I’ve Changed By Staying the Same: A Thing About Thrash Metal Logos

The best metal bands have always had distinct logos, and thrash metal bands have always had the best logos. You can argue that if you want, but you’ll be wrong. When I was a young whippersnapper back in the 1730’s, a bitchin logo was sometimes the single most important factor in deciding which album to buy. As the 1990’s churned along and 80’s metal became something of a taboo, a lot of the more well-known thrash bands changed their classic logos. In most cases, this coincided with a change in the sound of the band as well (and not always for the better).

Here’s a look at some legendary thrash metal bands who changed their logos in the 90’s, along with a brief examination of the album(s) where the change(s) occurred. Note: as proper logos were/are often not utilized on show flyers, those will not be considered in this discussion. Likewise, changes that occured before a band’s first official LP or EP release (i.e., on demos, etc.) will not be discussed; only official releases, beginning with the beginning. Also, this list is in no way meant to complete or comprehensive. Also, it is in no particular order. Also, it could probably be laid out more clearly, but here we are.

1. Metallica

Metallica’s logo evolved along with the band, but it was always based on that distinct stabbing M and A. Their classic logo is possibly the most recognizable logo in all of metal (even my 73-year-old parents recognize it). 1987’s The 5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited fudged the formula a bit by making the logo look like it was taken from the pages of a teenager’s school notebook, but like the songs on the tape, this was a nod to the band’s early days. 1988’s massive …And Justice for All reverted to the classic block format (quite literally this time, by making it appear to be carved in stone). On 1991’s Metallica (aka “The Black Album”), the logo is still pretty much the same, although it was blended almost entirely into the black background, not unlike the band’s thrash metal roots on this album.

This motherfucker is still selling over 200,000 copies a year.

The first real, concrete logo change came with the release of 1996’s Load, which of course found the band slowing things waaaaaaay down, and dabbling in country music and straight-up hard rock sounds. Everything about the cover of Load hinted at a drastic change in sound, tempo, tone, and attitude.


They used this logo again on Reload, and 2003’s late term abortion St. Anger saw another evolution of the logo, back into something more like the classic logo, only more “edgy” and “stupid”.

They reverted to the original logo on 2008’s Death Magnetic, and used a slightly altered version of it on 2016’s Hardwired…to Self-Destruct (which, while probably their best album since Metallica, is still not that great), but it doesn’t matter anymore.

2. Anthrax

I always loved Anthrax’s logo, not to mention Anthrax. They were my first favorite band, and I was a proud member of their fan club for a couple of years in the early 90’s. Their sound evolved somewhat throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s, but it changed a lot in 1992, when longtime singer Joey Belladonna was shown the door and former Armored Saint frontman John Bush stepped in. Bush’s debut, 1993’s Sound of White Noise, was a pretty big step in a new direction for Anthrax, with more of an emphasis on vocal melodies, lower tunings, and slower tempos, but it also comes off (to my ears) as a natural continuation of the sound the band had harnessed on 1991’s stellar Persistence of Time. As such, the change in the  logo is slight (perhaps imperceptible to the casual viewer).


1995’s Stomp 442 is a horse of an entirely different color. All references to the classic, pointy logo were gone, and in its place was a weird, wavy block letter thing, almost unnoticeable down in the lower left corner of the bizarre cover.

Yeah, I don’t really get it either.

The changes didn’t stop at the cover, either. Longtime lead guitarist Danny Spitz left the band after SoWN, and with him vanished nearly any musical connection to the Anthrax of old. Solos still came along (many were played by drummer Charlie Benante, with two guest solos by Dimebag Darrell), and the riffs were still there (albeit much simpler), but overall it was a much more straightforward hard rock album, and was nowhere near the neighborhood of a thrash metal album. Every album since Stomp 442 has utilized a version of the classic logo.

On a side note, has anyone other than me noticed the similarities between the Anthrax logo and the Toyota Matrix logo?

3. Testament

Holy shit do I ever love me some Testament. Their first logo change can be found on the cover of 1990’s Souls of Black, but it’s really nothing more than a separation of the letters in their classic logo, as seen above. The band’s sound didn’t really change with the cover.

The follow-up, 1992’s underrated The Ritual, crammed the letters back together and turned them into an implied pentagram, resulting in a cover that hinted at a sound more evil than what was contained within.

Fantastic cover, fantastic album. Not nearly as evil as the cover implies.

The Return to the Apocalyptic City EP (1993) returned the logo to classic form (and threw in a completely fucking bitchin cover, to boot).


In 1994, the band released their final studio album on longtime label Atlantic Records. Low returned the logo to the Souls of Black-style separated letters, and this time, the sounds were noticeably different. Lead guitar maestro Alex Skolnik left the band after the The Ritual, and his replacement by the supremely talented yet stylistically very different James Murphy (Obituary, Death) ushered in some pretty big sonic changes. The album is excellent from beginning to end, and it still sounds like Testament, but it has a decidedly heavier edge than anything the band had released prior, even dipping their toes in the death metal end of the pool with side two opener “Dog Faced Gods”.

This heavier verison of Testament stuck with the newer, separated logo for 1997’s Demonic, then simplified it even more on 1999’s The Gathering (with the second version of the logo incorporated into the artwork) before reverting to their classic logo with their return from hiatus, 2008’s excellent Formation of Damnation.

Boring logo, weird cover, amazing album.

Today, the band kind of goes back and forth between the two logos, and they still kick loads of ass. Their most recent album (Brotherhood of the Snake – 2016) is my least favorite so far, but it’s still better and more consistent than most other classic band’s modern offerings (I’m looking at you, Metallica, Anthrax,  and Slayer).

4. Slayer

Fucking duh.

Speaking of Slayer, their logo is likely the second-most recognizable in the world of thrash metal (and is probably the only one that could really give Metallica’s classic logo a run for its money as far as recognizability), and their first six releases utilized it to varying degrees, with it being most prominent (i.e., mostly unaccompanied) on 1984’s absolute banger Haunting the Chapel EP.

The cover of 1992’s Seasons in the Abyss marks the first of two albums in a row without the logo anywhere on the cover, but the sound didn’t change drastically with either album. 1996’s pretty good collection of punk and hardcore covers Undisputed Attitude returned it to a sort of prominence, albeit in the form a fan-worn t-shirt.

In 1998, the band released the weird, mostly slow, chuggy, nü-metal-influenced Diabolus in Musica, and astute Slayer fans were tipped off to the change when they saw the cover,  which, while creepy in its own way, bore absolutely no resemblance to any previous Slayer release.

This may as well have had flashing red lights and sirens on it.

The next few albums varied in their use of the logo, and the most recent album, 2016’s Repentless, brought back the orginal logo (along with echoes of some of the classic artwork), but the magic is pretty much gone at this point. At least we have their first 4 1/2 albums, right?

Holy shit.

5. Megadeth 

Megadeth is a unique on this list in that they changed their logo significantly two different times. The first change occurred between their debut (1985’s Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!) and their second album (1986’s godly Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying?) but did not accompany a significant change in sound. The band stuck with their new, iconic logo (above) from Peace Sells… up through 1995’s Hidden Treasures EP (a solid collection of soundtrack/compilation songs and covers).

In 1997, Megadeth died, and Dave Mustaine released Cryptic Writings, and album which marked a significant change in the band’s sound. They’d already slowed things down quite a bit with Countdown to Extinction (1991) and Youthanasia (1994), but Cryptic Writings found Mustaine and co. actively working to make a more commercial sounding, radio-friendly album, and the results are not so good, but they’re miles ahead of its follow-up, 1999’s Risk.

[sad trombone sound]


Dave Mustaine has remixed, remastered, and re-released Killing is My Business…, Cryptic Writings, and Risk in the past few years and they all have new artwork featuring the classic logo. To be fair, I haven’t tried listening to either Cryptic Writings or Risk since probably 2001 or so, but when Peace Sells…, So Far, So Good…So What! (1988), and Rust in Peace (1990) all exist, I don’t really have a reason to try again.

Megadeth returned to their classic logo with 2001’s The World Needs a Hero, and have used that logo on every release since, with the exception of one live album and one greatest hits/best of compilation. Musically, they have remained a mixed bag.

6. Exodus

Exodus released three crushing albums between 1985 and 1989, then began to falter a bit. 1990’s Impact is Imminent is good, but it’s not as solid as any of its predecessors. In 1992, they released Force of Habit, which is still a good album, but it is perhaps most notable for slowing down the breakneck tempos quite a bit, and for the weird, weird graffiti cover, complete with spray-painted logo.

Major label influence and declining record sales are a hell of a drug.

It was the last album Exodus released until 1997, when they reunited with original vocalist/lunatic Paul Baloff (RIP) and recorded a fucking amazing live album called Another Lesson in Violence. They have utilized their original logo since that album, and they have continued to crush skulls and snap necks since.

