Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Top 10 Metal Albums of 1994 According To Guitar World (& then a new Top 10 is born with my additions)

I am in a “dust off” process at the moment. As an avid purchaser of all things musical, especially anything to do with rock and metal, I have a huge collection of magazines from 1986 to today’s date.

At the moment I am flicking through a Guitar World issue from 1995. The first thing that got my attention, is their Top 10 lists for the 1994 year. In the issue, they had a Top 10 list for Rock, Alternative, Metal and Roots/Blues. So here is the list from the esteemed Jeff Gilbert.

1. SOUNDGARDEN – Superunknown (A&M)

“It’s darker than Slayer’s underwear, moodier than Weiland and more depressing than an empty keg. It’s also the best hard music album of the year.”

What a production team of Michael Beinhorn and Brendan O’Brien. Surround yourself with the best and expect them to get great results for you. This is the album that Soundgarden is doing it’s victory lap on. It had a lot of elements that crossed over into the mainstream and it had a lot of elements still rooted in the rock/metal vibe they are known for. The fans agreed, sending the album into the millions. At last count, the album is pushing close to 6 million physical units in the U.S.

2. DANZIG – Danzig 4 (American)

“Danzig kiss the abyss with yet another moon-howling symphony for the devil. All the musical chaos and only one guitar solo. Cool.”

Rick Rubin is on board to produce, along with Glen Danzig. In my view, this shouldn’t be on the list.

3. MEGADETH – Youthanasia (Capitol)

“Dave Mustaine sounds like he’s getting a vacuum cleaner enema, but that’s okay because his riffs and Marty Friedman’s solos are among the best the band has ever spewed forth.”

Youthanasia continued the path away from thrash and more toward a classic rock feel. However the lyrical matter is still dark and depressing, which was perfect for 1994. Max Norman is behind the desk and he completes his trilogy of albums with Megadeth, that also includes Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction. In the ends, the fans spoke with their wallets and they liked the mix of rock and metal and another PLATINUM album was on board the “Train of Consequences.”

4. SLAYER – Divine Intervention (American)

“Furious buzz-bomb guitar runs eat away at your face like flesh-eating syndrome. Swarming solos sting you out of your drunken stupor. Slayer know what’s good for us.”

WTF. It’s like a Nostradamus prophecy. I am reading this in 2013, post Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and the term “flesh eating” just sticks out. The next term that sticks out is “drunken”. Knowing what we know now about Jeff Hanneman’s addiction to alcohol and the problems caused by the flesh eating parasite, the review above just doesn’t sit right. Modern metal producer Toby Wright is on hand to produce a 500,000 seller.

5. PANTERA – Far Beyond Driven (EastWest)

“Shits nails and wipes with barbed wire.”

Terry Date is at the boards again and a number one album is released. What can you say about Pantera that hasn’t been said. Due to Dimebag’s passing, we will never see the original band reconcile and perform again, so what we are left is the memories. Who knew back in 1994, that Dimebag would be shot dead 10 years later.

6. SKREW – Dusted (Metal Blade)

“The metallic counterpart of Nine Inch Nails and Ministry and they used one chord on the entire album. What gods!”

Pop, Dance producer Howie Beno is on board for an industrial slab of metal. It’s a peculiar mix, however 1994 was a peculiar time, with a lot of genre mash up’s happening. I don’t remember anything outstanding from this album that would have made me want to play it again.

7. ENTOMBED – Wolverine Blues (Sony)

“Grindcore masters Entombed pay crunching tribute to the coolest member of the X-Men. Maybe we can hook them up with the Silver Surfer and … oh sorry; someones already beat em to it.”

Grindcore was never my thing however the Swede’s sure know how to create something interesting. The thing about this album that I liked is that each song, had certain sections that just killed it. I remember taking out all of those sections from the songs, mashed them up and recorded them all as one track (a note for note rendition). It came to about 7 minutes. Then I started tweaking the song around, moving some riffs into different places, shortening a few and them combining the shorter riffs to form a new riff and so on. Within about three hours, i had a killer 5 minute tune, all inspired by Entombed, however totally unrecognisable.

8. DREAM THEATER – Awake (EastWest)

“Faster than a Silver Bullet, tighter than the jeans i bought six months ago, more powerful than a box of Ex Lax, this shred party left me punch drunk and, for once in my life, fully awake.”

