Scene: You’re at your favorite dive bar in town on a Thursday, drinking alone because you’re a strong, independent metalhead. You’ve firmly ensconced yourself at the furthest stool from the door, and if the scowl you wear plastered across your face as you drink from your pitch-black Imperial stout doesn’t ward off conversation, the back-patches you sewed onto your crisp battle jacket surely will. Suddenly, the unimaginable happens. Some chubbies-wearing, DMB-listening, frat-strap rocking bro sidles up to you and plops his shaved legs and buttocks onto the stool next to you. As your new neighbor orders a Shiner Bock because it’s the “best beer in the Lone Star Republic”, you silently plead to Odin that a valkyrie will whisk you away from what’s certain to be an unpleasant conversation. Suddenly, the jukebox switches from Ellie Goulding to Pantera, and the bro, who almost certainly has a confederate flag flying from the back of his lifted two-wheel-drive Ford F-150, turns to you and, upon seeing your metal patches, mutters, “Hell yeah!” Upon seeing your grimace, though, he’s taken aback. “What’s the matter, bro?” he asks. With a minimum of profanity, you try to respond that this isn’t really your style of metal, to which he responds with this fateful question:
“What five albums would you recommend to show me all that metal has to offer?”
What your bro here is asking is a deceptively complex question. He isn’t asking you what your five favorite albums are. He isn’t asking what you think the five heaviest albums are. He’s asking which five metal albums, out of all possible albums, showcase the greatest amount of diversity in this genre you wear so proudly on your clothing. It’s a tricky question, and you’re almost certain to leave out some element of what makes metal great when you finally settle on a list, but such is life.
When one of our Facebook group members initially asked this question, he just mentioned band rather than album. Let’s double down on difficulty, though, and dial in on specific albums. So here’s how you’re each going to answer your bro. List the band, the album, and what qualities of metal you think it captures. Some links would be rad too!
1. Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast – riffs, speed, classical songwriting, melody, clean singing
2. Candlemass – Epicus Doomicus Metallicus – slow pace, atmosphere, riffs
3. Pig Destroyer – Prowler in the Yard – speed, aggression, punk influence, extreme vocals, short songs
4. Gorguts – Obscura – dissonance, complexity, progressive elements, technicality
5. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit – atmosphere, complexity, progressive elements, non-metal influences, long songs, emotion, folk elements
I’m obviously missing some major things here, such as industrial elements, truly weird songwriting, and lyrical variation, but alas. Such is the nature of the cruel frat bro’s question. Perhaps you can put together a better list than I. Sound off in the comments below with how you’d answer frat bro’s questions.
(h/t D. C.)