7. Overkill

New Jersey’s Overkill are one of thrash metal’s unsung heroes, churning out good-to-great albums with an almost alarming consistency since 1985. Like all bands not called AC/DC, Motörhead, or Ramones, their sound has changed a bit, but unlike all the other bands on this list, their logo has not changed at all since their first album. The sole exceptions come in the form of live album (1995’s Wrecking Your Neck) and an album of covers from 1999 called Coverkill, which did have a weird ransom note-esque logo at the top, but also included the original logo at the bottom as part of the album title.

I don’t know that Overkill’s musical consistency and logo consistency are related, but I do find it interesting that they are the only thrash band from the 80’s that both never broke up and also never changed their logo in the 90’s.

8. Iron Maiden

Someone did my work for me. Thank you, anonymous stranger!

Iron Maiden is obviously not a thrash band, but they did have a subtle logo change, and I love them, so I’m including them on this list. The logo is iconic to say the least, and the band is quite possibly the biggest metal band in the world (only Metallica could conceivably compete for that title at this point). They had a bit of a rough go in the 1990’s, first losing longtime guitarist Adrian Smith in 1990, during early work on No Prayer for the Dying, followed by vocalist Bruce Dickinson in 1993 (after touring for 1992’s Fear of the Dark). Smith was replaced by Janick Gers, and Dickinson was replaced by Blaze Bayley (whose band Wolfsbane had opened for Maiden during their 1990 tour). This lineup released two albums, 1995’s excellent The X Factor, and 1998’s kind of okay Virtual XI.

The cover for The X Factor is strange, but the logo is more or less the same, and the songs sound more or less like Maiden songs, albeit with a very different voice. Virtual XI, however, is different. Superficially, the logo was changed ever so slightly to be flat across the bottom. The album itself has some very high highlights (album opener “Futureal” and “The Clansman”, especially), but it has some real duds on it, too. The second track, “The Angel and the Gambler”, would be pretty solid if it was 3 minutes long, but instead it drags on for just shy of 10 minutes, most of which is the chorus repeated repeatedly. This has become a recurring issue on Iron Maiden albums, as Steve Harris seems to have begun writing songs specifically for a live audience to sing along with. Whatever, they still kick unbelievable amounts of ass live, and I still love them.

The original logo was utilized on a few compilations throughout the 2000’s, and made its unassuming return on a studio album with 2015’s The Book of Souls. Merchandise is available in both logo styles, i.e., with or without “tails”.

9. Voivod

I’ve written a lot about Voivod, so I won’t get into them here, other than to say that their logo has changed with every single release, just as their sound has evolved with every single release. While I’m not sure about the other bands on this list, I can say with certainty that Voivod’s logo changed each time to purposely reflect the evolution of the sounds conatined within the albums. If you don’t already, you should listen to Voivod. If you do already, you should listen to them more often.

These are not in order, but they are all fucking badass.

What can we glean from all this? Fuck if I know, I just love heavy metal, appreciate a well-crafted logo, and realized that no one had really written about logo changes as hints of musical changes (based on my very limited research).

Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks for staying heavy with me.



Tremble, You Weaklings, Cower in Fear: The Ten Best 80’s Thrash Metal Songs About Nuclear War

While the threat of nuclear war is still a very real thing today, it doesn’t weigh on my mind the way it did when I was just a li’l guy back in the 80’s. The nightly news talked about it a lot, and it used to terrify me, and then Nancy Reagan’s grandpa made Old Man Gorbachev tear down a wall, and it kind of faded out of the public eye, and life was fucking peaches and cream all the time, and no one wanted to hurt us, until Saddam Hussein threatened our freedom, or whatever. These days, not much airtime is given to the topic, save for an occasional report about Iran or North Korea and their uranium enrichment attempts, because terrorism is the new nuclear war. I don’t really know where I’m going with all this, except to remind you that the media should not be trusted, because they only tell you what they want you to know.

Anyway, I’ve been kicking around the idea of a mixtape about nuclear war for a while now, but to be perfectly honest, the topic can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many metal songs about nuclear war and its aftereffects that I just didn’t know where to begin, so I never bothered. Then one day last week, my buddy Sean suggested I put together a mixtape about nuclear war, and I decided to give it some more serious thought. To make it easier on myself, I settled on the requirement that the songs be of the thrash metal variety. What follows is the result, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, there are likely to be no surprises. Thrash metal is my lifeblood, and I make no apologies about it. Maybe I’ll make another nuke-themed mixtape some other day where being a thrash metal band isn’t a requirement for the list…maybe not.

As with my previous entry about thrash metal ballads, I don’t necessarily believe these are the the ten very best nuclear war-themed thrash metal songs. Rather, they are ten nuclear war-themed thrash metal songs that I love dearly; I just gave it the title and numbered it from 10 to 1 to see how many people read the intro. It is, in fact, chronological.

Onward to mayhem!

10. Voivod – “Nuclear War” (from War and Pain – 1984)

“Storm, the only weather
Start the directives assassins
Warm inside the under shelter
Wait and fell your broiling skin…”

I’ve written about Voivod extensively, and there’s still more to come, eventually. I love them so hard. This is the last song on their debut album, and while it’s technically a part of the Voivod saga, it also perfectly reflects the air of paranoia and unease that permeated everything in the mid 1980’s. The broken English and the plodding, marching feel of the first almost-five minutes of the song work together to add an extra layer of complexity and fear.

9. Exodus – “And Then There Were None” (from Bonded By Blood – 1985)

“Wars coming, start running, eyes blinded by the nuclear blast
Hearts beating, retreating, all around are bodies burned to ash
Children crying and people dying, no salvation from this holocaust
Bodies burning and now they’re learning, in war painful death’s the bloody cost…”

This is one of my favorite Exodus songs. That main riff is the shit. So, full disclosure: I woke up at like 2:30 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got out of bed and started putting this together around 3:30 AM. I wrote the intro, then started filling in track info at the end and worked my way toward the top. It is now almost 7:00 AM. I’ve grown very sleepy.

8. Anthrax – “Aftershock” (from Spreading the Disease – 1985)

“Blinding our eyes as the sun turns to black
A world full of hatred and fear
All are committed, there’s no going back
There’ll be no one left to hear…”

I still have lots of Anthrax-related things to write about. I’ll get around to it some day. I love this song, and this album. Also recommended, “One World”, from 1987’s Among the Living.

7. Dark Angel – “Falling From the Sky” (from We Have Arrived – 1985)

“Watch the sky
Death is near
You are falling
The final day is near…”

The first Dark Angel album is a glorious, cacophonous, thrashy mess, and “Falling From the Sky” is a perfect example of what the rest of the album sounds like. Not recommended for the faint of heart, or the delicate of ears.

6. Nuclear Assault – “Nuclear War” (from Game Over – 1986)

“No one wins
In this game
Both sides have lost
Who has won
When all are dead
Except for the machines…”

If I didn’t already know, I would be willing to bet that Nuclear Assault were born in the long shadow of the Reagan years. Everything about this band is steeped in nuclear paranoia, government corruption, and environmental destruction. Also, it goes without saying, but Dan Lilker fucking rules.

5. D.R.I. – “Oblivion” (from Crossover – 1987)

“The day has come, the time is near
For all to end. It’s true, it’s here
It’s all over now, no way to stop
The button’s been pushed, the bomb’s been dropped
The city is melting, the sky burns red
The ocean is boiling, we’ll soon be dead…”

I never got around to writing a review of the D.R.I. show at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis back in September, but it was fucking awesome, and so is this song.

4. Sodom – “Nuclear Winter” (from Persecution Mania – 1987)

“Slow death is what we can expect
Strike will have just this one effect
Condemned to capital punishment
By the nuclear sword of Damocles…”

The opening track from the Tuetonic thrash titans’ second full length album is a master course in Thrash Metal Riffery, and like the Voivod song above, Tom Angelripper’s slightly broken English makes the lyrics even more unsettling. Side note: I found this album on cassette in a pawn shop in Bedford, Indiana circa 1989. I bought it, along with Jimmy Page’s Outrider. I didn’t really appreciate either album at the time, but one of them made a notable impact on my impressionable brain – an impact that would manifest itself in a super hardcore fashion 4 or 5 years later. The other one was Jimmy Page’s Outrider.

3. Death Angel – “Final Death” (from The Ultra-Violence – 1987)

“Dogs of war, for your blood they lust
Radiation turns your body to dust
Watching fallout as it fills the sky
Now it’s time for this planet to die.”

From all the way back when some of the members Death Angel were still growing pubes, “Final Death” is a lean, mean bastard. It’s not the best song on the album, but it’s still better than most other songs in existence, and Mark Osegueda’s blood-curdling air raid siren wail at around the 2:35 mark sums up the fear in the lyrics perfectly.

2. Metallica – “Blackened” (from …And Justice for All – 1988)

To begin whipping dance of the dead
Blackened is the end
To begin whipping dance of the dead
Color our world blackened…”

I hate …And Justice for All because of the way it sounds – Newsted’s nonexistent bass guitar, Lars’ steel trashcan drums, generally non-good sound quality – but I goddamn love …And Justice for All because of the songs, and because of the place it occupies in my nostalgic heart. Metallica is dead; long live Metallica.

