A Legacy of Metal

This week Adam gives us a heavy metal primer…

Metal is an undeniably massive force that cannot be reckoned with. There are many different types of metal, all defined based on the sound and overall theme of the music. One of the most common types is heavy metal. Heavy metal was started in the ’70s by Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath differed from the bands before them because they had a much darker, more ominous sound to their music.

At that time, rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were staying with the classic rock elements. Other groups, such as Pink Floyd, incorporated a psychedelic rock aspect into their classic rock sound. Until Black Sabbath came around though, these bands were for the most part on the “safe side” of rock. When Sabbath released their first album, critics instantly accused them of being evil Satanists. This was due to front man Ozzy Osbourne’s gloomy lyrics about the occult. Another component was the use of the flat 5th in the song “Black Sabbath.” This note was always referred to as the “Devil’s note,” and it was even at one time believed that by playing it, one could summon the Devil. Black Sabbath uses this note time and time again in their self-titled track “Black Sabbath.” More bands would soon follow, such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Def Leppard. These groups were all British, so it is commonly stated that England is the birthplace of heavy metal.

RattOnce the movement hit America, it started undergoing changes. It began with a more pop-friendly commercial sound, which became known as glam metal. This genre was responsible for bands like Ratt (pictured at right), Poison (below left), and Mötley Crüe (below right). One of the common themes of this genre is the way the bands would dress. The members would wear feminine clothing and makeup; this is what started the name glam metal or glam rock. This look, mixed with the poppy lyrics about love and relationships, created a highly mainstream sensation. The music consisted of simple time structures with high pitched vocals. The guitars would sometimes offer good riffs and technical solos, but for the most part the appeal of the genre was lost on the metal fan base, who wanted something heavier.

Glam Rock

A lot of people got tired of the Glam scene and began craving a harder, heavier sound. It was out of this that speed metal was formed. The first band that revolutionized this movement was Metallica. People were instantly drawn to their heavy sound and musical integrity. Musical integrity means the integrity of the song writing and overall performance; it relies on the energy level of the song and its connection with the audience. The relationship between bands like Metallica or Slayer with their audience was much more aggressive and loyal than any other form of music up until that time. These bands played faster, heavier, and with more energy, and as a result made a much stronger connection with fans in the heavy metal scene. They gripped the heavy metal underground and quickly became legends. Soon to follow were Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. These three bands, along with Metallica, became known as the Big Four.

Bloody Good

Today Adam introduces us to a bloody brilliant Brooklyn band…

Type O NegativeType O Negative was a gothic metal band formed after the dissolution of the hardcore band Carnivore in 1987. Peter Steele, who played bass and was the lead vocalist, formed the band in Brooklyn, New York. The band would go platinum in 1993 and eventually go gold in 1996. Few could deny front man Peter Steele’s talent as both a songwriter and a musician. Many eager fans waited in anticipation for the release of his next band’s debut after Carnivore broke up, and in 1991 the wait finally ended with the release of the album Slow, Deep and Hard.

The album contained seven songs but because of their long durations, it still clocked in at an hour’s length. Fans noticed a more solid use of tempos and slow rhythms in contradiction to Peter Steele’s former band, which was known for its rapid speed and intensity. There was a notable difference in the lyrics as well. While Carnivore’s lyrics consisted of highly controversial subject matter, which ranged from hatred of Catholics to the advocacy of violent sexual assault and everything in between, Type O Negative’s lyrics were almost entirely about romance and relationship troubles. These lyrics still displayed the same gritty, nihilistic tone that Peter Steele was known for. The song “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity” contained such charming passages as “You had cock on your mind and cum on your breath / You inserted that diaphragm before you left… / I know you’re fucking someone else.”

The band released Bloody Kisses in 1993, which would go platinum. Upon its release, however, fans were in a state of shock. Peter Steele’s hard-core influenced screaming was no longer to be heard, and was replaced by a smooth baritone vocal. This low baritone style of singing would soon become one of Steele’s new trademarks in music. It was with this album that Type O Negative was able to reinvent itself as a goth metal band. The band followed in 1996 with the album October Rust, which featured classic songs such as “Love You to Death,” “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend,” and a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.”

