A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Undeniable Greatness with Metallica and Dream Theater

You are a teenager and starting a band. What do you have that could bring you untold fame and riches?

Life is your art right. It forms the basis of the songs that you write. The personal experiences from your life form the themes. So the saying goes, you need to have lived to create everlasting art. So if your definition of success depends upon becoming a household name in the quickest time possible, you’re going to waste a lot of time being frustrated.

The winners that win, do so because they outlast the competition. Metallica isn’t on top at the moment because they were better than everybody else. The same goes for Motley Crue. Both bands outlasted their competition.

What happened to Raven, the band that Metallica opened up for before Kill Em All was released? Even though bands like Slayer, Exodus and Anthrax are still around, they have never done the numbers that Metallica has done.

Anthrax had too many changes and they didn’t have that singer in Belladonna and Bush that could relate to the audience. Exodus didn’t really rate, while Slayer and Megadeth forged out a sustainable career on the back of the Metallica steam train.

Metallica
The best work for me is Ride The Lightning. For others it is Master of Puppets. For others it is the Black album. For this case study, let’s use the sales statistic, so that would mean the Black album is their best work.

The Black album was written in 1990 and released in 1991. James Hetfield, the main song writing force in the band was 27 years old in 1990. Lars Ulrich was also 27. Bob Rock, the producer was 36. The point here is that the people involved in the creation of this masterpiece have lived and experienced.

James, Lars and Kirk Hammet lived through a bus crash, which claimed the life of their band mate and main musical muse Cliff Burton.

Bob Rock by 1991 had worked on numerous big sellers, so he knew what it took to get the best out of the band. Watch the Classic Albums documentary and see how Bob Rock pushed Kirk Hammet to record that classic guitar solo in The Unforgiven.

Some say that Metallica sold out with the Black album, however it is as brutal as all the other Metallica albums that came before it. For all the haters, I dare them to point to any other album as heavy as the Black album that was riding high on the charts.

Forget about the single cuts like Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Wherever I May Roam and Nothing Else Matters. You need to dig deeper to hear the quality. Through The Never is a classic cut from the Master of Puppets era, as well as My Friend of Misery (that has similarities to the Orion breakdown). The best songs by far on the Black album is Holier Than Thou and The God That Failed. While one is classic speed metal in the Judas Priest vein, The God That Failed is the mainstreams introduction to groove metal, a term that Pantera would make famous with A Vulgar Display of Power.

The Black album desensitised everyone and set a standard of heaviness for bands like Korn, White Zombie, Disturbed, Alice In Chains, Rage Against The Machine, Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry to step in and desensitise us some more. It opened the door to bands like Pantera to enter the mainstream.

Dream Theater
The breakthrough album for Dream Theater is Images and Words. Petrucci, Myung and Moore wrote it between the ages of 22 and 24 during the dark days of the vocalist search. The album came out when they were 25 years old. Another Day was written about John Petrucci’s father, who was diagnosed with cancer. Take The Time was written as their struggle at finding a new vocalist and always having to start from scratch when they failed. The music was more mature and better orchestrated. Personality sells. When Dream Theater released Images and Words, they didn’t bland their material to make it more relatable.

Then just when you thought that Dream Theater would go all mainstream, they shook things up again with Metropolis II. In the same way that 2112 from Rush laid the groundwork for what was to come for Rush, Metropolis II did the same thing for Dream Theater. It returned their core Images and Words audience and introduced the band to a large seventies era progressive rock fan base.

The next breakthrough album for Dream Theater was the heavy Train Of Thought. If there was any casual metal fan that was sitting on the sideline, this album made them commit. Of course Dream Theater always had metal styles in their music, however Train of Thought was all metal.

The recent promotion on the new Dream Theater album has the usual spin about Grammy nominated band and so on. Yep getting nominated is cool, however it doesn’t ensure long term success. Dream Theater built themselves away from the mainstream. They figured out what worked for them and what didn’t away from the mainstream, until they became so good it was undeniable. That is what will sell the band over and over again. That undeniable greatness.

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Music, Treating Fans Like Shit

Predictions

A lot of changes have taken place in bands that we all love over the last 18 months.  Some good, some bad and some sad.

Slayer
Dave Lombardo found out online that he has officially been replaced by Paul Bostaph.  Main songwriter Jeff Hanneman sadly passed away. For the touring cycle, Hanneman has been replaced by Gary Holt from Exodus.

Prediction: Slayer will just tour from now on, playing the summer festival scene, without any new music being released.  The estate of Jeff Hanneman would fire off a legal letter to Slayer over unpaid royalties.

Stone Temple Pilots
Scott Weiland is fired and then he claims he can’t be fired from the band.  Chester Bennington from Linkin Park is in as the new singer, and on top of that there is a lawsuit, where the STP guys are alleging that Weiland has broken the terms of a band agreement, which stipulates what each member can do outside of STP.

Prediction: This will just stay in the social media pages, with pot shots thrown at each party.  STP will do the Twentieth Anniversary tour for Core, and so will Scott Weiland.  Expect another Queensryche saga.

Bon Jovi
This is all about Richie Sambora.

First he didn’t turn up to a show.  Jon Bon Jovi then grabbed Phil X to fill in for Sambora and the PR machine issued a statement saying that Sambora had to leave the tour for personal reasons.  Fans are still purchasing tickets, only to see the band without him. Sambora remained quiet for some time and now the feuding is going public, with Sambora saying that Bon Jovi is making his return “very difficult”.  Bon Jovi then mentioned that Sambora is replaceable, whereas The Edge from U2 is not. Bon Jovi further stated, that Sambora wasn’t committed enough, and that his clothing business had taken up more of his time.  Sambora tweeted that is not the case, as his clothing business has been happening for 5 years, and music is and always is his first priority.

Prediction: This will get sorted. Jon and Richie will make up, record another album and then the same thing will happen again.

Queensryche

Geoff Tate is building a resume, that includes spitting at Scott Rockenfield, telling festival crowds they suck, pulls a knife at his band members, tell’s fans to record themselves telling him how bad his new album is (he actually thinks it’s funny) and now he takes a fans cell phone and throws it away.  This guy is all class.

The lawsuit over the name is in limbo land and the Todd LaTorre fronted Queensryche are about to release their album.

Prediction: Geoff Tate will be classified insane and then he will blame all the fans again, telling them they suck.  The Todd LaTorre fronted Queensryche version will also fail.

Machine Head 

Adam Duce was fired from the band because his heart wasn’t in it anymore.  No official replacement has been announced, however on-line bassist auditions have taken place and the list was whittled down to 8.

Prediction: Robb Flynn will ensure that Adam Duce is taken care off in relation to royalties payments post his departure.

Black Sabbath 

Prediction: The Bill Ward saga is over.  The band has moved on.  Black Sabbath will sell out their shows, however the new music will be hit and miss.

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