Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome to another edition of top album lists! Today we will take a look at another one of thrash's finest.
The bay area bashers Testament have been kicking ass for years while taking countless names at will. While the band is not quite Big 4 level, they truly are the fifth member of thrash metal's elite. In fact, many consider Testament one of the most underrated bands in the entire metal community. They have remained a true model of consistency in a genre that has sometimes become widely inconsistent.
Like many of their peers, Testament has endured its share of ups and downs as well as numerous lineup changes. Consequently, the lone constant member is the band's architect guitarist Eric Peterson. Nonetheless, the group has been able to carve out quite a discography during it's 37 years of existence. In fact, the band just released their 12th studio album this year.
Testament has always brought true intensity in their music no matter what style changes have come about with each successive album release. While they have never produced a truly bad album, this list will be a reflection of their least good to best records of the catalog. So without further ado...we will try to practice what we preach as we travel the dark roots of earth in search of the titans of creation!
12. 'Demonic' (1997)
Recorded during a period of confusion in the thrash metal era, Testament tried to recreate the success of it's predecessor 'Low' on this release. Unfortunately; the record stumbled as it ultimately missed it's mark. As the lineup changes continued, so did the lack of creativity which can almost be expected from a band suffering cohesive constraints. While it's not a terrible record by any stretch of the imagination, it's certainly the band's least memorable effort. The lead track "Demonic Refusal" is a death metal ensemble. While other tracks like "John Doe" and "Distorted Lies" toe the groove and nu-metal lines respectively. Testament can only go up from here.
11. 'Low' (1994)
Testament's answer to grunge was definitely not their low point. However; the album saw a drastic change in sound and style for the band, one that many die hard fans would despise. The departures of long time guitar hero Alex Skolnick and drummer Louie Clemente also ruffled some feathers. Once again, this is definitely a far cry from a bad record; it's just not the kind of album that one would brag to their friends about. Nonetheless, this record does move the needle on sound with it's ultra aggressive pissed off energy. A few standout tracks include the punchy "Hail Mary", the catchy "Low" and the semi ballad "Trail of Tears."
10. 'Brotherhood of the Snake' (2016)
Another lineup change went down here as Steve DiGiorgio joined the fray on bass guitar. A hallmark album of sorts, the band tried to build off the huge success of it's predecessor. The results were widely positive as this record checks off every box on the thrash metal spectrum. All of the signature elements of Testament's greatness find their home here. Tracks like "Brotherhood of the Snake", "Stronghold" and "Pale King" bring the heat. While hidden gems "Black Jack" and Canna-Business" pace the record. The lone pitfall for this album is it's top heavy formula, a little too much filler to be considered great. However; it's great to see Testament embracing their roots once again as they push reset.
9. 'Souls of Black' (1990)
This record suffers many of the same inconsistencies as 'Brotherhood of the Snake.' The top half of the album kicks ass while the second half leaves you scratching your head. This is the cost a band pays when they try to rush through the recording process. Although the record is missing the main ingredient of consistency, it still shows flashes of brilliance. Those moments of clarity certainly help the albums position on this list. "Face In The Sky", "Souls of Black" and "Falling Fast" provide a healthy triumvirate of wrath. While "The Legacy" brings you back to the band's debut dominance! A step up but still not top level.
8. 'Dark Roots of Earth' (2012)
'Dark Roots of Earth' was an emphatic confirmation that the bands successful comeback was no fluke. As the band harkened back to the classic 80's style sound, they undoubtedly channeled their innermost fountain of youth. A brilliant record that captures a band firing on all cylinders. From the gut punching opener "Rise Up", the band establishes that seminal thrash element as they don't look back. "Dark Roots of Earth", "Native Blood", and "True American Hate" scream old school. But it's the epic "Throne of Thorns" that truly defines the albums greatness. Two great covers "Animal Magnetism" and "Powerslave" are also present. Solid record up and down.
7. 'Titans of Creation' (2020)
Honestly this is like a reboot of "Dark Roots of Earth", only on steroids. The band virtually took the same formula they used on that very successful album and just raised the bar. Skolnick and Peterson are masterful as this album contains some of the best dual solos that combination has ever produced! "Children of the Next Level" and "Night of the Witch" could ultimately find their way into the top ten tracks of all-time for Testament; waiting for y'all to scream blasphemy...lol. But no really, this is an excellent album; the band's finest in years! Definitely a titan of the band's discography! Deep cuts galore on this one as well..."False Prophet", "Code of Hammurabi" and "Catacombs" just to name a few.
6. 'The Formation of Damnation' (2008)
The king of all comeback albums for the band. The classic lineup had been reunited and the results were a flat out masterpiece of a record. Not only was most of the original members back in the fold, but they also went back to the thrash style that crowned them pioneers of the thrash movement. After faltering in an ever changing abyss trying their hand in the death metal game; they realized it was thrash that truly earned them their stripes. "More Than Meets The Eye", the Transformers theme based single epitomizes their signature style and tone. However; the album is loaded with deep cut gems that enhance the overall staying power and ultimately cements its place among the bands best!
5. 'The Gathering' (1999)
After a failed reunion attempt, the band instead took the super group avenue instead. Joining vocalist Chuck Billy and guitarist Eric Peterson were James Murphy (Death) on lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus) on bass and Dave Lombardo (Slayer) on drums. With a lineup of some of the best musicians in toe, the band was able to focus once again on diligent songwriting. The album is paced by a clean, crisp, and uncompromising production and tone. Tracks like 'D.N.R', 'Eyes of Wrath', 'True Believer' and 'Legions of the Dark' embody the signature thrash elements while providing a modern day enhancement of flavor. This one really hits hard and remains one of my personal favorites.
4. 'Practice What You Preach' (1989)
Some critics consider this the seminal album of Testament's career and you really can't fault that assumption. The band had matured leaps and bounds from their debut offering and was now firing on every cylinder. However; there is something to be said about those bands that try to go back to the same watering hole one too many times. And that's where this album looses points for me. That repetitive flaw is ever present throughout this record which is almost a mirror image of 'The New Order' in many ways. The record still kicks major ass. Standout tracks include "Practice What You Preach", "Blessed in Contempt", and "The Greenhouse Effect." "The Ballad" provides a new wrinkle of creativity in the arsenal. We have now reached elite.
3. 'The Legacy' (1987)
A stone cold classic here folks. Testament broke onto the scene with this masterful debut which provided the archetypal sound and style for the band in years to come. The only reason that this album is not higher on the list is less than stellar production. However; that raw and unfiltered sound enables the band to bring down the house throughout. The record is littered with timeless classics like "Over The Wall", "Burnt Offerings", "Curse of the Legions of Death," and "Alone in the Dark." While the album features plenty of deep cut royalty as well! Any one of the top three is interchangeable here so this could easily be number one! Phenomenal debut and one of the masterpieces of the catalog.
2. 'The Ritual' (1992)
Many people hate on this record as they loudly yell sell out. However; if one truly listens to the record you soon realize how foolish that narrative really is. This is a solid record from beginning to end. It may be the high point for the band as far as songwriting and musicianship goes. Just because a band takes a mainstream approach does not mean that the results are less than favorable. In fact, that prophesy is usually discredited steadfastly. The mid tempo choruses and toned down riffs actually enhance the albums greatness. So many awesome tracks on this album..."Electric Crown" and "Let Go of My World" embody Testament's signature thrash elements while the amazing "Return to Serenity" marks an advanced songwriting maturity. One step closer to the cream of the crop! Tons of hidden gems here as well!!
1. 'The New Order' (1988)
Sophomore slumps are only for minor league bands. The band was able to build on the success of their debut as this release would carry them to new heights. This is the mount rushmore for Testament simply put...The creme de le creme. The top four tracks provide as fearsome of a foursome that you will find in the entire thrash metal universe. "Eerie Inhabitants", "The New Order", "Trial By Fire" and "Into the Pit" are widely considered the bands greatest tracks of all-time and they all appear on this record! Then add in "Disciples of the Watch" and its a stone cold lock! This is the true Testament of the band's greatness!! "A Day of Reckoning" reminds me of a cross between Metallica and Anthrax. This is plug and play at it's finest folks and the top of the mountain for Testament.
Well, except for this: 40 years later, both are still beloved and ubiquitous — “Back in Black” songs a staple on rock radio and “Caddyshack” lines as quotable now as they were then. “Back in Black” has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide, and “Caddyshack” has shown up on cable at least that many times.
Is that fodder for an entire column? Even after their shared anniversary has passed?
Sure, why not.
I mean, if you want to be silly about it, there are some connections between the two. Both owe their success largely to men known by animal nicknames: “Back in Black” was produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and “Caddyshack” was produced and co-written by Doug Kenney, who two years earlier had famously played Stork in “Animal House.”
Or how ‘bout this? AC/DC guitarist Angus Young always wears ties on stage; in “Caddyshack,” Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan) seductively asks Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), “Wanna tie me up with some of your ties, Ty?” (If “Tie Me Up, Ty” wasn’t an AC/DC song title, it should have been.)
