CKY – Modern Metal Masters

CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) is a Hard Rock/Metal band from Pennsylvania. They became popular with the skateboard scene in the late 90’s. In fact, when I was in high school, they played at a skate park not far from my home.

The band is decidedly horror-themed, following in the tradition of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and plenty of other metal bands. CKY is a bit different as they are not as concerned with speed and shredding (although, they are fully capable), but instead focus on heavy, slower rhythms and memorable guitar riffs. Additionally, CKY, even on their first album were experimenting with creating atmosphere with creepy ethereal tones.

With their second album, Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild, they began to sprinkle in synthesizers into their songs, making them more melodic and ear-catching.

Their third album, An Answer Can Be Found, further develops their unique sound with more synths and more virtuosity.

And finally, Carver City, which I have slowly come to realize is their best, was released in 2009.

The sound of the album is, I think, everything this band has been trying to achieve since they began recording albums. The riffs are heavy and thoroughly layered as I think possible. The synths also have multiple layers and picked to create a futuristic/horror environment reminiscent of John Carpenter films of the 80’s. The vocal harmonics turn makes each song have dynamic melodies throughout.

In short, I love this album.

Carver City, like every CKY album before it, starts with a song concerning the town of Hellview, Pop. 96.

“Hellions on Parade” begins with a screeching, hypnotic rhythm which sets the tone for the entire album. The song seems to be about a hellish uprising using political imagery like “rallies” and “agendas.”

This song has a cool bridge with a synth solo that sounds heavily inspired by older sci-fi genre films.

Even a reference to “the 96,” as being the “96 Quite Bitter Beings,” which was the name of their first song on their first album.  They have created a fictional town that has a continuous story developing across four albums.

The second track, “…And She Never Returned,” is a great horror story that sounds too real. Everything about the lyrics to this song makes it sound like a plausible abduction case or missing person story.

The sweeping synths in the background along with the slower pace really give this song an emotional edge. Last seen on Coyote Drive.

I really thought “…And She Never Returned” was my favorite track but it is always followed by “Rats in the Infirmary” and I can’t just overlook that. This song, I feel, deserves some sort of honor for being the biggest contribution to the genre in years.

I don’t know if this song is about anything other than what the title suggests, but I just know it’s great.  So there are rats in a hospital—whatever, man, I dig it.

These are just the first three tracks on the album. The rest follow suit and expand in interesting ways and always continue that signature sound the band established on their first album.

Each listener’s experience will vary. For example, if you never listen to heavy metal, you probably have no idea what I’ve been talking about.

But I do, and I think this is a great CD. It is always an amazing to hear a band you’ve listened to throughout high school and beyond evolve over time and continue to produce awesome music.

For all you Hard Rock fans, check out Carver City.




Summoning Lake Trolls. Top 5 Metal Albums.

Let me start off by saying that this is not a list of the best metal albums ever, but some might agree. This is a list of MY favorite heavy metal albums. I very rarely listened to metal, this last week I took advice and suggestions from friends, I did research while being snowed in, I listened to a lot of metal albums. These are the albums that stood out.

I would like to also add that I do not consider Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, or KISS to be heavy metal bands. They are more hard rock then metal. I believe Sabbath and AC/DC were the first instances of what metal would be, but not, in themselves, metal.

“That’s impossible, there’s no such thing as trolls.”

“Then how do you explain the dead unicorns?”

5. Ride the Lightning – Metallica Metallica’s second record was when they really became top notch musicians. The songs were more then just the fast-paced speed demons that were on Kill ‘em All. They created intricate and complex metal songs that are considered their heaviest stuff. This album is fast and unapologetic, Metallica arrived and supplanted that they were going to be around for a long time.

Recommended listening: Fade to Black, Creeping Death, Escape

4. Vulgar Display of Power – Pantera Pantera’s 1992 game-changer was perhaps the last real metal album before grunge really got big. This album is perhaps the most “mature” album on this list. It isn’t typical by any means, it is new and exciting. Much the same way Metallica really showed up on Ride the Lightning, Pantera had a stroke of genius with Vulgar Display of Power. This is one of my favorite metal records to listen to again to find all the idiosyncrasies.

 Recommended listening: Mouth for War, Fucking Hostile, Attack the Radical

3. Reign in Blood – Slayer Slayer is considered by many to the quintessential thrash metal band, maybe the best on this list. I cannot say enough about this record. As I said, I am new to metal, this one came highly recommended. It took me at least three listens to really absorb what was going on here. So many bands want to be Slayer, they are not. Tom Araya knocks away any wincing I did, he is a great talent. Outside of metal this record is overlooked too often, it shouldn’t be. It is dirty, messy, fun.

Recommended listening: Angel of Death, Jesus Saves, Raining Blood

2. Master of Puppets – Metallica Considered by many to be the greatest metal album of all time. That is a very accurate assessment. This album has everything that makes metal great; thrashing rifts, complex story, scary vocals, brilliant musicianship by all band members. This record should be the first any non-metal fans listen to. It isn’t watered down like pretty much everything Metallica did after, but it is just really, really good. I cannot emphasize how good this album is. Hopefully someday Metallica will return to form and grace us with another masterpiece, we shall see.

Recommended listening: Battery, Master of Puppets, Disposable Heroes

1. Piece of Mind – Iron Maiden This is the metal album that most suits me. It is epic, literary, complicated, raw, and beautiful. The reason this album hit so close for me was that it feels constructed like a very detailed work of art. Yes, metal is definitely art. If you have any knowledge of poetry of literature, this record is perfect. If you love metal and some of the greatest vocals ever and never read, this album is perfect. With this week of really delving into metal, I understand that I love Iron Maiden. This album is my favorite metal record; it is also one of my favorite albums I have ever listened to.

Recommended listening: Where Eagles Dare, The Trooper, To Tame a Land

“We are here to make coffee metal. We will make everything metal. Blacker than the blackest black times infinity” – Nathan Explosion (Dethklok)