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25 Albums We Love That You May Have Missed!

By: Maximum Metal Staff  |  Published: July 30, 2015

There is a vast amount of hard rock and heavy metal bands releasing albums every year. A decade ago, we roughly estimated that there were somewhere in the range of 150,000 of those bands across the world. The Encyclopaedia Metallum website has almost 85,000 reviews alone. So many groups over time have released as little as one record before they disappeared like the fading notes of a concert encore. With today's widely-available digital technology, more and more bands are able to put out music themselves and who knows exactly how many albums have been released since metal's inception 46 years ago.

We've put our collective writer heads together into a beastly hydra and dug through the mountains of metal we own for a special "25 Albums We Love That You May Have Missed" list. These are the personal gems we've unearthed for this column. Some may be rare collector's items, but many are right online to hear...

Band: Afflicted
Album: Dawn of Glory
YOR: 1995
Label: Massacre

After releasing and equally pounding and quirky experimental Death Metal album a few years prior, "Dawn of Glory" shows Afflicted going a completely different approach while achieving a contrasting result; Heavy melodic Power Metal with mid 90’s Swedish Death Metal tones. --Josh Greer
Band: Anacrusis
Album: Screams and Whispers
YOR: 1993
Label: Metal Blade

I can recall seeing the Anacrusis video for "Sound the Alarm" maybe once on Headbanger's Ball in between all the grunge bands of the day and I was probably also burnt out on Helloween-copy bands, so my ears took instant notice and I bought the album within a week at the local college record shop. Filled partially with power, thrash, and progressive riffs, and a combo of easy/harsh vocal styles that was fairly new to me then. Key tracks: "Alarm" and "Release" --Frank Hill
Band: Anima Morte
Album: Upon Darkened Stains
YOR: 2014
Label: Transubstans

Do you like the giallo horror genre? Does that music fill you with an impending sense of dread and doom? Have that feeling all the time now with Anima Morte's "Upon Darkened Stains". Ambient, creepy music inspired by the giallo genre, Morte deliver some great background music for while you're at work in the office, the house, the graveyard or that closet you're hiding in waiting for your next victim. --Eric Compton
Band: Armored Saint
Album: Revelation
YOR: 2000
Label: Metal Blade

At the turn of the millennium, years after their impressive Symbol Of Salvation record, these California metallers returned from a prolonged hiatus (during which vocalist John Bush fronted Anthrax). Arriving at a time when metal was just beginning to bounce back after the stylistically unfriendly '90's, this fairly slamming album seemed to go completely unnoticed by the vast majority of heavy music fans at the time. But I always felt that Revelation sounded like the type of record many fans would have liked to see Metallica put out instead of Load (or most of their output since then, for that matter). Not as grandiose as Symbol, perhaps, Revelation's real strength lay in its riffs- some of the most infectious and powerful the band ever wrote and again, more than worthy of their more famous buddies in Metallica. --Vinaya Saksena
Band: Armoured Angel
Album: Stygmartyr
YOR: 1992
Label: Independent

The epitome of crushing, bulldozer death/thrash metal thunder from down under. Get lost in the raw groove. Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug… --Josh Greer
Band: Biomechanical
Album: Empires of the Worlds
YOR: 2005
Label: Earache

These guys were out to fly high the flag of British Steel 10 years ago, but it wasn't retro. This was more like Pantera on crack in a Formula 1. Vocals from John K, are over-the-top and phenomenal covering a wide range from deep growls to ear-piercing wails that are multi-layered and often times delivered completely different from chorus to verse. Musically, it's very complex--power/thrash/prog hybridness. Much of this album is a maelstrom of speed and insanity that I had rarely heard outside of the death genre. After one more album the band went "On Hold". --Frank Hill
Band: Black Destiny
Album: Black Is Where Our Hearts Belong
YOR: 2000
Label: Iron Glory

This Black Destiny album improves drastically from the Neanderthal metal found on the 1997 debut. The growling vocals of Kevin Schadowski is replaced by Michael Seifert doing his best Matthew Barlow (ex-Iced Earth) impression. This album stands out due to the conglomerate of powerful sounds, the most unusual is the blast beats fitting hand in glove with the strength-in-steel power chords. Seifert’s varying vocal style keeps the tracks moving with frenetic energy. I need more of these types, the colder bands that still possess that traditional delivery. --Eric Compton
Band: Canvas
Album: Lost In Rock
YOR: 2000
Label: HouseHold Name Records

Every time that I put this record on, I can't help but get the feeling that I'm going to hear something new. A bizarre mix of Space Metal, Mathcore, and Post Rock, Canvas continues to baffle me. It's a beautiful thing when a band comes along and manages to intrigue listeners. This is one of those albums that can't be described, it must be absorbed. --Nate Turpin
Band: E.F. Band
Album: "Deep Cut"
YOR: 1982
Label: Corona Music

