Deicide - In Torment In Hell (Roadrunner)
Much like Slayer and their seminal epic "Reign in Blood", every Deicide release is forever being compared to their 1990 self-titled debut, a classic that had Metalheads around the globe thrashing with Satanic joy. Cut to 2001, and Deicide's last album for Roadrunner sees them leave the label with a demonic scream, and what a noisy, hellish beast it is too.
Kicking off with a telephone tête-à-tête with Christian evangelist Bob Larsen in which vocalist/bassist Glen (ouch I hurt my forehead) Benton matter-of-factly states that he will end up 'in torment in hell' it becomes evident immediately that this is a classic in the making. Produced by the band and recorded and mixed in a mere 4 days, this is a return to their roots, a more brutal Deicide, all gnashing teeth and spiting venom.
'Let it be done' screams from your speakers like devils cast into the fiery pits of hell, whilst 'Vengeance will be mine' will go down as a death metal classic, complete with Celtic Frost's Tom Warrior-type "death grunts" thrown in for bad measure. With death metal on an all-time high right now with the likes of Nile and Morbid Angel making serious noise on both sides of the Atlantic and, with Deicide about to embark on a support slot with love 'em-or loath 'em Slipknot, me thinks the time has come for the unholy terror that is Deicide. Have a care.
Clutch - Pure Rock Fury (Atlantic)
If I had my way Clutch would be bigger than Metallica. As it is, they remain for the best part sadly underground, struggling to gain recognition for the monstrous albums they constantly knock out. "PRF" is no exception, 'American Sleep' kicking the album off in true Clutch style, that bluesy-heavy-groovey sound that makes ya wanna stomp your feet like you've never stomped before. The album is full of tracks like this, from the boogyish 'Smoke Banshee' to the sombre drinking song 'Drink to the dead' to the demented street preaching of 'Careful with that mic...' I finally got to Clutch live back in June, one of the tightest bands it's been my pleasure to see. Seriously, do yourself a favour and check these guys out. To say 'they rock!' is one of the greatest understatements EVER.
Lacuna Coil - Unleashed Memories (Century Media)
I first heard LC on a compilation CD and I must admit as soon as I heard the track 'Purify' I immediately went out and bought the album. Possibly the only band from Italy to make an impact on the metal/rock world, and though not strictly metal per see, they have a sound that you would liken to a heavier Cranberries. (Yes, you read that correctly). But by no means poppy, the dual vocals of the gorgeously angelic Cristina Scabbia and the death metal-ish growls of Andrea Ferro make for a strange, unique listening experience, as tracks such as 'To live is to hide' and the Italian sung 'Senzafine' will confirm. If you're looking for something melodic yet not too poppy to be embarrassed by your pals then LC could be the band for you.
Sepultura - Nation (Roadrunner)
Since this album was released, the Seps have now been dropped by Roadrunner Records - the band blame the label for lack of support, the label blame the band for lack of record sales. Whatever the reason, there's no denying that "Nation" promised a hell of a lot but ultimately failed to deliver. There are some great tracks here, 'Sepulnation', 'Revolt' and the Jello Biafra guest starred 'Politricks', but the problem with Nation is that there's no one definite style, it's all metal/punk/hardcore/rap/classical (Apocalyptica strumming away on 'Valtio'), and, while you could argue that it makes for interesting listening, I maintain that it's a shambled mess, skipping from one genre to the next, not knowing what they want to be or where they want to go. Which is a shame, 'cos if they stuck to one particular style and developed it (be it metal or hardcore) then their next album could make people sit up and take notice.
Tool - Lateralus (Toolshed Music)
The long-awaited follow-up to '96's "Aenima" was perhaps the most eagerly anticipated album of 2001, and, no, it didn't disappoint. Opening with the blistering 'The Grudge' Lateralus is a tour-de-force in nu-wave prog metal, taking chunks from the likes of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Voivod and throwing into the Tool mixer. Wonderfully produced by David Bottrill and the band themselves, they've cut an album of sweeping, musical landscapes - sit back and lose yourself in the gorgeous 'The patient', or if you prefer slam around the room, do so to the vicious 'Ticks and leeches'. Though not as instant as the aforementioned "Aenima", "Lateralus" stands testimony to a band once again setting the standards for the rest to follow, whilst shimmering on the edge of genius.
Iced Earth - Horror Show (Century Media)
A rare little gem, this, for those who won't bow down to that most rancid of genres, nu-metal, ie are Heavy Metal and fucking proud of it too, pal. Hailing from the US and taking their cue from Iron Maiden and dashes of old Metallica, Horror Show is a concept album of sorts, a tribute to those old horror movies you know and love (though the Misfits they're not!). 'Wolf', Dracula', 'Dragon's Child', Frankenstein', they're all here, accompanied with crunching riffs, rollicking leads and sing-a-long choruses, you'll find no down-tuned guitars here, my little Korn-ite. Absolutely refreshing, absolute metal.
Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (Nuclear Blast)
If you are a black metal fan, you either love or hate DB. You either hate the way that they've 'polished' the black metal sound, resenting them for wanting to release an album full of incredible musical layers, making those synths and the Gothenburg Opera Orchestra seem almost part of the band. After all, monstrous tracks like 'Blessings upon the throne of tyranny' and 'Puritania', whilst snarling, hell-for-leather anthems with melodies and brilliant musicianship just isn't early Bathory, is it? You'll hate them for being so damn professional in a genre of do-it-yourself, of wanting to entertain, to better each and every release with breathtaking tracks of immense power and depth. And you'll probably hate them for selling thousands of records too, whinging that they won the Swedish version of the Grammys for best Metal act. Your choice, of course...