Our Time is Short, But Theirs is Shorter: A Brief Update

I started a new job last week, or maybe the week before last (I barely know what day it is right now), and it is quite literally taking up nearly every single bit of my time, and will likely continue to do so for the next week, at least. For the first time in several days, I have time to write something substantial, but I’m sitting here staring at the light without good brain happenings with which to form proper thoughts. I wish I was qualified to do something for money besides cook. But anyway, I wanted to put something up, since I’m still getting anywhere between 5 and 25 views per day (still mostly re: “thrash metal ballads”, interestingly enough), and I don’t want to give the impression that I am no longer updating the blog.

Is there a point? Fuck if I know. But here are some songs I recall having heard in the haze and fog that has been the past two or so weeks…

This is the best song COC did with Pepper Keenan on vocals. I’ll fistfight you about this if you want. Just kidding, I don’t want to fight anyone. The song is tight as fuck, though.

Maybe the best grindcore song title ever (not including many of Putnam’s own song titles, of course).

Fuck yes, Dark Angel!

I love Brutal Truth so, so much.

I don’t actually remember which Carcass song I heard, but I know it was from 1988’s completely awesome and utterly disgusting Reek of Putrefaction, and this is one of my favorites.

Dave Mustaine is clearly never going to shut up, but Megadeth albums #2-4 will always be unfuckingtouchable.

I’m so glad I swiped my brother’s Sacred Reich tape all those years ago, and I’m also glad I stopped being scared of this song.

Iron Fucking Maiden rules every fucking thing, forfuckingever.

I can’t think anymore, so I’m gonna wrap this up. I have ideas for future posts, and hopefully I’ll have time sooner rather than later to explore those ideas. Until that day comes, stay heavy, friends, and remember to not be a dick.

You Know I’m a Dreamer, But My Heart’s of Gold: A Thing About Butt Rock

A couple of days ago, a co-worker asked me about my opinion of the “hair metal” genre, and I replied with the gusto which is the norm when anyone asks me what I think about pretty much any genre of music, which is to say, I believe he may have regretted asking me.  Continuing along the usual path of such an occurrence, here we are over 48 hours later, and I’m still giving the question entirely too much thought.  This leads me to believe that I need to write it out, because it’s a good way to elucidate my thoughts and it’s a good way to get it all out of my head, and, perhaps most importantly, because if I’m not gonna write in this blog, what’s the point of keeping it?

I’ll start by saying that I’ve always disliked the terms “glam metal” and “hair metal”, because when people hear those terms, they think of bands like Poison, and regardless of your opinion of Poison, you have to admit that calling them “metal” is about as accurate as calling Taylor Swift “country”.  Both are obviously examples of pop music – perhaps metal-influenced pop when talking about Poison (and that’s on their very heaviest stuff), or in the case of Ms. Swift, perhaps country-flavored pop, but at their cores, Poison and Taylor Swift are clearly both pop acts.  I’ve heard the term “cock rock” in the past, and although I am a sucker for a good rhyme, I don’t entirely like that term.  My wife refers to the stuff as “butt rock”, and so far that’s the term I’ve preferred, so from here on, this is the term I’ll use.

Not metal at all.

So many dudes thought these chicks were hot the first time they saw this album cover.

I have no interest in giving a history lesson on the origins and early days of butt rock, but it’s worth noting that the New York Dolls, Kiss, and Aerosmith were all early influences on the auditory, visual, and theatrical stylings of what we’ve come to know (and love?) as butt rock, as was Van Halen, with EVH’s blazing guitar wizardry/wankery and DLR’s high kicks and soul-shattering wails.  Def Leppard began to bring in poppier elements on their second album (High ‘n’ Dry – 1981), Twisted Sister released their debut album Under the Blade in 1982, and Quiet Riot released the first butt rock-tinged album to reach number one on the Billboard charts (Metal Health) in 1983, but they were all musically much heavier than what would begin to surface a few short years later.

