COME ON IN AND COVER ME

Good day all,

I have been a fan of Anthrax since the beginning of their existence when Fist Full of Metal first hit the stores. I have always found Anthrax to be one of the few metal acts who really do not take themselves too seriously and allow their music and personalities to shine in whatever they do. Even when they take on a serious issue in their music i.e. “Indians” they still aren’t over preaching, if you will, to their audience but trying to have as much fun as possible while trying to teach just a little bit. This as far as I am concerned is the way a lot more bands should approach music. Take a look at their EP I’m the Man, there is nothing but fun on that EP and the fact that they even made this EP and that song in particular is pretty impressive for a thrash band, especially one in the 80’s and 90’s.

So this week Anthrax released a new EP just in time for their headlining spot on the Metal Alliance Tour that starts Saturday (March 23) in Las Vegas. The new EP Anthems is an album of cover songs from the likes of RUSH, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, and Journey among other bands that they pay homage to on this EP. I have listened to the album and my opinion is it is a great addition to the history and importance of these songs and it is a great way to hear Anthrax do something new in terms of songs they have not put down on a record but the problem I have with the album is that they didn’t do anything that would make you think anything differently of the songs themselves. They basically made a carbon copy of the songs and really, as far as I can tell, didn’t put any type of “Anthrax” spin on any of these songs. These songs, although well done, are the original songs that Anthrax decided to record. They will make for good encores as they are playing the entire Among The Living album and needed something to end with but there is nothing that screams out Anthrax’s personality. That is what I have an issue with; if you are going to do a cover, do something with it that makes it your own. A band doesn’t have to recreate the entire song or re-imagine it but at least add something of your own to it and not just copy the original. Too much of that already goes on!

I love a great cover song and some bands have made a career out of doing them without the general public even knowing about them. Take a look at Six Feet Under who have done a great job of making the covers of Motley Crue’s “Bastard”, Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” and Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” sound like a death metal version of the song. They kept the rhythm but they took the steps to make these songs truly an interpretation of what Six Feet Under is about. Even though I am not a Six Feet Under fan, I appreciate what they did with these songs, I have heard the originals and I liked them, show me something different if you are going to cover another bands music! I hate to use this as an example as it was more comical than good but even Pat Boone recorded a heavy metal covers album and even though it was big band/jazz it at least was a re-interpretation of the original music and you have to be impressed with that.  By the way the name of the album was In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, I bet a lot of you didn’t know about this album and are now intrigued!   

Anyway, you see my point right? I love Anthrax and all of the music they have put out but they could have at least tried something new with some of these songs. They did it with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on the I’m The Man EP, why couldn’t they do it here? I don’t want to stop you from buying an album from any band, especially Anthrax who I think is currently the hardest working band in metal, but they could have at least given us something a little different with these songs or even put a little more personality into them. The covers on this album are really good and will make for a good listen, but as far as I am concerned; once was enough.

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

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…and on the seventh day there was SABBATH!

Good day all,

Wednesday was the 40th anniversary of Black Sabbath’s debut album and to most the birth of heavy metal. I can get behind that because lets face it, Black Sabbath are the godfathers of metal and it all started with them and the release of Black Sabbath. With that distinctive doom sound and the unmistakable and unimitateable voice of Ozzy Osbourne heavy metal was conceived through the copulation by Marshall stacks and distortion and released through the birth canal of the devil. Take a minute and think about where the world of heavy metal has gone since then. It is amazing what a band from the small steel town of Birmingham England where able to do to the history of music and the creation of heavy metal.

So using the release of Black Sabbath as the starting point how has the last 40 years treated heavy metal and what has happened within the genre? The evolution of metal is something to be amazed at if you ask me, the genre has grown so much since that initial and most important Sabbath album. Sure, sometimes it is hard to tell where the line between heavy metal and other genres of harder rock meet and/or separate but overall I would have to say we are in great shape as fans of this genre. Think about all of the bands from our youth that are having extraordinary resurgence over the last few years: Testament, Anthrax, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Flotsam and Jetsam, Destruction, Kreator, Sodom, among many others and hey even the godfathers themselves, Black Sabbath are releasing a new album. Now look at all of the great up and coming bands that will be carrying the torch of metal for the next generation: Holy Grail, Gypsyhawk, Avenged Sevenfold, Striker, Dust Bolt, and again many, many more. Being a fan of heavy metal, or heavy music in general is really exciting right now!

I think one would find it hard to argue the fact that Black Sabbath really did lead the way to the heavy and that the genius that is Tony Iommi was the force behind what a band can do if the guy making the moves is strong. Sure there were a ton of personnel changes in Sabbath and from all that is written about them Iommi may be hard to deal with on a long-term basis but even without knowing Ozzy personally I have to believe he is a bit difficult to deal with and if not him definitely his wife. Regardless Iommi and company were able to take the loss of Ozzy and turn it into a gain with the hiring of the great Ronnie James Dio. Seriously! What other band has been able to pull a vocalist switch like that and succeed like Sabbath did when they fired Ozzy and hired Dio? I can’t think of many who have done the switch and achieved the same type of success.

