What’s this column about?
If you take a look at the recent alumni on the list of new (metal) classics, there aren’t too many surprises — relatively big name acts, a couple of newer bands, some obvious classics.
This week, we deviate from the norm.
There’s more than a fair share of metal acts that crank out one or two worthy albums and, so some reason, fade away. Pist.on, Second Calling, Another Society, Mindrot — bands that put out albums that just didn’t seem to catch on with the masses, overlooked for lack of promotion or simply because the group was underrated or overlooked.
Sometimes there’s a good reason for the disappearance: the band breaks up, loses its record deal, just wasn’t good enough. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of bad timing.
Bad timing was at least part of the reason that, in its heyday, Another Society just couldn’t seem to find a way to break out of its niche. A completely solid, if not stellar metal outfit from Mississippi. Formed in 1993, the band released “One Last Step” in ’95. The album was moderately successful, earning a handful of noteworthy compliments from the media. After a steady helping of touring it was back to the studio to record the tracks that would ultimately make up ’97s “Blood Wrong.”
Not all classics are huge hit makers. Some happen to slip right under the radar … like “Blood Wrong.” Does that give the album any less credit to its name? Even Kiss and Black Sabbath were overlooked when they first hit the scene. Am I saying Another Society would have ever reached those lofty heights (if the band continued to soldier on)? No. But that doesn’t make “Blood Wrong” any less of a new classic in my eyes.
Ã‚Â A New Classic
The band wastes little time on “Blood Wrong,” grinding off the starting line with the twisted, deliberate opening riffs of “Let Down.” The triple guitar threat (Jason Huckaby and Jim Koster along with lead vocalist Luke John) gives the band a riff-heavy yet thick, murky sound. The down-tuned guitars are kept high in the mix. Add to that the under-produced vocals (not in a bad way — they just aren’t cleaned up to any extent), heavy bass and drumming and you’re left with a heady sound you could cut with a knife (to steal an over used cliche).
The lyrics and choruses are as catchy as the (headbanging) music itself. “Let Down” devolves into a steamroller of bass riffs and drumming, building to the crescendo of the chorus. The band has a nice little way of putting together these driving bridges and verses that dissolve away to a hook-filled chorus of riffs and melody without it coming across as jarring or out of place. Every so often there’s a tempo shift toward the later half of the song, but it usually used to make room for a solo.
The album chugs along in much the same fashion without becoming boring in any way. “No Time for Speech” seethes with anger and the music compliments the cutting lyrics perfectly. “Little Gypsy” is the catchiest song on the album and was probably the only track to make it out to commercial radio (the band was heavily played in a handful of markets including its hometown and northern New England).
The band slows down a couple of times, but for the most part is settled and comfortable in riding out the dirges.
The Test of Time
Talk about a band ahead of its time. Another Society hit the scene at the worst time. The band was incorporating classic metal elements to its sound — think Prong, Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity, Life of Agony, early Pantera — all essentially contemporaries of the group. Yet, as Another Society was toiling on the metal circuit, bands like Coal Chamber, Korn and Rage Against the Machine were dominating the airwaves. Add to that the grunge scene was pretty much sputtering to a halt around the time of the “Blood Wrong” release, and you can see why the audience at large may have overlooked a band that took slight elements from the sound but didn’t fit into that category at all either.
Hardcore genre fans like bands across the boards, but the fans at large gravitated toward a more polished, hyper-produced sound at the time (these days it’s a sound blended with hardcore and melody). While your Crowbars and Corrosions had a built-in fan-base to weather the down-cycle, Another Society’s gritty brand of metal had a tough time catching on. If the band hit the scene today, there’s no question it would have garnered far more attention and been better embraced. Instead, after two solid outings, the group just simply faded away.
Until Next Time
“Blood Wrong” is a great metal album in the vein of Crowba’s “Lifesblood for the Downtrodden” or Corrosion of Conformity’s “Deliverance.” There’s the desire to lump the group’s sound in with, say, Phil Anselmo’s Down project, but while the murky feel is the same, Another Society avoid the slowed down, stoner feel (for lack of a better term) that groups like Down and Clutch revel in.
At the time, Another Society were little more than a blip on the radar. Hindsight can be an eye-opener sometimes: the group got lumped in with a plethora of other, more noteworthy (at the time) releases. Metallica and Pantera were still in full swing, for example. Almost 10 years late, and “Blood Wrong” stands just as strong as anything else, metal, coming from the era.
I would recommend each of the band’s albums to metal fans, but if you’re going to track them down, start with “Blood Wrong.” Web sites like cduniverse and Amazon don’t even carry the discs, but you could probably luck out in a used store (or on eBay) “¦ or you could probably find it to download if that’s what you do.
Probably more of a forgotten classic, add Another Society’s “Blood Wrong” to the growing list of new classics.
And that’s that. Until next time, take it easy. Stay tuned and enjoy the ride …