Years of Decay 2002

11 min read

2002… This year… We had good albums? Yes. Did we had ok or bad albums? Yes. 
But is past and already passed 17 years. That means what? That we still love metal. 

Enjoy our 2002 selection but most of all – enjoy your Sunday!

KORN – Untouchables
10th June 2002, Immortal Records / Epic Records

Am I alive?
Am I asleep?
Or have I died?

Some may say that 2002 was a shitty year for Metal, and while I’d generally agree with it, some of my favourite releases of all time came out, such as the amazing “The Mantle” by AGALLOCH that’s also covered on this edition of YOD. For this new edition I picked an album that I hold very close to my heart, it has been very important on my overall Metal journey, that of course being KORN’s fifth studio outing “Untouchables”! KORN have been one of my favourite Metal bands before moving into darker territories and I still hold them close and give their best albums a listen every now and then. They may have even been responsible for me moving in a darker direction, as they too have some pretty dark and depressing themes in their music, which appealed to me a lot.

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On this album KORN utilize synthesizers and vocal effects to great effect, yet don’t lose heaviness in the process. The guitars are crunchy and heavy as all hell, Jonathan Davis’ vocals are incredibly versatile as always, going from soft and touching to raspy and brutally aggressive in an instant. Also included are some nice bass-parts as well as punchy and compelling drums, driving a lot of the songs to even greater heights! There’s not one track on here that I would skip on repeated listens, while they aren’t necessarily all classics in their own right, they differ from each other enough to not get stale and still complement the flow and general structure of the record. Thematically the band deals with some pretty heavy subject matter on “Untouchables”, such as depression on the whole, but also deeper facets of it, such as suicidal thoughts and feelings of being empty and useless, as well as depression fuelling hate and possibly even violence. Especially these topics are what makes this album so important to me, I’d say it came to me at the right time where I myself went through some struggles. The album at points really is the sonic embodiment of a mental breakdown, maybe a bit overused by the band, but they really hit that “Am I going insane?” feeling.
KORN’s fifth album was, still is and probably always will be my personal favourite of their entire discography, not only because of personal connection, but also because the sheer musicianship and deeply emotional lyricism on display here make “Untouchables” an excellent album. Think of “Nu Metal” what you want, this is a classic!
Favourite tracks: “Blame”, “Hollow Life” & “Hating”

the trve Medvson

HORNA – Korpin hetki
May 2002, Apocalyptic Empire Records

HORNA… Loved by some, hated by others. In this year they released two Ep and one split too. But I will speak a bit about this one. “Korpi Hetki” is an EP that I love. The Black Metal is fast, raw, simple, with no bullshit. Straight and “in your face”. With only 3 songs and with a total of playing time 13:20. So is quite fast on time. eheheheheh.  

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This was the best time for HORNA? I don’t comment that. I like everything (music) about them. The past releases, this one, the following ones. It is a band that I try to get everything I can. Cause I like them. The music they play, the feeling they have. It is quite simple. They do Black Metal and a good one, and I love the music.

The Key keeper

VADER – “Revelations”
June 2002 – Metal Blade Records

Vader´s 6th full-length album Revelations came after their master class Litany album only two years later and I can say that this is a great death metal album. Not their best, but a very enjoyable record for the DM legions, an album that every metalhead can taste the demolisher and sharped sound of the Piotr band. From the very first moment you press the play button, you will be submerged in an ocean of beastly riffs and stormy blast beats that create a glorious rampage and joy for the death metalhead brain.

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This is the purest death metal from Poland, whether you like the band or not, we must recognize that they are an institution in themselves and that they have managed to carry the banner very high, also putting the rod high for all those new bands that would take them as an influence to define their style and sound. Piotr doing the things right, always. Starting with the first track, Epitaph delivering power and strength from the second 0:01, this album presents some highlights pieces like “Wisper”, “When Darkness Calls” demonstrates the perfect technique and the neat and devastating sound of its riffs makes this album even better song after song. “Torch of War” is another delightful piece followed by “The Code” they are taking us towards the end of the album that can be listened to repeatedly without getting bored during one of those days of fury that we all have in our hectic lives. I repeat, this is not their best, but they continue their legacy of brutality and technical mastery.
This is a great 2002 album, in my opinion, it still is in a valid form and shape and will continue for decades.


