are no vocals.
Reb Beach - guitars, bass on 4, 9, keyboards on 4, 6, 11, strings on 10
David Throckmorton - drums (except on 6)
Robert Langley - drums on 6
Michele Luppi - piano on 3, 10
Phillip Bynoe - bass on 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11
John Hall - bass on 5, 6, 7
Paul Brown - keyboards on 1, 2, 5, 7
Happy new year from all of us here at Philly Rock Radio. This is the time when many resolutions are made, and hopefully met with success.
We wanted to take this opportunity to renew our perennial resolution and commitment to bring you the best our local rock scene has to offer. That includes both indie and signed acts. Below you'll see a partial list of the music we've featured on Philly Rock Radio. And this year we plan to step it up by adding more special segments and live broadcasts featuring artists and bands from our area.
We refer to Philly Rock Radio as "The City Of Brotherly Love's Calling Card to the World." We feel it is our mission to introduce you to the hard workin', harder rockin', talented musicians, and artists in our tri-state area. This station believes that this music should play right along with the new music we love. Music made from around the world, as well as the hard rock and metal we grew up on in the '70s and '80s.
And the 'calling card' works both ways. We introduce you to our neighborhood, and we invite you to introduce your neighborhood rock scene to us! Tell us about the bands in your area that should be receiving more attention.
Now for the hard part!
If you'd like to submit your professionally produced original music to us for airplay consideration, click this SUBMIT MUSIC link and fill out our form. Send us properly tagged .mp3 files at 192k or higher. And if we contact you, please be prepared to supply us with station IDs, your EPKs and news to promote for you.
We receive many submissions from all around the world, so please be patient. We will contact you if we intend to play your music. We can only accept properly tagged mp3 files and production quality of the songs count too. It wouldn't be fair to play rough mixes, demos or files that haven't been mastered, when others are putting in the time, money and attention to detail. Thank you in advance for understanding.
We're looking forward to you being a part of PRR in 2021, ROCK ON!
BANDS AND ARTISTS WE'VE FEATURED
Stories, news and reviews presented by the staff of Philly Rock Radio.