VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL)

Heavy Metal / Thrash Metal / Death Metal / Grindcore / Glam Metal / Alternative Metal / NWoBHM / Metalcore / Hard Rock / Black Metal / Speed Metal / Proto-Metal / Industrial Metal / Funk Metal / Depressive Black Metal • Multi-National
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This page is for Various Artists (VA) compilation releases. It is one of four currently be operated by the MMA. The others being Various Artists (Tribute Albums), Various Artists (Soundtracks) and Various Artists (Label Samples and Freebies). On this page, Various Artists (General), you will find various retail metal VA releases that don't fit into any specific theme, as if used for the other three profiles.

Due to the nature of VA releases, most on this page will be tagged as Albums with the MMA Boxset/Compilation section reserved for boxset VA releases.

Pictured is the first Metal for Muthas compilation, an early New Wave of British Heavy Metal release known for containing some of the earliest material of Iron Maiden.

- Biography by adg211288 (October 2014).

See also:

Tribute Albums: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/artist/various-artists-tribute-albums

Label Samplers and Freebies: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/artist/various-artists-label-samples-and-freebies

Soundtracks: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/artist/various-artists-soundtracks
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Discography

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) albums / top albums

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Heavy Metal - 24 Electrifying Performances album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Heavy Metal - 24 Electrifying Performances
Proto-Metal 1974
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal for Muthas album cover 3.55 | 2 ratings
Metal for Muthas
NWoBHM 1980
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal for Muthas Volume II: Cut Loud album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Metal for Muthas Volume II: Cut Loud
NWoBHM 1980
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Various Artists - Killer Watts album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Various Artists - Killer Watts
Hard Rock 1980
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Axe Attack album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Axe Attack
Heavy Metal 1980
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Heavy Rock album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Heavy Rock
Heavy Metal 1980
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Axe Attack Vol II album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Axe Attack Vol II
Heavy Metal 1981
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) The Friday Rock Show album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Friday Rock Show
NWoBHM 1981
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre 1
Heavy Metal 1982
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre 2
Heavy Metal 1982
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Heavy album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Heavy
Heavy Metal 1983
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre III album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre III
Heavy Metal 1983
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre IV album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre IV
Heavy Metal 1983
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre V album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre V
Thrash Metal 1984
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Masters Of Metal (US) album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Masters Of Metal (US)
Heavy Metal 1984
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) White Hot Masters Of Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
White Hot Masters Of Metal
Heavy Metal 1984
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Masters Of Metal Volume 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Masters Of Metal Volume 2
Heavy Metal 1984
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Wars - A Heavy Metal Assault album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Wars - A Heavy Metal Assault
Heavy Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre VI album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre VI
Thrash Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills - The Very Best In Speed Metal album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Speed Kills - The Very Best In Speed Metal
Thrash Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) MFN Says Welcome To The Metal Zone album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
MFN Says Welcome To The Metal Zone
Heavy Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Heavy Metal Guitar Battle album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Heavy Metal Guitar Battle
Heavy Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Metal Hell album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Speed Metal Hell
Speed Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) California's Best Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
California's Best Metal
Heavy Metal 1985
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Metal Hell II album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Speed Metal Hell II
Thrash Metal 1986
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills II - The Mayhem Continues... album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Speed Kills II - The Mayhem Continues...
Thrash Metal 1986
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Masters Of Metal (NZ) album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Masters Of Metal (NZ)
Heavy Metal 1986
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Masters Of Metal (UK) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Masters Of Metal (UK)
Heavy Metal 1986
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre VII album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre VII
Thrash Metal 1986
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre VIII album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre VIII
Thrash Metal 1987
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Skull Thrash Zone Volume 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Skull Thrash Zone Volume 1
Thrash Metal 1987
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Masters album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Masters
Glam Metal 1987
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills III - A Catalogue Of Destruction album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Speed Kills III - A Catalogue Of Destruction
Thrash Metal 1987
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Attack album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Attack
Heavy Metal 1987
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Rising Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rising Metal
Thrash Metal 1988
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Scream Until You Like It album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Scream Until You Like It
Heavy Metal 1988
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Meltdown album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Meltdown
Heavy Metal 1988
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) 'Stars On Thrash' album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
'Stars On Thrash'
Thrash Metal 1988
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre IX album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre IX
Thrash Metal 1988
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre X album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre X
Thrash Metal 1989
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Assault album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Metal Assault
Heavy Metal 1989
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Grindcrusher album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Grindcrusher
Grindcore 1989
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Mega Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mega Metal
Speed Metal 1989
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills...But Who's Dying? - Volume 4 of the Ultimate In Thrash album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Speed Kills...But Who's Dying? - Volume 4 of the Ultimate In Thrash
Thrash Metal 1989
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills 5 - Head Crushing Metal album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Speed Kills 5 - Head Crushing Metal
Thrash Metal 1990
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Thrash The Wall album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Thrash The Wall
Thrash Metal 1990
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) At Death's Door - A Collection Of Brutal Death Metal album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
At Death's Door - A Collection Of Brutal Death Metal
Death Metal 1990
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Death... Is Just the Beginning album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning
Death Metal 1990
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Kings of Speed Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kings of Speed Metal
Thrash Metal 1990
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) New Wave Of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited
NWoBHM 1990
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Funky Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Funky Metal
Funk Metal 1991
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre XI album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre XI
Thrash Metal 1991
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Rock Hard Presents Monsters Of Death album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Rock Hard Presents Monsters Of Death
Death Metal 1992
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills 6 - Violence Of The Slams album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Speed Kills 6 - Violence Of The Slams
Thrash Metal 1992
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Naive album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Naive
Industrial Metal 1992
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Touch Of Death album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Touch Of Death
Death Metal 1992
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Corporate Death album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Corporate Death
Death Metal 1993
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Crossover album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Crossover
Alternative Metal 1993
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Hit Parader Salutes 20 Years Of Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hit Parader Salutes 20 Years Of Metal
Glam Metal 1993
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) 5 Years Nuclear Blast album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
5 Years Nuclear Blast
Death Metal 1993
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Death... Is Just the Beginning II album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning II
Death Metal 1993
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) At Death's Door II album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
At Death's Door II
Death Metal 1993
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Christmas album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Christmas
Heavy Metal 1994
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Epitaph - New Zealand Death Grind Compilation Tape album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Epitaph - New Zealand Death Grind Compilation Tape
Death Metal 1994
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Hard Music Volume 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hard Music Volume 1
Heavy Metal 1994
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Corporate Rock Wars album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Corporate Rock Wars
Alternative Metal 1995
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre XII album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Metal Massacre XII
Thrash Metal 1995
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Death... Is Just the Beginning III album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning III
Death Metal 1995
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Dynamo Open Air 10th Anniversary album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Dynamo Open Air 10th Anniversary
Alternative Metal 1995
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Spectrum Fest: Micro-Brewed Musical Artistry album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Spectrum Fest: Micro-Brewed Musical Artistry
Grindcore 1996
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Death... Is Just the Beginning IV album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning IV
Death Metal 1997
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) In Decay We Trust Vol.1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Decay We Trust Vol.1
Black Metal 1997
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Death... Is Just the Beginning V album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning V
Death Metal 1999
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Death... Is Just the Beginning VI album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning VI
Death Metal 2000
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) The Return of Darkness & Hate album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Return of Darkness & Hate
Black Metal 2000
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal ReMaster album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Metal ReMaster
Heavy Metal 2001
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped, Vol. 1 album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped, Vol. 1
Glam Metal 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) The Best Heavy Metal Album In The World...Ever! album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Heavy Metal Album In The World...Ever!
Heavy Metal 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) The Glam That Stole Christmas, Volume 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Glam That Stole Christmas, Volume 1
Glam Metal 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) 13 Bands Who Think You're Gay album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
13 Bands Who Think You're Gay
Grindcore 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped, Vol. 2: The Anthems album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped, Vol. 2: The Anthems
Glam Metal 2005
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Massacre XIII album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Metal Massacre XIII
Death Metal 2006
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Funeral For A Friend ‎– Back To The Bus 3 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Funeral For A Friend ‎– Back To The Bus 3
Alternative Metal 2007
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Anus Flames For Jesus Christ Vol.1 album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Anus Flames For Jesus Christ Vol.1
Grindcore 2007
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped, Vol. 3 album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped, Vol. 3
Glam Metal 2007
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Hell Comes Around album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hell Comes Around
Thrash Metal 2007
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year
Heavy Metal 2008
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Hell Comes Around II: The Second Coming album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Hell Comes Around II: The Second Coming
Death Metal 2009
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Scream Until You Like It (2009) album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Scream Until You Like It (2009)
Glam Metal 2009
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Maximum Metalcore album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Maximum Metalcore
Metalcore 2012
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Earache: World's Shortest Album album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Earache: World's Shortest Album
Grindcore 2012
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Rise 200 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rise 200
Metalcore 2013
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Maximum Metalcore 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Maximum Metalcore 2
Metalcore 2013
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) The Classic Hard Rock Christmas Album album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
The Classic Hard Rock Christmas Album
Hard Rock 2014
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Legends Of Metal album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Legends Of Metal
Alternative Metal 2016
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) In Profound Sorrow album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Profound Sorrow
Depressive Black Metal 2017
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) 100 Goregrind Porngore Cybergrind Bands Compilation Vol. 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
100 Goregrind Porngore Cybergrind Bands Compilation Vol. 2
Grindcore 2017
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) THE SOUND OF X (1) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
THE SOUND OF X (1)
Grindcore 2018