DOWN – Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow
March 2002, Elektra Records

In some ways, I could look at 2002 as the end of one phase of my life. I was 21, making a mess of university, getting wasted all the time, directionless, stagnating perhaps. The next year I’d get glandular fever and a lot of things changed one way or another. I always have a quick reference point to remind myself that 2003 was the year I spent the summer, dosed up on prescription opioids because I bought the recently released “St. Anger” and “100th Window” during that time of convalescence and tripped out to them in my Tramadol induced haze.

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When it comes to what new releases of 2002 caught my attention, literally none come to mind. I was just starting to get into PANTERA at this stage and I hadn’t yet discovered Phil Anselmo’s primary “other” band, DOWN, the Louisiana supergroup also featuring members of EYEHATEGOD, CROWBAR and CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. So I came to this release a little later. Lacking the extreme technicality of Anselmo’s “main” band, I saw DOWN for a long time as a lesser musical afterthought, but as the years go by DOWN are a band I have more and more time for and this, to my mind, is easily their best release.

Far more varied and adventurous than their debut, “Down II” is stuffed full of great, stomping, down-tuned, badass, 70s Rock infused, sludgy goodness. Some of the band’s all time standout bangers are here, like “Ghosts Along The Mississippi”, “Beautifully Depressed”, “Dog Tired” and my personal favourite, “New Orleans Is a Dying Whore” where Anselmo lets fly with the kind of lyrically opaque, seedy, nastiness that he excels at.

Alongside these highlights and plenty of strong, no-nonsense rockers, the band also shows their versatility with interesting deviations from the more typical hard riffing on tracks like the quirky, jaunty, organ-infused “Stain-Glass Cross”, the contemplative, stripped-back “Where I’m Going” (showing off some great pedal steel guitar work and maybe foreshadowing Anselmo’s recent EN MINOR project), the tremendous, dark and bluesy “Learn From This Mistake” and its great, jazzy counterpoint “Lies”.

Album closer “Landing on the Mountains of Meggido” sees the band embark on a proggy, spaced-out, acoustic guitar driven voyage, with LED ZEPPELIN invoking, rock-god motifs scattered all around (in the band’s own doomy, idoiosyncratic way), and while there’s a strong 70s Rock flavour to a lot of this album, the band never descends into mere retro, indulgences. DOWN are definitely a recognisable accumulation of their individual band members’ other musical explorations (as well at the Hard Rock sounds they add to the mix), but the sound they craft is very much their own. Between them Anselmo, Pepper Keenan, Kirk Windstein, Jimmy Bower and Rex Brown have been a part of a hell of a lot of great music, “Down II” is no slouch in any of that company.


March 2002, Spitfire Records

I love BLS. Yes I do. And even though they have some hits and misses in their albums, still I love how Zakk developed his band after quiting playing for Ozzy. Some of the compositions in the very early BLS albums were actually written for Ozzy, but Sharon didn’t approve. That’s great, because BLS appeared and emerged. And the dark riffing southern melancholy of Zakk music is NOT for everybody. That’s why I decided to talk a bit about “Eternal 1919”. A berserker album.

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A small step back. To be honest 2002 was pure shite as an year in metal. I personally don’t listen more than 8-10 albums from that year. The nu-shite was completely taken over the stage and lots of big bands were either quiting, or were swimming into the sea of those mediocre musical trends.

“Eternal 1919” is a heavy album, a calling out the troops for a battle album. Starting from the opener “Bleed for me” which is probably my favorite BLS track ever, the album continues in a riffy, doomy, heavy straightline with “Lords of Destruction”, “Demise of Sanity”, “Life, Birth, Blood, Doom”, “Battering Ram”, “Graveyard Disciples”, “Refuse to Bow Dow”. Of course there are heartful ballads – “Bridge to cross” and “Lost Heaven”, demsntrating the hurt soul of Zakk and his tremendous ripping playing.

“Eternal 1919” is a great album, and will say it again – BLS is a band NOT for everybody. It reuqires time and mood to get into Zakk music. In between the doom riffs lies a hidden pain and sorrow, bluesy melancholy and huge kick off power. STRONGER THAN DEATH!

Count Vlad

SYMPHONY X – The Odyssey
November 2002, InsideOut Music

Another time travel thanks to BAZ Years of Decay. Now join me as we embark with the mighty Odysseus in a ten-year journey to get back to his homeland Ithaca after the fall of Troy. Beasts of all kinds, witches, incantations and of course, the mighty and terribly jealous Greek Gods that always interfere with human affairs. At least in the monstrous last song of this album. 24 minutes of pure greek mythology and human tragedy by a band that can play everything and a voice that can take you through the plethora of human passions and beyond.

