In every musical genre that I listen to there are at least a handful of bands whom for the most part have one amazing album and a bunch of albums that I would genuinely like more if that one album wasn't so fucking amazing. I'm sure other people have this happen too. It's not my fault that they made a masterpiece and it overshadows a good portion of the rest of their work! But anyways, i'm going to focus on a few bands whom have squirmed their way into my long list of favorites and mostly just because of a single fantastic release.
For the most part, as i've mentioned before, most of my favorite 'Old School' Death Metal bands came out of Florida. One particular band is a Tampa outfit that was formed in the late 80's by former Morbid Angel drummer Mike Browning. The band Nocturnus was a band that I wasn't familiar with at all until I came across the Choosing Death book that i've mentioned before. I love music-related books, but that one is definately a favorite and was what turned me into the Death Metal fiend I am today. But anyways, Nocturnus was one of the first Death Metal bands to use synthesizers/keyboards and they are an essential part of their sound and not cheesy in the least, which was pretty hard to find at the time. Their first album, 'The Key', is definately one of my favorite Death Metal albums of all time and definately set high expectations for their other two albums. But, as expected with the topic of this post, they didn't reach those levels that I was looking for. Every single song on 'The Key' is complete earcandy to me and the level of technicality they use with their guitars, all the while writing really well-crafted songs with good amounts of Death Metal-esque hooks and melding the synthwork perfectly with the rest of the music is astonishing and I will never grow tired of this album, although it does sadden me a little that this was Nocturnus' peak and it was their first offering. I can only use so many terms to describe my satisfaction with their music, so I will post some music below to show you what I mean. And for all of you production babies out there, 'The Key' was released in 1990 and was in a genre that was just coming up and recorded with probably not a whole lot of money, so shut your mouths right now!
Outside of the Death Metal scene there are a bunch of good examples of bands who also fit the aforementioned criteria. Not everyone's preferred band of choice, but the band Breaking Benjamin fits into this category as well. Yes, i'm bringing a Hard Rock/Nu Metal band into the mix after talking at length about Nocturnus... deal with it! The bands first album, 'Saturate', is a well-crafted, hook-laden Aggressive Rock album that has nothing bad songwise at all. It also helps that I am a big fan of the band Lifer and two of their members would go on to help form Breaking Benjamin before this album's recording. Tracks like "Medicate", "Home", "Sugarcoat" and the lead single "Polyamorous" are all ridiculously catchy (I know some of you get a little bit of vomit in your mouth when hearing catchy Hard Rock, but you'll survive, I promise) and the band doesn't get boring and each track stands well on it's own, even the incredibly mellow numbers. Unfortunately, more so than Nocturnus (Their second album, 'Thresholds' is at least somewhat enjoyable in comparison to 'The Key'), Breaking Benjamin just lost any balls they had after this album. Every album since it's release has been disappointment after disappointment and it's a severe annoyance to me and my ears!
Back into the Extreme Metal ring, two heavyweights whom just couldn't pull the weight I was looking for outside of a single album were Death and Morbid Angel. I know many people hold these bands to ridiculously high standards and talk about their discography likes sacred tablets, but outside of 'Scream Bloody Gore' from Death and 'Altars Of Madness' from Morbid Angel, I just don't see any real interesting material. Don't get me wrong though, I absolutely love those two albums I just mentioned, especially 'Altars Of Madness'. The guitarwork on that album is up alongside bands like Massacre and Nocturnus in my mind. It is, like those other two bands, some of the most unhuman sounding guitarwork i've heard. And before anyone mentions it, I am aware that a band like Dragonforce may play some ridiculous material at blinding speeds, but fuck them and shut up! It's a completely different sense of technicality and unlike a band like Dragonforce, these bands could write fantastic songs to go with their ridiculous guitar playing and, as well, make their songs sound different from one another. I've heard Dragonforce albums and in their case it is the exact opposite, so the argument is completely invalid. Anyways, I will talk a little more about this at a later date i'm sure, as there are a number of bands who could be included alongside these other bands, but i'm lazy. So here's some music to coincide with the postings...
Nocturnus - 'Lake Of Fire' (From their 1990 release "The Key")
Nocturnus - 'Undead Journey' (From their 1990 release "The Key")
Nocturnus - 'Andromeda Strain' (From their 1990 release "The Key")
Breaking Benjamin - 'Home' (From their 2002 release "Saturate")
Breaking Benjamin - 'Phase' (From their 2002 release "Saturate")
Breaking Benjamin - 'Sugarcoat' (From their 2002 release "Saturate")
Morbid Angel - 'Immortal Rites' (From their 1989 release "Altars Of Madness")
Death - 'Zombie Ritual' (From their 1987 release "Scream Bloody Gore")