John Purdell and Duane Baron are on board to produce. Again, another peculiar choice from the record label. A progressive band, has been given hard rock / pop metal producers. Not counting the Terry Date produced, “When Dream and Day Unite”, “Images and Words” had David Prater behind the boards. Following up the very unexpected and successful “Images and Words” album, “Awake” already had an uphill battle. For anyone that has read the “Lifting Shadows” book, it is mentioned there, that Derek Oliver was asking for another “Pull Me Under” and the band was trying to oblige.

9. MACHINE HEAD – Burn My Eyes (Roadrunner)

“Machine Head explore the world of religion gone mad with aggressive and severe riffing more dangerous than a cult leader with a vision.”

What a perfect blend of old school thrash and modern metal. Robb Flynn is the star from the outset. He is what ultimately sets Machine Head apart from the competition. Another difference between “Burn My Eyes” and all the rest of the hardcore/grindcore bands from 1994, was that Machine Head could actually write songs and in Robb Flynn, you had a vocalist that could actually sing.

10. KYUSS – Welcome To Sky Valley (Elektra)

“If you ever wanted to know what it feels like to be a laval lamp plugged into a Marshall, this album will take you there. The hairiest thing this side of Kim Thayil’s back.”

This one is a strange addition to a metal list, however it is that good and that varied, it deserves to be on some list. A mix of stoner rock and metal scene with progressive psychedelic elements.

Here are my additions to the above list;

LEVIATHAN – Deepest Secrets Beneath (Rock The Nations)

The best progressive metal album from 1994. It is a very accomplished debut album. While Dream Theater had the backing of a major label, Leviathan was on Rock The Nations, a small independent label. Produced by the excellent Jim Morris (Death, Control Denied, Circle II Circle, Iced Earth and many others).

KORN – Korn (Epic)

Now if this album went platinum or gold in 1994, it would be on the above list. However, this album was a slow burner. It reached GOLD status in 1996, on the back of the “Life Is Peachy” album. Even though I have been a Guitar World subscriber since 1986, it was very typical of what the magazine became renowned for; beholden to the advertisers and the PR companies. This album didn’t rate a mention however years later they trumped it up.

MOTLEY CRUE – Motley Crue (Elektra)

Of course, the Guitar World list is based on what was trending back in 1994 and Motley Crue was not in. However, their self titled album released in 1994, with John Corabi on vocals is heavy as hell and deserves to be on the list. It’s funny that the band that was cool in the Eighties was not cool in 1994. So if you are not cool, don’t expect to get any press from the established magazines. The only magazine that was giving the Crue any press was Metal Edge and then Nikki fucked that up as well.

SAVATAGE – Handful Of Rain (Atlantic)

Another so called “Eighties” band that wasn’t cool in 1994. Reeling from the death of their lead guitarist, Criss Oliva, Paul O’Neill and Jon Oliva wrote the most darkest, sorrowful and heavy as hell album. A worthy addition to any metal list from 1994. Jon Oliva also made his brother proud by recording all the rhythm guitars while gun for hire, Alex Skolnick came in and did the leads.

TESTAMENT – Low (Atlantic)

This is a killer album that got lost in the mix. After the Metallica “Black” album sound of 1992’s “The Ritual” didn’t get a great response, 1994 saw some changes. Guitarist Alex Skolnick and drummer Louie Clemente left. In came James Murphy (Death) and John Tempesta. The end product is “Low.” A different sound and a good one. The songs became lower and faster and groovy. Another slow burner, that kept on selling into 2000 and beyond.

So based on all of the above, here is my top 10 list from 1994;

1. Motley Crue – Motley Crue

What can I say, Bob Rock killed it in the producer’s chair, capturing Motley Crue at their heaviest. It is groove rock, mixed with classic rock, mixed with heavy metal. Listen to the interludes of Droppin Like Flies and Hooligan’s Holiday for supreme Korn like heaviness.

2. Machine Head – Burn My Eyes

Robb Flynn’s vocal style is his life style. A lot of people have tried to imitate it however you have had to have lived his lifestyle in order to pull it off.

3. Leviathan – Deepest Secrets Beneath

A progressive metal band that deserves greater accolades. Think Geddy Lee vocals on a bed of technical metal riffs.

