Issue 41 - A year of Ultimate Metal


cheating the polygraph
Apr 29, 2001
dead between the walls
Anniversary Edition – A Year Of Ultimate Metal

Greetings, devoted readers! What follows is a brief look at most of the artists who have hosted forums here, along with some of the Launchpad songs and artists.

UPDATED 11/25 to reflect the new additions made to UM since the initial posting.

Style: symphonic metal
Notable talents: Martina Astner (ex-Therion), Erik Rutan (ex-Morbid Angel)
Their sole release to date, Absolute Purity, is a highly impressive debut
Key songs: Endlessly Searching, Silencing The Sorrow

All That I Bleed
Style: technical metal
Bizarre development: The least active forum on UM. Considering that their Dying To Remember is one of the year's best debuts, they should receive more attention.

Style: began as doom metal but have followed their own path since Eternity.
Bizarre development: Daniel Cavanagh’s departure that lasted all of three weeks. Related band Antimatter also has a forum here.
Essential albums: Judgement, A Fine Day To Exit, Alternative 4
This writer’s favorites: Release, Underworld, Lost Control, Anyone Anywhere, Judgement, Cries On The Wind

Angel Dust
Style: aggressive power metal
Career setback: this year’s lackadaisical Of Human Bondage.
Essential albums: Bleed, Enlighten The Darkness
Underrated release: Border Of Reality

Style: needs no introduction
Career setback: September 11, endless label changes, growth under Scott’s chin.
Album I played the hell out of in high school: Spreading The Disease
Underrated release: Stomp 442

Arch Enemy
Style: Maiden-influenced melodic death
Notable talents: Chris Amott
Essential album: Burning Bridges
This writer’s favorites: Sinister Mephisto, Eureka, Fields Of Desolation ('99 version)

Style: neo-progressive rock
Notable talents: keyboardist Clive Nolan
Bizarre development: Drummer Mick Pointer resurfaced in this band over a decade after being fired by Marillion.
Best album: Immortal? (question mark included.)

Style: space rock with a revolving door of vocalists
Notable talents: Arjen Lucassen
Essential album: Universal Migrator
Favorite vocalist: Russell Allen

Style: goth-tinged doom
Bizarre development: the ABBA cover Man After Midnight, a bonus track that has become a popular download at
Best album: Souls Highway

Style: straight ahead metal
Career setback: Maiden fans who thought Virtual XI was disastrous (raises hand)
This writer’s favorites: The Tenth Dimension, The Launch, Born As A Stranger

Style: progressive black metal
Favorite with Garm: A Tale Of Pagan Tongue
Favorite with Simen: Colossus
Favorite with Vintersorg: Soul Sphere

Children Of Bodom
Style: over the top melodic death
Notable talents: Alexi Laiho, Janne Warmen
One of the few songs I can tolerate: Deadnight Warrior

Dan Swano
Style: depends on project, has reportedly given up on death metal though
Favorite Nightingale: Thoughts From A Stolen Soul
Favorite Edge Of Sanity: Twilight
Favorite from others: Uncreation (solo), Amon Ra (Odyssey), At The End Of The Bridge (Unicorn), 2 (Pan-Thy-Monium), etc.

Dark Tranquillity
Style: increasingly keyboard-heavy melodic death
Career setback: abrupt stylistic change on Projector, later refined on Haven and Damage Done
Essential album: The Gallery
Favorite from new album: Hours Passed In Exile & The Treason Wall

Devin Townsend
Style: progressive, aggressive, schizophrenic.
Essential album: Terria (featuring an amazing trio of emotional paralyzers in Deep Peace, Nobody’s Here, and Tiny Tears. Also witness Stagnant.)
Favorite from Ocean Machine: Funeral
Favorite from others: Kingdom

Style: emotionally charged progressive rock
Notable talents: Guitarist Doug Ott
Bizarre development: The band nearly falling apart during and after Juggling/Dropping, permanently losing two members and temporarily losing another, only to recover with...
Their best album: Blink Of An Eye

Style: dark progressive metal
Career setback: Sven Karlsson joining Soilwork full time
Essential album: In Search Of Truth (featuring one of the best combinations of three to open an album ever, ending with Watching The Skies, possibly my favorite song of 2001.)
Favorite from others: Nosferatu

Style: melodic death
Notable talents: Peter Tagtgren

In Flames
Style: nu-me…lodic death?
Career setback: post-Clayman/RTR backlash and Tokyo Showdown
Essential album: Whoracle

James Murphy
Legendary thrash guitarist, help donate to his cause.

Style: shoegazer doom metal (not my words)
Notable talents: Anders Nystrom’s simple but often mesmerizing textures
This writer’s favorites: I Am Nothing, Had To Leave, A Darkness Coming, Dispossession, Future Of Speech

Style: aggressive power metal
Career setback: prolonged label troubles, alcohol-induced breakup
Underrated album: all of them, but especially Sanctified
Favorite from last two: Child Of Time (not to be confused with Deep Purple)

Maudlin Of The Well
Style: astral metal (their words, not mine)
Bizarre development: Just read a random thread on their forum, almost as trippy as their music. :)
Essential albums: The simultaneously released Bath & Leaving Your Body Map

Style: visionary, dystopian metal
Notable talents: Jeff Loomis and Van Williams’ playing is savage.
Essential albums: all of the last three
Underrated songs: Sea Of Possibilities, 42147, Deconstruction, All Play Dead, Evolution 169, Insignificant

Novembers Doom
Style: adventurous doom, not as slow as most in the genre
Notable talents: Paul Kuhr
Best album: To Welcome The Fade
Writer's favorites: Not The Strong, The Spirit Seed, Dark Fields For Brilliance

Style: In a word, Opethian.
Notable talents: About a quarter of the people on the UM forums worship Akerfeldt, and for good reason
Essential albums: all of them
Opinion on Deliverance: Awesome. Last two songs are among their most adventurous to date.

