Stay Heavy Time Capsule, Volume 1 – 1988: Thrash Metal’s Finest Hour?

I’m a member of a Facebook group that shares media that we’re interested in with one another – music, movies, TV, comic books, novels, and so forth. The group admins throw out a weekly theme that members can follow if they’d like, and last week’s was election-year releases – things released during a US presidential election year. My mind immediately turned to 1988, which is easily one of the greatest years in the storied history of thrash metal, and then a variety of issues arose (work, the sheer volume of 1988 metal (let alone thrash metal), and that goddamn depressing/infuriating election itself) which kept me from sharing any of my picks with the group.

This is me in 1988. My 6th grade yearbook theme was "Building the Leaders of Tomorrow", and everyone was supposed to say what they wanted to be when they grew up. I chose "bass guitarist", and I'm pretty sure I came closer to realizing my dream than anyone else in my class, only because I once owned a bass guitar.

This is me in 1988. My 6th grade yearbook theme was “Building the Leaders of Tomorrow”, and everyone was supposed to say what they wanted to be when they grew up. I chose “bass guitarist”, and I’m pretty sure I came closer to realizing my dream than anyone else in my class, only because I once owned a bass guitar.

I’ve actually been kicking around the idea of writing up a 1988-themed post for this blog for a while now, but I’ve just never made it happen up till now. My lack of participation in the Facebook group theme provided the necessary catalyst to finally sit  down and give it a go. I can’t promise this’ll be coherent and organized, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be long, and it’ll damn sure be opinionated. Please note: I am in no way attempting to put together a complete list of thrash metal albums released in 1988; I am simply sharing some of my favorites, with a little commentary here and there for good measure. I’m just gonna put ’em in here alphabetically, because I don’t have all day.

Anthrax – State of Euphoria (released September 19, 1988 on Island Records)

Anthrax was my first favorite band, and State of Euphoria, which I received for Christmas ’88, was the first album they released after I fell in love with them. That has no doubt played some role in SoE being my favorite Anthrax album (I actually think the follow-up, Persistence of Time, is a better album, but I don’t like it quite as much). Whatever the reason(s), it is an undeniably badass album.

Album opener “Be All, End All” is one of my most favorite songs ever.

Side two opener “Now It’s Dark” was inspired by Frank Booth, Dennis Hopper’s terrifying character from David Lynch’s amazing Blue Velvet, and some of the lyrics are taken from Frank’s dialogue. As such, many a fuck is given in this song, in a manner of speaking.

Album closer “Finale” (pronounced “finally” in the song), contains a chugging riff that cannot be denied, along with an unfortunate use of the word “faggot”, which is its only downside.

Death Angel – Frolic Through the Park (released July 1988 on Restless/Enigma)

Frolic Through the Park is not my favorite Death Angel album (that honor goes to 1991’s Act III), but it has some seriously rad songs, and it was a pretty bold step forward from the The Ultra-Violence, their vicious debut from one year earlier. Elements of funk began to appear, and song structures accordingly became more fluid. The band made a video for “Bored”, and it was apparently a pretty big hit on MTV, but my no-cable-havin ass had no way to know about that at the time.

Album opener “3rd Floor” kicks ludicrous amounts of ass. Gang vocals rule my fucking world, and this song delivers like Jimmy John’s.

Here’s the aforementioned “Bored”. If you had MTV in 1988, you’ve probably heard it at least once before. It can also be heard briefly in the criminally underrated 1990 film Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

D.R.I. – 4 of a Kind (released on Metal Blade Records, actual release date unknown)

4 of a Kind is not widely regarded as hardcore-turned-crossover-turned-thrash band D.R.I.’s finest album, but it’s my favorite (and like the Anthrax release above, was the first I heard from the band). Spike Cassidy’s guitar is all over this beast, and several of my favorite D.R.I. songs appear throughout.

“Manifest Destiny” relates the story of early European settlers robbing the “New World” from Native Americans.

“Forever moving onward
Said they were guided from above
Actually driven by hate
Disguised as love
But all their false love
Can’t disguise true hate
And the racist diplomacy
Of the church and the State”

“What are you deaf? Shut up!”

