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Thread: Malleus Trollheartus: Heavy Metal Lives Here

  1. #11
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Of course this will not be a definitive guide or anything like it --- I don't have the next two years to work on that! - but to give those of you who are less familiar with the genre a basic grounding in the more important aspects of metal, here is an alphabeticised guide. As with the album reviews, Wiki links are provided if you want to look up further. So then, let's start, oh, I don't know, at the beginning?
    A

    is for
    AC/DC: Australian metal band famous for such as albums as Back in Black, Highway to Hell and For Those About to Rock, We Salute You.
    AC/DC - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    ACCEPT: One of the most important of the German Thrash/Speed Metal bands of the eighties.
    Accept (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    ACE OF SPADES
    : Iconic track by British metal band Motorhead, title track of the album.
    Ace of Spades (song) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    AEROSMITH: Possibly more Hard Rock than Heavy Metal - what's the difference between the two? - Aerosmith still deserve a place here due to their huge influence on the genre with such hits as "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Love in an Elevator", "Livin' on the Edge" and for mixing rap with metal with style when they teamed up with RunDMC for "Walk This Way".
    Aerosmith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    AIR GUITAR: A form of celebration/dancing in Heavy Metal, whereby fans mimic the solos of their heroes by pretending they have a guitar in their own hands. This is achieved with a varied range of success, but is so popular that an Air Guitar Championships exists. I kid you not! See also Headbanging.
    Air guitar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    ANNIHILATOR: Another Canadian Thrash Metal band, very influential on the genre.
    Annihilator (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    ANTHRAX: New York thrash metal band, one of the "Big Four", with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth.
    Anthrax (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    ANVIL: Canadian metal band who are acknowledged as having been a big influence on the abovementioned Big Four, as well as others.
    Anvil (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    AXXIS: German power metal band.
    Axxis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Feel free to advise me of ones you think should be added as this ABC proceeds, and as others come to mind I'll add them retrospectively.

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  2. #12
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    WARNING! VERY MATURE CONTENT AHEAD!
    Language, graphic material etc.
    If you are easily offended, please do not proceed!



    Note: Nothing I ever do is meant to offend or upset anyone. I do these things in the name of entertainment and humour, but understand some people may not share that humour and take this at face value. Therefore, if you are any of the below, please do not go ahead as you may find yourself being offended. This is not my intention.


    So if you are
    a) easily offended
    b) squeamish
    c) ultra-religious
    d) under 18
    e) have had a sense of humour bypass recently
    do yourself a favour and move on. I have no wish to upset anyone. But if you take this in the spirit in which it is intended, you will probably get a kick out of it. The more graphic images have been spoilered*, so you uncover them at your own risk. Anyway, it's the Devil. What do you want me to say to the guy? Go easy on the gore there, Your Dark Lordship?

    * No they haven't. I tried, but can't seem to suss it. If anyone can help?



    Still there?


    Sure?


    Last chance...


    All right, then.






    This being post number

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    I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion, so I called in a few favours, talked to some people, made some bargains. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap (but hey: when was I ever going to use my soul anyway?) but in the end I got him to pop in and, um, bless our enterprise. The guest star to end all guest stars (literally), the very epitome of rebellion and rejection, he who is said by many to actually own heavy metal as his own music.

    Yes, I’m talking about the man, the legend, the Big Daddy of them all, the being to whom so many of these bands write songs, the one who makes parents shiver in their beds as they listen to his praises being sung in their teenage son's bedroom.

    Ladies and gentlemen, all the way up from the very depths of Hell itself, he's pleased to meet you and hopes you guessed his name! Will you please all throw the horns, stamp your feet and give a huge heavy metal welcome to our very special guest...


    Thank you, thank you Trollheart! It's great to be here. Longtime reader, first time contributer. I must say, I'm a little nervous: in fact, you might say I'm afraid of “Satan” the wrong thing! Bu-pish! Who groaned? Oh yeah? I'll see you later mate! You enjoy that burger and chips, you hear? Your heart is callin' time on ya!

    Anyway, as I say I'm delighted to be here, where so many people are truly glorifying my music and making me bigger and stronger every day. You know, it's not just the music - really, some of you sing in such a way (as Trollheart has observed already) that it's really difficult to make out what you're saying. So I'm glad that in addition to the music there's the more, ah, graphical side of your ventures. And this is what I intend to cover on this, my first ever guest review here. So without further ado, let me present...


    Yes, from the early sixties and before, parents and authority figures have shaken their head, tsked and in some cases tried to ban lurid album covers, depictions they believe are inappropriate and may corrupt their children or give them the wrong idea. But if any genre of music takes this to the nth degree it's Heavy Metal. Yeah! What? Yes I KNOW it’s not meant to be capitalised, but, well, let me just think here: oh yeah! I’m fucking Satan guy! You gonna argue with me? Really? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Go back to listening to your Nu-Metal, pal. Nobody cares!

    Now, where was I before I was so very rudely interrupted? Oh, yes. Just check out the first in my top ten countdown, and tell me you're not offended! Okay, okay! Tell me your parents would not be offended.

    What? Really? Oh for the love of.... bloody censors! You just wait till I have you guys down here, I'll cut out your --- yes yes all right! Mutter! I'm apparently contractually obliged to display this sign



    in case anyone gets upset. Let me also warn you, in accordance with Trollheart's insurance policy, that if you are of a weak, aged, squeamish or overly religious nature, you may wish to leave the room. Trollheart? You think you're okay to stay? With your weak stomach? No, no, you're right: it's your journal. I just thought ... no, no. Fine. (Don't say I didn't warn you...)


    At number
    10
    [spoiler][/spoiler]

    Yes, you can always rely on Black Sabbath for a nice, clergy-scaring, dark as fuck, blasphemous album cover! Well no you can't: many of their album sleeves are just plain boring (I mean, come on! Paranoid? Some guy waving a sword at you who's out of focus? Give me a break!) but this one is anything but. Painted by the same guy who would later go on to design Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare, the picture is of a man on a bed dying a particularly nasty death, aided by some of my faithful demons. Aren't they cute? Nice touch with the 666 on the headboard. Of course, the back of the album cover shows him dying a “nice” death, but who the hell cares about that? THIS is the cover that sold the album, not some wimpy fairy shit. This is rock! This is METAL!

    At number
    9


    I really like this one; reminds me of my birth! Nah, not really. I was born an angel you know, until that sanctimonious fuck kicked me out for one little ... but I digress. Death metal is a subgenre of metal that often comes up with the most ugly, disgusting covers, and with this one they hit a home run, as you Americans tend to say. You know I have a lot of you Down Below, don't you? Yes, they thought God would save them, too. Newsflash: He didn't. God doesn't love Americans any more than any other race, and I tell you, every time He hears “God bless America”, well, you can hear the laughter all the way down in my office. Quite annoying. And you do say it so often, don't you?

    But again I wander off my track. This album shows a demon baby - ah, look at him there! Don't you just want to snuggle him up and tear his little throat out? No? You people are weird! - being born while a rather ravishing (well, I think she is) demoness strains and a bunch of cowled figures stand around, possibly discussing names for the little darling. Or maybe how he's the Antichrist and going to bring about the end of the world, you know how cowled figures are. Anyway it's a cool sleeve and sure to put the frighteners up any square - do you still say square these days? I’m a little out of touch. Bitchin’? Is that a word you use? This is bitchin’!

    Number
    8


    I can't quite put my talon on why I like this one -- GUFFAW GUFFAW! Oh come on! Even you Christians have to admit it's a laugh - what? Not even a titter? Evil Hell! You are a bunch of tightarsed, stuck-up wankers aren't you? Well I love it. Good on ya, Celtic Frost!

    Moving on to number
    7
    and if you thought that was good, check this out!
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    At first glance, looks like a very pretty woman cradling a child, but then you do a double take and you notice - if you're not blind - that her insides are exposed and yeah, that's part of them that she has in her arms, wrapped in a blanket and shaped roughly into the form of a human child. Oh, Regurgitate, you really should take a trip down here. You'd just love it! Or maybe not.

