simple. In Perfect Disarray (self-released)
Statement of disclosure: simple. bassist Joe Anderson is my best friend. That said, I find the band's debut entirely inoffensive, although not as awe-inspiring as I expected from such a dynamic live act. Production is incredibly crisp and precise, and Stacy Parrish and Dan Prevett provide some of the best textural guitar playing I've heard recently. Likewise, the rhythm section is spot-on. Parrish's lyrics and vocal style have always struck me as just a little too precious, but he meshes both respectably here, particularly on the tunes co-written by the rest of his bandmates.
Cannibal Corpse The Wretched Spawn (Metal Blade)
The tired, old man that is death metal rarely wakens these days for anything other than a glass of seltzer and a Fleet's. But somehow, Buffalo's reigning kings of the genre have managed to stay relatively frosty for more than a decade, mostly due to inventive—rather than simply pummeling—guitar figures and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher's signature throat-busting. Gore and asinine lyrics are still major players in the CC game, but they're so ass-clenching tight and nausea-inducing heavy that they're quickly becoming one of the last death metal games in town. Here's proof.
W.A.S.P. The Neon God: Part 1--The Rise (Sanctuary)
Had this record come out prior to the 1988 release of Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime, W.A.S.P.'s Blackie Lawless would perhaps be enjoying the respect he deserves. Unfortunately it wasn't, and Lawless' formidable voice has thus been squandered for the past decade on marginal, past-their-prime hair metal albums. But better late than never. Neon God kicks ass in all its “dark messiah” conceptual glory. It's bold, heavy and wracked with a passion only a metal purist like Lawless can muster while planted firmly in middle age. Seriously, this one's a keeper!