A Swedish band that got lumped into the NWOBHM early on, due to timeline and a British drummer, released this album in 1982. It sounds like the long lost Judas Priest record between "Rocka Rolla" and Sad Wings of Destiny" had Priest gone a more accessible route and found their commercial short rock track audience sooner. --Josh Greer
Band: Feinstein
Album: "Third Wish"
YOR: 2004
Label: Magic Circle Music

Lead by The Rods guitar rocker David Feinstein and Joey "Bridge of Death" Demaio as executive producer, this album went very much under the radar. "Third Wish" packs enough punch and pure rock emotion to sooth even the most dedicated Dio solo era fan.--Josh Greer
Band: Gods of Fire
Album: Wrath of the Gods
YOR: 2004
Label: HouseHold Name Records

These New York natives are rarer than a bleeding porterhouse. Gods of Fire sent Maximum Metal a copy of their debut album, "Wrath of the Gods", in 2004 and we were blown away. At the time the US, and particularly the northeast, was mired in metalcore and New Wave of American Heavy Metal tendencies which allowed this traditional opus to stand up and shout. While I have never seen hide nor hair of the band mentioned anywhere else, based on this album alone the band should have received some recognition. The majority of the songwriting is based on books and media and is performed with a solid understanding of those themes and concepts. The band’s take on Stephen King’s "The Long Road" is just as haunting as the source material while the same can be said for the uber-eerie "Welcome to Hell" based on the video game "Silent Hill". The vocalist uses a Rob Halford style delivery but has a charismatic delivery that makes him one of metal’s most interesting voices. The group followed this up with the rather strange concept album based on Hanukkah. Since 2011…crickets man…crickets. --Eric Compton
Band: Groinchurn
Album: Sixtimesnine
YOR: 1997
Label: Happy Hamster

Ever wanted to listen to grindcore that wasn’t completely chaotic? After picking up Groinchurn’s Sixtimesnine, I was expecting a brash of Napalm Death and Terrorizer. To my surprise, it was a healthy mix of great chunky guitars, sparing use of double bass, and multiple styles of vocals thrown throughout the album. After 18 years and 200 plus listens, this album will always remain a classic grind album. Long live Grinding South Africore. --Nate Turpin --Nate Turpin
Band: Hatred
Album: Suffer (demo)
YOR: 1996
Label: Independent

Virginia never hit a harder groove than their very own Hatred: 80’s speed thrash with 90’s punishing upheaval conjoining demonic shrieks and growls from the depths of Hell. --Josh Greer
Band: Heathen
Album: Breaking the Silence
YOR: 1987
Label: Combat

While the Big Four thrash bands were gaining major worldwide attention, smaller labels like Combat were putting out some great thrash metal in the underground. Some fellow metalhead gave me his extra copy of Heathen's first full-length "Breaking the Silence"...and the doors of metal opened a little wider. This one was just a little faster and had twin-attack guitar melodies to rival the speed metal bands of the day. The lyrics are typically metal (death, skulls, etc). The production was clean, but somewhat muted. "World's End" is a monster track and look for a cover of the Sweet song "Set Me Free". --Frank Hill
Band: Immension
Album: The Enemy Within EP
YOR: 2013
Label: Independent

English thrashers Immension thoroughly impressed with this 4 song EP. Chock full of catchy, aggressive riffs and ripping solos, "The Enemy Within" was a delicious appetizer that whetted appetites until their full length album, "In Vain" was released June 15, 2015. A fresh take on a classic genre, Immension deliver a drivingly delicious brand of thrash with lots of melody and aggression. --Greg Watson
Band: Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus
Album: The Child Must Die
YOR: 2015
Label: Infernal Kommando

Fresh from the frozen fjords of....Philadelphia? Yep, that's right Philly black metal! Like a Philly Cheesesteak, this album is dripping with black metal goodness. Harkening back to heyday of black metal, this album feels like it was pulled right of the 90's Norwegian surge that really put black metal on the map. Feeling nostalgic, feeling evil, feeling nothing? Then check out "The Child Must Die" and chow down on a cheesesteak while the bleakness of frost covered wastelands invades your soul! --Greg Watson
Band: Nordheim
Album: …And The Raw Metal Power
YOR: 2002
Label: Marquee Records

Not to be confused with any other band with the same moniker, these Brazilians knew how to create an outstanding Heavy metal record without any worry of reinventing the wheel; just a complete mishmash of everything that makes Heavy Metal so great. Impeccable musicianship. --Josh Greer
Band: Sacred Oath
Album: A Crystal Vision
YOR: 2005
Label: Angel Thorne

