I know that some folks will probably think I'm out of my mind with some of these selections but they have their reasons for being here. Some of these might not have been straight up "sex change operations" but nonetheless, they were a departure from what I was expecting and/or hoping for. Certain and obvious choices such as Morbid Angel's 'Illud Divinum...' ultimately did not make the cut because Morbid has had such a long and good run up until that point and frankly, I'm not that offended by that album. Most, if not all of these albums, etc, were released when I was much younger and a bit more , shall I use the term "emotionally attached". Now that I'm an old fuck I take it way less personal if a band decides to jump out of the closet and ride the Hershey Highway.
Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients
After the crushing and dismal onslaught of the imagination that was the mighty 'Consuming Impulse' I was not prepared for the artsy fartsy, post-neutered diet rite version of the band that was about to come prancing from out of my speakers. Oddly enough, the element that I was most concerned with (the absence of Martin Van Drunen) ended up being a non-issue as guitarist Patrick Mameli ably handled the mic. Sure, he sounded like a rather generic version of MVD but at least the aggression remained.
There are moments on this album that I swear were written by the two fags from Air Supply and basically that's what 'Testimony...' sounds like, a collaboration between Pestilence and that band. After waiting almost three years for this album to be released, I cannot begin to describe what a letdown it was to finally hear it.
Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky
After the mindblowing 'Soulside Journey', nothing, absolutely fucking nothing could prepare me for the utterly homosexual bandwagon hopping of this album. To this day it kills me that everyone bows at the feet of this band, heaping massive amounts of praise upon them for being so original and for "sticking to their guns" (???)... really??? Are you fucking kidding me? Darkthrone is the biggest example of the term "trendy hipster" there is. It's difficult for people to comprehend why, exactly? Because the two geeks in this band act like they don't care? Yeah right. Trust me. If they didn't care they wouldn't write, record and release albums. Period.
Cathedral - Soul Sacrifice
I should've known that the weakest track on the band's debut would be the one whose style of which Cathedral would capitalize on throughout the rest of their existence. What a shame. To this day, no one has been able to come close to the brilliance of Cathedral's 'Forest of Equilibrium', certainly not the band itself. I cannot say for sure that it was a complete shock to hear the more upbeat tempos found on this 'ep', but it was a major letdown nonetheless
Carcass - Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious
Sure, this is still quite an aggressive album but it wasn't really what I wanted to hear after 'Symphonies of Sickness'. I had waited some time to once again delve into Carcass' dismal void of crushing gloom and was rather thrown off to be greeted by the thrashier aesthetics of 'Necroticism'. Don't get me wrong, I actually like the album but I have always grappled with the sinking feeling that the primal sludge of their earlier incarnation was to forever be a thing of the past as the band began to incorporate elements of thrash and traditional heavy metal, not to mention the increasing absence of Bill Steer's vocal croak which would be non-existent on Carcass' next album, 'Heartwork'. Great album, but a bittersweet reminder of the everflowing winds of change.
Suffocation - Breeding the Spawn
With their debut, 'Effigy of the Forgotten', Suffocation beat the living shit out of everyone around them, bands and fanatics alike. Effortlessly pushing Cannibal Corpse to the side, Suffocation became the new barbarians of U.S. brutality on the block. This band had great things in store. I knew it... until....
I'm not quite sure what the fuck Roadrunner was thinking when they sent the band off to some hole in the wall studio to record their heavily anticipated follow-up to 'Effigy...', but boy did they fuck that up. Regardless of whether or not the actual "playing" is up to par, the album sounds like complete and total shit. You can pretend to yourself otherwise until the second coming of Christ, but the fact remains: this album sounds like garbage. I can only imagine what it would've sounded like had Scott Burns worked his magic once again.
The other problem I had with it was that the songs just really aren't that good. Sure, there never seems to be a shortage of praise from musicians and techno-nerds alike, but to mine ears (seemingly) alone, none of these songs really stand out, ultimately making the album sound like a big stew of meandering garbage and noise made worse by the atrocious production. What a fucking shame.
Obituary - The End Complete
The End Complete marks the beginning of Obituary's longstanding affair with releasing absolutely boring and unimaginative albums. It's as if they stopped giving a shit after 'Cause of Death'. Like that album was so overwhelmingly taxing to create it pretty much sucked out the remainder of the band's creative output. I don't know. I'm just speculating.
I've learned since then that each time the band is about to release an album and utter the words "oh, this is going to be a typical Obituary album", they're referring to each and every worthless piece of shit they've released since 'Cause of Death'.
Therion - Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas
Where 'Beyond Sanctorum' had mere "glimpses" of symphonic faggotry sprinkled throughout, 'Symphony Masses' was a full bore crashing through the gates (otherwise known as the closet door).
Perhaps the biggest letdown for me were the vocals of Christofer Johnsson. On the band's previous albums he was a fucking beast, quite deserving of the band's moniker. Here he sounds like some wayward and haggard wino surviving on a diet of Kamchatka and withered dog turds. Somebody get this guy a bowl of soup!
Bolt Thrower - ...for Victory
After 4 albums of total and complete godliness, I should have known that the mighty locomotive known as Bolt Thrower would eventually run out of steam. This album isn't a departure from the band's "tried and true" formula or anything of the sort. It just sounds like a band tired and completely out of good ideas. To be fair, there are a handful of decent riffs here and there, but as a whole the album just sounds tired and weak. Even though I felt that the band's follow-up, 'Mercenary' was a glimmer of hope, the band have never truly recovered and have been on a long path of mediocrity since.