Stay Heavy Book Club (A Teaser)

Here at Stay Heavy, I’m not just about listening to metal and thinking about baseball; I also read a lot (often about metal and/or baseball).  I’m currently re-reading Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore by Albert Mudrian (Editor-in-Chief of Decibel magazine).  I read it like 2-3 years ago, and I have about 50 pages left on this go ’round, so I don’t want to really delve into it just yet, but I did just read something that resonated with me, and which I’d like to share.

Morbid Angel bassist/vocalist David Vincent, in discussing why he left the band in 1996, said “What I just realized was that everybody was doing this now.  We’d go out on tour, and there would be four bands, all of them being death metal bands, all of them having blast beats and double bass and raging vocals, and people were numb.  After four hours of listening to this stuff, you can only take so much.  There’s nowhere else you can go from here.”  Mudrian then adds, “That notion is central to the genre’s demise.  When bands like Napalm Death started playing as fast and heavy as possible, it was seriously intended to be the end of the line in terms of extremity.  Realistically, you can’t progress and expand on something that was meant to be a conclusion.”

(I’d like to interject here and say that David Vincent is not a person whose opinions should be trusted blindly.  For proof of this, see Morbid Angel’s most recent offering, 2011’s Ilud Divinum Insanus, which also serves as a possible exception that proves Vincent’s own rule – there is somewhere you can go from “there”, and that somewhere is not necessarily such a good place.)

Anyhoo, I intend to expound on these thoughts here soon, but unfortunately, I do not have time at the moment.  I do, however, have a new computer, so I can keep this blog updated with much less likelihood of my brain exploding while I wait for YouTube videos to load, only to have them play like a skipping CD, and that is a good, good thing.  It’ll hopefully make this whole journey a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved.  Until next time, I’ma leave you with a Napalm Death song that I often have stuck in my head.  It’s called “Thanks For Nothing”, and it can be found on the band’s ninth studio album, Enemy of the Music Business (2000).  It was inspired by some of the events described in Choosing Death, and it fucking rules.  Until next time, friends, stay heavy.

Thrash Thursday: The Eternal Nightmare of Kroger

I was making some brownies earlier tonight, and discovered quite last minute that I was out of peanut butter chips.  I said some swear words, covered the brownie batter with plastic wrap, said some more swear words, put on my coat, and got in the car to drive to Kroger, which is the nearest store to my house.  The entire trip should have taken no more than 15 minutes.

When I got to the store, the parking lot was a madhouse.  After locating a parking space, I walked inside to find the entire floral department (which I had to walk through in order to get where I needed to go) abuzz with dumbasses standing around with bouquets in their hands, none of them knowing what to do next.  I finally made my way through them, got to the “Baking Needs” aisle, and on the other side of two unattended shopping carts (the owners were standing about 5 feet away, yammering on about some kind of inane bullshit), I found an empty  Reese’s® Peanut Butter Chips display box.  I began to scan the shelves frantically, looking for an inferior store brand peanut butter chip, but to no avail (one more reason why Marsh is the superior large grocery chain in southern Indiana).  As I began to leave the aisle, one of the women whose cart was in my way issued a half-assed apology to me.

I decided to check the natural foods section and found a bag of organic peanut butter chips for 9 FUCKING DOLLARS.  I said “Fuck this!” and decided to grab a bag of Reese’s® Pieces, along with a couple of other things I needed, and get the hell out of there.  I had to weave my way around and through more dumbasses standing around in front of the Valentine’s Day displays, got my three items, and proceeded to the self-checkout, because with very few exceptions, the Kroger stores in this town are not known for having friendly cashiers.  I scanned my three items, pressed the button to proceed to the payment screen, and then the screen informed me that the attendant had been notified to assist me (for absolutely no apparent reason, I might add – all three items were scanned and bagged, I had no coupons, and I was paying with my debit card).