So as we celebrate the beauty that was Black Sabbath the album as well as the band think about how far our favorite genre of music has come in the last 40 years. We are a lot better off than most genres of music, at least we don’t have a Justin Bieber or a One Dimension, what we have is a genre that is expanding and benefiting from the advancements of technology and ingenuity! So horns up to the great Black Sabbath on this anniversary of their groundbreaking album and Happy Birthday Heavy Metal, we love you all!

Until later, Peace!

Lurch

Grammy A Halestorm Is Brewing

Good day all,

So Halestorm won the Grammy for best Hard Rock/Metal act at this years’ Grammy Awards: Who Cares? Seriously! Why do we even care? We all know since the “Academy” added a metal category that this whole thing has been a joke. I do not have to go back over the Jethro Tull debacle do I? Look no one should be angry with Halestorm over this as they didn’t stuff the ballot box for themselves but their “peers” voted for them to be the best in this category. That’s right, their “peers” felt that they achieved a higher quality song/album than Anthrax, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Marilyn Manson. I guess my biggest question is who are these “peers” and are any of them even remotely familiar with hard rock or heavy metal?

Here is the thing, I have no problem if Halestorm’s music is considered better than that of those other bands because to some people it is, I don’t get it but my opinion does not matter as I am not a “peer” or a voting member of the Grammy Academy. I don’t know if the “peers” that the Grammys speak of have any clue what to make of heavy metal (and I say only heavy metal because there really wasn’t a hard rock act on the ballot) and chose the song/album that sounded the most commercial and figured that “the kids probably like this one” so why not vote for it. I mean how could they so consistently get it wrong year after year? If it isn’t an irrelevant band, or a mediocre band winning the award it is a song that was released 20 years ago. How do we take any of this seriously?

The sad part is, as far as I can see, that heavy metal is having a really strong comeback in most parts of the world. It has always been big in Europe but even in the United States it is making a resurgence. How do I know this? Just look at the venues that some of your favorite bands are playing this year. Just a few years ago I went to my local club Jaxx (now Empire) and saw Kreator play in front of about 150 people, now they started their concert run this year at the Howard Theater in front of a couple of thousand people. That is a huge step in just a few years, and more and more people are interested in what is happening in metal. But that is neither here nor there, the American media is still not covering the Randy Blythe story so maybe there isn’t hope for metal to make it any bigger. And maybe that is just fine, stay away from our metal people and we will be OK without you!

So here are a couple of questions for your: as a metal fan do you even care about the Grammys or because of the ignorance of the “peers” it is not worth worrying about? Do you feel that the Grammys and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are about as in touch with todays heavy metal as my local pastor? Finally, if you had a chance to pick a performer other than Halestorm to win who would it have been?

I look at this much like I look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and that is who cares? The system is so broken at this point that no matter how much screaming, crying, and complaining happens nothing new is ever going to happen unless there is a complete overhaul on the voting process. This system may have been great in the beginning but unlike the people in charge of these “institutions” times have changed. I say congratulations Halestorm on your big win, I am not a fan but as far as I am concerned you won on the merit of your music as decided upon by your “peers” and you deserve the statue. Thankfully there are plenty of other metal awards that have a bit more meaning than this contrived excuse for a pop music show.

Until later, Peace!

Lurch

Heavy MetALE

Good day all and Happy New Year,

Another year and some exciting things coming for us metal fans. One of the early announcements that I find exciting is the upcoming Metal Alliance tour. The tour itself will be headlined by Anthrax (who seem to be trying to take the hardest working band in metal moniker away from Motorhead) with Exodus, Municipal Waste, High on Fire, and Holy Grail supporting. Really looking forward to seeing the last three bands mentioned there as I have yet to see them live. There will also be some big new releases from some big bands this year and it is always exciting to find new metal through the various channels in which we do so to include but not limited to METAL BUZZ, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal.com, MSN’s Headbang, and many others.

Speaking of new metal, over the holiday break I had the opportunity to peruse some of the end of year lists that are spread across the Internet and found myself becoming very interested in what each of these fellow bloggers and professional writers thought about the year in heavy metal music. There were some really great and well thought out lists and then there were some throw away lists, but no matter what there was at least one take away from each of the lists at least for me. Take for instance one list I saw had the new Killing Joke album on it and I had yet to really listen to the album but after seeing it on this list I gave a good listen and found out why it ranked so high on this list, it is a solid album that had I heard it earlier in the year may have wound up on my own EOY list. On the other side of the spectrum I found a list that had Hellyeah’s new album in their top five and instantly disregarded the additional picks of this specific writer. I know everyone has an opinion and music is different for everyone but come on! With all of the great metal that came out last year Hellyeah is in the top 5? Sorry, not even in the conversation!

