I don't know even where to start with this one.
Wildhoney changed everything. It turned all the music in the world upside down for me. It opened so many doors and changed my perception of music and sounds. Everybody has those kind of records in their lives and it would be usually Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon for others, but for me it was Wildhoney. Funny thing is that Tiamat managed to spin my head/body/soul again with this one.
After Wildhoney I became a fan. instantly. I tried to find whatever I could about these strange Swedes. And that wasn't much - I was lucky only to find some reviews of Wildhoney, and they all said the same thing I already knew by myself - that it was an extraordinary record. Couldn't find any interviews at all.
My expectations for this record were so huge, because all these underground metal bands from goth/doom/black/death genre begun to experiment more on their new albums. So i was so eager to see what would Tiamat come up with, as they were the leaders, the innovators of experimentation and psychedelia. And they were willing to go further.
It's funny how I found out the release date for A Deeper Kind Of Slumber. I knew that it should be out in April or May of 1997, but didn't and couldn't know the exact date since there was no internet back then and the foreign metal magazines were impossible to find in Serbia.
One Friday night, there was this show Metalla on German Viva channel, and one of our channels were sometimes airing Viva via satellite. I remember switching through the channels and at one point saw some bald guy in black jacket talking to the host. It was some kind of interview and the video they showed was Entombed I think. I wasn't into Entombed at that time, so I switched the channel. Couple of minutes later I think I saw Samael clip or something like that. It was strange, why would this baldie air other people's clips? Soon enough I realized it was Johan Edlund, the singer and the mastermind of Tiamat. He was talking stuff about the new record and airing his favorite clips in between the interview. I had no idea he cut his hair off, since the only thing I saw before that were a couple of promo shots and the video clip for Whatever That Hurts, where he was still blond and long-haired. Anyway, the best thing is that they aired the first single off the new record, Cold Seed, at the end of the show. I managed to rush, no, JUMP in less than half of the second to the other room where the VCR was, to record the video on tape. I watched it again and again, day after day.
There was this radio show I found out on radio Politika, hosted by this guy called David Vartabedijan. It was aired on Tuesdays and he was playing lots of metal. Newer stuff mostly. One night he played Cold Seed and I came in my pants. There was this shop downtown that was selling tapes of the stuff he aired, so I went there day after day to get me a copy of new Tiamat. It was May 1997 when I finally got it.
Yes - it blew me away.
Those were the sunny days in Belgrade. Spring was the right time for the album and everything fell into place. Funny thing about the record was that the only single on it was Cold Seed. The rest of the album was this huge conceptual stuff they managed to pull off again. The atmosphere got more dark, thicker, cryptic... And beautiful.
Atlantis As A Lover, Alteration X 10, Four Leary Biscuits, Phantasma De Luxe and the title track were my instant favorites. Four Leary Biscuits had that Eastern feel that Tiamat were so good at. Only In My Tears It Lasts had that Gilmour-standing-at-the-top-of-the-hill-with-wind-in-his-hair-and-tears-in-his-eyes solo. Teonanacatl was that strange mushroom the Incas used, though I found out about the meaning years later. That was surely the strangest track there. The Desolate One had that nice crawling beat, electronic touch, eerie samples of voices and the washing keyboards of acid pool. Everything on this record was perfect and my happiness for newfound friend seemed neverending.
I got the original CD that Summer in Thessaloniki, again at Joe's Musicand. This was the second time I bought CD's at his shop, so we liked each other. (no homo)
I got this one and Tiamat's Clouds together and they were such a good pair for listening back-to-back.
The only song I never liked one hundred per cent was The Whores Of Babylon. It was good for the album in terms of concept, but it was too much upbeat kind of Sisters Of Mercy thing that I didn't like. Too bad they would go on into that direction later.
I hated this record when I got it.
I risked by buying it without listening to it, but I had no choice. It was such a rare record to find. There was no way I could find it anywhere in Serbia ever, so the only option was getting it that Summer of 1998 while I was still in Thessaloniki. Jeff Wagner, a guy who wrote for Metal Maniacs had it on his 1997 playlist at #1, and #2 was Anathema's Eternity (Eternity actually came out in 1996 in Europe but in 1997 in the States - Metal Maniacs was the American mag), so I realized it must have been at least good. Terrorizer hailed it as the album of the issue (although I didn't have that exact issue with the review, only the next one where they mentioned it in one sentence).
So, why the hell should I buy this record without even knowing a thing about the band?
