overground scene

What music the first decade of the millenium gave us

I can approach this question in two different ways, the following: what personally blew me away, what appears to have made an impact on the music scene. Let’s start with the second one and some comparison with the 90s. The 90s introduced some hallmark records and even scenes. The early 90s kicked off in the underground with swedish death metal and a sound that is being copied today by thousands of bands. These monumental albums include Entombed‘s Left Hand Path, Carnage‘s Dark Recollections and Dismember‘s Like an Ever Flowing Stream. The mid-90s offered the definitive death metal album, At The Gates‘ Slaughter of the soul, which also created a school of its own and even mainstream nu-metal bands today rip it off without even knowing they’re doing so! I won’t refer to the USA since the death metal revolution came earlier in the late 80s there, although there is still technical death metal monuments like all albums from Death, Cynic, and brutal technical death metal like Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse and Monstrosity. The late 90s, however, in the USA introduced a style that would eventually make its impact in the first few years of the 2000s. Other notable musical revolutions of the nineties include of course Grunge and Nirvana‘s Nevermind, whose success led to an unprecedented parade of grunge bands, Radiohead‘s OK Computer, which reinvented progressive rock, the Bristol scene with bands like Portishead, The Hives, whose monumental first album (accompanied by some post-punk albums of the late 70s-early 80s) sowed the seeds for an awful pop-rock generation of bands like Franz Ferdinand et al, and of course the re-invention of Garage-punk-rock, first with American bands like The Humpers, later on with Scandinavian bands like Turbonegro and The Hellacopters. Many other novel things can be said about this decade, on cover art (Dan Seagrave), video-clips (Tarshem Singh’s Losing My Religion), etc.  Now what about the 2000s?

I am afraid that as far as death metal goes, the only notable records that had an impact on the scene would be Dying Fetus‘s amazing Destroy the Opposition (2000) and Pig Destroyer‘s Prowler in the Yard (2001). Destroy the Opposition is a monument of sheer brutality, full of the infamous break-downs and blast-beats that today’s kids value so much. Of course, the origins of the new wave of brutal death metal scene that rose in prominence in the early 2000s (Origin, Disavowed, Disgorge, Severe Torture, many many more) can be found earlier in early Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Carcass, or even early Deeds of Flesh and Dehumanized. Nevertheless, the more recent additions to the scene, such as The Red Chord and more uninspired and plain silly bands such as Suicide Silence that seem to plague the brutal scene today, definitely owe much to Pig Destroyer and Dying Fetus. As far as softer metal goes, the first thing that comes in mind is System of a Down‘s Toxicity. A perfect album which has a little bit of something for everyone. I can describe it as thrash fuelled mainstream hardcore-punk. Many utterly insignificant nu-metal boy-bands tried to copy them and failed miserably, I don’t even remember their names. In pop-rock, the Hives‘ second album Veni Vidi Vicious (2000), with songs like Hate to say I told you so, gave the ultimate push to bands like Franz Ferdinand who then established this obnoxious “hiccups” pop-rock that half of the bands featured in NME (a british pop-rock magazine) play. In hardcore-punk some kind of an innovation that had an impact the scene hadn’t seen for many many years, came with brutal hardcore bands like Tragedy, Severed Head of State and From Ashes Rise. These bands influenced hundreds of underground bands around the world with their death metal infested d-beat hardcore. In a way, through paying attention to production and adopting a dark image, they have made hardcore-punk mainstream again. Cornerstones from this scene include Tragedy’s self titled album and Vengeance, Severed Head of State’s Anathema device and From Ashes Rise’s Nightmares. I honestly cannot think of something else that can be considered to have an impact on music the last ten years…

Now what personally blew me away! I have to admit that 80% of what I listen to came out before the mid-90s. However, there are some records that have definetely had a huge impact on me the last ten years. Here’s 20 of them:

1. Napalm Death – Enemy of the Music business (2000) The band’s first album for the millenium is their undisputed masterpiece, surrounded of course by previous and after masterpieces. However, this album’s  collaboration among musicians, musical variety, intensity and production are beyond belief! And the way it kicks off, ohhhhhh!!!

2. Dying Fetus – Destroy the Opposition (2000) The band’s third proper album, and not that much different from the previous one. However, the production in this album does justice to the capabilities of the musicians. Amazing break downs and grind, Kevin Taley is really unstopable, amazing vocals especially by Netherton, and the lyrics are just genious! It certainly kept me busy for at least two years and I still think that it paved the way on how modern death should sound. And the way it kicks off, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

3. Nomeansno – All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt (2006) After more than two decades the band keeps delivering awesome music. Less dark, a bit more happy but equally pessimistic with One and also a bit more punky, this album comprises a remedy in a world of talentless and uninnovative popular bands. And yes…the way it kicks off, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

4. Paradise Lost – Faith Divides us, Death Unites Us (2009) The entire Paradise Lost’s output over the last ten years deserves to be here! Probably the best thing metal music has to offer. The latest album is among the few albums that I feel like saying “I am proud I have lived to experience the release of this album!”. Hands down the best album of the year. My ears still cannot believe what they hear

5. Bad Religion – Process of Belief (2002) A great comeback for the band, after a couple of not so amazing albums. The new drummer definetely spiced things up and of course the same goes for the return of Brett Gurewitz. The power of this album and the diversity of songs is unique.