Type O Negative would go on to release three more albums before the tragic death of Peter Steele. All that was released in regards to the cause of his death was that it was due to heart failure. Although he is no longer with us, the music world will never forget the undeniable talents and musical masterpieces brought forth by Peter Steele during his time on this earth.

Sounds from the Stone Age

Today Adam introduces us to some rock Queens from California…

Queens of the Stone AgeQueens of the Stone Age is a highly talented rock band formed in Palm Desert, California, in 1996. Queens of the Stone Age was formed following the 1995 demise of the massively influential stoner rock band Kyuss. The group’s founder, Josh Homme, briefly played guitar in a band called Screaming Trees, before deciding to form a new band of his own. Their first release was a two-track EP entitled Gamma Ray, released in January ’96. On their first full-length, self-titled album, Homme played guitar and bass, but shortly after, former Kyuss bass player Nick Oliveri joined the group.

The band’s original line up consisted of Josh Homme on guitar/vocals, Nick Oliveri on bass, and Alfredo Hernandez on drums. Throughout their career, the band would undergo a series of line up changes and as of today, the only member who was in Queens of the Stone Age since their formation is Josh Homme. When the band released their first self-titled album, listeners were thoroughly surprised to hear the significant difference between their new sound and that of the former stoner rock band, Kyuss. Queens of the Stone Age delivered more of a progressive, alternative rock sound that somewhat put off listeners at first. However, it was a sound that slowly became accepted. Their next album, Rated R, pushed the envelope even further and incorporated a pop sound along with a high-energy gusto. Queens of the Stone Age were able to take this sound and manufacture it into an extremely original music style that would soon become their trademark. Their sound was so unique that it became extremely difficult to classify them as belonging to a single genre of music. Throughout their career, the band has been described as hard rock, alternative rock, art rock, psychedelic rock, desert rock, heavy metal, alternative metal, and stoner rock.

After the release of Rated R, Queens of the Stone Age would release their third album, which is their most prominent one to date. This album was entitled Songs for the Deaf. Their frequent touring for their previous albums generated support for the band, which only grew once former Nirvana drummer/ Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl joined the band on drums in late 2001. He would soon leave the band, however, and would be replaced by former Danzig drummer Joey Castillo. The guitarist of alternative rock band A Perfect Circle, Troy Van Leeuwen, also joined on guitar for this release. Songs for the Deaf was a critically acclaimed and commercial success, reaching gold status in 2003, with record sales of over 900,00 copies. The album consists of classic songs such as “No One Knows,” “First It Giveth,” and “Go with the Flow.”

Accept Refused

Today Adam takes us to Scandinavia for a little hardcore punk…

RefusedRefused is a highly talented Swedish hardcore punk band, which was formed in Umea, Sweden, in 1991. Its five members consist of Dennis Lyxzén as vocalist, Jon Brännström and Kristofer Steen on guitar, Magnus Höggren on bass, and last but definitely not least, David Sandström on drums. Debuting in 1993 with the EP This Is the New Deal, the group delivered a unique sound that rapidly received attention throughout the underground hardcore/punk scene. In 1998, they released the classic album, The Shape of Punk to Come. Sadly, they disbanded soon after this release due to artistic differences, but reunited again shortly after. This reunion would be short-lived, however. In total, they released five EPs and three full-length albums before splitting up in 1998.

Refused are without a doubt one of the most respected bands in the punk rock/hardcore underground scene. Their album The Shape of Punk to Come was a masterpiece, and includes songs such as “New Noise,” “The Deadly Rhythm,” and “Refused are Fuckin Dead.”

