A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Annihilator

It all started with my cousin, Mega (his nickname was short for Megadeth). He was one of those dudes that just stayed up and taped and taped and taped everything to do with metal and rock music doing the rounds on our local TV stations. One such clip he taped and played me was a song called “Alison Hell”. After he saw that I was interested in it, he told me he had the LP and if I want to copy it off him.

Lucky for me, I had a blank TDK tape handy, so it was a no brainer to get him to copy it.

Since it was a blank tape, I needed to fill up the B side and Mega had a lot of music which I didn’t have. As part of this day together, we also ended up watching the “Shocker” movie and of course, Mega also had the “Shocker” soundtrack on vinyl.

And yes, I was confused with the spelling. The album is called “Alice In Hell” so when I was writing down the track list, my cousin was reading it out to me from the album cover, so when he said “Alison Hell” for song 2, I heard “Alice In Hell” and was about to write that down.

The acoustic guitars of “Crystal-Ann” fills my headspace and the guitar playing technique is excellent and precise. I asked my cousin who the guitarist is and he reads out Jeff Waters from the liner notes. At that stage I’d never heard of him.

By the way, I wasn’t allowed to hold his album covers in case I wrecked em. Actually no one was allowed to touch Mega’s albums except Mega.

Then the evil sounding intro to “Alison Hell” kicks in and when the drums come, you know it’s desk breaking time. And it goes through so many changes and moods before the first verse even starts. To me, this is progressive music. It doesn’t have to be constant time changes, and 50 million notes per bar, which on some occasions is okay, but not all the time. Changes in mood will do the job, and it can all be done in a 4/4 time signature. 

When “Welcome To Your Death” comes in, you get the feeling that Jeff Waters is way ahead of his time in song writing . Not only does he merge the speed and aggression and technical progressive song writing of Megadeth with Slayer, Anthrax, Exodus and Metallica, he also brings in elements of Randy Rhoads and Michael Schenker influences into the mix.

The lyrics and the vocal melodies are not as strong as the artists who had more sales and while people still like to go mental at break neck riffs, their needs to be a message in the words which they can relate to and connect with. 

“Wicked Mystic” is another speed a thon with head banging open string riffs and fast palm muted lines. And that solo, feels like “Over The Mountain” got merged with “Master of Puppets”.

The rest of the album is not as strong as it became too repetitive in the riffs department, with the only light being some cool lead breaks here and there in the songs.

In Australia, we got our music late compared to the rest of the world because of gated releases. I basically heard “Alice In Hell” and the second album, “Never Neverland” in the same year of 1990. However on this day when I was at Mega’s house, I only had one tape with me and it had music on it. On Side 1, was my own Walkman edition of “Somewhere In Time” from Iron Maiden with Side 2 first, and then Side 1. On the second side, I had a mix of Maiden from “The Number of The Beast”, “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave”. And that was the side which was sacrificed to record “Never, Neverland”.

The difference in production is the first thing you hear. While “Alison Hell” sounded like it was recorded in a garage, “Never, Neverland” had better sonics and a different vocalist. The debut album had Randy Rampage and the second had an unknown called Coburn Pharr, who sounded better. And the reason why Randy Rampage quit the band was to keep his senior role at the shipping docks in North Vancouver.

You see, even back in the 80s/90s artists had to work two jobs to make a living in music, hoping that they will become the 1% of artists which breaks through. A label deal never guaranteed riches. All it did was give an artist an opportunity to participate in the recording business, provided the A&R rep was satisfied with the end output. But it also meant, an artist would have to give up their most valuable asset to the labels to exploit forever.

Another upgrade with this album was the influence of grooves, which Pantera would build a career on and all song writing being done by Jeff Waters, which involved lyrics a person could connect with. 

“The Fun Palace” has a lead break of about 2 minutes which is guitar hero status. And those riffs.

“Road To Ruin” has an interlude, lead section, which blows me away. On the road to ruin with alcoholic speed alright and the song ends with tyres screeching before a smash.

“Sixes And Sevens” has this interlude progressive bit, which hooks me in and when the lead break comes in, Jeff Waters delivers on all levels.

