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Seven Underrated Albums That Defined The 1990s

Aaron Phillips

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Hole band image
DGC Records

Here are seven underrated albums that I think defined the musical landscape of the 1990s. There may be some surprises in there, but I think you’ll enjoy delving into the nostalgia of the decade.

Ah, the 1990s. A decade that was filled with brilliant sitcoms, TV shows and questionable fashion. Shell suits, anyone? One thing that wasn’t questionable was the music. The decade spawned some fantastic music, whether that was Britpop in the UK, European dance, or the alternative rock scene in the US. The ’90s was also the decade where I spent my teenage years, so naturally, it’s the best decade.

1. Come on Feel the Lemonheads – The Lemonheads

This was the sixth album released by American alt-rockers The Lemonheads in 1993. The album that preceded it (It’s a Shame About Ray) spawned the huge cover hit of ‘Mrs Robinson’. This album though is a cracker. It features a collection of songs that just ooze feel-good anthems. Whether that’s the punchy opener ‘The Great Big No’, or the gentler ‘Paid to Smile’, they all wrap around you like a soft blanket. There are also moments of grunge that seep through, reminding you what decade this is from. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t have a duff track on the album. I’d recommend waiting for a sunny day, before going for a drive and cranking up this album. It’ll take you back to a time where the world wasn’t crazy, and the music was sun-kissed.

2. Soup – Blind Melon

This was the second album released by American psych alt-rock band Blind Melon. It was released in 1995, just a few months before singer Shannon Hoon died on the band’s tour bus from a drug overdose. The album itself is slightly more experimental than it’s more successful predecessor, but it’s still a blinder (pardon the pun). The lyrical content deals more with drugs and suicide than anything else they have released. That was unsurprising given what Hoon was going through in his personal life.

The music that complemented it is superb. It still has that upbeat musical vibe, but with some experimentation weaved throughout. In my view, it’s an aural masterpiece that showcases the best of what the 90’s alt-rock scene had to offer. It’s one of those albums that you really have to immerse yourself in. Get rid of any distractions, put on a pair of quality headphones, and let Blind Melon totally envelop your psyche.

3. Celebrity Skin – Hole

Hole as a band were often overshadowed by their frontwoman Courtney Love. Never one to shy away from media attention, her personal life is what most people think of when they hear the band name. Not to mention her marriage to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. The band itself hit the big time with their 1994 sophomore effort Live Through This. Celebrity Skin, released in 1998, was the album that cemented the band as quality songwriters. The title track is as iconic of the ’90s as multi-coloured shell suits. There are some fine songs on the album that are beautifully produced. The use of layering and multi-instrumentation adds some extra class to the production. The album is also a purposeful deviation from the raw grunge sound of their earlier efforts. A fine album that shows Hole were much than Courtney Love’s persona.

4. All Boro Kings – Dog Eat Dog

Formed in New Jersey USA in the early ’90s, Dog Eat Dog were one of the first bands to fuse hardcore punk and rap. They were certainly one of the first bands to use saxophone in the genre. All Boro Kings was released in 1994 and was the band’s debut album. I remember buying the cassette album when it was released. It was stuck in my Walkman for months as I took any excuse to go for a walk and listen to it over and over. For a fourteen-year-old boy, it was like nothing else I had heard before.

Listening back to it now, it still sounds fresh. The heavy crunching guitars and powerful saxophone make it sound streets-ahead of anything else. Combine it with JC’s clever vocal interplay and you have a well-crafted album that was ahead of its time. Tracks like No Fronts and Who’s the King are anthems of a generation. Pull My Finger will also have the ability to make you want to slam dance across your front room. I have had the pleasure of watching and interviewing the band in recent years and they still have it. If you get a chance in the future, go watch them. If you can’t, play this album. Loud.

