The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

Load Previous
Naked City, 'Torture Garden' (1990)

91. Naked City, 'Torture Garden' (1990)

Iconoclastic jazz rebel John Zorn has always embraced any influence, no matter how extreme: In the Seventies and Eighties, he could often be found honking through a duck call, sowing dizzying chaos through "game"-based improvisation or channeling the turn-on-a-dime schizophrenia of Carl Stalling's Warner Bros. cartoon music. His most notorious project, Naked City, followed a love affair with the furious grindcore blastbeats spilling from England (score sketches had things like "NAPALM BLAST" scrawled on them) and the chaotic noise-punk gargling from Japan. For an album of 26 grind-length songs (longest track, 79 seconds), Zorn's pained sax, a crew of seasoned downtown jazzers and Boredoms vocalist Yamatsuka Eye screech, gurgle and spray through heavily composed, ADD freakouts. Zorn concocted a blend of extreme metal and out-jazz that was as rigorously structured as contemporary classical music, resulting in brutally disorienting, genre-defying bursts that can make Dillinger Escape Plan sound like disco. Describing the 52-second "Speed Freaks" to NPR, Zorn said, "I think there's something like 30 or 40 different styles of music in less than a minute. Each one is one bar long." Zorn's deranged, often perversely loony, switches of time and mood can still be felt across the high-minded, no-holds-barred slice-and-dice of avant-metal's composer class: Mike Patton, Kayo Dot, Yakuza and others. C.R.W.

Back to Top