Preliminarily, I would like to suggest that there is absolutely no way that I can choose only five bands to really assimilate the essentials in any particular style of underground, repulsive, or otherwise aggressive music. Within the monolithic plethora of style and taste, there is such high volume of music within to be heard that one could nearly do so with a top five genre.
However, within the context of this article, I have narrowed this down to five essential metal bands of sorts that are not only life-changing and direct approaches to obscenely versatile and subversive nature, but are not simply your run-of-the-mill “Big Name” bands that have recognition beyond that of the rest, though some will most definitely be household names, depending on your particular interests. I would also like to state the fact that under absolutely no way, shape, or form is this list intended to be interpreted to a correlating order of value. There is no relevant sequence here, so take it as it is. Without any further stalling, I’ll start you off with:
Bathory — Bathory
None can deny the ferocity that is the mighty Bathory in its prime. This album came out as a wrecking ball to the face of all that is holy. Arguably a progenitor of black metal alongside the infamous Venom, Bathory was one beast to be feared. It opens the infernal carnage with the haunting, ominous ambience of “Storm of Damnation,” consequently proceeding to devastate the very functionality of the ear canal with raging horror. There is no technical flair to be found here, only misanthropic chord structures and blasting drums, along with Quorthon’s terrifying voice. This album is a force to be feared, and had paved the way for so many others to follow.
Cryptopsy — None So Vile
This one, in particular, carries a heavy sentiment with me, as it was in fact the first death metal album I’ve ever owned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dabbled in my grindcore and power-violence, even some black metal, before the acquisition of this particular piece of work, but to perpetuate the morbid taste of death metal, I owe it all to this album.
Originally, noting the horrific overtones promoted by the artwork and track list, I had to own this almost as a joke, or were it morbid curiosity, I’m uncertain. Inevitably, however, it turned out to be the push that threw me into the depths of extreme metal. With an opening clip from the exorcist, it seeks to ultimately throw one straight into a complete catastrophe of blasts, technical guitar work, and the incoherent voice of absolute evil, courtesy of Lord Worm.
After about halfway through the CD, when you think you’ve seen the sound of something that might terrify Lucifer himself, it breaks down into an intricate piano intro to set things up in a more foreboding light. Then, as you think the bass suggests a little melody to come, your thrown right back into the grotesque nature of all that is None So Vile. This is then concluded by the clip from Army of Darkness to leave the putrid taste of sulfur and rotting flesh in your mouth.
Powerwolf — Bible of the Beast
Whether or not you’re a fan of power metal, you may soon find yourself on one end of the spectrum or the other, depending on your opinion of this band. Much like Blind Guardian, this band holds nothing back for fear of overdoing it. A Romanian, Satanic breed, The vocals provided are very much a sign of experience and talent, as Dorn manages to leaving nothing to simple or complex, only to inspire a sincere empathy with the entities he invokes throughout the telling of his stories. To clarify, if it weren’t already made apparent, this band is about werewolves. Certainly someone of such disgusting taste wouldn’t be interested in Hollywood’s latest bullshit misconception of occult evil? Well, this band certainly seeks to bring it back.
This band refers to the esoteric nature of the werewolf as “Catholic Satanist” in the song, “Catholic in the Morning… Satanist at Night.” Throughout its entire agenda of evil and making obvious the almost laughable use of the words “heavy” and “metal” in some of the lyrics, it also manages to captivate the sense of glory and destiny that one might expect. Give it a shot, you might find yourself neck deep in power metal!
Celtic Frost — To Mega Therion
Alongside many other progenitors of extreme metal, Celtic Frost seeks to obliterate any signs of complacency and positivity. Opening up in an epic fashion, the sound of “Innocence and Wrath” seeks to engulf the listener into the deepest chasm of intensity and virulence before sending them off into the hollow abyss that is “To Mega Therion.” Afterwards, it picks things up where it left of with “The Usurper,” and instantly obliges the listener to nearly have an aneurism with the amount of aggressive nature it evokes.
This album goes heavy and hard, especially for its time, and this band itself is known to have been one of the key initiatives to providing others with a means of combining elements of 80’s hardcore, crust, and d-beat with such metal bands as this one. To elaborate, Napalm Death sought to take the sound given by this band and make it part of their own alongside other sounds such as Discharge and Siege.
Ultimately, even Obituary would later cover the song, “Circle of Tyrants” in the album, Cause of Death. Whether you consider this band black metal, thrash, or just a progenitor of many death metal and grindcore bands, this album is a must have.
Cryptic Slaughter — Money Talks
This is by far one of the most straight-forward bands of thrash, but that goes without saying when it comes to thrashcore/ crossover styles. There is no intro, outro, intermission. There is only straight aggression, message, and fury in the “blast, solo, fuck you, solo, some more blasts, fuck you again!” sequence.
Not for the refined of taste, this band has less than tight, clean sound, and seeks to leave you feeling dirty and miserably at odds with the world. If you were hoping for otherwise, you’re reading the wrong damn article! Furthermore, this album seeks to throw out the various messages conveyed by many hardcore enthusiasts within the underground scene from California in that time period. If you couldn’t note the implications by the album cover what you were in for, there is certainly no hope for you. The title track, “Money Talks,” is still quite relevant today, aiming to bring out the very nature of marriage between economy, government, and war. Beyond this track and through the entirety of the album, much is said and no apologies are so much as suggested. Dealing with many social and political issues, this album even mentions issues regarding things such as depressed whiners in the track “Could be Worse,” mindless obsessive drug use in “Wake Up,” the authority state of our country in “Menace to Mankind,” the very nature of the title “Positively” in relevance to his will to push, among various other issues.
If you can stomach the purity of raw thrashcore at its roughest, this is definitely the album to aid your cause. If it’s too sloppy for your taste, you might as well go back to watching MTV.
These five albums certainly are a force to be adhered to. Retrospectively, they are definitely some of the more gargantuan entities in the extreme scene of various facets of metal and hardcore. To make short the ramblings of my choices, it’s certainly a great place to open up new doors and become inspired by something of such crude, misanthropic, and sometimes absolutely evil assimilation. I reiterate my earlier remark, these indeed being among many other greats, all which deserve mention. However, this shall serve as testament to the cacophony, insight, and sheer terror that plagues the depths of the underground.