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) EPs & splits

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Muthas Pride album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Muthas Pride
NWoBHM 1980

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) live albums

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) re-issues & compilations

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Fiesta Comes Alive! album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Fiesta Comes Alive!
Grindcore 1997
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Worldwide Metal album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Worldwide Metal
Death Metal 2008
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Grind Madness At The BBC album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Grind Madness At The BBC
Grindcore 2009
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Insufferable Noise album cover 0.50 | 1 ratings
Insufferable Noise
Grindcore 2015
VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Madness: Vol. 1 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Metal Madness: Vol. 1
Metal Related Genres 2018

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) singles (0)

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning V
Death Metal 1999
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Death... Is Just the Beginning VI
Death Metal 2001
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Manifesto Of Metal For The Masses
Death Metal 2009

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Reviews

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal Madness: Vol. 1

Boxset / Compilation · 2018 · Metal Related Genres
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
VARIOUS ARTISTS - METAL MADNESS: Vol. 1 https://wisteriatn.bandcamp.com/album/metal-madness-vol-1

Rate Your Music's own Abishai Smith is back for another huge colossus of a project on his newly created Wisteria Records and this time he’s not holding back (um, well maybe he never has!). While it’s hard to believe, Bishopboy1999 (his site user name) puts out a punishing behemoth of a compilation in the form of METAL MADNESS: Vol 1 which includes a whopping 66 tracks by no less than 39 artists from all over the globe spanning the entire subgenre aisles at your friendly metal superstore. Yeah, that’s right. You name it. Progressive, death, black, sludge, technical, screamo. It’s all here! Ok, sorry you glam metal lovers. That didn’t make the final editing sessions. The album swallows up 388 minutes of your life to get through but when all is said and done…. THIS FUCKING COMP ROCKS!!! Although it took me only a mere two months to sift through ten tracks at a time for a few listens. It was definitely worth it as there are indeed MANY metal bands with great talent out there lurking in the shadows. Do yourself a favor and check them out on this handy one-stop listening center.

The comp starts off with two tracks from the sequencer and MIDI based POSITRON (France) which harnesses elements of black metal and industrial to create hyperactive little electro-metal pieces. The music is based more on the industrial elements with a rather polished metal backing. OK, but not my favorite style of metal.

HEDNINGER (Canada) brings the headbanging elements on board with a rather Amon Amarth-esque take on melodic death metal with Viking march styled melodies, soaring guitar riffs and pummeling percussive drive with a nicely placed bass part that doesn’t get buried in the din. The vocals are angry and shouted with emphatic warlike charge. Three tracks from these guys.

THRASHING MOSSDOG (US) takes the brutality to the next level with some stellar brutal death metal that offers a unique mix with blackgaze as a pummeling death oriented guitar riffs and percussion ascend from a blackhole of noise haze with the vocals screaming and still barely emerging from the gravitational pull of the chaotic din. Compositionally the track sounds more like black metal as well, so this is some sort of blackened deathgaze, perhaps? Cool stuff. 2 tracks from these guys.