  1. Megadeth – “Rust in Peace…Polaris” (from Rust in Peace – 1990)

“I spread disease like a dog
Discharge my payload a mile high
Rotten egg air of death wrestles your nostrils…”

That chorus hasn’t left my head since the first time I heard it. The final track on what is arguably Megedeth’s finest hour is a masterpiece of nuclear paranoia and terror. Mustaine’s vocals are perfect, and in a fresh twist, the lyrics are from the point of view of the Bomb itself. Rust in Peace is Dave Mustaine’s dragon, and he will probably chase that beautiful motherfucker until his final breath. Megadeth is dead; long live Megadeth.

That’s all I got for now, heavy people. Do you have any favorite nuclear war-themed songs? Let’s discuss it, why not? And don’t forget to stay heavy!


Mixtape Monday (Friday Edition) Volume 11: Everything Looks Like a Target To Me

I had a pretty shitty day at work on Wednesday, and when I came home, I started putting this Mixtape together. It was inspired by one particular person at work, and I’ve calmed down considerably since, but the person who inspired it can (and very much should) still fuck off. Really though, this mix is just about being pissed off, and sometimes, you need that. This is in no particular order.

Exodus – “A Lesson in Violence” (from Bonded By Blood – 1985) – “You motherfuckers better give it up for Exodus!” If you don’t believe me, listen to the entirety of this scorching live version from one of the best live metal albums ever, Another Lesson in Violence. After you’re finished with this mix, you should probably go ahead and listen to the entire album. It seriously rules.

Minor Threat – “Small Man, Big Mouth” (from Minor Threat – 1981) – This song was on my mind while I was at work that day, and while it’s technically about little guys who overcompensate for their size by being assholes, it’s important to remember that some small men are regular-sized, and are also assholes.

Tool – “Ænema” (from Ænima – 1999)  – I’m not the biggest fan of Tool by any stretch of the imagination, but I have nothing against them. I absolutely fucking adore this song, and the video is creepy as shit, as Tool videos tend to be.

“Some say the end is near.
Some say we’ll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will
I sure could use a vacation from this

Stupid shit, silly shit, stupid shit…”

Metallica – “Damage, Inc.” (from Master of Puppets – 1986)

“We chew and spit you out
We laugh, you scream and shout
All flee, with fear you run
You’ll know just where we come from…”

AC/DC – “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – 1976) – My brother got this tape (along with Led Zeppelin I) for Christmas when I was about 5 or 6 years old, and both albums had a profound influence on me. Dirty Deeds is still my favorite AC/DC album.

Big Business – “I’ll Give You Something to Cry About” (from Here Come the Waterworks – 2007) – I’m only really familiar with this one Big Business album, but if it was the only thing they’d ever released, they would still be fucking legendary.

“I’d like to forgive and forget, but I can’t
It’s just one of the ways that I’m petty…”

Black Flag – “Clocked In” (from The First Four Years compilation – 1983) – This job prompted me to share this song on my personal facebook page once before. The Dez Cadena version is superlative. I’ll fight you about that.

Cannibal Corpse – “Puncture Wound Massacre” (from Vile – 1996) – This song is cathartic as a motherfucker.

“I only see red, rage exploding
Two knives, one mind, that hate has broken…”

Brujeria – “Matando Gueros” (from Matando Gueros – 1993) – If you don’t know the story of Brujeria, you should look them up. Their name is Spanish for “witchcraft”, and they kick a ton of ass. The title of this song translates roughly to “Killing White Boys”. None of this should be confused for the Shakira song “Brujería”; I haven’t heard it, but I am 100% confident that they are unrelated.

Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the Name” (from Rage Against the Machine  – 1992) – “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”? You’d better believe this song and album made a major impact on 15-year-old me.

Clutch – “Binge and Purge” (from Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and Undeniable Truths – 1993) – Clutch hasn’t always been the blues-infected groove juggernaut they are today. They came to life in 1991 with a very rough hardcore-tinged sound, as heard on their earliest releases, 1991’s Pitchfork 7″ demo, 1992’s Passive Restraints EP, and to a lesser extent, their 1993 full length debut. I don’t listen to their earlier stuff as much, but some of those old songs are absolute classics. “Binge and Purge” is one of them. It is pure, unbridled adolescent rage, and it’s also where I got the title of this Mixtape.

Faith No More – “Surprise! You’re Dead!” (from The Real Thing – 1989) – I love Faith No More, but I was quite disappointed in their recent comeback album. Sometimes I think about giving it another chance, but with a back catalog that includes songs like this, why bother?

Grim Reaper – “See You in Hell” (from See You In Hell – 1983) – My brother used to have this tape in his room, and I was scared of it. When I finally got around to looking this song up a few years ago, I was surprised to find that it was so much less heavy and evil (and so much goofier!) than I remembered.

Vio-Lence – “Serial Killer” (from Eternal Nightmare – 1988) –  This song has been shared on these pages before, but I don’t give a shit; it should be listened to at least once a day. The first Vio-Lence album is a crash course in Thrash Metal Gang Vocals 101 and Thrash Metal Riffs 201. Fucking amazing.

Overkill – “I Hate” (from The Years of Decay – 1989) – This song probably best sums up my overall feeling from that shitty, shitty work day that inspired this kickass mix, so I’m gonna include the lyrics in their entirety, as transcribed on The Metal Archives.

So much trouble
Hate this job
Tried to get out
Trapped like a dog
No, I don’t like
Pumpin’ gas
Do ya hate to wait?

Life’s a game
We play your rules
Bottle half empty
Or the bottle half full
It does no good
No good to shout
But I scream, I hate

Say I’m hostile,
Gotta relax,
Gotta get a grip,
Here’s the facts:
I hate bein’ here!

I hate people that make you feel small
I hate having my back against the wall
You know, I hate being talked down to

I hate your rules
I hate ’em all
Hate being marked to take the fall

Planet’s not big enough for me and you

So much trouble
Over me
Surrounded by jerks
Can’t ya see?
Smile to my face
I know you lie
Knife in the back

Another game
Rules, rules, rules
Not for me
Ya fuckin’ fool
Open your mouth
Just one more time
And my foot’s goin’ down

In one ear
Out the other
A waste of time
Don’t even bother,
I hate being here!

I hate people that make you feel small
I hate having my back against the wall
You know, I hate being talked down to

I hate your rules
I hate ’em all
Hate being marked to take the fall

Planet’s not big enough for me and you
But most of all
I hate you…

YOU! I hate you
YOU! I hate you
I hate, I hate, I hate, I hate you


I hate people that make you feel small
I hate having my back against the wall
You know, I hate being talked down to

I hate your rules
I hate ’em all
Hate being marked to take the fall

Planet’s not big enough for me and you
But most of all
I hate you…

Think I know
How you got this far?
Think I know how you
Got where you are?

Think I’ll hate you
When you’re dead?
I know I’ll hate ya

Smile to my face
Know you lie
Say I got problems?
Ask yourself why

Hate the games
I hate the rules
You’re gonna lose

Say I’m hostile,
Gotta relax,
Better get a grip,
Here’s the facts:
Not much more of you!

I hate people that make you feel small
I hate having my back against the wall
You know, I hate being talked down to

I hate your rules
I hate ’em all
Hate being marked to take the fall
Planet’s not big enough for me and you
But most of all
I hate you…

I hate people that make you feel small (I HATE YOU!)
I hate having my back against the wall (I HATE YOU!)
I hate being talked down to

I hate your rules
Every one (I HATE YOU!)
Hate having counted you number one
I hate being placed at number two
But most of all
I hate you
I hate you


That’s all for now. Stay heavy, friends.


Making the Legacy Known: A Sort of Review of the Testament/Exodus Show at the Mercury Ballroom, Louisville, KY, 04.21.15

I am in a fair amount of pain today, and it’s a mostly good pain, but still, I hurt. I am a reasonable, rational adult (more or less), so I understand that I am responsible for my own actions, but Testament and Exodus must shoulder some of the blame for my current state; if they weren’t so fucking amazing, and hadn’t played the Mercury Ballroom last night on the Louisville stop of their current Dark Roots of Thrash II tour, I very likely would not be sitting at my computer alternating an ice pack and a heating pad on my neck and shoulders while I attempt to put words to what I witnessed last night.

I suppose I should begin by saying that this tour has been slightly mis-advertised; from the very beginning, it’s been clearly stated that Testament would be “perform[ing an] exclusive new set list, including The Legacy & The New Order in their entirety + select Practice What You Preach lp cuts”. I understood that to mean that they would be performing those albums beginning to end, followed by an encore of songs from 1989’s Practice What You Preach, and that did not happen, but that’s on me; the words “beginning to end” have never been a part of the advertising for this tour. Testament instead played a set of songs from both albums – a set which covered all of their 1987 debut The Legacy, but which did not cover all of 1988’s The New Order, as it left out the hauntingly beautiful instrumental pieces “Hypnosis” and “Musical Death (A Dirge)”, along with their badass cover of Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault”, which I was very psyched to hear live. In addition, the “select cuts from Practice What You Preach” ended up being the title track (which they play live on a pretty regular basis), and nothing else – no “Nightmare (Coming Back to You)”, no “Envy Life”, no “Time is Coming”, no “Greenhouse Effect”, nothing…just the title track, which totally fucking rules, but can hardly be considered “select cuts”.