I did find one person with a connection to both works, but it’s a stretch even by my admittedly loose standards. Musician Paul Shaffer didn’t play on “Back in Black” and wasn’t in “Caddyshack,” but he did cover “You Shook Me All Night Long” on his 1993 album “The World’s Most Dangerous Party,” and he did host a special screening of “Caddyshack” alongside Chase at the Bedford Playhouse in New York this past January.
And just in case those aren’t big enough leaps for you, there’s this: AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, who replaced the late Bon Scott for the recording of “Back in Black,” is (or has been) a member of Gator Creek Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida. “Caddyshack” was filmed across the state, at the Rolling Hills Golf Club (now the Grande Oaks Golf Club) in Davie, Florida (even though the story was set in Nebraska).
You just know Rodney Dangerfield’s Al Czervik would have loved Johnson and his AC/DC band mates … and Ted Knight’s Judge Smails would have loathed them. Had the song been released in time, it’s not hard to imagine Dangerfield blasting “You Shook Me All Night Long” from his high-tech golf bag in the middle of a round (as opposed to Journey’s then brand new “Any Way You Want It,” as in the movie).
But it wasn’t … and he didn’t … leaving me to scramble to come up with ridiculous links between the two that aren’t really links at all.
All is not lost, however.
Because you can make the case that “Back in Black” and “Caddyshack” are kindred spirits in their use of double entendres, ribald wordplay, playful naughtiness and carefree attitudes. Al Czervik, Ty Webb and Carl Spackler easily could have been characters in AC/DC songs, given their penchant for wine, women, general debauchery and, in Carl’s case, powerful explosives.
Whether it’s AC/DC imploring listeners to “Come on and have a good time, and get blinded out of your mind” in “Have a Drink On Me,” or Bill Murray’s Carl describing his hybrid grass to Chase’s Ty as, “You can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night,” these are not works concerned about the morning after.
And Dangerfield’s film-closing “We’re all gonna get laid!” line could apply to about half the songs on “Back in Black.”
“Back in Black” and “Caddyshack” targeted young male audiences but ultimately appealed to a far wider demographic, mostly because both the album and movie are just plain fun, and neither takes itself too seriously (or seriously at all). Sure, there are occasional moments of gravity — the requisite underworld imagery in “Hells Bells,” the fleeting “I’m late”/”I’m not pregnant!” subplot among the teen caddies — but first and foremost, this is party music, and a party movie.
In both cases, the creators had something to prove. “Caddyshack” co-writers Kenney and Harold Ramis had previously teamed on the comedy smash “Animal House,” but on that film, they ultimately ceded control of the project to director John Landis and producer Ivan Reitman. This time, they were basically running the show, with Kenney producing and Ramis making his directorial debut. (When the film wasn’t immediately embraced by critics, Kenney took it personally, which may have contributed to his death via a fall off a Hawaiian cliff a month later.)
AC/DC, meanwhile, had to prove it could thrive without dynamic front man Scott, who died of alcohol poisoning or a heroin overdose (depending on what you read) five months before “Back in Black’s” release. The album’s title track was a celebratory tribute to him.
Neither was an immediate box office or chart phenomenon. “Caddyshack” was the 14th highest-grossing movie of 1980 (and only the ninth highest-grossing comedy), and “Back in Black” failed to make Billboard’s year-end top 10 albums chart, with singles “You Shook Me All Night Long” and the title track barely cracking the top 40.
Forty years later, movie and album have long since achieved pop culture immortality.
I’ve got one final connection between “Caddyshack” and AC/DC, and it’s personal. I experienced one with my mother, and one with my daughter, and both are priceless memories (although in the case of the former, a tad embarrassing).
As a fan of Murray and Chase, there was no way 14-year-old Andy was going to miss seeing “Caddyshack” in the theater. But I wasn’t getting into the R-rated movie without an adult. So I somehow convinced my mother to take me. I’m sure she figured, it’s a comedy about golf; how raunchy can it be?
It was the second R-rated movie I saw that summer with a parent. My father, who had taken me to see “The Blues Brothers” a month earlier, definitely drew the less uncomfortable assignment. Take away some language, and “The Blues Brothers” easily could have been a PG-rated musical action comedy. “Caddyshack,” on the other hand, definitely earned its R rating. During the sex scene between Danny and Lacey (Michael O’Keefe and Cindy Morgan), I’m pretty sure my mother’s face turned red enough to light up the entire theater.
There was no such parental embarrassment 36 years later (just some throbbing eardrums) when my daughter, a year older then than I was in 1980, and I rocked out to an AC/DC concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Sure, it wasn’t the full band (Axl Rose had replaced an ailing Johnson on the tour, and since-deceased rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young had retired for health reasons), but the songs were the same, including six of the 10 tracks from “Back in Black.” It’s a parent-child moment I’ll cherish forever … unlike my mom’s experience with me and “Caddyshack,” which I’m pretty sure she’s wiped from her memory.
Point is, people have been bonding over a shared love of “Caddyshack” and “Back in Black” for 40 years, and that might be all the connection I need to justify this column.
Andy Vineberg is a former sports and entertainment writer for the Bucks County Courier Times, Doylestown Intelligencer and Burlington County Times. He currently co-hosts the music podcast "David Uosikkinen's In the Pocket" with the Hooters drummer. Find all episodes at in-the-pocket.simplecast.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ADVineberg
"David Uosikkinen's In The Pocket" show airs live on PhillyRockRadio.com Thursday mornings at 11am.
Written By Jason Voorhees
Slippery When Wet (1986)
Defense Attorney-Jason Voorhees
New Jersey (1988)
Defense Attorney- Aaron Savage
Judges: Kevin Law and Johnny E
The stage is set as the people pack the courtroom.
On the docket are two seminal records in the Bon Jovi catalog. On the one side we have 'Slippery When Wet', the band's third studio album. On the other side sits 'New Jersey', their fourth record. Both counsel comes fully prepared to drop the gavel into the heart of their opponent.
And The Gavel Will Rock is a brand new podcast; featuring a courtroom debate of many elements in the heavy metal/hard rock universe. In this courtroom only the most badass survive. Masterpiece records, iconic bands, seminal lineups, and many other elements face the jury in this battle of the baddest. The judge, the jury and the gavel will rock!
The first ever episode of this brand new podcast just went down! And let me tell you it was an epic battle! Your hosts from Philly Rock Radio; Kevin Law and Johnny E sat in on the bench as guest judges.
Taking counsel in defense of 'New Jersey' was Aaron Savage; while yours truly took the helm in defense of 'Slippery When Wet.'
This was no easy trial as both albums came loaded with star power:
Each record was extremely successful in the mainstream industry; both having eclipsed 7x platinum, 'Slippery When Wet' having gone 12x platinum! Both albums produced two #1 hit singles. 'New Jersey' became the first glam metal record to produce 5 top ten singles and still is the only one to accomplish that feat to this day.
Some of Bon Jovi's best known songs find their home on 'Slippery When Wet'; including "Livin' on a Prayer", "Wanted Dead or Alive", and "You Give Love A Bad Name." In contrast, some of Bon Jovi's best hidden deep cut gems take place on 'New Jersey.' Tracks like "Wild is the Wind", "Stick to your Guns", and "99 In the Shade" display marked maturity in the band's arsenal.
As the trial took place, it became glowingly obvious that it would be difficult for the judges to render a verdict. Both of the records are great. Each album has many strengths and very little weaknesses. So which album takes the cake as the ultimate top dog of Bon Jovi's catalog?
You will just have to listen to the episode to find out! What I can tell you is that it was a fun spirited debate; one that we all truly enjoyed!! So grab a cold one; get your popcorn ready, kick back and join us in this epic courtroom battle! Everything is on the table and no one is holding back!
Written By Jason Voorhees
There never has been; nor will there ever be another band like Faith No More.
To put it quite simply...this is a band that was way ahead of it's time. They were KORN before there was KORN. They were Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock before there was Limp Bizkit or Kid Rock. And they were Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Linkin Park before those bands arrived.
Faith No More is widely considered one of the most important metal bands of the late eighties. This is due in large part to their diverse musical style that later paved the way for multiple metal genres to form. The band dabbled in synth, punk, industrial, funk, and experimental rock among many others. These forays later produced genres such as nu-metal, industrial goth and alternative.
No matter what style metal you prefer, Faith No More has undoubtedly produced a track that peaks your fancy. While the earlier incarnation was plagued by dysfunction and multiple lineup changes; the traditional lineup had one of the more successful stretches in metal history despite being short lived.
After a lengthy breakup, the band finally returned in 2015 with a brand new studio album. As we celebrate the greatness of Faith No More, let's take a deep dive into their discography catalog from worst to first. You say you want it all but you cant have it. However; you better buckle up your seatbelts as it's gonna be an Epic ride!
7. 'We Care A lot' (1985)
This was a record that left so many things to be desired. That's not to say that the debut album was a complete bust. Only that it was lacking in quality production, consistent songwriting and creativity. The album features Chuck Mosley on vocals for starters. His unconventional vocal style provided glimpses of what was yet to come and certainly peaked the interest of the underground musical community. However; the band wasn't quite ready to conquer mainstream royalty and the album sales suffered. The album did invoke several key Faith No More ingredients such as the thrash style guitar riffs, sonic synthesized melodies, blistering rhythms and bombastic drums. Standout tracks include the title track, "The Jungle", "As the Worm Turns" and the instrumental "Pills For Breakfast." Certainly not a terrible record but definitely the low point for Faith No More...this was just the beginning.