    Number
    6
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    shows us what happens when you get the munchies and don't satisfy that craving! Well we all get hungry from time to time, don't we?


    So that brings us to the halfway point. We’ll be right back with my top five after these messages. What? You said I could - no, I distinctly remember asking - look, it’s my cousin’s company, all right? He’s not doing so well and - no, no. He’s family! You don’t take the souls of family. Well, I don’t know: it just isn’t done, all right? Look, just do me this one favour, hey? Always good to have Satan in your debt, you know. It’s usually the other way around. What? No you can NOT have eternal life! How about a voucher for Wal-Mart? Good for - what? You’re not American? Oh well, I guess you’re not all bad then.

    Ah! Welcome back to my domain --- oh no sorry, this is Trollheart's. I'm not used to being out and about you know. Still, does one good to get out of the office once in a while, stretch the hooves, let the scales breathe. Aah! Taste that fresh air. Dis-gusting! Give me brimstone in my nostrils or nothing! Where's my respirator? That's better. Now, where were we? Oh yeah: we've come to the halfway point, and here's where you can expect the art to get really gruesome!

    Number
    5

    Indeed, this is where it starts to get a little stomach-turning. Hey, even the name of the band is nasty - Vulvectomy. But with a title like “Post Abortion Slutfuck”, you know this isn't going to be pretty. And it ain't. There are a lot of body parts strewn around - ah, reminds me of back home! - but from what I can see this is a woman who has been torn literally in two - that's the top half of her in the top right corner, impaled on a spike or something - being, well, fucked by a guy who looks like he has also been torn to shreds - zombie maybe? Meanwhile, to the left, an aborted fetus that is way too much like a full-grown baby hangs limply from his other hand, the one not impaling the woman's head. Hey, at least they only had to use three colours here: black, white and red. Must have saved on the printing costs!

    And number
    4
    comes from my old pals Slayer. Ah, memories of those days I posed for the covers of their first albums. What? Well who the Hell (pun intended) did you think it was on the cover of Hell Awaits and Show No Mercy? Mary Tyler Fucking Moore? Not that they ever credited me, the cheap bastards, but that’s another story. Yeah but this one I really like, and again it's pretty obvious why. Look! He ain't got no arms or legs! What's his name? Come on now, all together - BOB! Oh sometimes I slay (wink) myself! I really ought to be on the stage!


    So now, prepare yourself! These are the top three album covers most likely to piss God off, and you can bet they'll be eeeee-vil! At number
    3
    may I introduce those charming Cannibal Corpse fellows, with this masterpiece of the macabre...

    Oh it just radiates bad taste, doesn't it? Although those skinny chappies don't seem to think so. Anorexic? Nonsense! A good feed will soon beef them up! Look it could be worse: they could be eating at McDonald's. Ugh! Now there's Hell on Earth! Always gives me heartburn. This is from the Corpseys' second album, the delightfully-titled Butchered at Birth - Oh Trollheart! Is that you getting sick in the corner? I warned you to leave! Yes yes, sorry about that. Just wait outside, would you, till I'm finished? Believe me, it gets worse. BWA HA HA HA! - Anyway, as I was saying (why did he stay? He has no stomach for this sort of thing. I don't know, these hyper sensitive ones .... always trouble) the art on the album is bad (read, good) enough to earn a Parental Advisory sticker, but the title was also deemed unfit for impressionable eyes, leading to the sticker being placed over it. I ask you!

    There might be some dissension about this one, but I never said, remember, that they'd all be gory bloodfests. I am choosing the album covers that would annoy Himself the most, and this one certainly would, at number
    2
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    I think I look rather well on the cover of this Behemoth album, without sounding cocky! Of course, I've been on so many album covers, but this one just grabs me for some reason. I thought about Maiden but you know, I don't like the way that Eddie is making a puppet out of me, even if I'm making a puppet out of a smaller him. The cheek of that Derek Riggs guy! And the fact that I look so cool and evil and in control is I think something that ol' God would really burst a blood vessel shouting at. He'd rather think of me as impotent, small, minor and a nuisance at best, when we all know I'd kick His ass in a real fight. Angels? I'd tear 'em in half and use them to beat Him over the - what? Why didn't I do that in the first place? Why did I take The Fall? Um, well, you see, I have this bad back, plays up at the worst ... actually, it's giving me twinges now. Better just finish this thing up, no time to answer awkward questions. Hey! I'm not on trial here!

    And so we come to my number one Album Cover That Would Piss God Off. And here it is.
    1

    Oh the very idea! One day, I'll put this into practice, just you wait and ... what? No my back will NOT stop me from ... look, just leave me alone okay? Ahem. This is a 2012 album from the charmingly named Torn The Fuck Apart and the album is called, wait for it (what do you mean, you can read? Look, no need to be smart! I'm trying to build a sense of awe, of majesty, of horror ... oh have it your own way!) The Dissection of Christ! And just LOOK at the bad day he's having. Oh I tell you, God was NOT pleased with this album cover. Not that TTFA cared of course: I'm sure it was designed to insult and outrage as many people as possible, and send the faithful into paroxysms of fury. “Burn this album!” I'm sure they shouted as they crowded the streets, seeking ... no? Nothing? Nobody protested? Not even an irate letter to the label? Man, you people are NOT the same ones who stormed castles and burned witches! What has HAPPENED to you all?

    Anyway, that's my list and I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to Trollheart - yeah, just keep breathing into that bag, son, you'll be okay - for having me, but don’t make a habit of it, okay? You mortals keep me busy you know. Hey, it’s not MY fault you all prefer sinning to being good. Honestly, who wants to be good? Now I must return to --- what? YOU ARE FUCKING KIDDING ME? Someone is SUMMONING me on my day off? “Oh mighty Satan...”? Oh they're about to find out just how mighty I am, and how little I like to be called when I'm off the clock!

    I'll rend them! I'll crucify them! I'll --- OW MY BACKKKKK!!!!

    Anyone got any Bengay?
    Last edited by Trollheart; October 21st, 2019 at 02:03 AM.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  3. #13
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Note: although this has already been posted in my Iron Maiden thread, it's such a pivotal album in both my metal development and my appreciation for this band that I feel it has to be included, and should be the first real album reviewed here, due to its place in my own personal history. As related below, in my somewhat usual long-winded fashion, it's very definitely some of




    1980 was when I began my working life, and so became exposed to a lot more music than I had ever dreamed possible, and the early 80s was when I first dipped my toes into the hot waters of heavy metal, and found I liked it. Prior to starting work, at seventeen years of age, I had what you might call a sheltered musical upbringing. My mother's family were always having a “sing-song” whenever they gathered (which was relatively often) but they would naturally sing Irish traditional songs, and songs from their own youth - Sinatra, Holliday, Lee, things like that - and I hated these sessions with a passion, not least of which was because I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but also I knew nothing of these artists. They held no interest for me, brought back no memories and their music - at least at that time - meant nothing to me. It was long dead. (Yeah, I was immature and naïve: I was only probably fourteen or fifteen at the time though, so I have some excuse).


    Terrible as these sing-songs were though, there would be my uncle Reggie with his accordion, someone on a banjo; people who knew how to play music and did so pretty much effortlessly. It made me want to learn, but hey, I was a lazy teenager, and there was just no way I was ever going to put in the hours and concentration required to learn a musical instrument! I picked up a guitar once, but couldn't hold down the strings enough to make a chord: they were digging into my fingers so much that I gave up almost right away (all you guitarists are free to laugh and chuck rotten fruit). Back in our house, it was a different scene altogether. My waste-of-space father ruled with a tyrannical hand and a disarming smile that could be turned on for visitors, his hands having been only minutes before around my mother's throat. He refused to allow us any sort of “frivolous” items, so there were no record players, and few radios.


