Scrawled Anus Home
This, my hippy-chums, is the fucking Bible. OK, so Black Sabbath got the ball rolling, and in a sense you'd be hard pressed to top any of their first six albums for sheer plank-wielding brilliance, but if it came to it, "Blues For The Red Sun" would be top of my list every time. Without a doubt, this album is the finest example of the genuine arse-widening power which Heavy Metal occasionally touches upon, and in a manner gloriously free of all the macho posturing, and over-technical jizz-fountain guitar playing which typifies so much contemporary heavy music. Kyuss (RIP) were clearly a band who could jam the scabby rectum off all-comers, and this free-flowing psychedelic maelstrom of an album sounds both laidback and tight as a gnat's chuff, usually at the same time. Shit, no one else in living memory could come up with this many stunning songs for one album. Perfection is a word I would normally avoid, but when "Thumb" kicks in with the most bowel-quakingly bass-heavy riff you've heard in your life, perfection is what you're getting. Highlights? All of it. My favourite track changes all the time - this week it's probably "50 Million Year Trip", a swirling cauldron of sledgehammer acid rock - because this is an album that I never get tired of hearing. "Thumb" is the heaviest boogie you'll ever hear, "Green Machine" is pure garage rock'n'roll with bloody great knobs on and "Mondo Generator" is the sound of your head exploding from too many magic mushrooms. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. No fillers, just wall-to-wall classics. The genius of the album is in its simplicity. While clearly inspired, in part at least, by Black Sabbath, Kyuss had their own unique sound, and, along with the mighty Cathedral, were entirely responsible for kickstarting the whole Stoner Metal scene. To think that they followed this album with two more, equally as impressive albums is frankly staggering. Buy all of them immediately (the others are "Sky Valley" and "...And The Circus Leaves Town") if you haven't already, and discover how you missed out on a fucking legendary band.
BLACK SABBATH - Master Of Reality
Technically speaking, if you don't already own a copy of this album then you're not much of a Metal fan are you? Having said that, it took me a long time to truly appreciate the importance of this band and you could be forgiven for missing out - after all this was twenty five plus years ago. Don't fuck about then, nip down the shops and get a copy because this is where it all begins. All those bands you see cluttering up Terrorizer every month would not exist were it not for Black Sabbath, and "Master Of Reality" is understandably regarded as their finest hour by most sensible people. All of their first six albums (and possibly their eighth as well, the underrated "Never Say Die") are landmarks in Metal's formative years, and there's hardly a weak track among them. This, their third long-player, must have sounded like nothing on earth (ho ho) when it first came out, and the rock world (urgh!) has been pinching these riffs and recycling them ever since. And no fucking wonder. From the hearty cough at the beginning of "Sweet Leaf" to the phenomenal groove and swagger of "Into The Void" (probably my favourite Sabbath tune ever!), this album remains a monument to the master of metal (ooh, alliteration, how posh...) - I only wish I could have been around to buy it when it first came out. "Master Of Reality" must have blown a million heads off - add mine to the list.
SLEEP - Sleep's Holy Mountain
You can't beat a good power trio (Motorhead being the prime example) and Sleep, despite their obviously THC-mangled brains, were just that. Apparently they're still around, but since this phenomenal rock-behemoth hit the record shops there's been precious little evidence of activity. Nonetheless, "Sleep's Holy Mountain" is really the album which convinced me that this was the ultimate strand of the Metal virus; bluesy, granite-heavy, 70s-inspired doom. Aside from being a vast improvement on their excellent but odd debut album, "Volume One", this record will have opened a lot of ears and eyes to the genre, especially since it was released on Earache Records, a high profile label even back in 1992. Listening to it again now, the songs sound remarkably fresh and relevant. With some of the best (and slowest) riffs ever recorded, Sleep could hardly go wrong, but the main selling point for me was always the overall sound. That hissy analogue vibe has never sounded so fantastic, the Orange Amplification switched to eleven, with barely-restrained feedback itching behind your speakers - it's so live and warm sounding it makes you wonder quite why so many bands insist on sanitising their material with digital effects and too much compression. Clearly shitfaced - just check out "Some Grass" - and yet musically spot on, Sleep seem to have spent the last six years pissing their talent up the wall. One listen to the might "Dragonaut" or the even mightier "Holy Mountain" itself - the build-up midway through never fails to get my adrenalin flowing - will have you reaching for the Rizlas with a big shit-eating grin on your face. This may be a "doom" record, but it will greatly improve the quality of your menial little existence. To the record shops, lowly headbangers!
