You Are Coming Down With Me, Hand in Unlovable Hand: A Brief Update

Ahoy there, friends. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything with this sumbitch, and I’m not here to claim that that’ll change anytime soon, because I know myself, and myself is pretty lazy unless something is required of it. However, this year is shaping up to be a doozy of a motherfucker in the live music field for yours truly, and a few minutes ago, a text from Mrs. Stay Heavy reminded me of the imminence of said live music, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some of the upcoming shows that I am looking forward to in the coming year.

First up (and this is a big one): I’m finally gonna see fuckin Metallica live, in Louisville, KY! I know that the band has become a shadow of its former self (I’ve expressed that sentiment in these pages plenty), but I also know that they are one of the primary reasons I’m sitting here writing about this right now (for better or worse). Metallica™️ causes me a wide range of emotions (mostly negative), but Metallica will always be one of my favorites. My amazing wife bought us tickets for my birthday last year, and one of my childhood dreams is about to come true in 30 days. There’ll almost certainly be more to come, re: this.

I’d be over the fucking moon if they played this one…

Approximately one week later, we’re going to see Clutch with Big Business in Indianapolis! It’ll be my 8th or 9th time seeing Clutch live, and the first time in about 5 years. My feelings regarding Clutch have been documented here briefly, but I will say that after two less than stellar albums, they’ve found their way back into my life, and their most recent album, Book of Bad Decisions, kicks a lot of ass. It’ll be my first time seeing Big Business live, but they fucking rule, and I’m super stoked about that. It’s only my second time seeing Clutch with an opening act that I am already familiar with (last time I saw them, The Sword was direct support), and I’m into that. There’s another band opening; they’re from France, and they’re called The Inspector Cluzo, and I don’t know much about them, but based on the songs I’ve listened to, they sound cool, and they sound like a band that would open for Clutch.

In April, Overkill and Death Angel are playing a show in Louisville on my cousin Jason’s birthday. Death Angel is his favorite band, and if you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll know that I love them like they were my own child, so we’re both super stoked about that. I’m also psyched about Overkill, as I haven’t seen them live yet, and that’s pretty stupid of me, quite frankly.

Act of Defiance is opening the shows, but I won’t share anything from them yet, as I haven’t looked into them yet, because I currently cannot stop listening to the Mountain Goats, which leads us into May…

…when I’ll be seeing the Mountain Goats for the first time, here in Bloomington. They’re not musically heavy, but their lyrics can be heavy as fuck, and Mountain Goat/guitarist/vocalist/lyricist John Darnielle is a huge fan of heavy music, and used to write a fucking amazing, hilarious, sometimes surreal column called “South Pole Dispatch” for Decibel magazine. It’s sure to be a great time.

A few days after the Mountain Goats show, Iron Reagan, Sacred Reich, and fucking Leeway (!) are playing in Chicago, but there’s only like a 2% chance I’ll be able to make it to that one. I really wanna see Sacred Reich and Leeway live. Someday, I suppose. There’s a band called Enforced opening the shows as well, but I don’t know anything about them, and since I won’t likely be in attendance, I haven’t bothered looking into them. I’ve been working on a thing about Leeway for a while now, and that’ll possibly be finished eventually, maybe.

In August, Iron fucking Maiden returns to Indianapolis for the first time since 2012, this time on the Legacy of the Beast tour. There’s not much I can say about this one, but I can guarantee that my voice will be shot for at least a day afterward.

Also, while I will not be in attendance, the almighty Vio-Lence are reuniting to play two shows in San Francisco April 13th and 14th. The first day they’ll be playing their 1988 masterpiece Eternal Nightmare in its entirety for the first time ever. If I win the lottery before then, I’ll certainly find a way to attend one or both of those shows, but in reality, I’ll just be here in southern Indiana, jamming Eternal Nightmare like I do any other given day.

Sweet mother of Jeebus, y’all, that’s a heavy goddamn year, and it’s only February, so more shows are sure to be added. Thanks for reading, stay tuned, and as always, stay heavy.

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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.

Gross.

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).

Bushthrax

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).

See?

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]

Ugh.

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.

