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

Thrash Metal

I am a great believer that certain musical styles rise to prominence on the backs of social change or a social movement. There is a quote from Deena Weinstein who is a Professor at DePaul University in the Metal Evolution Thrash Episode that goes something like this;

“When Thrash started in the early eighties Thatcher and Reagan were in charge and we had a highly conservative very restrictive kind of society and if you’re a teenager especially a teenage male, yuck, you don’t want to live in a place where they are in charge. This made males feel like they had to fight against the system just to stay in place and that kind of aggression leads to a sense of wanting to be louder and faster.”

By 1988, Thrash Metal in Australia was becoming huge. There was a substantial underground movement of thrash bands or bands that dabbled in rock, thrash and traditional heavy metal and there was an audience for it. Suburban garages became jam rooms for a million wannabe thrash bands.

And then came Metallica to our shorelines for the “Justice” tour.

All of those suburban teens who had seen their parents deal with the Black Monday Wall Street crash purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens from immigrant families that had seen their parents get dicked around and racially abused purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get shafted from various long-term state governments that dealt in corruption purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get fired from companies that dealt in corruption and bribery of politicians purchased tickets

 

All of those suburban teens who didn’t fit in to the new divide between the haves and the have-nots purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens who had finished high school or dropped out and couldn’t hold down any jobs or get work, scrapped up enough cash to purchase tickets.

We even made the news. In our excitement to get into the venue, we broke down gates and fences. When the police came we resisted. So many misfits, that just wanted to fit in.

We all stood together with people wearing Venom, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, first two albums Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Slayer tops. This was our moment and the “…And Justice For All” album with its lyrical themes of corruption and truth being sold to the highest bidder was the same shit that we faced or our parents had faced. We all related to the “injustice” themes throughout the album.

I have always debated with people who was the biggest band in the genre. I always saw it from an influential musical point of view and others saw it from a sales point of view. Metallica and Megadeth to me are the two bands that had their feet in so many genres. With each album they kept on crossing over into new markets. That is why to me, the Black album wasn’t outside of the norm for what the Metallica sound is.

In the doco, Sam Dunn (the interviewer) felt betrayed when Metallica came out with the “Black” album. He wasn’t alone in that view-point. A lot of my peers also felt betrayed at the album however I couldn’t understand their viewpoint.

Metallica always had more accessible shorter songs on every single album leading up to the “Black” album.

What about, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape” and “Trapped Under Ice” from the “Ride The Lightning” album.

What about, “Leper Messiah” (how good is that bass riff (RIP: CLIFF BURTON) over the E5 power chords from 0.33 to 0.55) and “The Thing That Should Not Be” from the “Master Of Puppets” album while the “…And Justice For All” album had the big one, “Harvester Of Sorrow.”

All of those songs are more or less at the same tempo that the “Black” album songs are at.

I for one am glad that Metallica had the balls to make the “Black” album instead of “And Justice For All Part Two”, which if you look closely at it, the Justice album was more or less, “Ride The Lightning Part III”.

Megadeth on the other hand, in between their drug addictions and overdoses created some definitive songs. All of the thrash fans that felt betrayed at the Black album liked “Peace Sells”. That is why their view points just didn’t make sense.

Yes people, the mighty Dave Mustaine was way ahead of his time. He gave Metallica that technicality and their sound in the early years and by 1986, he gave the Thrash movement a crossover hit song in “Peace Sells”. It was all over MTV.

And that is the reason why this sub-genre has survived and grown. The two biggest bands of the movement just kept on crossing over and those two biggest bands had two super influential songwriters in Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time they were in the same band.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Metal Evolution – Glam Metal Episode

I watched the Metal Evolution Glam Rock, Thrash and Grunge documentaries a few nights ago. When you play “The Trooper” as your intro riff to the series, how am I not going to like the documentaries. That alone classifies it as a winner to me. The documentaries are great viewing and I recommend them to all fans of the rock and metal genres and also to any other fan who is interested in a good narrative.