But I digress, what really revealed itself to me while scouring these end of year lists was how much looking for new metal has started to mirror how I search out my beers. I have become a craft beer enthusiast over the past year or so and I am always looking for new beers to try, and trying to find a nice “type” if you will that satisfies my drinker’s palate Much the same way I am always looking for metal that will satisfy my musical palate. What I have found is that for both of these obsessions of mine I have to look outside the norm and find new and different places to find my information. When I was younger it was radio, magazines, and MTV that led the way in introducing me to new metal music. The same could be said for how I was introduced to new beers: TV, magazines, and radio or whatever my favorite team or personality was pimping at the time.

But now with the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Untapped and so many other options, there is a way to find new and different metal and beer it seems almost limitless. Now don’t get me wrong there is still a place in my life for the more mainstream in both beer and metal, I am still a push over for a good hair metal anthem much like I still love to find me a National Bohemian on tap some where and drink it out of a nice frosty mug, but I have also found so much more. It is interesting because now that I compare metal and beer I am seeing more clearly how alike they are in the process of craft. Maybe we should consider replacing the term genre with craft, that way there will no longer be any confusion on what you are listening to in metal. It seems to me that at this point everything that comes out in the metal world automatically gets linked with the “extreme” genre, but is it really as extreme as we think. Maybe to make it easier for everyone we should just call it “craft” metal and have some small sub-genres out of that much like beer. I can see right now that sludge would fit nicely in the Milk Stout category of Craft Metal and death metal working well as a Porter. 

Let’s look at the more mainstream bands like Judas Priest, Ozzy, Kiss they would still fit into the old and reliable brew section of the Budwisers, and the Miller’s and the Coors and Municipal Waste would be the perfect companion to Mickey’s Big Mouth right? You could put the German thrash of Sodom, Destruction, Kreator in the Hefeweizen or even the darker Oktoberfest beers, but the point is there will be a place for everybody in the Craft Metal world and an added bonus would be that it would probably be more accessible to more people as I think the term “extreme metal” scares  people away. And if we do this right the magazine and Internet realms would be much easier to navigate.

We could take a page from the beer rating guides and judge the metal on its color, bitterness, content, sustainability, taste, it could be a whole new world for metal heads all over the world. Looking at my Twitter timeline I can see that a lot of the people I associate with about metal are also craft beer fans so this transition should be easy if not seamless. So everyone’s homework is to look into their metal favorites and decide where our specific favorites and hidden gems will wind up. There is an easier way for all of us to enjoy and find metal and I think if we follow the craft beer example we will find our way to discover what our own palates desire in metal music.  

Until later, Peace!

Lurch

Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t

Good day all,

I’m tired! Tired, tired, tired! Tired of what you ask? Tired of crappy metal being forced down my throat every week! Crappy, crappy metal and yes I am talking to you metalcore bands and record labels that keep signing these untalented bands for no one’s entertainment.  It hit me after my interview with Gypsyhawk, which you can read here, and Andrew Packer talking about the “MySpace Phenomenon”.

You know what? He is right you have a lot of slightly talented people who were “discovered” because of a page on a social media website and they have no business putting out music that anyone but their girlfriends want to hear. Just look at the record company that signed Justin Bieber because of a YouTube video! How are we supposed to trust record labels who find their talent in this fashion? I may not be a musician but even I know that the way to earn your bones is by touring and if you can’t do that I am not even going to bother with you anymore. I know it is tough for a lot of good bands to find a following because they can’t afford to tour and their record label is not supporting them as well as another band on their label and I am sorry for that. It takes away from the fans as well as we don’t get to see the really good band and are forced to deal with crap day after day.

I attended Mayhem Fest this year and did so because I wanted to see Anthrax, Motorhead, and Slayer and for the price I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I also wanted to see High On Fire but they had to leave the tour. Regardless I still had to deal with the fact that the remaining bands on this day where God awful metalcore bands who have no right to be taking stage time away from bands that actually perform and have talent! When Asking Alexandria opened the main stage on that day I was at Mayhem I felt like my mother back in my youth or my acquaintances that always called my metal music noise, what this crappy metalcore band was playing was noise, and that is just sad. Have we really gotten to the point in metal where we are satisfied with passing off noise as metal? Are we happy with allowing the labels to decide that we deserve this crappy metal? I am done: DONE!

Now let’s talk about “extreme metal”, I am done with you too! I am done with bands that think they have to out blaspheme one another or be the fastest or have one minute songs with indecipherable lyrics that overpower the instruments. Done, I am done! I want bands that allow their singer to be heard because they can actually hold a tune. I want a band where the objective is to create a memorable song and not be the fastest or see how many offensive words they can fit into a one minute song. I want a band I can introduce my 4-year old to without having to worry about scaring him. My choices for introducing my son to metal consists with taking him back to the past because almost nothing in metal now a days is worth listening to, especially “extreme metal”.