 

Please Let Me Take You, And I’ll Show You the Truth: Another Thing About Thrash Metal Ballads

If you’ve read much of this blog at all, you’re no doubt well aware that I am cuckoo for Testament. The Bay Area Thrash titans have been damn near flawless since the beginning, and they are one of the very few bands I can think of that have not released a bad song. For example, Iron Maiden is my favorite band ever by a substantial margin, and I like songs from all eras of the band, but they’ve easily got enough clunkers in their catalog to make a Greatest Turds album, which I just might do one of these days.

Anyway, we’re talking about Testament (again). They’ve made some immensely heavy songs – some with riffs so thick you couldn’t drive a tank through them and vocals so intense they could make a cage fighter wet his cage-fighting shorts – but some of their best songs are of the metal ballad persuasion (one of them was included in my Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads post from a little over a year ago), and while listening to their vastly underrated 1992 album The Ritual, which boasts two ballads, I decided to put together a thing about Testament’s top-notch metal balladry, and this is it. Everybody wins! (Note: these are in chronological order.)

“Musical Death (A Dirge)” (from The New Order – 1988) – This is an instrumental, but it’s so mellow and soothing that I couldn’t bring myself to not include it here. It’s the closing song from the band’s second album (and my personal favorite), and it provides a hell of a showcase for the guitar wizardry of Alex Skolnick. Wizardry really is the only word that begins to properly describe Skolnick’s playing – the man is brilliant, and while the band was still great without him (from 1994-ish through 2000-ish), they are noticeably better with him. He was a touring member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, for cryin out loud! They are not known for employing musicians who are “okay” at their instruments.

“The Ballad” (from Practice What You Preach – 1989) – This one is not winning any awards for “Most Cleverly-Titled Song” or anything, but it’s a damn fine piece of music. It was also released a single, so you may have seen it on MTV (back when MTV wasn’t a garbage receptacle for entertainment refuse), particularly if you’re old.

“The Legacy” (from Souls of Black – 1990) – This song is not to be confused with the album called The Legacy, which was the band’s 1987 debut, and neither of the two should be confused with the band Legacy, which is what Testament was called when Zetro from Exodus sang for them, way back when I was still listening to Toto and Ronnie Milsap – i.e., whichever radio station my older sisters or my parents had tuned in. It was also a single.

“The Ritual” (from The Ritual – 1992) – This was the last Testament album with the “classic lineup”. Alex Skolnick did not appear on another Testament album until First Strike Still Deadly, 2001’s unnecessary-but-still-great re-recording of The Legacy/The New Order-era material. Original drummer Louie Clemente also left the band after this album, and aside from a guest appearance here and there, has yet to rejoin the band, but the way they operate, I would not be surprised if he did, in fact, rejoin someday.

“Return to Serenity” (from The Ritual – 1992) – This is the Testament song I included in my Ten Best Thrash Ballads of All Time piece. I like it very, very much. The Ritual is noticeably slower than previous Testament albums, and the production is a bit thin, both of which contribute to the album getting unfairly overlooked, which makes me sad – not like “discussing politics with my relatives” sad or anything, but sad nonetheless. This song was also released as a single, and therefore also has a video, and here it is.

“Trail of Tears” (from Low – 1994) – Low was the last album to feature original bassist Greg Christian until 2008’s super-dope The Formation of Damnation (which is just an excellent fucking title), and he left again last year under less than amiable circumstances. Like The RitualLow is also often overlooked, and like The RitualLow is also much better than a lot of people would have you believe, but unlike The RitualLow is a super-heavy, grooving, growling motherfucker of an album. It even flirts with death metal for a few minutes on Side 2 opener “Dog Faced Gods”, but “Trail of Tears” is the quiet, contemplative break from the sludgy, downtuned riff-factory that is the rest of Low. The lyrics are inspired by the actual Trail of Tears, in which thousands of Native Americans were forced to move from their ancestral homelands thanks to Andrew “Indian Killer” Jackson‘s Indian Removal Act of 1830. Man, Andrew Jackson was a despicable piece of shit.

