Gym playlists. Man, some people out there really seem to not have the balls to delve into nastier shit than they’re accustomed to in order to really raise those adrenaline levels. I guess they don’t really want to train with fury after all. Pussies. This goes back to my first true post on here, titled: “…if I had my own gym”. I bitched that the so-called metalheads in my gym cried like little girls upon hearing my heavy-as-fuck Spotify playlist, which contained several tracks by Pantera (the super heavy shit from the mid-90’s), Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore and Meshuggah. The remarks came flying: “What is this crap?” “Yeah I know I’m a Stripping Young Lad but this sucks!”, “Do you have any Metallica??”
Sure, there are gyms out there that understand that Disturbed is NOT the definition of music that makes you want to fight someone of even deadlift the house. But they’re few and far between. Also, I’ve come across plenty of playlists on Bodybuilding.com and, while some have come close, I came across a lot of shit. When I think of real weightlifting music Bring Me The Horizon and Miss May I are clearly, badass bands to train to. Right? Right? Excuse me while I puke out my flank steak dinner and my creatine powder.
So here are my ten picks, in no particular order, for heavy-as-fuck, balls to the wall, rage fueling, gym music.
- Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us, 2016
I’m starting with this one because I need to get something off my chest real quick: I’m so fucking mad at these guys! Just as this album is getting more critical acclaim and attention than any other album sounding remotely like this the band, without warning, goes on hiatus?!?! What the fuck is this shit?? And why now??? Did Todd Jones decide he couldn’t handle the sudden popularity?? Did it go against his hardcore ethos?? Good thing I never went to This Is Hardcore in the beginning of the month because I would’ve been really pissed off!
Now that that’s out of the way…this is most likely my album of the year. In just over twenty-one minutes, this album is literally all killer no filler…at all. This is just straight up RAGE from start to finish. The production is rough, the vocals are ridden with the type of slobbering anger that says Todd Jones wants to hurt you so bad. This is true Meathead music. It’s totally amped up my workouts since it came out two months ago and will most likely continue to do so.
Key Tracks: You Will Never Be One Of Us, Savage Intolerance, Parasite, They Come Crawling Back
2. Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill, 1996
Yeah…this one…not Cowboys, not Vulgar…this one. Why? Listen to the opening seconds of the title track alone. That’s why. The Great Southern Trendkill is literally the most violent and intense Pantera release in their entire recording career. It just wreaks of every negative emotion you DIDN’T expect from Pantera. I guess it kind of, sort of, also helps that Phil Anselmo was secretly doing heroin during this time. That shit always brings down the mood! Featuring the late Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt on backing screams on certain tracks.
Key Tracks: The Great Southern Trendkill, War Nerve, Suicide Note Pt.2, Sandblasted Skin
3. Strapping Young Lad – Alien, 2005
Ever wanted to hear what a bipolar person sounds like when they stop taking their meds just to make their most intense album ever? Here’s your chance! But it ain’t pretty. Which is why I love it! Devin Townsend knew that Strapping’s 2003 comeback record was clearly stale, minus two tracks. So what did he do? He risked his mental health and let the crazies out to play on more time. I cannot listen to this record when I am driving because there were many times when this record came out that I went into massive road rage, probably came close to INTENTIONALLY running over people and driving into a wall.
Key tracks: Skeksis, Shitstorm, Love?, We Ride
4. Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor, 2005
Without question the heaviest album Nevermore ever did. I don’t know if it was because of the permanent addition of Steve Smyth as a second guitarist, but whatever it was, it worked. Usually known for a more diverse musical formula on previous albums, much of that is non-existent here. Like…compared to the albums before it or after…This Godless Endeavor is musically pitch black. I can totally see myself bench pressing to Jeff Loomis and Steve Smyth’s dueling leads on “Psalm Of Lydia”.
Key Tracks: Born, My Acid Words, Bittersweet Feast, Psalm Of Lydia
5 and 6. Crowbar – Crowbar, 1993/Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form, 2001
I decided I had to put in two albums here. Crowbar are the ultimate go-to band for intense weight training. It’s unforgivingly brutal, fast enough, slow enough, sludgy enough and add Kirk Windstein’s increasing raspy vocals on being down and out and all I want to do is eat lots of food and deadlift.