YouTube Link

I think the Glam Rock/Metal movement doesn’t get the respect it deserves. If it wasn’t for “Sonic Temple” from The Cult and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue there would be no such thing as the “Black” sound and the millions of metal bands that the Metallica album spawned. Yet this is not mentioned, even though Lars and James have gone on the record to state that the sound of “Dr Feelgood” is what they wanted for the “Black” album and that is why they went with Bob Rock.

However, in the Thrash documentary, Sam Dunn tells Lars he felt betrayed when the Black album was released and Lars responds by saying that it would have been a betrayal if Metallica did Justice Part 2. Brilliant interviewing. Since Sam Dunn is a fan, it was a fan question that a lot of Metallica fans from the first four albums wanted to ask. And Lars actually gave a great response back.

But back to the Glam Metal episode first.

I couldn’t stop laughing at Sam Dunn’s assessment of “Glam Metal”. To him he felt “they were boy bands put together by record label execs”.

There is a good history on the L.A Hard Rock scene and how it goes back to the original pioneers “Van Halen”. It set the style that bands needed to have a real showman for a lead vocalist, a real hot-shot guitarist and a rhythm section tighter than a G-string.

Franki Banali the drummer from Quiet Riot cracked me up with his assessment of Edward Van Halen “the name sounds like a painter”.

It’s good to see Spencer Proffer get recognition for his idea of trying to find a band to record “Cum On Feel The Noize” from Slade. It was a game changer for Quiet Riot even though they resisted it.

Then you have the big heavy metal day on the 1983 U.S festival. It was a game changer for the LA scene and for metal in general.

Randy Rhoads was always a big influence on the LA Glam strip with his guitar playing in Quiet Riot before he joined Ozzy.

MTV also had a perfect vehicle in Glam Metal as all the bands where all about the image and the performance. And MTV was the catalyst for getting bands that would normally sell a hundred thousand albums into the multi-million ranges. The seventies bands that became part of the movement re-invigorated their career and also replenished their fan bases.

John Kalonder was fucking hilarious. When he spoke, I couldn’t stop laughing. He sounded like that baddy voice over dub in the movie “Kung Pow”.

And it was a time of excess. If Tawny Kitaen is to be believed, then the 1987 Whitesnake album cost over $2 million dollars to record and produce.

One thing that is very rarely mentioned in the press is all the gear enhancements that took place during the Eighties era. Rock guitar players were customizing amps and guitars and they were always seeking new sounds.

As a musician it would be great to see how producers and technology shaped each genre. We all love a narrative and we all like to see unsung heroes get their time in the sun. The rise of Mesa Boogie and their Rectifier amps. Tom Werman, Bob Rock, Keith Olsen, Andy Johns, Bruce Fairbairn, Mike Clink and so on, also deserved to be recognised. The polished sounds from the Eighties records played a huge rule in the evolution in the metal and rock genres. The whole Grunge movement used producers that cut their teeth engineering on metal and glam rock albums from the 80’s.

Look at some of the stuff “The Edge” did with Digital Delays and Phasers. Eddie Van Halen is a classic that comes to mind with his innovative “Brown” sound. Warren DeMartini from Ratt had a hot rodded amp that everyone wanted to use.

As a fan of the genre, there needs to be another documentary that brings to light some of the unsung heroes of metals evolution, those guys that altered and enhanced the sounds.

Because in the first episode that covered the origins of metal Dunn touched on the sound aspects and about how a speaker was cut with a razor blade to get a distorted sound and how the invention of the first Marshall amp paved the way for a new style of sound.

Dunn’s reporting of the “Guns N Roses Effect” on glam rock spot on. That is the argument I have had with many people. I always said that Glam Rock died because it got over saturated with inferior bands, along with Gunners showing up the movement with their nod to Seventies classic rock. So when Grunge came along, it offered an alternative to the clichéd glam rock styles and lyrics.