“Cold Embrace” (from Dark Roots of Earth – 2012) – This is a triumphant return to classic Testa-Ballad® (patent pending) form: mellow, lush, verses swell into soaring, booming choruses, all tied up beautifully by Alex Skolnick’s lead work, and for a little under eight minutes, all is right and righteous in the world.

That’s all for today, friends. Until next time, keep on staying heavy, won’t you?

Mixtape Monday (Friday Edition), Volume 10: Sadness Will Prevail

I haven’t done one of these mixtapes in a while, but I find myself with time to write and unable to think of much to say. One of my best friends left town yesterday to move 1,000 miles away, and I’m fuckin sad about it. I spent a while pretending it wasn’t really happening, then as time marched forward in its unceasing way, I tried to not think about it. At his going away party last Saturday, I may or may not have broken down and cried in front of everyone (I did) (although alcohol may have played a role in said possible breakdown), and since I last saw him Wednesday night, I’ve just been in a weird funk, and I thought maybe putting together a sadness-themed mix might help me move past it.

i-had-friends-on-that-death-star

Part of the sadness is undoubtedly due the fact that he’s one of like 4 friends who lives around here who doesn’t have any kids, and please do not misunderstand – I love my friends with kids (and those kids) dearly, but with Mrs. Stay Heavy and myself being in our mid-to-late 30’s, childless friends are becoming more rare these days than a PhD at a Five Finger Death Punch concert, and sometimes we wanna hang out with no kids around, y’know?

Aside from his lack of dependents, though, he’s just an all around awesome guy. Like me, he grew up watching the Golden Era of professional wrestling. Like me, he’s a fan of horror and science-fiction, and a music aficionado (although his tastes do not lean as heavy as mine), plus he’s the only person I’ve ever known who always gets it when I quote The Simpsons.

My selfish sadness aside, I understand why he moved, and it’s not like I’m never gonna see him again. I know I’ll get over it, and if I don’t, then it’s my problem, isn’t it? Either way, let’s move on to the substance of this post, then shall we?

These are in no particular order, and the title of this mix is taken from an album by Today is the Day. I included a song of theirs here, but nothing from that album, because I’m not familiar enough with it. Also, I wanted to include something from Louisiana sludge kings Acid Bath, but everything of theirs that gets put up on YouTube gets taken down almost immediately. You should check them out on your own time, though. You can just pick a song, and it’s pretty much guaranteed make you sad, creep you out, or, in many cases, both.

Anyway, this is for you, Sal, even though you’d probably only like maybe two of these songs.

Life of Agony – “Let’s Pretend” (from Ugly – 1995) – I have plans to write about Life of Agony at length, hopefully sooner than later, so I don’t want to say too much here, but sweet merciful crap, is this song ever sad.

“But sometimes I like to pretend, that she knows me, that she holds me…
I guess I can’t, ’cause she doesn’t know who I am.”

Metallica – “Fade to Black” (from Ride the Lightning – 1985) – If you’re reading these words, I’m going to assume you’ve heard this song at least a few times before, so I’ve included the live version from the Cliff ’em All home video, which you should own.

“No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try.”

Type O Negative – “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family)” (from Bloody Kisses – 1993) – If you’re not familiar with Type O Negative, you might be surprised to learn that they were often light-hearted and hilarious in their lyrics, with late singer/bassist Peter Steele planting his tongue so firmly in his cheek that plenty of people didn’t get the joke. However, when Type O Negative made a sad song, Type O Negative went ahead and made a sad, sad bastard of a song. RIP Mr. Steele.

“A pair of souls become undone
Where were two, now one
Divided by this wall of death, I soon will join you yet.”

My Dying Bride – “The Cry of Mankind” (from The Angel and the Dark River – 1995) – Since the late 1980’s, British indie label Peaceville Records has been putting out some extremely high-quality extreme music. Bradford, England’s miserable sonsabitches My Dying Bride, along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, were part of what was known as the “Peaceville Three”. All three bands were signed to Peaceville in the early 90’s (when metal was dead), and were pioneers in the death/doom metal genre that has since blossomed like a rotting black rose.

“I will make them all lie down
Down where hope lies dying.”