Speaking of food, on their Phil Anselmo-produced, self titled album is a song called “Existence Is Punishment”. If you ever watched Beavis and Butthead in the 90’s you probably saw them making fun of that song’s video, leaving Beavis to basically say that the band makes you want to eat and get fat. Oh..and that they’re always taking a dump. Also featured here the most badass cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” that you’ll ever here.
Key Tracks: “High Rate Extinction”, “Existence is Punishment”, “All I Had (I Gave)”, “No Quarter” (Led Zeppelin)
Probably the fattest, sludgiest and – believe it or not – most groundbreaking album or their career. Featuring future Goatwhore guitarist Sammy Duet, Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form truly lived up to it’s name. But not just because it’s heavy, or you might as well consider every heavy album to be groundbreaking. But because the songwriting here is so thought out. Everything was perfectly arranged. “The Lasting Dose”, the album’s most popular track – and the one where the moshpits always reach new heights – probably wouldn’t sound as amazing it does if it wasn’t well written. This one always has me banging my head while training – I could give two shits if anyone’s looking at me.
Key Tracks: The Lasting Does, To Build A Mountain, Failure To Delay Gratification, Empty Room
7. Behemoth – The Satanist, 2014
First off: Nergal is GOD. I knew I loved Behemoth they day I heard their 2004 album, Demigod, in my college radio station, where I found myself playing it to death for a while. It was the perfect mix of death metal with black metal themed lyrics, a new style the band were experimenting with.
But here, literally a decade later, the band is beginning to change. Oh yeah, the brutality of their previous albums is still here, but the music itself feels fresh, much looser, much more off the cuff. I remember hearing Nergal screaming with passion on the track “Messe Noire:: “I believe in SATAN!!!!”, me yelling to my car stereo with excitement “Oh yes you do!!!”.
Key Tracks: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Messe Noire, Amen, O Father, O Satan, O Sun
8. Meshuggah – obZen, 2008
This was band’s second album using eight string guitars, but after 2005’s weird, and heavily drum sampled Catch 33, the heaviest band to ever come out of Sweden were back with fury. Back when everyone and their mother was still on Myspace, I heard “Bleed” on the band’s music player…and nearly fell off my chair. The slow tempo, mixed with Tomas Haake’s double bass rolls, those bowel inducing, low tuned eight strings locked in just perfectly, Jens Kidman’s newly developed screaming…it was as if the band was reborn! Meshuggah were already one of my top five gym bands but obZen is a modern day Extreme Metal masterpiece.
Key Tracks: Combustion, Electric Red, Bleed, Dancers To A Discordant System
9. Morbid Angel – Domination, 1995
The one album that causes the most drama between fans. You either love Domination or the thought of it makes your stomach turn, and that even goes for the members of the band. Between the production style and the change in David Vincent’s lyrical themes and vocal approach, this is either the band’s most brutal album or the biggest pile of shit they ever recorded. Me? I fucking love it! It’s virtually unrelenting, minus “Hatework”, which I could do without. I personally think the clarity in production makes Trey and Erik’s guitars that much more brutal.
Key Tracks: Dominate, Where The Slime Lives, Eyes To See Ears To Hear, Dawn Of The Angry
10. Black Label Society – Live Alcohol Fueled Brutality + 5, 2001
Right off the bat, fuck the “plus 5” on the second disc, it doesn’t matter. I almost didn’t use this album but first off, Zakk Wylde is GOD. Second, this live album is endlessly loud, violent, and brutal. This was recorded on that infamous 2ooo tour were Zakk’s famous “grail” Les Paul was stolen, not to be seen again for a good three years. This is another album I’ll bang my head to and sing out loud in the gym regardless of who’s watching me. Fuck them, they’re all listening to the shitty dance music playing through the speakers or some watered down “rock” through their earbuds.
Key Tracks: Low Down, Lost My Better Half, Bored To Tears, No More Tears (Ozzy Cover)