    There was a hulking oak (or some sort of wood; I always assumed it was oak - looked like a direct nuclear hit wouldn't even scratch it!) gramophone in our sitting room, and come Christmas - and Christmas only - it would be fired up by him and he would load on his awful, ugly 78s with names so obscure that I can't even recall them. All I remember now are labels: His Master's Voice (he had a lot of those, blue and red labels) and Decca, probably others but they're the ones that stick in my memory. The songs were bland, generic rubbish like you'd hear someone perhaps play in It's a Wonderful Life: music that harked back to a happier, simpler time, and which he no doubt thought he could revisit here, in the 1970s. Of course, those happy singers weren't beating up their wives (well, maybe they were, but it was not mentioned) and dominating their children, but hey, it was his world and that was how he chose to see it.


    Other than that then, we had a radio: just the one, in the kitchen, and we would be made listen to the national radio station, RTE, which played - you guessed it - Irish music and older stuff from the 40s and 50s. No pop music here! And the pirate radio stations, those that dared flout convention and play “questionable” music, music that wasn't seen as being fit for decent ears, were strictly banned from the dial. It was only when I managed to win my own tiny little transistor radio around 1976 that I was able to move beyond the stale confines of my father's chosen music on the radio and hear other things. One station which captured my attention and opened up a whole new musical vista for me was Radio Luxembourg, as I'm sure it holds a place in the heart of many a teenage boy or girl who would otherwise not have been aware of such music. I used to listen to this in bed, the radio pressed to my ear, its tiny, one-piece earphone jammed in my ear, the cold plastic bringing to my brain music I could never have known existed. This was my first real personal music experience, and it was mine alone, no-one could take that from me, not even him.


    Later my sister got her own record-player, but that was jealously guarded behind her bedroom door, so it would only be muffled melodies I would hear drifting from her room, the occasional guitar or piano passage, or a few snatches of words as her door opened as she came out then closed again, forever sealing the music in once more, like treasure glimpsed but never available. When she got married she took the record player with her. It wasn't until my father finally did the best thing he could for us (other than dying, which he took his own sweet time achieving, with my mother over twenty years gone before him, and to I hope a much better place than he found himself in) and left us that I was able to think about getting a record player of my own. The palpable sense of relief when he left is something I still remember today, and though I know some small part of my mam was sorry to see him go - probably more a sense of failure on her part, though there was none, than any real regret, and sorrow too that we would all have to grow up without a father, not that we'd ever really had one, in truth - we all rejoiced and restrictions were not only relaxed, but given a good kicking and told to get out and never come back.


    But enough of my family history. What that was all leading up to was that after my so-called father left, I was eventually able to get a record player and begin buying records. Of course, at the time I was still at school and had little or no money for such things, and my mother was doing her level best to make ends meet. In Ireland, there is no divorce - wasn't then, still isn't - and so a woman who separates from her husband is entitled to nothing from him, nor from the State. He got away scot-free, in terms of having to pay any sort of maintenance; he started a new life, while my mam did her best to hold our own lives together. It saddens me to think, not only of how hard it was for her, but of how uncaring and selfish I and my brothers were, interested only in why we couldn't have this or that, so rather than go too deeply into that I'm going to wrap this up now.


    I had seen the covers of Iron Maiden albums (the debut and Killers) and to be honest, as I've mentioned before, they had always scared me. I couldn't guess what the music behind those covers could be like, but I had a feeling it would be loud, raucous and nasty. For someone whose current favourite bands were Genesis and ELO, with a bit of Supertramp thrown in, that didn't sound like the sort of music I would be into. But then they appeared on “Top of the Pops”, and my worldview was turned around. Having heard “Run to the Hills”, I fell instantly in love with it, with this band, with this sort of music. The image, the power, the passion, the melodies. I just loved it all. I went right out and bought this album, and it certainly changed my life.






    The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden - 1982 (EMI)


    Of course, I didn't know it at the time, not having heard the other two albums they had put out, but Maiden had just gone through a major lineup change and were heading in a new commercial direction that would take them to the very top of the heavy metal tree, influence a generation and make them the best known and loved metal band in the country, and then the world. Fresh from his previous band, Samson, singer Bruce Dickinson had replaced Paul Di'Anno, whose more guttural, punk-styled vocals had certainly suited the more visceral, angry and punkish two previous albums, even though on Killers you could see early evidence of Iron Maiden's shift towards more melodic, insightful songs and away from the somewhat thrash metal of the debut. It was also the last album to feature Clive Burr on drums (though what a way to make your exit!) and the first to include lyrics by Adrian Smith, as well as a contribution by the departing drummer to the final track.


    Although lambasted as an “album for devil worshippers” by the ever-funny Religious Right and their cohorts, The Number of the Beast has no songs about Satan, other than the title track, and that's based on a nightmare Steve Harris had after watching The Omen. The album sleeve probably doesn't help to dispell this myth, of course, but then, Maiden were never about backing down in the face of controversy. The album also features a lot of songwriting by Dickinson, though due to contractual obligations with Samson he was not allowed to be credited for them, but when you look at later Maiden albums on which he was credited, the evidence of his influence on the lyrics on this album is certainly there.


    The album opens strongly, with the pounding drums of Burr and the twin guitar attack of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray, with “Invaders” detailing the attack of vikings on a small English town. Dickinson's different vocal style to Di'Anno's is immediately evident; more controlled, fluid, sounding more trained and professional. The song is hardly a masterpiece, being a general metal song of marauders, though seen through the eyes of the invaded rather than the attackers, almost narrated as either a warning or even a bulletin: ”They're coming over the hills!/ They're gonna attack!/ They're coming in for the kill!/ There's no turning back!” It dashes along at breakneck pace, the sense of panic and fear transmitted through both the music and Dickinson's shouts of warning.


    Of course, the vikings, having attacked, later settled in England (and Ireland), but naturally that's not mentioned in the lyric. Wouldn't have looked too good, would it? ”Invaders! Settling down!/ Invaders! Raising a family!” Great guitar solo in the middle, and then things slow down for “Children of the Damned”, based on the John Wyndham novel “The Midwich Cuckoos”, with a slow strummed guitar while another wails in counterpoint, and Dickinson sings in an almost tender voice, pumping it up for the chorus. It's almost a ballad, but then halfway through it picks up speed, changing direction to perhaps mirror the burning of the man in the lyric, as Dickinson asks ”He's dust on the ground/ What have we learned?” Another great solo and the song powers along to its climax, a change which really took me by surprise when I first heard it. It's also the first time we get to really hear that “air-raid siren” voice that was to earn Dickinson the nickname, as he screams out the ending.


    Having asked permission of the star of the original show, Patrick McGoohan, to use a clip from the intro to the TV series, “The Prisoner” begins as a slower cruncher, with Dickinson as the title protagonist vowing he will get away and take revenge on the people who put him in “The Village”. It quickly ramps up though, and becomes a rocking metal song, with a lyric which would be revisited in some form later, in songs like “The Fugitive” and of course “Back in the Village”. There's a long guitar part in the fourth minute which allows Murray and Smith to further hone their partnership, then chugging guitar takes us into “22 Acacia Avenue”, which is in fact a continuation of the song written by Dave Murray on the debut, and originally written by Smith for his previous band.


    It's a really interesting track, as it goes through a total change halfway through, both musically and lyrically. When it starts, it's a simple recommendation for Charlotte, a well-known prostitute who will do just about anything: ”Beat her, mistreat her/ Do anything you please/ Bite her, excite her/ Make her get down on her knees!” and sung with lascivious pleasure and heavy metal chauvinism by Dickinson, but halfway through it becomes something much more, as Bruce pleads with Charlotte to give up this life and come away with him. He tries to point out to her the dangers in the career she has chosen, and eventually as the guitars power away excitedly behind him, decides to take the initiative and pack her bags for her.


    In this way, Iron Maiden exploded the accepted image of metal, and indeed, rock bands, who generally if they wrote about women did so in an exploitative way, grinning at their helplessness, seeing them only as objects of pleasure. This is probably not the first song to do so, but it was certainly my first experience of a rock band empowering, to some extent, a woman, especially a lady of the night, trying to get inside her head rather than just her knickers, and saying something positive, important and relevant about these women, the majority of whom do not choose this path, but are left with no choice if they want to survive.