Voivod – “Morpheus” (from Infini – 2009) – I’m still working on my continuation of the Voivod saga, the first three parts of which can be viewed here, here, and here, so I don’t want to discuss this album much, but I will say that the lyrics were inspired by late guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s death from cancer. RIP Piggy.

“The thing inside me, won’t let me be
This nightmare is real, let me out of me.”

Iron Maiden – “When the Wild Wind Blows” (from The Final Frontier – 2010) – This is the last song on what is currently Iron Maiden’s most recent studio album (The Book of Souls is out in less than one month!), and it’s my favorite song on that album by a pretty wide margin. The song is inspired by a 1982 graphic novel called When the Wind Blows, and by a 1986 animated film of the same name, however, the song has a different ending than the book and movie. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried the first time I listened to this song, and, in fact, I have cried many times since while listening to it, most recently when I watched the video below, which uses scenes from the movie.

“Have you heard what they said on the news today?
Have you heard what is coming to us all?
That the world as we know it will be coming to an end
Have you heard, have you heard?”

Candlemass – “Solitude” (from Epicus Doomicus Metallicus – 1986) – I only know like three songs from Swedish doom merchants Candlemass, but all three of them rule. I should listen to more of them, and you should, too.

“I long for my time to come
death means just life
Please let me die in solitude.”

Testament – “Cold Embrace” (from Dark Roots of Earth – 2012) – I don’t really have anything new to add, re: Testament, as it’s all pretty well documented. Just look around. See?

“The sun will never shine on you
Daylight blinds your way…
Now accept this cold embrace.”

Vallenfyre – “Seeds” (from A Fragile King – 2011) – Vallenfyre began as a side project formed by Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh to write out the pain he was feeling after the death of his father. Hamish Glencross, formerly of My Dying Bride, plays guitar in the band as well, so the misery pedigree is not to be fucked with.

“I face an eternal winter
Without you I will cease
You were my idol
I am your priest.”

Suicidal Tendencies – “Nobody Hears” (from The Art of Rebellion – 1992) – This song instantly transports me back in time, to the days when metal was dead, and Suicidal Tendencies, Pantera (“Walk”), and Sacred Reich (“Crawling”) all had songs in rotation on the “alternative rock” station out of Indianapolis, all receiving regular airplay alongside the likes of HelmetWhite Zombie, and others. This song is a bit of a rarity in the ST catalog, in that it does not have a positive resolution at the end. It just starts and ends as a bummer. It still kicks a ton of ass, though.

“So what do I have to do
To make you comfort me
Now I’m sitting here screaming inside myself
Don’t understand why nobody hears.”

Thergothon – “Crying Blood + Crimson Snow” (from Stream From the Heavens – 1994) – To be perfectly honest, I know very little about Thergothon, except that they were a Finnish band, and are considered one of the first bands to play the style that has since come to be known as “funeral doom”, which means they obviously fit this theme.

“Oh, the everlasting winter of my soul
Ice burns my skin, I writhe in cold and grief.”

Anthrax – “A.D.I./The Horror of It All” (from Among the Living – 1987) – As a kid, I used to try and figure out what “A.D.I.” stood for, thinking it must be something deep and profound, only to find out a few years ago that it was short for “Arabian Douche(bag) Intro”. Depending on the source, it was either a way to poke fun at the then-common practice of Bay Area Thrash bands including an acoustic intro to big, bludgeoning tracks, or a way to poke fun at then-lead guitarist Dan Spitz, who was always tooling around with it before it was included as the intro to “The Horror of It All”, which is a song about the death of a loved one.

“You’re not supposed to question, but why’s there so much pain
When someone’s taken from you?
What can you do or say?”

Today is the Day – “Death Curse” (from Pain is a Warning – 2011) – Aside from one song on a Relapse Records sampler (I can’t remember which song, but I think it was “In the Eyes of God”), Pain is a Warning was my introduction to Today is the Day. I bought it at the now-defunct Ear-X-Tacy Records in Louisville, KY, along with Hater by Total Fucking Destruction and the vinyl reissue of D.R.I.‘s Crossover, and at the time, I was working a job that was slowly destroying my soul. Pain is a Warning played a pretty significant role in my survival of that year. I adore it from beginning to end.

