CRASH COURSE IN METAL: MY HEAVY METAL JOURNEY

     For most of you that know me…Metal Music is a passion for me.  As a 37 Year Old, I have pretty much lived through every Heavy Metal genre besides the very beginning.  Its funny because in my current career…I see many young kids that have once again chose Metal as their passion.  For awhile, it may have seemed that Metal was on its decline…but any sort of thought has been blown up like a bomb in Baghdad.  Heavy Metal is once again on a DRAMATIC rise and there is no sign of this phenomenon going away.  In Fact, although Metal may never reach the peak that it did during the mid eighties to early nineties when different forms of the music grew offspring.

     During the mid seventies to the early eighties, Heavy Metal began to form a pillar of Iron.  Beginning with Black Sabbath, the “God Father’s of Metal” in just about anyone’s opinion…Heavy Metal began to branch out with light speed.  During the late seventies and early eighties…the British wave of Heavy Metal was taking the world by storm.  I was only four years old in 1980…but I can still remember when AC/DC released “Back in Black.”  My father made such a big deal about buying that album.  It marked the return of the band, after parting ways with Bon Scott and the emergence of Brian Johnson as it’s frontman.  At that time, I didn’t know what Heavy Metal was or even had a clue what the different styles of music were.  Bands such as Iron Maiden, KISS, Judas Priest, DIO Motorhead,Van Halen, Def Leppard and many more began to make waves in America as well as Europe.  

     For the sake of not making this a boring drawn out history lesson, I am not going to get anymore into the definition or roots of metal.  All that I know is, my first Metal album was “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N Roses in 1987.  I was merely an eleven year old kid trying to find my way through this ever changing world.  Guns N Roses quickly became my first “favorite” band.  I quickly began to build a collection of audio cassette tapes, as CD’s were not out yet.  My catalog spread like a disease and I soon had over Forty Tapes.  At that time, I was still in Christian School, so this type of music was frowned upon.  Pretty soon, my mom stumbled upon my collection, and soon my set morphed into a measly five tapes, as my mom threw the other thirty-five out.  I couldn’t believe it…it was like I lost my new best friend.  I would liken it to someone today being an avid face book junkie and then having it stripped away from them like a tornado.

     Anyways, as the years went by, CD’s were invented and became the popular choice for music fans.  Not only did my CD Catalog increase, my tastes in Metal Music filtered out and I was finding all of the traditional sub-genres of metal…British Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Glam Metal, Stoner Metal, Speed Metal, Power Metal, Alternative Metal, Industrial Metal, ETC.  The Sub-Genres continue to evolve to this day and I would not be able to tell you every one nor do I care.  I just know what I like.

     My first love was Glam Rock…beginning with Motley Crue, Poison, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Warrant, RATT, Cinderella, Queensryche, WASP, Winger, Autograph, White Snake, Bon Jovi…the list is too long.  These were the bands that I could not get enough of.  I was mostly a Motley Crue and Poison fan but I developed a natural love for all of these bands as well as their CD’s.  During the same time, I was heavy into Van Halen, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and AC/DC, Skid Row.  

     Then it happened…my neighborhood buddy introduced me to a band that I had never heard of and from there it was all over.  The band was Anthrax.  The CD was an EP “I’m the Man.”  And the song was “Im the Man”.  I can remember it like it was yesterday in his back yard.  We blared that CD over and over again.  After this, I became a THRASH METAL MANIAC.  I went out and bought every CD I could get my hands on.  I started with Megadeth “Countdown to Extinction.” and Metallica “Black Album.”  After this it was every Thrash Band…Testament, Slayer, Metal Church, OverKill, and like wise this list began to grow.  Then as the music continued to evolve…so did I.  Now I was listening to Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More, Slipknot, Seven Dust.  I loved “everything” metal.  YES… I am and always will be a METAL HEAD as my friend Cheryl always reminds me.  However, this does not mean that I do not like other music.  I enjoy all types, including RAP, Classic, Blues, Country, basically anything that I can jam to.  But it always goes back to Metal.

