THE BIG FIVE: WHO WOULD BE YOUR NEXT BIG FIVE?

 

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    When it comes to Heavy Metal, there are so many subdivisions and styles.  These styles and subdivisions are constantly changing and adapting to changes in society and mingling between the lines of Mainstream and Underground.  As a teenager, I grew up in the eighties during the initial rise of Heavy Metal Music to the forefront.  During my early dabbles in the Metal Music community, I became enamored with the Thrash wave which was the beginnings of “THE BIG FIVE.”  Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Testament quickly became my favorite bands.  I could not get enough of this music and of course, like a drug I became addicted.  Don’t get me wrong, the depths of my Metal likes goes far beyond The Big Five.  Pantera came to the forefront much later but they quickly became one of my favorites.  

     I was always a Glam Metal fan as well.  I also have become a fan of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, DIO, and Faith No More.  My Metal Catalog grows larger everyday.  In the days of new technology and the ability to listen to all of your favorite bands on outlets such as Pandora, Amazon, ITUNES, Satellite Radio and such, we as a society have been spoiled.  I am probably one of the rare fans that still enjoys buying the CD and reading the lyrics and admiring all of the cool artwork i the albums jacket.  There is no secret who the “Big Five” in Metal is.  This leads me to my next question…what bands would make the next Big Five??

     Well, as much as I am a fan of the original Big Five, my Metal List would not be complete without the mention of OVERKILL!!

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     Overkill has been one of my Favorites since Day One.  Overkill is cut from the same mold as The Big Five.  I also cannot deny the local connection as OVERKILL hails from the “Ironbound”, Newark New Jersey.  Overkill has a ton of material, and unlike the other previous big five, they never went mainstream.  Overkill can Thrash with the best of em.  They are extremely good live and they are also very talented.  Overkill would definitely make my next Big Five.

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     The Metal Community would never be the same if it were not for Pantera.  Pantera was the one band that came during the rise of Alternative Metal and the fall of Thrash Metal.  Pantera is just one of those bands that you could never stop listening too.  With the screeching vocals of Phil Anselmo, the dominant double bass drums of Vinnie Paul, the power bass chords of Rex Brown, and the dynamic guitar artwork of Dimebag Darrell.  Pantera was one of the best bands ever during their heyday and they definitely make the next list.  Who knows how far Pantera would have went in popularity and notoriety had Dimebag not been murdered.

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     Lamb of God is like Pantera on steroids.  Many people do not think that Lamb of God could possibly belong on a list like this but I will fight anyone on that assumption.  Lamb of God has some of the most talented musicians today.  Lamb of God has taken Thrash Metal at its core and really branched out to make an amped up version.  They are always one of the largest draws today for a live show.  Lamb of God has some of the sickest Pits known to man.  Ashes of the Wake put them on the map and Wrath solidified their place on this list.

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     Tool makes this list.  Tool is really not a Thrash Band but they combined the Thrash style with the Progressive Style.  Anyone that has never heard the band Tool, I highly suggest a hardcore listening session.  Tool is just one of those bands that has non-stop action and keeps the crowd on the seat of its pants.  Maynard, the vocalist, is one of the greatest Power Metal Vocalists of today.  Tool is definitely in my next Big Five.

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Image  Killswitch Engage and Sevendust round out my next Big Five!  Both of these bands infuse the old Thrash Metal sound with the new age hooks and progressive styles of todays music.  I am sure I forgot a few bands and maybe left some out.  I will give an honorable mention to Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold.  I highly suggest Metal Church also.  The new Metal Church album “Generation Next” is phenomenal and may be one of the greatest albums of 2013.  Stay tuned for more Metal News and talk.  Don’t forget to check out the new season of That Metal Show.  There are so many awesome stories going on in the Metal World.  I also highly suggest the new Metallica Movie…Through the Never.

 

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NATIONAL METAL DAY 2013

Image     Hey folks…Today is National Metal Day.  Looking back at 2013 so far, the greatest loss to the Metal Community this year was the passing of Jeff Hanneman (49 Years Old), the famous guitarist in the band Slayer.  I remember I was at work when I heard about the passing of this great guitar player.  It was very sad news as Slayer has always been one of my favorite Metal Bands.  Slayer’s latest album “The World Painted Blood”, may have been their best ever produced album and Hanneman was responsible for writing most of the material.  As a veteran Metal Head, this is a very special day for me as well as many of you.  Of course, I will spend my day jamming all of my favorite bands and enjoying the Music that has been the soundtrack of my life.