A full 15 seconds passed while I shot eye-daggers of hatred into the back of the attendant’s head, then she looked up at her computer screen, pressed a button, and my transaction was finished.  I zipped through a final run of morons, made it out the door and back to the car, pulled out of my spot, and was almost backed into by some jackass who could not manage to park their giant goddamn SUV.  Then I got stuck behind another jackass, who was waiting in the main thoroughfare (without a turn signal, of course) while some dipshit took forever to back their car out of their parking space, so the no-turn-signal-using jackass could park as close to the door as possible (to go and stand around the Valentine’s Day displays like a dumbass, I’m sure).

What’s the point of all this, you ask?  The point is that I listened to Vio-Lence on the way home, and it made me feel better.

Happy Thrash Thursday.

Stay heavy.

Mixtape Monday, Volume 5: Under the Covers, Part 1

Hello!  And welcome to this week’s installment of Mixtape Monday, wherein I make a mix with a theme.  This weeks theme, as you might have guessed from the title, is cover songs.  There are a fuckload of metal covers out there, so this is definitely going to be a reocurring theme within this recurring series.  Hell, I could do at least three Mondays worth of mixtapes with nothing but Black Sabbath covers.  Enjoy!

1. “Celebrated Summer” by Anthrax (originally recorded by Hüsker Dü) (from Stomp 442 bonus tracks – 1995) – Two of Anthrax’s best-known songs are covers (“Anti-Social” and “Got the Time”), and those are both great covers of great songs (the band also recorded a version of “Anti-Social” with lyrics in French, and it’s every bit as good).  The thing about Anthrax covering songs  (and they’ve recorded a lot of covers) is that they often don’t really add much to the song, i.e., they tend to not make it their own.  Their covers  are usually just played straight, but sometimes I don’t mind that.  This song was recorded during the sessions for their pretty much universally-maligned album Stomp 442.  It’s the second album with John Bush on vocals, and the first without lead guitarist Dan Spitz, and it definitely explored a new direction for the band.  I can honestly understand why long-time Anthrax fans don’t like it, but I fucking love it.  Bush’s voice has a depth and power that really works well with the songs on Stomp 442, and it works just as well on this cover, which happens to be one of my favorite Hüsker Dü songs (the original version is available on 1986’s New Day Rising).  As and added bonus, bassist Frank Bello’s backing vocals are crystal clear on this song, and his voice is fantastic.

2. “Astronomy Domine” – Voivod (originally recorded by Pink Floyd) (from Nothingface – 1989) – This reminds me that I need to get around to writing more about Voivod, because goddamn are they ever amazing.  This song served as the introduction to Voivod for many people, as the video received moderately heavy rotation on MTV at the time.  I chose the version presented here over the Official Video Version, because the Official Video Version truncates the guitar solo, and the solo played here by the late, great Denis “Piggy” D’Amour (RIP) is without question one of my favorite guitar solos of all time (second only to Adrian Smith’s emontion-drenched solo in “Wasted Years” by Iron Fucking Maiden).  The original version of this song is available on Pink Floyd’s first album, 1967’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which is also a beautiful piece of work.

3. “Remember Tomorrow” by Crowbar (originally recorded by Iron Maiden) (from Slave to the Power: The Iron Maiden Tribute – 2000) – I just found out this cover existed last week, and I’m glad I did.  It’s really fucking great, but then how could be anything but?  I’m not very good at mathematics, but even I can work out that if Crowbar = great band, and “Remember Tomorrow” = great song, therefore Crowbar covering “Remember Tomorrow” = really fucking great.  If you need more empirical evidence, note that Crowbar also did a cover of Gary Wright’s “Dreamweaver”, which is not necessarily a great song, but they made it fucking great as well.  The original version of this song is available on Iron Maiden’s self-titled 1980 debut, which you should already own.

4. “Media Blitz” by Brutal Truth (originally recorded by The Germs) (from Need to Control – 1994) – Brutal Truth has gotten some mention here previously, and will continue to be mentioned, because they are an amazing band.  This explosive version of “Media Blitz” features guest vocals from Mike IX Williams of New Orleans sludge metal kings Eyehategod.  His parts are the parts where you can almost understand the lyrics.  The original version of this song is available on 1979’s (GI), which is the only full-length album The Germs ever released, because Darby Crash.