     Then it was Nirvana, Pantera, God Smack, Hate Breed, Rage Against the Machine, Limp Bizkit, Machine Head, Typonegative, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Disturbed, Death Angel, and Linkin Park.  Every year, I have developed new likes and dislikes as far as Metal Music.  However, I still traditionally am pulled to the Eighties/Nineties Glam/Speed/Thrash/Alternative categories.  Like today, I really enjoy the band VOLBEAT.  I also like Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Hell Yeah, Lacuna Coil, Black Label Society and many others.  However, its not a secret that “Early” metal is back on the rise.  I mean, Black Sabbath just released a brand new studio album “Thirteen” with three of the original members Ozzy, Geezer, and Iommi.  WOW!!! In case you have not heard this album…go get it now!  AWESOME!  KICK ASS!  BAD ASS!  These would be the adjectives I use to describe this new album.

     As of today, my CD collection stands at 545 CD’s and Counting.  I have another 3,000 songs on my IPOD/IPHONE.  Yes, I am a music junkie.  Although music is available at the touch of a button, I still enjoy purchasing CD’s because I like the artwork and reading the lyrics and credits…call me old fashioned.  I have started sets consisting of my favorite bands.  Right now, today I own every CD for the following bands: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Slipknot, Testament, Iron Maiden, Alice In Chains, Anthrax, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Skid Row, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and Lamb of God.  I am always continuing to build on my sets.  The next set that I will have complete is Black Sabbath including all Ozzy and Dio releases.  I always forget bands when mentioning my favorites.  My all time favorite band is Megadeth for my own personal reasons.  However, I am a huge fan of all The Big Four Bands, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Guns N Roses.  I hold these bands at my highest standard.  The next would be on a step down.  I am loving all of these comeback tours and new studio albums.  Metal is alive and well Folks!  I see it out in the neighborhood.  I see it in the workplace.  Its showing in the schools.  Its everywhere!!!!!!  I also attribute the re emergence to Guitar Hero…the popular video game…MTV, VH1, Facebook, Pandora and all of the other music social media outlets.  Well, this was a quick path through my Heavy Metal journey.  I am sure we all have our own tales and war stories.  All of the albums, concerts, tours, festivals, etc.  Heavy Metal will always be one of my passions and music is one of my defining attributes.  Besides listening to music, I have this blog which I write about metal, I read all kinds of books, and I am even currently taking Guitar lessons.  I also write Lyrics.  Maybe I did miss my passion……..ImageImageImage

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Guns N Roses: Reunion Would Set Record Attendance

Guns N Roses is an American Hard Rock Band that was formed in 1985, in Los Angeles. Geffen Records was the first label to produce an album for the Band and the Classic Lineup consisted of Axl Rose on vocals (Formerly w/Traci Guns) this is where the name came from, Slash on Lead Guitar, Izzy Stradlin on Rhythm Guitar, Duff McKaggan on Bass and Steven Adler on the Drums. Their first album release “Appetite For Destruction”, which reached #1 On the Billboard 100 in 1987…one year after its release. The album has sold over 18 Million copies in the US making it the top selling debut album in American History. Moreover, The album has sold over 28 Million copies world wide. Sweet Child O Mine was their only Single to reach Number 1 on the Billboard 100. After releasing “Lies” (an eight song compilation) they released twin albums, one of the only times a band has done this. “Use Your Illusion 1 and Use Your Illusion 2 were released in 1991 and reached Number 2 and Number 1 on the Billboard 200 respectively. These enormous albums have sold 14 million copies together in the US, while selling a combined 35 Million Copies Worldwide. Guns N Roses has been credited for reviving the mainstream popularity of Rock N Roll during a time when Dance Music and Pop Metal ruled the music circuit. They are on the Rolling Stones Level in that respect. The Rolling Stones were once considered the “Most Dangerous Band in America” which Guns N Roses took on during their hey day. Spaghetti Incident was the last album that Slash and Duff appeared on as they both left the band after reconcilable differences with Axl. The classic lineup of Axl, Slash, Izzy, Adler, McKaggan, Sorum, and Reed were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, their first year of eligibility. Of course, not by surprise, Axl was the only one to not show up at the Ceremony. The Twin Albums Use Your Illusion 1/2 are underrated to this day…producing many hit songs that include but are not limited to “Don’t Cry”, “Back off Bitch”, “November Rain”, “Don’t Damn Me”, “Dead Horse”, “Coma”, “Civil War”, “Yesterday’s”, “Breakdown”, “Estranged”, And “You Could Be Mine” which was featured in the hit movie Terminator 2. Guns N Roses, although short lived, was probably the most influential influence on Heavy Metal and Rock Music from the late 80’s through the Early 90’s. One could argue that if some day Guns N Roses are able to settle their differences and get along, and then have a reunion tour and album, they would probably set all kinds of records including ticket sales, album sales, and merchandise. Guns N Roses is like the Beatles of the 80’s and the Rolling Stones of the 90’s. Chinese Democracy, the latest release by the band (Axl is the only remaining member) was not bad hitting #3 on the Billboard 200, pretty impressive even with the lack of original members. Guns N Roses will always be at the top of my listening catalog. It’s ashame they couldn’t have lasted longer, who knows how many hit albums they could have released. Maybe some day, maybe, there will be reunion. You can be rest assured if that does happen, they would be the biggest draw since Appetite For Destruction. We can hope.