Now for the whole “Retro” metal label; everyone listen and or read very closely to what I am about to say: it is not “Retro” metal it is just HEAVY METAL! It is what we all grew up with, just because it doesn’t fit into the extreme metal category does not mean it isn’t metal. Bands like Gypsyhawk, Christian Mistress, Dawnbringer, Striker, are heavy metal bands. I am tired of the “retro” moniker, this is what metal started as and is continuing with, these are not bands that are separated by genres, THEY ARE THE GENRE! They are continuing on with the music that we grew up loving and are still dedicated to today. Not this bullshit “Extreme Metal” this is the fad, this is going to be the music that dies a premature death because it doesn’t live on the foundation of what we know heavy metal is and where it came from.

So I am done! I will no longer give “Extreme Metal” any of my attention and I will certainly be steering clear of anything even closely related to metalcore. I want the great metal bands to have a chance and push these useless bands out of the way. I want to put pressure on the labels to produce metal that is worthy to be listened to and not something we have to listen to to be able to keep up with current metal. I have not been one to curb my opinion because everyone else likes an album (just look at my review of the new Pig Destroyer) but from now on I am not even going to waste my time. I want metal the way metal should be, I want hooks, melody, riffs and style; I want to be able to recognize a song as music and not noise. It is time for the true metalheads to take back our music!

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

TOURment

Good day all,

With the recent news of the cost of a Rolling Stone’s concert tickets I sure am glad I am a heavy metal fan! I mean my god! have you seen the prices that the tickets are going for? Some of them are selling for the tens of thousands of pounds in England. As a metal fan I am glad I don’t have to worry about those types of prices. Would I like to see some metal a little more in the mainstream and available say on radio or TV? Absolutely, but not at the price of me paying a ridiculous amount to see my favorite bands.

Back in July I attended the Mayhem Festival and paid about $17.00 for a lawn ticket to the venue I was attending. That ticket gave me access to about 9 bands throughout the day if I chose to enter the venue early (you were not allowed to leave and reenter) and it also included big hitters Anthrax, Motorhead, Slayer and Slipknot. Now, you have to admit that is a pretty awesome bill for $17.00! I would have gladly paid more for the ticket but I didn’t have to and that is awesome, it is also because of the major corporate sponsorship of the whole event, but you can get past that as they really didn’t shove it in your face like I was expecting they would. Additionally, there is not any current major tour that doesn’t have some type of corporate sponsorship. It is a fact of life now and we have to live with it.

I also had the benefit of seeing the Alice Cooper/ Iron Maiden concert this summer. Again, another highly anticipated tour that would eventually sell out the venue it was in and again the tickets for this event where a reasonable $24.00 per ticket for actual pavilion seats to see two of the biggest hitters in metal. You really can’t beat that price! To have the comfort of a seat as well as see two legends I again would have paid twice as much, but it still wouldn’t have been as much as a current Rolling Stone’s ticket, not even close. This is why I love metal.

For all of the fan-fare and attention that heavy metal received via radio and MTV in the 80’s and early 90’s it never really blew up to the point that a concert ticket was out of the reach of the metal fan. Now that metal has returned back to the underground it is even easier to see our favorite bands in action, and the popularity of these bands of our past are resurfacing with a resurgence we as fans have not seen for many years. Look at bands like Anthrax and Testament who have had major comebacks by releasing albums that are solid and well produced and then touring to the point where it seems they hit every city in America. This is the kind of resurgence that metal needs.

Look at the more extreme bands who keep putting out album after album and are still playing these small concert venues and halls but bring the energy every single time they get on stage. I have a hard time believing that the Rolling Stones will be able to bring the energy like a band like Slayer brings to every show, and if I were paying the prices that Stones’ fans are paying I would be pissed. In fairness the Rolling Stones’ concerts haven’t even started yet but you can’t tell me Mick and the boys still have the energy they did when I saw them on the Steel Wheels tour on September 6, 1989. Unless they have some really, really good blood to infuse into Keith at this point.

But my point is this: be careful what you wish for! I know it is hard for a lot of the lesser known and up and coming metal bands to tour like they want to because of the cost of touring and the ability to make it affordable to the fans, but it also allows some of the greatest in the metal world to tour in a relatively economical way which allows us the fans to be able to go out and see them and support them as much as possible. If a band is able to keep its concert tickets at a reasonable price then the average Joe Schmo fan may be able to buy the album, some merchandise etc… without having to make the decision not to either go to the show or purchase the other things.Just follow some of these up and coming bands on Twitter and you will see what I mean, they beg for merchandise sales so that they can buy vans to transport themselves on the road, partly because the record labels only have so much money to go around. The economy sucks for everyone including your favorite bands, and when bands like Slayer and Anthrax and Ozzy were first coming up the economy didn’t suck this bad. Labels have to make choices and control their costs as well, it sucks but it is a fact. By the way illegally downloading music also plays a significant part in bands NOT being able to tour or get more label support as the companies and the bands are not seeing the profits projected because of the illegal downloads. So if you really want to see a band fail keep downloading their albums illegally, sure you are being exposed to them but if you are not paying for the product then they don’t know!