The Shape of Punk to Come was placed at number thirteen in Kerrang magazine’s “50 Most Influential Albums of All Time” list. Dennis Lyxzén’s blistering screams serve as a thunderous force over the complex time changes provided by the rhythm section. Refused are known for their powerful lyrics, which for the most part gained a reputation for condemning mainstream music and commercialized entertainment. Their lyrics are often of a non-conformist and politically far-left nature. Refused incorporated radical left-wing and anti-capitalist politics into a sound that paid homage to bands such as Born Against and Black Flag. The band’s sound gradually got heavier with each release, as Lyxzén’s vicious screams replaced his somewhat monotone shouts in the band’s early works. Even though they are no longer a band, Refused have definitely made their mark in the history of music and have captivated millions of fans throughout the world.

Might of Megadeth

This week Adam introduces us to the masterful Megadeth…

MegadeathThere are four different bands that are generally referred to when discussing the origins of thrash/speed metal. This group has been given the nickname “The Big Four.” The four bands consist of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. These bands are responsible for the birth of speed metal, as they were the first of their kind to emerge from the glam rock scene, which had consisted of more radio friendly, pop oriented groups such as Poison, Motley Crue, Cinderella, and Twisted Sister. When the Big Four began releasing their more aggressive, harder sounding style of metal, they gained a tremendous following in the metal underworld, which was growing tired of bands whose members were cross-dressers who would always sing about having sex or being in love. Of the four bands that make up the Big Four, Megadeth was the most prominent.

Megadeth is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine, who is worshipped and idolized by thousands of heavy metal connoisseurs and admirers. What makes Mustaine such a prolific figure in the birth of thrash metal is that not only is he the front man of Megadeth, but prior to forming Megadeth, Mustaine originally played guitar for Metallica when they were first formed. He was later fired, however, because of his drinking and ongoing reckless acts of unpredictable behavior. Metallica’s front man James Hetfield is quoted in the Megadeth Behind the Scenes documentary saying the following about Dave Mustaine: “We started to all feel that he was on the road to killing possibly all of us.”

When Metallica moved from San Francisco, where they originally formed, to New York, where they were set to record their first album, their first order of business was to get rid of Dave Mustaine. According to Mustaine as well as the members of Metallica, their chosen method of firing him was rather deceitful, if not cruel. The three members of Metallica at the time, James Hetfield (guitar/vocals), Lars Ulrich (drums), and Cliff Burton (bass), woke Mustaine up as he was sleeping on a mattress in the back of their tour van and told him he was fired, without offering any explanation or a second chance for him to change his ways. They then told him they were going to drop him off at the bus terminal where he was to take the four-day ride back to San Francisco by himself. When he returned to the City by the Bay, Dave Mustaine’s first mission was to form another band to get back at his former band mates of Metallica, thereby creating Megadeth.

The first line up for Megadeth consisted of Dave Mustaine on guitar and lead vocals, Chris Poland on lead guitar, David Ellefson on bass, and Gar Samuelson on drums. Mustaine at first only planned on playing guitar for Megadeth, but during auditions for lead singers, it was felt that none of the potential singers could match Dave’s intensity as a front man. It was from there on that Mustaine would become the lead singer as well as guitarist of the newly formed Megadeth.

Megadeth’s first album was entitled Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good. This album immediately grabbed the attention of metal fans, who were more than eager to catch a glimpse of the band fronted by the man who was too maniacal for Metallica. As successful as their first album was, Megadeth would prove themselves as titans of speed metal even more so with their next album, entitled Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? This album consists of legendary metal tracks such as “Wake Up Dead,” “Devil’s Island,” and the title track “Peace Sells.”

“Wake Up Dead” is the opening track to Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? and it instantly kicks off with the intense ferocity and musical attitude that would become Megadeth’s trademark.