6. 'Introduce Yourself' (1987)
A sophomore jinx was not what the Dr. ordered. This was a step up from the albums predecessor. Musically and lyrically it was advanced. You could tell that the band was maturing before our eyes and the music showed. The band's creativity shined brightly on this album as the songwriting improved. The result was a more clean sound with plenty of consistent direction. The multidimensional blueprint had been choreographed and now the world was ready for Faith No More. However; the band was internally searching for the missing piece of the puzzle, as the current front man was in the cross hairs and the rest is history. Tracks like "Faster Disco", "Introduce Yourself", "R N' R" and "The Crab Song" provided an archetype for the band's next great leap. Marked improvement as Faith No More is now on the fast track.
5. 'Sol Invictus' (2015)
"Sol Invictus" marks a return to roots moment for Faith No More. The only difference is Mike Patton on the microphone, and the results were astounding. This is a multiple award winning record. Likewise it's a record that received critically high marks and reviews all across the board. Faith No More does a marvelous job capturing the raw edgy style of their beginnings. However; they were able to maintain a mixture of modern day elements all the while focusing on their long term proven formula. Standout tracks include "Sol Invictus", "Sunny Side Up", and "Rise of the Fall." However, the true gem is "Superhero" which ranks among the bands true stalwart tracks. A solid record that provides a reminder just how great this band is. Back in form as metal enthusiasts celebrate all over the world! Stellar album for a stellar band.
4. 'King For A Day...Fool For A Lifetime' (1995)
If hard hitting rock is what you crave then this is probably your favorite FNM record. A new man on the axe in toe (Jim Martin) is now out; the album takes on a heavier mixture of punk and jazz infused shock rock. Mike Patton's vocal excellence is prominent on this album as well. When everyone is expecting the band to zig, Faith No More instead decides to zag; and that's what makes this band so fun to follow. They are never afraid to push the envelop of creativity as they constantly change directions. This marks yet another evolution as the group channels their inner butterfly in flight. The album is littered with stone cold killers like "Digging the Grave" and "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies." While others like "Take This Bottle" and "The Last To Know" remain more hidden. We are now getting closer to elite level here.
3. 'Album Of The Year' (1997)
This is definitely the most underrated album in the discography; in spite of it's ironic title 'Album of the Year.' The album is a punishing display of bludgeoning harmonies and melodies. It's like a cross between 'Angel Dust' and 'The Real Thing.' If you take the best parts of each of those albums and fuse them into one the results lie in this bed. It features terrific songwriting, impressive lyrics, top of the line composition and elite production. The combination of raw power metal and swirling synthesized melodies have this album screaming epic. From the opening in your face "Collision" to the hard rocker "Mouth to Mouth". Followed by the beast of an anthem "Last Cup of Sorrow." There are also the twin techno infused powerhouse studs "Stripsearch" and "Ashes to Ashes". This may not be album of their career material but certainly top of the line worthy!
2. 'The Real Thing' (1989)
Most people rank this record at the top of FNM's catalog and they certainly can't be faulted. However; these lists are not quantified by popularity or how well the album performed. Because if we were using that formula, the fact remains that this is the crème de le crème. This was the record before it's time, a crossover beacon of creative juices. The rap laden monster hit "Epic" is what paces the record. While the other star power anthems "From Out of Nowhere" and "Falling to Pieces" drive the bus. However; the hidden gems define the album...songs like "Surprise You're Dead", "Underwater Love", "Woodpecker From Mars" and "Edge of The World" are timeless classics; as well as the enigmatic cover of "War Pigs." But one would be remiss if they didn't call out the title track "The Real Thing" which outranks them all on the greatness scale. This was the true epic of the record. Mount Rushmore 1-A here folks.
1. 'Angel Dust' (1992)
This masterpiece leaves the rest of the albums in a cloud of dust; and after that dust settles you can emphatically see why. While it's predecessor laid the groundwork, this record perfects that formula. Lyrically and stylistically 'Angel Dust' is far advanced. The production of this record also stands out. Once again, an album with zero filler. While most people recognize the stellar standout tracks like "Midlife Crisis", "A Small Victory" and even the cover of "Easy"; it's once again those deep cuts that make this record the gold standard. "Land of Sunshine" simply kicks ass. "Caffeine" and "Smaller and Smaller" bring down the house. However; my personal favorite "Kindergarten" has that classic FNM flavor with an added element of eerie creepiness. This record is always slept on and that's why most put 'The Real Thing' ahead of it. However; true music enthusiasts and critics realize this records place in the musical landscape. In fact, this is not only the top of the food chain for Faith No More; but this album also belongs among the top albums of that entire decade.
Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome to another edition of Top Album Lists here at Philly Rock Radio.
Since we already have covered 3/4 of the Big 4 of Thrash, it's only fitting that we complete the puzzle with Slayer. There have always been differing opinions on where Slayer ranks among the Thrash Metal greats. However; one thing that remains unquestioned is that this band is the heaviest and loudest of the bunch.
During their 40 years of existence, Slayer has carved out a pretty impressive catalog that stands the test of time. In that time, Slayer provided a benchmark for all future subsequent extreme metal bands. They are the archetypal thrash metal purists and their intensity, fearsome approach, and deadly precision remains unmatched.
With that being said, there are wide ranging opinions on which of their albums and how many approach greatness. We are here to settle the debate once and for all which ones remain at the top as well as which ones miss the mark. So without further ado, here is the best of Slayer's catalog from worst to first...
12. 'Diabolus in Musica' (1998)
Instead of staying true to their unrivaled formula, the band caved to external peer pressure while taking a dive into the nu-metal foray. While the album is certainly not terrible, it unfortunately doesn't quite meet the criteria that Slayer fans expect. Down tuned guitars and experimental vocals were what the Dr. ordered but the people were not buying. High points include "Bitter Peace", "Stain of Mind", and "Death's Head." Fortunately, this is the low point of Slayer's catalog.
11. 'Repentless' (2015)
After the untimely passing of lead guitarist Jeff Hanneman, the prospect of getting a solid record again were grim. However; one must admit, the band did their very best to replicate the classic style fans have grown to love. The album actually turned out pretty decent which was a pleasant surprise, and also a testament to the talent of Gary Holt who did his best Hanneman imitation. Unfortunately, the band could not duplicate the songwriting...good but not great.
10. 'Divine Intervention' (1994)
Drummer Dave Lombardo was out of the band. Enter Paul Bostaph. Honestly, Slayer did not miss a beat on the percussion side of things. However; they seemed to be lacking direction on this record. There are a few stellar tracks which show that this album has star potential. Songs like "Killing Fields", and "Sex, Murder, Art." followed the tried and true formula. Meanwhile, the title track lent creedence to the albums overall success. Unfortunately, there is too much filler present which hinders the albums flow. Decent but not a classic.
9. 'Undisputed Attitude' (1996)
Although most people would argue that a cover album has no business being included on a list such as this, the fact remains that this is not just an ordinary cover album. In fact, the band went totally out of their comfort zone in the process and for that they get high marks. It's a raw edgy punk rocking thriller that knocks the listener on their ass. Not to mention the fact that there are two tracks included from Jeff Hanneman's early solo projects as well as one original. Extremely underrated record and definitely worthy of it's place on the map.
8. 'Christ Illusion' (2006)
This marked the return of Dave Lombardo as the band was firing on all cylinders. It was also a return to the band's roots as they tried to recreate the magic of yesteryears. Although the album doesn't quite match classic era Slayer, it does match that intensity. The result is a fantastic mixture of in your face banter as well as solid musicianship. The record is littered with top end talent like "Flesh Storm", "Eyes of the Insane" and "Catatonic". However; it's hidden gems like "Jihad" and "Supremist" that clearly define the albums ear test. Solid effort not quite top tier yet though.
7. 'God Hates Us All' (2001)
Having been released on September 11, 2001, the album remains a haunting and chilling reminder of just how terrible that day was. Just read the album cover. However; the album was clearly an attempt from Slayer to recapture their magic of old. Although the album doesn't quite match classic era Slayer as far as greatness, it does indeed reach that same intensity. The album is littered with standout tracks including "Disciple", "God Send Death" and "Bloodline". Slayer had clearly embraced their roots as they pressed reset. Solid and inching closer to next level.
6. 'World Painted Blood' (2009)
Some of Slayer's best songwriting finds it's home on this record. The fearsome foursome was at the top of their game and the results paid instant dividends. The record opens with the title track which beckons "A" list material on any playlist as the hits keep coming. Tracks like "Unit 731" and "Snuff" hit harder than a wrecking ball. Then there's the haunting and ethereal "Beauty Through Order" and "Human Strain". However; the true gem for me is "Playing With Dolls" which would even scare the shit out of satan himself. We have now reached classic level and are ready to enter elite.