I first became aware of “Slumlord” via a full-page ad for the album in (I believe) RIP magazine. It was a comic visualizing the short yet harrowing story of a villainous slumlord who burns down his building, killing 40 innocent residents, just to collect the insurance money. I wish I still had that comic, but such is life, right? “Slumlord” flows directly into “Dead in a Ditch” on the album, and while it’s not a favorite of mine, it’s still a great song, and they work really well together, so I’ve included both here.

Album closer “Man Unkind” is a goddamn masterpiece.

“Man without an answer
Like a bird with broken wing
Wrapped up in his misery
Forgetting how to sing…”

Megadeth – So Far, So Good…So What! (released January 19, 1988 on Capitol Records)

Not Megadeth’s best, and not my favorite, but it does contain “Into the Lungs of Hell/Set the World Afire”, “Mary Jane”, and “In My Darkest Hour”, and the rest of the songs aren’t bad at all. Dave Mustaine has openly discussed the heavy drug and alcohol use that nearly destroyed the band during this time period.

“Into the Lungs of Hell” and “Set the World Afire” have been featured in these hallowed pages before. I like them both very much.

“Mary Jane” is super cool atmospheric little ditty about a witch.

“In My Darkest Hour” has also been featured here before. Dave Mustaine wrote it after learning of Cliff Burton’s death in September 1986. Overall, I’m pretty indifferent about Megadeth these days, but I have to say that hearing this live on two separate occasions has been pretty dope.

Metallica – …And Justice for All (released August 25, 1988 on Elektra Records)

There’s not much I can really say about this album that hasn’t already been said, either by myself or by others, but I can add that my cousin Jason was utterly stoked to pick this up on release day (his alliances ran more toward Metallica than Anthrax). We listened to it a lot, and I still listen to it on a pretty regular basis. I love the songs, but I sincerely hate the production, and Lars still deserves a beating for that.

Nuclear Assault – Survive (released June 13, 1988 on I.R.S. Records)

Nuclear Assault was my motherfucking jam when I was in junior high and high school. When I become Earth President, Dan Lilker will head up my Department of Metal. I prefer their 1989 follow-up, Handle With Care, but there’s nothing wrong with Survive.

“Rise from the Ashes”, like a good deal of 1980’s thrash metal, seems oddly relevant today.

Jesus, so does “Brainwashed”…

Okay, pretty much all of it…

Overkill – Under the Influence (released July 5, 1988 on Atlantic Records)

New Jersey’s Overkill are woefully underrated and underappreciated. I’m still working on a thing about them, so I don’t wanna say much here. I will say that I prefer the albums that bookend this one, 1987’s Taking Over and 1989’s The Years of Decay, but like Nuclear Assault’s 1988 release, you’d be hard pressed to find a real flaw on this one.

Rigor Mortis – Rigor Mortis (released July 19, 1988 on Capitol Records)

Hailing from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Rigor Mortis played gore-soaked, horror-fueled thrash metal, and on their self-titled debut album, they played it to within an inch of its life. After this album, vocalist Bruce Corbitt left the band, and they released an EP and a second full-length album, neither of which I’ve bothered to listen to, because Bruce Corbitt isn’t on them. Guitarist Mike Scaccia (who also played with Ministry) died in 2012 after suffering a heart attack onstage during a Rigor Mortis show. Before Scaccia’s death, Corbitt rejoined the band, and they recorded and released one final album, 2014’s Slaves to the Grave, which is also amazing.

“Wizard of Gore” is inspired by the 1970 film The Wizard of Gore, directed by the absurdly prolific Herschell Gordon Lewis, who made 35 films between 1961 and 1972. (Impetigo, the legendary grindcore/death metal group from the “heart of Illinois”, also have a song called “Wizard of Gore”, inspired by the same movie. It has nothing to do with 1988, but it’s a fucking rad song (and band), and you should look into it. I’m planning a thing about Impetigo, but it’s somewhere on the list of 60 million things I’m planning, so don’t hold your breath, although it is near the top of the list, so maybe do.)

“Re-Animator” is inspired by Stuart Gordon’s absolutely goddamn fantastic 1985 movie of the same name, which is itself loosely based on weird old H.P. Lovecraft’s episodic novella, Herbert West – Reanimator.