If Mercyful Fate were from America and played Dungeons and Dragons in their downtime. You know, between melting audience member faces off and praising the evil forces. --Josh Greer
Band: Sinner
Album: Wild 'n' Evil
YOR: 1982
Label: SL Records

Today, German bassist/ vocalist/ songwriter Mat Sinner is known for his work with Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle and a host of others. Before that, however, he put out a string of solid albums with his own band, Sinner. This long-forgotten 1982 release is where it all began, and while you can hear hints of the band's future signature style, the result here is quite different, due mainly to the production, which makes it sound at least a few years older than it is. Sinner have long traded in riffy, often Thin Lizzy-influenced melodic metal, but nowhere else in the band's catalog does it sound quite like this. Not sure how it happened (perhaps not being able to afford a session in a state-of-the-art studio), but the recording quality and mix, combined with a Lizzy influence that is even more pronounced than on the band's later albums, makes this album sound like a lost underground gem from 1975 or thereabouts, complete with roto toms and creaking, slightly warbly guitar tones that sound like the strings were thick with rust. Although probably a happy accident, this sound is perfect for the band's combination of simple but effective riffing and elegant harmony guitars (again, think Lizzy). Really, Wild 'n' Evil sounds like the kind of album you'd expect to find in your '70's rock-loving uncle's vinyl collection, still smelling of incense. --Vinaya Saksena
Band: Surgeon
Album: "The Sign of Ending Grace"
YOR: 1991
Label: Sko

Surgeon, comprised of Frank Graffstedt (vocals, guitars), Markus Boehm (guitars), Jorg Lassek (drums), and Marcel Willnat (bass), released one album to my knowledge, the perfectly crafted power metal classic, "The Sign Of Ending Grace" in 1991 through Sko-Musik Germany. The record proved to be the perfect blend of all things power metal oriented, with vocalist Graffstedt sounding very unique and quite catchy as he soared through nine songs of epic power, with guitarists Boehm and Willnat mixing it up nicely with a blend of fast guitars and bass that occasionally dip down a notch with a slight touch of prog. "In The Sign Of Ending Grace" basically went completely unnoticed, with the album getting absolutely no credit for their important contribution to the "old brew" sound, or the beginning of the power metal movement in Europe, with bigger bands like Grave Digger, Rage, and Gamma Ray getting huge followings in the 90s. Surgeon was somehow left behind, and unfortunately, disbanded after their only record. --Eric Compton
Band: Terror Squad
Album: The Wild Stream of Eternal Sin
YOR: 1999
Label: WorldChaos Production

Wild and crazy chaotic Japanese rifftasia! Bang your head until into the rising sunset and repeat. --Josh Greer
Band: The Gathering
Album: The Gathering
YOR: 1998
Label: Century Media

To those unfamiliar with their work, this Dutch band may be best known for their longtime frontwoman: vocal goddess Anneke van Giersbergen (who has since worked with both Devin Townsend and Arjen Lucassen, among others). After abandoning a more extreme metal style, the Gathering hired van Giersbergen and released two masterful albums of haunting, melodic, atmospheric metal that, in retrospect, probably had at least a slight influence on the now-popular symphonic metal genre. So fans kinda freaked out when the band changed its sound again, almost completely dropping the metal guitars and adopting a shoegaze and trip hop-influenced rock sound. But fans with an open mind came to realize that while an awesome sound was lost, this otherworldly 1998 double album had plenty of its own charms. Also noteworthy (and perhaps even more overlooked) was the band's 2000 follow up album if_then_else, which found the band mining similar territory but turning the guitars back up a bit. --Vinaya Saksena
Band: Witch Cross
Album: Fit for Fight
YOR: 1984
Label: MRM Record Co

My go to album for when I’m in the mood for audio sensation. I've yet to find someone who appreciates this era and style who doesn't completely love this record front to back. Melody, raw ambition and excellent songwriting from needle drop to the end. --Josh Greer
Band: Wizzard
Album: Songs of Sin & Decadence
YOR: 2000
Label: Gutter Records

This album was a great alternative to the Gothenburg sound copycat onslaught of the late 90’s/early 2000’s and still holds strong today; competent songwriting with enough balls, power and conviction smothered with guitar melody. --Josh Greer
Band: Xanthochroid
Album: Blessed He With Boils
YOR: 2012
Label: Erthe and Axen Records

One of the happiest accidents I've come across is Xanthochroid. Checking them out based on the cover art and name alone, I was given a majestic dose of epic black metal. Think LOTR or any epic movie soundtrack with classic black metal with a modern twist mixed together and there you have Xanthochroid. Going between chaotic cacaphonies to melodiously mellow movements, the album is a story about the universe created by the band's founder. So settle in, sit back and enjoy the ride that this album provides. --Greg Watson



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