Marko is founder & owner of Metal Sound Magazine and Belgrade Fantasy Convention. Also, founder & vocalist in the band Numenor. Worked at RTS & Radio Belgrade as a journalist and radio presenter. Contact: email@example.com
Crimson Glory-Crimson Glory (1986) It’s a debut record from Crimson Glory and it’s more like an interlude of what will later turned on with their 2nd offering Transcendence. But, anyway their debut full-length has its own quality, its own vibe, and there are many songs that could be marked as great ones. From the very opening tunes one could notice that the band has a potential and quality in their music and that their style is well shaped with a great production and a an amazing sense for balance between harder riffs and more catchy moments in each song. Everything stands in balance and CG already has shown that they were an extraordinary US band with such a great and usual potential.
Crimson Glory-Transcendence (1988) Transcendence could be the best ever record in my opinion, since it has everything at once place: masterfully done production, both high-quality written musical and lyrical side of the record, and from the visual side this LP owns a well-balanced atmosphere. Its like you are listening Queensreich but with a fantasy edge. I would note this record a a highlight of Americal metal scene in many terms and way. It has such a great balance between every and each song, detail and the atmosphere plays a greater role (and production is just perfect with so called ”American edge”). Every single song is a small masterpiece: Lady of Winter, Masque of the Red Death, Lonely, In Dark Places, Burning Bridges…Technically speaking Transcendence was a development and evolutionof what the band has started with their debut full-length. But, what is the most important thing: its indeed easy to listen this album and drown into a water of Transcendence.
Blind Guardian-Tales from the Twilight World (1991) Perhaps one of the best records from Blind Guardian. I particular enjoy in the aggression and melodies of each song. Of course, each record from BG could be placed at the first one. Especially I like when BG plays songs from Tales live. They sounds so powerful and majestic even today after so many years. One thing is for sure this is one of the albums that I most listen.
Blind Guardian Somehwere Far Beyond (1992) I always have seen Somehwere Far Beyond as a sort of more polished version of Tales From the Twilight World, something like the squeal to Tales so to say. There’s no doubt that Hansi, Marcus, Andre and Thomen have improved even more their style with Somewhere…so we have songs like The Bard’s Song (in the forest) or The Bard’s Songs (In the Hobbit). That was still in the improvement during so called ”Tales times”. There’s no doubt that both records are among my favorite BG’s albums when the band was still quite into speed metal with hymn-like refrains and occasionally using some acoustic songs. To me this is the most real BG!
Blind Guardian Imagination From the Other Side (1995) Its important to mention few albums of BG on my list since they are quite different and this makes BG very special when it comes to my personal taste music. Obviously I like more their first works than the rest of discography when BG were more aggressive band so to say. Imaginations was so aggressive but also it has something that separates this record from the other BG albums. Great and very complex work indeed! Of course nostalgia also here plays a big role but there’s obvious quality in each song and riff. Still I count the opening track Imaginations from the Other Side as one of my favorite track ever. But, also the other tracks like A Past and Future Secret or Mordred’s Song are unique and marvelous crafted jewels.
Blind Guardian Nightfall in the Middle Earth (1998) 1998 was one more year with great offerings, a year when some bands use the situation and become quite big. This was the case also with BG. They created the most melodic album ever, just on a right time. Well, I need to add some more records from BG since once again this album it different from the others. A great mixture between power metal with epic touch and some folk elements. It was always a kind of direct CD for me, since it was more melodic, and less aggressive, but on the other hand it offered again something different from the previous albums. Of course, Nightfall is a masterpiece without any doubt…
Rhapsody Legendary Tales (1997) I like many of their albums, but the debut one was the most innovative and I still listen this CD so much. It has a special place in my heart. Also, Rhapsody has a major influences on my own band Numenor and that’s more then obvious 🙂 Might warrior rides again ! After 20 years I am still playing this CD quite often! Each song is indeed marvelous from Warrior of Ice to Land of Immortals! After this album many bands there to walk the same path!
Gamma Ray Land of the Free (1995) One of the most innovative records that I’ve ever heard. This is not power metal, this was speed metal, but without any borders. Every song is a hymn and the opening track suits for itself and reflects the time of 90s when everything was so different. Land of the Free was a complex album, where every single track has its own place. I think that albums like this one are completely impossible to be create during these days. More or less, for most of the fans this was the true continue of what was Helloween supposed to be. German speed metal with hymn-like refrains and most positive song-writing.
