Blast Beats: My Top Ten AOTY List

Radical Larry's Top 10 AOTY List

Always late than never, I present my Top Ten AOTY list

Throughout this month I’ve seen end of the year lists that spanned from anywhere from 40-100. I’m going to bring you ten. Ten is a number I feel where I can give you an honest assessment of an album. I’ve listened to these top albums enough times where my opinion was backed by somewhat credible ears. If I tried to expand beyond that, I’d be full of shit. Even more than usual.

I’ll start off with my first five, give a brief synopsis, and then go a little deeper with my top five.

10. Tetrarch – Unstable

I love Nu-Metal. I grew up with it, and it was a major part of my entry into heavy music. Memes and insults aside, nu-metal is pretty much dead. Enter Tetrarch.

This album was straight out of 2003 in the absolute best way imaginable. If you criticize a metal band for being catchy, take a lap and get over yourself. Unstable has catchy hook after catchy hook that deserves to be experienced live. Fantastic songs and I’ll gladly included it in my Top Ten AOTY list.

9. Beartooth – Below

Caleb Shomo needs to be higher on everyone’s rock and metal hierarchy. Every riff, blast beat (shout out), drum fill, and bass line that you heard on this album was recorded by the man himself. That should matter.

It still features those anthemic jams which have become a Beartooth staple, but also has tracks that straight up chug and punch faces.

8. Hooded Menace – The Tritonus Bell

Death Doom stand up! 48 minutes of gloomy yet groovy Death Metal. If you don’t do anything else with your life, I suggest you at least turn on Blood Ornaments and head bob for the next nine minutes.

Those born before 1995, you may feel like you’re sitting in front of a PC playing Doom II. Anyone born after 1995, go download Doom II.

7. Cerebral Rot – Excretion of Morality

The year of death metal continues with the pure slimy evil joy that is Cerebral Rot. This is classic death metal lore from the album work, to the exhausting song titles. But its money maker resides in the perfectly sinister riffs.

6. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Honestly, this album is likely number one in any other Top Ten AOTY list. It’s just that impressive from all fronts. Cannibal Corpse is over 30 years into their career and the formula isn’t changing. Adding Erik Rutan to the lineup might have added another 10-75 years for all we know.

Radical Larry’s Top 5 AOTY List

5. Enforced – Kill Grid

I wake up every day thankful that Enforced exists. Make no mistake, 2021 was the year of death metal. But Enforced reminded us there will always be a spot at the dinner table for great thrash. In my perfect world, Kill Grid is the official launching point for the resurgence of thrash. It’s fast, it chugs, and it’s packed full of great riffs.

Knox Colby’s voice blends perfectly with the outstanding attack of Alex Bishop on drums and axe duo of Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan.

I loved this album so much that I started making my own stupid memes for it and making Enforced themselves suffer.

If thrash is to make a comeback, as it should, enforced will be front and center.

4. Whitechapel – Kin

If I could sum up this album in one word, it would easily be “emotional”. A Bloodsoaked Symphony, the premier song of 2021, illustrates this point better than any other. Phil Bozeman also let us know his cleans are just as good as his harsh vocals, giving their catalog an impressive range.

It’s not fair to compare to it to their incredible 2019 release The Valley, but Kin is a great example of trying a few different things for the better. It reminded me in a way of Parkway Drive’s Reverence.

3. Rivers of Nihil – The Work

Rivers of Nihil is currently orchestrating the sneakiest takeover in metal. 2018’s Where Owls Know My Name was a haymaker, and boy did it knock you down.

You get back up, the ref is still counting, grabs your hands, and asks if you’re okay. Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. More sir.

“MY BODY, MY PRIDE, ONCE RADIANT INSIDE”

Boom, you’re licking the canvas again.

The Work wrapped up a four album run, each dealing with the theme of a specific season. In this case: Winter. As a progressive metal unit, Rivers of Nihil are firmly established with a powerful yet mystic sound. The Work isn’t a chugging riff celebration or the standard metal blueprint. 

It’s a powerful and enigmatic, drawing metalheads from all walks of life that come together and say “This shit slaps”.

2. Carcass – Torn Arteries

Pure stanky grooves.

This album is AWESOME. Let’s take a moment to appreciate when heavy metal titans are still churning out great music 35 years into their careers. Torn Arteries is stank face music. It’s “look at your buddy, squint your eyes, and make a scowl” music. It’s music you play for that hard rock friend that “doesn’t like screamo”. Then Dance Of Ixtab gets into gear and he goes “Hey what’s this?”

Torn Arteries is the album that reminds us that with nasty riffs, anything is possible.