Well, I liked the artwork. And the ambiguous lyrics and the song titles... And I had this instinct I should get it.
When I came back to the hotel room to listen to it, I was disappointed. I couldn't get into the male/female vocal stuff, the guitars were shredding in black metallish kind of way, although still sounded warm... The only track I really liked was Bardo, the second part of the Omnio? trilogy. Couple of years later I'd found out it resembles much the Floyd's Careful With That Axe Eugene.
When I came back to Belgrade, I borrowed the album to a friend Mirko. He liked it immediately. We had similar taste for this kind of music, so I figured it must have been me, that I was missing something along the way.
And it was true. The record kept crawling under my skin, second by second, song by song. Now I see Omnio as the perfect record, without any flaws. Like Dark Side Of The Moon of the experimental metal. The lyrics were so great, this was the first time I really sat and banged my head for hours in order to comprehend all the lyrics' meanings. 299 796 km/s had this beautiful string quartet that made Apocalyptica sound like black metal band. Weeping Willow had that solo that was slipping off key at the end of the song, and that was going on my nerves at start, but I started to like the weirdness of it later. The lyrics to it had that secret dedication made with few capital letters, and that was also a nice touch.
Everything about this record was so unpompous, but needed your attention. I love it and I love the band for creating such a masterpiece.
3. Saturnus - Paradise Belongs To You (Euphonious)
This was the doom/gothic band that came out of the blue and tore our souls apart with their uniqueness.
The big three (Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost) already gained some popularity until this point and there were some copycat bands jumping on the wagon and starting to play slow and miserable music, although the ending results often turned out to be only miserable. Not in a good way.
Saturnus hailed from Denmark and this fucker of an album was really a strong statement. It had huge balls of Anathema's Silent Enigma, clashed with My Dying Bride's Turn Loose The Swans evilness, topped with the heavy ambient atmosphere hitched off The 3rd And The Mortal and some creamy leads reminiscent of Mackintosh/Cavanagh/Craighan, yet coloured with the lead guitarist's own distinct style. The lead guitarist was Kim Larsen. I remembered that name very well.
The lyrics were awesome. They had this deep religious thing, but with know thyself statement written between the lines. The love statements were romantic, without a chance of seeing a drop of pathetic wining hundreds of miles way.
Christ Goodbye was the ultimate doom metal hymn of all times. Paradise Belongs To You, the self-titled track, was this strong opener with the birds and darkness. (Have you ever heard birds singing in the darkness? No? I thought so.) Those birds sample was the same one that Tiamat used on the song Kite.
I Love Thee was one of the most wonderful poems about our cravings for the dear ones. The Fall Of Nakkiel was this acoustic piece that just couldn't be compared to any other band still to this day. Yes, it was that unique. Mikkel Andersen, who was the former guitarist of the band, wrote the majority of lyrics and was kind enough to let the band use them. He was also the whispering male voice in Nakkiel. Thomas AG Jensen was not just looking like a Bred Pitt's Danish brother, but also had the best growl I had ever ever heard in all doom and death metal.
I got this album in the Summer of 1999 and I remeber I phoned Joe from Musicland couple of months before I even went there, asking if he had this CD. I was so thrilled he said yes. He even said he would put it by side and keep it for me. That meant so much to me and I was feeling like the holy grail was waiting for me down there, in this beautiful country of watermelons and fat women.
I heard this on radio Politika on David Vartabedijan's show. Knew nothing about them, but since it was released on Century Media, the label Tiamat were on, I wanted to give it a try. There was this part of the show where he introduced new albums and he played three tracks off this one. I taped them, although I didn't get him saying the names of the songs.
I guessed he played the first three in a row, but I was mistaken. The three tracks he played were The Earth Is My Wintess, New Moon Different Day and The May Song. I fell in love with the music instantly.
And there was this girl singing. Who was she? And how come she had this beautiful voice? This band is from Netherlands? Really? Too many questions at once.
This was another atmospheric album, but the atmosphere was light, not dark. Anneke van Giersbergen lit the music like a thousand radiant suns across the whole universe. The Earth Is My Wintess and the self-titled Nighttime Birds were the highlights for me.
Everybody who once fell in love with this band knows what it feels like listening to The Gathering in the Spring. It was September of 1997 when I found this jewel, but the Septembers can be very sunny and hot in Belgrade, so this album was like a light blanket that covered you slowly and carefully preparing you for the upcoming winter claws.
I was lucky with this one. Mirko wanted to buy this CD and asked me to get it for him while I was staying in Greece. Although I didn't get it in Musicland, it was Rock City this time.