Anyway, that’s a minor issue overall, as the show was fucking amazing, and quite frankly, I would be making plans to see it again at Bogart’s in Cincinnati on May 2 if I could swing it financially. Here’s a rough breakdown of the night…

My cousin Jason and I (who grew up listening to metal with me) got in the doors toward the end of opener Shattered Sun’s set. I wasn’t in a hurry to get in, as I didn’t really care about seeing their set, but I have to admit that the little bit that I did see was pretty damn good. Yesterday happened to be the release date for their debut album, Hope Within Hatred, and I doubt I’ll purchase the album, but I would see them live again if I had the chance. They’re pretty tight.

A relatively short break followed, made complete by $8 beers (at least they were draft Stella Artois) and a pee-pee break, then the lights went out, a roar went up, and Dan the Automator’s fucking sick-ass beats began to boom out of the sound system, signalling the imminent impact of Exodus and “Black 13”, the opening track from last year’s monstrous album, Blood In Blood Out. The band took the stage as frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza flashed a devilish grin to the crowd, pointed randomly out to various parts of the crowd and twirled his finger in the air to indicate that he was not about to allow this crowd to not become a circle pit. Roughly half of the crowd obliged, and most of that group did not ease up until the band left the stage. Exodus fanatics are some tough SOB’s.

The band flowed from “Black 13” directly into the title track from the new album, and the crowd did indeed rage, and I can’t help but believe that Paul Baloff would have been proud. After “Blood In Blood Out,” Zetro finally addressed the crowd, which was followed by two Rob Dukes-era songs, “Iconoclasm” and “Children of a Worthless God” [Both songs originally appeared on 2007’s The Atrocity Exhibition…Exhibit A, which is a seriously kickass album, which is a true statement about all of the Rob Dukes-era albums, even the highly controversial Let There Be Blood (2008’s re-recording of the band’s classic first album, 1985’s Bonded By Blood). I am a bonafide Rob Dukes fan, and I make no apologies for it. But I digress.]

I was interested to hear those songs with Zetro’s voice, but “Children of a Worthless God” especially, as it is notable for a recurring clean vocal passage, but I have to say that I was pretty goddamn impressed with Zet’s delivery. The band then taught us all “A Lesson in Violence”, then played another song from the new album, “Salt the Wound”, which is notable in the studio version for featuring a guitar solo from Kirk Hammett, who formed Exodus in 1981 before being poached by Metallica. Hammett’s solo sounds pretty much like every other Kirk Hammett solo from the past 20 years, and the song itself is the weakest on the album in my opinion, but it was much better live. In fact, I thought Zetro’s voice on all the new songs sounded better live than on the album, where it tends to take on a very Cobra Commander quality. I am not wrong about this – listen for yourself:

To be clear, in no way does this diminish my enjoyment of any era of Exodus. But I continue to digress.

The lights went out again after “Salt the Wound”, and the spoken intro to 1989’s Fabulous Disaster played, followed by that album’s opening song “The Last Act of Defiance”, followed by the remainder of their set (highlighted by perennial crowd favorite and fond ode to moshing, “The Toxic Waltz”), followed by a much-needed break for yours truly. It was really difficult to not expend every bit of my energy on Exodus, and I had to constantly remind myself that Testament was yet to go on, and that I had a two-hour drive back home after that.  The crowd cleared out a bit when the lights went up, so Jason and I moved closer, scoring some pretty sweet spots directly in front of the sound board.

This was where our view began, before the insane crowd caused us to move a bit to the left.

This was where our view began, before the insane crowd caused us to move a bit to the left.

A fairly quick set change took place, and soon the lights went out again, and the mighty Testament began to crush everyone in the room with their fucking flawless thrash metal. They kicked off with the first four songs from The Legacy, in order, then jumped ahead a year and played a brilliant version of “The Preacher” before reaching back into the debut for “Do or Die” and “First Strike is Deadly”. Chuck then introduced The New Order‘s outstandingly good “A Day of Reckoning” by indicating that they almost never played it live until this tour (which, quite frankly, has been a pretty stupid decision).

“Apocalyptic City” followed, then a block of the first four songs from The New Order, in order, followed by the remainder of The Legacy, “Alone in the Dark” and an almost unbelievably fast version of “C.O.T.L.O.D.”, which I anticipated bringing about the most intense pit action, but which was instead relatively mild, which I attributed to an exhausted crowd that simply gave too much too soon. The band left the stage for the standard encore break, then played their “select cuts” from Practice What You Preach before ending an amazing night of amazing music with the unfuckingtouchable “Disciples of the Watch” (OBEY!), during which it became clear that the crowd was not out of energy yet. Holy shit, friends, “Disciples of the Watch” can incite a fucking pit!

This is as close as I could get to capturing the whole band in a picture. Standing still while Testament plays is HARD, y'all!

This is as close as I could get to capturing the whole band in a picture. Standing still while Testament plays is HARD, y’all!

Exodus Setlist

“Black 13”

“Blood In Blood Out”


“Children of a Worthless God”

“A Lesson in Violence” (from Bonded By Blood)

“Salt the Wound”

“Blacklist” (from Tempo of the Damned – 2004)

“Bonded By Blood” (from BBB)

“War is My Shepherd” (from TotD)

“The Toxic Waltz” (from Fabulous Disaster)

“Strike of the Beast” (from BBB)

Testament Setlist

“Over the Wall”

“The Haunting”

“Burnt Offerings”

“Raging Waters”

“The Preacher”

“Do or Die”

“First Strike is Deadly”

“A Day of Reckoning”

“Apocalyptic City”

“Eerie Inhabitants”

“The New Order”

“Trial By Fire”

“Into the Pit”

“Alone in the Dark”


— encore break —

“Practice What You Preach”

“Disciples of the Watch”

Final Thoughts: There were quite a few kids there (with parents), which was fucking awesome! Both Zetro and Chuck noticed and commented on it. Also, I still haven’t heard any songs live from Exodus’ second album (and their debut with Zetro) Pleasures of the Flesh (1987), and I don’t care for that fact. Also, I finally got a Testament shirt with The New Order album cover on it! Also, the sound at the Mercury Ballroom is pretty great, but it’s kind of an awkward place to see a show, what with the support poles positioned around the floor area. Also, the place supposedly has a capacity of 900; being a Tuesday, the show wasn’t sold out, and I’m not good at estimating crowd sizes over about 30, but if there’d been 900 people in that venue, someone might’ve died. Also, I came nearer to getting into a fight than I ever have before (and hopefully ever will again) at a show; that white trash jackass can still fuck off.

There's a good chance my shirt is cooler than your shirt.

There’s a good chance my shirt is cooler than your shirt.

That’s all I got for now, friends. I gotta go rest my neck for Death Angel in Indianapolis (in four days!). Y’all stay heavy…I definitely will.


Thrashy Birthday to Me

I’ll be celebrating my 38th birthday later this week, which is an incredibly difficult thing for me to wrap my brain around. Next Tuesday (4/21), my cousin Jason and I will be travelling to Louisville, KY to catch Testament and Exodus on the Dark Roots of Thrash II tour (Texas band Shattered Sun will be opening, but I don’t care about them), and as you might imagine, I am fuckin pumped.

I might not make it out of this alive, y'all.

I might not make it out of this alive, y’all.

Testament will be playing their first two albums (1987’s The Legacy and (my personal favorite) 1988’s The New Order) beginning to end, followed by “select Practice What You Preach LP (1989) cuts”.




My favorite thrash band (and second favorite overall band) will be performing two of their greatest works in their entirety! “Over the Wall”! “Burnt Offerings”! “First Strike is Deadly”! “Alone in the Dark”! “Eerie Inhabitants”! “Trial By Fire”! “Into the Pit”! “Disciples of the (motherfucking) Watch”! And all the rest! I might figuratively die from blood loss to my brain from the raging thrash boner I’ll have, if I don’t figuratively die from a broken neck first!

Oh, shit!

God damn!

Plus their badass cover of a badass Aerosmith song (which I admittedly only know because of Testament’s cover)!


But before that even happens, Exodus will thrash my balls clean off with a set consisting of songs from throughout their storied history. A quick perusal of setlists from the past few nights of the tour shows 12 songs, which is pretty sweet, although it does seem that I’m still not gonna get to hear “And Then There Were None” live, which is a bit of a bummer, but I can’t really complain. Plus, they’ve been playing “The Last Act of Defiance” on this tour, which is rad as hell.


Also, they’re playing two Rob Dukes-era songs, and I look forward to hearing those with Zetro on vocals.

But wait! There’s more!

Five days later, on 4/26, Cousin Jason and I will be heading north to Indianapolis to see the mighty Death Angel live, on one of only two headlining shows on their current tour! This will be the first time Death Angel has played Indianapolis since 2012 (when they opened for Anthrax and Testament at the Egyptian Room), and their first headlining show in Indianapolis in 25 fucking years! Motherfucking shit-tits, friends, this is an exciting goddamn month!

