Ah, Holiday visiting -- that special time of year when we spend a few days (or weeks) at our parents' homes, sleeping in our childhood single bends, deflecting endless questions about our plans for marriage/procreation and generally exercising a superhuman amount of willpower in an attempt not to murder everyone in sight. Between once again having to hide alcohol consumption and constantly defend one's lifestyle and wardrobe choices ("you'd be such a pretty girl if you didn't wear black all the time" is a personal favourite), the holidays can be particularly trying for metalheads.
For all the metalheads steeling themselves for a stay with their parents or other family, here's a list of some crucial albums to help you weather the rougher parts of the visiting experience. If you're going to have to tolerate being treated like a teenager, you may as well have an appropriately angry soundtrack to help you deal.
Top 10 Metal Albums to Get You Through Holiday Visiting:
Battles in the North
Bergen, Norway's Immortal definitively established the "grim and frostbitten" sound that has become a trope in black metal ever since. Their icy guitar tone, gelid production and blast-driven drumming create a musical landscape consumed by ice and snow. When you need to put on some boots, pop in your earbuds and take a chilly walk at night to clear your head after a long day of family togetherness and judgement, let the blistering riffs and tales of Blashyrkh carry you away.
9. Iced Earth
First of all, this album features a Gustave Doré engraving of Lucifer chilling in the 9th circle of hell as the cover image, which puts it in a special place in my heart already. This is also the first Iced Earth album to feature vocalist Matt Barlow. The sound is pure brimstone: burnt, dirty, ashen and merciless. There is great deal of roiling anger in this album, which Jon Shaeffer has said came out of disputes with their record label, Century Media. This is a great soundtrack when your family inevitably starts driving you nuts and visions of homicides start to dance in your head.
Whatever your feelings about this Swedish extreme metal band, there's no denying Meshuggah's influence on the metal world. Their signature eight-string, down-tuned guitars and complex, polyrhythmic song structures are immediately recognizable. Their technical proficiency and distinct style have given rise to a whole new sub-genre of metal. Their sound is also deep, dark and evil, providing an excellent respite from an overload of Christmas cheer. I particularly recommend "Shed," which was featured on the Saw III soundtrack and serves and an excellent antidote to a surfeit of merriment.