I had a unique chance to listen to it first. On CD and on great quality. There was no chance to find Empyrium's debut, A Wintersunset, on CD, and the only version we had was that retarded SKC taped version that didn't even have all the songs on it.
I liked Songs Of Moors album instantly, so I bought myself another copy as well (Recordable CD's didn't exist back then). This record had all the elements of the debut, but every element was better and more improved. It was more goth than black and more, um, romantic than the debut.
The band was so unique at the time I even wanted to cover The Blue Mists Of Night with my own band. That band was named Astral Sleep, then Lake Of Dreams, and it was some kind of pre-version of something that would later become Amaranth. I even had a friend Velja who played flute and she was into it, the only thing was that the drummer was just at his beginnings and couldn't play so well; the bassist was actually a guitarist, but had to play bass because no one else wanted to play the bass. Actually, the drummer was a guitarist too, but we had no drummer, so he started learning drumming. Later on that drummer became one of the best drummers I knew. His name was Yeqy.
Yeqy played on Consecration's aux and had been important part of Consecration in the 2000-2007 era.
The other guitarist was Jagos, with whom I played at at that time. The bassist was Marko (better known as Toma), who was actually a guitar player, but we didn't have a bassist so... You got it. I played a show with Toma on 3rd December 2010 with Amaranth and it was more than just fun and great for us to play together after so long time.
Anyway, my favorite track on this album was The Ensemble Of Silence cause of the acoustics. If you're nature loving type of person, this record might just be for you.
The others called La Masquerade Infernale black metal but to me it was pure avantgarde.
1997 was a great year for avantgarde music. Especially for Norway, that gave us so diverse acts such as In The Woods, Arcturus, Emperor, Solefald...
This album was the embodiment of satanic madness crossed with bizarre constellations. Or something. Dual vocal lunacy of Garm and Simen in Master Of Disguise and The Chaos Path were the obvious highlights, although the string quartet in Ad Astra added much needed warmth to the coldness of the overall production. Alone lyric was even based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
Records don't get more eccentric than this and black metal in 1997 needed one. You have to hear it for yourself.
I avoided this record when it came out. Avoided it like hell. This kind of music wasn't that interesting to me at the time, although the more important reason why it didn't click to me at the time was because I heard the wrong tracks. The two songs I've heard first were the two singles Paranoid Android and Karma Police and I didn't like the nasal voice of Thom Yorke at all.
It wasn't until a friend of mine, Nikola Vranjkovic, lent me Kid A in 2000 when it came out. That was the moment when I finally sat down and payed attention. I liked the weirdness of it and the balls they had to release it, so it was time for me to go back and check out what the fuss was about this one.
Exit Music (For A Film) got me on the first hook. Did I mention I'm a sucker for ballads? Yeah, and this was a hard one. This one aside, it seemed I liked best those tracks that weren't made to be singles. Climbing Up The Walls, Subterranean Homesick Alien, Let Down... What fascinated me the most about this album was the effects, the atmosphere, the reverbs they used, guitars, microphones, synths, everything sounded perfect. And everything sounded loose and modest and into place. Even the design was witty, like putting the gerrrRman car detail in the lyric instead of the usual one.
The older I get, the more respect I have for this record, so here you go.
Wow. I was so shocked when I got this. It was voted #1 in Terrorizer and Metal Maniacs by both writers and readers, so I had to check out what the fuss was about.
This album and Dimmu Borgir's Enthrone Darkness Triumphant were my two first black metal records. Needless to say I was fourteen back then and I liked the catchiness of Dimmu better. But this one... This was a beast.
When I got the tape I thought that something was wrong with the recording. There was no low end at all and the production was so chaotic. I couldn't understand why would two of my favorite magazines rate this so high.
Couple of months later I got back to it and started to dig deeper beneath. Oh, the symphonies I heard. And the fucked up synth pads that tore your bones. This was pure khaos and the more beautiful harmonic parts fitted like a blood to the knife.
Ye Entrancemperium was my favorite. The Acclamation Of Bonds was pretty good too. I didn't like The Loss And Curse Of Reverence first, because I couldn't stop laughing whenever I saw Ihsahn with those spikes on his shouders - he looked like a zombie version of Man-At-Arms who took the Beast-Man's clothes (remember Masters Of The Universe action figures?). The He-Man detail in the clip with the sword and the lightning was funny too.