Here’s the title track off the band’s latest album, 2013’s fucking phenomenal The Dream Calls for Blood:

Here’s “Truce”, from 2011’s Relentless Retribution, which is the album they were touring on when I saw them a few years back:

And here’s one of my favorite songs of theirs, from 1990’s Act III, which was the last album they released before their original breakup:

A quick shout-out and a HUGE thank you is owed to my amazing wife, who had a hand in making both of these shows happen for me.

Reviews of both shows will of course be forthcoming, and if things work out, there’ll be an extra surprise on these very pages in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned, and stay heavy!


Lead Us Into Temptation, A Reign of Terror Will Begin: A Thing About Exodus

I’m going to see Testament and Exodus live in April, and I don’t think I could possibly be more excited.  If you’ve spent any significant amount of time on the pages of this blog, you already know of my absolute, unwavering love of everything Testament has ever released.  By comparison, I’ve written significantly less about Exodus, so today I intend to remedy that somewhat.  Some of the things I have written about Exodus have indicated that I think their sonic output is a bit spottier than some other thrash bands, and I still stand by that statement (Impact is Imminent and Force of Habit have some great songs, but they are nowhere near the same level of quality as anything else the band has released).  I also mentioned at some point that I don’t care as much for the Rob Dukes-era version of Exodus, because his vocals are less enjoyable to me.  This attitude was completely adjusted when I saw the band live at Rock on the Range last year, and now I can’t get enough of the Dukes albums, and I really wish I could hear their newest album (Blood In, Blood Out – 2014) with his vocals, because as amazing as the album is, I just think he would’ve utterly destroyed the songs, in the best possible way.

I might not make it out of this alive, y'all.

I might not make it out of this alive, y’all.

Anyhoo, one somewhat-reoccurring theme in Exodus songs is clever wordplay in either the titles or the lyrics (and sometimes in both).  Two examples can be found on their first album, 1985’s undeniable classic Bonded By Blood (“And Then There Were None” and “Deliver Us to Evil”, the latter of which gave this post its title), although the wordplay became much more clever as the band grew, and in fact these first two examples are pretty weak, and are only really being included because the songs are so fucking good that it would literally be a crime to not include them.

Exodus circa 2008 re-recorded the songs from Bonded By Blood and released it under the title Let There Be Blood, and I love those versions just as much (what I’ve learned in the past year or so is that the three different Exodus vocalists don’t really sound so different), so I’ma include them, as well.

After Bonded By Blood, original vocalist, party animal, metal ambassador, and poseur-beater-upper Paul Baloff (RIP) was given the boot, because he couldn’t carry a tune in a dumptruck, and because he was partying a li’l too much, which when you think about the metal scene in the mid-to-late 80’s, is pretty absurd and rather terrifying.  His replacement came in the form of Steve “Zetro” Souza, who was fronting a band called Legacy, who replaced him with young upstart vocalist Chuck Billy and changed their name to Testament, which led to the world receiving two beautiful gifts in 1987, Testament’s debut The Legacy and Exodus’ second album, Pleasures of the Flesh, which was my personal introduction to the band.  There is only one wordplay example on Pleasures, but it hints at what would come later, and it happens to be my favorite song from the album, and is yet another example of thrash metal’s long-standing social awareness.  It’s called “Chemi-kill”.

The follow-up album, 1987’s Fabulous Disaster, contains no cleverly-titled songs, but it is really great, and it had something of a hit single called “The Toxic Waltz”, which received pretty regular rotation on Headbanger’s Ball back in the day, and remains a live staple to this day.  I’m gonna share it just because it’s fucking great.

1990’s Impact is Imminent gave us one wordplay example, album closer “Thrash Under Pressure”, which is one of the better songs on the album.

1992’s Force of Habit was in pretty heavy rotation in my bedroom when it first came out, but these days I just can’t get into it as much.  It has some wicked-bad songs, but it seems to lack the urgency of the first three albums (and it definitely lacks the urgency of everything that has come after).  The album contains no songs that fit within my self-imposed parameters, so I’ll just include the videos for the two singles, “Thorn in My Side” and the anti-suicide anthem “A Good Day to Die”, the latter of which was used in a television show at the time, although I cannot for the life of me remember which show, nor can I find any evidence on the internet of this having ever happened.  I just remember that the main character was a high school kid, and his family was worried about him committing suicide because he was listening to a song called “A Good Day to Die”.  Can anyone help me out with this?  Did I somehow manufacture this entire scenario in my metal-and-caffeine-addled brain?

The band split up after Force of Habit, reforming in 1996 or ’97 with Baloff back on vocals.  They released a live album, the outstanding Another Lesson in Violence, in 1997, and broke up again in 1998, reforming with Baloff again in 2001 to play the Thrash of the Titans concert, which was a benefit for Chuck Billy, who at the time had a rare form of cancer, which he went on to kick the shit out of.  Holy shit, Thrash of the Titans had such an amazing lineup.



But I digress…the band continued to play shows in and around the Bay Area, and plans were made to record a new album with Baloff, but he died in 2002 after suffering a stroke.  Zetro was brought back in emergency-style, so that the band could fill previously made commitments, which led to the recording of the band’s “comeback” album, 2004’s mighty Tempo of the Damned, which is nearly as overrun with clever turns of phrase as it is with badass songs.

The album kicks off with a one-two punch of anti-war diatribes “Scar Spangled Banner” and the absolutely brutal “War is My Shepherd”, which are later followed by the vehemently anti-religious “Shroud of Urine” and a dark tale of revenge against domestic violence called “Sealed With a Fist”.

“America, the violent, the indifferent, God shit his grace on me…we the people, for no people, secure the blessings of tragedy, do ordain we have established the scar spangled banner!”

I didn’t realize “War is My Shepherd” had an official video until just now.  Let’s watch together, shall we?

“You’re cruci-fucked and you’re out of luck if you put your faith in the flock…”

“When she took your hand in marriage, it didn’t mean right across the face…but now that your wedding chamber’s the one the bullet’s in, brave man, look at you, not so tough when the hammer’s cockin…when they carry your body out over the threshold, you’ll wish you never said ‘I do’…”

Zetro left the band again on the eve of a tour that was slated to take the band to Mexico and points south, and harsh words were uttered by guitarist and band leader Gary Holt…words so harsh, in fact, that any chance of a return to the fold seemed completely out of the question.  Enter Rob Dukes.

Dukes made his debut with the band on 2005’s Shovel Headed Kill Machine, which I absolutely love.  The opening track “Raze” is short and sweet, if you replace “sweet” with bitter, angry, and savage.  So…”short and savage”, I guess.  Anyway, it leads into the first example of this albums clever titles and lyrical wordplay, “Deathamphetamine”, a vicious, nightmarish tale of addiction which is a maybe my favorite Dukes-era song, and which should have absolutely been included on my addiction-themed mixtape Obey Your Master, but I was foolishly unfamiliar with the song when I made that mix.  I guess it’ll have to be a bonus track on the Special Anniversary Edition.  Another finalist for the title of Joel’s Favorite Rob Dukes-Era Exodus Song comes later on the same album, and it also happens to fit the theme here.  It’s called “Altered Boy”, and it is outfuckingstanding.

“Chicken hawks of the Catholic church, out to save and destroy, they have become the the priest of burden, and he’s become an altered boy.”  How fucking brilliant is that?!  “Exceedingly fucking brilliant” is the correct answer.

The band took a somewhat different path with their next album, 2007’s The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A.  The songs are a bit more complicated musically, and the lyrics are based around the themes of war and religion, which isn’t necessarily so different for the band, except that the focus on those themes is much more laser-like this time.  It contains a surprising (if you’ve never heard it before) example of Dukes’ vocal abilities in the passionately anti-radical Muslim centerpiece “Children of a Worthless God”, but the only example that fits my parameters for this entry is “The Garden of Bleeding”.

“Endless orchards dot the land, of corpses up on spikes.  Beauty’s in the eye of the beheaded on a pike…”

The companion album, Exhibit B: The Human Condition, appeared in 2010, and it contains no punny songs, but it does contain a song about school shootings called “Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer)”, the lyrics to which, you may recall, got a man in Kentucky arrested last year, after he shared them on his facebook page.  I actually just bought this album yesterday, and I’m looking forward to digging into it.  Hopefully I won’t end up on any watch lists.

At some point, Gary Holt must have had a change of heart, as Dukes was unceremoniously relieved of his duties last year and Zetro came back on board.  Quick aside: you should also check out Dukes’ current band, Generation Kill.  They kick ass, too.  Anyway, the resulting album, Blood In, Blood Out, is as good as nearly any other album in the band’s catalog, although as stated above, I would love to hear it with Dukes’ voice.  It also contains no songs that fit my theme, but I would be remiss to not share the searing title track, as well as one of my favorite songs ever from the band, “Body Harvest”, a grim little ditty based on the urban legend about the guy who wakes up in a bathtub filled with ice, only to find that his kidneys have been taken from him by black marketeers.

“Let’s start the pit that time forgot.” I can not fucking wait to “rage and make Paul Baloff proud” on April 21.