5. 'Show No Mercy' (1983)
The birthplace of Slayer took place on this thrilling debut. The band channeled traditional rock and roll roots and mixed it with a punky flavor which resulted in this stone cold classic. Much like Metallica's 'Kill Em All' it's an album that was clearly ahead of it's time. Raw and edgy with bombastic flavor that hits you at the core. And it foreshadowed the greatness of Jeff Hanneman's songwriting which clearly was approaching elite at this point. The record is full of timeless classics like "Black Magic", "Die By The Sword", and "Evil Has No Boundaries". Even the title track sizzles.
4. 'Hell Awaits' (1985)
Slayer shocked the world with the album cover and title. Nonetheless, it marked a huge leap forward both musically and stylistically for the band. Slayer was not about to wash their hands in a sophomore slump; instead staking their claim of the thrash metal musical landscape. This is a tremendous record that is often overlooked in the band's discography. Groundbreaking tracks like "Hell Awaits" and "At Dawn They Sleep" pace the album while songs like "Necrophiliac" foreshadowed that signature Slayer smash and bash energy. We have now reached elite.
3. 'South of Heaven' (1988)
It would be almost impossible to follow up a benchmark iconic record like 'Reign In Blood'. However; Slayer nearly pulled off just that feat here. In fact a coupe de ta was clearly in reach as they dialed it back in a 360 degree manner as far as intensity. While it's predecessor fed off of the fast and furious stab you in the heart type riffs, 'South of Heaven' featured extremely slow dialed back mid tempo killers. Littered with star power..."Spill The Blood", "Silent Scream", "Behind the Crooked Cross", "Mandatory Suicide" and the infamous title track hit harder than a Mark McGwire homerun. Meanwhile, their cover of the Judas Priest classic "Dissident Aggressor' absolutely nails the coffin.
2. 'Seasons In The Abyss' (1990)
This has always been my personal favorite Slayer record. It's like a cross between 'Reign In Blood' and 'South of Heaven.' The band took the best from both of these albums and created a dual threat combination. The results were a magnificent masterpiece of grandeur. The album flow is damn near perfect. The musical production and sound is pristine. Rick Rubin did his best Leonardo De Vinci impersonation here. Hits are endless as tracks like "Dead Skin Mask", "Spirit in Black", "Skeletons of Society" and more dominate the façade spontaneously. However, it's the bookend stalwarts that define the albums greatness. Top notch here and definitely elite material.
1. 'Reign In Blood' (1986)
The quintessential album of Slayer's catalog and quite possibly the greatest in thrash metal history. A 30 minute tour of hell's gates take place on this iconic roller coaster of fantastic musicianship. Stellar songwriting and composition the likes we may never see again happen. It's an all out assault of every musical adjective you can objectify. A bombastic and riveting masterpiece of art. Fast and furious, lightning full speed ahead dominance that strikes you at the core. Zero filler is present as the hits just keep on coming. Plug in sit back and it will all be over soon!! Hands down the best for Slayer and right at the top of the thrash metal Mount Rushmore!
Written By Jason Voorhees
It's not a stretch to say that Anthrax is often the forgotten band when it comes to the Big4.
While they are sometimes overlooked, they undoubtedly hold a special place in thrash metal hearts across the world. Wallowing out of the slums of New York, big time producer Johnny Zazula helped Anthrax rise to the top during the thrash metal insurgence of the mid eighties.
While fellow counterparts Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer closely followed their same signature formula sound and style during the majority of their careers; Anthrax ran the gamut in both style and diversity. Most metal fans and critics define the eras by which lead singer is behind the microphone.
Whether your love finds favor with Joey Belladonna or if John Bush peaks your fancy; one part of the band has always stayed true to form. And that's the triplets: Charlie Benante (drums), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), and Frank Bello (bass). That group has employed Anthrax's core songwriting duties for the majority of their existence.
Over the years, Anthrax has established the most diverse discography catalog of the entire Big4. While there have been a few low points, most of their records have performed very well enjoying much success. So instead of wasting any more time with boring introductions...let's jump head on into the fire as we rank the best of Anthrax from worst to first. Forgot to mention...this is strictly studio albums (not including other fine works such as 'Attack of the Killer B's' or 'Anthems')
11. 'Stomp 442' (1995)
Most definitely the low point in their discography. Certainly not a terrible record, but not very memorable either. This was the sophomore album with John Bush in the driver seat and the results were inconsistent at best. The songwriting was uninspiring lacking clear vision. The standout tracks include "Fueled", "Riding Shotgun" and "I'm In A Zone" which had a very nu-metal style tone. Dan Spitz was out of the band and so was the energy. Too much filler and little very little thriller.
10. 'We've Come For You All' (2003)
This was a comeback of sorts during the John Bush era. While many fans had grown tired of the bands lack of direction; the album was a semi return to basics. The old inspiration that had been missing the previous few years was back. With Rob Caggiano on the axe, there was more energy and the groove was back in the band's step. Tracks like "Safe Home", "Black Dhalia" and "Taking the Music Back" offered a more classic style of thrash. This was not the time to "Think About An End" just yet. Anthrax was back in the game.
9. 'Fistful of Metal' (1984)
A stellar debut for the New York thrashers. A raw and edgy mixture of in your face metal that provided the fledgling archetype for the bands future endeavors. Johnny Z hit another home run signing these guys as the results speak for themselves. A classic thrash onslaught featuring "Deathrider", "Panic" mosh pit favorite "Metal Thrashing Mad." There's also a badass cover of Alice Cooper's megahit "Eighteen." A truly substantially solid debut; and more importantly an extremely fun listen.
8. 'State of Euphoria' (1988)
This is the epitome of going back to the well one too many times. Instead of building off of the momentum from it's Mount Rushmore esque predecessor, the album sadly became a repetitive beacon of familiarity. Anthrax could have taken their act to new heights but unfortunately the creativity stalled. That's not to say that it lacks some very fine moments. Songs like "Be All, End All", "Make Me Laugh" and "Finale" are standout stalwarts. However; it was the cover of "Antisocial" that became a huge hit appearing regularly on MTV's Headbanger's Ball. Solid but not great.
7. 'Persistence of Time' (1990)
This may be Anthrax's best record both stylistically and lyrically. It's definitely more advanced and closer to what should have come after 'Among the Living.' The songwriting is both intricate and intense. I always say that this is where Anthrax albums go from decent to absolute knockouts. The record is littered with star power beginning to end including the opener "Time" as well as "Keep it in the Family", "Belly of the Beast", "In My World", "Got the Time" and "Discharge." A masterpiece of violent energy. Anthrax was not messing around anymore.
6. 'For All Kings' (2016)
They say we learn from our mistakes and Anthrax truly learned after the 'State of Euphoria' aftermath. Coming off of their huge hit 'Worship Music' the band was faced with a similar situation to that experiment. This time instead of zigging Anthrax decided to zag. While the album still shared similarities to it's predecessor, 'For All Kings' provided fresh and new ideas and diverse changes in style. The album is filled with greatness lead by "You Gotta Believe", "Monster At the End", "For All Kings", "Breathing Lightning" and "Defend Avenge". "Blood Eagle Wings" is an epic masterpiece.
5. 'Volume 8' (1998)
Hands down their most underrated album ever written. In fact, I'm gonna catch major flack for placing it so high on the list. But while many fans and critics hold the album in low regards, do not mistake popularity with true greatness. And this is a top album list, not a popularity contest. Written during a very dark time In the band's emotional state, it features intense songwriting and very dark lyrics. Standouts are plentiful: "Crush", "Catharsis", "Inside Out" and "P&V" is as fearsome of a foursome as you will find in thrash metal anthology. Awesome record...fight me if you disagree!
4. 'Spreading The Disease' (1985)
No sophomore slump here folks. Another stone cold classic for the empire state thrash metal rockers. A genre-defining release that's often a prototype metal record for guitarists to learn from. Plenty of high level material leaves the listener feeling pretty hype and stoked. It's either well known classics or hidden gem glory in toe...zero filler resides on this album. Tracks like "Madhouse", "Medusa" and "A.I.R." pace the record while "Gung-Ho", "Aftershock" and "Stand or Fall" define it! This was the album that sent them flying to the top.
3. 'Sound of White Noise' (1993)
The birthplace of the John Bush era could have been a huge disappointment. Instead, the band buckled down and produced arguably their most artistic record up until that point. The album performed extremely well on the charts and was emphatically received by fans and critics alike. A provocative induced coma on the senses, this is an ear drum popping barnburner of reckless abandon. The huge hit "Only" is the highpoint, but it's only the tip of the icerberg in this album's greatness. Other standouts include "Black Lodge", "Room For One More" and "Hy Pro Glo". John Bush brought a newfound passion and his presence was band altering.
2. 'Worship Music' (2011)
One of the most anticipated reunion comeback releases in metal history was a slam dunk homerun. In fact, this record is so good, it could very well be their greatest when truly admiring its contents. From opening to close, Anthrax brought their A game and it's as classic style Anthrax that you could ever get. This album brings back memories of the classic era thrashers. The fans loved it and the critics were enamored as well. Probably the best overall produced album as far as sound goes. It basically runs the entire gamut of Anthrax career both stylistically and lyrically. It boasts hit after hit with no bad tracks in sight. Plug and play at it's finest just push play.
