These posts are written by: Andrew Hatch

Love Letter – Skid Row’s “I Remember You”

This is a love letter about a love song. The glam metal explosion yielded more than its fair share of sappy power ballads, but one reigns above them all. The Achilles heel of the power ballad is its maddening tendency to mire in cliché — but, paradoxically, “I Remember You” manages to subvert kitsch and bludgeon cliché through its absolute screaming dedication to its own cliché.

Grafvitnir – Keys to the Mysteries Beyond

Grafvitnir exists at the limits of extremity and melody. If one were to plot a simple chart to describe metal, with “Melody” as the X axis, and “Extremity” as the Y, Grafvitnir would be the little dot in the top right corner, with full marks in each category. Yet Grafvitnir doesn’t balance their thirst for convulsing blast beats and throat-shredding vocals and lightning tremolo with their desire for sweet, sweet melodies so much as the two sides battle, warring opposites ripping and clawing and dancing, circling their way around one another, imprisoned in brutal stalemate for the duration of Keys to the Mysteries Beyond. The end result is something that sounds like Storm of the Light’s Bane-era Dissection on amphetamines — and if that sentence sounds appealing, you’d better get listening, bucko.

Chaos Moon – Eschaton Mémoire

Chaos Moon’s fourth full-length, Eschaton Mémoire swarms with a dense black metal cascade, sweeping and overwhelming in the tide of tremolo and crush of percussion surging through it. For all its fury, however, Eschaton Mémoire can also collapse into itself — a victim of its own density when the massive drums play over the music instead of with it. When the formula works, however, Eschaton Mémoire is enveloping, chaotic, and furious — and when it doesn’t, all that sound and fury melds into forgettable background noise, signifying nothing.

Riffs from the Crypt — Potentiam

Potentiam is by far the most recent disinterment inducted into the hallowed halls of Riffs from the Crypt. Potentiam’s tomb gleams proud and new among its brethren decades older on the strength of their 1999 debut, Bálsýn. But like the rest, Potentiam and their eccentric debut have been largely forgotten to time.

The Metal Explosion: 1985 – 1987

If the story of 1980 to 1984 was how NWOBHM (and more specifically, Iron Maiden) awoke metal from its dormancy to tear the boundaries of popular music, then 1985 – 1987 is about the coronation of thrash metal atop the metal throne, and the subsequent underground rumblings of a closely linked cousin, a blood brother faster, more brutal, and more astonishing — death metal.

Hey! Listen to Battle Hag!

Battle Hag does not write riffs so much as they summon an unusually melodic thunderstorm. Tongue of the Earth is an apt name for the debut album; their doom metal swirls with primeval atmosphere that seems to rumble from the earth itself, rather than from any human artifice. This effect is accomplished by a tremendous attention to detail: the massive bass tone, the low and bestial growls, the slow and towering riffs, the sometimes-ritualistic percussion… the net result is that, at their absolute best, Battle Hag provides the distinct impression that the listener is cowering inside a shallow cave, helpless to explosions of thunder and bludgeons of debris while a formless predator roars in the distance. It’s pretty cool.

Riffs from the Crypt — Antichrist

Far, far off, on the left hand path of the great metal graveyard, lies an inverted cross bearing the name of Antichrist. (Not to be confused with the seven other Antichrists listed on MA — it’s a busy job, apparently.) The band was woefully short-lived, surviving only for only three years after their 1983 release of Slaughter in Hell. Despite their short career, Antichrist has one of the oldest and most decrepit tombstones in the entire black metal necropolis. Antichrist had all the anti-Christian verve and groundbreaking ferocity of Venom, but with an added flair for catchy songwriting that should have propelled them to the fore of proto black metal.