5. “Nobody’s Fault” by Testament (originally recorded by Aerosmith) (from The New Order – 1988) – This cover is so fucking good.  The original version is available on Aerosmith’s 1976 album Rocks, which is probably Aerosmith’s heaviest album, and is a contender for best Aerosmith album (the only other real contender, in my opinion, is 1975’s Toys in the Attic).  I’m not knocking Aerosmith, but they sure did turn to shit.

6. “Symptom of the Universe” by Helmet (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) (from The Jerky Boys soundtrack – 1995) – You might be able to argue that Helmet is not a metal band, but you can’t deny that Helmet is heavy (and this blog is, after all, called Stay Heavy, not Stay Metal)  Their first four albums, in particular, are genital-rattling heavy.  I finally got a chance to see Helmet live in 2005, when they were touring for their “comeback” album Size Matters.  That tour was notable for this long-time Anthrax fan because Frank Bello left Anthrax briefly in 2004-2005 to join Helmet, and I got to see Helmet live with Frank Fucking Bello on bass.  Granted, I would still love a chance to hear original bassist Henry Bogdan play Helmet songs live, but if it had to be anybody other than Bogdan, I’m glad it was Bello.  John Tempesta was also playing drums with Helmet at the time, and that was cool too, but really you could go see just about any metal or hard rock band on any given night, and there’s a decent chance that John Tempesta would be playing drums with them.  But I kid John Tempesta!  The original version of this song can be found on Black Sabbath’s excellent 1975 album Sabotage.

7. “The Small Hours” by Metallica (originally recorded by Holocaust) (from The 5.98 EP- Garage Days Re-Revisited – 1987) – The 5.98 EP… is notable in the Metallica discography for two reasons: firstly, it was the bands first release with Jason Newsted on bass, and second, it’s the most audible that James and Lars ever allowed Newsted’s bass to get on a Metallica recording.  It’s one of my favorite Metallica albums, and it was tough to choose one song from it, but “The Small Hours” is the one that I seem to come back to the most since the release of this tremendous piece of work.  I think it’s the plodding, trudging groove – I’m a sucker for that.  I know pretty much nothing about Holocaust, other than they rode out of England on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), and apparently this song originally appeared on an album called Live (Hot Curry & Wine), which was released in 1983, and which has an exceptionally odd title.  Note: today is the mighty Cliff Burton’s birthday (RIP), and I considered replacing this song with one of their covers with Cliff on bass (i.e., “Am I Evil?” or “Blitzkrieg”), but those songs have gotten a lot more play than this one.  I don’t think Cliff would disapprove.

8. “Anarchy In The U.K.” by Megadeth (originally recorded by the Sex Pistols) (from So Far, So Good… So What! – 1988) – Dave Mustaine won’t play this song live anymore, because as a born-again Christian, he’s afraid to sing the opening line (“I am an antichrist…”)  That’s a true story.  This was recorded when Dave knew how to properly channel his anger and aggression.  I placed it after Metallica in this mix just to piss Dave Mustaine off.  The original version is available on the Sex Pistols’ sole album, 1977’s Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.  Personally, I think you can skip the original, but then I think the Sex Pistols are a load of bullshit, important only for the influence, not unlike Kiss.

9. “Lord Of This World” by Corrosion Of Conformity (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) (from Nativity In Black: A Tribute To Black Sabbath – 1994) – This is not my favorite version of Corrosion of Conformity (that version would be the one that recorded the stellar 1991 album Blind, the only C.O.C. album with Karl Agell on vocals), but they sure played the fuck out of this Sabbath song.  If you can get your hands on a copy of Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath, I recommend it.  It’s not 100% gold, but it’s pretty great for a tribute album.  The original version of this song can be found on Sabbath’s 1973 jam Master of Reality.