Next up, SCOREDATURA (Australia), uh whaaat? Do you know what datura is? It’s a hallucinogenic drug that will make you jump off buildings and shit. And it sounds like this is the soundtrack! Taking a completely different detour, this band pumps out 2 tracks of fine djent-rification laden progressive instrumental metal with sizzling neoclassical guitar solos, thoughtful compositions and sounds like something that would’ve emerged on the Shrapnel Records label had it come out two decades prior as it’s prime finger melting wankery of the highest calibre. Animals As Leaders fanatics will eat this up!

THE BLUE PRISON (US) aka Keigo Yoshida only contributes one track but what a killer one it is! What would i call this? Sounds totally unique. “Patriot” is characterized by a military march percussive style, sizzling neoclassical shredding techniques and a tear inducing ambient synthesized background that evokes the fallen angels haunting the heavens above. The guitar work is absolutely outstanding and the emotional tugs are equally compelling. One of my favorite tracks on the entire comp. Thematically chilling and technically executed to perfection.

Next up, MOLEKH (Ireland). Now these guys have conjured up some of the absolutely wickedest sounding metal since Deathspell Omega scared the shit out of us with their trilogy of jangly Satanic liturgies over ten years ago. This band pummels with unrelenting percussion, similarly scary jangly atonal guitar riffs and franticly possessed shouted vocals that sound like several exorcisms ravaging the vocalist at the same time. The atmosphere is just plain creepy with strange theremin type guitar runs creating strange sounding effects. MOLEKH is another favorite discover as they have nailed the creepy technical black war metal sound like very few have. A true talent i’m anxious to hear more from.

LIGHT DWELLER (US) follows with four tracks of brutal blackened death metal mayhem. A great followup with similarly blackgazy death metal pummelation of unrelenting percussive fury, downtuned guitar string abuse, tortured shouted vocals and technically challenging compositions that allow harsh dissonance and steady stream rhythms to bombard the senses with the occasional break into bleak bouts of slowed down guitar parts for contrast. They also utilize the creepy atonal jangle guitar effect for maximum brainfuckery and it soooo works. Their debut EP is called “Nullity Of Light” but their music could easily fall into the “Nullity Of Sanity” category as well. I love it!!

Named after a birth defect in which the baby’s intestines extend outside the body, GASTROSCHISIS (US) deliver a short one track of pure adrenaline goregrind with the expected adrenaline infused grotesque nature that one would expect. Fast and furious and to the point.

DEVICE (Brazil) offer 4 tracks of an old school death metal sound bringing more of a classic era Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse or Bolt Thrower style to the table. Superbly executed with snarling vocal growls, classically themed deathened drum rolls and nicely delivered guitar riffs from below hell with a semi-melodic underpinning. Evil yet just enough sweetener to get through. Nice.

FRAYED ALIVE (US) deliver one track of brutal slam death metal goods on “To Dwell In Time” with deep growled unintelligible vocals the almost sound like a demonic frog croaking with subdued guitar riffs, blastbeat percussion and nice atmospheric passages that make this sound quite unique. A nice mix of dark ambient, sludge metal tempos and death metal overall feel. Awesomely evil sounding!

THE HORN (Australia) deliver a strange blackgazy sort of metal with “Spell 8” that has a heightened dark ambient fuzz with a murky mix of heavy black metal riffs, tales from the crypt vocals and a relentless percussive driven groove that allow a subdued melodic guitar run to creep through the sonic brume. “Spell 30a” follows suit but offers Egyptian sounds similar to Nile only these guys are more groove oriented in a weird galloping way. “Child In Time” is completely different as it covers the classic 1970 Deep Purple song and completely brings it up to date. Beginning with a demonic spoken word intro it slowly ratchets up both the dark ambient melodic backdrop as well as the ever encroaching guitar presence until it bursts into full metal fury. The keyboard work is extremely impressive. This is one helluva cover track! These guys are another favorite. This is another outstanding evil as fuck sounding band that released an astonishing number of albums dedicated to The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Three tracks from these guys.

NTIZKVM (Philippines) kill it with a primeval lo-fi indie sounding war metal track with “Dark Ends Of Eternity.” Sloppy guitar and drum action, psycho killer vocal ranting. All the makings of a great underground kvlt classic. Particular interesting is the drummer’s use of cymbals which accompany the pummeling blastbeats. Nice blackened journey into the underworld!

NON EST DEUS (Germany) only present one track but at nearly 10 minute long is one of the longest of the compilation. Another black metal band although this one reminds me more of the second wave 90s bands like Rotting Christ with a steady fast beat but not blastbeats. The vocals very much remind me of Hellenic black metal as do the guitar riffs which are rather boogie-woogie oriented like AC/DC on speed. While i’m reminded of those other bands, this is really rather unique in how it’s presented. Very digestible for black metal as it’s melodic but also badass. Kinda has a Violent Femmes folk punk groove to it as well.

Æthĕrĭa Conscĭentĭa (France) immediately brings Metallica’s “One” to mind as the opener seems to simulate the opening riff of that track and when i see the name of the track is “The Exalted Ones,” it almost seems like a given that that intro was used as the basis for its development however don’t worry because it branches off into totally different arenas. This is atmospheric black metal and sounds like it. Buzzsaw guitar distortion at mid tempo. Creepy deranged vocals and a dark ambient fuzz. Melodic with tremolo guitar parts. Kinda has a touch of Doors psychedelia in the keyboard department. The guitar becomes thrashy at times. Also becomes very noisy and changes things up including an unexpected sax presence toward the middle. Cool track.

CULTOR NOCTIS (Belgium) continue the black metal streak with more dungeon synth oriented bleakness. Quite a downer and depressive with guttural howling of keyboards with downtuned guitar arpeggios that lead. Brings Sweden’s Shining to mind as the actual metal kicks in but while Shining is a slower drudging band, these guys aren’t afraid to unleash some wicked speed and heft in their depressive black metal. Nice chord changes offer a semi-progressive metal workout. The subdued frigid vocals convey the ultimate nadir of bleakness. Very effective.

THERESIA (Japan then Canada) offer another dose of depressive black metal only with higher octane and more agression. The percussion pummels the blastbeats, the tortured vocals scream from the pits of hell while the buzzsaw guitar. While the track plods along in a straight forward manner, i have to say that the violent vocals pleas make this the most unhinged track on the entire comp.

