Final Six: The Six Best Summer Albums and the Six Best Winter Albums
Chris Krovatin is the author of the novels Heavy Metal & You and Venomous, as well as the co-creator of the Dark Horse one-shot Deadlocke. He is also the vocalist New York sludge-metal band Flaming Tusk. Follow him on Twitter (@bloodinmystool), but honestly, it’s mostly just dick and weed jokes.
There’s a time every year when I am never actually “dry.” It’s a time of constant irritation and complete freedom, a time when I am refereeing a fistfight between my urge to hole up in the air conditioning and my desire to go out into the radioactive heat and stare at the miles of booty being displayed around my neighborhood. Suddenly, all of my concerts are festivals, and many of my pairs of pants become cut-offs during frantic sweat-soaked freak-outs, and I begin searching my drawers in vain for anything—wait for it—white that I can wear. Yes, friends, summer is here, and some metal shit is about to go down. Mr. Softee, what went on in your head?
What this also means is that I have to completely gut and restock my iPod. Just as it feels retarded to blast the Beach Boys in December, so is it incredibly stupid to try and listen to Immortal in August. This isn’t to say that summer music is better than winter music—there’s nothing like throwing on some Opeth while driving through a snowstorm—but that to enjoy a season truly, you need some seasonal sounds to go with it. So here, readers, is my list of the Six Best Summer and Winter albums. Make the first playlist now, wait six months for the second.
The Six Best Summer Albums
1) White Zombie, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 This beach-friendly soul-crusher brings California attitude and Frankenstein groove that announce, rather loudly, that school’s out for summer. Blast it from a hotrod for extra points.
2) Tool, Ænima I’m not really a big Tool fan per se, but something about this album makes me think of getting drunk in hot weather. Probably because the whole thing sounds like nauseatingly bad fever-dream.
3) Bathory, Blood Fire Death You think I’m joking? Actually, the fuzzy guitar and drum sound and the frantic screams of Quorthon have a real hot quality to them—hot, hot, like Hell. If you want summertime black metal, here it is.
4) The Offspring, Smash Give me that Cali power-punk, man. Arguably the Offspring’s last (or only) good album, Smash is the perfect soundtrack to a summer of drinking outdoors. Admit it you love “Bad Habit.”
5) Slayer, Show No Mercy This debut album by thrash’s greatest is pretty derivative of Venom, but it’s riffy as Hell and more fun than furious. Goes well with a cold beer on your way to Ozzfest.
6) Black Sabbath, We Sold Our Souls for Rock and Roll Fuck. Yeah. Nothing speaks to the slow, sweaty, smoke-filled afternoons of the summer like the organic, swooping sound of Sabbath. Turn up the heat.
The Six Best Winter Albums
1) Burzum, Filosofem Nothing sounds colder than Burzum—the music itself rings with a hollow, sunless ambience only possible by a band as frigid and dark as Norway itself. I bet Vikernes loves winter—everything’s white.*
2) Chimaira, The Impossibility of Reason While this shredder has an undercurrent of mosh-pit sweatiness to it, it never speeds up beyond a brutal plod, and “Pure Hatred” is a perfect song for lowering your head against a blizzard.
3) Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine The brittle, throbbing sounds of NIN’s debut not only has a brittle sheen over its entirety, but makes you want to move, dance, warm yourself in the bitterness. Give it a try.
4) Rwake, If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die You know that look on Jack Nicholson’s face when he freezes to death at the end of The Shining? The whole album sounds like that. Sleep, and forget forever.
5) Ensiferum, Victory Songs Nothing better suits blustery, freezing winter like folk metal, the music of drinking mead, sitting before fires, and…drinking mead. Victory Songs is made for flagon-waving and mountain-forging. One more magic potion—it will heal my aching wounds.
6) Anvil, Metal on Metal Maybe it’s their Canadian heritage or the fiery steel forged on their namesake, but Lips & Co.’s most famous record is fantastic for trudging through the tundra and reminding you of why you can survive through February.
*AUTHOR’S NOTE: For a heartwarming winter-time activity, imagine if Varg Vikernes hadn’t been imprisoned in Norway, a legally lenient country with very few murders and a high standard of living, but instead in California, where he would have been raped into submission by his very own white-power brethren and sold to Jesús over in D Block for two packs of Kools and a Twinkie. Enjoy!