“It’s a lie
It’s a lie
Work until you die
It’s my life
Liars!
Liars!
Work and then you die
Death curse!”

Deftones – “Teenager” (from White Pony – 2000) – Here’s a nice mellow way to wind things down. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about the Deftones; I think they kick some serious ass, and I sincerely believe that they get unfairly maligned due to their association with shitty nü-metal bands, when they are, in fact, head and shoulders above nearly all their late-90’s/early 2000’s peers. I admittedly haven’t heard much of their work past their 2003 self-titled album, but I’ve yet to hear a Deftones song that I don’t enjoy. They really do  the whole quiet/loud dynamic thing exceptionally well, and this song is just heartbreaking.

“I drove you home
Then you moved away
New cavity moved into
My heart today.”

That’s all I got for today, heavy people. For the record, it did help alleviate my sadness a bit. Time will tell how long that lasts. Until next time, stay heavy, always.

Am I Right Or Wrong, Or Just Confused?: Yet Another Brief Update

Holy shit, it’s been far too long since I’ve sat down to update this thing. I’m finally reaching a state of normalcy re: my work schedule, so I’m committed to writing more regularly, because, if nothing else, my sanity requires it. I’m shorter on time that I thought I’d be, so for now I’ll just give an update on some upcoming heavy things that I am 100% stoked on right now, in chronological order.

1. Death Angel is releasing the long-awaited A Thrashumentary one week from today (it’s out today in Europe, lucky bastards)! The documentary DVD is accompanied by a live album The Bay Calls for Blood, which was recorded in the band’s hometown and the epicenter of 1980’s thrash metal, San Francisco, CA. I pre-ordered mine weeks ago, and I’m about to shit myself with excitement. More info here. Spoiler alert: it’s only 15 fucking dollars, plus shipping!

Get fuckin pumped, y’all!

2. Iron Maiden will be releasing their new album (and first ever studio double album), The Book of Souls, on September 4. Some of their post-1988 material has been hit-or-miss, but in my opinion, it’s been mostly hit, and if you’re any kind of regular reader of Stay Heavy, you know that I’d rather listen to the least good Iron Maiden than no Iron Maiden.

Here’s an Iron Maiden song that is not the worst:

3. MotörheadSaxon, and Crobot will be playing in Indianapolis on September 9, and there is a 98% chance that I’ll be there. Anthrax replaces Saxon in the direct support slot beginning September 12 in Detroit, and I would definitely rather see that version of the tour, but whatever; this is quite possibly the last chance I’ll get to see Motörhead live, and it’s not like I hate Saxon or anything.

4. Full Terror Assault, the first European-style open air metal festival to be held on this side of the Atlantic, will be happening at Cave-In-Rock, Illinois September 10-12. Napalm Death and Obituary are the headliners, and TerrorizerWarbeastEyehategod, and a whoooooole bunch of other kickass bands will be there. I will unfortunately be unable to attend this, but I urge everyone who can attend to do so; I want it to happen again next year. Oh, and if Cave-In-Rock sounds familiar to you, it might be due to the fact that it was the location of the Gathering of the Juggalos from 2007 until 2013. Hopefully there are no Juggalos (or Juggalettes) hiding inside the cave, or in the surrounding forest. More information about FTA can be found here.

5. D.R.I. will be playing a show in Indianapolis on September 30. I didn’t see them when they played Indy last year, and I won’t make that mistake again. This show is happening thanks to Metalhead Productions, the company responsible for bringing Death Angel to Indianapolis back in April. This will be a rager of epic proportions, friends.

6. Maryland Deathfest announced their final lineup for next year’s event, May 26-29, 2016. The announcement was made today, and I am going to try my goddamndest to go next year. I’ve wanted to make it out there every year so far, but one thing or another has prevented it every single time. But look at this lineup, y’all:

My head almost exploded three times already from looking at this.

My head almost exploded three times already from looking at this.

TestamentNuclear fucking Assault! (!), RepulsionHiraxParadise LostDischargeDoomVenom! Fucking GoblinGeneral SurgeryBuzzov-en! Holy shit, so much more!