INNER SUFFERING (Ukraine) continue the depressive black metal show with four tracks characterized by heavy drumming, atmospheric backdrop, jangly dissonant guitar riffs and a doom laden dirge effect which offers an interesting hybridization of styles. More subdued screaming vocals from the pits of hell. While stylistically similar, the lengthy near twelve minute “Slow Dance On The Ashes Of Failure” take a funeral doom metal detour with echoey doomgazey ambience and slow dirge driven tempos glazed with atmospheric gloom that takes a lengthy journey into the darkness and never relents as it becomes slower and darker and even bleaker and more depressive. Oh god. Keep me away from that gun!

SADAEL (Armenia) continues the dirge driven doom laden melancholy with dissonant guitars and bleak atmospheres conjuring grim reapers for dark rituals in a near ten minute dark march into a mid-tempo metal excursion. The semi-spoken, semi-growled vocals provide a rather grim narrative of sort that exacerbates the darkness. One one track from the Armenians.

MOONDWELLER (Russia) provides another two tracks of atmospheric black metal that takes more than a few cues from Darkspace with thick atmospheric complexities and heavy pummeling guitar riff based black metal aggression. Instrumentally this is well executed but the production seems a little off for my tastes. The keyboards have a rather cheery vibe to them that clashes with the metal aspects.

DONARHALL (Germany) continues the atmospheric black metal but only one track with more emphasis on the atmospheric part as it straddles along with arpeggiated guitar chords heavily amplified for a lengthy period of time before breaking into black metal bombast mode. Honestly, this one is a little too generic for my tastes and doesn’t really distinguish itself from the legions of similar sounding acts.

COMA (Austria) brings back the depressive blackgaze with wrenching heavy distortion only the oddest vocals are delivered on at the 14 minute plus “Dance, Burning Butterly” with guest Narbengrund (of Totengeflüster) who sounds more like a Goth rock singer instead of the expected raspy evil sounding vocals associated with black metal. The track turns into a weird noisy psychedelic trip with a faint piano providing some sort of melody but then when the metal returns it becomes angry, bombastic with stomping power chords and furious growls from the pits of hell. This track continues to alternate between a sort of sound collage with clean arpeggiated guitar and the distorted black metal. Pretty cool. Their second track “Ghosting” sticks to the atmospheric black metal with the deranged growly vocals, dark ambient backdrop and heavy buzzsaw guitar. The time signatures are quite progressive though. This is another favorite band of this comp.

REMOTE (Russia) dish out one track of heavy duty sludge metal that marches around at a mid-tempo stomp with nice beefy type distortion and screamed vocals that bring a sense of impending despair. The sludge riffs are thick like an oil spill on the ocean’s surface and the melodic prance brings a quickened Black Sabbath vibe to the forefront. Nice filthy raw sludge metal here.

DEKONSTRUKTOR (Russia) delivers another dose of Russkiy sludge metal from the land of frozen tundra and vodka. Their one track takes a more lo-fi approach and a high energy galloping guitar riff and heavy percussion that makes this one border on death metal however the vocal style is definitely in the same camp as sludge metal bands such as Neurosis or Eyehategod. Nice aggressive sludge metal albeit nothing tremendously out of the ordinary either.

SMOKE (US) deliver another one track of American sludge metal all the way from the sludgy swamps of southern Louisiana. The track “BMF” makes me think “Big Monster Fuck” as the sludgy creeping guitar riffs that allow as much sustain as possible slowly build up for full attack. The track builds up to more of stoner metal vibe in the vein of Kyushu but the vocals take it to the twisted world of black metal as raspy vocals scream from the abyss. Nice.

SUNDRIFTER (US) dials things down a bit from the extreme metal universe but continues the stoner vibe as a tribal drum starts things off. The heavily distorted guitar has a Sabbath sort of feel as do the bluesy shuffles. The vocals are what ground it to the stoner rock world as they are clean and sound a bit like Jim Morrison of The Doors. This band sounds more like Danzig than a bona fide metal band but the heavy guitar, bass and drum are ferocious enough to get them in this club.

THE SLEEPER (Germany) changes the direction with their one track into the world a more progressive metal sound with a rather alternative Alice In Chains sound from the “Dirt” era. In fact Steven Jost’s intro vocals sounds very much like Lane Staley but the track takes on a heavier melodic metalcore stance as the Between The Buried And Me type style merges with a Linkin Park sort of piano riff. This is an interesting mix between alternative metal, metalcore and even touches of nu metal.

yrs. (Germany) is one of those newer band that just refuses to use capital letters in their name. What’s up with that guys? These guys dish out two tracks of eerie atmospheric sludge metal with depressive background ambience, a melodic guitar riff attack and anguished vocals screaming from the abysmal bottom of hell. The band name makes me think “years” which brings to mind some sort of sentencing and condemnation to a jail cell in some dark torturous location. If the tag depressive sludge metal existed, i’d definitely use that since this is a sludge metal equivalent to the anguished black metal of Shining and similar bands. We get two tracks from this band.

EMPRESS (Canada) cranks out four tracks of their unique style of atmospheric sludge metal which has a more evil sort of take on 90s Neurosis. They provide a heavy distorted groove, tribal drumming patterns, gazy atmospheric mix and a subdued shouting vocal effect emerging from beneath the heavy distorted din. When the guitar drops the incredibly evil sounding bass is allowed to shine which is my favorite instrument for these guys. Bouts of shoegaze type psychedelic meandering also occur. With four tracks they are one track away from featuring their entire debut EP “Reminiscence.” While sounding a bit like a more aggressive version of Neurosis, these guys have a firm command of their murky atmospheres married with heavy guitar sludgery. Nice tones they achieve and the instruments don’t bleed into each other too much leaving enough independence to be heard. Definitely an up and coming talent here.

APE CAVE (US) continues the sludge metal attack with a progressive edge with heavy guitar riffs that have an angular edge unleashing jittery time signatures and an edgy sort of percussive bombast. In fact the drummer is highly skilled with blitzkrieg lightning fast drum rolls. The vocals alternate between depressive clean and anguished angry growled screams. Their one track alternates from clean guitar led calmness to heavy distorted sludge outbursts. Nice attention paid to the details which makes this a pleasant mix. Another up and coming band ate watch out for.

TALLER THAN TREES (Belgium) provides two tracks of atmospheric sludge metal more in the post metal vein of bands like Isis and Pelican with repetitive grooves, lazy percussive backing and sludgy distortion. The vocals emerge as growly screams more in the vein of Eyehategod or early Neurosis. Not the most original band but passable. Needs work on variety the monotonous riffs become generic.

