If Matt Waller's successful AC/DC picks for sharks share anything in common, it's that they're thick-sounding anthems where the band aligns to one killer rhythm. The long-running Slough Feg gallops headlong into "Free Market Barbarian," a no-frills, mid-paced rocker. Guitarist Mike Scalzi earnestly sings about the mediocrity of the metal scene, but could just as well be lulling great whites closer to the stage.
No shark-finned playlist is complete without some death metal: Death is what these coastal terrors dish out daily, and for 25 years, Deceased has thrashed harder and uglier than most bands its age. Led by drummer and vocalist King Fowley, Surreal Overdose is a dynamic death-metal record that rages as much as it pulls back to soak in grim grandeur. "Dying in Analog," however, is the riff monster that pulses the tide, with its gang of vocalists growling, "LIVING! DYING!"
"The Only Way" is the kind of constant high-top adrenaline kick that inspires serious bro-raderie. Rhapsodic and unflinchingly '80s, Twisted Tower Dire makes no excuses for its Iron Maiden and Judas Priest worship. But it's hard to argue with the Virginia power-metal band's arena-sized chorus, sung by new vocalist Jonny Aune. Throw the sharks some beers (okay, don't, that's water pollution) and bro-down HARD.
Great whites gotta groove, dude. For one minute, they can circle to "Clay Pigeons" before the blues-kill riff triggers a wah-wah kiss-off. An underground metal legend like Scott "Wino" Weinrich (Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Shrinebuilder) needs another band like... well, hell, if Wino wants another band, I'm not going to stop him. In the scope of his lifer career, Premonition 13 is by far the most soulful. His solos slink and swim around a thudding slow-motion rhythm section that sounds like it was raised on Muscle Shoals.
Yes, the song is called "Whales." Ignore that minor issue for six and a half minutes. The instrumental metal quartet calls to mind the progressive fusion of Cynic, but if sharks with shades could drive down Highway 1 along the California coastline (okay, modern science, don't let that happen), Scale the Summit would be their soundtrack. Like much of The Collective, "Whales" unfolds gradually, expressive in its melody yet gripping once we reach the gracefully fist-raising (fin-flapping?) shredfests.