It’s a unique blend of accessible melodies and riffs with harsh and piercing vocals, which frankly, metal could use so much more of. It was the year of Death Metal in 2021, and Torn Arteries was the exclamation point

1. Slaughter to Prevail – Kostolom

For my money (mine) no band had captured our attention in the way that Slaughter to Prevail had when Demolisher arrived. My first taste came from listening to LiquidMetal on Sirius XM. On-air DJ Shawn the Butcher intro’d the song by warning us that the ground was going to open up after about a minute and a half, and Satan was going to emerge.

He was right and it was awesome. Alex the Terrible’s malevolent gutturals took the throne for the most prominent contemporary voice in metal (only to be later challenged by Will Ramos of Lorna Shore). Several months later, Baba Yaga was released as a second single and continued their trend of striving for the heaviest breakdowns in metal.

First impressions after those two singles, I was expecting the album to be a meat and potatoes “nobody is heavier than us because you can’t sound like us” kind of release.

After we had time to fully digest the album, somebody on Twitter had made what I thought at the time was the hottest of takes — Kostolom was a nu-metal album.  However, with tracks like “Your Only” and “Agony”, it was easy to see the rationale.  You could make the comparisons to Iowa-era Slipknot. 

This album did the rare feat of living up to the hype and provides a great transition for somebody looking to dip their toe in the heaviest of realms of music.

An easy number one for my Top Ten AOTY list.

To hear from Chris and Zach with their Top Ten AOTY list, I highly encourage you to check out the podcast as well as our other shows we provide

Detroit Tigers: Javier Baez to sign six-year $140 million contract

The Detroit Tigers have agreed to sign free-agent shortstop Javier Baez to a six-year $140 million contract.

The soon-to-be 29-year-old was a key cog in the Chicago Cubs lineup that bucked a 108-year championship drought. He also finished second in the 2018 MVP race after posting career highs in nearly every offensive category.

Throughout his eight-year career, Baez has established himself as an elite and flashy defender. In 2020, his stellar play led to the Gold Glove award. Tigers fans can also expect Baez to continue wreaking havoc for the opponent on the bases.

He’s also, however, still a free swinger. In 2021, Baez led major league baseball in strikeouts while also ranking 3rd in strikeout percentage. The Cubs sent their star infielder to the New York Mets just before the July trade deadline, where a new approach led to a reduced strikeout rate and increased walk rate.

Javier Baez signed a six-year $140 million contract with the Detroit Tigers
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Tigers fans had been loudly clamoring for Carlos Correa since the 2021 regular season. Yet, this move should not come as a surprise. General Manager Al Avila and owner Chris Illitch have already been on record saying they do not wish to pay a single player $300 million, and they didn’t.

At $140 million, the Tigers are still in the market for another bat or arm. Utility extraordinaire Chris Taylor is still available, in addition to left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber.

On a larger budget, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Nick Castellanos wouldn’t be the most unrealistic moves in the world for a team that once boasted Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander all making over $20 million annually.

This move sets the Tigers up to begin their next championship window. Young phenoms Riley Green and Spencer Torkelson are expected to be lineup mainstays for the 2022 campaign. Pitchers Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize will also be off of any pitching restrictions.

The current CBA is set to expire Wednesday, which will likely freeze any further free agency deals for the time being.

Detroit Tigers: Tigers Sign Eduardo Rodriguez

The Detroit Tigers have signed left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

The former Red Sox pitcher inked a five-year deal with a player option after the second year. With incentives, the deal is valued at up to $80 million.

Rodriguez has been a model of consistency in his big league career, coming off another 30+ start season. In 2019, he finished sixth in the Cy Young award race, where he posted a career-high 203.1 innings.

As a result, the Red Sox will receive a compensatory draft pick, in addition, the Tigers will surrender their third-highest draft pick in 2022.

Where does he fit in the Tigers rotation?

Even with the innings limits removed from Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize, Eduardo Rodriguez will likely find himself anywhere between 2-4 in AJ Hinch’s rotation.

His repertoire includes a fastball that will sit around 93 mph, which he compliments well with a changeup around 85 mph, a cutter at 88 mph, and a slider at 82 mph.

Rodriguez is a strikeout savant who is coming off posting his career-best strikeout rate (10.6 per nine innings) while also among the league’s best at limiting hard contact. In addition, he also had the lowest walk rate of his career (2.7 per nine innings).

The lefty is poised to be a veteran presence in the young Tigers rotation despite being only 28 years old. He and Matthew Boyd are the most tenured starters on the Tigers…for now cough Justin Verlander.

This move is the Tigers’ second of the offseason after they traded for two-time Gold Glove
catcher Tucker Barnhart on November 3rd.

Tigers’ GM Al Avila has previously identified the strong need at improving the starting pitching this offseason, even placing it as a top priority.

Despite Tigers fans’ strong desire to hand a blank check to Carlos Correa before any other moves are made, this should come as no surprise after witnessing the Tigers select eight pitchers in the 2021 MLB Draft.