    Iron Maiden became, I believe (with hindsight of course), with this one song, the “thinking man's heavy metal band”.


    Although they had wanted horror icon Vincent Price to intone the opening to the title track, a quote from the Book of Revelations, they could not afford his, er, price, and so another actor was chosen, but he does a very good job declaring how the Beast will be recognised, by the number 666. The song powers along on hot guitar work from Smith and Murray, a real headbanger with some great solos, and the lyric certainly seems to concern satanic worship, which is obviously why the guardians of morality came down so hard on Iron Maiden. It's a great title track, and made a great single, but it was the next one that gave them their first hit top ten single, and indeed, as mentioned, the track that encouraged me to go out and buy this album, and so start a lifelong love affair with this band.


    Heavy thumping drums and squealing guitars that sound like horses, or Indian braves whooping (yes, I know they're supposed to be called Native Americans. Sue me.) open the song, then the guitars get going and Burr's drums trundle along like a steam locomotive, as Dickinson relates the tale of the ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans (there! Happy?) from the Old West by the white man: ”Selling them whiskey/ Taking their gold/ Enslaving the young/ And destroying the old”. In the middle of a heavy guitar build-up, Bruce again winds up that powerful voice as the song rockets along, but it's in the closing that he really gives it free rein, reaching notes even the late Bee Gees would probably be proud of!


    If there's a weak track on the album - I say if - then it's “Gangland”. It's fast and heavy enough, and it's not filler by any means, but against the other excellent tracks on this it just doesn't cut it for me. It sounds more like something that would have been more comfortable on “Killers” or even the debut, and in fact the main melody is very similar to “Invaders”, with the lyric certainly lacking: ”Dead men tell no tales/ In Gangland/ Murder's up for sale!” It's perhaps telling that this is the only song on The Number of the Beast that features no songwriting at all from Steve Harris, who keeps a fairly tight rein on things otherwise, either writing or co-writing every track.


    The difference is immediately evident when we hit the closer. One of the most famous and loved Iron Maiden songs, “Hallowed be Thy Name” has gone down as a must-play at almost every gig ever since, and is indeed one of the band's own favourites. The closest they come to progressive metal here, it's the longest track on the album by some way, clocking in at over seven minutes, and starting off with slow doomy guitar and dark, pealing bells as Dickinson takes the persona of a criminal waiting to be hanged. Shortly, as Bruce's voice rises, the guitars wind up and get faster and more powerful, the whole song taking off into perhaps the second movement where Bruce shouts out his desperation against mostly start/stop guitar, then there's a pretty long instrumental as the guitars of Smith and Murray take the song into its third minute. Dickinson comes back in then for the final verse as he is marched to the gallows, and the twin guitar attack runs with the song to almost the end, getting more and more intense, with solos and changes as it goes along, until Dickinson finally comes in at the end with a heartfelt rendition of the title, more pealing bells and a final machine-gun volley from drums and guitar to end the song, and take the album to an incredibly satisfying close.


    Did this album, then, change my life because it introduced me to Iron Maiden? Well, yes, partly, but more importantly, it showed me that you literally could not judge a book by its cover, nor an album by what was on the outside. I had looked at Iron Maiden albums before, as I said at the beginning, and been disgusted and a little scared, certainly put off by what I had seen, and truth to tell, the sleeve of The number of the Beast doesn't do much to assuage that. But the music I found within, both in this album and in earlier Maiden releases, when I went back to them, hungry for more (and a little disappointed to find Dickinson did not feature and the music was markedly different) showed me that sometimes, it's worth walking into that dark room or opening that box, for who knows what you might miss otherwise?


    But more than that, this album showed me that I was probably going to love heavy metal, if it was all like this. And I did. Bands like Saxon, Tygers of Pan-Tang and Black Sabbath followed, then Rainbow and later Dio, Def Leppard, Anvil, Diamond Head, Tank, Lizzy, Y&T all followed as the world of heavy metal and hard rock opened up to me like some dark, loud, enticing flower. I still listen to metal today, though there is a lot of it I don't like, but this was my baptism, my induction into the hallowed halls of the heavy, and it began a love of the music of Iron Maiden that has lasted to this day, and an enduring love of heavy metal and rock music.


    For that, I will always be grateful, and I will always look upon this album as one that changed my life.


    TRACK LISTING


    1. Invaders
    2. Children of the Damned
    3. The Prisoner
    4. 22 Acacia Avenue
    5. The Number of the Beast
    6. Run to the Hills
    7. Gangland
    8. Hallowed be Thy Name
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  4. #14
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    CHAPTER I
    NATIVITY IN BLACK: WELCOME TO THE MACHINE

    In general, it could be said that Rock (with a capital R, yo!) has always been a disruptive influence. Heavy metal’s great-grandparent, rock and roll, shocked the buttoned-down, conservative, family-values-oriented parents who believed their kids should be listening to the music they grew up on - bland, inoffensive, safe, though paradoxically probably railed at by their parents at the time as being too loud, not music etc. Suddenly, that damn gee-tar was at the forefront of things, people were dancing “very inappropriately” and lyrics were, well, questionable at best. Singers were encouraging lewd behaviour and all but open rebellion. Surely the world was coming to an end?

    And now, of course, we in the twenty-first century look back at the “shock value” of the likes of Buddy Holly, Tommy Steele and of course The King and laugh at how such mild behaviour could have provided so many sleepless nights for worried mothers and fathers, but back then it was all new. And it continued to be so, as decade followed decade and rock and roll, never the prim and proper lady that the thirties and forties would have it be, stayed out all night, had dubious and numerous amorous liaisons in dark alleys and ended up giving birth to a whole brood of new children, with sub-genres such as rockabilly, new wave, progressive rock, indie rock and lots of things prefixed with “alt” stalking the streets with a dangerous look in their eyes, on the prowl for new converts, wooing away the impressionable young from the safe and warm clutches of mainstream music.

    For a time, one mad, slavering monster scared them all off those streets, but as the brightest candle burns for the shortest time, punk had its day, left its indelible mark on music and then more or less slunk back into some dingy bed-sit, there to grumblingly supplement its dwindling income as it became less popular by taking in lodgers, and invariably from these sweaty copulations came bastardised forms of punk, such as ska punk, celtic punk, hardcore punk and the dreaded pop punk. Having left the battered and bleeding corpse of progressive rock gasping its last on the corner of some street where the cops don’t dare go - it would take another three or four years before it would recover, but it would really never be the same - punk crouched in its grotty studio apartment and watched, Gollum-like, with envious, dark eyes as its better-looking and better-sounding half-brother went on not only to thrive, but to come to dominate much of the music scene of the following decades, and on into the new millennium.

    Punk may have been dead, or badly wounded, the harsh bitter laughter of the wounded prog rock ringing in its ears at the irony, but metal was on its feet and bracing itself to take on the world. Itself an offshoot of two major parents, the Blues and Hard Rock, heavy metal would go on to define a generation, loudly, and put into harsh and often obscene words the disillusionment of the young with the world in which they lived. Prog rock may have shied from telling it like it is, or even living in the real world, but metal was down and dirty, banging its empty glass on the bar and dragging a leathery sleeve across an equally leathery mouth, nodding to the barman before heading out into the night to look for trouble.

    Blues itself was a kind of rebellion, I feel. Almost exclusively the territory of black musicians, it was these one-time slaves and still second-class citizens of America snarling, shrugging or just shaking their heads at their treatment by their fellow men, and putting that slowburning anger and resentment, with a heady touch of rueful acceptance, into simple, honest music based on folk tunes and gospel, and showing the White Man that this was something they could do: this was their music, and Whitey better stay the hell away from the Mississippi Delta, cos he weren’t needed down here no way no how!

    And when blues began to disseminate itself across America, and from there exported across the ocean, everyone could not only see that black men could play music, but wanted to emulate them. This was exciting stuff. Even Elvis himself was turned on to it. It was, therefore, no surprise when the emerging white musicians playing what was termed hard or heavy rock, or even psychedelic rock, a kind of holdover from the hippy flower power days, but amped up to the max and more concentrated on the state of consciousness (or unconsciousness!) and how to achieve that then the love part, turned to blues to augment and embellish their sound. And less of a surprise when some of those hard rock bands decided to go even harder, and forged the blueprint for what would become heavy metal.