4. Dream Theater – Awake

Worthy follow up to “Images and Words” and the last album to feature the talents of Kevin Moore. Of course Jordan Rudess is a far more accomplished pianist, however to me Kevin Moore is a better band member, due to his lyrical and vocal melody writing.

5. Pantera – Far Beyond Driven

What else can be said about Pantera that hasn’t been said. They kept the flag flying for groove and thrash metal, while other leaders jumped ship or broke up.

6. Korn – Korn

Any album that has an ominous shadow of a man in a kids playground on the cover already has a lot to live up to. In this case, Korn delivered a brutal first album. Not bad for a band that got signed solely based on their demo and no live shows.

7. Savatage – Handful Of Rain

Dark and sorrowful. The best way to pay a tribute to a fallen brother is to keep the music alive. Savatage and especially Jon Oliva, did exactly that.

8. Megadeth – Youthanasia

Dave Mustaine and Megadeth never achieved the “success” in sales as Metallica however to me, they defined and pushed the boundaries of technical thrash metal. Can you ever imagine James Hetfield singing over the “Holy Wars” riff. With “Youthanasia”, Megadeth delivered a killer rock album, which if i had to pick between “Youthanasia” and “Load” from Metallica, “Youthansia” wins hands down.

9. Testament – Low

When a band is more or less written off by the press, that is when they deliver. However due to a lack of label support, the album didn’t get out of the gates properly.

10. Slayer – Divine Intervention

I was going to put Kyuss or Soundgarden here, however my loyalty to Slayer wins out in the end.

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Music, My Stories, Copyright, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Piracy

The Prophetic Writings of Dave Mustaine

Throughout my life, bands like Megadeth, Metallica and Queensryche, have commented a fair bit on governments, democracy and the corruption that happens.

In the last 10 years, the Entertainment Industries have shown to the world, how corrupt they really are, and how they would do anything to protect obsolete business models. When I started writing this post, the themes that started to appear, reminded me of Megadeth songs.

Dave Mustaine is renowned for his mouth and his witty/snarly lyrical writing. Remember a time when musicians used to lead. Dave Mustaine is one of those musicians.

Seeking Asylum

There is a current role reversal happening in our lives today. Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, political dissidents would actually SEEK asylum in Democratic Free countries like the US, UK, Australia and Canada. Now people are looking for asylum in other countries to get AWAY from the Democratic Free countries. How the times have changed?

It reminds me of the lyrics to The World Needs A Hero (from the album The World Needs A Hero, released in 2001).

An Iron Fist quietly sits inside the Velvet Glove
Take control, untouchable just like God above
I can’t escape, wrapped in red tape, what will become of me?
If I object, then I defect my country tis of thee

Bradley Manning, detained in red tape and military courts. What will become of him? He didn’t kill anyone? He didn’t terrorise anyone? He didn’t bomb any public infrastructure? So why is he imprisoned? All he did was to embarrass a government.

Ed Snowden, leaked information about the NSA spying on US Citizens and now he is treated as a criminal, seeking asylum in countries that will not hand him over to the US. Remember the time when Communist defectors seeked asylum in the US. This is what corrupted democracy leads too? All Snowden did was to embarrass a government.

Copyright Levy

Most of Europe has a Copyright Levy imposed on the purchase of storage media, smartphones, tablets and any other connected devices.  In my view, since there is such a levy on digital products, whether devices or storage media, then non-commercial infringement should be permitted. The copyright monopolies shouldn’t get to have it both ways – either they need to go after alleged “pirates”, or they can tax the items “pirates” use. Makes you wonder why organisations like HADOPI (in France) were formed, since the public had already paid for the content without even wanting to?

Sort of like the song Dread and The Fugitive Mind (from the album The World Needs A Hero, released in 2001).

What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine too
If you shake my hand better count your fingers

Nothing else can sum up the Entertainment lobby groups and the Copyright Cartels better than the above two lines from Dave Mustaine.

ENFORCEMENT

Speaking of enforcement, Hadopi in France, has been a total waste of time and money. It was created as a gradual response system to piracy. Basically three warnings and then no internet. The aim of Hadopi was to push people to legal paid services.

“While illicit file sharing has dropped, legal paid services have not benefited as was hoped.”

The entertainment industry focus should be trying to figure out ways to make more money however the entertainment industries believe that getting rid of piracy will lead to more money. All it will do is push piracy further into a darknet.

