Battle of the Bands Tournament: Round 1 – Extreme Metal Region (Part 1)

Pregame: This round will bring a lot tears for me. Not that I expect low seeds to be upsetting high seeds. This genre is just very near and dear to me, my roots as a musician lay in thrash metal because that’s what my first band was, the whole reason I got serious about playing guitar at age 15 (thanks, Metallica). Most in this region are some of my all-time favorite bands that I will carry in my heart to the grave. Most of these match-ups will be tough, hard fought battles. I’ll really have to tally up songs just to decide a true victor on some of these. Sigh.
The Match: #1-Metallica (9) VS #16-Mastodon (2)
Metallica sample song: “Four Horsemen”
Mastodon sample song: “Colony of Birchmen”

The Winner: Metallica

Postgame: This is a hearbreaker because Mastodon’s most recent album, the stellar and untouchable Crack the Skye is a MASTERPIECE and probably the best album released by a metal band since at least Sacrament by #7 seed Lamb of God in 2006. Mastodon has a lot of progressive rock/metal elements to their music, but they didn’t get truly musical until their third proper album, Blood Mountain, which is also a great album. Prior to that they were a little more about all-out aggression, and were more abrasive in some aspects (esp. vocally). Now, typically older, wiser and mellower, they’ve dialed the aggression back some and have put an emphasis on melody (esp. vocally). Not to suggest that abrasiveness and all-out aggression is not a fine metal staple, but these fellas proved they were better when they put the emphasis on melody and dynamics. Against evenly matched opposition Mastodon would probably demolish their competition on the strength of those two albums alone, with songs such as “Oblivion”, “Divinations”, “Quintessence”, “Colony of Birchmen” and “Sleeping Giant” as their razor-sharp metal-tipped spear. However, against Metallica and their entire catalogue, the contest — while spirited and fierce — is ultimately futile. 😦 Naturally, I expect to see much more of Metallica in this tournament.

The Match: #2-Death (7) VS #15-Sepultura (2)
Death sample song: “Lack of Comprehension”

Sepultura sample song: “Dead Embryonic Cells”

The Winner: Death
Postgame: Sepultura put Brazillian metal on the map. I first saw them on MTV back in 1989 when their video for “Inner Self” was played on Headbaner’s Ball. Sepultura’s third and fourth albums, Beneath the Remains and Arise both got a lot of spin back in the day. But I can really only name 20 or so great songs by them, five of which are “Desperate Cry”, the song in the video above, both title tracks and the aforementioned “Inner Self”. Not enough to defeat the great, great Death. More to come in this tourney on the greatness of Death.

The Match: #3-Slayer (6) VS #14-Death Angel (2)
Slayer sample song: “War Ensemble”
Death Angel sample song: “Seemingly Endless Time”
The Winner: Slayer

Postgame: Death Angel, with only two-ablum-wins, has no hope of beating a metal behmoth like Slayer (although I suspect Slayer will be one top seed that will fall early). DA has one absolutely perfect album in 1990’s Act III. Every note counts on that great disc which has, like most of the bands in this tourney, gotten ample spin from me for over the last two and a half decades. Great songs like the above, plus “Veil of Deception”, “The Organizaton”, “Discontinued”, “A Room with a View”, and “Falling Asleep” (and, hell, the rest of that album) would give DA a chance against another band with only two wins. Sadly, that’s not the case here. But Death Angel, like a lot of other great thrash bands in this region, are still going strong today. I hope to check out their new material someday. They’re approaching 30 years, and will release a documentary DVD next year to commemorate the historic feat. We’ll hear more from Slayer later.

The Match: #4-Megadeth (6) VS #13-Suicidal Tendencies (2)
Megadeth sample song: “Peace Sells”
Suicidal Tendencies sample song: “You Can’t Bring Me Down”
The Winner: Megadeth

Postgame: Suicidal Tendencies are only seeded as high as they are due to their seniority, having formed in 1981, so in terms of my fondness and sentimentality regarding their music, they would come in under the lower seeds. However, if this were a one-song battle, their excellent song above would be very hard to beat. That is one of the greatest songs ever, metal or otherwise. But, alas, they are going up against Megadeth. No contest here at all. Thanks for playing.
Again, no upsetting of the top seeds. All 4 move on to the Second Round. Next up, Part 2 of this Region tomorrow.


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