Ratt and W.A.S.P. followed with heavy-ish albums (Out of the Cellar and W.A.S.P., respectively) in 1984, and in 1985, previously heavy sleaze rockers Mötley Crüe released their pop-slathered third album, Theatre of Pain, and soon the floodgates opened, with the likes of Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Poison, Stryper, and, eventually, Firehouse, Britney Fox, and (shudder) Winger exploding to top of the charts.  Established, reputable hard rock and metal acts like Whitesnake, Scorpions, Judas Priest, and Ozzy Osbourne began to incorporate elements of butt rock into their sound and image, and soon, 9 out of 10 people in the United States of America thought that “The Final Countdown” was a heavy metal song.

More directly to the original question, re: my opinions on butt rock, I like some of it, because I have ears and I’m not dumb (even if I did just misspell “dumb” four times), and because I was a kid when it was huge, so, nostalgia.  I will rarely listen to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” or Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” on purpose, but when I do (or if they come on when I’m somewhere else), I will enjoy the fuck out of them.  I am especially a sucker for a well executed power ballad – Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” and “Without You”, Enuff Z’nuff’s “Fly High Michelle”, Mr. Big’s “To Be With You”, and Extreme’s “More Than Words” are a few butt rock slow jams which I am unashamed to admit that I find to be particularly sweet.  It’s important to remember, however, that not a single one of these bands is a heavy metal band, nor are any of these songs heavy metal songs, no matter what Chuck Klosterman thinks.

Looking beyond individual songs, though, there are a few bands found under the “glam metal” umbrella that I legitimately enjoy.  I absolutely adore Faster Pussycat’s second album, Wake Me When It’s Over (1989), and I consider Cinderella to be the Deftones of the “hair metal” genre, in that both bands are much, much more talented than a majority of their peers in their respective genres.  Cinderella’s second album, in particular (1988’s Long Cold Winter) is a beautifully crafted piece of work so deeply steeped in the blues that I sometimes get a little bit sad just thinking about it.  I also really enjoy everything from Def Leppard up to and including 1987’s Hysteria, even if that album is as absurdly overproduced as it is absurdly multi-platinum, and I enjoy a few of the songs that came after that.

And it should go without saying that I love Guns ‘n’ Roses, but I’ll mention them here anyway, because even though they transcended the genre from the very first notes of “Welcome to the Jungle”, they still often get lumped in with shit like Warrant and Slaughter (both of which have songs I enjoy), but Appetite for Destruction is obviously one of the greatest albums released by any band or artist in the 1980’s.

I don’t know what else I can really say about the genre as a whole that hasn’t already been said in a more educated and intelligent manner somewhere else [see the “Glam Metal” episode of VH1 Classic’s excellent 11-part series Metal Evolution, for starters (part 12, “Extreme Metal”, was too extreme for VH1 Classic, and is available to purchase online, which you should do as soon as you finish reading this piece)], so I’ll just share some of my favorite butt rock songs with you, the reader.

I’ll begin with a few of the bands and/or songs mentioned above.

Faster Pussycat had a couple of hits off Wake Me When It’s Over, both of which are great (“Poison Ivy” and “House of Pain”, the latter of which is a sort of “Cat’s in the Cradle” for the MTV generation, and boasted a video directed by a young Michael Bay), but it’s two of the deeper cuts that really make this album stand out.  “Cryin’ Shame” is inspired by the true story of Ricky Kasso, a Long Island teenager who murdered a friend because Satan told him to (it’s also from whence the title of the album comes), and “Tattoo” is more straightforward butt rock, but it’s a really fun song, about an overly obsessed old flame who shows up in town with “my name tattooed on the backside of her frame”.

Cinderella released four singles from Long Cold Winter, with “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” being the biggest (unless you’ve been deaf since May 20, 1988, there’s no way you haven’t heard it), and “Gypsy Road” being the most like their more raw debut, Night Songs (1986), but “Coming Home”, which reached number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, is definitely my favorite song from this album.  The title track is also great, and feels especially relevant right now, with much of the United States getting absolutely blasted by shitty winter weather.