I have to wrap this up, but keep your eyes on these pages in the coming days; I will be updating on a more regular basis, and I have so many ideas. You could “like” Stay Heavy on Facebook, or follow Stay Heavy on Twitter, or sign up for email updates down there at the bottom of this page. However you decide to keep up, make sure you stay heavy, always. Thanks for reading.

When We Go Drinking, We Shout About You: Another Brief Update

The new job is still eating away at my time, and at times, my soul. Blergh. I’m off today and tomorrow, but I’m leaving town with Mrs. Stay Heavy in a couple of hours for a wedding, and I won’t be back until tomorrow evening, and then I have to work at 6 AM Monday, so this is it as far as time goes for the next few days. My last update worked out well enough, so I figured I’d do another one like that, just in the interest of keeping up appearances. Without further ado, some songs I recall hearing since the last post (in no particular order):

I ignored the hype on Atlanta, Georgia’s Royal Thunder up until Wednesday morning, when I inexplicably woke up after 3 hours of sleep and decided on a whim to give them a listen. Suffice to say that I’ve been a damn fool, and that this song has been lodged firmly in my gray matter ever since. It evokes so many different influences and genres, yet manages to sound completely fresh and original. I’m convinced. Don’t miss out on this one.

I’ve still only heard one album from Irish thrashers Gama Bomb (2009’s Tales From the Grave In Space), but I absolutely fucking adore it. You can download it for free (and legally) here, so you have no excuses to not check it out.

San Pedro, California’s Minutemen were not a metal band, but they were sometimes heavy, and they fucking ruled, and you should listen to them. They’re perhaps best known for their song “Corona”, which was used as the opening theme from Jackass. Please don’t affiliate the band with that stupid show…they stopped being a band long before the show became a thing. Posted above is their 1981 debut album, The Punch Line, in its entirety. It’s 18 songs in 15 minutes, and it just might change your life.

Suicidal Tendencies at their best were so bloody phenomenal. The line “you wouldn’t know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eatin Froot Loops on your front porch” alone is worth the price of admission on this song (which, by the way, is $0.00 if you listen in the link above), but the rest of the song kicks major ass as well. In fact, I’ll go ahead and declare the entirety of the album (1990’s Lights…Camera…Revolution) to be utterly untouchable.

NYHC giants Sick of It All are fucking great, and arguments can be made for nearly all their albums, but for my money, 1994’s Scratch the Surface is their masterpiece. It’s the primary catalyst that got me into hardcore in the late 90’s. If you get a chance to see them live, fucking do it.

Iron Maiden’s massively underrated 1990 album No Prayer for the Dying gets positively shat upon by a large majority of fans, and by most of the band as well, but I think it’s a solid album. It’s obviously not as good as its precursor, 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, but in my opinion it’s miles ahead of its follow-up, 1992’s Fear of the Dark, in nearly every way. Fear of the Dark has three great songs (the title track, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”, and “Be Quick Or Be Dead”) and better production, but otherwise, it’s just not as good as No Prayer for the Dying. The point? “From Here to Eternity” is one of the less-than-great songs from Fear of the Dark, but it’s still better than a vast number of other songs in existence, because it’s Iron Fucking Maiden.

That’s all the time I got for today, kiddies. Stay heavy, always.

The Number of the Views

Woe to you, oh Earth and Sea: Stay Heavy reached 666 views yesterday afternoon.  It’s a silly thing, yes, but it’s also kind of awesome. I was unable to post anything when I noticed, and the number has gone up a few since then, but I wanted to commemorate the milestone with a couple of songs.

The first one is obvious.  Iron Maiden rules the entire world, and this song, almost as old as me (I was in kindergarten when it was born), is still one of my favorites.

 

The second one is maybe less obvious to most people.  I’ve written a tiny bit about Brujeria before, and I don’t have time to get into them too much right now, but they are fucking badass.  “Seis Seis Seis” originally appeared on the band’s first EP, ¡Demoniaco! (1990), which was only released on vinyl and is long out of print, but it can also be found on their 1993 full-length debut, Matando Gueros, (which is my favorite album of theirs), and the 2001 compilation Mextrimist! Greatest Hits.  Each version is actually slightly different from the others, so I’ma include all of them here.  If you like death metal, grindcore, or deathgrind (but not necessarily metalcore), and you have a sense of humor, I wholeheartedly recommend Brujeria.