1. 'Among The Living' (1987)
As tough as the competition is, 'Among the Living' undoubtedly takes the cake as the quintessential album of the Anthrax discography. Far and away their most mature songwriting effort overall and one that only fed the rabid moshing persona of it's loyal die hard thrashers. "Caught in A Mosh", "I am the Law", "Efilnikufesin", "Indians", "Imitation of Life" the list keeps going and going. A masterpiece of thrash metal art that has stood the test of time and ranks right up there at the top of all metal albums all-time. A definitive cornerstone for the band and one that even the most novel fans must bow too. Say hello to greatness here folks!
Written By Jason Voorhees
Stryper is hoping to pull off one heck of a feat in 2020.
They are trying to release not one but two studio albums. Yes that's right you heard it correctly. According to the band's leader Michael Sweet, the band is working on an all acoustic album as we speak, which would be the first of it's kind for them. Stryper is also putting the finishing touches on it's 13th studio album which will be released sometime this summer.
When the best of heavy metal is talked about, Stryper rarely finds itself in that discussion. However; as the saying goes...the truth will set you free. True fans and metal critics realize just how much of a travesty it is to not put the Christian metal pioneers in the top rungs when discussing metal band greatness.
What's not to love about this band as their talents are endless. After coming on strong during the early eighties hair metal scene, Stryper became a mainstay during the rise of glam metal in the mid to late eighties. After struggling and suffering a lengthy hiatus, the band came back to form in the late 2000's.
The last decade has saw Stryper release some of it's best work. The band has carved out quite an impressive discography catalog over the years. With a highly anticipated double album release this summer, we figured now would be a great time to rank the best of the best.
So without further ado...here is the best of Stryper ranked worst to first...come along on this journey!
12. 'Reborn' (2005)
After originally being slated as a Michael Sweet solo album, the rest of the band heard the material and wanted in. In some ways, this was kind of a rebirth as it featured the bands first original material in over 15 years. Stryper tried to find a more contemporary sound as the record took on a much heavier tone. In fact, some have compared it to the nu-metal genre. Although it's not a terrible album, it most definitely lacks the classic Stryper elements that we have grown to love. High points include "Passion" and "Open Your Eyes." A familiar favorite also appears on the record as "I.G.W.T." is a modern day remake of the smash hit "In God We Trust." Welcome back boys.
11. 'The Yellow And Black Attack' (1984)
The birthplace of Stryper takes place on this iconic stalwart. Some would say its sacreligious to have this one so low on the list. Just because its so low does not make it a bad record. In fact, this is an awesome album as it has stood the test of time. The epic opener "Loud and Clear" emphatically highlights Michael Sweet's stellar vocal range as well as the one-two punch of guitar greatness of both Oz Fox and Sweet. "Loving You", "Co'Mon Rock" and "From Wrong To Right" all feature soaring vocals, foundation rocking guitars, sing along choruses and blistering solos. A stellar debut for the killer bees. There are always growing pains for up and coming bands but this was certainly a tone setter.
10. 'Murder By Pride' (2009)
A throwback in so many words. Many people consider this to be the most underrated album in their catalog. Despite an underwhelming sound production and sometimes inconsistent song flow, the album features a darker side for the band both musically and stylistically. Although drummer Robert Sweet is not featured on the album due to a mishap in the recording process, he did appear on the subsequent tour. The standout tracks are "Run In You", "Alive", as well as the solid title track. However; the cover of Boston's "Peace of Mind" was the track that drove the album's success. Meanwhile, deeper cuts like "4Leaf Clover" and "Everything" are the ones that truly define the record's significance!
9. 'In God We Trust' (1988)
The follow up to the smash hit 'To Hell With The Devil' was a defining moment for the band. Stryper had achieved commercial success and now they looked to refine their formula and sound. Where the previous three albums seemed to build off each other musically and lyrically, this was a more open effort to go mainstream. The record has an extremely poppy vibe as it adds keyboards and more of an opera approach on vocals. The songwriting, guitar riffs, power vocals, catchy choruses and production is unrivaled at that point in Stryper's career. The title track "In God We Trust" was a massive hit. Other standout tracks include "Always There For You", "The Writings on the Wall", and "Come to Everlife."
8. 'Against The Law' (1990)
This was the unmasking of Stryper figuratively. The band shed their yellow and black spandex as well as the original bold band logo with Isaiah 53:5. These iconic elements were replaced by leather outfits and lyrics that were more focused on rock n' roll and relationships. While many hardcore fans screamed blasphemy, truth be told it was a bold move and one that ultimately paid off. The record is paced by top notch songwriting and thought provoking lyrics. The album has very little filler and is very close to plug n play. Solid tracks abound on this one including "Against the Law", "Two Time Woman", "Rock the People", "Ordinary Man" and "All For One". Definitely one of my all time favorites.
7. 'Second Coming' (2013)
Your probably wondering how an album that is mostly filled with re-recordings finds a place so high on the list. Well, the answer is simple. Michael Sweet is not only the lead vocalist of the band, but he has become a world class producer. His excellence is firmly implanted all over this masterpiece. It's basically every one of the band's classic tracks on steroids. The guitar work is masterful. The Fox/Sweet duo is extremely impressive. Drummer Robert Sweet's talents also explode all over the map. And bassist Tim Gaines gives an epic performance as well. When I'm searching for a go to record, this is certainly high on my list. Stryper is definitely back with a vengeance here!
6. 'The Covering' (2011)
This album most definitely could be much higher on the list if not for the fact that Stryper has reinvented themselves on the mountain artistically. Despite the fact that there is only one original track ("God") on the record, their approach in covering these mainstay classics simply sizzles. The band's amazing musical talents are full on display here. In fact, many of their versions are actually more impressive than the originals. All of the bands that they try to emulate here had huge influences on them growing up. Sweet, The Scorpions, Black Sabbath, UFO, Kansas, Deep Purple, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Led Zeppelin all find homes here. Solid from A-Z!!!
5. 'No More Hell To Pay' (2013)
The band truly seems to have aged like an infinitely ever improving fine wine. While Jesus has turned water into wine...Stryper has turned each such successive album into an even better masterpiece. When this album was released in 2013, no one expected Stryper to sound so impressive. Indeed how wrong we were. This is an absolute stellar album that features some of the best material the band has ever released up until this point. Michael Sweet not only looks younger but his voice rings out in pristine greatness. There are too many great tracks to mention them all. This is the album that should have been released after "In God We Trust." And yet here we are 30 years later!
4. 'To Hell With The Devil' (1986)
This was Stryper's biggest selling album of their career and it's easy to see why. Blazing guitar riffs, ear piercing vocals, powerful and catchy choruses, blistering solos and fantastic musicianship. This was a much heavier album than previous records while keeping just the right balance of Christian message tones and popular appeal. "To Hell With The Devil" to this day remains one of the bands greatest works. However; this album is littered with hidden gem material like "Rockin' The World", "Calling On You", "Free", and "More Than A Man." "The Way" may be the bands most underrated track of all-time. This is classic Stryper to the core and set the bar for all future records to come.
3. 'Fallen' (2015)
Just when you thought Stryper could not get any better, they flipped the script. After releasing the highly touted 'No More Hell To Pay', the band was back to kicking ass and taking names. In fact, with one epic opening track "Yahweh", they topped the previous album in one fellow swoop. It's definitely the heaviest track ever recorded by Stryper while maintaining the powerful Christian message of Christ's death on the cross. Another amazing masterpiece here, with zero bad songs. Another Sabbath cover, "After and Forever" appears here as Styper absolutely nails it to the wood. It's hard to believe that a band can continue to get better this far a long in their career but these legends have done just that.
2. 'Soldiers Under Command' (1985)
The sophomore jinx was totally debunked here. The band had matured leaps and bounds both musically and stylistically. There is a war going on and Stryper was here to claim it's band of soldiers. A masterful blend of power metal and hard rock that fully engages the listener. There is supreme songwriting and you can tell that the band was honing in their craft. The band maintains their raw and edgy style while producing a much leaner record. The title track may be their most iconic anthem, but the album is filled with solid classics. "Makes Me Wanna Sing", "The Rock that Makes Me Roll", "Reach Out", and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" all scream. Also, the tremendous piano ballad "First Love" finds it's place here. This is the cream of the crop for Stryper...that is until modern day.
1. 'God Damn Evil' (2018)
Not only is this Stryper's top album of all-time, I had it rated the 16th top album in all of metal over the past decade. It is undoubtedly their heaviest album of all-time. 'God Damn Evil' also marked the debut of Perry Richardson, formerly of Firehouse. As mentioned...Stryper continues to excel with age as they balance the hour glass. Michael Sweet continues to be one of the best overall front men in metal as his voice absolutely transcends greatness. The guitar work on this record is brilliant. Once again, not a bad song on the album. I highly recommend this album even if you are not a fan of Stryper. It's the definitive record of their catalog that spans the entire gamut of their catalog in style.
Written By Jason Voorhees
You don't have to go any further than your own backyard to recognize this week's band pick for top albums. Well of course we are talking about those scrappy thrashers from northern New Jersey...OVERKILL. The band's name was created out of the ashes of Motorhead's 1979 classic album.
Overkill has produced quite a catalog over the years including 19 studio albums.
