Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Combat Records- What's in a name?

Normally I don't click on ads on-line, but the other day I was looking at an article on the Knac's site and an ad came up for Combat records. I was curious so I clicked on it to see what kind of version of Combat this was. Now for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the name, Combat records was an independent label that put out a lot of metal and some punk albums from the mid 80's and into the early 90's. At one time Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus, Venom, Possessed, Nuclear Assault, G.B.H, the Exploited, C.O.C and a number of other bands released albums on Combat. They were probably at their peak during the early years of speed metal between say 85-87. I would guess they lost some of their business when speed metal rose in popularity in 88-90 because a lot of their bands left to go to major labels. Well, I was curious about this "new" Combat so I went to their site. Apparently they only have three bands currently signed and I have never heard of any of them. There was a short section on the history of Combat and they mentioned some of the bands that I mentioned above. However they did state that they currently have no intention of rereleasing any past Combat releases as they wish to concentrate on new bands instead. I think this could be read as " we have the rights to the name Combat records, but we do not own the rights to any of the back catalog". Actually I think a number of old Combat releases have been re-released by other labels over the years, but not all of them. So they are not re-releasing anything from the old Combat, they don't have any band or even any band members who were on combat back in the day and the bands they do have don't even seem to be in the same style of the bands from back then. So I really do not understand why they chose to use the name Combat records because anyone who knows the name is likely going to be disappointed that there is no link to the old Combat other than the name. Maybe I was just expecting too much or just living in the past or possibly a combination of the two.

Friday, September 23, 2005

AC/DC- Family Jewels DVD

I don't buy a lot of music dvd's just because tend not to watch too many of them more than once. Yesterday my daughter was sick so I decided to buy this dvd so I could watch it while I watched her because I knew she wasn't feeling up to doing a whole lot but lay around. This is not exactly that new as I think it has been out for maybe six months. It's a two dvd set with 20 songs on each disc and the clips cover the years from 1975-1980. The first dvd is all Bon Scott and the second is all Brian Johnson plus there is a booklet with a lot of pictures and some notes. I watched the whole thing on order and didn't skip through anything even though there are clips on here I have already seen many times. The Bon Scott disc has some live clips, some promo clips and some early TV performances. In the first clip for Baby, please don't go we see Scott in a milkmaid dress wearing a Heidi wig, I kid you not. I wonder what the TV audience in Australia thought of this in 1975? Still it's very and we see much of why Bon Scott was such a good entertainer throughout this disc. The live songs from 1978 are some of the best videos on this entire set as you really see this band at their peak and the energy is just flowing. The promo clip for It's a long way to the top is great as well as we see the band pretending to play while on a flatbed truck going through downtown Melbourne. They also have several bagpipers accompanying them. The quality of the videos is very good considering the age and how obscure some of these are. I had only seen maybe five or six of these before this disc. Now I am a huge fan of Bon Scott era AC/DC so this was the stuff that I bought the disc for. I like some of the Brian Johnson material, but not nearly as much. However there were plenty of songs on disc two that I had never seen. The first four clips on disc two are all from Back in Black and unfortunately they just set the band on a stage with no audience and they run through the songs. It looks like they were all filmed at the same time as it's the same stage and the band wear the same clothes for all four songs. Let's get it up is supposed to look live and it's decent, but For those about to rock is even better as Brian Johnson seems more animated than unusual. Next is two clips from Flick of the switch where it's just the band playing in the studio. My only complaint about dvd quality is with these clips as the picture seems a little shakey on both songs. This is also strange because I remember seeing the title track clip on MTV several times and I don't recall it being shaky. Next up is a real oddity. Apparently in 1985 the band released a home video for Fly on the wall and I always assumed it was just videos, but really it's like a mini-movie with things going on besides the band playing. The story had the band playing at some dive and while they are playing we see characters in the club doing different things while the songs are going on. Some things have to do with the songs being played and some don't. They actually play half of the songs from the Fly on the wall album. Oh and there is a badly animated fly that pops up here and there. The band look good and seem fairly comfortable. The rest of the stuff going on at the movie within a movie ranges from mildly funny to just odd and dated, but still it was interesting to see this mini movie. The rest of the dvd is all videos that most of us have seen on MTV before. Who made who is here and it's as good as I remember it although a bit dated and then the rest of the disc is clips from Blow up your video and Razor's Edge.
The Bon Scott disc was great and the Brian Johnson disc was decent. Overall a really good deal as I got 40 videos for only $14.99. Now if they would put the Let there be rock movie on dvd or even a whole Bon Scott era concert on dvd then that be a must buy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Love to hate, hate to love