From ¡Demoniaco!

 

From Matando Gueros

 

From Mextrimist! Greatest Hits

 

That’ll do, pig.

Here’s to 666 more views.  Keep on staying heavy, heavy people.

 

Stay Heavy Birthday Club: Listening With Nicko and Smashing the Antiu

Today marks two Badass Metal Birthdays: Iron Maiden drummer/goofball extraordinaire Nicko McBrain is 62, and Nile founder/guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders is 51.

Up first, Nicko!

nickomcbrain

If you are unaware, Iron Maiden is my Number One All-Time Favorite Band (Any Genre), and I’ve written loads about them in the past (some of it has appeared on this blog), and will undoubtedly write more, so I won’t delve too far into them here.  Here are the essentials regarding Nicko:

– born Michael Henry McBrain on June 5, 1952 in Hackney, London, UK

– began drumming on things around the house at the age of 10 after watching Joe Morello perform with the Dave Brubeck Quartet on television (or as they say in England, “the telly”)

– received his first drum kit at the age of 14, and joined a band that same year

– played in a number of bands before joining French band Trust (perhaps best known for being the band who wrote and originally recorded one of Anthrax’s best known songs, “Antisocial”), in which he first met Iron Maiden while the bands were on tour together in 1981

– was asked to replace Maiden’s drummer Clive Burr (RIP) in 1982 (fun fact: after leaving Maiden, Burr joined Trust, replacing Nicko)

– made his first appearance with Iron Maiden on German television, dressed as band mascot Eddie

– made his recording debut with Iron Maiden on their shit-hot 1983 album (and my personal favorite) Piece of Mind

– has remained with the band ever since

– co-owns a restaurant called Rock ‘n’ Roll Ribs in Coral Springs, Flordia

– is an unbelievably amazing drummer

– is a total corndog, ham, goofball, what-have-you

Unbelievably Amazing Drummer Evidence: “Where Eagles Dare” from Piece of Mind – Note that Nicko did not use a double-bass pedal on this song (or any song, save for one on an album from 2005), as he considers them “undrummerish”.

Total Corndog, Ham, Goofball, What-Have-You Evidence: “Listen With Nicko! Part I” (originally released on The First 10 Years box set)

Happy birthday, Nicko!

________________________________________________________________________

karlsanders

As for today’s other Stay Heavy Birthday Club member, Karl Sanders:

– born June 5, 1963 in California

– performed live with Morbid Angel early in that band’s career

– founded ancient Egyptian/H.P. Lovecraft-themed death metal band Nile in Greenville, South Carolina in 1993

– is endorsed by Dean Guitars

– fronts what is arguably one of the most innovative, talented, and consistent bands in the death metal genre

– has released two solo albums of Egyptian folk/ambient music

– probably knows more about ancient Egyptian history and myth than just about anyone else in existence

Here’s the first Nile song I ever heard, “Opening of the Mouth”, from their 1998 full-length debut Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka (the album title comes from the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Outsider”).  This son of a bitch is so fucking creepy!

Here’s the video for “Enduring the Eternal Molestation of the Flame”, the opening track from the band’s most recent album, 2012’s At the Gate of Sethu.

And finally, here’s “Kali Ma”, a song from Karl’s second solo album, 2009’s Saurian Exorcisms.

Happy birthday, Karl!

That’s all for today, heavy folks.  Keep on staying heavy.

Stay Heavy Birthday Club: ‘Appy Birthday ‘Arry

 

 

Fifty-eight years ago today, a true metal god was born.  Stephen Percy “Steve” Harris was born on March 12, 1956 in Leytonstone, England (a suburb of London), where he had dreams of playing (non-American) football professionally.  In his early teens, Harris began to become interested in rock music, and soon his desire to play professional football was replaced by a desire to play music.  He wanted to play drums, but was unable to afford a drum kit, so he chose bass guitar instead.  Lucky us.

steveharris

Harris onstage, in a familiar pose.

