Bang Your Head Off

This is the pure original metal we're talking about — the Top 10 heavy-metal albums of 2006

9. Goatwhore, A Haunting Curse (Metal Blade): This New Orleans quartet somehow stays faithful to a traditional black metal style while adding ambient elements to its songs. Prime examples here are "Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult," which combines midtempo grooves with sadistic riffs, and "In the Narrow Confines of Defilement," which employs trippy bridges over a relentless drumbeat. Singers Sammy Duet and Louis Benjamin Falgoust II have toned down their usual high-pitch 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.

10. Cretin, Freakery (Relapse): This entire album consists of songs that 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 Tazers, et cetera. 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 the band forgoes precision altogether for a slurring, repetitive approach that sounds like you're listening from inside a nearby garbage can, but still somehow holds your interest. You'd think Cretin — with two alums from gore-grinders Exhumed and such gleefully graphic lyrics — would overplay the shock hand. However, with some wit up its sleeve, the band has devised a rousing work of comedy-horror.

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