Heady Metal

In 2005, longhairs got more progressive than ever

9) Old Man's Child, Vermin (Century Media): With sinister keys and one unholy incantation after the next, Vermin sounds like the score to a lost Vincent Price film. Essentially a one-man band helmed by Dimmu Borgir guitarist Galder, Old Man's Child adds some much-needed groove to the normally stiff and stentorian black-metal ranks with swingin' death-metal riffs. Black metal is intensely polarized between the more symphonic bands (Dimmu, Cradle of Filth) and their bare-bones, underground "kult" counterparts (Leviathan, Xasthur). But while OMC is firmly entrenched in the former camp, Vermin is gritty and gruff enough to appeal to both crowds as they salute Satan.

10) Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Bestial Machinery (Relapse): Agoraphobic Nosebleed's manic Ritalin-core is the byproduct of short attention spans and even shorter tempers. With pained shrieks delivered through clenched teeth, a drum machine laying down inhumanly fast blast-beats and thick 'n' chunky thrash riffing, the band is as scary and exhilarating as a near-death experience. The two-disc Bestial Machinery collection boasts 136 doses of bent and twisted grind with titles like "Death Takes a Shit" and "I Smell Bad," all culled from various seven-inches, split LPs and compilation tracks. Listen up all you big, bad metal dudes: If you can make it through this set in one sitting, you'll never have to prove your manhood ever again.

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