We know these two terms, but can they apply to music or musicians? I think it's possible to some extent. I am going to take the second part first just because it's easier. It terms on hard rock/metal bands where I hate to admit that I love or at least like a great deal, I would say it is Guns and Roses. I don't mean the current Axl Rose and his hired band who will likely never release an album. I mean the real Guns and Roses that included Slash, Duff and preferably Izzy Stradlin. The drummer doesn't matter too much as production even made Steven Adler sound decent. The Spaghetti Incident is throwaway stuff, but the rest of their stuff I like a lot. When Appetite for Destruction came out in 87, it was a huge boost for commercial metal/ hard rock. They had a much needed energy that spawned a number of imitators, but no one came close. The love part comes form their studio albums. The hate part comes from the reports of their bad live shows, Axl's tantrums and attitude and the fact that they probably received more credit than they deserved.
Love to hate is tougher because I want to be open minded and I don't want to hate anyone if the music is good. Although I would say Gene Simmons might be very close. I say Gene rather than Kiss or even Gene and Paul. Over the last ten years Gene has became more known as a moneygrubber and I say more known because my guess is that he has been this way since say 75, but it has just become more known recently. Don't get me wrong I once loved Kiss, but now I can't even bring myself to listen to the first six studio albums just due to Gene has done. Even as recently as 92, Kiss were at least likeable in a goofy sense. Even the first make-up tour wasn't too bad because there were people who missed it and wanted to see it. Then we had repeated make up tours, substituting Thayer and Singer for Ace and Peter and of course piles of crap being peddled with the Kiss logo stamped on it. At the center of it all is Gene wearing his ratty wig and trying to pretend he's still cool. The same Gene Simmons who accompanied federal marshals on a raid at a Kiss convention to catch a record bootlegger that Gene knew of. So fans were lead away in handcuffs for selling bootleg Kiss material. Gene decided his time was best spent going after someone who might be making a buck off of Kiss instead writing music that mattered (like their music ever mattered that much). I used to think he was cool now I get sick when I see Kiss stuff at Spencer's or my local record store.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The magic ticket

In the movie The Last Action Hero there was a magic ticket that could take you into a movie. My idea is if I had a magic concert ticket and could go back to 1985 and see one concert then what would it be? This is the Heavy metal time machine after all. So I can choose from anyone who was touring in 85 so there were a lot of bands touring that year. The Crue, Ratt, Dio, Deep Purple, AC/DC and Kiss to name a few. I was able to narrow it down to three so I will count them down in order. Number three would be a tour that was going on in late 85 and it was Overkill, Agent Steel and Anthrax. My number two choice was going on early in 85 and it was Armored Saint, WASP and Metallica. Number one would have to be Iron Maiden on the World Slavery tour which went several months into 1985. I love the Live after death video, but I am sure it didn't do them justice.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Motley Crue - Theater of Pain

Okay, I don't have figures, but this has to have been the biggest selling hard rock/metal album of 1985 and the tour was huge as well. This album took the Crue from being on the brink huge success to being one of the biggest hard rock/ metal bands of the time. The album came out in the summer and it was probably one of the most anticipated albums of the year by many people. Vince Neil had the accident that killed Razzle just months before. The Crue were all over the metal magazines in the months leading up to the release of this album. I was at a christian camp the week it came out, but my counselor was a metal fan and he brought along his radio even though he wasn't supposed to have it. One night that week 98 Rock was going to play the entire Theater of pain album so we stayed up to hear it. My reaction was although not bad, it wasn't what I expected. On their first two albums, the Crue had been wild and full of energy. Theater of pain wasn't completely toned down, but it certainly lacked some fire and seemed a bit plain. Theater of pain came way short of my expectations. There were no completely horrible songs, but no great ones either. I have not heard this album in it's entirety since at least 1994. So let's see if I think it's any better than I did on that summer night back in 1985.