While the group has endured numerous lineup changes; lead vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Elsworth and bassist DD. Verni have gone the distance. In the early years the band paid its dues playing in the famed clubs of NY and NJ including L'Amours. However; it wasn't until legendary producer Johnny Zazula took the group under his wings that they truly made their mark; a mark that they ultimately shattered.
Overkill became one of the early pioneers of thrash; but while many thrash superstars faded, they were able to adapt to changing sounds while still incorporating their own signature style of thrash. Their diversity has enabled them to stay relevant in the metal mainstream for a very long time.
While the band has had its share of low points, most of their albums have been above average and enjoyed at least some success. Their hard work and dedication has made them one of the most enduring thrash bands of all-time. So without further ado, sit back break open a cold one and come along as we chronicle the very best of the best in Overkill's celebrated catalog.
10. 'W.F.O.' (1994)
Did someone say biker love! The band painted a picture of their motorcycle infatuation with the title wide fucking open....and open up the throttle they did. The bass was doused with miracle grow while the rest of the instruments were cranked up to ten. This is an in your face orgy of powerful energy. Overkill put the pedal to the metal and let their bikes burn rubber. The record was a major step forward from it's predecessor "I Hear Black" which many considered an epic fail. Most tracks have plenty of sizzle and there is very little filler. Standout tracks include "Fast Junkie", "Up to Zero", "Supersonic Hate" and the enigmatic closer..."Gasoline Dream." Overkill was back to form on this one point blank.
9. 'White Devil Armory' (2014)
The new millennium version of Overkill continued to kick ass and take names with this release. The hot streak was evident as soon as the records' second track kicked into overdrive. From that moment a hurricane of thrash metal urgency ensues and the results are spectacular. The album is littered with the signature "Blitz" energy and attitude while that DD. Verdi lava is rotten to the core! "Armorist" became an instant cult classic but its those deep cuts like "Down to the Bone", "PIG" and "King of the Rat Bastards" that classify this album as a stone cold killer. Its almost like Overkill was able to blend their 90's groove influenced style with a modern thrash style sound. Almost effortless.
8. 'Under The Influence' (1988)
This may be the band's most underrated record. While it's often forgotten or pushed aside when ranking the best of, it's fair to say that those people are merely misinformed. The truth is that this album does seem to suffer from a poor sound production which probably fuels the negativity. Nonetheless, 'Under the Influence' shows a creative maturity for the band both musically and stylistically. "Hello From the Gutter" is like Iron Maiden meets thrash. "Shred" and "Never Say Never" is thrash metal to the core through and through. "Brainfade" simply scatters the brain. While "End of the Line" is only the beginning of the line for Overkill's creative juices. One of my all-time favorites.
7. 'Wings Of War' (2019)
After taking a step back on this albums' predecessor (The Grinding Wheel), Overkill once again hit the reset button resulting in another slam dunk. As strongly as the band opened the decade with 'Ironbound', they closed the decade out with a hammer in the coffin. With new drummer Jason Bittner in toe, the wrecking crew was full on blast once again. From beginning to end this record is wide fucking open, a full throttle speed and thrash metal masterpiece. Tracks like "Last Man Standing", "Believe in the Fight", "Batshit Crazy" and "Hole in My Soul" knock you on your ass. "Distortion" breathes fire, While "Welcome to the Garden State" leaves you feeling Sopranos. This is an awesome record and proves that Overkill is still alive and well!
6. 'The Electric Age' (2012)
How do you follow up a game changing album? Well that's easy...release another one. Coming off the heels of 'Ironbound', Overkill was able to once again channel their best effort. Another example of how this band has simply improved with age. 'The Electric Age' is a no nonsense assault on the ear drums. "Blitz" and company brought their A game and the hits just keep on coming. One of the best opening one-two punches in modern day metal with "Come and Get It" and "Electric Rattlesnake". The deep cuts leave you in awe struck...tracks like "Save Yourself", "Drop the Hammer" and "21st Century Man" would make any best of list in this modern day era. Another killer album by Overkill.
5. 'Feel The Fire' (1985)
The Jersey white boys were hot for the taking on this debut thriller. A raw and edgy thrash foray that has stood the test of time. 'Feel the Fire' is a full on thrash assault which features awe flexing riffs, raw inspired hooks and bridges, belting vocals and epic solos. Tracks like "There's No Tomorrow", "Hammerhead" and "Kill At Command" are thrash metal icons. While "Rotten to the Core" truly captures the signature "Blitz" overture of lead vocalist Bobby Ellsworth. Another superb release by Megaforce records made this album a force to be reckoned with. The albums closer "Sonic Reducer" may be the bands most underrated track of all-time! A stellar rookie release.
4. 'Ironbound' (2010)
Iron sharpens iron on this epic masterpiece. Spitting back in the face of recent failures, it was full speed ahead on this instant classic. Overkill decided to take a ride on the time machine back to their roots and the results were earth shattering. From the eye popping opener "The Green and Black" which leaves the listener reeling from a splitting headache. Then the title track which takes you on a tour of the bands hometown near Newark, NJ. From beginning to end this album shoots fire like a volcanic blast. Its a thrash metal symphony that preaches relentless energy and passion. The wrecking crew was once again back to the basics and the basics were just what the Dr. ordered!
3. 'Horrorscope' (1991)
Overkill took a page out of Pantera's playbook on this one and completely nailed it! While many thrash bands completely abandoned the thrash style, Overkill took that new found success of the groove style approach and mixed it into their formula. The result was one of their best albums ever. The opening track "Coma" is an epic opener that's easily one of the bands greatest songs ever produced. Other standout tracks include "Infectious", "Blood Money", "Bare Bones", "Horrorscope", and "Nice Day for a Funeral". The final track "Solitiude" is as close to ballad as Overkill has ever come and its extremely similar to "Cemetery Gates" by Pantera. Another game changing album!
2. 'Taking Over' (1987)
So much for the sophomore jinx. With one fellow swoop Overkill proclaimed they were 'Taking Over.' Although their efforts to overtake the embattled charts ultimately failed, their passion certainly relegated their status among thrash's greats. At this point, the "Wrecking Crew" was kicking ass and erasing names. This album remains one of the definitive thrash records that gets pointed to when reviewing this important genre. Very little filler on this album, its mostly all good. Other standout tracks include "Deny the Cross", "Powersurge" and "Electro-Violence". New Jersey's best could be seen riding their mascot "Chaly" to royalty at this point. An absolute beast of a record.
1. 'The Years Of Decay' (1989)
So they say the third times a charm....well for Overkill it was actually four. The crème de le crème and quintessential album of Overkill's catalog definitely resides here. There is no decay on this record as it simply sizzles with star power. While the band showed maturity on the previous record, they fine tuned that songwriting and this epic masterpiece ensued. "Time to Kill", "Elimination", "Birth of Tension", "Who Tends the Fire" and "Evil Never Dies" are all mainstay tracks in the bands arsenal. "I Hate" is a classic thrash thriller that features another level of peak songwriting both musically and stylistically. While the ten minute epic "Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher" leaves you feeling Sabbath. This is the peak of the mountain for Overkill and the best of the best.
Written By Jason Voorhees
After tackling one of the Sunset Strip heroes in last week's edition, this week we are shifting gears a little bit. In today's edition we will take a deep dive into the career of shock rock's forefather Alice Cooper.
Although the horror rock ringmaster is praised for his live show spectacles and putting on a show, it's often forgotten that the man known as Alice has produced 27 studio albums! The man that was born as Vincent Furnier, simply took on the alter ego of his band Alice Cooper full time after the group disbanded in 1975, and the rest was history.
Alice Cooper has transcended the music world morphing himself into a cultural icon. He has made tv and movie appearances, starred in commercials, and has even opened his own themed franchise restaurants. His brand paved the way for other great live show shockers like KISS, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie among others.
With that being said, it's the music that truly needs to be celebrated.
One thing to note is that he rarely has went away for long periods of time and it's that consistency that has led to an immense discography catalog. Today we will try and give you the definitive list of his all-time greats. Of course as always, some of these may be controversial so feel free to disagree. So without further ado...here is the best of the best of Alice Cooper...
10. 'Paranormal' (2017)
Most will probably be shocked to see this one crack the top ten but not your expert music critics. It's a rare feat to see a band's most recent release rank so high in such a well-storied catalog. However; Alice hit a home run on this one. A diverse blend of ALL of the elements that have become a driving force in Alice Cooper's success. The tried and true formula of invasive guitar riffs and hooks, garage style drums, and rah-rah party anthems makes for a truly stellar record. Tracks like "Paranormal", "Dead Flies" and "Fallen In Love" tear down the house. While songs like "Holy Water" and "The Sound of A" infuse that prototypical Alice horror rock infusion.
9. 'Killer' (1971)
How could an album cover be so prophetic? As Cooper would later take on the shock rock persona of horror laden characters, this one was a true stone cold killer. A raw edgy record that featured a much more aggressive approach than it's predecessors. From beginning to end this record truly will rock your socks off. "Under My Wheels" is a balls to the wall opener that sets the pace for a murderer's row of angry rock and roll. Hard to find any filler on this one folks as it simply hits hard. Other standout tracks include "Halo of Flies", "Desperado", "Dead Babies" and the title track. This may be Alice Cooper's most underrated album.