5. Load – Metallica

Ok, so Metallica gets plenty of stick for albums that are perceived to be below-par (hello, St Anger). When they released Load in 1996 fresh with haircuts and eyeliner, critics were quick to cast dispersion. It’s easy to understand why. Metallica and bands of their ilk had been riding the wave of 1980’s peak metal, but the 1990s brought in a strange time for those bands. Grunge had almost killed off hair-metal early in the decade, so the ’90s saw lots of heavy bands experimenting. Metallica being no exception. Load is nowhere near as bad as some of the critics said at the time. If you look past the eyeliner and haircuts, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The band certainly experimented with elements of southern and blues-rock, but the songwriting is still there. Opener Ain’t My Bitch still has the punch you would expect, but with added harmonies and a sweet chorus. The standout track in my opinion is the album closer The Outlaw Torn. It’s quite simply a musical masterpiece. Had it been on the Black album then it would be in every live set. It takes on a journey of musical peaks and troughs but leaves you completely satisfied. The track, and the album as a whole, also shows what a fantastic singer James Hetfield is. Everything evolves, including music. This is what Metallica did with Load, and it’s definitely worth revisiting.

6. Bricks Are Heavy – L7

Los Angeles-based all-female rockers L7 have been around since the late 1980s. Their attitude-fuelled grunge-tinged punk rock is iconic. Bricks Are Heavy was the band’s third release from 1992. It’s slightly heavier than their previous offerings, but that could be to do with legendary producer Butch Vig being behind the desk. One of the most well-known tracks from the album is the simplistic but catchy Pretend Your Dead. The odd thing is, is that it sounds slightly out of place on the album.

The rest of the tracks are absolute monsters with guitars heavy enough to be on a death metal album. Diet Pill marauds and meanders around your head like a serial killer and delivers a fatal hammer blow. Suzi Gardener’s vocals are both terrifying and sugar-sweet at the same time, which just makes for a more visceral listen. Bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden had more commercial success, but L7 had better songs in my opinion. It’s impossible not to compare L7 to these bands, but they have a musical edge over them. They also have more attitude than those bands.

There is the much-documented unsavoury incident at Reading festival in the UK from 1992. Not to mention the auction they had in 2000 for a chance to have a one-night stand with drummer Dee Plakas. It’s not all style over substance, though. Bricks Are Heavy is a stunning album. Not only does it showcase songwriting brilliance, but the attitude comes out of the speakers and grabs you by the throat.

7. One from the Modern – Ocean Colour Scene

In the mid-1990’s Ocean Colour Scene were at the height of the UK’s Britpop scene. Their 1996 album Moseley Shoals was a huge hit and spawned the anthems Riverboat Song and The Day We Caught the Train. The former being chosen as the title track for the iconic UK music show TFI Friday. 1997’s follow-up Marchin’ Already even knocked Be Here Now by Oasis from the top of the UK music charts. One from the Modern was released at the very end of the decade in 1999.

Ok, so it doesn’t have the big anthems that the two previous albums have, but it does have some cracking songs on it. The band have always written brilliant songs, but the critics weren’t too kind on this when it was released. It was penned as dad-rock and devoid of any substance. I disagree. It’s an album that takes a few listens, but there is no denying the songwriting ability on it. Tracks like Profit in Peace and July showcase it perfectly. The music is more melancholic than its predecessors, but it’s almost as if it’s telling the story of the decade. A retrospective look back at what went before it; an aural autobiographic album if you will. One from the Modern is the fitting end to a diverse, yet brilliant musical decade.

And that’s our list of seven underrated albums that defined the 1990s. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out 9 movie soundtracks better than their films HERE.

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Movie News

The Seven Most Metal Movie Soundtracks

Aaron Phillips

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The Crow soundtrack image
Miramax

A great movie is a great movie. But metal soundtracks with a great movie takes it to another level. There have been a few movies with metal soundtracks over the years, but some are edgier than others.

I’m not talking about the ones that titter around the edges with dad rock like the Stereophonics, but full-on-horns-in-the-air metal.

Here are seven of the most metal movie soundtracks.

7. The Matrix (1999)

Science fiction and horror films do lend themselves to metal soundtracks, and the Matrix was no different. The Wachowski’s reality bender was ground-breaking in its content, but the music that accompanied it was just as memorable. It had a cracking soundtrack. It included tracks from Rammstein; Marilyn Manson; Deftones and those mad industrialists Ministry. And who can forget Rage Against the Machine kicking into Wake Up as the end credits roll? The follow-up film The Matrix Reloaded also had a great rock/electronica soundtrack, but the original had the darkest metal anthems.