BREAKING: Detroit Tigers Acquire Tucker Barnhart

Credit: Ross D Franklin AP

The offseason is underway, and the Detroit Tigers have struck first as they acquired Tucker Barnhart. The Detroit Tigers have sent minor league prospect Nick Quintana to the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange for two-time Gold Glove award-winning catcher Tucker Barnhart.

The Tigers made the move in part due to Jake Rogers scheduled to miss the entire 2022 season. He will recover from Tommy John surgery.

Barnhart, an exceptional pitch framer, joins the Tigers after posting a 49.4% strike rate (Percentage of non-swinging strikes on the edge of the zone that were called ie: borderline) in 2021.

For comparison, Greyson Greiner led the Tigers with 48.5%. Notable higher than Eric Haase (44.7%), Jake Rogers (44.4%), and Dustin Garneau (43.3%).

Last season also saw Barnhart’s career-best in Runs from Extra Strikes, which converts strikes to runs saved, with a +5. No other catcher on the Tigers roster posted anything as a net positive.

Offensively, Barnhart won’t be a focal point of the order but will by no means be a hole in the lineup. At his position, his slash line of .247/.317/.368 as well as his 21 doubles and 100 strikeouts put him at league average.

What did exactly did the Tigers send away?

Nick Quintana was the Tigers second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Quintana’s best-projected trait at the big league level was his power tool, notably to the pull side. Thus far in his pro career, Quintana found himself susceptible to high velocity and has found himself struggling to make contact.

It’s still very early in his pro career, but if the Tigers saw doubts in his development, they received an excellent return in getting a formidable backstop in Barnhart.

Trading for Barnhart is the first move of hopefully many for the Tigers, in what is going to be their most highly anticipated offseason in recent memory. Fans have been clamoring for Carlos Correa to reunite with his old manager, as well as bringing home beloved starter Justin Verlander.

Detroit Tigers: Four Tigers Named All-Rookie Second Team

Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize
Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The driving force of what made the 2021 season so refreshing was the explosion of a young rookie core. Furthermore, it came from a balanced group of pitchers and position players, giving the Detroit Tigers potentially a look at a well-rounded and talented future. As a result of their breakout seasons, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Akil Baddoo, and Eric Haase were selected to MLB Pipeline’s 2021 All-Rookie Second Team.

Casey Mize

Mize, the former number one overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, should be no surprise to Tigers fans, as his blue-chip status was confirmed in his first full season in the bigs, holding opposing hitters to a .234 average in 150 innings pitched.

He also notched 118 strikeouts, including punching out seven in five innings against the Yankees on May 28th. Next season Mize will be off his rookie innings limit and contend to surpass 200 k’s in a season.

Tarik Skubal

Left-handed strikeout artist Tarik Skubal joined Mize from the 2018 draft class to provide effectiveness the Tigers have not seen from the left side since Dontrelle Willis and the only good five innings he ever pitched in Detroit. Skubal, also on an innings limit, racked up 164 strikeouts in 149.1 innings pitched. His mid 90’s fastball and sharp breaking ball were dominant all season, including an eleven punchout performance in only five innings against the White Sox on June 5th.

Next season with the training wheels off, expect to see the young Mize and Skubal make a massive leap forward in their continued development.

Akil Baddoo

The next player receiving all-rookie acknowledgment was arguably the most exciting player on the Detroit Tigers, Akil Baddoo. Baddoo, a rule 5 draft steal from the Twins, captured the attention of Tigers fans in his very first major league plate appearance when he homered to left field on the very first pitch he saw.

The five-tool outfielder continued his electric momentum the entire season, providing a spark with his bat, legs, and defense. In only 124 games, Baddoo clubbed 13 home runs with seven triples, second-best in all of baseball. He also swiped 18 bags, providing another asset that has been unfamiliar in Detroit.

Detroit’s outfield is projected (by me) to be the strength of both the Tigers’ defense and offense, and Baddoo is a major reason why.

Eric Haase

Rounding out the Tigers All-Rookie squad is hometown hero and catcher Eric Haase. An injured Jake Rogers provided the opportunity for the 28-year-old Dearborn native to finally showcase his major league power. Haase had been with the Cleveland Indians big league club since 2018 but had never appeared in more than ten games. Ninety-eight games with the Tigers, however, and the catcher slugged 22 home runs, including a game-tying grand slam against the Twins on July 27th.

The catcher position has been a revolving door for the Tigers for the past several seasons. Detroit has refrained from a long-term commitment to anyone not named Alex Avila. Jake Rogers’ health — and his mustache — will remain a concern for the foreseeable future, but the Tigers are in a great position otherwise with Eric Haase behind the plate.

MLB Pipeline aside, the argument could be made for several of these rookies to receive Rookie of the Year votes. Had the Tigers been a contender, they certainly would have. However, without the contributions of this core, fans would have been counting down the days to Lions training camp in June.

Al, you have assembled a great unit of young and talented players. Break out the checkbook and don’t be stingy.