Melding their NWOBHM influences with their sinister intentions and hella fast speed Metal, Slayer hit the scene as a band in 1981. After their recorded debut on Metal Blade’s Metal Massacre II, and then later that year – Show No Mercy would arrive on December 3rd, 1983, also via Metal Blade. This was less than a month after being hastily recorded. Few understood how important a debut or band would become.
In case you forgot or were not alive, the late 1990s was a time when every Metal record label was jumping on the bandwagon of trend-hopping and hunting for the next “big thing” mostly Nu Metal or Nirvana’s take on pre-Grunge revival of Punk vibes. With almost no websites yet, pundits at music magazines, radio, and MTV, had declared metal dead (many bands would say otherwise, all the while the underground excelled like never before with stellar releases.
Nearly every facet of Metallica’s nearly 43-year career has been explored in zines, magazines, message boards, websites, blogs, vlogs, social media, and AOL (and other) messenger chats but first in drunken huddled conversations with friends in bars, parking lots, and hang spaces. From humble beginnings came the now fully not humble biggest band in the world in 2023.
By 1992, Metal was all but on its knees. Traditional bands had become dinosaurs and previously popular scenes were burnt out. There were exceptions, of course. Slayer were playing arenas, Metallica had global domination in their sights, death metal was approaching its peak and across northern Europe, black metal was literally rising from the ashes of burned churches. But for the rest of the world, grunge and other alternative scenes were the new kings, all drawing inspiration from the bands they were replacing but without any of that old fashioned baggage.Continue reading →
One of the great success stories of the last ten years or so, the inexorable rise of occult rockers Ghost has been nothing short of astonishing. From their inception in 2006 and the release of full length debut Opus Eponymous (Rise Above Records) four years later, the act from Linköping have gone on to become one of Sweden’s greatest ever exports.
Although 1976’s Technical Ecstasy(Vertigo/BMG) is unlikely to ever be viewed as a top tier release among most Black Sabbath fans, the fact that it exists at all goes to demonstrate the Birmingham foursome’s resilience and determination in those early days, if not the focus.
Arguably the most divisive album in the history of metal, no other record seems to split opinion quite likeMetallica’sThe Black Album(Elektra). Otherwise known simply as Metallica, whenever the San Franciscan act’s fifth studio album is mentioned even in passing, the results are usually the same. Like a red rag to a bull, loud and vociferous “true fans” are still guaranteed to leap straight in with comments like “only the first four albums are real”, “sell-outs” and “commercial bullshit” etc.
It was a drizzly, grey Saturday morning sometime in 1982 and I was being dragged around the shops by my parents. At some point, we ended up in a WH Smiths record shop. I wasn’t even into music then, of any description, but I flicked idly through the vinyl anyway just to pass the time. By chance, two tall, long-haired cavemen clad in denim and leather came and stood next to me. When one of them leaned over and picked up something called The Number of the Beast it grabbed my attention instantly, my ten-year-old face transfixed by the artwork on the front. As he lifted it out, I noticed more artwork, this time on the back of his jacket. Iron Maiden – Purgatory. It looked magnificent. I’d never even heard of Iron Maiden before then and I certainly didn’t know who or what a Purgatory was, but I knew I wanted to see more. Grabbing the next record in the section, my eyes didn’t leave the intricately painted sleeve until my parents came and literally pulled it out of my hands. Killers.
In 1995, Alice In Chains had been feeling good on the success of their first #1 album on the charts, 1994’s Jar of FliesEP, the first EP to ever debut at #1. At the same time, they were in peril as a band, with issues stemming from Layne Staley’s addiction to heroin and other band turmoil. The band did not tour to support Jar of Flies as Layne was in rehab and they took part of 1995 off. The lost opportunities from this period, including a massive Metallica/Danzig/Suicidal Tendencies tour and a near-top-of-the bill split at Woodstock 1994 (which I am still mad about) almost killed the band. They broke up briefly too, according to Sean Kinney. Little did we know they were crafting a great album, Alice in Chains (Columbia), to wash all that pain and disappointment away for a brief moment in time.
When Reign in Blood (Def Jam)catapulted Californian thrashers Slayer into the big leagues, the 1986 (or 1987 if you lived in the UK) seminal release also created a problem for the band. How exactly do you follow perfection?