With no added pomp, because Def Leppard requires none, here are a couple of my favorite Def Leppard songs, “Photograph”, from Pyromania (1983), and “Animal”, from the aforementioned Hysteria.

And just because I think that too few people know these songs, I’ma share “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle” from Enuff Z’nuff (who are so much better than their name and appearance would understandably lead you to believe).  Both videos are utter shit, but I dig the songs quite a bit, especially “Fly High Michelle”.

There are a few songs that fall under the “power ballad” tag that I can not imagine getting tired of.  First and foremost is “Wind of Change” by German hard rock juggernaut Scorpions.  Hearing this song causes a memory flood so fearsome that I can barely stay afloat.  It literally does not matter what I might doing or who I might be talking to, if I hear “Wind of Change”, I can guarantee you that the song is getting more of my attention than anything or anyone else around me.

White Lion was/is a total cheesefest, but “When the Children Cry” gives me goosebumps.  Part of that is no doubt linked to memories of my sixth-grade friend Amber, who really loved the song, and who was killed in a car accident during our senior year in high school.  Amber was a rad person, and she always stood up for me when the dummies in our class told me the music I listened to was satanic.  We drifted apart during grade 7, but she’ll always have a place in my heart, and I’ll think of her every time I hear White Lion, and especially this song.

Rest easy, Amber.

I’ve accidentally made myself sad, so I’m gonna wrap this up.  I didn’t really know where it was going anyway.  What do you think about butt rock, power ballads, and the songs and bands I’ve mentioned?  Feel free to share your opinions in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and remember, to stay heavy, even when you’re listening to “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”.

P.S. Modern butt rock revival acts like The Darkness and Steel Panther can all fuck off.

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.

Some Really Great Thrash Metal Instrumental Songs

I’m not usually a big fan of instrumental songs, aside from some jazz and classical-type stuff.  For some reason, I just prefer songs with vocals.  That said, thrash metal has produced some damn fine instrumentals.  This is unsurprising, as thrash metal by its very nature requires top-notch musicianship.  Some of these are intros to songs/albums, some of them are just shorter interlude pieces, and some of them are gargantuan 7-minute-plus riff monsters.  All of them are fucking excellent, and could serve to ease a friend or family member who doesn’t normally enjoy metal into the wonderful world of neck-snapping, ear-popping, skull-fucking, blistering thrash metal.  By the way, this is in no way a comprehensive list, and these are in no particular order.  Onward!

Megadeth – “Into the Lungs of Hell” (from So Far, So Good…So What? – 1988) – This is the opening song and intro to the blazing apocalyptic tale “Set the World Afire”, which Dave Mustaine says he wrote the lyrics to on the bus ride back to California, after being unceremoniously booted out of Metallica.

Testament – “Confusion Fusion” (from Practice What You Preach – 1989) – If you’ve spent any amount of time on this blog, you already know I love Testament more than most things in life, and this song is a perfect example of the high caliber of musical ability that this Bay Area Thrash Metal beast has always boasted.

Death Angel – “The Ultra-Violence” (from The Ultra-Violence – 1987) – You might recognize the beginning of this song – it was used in a Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr commercial last year around this time, wherein a guy shoved a ludicrously large Jalapeño Turkey Burger into his mouth.  When you listen to this one, remember that the drums on this song were played by a 14-year-old kid.  Your soccer-playing honor student can fuck right off.

Razor – “The Marshall Arts” (from Violent Restitution – 1988) – I love the title of this one.  Canadian thrash metal will own your soul.

Metallica – “The Call of Ktulu” (from Ride the Lightning – 1984) – “Orion” (from Master of Puppets) holds a very special place in my heart, but “The Call of Ktulu” is no slouch, and it’s thrashier, so here it is.  This fan made video is fucking sweet.  RIP CLB.

Coroner – “Nosferatu” (from R.I.P. – 1987) – Coroner hails from Switzerland, and they are criminally underrated.  You really can’t go wrong with any of their albums, but No More Color (1989) is my favorite of theirs.  They released their last album of original material in 1993 (grunge must’ve killed them)(haha), and they broke up in 1996, but they’ve been reunited and playing shows (primarily festivals) together since 2010.  Guitarist Tommy Vetterli has stated that the band has plans to eventually record new music.  I have no doubts that it will be fantastic.

