10 Great Metal Albums You Might Have Missed

Post date: 15-Aug-2015 16:24:28

Looking for something new in metal? Me too, but it’s difficult to find something new and good, so here’s a list of albums that you might have missed over the years, but are supremely excellent.

1. The Ocean – Pelagial (2013)

The Ocean is a band that I stumbled across a few short years ago, and I’ve had their album Pelagial on my playlist ever since. I haven’t investigated the rest of their catalog quite yet, but I took a peek at Heliocentric from 2010, and it’s just as good from what I’ve heard so far. I get really excited about metal like this. It’s unique, diverse, but still unified around a central sound and theme. It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to call this a concept album, but the narrative is easily ignored if that’s not your thing. Pelagial feels central to the band’s theme (the ocean), and it explores that theme in a way that allows for different but equally valid interpretations. As a college literature and writing professor, those levels of meaning are greatly appealing to me. And as thought that weren’t enough, the individual songs themselves are excellent and diverse as well. It’s turtles all the way down, folks. As below, so above. This makes Pelagial a monumental achievement in metal music by my lowly reckoning. Go have a listen. The transition between tracks 5 and 6 is fucking genius. Confused me, then blew my mind apart the first time I heard it. I literally had to back it up and hear it again to make sense of the thing.

3 Best Tracks: “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny,” “Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses,” and “Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance”

2. Strapping Young Lad – City (1997)

The first bit of SYL I ever heard was Alien (2005) shortly after it came out. Back then, I was still fairly close-minded about music, and Alien just rubbed me the wrong way. Years later, I kept seeing SYL’s album City show up on best metal lists and so forth, so I jumped once more into that avant-garde fray. I was greatly, greatly rewarded for that second listen. City is one of the best experimental extreme metal albums I’ve ever heard, and it still holds up to this day. It calls to mind the very best of Fear Factory (Demanufacture and Obsolete, by my count) with a more creative, experimental twist. This album was the gateway that led me to become a big fan of Devin Townsend, and I find it incredible that he released this extreme metal classic in the same year that he released Ocean Machine: Biomech, a vastly different but equally enjoyable rock album. This double discovery taught me that Townsend is literally a musical magician, capable of bringing excellent music into existence by sheer force of will, intelligence, and probably a crazy amount of work, recording, and tweaking. Shit’s inspiring, go find out. And if you get entranced by the Townsend, just keep in mind that he makes whatever the hell music he feels like, at any time.

3 Best Tracks: “All Hail the New Flesh,” “AAA,” and “Spirituality”

3. Disillusion – Back to Times of Splendor (2004)

Disillusion, to me, forms a story of lost love and lost potential. They released two excellent EPs, then an even more excellent LP (the album I’m discussing now), then another less exciting LP. Then nothing. It was heartbreaking for me to realize that this amazing, inventive, accessible band was so suddenly gone. But they left a legacy well worth remembering. Back to Times of Splendor is one of the most creative and diverse albums I’ve ever heard. It tells a tragic and epic story over its 6 tracks (and still manages to clock in at 56:48, no joke). Every track calls to mind the epic sweep of adventure, love, and loss. It’s an incredibly impressive achievement both musically and narratively. You might call this one a concept album as well, but it’s more of a fantasy novel in audio form than anything. It never fails to impress, surprise, and entertain.

3 Best Tracks: “And the Mirror Cracked,” “Alone I Stand in Fires,” and “Back to Times of Splendor”

4. Metallica and Lou Reed – Lulu (2011)

Odds are you skipped this one more than missed it. Certainly the longest and probably least expect entry on this list: the disgusting behemoth that is Metallica and Lou Reed’s offering, Lulu. But hey, I’m not unreasonable in thinking that most people haven’t really listened to this record. There’s a good reason for that. Reviewers made a trend out of bashing the album because that’s what people wanted to read. Well fuck them. I like this album. I like its audacity and inaccessibility. It challenges me in ways that other albums simply can’t. It makes me want to understand, and I appreciate that feeling. It’s gross, inappropriate, and perfect for what it sets out to achieve. And is it heavy? Absolutely, but not in the traditional sense. It’s heavy in a way that confuses the average listener. Don’t go into this album with any expectations or preconceived notions, and you’ll do much better with it. Listen to it like a Jackson Pollock, like a Piss Christ, like a thing that just simply must exist by its freakish nature. There’s some magical moments in there, and you’ll suffer to get to them. That’s the point. Not everything is tailored to your enjoyment, after all.

3 Best Tracks: “Pumping Blood,” “Frustration,” and “Dragon”

5. Lacuna Coil – In A Reverie (1999)

Lacuna Coil is fairly popular by this point, but I don’t see nearly enough mention of their sophomore album, In A Reverie. This was the first Lacuna Coil album I’d ever listened to, and it caused me to keep up with them for these last 16 years. This was long before Evanescence came onto the music scene, and I’m sure you can see the similarities well enough to draw your own conclusions about all that. This album is raw and unpolished in the best possible way. No auto-tune, no major post production, just awesome songs and a fuck ton of reverb. The songs are infectiously enjoyable and inventive besides. They nailed the whole gothic haunting sound and then continued to nail it for several years to come. Every song on the album is great, but you wouldn’t be wrong if you thought it sounded a little, teeny bit repetitive. But, it was such a new sound at the time that a little self-indulgence can be easily forgiven. It’s a great album by any measure.

3 Best Tracks: “Circle,” “To Myself I Turned,” and “Reverie”