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TOP 10 BANDS THAT CHANGED METAL

So many bands have come and gone in the Metal Music Scene. In fact, Heavy Metal has evolved and grown many subsets throughout the years. VH1 Classic had an awesome documentary on Heavy Metal this past summer that gave a chronological history of Metal Music and it’s roots. Of Course…the Forefathers of Heavy Metal was Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. There was also Rainbow, AC/DC, Aerosmith, And many other bands alike that pushed Heavy Metal to the forefront of the music industry. Whether it be “one hit wonders,” like Autograph or bands that have stood the test of time like AC/DC or KISS….there have been so many good metal bands to surface from the early nineteen eighty’s until modern day metal. Many bands have made their mark and changed the style of music and how it is played. However, some Bands have risen above the rest to make significant impacts on the music genre known as metal and these bands have influenced these styles in ways that are unfathomable. The following article shares my Top 10 Bands that have changed and influenced Heavy Metal today.
1) Iron Maiden- Iron Maiden was formed in 1975 in England by Steve Harris. Since their inception, Iron Maiden has produced 15 Studio Albums, 10 Live Albums, and 7 Video Compilations. They were pioneers of the new wave of British Heavy Metal. In most music congregations…Maiden is considered an underground Metal Band because of their lack of Television and radio support and exposure. Iron Maiden has sold 85 million records, which is a huge accomplishment for a band that does not hit the radio circuit. For most of their career, Bruce Dickinson has piloted Maiden as the lead vocalist…except for it’s very beginning when Paul Diano was the lead singer and also 1994-1999, when Blaze Bayley took over the Helm. They have played over 2000 live shows all over the World and have produced many hit singles. A lot of their style and sound is progressive and uses melodic and harmonic style of guitars. They have produced a few concept albums using this creative style. I would venture to put Bruce Dickinson right up there with the all time great vocalists in Metal History. Iron Maiden has definitely influenced Metal in enormous proportions. Their best album is probably Number of the Beast which includes the title track and Run to The Hills…another Maiden Classic.
2) Judas Priest- Judas Priest was also formed in England, Birmingham to be exact in 1969. Judas Priest was one of the first Metal Bands to feature the “Twin Guitar” style. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing have been able to modernize this sound and perfect it’s effect on the metal style of music. When you combine these two phenomenal Guitarists with the vocals of Rob Halford, you have the making of a Super Power Band. Rob Halford may even be a better vocalist than Bruce Dickinson. Judas Priest was the first band to truly use the double guitar strategy and thus produced a very heavy fast dark sound of music. They were also responsible for introducing the black leather and S/M look to the Metal Scene. They have produced 16 Studio Albums…their last one being a Concept Album “Nostradamus” about the life of Nostradamus who was an ancient philosopher and prophet. Judas Priest is in the Metal Hall of Fame an they continue to tour and make kick ass tunes. In fact…they will release their 17th studio album in 2013. Judas Priest was a catalyst for the New wave of British Heavy Metal, which has totally influenced all major styles of modern metal today. They have sold 50 million records and stood the test of time.
3) Def Leppard- Another English Heavy Metal Band, formed in 1977 in Sheffield England. Def Leppard truly brought a new sound and style to the table and they really took off in the early eighties. They were the first Metal Band to enjoy major commercial success and their high point was between the early eighties and nineties. Def Leppard has produced twelve studio albums and as mentioned achieved huge success in the commercial record area and mainstream metal population. High and Dry, which was their second album (released in 1981) and the single “Bringing on the Heartbrake” became the first metal song played on MTV Videos. Their next album, Pyromania turned Def Leppard into huge stars and the song Photograph was released in 1983 and also