Monday, January 18, 2021

5 Metal Albums For Nerds and Geeks: Part 3.

September 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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( Are you ready for a third dose of heavy metal? We’re getting into five more metal albums for geeks and nerds. Whether you enjoy fantasy, sci-fi, history, or horror—metal has something for everyone. Let’s get into these five albums!

Manilla Road – Crystal Logic (1983)

I’ve gone into the difference between power metal and epic heavy metal before. Manilla Road played a form of epic heavy metal that always had an old school approach. For most of the band’s run keyboards didn’t factor heavily into the sound. It was vocals, strings, and drum-led metal about epic fantasy, history, horror, and mythology.

It’s basically how I love my heavy metal. While I love fast-paced tunes, Manilla Road’s Crystal Logic alternated among paces and gave listeners a mix while still having a distinct sound thanks to late lead singer and guitarist Mark “The Shark” Shelton’s vocals.

His singing gave the band’s music this heavy, dramatic, and epic sound across all albums but I like the higher pitched approach he takes in Manilla Road’s early albums Crystal Logic, Metal, and their debut Invasion.

Standout Tracks: Necropolis (highly recommended), Crystal Logic, The Veils of Negative Existence (highly recommended)

Running Wild – Under Jolly Roger (1987)

As geeks and nerds, we’re sometimes interested in odd things or we retain knowledge about stuff that has no everyday use. I constantly read and just retain random stuff that I call hostage knowledge—because who knows when a hostage taker will actually let you go if you know what an anachronism is, right? One of the odd things I retain knowledge of is the Golden Age of Piracy.

If you dig history and pirates, Running Wild is a band to check out. Their first two albums Gates to Purgatory and Branded and Exiled focus more on demons, Hell, the love of metal, and stuff of that nature. However, there was no shortage of speed metal bands doing that content. Running Wild’s third album Under Jolly Roger was a departure where they explored the pirate lifestyle.

Piracy would become the band’s bread and butter going forward as they delved into pirate and colonial naval history and warfare. It all starts with Under Jolly Roger which is straight up rockin’ speed metal. Love it!

Standout Tracks: Under Jolly Roger (recommended), Raise Your Fist, Diamonds of the Black Chest (highly recommended), Merciless Game (recommended)

Running Wild Music

Rebellion – Miklagard – The History of the Vikings – Volume II (2007)

So many dashes. Rebellion is German band—like Running Wild—that makes music centered on history and sometimes mythology. They also tend to focus on series. There’s a two-parter on Shakespeare’s MacBeth and King Lear but their best work is the trilogy The History of the Vikings.

Part one goes into history and exploration, part two goes history and culture, and the third part focuses on mythology. I prefer the second because it’s a blood pumping album from start to finish. It’s epic, heavy, and has an awesome pace.

You don’t have to listen to them in order or listen to them all. Actually, you might enjoy the epicness of the first or the epic loudness of the third more than the second one. Miklagard stands out more than both to me.

Standout Tracks: On the Edge of Life (highly recommended), Ulfberth, Taste of Steel (highly recommended), Miklagard, The Uprising (recommended)

King Diamond – “Them” (1988)

Do you like horror or horror literature? King Diamond is a veteran of heavy metal who is also known as the lead singer of Mercyful Fate. He is also known for his wild vocal range using menacing growls and haunting wails as he sings horror tales and continuous stories to the listener—sometimes as characters and sometimes from the narrator position that singers normally take.

“Them” is probably the best introduction to King Diamond—actually any of the first three offerings of his solo band works. This album is the third and more accessible. It’s extremely cinematic and the music videos really sell some of the songs.

This isn’t like 80s slasher horror, it’s more like Lovecraftian or folkloric supernatural horror. The kind of horror you’d hear growing up about the sibling that was born before you who lives in the attic or the house that people live in but you never see anyone enter or exit.

King Diamond does that kind of spooky horror instead of gory stuff and jump-scare nonsense.

Standout Tracks: Welcome Home (highly recommended), A Broken Spell, The Accusation Chair (recommended)

Brendon Small’s Galaktikon – Galaktikon (2012)

Do you remember Metalocalypse which used to air on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim? Series creator Brendon Small also did voices on the show and lead singer Nathan Explosion’s vocals on the show’s albums for the fictional band Dethklok.

Small had the band members in place for Dethalbum II but that was in the air. He opted to work on a side album with the musicians and that’s was the birth of Galaktikon. The first self-titled album dropped the same year as the third Dethalbum and keeps the melodic death metal approach but is pushed by science fiction.

I have to say, Galaktikon is an atmospheric album. The Dethalbum trilogy is over-the-top, accomplished, fun melodic death match that is pushed by metal jokes and the like but the two Galaktikon releases are concept albums and fun listens.

Standout Tracks: Triton, Beastblade (recommended), Arena of the Immortal Masters (recommended)

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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