8. 'Constrictor' (1986)
Often referred to as a game changer in the discography catalog. After a long run of lackluster duds, Alice shocked the world with this breath of fresh air. A glam metal style sound was on the menu. Cooper not only struck gold on the entrees but he aced the appetizers as well. Kane Robert's contributions on guitar paid instant dividends while Kip Winger's appearance on bass provided a spark in the dark. A well written record that reinstated Cooper's resume of supreme songwriting. Standout tracks include "Teenage Frankenstein", "Thrill My Gorilla" and "He's Back(The Man Behind The Mask)", the latter also appearing regularly on the Friday The 13th franchise. An 80's metal lovers dream.
7. 'School's Out' (1972)
The title track has become synonymous as the calling card for Alice Cooper. However; the album includes many great tracks, even if they appear to be a bunch of no names in a one track mind. It's a mischievous record that's littered with creative elements and songwriting galore. This was the birthplace and seminal roots of what would later become the giant's calling card theatrical live show. The album exudes that classic Alice energy while displaying a wide range of styles and tones. It's kind of like The Doors meets The Rolling Stones with a shade of Pink Floyd. One of the classics and definitely worthy of top all-time status.
6. 'Raise Your Fist And Yell' (1987)
A full onslaught of metal in the style of DIO. Some of the most impressive guitar work ever assembled on an Alice Cooper record. After introducing a new style and sound on the previous record, the band perfected the sound on this a list album. Tracks like "Freedom", "Lock Me Up" and "Give the Radio Back" light up the floor. But it's the thriller "Prince of Darkness" that truly cements the albums ceiling. If you love that pop style 80's glam metal mania, then this is your choice. One of my personal favorites and the hidden gem of all Alice Cooper albums. A truly great record that certainly outperforms its name. Alice not only raised his fist...he raised his game on this one!
5. 'Welcome To My Nightmare' (1975)
Some say this is the seminal album of Cooper's career. Although it did mark the beginning of his solo career, it also married his persona with the walls of vaudeville. Simply put, it sets the record straight for all of those who remained on the fence as far as Alice Cooper's creative intelligence goes. There is phenomenal songwriting both musically and lyrically. The title track sets the tone but its littered with hidden gems from beginning to end. It's a concept album ahead of it's time. The story of a madman showcasing his talents. The birthplace of shock rock and the beginning of a whole new genre. A subtle balance of rock and jazz.
4. 'Trash' (1989)
'Trash' marked the commercial high point for Alice Cooper. After perfecting the glam metal sound in the previous two records, Alice sacked Desmond Child to help produce this one. The result was a standout megahit single "Poison" which cracked the top ten charting at #7 on the Billboard Top 100. While the super hit was the high point for the album, it was not lacking others in a long list of standout tracks. "Spark in the Dark", "House of Fire", "Why Trust You", "Bed of Nails" and "Trash" were all above average rockers that could light up a stage. "Hell is Living Without You" gave Cooper his first killer ballad in forever. A true tour de force in the Alice Cooper catalog.
3. 'Hey Stoopid' (1991)
This was 'Trash' on steroids. In an effort to continue down the same path of stellar songwriting, Alice summoned a group of guests to perform on the album. And in similar fashion, the album was a huge success. The guests included Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars. While the album is truly paced by the massive standout track "Feed My Frankenstein", it's once again the deep cuts that define it's greatness. Songs like "Love's A Loaded Gun", "Snakebite", "Dangerous Tonight" and "Hurricane Years" are flat out killers. "I Might As Well Be on Mars" is yet another stellar ballad. And "Hey Stoopid" is about as good as it gets for a title track!
2. 'Love It to Death' (1971)
A very tight melodic rock and roll record. The opening track "Caught in a Dream" is an absolute masterpiece. Follow that up with the ever popular "I'm Eighteen" and you have a magnificent one-two punch. However; it's "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" that defines the creative genius of the bands leader. The songwriting on this album is way ahead of it's time folks. This is a raucous edgy rock and roll thriller that once again tells a story. We are beginning to see Alice Cooper's true vision and goals as the album plays through. Many people skip this one when ranking the bands greatest but true rock enthusiasts and die hard fans embrace it's greatness! Doom gloom and creepy.
1. 'Billion Dollar Babies' (1973)
The crème de le crème of Alice Cooper's discography. A wide range and mixture of sounds and styles all blended into one. It certainly follows the straightforward formula of megahit singles that mingle with deep cut anti filler hypocrisy. "No More Mr. Nice Guy" is the epitome of Cooper's mean looking persona. It's a stellar record that provides everything that we have grown to appreciate in an Alice Cooper piece of art. Many believe that this was one of the defining moments in the rise of heavy metal. A true masterpiece of epic proportions. This is plug and play at it's finest...and definitely marks Alice Cooper's finest hour. The finale "I Love The Dead" will leave you awestruck.
Written By Jason Voorhees
Today we will feature one of the early kings of the Sunset Strip Metal scene. As one of the founding fathers of glam metal, W.A.S.P. was one of the pioneers of this important musical genre.
Over the years, W.A.S.P. has carved out a very impressive discography catalog. While their first three records screamed hair metal glory, the band went on to run the gamut of styles and sounds. They were never afraid to push the envelope and their raw edgy attitude and grit made them key players in the heavy metal evolution.
Led by the infamous lead vocalist Blackie Lawless, W.A.S.P. took hair spray infusion to new levels. Whether it was controversial song titles or throwing raw meat into the crowd, the band was always looking to shock the world. In fact, their antics and live show prowess only fueled their popularity in the metal community circles.
As always, ranking this bands top albums will insight quite a challenge. Unlike many of the previous bands, there is widespread debate and opinions as to which ones belong on the Mount Rushmore. Nonetheless, we are always up for the challenge. So sit back, grab a snack and take a deep dive with us into the chronicles of W.A.S.P. Here is their top ten albums of all-time...
10. 'K.F.D.' (1997)
Kill Fuck Die. You cannot push the envelope much further than that one folks. W.A.S.P.'s most polarizing album and least commercially accessible of all-time. The album features a more industrial tone while taking on a polished and almost computerized production. Die hard fans and loyalists were definitely turned off by the change in direction. However; those same fans were thrilled to see the return of golden boy Chris Holmes on the axe. Blackie's songwriting was extremely dark and twisted which closely followed his erratic emotional state of mind. Not a terrible album but certainly not their finest hour.
9. 'Dominator' (2007)
This was the album that would ultimately put W.A.S.P. back on the map. After striking out on the dual concept 'The Neon God' clunkers, the group went back to the drawing board and wrote a solid classic metal thumper. In fact, the album features some stalwart burning fire classics like "Long Way to Go", "The Burning Man" and "Heaven's Hung in Black." It also features another standout semi-ballad "Take Me Up." Plenty of classics to go around, W.A.S.P learned from previous mistakes as they once again embraced their roots. Deja vu was in order!
8. 'Babylon' (2009)
Old school W.A.S.P. was on full display on this thriller. The album even featured covers of Deep Purple's "Burn" and Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" that were stone cold killers. The standout tracks are "Crazy" and "Babylon's Burning" but it's the subtle gems that make this record a grand slam home run. Blackie spent a ton of time writing phenomenal lyrics as he had recently renewed his Christian faith in Jesus. This revelation seemed to ignite a new fire in the band and the results were amazing. This record not only recaptures their glory years, it overshadows them in stellar fashion.
7. 'Still Not Black Enough' (1995)
This is probably the most overlooked album in the catalog of W.A.S.P. Originally planned to be a Lawless solo album, he decided instead for the brand name moniker. Another very pissed off record with tons of energy and endless grit. I sometimes think that Blackie's battle with his demons was the driving force of the band. Another classic album that truly hit you at the core. Timeless classics like "Goodbye America" and "I Can't" were what paced the record. However the sleepers truly told the story of just how underrated it really was. Another solid record.
6. 'Golgotha' (2015)
Some try to write this off as just another Christian heavy metal wanna bee fraud. However, true music enthusiasts recognize the full greatness of this full on masterpiece. Another return to the sound and style of the glory days has this record leaving you coming back for more. The first few tracks have that classic W.A.S.P. symphonic mastery. But nothing rings out harder than "Slaves of the New Order" which beckons the call of their greatest hits mythology...an absolute barnburner folks!! The ballad "Hero of the World" features an epic solo while the epic closer "Golgatha" is an ode to the band's beginnings and Blackie's newfound faith in Christ.
5. 'Inside The Electric Circus' (1986)
Not quite the cream of the crop, but definitely worthy of gratitude and praise. Full of stellar tracks up and down the album. The only thing the album suffers from is that there really are no top of the line hits. However; if its consistency you are looking for then this is your pick. Very little filler abides here as it keeps the audience rocking with endless fervor. This is a plug and play in its purest form. Definitely a more angry tone than its predecessors as it shows that attitude that we have grown accustomed to with W.A.S.P. Another underrated classic.