10. “Doctor Doctor” by Iron Maiden (originally recorded by U.F.O.) (from “Lord of the Flies” single – 1996) – This song is on the B-side of the second single (“Lord of the Flies”) from 1995’s The X Factor, which was the band’s first release with Blaze Bayley on vocals.  I will definitely be delving into the Blaze Bayley era of Iron Maiden sometime in the near future, because it deserves a delving, but for now, just enjoy this badass jam.  Fun fact: when Iron Maiden performs live, the original version of this song (from U.F.O.’s 1974 album Phenomenon) plays through the house PA before the band starts their show and blows your head clean off with heavy fucking metal.

11. “Dissident Aggressor” by Slayer (originally recorded by Judas Priest) (from South Of Heaven – 1988) – It’s Fuckin Slayer covering Judas Fucking Priest.  It fits in so perfectly in its position on South of Heaven that for several years I didn’t even realize it was a cover.  The original can be found on Priest’s third album, 1977’s Sin After Sin.

12. “Summer Breeze” by Type O Negative (originally recorded by Seals & Crofts) (from Bloody Kisses – 1993) – Type O Negative was a band ahead of its time, and the loss of vocalist/bassist Peter Steele in 2010 (RIP) was all the more tragic in that Steele had essentially started a new chapter in the story of this phenomenal band.  Bloody Kisses was the first Type O album I heard, and I only bought it because I knew they were opening for Pantera on the Far Beyon Driven tour, and I wanted to familiarize myself with them a bit.  I’m definitely glad I did, and I’m also glad I got a chance to see them live, even if my age and my upbringing conspired to make me unable to appreciate their live show to the fullest possible extent.  There are so many great songs on that album, and the band did a lot of other awesome covers (including a live version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” which is more than twice as long as the original), but this song holds a special place in my memory, taking me back to a very specific time and place in the neighborhood where I grew up.  It’s clearly tongue in cheek, as a lot of Type O Negative songs are, but it’s still a little slice of perfection.  The original is much less enjoyable, but can be found on Seals & Crofts’ 1972 album Summer Breeze, if you feel the need to check it out.  A more enjoyable way to hear it is to watch the Freaks and Geeks  episode “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers”.  That way everybody wins.

13. “Oven” by Pig Destroyer (originally recorded by Melvins) (from Explosions in Ward 6 – 1998) – Pig Destroyer formed in the Washington, DC area in 1997 in order to bring back (in the words of guitarist Scott Hull)  what “grindcore should be”.  They do a pretty sweet job.  They’re worth checking out, and they keep evolving into an increasingly ferocious motherfucker of a beast of a band, but as this song shows, they were already pretty goddamn ferocious at the time of their debut.  As you listen to this song, keep this in mind: when this was recorded, Pig Destoryer consisted of a vocalist, a guitarist, and a drummer.  THERE IS NO BASS ON THIS SONG.  That’s some real shit, right there.  The original version, which is also fucking rad (as it is a Melvins song), can be found on 1989’s Ozma, which features no hits, but which does feature covers of The Cars, Mudhoney, and Kiss.  Note: I believe that Kiss covers are always superior to Kiss originals, but that’s a topic for another time.

14. “Who Sets the Rules” by Napalm Death (originally recorded by Sick of It All) (from Our Impact Will Be Felt: A Tribute to Sick of It All (2007) – Sick of It All is the first hardcore band I ever heard, and Napalm Death is the first grindcore band I ever heard, so this marriage of ‘cores makes my nether regions all tingly.  The original version, which you should definitely seek out, can be found on 1994’s Scratch the Surface, which is the first Sick of It All album I ever heard (and which I still think is their best album).  “Fly by night – scenester! Fly by night – hipster!”  God damn that’s some good shit!