TROUBLE - Manic Frustration
One of the most grossly underrated Metal bands of all time, Trouble have long been cited as an influence by anyone with half a brain. Purists would no doubt rate the early albums higher in the grand Doom scheme of things, but this deeply psychedelic set of songs is nothing less than a masterpiece. While everyone else was shitting their pants over Metallica and worse, Trouble were producing material of such quality that it's a disgrace that they're not extremely rich men. This album has it all; glorious riffs, stunning vocals and a production that oozes metal from every pore. "Hello Strawberry Skies" is the sort of song anyone in their right mind would strangle their budgie for, and if the Beatles-influence wasn't an inspired touch then my name is Eddie Van Halen. It's almost enough to make you spew. Quite how Trouble never crossed over to a more mainstream audience I'll never know - there's nothing on this record that wouldn't have greatly improved the last few Metallica or Megadeth albums - I can only presume that the largely unfashionable nature of this sort of music shafts its chances in the music industry marketplace. A fucking tragedy, as you'll discover if you seek out this album. Good luck if you do - it took me eighteen months and eighteen quid to eventually track down the CD on import (mind you, maybe I'm just a twat). Worth every penny!
ELECTRIC WIZARD - Come My Fanatics...
If Sleep were shitfaced, Electric Wizard are in a collective coma. It's hard to believe that anyone could make a record this heavy, this psychedelic or this fucking intense without some severe recreational drug use, but similarly it's a small miracle that the band could stand up for long enough to play it. "Come My Fanatics..." is the album everyone else has been trying to make since Black Sabbath stopped being good. While their contemporaries have excelled themselves (Acrimony spring to mind), Electric Wizard left the planet altogether with this, the follow-up to their impressive, but highly derivative eponymous debut. No difficult second album cobblers here, however, as one start-to-finish listen to this will change the contents of your head forever. You could argue that the production is a disaster, the drums are barely audible half the time and the vocals are often lost in the swirling distortion, but in truth these songs wouldn't sound right if they were polished and produced. This is an album for the real heads. "Return Trip" kicks things off with a Godzilla-sized riff which goes on for about half your life, and from there on in it's the wildest and heaviest shit you'll ever hear. At times this sounds almost avant-garde, as the guitars spiral and undulate around your ears, bordering on pure noise in places, but it is to the mighty RIFF that Electric Wizard pay tribute and I've lost myself many times in the sheer power of these epic jams. OK, so there's little variety, no more than about two ideas across the whole album, and if you're obsessed with musicianship you can forget it, but "Come My Fanatics..." is an almost perfect record which I doubt the band will surpass (although check out their Man's Ruin 10" "Chrono-Naut" which comes damn close). As the last lumbering notes of "Solarian 13" disappear into the ether, you'll be sparking up that bong once more and starting it all again. A one way ticket to thrilling oblivion.
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath / Paranoid / Vol.4 / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath / Sabotage / Never Say Die
KYUSS - Sky Valley / ...And The Circus Leaves Town
SLEEP - Volume One / Jerusalem
SHEAVY - The Electric Sleep (see previous page for review)
EYEHATEGOD - Take As Needed For Pain / Dopesick / Southern Discomfort
CATHEDRAL - Supernatural Birth Machine / The Carnival Bizarre / The Ethereal Mirror / Caravan Beyond Redemption
ACRIMONY - Tumuli Shroomaroom / Hymns To The Stone
ELECTRIC WIZARD - Electric Wizard
TROUBLE - Trouble / Plastic Green Head
MONSTER MAGNET - Superjudge / Dopes To Infinity
FU MANCHU - The Action Is Go / In Search Of... / Daredevil / King Of The Road
IRON MONKEY - Iron Monkey / Our Problem
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - Q.O.T.S.A.
ORANGE GOBLIN - Frequencies From Planet Ten / Time Travelling Blues
SPIRITUAL BEGGARS - Spiritual Beggars / Another Way To Shine / Mantra III
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY - Wiseblood / Deliverance
DOWN - Nola
CLUTCH - Clutch / The Elephant Riders
GOATSNAKE - I
HANGNAIL - 10 Days Before Summer
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX - The Atomic Bitchwax
UNIDA - Coping With The Urban Coyote
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Burn One Up
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Dark Passages II
So there you have it. Or not, as the case may (or may not) be. Or not. Now go and invest those pennies......