    The question being asked here, and which I will try, in my fumbling fashion, to answer, is what was the idea behind heavy metal? Was it created just to be loud, different and rebellious? Well yes it was, but the best music is always made with a view to some idea, theme or aim being in mind. Protest music, well, protested the war in Vietnam, social and gender inequality, and so on, while folk music harked back to a gentler time and strove to remind us of our past and traditions. Disco/soul/funk had one overarching message: have yourself a good time, while goth rock advised the very opposite: not quite kill yourself, but not far from it. And punk just wanted to burn everything down, in its sights the bloated monster of progressive rock, which itself advocated a more serious and dedicated approach not only to music but to lyrics too.

    So what did, and does, heavy metal stand for? What’s its message, what do the bands who play it want to teach us, if anything? What, in the parlance of their time, is their deal?

    While the genesis of metal is still debated - some looking back to certain bands of the fifties, some citing later bands like Deep Purple and Vanilla Fudge, some swearing it all began with Hendrix - almost everyone agrees as to who the first true metal band was. It probably wouldn’t be quite fair or accurate to say that they created heavy metal - after all, they really only built on ideas already there - but they did fashion a whole new way of interpreting the music that had gone before, twisting and warping it into a shape that suited their way of life, their vision and their aspirations, and opening up a whole new world for the young people, who were, once again, impatiently waiting for the new messiah.

    As summer began to fade and August bade farewell to 1969, ushering in the darker, colder days of September, the world heard the first mewling cries of the band who would become the godfathers of heavy metal ring out with dark and terrifying purpose on a stage in Wokington, England. An inauspicious place for the coronation of heavy metal royalty perhaps, but soon Black Sabbath were guesting on the influential John Peel’s radio show playing to a national audience, and a few months later the cornerstone of metal was hammered into place as they released their debut, self-titled album.
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    Black Sabbath
    was like nothing that had ever gone before, and would, some time later, inspire the sub-genre known, appropriately enough, as doom metal. While everything up to then had been basically upbeat - Led Zeppelin singing about a whole lotta love and pipers leading us to freedom, Free drawling that it was all right now, and even the doomily-named Blue Cheer (said to be one of the progenitors of metal) covering Eddie Cochran’s bittersweet “Summertime Blues” - Sabbath spoke and sung of the darkness in humans, the dreariness of the world and the inexorable and unavoidable march to the grave. The music was dour, heavy and loud. The very first three notes of the eponymous track that opens the debut album (a tritone known as “The Devil’s Interval”) ring out and grab you like black hands fastening around your throat. For most of the song, this three-note backdrop does not change, but pulses on like some evil heartbeat, the slow, measured plod of time marking off man’s existence and counting down to his death, and Ozzy Osbourne’s nasal, almost whining delivery complements the music perfectly. It’s dark, it’s scary, it’s crushingly slow - something nobody else had even thought to attempt, music always seeming to need to be something one could dance to - and above all, it’s god-damn heavy.

    But most importantly, back then, it was different. So different that it could, and must for those who heard it the first time almost fifty years ago now, have seemed as if the players had come from another planet, arrived on Earth to deliver this strange, wonderful, terrifying musical vision of the world in which they found themselves. It spoke not to the record companies, or the trends of the day, or the values espoused by the parents, but directly to the listeners, to the kids, to their frustration and anger at the world, to their need to speak out, to rebel, to fight back. It was subversive, it was unapologetic, it was confrontational.

    It was trouble.

    But though Sabbath became dogged by accusations that they worshipped the Devil and promoted hatred against Christianity, such notions were based on a total misunderstanding of the ideas behind the music. At heart, rock and roll is theatre, and none so much as metal (well, maybe prog). While many of the later metal musicians would believe, some fervently, in what they wrote about, or the positions taken through their music, for many more it was simply a tool, a way to attract listeners and fans, a way to get gigs and a way to stand out from the crowd. Not quite a gimmick, as such, but certainly something they used to promote their music and demonstrate why the kids should pick up their album from the record shop as opposed to anyone else’s.

    And that’s all Sabbath were doing. Of the four of them, I have read that at least three are religious (Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler are Catholics while Ozzy is Church of England) and none of them seem to have had any intention of bringing down the Church, getting young kids to sell their souls to Satan, or anything like that. You want church burnings, Varg Vikernes is your man! But not Sabbath. Certain people, of course, make up their own minds, usually without even bothering to listen to the music or talk to fans of the band, and a name like Black Sabbath, which seems to corrupt the name of the holiest day of the Christian week, was bound to attract bad press. In reality, Sabbath were originally called Earth, but hearing there was another band using the name, they settled on Black Sabbath after taking the name from an old Boris Karloff movie. This, too, explains the genesis of their themes. As Tony Iommi watched the crowds queue for the movie, he realised that people would pay to be scared, so maybe they, under the new name Black Sabbath, should try scaring them. And of course it worked.

    It’s never really possible to know what an artist was thinking or what they meant when they wrote a song, and even if they tell you, they could be covering up the truth. Hell, sometimes even they don’t know themselves! Freddie Mercury claimed, up to his death, that he did not know or could not remember what “Bohemian Rhapsody” was about! So there’s no way to be sure, but it’s come to my notice that the opening lines of “Black Sabbath”, though seeming to describe an encounter with the Devil (and confirmed by Geezer Butler) could be, even subconsciously, recalling the horror of the factories in Birmingham.

    In the sixties, especially in an industrial town like Birmingham, opportunities for work would have been very limited. Unemployment would be high, and those who did get work could really only look forward to a life on an assembly line, working in the heat and the dark, like ancient blacksmiths at a forge, sweating the day in and boozing the night out after the whistle went to end the work day. Tony Iommi certainly worked in one, which was where he had the famous accident which led to his distinctive guitar playing, itself a benchmark for the slower, down-tuned riffing that would characterise doom metal. Ozzy also worked, among other jobs, in an abattoir, quite fittingly. You have to use your imagination, of course, but it’s not hard to see these factories, huge, stern, dark chimneys belching thick black smoke into the air, turning everything grey and black, and spreading a pall of darkness across the city, as a sort of gateway to Hell. If you consider that as a teenager this was all you had to look forward to, this was your future, then the opening lines do make a sort of twisted, scary sense.

    “What is this that stands before me?”
    asks Ozzy, and yes, it’s the dark figure Butler speaks of having seen at the foot of his bed after he had been reading a volume of occult lore, but it could just as easily be the thoughts of a young boy, or a young man, as he stands in front of the huge, forbidding gates of the steel factory, gazing up at the stacks disappearing almost into the low, angry thunderheads hanging overhead.

    “Figure in black, which points at me”.
    That could be the foreman, blackened with soot and ash and grime, wiping his dirty hands on his equally dirty trousers, standing at the factory gate and beckoning the youth forward, like a grinning (meant to be a welcoming, friendly or gruff smile but looking to a terrified teenager like a death’s-head grin) demon inviting him to step over the threshold into Hell. Behind him, the dark interior of the factory, lit by occasional spurts of flame as tongues of fire from the forge or the smelter puff out, hissing and screeching like the wails of the condemned souls of the damned.

    “Turn round quick, and start to run. Find out I’m the chosen one.”
    And despite an initial impulse to get the hell away from this awful place, the terrible, numbing, deadly realisation that this is it: this is where you will spend at least your formative years, the place to which you will go every morning and leave every night, only to return the next day. The place you will work, and slave, and probably grow to hate, but which will be your only hope of earning enough money to support yourself and maybe, maybe, if you’re very lucky, provide you the means to escape from all this darkness, horror and drudgery.

    Your own personal Hell.
    Welcome, my son, welcome to the Machine.

    The rest of the lyric bears this out, even if it’s only my own loose and surely wrong interpretation:
    “Big black shape with eyes of fire
    Telling people their desire.
    Satan sitting there, he’s smiling:
    Watches those flames get higher and higher.”


