Classic is a term used by people in the arts to define the highest standard of works; something that has withstood the test of time, something that has been inserted into the cultural canon. If we’re talking literature, we could use the Iliad or Odyssey as an example, or perhaps something more modern like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These works undoubtedly shaped their medium since brought into existence. But what about classics in the world of metal specifically? Compared to most art forms, metal is still in its infancy, being somewhere around 40 years old now. Are there really any works that can be universally regarded as groundbreaking and genre-defining?
Starting with the obvious, Black Sabbath‘s early albums have to be considered since they’re widely regarded as the forefathers of metal. What about their contemporaries and bands that came shortly after? Surely Motörhead, Iron Maiden and others deserve consideration. For posterity, let’s just take the landmark works, Overkill and The Number of the Beast respectively. If we include Judas Priest, which of their works should be included? One approach would be the early work, something more landmark for less studied fans, but on the other hand Painkiller is one of the best metal albums of all time and quite a bit more aggressive than the band’s early material, making this a tough decision. The list of bands and albums goes on and on. Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Classicism In Metal’
Bands are hard to keep together. People fight, quit, rejoin, remember, quit again, die and so forth. Sometimes that band member is so integral to the music that it’s pointless to go on—some bands realize this and pack it in. But often, the remaining members don’t want to give it up. Here is the good, the bad and the ‘meh’ of some big, post-departure acts.
The Rolling Stones
Thank you, Jeebus, that The Stones kept it going after the 1969 departure and subsequent death of band founder Brian Jones (but couldn’t they have stopped after 1981’s Tattoo You, oh mighty Jeebus?). Jones’ contributions to the band are not to be discounted, but by the time he left, he had been marginalized—for better or worse—by the Jagger-Richards power team (and by most accounts, by manager Andrew Loog Oldham, not to mention by booze and drugs). The Stones went on to produce some of their greatest work.
While some people swear by Syd Barrett-era Floyd, the mental unraveling and eventual canning of the former frontman heralded one of rock’s greatest and most unlikely metamorphoses. With Roger Waters taking the pole position (and with able assistance from Barrett’s replacement, David Gilmour), the band slowly shed their psych-pop identity in favor of spaced-out stadium rock.
Over the years, the cornerstone of many great metal songs has been the almighty riff. Think of just about any legendary metal song, and there’s a pretty fair chance it also features a great riff. Slayer’s “Raining Blood”? Check. Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”? Check. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”? Check. The list goes on, and on, and on. We here at OurStage believe in the power of the almighty riff. So, to help honor it’s greatness, we’ve found eight killer OurStage metal tracks that riff, and riff hard. Everything from super heavy riffs to blisteringly fast thrash riffs to hyper-technical death metal riffs—we’ve got you covered.
First, we have the straight-forward “Psycho Intentions” by Reign of Fury (above). Riffs fast, riffs hard and melts faces. No more, no less. Well, except the ludicrous guitar shredding and slight acoustic break in the middle, but we’re cool with that. Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Riff Fest 2011′
Contrary to popular belief, many metalheads have hobbies outside of worshipping Satan and headbanging. One hobby that seems to be be a popular one is cooking. In the last couple years, multiple metal-themed cookbooks have been released. There is a mobile grilling truck named after a Metallica album, and a blog devoted to devising cupcake recipes based on metal bands and albums. One thing is certain: metalheads clearly love the culinary arts.
November 29th, 2009 marked the release of Hellbent For Cooking — a compilation of 101 favorite recipes of metal bands such as Kreator, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Death, Gorgoroth and more — assembled by Annick Giroux. The book features all types of dishes for different meals, including over thirty recipes from outside of the US and Canada. It’s available through many online retailers, such as Amazon, so get your copy now!
Mosh Potatoes is another similar cookbook released a little over a year later. It features favorite recipes of famous metal musicians such as Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall and Lemmy of Mötorhead, but it also includes anecdotes and liner notes from these bandss and artists —making it much more than just a cookbook. You can also find this one on Amazon.
If you’re not looking to cook your own food, you can always grab food at the Grill ‘Em All truck when it rolls into your town. The Grill ‘Em All truck is exactly what it sounds like: a metal-themed truck that serves grilled food like the Behemoth burger, which is a burger topped with grilled cheese buns, smoked cheddar, applewood smoked bacon and beer-soaked onions. Check out more deliciously metal items on Grill ‘Em All menu. To find out where the truck is, you can check their Twitter page or Facebook page.