Dave Mustaine’s guitar solo at the end of this song is played in the Phrygian Mode, giving it a sound that would be used by many other metal acts that would follow. The song is about a woman named Diana, who Dave Mustaine was cheating on his girlfriend with at the time. In the song, Mustaine sings about coming back from a night on the town with his lover Diana, and his attempt to get back in bed safely without his girlfriend at the time figuring him out. The opening lyrics to this song portray this:

I sneak in my own house
It’s four in the morning
I’ve had too much to drink.
I’ll say I was out with the boys
I creep in my bedroom, and slip into bed
I know if I wake her, I’ll wake up dead

Megadeth has gone on to release twelve more albums since Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?, but Peace Sells would arguably be their most astounding album. Megadeth has been around for over two decades and have still managed to stay together, despite numerous line up changes and the near fatal overdose of Dave Mustaine himself. They continue to this day to stun the metal audience with their musical integrity and extraordinary playing.

Remembering Bodom

Today Malvern’s metal connoisseur, Adam, introduces us to…

Children of BodomChildren of Bodom is one of the most musically eclectic bands in the genre of heavy metal. The lead attraction of this band is the combination of the frenzied, technical guitar solos of vocalist/guitarist Alexi Laiho with the sophisticatedly complex keyboard solos of keyboard player Janne Wirman. The other members of this quintet are Roope Latvala on rhythm guitar, Henkka Seppala on bass guitar, and Jaska Rattikainen on drums. The band has incorporated many different musical styles, including melodic death metal, power metal, thrash metal, black metal, and even old school neoclassical metal. They were formed in Espoo, Finland, in 1993 and have nine albums to their name as of this date. They are also one of Finland’s best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 250,000 records there alone.

Children of Bodom’s name derives from a series of violent murders that occurred in Finland during the 1960s at a location called Lake Bodom. The murders were soon to be dubbed the Lake Bodom murders. Lake Bodom is a lake by the city of Espoo, about 14 miles west of the country’s capital, Helsinki. In the early hours of June 5, 1960, four teenagers were camping on the shores of Lake Bodom. Between 4am and 6am, an unknown person or persons murdered three of them with a knife and blunt instrument, and wounded the fourth. The sole survivor, Nils Willhelm Gustaffason, led a normal life until 2004, when he became a suspect and was subsequently charged. In October 2005, a district court found Gustafsson not guilty of all charges against him. The murder victims in this case were Maili Irmeli Björklund, 15 years old, Anja Tuulikki Mäki, also 15 years old, and Seppo Antero Boisman, 18 years old.

Children of Bodom have stirred up quite a deal of controversy over their name. The band’s members maintain that their name is not meant in any way to glorify or admire the horrific acts that transpired at Lake Bodom, but is an homage and tribute to the memory of the victims who tragically lost their lives. Whether one likes their name or not, however, one thing that cannot be disputed is the band’s extraordinary talent at combining heavy, aggressive sounding rhythms and vocal patterns with intricate and melodic musical pieces.

Their most notable album is still to this day their third album, which is entitled Follow the Reaper. With classic songs such as “Hate Me,” “Bodom After Midnight,” and the highly memorable “Everytime I Die,” Children of Bodom succeed in creating a musical masterpiece with this album.

“Everytime I Die” portrays a rather dark side of the lead singer Alexi Laiho. Laiho is known to have had a difficult life growing up. He was apparently physically abused by people at his school as well as his father. He at one point developed a serious addiction to alcohol and pills, which almost cost him his life. It was suspected that he might have been trying to commit suicide when this occurred by ingesting a large concoction of pills with a bottle of Vodka. The song “Everytime I Die” seems to be a portrayal of the painful emotions Laiho felt as he was being forced to endure mistreatment and was suffering from a serious addiction to pills and alcohol. A memorable passage from the song that serves as the chorus says:

Another night, another demise
Cadaverous wind blowing cold as ice
I’ll let the wind blow out the light
Because it gets more painful every time I die

Needless to say, Laiho was saved and as a result went on to create the legendary heavy metal band Children of Bodom. The lyrics of his songs portray the despair and pain he felt throughout his life in a clear way. Since the release of Follow the Reaper, Children of Bodom has gone on to record six more albums. The band still tours and is planning on putting out another album in the near future. The metal music world can do nothing but wait in intense anticipation for this exceptionally talented metal quintet’s next release.