That’s all I got for now.  Enjoy some Exodus, and seriously, if you know anything about the TV show that may or may not have existed in the early 90’s, and may or may not have featured that Exodus song, please let me know.  Until next time, stay heavy, you heavy fuckers!




More Loose Ends and Random Bits

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while now, and I wish I could say for certain that I’m back at it on a regular basis, but unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to do it up properly, so for now, I’ll continue sporadically updating on what I’ve been up to since my last update.

The main thing I’ve been up to that pertains to metal is that I am now also writing for Global Thrash Assault, an awesome website run by fellow thrash fanatic Chad.  I’ve written two reviews so far, both for albums by bands I’d never even heard of until Chad sent me the assignments, and I’ve really enjoyed both of them.  Greek thrashers Biotoxic Warfare lay down some dark and angry blackened thrash on their full-length debut Lobotomized, and Italian “Moshing Maniax” Blindeath combine dirty NWOBHM-style proto-thrash with balls out mid-to-late 80’s pure thrash metal and deliver an adrenaline-fueled kick to the crotch called Into the Slaughter that you’ll return to again and again.  Both albums are highly recommended.

One odd/interesting thing I’ve noticed during my relative blogging silence is that my post entitled “The Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads of All Time” has been viewed at least once every single day since I first posted it back in mid-September, lending considerable evidence to my assertion that lists are the only thing most people read on the internet these days.  I noticed a couple of days ago that it was the second link listed if you search “thrash metal ballads” on the Google, which was very exciting, and I just now searched it on Google again to make sure it was still number two, and it is, in fact, number one now, which is obviously even more exciting.  So thanks, whoever keeps looking at my nearly five month old post!

Also, at least once a week, someone finds my blog by searching the internet for some variation of “bill kelliher haircut” or “brent hinds tattoo”, which I find endlessly amusing, and I can only assume that most of those people have not become regular readers of Stay Heavy.

I’ve got a ton of topics cookin in my brain, and eventually you’ll see the continuation of the Voivod saga, another Old-Ass VHS Review or two, some more reviews, some more mixtapes (which I will clearly refer to as “The Best (Whatever) of All Time” now, so that people will actually look at them), some more Metal in the Mainstream adventures, and a whole lot more.

That’s all I got for now.  Here’s some live Exodus with metal madman Paul Baloff on vocals, because today is the thirteenth anniversary of his death from a stroke at the age of 41.  The song begins at around 2:30.

“…and it ain’t about no trout!  This song is called…”

RIP, you crazy fucker.

Stay heavy.  It’s what Paul Baloff would’ve wanted.


A Few Loose Ends

Clearing my brain a little.  It’s been too full lately.

Decibel magazine, which I (mostly) love, recently put out their annual year-end issue, with top albums and live shows, and what-have-you, and I just cannot understand how Exodus, Coffinworm, Overkill,  Today is the Day, and Rigor Mortis could all be absent from not only their Top 40 Extreme Albums of 2014, but from the “Top 5 Records That Tied For #41” sidebar as well.  And then to add insult to injury, those clowns in Mastodon are on the goddamn cover for the 293rd goddamn time.  Add to this the fact that the final edition of “Grinding it Out”, the monthly column by Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth (RIP)/Venemous Concept/Primate/etc.) appeared within, and you’ve got the makings of a bummer of an issue.

So. Motherfucking. Good.

Despite all this, I wholeheartedly support Decibel, especially when the only real competition it has here in the colonies is Revovler, which I wouldn’t give Rush Limbaugh to wipe his fat, sweaty butt-crack.

This is what you get when you perform a Google Image search for the words "rush limbaugh butt crack".  I go the extra mile to bring the truth to you.  Source: http://www.iudexonline.com/rush-limbaugh-cartoon.html

This is what you get when you perform a Google Image search for the words “rush limbaugh butt crack”. Now you don’t have to Google it yourself. Source: http://www.iudexonline.com/rush-limbaugh-cartoon.html

I’m in the process of losing weight and getting in better shape, because I want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, and I’d like to live a while longer, thanks.  I still don’t know what to make of how dedicated I am to it.  I definitely need to get a better handle on my diet, but the exercise is usually enjoyable, and I’ve lost 15 pounds since I started going to Planet Fitness in mid-October.  The place gets some flack on the internet from people who are offended that they don’t allow you to work out there if you’re the kind of person who screams in the mirror and fantasizes about fucking yourself while you stare at your own muscles, but that’s one of the things I like about it.


There are some real chowderheads there, for sure, but I’m way more comfortable there than I would be at, like, Cardinal Fitness or whatever.  I’m working with a trainer (free to all members of PF) and doing all my exercises in accord with her plan, and I feel better, both mentally and physically, than I have in a long while.  I never used to understand people who enjoyed exercising, but I get it now.

“Joel, what the fuck has this got to do with heavy?”

Sorry, I was just getting to it.  Owning an old iPod (thanks to the incomparable Amy Miller) has made my time at PF tolerable as far as the music is concerned; when I go after work, the music they play is absurdly dumb.  Taylor Swift is the best it gets between the hours of noon-ish and sometime after 4:30, and that just will not do.  I’ve been earlier in the day a couple of times, and it’s mostly good (“Pump it Up” by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, “Right Here, Right Now” by Jesus Jones, heard a Pixies song once, though I forget which one), but I’d still rather listen to something of my own choosing.  I have intentions of putting together a workout playlist at some point, because lists get more views on this blog than anything else, and because I like making lists, but for now I’ll just mention that Agnostic Front’s legendary 1984 hardcore debut, Victim in Pain, followed by Agnostic Front’s oft-maligned crossover classic Liberty and Justice For…(1987) makes a pretty great stationary bike soundtrack, and Rollins Band’s Weight (1994) is a fine background for weight machines (see endnote *).

The lyrics are pretty damned inspirational.

Been listening to some stuff I still intend to write about eventually, not least of which is Gama Bomb’s Tales From the Grave in Space (2009), which I enjoy more than I’ve enjoyed any other release that I’ve heard from any other band from the New Wave of Thrash Metal, though I have admittedly heard very little of the stuff.  I like Municipal Waste well enough, but they invariably make me wanna listen to Nuclear Assault instead, and Toxic Holocaust does the same with Sodom.  Gama Bomb sounds different, and, for lack of a better word, “fresher”, and it doesn’t make me feel like reaching for another, more classic band.  Tales From the Grave in Space is the band’s third album, and is available for free download at earache.com/misc/downloads/gamabomb/.

It’s pretty tight.

Oh, and because I just happened upon them a little while ago, here are some pictures of the super-badass Exodus t-shirt I scored earlier this year:

This was somehow the least blasphemous t-shirt available at the Exodus merch booth that day.

This was somehow the least blasphemous t-shirt available at the Exodus merch booth that day.

That’s all for now, I think.  I’m gonna watch a movie.  You stay heavy, internet.

endnote *: I don’t get nearly so excited about Henry Rollins these days, but the man and his work still exist as in important layer in the foundation of the house of Joel, and I still think WeightCome in and Burn (1997), and The End of Silence (1992) are great (I don’t enjoy the stuff before and after as much, with a few exceptions).  Some other time, I’ll tell you about the two different times I met Henry Rollins.  The first time was very awkward, which is my way, and is much funnier in retrospect than the second time, which while it was happening seemed much less awkward than the first time, but is in fact much more awkward in retrospect .


Bear Witness to the Genesis of the Violence

In the interest of keeping things current-ish, I decided to pop in and mention that I’ve been enjoying the fuck out of the new Exodus album, Blood In Blood Out.  I can’t imagine that anyone reading isn’t up to date on the ongoing dramatic saga of this Bay Area Thrash Metal powerhouse, or maybe you are not, but either way, I’ma skip that for now and just say the following:

Blood In Blood Out will almost certainly be my favorite album released this year.

– “Salt the Wound”, the song featuring a guest guitar solo from Exodus co-founder Kirk Hammett, is easily the weakest track on the album, and I’ve been considering making a copy for the car wherein I delete the offending track.

– Knowing what a formidable voice/presence previous vocalist Rob Dukes possesses, and knowing that the album was written and recorded while he was in the band, I rrrrrreeeeeeaaaaaalllllly wanna hear it with Dukes.  Because while I grew up with Zetro-era Exodus, and while I generally enjoy Zetro’s voice, I can’t help but think these songs would sound even more punishing with Dukes’ rabid barking, rather than Zetro’s Cobra-Commander-in-the-throes-of-rage delivery.

– The title track and “Body Harvest” will not leave my head.

Here’s a video:

I will eventually get around to actually reviewing the album, in case anyone other than me cares.

I’ve also been listening to the new Today Is the Day album (Animal Mother) quite a bit.  I’m relatively new to this band, and have only heard three albums now, but I can confidently say that Animal Mother is a beautiful and brilliant noisy headfuck of an album, and will likely be my second-favorite album from 2014.

Here’s a video (don’t watch/listen this too close to bed time):

Also the new(est) Coffinworm (IV.I.VIII) is still jangling up my nerves in the best possible way.


