Metallica during the Jason Newsted era
Metallica during the Jason Newsted era Credit: Courtesy BB Gun Press

Luca Cimarusti, Reader music listings coordinator

Metallica, . . . And Justice for Jason When bassist Jason Newsted joined Metallica, legend has it that his bandmates hazed the shit out of him—among other things, they’re supposed to have deliberately buried all his bass parts inaudibly low in the mix of 1988’s . . . And Justice for All. However it happened, it resulted in one of the most complex and engaging records in metal history sounding notoriously limp. Thank goodness for the Internet, where you can find a remixed version of the album with Newsted turned up. Recommended listening, especially if you’re in a band—you’ll never take the guy on the dumb strings for granted again.

Nothing, Guilty of Everything Domenic “Nicky Money” Palermo used to front tough-guy hardcore band Horror Show and just did time in jail for stabbing somebody—the last thing I expected out of him was to reemerge with an absolutely beautiful shoegaze record. Guilty of Everything is incredible wall-of-sound My Bloody Valentine worship. It came out early this month, but I’ve listened to it so many times already that I’m starting to think I’m going crazy.

Dayal Patterson, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult Everyone has read Lords of Chaos, and everyone knows about the early black-metal scene’s stabbings, suicides, and church burnings. This book, which came out in December, offers a more in-depth history of the genre, focusing on the musical evolution of black metal rather than the violence. Its author, longtime Metal Hammer writer Dayal Patterson, definitely knows his shit when it comes to all things heavy.

Luca is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

From the roster of Blackest Ever Black: Cut Hands, aka William Bennett
From the roster of Blackest Ever Black: Cut Hands, aka William BennettCredit: Muir Vidler

Aaron Dexter, talent buyer at the Owl

Melkbelly My favorite local band right now. Melkbelly reminds me of female-fronted mid-90s alt-rock, but with way sharper teeth and very current Chicago grit. Miranda Stokes’s vocals switch from sweet, soulful crooning to sugar-crash temper tantrum in the blink of an eye, while brothers Bart and Liam Winters scrape and crunch spider strings atop James Wetzel’s frantic drumming—their songs are all clever arrangements and sudden mood shifts. Word is they’re recording their debut LP with Cooper Crain as you read this. I can’t wait.

Everything on Blackest Ever Black Everything this London label cranks out is pure gold and gloomy as fuck: the Lynchian electronics of Raime, the sparse industrial pummeling of Moin and Cut Hands, the chipped-black-nail-polish goth of Tropic of Cancer, the cough-syrup death-jazz dub of Tomorrow the Rain Will Fall Upwards, the 80s horror-flick synth-soundtrack worship of Barnett + Coloccia. This has been my soundtrack to our endless winter.

Crescent, Now Moody and angry and confused and beautiful, this is a criminally overlooked masterpiece from the 90s lo-fi/shoegaze movement. It starts opening psychological wounds immediately with the guitar rave-up of “Sun” cutting through the air like a dull serrated plastic blade. Everything that follows is mumbled and disheveled and smacked-out and strangled, with elements of dub and musique concrete bubbling up here and there. It’s a perfect album filled with faults. Lately Now has been on my turntable more than at any time in the 15 years I’ve been listening to it, and I still have no clue what the lyrics are. Totally brilliant.

Aaron is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

The Sweet, <em>Desolation Boulevard</em>
The Sweet, Desolation Boulevard

Joe Schorgl, guitarist for the Sueves, cartoonist

The Sweet, Desolation Boulevard I bought this record from a flea market in rural Ohio when I was 16, probably because I’d just watched Wayne’s World. At the time I’d put it on for “The Ballroom Blitz” and “AC DC.” Then I kind of forgot about it until a couple days ago. It’s good the whole way through. I imagine a bright 1970s pre-cyberpunk future-heaven place, where all the dudes have the longest, waviest hair. Sometimes these guys kick some butt, but they never hesitate to simmer down and party with you in the neon light. Sweet.

Coloured Balls, Ball Power I found a copy of Coloured Balls’ 1973 album Ball Power at Bric-a-Brac Records, and not a day has gone by in the last few weeks that I haven’t listened to it. It exists in a weird no-genre land—not quite punk, classic rock, or heavy metal. It’s the essense of rock ‘n’ roll condensed into one little ball, like one of those detergent packs people throw in their dishwashers. Its repetitive riffage reminds me of learning to play guitar by sitting around listening to AC/DC. Fans of AC/DC or shit that doesn’t suck should check this out immediately. Google “Lobby Loyde.”

Royal Trux, Veterans of Disorder This is embarrassing, but I always just pretended to know about Royal Trux, even though I’d never really listened to them. I just assumed they were cool. But finally my friend Nay gave me this record, and I listened to it for a whole day. It’s super gross. Reminds me of wearing shirts with no sleeves and getting raunchy in the summer sun—a fine thought when you’re sitting in your long johns staring out at cold gray brick. This record’s so hot you ought to wear shades.