Features

18 Great Albums Celebrating An Anniversary In 2018

Feeling old yet? Soz. These albums released ages ago won't help with that...

Debut album Count Your Blessings saw the Sheffield band derided for a lack of invention, but this follow up began to show the world what they were truly capable of doing. While the world would really take notice with 2010’s There Is A Hell…, Suicide Season ditched much of the deathcore in favour of more incisive, dynamic songwriting. 'Repent! Repent! The end is nigh!' screamed Oli Sykes on Chelsea Smile. But for BMTH, this was only the beginning…
The importance of Slipknot’s fourth album is less obvious than its predecessors. Not as impactful as the nine-piece’s self-titled debut, as dark as 2001’s Iowa, or as experimental as 2004’s Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses); its significance is more emotional than artistic. Paul Gray passed away in May 2010, making All Hope Is Gone the last Slipknot album to feature the bassist/songwriter/founding member, and therefore altering the dynamic of the band forever.
A more accurate title would have been: Pretty. Misunderstood. In the wake of the fanfare that greeted 2005 debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, the swish rockers decided to forego the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ model and go their own route. So instead of glitteringly slick anthems tinged with the glamour of their native Las Vegas, we got an album indebted to the likes of The Beatles and the Small Faces. Cue disappointed fans, disheartening sales and half of the band leaving soon afterwards. Panic! would soar once again, but its worth revisiting this, an album thwarted by its own trend-ignoring ambition.
In 2003, you’d have had to have exiled yourself to the most remote of desert islands to not hear Bring Me To Life, the mighty lead single from Evanescence’s debut album, Fallen, blaring from speakers. Not that you’d have wanted to get away from it, of course; having sold 17 million copies to date and remaining Amy Lee and co.’s most successful album, it’s clear not a lot of people wanted to.
Could Meteora be the least difficult ‘difficult’ second album of all time? Understandably keen to deliver more of the same following the monumental success of Hybrid Theory, the nu-metal giants retained their debut’s musical styling – tight musicianship, Mike Shinoda’s rapped verses and Chester Bennington’s soaring choruses – to continued success. To date, the album has sold 27 million copies.
Emotions are running high considering the Finnish goth rockers are calling it a day after 26 years, but it could have all been over much sooner than that. The creation, and touring of, the band’s third album, 2001’s Deep Shadows And Brilliant Highlights, was so exhausting that the band very nearly collapsed. Thankfully they didn’t, because this fourth album saw them recapture their mojo, largely by re-adopting their early sound, as a direct reaction to the negative experience of making its predecessor.
Given the increasingly unpredictable directions that Fall Out Boy are going in these days, it’s easy to forget where they started out. The Chicago quartet’s debut brought a refreshing smartness and sophistication to pop-punk, a genre that had become more synonymous with collegiate humour than it was about songs. So effective was this album, in fact, that it became an underground success and provided inspiration for a raft of other bands coming to prominence in the early 2000s.
What, after all these years, is there left to say about Metallica’s most infuriating album? We’ve seen the documentary [2004’s Some Kind Of Monster], we’ve read the think pieces, and we’ve heard that controversial snare sound. So derided at the time of its release that some fans considered it an elaborate prank, listening to it today its easy to forget what all the fuss was about. You can’t knock a release that sees a band you’d suspected had lost their mojo, playing passionately, even if it sounds like a bloody mess at various points.
In the early noughties, permission was certainly granted by music fans looking for a classic rock fix with an injection of tongue in cheek (we were still a few years away from the emergence of Steel Panther, after all.) The Lowestoft quartet’s debut is never knowingly understated; chock-a-block full of unrestrained solos and hysterical vocals that could break glassware at 100 paces, courtesy of Justin Hawkins.
The album that brought Avenged Sevenfold into the public consciousness is a masterly melting pot of styles, especially when you compare it to the more streamlined offerings that would follow (and bring greater acclaim.) If you’re in doubt about its genre-mashing credentials, ask yourself: how many other records do you know that are comparable to both NOFX and Metallica?
