Various Artists

Tales From the Crypt: Monsters of Metal

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Over the years, the horror genre has been quite popular among heavy metal fans. Many of the headbangers who are fascinated by Slayer and Ozzy Osbourne's interest in the occult have also found vampire and werewolf movies intriguing. So from a marketing standpoint, it makes perfect sense for Right Stuff to assemble a metal collection that features the infamous Cryptkeeper character from the Tales From the Crypt series. Tales From the Crypt: Monsters of Metal would have been a worthwhile compilation even without the dark humor of the Cryptkeeper, who is played by John Kassir and makes several appearances between songs during the course of the album. But his twisted comments are a nice bonus. This collection spans 1978 through 2000, and any knowledgeable headbanger will tell you that metal came in many different forms during that 22-year period. Melodic 1980s fantasy metal is a high priority on this disc -- Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell," Queensryche's "Eyes of a Stranger," Dio's "Don't Talk to Strangers," and Metal Church's "Beyond the Black" are fine examples of that approach. But the collection also gets into thrash with Megadeth's "Five Magics" and Anthrax's "Bordello of Blood" and also acknowledges 1990s alternative metal with Prong's "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" and Apartment 26's "Hallucinating." Styles that the album doesn't explore include grindcore, death metal, stoner rock, rap-metal, grunge, and pop-metal. The lack of commercial pop-metal is a good thing because lighthearted Bon Jovi, Heart, Vixen, and Warrant tunes wouldn't have gone as well with the Cryptkeeper's ghoulish comments. This release called for a lot of dark lyrics, which is something that a 1978 classic like Judas Priest's "Beyond the Realms of Death" has in common with the 1990s alternative metal tracks. Although Monsters of Metal isn't definitive and is far from the last word on metal, it offers an appealing sample of some of the various headbanger styles that existed from 1978 to 2000 -- and the Cryptkeeper's appearances are worth a few laughs if you have a taste for gallows humor.

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