Land Of The Lost: 1989

Thursday, 22nd August 2013

My hope with this column is to spotlight unsung metal records no matter what particular genre that may have fallen through the cracks. Be it too uncool, going against the grain, different for its time, whatever – here’s a second chance glance at bands and albums that deserve more of your ear space.

Understand I tried to look at North American release dates for each year under consideration (unless the album received no distribution in the USA/ Canada), so if you think something didn’t make the list one year, it could be in another yearly analysis at a later date. My first look is at 1989: a special year for me as I graduated high school, would move away to college, and open up my underground horizons even more thanks to the world of tape trading/ fanzines. Here are my picks that deserve deeper respect and metal appreciation:


Annihilator – Alice in Hell (Roadracer Records)
Guitarist Jeff Waters main introduction to the technical speed/thrash world, Alice in Hell gives the listeners a bevy of hooks, shrieks, and sinister atmosphere rarely heard at the time. Be it the multi-layered acoustic extravaganza “Crystal Ann” opener, the dynamic aggressive to clean charge within “Word Salad” or the infamous Randy Rampage screams along with Waters’ killer shredding that penetrates the airspace of the title cut, these Canadians gave the speed/thrash genre more heroes to emulate.


Atheist – Piece of Time (Active Records)
Turning the death metal genre on its ear with progressive thinking and jazz influences, Piece of Time proved Florida’s Atheist would help elevate the musicianship within this genre beyond its conventional growls and gore approach. “On They Slay” and “I Deny” still drop my jaw, between the incredible time signature changes and band instrumentation that keeps one finger on the hook rails and the other pushing the boundaries of intricacy – providing inspiration for the latest tech death crop.


Metal Church – Blessing in Disguise (Elektra Records)
Normally new vocalists need a learning curve to gain acceptance in an established act. Not so with Mike Howe, who soared to incredible heights on this third full length for Metal Church. The mid-tempo crunch of “Fake Healer,” the unreal drum rolls of Kirk Arrington on “Of Unsound Mind,” plus the comfortable clean to heavy transformation of “Badlands,” this is an excellent release for those who love musicality in their power/thrash.


Sepultura – Beneath the Remains (Roadrunner Records)
Max and Igor Cavalera realize their dream of global impact with this third album. Beneath the Remains put Brazil on the metal map, and this is a mighty thrash effort that crossed over to impact the death metal community as well. Riffs within “Mass Hypnosis” and the title track that you could hum for days, insane speed passages that maintained a tight as nails approach- and Max’s up to the task grunt vocals carrying Sepultura to iconic status.


Toxik – Think This (Roadrunner Records)
Guitarist Josh Christian and his compatriots in Toxik pushed their sound to the technical thrash limit with their second album Think This. New vocalist Charlie Sabin hitting dog-whistle highs, plus a progressive edge made material like “Spontaneous”, “Black and White” and “Time After Time” innovative in comparison to anyone in their East Coast backyard. How often can you take in an album hundreds of times and still find something new to take away? Think This delivers on this in a multitude of ways.

Honorable Mention:
Blind Guardian – Follow the Blind (No Remorse Records)
Coroner – No More Color (Noise International)
DBC – Universe (Combat Records)
Powermad – Absolute Power (Warner Brothers)
Watchtower – Control and Resistance (Noise International)

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