Iron Savior Iron Savior (1997) Piet, Kai Hansen and Thomas Stauch-the all-star band from Germany that has made one great record. So, you have little bit of everything here place in one album: druming from Blind Guardian, good-old Helloween vibes and Piet strong song-writing. So, the final result is something that is truly German-like in the most positive way. Its not the best German record ever but yet it has something different that its very hard to achieve today. I still love to listen this debut album from IS since it brings back so many memories.
Hammerfall-Glory to the Brave (1997) Definitely their best record. Everything afterwards was different including their second album Legacy of Kings (which was still good work). Some would say that the production could be better, more powerful, but I enjoy in this, rawer way, where sound of guitars is not polished and sound of drums sound yet vivid and alive so to say. Also, In Flames riffs are quite present, so it owns a melodic death metal Swedish vibe. Moreover, quite remarkable cover artwork done by Andreas Marshall has done the deed. Presently I do not like so much Hammerfall but their debut offering has really the quality and the atmosphere!
Domine Dragonlord (Tales of the Noble Steel) (1999) If you adore Rhapsody I guess that surly you should hear something from the band called Domine. Some even would dare to say that Domine is even better than Rhapsody. But their music is surly different, and Domine aren’t the copy of Rhapsody although the same population could follow both bands with equal passion. I have to say that i have always admire Domine with great passion, especially since their cover artworks and lyrical backgounds’ were strongly influenced by Elric of Melnibone. There’s also strong influence on my own band Numenor, specially when it comes to lyrical conception. Domine has three great records in their career, but I Dragonlord, their 2nd effort, will always have special place in my heart!
About few Metal classics from 90s…
Paradise Lost: Draconian Tales (1995) Some nostalgic moments play here a big role so to say. But, anyhow Draconian Times is one of the most important records in PL history and in my personal life. Every song is a pure jewel. Its kind of polished version of Icon, of course I adore both records but, yet Draconian Times is somehow closest to my midnight heart. Each time when the Enchantment or The Last Time starts I still get in the vibe of 90s. One thing is for sure this is one of the most listen albums in my collection!
Type o Negative October Rust (1996) 1996 was a good year, perhaps one of the best years ever, if nothing when it comes to my personal taste. October Rust is just a next delight after Bloody Kisses, even better, even more emotional. What Peter Steel and co. has done in 1996 was perhaps their high-light of career although later there were some high-lights as well, a song or two. October Rust will remain: calm, cold, but still emotional masterpiece in every aspect.
Moonspell Irreligious (1996) Another high-light from glorious 1996! If October Rust was not enough then Irreligious just came right on time. Fernando and co. once again unleashed a marvelous crafted gem, a delight that stood the test of time. While Wolfheart was rawer piece of work, Irreligious is more polished, more influenced by Sister of Mercy, Type o Negative or Paradise Lost. Each song is somehow different be it Opium, Raven Claws or Fullmoon Madness. With this album Moonspell has become one of my favorites. Truly legendary work!
Amorphis Elegy (1996) Since time when i got it on the tape, and afterwords when I owned it on CD, I fell in love with this particular CD. Ok, I am aware that nostalgia once again works here but the quality of this Amorphis’ early albums is more then obvious. A pure mixture between folk and metal elements in the most tasteful way! Better Unborn, Cares or On the Rich and Poor it does not matter, I can listen this CD day or night. I do not particularly why but I only take first three records from Amoprhis to have special place in my heart. Somehow I was not able to continue with this band after 90s…
The Gathering Mandylion (1995) Well, if I need to chose one particular record from the Gathering’s discography Mandylion would be that one. This album is simply astonished and with marvelous and haunted moments. The melodies and the songs like Leaves or Eleanor still continue to posses me until the present time. Each time when I here the opening tune from Strange Machine I shiver. I’ve really regret more than thousand time that The Gathering are not more active as a live band. I would really like to see them with Anneke on vocals just one last time. Perhaps with Type o Negative this is one band that I miss so much…
Evereve Stormbirds (1998) I don’t follow this band anymore. I stopped to follow them after their 2nd album Stormbirds when Tom Sedotschenko has passed away. Then everything has changed. This was not simply the same band anymore. Anyway, Stormbirds was such a great issue, a timeless record that stood the test of time. Each songs is a perfect jewel. Slower songs, each caught you in its melancholic vibe. It seems that each song is different from the other , but in same time every song is linked with the next one. Fields of Ashes, …On Lucid Wings, The Downfall…every single tune will keep you forever in the vibes of melancholy.