Slayer – South of Heaven (released July 5, 1988 on Def Jam Recordings)

If you’re keeping track at home, this entry means that all four of the so-called “Big 4 of Thrash Metal” released and album in 1988. That alone makes it a notable year, but as you’ve seen already and will continue to see, there really are so many more. I’ve written about South of Heaven plenty, and Slayer plenty more, so I shan’t delve too deeply here, but I would like to reiterate that I believe South of Heaven to be Slayer’s last essential album.

The title track (and album opener) proved confusing for some Slayer fans, many of whom assumed the band would continue along the path forged by 1986’s classic Reign in Blood. “South of Heaven” laid any hope of that to rest immediately, and the rest of the album proved a stellar, mostly mid-tempo confirmation of that.

Album closer “Spill the Blood” is creepy as a motherfucker, and is one of my favorite Slayer songs.

Suicidal Tendencies – How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today (released September 13, 1988 on Epic Records)

Like D.R.I., Suicidal Tendencies began life in the early 80’s as a straight-up hardcore punk band, then began to infuse elements of thrash metal, eventually becoming a metal band with hardcore elements. How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today is the first full-on metal album from this Venice, California juggernaut, featuring the addition of a second guitarist (Mike Clark) to handle rhythm duties, which allowed original guitarist Rocky George the freedom to play more solos. Suicidal Tendencies at their peak were unfuckwithable.

Testament – The New Order (released May 5, 1988 on Atlantic Records)

I’ve written about Testament more than I’ve written about probably any other band (except for maybe Voivod), so I don’t currently have anything to add here, but I could not in good conscience exclude them from this list, because I still listen to The New Order once a week on average.

“Disciples of the Watch” is inspired by Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, and is possibly my favorite Testament song.

This badass cover of Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault” (from 1976’s Rocks) is the primary reason I started listening to Aerosmith.

Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare (released on Mechanic Records, exact date unknown)

At a time when many thrash bands were starting to slow things down (notably Metallica and Slayer), Bay Area Thrash upstarts Vio-Lence showed up to the thrash party to remind everyone that speed still kills, and that riffs are still king. Sean Killian’s vocals are a deal breaker for a lot of people, but I’ve always had a soft spot for unconventional vocalists, and I really think they fit the unhinged musical and lyrical themes perfectly. Guitarist Robb Flynn went on to form Machine Head, and other guitarist Phil Demmel joined him a few years afterward.

This album is a goddamn gem, and honestly, I can’t decide which songs to feature, so I’m putting the whole album here. It’s only 35 minutes long, just listen to it already!

Voivod – Dimension Hatröss (released June 29, 1988 on Noise Records)

I’ve written a shitload about Voivod, but like Testament, I couldn’t not feature some songs from this album. It’s 28 years old and still ahead of its time. If you you’d like to learn more about Voivod, check out my multi-part primer: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4, and if you’d like to know more about Dimension Hatröss in particular, give this a look.

With the meat of my 1988 showcase out of the way, I’d like to list a bunch of honorable mentions, most of which were cut due to time constraints…

Blind Illusion – The Sane Asylum (released on Combat Records, exact date unknown)

Progressive thrash metal featuring Les Claypool and Larry “Ler” LaLonde on bass and guitars, respectively. They went on to form a little group called Primus.

Coroner – Punishment for Decadence (released August 1, 1988 on Noise Records)

Technical thrash wizardry from Switzerland. Definitely worth your time.

Forbidden – Forbidden Evil (released September 30, 1988 on Combat Records)

Bay Area Thrash featuring Paul Bostaph, who went on to play with pretty much every band on the planet, on drums. Robb Flynn played guitar in this band before he was in Vio-Lence.

Razor – Violent Restitution (released on R/C Records, exact date unknown)

Lightning fast, razor sharp Canadian thrash metal with lunatic vocals. Highly recommended.

Tankard – The Morning After (released September 1988 on Noise Records)

Tankard hail from Germany, and since 1983, they’ve played songs about drinking beer, partying, and zombies. So basically, they’re Municipal Waste without the Nuclear Assault influence. (I mean no offense to Municipal Waste. They do good work.)

