Various Artists

MTV2 Headbangers Ball, Vol. 2

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Headbangers Ball, Vol. 2 continues the cross-promotion between MTV's resurrected loud rock show and the labels bringing the heaviest heat in the early aughts. The two-disc set (20 tracks per) is competitively priced the way a label compilation should be. But what's really great about Vol. 2 is how badass heavy it really is. While disc one is still more commercially oriented, no one is going to call Korn's "Right Now" or Lamb of God's "Laid to Rest" worthless and weak. There is a conscious effort on the part of Avenged Sevenfold ("Unholy Confessions"), Killswitch Engage ("Rose of Sharyn"), and Atreyu ("Right Side of the Bed") to meld traditional metal pacing (and raucous growling) to choruses that incorporate elements of hardcore, emo, and grunge. But unlike the first entry in this series, Vol. 2 doesn't include any of what's essentially become hard rock (Cold, for example, is absent this time around.) In this way, the set acknowledges heavy music's self-directed reclamation from maligning wide-screen elements. Other highlights of disc one include Superjoint Ritual, In Flames' "The Quiet Place" and a previously unreleased live version of Probot's "My Tortured Soul." The collection's second disc raises the real fury, led forth by Unearth ("The Great Dividers") and the totally awesome death/Euro metal hybridizing of God Forbid's "Antihero." Speaking of tradition, get a load of Canada's 3 Inches of Blood. If this comp had come out in 1984, "Deadly Sinners" might be mistaken for the B-side to Iron Maiden's "2 Minutes to Midnight." "Enemies of metal," defending heavy music's purity. "Your death is our reward!" Children of Bodom's "Needled 24/7" is just incredible, a galloping flurry of keyboards and guitars; Norway's Satyricon offers one of their more, well, accessible death's head numbers in "Fuel for Hatred"; and Black Dahlia Murder's "Contagion" makes it clear why the band publishes under the ASCAP copyright "Crushing Skulls Music." Disc two of Headbangers Ball, Vol. 2 is more or less insane throughout, but some other strong entries come from Dimmu Borgir, Blood Has Been Shed, and Trivium. Highly recommended.

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