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.

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, but they’ve gotten less interesting as time has gone on.

On a side note, I can’t be the only person to notice the similarities between the Anthrax logo and the Toyota Matrix logo, can I?

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 change drastically with the cover.

The follow-up, 1992’s underrated The Ritual, crammed the letters back together and turned them into an inverted pentagon/implied pentagram, resulting in a pretty bitchin cover that hinted at a sound more evil (and perhaps more akin to their earlier, more sinister-sounding songs) than what was contained within.

Fantastic cover, fantastic album. Not nearly as evil or comparatively heavy 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 absolutely essential 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 anyone paying attention was 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?

Fucking beautiful.

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!, with its classic speed metal-esque, Motörhead inspired cover) and their second album (1986’s godly Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying?) but did not accompany a major change in sound (though the quality did improve significantly. The band stuck with their new, iconic logo (above) from Peace Sells… up through 1995’s Hidden Treasures EP (an overall solid collection of soundtrack/compilation songs and covers).

In 1997, Megadeth died, and Dave Mustaine released Cryptic Writings, an album which marked a drastic 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, but don’t be fooled by Cryptic Writings or Risk . 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 just 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.

 

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.

 

 

Anything Goes Tonight: 11 Heavy Songs About Doin It (In Memory of Prince, with Apologies to Prince)

Knockin boots. Gettin it on. Boning. Doin the nasty. Snu-snu. Making sweet love. Bumpin uglies. Gettin freaky. Hittin skins. Making whoopee. Doin a bunch of fuckin. There are maybe as many euphemisms for the act of sexual intercourse as there are positions, but whatever you call it, you can’t deny that Prince knew a thing or two about gettin busy.

The passing of His Royal Badness hasn’t had a huge effect on me, but it has certainly made an impact on a lot of people close to me, most notably my wife, a.k.a. Mrs. Stay Heavy. She’s a huge fan, has been since she was a teenager, and cites his concert in Indianapolis on the Musicology (2004) tour as the best live show she’s ever seen. While I’ve never counted myself as a fan of his work per se, I definitely understand and appreciate the appeal that his songs, vision, and work ethic have had on so many people. And since I have ears, I do not dislike his music.

At any rate, I though I’d celebrate and honor the life of the Purple One by putting together a playlist of heavy songs about doin it. Please note that I omitted Butt Rock as a genre, as I don’t have the rest of my life to spare on this, so you’ll find no Mötley Crüe, Poison, etc. You’ll also find no KISS songs, because KISS sucks. I did, however, include an AC/DC song, because I feel it would have been un-American of me to do so. (I realize that AC/DC are not an American band, but I also believe that it’s un-American to not at least appreciate what AC/DC does.)

I also, at the request of the missus, did not include songs about necrophilia, even though that technically counts as sex. Hence, no “Necrophilia” by Slayer, no “I Work For the Streetcleaner” or “Mortuaria” by Impetigo, and no “Code Blue” by TSOL, even though I really wanted to include them. These are in no particular order.

1. Death Angel – “Mistress of Pain” (from The Ultra-Violence – 1987)

I’ve talked about Death Angel a fair amount in these pages before, so I won’t get into it much here. Just know that this song was written and performed by a bunch of high school kids (their 14 year-old drummer is probably better than your 25 year-old drummer). It’s on my list of Top Five Death Angel Songs. It’s also the first one I heard, on a compilation cassette called Rising Metal that my cousin Nathan bought way, way back. It’s not technically about sex, but it is about a vicious and brutal dominatrix, and I cannot deny that riff, nor those screams. You can’t either, if you listen.

“Lashing you with her whips
Keeping you bonded in chains
Drool starts to seep through her lips
Gets off on affliction of pain…”

2. Flotsam & Jetsam – “Hammerhead” (from Doomsday For the Deceiver – 1986)

This is the first Flotsam & Jetsam song I ever heard, too. It was on that same tape mentioned above. It’s the first song on their first album, and it’s badass, even if the lyrics are a bit stupid (though they are far from being the stupidest lyrics on this list). Eric A.K.’s vocals are superlative on this album. It also features Jason Newsted (who went on to play for Voivod, Echobrain, and Ozzy Osbourne) on bass guitar.

“Love for the taking, she talks with her eyes,
Wants me to give her a ride.
Spellbound she takes me way deep inside,
Hammerhead baby tonight…hold tight!”

3. Megadeth – “Mechanix” (from Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!)

This song is much closer to winning the honor of “Stupidest Lyrics” on this playlist, but it’s still not the dumbest song. Even if you’ve never heard this one before, it might sound familiar. When Dave Mustaine was still in Metallica, they performed this song as “Mechanix”, but after his unceremonious booting, they made what is inarguably one of the best decisions of their storied career and changed the lyrics to this dumbass song, and “The Four Horsemen” was born. Seriously, I can’t imagine how high/drunk Mustaine must have been to think these lyrics were not total dogshit.