So there you have it, it is good to be a metal fan! Keep our music off of the mainstream radar and allow us to go see our favorite bands at a reasonable price. Keep them on the down low so when I go to a venue to see a metal band it is at a place that I can actually see the band without binoculars and be close enough to feel the double bass batter my soul. Thanks metal for doing what you do so well! 

Until later, Peace!

Lurch

Super?Group

Good day all,

I was perusing my Twitter timeline this morning and I came across a tweet mentioning the new release of an album by a band called Reverence announcing the release of their new album. The tweet indicated that the members of Reverence are an amalgam of several other power metal bands. My first inclination when I read this and saw the names of the bands that the members of Reverence came from was that they are billing this a some kind of power metal supergroup, they weren’t but it got me thinking about how often and probably unnecessarily we, they , everyone use the term supergroup. I think we may have over used it at this point.

With all of the side projects of all of the metal bands out there how is it possible that there are all of these supergroups? First let me say that the term supergroup and the over utilization of the term is probably the fault of those of us who grew up in the early days of heavy metal and allowed this labeling to go on. The first supergroup I remember from back in the day was Blue Murder, the project started by former Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes. I mean how do you have the members and former members of bands like Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple etc… and not call it a supergroup? Their former bands were super, and they were in those groups, so that must equal supergroup, right? Can anyone name me a Blue Murder song from the top of their head without Googling it? I thought not! But the 80’s and 90’s sure had their fair share of the supergroups, Badlands, The Firm, Mr. Big (who went on to pretty decent success), Damn Yankees, and yes, my all time favorite supergroup from the late 80s with their leather and hard rocking attitude, Bad English! I loved those guys and their syrupy ballads (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

But now a days it seems like every bunch of guys that get together from another group are considered and or marketed as a supergroup. The biggest offenders are the guys who are in new groups in the wake of Pantera’s ashes. Between Kill Devil Hill, Hellyeah (stupid name) and Down they have been living off of the ghost of Pantera forever. Look Rex Brown is a fine bass player and Vinny Appice is one of the most renowned drummers in metal, but just because they are in a band together doesn’t make them a supergroup, it just makes them the ex-members of [enter band name here] and got together to form a new group. It seems to me that any band that Vinny or Carmen Appice are in instantly becomes a supergroup and we should pay homage to their greatness.

And to be a real supergroup shouldn’t it really be a onetime thing rather than creating a band to establish themselves long-term? Shouldn’t what a supergroup does be a one-off, special album or performance? Look at the Metal Masters series recently in LA with members of Anthrax, Down, Slayer, Exodus, etc… That is a supergroup! They got together for something special, a one time deal and made and incredible night of music. All I am saying is that we may be using the term supergroup a little loosely.

As I said before, with all of the bands that have members who are doing side projects shouldn’t we consider them all supergroups? Look at the Murderdolls for an example, it is a combination of Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison of Slipknot fame, are they a supergroup? And speaking of Slipknot with Joey and Corey Taylor doing their own things outside of Slipknot doesn’t that make Slipknot a supergroup? Granted Slipknot has more members banging away at garbage cans than the Broadway Musical Stomp but with the personal success of both Taylor and Jordison aren’t they enough to put Slipknot into supergroup territory? And look at Maynard James Keenan and the boys in Tool, with all the side projects they have, when they get back together as Tool they must be a supergroup!

Recently I did a review of the new Dublin Death Patrol album and in doing so I had to do a little research on the band itself. When I went to the record label website for the album the first thing it said was supergroup. Now I love Chuck Billy and what he does with Testament and I also really liked this album but supoergroup? The only thing super about this group is Chuck Billy and let’s face it no one remembers Steve Szouza even being in Exodus and the fact that their families make up the rest of the band in no way makes this group super. In fact, besides being a fun side project for Chuck Billy this band in general is anonymous at best. Again, not to take away from the album because it is a good album, but supergroup? Come on now!

Look if this keeps up we are going to have to start calling just about every band out there a supergroup. It seems that every band out there has at least some member of the band on a side project or two or working with other bands while still with their original bands. Pretty soon we will be calling Judas Priest a supergroup, they have members from popular and well-known groups outside of Priest. Take a look: Rob Halford (Halford, Fight, 2wo, Black Sabbath), Glen Tipton ( Glen Tipton Band), Ritchie Faulkner (Dirty Deeds, Voodoo Six, Ace Mafia), Scott Travis (Racer X, Fight), and Ian Hill. The supergroup that is Judas Priest, from now on that is how they should be known! Really if you want to consider a supergroup I would think the 80s charity group Hear N’ Aid created by Ronnie James Dio fits more into this category than any other band mentioned earlier. But hey, that is just me. 

Song of the Day (SUPERGROUP!): http://youtu.be/qZktrrqT1A0

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

Mayhem!

