Top 15 Metal Albums, May 2014
If there's any major takeaway, as the bigwigs in the boardrooms say, to be gleaned from this month's roundup of recent metal albums, it's that the '80s apparently never died -- and good thing, too. California thrashmongers Hirax might be the only band here that actually dates back that far, but Triptykon (fronted by ex-Celtic Frost honcho Tom G. Warrior) and Black Label Society (founded by ex-Ozzy axe-wielder Zakk Wylde) are led by guys who started back then. And many others (The Pretty Reckless, The Shrine, Slough Feg, Dark Forest, Shadow Host, Nervosa) juggle metal and hard rock styles associated with the Reagan/Thatcher years: NWOBHM, speed metal, skate punk, even hair-glam in the case of high-charting New Yorkers The Pretty Reckless.
At least two other acts among these 15 look back even further -- to heavy art rock of the '70s. Bigelf undoubtedly have several old Queen and Alice Cooper LPs on their shelf (so, probably, do The Pretty Reckless, come to think of it -- and The Shrine and Slough Feg clearly have a taste for Thin Lizzy among other classic radio rock), while Dinner Music for the Gods dabble deeply in early Santana and loud jazz fusion when they're not reviving an Iron Maiden standby from 1983.
The four bands as yet unmentioned -- Brooklyn death metal sadists Pyrrhon, Italian goth metal romantics Lacuna Coil, suburban Chicago alt metal entrepreneurs Chevelle, Seattle metalgaze sleepwalkers Helms Alee -- have roots that don't seem to burrow quite so deep into bygone eras when metal still loved to rock 'n' roll. But some people prefer it that way, and hey, the '90s and '00s were cool too, in their own manner, y'know? As are the '10s, as this batch surely proves.