BESTIA (Poland) continues the sludgefest with a fierce heavy dual guitar assault that allows a bassier riff to cruise along with a higher registered one. This is also a band that blurs the line between metal styles. While the guitar riffs are based in sludge metal, the growly vocals are more akin to old school death metal such as the Morbid Angel years. The tracks have a more melodic alternative metal sort of approach that sound a little like accessible 90s grunge however it’s all balanced very nicely as not to be too saccharin and have enough metal ballsy gusto to feel like i want to run down the streets beating my chest and growling like a fucking animal! Nice semi-dissonant arpeggios and just off enough to have an edge yet grounded in traditional compositional structures. These guys have an instantly addictive mix of styles that will remind everyone of some band or other but really don’t sound like any other. Nice two tracks from the Poles.

LEFT TO WITHER (France) offers one of my least favorite types of metal hybridization and yeah that means screamo, an offshoot of hardcore punk meets math rock but this may be that i haven’t really delved to deeply into this little nook of the hardcore universe. It’s usually the vocals that drive me away (and i’m saying that as an extreme metal fanatic.) OK, on this French band’s two tracks, we indeed get a nerdy math rock that is heavily distorted with the expected unintelligible emotional outbursts that in this case emerge as the expected angry screams. Touches of atmospheric sludge metal make this a littler more digestible for me. Heavy sludge riffing, hardcore drum assault and a decent amount of slide guitar and interesting changes make this a nice set of headbangin’ hardcore.

SATURNIST (Finland) present just one track on this comp but these Finn’s know how to make an impact with this almost twelve minute doomfest. These guys take the traditional doom metal route with immediate Black Sabbath connections from the getgo as the tintinnabulation of bells and a bass gently usher in an incrementally more aggressive stance. The riffs are very Sabbathy as they churn on but close to the three minute mark a distorted atmospheric break allowed guitar sustain to transmogrify the music into a more 90s based doom metal not unlike Candlemass or Saint Vitus. Although it takes almost five minutes to introduce the vocals, once they hit, they are nicely unique not sounding like any of the aforementioned influences and instead convey more of a clean vocal style that sounds most like bands like Slough Feg rather than a doom metal band but it’s a nice contrast. Although the track plods along, this is indeed a nicely done doom metal track although not really groundbreaking in any way.

DEATHBELL (France) delivers the next round of doom metal with the expected nonchalant flows of distorted guitar riffs, lazy percussive backing and gloomy marches to infinity. What’s not expected is the vocal style of Lauren Gaynor who makes use of a high clean vocal style that is melodic and rises above the bass heavy instrumentation. Over their two tracks, they implement Sabbath-esque chord changes only dragged out into near funeral doom arenas but yet retain a sort of Kyuss styled stoner vibe to the mix. Rather catchy for doom metal but delivers all the doomy, gloomy goods.

SWALLOWED WHOLE (US) provide a rather unique soundscape on their one track. Straddling somewhere in the ether mix of black, industrial and death doom metal, this Seattle based band deliver an ominous assault on the senses with somewhat catchy melodic riffs that have a black metal guitar, a cymbal laden percussive backing and a freaky deep gargling vocal style. The melody is somewhat catchy but kind of teeters in and out of tune in an apparent dissonant / consonant tug-of-war. With a name like SWALLOWED WHOLE, their unique sound does kind of convey that they recorded this track at least in the belly of a whale! Now wouldn’t THAT make a killer recording studio? LOL

V.H. CLEANER (Australia) is the odd band out on the mix. They really aren’t a metal band at all but rather are more known for vaporware, plunderphonics, electronic and dark ambient. However, here they do implement some mean guitar distorted riffs that although echoing and writhing about like land locked octopi, they do provide a darkened ominous assault on the senses. A very short track that not exactly metal still fits the overall vibe.

SZAR (US) deliver the only drone metal track on the comp. This Louisiana based act is really the alter ego of Thomas Dwayne Hargrave who plays all instruments but don’t get too impressed. Drone metal is the easiest metal to play with virtually zero effort, however it is about the right atmospheric dynamics and SZAR does provide a nice romp through glaciated guitar sustained distortion with minimal drumming and more chord changes and faster tempos than frozen in time acts like early Earth. Drone metal is not my favorite in the least but this is decent.

Our metal circus ringleader saves his own contribution for the very last and while that alone doesn’t surprise me, the fact that this is not metal at all really does. ABISHAI ends the long journey through this comp with a little bit of a pallet cleanser. Instead of dishing out yet one more dose of heavy guitar distortion and growly vocal attitudnal misalignment, Mr Smith ends with a dark ambient track titled “Immortality And Hatred Within The Zealots.” While i would’ve loved to hear ABISHAI’s own metal concoction, this one is a nice grounding piece that keeps the darkness churning on til the very end.

CONCLUSION: Bravo to Abishai for creating a fan-damn-tastic METAL MADNESS comp! I do hope that the VOLUME ONE part of the title refers to a future Volume Two and beyond because this dude has proven to be a veritable talent magnet that has turned me on to some totally ripping good times here. Granted there are ups and downs on this one and everyone who can fantasize what their favorite type of comp should be, probably has not worked through the painstaking processes of compiling what is available for them to work with. While i’m sure everyone could think of a better way to do it themselves, the fact is they didn’t and Abishai shows a mature way of compiling some veritable contemporary talents in the underground metal world. Sure i would’ve loved to hear more power metal, more thrash or even more technically based avant-garde weirdness but i do have to say that there is more than enough here to please any extreme metal fan even if they don’t dig every single track. Although some tracks are stronger than others, there are really no throwaways either. This was a pleasure to experience 66 tracks worth of dark underground metal even though it took me forever to get through it a few times. I mean, wow. This easily could’ve been broken up into six volumes, so this could easily be considered a box set of sort had it come out before the digital age. EXCELLENT album! More of these please ;)

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Metal for Muthas

Album · 1980 · NWoBHM
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Vim Fuego
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Thanks a lot Geoff Barton, for one of the most awkward labels for a genre of music ever. NWOBHM. If you try to pronounce the acronym, it sounds like somewhere in North Africa where Montgomery and Rommel scrapped it out during World Ward 2, at the Battle of NWOBHM. Writing for Sounds magazine, Barton first coined New Wave of British Heavy Metal in May 1979. Is the term descriptive? Yes. An underground swelling of heavy metal bands popped up in Great Britain the late 1970s and early 1980s. They supposedly had a new sound, distinct from that of the old guard of heavy metal. Is the term accurate? Not really. Define the sound exactly. Was it Iron Maiden’s galloping riffs? Was it Diamond Head’s hard edged take on prog rock? Was it Angel Witch’s occult inspired freakouts? Was it Saxon’s working class denim and leather? All NWOBHM bands, but all that’s really similar in them is their British origin, and they all played metal.