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     For any Def Leppard fans, I highly recommend their latest release of Viva Hysteria in Las Vegas.  This deluxe set includes 2 Live CD’s from their performance in their Vegas Rock Stand as well as a DVD of their entire Hysteria album live.  I am a huge Def Leppard fan and have always been enamored by their Greatness.  However, these past few years their sound quality has not been as good as Joe Elliot seemed to have lost his voice.  Well, I must say that this performance is truly epic.  First of all, I remember when Hysteria was first released.  I probably listened to the album 30x the first day I purchased the CD…lol.  I also remember reading the jacket and admiring the artwork.  When Hysteria was released, the Band hit a Grand Slam.  This album was highly anticipated as it took over three years to produce.  “Viva Hysteria” is the Hysteria album in its entirety.  Well, from the opening song “Women” to the final tune “Love and Affection” this is the best Def Leppard has sounded in forever.  Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen are brilliant as is Drummer Rick Savage and Rick Allen their bassist.  However, the biggest surprise on the album is how good Joe Elliot sounds.  Its almost like he is a new person.  Trust me, this is a must see performance for any Metal Fans.

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     Megadeth and Iron Maiden both continue their World Tours.  Megadeth, after taking a break to do the “Countdown to Extinction Live” Tour is back on the road promoting their latest album Super Collider.  They even hooked up with Iron Maiden on a few shows out west this past summer and fall.  One show had Death Angel, Testament, Overkill, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth.  Now, that must have been some show!!  Anyways, Iron Maiden continues to be beasts on Tour, even at their ripe old age.  Bruce Dickinson has to be one of the most energetic Front Men in Metal, even to this day.  Dave Mustaine has signed up for an opportunity to do a solo album with an orchestra.  I am so looking forward to that.  Also, Bassist David Elleffson has released an autobiography.  I have not read the book yet; however, I am planning on picking it up very soon.  Some other good books that came out recently is Rex Brown’s new book which chronicles the end times of Pantera.  

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     Avenged Sevenfold (AX7), recently released their newest album “Hail to the King.”  For those of you that are not familiar with any of Avenged material, I highly suggest purchasing some of their albums.  In reality, it was going to be hard for AX7 to out due their past album “Nightmare”, which was a multi-platinum giant.  However, the Band has managed to go one step further.  Their latest release, “Hail to the King” is a masterpiece.  The first leg of their tour went across the nation and they also had guests Device, Five Finger Death Punch, and Def Tones.  They are now currently touring Europe.  “Hail to the King” sold a very impressive 159,000 copies during the first week of release.  The album stormed to Number #1 on the Billboard 200 as well.  Of course, there are many naysayers that feel that Avenged Sevenfold is not original an that they steal riffs from other great bands.  I have to disagree totally.  Although many of the new songs on the album mirror other great bands such as Guns N Roses, Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden, the production level is top notch.  And may I ask, what is wrong with creating material that is driven from some of the greatest Metal Bands ever.  The album also has a Black Sabbath feel to it at some points.  At any rate, this was a great release, and along with Volbeat, these are my two favorite albums of 2013 so far. 

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     Speaking of Black Sabbath, the Grandfathers of Metal released a new album in 2013 called ironically, “13”.  Well, as far as the album goes, the material was probably some of their most dynamic since back in the DIO years.  Everyone has their favorite Black Sabbath lineup, mine is surprisingly with Ronnie James Dio at the helm.  Dio in my mind is a way better vocalist than Ozzy.  Ozzy may be a better stage presence, however I like music for the lyrics and vocals.  So, I am more of a fan with Sabbath with Dio.  However, their best albums have come from the classic lineup of Ozzy, Geezer, Iommi, and Ward.  Their new album goes back to the roots of Sabbath and has an extremely dynamic sound.  The band was able to make Ozzy’s voice appear like he was 21 again.  I love the new album, if you have not heard it pick it up!

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      The popular Christian Metal band, Stryper has also released their first new album in fifteen years.  Their new album is titled “No More Hell To Pay.”  Michael Sweet has always been one of the greatest vocalists to take the stage.  Stryper has some awesome material and this album is their heaviest in years.  To me, this album goes back to the roots, like their well known track “To Hell With the Devil.”  I have sampled the album and I give it an 8/10 rating.  Michael Sweet has not lost a step and the rest of the band is at the top of its game.  Oz Fox is brilliant with his guitar playing.  Although Stryper has always fit in the Progresive Metal category, this album is a more classic metal sound.  The guitar work is excellent and there are many impressive riffs.