Crematory Illusions (1995) Crematory was very important band in their early years. During that time and period they have issued several very good and promising records and from my point of view Illusions is the most complex work if not the best one. Crematory was always considered as a sort of German answer to Paradise Lost, and perhaps might be the true. Anyway, Illusions turned out to be indeed great offering, with very complex song-writing, symphonic piece of work, full of emotions and creativity. I’ve to admit that this CD is one of the most adorable CDs from my personal collection. It truly reflects the idea of 90s…
Therion Theli (1996) From my point of view definitely the best moment in entire Therion’s history. Theli was placed somewhere in between: death metal influences are still present in one way or another, but also the opera-like parts has taken the main role, so the final product sounds quite awesome and marvelous. While Vovin was more polished record, for larger masses Theli was still linked with Leppaca Kliffoth and more aggressive Therion’s era so to say. The song-writing was indeed complex for that time of period and Therion stood as one of the most innovative and original bands during the 90s. Also, Theli still owns this malicious atmosphere which later has gone since the style has become more influenced by real classical music.
In Flames The Jester Race (1996) The most important record from In Flames and surly the best one. The band turned out later to be something different, which I never liked. but The Jester Race is surly masterpiece of so called Goteborg Swedish death metal scene. Its not regular Goteborg record, but it has the most parts from that time and scene. During this period the band has owned much important aggressive alongside with the furious riffing and enchanted melodies that followed. I am quite aware what has later become of this band, but The Jester Race is truly masterpiece from 90s!
Hypocrisy The Final Chapter (1996) If I need to choose one albums from Hypocrisy that would be surly The Final Chapter without any doubt, since this particular offering has everything in the same time: the heaviness, melodies, but also death metal riffing. So, the final product sounds just perfect if you like still heavy and hard music, but you are also enjoining some melodic moments. Also, this was the crossing step for Hypocrisy when they have become even more popular and opened for larger masses.
Black Metal classic from 90s (once again personal taste)
Cradle of Filth Dusk and Her Embrace (1996) Well, it seems that the Britain has the best bands and this is one more prove, be it Iron Maiden, Paradise Lost or even Cradle of Filth. The style was always dark. Definitely the best ever full-length from COF and the best line up! A perfect soundtrack for the enjoying night-hours with Gothic novels. Each song on Dusk is well-shaped epic journey though the dark and malicious Vampire past. Funeral in Carpathia, Malice Through the Looking Glass or Haunted Shores of Avalon are just some of the greatest exemplar how good-old COF was creative during the very beginning. Also, mastermind Dani Filth has provided this record with such a malicious lyric-writing that surly is one among the best lyrics in the entire metal genre. There’s no doubt that Dusk has become legendary record!
Emperor In The Nightside Eclipse (1994) I still think that the Emperor’s debut is somehow better than Anthems to the Welking at Dusk although that Anthems was far more complex issue, both musically and lyrically… But anyway both records are great in its own way. In the Nightside has everything that one Norwegian black metal album should own: malicious atmosphere, grim and epic-long songs without classic structure. Each song from this particual issue is like a journey though the night-realms. Although the production is very raw it perfectly suits the songs. It could be not better! There’s still malicious and majestic atmosphere that its hard to be gained by any other band around…there can be only copies but one band is real-this is Emperor!
Dimmu Borgir Ethroned Darkness Triumphant (1997) Well, their most important offering if not the best one. Symphonic black metal with some Gothic elements and bombastic way of composing. One thing is for sure Shagrath, Nagash and co. never menages to create such creative atmosphere like on this one. Mourning Palace, Spellbound, In death’s Embrance…legendary three songs that represent Dimmu Borgir in the best possible way thouhgout that I always have adored A Succubus in Rapture, the closing one. Like it or not, Enthroned Darkness Triumphant stands as one of the most important albums in black metal history!
Covenant Nexus Polaris (1998) I like the debut of Covenant’s In Times Before the Light but yet I have to say that Nexus Polaris is the album that is more important and, of course, more complex. I mean it has so many elements that its almost impossible to achieve this level of composing. As a matter of fact during those time Covenant was an all-star band with band-members from the most prominent Norwegian bands (Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus) and even Sarah from Cradle of Filth has joined the forces with them. The final result was a pure symphonic (black) metal masterpiece! Nagash, Astennu, Sarah and co. have done more than a perfect job!