It’s in part testament to the brilliance of this, The Distillers’ last musical statement before their split in 2006, that people are so excited about the news of their reunion. Coral Fang was something of a musical evolution following 2002’s more purely punk offering Sing Sing Death House. It redressed the ‘rock’ element in the band’s punk rock sound, and proved a sleazier, grungier beast – with Brody Dalle’s vocals inviting obvious comparisons with Courtney Love.
The pop-punk legends’ self-titled fifth album is, let’s face it, their best album by some distance. Taking the hook-laden songwriting ability they’d mastered on their previous albums – 2001’s Take Off Your Pants And Jacket became the band’s first U.S. number one album upon its release – and combining it with the maturity that comes with, y’know, growing up a bit, the trio produced an album of characteristic catchiness and surprising depth.
Though not Korn’s finest offering, celebrating Follow The Leader’s twentieth anniversary is a reminder of a time when Korn, and nu-metal, ruled the earth. Though the album was the first not to be produced by mentor Ross Robinson (the man responsible for their first two incendiary records), it yielded Got The Life and Freak On A Leash, two of the Bakersfield band’s biggest songs to date. And guess what? Despite the subsequent two decades featuring some low points for Korn, they’re back to being leaders again.
In 2003, The Shape Of Punk To Come: A Chimerical Bombination In 12 Bursts, to give its full title, was #13 in K!’s 50 Most Influential Albums Of All Time list. Why? Because the Refused’s third album has provided the template for any band whose dissatisfaction with the status quo manifests itself in musical intensity. It proved something of an albatross for the band; they split months later, and reviews of their (brilliant) post-reunion release, 2015’s Freedom, compared it unfavourably with its incendiary predecessor.
If Rick Rubin hadn’t gone to watch Samhain, the band featuring former Misfits singer Glenn Danzig, play a show in New York on July 14, 1986 we might never have got this magnificent album. The producer encouraged Glenn to rename the outfit – subsequently changed to have guitarist John Christ and drummer Chuck Biscuits join Samhain guitarist Eerie Von – to ‘Danzig’. This, the band’s ‘classic’ line up, mined bluesy doom classics on this brilliantly bruising debut.
Iron Maiden’s last two studio albums, 2010’s The Final Frontier and 2015’s The Book Of Souls saw the metal legends’ flirtation with prog intensify. It’s nothing new, though; it began three decades ago on Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. Maiden’s seventh album featured other firsts, too: it was the first to feature the band’s ‘classic’ line up, and the first to feature keyboards. It’s also a concept album, though not one that’s particularly easy to navigate. For sheer ambition, it’s an unbeatable addition to Maiden’s discography.
Metallica’s fourth album was made in the shadow of unspeakable tragedy. On September 27, 1986 bassist Cliff Burton, a key architect in the thrash metallers’ sound, was killed in a bus crash in Sweden. His bandmates decided to continue, recruiting Flotsam And Jetsom bassist Jason Newsted and producing this aggressive epic. Setting aside the topics of the album’s stifling production and near-inaudible bass sound, …And Justice For All undoubtedly took Metallica in deeper, darker directions, as exemplified by anti-war epic One.
How do you follow an album as savage as Reign In Blood? Surprisingly, Slayer - a band you assumed didn’t have a downward gear shift - slowed things down a bit. The Californian thrashers were aware South Of Heaven would be held up against its critically lauded predecessor, particularly as producer Rick Rubin was once again on board, so they decided to mix things up. The (relative) change of pace meant that the punishing riffs courtesy of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, and Tom Araya’s disturbing lyrics, could be felt more acutely.

Who doesn't love a bit of nostalgia from time to time? Naturally, the beginning of a new year always feels like the perfect time to look back and reflect, taking stock of where you've been, what you've done and how far you've come in the time inbetween.

The sting in that particular tale is the realisation of just how relentless the march of time can be. Looking back at the iconic, classic or controversial album releases from days gone by can put things into pretty sharp perspective in that regard.

Or y'know, you could just ignore all that guff and enjoy this playlist of highlights from these 18 albums that are celebrating the anniversary of their release at some point this year. If you can remember any of these coming out first time around, chances are you'll feel a lot older. But what a collection of records they are!


Words: James Hickie

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