Good day all,

Well there you have it, Mayhem Fest 2012 is in the books for me and it was an awesome experience! First and foremost let me say that once again metal fans have really impressed me with their behavior and smart judgement throughout the day. I was extremely impressed with how little stupid behavior I experienced or saw throughout the day and that really amazed me. Especially because this was an all day event and people usually get more and more stupid as the day/night rolls on, but not so much here. There where a few things that I saw that I just don’t get but I will get into that in a moment.

I drove to Pittsburgh to participate in this stop of the Mayhem tour, I did this for 2 reasons, first my buddies who still live in Pittsburgh were going with me , and second my buddy Rick chartered a bus for us (about 20ish) so no one had to drive and we could all party. We are nothing if not responsible. Plus First Niagara Pavillion where the show was, in Burgettstown, PA is about an hour or so drive from anywhere in Pittsburgh so it is preferable to have some one chauffeur you to this place. So pre-show at Rick’s house consisted of everyone showing up and us waiting for the bus. We just hung around, drank a few beers, listen to some metal as primer, and waited for  the bus, and waited and waited and waited, NO BUS! Seriously, the bus didn’t show, we had to make a decision, so we packed up 4 cars, and headed out to the highway.

So, at this point we are way behind schedule and we still have about and hour drive to get us to the venue, and that is if there isn’t any traffic. But luckily for us and one of the biggest surprises, there was not traffic and since we didn’t have to pay for a bus anymore we splurged on the VIP parking and the clean port-o-johns (at least for a while). Commence the tailgating! Because we where so behind schedule we decided to just hang out and wait to go in to see Anthrax, and then the rest of the main stage shows. You are not allowed to re-enter the venue(which I find silly) so you really have to make a decision on when you want to go in and stay, we where not going to do that for (As I Lay Dying, Whitechapel, The Devil Wears Prada, etc…), so the decision was made to go in for Anthrax. By the way, a pretty cool scene was Scott Ian, Rob, and Joey driving right by us on their way to and from their meet and greet, surprised to see them in the parking lot.

After a brief but significant rain shower it was time to head in and see Anthrax, Motorhead and Slayer! Anthrax was up first, they had the responsibility for closing the Jagermeister Stage. If you happen to follow Scott Ian via Twitter you know that they like to do the Jager stage because of the fact that there are not any chairs and you can achieve a significant mosh pit if you try hard enough, and trust me, Anthrax encourages the mosh!. When we first arrive at the stage my buddy Jude and I are about four rows from the from the front of the stage which at first I was really happy about, but then I remembered that I really am not a fan of the mosh pit and I was not going to be happy standing where we were. Just in case you are wondering, no I am not afraid of the mosh pit, I am too old and too big for the mosh pit. I am 6’7″ and for some reason people don’t like to stand behind me and try to watch a show so I see significantly more pushing than most, it drives me crazy, so to avoid that I move to the back, where I can still see. Anyway, Anthrax comes on stage to the Worship Music Intro, and right into Caught in a Mosh, and the crowd goes wild. Time for me to make my move to the rear, just as my favorite bass riff starts Got the Time. It is surprising how fast you can make it to the back of a crowd, don’t have to dodge too many people heading in that direction. So remember earlier when I talked about behavior I do not understand? This is when I first saw this, why would you throw a full can of beer trhough the air and into the crowd during a show? Besides the fact that the beer cost $11.00 a piece but they are big and heavy as well. You could really hurt someone with one of those, and trust me the band is not going to think it is cool when you hit one of them in the face or head with one. Regardless of a few moronic people Anthrax put on another great show. This will be the third time I have seen them this year and I think they get better with every concert. The only disappointing thing about the set was that it was way too short. Only seven songs, The previously mentioned Caught, and Time, plus Fight Em, Antisocial, Indians, Madhouse and I am the Law. Anthrax makes the $40.00 I spent on a ticket worth it in just that one set! I could have left at this point and been satisfied.  Luckily I stayed!

View of Anthrax before I moved to higher ground

After Anthrax we moved up the hill to the main stage. Asking Alexandria was the opener for the main stage and I guess they are a metalcore act? They went on right after Anthrax finished and I watched one or two of their songs before walking around and checking out the vendors. Here is what I will say about Asking Alexandria, when I heard them I was immediately disappointed I bought lawn tickets. My thought was if this band sounds this bad on the lawn I am going to be disappointed with the sound for Motorhead and Slayer. But I was wrong, this was how the band was supposed to sound, sooooooo not my thing, time to move on!

After another brief intermission, MOTORHEAD! I have seen Motorhead around 10 times now and Lemmy and Co never disappoint. They may not be the most energetic group around when it comes to moving about the stage, but they always put on a great show. I was happy that this setlist was at least a little bit different from what I have seen them play in the past. They played the staples, Ace of Spades, Overkill, Killed by Death, Damage Case, but they also sprinkled in some songs I have not heard them play before like Going to Brazil, The One to Sing the Blues, The Chase is Better than the Catch, so it was a nice mix for them and for me. Like I said before, one thing you can always count on is a solid performance from Motorhead.