Satyricon Nemesis Divina (1996) One of the most important records in black metal genre. Actually, the album turned out to be very complex piece of work, aggressive with yet melodic and even folk influences. This was level up comparing to Shadowthrone in both musical and composing way. What Satyr and Frost have achieved with nemesis Divina was another level of complexity, but still preserving the right grim atmosphere and dark way of the songs. The Songs are direct, complex, but still with strong black metal feeling. Nemesis Divina owns the song Mother North that still stands as a sort of hymn of Norwegian black metal.
Arcturus La Maqurade Infernale (1997) True classic. Together with Borknagar Arcturus has marked the way of avantgarde (black) metal in Norway and this particular record has shown different side of Norwegian musical movement. Of course, its hard to sort this band in black metal but since the all members came from all other already very well-established black metal bands (Ulver, Borknagar) La Masurade Infernale has the logical place in the pantheon of Norwegian black metal albums although it avantgarde and symphonic piece of work. This issue is a true masterpiece and I dare to say that there will be not any bands or albums who can easily achieve such a way of creativity evermore!
Bal-Sagoth Battle Magic (1998) In those days when I’ve heard this record I was completely astonished by it. It was an instant love with every single song from Battle Magic since the album has more direct songs comparing to two previous offerings from British based Bal-Sagoth. Battle Magic stands more like a polished version of Starfire…Their sound was somehow refreshing and original at that time comparing to other black metal bands. Bal-Sagoth were epic to the core. And, moreover, Byron has provided some of the best lyrical background stories when it comes to complete black metal genre. Battle Magic was an epic, symphonic and dark-some record that stood the test of time!
Summoning Dol Guldur (1996) The first record that I have ever heard from Summoning and still the one that I most prefere. Dol Guldur is somehow different from all the other albums of Summoning so I find it very special. Maybe because it was the first record that I’ve ever heard from this Austrian epic duo. Just to mention some songs like Nightshade Forest, Elfstone or epic-bombastic masterpiece Khazad-Dum…a well-crafted epic journey thought the world of Tolkien and beyond…Perhaps also one of the most played CDs from my collection. I have it as regular CD, tape, promo CD and vinyl version. That’s I call full devotion 🙂
Abigor Supreme Immortal Art (1998) Probably the most important Abigor’s release. It just came out when black metal in general has become very popular. Supreme Immortal Art was at that point the most symphonic album of Abigor and probably the most complex one. In a way we could say that Abigor was a sort of all-star group from Austria since several already established musicians like Silenius from Summoning worked on this project. Also, it turned out that Supreme Immortal Art was the last black metal bum of Abigor for many years to come. Anyway, after this album Abigor has changed the style…
Limbonic Art In Abhorrence Dementia (1998) Two records are the most important when it comes to Limbonic Art debut Moon in the Scorpio and second full-length In Abhorrence Dementia. The second album turned out to be more complex so to say and also since the rising popularity of black metal even more important when it comes to Limbonic Art and spreading of their name and art. The album was a sort of combination between very orchestral parts and black metal atmosphere. It’s very unique band and their first records are quite innovative works on scene.
Troll Drep De Kristne (1996) As am matter of fact Nagash stand behind this project, and Drep De Kristine was recorded and published even before Dimmu Borgir has become the most popular name of the scene. The album is actually very good written, very atmospheric and quite a marvelous piece of work typical for Norwegian black metal. In the essence this is symphonic black metal from Norway in its best form! I could even dare to say that its one of my favorites.
Aeternus …And so the Night Became (1998) The 2nd full-length of this Norwegian group is one of the most brutal album that came from Norway during the 90s. In a way it was a combination between Norwegian black metal and death metal, but with very unique and original style. Brutal riffing, aggressive drum machinery, brutal vocals have become the trademark for the first three records of Aeternus. I am quite sure that any true lover of Norwegian black metal is quite aware of this band and their records. Moreover, the album came in 1998 when there was a huge eruption of black metal popularity so there was lots of attention on Aeternus.
Obtained Enslavement Witchcraft (1997) Well, I could go even further and say that Witchcraft is one of the best hidden gem when it comes to Norwegian black metal scene. Generally speaking, Witchcraft is symphonic black metal piece of work and Obtained Enslavement is all-star band just like it was the case with Covenant but with less attention of media so the band has stayed somehow in the shadow. Never the less, the band has gathered some of the most prominent musicians from Gorgoroth, Aeternus and alike. The final product is one masterpiece with very unique atmosphere and with typical Norwegian sound united at one place.