“Stonewall” is another great song, with killer riffs and great lyrics.

“Never, Neverland” has a pretty cool 90 second intro before the verses kick in. And sonically it’s a different song, moving between clean and distorted tones.

The other three albums I have on CD are not available on Spotify Australia which is wrong, but hey, they are all on different labels, like SPV and Music For Nations, so since those companies own the rights, they can do whatever they want with the music.

In saying that, I got “Refresh The Demon” to see what the  band was up to since “Never, Neverland” and I don’t remember a song from it, but it must have been okay, because I purchased “Remains” and was vomiting all over the place when I heard electronic programmed drums and an industrial sound. However in 2002, I gave them another shot with “Waking The Fury” (because the album title reminded me of Yngwie Malmsteen) and I can’t really remember a track from that album either and I haven’t really gone back to the band, except for the first two albums.

And who remembers the CD holder teeth breaking? I only pushed down once and bang they all went.

Standard
Uncategorized

The Development Of Zoltan Bathory – Grit and Determination

Raw talent has to mature. So what we have is the artists that stick with music and mature themselves. All the other wannabes got out when they realised that there sole purpose of being involved in music was driven by money and fame. So when those artists that do stick around break through, guess what happens. The majors come knocking with big money.

It is interesting to hear or read about an artist’s development and the things they did to get to where they are today.

If you look at the Wikipedia page for Zoltan Bathory, the earliest musical output you get is from 2004, where he played bass in the band “U.P.O”. However his story begins a long time, in communist Hungary.

So he grows up in a country where the average person is making pennies. In dollars speak it was like a hundred dollars a month. It doesn’t leave a lot of money lying around for guitars, amplifiers and record purchases. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist, however that music is censored. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist but he doesn’t speak English. He is basically trying to succeed in a genre that doesn’t technically have a voice in communist Hungary.

You can see already the grit and determination exhibited by Zoltan just to even get to America. Compared that with people who are cruising on sub-standard effort and constantly told that everything they do is great. You can see that an edge exists in Zoltan’s corner.

Determination has been part of Zoltan’s mindset since childhood. I remember reading an interview that his parents enrolled him in judo classes in an attempt to temper his schoolyard aggression and how that discipline has served him well as he got older.

So he puts together a band that would become Five Finger Death Punch. The band is his first thought in the morning and his last thought at night. He lived and breathed the band. Even the style of music that Five Finger Death Punch produce wasn’t very popular at the time. It was Hard Rock, merged with Thrash Metal, merged with Death Metal and classic Euro Heavy Metal.

I have heard bands like Accept, W.A.S.P., Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Possessed and Annihilator mentioned as early influences.

It was all underground. They had no label but they had people connecting with them on MySpace in the thousands. The record labels started to take notice as this underground band where getting more views and plays than their major label artists.

The first album was recorded on their own. They produced it and paid for it. The version that we all got to hear was the Five Finger Death Punch version. The label at the time just picked it up and released it.

If you look at Five Finger Death Punch in 2013, every single member came from bands that had some level of recognition before. Jason Hook goes back to the late Eighties and early Nineties, with ties to hard rock bands, plus various session work and backing bands for pop stars.

Ivan Moody goes back to the mid Nineties before achieving some recognition with Motograter and his side project Ghost Machine.

Drummer Jeremy Spencer has a similar story to Jason Hook. Hard Rock bands are attached to their stories.

Bassist Chris Kael was doing the Las Vegas circuit with various bands and had made enough contacts to vouch for him when the Five Finger Death Punch bass auditions happened.

They took a risk on their music. They gambled. They didn’t know it would resonate and connect with people the way it did. If the music is good, there’s a ton of money to be made. Not all of that money would be on recorded music.

Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they DID THE WORK…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they kick ass…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they rock each place they visit…

That’s the way rock and roll works.

Life is tough and no one is owed nothing.

People want bands to make a living because we all want to be involved in some way. It makes us feel good on helping artists by going to a show, buying some merchandise or by purchasing their recorded product.

Remember that all of the music that Five Finger Death Punch has released is available on line for free to either stream, view or illegally download. Yet, they still sell. Funny that.

Standard