15. “Planet Caravan” by Pantera (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) (from Far Beyond Driven – 1994) – Pantera often gets dismissed by metal purists (by which I mean snobby assholes), who derisively throw terms like “jock metal” and “redneck metal” at the band, all the while failing to see the important role that Pantera played in keeping heavy metal alive in the vehemently anti-metal 1990s.  Far Beyond Driven debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in the age of Snoop Dogg and Pearl Jam, for fuck’s sake!  To be clear: I realize that metal was never actually near death in the 90s, as the underground was very much alive with death metal, grindcore, and black metal, to name but a few subgenres, but to a lot of people, Pantera was the face of metal in the 90s, and for many more, Pantera was their gateway into heavy metal, and for that reason, if for no other, they should be more widely respected.  Even their first three albums, when they were a full-on Kiss-inspired glam metal band, are good for what they are (I don’t listen to them, but the songs are well-performed), and Phil Anselmo’s debut with the band, 1988’s Power Metal, was heavier, and hinted at what was to come (nevermind the cringe-worthy album closer “P*S*T*88” – I, for one, like to pretend that song never happened).  Everything after that is fucking legendary.  Long live Pantera, and RIP Dimebag Darrell.

As for this song, it’s fucking dope.  I heard this version of this amazingly trippy song about a year before I heard Black Sabbath’s original, from their 1970 masterpiece Paranoid.  Both versions are awe-inspiring.

That’s all for this week’s edition of Mixtape Monday.  Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for more heaviness, and while you stay tuned, be sure to stay heavy.

Wrapped Up in His Misery, Forgetting How to Sing

I don’t have time to write much of anything today, but I wanted to share this song, which may very well be my favorite D.R.I. song (and that’s no small feat).  It’s the last song off their phenomenal 1988 album 4 of a Kind.  The lyrics are pretty amazing, which is one of the reasons I love the song so much, so I’ma share them as well.  Without further ado…

“Man Unkind”

(written by Kurt Brecht and Spike Cassidy)

Sadder than any song I’ve sung
Is growing old or dying young
This earth is a grave, round and green
A tomb of sorrow which I’ve seen

A massive field we wander through
Great sky above vast and blue
Death may come in a day or two
Whether or not I’m false or true

Man, without an answer
Like a bird with broken wing
Wrapped up in his misery
Forgetting how to sing [repeat]

Straight from the stretched out womb of sin
The horrid fire bombs will fall
Here is hope for priests and preachers
Here is heresy for all

So, man unkind will perish
In a final fiery blaze
Or suffocate himself slowly
In his smoggy yellow haze

[Chorus x4]

The sun so sore from marching
Towards that receding west
Where pity no longer governs
With wisdom as his guest

Will rise somewhere south of east
Our sun will rise in morning
Wishing it could quench with tears
The fields and skies all burning

[Chorus x2]

Further evidence…

That’s all for today.  Until next time, remember to always stay heavy!

Thrash Thursday, Official Volume 1: The Final Testament

Happy Thrash Thursday!  This is the first time since starting this blog that I’ve had both the time and the motivation to put together a Thrash Thursday post on Thrash Thursday, and I’m pretty stoked about that.  Hopefully this will be the beginning of an amazing run.  Or at the very least, y’know…a run.  Onward!

If you need to catch up on the story of Testament, as told by me, you can do that here and here.  You’ll note (or perhaps recall) that this story began as a tangent from a related topic, a common occurrence for me.  The original topic will be revisited here eventually.  In case you’re in a hurry, or simply can’t be bothered to click links, here are the essentials you need in order to be caught up for The Final Testament:

1. Testament formed in Oakland, California in 1983 as Legacy, featuring Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals.  Souza left the band in 1986 to join Exodus, and Chuck Billy took his place.  The band changed their name to Testament that same year.

2. Testament has had several line-up changes over the years – the only original member from the 1983 formation is rhythm guitarist Eric Peterson.  Peterson and Billy are the only two members who have remained in the band since 1986.

3. Testament’s sound has evolved from their pure, godly thrash metal origins, experimenting with death metal sounds, and, like most of the 1980s thrash bands, flirting with groove metal a bit as well.

4. Testament is my #1 All-Time Favorite Thrash Metal Band (and #2 All-Time Favorite Band, after the almighty Iron Maiden).