Flotsam and Jetsam – “Flotzilla” (from Doomsday for the Deceiver – 1986) – Perhaps best known as former Voivod bassist Jason Newsted’s first band, Phoenix, Arizona’s Flotsam and Jetsam have always flown just under the mainstream radar, and that’s a real shame, because they have always kicked a ton of ass.

Dark Angel – “Cauterization” (from Leave Scars – 1989) – I don’t like Leave Scars quite as much as I like the albums that bookend it (1986’s Darkness Descends and 1991’s Time Does Not Heal), but it’s still tight as hell.

Rigor Mortis – “Welcome to Your Funeral” (from Rigor Mortis – 1988) – This is the first song off the first album from this amazingly talented Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas band.  Guitarist Mike Scaccia would go on to play with Ministry (and several of Al Jourgensen’s 600,000 side projects) before joining back up with his Rigor Mortis bandmates in 2005.  In 2012, he collapsed onstage from a sudden heart attack (brought on by heart disease), while playing a show to celebrate Rigor Mortis vocalist Bruce Corbitt’s 50th birthday, and later died at the hospital.  Rigor Mortis had recorded another album before Scaccia’s death (Slaves to the Grave); it was released last month, and everything I’ve heard from it so far has been utterly fucking tremendous.  RIP Mr. Scaccia.

Nuclear Assault – “Live, Suffer, Die” (from Game Over – 1986) – When Nuclear Assault were on top of their game, they were goddamn near untouchable.  Dan Lilker is such a badass motherfucker.

Anthrax – “Intro to Reality” (from Persistence of Time – 1991) – This one cuts off abruptly, because it’s supposed to fade into the next song, “Belly of the Beast”, but I didn’t want to include any singing on this mix, so just deal with it.  State of Euphoria (1988) is my favorite Anthrax album, but Persistence of Time will probably always be their high water mark.

S.O.D. – “March of the S.O.D.” (from Speak English or Die – 1985) – This is probably my favorite intro to any metal-related anything ever.  Completely unfuckwithable.  And further evidence of Lilker’s total badassery.  It also cuts off abruptly, as it should bleed into “Sargent D and the S.O.D.”.  If you want to hear that version, look it up.  In fact, queue up the entire album, lie back, and let the Stormtroopers of Death kick your damn fool head in.

That’s all for today.  Tell me about some other badass thrash metal instrumentals I should check out.  And don’t forget to stay heavy, always!

The Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads of All Time

In the Olden Days, thrash metal bands sometimes made slow jams, because, to quote the late, great Cliff Burton, “We do what we wanna do, and if they consider that selling out then, whatever…maybe you don’t play a thousand miles an hour the whole time, y’know?”  I’m gonna let the songs speak for themselves as much as possible.  Note: I don’t necessarily believe these are the Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads of All Time; they are simply ten comparatively mellow songs that I really like, performed by otherwise super-fast, super-heavy thrash metal bands.  Likewise, they are listed in no particular order.  I used that title and numbered them from 10 to 1 just to see if it pisses anyone off, and to see how many people actually read the introduction.

Without further ado…

10. “Return to Serenity” by Testament (from The Ritual – 1992)

This was Testament’s last album with guitar maestro Alex Skolnick until 2008’s The Formation of Damnation, and it saw the band slowing things down a bit.  It sounds a little slicker than anything else the band had done up to this point, and in no way hinted at the savage beast that was 1994’s follow-up, Low, which boasts a damn fine ballad of its own called “Trail of Tears“.

9. “Fade to Black” by Metallica (from Ride the Lightning – 1984)

I can’t think of anything to add.  There’s very little chance you don’t know this one.  I still miss Metallica.  This live version is from the Cliff ‘Em All home video, and it fuckin rules.

