(William Smith is the vocalist for Buckshot Facelift and a Long Island band named Artificial Brain that I wrote about twice early last fall — here and here. He also writes a very entertaining blog called Vitos Squid Stop and Death Metal Museum. I asked him late last year if he would write something for NCS . . . and this is it! Part 1 of this post appeared here yesterday.)
After reading a lot of people’s best of 2011 lists, I realized I have a lot of catching up to do and am in no position to judge what the best albums of 2011 were. On that note, I’ve looked through my collection and dusted off 5 albums each that were recorded or released ten and twenty years ago, respectively. Some under-rated gems that maybe you overlooked or weren’t around for – either way, they deserve a second go around now that they’ve aged a little and can be seen in the context of history. They have all earned a special place in my collection – here I’ll share with you why. In the words of Pyrexia – where were you?
CLASS OF 1992 (20 year anniversary)
1. Viogression – Passage (Progressive International / Tombstone Records)
The few people who may remember this under credited Milwaukee Death Metal band would probably chastise this album for its thin and narrow production and the uneven volume problems that more or less straighten out after the first song. The main problem I found with this cd was that it spanned 13 songs in about an hour and it honestly could have probably been boiled down to 9 songs in 40 minutes. For those who choose to brave the occasional mastering slipups and have the patience to give Viogression an hour of your life, though, you will not go unrewarded.
Camoflauged within Viogression’s warm, fuzzy brand of Obituary-style doom and gloom was a visionary capacity for atmosphere, depth, and technicality. Those who listen to this album in hindsight may find that, at times, it has more in common with what Canadian bands like Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, and Gorguts would be perfecting over the following decade than with the primitive mid-tempo style popular in the Midwest at the time. Beyond that, it also features a guest vocal appearance by Joe Ptacek, himself (R.I.P.). For what it’s worth, this was a “missing link” album that helped churn the evolution of Death Metal forward and is worth a second listen now that it’s almost as old as some of its members were when they recorded it.