    And of course the final cry “Oh no God! Please help me!”

    Even the end section fits:
    “Is it it the end my friends?
    Satan’s coming around the bend.
    People running cos they’re scared
    The people better get and beware!”


    All of this, to my (rather twisted, admittedly) mind feeds into the idea of a young lad going or being taken to his first day at the factories, the crushing realisation that there is nothing else out there, that this is all there is, and this is as far as he will go. The factory opens up like a huge black mouth, flecked with flames and gouting smoke, ready to swallow up him, his desires, his dreams and his future.

    And look further on into the album; you can make the same (probably wrong) assumptions.
    Second track is “The Wizard” (kid wishes a wizard would spirit him away from this bleak, grey reality) then “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, which you could imagine being the young man, exhausted after a day’s hard work (and probably a night’s harder drinking) catching some sleep before the morning dawns. “NIB” does NOT stand for “Nativity in Black”, but let’s ignore that and go with common urban myth regarding the song, and assume it does. The birth of a dreary, boring life from which there is no escape? Then there’s “Evil Woman”, which, while a cover, does warn of the dangers of being attracted to the wrong girls, something a youth working in the factories would no doubt be drawn to, while “Sleeping Village” writes its own interpretation and finally “Warning” also needs little analysis.

    Now, of course, all of this is subjective, my opinion and almost certainly exists only in my head. But the point is that the music being written by Black Sabbath, and those who followed initially, was all about not escaping the real world, as in prog rock or even pop music, but in facing and accepting that world, though not without a fight. As I said at the beginning of the piece, rock has always been about rebellion, and no genre more so than metal. With metal, there was the opportunity to stick a real two fingers up to the world, and say, in the later words of Dee Snider and Twisted Sister, “We’re not gonna take it!” Apart from punk, metal would be the most rebellious of genres of music, and because of its uncompromising attitude, its flipping the bird to the establishment and its flouting of authority, and its general revulsion of the charts and popular trends, would earn itself the ire and enmity of almost all other music fans, critics and authority figures. It would become known as “the Devil’s music”, and even before it really had a chance to take its first snarling breaths would be in danger of being aborted, when the suicide of a nurse in the USA would be linked to Sabbath’s second album, Paranoid. The lawsuit was dropped, but the image stuck, and down through the years and decades everything from school shootings to terrorist attacks have been blamed on heavy metal.

    But though the music of Black Sabbath did provide an outlet, a voice for the disenfranchised, a deafening roar of anger and resentment that would echo across all the industrial towns of England, crossing borders and reaching even the more affluent parts of the country, flying on wings of rage and purpose across the sea to land in Europe and later America, eventually circumventing the entire globe, there was one thing missing. Sabbath spoke of certain themes - dark, scary and usually ignored - but apart from the odd song like “War Pigs” or “Hand of Doom”, they did not provide any solutions, or even any real guidance. In one way, Sabbath’s roar, though loud and angry, was impotent. They could not tell the kids how to fix the world they found themselves in. They could only decry it.

    But later bands would come along who would have a very good idea about what the kids could do to fight back against this life they hated, and some of them would be very vocal, some of them even espousing dangerous ideas, some of them confirming the fears that had been roused when Black Sabbath strode out on stage that August night.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  5. #15
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Madmen, Witches and Vampires
    - Cain's Dinasty - 2010 (RedRivet)


    Cain's Dinasty's hail from Spain, a country previously known among the heavy metal fraternity mostly for Baron Rojo, but these guys sing in English, which is a help, no matter what way you look at it. They do offend the spelling Nazi in me though: why they couldn't have called themselves Cain's Dynasty (or Destiny, if that's what it's meant to be) I don't know, but it's a minor quibble so let's not blow it out of proportion. Makes 'em hard to search on the internet, though!


    They seem to have gone through something of a lineup change recently, but as far as I can gather, at least three of the five were born in Alicante, so perhaps this is a case of childhood/school friends getting together to form a band? Though they seem a little old for that, but who knows? Maybe they've been together under different band names. Either way, it seems these guys have always been a quintet, and are based around the tried-and-trusted format of singer/guitar/guitar/drums and bass. And away we go!


    It's power/speed metal right from the off, mad steamhammer drums with finger-frying guitar on opener “Breaking the Bloodlines”. It's quite long for a speed or even power metal track, just over seven minutes, and the longest track on the album at that. Vocalist Ruben Picazo alternates between a powerful, throaty roar to deep growls (or maybe someone else is taking that part of the vocal?) but seems very competent: you can certainly make out what he's singing. The band seem to have something of an obsession with vampires and other creatures of the night - you'd never know it from the title of the album! - and a lot of the tracks seem to reflect that in the lyrics as well as the title. Here, we have ”Crying for the wasted blood/ The weak man kills the strong one/ Breaking the blood lines /Devil may cry.” Great guitar solo from Pablo Rizo, who is obviously strongly influenced by Kirk Hammet and Dave Mustaine, but who is also an accomplished classical guitarist.


    “After Death Still You Play With Me” - a dodgy title if ever there was one! However, the song seems to be based on the fact that even in death there is no release, though a common problem with bands for whom English is not their native or first language surfaces here, in some pretty incomprehensible lines: ”Open my mind, open her grave/ She excused my life, But broke all my hopes” but in fairness the rest of the lyric is quite well written. However this is power metal, and we're less concerned with the lyrics than we are with the music, and there's little doubt that's pretty damn good. Nothing extraordinary, but definitely up there with the better bands of this ilk.

    I'm getting the vague feeling that this may be a concept album, as the next track, “Waiting for Death”, has some sort of introductory narration or soliloquy in a language I don't recognise, and I don't think it's Spanish. There's the name of a character (Lord Strigoi), and there's a definite idea of some sort of story going on here, but I can only guess from the lyric how that fits together across the album. At any rate, the song is another fast power rocker, but there are definitely some keyboards in there, as they were in the background to the introduction to this track, though no player is credited. Apparently the main figure, the hero I guess, is on a quest for his soul, which seems to have led him to Hell. Interesting, if a little confusing.


    Quite dramatic, the music here, with some excellent guitar solos, something of a cut above the norm, here at least. “Devil May Cry” seems to be about the Fallen One (hard to follow the story, if there is one) and is a fast, powerful rocker-on-rails-of-thunder, that everpresent galloping, pounding drumbeat driving the rhythm like some infernal engine, courtesy of David Sabater. More great guitar solos, and the double vocal lending that sort of “background death grunt” prevalent in a lot of this music. One criticism I would level at Picazo though is that it's hard to make out the lyrics he's singing, though he's quite clear when there's a break in the instrumentation, as in this song, so perhaps it's the overexuberance of the players, drowning him out?

    “Clarimonda” is a slower cruncher, with definite elements of Metallica, the tragic tale of a man who sees his lover turned to the Darkness, and has to kill her for good. ”After bearing the pain of burying her beauty/ I saw her back to life turned into a vampire/ And blinded by ambition of breaking her damnation/I returned to the graveyard to finish with her/ I scattered blessed water on her body/And all her beauty turned into ashes.” There are a lot of choral vocals (whether on synth or an actual choir I don't know, though I'd suspect the former) and the melody has tinges of Thin Lizzy in the guitar parts. The song speeds up near the end, as the awful deed has to be performed, I would assume. Hmm, nice bit of Maidenesque guitar in there too!


    Vampires figure again in the next track, “My Last Sunrise”, but this time the singer is the creature of darkness, and is about to give his life, or unlife, as he faces the sun, which is obviously true death for any vampire. It opens with sorrowful, dramatic synth, then powers right up into another fast headshaker, as Picazo sings ”Rising from the East bringing life/ To a new day (the last for me)/ Feeling the heat of light /With tears in my eyes.” Given the subject matter, I think this would have worked better as a slower song, maybe some lonely piano, a crying violin... maybe Cain's Dinasty don't do that sort of thing, I don't know, but in a way it's a pity that at its heart “My Last Sunrise” is just another fast power-metal-rocker, when it could have been so much more. It is, at any rate, the first of the tracks on the albums that fades!