6. Tragedy – Vengeance (2002) A cornerstone of the new wave of brutal hardcore. Some Bolt Thrower and Amebix touches mixed with british and swedish d-beat (and why not some melodies bring in mind Strebers!) and two AMAZING singers make the difference. Dolefull, polemic, offensive, heavy and intense. Vengeance is among the best songs ever writen.

7. Propagandhi – Today’s Empires, tomorrow’s Ashes (2001) See previous post on the best punk albums from North America…

8.  Sokratis Malamas – Ena (2002) A composer that has influenced me a lot and is capable of doing what greek people say “education of the soul” (ψυχαγωγία), instead of entertainment. An album that sounds extremely personal, even though most of the lyrics belong to other artists/poets. Nevertheless, this somewhat outright cooperation with some genious lyricists gave birth to this gem of contemporary music. Traditional, ethnic, classical and modern influences blent together make this album so precious to me. (της σιωπης)

9. Thanasis Papakonstantinou – Vrachnos Profitis (2000) Everything I say for the previous artist apply here as well. The only difference is that here rock music is ever present  in the mix, a venture tried many times before by various greek artists but never had this result.

10. The Hellacopters – High Visibility (2000) One of the best things that happened in the world of music the last 20 years. This album, which kicks off exactly like TYR from Black Sabbath, has both the energy of the previous ones with the bluesy feeling of the ones that followed. What is amazing about this album, and this band in general, is that it manages to distill all the good elements of 60s and 70s rock and to throw away all the cock-rock mentality. This album makes me wanna play the guitar!

11. Broken Hope – Grotesque Blessings (2000) Monumental album which also set new standards in death metal. This album is unconventional and honest. It is totally unique in the sense that it sounds like nothing else. The melodies are from another dimension, and the lyrics are ingenious! An album that I never got bored of, because it has so much detail in its inventive structures. Masterpiece!

12. Immolation – Unholly Cult (2002) I was not sure if I should put this or the previous album here. The reason why I chose this one, is because it is more accessible. It has songs that you can remember, with bridges, choruses and everything. And they are all inspired like hell! I realised after years of listening to death metal, that at the end of the day what matters is not a thousand notes per minute or a hundred riffs per song. What matters is a good structure with a begining and an end, and songs that will be different from each other on their entirety as entities and not as riffs glued together. This is what Immolation always delivered.

13. Death Breath – Stinking Up the Night (2006) You have Nicke’s compositional skills, music and lyrics,  and Jorgen’s and Scott’s voice in one album. What else can one wish for? Christ all fucking mighty must be one of the best songs ever writen…

14. Entombed – Serpent Saints (2007) New line-up and a fierce return to 100% death metal for Entombed. Arguably the record I’ve been looking forward to for more than a decade (although I love all entombed albums before that)! Again here we have an amazing beginning and ending of the album, just like old times. In between we have a big variety of amazing songs, one better from the other! Once again old bands show how music should be played, and that does not include flawless musicianship, a thousand notes per minute and fake plastic productions, just passion and inspiration.

15. New Model Army – Carnival (2005) Surrounded by new musicians, Sullivan makes an impressive return with both this and the previous album (Eight). Much heavier and organic sound in relation to a glorious past, this album has made me think, close my eyes and travel to places I’ll never be and it has made me cry.

16. Slayer – World Painted Blood (2009) Not too much to say here. Slayer are gods! Are they the best group to have walked the earth? Why not! With their new album they demonstrate that only they can do what they do and no matter how many years will pass, no matter how much more extreme scenes will emerge, Slayer will always be able to make you wanna jump out of your body!!! Since I got the new album a couple of months ago, each time I listen to it I feel like I’m in a Slayer concert and I seriously want to hit somebody. Best song of the decade is Beauty Through Order!

17. The Partisans – Idiot Nation (2004) See previous post on the best punk albums from the UK…

18. Disfear – Live the Storm (2008) A monolith of brutal hardcore and a testimony of the state of humanity in the 21st century. All the angst and fears that we experience in an average day and refuse to admit to ourselves. At the same time it is a call to arms, although it does not spell out how… What can you do? Anyway music is supposed to heal the soul, if that will eventually cause a revolution it will be coincidental and I doubt it.

19. The Knife – Deep Cuts (2003) Not exactly my type of music, but still this album is so attractive that I don’t think is possible for anyone to resist. I don’t know how to describe it or why I think it is so important, I just love it.

20. Zeke – Death Alley (2001) Finally the record which I think symbolises the lust for life, having fun, partying and listening to all types of rock ‘n roll music, hehe. Oh, and of course our love for Satan…Amen.

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