Aside from that, I’ve been listening to Agnostic Front a bit these days, for the first time in a while.  I especially like Liberty and Justice For… (1987).

This album is short enough to listen to in its entirety in one sitting:

In other news, I’m sad that baseball season and Halloween are over.

darryl strawberry crying

More things will come eventually, but that’s all for today.  Stay heavy, brothers and sisters.


A Tale of Two Goofballs: A Sort of Review of Day 2 of Rock on the Range 2014

Last weekend, my friend Dustin sent me a text telling me he got free tickets to Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio.  “Google that shit”, he said, and “try to get Saturday and Sunday off.  We’ll camp.”  If you’re not familiar with Rock on the Range, here’s what you need to know: self-billed as “Where Rock Lives”, ROTR has been an annual event since 2007, when it was a one-day only thing.  It is held at a professional soccer stadium (Columbus Crew of the MLS organization) just north of downtown Columbus.  ZZ Top headlined that first year, and the likes of Papa Roach, Buckcherry, and Puddle of Mudd played as well.

In 2008, the event was extended an extra day, covering Saturday and Sunday.  Stone Temple Pilots headlined the first day, and Kid Rock and Three Doors Down co-headlined the second day.  Other bands on the bill included Papa Roach, Disturbed, Seether, Five Finger Death Punch, Drowning Pool, etc.  If you’re noticing a theme to some of the bands, then you’ll understand why I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea.  Good bands have been known to play Rock on the Range, but for every Cheap Trick, Anthrax, Helmet, Clutch, Ghost, and Alice in Chains that have appeared, there have been dozens of Limp Bizkits, Korns, Hollywood Undeads, Godsmacks, Stone Sours, and Black Veil Brideses.

2014 marks the second consecutive year that the event has been extended to a third day.  I checked out the website, and here are the three headliners, in order, Friday-Sunday: Guns ‘n’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold, and Kid Rock.  Understandably, I was not super fired up about driving four hours for this shit.  When I looked further into the Saturday lineup, however, I knew I had to find a way to go: Slayer, Exodus, and Suicidal Tendencies were making this the last stop on their short US tour, and I had a chance to see them for free, and all I had to do was drive us there?  Sign me right the fuck up!  If you’ve read more than a few things on this blog, you know that thrash metal is my lifeblood, and I had never seen Exodus or Slayer, so I was definitely into it.  I was also kind of pumped about seeing Fozzy, and Don Jamieson of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show was headlining the “Old Milwaukee® Comedy Tent”.  I’ve only heard a couple of Fozzy songs, but Chris Jericho was one of my favorite professional wrestlers in the mid-to-late ’90s, and I’d never seen or heard any of Don’s stand-up, but he’s pretty funny on the show, so I figured I might as well check them out while I had the chance.

Here's the full lineup.

Here’s the full lineup.

I already get Sundays off work, so all I had to do was figure out the Saturday situation, which I managed to do pretty quickly: I’d go to work at 5:30 AM like I always do on Saturdays, and I’d leave at 9:00, drive an hour north to Indianapolis to pick Dustin up, and head three hours east to break my fucking neck headbanging.  When I finally had a chance to research the event properly, a major hitch became apparent: camping was only allowed for people who purchased a “Camping Package”, which was sold out, and which cost $869 – EIGHT HUNDRED SIXTY-NINE FUCKING DOLLARS – for four three-day Field General Admission tickets (Field GA allowed access to the floor in front of the stage, while Stadium GA only allowed seating in the stands – this will come into play later), a campsite (no tents allowed), and four festival t-shirts.  With less than one week before the start of the festival, the only available hotels were $300 a night, so we had to figure something out.  After much discussion, I managed to talk Dustin into only attending Saturday, since we hadn’t paid for the tickets anyway, with the deal being that I would drive us back to Indianapolis afterward.  He was only really interested in two bands on Sunday (Trivium and the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience), and I was only interested in Gojira, but I was obviously fine with not paying $300 so I could stay in Columbus and watch a band I’m only marginally familiar with play for 30 minutes.

I arrived late to Dustin’s house (thanks for fucking nothing, Mapquest), so we got to the venue about an hour later than we’d anticipated, and thus had to pay $20 to park 1.5 miles from the venue.  Dustin is the head brewer for Cutters Brewing Company (which is how he scored the tickets, and which you should definitely check out if you get the chance), so he brought some beer, and I’m a kitchen manager at a co-op grocery store and a bourbon enthusiast, so I brought some expired bread and cheese and a flask full of Four Roses.  We were about to jam econo, Heavy Metal Parking Lot-style.  We had an awesome conversation with the most Kentuckian couple I’ve ever met (which is quite a feat, considering that my wife and her entire family are from Kentucky), and we traded beers for more bourbon, and the man (who was very excited to meet a Brewmaster) said “Man, I hate to say it, but Guns ‘n’ Roses kinda sucked last night” [which came out more like “Mayun, Ah hay-eete ta say-ee it, but Guns ‘n’ Raoses kanda suucked last naht” – seriously, it was so much fun to talk to them (and I’m not making fun)].

Heavy Metal Parking Lot 2014

“Congratulations, kids, and welcome to the real world.”

We continued to eat and drink our free food and beer, and then I began to notice a slow trickle of people in suits walking around the parking lot, which struck me as odd, until we realized that we were tailgating in the middle of a parking lot filled with cars parked by people who were attending a high school graduation.  Congratulations, kids, and welcome to the real world.  By and by, I realized that we had already missed the beginning of Fozzy’s set, so we hung out a little longer before finally heading for the venue.  I immediately scoped out the grounds to find the Jagermeister® Third Stage, where Exodus was set to go on at 6:00.  After locating the stage, I found an amazingly badass Exodus t-shirt (which surprisingly only cost $25, and which I’ll share a picture of here later), we bought a couple of $6 PBRs each, and settled our way in near the front of the crowd.

Murder in the front row.

Murder in the front row.

Exodus came on promptly at 6:00, and proceeded to blast my skull wide open for the next half hour.  They kicked off with “Bonded By Blood”, vocalist Rob Dukes said hello to everyone, then said “There’s a lot of fuckin great bands playin here today…lot of fuckin shitty bands playin here today too.  This one’s called ‘Piranha’.”   Then they played “Blacklist”, “War is my Shepherd”, and “The Toxic Waltz”, (they may have played “A Lesson in Violence” next, but I really can’t remember) before closing with “Strike of the Beast”.  It didn’t last nearly long enough, but it was an absolutely fucking amazing set (although I would’ve loved to hear “And Then There Were None” live).

One of my favorite parts of the set was during “The Toxic Waltz”: Dukes said he wanted to see “the biggest fuckin circle pit I’ve ever seen”, and while I’m 100% certain he’s seen bigger circle pits, the pit that opened up and maintained itself for the entirety of that song was easily the most fun, respectful pit I’ve ever borne witness to.  No meatheads swinging their fists wildly in the air, no one kicking at other people, no mindless, aggressive shoving, just good, friendly, violent fun, with a crowd of giddy Metalheads dancing in a circle for 5 minutes.

I was on the edge of the pit, afraid of breaking my glasses.

I remained on the edge of that amazing pit, fearful of breaking my glasses.  This is what I saw.

This is the only clear shot of the circle pit that I could manage to snap.

This is the only clear shot of the circle pit that I could manage to snap.

Dustin had heard Exodus for the first time in the car on the way to the show, but he was pumped afterward.  He told me he loved it, and that he was definitely gonna be adding some of their stuff to his collection.  And seriously, I implore you, if you get a chance to see Exodus live, fucking DO IT.

Next on the agenda was a trip to the bathrooms.  We had an hour to kill before Suicidal hit the Ernie Ball® Second Stage, and Chevelle was playing on the main stage, so we walked around and did some people watching, got more beers, and made our way toward the stage to wait.  A couple of total bro-looking dudes stopped and chatted us up (one of them was very excited about my ALL and Descendents buttons), and the taller of the two told us that Guns ‘n’ Roses were “fuckin awesome last night” (for the record, based on what I’ve seen on YouTube in the past year or two, I’m inclined to believe Mr. Southern Kentucky’s assessment more).  Taller Bro was really stoked for Suicidal, and Shorter Bro seemed on the fence, as he was there for some of the shittier bands, but agreed to come give them a chance.

Still cyco after all these years.

Still cyco after all these years.

For my part, I’d seen Suicidal once before, on the Vans® Warped Tour back in like 1999 or 2000, so I had already decided to watch part of their set, then head over to the comedy tent to check out Don Jamieson’s stand-up set, which began halfway through ST’s set.  The band came out and started the opening strains of “You Can’t Bring Me Down”, then Mike Muir’s voice came from the ether, “Columbus, I just got one question for you…”, then he appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and shouted “What the fuck is goin on around here?!”  The band played the song flawlessly, but it seemed to me that Muir was getting winded pretty quickly, as he failed to actually sing large parts of the song, leaving the band to fill the space with backing vocals.  They followed with “War Inside My Head”, and Muir seemed more on top of things this time, but it still seemed off.  Dustin indicated that it seemed to him that there might just be something wrong with the sound.