With that, The Final Testament begins…

After the release of the ultra-heavy The Gathering in 1999, veteran guitarist James Murphy was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The tumor was successfully removed, but Murphy has no memories from the recording of The Gathering.  He continues to write, record, and produce music today.  In 2001, vocalist Chuck Billy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called germ cell seminoma.  This type of cancer usually afflicts the testicular region, but Billy’s cancer was even more rare, as it grew his chest.  A fundraiser called “Thrash of the Titans” was held to raise money for Billy’s treatment.  Many Bay Area Thrash Metal bands (as well as some non-Bay Area Thrash Metal bands) performed at the event, some – such as Death Angel and Vio-Lence – for the first time in years.

ThrashOfTheTitansPosterSeriously, look at that fucking lineup!

A Legacy reunion was part of the lineup as well, featuring Zetro on vocals, and former Legacy/Testament lead guitarist Alex Skolnick, who left the band in 1993.  Original bass player Greg Christian also joined the band onstage, though bass duties were largely handled by fretless bass wizard/then-current Testament member Steve DiGiorgio.  In 2001, Testament went into the studio and recorded First Strike Still Deadly, a collection of re-recordings of songs from the band’s first two albums.  The lineup for this album was Chuck Billy on vocals (Souza recorded vocals on the last two songs), Eric Peterson on rhythm guitar, Alex Skolnick on lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio on bass guitar, and John Tempesta on drums.

“Disciples of the Watch” from First Strike Still Deadly (2001) (originally appeared on 1988’s The New Order)

By 2003, Chuck Billy was cancer-free, and the band began performing live again, with a different lineup again.  Aside from Billy, Peterson, and DiGiorgio, the names don’t matter much.  Here’s what does matter: in 2005, Testament announced a brief European tour called “The 10 Days of May”.  The lineup for this tour was Billy and Peterson in the usual positions, along with the return of Alex Skolnick and Greg Christian.  Drumming duties were split between John Tempesta and original drummer Louie Clemente.  The tour was a smashing success, and the band went on to tour more of Europe, Japan, and the United States with the same lineup.  An outstanding DVD (Live in London)  was released in 2005, after the original tour.

“Electric Crown” from Live in London (2005) (originally appeared on 1992’s The Ritual)

The band was rejuvenated, and the original members (sans Clemente) began writing music together for the first time since 1992.  In 2007, Paul Bostaph (formerly of Forbidden Evil, formerly and currently of Slayer) rejoined the band on drums, and in 2008, most of the original lineup of Testament released the monumental The Formation of Damnation, their first studio album of original material in nine years.  It’s not their best album, but it’s a damn fine return to form for a band so fraught with hardship and strife.

“More Than Meets the Eye” from The Formation of Damnation (2008)

The band continued to tour like mad, and also began to write new material for another album as early as 2009.  In 2011, they were set to record their tenth album when Paul Bostaph was sidelined due to a wrist injury.  Drum maniac Gene Hoglan re-rejoined the band to assist in recording (Lamb of God’s Chris Adler contributed as well), and on July 27, 2012, Testament released one of the best and heaviest albums of their career, Dark Roots of Earth.  Absolutely punishing riffs, drumming, and bass work form a nearly impenetrable wall over which Billy screams (and occasionally sings) like a man possessed.  Highlights include the entire fucking album.  Seriously, not a single weak spot.  Three-quarters of the members of the “Big Four” wish they could still create something so fierce and relevant.

“Native Blood” from Dark Roots of Earth (2012) – Chuck Billy is a member of the Pomo Indian tribe of Northern California.  This video won the Video of the Year Award at the 2012 Native American Film Festival.

“Dark Roots of Earth” from Dark Roots of Earth (2012) – This song is another example of Testament’s social awareness, which, savvy readers may recall, is how this entire series on the band began.