Power Of Omens
Style: technical metal
Notable talents: Drummer Alex Arellano, guitarist Dave Gallegos
Bizarre development: Upcoming release Rooms Of Anguish being rescued from an unappreciative label by Metal Ages.
Writer's favorites: Word On A Line, In The End, A Toast To Mankind

Reading Zero
Style: progressive metal
Claim to fame: Has played at two of the three American Progpower festivals.
Best album: The two indie releases The Actual and Satellite Sessions are about equal.

Style: bombastic power metal
Bizarre development: Marco ditching them for Nightwish
Essential albums: none, they’re all highly inconsistent
Guilty pleasures: Razorblade Salvation, Gallowmere, The Sin Trade

Style: melodic death growing further apart from the Gotheburg norm.
Bizarre development: Being amongst the first acts praised by Rob Halford after suddenly rescinding his "metal is 100% dead" stance.
Best album: Natural Born Chaos
Writer's favorites: Black Star Deceiver, Song Of The Damned, Grand Failure Anthem

Sonata Arctica
Style: passionless, watered-down power metal with horrible keyboards
(Yes, I am aware I just insulted one of the webmaster’s favorite bands…)

Spastic Ink/Watchtower
Style: insane instrumental tech-metal/pioneering early tech metal
Notable talents: Ron “anyone who listens to rap should be killed” Jarzombek.
Essential album: Control & Resistance
Albums coming soon (for about a year now): Ink Complete/Mathematics

Steve DiGiorgio
Style: thrash’s master of the fretless bass
Career setback: short-lived stint with Jon Schaffer’s ego…er, Iced Earth.
Albums coming soon: Appears on Vintersorg’s next (see entry)

Tad Morose
Style: aggressive power metal
Interesting fact: shares hometown with Morgana Lefay.
Best album: Matters Of The Dark

Style: thrash metal that gets heavier with each release
Essential albums: Practice What You Preach, Low
Underrated album: Souls Of Black

The Black League
Style: gothic doom metal
Notable talents: Taneli “Sentenced sucks without him” Jarva (not my opinion)
Cool song available only on official site: Pain Without A Name

Style: progressive metal
Career setback: frequent vocalist changes
Favorite with Damian: Wounded Land
Favorite with Mac: Hypothetical

Travis Smith
Style: not a musician, leading artist in the metal scene.
Best cover for a band on this list: Devin Townsend – Terria (also Tonight’s Decision, Souls Highway, A Fine Day To Exit)
For one not on this list: Winds – Reflections Of The I

Style: increasingly progressiive melodic...can I really call this death?
Bizarre development: folk metal cover of Holy Diver (with Otyg)
Essential album: Visions From The Spiral Generator

Zero Hour
Style: ultraheavy ultratechnical metal
Notable talents: Brothers Jasun and Troy Tipton
Bizarre development: Side project Death Machine, in which three-fourths of the members use pseudonyms
Essential album: The Towers Of Avarice

THE LAUNCHPAD –a collection of artists who have songs available on Ultimate Metal. Notable among these is the site’s ongoing partnership with the company that has become the mailorder site of choice among metalheads, The End, and their growing roster of artists, which includes some of the most innovative acts in the scene today. First and foremost is Green Carnation and their incomparable mega-epic Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness. Among the first of their acts to make waves was Agalloch, who established themselves as one of America’s best melodic death acts (and possibly our answer to Opeth) with Pale Folklore, and their critical standing should only improve with The Mantle, out in August. (Which, as you might know from my frequent postings and subsequent STW installments, I now regard as a masterpiece and one of the absolute best albums of 2002.) Also featured are the technical death of Scholomance and their ambitious Immortality Murder releases, and the somber romanticism of Virgin Black. Another great discovery from the Launchpad, and the Opeth forum, is Farmakon, who is one of the best unsigned bands I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in a while, along with another hosted act, Lilitu, whose Memorial is a great album reminding one of Opeth and the best in doom metal. Britain’s Area 54 has quickly gained a strong following for their straight ahead metal. Ossian and Cascade also sound promising.

I greatly enjoyed putting this special together. I apologize for not including every act, there are some I haven’t heard a complete album from yet but sound promising (Forest Stream, Lunaris, Sun Caged) some I don’t care for (i.e. Cannibal Corpse), some I am still in the process of formulating an opinion of (Kalmah, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Skyfire, all three have some great songs), etc. Thanks to the fans, the staff, all of the bands (especially people like Mikael Akerfedlt, Niklas Sundin, Dan & Dag Swano, Warrel Dane, Anders Nystrom, Tom Englund, Anders Nordin, and all others who have posted on their respective forums. I also can’t forget the LOTFP and Progpower forums, you guys rule.), and anyone associated for making Ultimate Metal the best metal community on the web.
I highly recommend Beseech (who, since you didn't include them I can only assume you've not heard them!:)). One of my personal favourites on UM...
Style: Brutal Melodic Death Metal
Bizarre development: Music that has progressed so much since the their start in 1997, from slow and brutal arrangements to mid paced/fast beautiful melodic evil death metal.
Essential album: God Was Created
Underrated album: The Thoughts From Which I Hide
Favorite from God Was Created: Christ, I Fucking Hate You!
Favorite from others: You Don't Have To Be Afraid Anymore