received major airplay on MTV. As of 2004…Pyromania was ranked 384 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of all time. In 1987, Def Leppard released Hysteria which topped the charts in both the United States and United Kingdom! This album alone has gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide and Hysteria reached 12x Platinum in 2010, one of the most successful albums ever. The album spawned 6 Hit Singles in the Billboard Top 100. Def Leppard is one of five bands to have two albums certified as Diamond Platinum (Pyromania/Hysteria) 2 Original Studio Albums to sell over 10 million copies each. They are the number 1 album seller of all time in the US ha ing sold over 100 million records. Def Leppard was recently ranked 31 in the top 100 Hard Rock Bands of all time. Def Leppard brought Metal to new grounds and was the first metal band to achieve huge commercial success. They will always be recognized as a band who changed the face of Metal.
4) METALLICA- METALLICA was formed in 1983 in Los Angeles California and they are known as the founding member of the BIG 4, which is a term for the 4 greatest thrash metal bands of all time. They were the pioneer of Thrash Metal, which became the most popular form of metal music in the mid 1980’s! METALLICA in it’s roots was a Heavy Metal Underground Icon and achieved commercial success with their third album, Master of Puppets. This album is still considered one of the most heavy influential heavy metal albums of all time. Many Thrash Bands were formed during Metallica’s rise including Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer who join METALLICA in the Big 4. Other Thrash stars included Tetament, Overkill, Quiet Riot, Metal Church, and many others. METALLICA hit their high point when they released their Fifth Album “Black” which debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Top 100. Thus far…METALLICA has produced 9 Studio Albums and since 1991 is the highest selling band in the Music Industry. Like Def Leppard, METALLICA too has sold over 100 million records worldwide. The Black Album is actually the 25th most sold album in United States History. METALLICA will always be known for it’s tremendous influence on the emergence of “Thrash” metal which incorporated speed heavy fierce guitars with powerful double bass drums and screeching vocals. Thrash Metal is still one of the most popular forms of Heavy Metal today.
5) Motley Crüe- Motley Crüe was formed in Los Angeles California in 1981 by Bass Guitarist Nikki Six and Drummer Tommy Lee, and were later joined by Mik Mars and Vince Neil on Vocals. Through the years, Motley Crüe is has been considered the most notorious Rock Band of all time. Motley Crüe was the catalyst for the Hair Metal revolution, which was basically heavy metal bands that played themes such as sex, drugs, and rock n roll and they sported long hair and wore makeup. Motley Crüe has produced nine studio albums and are currently working on their tenth. They have been ranked 10th on the MTV Top 10 Heavy Metal List and 9th on the VH1 Top 10 Heavy Metal list respectively. Motley Crüe was a raucous bunch that provided fast heavy guitar with cutting vocals from Vince Neil. Between all of the band members…they probably have all been in trouble with the law than any other heavy metal bands. Motley Crüe achieved great commercial success and thrived with their popularity with MTV exposure…especially among ladies.
6). Poison- Poison was another Hair Metal band that was formed in Pennsylvania by Vocalist Brett Michaels and they combined Motley Crues look with a more mellow sounding rock sound. Poison was also more popular with the ladies. They actually became the catalyst for Glam Metal Bands in the mid eighties which took on a huge part of the metal population. Other bands that followed Poison’s success included Warrant, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Ratt, Winger, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Wasp, and many more bands. Poison is most known for their album Open up and say Ahh…their best hit number 1 single “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn.”. Poison popularized Ballads which used heavy guitar but incorporated a mellow sad sound. So many bands followed this trend.