“Metal For Muthas” was an attempt to catalogue these disparate sounds, and in doing so created an album both definitive of and symptomatic of the scene. Released in February 1980, the ten tracks on this album featured some of the best and worst of metal for the time and place.

“Metal For Muthas” is probably most famous for being the place where many a metal fan first discovered Iron Maiden. Maiden had released the single “Running Free” a week before this compilation came out, and their debut album was still a couple of months off. What was on offer here was early versions of “Sanctuary” and “Wrathchild”. These are far and away the stand-out tracks on this album, and it’s easy to see why Iron Maiden became Iron Maiden. In an odd twist, neither was included on the original version of Iron Maiden’s debut.

“Sanctuary” was intended to be a non-album single. It was recorded as a four piece, with Doug Sampson on drums. The band were most unhappy with the way it sounded, so re-recorded it for the single, and the re-recorded version was later added to the US and subsequent versions of the “Iron Maiden” album. However, the rougher “Metal For Muthas” version has a gritty charm all it’s own.

“Wrathchild” also sounds rougher than the version which would eventually appear on “Killers”. The guitars have a bit more bite, the solos are demonstrably different, and it doesn’t quite have the Martin Birch punch of the later version.

There’s more to this album than Iron Maiden though. Sledgehammer’s “Sledgehammer” just perfectly sets itself up for any number of hammering, pounding, thumping, or bashing clichés, so just pick your own one while you listen to Mike Cooke’s excellent melodic vocals and his powerful rhythm section. Like many of the songs here, it has a bluesy swagger to it, owing great debts to the likes of early Deep Purple and Status Quo.

E.F. Band kept the blues flavour, but upped the tempo somewhat, and completely fucked the British part of NWOBHM by having the temerity to hail from Sweden. Never mind, “Fighting for Rock and Roll” does just that, and there are some incredible solos mid-song.

Toad The Wet Sprocket borrowed their name from a Monty Python sketch, and you might almost think someone was having a laugh by including “Blues In A” on the album. The song reeks of boozy, smoke-filled barrooms, complete with someone tinkling the ivories, and vocalist Mick Mostafa wailed all over it. A great hangover song, but a bit of a momentum killer, and there was a vital element missing from it, namely THE METAL!

Praying Mantis had all the ingredients to have made it bigger than they did. After all, guitarist Rob Angelo wrote “Sanctuary” when he was in Iron Maiden. Yes, the same “Sanctuary” that led off the album. Angelo was paid £300 for the song and was well satisfied with it. Interestingly, he didn’t have a writing credit for “Captured City”, the song featured here. While not as quick as Maiden, this still has a similar bass driven feel, with some great memorable vocal harmonies.

Ethel The Frog... Not a promising name. Another amphibian from another Monty Python sketch, but it’s a matter of not judging a book by it’s cover. “Fight Back” is one of the heaviest songs here, and featured some Judas Priest-like guitar work.

And then on to Angel Witch. While Samson is probably more famous, Angel Witch would have to be second behind Maiden from this album for their influence on future metal bands. “Baphomet” is firmly rooted in the occult lyrically and thematically, and from this song come the roots of speed and thrash metal, with the likes of Mercyful Fate being obvious descendants of Angel Witch. This was also a big influence on Dave Mustaine, Chuck Schuldiner, and Tom G. Warrior. It is easily the best song outside of the Maiden tracks.

And so to Samson. Probably best known for featuring a pre-Iron Maiden Bruce Bruce (fucking good thing he changed his name from THAT!), it’s actually Paul Samson singing on “Tomorrow Or Yesterday”. Once again, it’s a blues rock/ballad, with some hard driving mid passages, but ultimately, it’s a bit dull.

The whole thing is rounded out by Nutz with “Bootliggers”. Nutz also didn’t feature the NWOBHM tag by not being new, as in they were an established band, with three studio albums behind them already. “Bootliggers” has it’s boots firmly rooted in the early 70s hard rock/glam rock sound. Dave Lloyd even lets rip with a Daltrey-esque scream. While not a weak song, it’s an odd finish to the album, complete with fake finale.

Geoff Barton, he who coined the fuckawful acronym for this genre called the album “A good idea abysmally executed”. Well Mr Barton, you were proved wrong. “Metal For Muthas” hit number 16 in the album charts, and is still loved by metal fans the world over, as much for its historical significance as for the actual music. Yes, parts of the album aren’t new, British, or even heavy metal, but it exposed an underground scene to a wider audience, which gave metal a huge kick in the ass, and boosted it to greater things in the 1980s and beyond.

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) 'Stars On Thrash'

Album · 1988 · Thrash Metal
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Vim Fuego
In pre-internet times, compilation albums were often the best way to discover new music, particularly for thrash metal fans, since thrash has never really dominated the radio spectrum at all. Yes, you could read about new bands, but that is nothing like actually hearing the band for yourself. The downside to compilations however, was often the quality of the music on them was often far from consistent. Yes, every label had their superstars, but they also had those odd, hard to promote bands.

Flotsam and Jetsam’s “Dreams of Death is a good start. It’s up-tempo, as you’d hope on a thrash compilation, and bounces along in a very satisfying manner. Big things were expected of Flotsam and Jetsam at the time, and while we now know they didn’t quite eventuate, it wasn’t through lack of talent.

Mucky Pup shouldn’t be confused with Skinny Puppy. Skinny Puppy have been making people uncomfortable on and off since 1982 with dark, cutting edge experimental industrial/electronic music. Mucky Pup will waste about two minutes of your life with ham-fisted crossover thrash. D.R.I. always did such things better, and did just that on the next track.

Roadrunner were on to a winner with Pestilence, and showcased the Dutch deathsters with “Commandments”, one of the heaviest songs on the entire album. While not pure, unbridled death metal like the band’s later work, this song definitely points to where Pestilence were heading. It is also still a pleasure to hear a vocalist like Martin Van Drunen, who could teach many modern vocalists about their trade.