I have been going to metal shows since I was a wee lad and I have seen tons of different acts, I have seen the big names and the not so big names, but there are two bands the I have never seen for one reason or another: the first is King Diamond, I don’t know why but my schedule and King’s can never seem to match. The other band that I have never seen before is Slayer, and Mayhem 2012 is my opportunity. To say that I was giddy with anticipation is an understatement. I am pretty sure I looked like a 12-year-old girl waiting for a Justin Bieber concert to start. But again, after a short intermission Slayer took the stage and from the very first song, Darkness of Christ, it was obvious that Slayer was on their game and came to PA to blow my freaking mind! This set by Slayer was amazing and one of the strongest performances I have witnessed by a band in my life. One thing I know for sure after watching Slayer is that I will not miss them in concert ever again. For the next hour I was banging my head and thrashing my ass off to what Slayer brough to me and all of the lucky fans at the First Niagara Pavillion in Burgettstown, PA. If for any reason you were hesitant to go see this show, take my word for it, pay the money and go! Slayer did not disappoint with Hate Worldwide, Mandatory Suicide, Jesus Saves, Seasons in the Abyss, Hell Awaits, Dead Skin Mask, South of Heaven,and Angel of Death, with a few more songs rounding out there setlist. What an awesome show and band to end our evening on! Once again, I cannot reiterate this enough GO SEE SLAYER!

Picture of Tom my boy Rick snuck up from the lawn to take.

After Slayer was the other co-headliner Slipknot. I am not a fan of Slipknot, as I said Saturday at the show to a few of the people we were there with, I couldn’t even tell you a song that they perform. Not my deal, and looking at their audience they play to a much younger audience than me. I am not complaining just pointing out that the there really was no reason for me to stay at this point. But I will say that those that are into Slipknot seem to be really into them so good for them, I guess that is why they are the co-headliners. Still, to have any of these bands headline over Slayer seems a bit odd.

But all in all it was a great day for heavy metal music. Once again Anthrax, Motorhead and Slayer did not disappoint. As a matter of fact they once again beat my own expectations of what they were going to sound like. I also would like to give credit to the Mayhem Fest crews, I know they have this down to a science at this point but they really set these bands up fast and there was very little down time in between bands. Additionally, the sound was awesome, I was really surprised how great the sound was where we were in the lawn section. If that is how all concerts sound then it is lawn tickets from now on for those venues. Or not, standing on a hill-side for that long is really hard on the back and knees, I know, old man complaining. If they haven’t come to your town yet and you still have the opportunity, go see this event, trust me, worth it.

And one side note, what would a trip to Pittsburgh be without a trip to Danny’s and the best hoagie in the country (that’s right, I said it!)!

Danny’s Italian Hoagie!

 Song of the Day: http://youtu.be/4lqx7WKnlyQ

Until later, Peace,

Lurch

 

 

That’s Hardcore!

Good day all,

Had a great weekend this past weekend spending some quality time with some really good friends of ours at their home in North Carolina. It was a fun experience because 1) Dan is a great chef and made great food all weekend, 2) my son and their daughter are friends and play really well together, and 3) they are just great people who treated us to a great weekend. During the weekend the topic of music came up while Dan and I where talking, as it usually does, and Dan was extolling me with an abridged history of the DC Hardcore scene from back in the 70’s/80’s and the influence it had on how he listens to music today. Dan is such a DC Hardcore fan that his desktop background on his IPAD is a picture of Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye, both DC Hardcore legends. Now I can’t talk about DC Hardcore the way Dan can, and the reality is I can only discuss what I know of hardcore in general, but there is a correlation between hardcore and metal that can be explored.

The interesting thing about the hardcore scene and metal is that it is not that different musically, the aggression is part of both genres, the power is part of both and the overall angst of the protagonists of the music is shared as well. Hardcore has most of its similarities with thrash as some of the more popular hardcore bands probably get mixed in with the thrash segment more than others. Bands like DRI, Cryptic Slaughter, Septic Death, Seige, these are all hardcore bands that have definitely found a following in the metal/thrash community. Heck bands like SOD, MOD, Municipal Waste, even Nuclear Assault all come with a hardcore background. Anthrax’s Scott Ian is straight outta hardcore and a prime example of the influence that hardcore had on early metal and thrash as well as today’s current metal scene. As a sidebar, and in my personal opinion, the heavy metal documentary series Metal Evolution would have been better served looking at the hardcore influences in metal than wasting time with grunge and nu-metal episodes, but that is just me!