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     Metal Church has also released a new album titled “Generation Nothing.”  This may sound crazy, but in my opinion this is their best Metal album ever.  Although, this is the band’s 3rd Lineup, I feel that this album is top notch from start to finish.  Every song on the album could easily be a hit.  Seriously, check out this one, I promise that you will not be disappointed.  The opening track “Bullet Proof” is a thrash style punk metal riff that rips open the album.  “Dead City” and “Generation Nothing” are hard anthem type Metal songs.  Then the Fourth Track, “Noises in the Wall” uses a ton of bridges, hooks, and even has some unique change ups, kind of like Metallica used to do in their early albums.  My favorite two songs on the album are “Suiciety” and “Hits Keep Coming” which are both hard and fast and rock your core.  The finale’, “The Media Horse” portrays a realistic viewpoint on how the media of today has stained American Life.  Metal Church is underrated in my mind and they are one of the forgotten thrash metal bands of the eighties era.

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    In conclusion, I would like to take a close look at the icon Tim “Ripper” Owens.  Most people recognize Owens as the vocalist that took over for Rob Halford of “Judas Priest”, when Rob left the band.  This is true, and the movie Rockstar was loosely based on the story of Tim Owens.  However, Tim Owens is much more than just “that guy.”  Tim Owens was born in 1967.  He is currently a solo artist, but he also does some guest appearances with “Beyond fear” and “Charred Walls of the Damned.”  He has also recently done work with “Dio’s Disciples” and Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force.”

     Tim Owens began his stardom in the British cover band “British Steel” a tribute band that did Judas Priest cover songs.  In 1996, Owens went from a fan to being the Lead Singer of Judas Priest.  He was actually nominated for a Grammy Award for the song “Bullet Train” from the album Jugulator but lost to Metallica’s Better than You.  In 2003, Halford reunited with Priest and Owens quickly jumped into the band “Iced Earth” as their lead singer Matt Barlow.  His career with Iced Earth was short lived and included two albums.  I am a huge Iced Earth fan and although I love Matt Barlow, I must say that the band sounded at its best behind Owens.  Tim has started his own cover bar named Tim Owens Tap House, which is a World renowned Eater and Music Bar and Restaurant.  The bar is currently located in Akron, Ohio.  Tim Owens is a legend, just because of his story and the way he became famous.  Not to mention, he is an incredible talent as far as a vocalist.

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******ROCK ON METAL HEADS!!!! HAPPY NATIONAL METAL DAY….KEEP THE METAL ALIVE!!!  Stay tuned for more great posts…until next time Y!

THE METAL WORLD MOURNS THE LOSS OF ANOTHER TRUE LEGEND

On Thursday, Jeff Hahnemann, Guitarist for one of the “BIG FOUR BANDS” SLAYER, was found dead in his home in Southern California. Jeff along with Kerry King formed the Metal Band Slayer in 1982. In 2011, Hahnemann nearly lost his arm due to a spider bite. The injury initially went untreated but then the star guitarist began to be plagued with health problems. Recently though, his health had improved and he was in the studio working on a new Slayer Album.

The initial cause of death is being stated as liver failure, although the “Spider Bite” and reoccurring skin eating disorder has to have some link to his death. The actual skin disorder is called necrotizing fasciitis. This disease is extremely fast as far as progressing to the later stages. The disease actually involves bacteria that actually eats human flesh. The bacteria spreads easily through the subcutaneous region. Doctors are not sure if the infection can spread to the organs, however the fact that he died from liver failure may be an example of this occurring.

Jeff grew up in Los Angeles and was in a family of many war veterans. His interest in war is the direct influence on his music lyrics and war connotations. “Angel of Death”, which Jeff was responsible for writing, is widely criticized for its link to Nazi Activity in the Auschwitz Death Compound during World War II. Jeff wrote the songs “Angel of Death”, “Raining Blood”, “War Ensemble”, “Seasons in the Abyss”, and “Reigning Blood”, all of which are played at every Slayer Concert!

Jeff had been trying to rehab and a few guitarists including Exodus front man Gary Holt was filling in. As a huge Slayer fan…I am not sure how the band will move forward at this point. It’s similar to Pantera with Dimebag. I mean, Pantera has yet to have a reunion and it would be impossible to replicate Dimebag Darrel and his style of play. The same holds true for Hahnemann. He is an excellent lyricist and has wrote some of the most extreme riffs for Slayers material. It would be like Dave Mustaine passing away and trying to keep Megadeth going.

No matter what the circumstances are surrounding his death, Jeff will be greatly missed. I know today in his memory, I am going to have a Slayer marathon and listen to all of the CDs in order. Rest in Peace Jeff…we pray for your soul. We pray for your family, friends, and band members. We pray for all of those around the Metal Community affected by his loss. We pray for your fans. And as we close the page on your life…you start a new chapter in Heaven. God Bless.