And then along comes Toxik. Inexplicably, this band’s two 1980s albums are now highly sought after. “Heart Attack” shows exactly why Toxik should be forgotten and consigned to the ranks of also-rans. It is generic bubble-gum thrash, complete with idiotic lyrics, high pitched vocals, and ill-fitting guitar solos.

German band Paradox were streets ahead of Toxik, mixing thrash with power metal, but this track is ultimately forgettable.

S.O.D.’s “Kill Yourself” stomps in like a motherfucker, drinks all the beer, fucks all the girls, smashes the TV and stereo, and then, while saluting with a skeletal middle finger, stomps off again. While one of the best songs here, it’s inclusion is a bit of a mystery. Most of this compilation is a showcase for new bands and albums, but this was already three years old.

Acrophet’s “Corrupt Minds” is speedy bog standard crossover thrash. Despite the band’s name, there’s nothing Gothic about Gothic Slam. “Fought For Death is more throwaway thrash.

And just when it seems this compilation might be dribbling off into mediocrity, along comes Slayer! Slayer is a no brainer. Then again, this is Roadrunner we’re talking about, so leaving Slayer off could have been a distinct possibility. Another older track which appeared on the first Speed Kills compilation, this is like comfort food for headbangers.

And just when you expect the inclusion of Slayer to be fucked up by another tepid track, you get two fucking beauties in a row. Sacred Reich was still one of the new guard of thrash in 1988, and “Death Squad” perfectly showcased their brand of heavy political thrash.

Znowhite was one of those cult classic bands which really did slip through the cracks. “Baptised By Fire” is a storming thrasher. If this album had had a few more of these and a few less “Heart Attack”s, it could have been regarded as a genuine classic.

Kat!’s “Satan Says”... I think Satan would have been saying shut the fuck up you tuneless harpy!

Atrophy’s “Chemical Dependency” is a surprisingly weighty song. It doesn’t quite border on death metal, but it definitely heads in that direction.

The final track, “Opinionate!” by Hades seems to have a split personality. It can’t think if it wants to copy Anthrax, Death Angel, or Forbidden, and ends up a meandering mess far inferior to all three.

All in all, “Stars on Thrash” is very much a mixed bag with a few cherries to pick, and a few maggots to spit out. It seems to be remembered fondly now, but the odds are good those remembering it haven’t listened to it in years, and can only recall the good bits, and have forgotten the trash among the thrash.

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Grindcrusher

Album · 1989 · Grindcore
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Vim Fuego
This shouldn’t have worked. Imagine a mainstream death metal label releasing a compilation with saxophone abuse, lo-fi hardcore, vomited goregrind, ropey demos, comedy thrash, keyboard and piano led tracks, avant-garde experimentalism, industrial weirdness, oh yeah, and a bit of death metal. It looks like a big mash up of unrelated and unrelatable genres. And the cover. The gaudy eye bleeding high contrast artwork looks like it would cause migraines in the same manner as the music.

But you know, this odd compilation of unknown, fringe, and underground bands with several different tracklists, and different versions of the tacky artwork has become one of the most important compilations in the development of extreme metal as we know it. This album is a legend. This is “Grindcrusher”.

For an album that’s supposed to be so influential on the death metal scene, there’s not actually a lot of death metal on it. Yes, there’s death metal royalty in the forms of the already legendary Morbid Angel, and the emerging Entombed, the Morbid Angel-related sci-fi death weirdos Nocturnus, and the highly influential Carnage, which evolved into Dismember, and spun off members into Carcass, Arch Enemy, General Surgery, Therion, Dark Tranquillity, and a few others too. But that was it.

But wait, you say, what about… Bolt Thrower, Terrorizer, Napalm Death, Carcass, Repulsion... Stick your little labels on them and call ‘em what you fucking like, but they were considered grindcore at the time. So was Godflesh, Heresy, Unseen Terror, and even Filthy Christians, and perhaps Sore Throat. Hellbastard? Intense Degree? Stick some sort of –core in there somewhere... But then when it came to Naked City, Old Lady Drivers, Cadaver, Sweet Tooth, Mighty Force, and Spazztic Blurr... Just throw up your hands and say fuck. No one bothered trying to figure out what to call the music, it was just there to be listened to and enjoyed.

It’s useless trying to sum up this record track by track. There’s some fucking stunners, like Morbid Angel’s “Chapel Of Ghouls”, Terrorizer’s “Dead Shall Rise” and Godflesh’s industrial nightmare “Streetcleaner”. There’s a couple of historically important tracks, like Repulsion’s “Radiation Sickness” and Carnage “Malignant Epitaph”. There’s some total weirdness in Spazztic Blurr’s “He-Not-A-Home-Me-Marco”, Naked City’s “Osaka Bondage”, and Old Lady Drivers’ “Colostomy Grab-Bag”. There’s an exclusive version of Carcass’ “Exhume To Consume”, and there’s even some novelty fun, with Napalm Death’s “You Suffer”, and “Satan’s Trampoline” from the smarter than they seem Lawnmower Deth.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. There were a couple of duds on this album. Hellbastard inexplicably never made a huge impact, and “Justly Executed” is not their strongest track. Napalm Death’s “Malicious Intent” is a bit dry. Intense Degree, Sweet Tooth, and Mighty Force had good tracks here, but never made waves beyond this. No matter, “Grindcrusher” is like metal archaeology. Some of these bands grew and evolved. Some are left here in fossil form. All need to be heard.

VARIOUS ARTISTS (GENERAL) Speed Kills...But Who's Dying? - Volume 4 of the Ultimate In Thrash

Album · 1989 · Thrash Metal
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Vim Fuego
Young metal fans today have it easier than in days gone by for discovering new music. YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, websites, streaming, downloads, message boards... None of things existed until at the late 1990s at the very least. The young know not what they missed.

Back in a pre-internet time, communication was much slower, and information much harder to access. Music had a more limited number of formats. There was vinyl, which was inconvenient and easily damaged. Cassettes were more convenient, but were also prone to damage when tapes stretched and chewed, and had definite sound quality issues. CDs were new, and had great clarity of sound, but they were expensive. A lot of labels and bands could not afford to release material on CD, and CD players could cost as much as a second hand car. Live was the best way to hear a band, but if the bands didn’t come to your country, you’d never hear them.