That’s all the time I’ve got for today. I do realize I’ve missed several notable metal releases from 1988, some thrash, some not thrash (Iron Maiden‘s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and King Diamond‘s Them come to mind immediately), but what are some of your favorites from 1988? Discuss in the comments, why don’t you? You can also look me up and continue the discussion on Facebook, Instagram (stayheavyblog), and Twitter (@stayheavyalways).

Thanks for reading, and remember, wherever you go, whatever you do, always stay heavy.

 

 

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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)

“Fire
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!

 

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.

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.

brock-lesnar-scream-o

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 .

…But At the Same Time, I’m At a Loss For Words…

In May 2001, at the age of 24, I moved back in with my parents, into my childhood bedroom, semi-defeated and wholly without direction in my life.  I was still a Metalhead, as I had been for nigh on fifteen years at that point, but my musical tastes had grown, as well.  I’d gotten into punk rock a few years prior, and at the time, I was working in a music store, and I may or may not have been smoking a lot of reefer, both which opened up all kinds of new musical doors for me – The Beatles, Talking Heads, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, Otis Redding, De La Soul, Kris Kristofferson, and on and on and on.  My point is that I was not listening to metal quite as often as I had been in the mid-90’s.  The stratospheric rise of nü-metal in the late 90’s also played a role, but that’s a topic for another post.  I’m here today to talk about some weird synchronicity.

On September 10, 2001, at 12:25 AM, I wrote the following in my journal:

“In a metal mood.  It came out of nowhere. Testament and Nuclear Assault are sounding especially good tonight, as is Death Angel…”

Nothing unusual about that as it stands.  However, the next night (possibly later that same night), still in a metal mood, I was listening to Anthrax’s severely underrated 1998 album Volume 8: The Threat is Real! at a relatively high volume through my headphones.  On the song “Big Fat”, there’s a line where John Bush says:

You asked me can I deliver?

Like a monster crossing the Hudson River

Stomping!

And when I heard that line, sitting in my dark room with my eyes closed, possibly high on the pot, I had this scene playing out in my head of a faceless, formless monster crossing the river from New Jersey, just crashing through, crushing, and devastating New York City (having never been to the city, the New York City of my imagination has always just been stock footage of Manhattan, like what you always see in movies and television shows).  It was admittedly kind of fucked up, but it was also fairly cinematic and unrealistic, as I have never witnessed real-life Hollywood-blockbuster-type carnage, either.

The next morning, a little after 10:00 AM, I awoke to the phone ringing.  My mom was calling to tell me that the country was under attack, and I turned on the TV, and everyone reading this knows what I saw.  It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I remembered my strange vision of sorts.

But there’s more weird synchronicity to the story!

Fast forward to 2005.  I’m living in Austin, Texas with a drunken whore my then-wife, and I see an ad in The Austin Chronicle (Austin’s oh-so-full-of-itself weekly alternative newspaper) for an upcoming show. Friday, September 10, at The Back Room: Testament and Nuclear Assault!  Is that not some shit?

Postscript: I ended up not going to that show, as Testament dropped off the tour for some reason (this was before the internet was so widely available (at least to me), but I do know that this was less than 2 years after Chuck Billy had whipped cancer’s ass – possibly unrelated, I have no idea), and I was much less interested in just seeing Nuclear Assault, which in hindsight was an incredibly stupid decision.  With a few exceptions, I did not make the best decisions of my life while I was living in Austin.

At any rate, the events that took place 13 years ago today were undeniably fucked, and it’s clear that things will always be different than they were on September 10, 2001.  I don’t have anything to add to this that hasn’t already been said, and probably in a more eloquent manner.

Here’s another excerpt from my journal…

“09.12.01  12:15 am

It’s now been 14 hours since I started watching news coverage, and still can’t get used to the images…I hope I can sleep well tonight…I hope there’s something to wake up to…”

I’m glad there was something to wake up to, and I’m glad that I still have music to help ease me through scary times, sad times, rough times, and total bullshit times.  I’m also glad it’s there for the good times.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for reading.  Stay heavy, y’all.