Blast Beats, Dark Harmonies and Monstrous Melodies

The Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums of 2006

Goatwhore
A Haunting Curse (Metal Blade)

This New Orleans quartet manages to stay faithful to a traditional black metal style while adding ambient elements to its songs. Prime examples here are the songs "Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult," which combines mid-tempo grooves with sadistic riffs, and "In the Narrow Confines of Defilement," which employs trippy bridges over a relentless drum beat. Singers Sammy Duet and Louis Benjamin Falgoust II have toned down their usual high-pitched screams and opted for more howling and rasping here (the title track contains some particularly vicious vocals), and ex-Morbid Angel guitarist Erik Rutan's production is immaculate.

Cretin
Freakery (Relapse)

This entire album consists of songs which tell sensationalized tales of deformed/mentally handicapped people from isolated rural communities who do things like kidnap babies and raise them as feral animals, drag young girls into vans and climax while shocking them with Tasers, etc. As the CD booklet declares, "The stories in this album are mostly true...we are everywhere." Now, in the time it takes to say "gimmick," it also becomes clear that Cretin brings rickety punk energy to its grindcore. That's no small feat, considering that Cretin forgoes precision altogether for a slurring, repetitive approach that sounds like you're listening from inside a nearby garbage can, but it still manages to hold your interest. With two alums from gore-grinders Exhumed and such gleefully graphic lyrics, you'd think that Cretin would overplay the shock hand. With some wit up its sleeve, however, the band comes up with a rousing work of comedy-horror.

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