7). Guns N Roses- Guns N Roses was formed in 1985 in Los Angeles California by Slash, Duff McKagan, Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler. The band only released six studio albums but managed to still sell 100 million records worldwide. This gives you a little clarity on the enormous impact that this band had on Heavy Metal. Appetite For Destruction debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Top 100 and their single “Sweet Child O Mine” reached number 1 on the Top 100 Billboard singles. The album had sold over 18 million copies in the United States alone making it the Number 1 Debut album of Metal history of all time. Guns N Roses has to receive credit for popularizing heavy metal in an era where pop music had taken over the industry. Guns N Roses had a Rolling Stones type of demeanor and they brought Metal to another level. They were not the classic thrash metal or British style…nor were they the hair glam style either. They brought their own style to the table…a combination of hard rock, punk and metal that thrived and gained quick popularity. The Band was around only a short time but they still remain one if the Greatest American Heavy Metal Bands of all time! The Band’s classic lineup was just recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012…the Band’s first year of eligibility. This was a tremendous accomplishment considering they were only around a very short time.
8) Nirvana- Nirvana was formed by Kirk Cobain and Dave Grohl in 1987 near Seattle. They quickly became the catalyst for a new style of Metal known as Grunge. Many Grunge Bands were formed in Seattle in the late eighties. The Grunge style of metal relied on dynamic contrasts in sound, between quiet verses and loud heavy choruses. Nirvana’s second Album, NeverMind achieved dramatic success in the grunge community as well as the Alternative Style of Metal. The band was short-lived as Curt Cobain died in 1994. Even with their short lived career…Nirvana has managed to sell over 25 Million Records in the United States alone and over 75 million world wide. Nirvana set the stage for many other bands including Alice In Chains, SoundGarden, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Collective Soul, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Nirvana is kind of like the Beatles of the 1990’s even tho the Beatles lasted much longer. Curt Cobain is John Lennon. The star vocalist whose life was cut way too short.
9). Pantera- Pantera was formed in Arlington Texas in 1981. However…it wasn’t till many years later that the band made it’s mark. They began as a glam metal band producing four albums in the eighties. In 1990, Pantera released “Cowboys From Hell” which was much more of a thrash metal sound. Then Vulgar Display if Power was released which was even heavier. Finally, Far Beyond Driven which was heavier yet. They are responsible for the New Wave of American Heavy Metal which spawned many bands that are still popular today…KORN, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, White Zombie/Rob Zombie, Tool, HateBreed, Mastadon, and the list goes on and on. Pantera saw it’s high point during the early 90’s and were famous for their mosh pits. The Band disbanded after the brutal murder of it’s star guitar player…Dimebag Darrell on stage by a crazed fan. Pantera is still considered one of the Best Heavy Metal Bands o all time today.
10). Lamb of God- Lamb of God is like Pantera on Steroids. They carry the torch today for Heavy Metal Music and have a Dark Side but they are not quite raucous enough to be considered Death Metal. The band was formed in 1990 in Richmond Virginia and they have produced 6 Studio Albums. They have a cult fan base and thrive on live shows. Ashes of the Wake is their best selling album and they have sold over 10 million albums in the United States alone and over 15 million world wide. Lamb of God uses Pantera like riffs and the demonic vocal sound of Randy Blythe to get the crowds into a rucus. Lamb of God is carrying the torch now for the New Wave of Heavy Metal. Thy have spawned such bands as Avenged Sevenfold, Buck Cherry, Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, and As I Lay Dying. They have stood the test of time also.

Honorable Mention- Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot. Well…that is my top 10 list and it’s not in any particular order. If I had to pick the number 1 band for influence it would be Guns N Roses. Stay tuned for the next Heavy Metal installment.

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