Ten months after buying his first bass, Harris joined a band called Influence, which later changed its name to Gypsy’s Kiss (Cockney rhyming slang for “piss”).  After a few gigs, the band split up, and Harris joined a band called Smiler.  He left Smiler when the band found the songs he was writing too complicated to play, and formed the first version of Iron Maiden on Christmas Day 1975.

Today, Harris remains the sole original member of Iron Maiden, and has been the band’s chief composer and lyricist, in addition to directing and editing many of their live videos and music videos.  There’s not much time left in his birthday, so I recommend stopping everything right now and jamming the Iron Maiden album(s) of your choice.  You really can’t go wrong.  You should probably also take some time to watch some live footage, either on YouTube, or, if you own any, on one of the band’s numerous live DVDs or VHS tapes.

Here are a few of my favorite Steve Harris-penned Iron Maiden songs, in order of their original release.

“Phantom of the Opera” (from Live at the Rainbow – 1980) (originally appeared on Iron Maiden – 1980) – Iron Maiden was the first of two albums to feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals.  Bruce Dickinson joined the band after the tour for 1981’s Killers, and made his recording debut with the band on 1982’s Number of the Beast.

“To Tame a Land” (from Piece of Mind – 1983) – This is the last song on my personal favorite Iron Maiden album. The lyrics are based on Frank Herbert’s magnificent 1965 novel Dune, and this awesome fan-made video features footage of David Lynch’s 1984 film version of the story

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (from Live After Death – 1985) (originally appeared on Powerslave -1984) – Watch Steve’s fingers move like a hummingbird when he plays this song.  The lyrics are based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 poem of the same name.

“Caught Somewhere in Time” (from Somewhere in Time – 1986) – The band introduced synthesized guitars on this album, and brought in full-on keyboards on the follow-up, 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (which, along with a few other albums, is not featured here, because regardless of what the song says, time is not, in fact, always on my side).  Many people were angry with the addition of synthesizers.  Those people are chumps, because this shit is obviously the shit.

“Fear of the Dark” (from Flight 666 – 2009) (originally appeared on Fear of the Dark – 1992) – I featured a more recent live version of this song because this crowd is fucking amazing.  Fear of the Dark was the last album to feature Bruce Dickinson on vocals until 2000’s Brave New World.  He was replaced by Blaze Bayley for two much-maligned (but still pretty good) albums.

“The Clansman” (from Virtual IX – 1998) – This was the second and final album with Bayley on vocals.  It’s not as strong overall as the first (1995’s The X Factor), but I think this is the best Harris-penned song from either album.  It is lyrically inspired by the same stuff that inspired Braveheart.

“When the Wild Wind Blows” (from The Final Frontier – 2010) – This is the last song on the band’s most recent album.  The lyrics are amazing, and sometimes they make me cry.

That’s all for today. Happy birthday Steve Harris!

UP THE IRONS!

Stay heavy, y’all.

 

Memento Mori, Volume 2: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Clive-Burr

Clive Burr played drums with Iron Maiden from 1979-1982.  He appeared on the band’s first three albums.  Today would be his 57th birthday, but he passed away in his sleep on March 12, 2013, due to complications from multiple sclerosis.  He was a fantastic drummer, and was by all accounts a wonderful human being.  Check out some of his live performances, if you are so inclined.  You could certainly spend your time on less useful things.

This first video is Iron Maiden’s first full-length home video release, Live at the Rainbow, recorded at the Rainbow Theater in London in December 1980, and released in 1981.  This is one of the band’s first performances with Adrian Smith on guitar.  It is fucking excellent.

Next is Beast Over Hammersmith, recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in March 1982.  This performance is one of the early shows with Bruce Dickinson on vocals.  Some of the lighting quality is sub-par, but the show itself is top notch, and very much worth your time.

And finally, if you’re pressed for time, here’s Clive’s sole songwriting contribution to Iron Maiden, “Gangland”, from the band’s breakthrough third album, 1982’s Number of the Beast.

Happy birthday, Clive.  UP THE IRONS!

Remember to stay heavy, friends.