    We've had the madmen (“Waiting for Death”, “Breaking the Bloodlines”) and the vampires (both the last tracks), now we have the witch, as “Miss Terror” gets going, and it's pretty clear that all the imagery used in Cain's Dinasty's lyrics is dark, centred around death and doom, blood and horror. No love songs then, and no “We're the toughest/fastest/loudest/delete as appropriate” songs. I guess this is what they call Black Power Metal then? Does that even exist, or have I just made it up? Do I exist? Arrgh! Ahem. Sorry about that. Anyway, it's a faster track than previous, if that's possible, and really rockets along, but there's nothing there to really mark it out as all that different from the rest of the songs on the album. Soon forgotten, unfortunately.


    “Bring Me Your Blood” is more of the same: fast, powerful, anthemic. I'd say this goes down well onstage. Vocals a good bit clearer here, you can make out what's going on. Well, you can hear the lyric: it's kind of hard to figure out what these guys are on about, assuming they write their own stuff! All very dark and gothic. This, at any rate, is where Pablo Rizo briefly shows off his considerable skill on the classical guitar, and this carries through into penultimate track “A Void In My Heart”, with more effective keys, and the first slow track, indeed the first, and I would venture only, ballad. It's handled very well, with tasteful guitar, nice emotive keys and a very restrained vocal from Picazo. Nice to hear him rein it in for once. See, you can do it if you try!

    No such restraint, as you would expect, for the closer, the gloriously named “**** You Forever”. It's another heads-down, blood-boiling, teeth-chattering speedfest, but then, that's only really appropriate with this band as I've come to know them through this album, and in a weird way it would have been wrong to have finished on something like the previous track. There's no pretensions here, just out-and-out metal, with every sinew straining as the band charge headlong towards the finish line.


    I have a sort of sneaking admiration for Cain's Dinasty, perhaps born of their very deep and intricate, if sometimes obscure lyrics, or maybe because they're Spaniards who do very well singing in English and seem to be building up quite a following. Or maybe it's just because they're honest. Here we are, they say, we're Cain's Dinasty. We play metal. It's loud. It's fast. It's hard. And if you don't like it then **** you! They don't try to be what they're not, they don't aspire to some level they can never hope to attain, and most of all, they're dedicated to their music. It's not really my kind of metal: I prefer to be able to make out the lyrics and speed is not really my thing. But for what they do, these five guys from Alicante do it exceedingly well.


    Oh, and that concept? Your guess is as good as mine. Answers on a postcard...


    TRACK LISTING


    1. Breaking the Bloodlines
    2. After Death Still You Play With Me
    3. Waiting for Death
    4. Devil May Cry
    5. Clarimonda
    6. My Last Sunrise
    7. Miss Terror
    8. Bring Me Your Blood
    9. A Void In My Heart
    10. **** You Forever

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  6. #16
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    And from Spain we hop north over the border to La Belle France.

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    Repression - Trust - 1980 (CBS)

    Ah yes, Trust. My first (and I guess only) flirtation with French heavy metal. What an album! I didn't expect too much really, but I was surprised by how tight some of the songs are on this, how fluid the playing and how well the vocals sound. Admittedly, this was originally released in French only, presumably for the local market, but looking to score further afield the label asked Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 to reinterpret the lyrics and so an English version was released. This was, you'll be unsurprised to learn, the version I heard.


    Although my only experience of Trust has ever been this album and one track on that compilation I featured a while back, Killer Watts, called “L'elite” - not too hard to work out the translation to that one! - they had, over the course of their almost thirty-five year career, fifteen albums released. Admittedly, two of these were the same, the abovementioned Repression, first in their native French and then in English, and also admittedly they broke up in 1984 then reformed in 1988, possibly on the back of renewed popularity when “Antisocial” (from this album) was covered by Anthrax, but it's still an impressive list.


    I don't know how successful they ever were, and most of their post-breakup material seems to have been released only for the French market (but may have sold outside that of course), but if they have two claims to fame, they would be the above cover of their song and also that Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain was in their ranks. Trust's songs apparently reflected a deep-seated interest in politics, and tended to be very anti-establishment, almost as if they were more a punk than a metal band, but as most of their albums were in French and mine is certainly not up to scratch, I couldn't tell you much more about their lyrical themes. Certainly, some of the songs on this album do show that sort of leaning, as we will see.

    It opens with that covered song, with a deceptively gentle guitar which suddenly gets all Iron Maiden, and the song takes off. Vocalist Bernard “Bernie” Bonvoisin has a great ragged voice, and he does a great job on this, not screaming or roaring, really showing many metal singers how it's done. Norbert “Nono” Krief on guitar trades licks with second guitarist Yves “Vivi” Brusco, but it's the former who rips off a dazzling solo, and the political lyric can be heard as Bernie sings ”Your claim to fame is law and order :/ The rich get rich and the poor get poor./ You put a price-tag on what you see :/ This one's for you and that's for me.” Very punk its its lyrical elements if not in its delivery, it's a great opener and you can see why Anthrax thought it would be a good song to cover, as it's pretty universal. It has great power, a simple message and obviously goes down (or went down) well onstage, with the shouted chorus - to, no doubt, much fist-clenching - ”An-ti-so-cial! An-ti-so-cial!”


    “Mr. Comedy” keeps the rockin', with more undiscovered gems in Krief's guitar solos, then “In the Name of the Race” starts off a slow cruncher, with more heavily political lyrics courtesy of Bonvoisin: ”I'm the zombie of yesterday's children/ Born and bred in total confusion/ In the name of the race I pass/ I'll go forward but remember the past/ I'll never be your plastic image/ For you to rape and then to pillage.” Powerful, angry stuff. With about a minute to go Krief's winds up his guitar and just lets fly as the song kicks up about four gears.

    “Death Instinct” concentrates on the one-time Public Enemy Number One in France, Jacques Mesrine, and deplores the treatment of prisoners as an example that France is turning into a police state, with a stark closing line: ”Order reigns, death and silence.” One of the standouts on the album is up next, in “Walk Alone”, a great rocker with some excellent solos and a real sort of boogie beat behind it. Bonvoisin growls ”Walk, walk in front of me/ But my eyes are never dulled with fear/ Walk, walk in front of me/ But my eyes will never shed a tear.” Some really special guitar work from Krief in this, then it's followed by the actual standout, the tremendous, ponderous, tragic and angry “Paris Is Still Burning”.

    Bass guitar really plays a central role in this song, and there seems to be some confusion as to who plays that, but I'm going to take a chance and say Brusco. There's a great flurry of guitar solo from Krief, then the song settles into an almost blues vibe as Bonvoisin snarls ”Paris is still burning/ With the flames of wasted youth/ But in the fields of Flanders/ The poppies cry the truth.” It's a moody, dark and disturbing song, a real triumph for Trust, and really gets across the anger and frustration of lives wasted through senseless wars. Bonvoisin's views on nuclear power are also made clear when he snaps ”The flames get bigger by the hour/ But we stand still/ We've got tomorrow's gift of genius/ Atomic power!” Beautiful blues guitar licks just add to the class of this song, which should have been a proper classic.


    “Pick Me Up, Put Me Down” and “Get Out Your Claws” are straight-forward rockers, though I could swear I hear piano in the former, even if it's not credited. “Pick Me Up” even features sax, though again there's no information as to who's playing it, but it adds a real sense of heart and fun to the song, even if the lyric is angry and full of resentment: ”They judge you, accuse you, sentence you to life/ Your only sun, a commercial bomb/ The modern-age push-button control/ Just a robot with no fixed emotions.” Following this, “Get Out Your Claws” is a kind of strutting rocker, much more guitar-driven with a real call to action: ”A man condemned will never understand/ The veins of plastic propaganda/ So he pays them back with diction/ That the media look at with wounded eyes./ But you're the man who'll pay his way/ Then be told you're off to war/ To die as a sacrifice to no one.”