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This is Symphony X epic masterpiece “The Odyssey”.

First, I would love to talk to you about how important reading is. It helps with language and writing of course. Also, storytelling is engraved in human DNA since the first humans gathered around a fire. This is also the case with the music of course. We are all drawn to good storytelling and good music, right? I find both elements in Symphony X music. And the Gods smile.

“The Odyssey” is not a concept album per se, the thing is that the final song about the adventures of Odysseus is so good that it tends to obscure the rest of the album. And that might be it´s the only flaw so to speak, or at least it´s my perception. But make no mistake, I don´t think there is no low point in the whole album. So, if u haven´t paid attention to this one or you may want to revisit, the time has come! The land of knights, wizards and epic journeys is waiting in a prog metal setting!

Of course, the song to choose here is none other than:

By Zeus!


AGALLOCH – The Mantle
August 2002, The End Records

2002 saw the release of an album that marked an important milestone in my journey as a young metal fan. The Mantle is the record that still embodies beauty in metal for me. The album has a soft, welcoming sound while still sounding cold and bleak. Even the screams come across as whispers, like the wind blowing through desolate woods…

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stripped of their green crowns, abandoned by life and covered by an immaculate white blanket of snow, undisturbed, unstained. The album has an immense breathing space, yet it never comes across as tedious and the metallic moments are quite sparse, however the feeling of loneliness compensates for the lack of what would be considered heavy. This was unlike anything I heard before it, considering I was coming from bands like Watain, Dark Funeral or Gorgoroth, and even now, years after the first listen, I still can’t find anything that captures quite the same emotions The Mantle stirs up inside me.

Metal Gentleman

Dark Tranquility – Damage Done
July 2002 – Century Media

“Damage Done” was my introduction to the Swedish melodic death pioneers DARK TRANQUILITY. Leading the charge with bands like In Flames, At The Gates, Kalmah, and Insomnium, DARK TRANQUILITY played a key role in establishing the melodic side of the death metal stream. Layering thick distortions, blazing melodies, complex drum sequences, and odd elements like classical and symphonic keyboards, they keep themselves well within death metal territory on “Damage Done” embracing heavy and dialed in growls to back the material. This made for an extremely enjoyable and volatile formula, giving them the ability to both captivate and obliterate at the same time.

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“Final Resistance” is actually the first song I heard from this band, and by the time the first riff crescendos into existence I was hooked. I replayed it a few dozen times in a row, and still to this day have a strong urge to blast it when it comes on it my rotation. It took a while for me to make it past the first track, but “Hours Passed In Exile” is where the real magic begins on “Damage Done”. Full of catchy guitars, heavy intricate drumming, and the accents of synth keyboards that work so damn well to back the melodies and push the overall tone of the song. Followed up by songs like “Monochromatic Stains”, “Single Part of Two”, and “The Treason Wall”, they start this album off with an intense rush of energy and melody.

By mid-album they take a few more liberties with the song structure. Tracks like “Format C: For Cortex”, “Damage Done”, “Cathode Ray of Sunshine”, “The Enemy”, and “White Noise/Black Silence” have a mix of tempo, with some portions full of blazing speed and melodies but also large portions with slower keyboard and symphonic elements running the show. The album ends with an instrumental jam, “Ex Nihilo” wich serenades rather than assault the senses for some … dark tranquility perhaps?

“Damage Done” is full of great riffing and catchy hooks. Tracks like “Single Part of Two”, “Final Resistance”, and “The Treason Wall” are burned into my head and were no doubt a gateway for other metalheads to get into heavier genres of metal. DARK TRANQUILITY provide an easier to digest instrumental design than other extreme genres but utilized heavy vocals to help spread their metallic influences to farther reaches of the world.

I grew up on traditional heavy metal and thrash metal, but I can credit bands like DARK TRANQUILITY for throwing me down the rabbit hole to more extreme avenues. I feel like the band really hit their stride with this album. They were enjoying some stability in their lineup and embraced an overall heavier tone which let them explore their sound and potential past what they’ve offered on previous material. While they are not the most brutal of bands, their heavy and captivating melodies are unrelenting and keep you coming back for more. Mission Accomplished. Damage Done. Enjoy some decay.

Metal Yeti

Truly Yours,
Blessed Altar Zine Team

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