The obvious influence of hardcore on metal is the metalcore genre of heavy metal. This music is built off of the fast frenetic pace of hardcore and has a metal flavor added to it, whether it is the melodic singing or the more obvious use of the blast beat drumming in the songs. I for one am not a fan, I like hardcore and I like metal, but I HATE the screaming/melodic vocal mix in most metalcore songs and bands. Pick one or the other, not both, it is distracting and obnoxious, in this one man’s opinion. Hardcore has its place in metal but don’t basterdize it the way metalcore does, isn’t a pleasant product in my mind.

But I digress, hardcore is a fascinating genre of the punk scene that should be explored more vigorously by metalheads everywhere, the influence on metal is obvious and there are some really great hardcore bands that most metalheads would appreciate. Go out and buy DRI’s Crossover , or Cryptic Slaughters Convicted , or even early Minor Threat albums, trust me you won’t be sorry. This is part of your heavy metal history and everyone needs to explore it to enrich our own understanding of where our favorite music comes from. One other thing I want to say about these hardcore albums that I mentioned, try to find them on cassette and listen to them through a Walkman with headphones on, a much better way to experience how these bands are supposed to sound than the digitally enhanced copies you can get today.

So hopefully I was able to give you even a small itch to check out hardcore and even the DC Hardcore scene, I think that is what Dan would want. Also I hope Dan enjoys this post and my small but heartfelt ode to hardcore as a Thanks for a great weekend. As I have stated there really is a major hardcore influence to some of the best bands we all listen to today, it is possible that bands like Anthrax, Testament, Metallica, wouldn’t have mastered that thrash sound that we all love without a little bit of influence from the early hardcore scene. Give it a listen and let me know if you think I am right, or just plain old crazy! 

The Song of the Day is back, enjoy! http://youtu.be/9dBbvI6jhQU

Until Later, Peace,

Lurch

Metal Thrashin’…

Good day all,

Remember when heavy metal was a genre of its own and sub-genres didn’t exist yet? For most of you that is probably a big no, you probably don’t remember a time before sub-genres. There is nothing wrong with sub-genres, it makes my life easier, I know I don’t like grindcore, porncore, horrorcore, etc…but I do know that I like thrash! Thrash is somewhat of a sub-genre of traditional heavy metal, they took the hooks and galloping beats of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and added some of the speed and social consciousness of hardcore and punk. I still have the memory of the first time I heard Metallica’s Master of Puppets , I was about 13 years old, I was just about to cut my neighbors grass and I put this album in my Walkman and started cutting. It was one of the most amazing musical experiences I have ever had, the speed and aggression of that album transformed how I looked at music from that day forward. That is how powerful that album was on me, that memory is still fresh in my mind and that was many, many years ago.  I was hooked on thrash and did everything I could to absorb this music. I still listened to traditional heavy metal but thrash was my new passion, and luckily for me it was my friend’s favorite as well.

Recently the thrash mainstays are the big four; Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax, all have put out some decent albums as of late, Anthrax may have put out the best thrash album in years in Worship Music, and I am also a big fan of Death Magnetic and World Painted Blood. I have kind of given up  on Megadeth and Dave Mustaine because to me, they are producing the same album every year, complaining about the government and how hard Dave’s life has been because of substance abuse. Really! there are no less than two songs per Megadeth album that deal with Dave’s rough life due to substance abuse. Not to mention that the born again Mustaine won’t tour or associate with bands that give off any type of satanic vibe, I guess unless there is a big four tour and Slayer is on the bill. Last time I checked they had some familiarization with satan. But I guess if Dave can make money his hypocrisy can stretch a little.

Anyway, there is a ton of great thrash from the 80’s and 90’s and even more today. One of the hotbeds of thrash, Germany, has produced some fantastic bands and some of the fore-fathers of the thrash movement. Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, and Exumer. These bands helped build thrash to what it is today and they are still going strong, I have heard the single from the upcoming Kreator album and it is fantastic! Additionally, Exumer’s latest release Fire and Damnation is an excellent thrash album that fits with their original sound but still stands up with any of the other bands of today. Mortal Sin is another band that recently got back together, and has since broken up, but everyone should check out their 2011 album Psychology of Death, if Anthrax hadn’t put out Worship Music the same year, Mortal Sin may have had the thrash album of the year, it is that good!

The one thing that I love about thrash is for the most part it has stayed consistent and true to what it has been since it’s inception in the late 70’s to early 80’s and that is aggressive, in your face, powerful music. The trash scene and bands have stuck with the formula that has worked over the years and they have not tried to out do themselves like some of the other genres in metal (I am looking at you metalcore and death metal), it is not about being more outrageous than the next band, it is about putting out aggressive, and powerful sounds. Bands like Metallica have taken a detour from the thrash scene to become more, shall we say, marketable, but they are back as well as the scene is back to the forefront of metal. Plus bands like Holy Grail and Bonded By Blood are doing a great job of keeping thrash fresh and original. In celebration of thrash, I think everyone should go out and buy at least one thrash album today, I think I will pre-order the new Kreator.

Song of the Day: http://youtu.be/7csux0WyDVg

Until Later, Peace,

Lurch