    There's little doubt the original lyrics suffered in the translation to English, as there are some ideas here that just don't make sense (“pays them back with diction”?) but even were I to listen to the original I wouldn't understand it as I don't speak French, so we'll have to work with the lyrics we have. The anger evident on this song makes me think of the likes of Fish expounding against the futility of war in “Forgotten Sons”, or maybe some of the more socially-minded rappers: definitely a man with a social conscience who uses his music to channel it.


    “Sects” attacks, not surprisingly, religious offshoots and particularly Jim Jones, who caused so many people to follow him to their deaths. It's a fast, angry rocker with lots of guitar and a real punch in the song. When Bonvoisin screams ”Murder! Murder! Murder!/ The zero hero!” and Krief racks off a superb solo, you really feel the song getting to you, then at the end Bernie snaps ”I die, you die, don't ask why!” as the song crashes to an end.


    The closer, the only song not translated, begins with a spoken vocal by Bonvoisin, joined by bass guitar as “Le Mitard” gets under way. I've looked for translations for this, and been told it's both “the hole” and “the longest yard”, but at any rate it appears to go back to Jacques Mesrine, but of course being in French I can't tell you what slant it takes on the criminal. It's a good mid-paced rocker though, and closes the album in atmospheric style, Bonvoisin's anger and vitriol somehow more effective in his native language.


    As I say, when I heard this I was really impressed, considering I had never heard of the band before. Listening back to it now, thirty years later, I'm wowed all over again. It's a hard album to get your hands on (believe me, I tried, and ended up having to use YouTube clips to review it: thanks by the way to the guy who had the foresight to upload the English version. You can get the French recording, but the English one seems to be like gold dust), but if you take the time to seek it out - or just watch it on YouTube, I believe you'll be similarly impressed.


    One thing is for sure, as representatives for a long time of heavy metal in France, Trust did their country proud.


    TRACK LISTING


    1. Antisocial
    2. Mr. Comedy
    3. In the Name of the Race
    4. Death Instinct
    5. Walk Alone
    6. Paris Is Still Burning
    7. Pick Me Up, Put Me Down
    8. Get Out Your Claws
    9. Sects
    10. Le Mitard

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  7. #17
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    And further north we go as we continue what Waits might perhaps describe as an inebriated stroll across the borders of heavy metal (not really; it's just happened that way. Though come to think of it...), north, north, ever north, further north than man has ever travelled.

    Well, not quite.
    As far as Sweden anyway, where we find




    Out From the Cold - Coldspell - 2011 (Escape Music)

    Hailing from that coldest of cold countries, Sweden, Coldspell are a five-piece who have been together since 2005. This is their second album, for which they have dispensed with the services of their original drummer and bass player, who had featured on their debut album, replacing them with two new members who now make up the current lineup of the band.


    Two albums in six years is probably not the most prolific, but Coldspell appear to be gathering momentum with the release of their second album Out From the Cold, which has gained critical acclaim across the rock and metal spectrum, and gaining more and more fans every time they play live. With Sweden now well known for such successful bands as Therion, Evergrey, Hammerfall and of course Opeth, Coldspell have a good chance I think of being in the vanguard of new metal bands to come out of this icy country.

    The album opens on deceptively lush keyboards, with a child's voice saying “We're heroes of the future” before the opening track, called “Heroes” kicks the door in, founder member Michael Larsson's guitar and the thundering drumming of new guy Perra Johanson laying down the powerful soundscape. THIS is METAL! But metal with melody. Vocalist and also founder member Niklas Swedentorp (I kid you not!) has a good voice, powerful but not ragged, well able to reach all the required registers without screaming or cracking. It's a good opening, and a statement of intent as Swedentorp yells ”We're heroes/ Of the new world!” Could very well be true: Coldspell certainly seem to be making their mark in the world of metal and hard rock. “Run for Your Life” is somewhat more keyboard-led, very catchy and again very heavy but with a great melody, some really Led Zep style fretwork by Larsson as the song rocks along at a fine pace. Matti Eklund's keys definitely add a different feel to the previous track, and it's not AOR but it's damn good rock!


    “One In a Million” is a little slower, but not much, and another great tune with lots of hooks and some great vocals from Swedentorp. Duties are more or less handed back to Larsson on guitar for this song, though Eklund's keyboards are there keeping pace with him and adding little flourishes here and there as needed. Great growling guitar opening to “Six Feet Under” and the song rocks along nicely, with some good keyboard and organ input from Eklund. Very catchy chorus.

    For just a moment there I thought they were covering the Pink Floyd classic, as “Time” opens with pealing bells and ticking clocks, but any such notions are soon dispelled as the tempo kicks right up and sharp guitars carry the song into an original composition, a faster rocker after the last few, somewhat slower, tracks. Still, a cover of the classic would have been cool. Oh well. It's a damn fine song anyway, and it's followed by another, as “Save Our Souls” takes the stage, slowing things down again with a heavy rock cruncher. Man, just about every song on this is memorable, catchy, well-written and played with a lot of enthusiasm. These guys are going to go far!


    All I need now is a ballad. Wait a moment, what's that fluty keyboard and acoustic guitar I hear? Could “The King” add the missing piece to this excellent jigsaw? Violins, slow drums, I like it, I like it. I'm going to go out on a limb (though not a very shaky one, admittedly!) and say this is the metal ballad the album has been lacking. Great vocals and backing vocals too, and Coldspell aren't taking the easy way out by singing about love here. Hmm, getting a little heavy with the guitars, could be I was wrong. Half-ballad? Power ballad? Whatever it is, it's damn good. Oh wait, I've said that already, haven't I? Well, it's true, and superlatives are beginning to run dry on me as I listen to this band.


    Balladry, half-balladry, whatever you want to call it, it's forgotten as “Fate” cranks up, and the band go back into overdrive on another cruncher, heavy guitar backed by insistent keys, Swedentorp singing his powerful lungs out, and as I said earlier, these guys know how to do backing vocals. Great prog-like keyboard solo by Eklund here, then “Seven Wonders” ramps up the power again, an extremely melodic and catchy track which trundles along on rails of steel and must be a favourite at live gigs.


    Let's be fair here: Coldspell don't break any new ground lyrically. Most of their songs are typical metal fare, with subjects like how good they are/rock is, how you should never give up, as well as the odd semi-abstract theme like in “Time”, but they're not rewriting metal as a genre here. I wouldn't call them progressive exactly, but they're a cut above a lot of run-of-the-mill metal bands, and they definitely have a certain something. Even on their own website information is a little hard to track down, but I get the impression that founder and guitarist Michael Larsson writes most, if not all of the songs, and though as I say he doesn't get too creative with the subject matter, he definitely knows how to write a catchy song that stays in your head.

    I would have thought there was a good chance that a track called “Angel Eyes” might be a ballad, but no, the guys keep rockin' and it's another heads-down, stadium-stridin' stomper with some great guitar work from Larsson, who really does seem to be the driving force behind the band, though never to the detriment of his fellow bandmates. And the pace doesn't slacken as we launch into “Heading for Tomorrow”, with some nice organ riding along the melody. Some great vocal harmonies help make this song pretty special, and that organ coming in again gives the song a little extra punch. Lovely country-style guitar opening to the closer, and title, track, then it revs up and it's another rocker that refuses to allow you to catch your breath before the album slams to a close.


    It's hard to pick out a favourite or best track here, but that's not because there isn't one. It's because each track is as good as the next. There are no bad ones. I would maybe - maybe - single out “The King” or “Time”, just because they break the mould a little and step outside the normal scope of Coldspell's at times limited lyrical themes, but really, any song could qualify. And that's high praise from a picky bugger like me!


    I tell you, the sun may not rise for part of the winter, up there in Sweden, and it may get very cold and dark, but with bands like Coldspell coming Out From the Cold (sorry!) the future for Swedish metal is very bright indeed.


    TRACK LISTING


    1. Heroes
    2. Run for Your Life
    3. One In a Million
    4. Six Feet Under
    5. Time
    6. Save Our Souls
    7. The King
    8. Fate
    9. Seven Wonders
    10. Angel Eyes
    11. Heading for Tomorrow
    12. Out From the Cold

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

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