4. 'Headless Children' (1989)
W.A.S.P reinvented themselves in one fellow swoop with this piece of art. The band took on a heavier tone both musically and lyrically. Probably the best songwriting to ever appear on a W.A.S.P album. Quiet Riots Frankie Banali takes a seat at the drum kit which pays instant dividends. Tracks like the title track "Headless Children" and "Mean Man" remain all-time greats. Meanwhile their cover of the Who's "The Real Me" rattles the cage of even the most novice of fans. Some say this is the bands best all-time album and who can really argue against that. Definitely well written and worthy of bragging rights. Solid record from start to finish!
3. 'The Last Command' (1985)
Talk about thwarting the sophomore slump jinx. While many sophomore albums fall flat on their face, this album did three backflips sideways while landing on it's feet. The album features the mega hit "Wild Child" and "Blind In Texas." However, the hidden deep cuts like "Ballcrusher", "Widowmaker", "Cries In the Night" and the title track define this absolute masterpiece. Definitely one of their classics and among some of the best albums of the era. Of course, it did not hurt that MTV hijacked two of the tracks for mainstay video airplay.
2. 'W.A.S.P.' (1984)
Many would say that this one belongs at the top and who could fault them. Of course, the band originally omitted the controversial track "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) from the album release due to pressure from the label. However there were plenty of star power tracks including "Hellion", "I Wanna Be Somebody", "Sleeping (In the Fire)" and "School Daze". The album was raw and edgy and proved that W.A.S.P. could hang with the big boys. Chock full of anthemic metal and smoldering with eccentric guitar riffs galore. This was the birthplace of the band but it foreshadowed their rise in prophetic fashion. The raw meat throwing festival of metal struck gold on this gamechanger.
1. 'Crimson Idol' (1992)
This is the pinnacle for W.A.S.P. both musically and lyrically. The mount Everest of their discography catalog. A concept album at the core that takes the listener on a brutally honest journey. It's a tour de force into the mind of the man behind the myth and the legend. "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Mourgue) may be W.A.S.P.'s heaviest track of all-time. Its an all out menacing assault that destroys all sound barriers in its way. Other tracks like "The Idol", "I am One" and "Hold on to My Heart" paint a picture of a thousand mirrors. Definitely my personal favorite and the cream of the crop for W.A.S.P. The defining moment of the bands legacy.
Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome back to another edition of Top Album List's here at Philly Rock Radio. Last week saw us tackle one of the greatest hard rock bands to ever grace the stage in Aerosmith. This week we shift our focus to a band that perfected the term brand even before the term was ever created...today we will chronicle KISS.
KISS recently celebrated their 47th anniversary. Over their years of existence, the band has become a larger than life deity, the likes that have rarely been seen. In fact, KISS has their own army of followers, consisting of some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the history of heavy metal music.
While many have argued that the band are merely false prophets in disguise, the fact remains that the band members are actually very talented musicians. Underneath the piles of makeup and marketing madness lies some truly phenomenal records.
KISS has produced quite a catalog including four solo studio albums that were put out by each of the original members...Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, and Peter Criss. For purposes of this project though, these albums will not be included, nor will we include the live albums. Instead we will focus strictly on their studio albums.
As always, compiling the top albums will be a unique challenge as there are always a wide range of opinions. However; you wanted the best...so here you got the best!!!!!!! Without further ado...here is KISS' top ten albums of all-time...
10. 'Dressed to Kill' (1975)
Their third studio album saw the band take a different direction. While it's predecessor's focused more on that raw edgy attitude, there was more of a pop feel on this one. It seemed like KISS was seeking a commercial breakthrough and this was the first step in that right direction. Tracks like "Room Service", "Ladies in Waiting", "Getaway" and "C'mon and Love Me" are catchy and too the point. "Rock Bottom" starts off slow and ends with a bang. And of course, who could forget the immortal "Rock and Roll All Night." All in all, a very solid album for the queens of makeup and one that would solidify their rise to the top.
9. 'Lick It Up' (1983)
As the makeup came off so did the ladies panties. KISS has always found a way to make an impact when the chips are down and they certainly did so with this publicity stunt. With Vinnie Vincent taking over on lead guitars, the album had a much different sound, both musically and stylistically. KISS tried to embrace their roots as they harkened back to their glory days. The album features a more sleazy glam style tempo with impressive results. Probably the most underrated album that KISS has ever produced. While the title track "Lick it Up" was a massive hit, its the unheralded sleepers that make this one of their all-time bests. Solid record from A-Z.
8. 'Creatures of the Night' (1982)
KISS meets heavy metal on this barn burner. Little to no filler on this one folks. Just a straight up in your face assault of the senses. In fact, this is more of the sound that you would expect from a makeup toting group of hard asses. The record features some of the bands most creative songwriting ever assembled and the intensity is matched by each individual instrument. Yet another highly underrated masterpiece. Despite Ace Frehley appearing on the cover, he did not perform on the album, instead being replaced by Vinnie Vincent on the axe. Nonetheless, the record brings the heat from beginning to end starting with the title track. Also features a tremendous ballad, "I Still Love You."
7. 'Hotter Than Hell' (1974)
This is classic KISS at its most KLASSIC. While the album tanked upon release, it has truly grown in the hearts of the army faithful. If you had to describe the sound it's like a cross between Aerosmith and Black Sabbath. A raw and edgy attitude with plenty of doomy riffs. Tons of live concert staples on this effort including "Got to Choose", "Goin Blind", "Mainline", "All the Way" and "Comin' Home." In fact, some other metal bands have covered a few classics from this album including Anthrax ("Parasite") and Megadeth ("Strange Ways"). Certainly not the bands most famous or popular record but definitely one of their most impressive.
6. 'Love Gun' (1977)
This would be the original band's final moment in the sun before ultimately collapsing underneath a myriad of consequences. While the band was frolicking around in it's newfound celebrity status of elitism, they set aside time to focus on making a great record. Similar in the style and approach of its predecessor, 'Love Gun' featured solid peak rock and roll, set to capture the audience in toe. Multiple hit tracks including "Christine Sixteen", "Shock Me" and "Love Gun" pace the album while subtle lesser known stalwarts like "Almost Human" define it. "Plaster Caster" pays homage to the groupies that share the same title. Another timeless giant.
5. 'Dynasty' (1979)
Although the record was recorded during a time where tensions were at an all-time high, the band was able to buckle down and hit a grand slam on this effort. The album spawned the megahit "I was Made For Loving You" which features a disco-pop style tempo. In fact, the album is littered with disco laden tracks throughout which precluded Paul Stanley's infatuation with romanticism and pop culture. While many of the faithful were put off by the change in direction, KISS certainly stole the spotlight as they once again defied the odds. Not only is this one of the bands finest hours, it was a truly a defining moment for their discography catalog. Still a timeless classic today.
4. 'KISS' (1974)
This marked the birthplace for KISS. This debut album was raw and edgy and featured that good old fashioned sleaze rock. The album is an orgy of classic KISS stalwarts that ring out just as big as their clown like persona. Tracks like "Strutter", "Deuce", "Cold Gin" and "Nothin' To Lose" leave you coming back for more. Where the album is lacking in sound production it makes up with its signature muddy riffs and anthems. Its a record that tells a story and clearly set the tone for a band that was on a mission to take over the world. While loyal fans and listeners all agree that this is one of their best, its music critics that truly recognize the validity of its fire!
3. 'Rock And Roll Over' (1976)
One of my personal favorites, this record captures everything that KISS stands for. "Calling Dr. Love" is not only the albums best track, it may be the best track ever recorded by the band. A stone cold classic hit that still rattles heads today. While the ballad "Hard Luck Woman" rivals their all-time best with ladies and gentlemen alike. The album closes out with the lesser known "Makin' Love" which is hands down their most underrated track of all-time. An album that clearly hits the listener from every angle. Don't look to be betrayed by a Kiss, as this one slaps you on the lip while flashing you in the face.
2. 'Destroyer' (1976)
The album starts off with one of the most iconic openers in hard rock history..."Detroit Rock City." While the band had made a name for themselves in the live circles, they had yet to solidify themselves in the studio album department. This record changed that while finally putting KISS on the map. The album features top notch material throughout including "Flaming Youth", "Shout it out Loud" and "Do You Love Me." However, the gold standard is found on the epic ballad "Beth" which has become a live show staple. The band had reached superhero status at this point and this was the crown jewel of its arsenal. A hard rock masterpiece that certainly rocks more than it does roll!
1. 'Revenge' (1992)
I'm probably going to receive a ton of pushback for this selection. Many experts do not even have this album among KISS' top ten. However; I am here to tell you that those people are just flat out wrong. This is the Mount Rushmore for KISS. 'Revenge' is the crème de le crème of their catalog. Total thriller...zero filler. From beginning to end the album features top notch musicianship. Some of the band's best songwriting finds its place on this record. "Unholy" is exactly what the title says. "Take it Off" is an ode to the ladies and what ya may just see them do at a show. "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" was an MTV giant. "Domino" will leave you crying in your cheerios. You get the point, this record kicks major ass. It's the quintessential moment for KISS; their true swan song!
BRIAN BASHER - HARD ROCK NIGHTS - MON-WED - 9PM-MID
Stories, news and reviews presented by the staff of Philly Rock Radio.