I fire up the turntable and whip out the album and slap it on. City Boy Blues starts thing off and right away you can tell this is the most polished Crue album so far. That has both positives and negatives to it. This song is not as heavy as a lot of songs from the previous two albums, but it's not bad. I like the vocals, but the song goes on a bit too long for me. Smokin' in the boys room is up next. The original of this song is just okay and I think the Crue did a decent job of making it better. I have never been a big fan of covers, but if you are going to do it then you should add something to it. Never cover a song and do it note for note because nobody wants to hear that. The Crue manage add some of their sound to the version and it works. Louder than hell starts out a little more like Shout at the devil style Crue, but it equally gets into that smooth sound and then we get the chorus that gets repititous and again the song goes on a little too long. Keep your eye on the money is a little better than the other two original songs that I have heard so far. Again the vocals are good if you like Vince's voice, but the rest song is lacking somewhat. By this point I am really getting this impression that the songs don't have the kind of personality that most of the first two albums had. Well, on to Home sweet home which is the last song on side one. I will admit that I did not like this song in 1985 and it's still no Red Hot or Take me to top. However, when compared to the rest of the songs on side one, it is actually a breath of fresh air. A slow and sappy one maybe, but fresher than the rest of the songs so far. It flows nicely and despite the pace, it is far less dull than anything so far. So ends side one and we have a ballad (although a pretty good one), a cover and three songs that aren't all that different from each other. Let's see what side two has going on. Side two starts off with the somewhat odd Tonight (we need a lover). I say odd because it almost seems like the song plunges straight into the chorus without a very distinctive rhythm and little set-up. It's almost as if the chorus is the centerpiece of the song and it so, well that's not a good thing because it is way short of spectacular. Next track is Use it or lose it and I had to really think about what I thought about this one. It's does have the same overly repetitive chorus that plagues most of this album, but it's also the fastest song so far. The song has a slightly more distinct guitar sound than most of the previous songs although it's still very basic. It's not great, but it's likeable enough and it does move along. Some how I get the feeling that someone higher up told Nikki Sixx something like "Hey, since you guys were labeled devil worshippers after the last album, how about you write a song where you admit you're sinners, but you sort of ask for forgiveness." Well, maybe that didn't happen but Save our souls is certainly a very uninspired and just downright dull song. This was the closest I came to skipping through a song, but I stuck through it. Raise your hands to rock comes on and I am reminded that the Crue were never the best writers in the world. Yet, there was some growth between the first two albums, but this song is one of several that make it feel like the Crue took half a step backwards in the writing department. The last song Fight for your rights comes on and I do like the riff here as it actually sort of sounds like something from Shout at the devil. Unfortunately the riff just seems to be a little too below the surface to make much of a difference and the song is way too long for what little is being done here. Okay the final tally says Home sweet home and Use it or lose it are good, Smokin in the boys room is decent then on the other end of the spectrum is Save our souls which is a stinker. The other six songs file in somewhere between Smokin' and Save our souls.

Verdict/Final Word
My opinion has not changed on this album, but I am more sure now of why I feel the way I do. This is not a bad album, but it is nothing special either. I like the vocals and if that's all Vince then he did well and if it's due to the production then hats off to the producer. However the production on the music is just too slick for my liking. The rough sound of the first two albums was great and they could used some of it here. I am afraid the Crue (or the hands that guide) played it too safe with this album. It is just a bit too tame for me and well below the standards that the Crue had already set. If I had to listen to Motley Crue I am afraid this album would not be the one that I would choose.

There you have it even though it's about six weeks later than I promised
For October I want to do something Hallowen related so I am going to review Grim Reaper's Fear no evil.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Celtic Frost coming soon

I just read that Celtic Frost have finished their first album in 13 years. The album is tentatively titled Dark Matter Manifest. I know Tom G. and Martin Ain are in the line-up, but I am not sure who else. So will this be cause for celebration or is just going to be another lackluster reunion album? I am curious about it, but I probably won't be buying it right away. Back around 1987, I was a big Celtic Frost fan. I loved what they did from 84-86 and although it's different, I do indeed like Into the pandemonium. Anyone who knows this band knows what happened in 1988. They released Cold Lake and all of a sudden these guys were trying to look pretty (or at least not ugly), the heavy sound was gone and they were prancing around in a lame video. They really sounded like they were trying to combine early death metal and glam metal and it was rotten. The album did not do well and they went back to a heavier sound with Vanity/ Nemisis in 1990. Although Vanity/nemesis was good, I think they had lost a lot of fans with Cold Lake and some people had written them off. They did a last album in 92 that was part a best of plus it had some re-recorded tracks and some previously unreleased songs. I have never heard it, but most responses said it was good. Celtic Frost were very heavy for the mid 80's and really helped to shape death metal and even influenced the doom metal scene as well. Nothing will change what they did from 84-87 not even Cold Lake, but I have to wonder what do they have left to give? I feel that they were highly influential on bands starting out in the late 80's and early 90's, but have they been passed up by the same bands they influenced? It happened to Venom and Raven back in the 80's so it can happen. I am sure they know that they can't simply redo To Megatherion now and expect people to like it. They need to have some of the sound from their prime, but they need to add something to the sound as well. I would think that this would not be a particularly easy task for anyone. Still I am interested in what the new album will be like.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Top ten in progress