The deluxe edition of the album also features three cover songs – “Animal Magnetism” by the Scorpions, Queen’s “Dragon Attack”, and this little number:

“Powerslave” from Dark Roots of Earth (2012) (originally recorded by Iron Fucking Maiden)

The band has pretty much toured their asses off (with Gene Hoglan staying on as the official drummer) since, and in 2013, they released a live CD/DVD combo entitled Dark Roots of Thrash, recorded live on February 15 at a sold-out show at The Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York.  It is a perfect snapshot of a fucking amazing veteran heavy metal band at the absolute top of their game.  It has caused me on more than one occasion to mosh around my living room like I was 14 years old.

“Rise Up” from Dark Roots of Thrash (2013)

Earlier this year, the band announced that they were amicably parting ways with bass player Greg Christian.  The news makes me sad, as I truly believe Greg Christian is one of the great unsung metal bass gods, but the band’s choice to replace him couldn’t be better, as Steve DiGiorgio has re-re(re?)joined Testament.  If this lineup stays in place, I imagine their next album, which should be released later this year, could be a serious contender for The Heaviest Thing Ever Recorded.

That wraps up The Story of Testament, as told by me.  It is a story that, all told, features no less than 25 characters (I didn’t include all the characters, because I’d still be writing Part 2 if tried to manage that).  It is a story of perseverance.  It is a story of seriously kicking ass.  It is a story of asking no quarter and giving none in return.  And like all the stories I share here, it is a story of staying heavy, always.  Enjoy the rest of your Thrash Thursday, friends!

Mixtape Monday, Volume 4: Horror of the Zombies

To celebrate the coming of the second half of the fourth season of The Walking Dead on AMC (Sunday, February 9), today’s mixtape theme is zombies.  I know, zombies are everywhere, and I myself am getting a bit tired of zombies, but I have yet to get tired of The Walking Dead, and I doubt very much if I’ll ever tire of the following badass zombie-themed jams.  This mix doesn’t have quite as many songs as the last two, but three of the songs on this mix are 7 minutes or longer.  Anyway, enjoy this sick motherfucker.

1. “Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie)” by Impetigo (from Horror of the Zombies – 1992) – Impetigo is perhaps best known as a highly contagious bacterial skin infection, characterized by red sores, many of which leak pus, turn to scabs, and sometimes leave scars.  A gross as that may sound, it doesn’t begin to approach the sick, fucked up, disgusting depravity that was Impetigo, the legendary and sadly defunct death metal/grindcore band from Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.  I’ll write more about them another time, as they deserve more space than I can allow here.  Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, the title of this mix comes from the title of the album that this amazingly gross song closes out.

2. “The Undead Will Feast” by Cannibal Corpse (from Eaten Back to Life – 1990) – If you asked the average person to name a death metal band, Cannibal Corpse would probably be the name they’d come up with (although I have a feeling that Slayer would get a lot of mentions, too).  This statement is not based on any actual research, but the fact that Cannibal Corpse was in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective definitely made more people aware of them than would otherwise have been.  Is that a proper sentence?  Anyway, this song is from their first album, when they were almost a thrash band, before Chris Barnes’ voice got totally unintelligible.

3. “Walking Corpse” by Brutal Truth (from Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses – 1992) – This song is not actually about zombies, but is in fact a call to the listener to wake the fuck up and do something with your life.  I included it here for two reasons: 1.) my mixtape, my rules; and 2,) it’s a fucking awesome song.

4. “Live Undead” by Slayer (from South of Heaven – 1988) – Slayer released a “live” album called Live Undead in 1984.  That album has a super-badass cover, and is unrelated to this song, which rules just as much, but in a different way, coming along, as it did, four years later.  That’s a lot of commas.  Here’s “Live Undead”.

5. “Re-Animator” by Rigor Mortis (from Rigor Mortis – 1988) – Rigor Mortis, along with D.R.I., was one of the best bands to come out of Texas in the 1980s.  They played super-intense thrash metal, often poking their rotting head into death metal territory, and their songs are all twisted tales based on and/or inspired by horror movies.  Their phenomenal guitarist, Mike Scaccia (who also played with Ministry and various other Al Jourgenson-related projects), died in 2012 after collapsing onstage during a performance.  Pretty fucked up.  Fun fact: in the opening credits of the 1980s television show Doogie Howser, M.D., you can briefly see a Rigor Mortis poster on Doogie’s bedroom wall.