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TESTAMENT: THE BIG 5

Many people ask the question if there was a BIG 5…who would be the Fifth Band amongst METALLICA, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Everyone has their own opinion and there are probably a few bands that would come close but the Band that would receive the most votes would be Testament.
Testament is an American Thrash Band that was formed in 1983 in Berkley, CA. Considering the Band played the San Francisco Bay area, they received widespread exposure from the underground metal community just as fellow bands METALLICA and Megadeth. The band was originally formed by guitarist Eric Peterson…and has been through numerous line up changes during its 29 years of existence.
Many people don’t know this, but Testament was originally named Legacy, which actually became the Title of their first album…that was released in 1987. Originally joining Eric Peterson in the band was Alex Skolnick, a Joe Satriana disciple. Also joining the band was lead vocalist Chuck Billy, who replaced Steve Souza, who went on to form the Metal Band Exodus.
When “Legacy” was released in 1987….Testament quickly became a popular trademark in the Thrash Metal Community. In order to promote their new album, they began a tour with Anthrax, who was actually promoting their own new album “Among the Living.”. Legacy and it’s follow up album, consisted of many dark and gothic themes along with the occult. Testament continued to rise to the top of Metal Charts across the world.
Their 3rd album, “Practice What You Preach,” was released in 1989 and shared more realistic themes like politics and world corruption. Then came the Grunge era and Testament was failing to connect with their fans so they released a slower metal album called “The Ritual” was released in the late summer of 1992…over 20 years ago. When it was released it hit 55 on the Top 100 Bilboard List, which was the highest Testament ever went up to this day. The single “Return to Serenity” received favorable reviews and topped the charts at 22. This song received extended radio airplay…allowing them to gain a larger audience.
Up until now, Testament has released 10 Studio albums in the following order:
1) The Legacy (1987)
2) The New Order (1988)
3) Practice What You Preach (1989)
4) Souls of Black (1990)
5) The Ritual (1992)
6) Low (1994)
7) Demonic (1997)
8) The Gathering (1999)
9) The Formation of Damnation (2008)
10) The Dark Roots of Earth (2012)
From 1999-2008 the band failed to produce an album. Chuck Billy was even diagnosed with Cancer and had to temporarily quit the band. They reunited and toured from 2005-2008. Finally, in April of 2008 Testament released Formation of Damnation, which marked the return of Alex Skolnick who had left the band after “The Ritual.”. Now just recently, they released “Dark Roots of Earth” which marked the return of the original lineup. Their newest album, which was released in July , 2012 went back to their heavy roots and Alex Skolnick was better than ever.
Most people are aware of the Big 4…the concerts that toured all over the world with METALLICA, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. One always wonders who would make the list of the Big 5 if there was such thing. Testament fits the bill as closely as any other bands of this era. Even though they went through much adversity…it’s no different from these other 4 Bands.
Let’s go back 20 Years ago to 1992 when Testament released “The Ritual.”. This album was “their” Black Album (METALLICA)/ “Countdown to Extinction (Megadeth), “Among the Living (Anthrax), and “Reign in Blood” (Slayer). This album was much more mainstream than what they had put out in the past and was able to sustain some serious air play with a few songs, mainly “Return to Serenity.”. “Electric Crown” also garnered a lot of positive attention from the Metal community. This album is still heavy and really shares Alex Skolnick’s talents on guitar as he has a lot of solos…but more it established that Chuck Billy is capable of singing a more classic heavy metal than the style of Thrash that it’s fans had become accustomed to.
Testament in my mind is right up there with these bands and they deserve much consideration when establishing the Top 5 list of Thrash Bands in America. Last fall…thy supported a tour with Death Angel and Anthrax which promoted the new studio album by Anthrax “Worship Music.”. The tour was a huge success and put Testament back on the map. Me and my best friend had the pleasure of seeing a show on this tour, in north Jersey, and I was very impressed with Testament and their live stage presence and musical talents. Of course…They just released their 10th Studio album “Dark Roots of Earth” which went back to their heavy roots. I give the album a 9 out of 10 rating and highly suggest any Thrash Metal fan pick this album up. It may be their best album to date. Classic Thrash sound and heavy guitar/drum riffs. Next year I am suggesting they create the Big 5. Testament belongs in this group although they never were as popular as the other 4 bands…but they showed they belong in this class. Let’s get a petition up to METALLICA to form the Big 5. Chuck Billy still rocks and Alex Skolnick has refined his guitar skills and can play lead and rhythm with the same intensity. Buy this album…support this band!

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