8. “A Room With a View” by Death Angel (from Act III – 1990)

I watched my video-taped copy of this video from Headbanger’s Ball so many times, it’s pretty much unwatchable these days.  The lyrics are about a wise old man (blind, I believe), and the song is beautiful.  Lead vocals are sung by guitar player Rob Cavestany, with backing vocals by lead vocalist Mark Osgueda.  Also recommended from Act III: “Veil of Deception“.

7. “In My Darkest Hour” by Megadeth (from So Far, So Good…So What! – 1988)

Lyrically, this is a Break-Up Song, but the dark emotion in the song was inspired by the death of Cliff Burton.  Dave Mustaine’s songwriting output has contained some real turds, but when the man got it right, he got it fuckin-a right.

6. “Wading Through the Darkness” by Flotsam and Jetsam (from Cuatro – 1992)

This album is underrated as fuck (just like so many other metal albums from the early-to-mid 90’s).  Just before this video premiered on Headbanger’s Ball, Riki Rachtman told me that if I turned the brightness up all the way on my television, I would be able to see another video happening in the background.  I was at my cousin’s house, and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the settings on his TV, so I never tried that, but it sure looks like another video is lingering in the background on this sumbitch.

5. “Spill the Blood” by Slayer (from South of Heaven – 1988)

This song is spooky as shit.  It’s the last song on Slayer’s last essential album.  Rest in piece, Jeff Hanneman.

4. “Alone” by Suicidal Tendencies (from Lights, Camera…Revolution – 1990)

While ST will always be best known for their crossover classic “Institutionalized”, their late-80’s-to-early-90’s output contained some (comparatively) mellow, soul-searching, beautifully touching songs.  I chose this one because Lights, Camera…Revolution is the first ST album I ever owned/heard in its entirety (it’s also my favorite).  See also: “Nobody Hears” from 1992’s The Art of Rebellion, and “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow” from 1988’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today.

3. “I Never Said Goodbye” by Sacred Reich (from Independent – 1993)

This Sacred Reich ballad, from their near-breakthrough major label debut, deals lyrically with the loss of a family member (seemingly a parent).  They had a minor hit on this album in “Crawling”, which I used to sometimes hear on Indianapolis, Indiana’s “alternative” radio station, X103, along with “Nobody Hears” by Suicidal Tendencies (mentioned above), “Thorn in My Side” by post-hardcore juggernaut Quicksand, and bullshit like “Glycerine”, by Bush.  The early-to-mid-90’s were a weird time for music.

2. “Freedoom” by Voivod (from Angel Rat – 1991)

French-Canadian metal gods Voivod had already evolved past the point of being a thrash band on 1990’s Nothingface, but any band that has an output like their first three albums will always be considered a thrash band to me.  This song is fucking amazing, and as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, it contains some of my favorite Voivod lyrics, and one time, while tripping on psilocybin mushrooms, I used it to control the weather.  It was pretty badass.

1. “Bare” by Anthrax (from Stomp 442 – 1995)

I think it’s safe to say that most Anthrax fans can be neatly divided into two groups: Joey Belladonna Fans and John Bush Fans.  I, for one, love all eras of Anthrax equally, including the Neil Turbin-era (although I am glad Dan Nelson is a thing of the past).  For as much shit as Bushthrax often gets, Stomp 442 and its follow-up, 1998’s Volume 8: The Threat is Real! both get shit on more than a statue in Central Park (Stomp 442 has an overall ranking of 57% on Encyclopaedia Metallum, while Volume 8 boasts a whopping 58%!).  They sound different, no doubt (even when compared to the two Bush-fronted albums that bookend them), the riffing is simpler and slower, and I don’t listen to them beginning-to-end as often as most other Anthrax albums, but they contain some great songs, and I still love them both.  “Bare” is the final song on the original edition of Stomp 442, and it is a heartfelt motherfucker.  More will be written about both of these albums in the near-ish future.

That’s all for today, heavy people.  What are some of your favorite thrash metal ballads?  Discuss it in the comments, why don’t you?  And while you’re calling me names discussing, be sure and stay heavy.

Thanks for reading!