“Who ever though you’d be better
At turning a screw than me
I do it for my life
Made my drive shaft crank
Made my pistons bulge
Made my ball bearings melt from the heat…”

4. Overkill – “Fatal If Swallowed” (from Taking Over – 1987)

Overkill hasn’t gotten enough love in the pantheon of thrash metal, and the pages of this “esteemed” blog are no exception. I have a thing about Overkill in the works, so I won’t say much here, except that Taking Over is my favorite Overkill album, and this is not my favorite song from that album.

“Fatal if swallowed, my love’s too much to hold.
A deadly poison, a hot and heavy load.
Fatal if swallowed, a love you can’t resist.
Another believer, sealed, with a kiss.”

5. Guns N’ Roses – “Anything Goes” (from Appetite for Destruction – 1987)

I can’t add much to this. It’s a straight up filthy song about fuckin, and it’s a real fuckin  good song, to boot.

“Panties ’round your knees
With your ass in debris
Doin’ that grind
with a push and squeeze…”

6. AC/DC – “Givin’ the Dog a Bone” (from Back in Black – 1980)

The most obvious choice here was clearly “You Shook Me All Night Long”, but that would’ve been too easy. It was pretty tough to narrow AC/DC down to one song about sex, as they have at least two per album (and Back in Black has three). I’m not really sure why I chose this one, to be honest, but here we are. It’s silly, not unlike a majority of AC/DC songs.

“She’s no Mona Lisa
No she’s no playboy star
But she’ll send you to heaven
Then explode you to Mars…”

7. Motörhead – “Love Me Like a Reptile” (from Ace of Spades – 1980)

Perhaps the only thing Lemmy enjoyed as much as whiskey and speed was doin it. As a result, Motörhead also has a lot of songs about sex. I also considered “Jailbait”, from the same album, but I felt that one gave the whole mix a slightly too-creepy vibe.

“Baby you’re a rattlesnake, you know the way I feel,
Feel you crawling up my back, you’ve got no love to steal,
You know I’ve got my eyes on you,
You’re petrified, gonna stick like glue…”

8. W.A.S.P. – “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” (1984 single)

W.A.S.P. was a silly, silly band. They probably still are silly, but I can’t say for certain. This one makes the whole list a little too creepy, too, quite frankly, but I felt like I had to include it. It was slated for inclusion on W.A.S.P.’s self-titled debut album, but was removed by Capitol Records at the last minute, and was subsequently released as a single in the UK. It’s worth noting that singer Blackie Lawless no longer performs the song live, as the lyrics don’t jive up with his more recent conversion to Christianity.

Bonus fun fact: back in 1985, this song appeared on the PMRC’sFilthy Fifteen” list, along with Prince’s “Darling Nikki” (as well as “Let Me Put My Love Into You”, the other AC/DC song about sex from Back in Black). I have a thing about the PMRC in the works, so stay tuned for that!

“I’m on the prowl and I watch you closely
I lie waiting for you
I’m the wolf with the sheepskins clothing
I lick my chops and you’re tasting good…”

9. My Dying Bride – “The Thrash of Naked Limbs” (from The Thrash of Naked Limbs EP – 1993)

My Dying Bride makes me feel all kinds of different emotions at the same time, which I suppose is how you know it’s working. This song is no exception; the lyrics are sweet and emotional, the music is heavy and emotional, and the vocals are growly and terrifying (and emotional). Honorable mention: “The Sexuality of Bereavement”, from 1995’s brilliant The Angel and the Dark River. It’s just the tiniest bit too weird for this list, but it’s a fantastic song.

“With the lights low, and you naked on the warm floor
Me besides you, softly kissing, caressing
Make love to her while she’s crying
I could die now, and die happy.”

10. Pantera – “P.S.T. ’88” (from Power Metal – 1988)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the official winner for “Stupidest Lyrics” on this playlist. Power Metal was Pantera’s first album with Phil Anselmo (more like “white power metal”, amirite?), back when they were transforming from a talented KISS-inspired band into the talented Exhorder-inspired band they became best known for (haha). Power Metal was the band’s transitional “Judas Priest-inspired” phase. It’s pretty weird, and it’s not all that good, but it’s miles better than their first three albums. I mostly included it here because it fits the criteria, and because I like making fun of Pantera, because Pantera fans take themselves too seriously. Vocals on this one are by “Diamond” Darrell Abbot, before he was known as “Dimebag” Darrell, which was before he was known as “Dime”, may he rest in peace.

“Coors Light on ice,she’s gettin’ right
She is feeling my rise, don’t stop roll the dice,
She’s got my rod in her thighs…”

11. Venom – “Teacher’s Pet” (from Black Metal – 1982)

Everything about Venom is simultaneously awesome and kind of stupid (and always, always ridiculous). The lyrics are basically “Hot For Teacher” with a “Hard R” rating. If you’re only gonna listen to one Venom song, it should not be this one. I recommend anything off Welcome to Hell (1981) first.

“Teacher caught me masturbating
underneath the desk
she looked at me and winked her eye
said ‘see you after class’…”

That’s all I got for today, friends. What are some of your favorite heavy songs about sex? Share them in the comments, why not? And remember to always, always, always stay heavy (and sexy!).

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stupid shit, silly shit, stupid shit…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planet’s not big enough for me and you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Solo]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I HATE!

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

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 .