“If you released Reign In Blood today, no one would give a shit.” – Kerry King

I remember the first time I heard the tenth and final track on this album, on the Grand Theft Auto Vice City soundtrack. Just the title alone was so violent and intense that I wondered if I really “should” be listening to this: “Raining Blood.”

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Read Part 1 here in case you missed it.

Last week I lambasted several common approaches to album-review writing that are ineffective at describing a great record’s glory. Today in part 2, I’ll describe more about where I’m coming from when I write, as well as some prompts for your own inspiration.

I’m very fortunate that a lot of the observations I make about my favorite records just come to me while I’m listening to them (frequently, on long train rides where you can listen to the whole thing without stopping). I hardly ever struggle to write reviews, and in a way it’s already written before I set pen to paper.

But for the rest of us, here are some prompts and some common topics I like to discuss if you’re at a loss where to start:

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I could read Amazon reviews all day long.

But read them as long as I have, and you really get to separate the thoughtful, well-written reviews from the cliche’d, song-by-song breakdowns that make up many others. The really good ones read like an essay that would get printed in the album jacket on its 25th anniversary. That’s what I aim for.

Here’s where I think some aspiring reviewers get bogged down…

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After the 1990s, which saw the rise of experimentation away from thrash metal with varying success, metal was due for another sea change. New sounds were cropping up everywhere in the music world (not all of them good by any means), and in the midst of it all the old guards rediscovered their original brazen sound to assume the role of metal’s senior leaders.

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It’s incredible how mass tastes in music can change so quickly. 1991 was a year of absolute sea change in this regard, and metal wasn’t immune. Some would argue that the genre came of age in the 1990s, giving rise to a beautiful time of rich experimentation. 80s synths and big hair were out; grunge and plaid were in. For metal, thrash, British, and other “classic” metal were out (temporarily), and more extreme/advanced subgenres like death metal, black metal, and prog metal were in.

So, what exactly happened to thrash?

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Generation Records is a fine establishment indeed, specializing in metal and punk music. Serious vinyl junkies are especially fond of it–for pure selection, it’s almost impossible to beat. Loaded with vintage posters and artwork, as well as its selection of new vinyl, CDs, and DVDs make its ground floor impressive enough upon walk-in.

But as serious fans know, including Miss Awesome who introduced me to the store, the “real” Generation Records is downstairs.

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As our media scrambles to figure out how to cram all the Super Bowl coverage it possibly can into two short weeks, I’m reminded of a discussion about metal and sports you won’t find on ESPN…

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If “Psalms For the Dead” is indeed the final Candlemass album (and I sure hope it isn’t), the group can look with fondness back on a career that showed them truly making the best of the time that was given to them.

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