Anyhoo, this song is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s really good and really weird 1922 serial novelette Herbert West – Reanimator, which inspired Stuart Gordon’s absolutely outstanding 1985 film Re-Animator, which you should seriously watch ASAP, whether or not you’ve seen it before. This unofficial video uses footage from that movie, and if that footage doesn’t make you want to watch Re-Animator, then what the fuck are you even doing here?

6. “Night of the Seagulls” by Cathedral (from The Carnival Bizarre – 1994) – To be perfectly honest, I don’t really care for most of Cathedral’s output.  Musically, they’re pretty great, but I like singer Lee Dorrian’s voice much more on his performances with Napalm Death (even though I prefer current ND vocalist Barney Greenway over Dorrian).  This song is one of the exceptions to my “don’t-really-care-for-most-of-Cathedral’s-output” rule.  It’s based on the film of the same name, which is part of the Spanish-Portuguese Blind Dead series. I’ve only seen the first one (1972’s Tombs of the Blind Dead), but it was pretty rad, and I look forward to watching the rest.

7. “Hunger of the Undead” by Dark Angel (from Darkness Descends – 1986) – If you’ve read my last two Mixtape Monday posts, you know a little bit about Dark Angel.  This is more from them, and it’s fucking great.

8. “Zombie Ritual” by Death (from Scream Bloody Gore – 1987) – Death, from Tampa, Florida (not to be confused with Death, from Detroit, Michigan), were among the very first death metal bands to exist.  Their sound evolved constanly under the direction of founder/vocalist/guitarist (and only consistent member) Chuck Schuldiner (RIP), and Scream Bloody Gore is the only album of theirs that is really full-on “death metal” from a lyrical standpoint.  Their entire catalog is phenomenal; if you’re not familiar with them, you should check them out.  Individual Thought Patterns (1993) and Human (1991) are my two favorites, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

9. “The Zombie Terror” by Sigh (from Infidel Art – 1995) – Sigh is an avant-garde black metal band from Tokyo, Japan.  I don’t know a lot about them, and I haven’t heard much, but I very much like everything I have heard.  I will know more about them someday, and then I will discuss them here.  I find this song to be strangely, captivatingly beautiful.

10. “Eaten Alive” by Repulsion (from Horrified – 1989) – Flint, Michigan’s Repulsion helped invent the grindcore genre.  This album was released as a demo called Slaughter of the Innocent in 1986, and was re-released as a proper album (with the new name) on Bill Steer and Jeff Walker‘s short-lived Necrosis Records (an imprint of British death/grind powerhouse Earache Records) in 1989.  As it was originally a demo, it’s a muddy, fuzzy bastard of an album, but that really helps make it what it is.

11. “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” by Anthrax (from Worship Music – 2011) – “Big Four” member Anthrax has been a favorite band of mine since the late 80s, and my relationship with them has had a lot of ups and downs (which I will discuss here in the future), but no matter what happens, I can keep coming back to the songs – their worst songs are pretty good, and their great songs are untouchable.  And even though the chorus riff from “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” was lifted directly from their song “Gridlock”, off their 1990 masterpiece Persistence of Time, it is one of their great songs.  And hey, at least they’re stealing from themselves, right?

That does it for this week’s edition of Mixtape Monday.  I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll always, always, always stay heavy.

Memento Mori, Volume 1: Older Than Shit and Heavier Than Time

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the passing of original Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff.  He went into a coma after suffering a stroke, and died at the age of 41.  His presence is missed in the world of thrash metal, but if there’s an afterlife, I know he’s there now, kicking the shit out of poseurs and having a great time.  Another Lesson in Violence was the last thing the band recorded with Baloff, and it is so, so good.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for another volume of Mixtape Monday.  Until then, stay heavy, friends.