Sort of like the lyrics in Symphony Of Destruction (from the album Countdown To Extinction, released in 1992).

You take a mortal man
And put him in control
Watch him become a god
Watch people’s heads a roll

Let’s change them up to suit;

You take the RIAA
And put them in control
Watch them become gods
Watch people’s heads a roll

BLOCKADES

All over the world, blockades of websites is becoming common. The site they are all after is The Pirate Bay. The labels claim that the infamous torrent site facilitates copyright infringement. In countries like the UK and Ireland the courts agreed and ISP’s are forced to implement the block. Of course, users can easily bypass any blockade by using one of the many available Pirate Bay proxy sites. It’s that old whac-a-mole game. The Recording Associations around the world are spending monies in costly legal avenues and lobbying/bribery, instead of innovating.

Reminds me of the song New World Order  (originally recorded for the Youthanasia album of 1994 and released on the Th1rt3en album in 2011).

Monitoring all wages
New world order comes in stages
Your currency is obsolete
Feel the agony of defeat

Power resides in the ones that can purchase legal solutions to assist in their bad business models. The currency of fairness and justice is obsolete, against the power of money. We are all slaves to it. The whole blockade of websites is due to money, not piracy.

THE ART OF WAR VIA THE ARM OF THE LAW

The Entertainment industries like the RIAA seem to think that by using the arm of the law to extract money by force or to threaten people by force is a satisfactory response for copyright infringements. Remember people, copyright infringement is a civil matter not a criminal matter. However when power resides with the ones that control government, anything is possible.

Reminds me of the song Endgame (from the album Endgame, released in 2009).

The Ex-President signed a secret bill that can land a legal US Citizen in jail
And the Patriot Act stripped away our Constitutional Rights

All rights removed, you’re punished, captured and enslaved
Believe me when I say, This is the Endgame

Admins of websites have been found guilty for facilitating copyright infringement, have been given sentences harsher then murderers and drug dealers. These admins didn’t kill anyone, however if you take a penny from the wealthy, you have committed a grievous crime that needs to be punished severely.

INNOVATION STIFLING

Spotify has been far more successful in tackling piracy than any law. So what does the RIAA do? They want to charge more for the licensing fees. I am waiting for the punch line to come from the RIAA that this increase is needed to protect the artists that create the content. When it comes to money people just become dumb and those people are in charge of companies that make dumb decisions.

Sort of like the song, Millennium Of The Blind (from the album Th1rt3en, released in 2011)

All your money’s ours to bankroll corrupt wars
You can’t see what you’re fighting for
Trust your leaders as they send you out to die
The true face of evil can’t be seen without eyes

You can tweak the above to read;

All the money’s ours to bankroll shakedown wars
You can’t see what we are legislating for
Trust in the RIAA as they protect what you create
Through bribery and corruption so that politicians legislate

JUDGES SET MARKET PRICES

A 3 judge panel has set prices on the rates that internet services like Pandora need to pay, so that they can play music on line and the RIAA claims it is a free market.

Reminds me of the song Bite The Hand That Feeds (from the album Endgame, released in 2009).

They ball-gagged Lady Justice
And blindfolded her so she can’t see

They took everything and anything
As long as it once belonged to me

When the Courts have Judges that used to work for the Copyright Monopolies, the verdict is always the same. Good for business, bad for the people.

POLITICIANS PUSH CORPORATE PROPAGANDA

When are politicians going to stand for the people again. Instead we have the people that we voted in, pushing the agendas of corporations. A good example is the new RIAA stooge Marsha Blackburn. Enough said.

All of this reminds me of Peace Sells (from the album Peace Sells But Who’s Buying, released in 1986) and We The People (from the album Th1rt3en, released in 2011).

What do you mean “I couldn’t be President of the United States of America?”
Tell me something, it’s still “We The People” right

Nope, it is not we the people anymore and it hasn’t been for a long time. It is We With The Money.

Violate your rights, no more equality
Surrender freedom, your social security

When our politicians started to want to earn the same as Wall Street bankers, the writing was on the wall for equality and justice. Looking at all of the headings in this post, it makes me feel like I am living in a dictatorship. All of this is happening in Democracy. Peace Sells people, and the Copyright Cartels have purchased it all up.

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