I mentioned a while back that I am working on compiling my top ten metal/hard rock albums of 1985. I have written out a list of 20 some albums from that year that I feel are the best albums I know of. Then I listen to them to determine which ten will make the top ten. Then once I have my top ten, I will set about to determine the order they go in and post it here in December. So I have been listening to a number cds and albums from 1985. A couple have even earned a spot in the top ten so far, but I cannot reveal who they are. I did want to make a note about Metal Church's debut. It was originally released independently in 1984 then Elektra heard them , signed them and re-released the album in 1985. I have known about this for 20 years, but had always really thought of it as a 1985 release. Upon consideration, I think that I will have to go by the original release date of 1984. This means it cannot be considered for my top ten of 1985 and it certainly would have earned a spot, but it did not make my 1984 top ten because that was just such a crowded year for good albums. Right now, I think there are two serious contenders for best album of 1985 and the other eight spots are fairly open as. I think the first four or five will be determined fairly quickly, but the last couple may take some consideration and even require some extra listenings.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Heavy metal buttons

I am of course referring to the buttons with pictures of bands on them that I used to wear on my jacket back in the 80's. Well, okay I still wear them even today and that is because I am a metal dinosaur. I remember the first buttons I got were at Ames back in late 84-early 85. I remember getting Ratt, Twisted Sister and Dio buttons there. The record stores had buttons, but at that time I went to the record store just to get records due to my limited money supply. When I first started buying buttons, I did not have a denim jacket to put them on. So I put them on the shirt I was wearing that day. I am sure that I looked very cool being an overweight kid wearing a Twisted Sister button pinned whatever geek shirt I was wearing at the time. Yet I didn't care much about that, I just cared that I liked the band and could let everyone else knew it. Plus the buttons were cool for me to look at as well. I spent many an hour at school pretending to stare at my paper, but really I was staring at the buttons on my jacket. That would explain my grades in high school. I still have some buttons from high school, plus I have bought some on ebay and at record stores. I now have a shoebox almost filled with them plus a separate small box that contains only Roth era Van Halen buttons. It did become a minor obsession at one time. I remember anytime I would hear a new band that I liked, I would wonder if I get a button of that band so I squeeze it in on my jacket. Unfortunately a number of buttons fell off the jacket and I lost them. I still a few buttons from back, but most of the ones I have were purchased in the last ten years. One of my favorite buttons that I own is a Black Sabbath- Master of Reality button. It means something to me because I bought in 1986 (I think) at a Sound Waves that is long gone. A lot of metal merchandise that was sold back 20 years is no longer sold much today like tapestries and keychains, but it's good to know some record stores still sell buttons.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Autumn and metal

Autumn and winter always seemed more like metal months to me. What exactly is a metal month? Well, I guess they are months where my interest in metal was greater and it's probably greater in these two seasons just due to the fact that I am inside more so I listen to more music. I was into metal in 1984, but I remember more about listening to music in the fall of 1985. I think I was getting an allowance at that time so I could buy a tape or album every month or so if I save a little. By 85, I was getting away from comic books, science fiction and video games. This was mainly due to my growing interest in metal and it was becoming my main interest by that year. I remember late summer/ fall because a number of albums were coming out or getting ready to come out. Kiss, Twisted Sister, WASP, DIO and Dokken were all due to release albums at that time. Some of those were good and some weren't but the anticipation of the releases was so big to me then because it was a very new experience. That feeling of getting a new album and getting ready to listen to wondering if it's going to be this great event that will change how you feel about music. Of course I know that those kind of albums are few and very far between, but still I had hope. Actually, Iron Maiden's Live after death may have been the best release from the fall of 1985. It's maybe surprising that a live album would be that good, but it certainly was. I remember the posters and displays all over the record stores when it came out. That's another point , that being posters and displays. Back then, going to the record store was an event because I didn't get to go to the big mall store very often. So when I did, it was a huge deal and I would stare at the posters in awe sometimes. Now I don't even glance at the posters unless they really catch my attention. Of course I don't go to the mall record stores any more either as I don't want to pay six or seven dollars more for a cd than I would at the independent stores. Back then, I don't think the mall stores charged more (in general) than the independent record stores as I remember the prices being about the same. I think that change came about (at least here) in the early 1990's.
Another good thing about Autumn back then was I got to start wearing my denim jacket with all the metal band buttons on it. I still have a denim jacket with metal band buttons and I wear it, but it has far less buttons then it once had. However, I own far more buttons then I did back, but that's almost a whole other topic in itself. I just think that music was so big in my life then that I still associate hearing albums with the season when I heard it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Savage Grace and other forgotten speed metal