If, after all that, you’ve still got room for more, why not top it off with dessert? Check out Metalcakes for some inspired treats. Metalcakes is Kathy Bejma’s blog devoted to custom cupcake recipes of all kinds, each themed after a metal band or album— like the “Edible Autopsy Cake” and “Black Sweets of Vengeance”. As of December 1, 2010, Kathy has amassed thirty-six posts to her blog, each including “Metal Constituents” (ingredients that is) and “Merciless Instructions” (otherwise know as baking directions). The tag line is “Brutally Delicious”. Doesn’t that just say it all?
So, if you’re a metalhead and you love food, just know that there are tasty ways of getting your fix besides music.
Though the metal genre has had many landmark years, no year in it’s musical history matches 1990 in terms of legendary and influential record releases. At a time when metal was starting to explore heavier sounds, such as brutal death metal, and bands like Judas Priest were evolving, the incredible album releases across the metal spectrum was an integral part of metal’s evolution. The year was epic in terms of both metal releases across sub genres and overall history.
For the new wave of British heavy metal, Judas Priest released their monster album Painkiller, which is considered to be one of the best metal albums of all time. It’s a considerably heavier sounding album than most Judas Priest material, and certainly heavier than their most famous songs such as “Breaking The Law” and “Hellbent for Leather.” Painkiller is the album in which Rob Halford finds his most sinister place, K.K. Downing finally breaks loose of the cheesier guitar riffs from the earlier days and Scott Travis adds more attitude on the drum kit. A true metal masterpiece.
The thrash world also had an all-time great album released in 1990 courtesy of Megadeth. Rust In Peace is a fairly short album, clocking in at just under forty minutes, but those forty minutes are densely packed with great riff after great riff, and blistering solos to spare. You also can’t forget Dave Mustaine’s incomparable voice, which is at its absolute best here.
That same year saw the debut release of the now legendary Atheist album Piece of Time, as well as Deicide‘s eponymous debut–both of which put a clear stamp on the death metal that would follow them. In a completely separate area of metal, Primus also released their debut album Frizzle Fry, considered by many to be their best album to date.
Splitting the top of the 1990 release charts with the powerful debut releases by Atheist, Deicide and Primus were bands like Pantera and Kreator. Both bands found the perfect formula for their very distinctive thrash styles, each releasing what was the best album of their careers (and still might be). Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell is certainly the band’s best known effort, boasting one of the most distinctive opening riffs in the history of metal. Even Bathory was on board with the year 1990, releasing Hammerheart, an album considered by many to be the first true “Viking Metal” album.
In terms new metal bands, the “class of 1990″ list is pretty extensive: At The Gates, Converge, Kyuss, Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Tool, In Flames, Fear Factory, Lamb of God and more. Many of these bands would go on to be extremely influential in their respective sub genres. In fact, the bands from Gothenburg (At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames) went on to define a scene and sound for Swedish melodic death metal for the two decade to follow.
The year was marred by tragic events, such as Judas Priest being sued when their song “Better By You Better By Me” allegedly prompted a kid to commit suicide (the band won the case) and the attack and ensuing paralysis of Possessed frontman Jeff Becerra. Still, with landmark release after landmark release, 1990 will go down as one of the best years in the world of metal.
If a person is to consider themselves a metalhead, they had best know the roots—the basics. Be aware of all subgenres, who dominates them and know the albums that helped shape that subgenre. For the next few weeks, I’ll be schooling you on some essential metal albums from metal’s biggest subgenres; making sure you know the biggest and the best in the metal world while giving you some essential albums to add to your metal collection.
This week features the little brother of the original metal movement, NWOBHM ( New Wave of British Heavy Metal).
Imagine that lyric sang by say, the singer of Coldplay instead of Bruce Dickinson (of Iron Maiden fame). Not quite the same “oomph” huh? In some styles of metal, it is all about the power and gusto in which a singer delivers their lines. Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Matt Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Hansi Kürsch, — these are some of the singers who have mastered the art of true heavy metal delivery. Whether it is wailing falsettos or sinister cries, a metal vocalist must keep in mind his voice has to reach to the farthest corners of whatever venue the band is playing at, as well as make a connection to each and every audience member. More so than any metal styles, heavy metal is about emotion. Standing up and fighting for rights, feeling the pain of oppressed people (albeit real or fictional), the woe of a lost lover, epic battles – these are the types of things heavy metal bands sing about, things that cannot be aptly expressed without an apt enforcer on the microphone.
Here at OurStage, we have some talented heavy metal bands, many of which are strongly influenced by greats such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. (some even were around back then). After scoring through the ranks of metal here at OurStage, I’ve compiled a list of eight powerful songs featuring vocals that best exemplify the spirit and energy captured in true heavy metal.