6. The Crow (1994)

Released in 1994, The Crow was another cult movie. It’s remembered, rather tragically, for the accidental death onset of the lead actor Brandon Lee. The film itself is a dark masterpiece. The music from the film also lends itself to the darker recesses of music. The soundtrack is one of the heaviest ever released. Pantera; Nine Inch Nails; Rage Against the Machine and Helmet all lend enormous monoliths of metal to the album. It’s no coincidence that the soundtrack is so good, especially as the film revolves around a singer brought back from the dead. The brooding atmosphere through this film seeps onto the soundtrack but with added metal that’s heavier than an anvil. Definitely, one to listen to with the lights out.

5. Resident Evil (2002)

If there was one film that was made purely for a metal soundtrack, then it has to be Resident Evil. Nothing screams metal than blowing up zombies and monsters. Although there are many video games and movies to choose from, the first film from 2002 had a stunningly macabre soundtrack. Songs like My Plague by Slipknot fit like a glove. There is an industrial theme to the soundtrack. Bands like Coal Chamber, Static-X and Fear Factory offer up slabs of face-slamming metal. Marilyn Manson features heavily on the album (as he seems to on a lot of these), but there are a few lesser knows acts as well. Songs from Adema and Five Pointe O bring some extra brutality to proceedings but do not seem out of place. If you feel the need to go and shoot up some zombies, this is the soundtrack that you need.

4. Halloween (2007)

Let’s face it, a film written and directed by Rob Zombie is going to have a killer soundtrack. This remake of John Carpenter’s classic is a pretty decent effort, which can’t be said of all remakes. Zombie is also clever about who he puts in charge of the soundtrack. Tyler Bates is the man tasked with the job. As well as being the lead guitarist in Marylin Manson’s band, he’s also written scores for a plethora of films. One of the cool things he does is rewrite the original Halloween music slightly off-key. It works, and it does a great job of upping the creepy factor.

There is a host of excellent bands that offer monster tracks. Plus. there are songs from The Misfits, Alice Cooper, KISS and Nazareth. There is even a live version of Iggy Pop performing the Stooges ‘1969’. Halloween is a slasher masterpiece, and the soundtrack is all that you would expect, and more.

3. Queen of the Damned (2002)

Released in 2002, this vampire queen movie is tinged with tragedy. This is because Aaliyah who played the lead role was killed in a plane crash not long after the film was finished. She did a fantastic job of playing the vampire queen, with the film itself a classic in the genre. A lot of horror movies that were made around the early 2000s had similar music. This one features music from bands such as The Deftones, Disturbed, Marylin Manson and Papa Roach. Jonathan Davis from Korn was also in charge of producing all the music for the album, and it shows. It’s hard-hitting stuff that’s reflective of the nu-metal/industrial sound that was prevalent early in the decade. The perfect aperitif to the main course of bloodsucking.

2. Deathgasm (2015)

You would be forgiven for having no idea what this movie is, and that’s ok. It was made for a pretty niche audience. And by niche, I mean metal comedy horror. Made by New Zealand director Jason Lei Howden, this splatter-fest is full of metal anthems. In fact, the premise is around a guy who inadvertently summons evil by his guitar riffs. That may sound silly, and it is. But the whole thing is done very well, which allows for some pretty fantastic metal to feature throughout the film. Bands like Axeslasher, Skull Fist and Emperor all make an appearance. Raise those horns and grab a beer, as in you’re in for one hell of a ride.

1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

This remake of a cult classic is as good if not better than the original film. This has to do with the better effects and atmosphere, but it also has something to do with the killer soundtrack that is on offer. Pantera, Meshuggah and Hatebreed all bring their A-game, as do the brilliant Lamb of God. Having some dreamy pop play whilst Leatherface wields his chainsaw around doesn’t have the same effect as some pounding metal.

Composer Steve Jablonsky also does a sterling job of creating some of the creepiest music ever to feature in film. His theme to the movie actually makes your skin crawl. It’s interesting to note that the original film featured local Texan bands. Although they are missing from this soundtrack, there is no denying the metal power that is on show.


And that’s our list of the seven most Metal movie soundtracks. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about movie soundtracks better than the films HERE.

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