To me the documentaries are also trying to change the culture of the metal fan, you know, get all the elitist judges to be more relaxed and appreciate the different aspects rather than seeing themselves as part of a niche. Get them to appreciate and open their mind and feel united as one big diverse family, to inspire evolution, a Metal Evolution

“Bang you Head…”

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Metallica

Metallica never fully recovered from the Napster debacle and in the end what their actions did was bring about the “Anakin Skywalker Effect”. In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker tried to stop Padme from dying and in the process ending up being responsible for her death, the death of many other Jedis, a fall to the dark side and the loss of human limbs.

In Metallica’s case by killing off one outlet (Napster) many more came to replace it, which brought in an era of unchecked piracy, until streaming services started to rein it all in. Seen the stats coming out of the UK recently. When people are given a legitimate and well-priced legal alternative they will always take it up. More people are streaming now in the UK than downloading mp3’s.

And the thing about Metallica is that Lars Ulrich thinks that what U2 did with Apple was a good thing. Is he serious? U2 will never recover from the backlash of their Apple giveaway. Like U2, Lars is more or less showing that he is the poster boy for aging out of touch rock stars.

Watch the documentary called “Global Metal” from Banger Films. There is a section there that focuses on the spread of metal music globally. Based on interviews with musicians and fans of the genre a link is made to piracy and peer-to-peer downloading.

So in a different scene, the interviewer Sam Dunn explains to Lars what he has heard from metal fans around the world that piracy gave them access to music they could never get their hands on. Sam then asks Lars how he feels about it. Lars thinks about his answer for a second and then replies that it is a good thing that fans are getting access to the music. And isn’t it funny how Lar’s said “WE” had some radical views at the point in time in relation to Napster, when the truth is it was Lars (along with some bad advice from management) that had the radical views.

Remember recently that Metallica played some sold out shows in China. I wonder how that came to be especially when Metallica music is not really purchased in the country.

The thing is this; if Metallica gets back to writing some quality and excellent tunes, they will be laughing all the way to retirement. Because back in the day, good used to be good enough. Today good equals awful. We all want what is excellent. Death Magnetic came out in 2008. It was a good comeback album. Now they need a great album to follow-up “Death Magnetic” and they are already late with that release. “Lords Of Summer” as a song is terrible however there are some quality riffs there that need to be developed into great songs.

Because in the end, a great media campaign can bring attention for a little bit however it cannot sustain if the music is terrible. U2 still believe that smoke and mirrors still works. Their team must believe that promotion is everything. Tim Cook believed it, however do you reckon he will work with U2 again in this fashion. Make the mistake once and learn from it. But Lars reckons that what U2 did was an amazing thing. Maybe for their bank accounts it was, but what about their audience.

The very essence of the internet is that only true excellence rises to the top. And that which rises and lasts usually has an innovative twist to it. Volbeat merged rockabilly, country and metal into a commercial pop song. Five Finger Death Punch merged the hard rock movement of the Eighties with Killswitch Engage. Coheed and Cambria introduced a whole new style of storytelling making each album a mass media event that involved novels, comics and music. When Metallica broke out they merged the NWOBHM scene with fast tempos and then with progressive time changes. When Rage Against The Machine broke out they merged rap with classic rock pentatonic riffs aided by Morello’s grasp of effects.

Metallica’s past history will gain them attention, but it won’t make them sustain anymore because it’s all about the product not the revenue. Metallica stayed out on the road for far too long for the sake of revenue. And our time is limited. That is the only thing we cannot buy or download. So everyone is fighting for attention and because there is constantly something new coming out, very little sustains. Can Metallica buck that trend? If they deliver excellence then the answer is yes, however based on Lars views on U2’s corporate deal the pendulum swings to NO. I will have a drink tonight hoping that James Hetfield will veto any stupid marketing plans that Lars has.

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