Discovering new bands and new music was also trickier. Radio and TV were next to useless, a few notable exceptions excluded. Try explaining to a teen metal fan now the frustrations of trying to tune into a metal show at 11pm on a Sunday night, broadcast from a student radio station with less power than a lightbulb (I kid you not. The transmitter for 98RDU, my nearest student radio station had a 98 watt transmitter!). Trying to even get a barely recognisable signal involved orienting the radio in the right direction, fiddling with the aerial, and stringing bits of wire around the room as an antenna extension. And then if it was raining or windy, just forget it completely.

All in all, it was a pain in the fucking ass. It took a lot of effort, could cost a lot of money, and it was easy to miss things. So just imagine the satisfaction, and the near priapic joy, when you managed to discover something as magnificent as “Speed Kills...But Who's Dying?”

The Speed Kills series of compilations had been going since 1985 as a showcase of what was new in “speed metal” on the Under One Flag/Music For Nations label. Even in 1985 with the release of the first compilation the title was already out of date. Through licensing deals and the label’s own releases, that album featured Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Venom, Voivod, Celtic Frost, and a number of other early thrash metal bands, with only a couple of genuine speed metal tracks, but there was little distinction made in those days. Basically, it was metal, it was fast, and it was well outside the mainstream.

By 1989 with the release of the fourth album in the series, “Speed Kills...But Who's Dying?” underground metal was becoming a little more fragmented. Death metal, black metal, and grindcore were all starting to emerge as distinct subgenres. The likes of Metallica and Megadeth were on the cusp of mainstream success, and would never again be seen on a compilation like this. So what was left? An outsider who knew little of metal would probably call “Speed Kills...But Who's Dying?” second rate, or second tier, but this compilation isn’t for them. This is for the true fans, those who want to dig deeper, to a place where commercial success does not equate to quality. This is for people who wanted to explore the deeper dungeons of thrash metal, rather than just leaping about the parapets of the Big Four.

There are endless arguments about who comes next after the legendary Big Four. Cases can be made for Testament, Overkill, Kreator (which forgets Germany had its OWN Big Three/Four), or the first band on this compilation, Exodus. Long may these good, friendly, violent discussions continue, but don’t forget the music. The song “Parasite” is one of the stronger tracks from Exodus’ second and ultimately flawed album “Pleasures of the Flesh”. It has all the Exodus trademarks which marked them for metal stardom - heavy riffs, shredding solos, Steve Souza’s sharp shout, intelligent lyrics, and it’s just a fucking good song.

Re-Animator were marked for big things too. While history has proved otherwise for the band, “Deny Reality” is a great technical song, and arguably the best the band ever recorded. Unfortunately, Re-Animator couldn’t maintain such a high level of song writing throughout their career, and faded out in the early 1990s.

Apocalypse’s “Cemetery” has a melody to die for, a big facet of thrash metal often overlooked in the race for faster/heavier. The singalong gang vocal refrains are irresistible.

Blind Illusion’s “Blood Shower” has a building menace, and featured a pre-Primus Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde. Mark Biedermann’s vocals have a shredded throat edge, and the twin harmonic/disharmonic guitars were something not used near enough in thrash.

Acid Reign’s “Life in Forms” is a tirade against bureaucracy. Seem like a boring subject for a song? Listen to this killer before you dismiss it. The mid-pace chug of this song is unbelievably heavy, and H’s clear vocals are a treat.

Death’s “Open Casket” was definitive death metal in it’s day. The album “Leprosy” from which this song was taken proved death metal didn’t have to be a gargled mess, and riffs, solos, and non-gore based lyrics could still be brutal as fuck.

“No Resurrection” by Holy Terror is an anti-Christian diatribe, with tornado guitars and vocals. Holy Terror was a bit much for many thrash fans at the time, but looking back, it’s now plainly obvious why this band has since attained cult status.

“For All Those Who Died” by Bathory is dramatic and brutal, yet atmospheric and uplifting at the same time. The incredibly simple beat and riffs underscored Quorthon’s roared vocals. The discordant, seemingly out of time solo snakes its way over top of the song, with every element of the song seemingly redlining into static.

And on to side two. Yes, this is one of those old “you gotta turn it over” things. “Wired” is far from a typical Nuclear Assault song. The NYHC influence is less obvious than in their earlier material, basically because this is so damn slow. The vocals are near on impossible to decipher on a first listen, like listening to a foreign language you are still in the process of learning. The effect is odd, and definitely original, but it’s not off-putting.

“Execution of Mankind” by Agony is the only misfire on the album. It’s too long and doesn’t really engage like the rest of the songs here, but like “Wired”, it adds a bit of contrast to the faster songs here. It’s not necessarily a bad song, it’s just not as good as everything else on here.

“Mirror of the Past” by Hexx is a nasty little song, possessing a quantity of venom and bile. Clint Bower’s vicious vocals have a hardcore edge to them, and almost cross over into death metal territory.

Exodus pop up next, for a second appearance, this time a cover of AC/DC’s “Overdose”. The song was a bonus track on some versions of “Fabulous Disaster”. Zetro does a great Bon Scott vocal impression. This version retains the blues rock groove of the original, while adding thrash flourishes to it, and of course, is orders of magnitude heavier.

Forbidden’s “Chalice of Blood” is a masterclass in technical thrash. The twin lead guitars weave in and out of one another, all the while showcasing some incredible riffs, and Russ Anderson’s melodic yet powerful voice soars over it.

Death/thrash pioneers Possessed showed there was more to their repertoire than just Satan. “Storm in my Mind” is a psychological maelstrom, creeping along creating a sense of impending chaos. And the chaos hits, like a psychotic brainstorm of confused neural signals. This band is legendary, and this shows why.

At their peak, Dark Angel was the only band in all of thrash to be able to rival Slayer for intensity and sheer shit-your-pants horror. “The Death of Innocence” is a whirlwind song with a far nastier tone than anything else here, and is probably harder for a new thrash fan to digest than even Death or Bathory.

How to follow Dark Angel? Change direction and tempo completely. Final track “Suspended Sentence” shows once again Acid Reign’s lyrical intelligence and great sense of song dynamics. It rumbles and chugs along at a slow canter, but occasionally gallops off into a blast beat. The song has some seriously thought-provoking lyrics about murder, the moment before death, and the price of a life.

All in all, this album is 73 minutes of near metal perfection. It is the perfect basecamp for starting a wider exploration of thrash. It is also an incredibly accurate time capsule of a genre from a time since past, the original spirit preserved here for posterity in a format now almost extinct. This is how it was.

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