At any rate, when they started in with “Subliminal”, we made a beeline for the comedy tent.  That was easily one of the Top 50 Worst Decisions I’ve ever made; Don Jamieson was not one bit fucking funny.  His set consisted of “Any KISS fans here? (insert joke about KISS)”, followed by a joke about having sex with his girlfriend, followed by a racist joke, followed by “Any Ozzy fans here? (insert joke about Ozzy)”, followed by a joke about jerking off, followed by a racist joke, followed by “Any Mötley Crüe fans here? (insert joke about Mötley Crüe)”, followed by a joke about having sex with his girlfriend, followed by a racist joke, etcetera, etcetera, for like 25 minutes.

Don Jamieson, being not funny

Don Jamieson, being not funny.

After his set, I turned to Dustin and said “I wish we hadn’t walked over here for that,” to which Dustin replied “Yeah, he wasn’t funny”.  Such is life, however, and Slayer was slated to start their set on the main stage in about 10 minutes, and we still hadn’t found a seat.  My feelings regarding Slayer have been discussed elsewhere in the pages of Stay Heavy, but here’s the short version: I fucking love the first four Slayer albums, and I consider Hell AwaitsReign in Blood, and South of Heaven to be absolutely essential.  Seasons in the Abyss has some great songs on it, but it marked the beginning of a noticeable change in Tom Araya’s vocal delivery, wherein he went from an amazing and sometimes frightening combination of screaming, wailing, shouting at the top of his voice, and creepy singing to a combination of shouting at the top of his voice and creepy singing, completely forgoing the screaming and wailing.  I like some stuff post-Seasons, but I have found every album since that one (and sometimes that one) to be boring, overall.

To add to that: when founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away, followed shortly thereafter by Kerry King and Tom Araya firing original drummer Dave Lombardo over some business-related bullshit, I decided I didn’t really give a fuck about Slayer anymore.  Gary Holt of Exodus has been playing live with them for several years now, and he’s a guitar beast, but the Lombardo stuff all just seemed so petty and shady, and Hanneman’s death made me so sad, that I figured I wouldn’t be able to really enjoy Slayer live, and in fact I had decided less than one month ago that I would still see them live if given the opportunity, but I wouldn’t pay for it, as I don’t want Kerry King to make any money off me.

I am happy to report that I was sorely mistaken about not being able to enjoy Slayer live.  Even in that enormous stadium setting, where I could only really see the band on the big screens to the sides of the stage, they were devastatingly good.  Part of that, no doubt, is the fact that Lombardo’s replacement, Paul Bostaph, has been a member of the band before (throughout most of the 1990’s), and that Gary Holt is one of the best metal guitar players alive.  At any rate, I enjoyed the fuck out of it.  We got to our seats a bit late, but they opened their set with “World Painted Blood”, “Hate Worldwide”, and “Disciple”, so I didn’t mind as much as if I’d missed, say, “At Dawn They Sleep”.  Our tickets were stamped “Stadium GA”, which meant we were not allowed access to the field in front of the stage, but that didn’t stop Dustin from trying to walk out there anyway, pretending like he didn’t know we needed a wristband to get on the field.  He was denied, so we found the closest seats we could, and settled in as “Disciple” was winding down and “Mandatory Suicide” was beginning.

Fuckin SLAYER!

Fuckin SLAYER!

A guy next to me asked me if I’d seen Slayer live before.  I told him I had not, and he told me he was very happy for me.  We then discussed the sad nature of the people around us, noting that for the most part, they did not seem to give a shit about Slayer.  He postulated that a lot of people these days know Slayer as a logo, and as something that people scream in their faces at shows, but that they don’t actually know what they sound like, which seemed like a pretty solid line of reasoning to me.  At any rate, I alternated between banging my head, pumping my fist, throwing the horns, screaming along to the songs, and marveling at the lack of interest I was seeing from a huge amount of people (most of whom I found were there to see headliners Avenged Sevenfold, which I’ll get to later).

I yelled at them between songs:  “GO FUCKING MOSH TO SLAYER, YOU FUCKING PUSSIES!  YOU’RE STANDING AROUND LIKE YOU’RE AT A FUCKING KENNY G CONCERT OR SOMETHING, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!  YOU’RE WASTING THOSE FUCKING FIELD WRISTBANDS, YOU FUCKING MORONS!”  My yelling only served to make several of the people around me laugh, but most of those people were oblivious to the fact that they were part of the crowd I was yelling at, so my yelling was clearly in vain, but it did make me feel a little better.

At any rate, Slayer went on to assuage my fears a bit and bring me back into the fold over the next 40 minutes by playing “Postmortem”, “Chemical Warfare”, “War Ensemble”, “Hallowed Point”, “Seasons in the Abyss”, and “Hell Awaits” before a new backdrop came down behind the band, and they closed their set with three of the best Hannemen-penned (or co-penned) songs:  “South of Heaven”, “Reign in Blood”, and “Angel of Death”.

So fucking rad.

So fucking rad.

And then it was time for Avenged Sevenfold, a band about which I knew very little until the drive to Columbus.  I already knew they are Dustin’s favorite band (last night was his 17th time seeing them live), and that they were the primary reason he wanted to attend the show in the first place.  I also knew I didn’t really care for most of what I’d heard from them (in fact, I first heard their song “The Beast and the Harlot” on Guitar Hero II and kind of liked it, then later downloaded the song only to discover that the GH version was one of those “in the style of…” songs, and I actually liked it more than Avenged Sevenfold’s version).  Dustin informed me on the drive that I should be prepared for a lot of explosions and fire, and a badass show.  He played some songs for me, which I neither loved nor hated, and he was excited like a little boy on Christmas morning (or like me when I saw Iron Maiden), so I was getting a bit excited myself.  The stage setup took so long that Master of Puppets played to halfway through “Leper Messiah”, then the lights went out (15 minutes after the band was scheduled to start), AC/DC’s “Back in Black” started blasting out of the PA, played in its entirety, then fireworks went off, flames shot out the back of the stage, and the band began to underwhelm me for the next hour and twenty minutes.

Here’s the thing about A7X (as the kids call them): their stage set was amazing, they are musically talented, their setlist was crafted well, and frontman M. Shadows is a consummate showman, deftly controlling the crowd while all manner of stage trickery happened all around him (more flames, explosions, video footage projected on the stage behind them, etcetera), and the crowd ate it up, swallowed every bite, and asked – nay, begged – for seconds.  Despite all that, the whole thing seemed a bit contrived, and I was bored enough that during the last half of the set, I was predicting when flames would rise out the back of the stage with a pretty alarming accuracy.  To be fair to the band, though, it was very chilly up there on those aluminum bleachers, and I was so very, very tired, so it was hard for me to think about much except being asleep in a warm bed.

The premier Cafeteria Metal band in the United States.

The premier Cafeteria Metal band in the United States.

Anyway, I decided today that one might classify Avenged Sevenfold as “Cafeteria Metal” – i.e., the entire band persona seems to have been chosen À la carte from a menu of Hard Rock and Metal Things.  Here are some examples: they played a song that sounded very much like a Mötley Crüe power ballad; they played a song that had a main riff that was nothing more than the main riff from Metallica’s “Sad But True” played in a slightly different manner; they played a song that sounded eerily like a Use Your Illusion-era Deep-Voiced-Axl Guns ‘n’ Roses song (Dustin even leaned over to me during this one and said “I think this one sounds kind of like a Guns ‘n’ Roses song”.); they had tapestries on the stage adorned with inverted crosses, even though they’re about as Satanic as Selena Gomez (see above photo).  And their reliance on pyrotechnics struck me as a means of drowning out the fact that at their very core, they’re mostly just copying all their influences, rearranging them just enough that the casual listener won’t notice, and blasting them back at millions of people, albeit to the tune of three RIAA Certified Gold albums and one RIAA Certified Platinum album, as well as sold out concerts around the globe.

Eventually their set ended.  Dustin was thrilled with the performance (after one song, he said to me, “They haven’t played that song live in 8 years!”), we walked 1.5 miles back to the car, and I began the long, tired drive back to Indianapolis, finally returning shortly after 4:00 AM Sunday morning, approximately 21 hours after waking up for work the previous day.  All in all, it was a great day spent with a great friend.

I woke up at 7:00 AM to drive back home, and since I couldn’t stop hearing their songs anyway, I played Exodus’ 1997  live album Another Lesson in Violence, which I started as I pulled away from Dustin’s house, and which literally finished as I was pulling up in front of my house.  It was a helluva good way to cap things off.  Here are my final thoughts:

The Good: hanging out with Dustin (whom I don’t get to see very often), Exodus, Slayer, my new Exodus t-shirt, listening to Another Lesson in Violence in the car, Suicidal Tendencies

The Bad: $6.00 cans of PBR, $20 to park the car a mile-and-a-half away

The Ugly: Don Jamieson’s abhorrent stand-up comedy set

The Final Verdict: I would attend Rock on the Range again, but only if tickets were free.  Likewise, I would pay up to $15 to see Avenged Sevenfold again.

That’s all I got.  Stay heavy, friends.