Okay, originally this post was just going to be some brief thoughts about a twenty year old album that I recently got on cd. However, after hearing it and remembering something I read about it a few years ago, I began to think that Savage Grace were not alone and there were actually other similiar bands that also didn't get very far due to a change in speed metal. Okay, I am already going off in way too many directions so I need to slow down and take it from square one.

Who were Savage Grace?
They were an LA band that were around from about 82-88 and they recorded two lps and two eps. The cd that I just bought has the Dominatress ep and their debut lp Master of disguise on it. The Dominatress stuff was okay, not exactly like anyone else and nothing outstanding. The Master of disguise stuff was far better. You can tell they really liked Iron Maiden's Killers album as most of this album is very similiar only faster.

Back in 1985 Savage Grace had two songs on an album called Speed Metal Hell and I bought this on tape back then. My main topic starts along these lines. In 1985, they didn't have all the labels of genres and sub genres that now exist for different type sof metal or at least they were not used as often. So in 1985 a band like Savage Grace were considered speed metal yet so were Metallica, Slayer and Possessed despite the differences between these bands. Along with Savage Grace, I think bands like Exciter, Abbatoir and Agent Steel also fall into the same category. They were considered speed metal yet they were different from Slayer or Metallica. They all had some of the same influences like Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, Motorhead, Venom and Raven yet they these influences in dfferent ways. Savage Grace and Agent Steel sound a bit more like speeded up Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. That is certainly not a knock as I like all of these bands I mentioned. It's just that the songs are generally fast thus the speed part yet the riffs are generally not heavier or thicker than say more medium paced bands like Judas Preist. Now in 1983 Exciter, Metallica and Slayer all released their debuts and all three were along the lines of the speed metal I just described. The thing is Metallica and Slayer progressed a lot over the next two albums. The grew away from the thin riffs and both got heavier although in different ways. Exciter stayed about the same over the next two albums although they were good, solid albums. In 1985 there were bands like Savage Grace and Exciter still playing their kind of speed metal, but there bands like Exodus, Kreator and Artillery who popped up and started putting the heavy riffs in with the speed. I think bands like Savage Grace became old in 1986 when Metallica released Master of Puppets and Slayer released Reign in blood. These two albums changed the face of speed metal. After those two releases, the kind of speed metal Savage Grace, Exciter and others were doing just kind of faded away. Still cd's by some of these bands that I mentioned still fetch decent prices on ebay so someone still remembers them.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

King Kobra- Ready to strike

I am way behind with my reviews because I actually need to do two this month to make up for missing one in August. I will do Motley Crue-Theater of pain this month, but I just need to find time to sit down and listen to it because I only have it on lp. So for now I am going to review King Kobra first. Yes, I know you are saying "who?"

This was the debut from veteran drummer Carmine Appice's band. Appice got kicked out of Ozzy's band and started this band with Earl Slick. They hired a singer named Mark Free and recorded a demo. The demo got them a record deal, but Slick pulled out. Appice was able to put together the rest of the band with local guys in LA. Bass player Johnny Rod later went to Wasp. Guitarist Mick Sweda formed the Bulletboys with Lonnie Vincent and Marc Torien who were also in King Kobra in 1986. The other guitarist David Michael Phillips later played with Lizzy Borden and guitarist Alex Masi. Singer Mark Free would later go on to Signal and Unruly Child and after that he had a sex change and has recorded albums as Marci Free.
I first bought Ready to strike on tape back in the summer of 1985. I had not heard anything by them prior to buying it yet they looked like a metal band and I liked the cover so I bought it. I thought it was a strong album and I actually played it a lot back then. I think my tape broke about a year later due to a crappy tape player that ate several good tapes back then. I remembered Ready to strike and bought it on cd maybe three years ago.