Anyway, Emperor were the masters of their own craft and showed that black metal could be deep and meaningful. The lyrics were great too, as without reading them you could never comprehend what they were about, among all the other stuff that were going on in the songs.
W.A.S.P. were my favorite band when I was a kid. They were my first metal band and I got into all the Maidens, Metallicas, Megadeths and Sepulturas after them.
I was thrilled and surprised that Blackie brought crazy mean man Chris Holmes back to the band. Blackie was applauded for The Crimson Idol during the nineties, by both fans and critics alike. The Idol was a concept record much inspired by The Who's Tommy opus. But it wasn't enough for him. Blackie was obviously watching Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson closely and decided to try his own version of industrial infected metal.
Many W.A.S.P. fans didn't like this album. Some really despised it (especially radio host David Vartabedijan), but I was one of the rare ones who loved it. Blackie proved that he had the balls once again. to experiment, to try something new, and bring back W.A.S.P. to the center of attention. He made it.
The Horror was this motherfucker of a track. Blackie was much influenced by that final scene with Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen dialogue in Apocalypse Now, centered more around Brando's monologue about the heart of darkness. Kill Your Pretty Face and My Tortured Eyes were those ballads written in Blackie's kind of way, while Kill Fuck Die and Killahead rocked pretty much hard. W.A.S.P. were never known for an a-class production but this one was excellent for the time it came out.
The double live album that followed up was released next year and it was their crowning achievement. I have to say I didn't like the latter saturday-night-cockfight poetry they were getting back to, so K.F.D. remains the last great W.A.S.P. album for me.
I have to say I couldn't decide what album would hit the #10 spot. In the end I realized this album was the only In Flames album I really loved, so here it goes.
I missed At The Gates and their view of melodic death metal when they showed up. But i didn't miss this second wave that was led by Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. They were actually marrying Iron Maiden harmonies with traditional death metal and I liked it.
Many fans would rate The Jester Race higher than Whoracle, but for some reason this record was much better to me. It had a bit slower tempo, more groove, more acoustics, better production, better songs. Jotun, Gyroscope and especially Episode 666 were much played. The great instrumental Dialogue With The Stars brought back the joyfulness of playing guitar and throwing riffs after riffs with glee. Even the çover of Depeche Mode's Everything Counts wasn't out of place, cause these guys did it with style.
I love his album so much. I didn't realize it back then, but it passed the test of time, I guess.
Black metal all-star project with Garm (Arcturus, Ulver) singing. Garm had a busy year, since Ulver's Nattens Madrigal, arcturus' La Masquerade and this one came out in 1997. The Olden Domain was a great record with proggy arrangements and weird harmonies. The Dawn Of The End and To Mount And Rove were the highlights if you asked me, but with this kind of music everybody could just have their own favorites. The Olden Domain was a prog at its best, King Crimson of all black metal records.
Garm left the band after this album and Simen Hestnaes, who did a guest appearance on some Arcturus tracks, replaced him and made another great Borknagar record, The Archaic Course, only a year later.
12. Paradise Lost - One Second (Music For Nations)
Doom/gothic metal for fans of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. Debut album for these depression influenced Finns. Remnants Of The Only Delight was this fantastic track, followed closely by Flown Away and Release. The singer Juhani did not sing in tune for most of the time, but in those moments he made it, the band sounded awesome. Yearning was a band to watch.
I loved this band so much for their previous album, but this one just couldn't top it. It had great moments (A Touch Of..., Harvest, Hollow, Stream) but also some weak ones (Sophisticated Vampires, Did You) that seemed like the band had the will to experiment further, but didn't actually hit the right spot. This was also their final album with this lineup and the band of this caliber was surely missed during the following years.
This was the real treat for all the ethereal/classic loving freaks among you. After hearing this record I started to realize the greatness of Dead Can Dance (especially their Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun album).
These Swedes really made a strong record that brought you back right to the medieval times. The highlights were the title track and Chant Of The Awakening.
This one was the ultimate nature-loving one. If you were into eating some Muscaria and running naked in the Pyrénées' forests screaming names of pagan Gods, this was the obvious choice. These Frenchmen went so far they used like thirty-five ancient instruments to emphasize the trip. Wow.
I just can't drop this album from the list. It is funny from this perspective, but back then they were, alongside Emperor's Anthems, my doors and windows to the black metal world. Emperor were very hermetic and mysterious, complex to get into... Dimmu Borgir were the exact opposite. They were the most accessible black metal band there was and it helped the scene a lot. The first three songs from the album are just awesome and I still can headbang to New Years' parties while listening to them.