The review
The album opens with the title track and it's medium paced song, but it's really smooth. It's not a pounding kind of song, but just very steady and sharp. Next up is Hunger which is slower and definitely a song where it feels like they are hoping you will sing along with them. It's not an outstanding song and at this point you realize the lyrics are nothing special yet Mark Free is such a good singer that the lyrics don't matter that much. Track three is Shadow Rider which is slower than the previous tracks yet maybe the heaviest song so far. The music is very standard fare even in 1985 yet still enjoyable enough. Shake up is a slightly faster entry that tries to tie -in very generic anthem style lyrics. Not as solid as I would have liked, but I do appreciate the change in pace from the previous songs. The fifth song is Attention which is similar in style to Shake-up because it's a simple anthem about the same speed yet it's a much more fluid song. Not outstanding, but enjoyable and it just has a feel like the band really had this one together. Now we move on to the second half of the album. Breakin' out starts things off in good fashion. I am not sure if this is my favorite song on the album, but it's certainly up there. Once more it has simple anthem like lyrics yet the vocals really sell it. The other thing about it is the guitar solo, it's not flashy yet the tones that are used really make it stand out. After this we have Tough Guys which is not bad but probably weaker than the others because it's just a little too syrupy and maybe a minute and a half too long. Dancing with desire may be the slowest song on the album, but again it flows along well without overstaying it's welcome. The problem I have with some 80's hard rock ballads is that the music is sometimes just way too far in the background. That's not the case here as the music is right there with the vocals so it helps to give it a more even sound. Second thoughts has some strong rhythms and it may be overall the tightest song on the album. Last song is Piece of the rock which overcomes okay lyrics just due to the music being very solid and again some fine vocals. So the album ends and just about all of the songs are good to very good.

Final Word
Overall I think it's a solid 80's hard rock album. The lyrics are dated and if that bothers you then you are probably not going to appreciate this album. If cheesy lyrics don't bother you and you listen beyond that then I think it's solid both musically and vocally. However, the lyrics and some of the very typical chorus patterns do tend to date it a little. I think Mark Free had a really strong voice and the rest of the band were maybe not all standouts, but they were solid and sounded well together. Those are the reasons I think this is a better album than say Ratt's Invasion of your privacy or Dokken's Under lock and key. Both those other albums came out the same year and were far more popular, but I find King Kobra to be more memorable overall.
King Kobra did a second album called Thrill of a lifetime in 1986 and it sounds more like Survivor meets Journey. Appice said the record label insisted on the change in sound. After that the band went through some line-up changes and lost their major label record deal. Appice and Phillips added other members and did a third album called King Kobra 3. It was more a hard rock album than the second one, but not nearly as good as their debut. They also did a reunion album of sorts in 1999 called Hollywood trash. Only Appice and Sweda returned from the original line-up and I will warn to stay away from this album at all costs. Although it does have some early demo tracks with Mark Free singing which are decent. There was also an album of outtakes and demos called the Lost Years which I have never heard.
So there is another review for you to feast upon and now maybe you wont' say "who?" when someone says King Kobra. Although it's doubtful that anyone except me will be talking about King Kobra.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nothing exceeds like excess

Okay, perhaps it's tacky to use an album name as a title for an entry, but the title of Raven's 1988 album fit with what I wanted to talk about today so I "borrowed it". My main thought is about excess bands, bands who are really fast or really slow and where do these bands go after making an album that seems to have pushed the limits as far as they could.

I was recently listening to the first two albums from Electric Wizard which are exceptionally slow, but very heavy. I remember buying Saint Vitus-The Walking Dead on album back around 1987. When I went to play it for the first time, I didn't realize it needed to be set on 45 speed so I played it on 33 1/3 for a few seconds until I realized what was wrong. Well Electric Wizard's early isn't too different from that Saint Vitus album being played on a slow speed. Recently I was reading reviews on Electric Wizard's last two albums and a number of people really complained about the direction they went in. I have heard We Live and it's different, but not that far removed yet a lot of people don't like it because it's not the same style as Dopethrone and Come my fanatics. Yet when a band does an album that is to one extreme then where do they go for the next album? So Electric Wizard's early albums were so very slow and eventually were well received by a small following, but how long can they do that kind of music before it gets old for them and the fans? At some point they are going to say well that's add some pace changes or add something in the background and the sound will change. Back in the 80's and early 90's it was the fast bands who changed. When Possessed and Death released their debut albums, they were really fast and heavy. Yet both bands progressed and the sound became a little toned down and more accessible. Napalm Death, Carcass and other grindcore/death bands of the late 80's early 90's also toned down eventually. Not everyone changes as I believe Deicide and Morbid Angel have tried to stay along the lines of the same sound then again these bands certainly have not gained much popularity since say 1994 either. Still we are fans and sometimes we are stubborn when it comes to a band changing their sound.