Nightman Listens To – Van Halen – Van Halen (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Van Halen (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! You can probably guess, but I’m not a fan of Van Halen. They were one of the biggest hair metal bands and hair metal has always represented everything that metal shouldn’t be – fun times, happy go lucky pop songs, box-checking business led metal, technical skill for the sake of technical skill, poser artists only in it for money and women and drugs, lyrics about tedious bullshit like women, going fast, and fast women. Hair metal is basically the mainstream RnB of the 80s – seriously, compare any major RnB song and hit hair metal song of the day’s lyrics, and they’re basically the same thing.

And yet, I’m talking in generalizations and I haven’t given most of the major bands a fair chance. I’ve heard the big songs, I probably have heard some of the albums but I don’t remember, and my preconceptions and criticism of the genre have possibly blinded me to some good stuff. This album was a huge success, Eddie Van Halen is one of the great guitar Gods, and maybe as this was their first album there is a more raw feel before hair metal became drained down to the faux-pop it undoubtedly is. I’m here to learn, that’s part of the point of me going through these posts and albums – I don’t expect to be converted and I’m fully prepared to hate it even more than I already do, but I hope to at least find some new songs I’ll enjoy.

So, before Grunge and European Metal came and thankfully cleansed us of all of this masturbatory, self-worshipping, reality TV-precursing, pouting, watered down stain, Hair Metal was King – silly, shouty choruses were being sung by bankers, soccer moms, children, and chavs alike. The album cover is about as respectable as it gets for Hair Metal – it presents the four members of the band in a live setting, so at least we assume they can actually play. I’m not sure why two of them appear to be on fire, one seems to have a steam of stench emanating from his shoulder, and Roth is doing the Robert Plant thing. Urgh, here we go.

Runnin’ With The Devil: If you’re going to have a metal album, and a debut, you’ve got to give your first song a great title. It’s better if it’s a great song of course, but a cool title helps. No complaints on that front. Of course I already know this song, and it looks like the first half of the album is stacked with the hits. I’ll admit it takes balls to have an instrumental and a cover in your first three songs. It begins with a siren/alien spacecraft/car screeching by sound before a single repeating bass note sets the pace. The drums are 80s a few years early, very steady and plain, and Roth’s vocals have a deeper tone than you may recall. The verses are mostly uneventful, while the chorus has that Desmond Child/Def Leppard shouting thing I can’t stand – one of the key factors which hurts hair metal for me. It’s a very plain opener – even the guitars don’t offer anything out of the ordinary, and for me isn’t a great representation of what the band could do.

Eruption: This is one of those tracks which budding guitarists have on their wishlist shortly after picking up the instrument. We make the list of songs we want to be able to play from our favourite artists, but then there’s the holy grail list, usually starting with Johnny Be Goode and running up to this. This showcases what Eddie brought to the band and how he almost single-handedly revitalized the instrument. Plenty of other guitarists had played with speed and intensity and brought the tapping style, but here the showmanship and ferocity and focus on doing it fast opened the door for the next gen. It begins simply enough, with a cascade of drums and a bit of guitar wankery, but once that first dive-bomb hits it picks up. It’s brief and it has since been surpassed, but at the time this must have been a revelation and sounded almost unearthly.

You Really Got Me: Although it’s louder and chugs more, it’s somehow less metal and sexy than the original. It’s something about the cheesy harmonies in the chorus and the cleaner sound. Naturally the solo is crazy and short, but all the vocal grunting and squeaking is very silly.

Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love: Another famous one and I’ve always quite enjoyed the lead in riff – there’s a touch of that shadowy atmosphere I’m always going on about. The vocals are much too plain and anti-melodic for my liking. It’s almost a punk or old blues approach to the vocals, while the chorus is still shouty without being annoying. In essence I don’t think the rest of the song lives up to the promise of the riff – I don’t think they knew what to do with it.

I’m The One: A furious guitar attack intro is joined by some really shitty sounding drums. It’s a shame because the actually drum technique is satisfactory. The pace is maintained throughout but again the vocals and melodies are the link which bring the whole chain dangling down. The song feels like a jam – Eddie just says ‘fuck it’ and busts one out, Alex is clearly off his face and tries to keep up, and the other two randomly shout and play the first thing that comes into their heads. I’m not sure what sort of melody they actually could have slapped around the guitar and drums so it’s probably as good as you could hope for.

Jamie’s Cryin’: A down and dirty sluggish riff is accompanied by a higher pitched squealing guitar. The mocking vocals come in and it feels like the band is taking the piss. The chorus is the same as all the others – sing the title while harmonies repeat it at the same time. Some cool drums before the second chorus. It’s inoffensive easy listening stuff and to its credit the chorus hook is more memorable – it does get annoying after the twentieth time though.

Atomic Punk: You can tell where G’n’R got their intro idea for Mr Brownstone from – this begins with a similar phaser style. Then the verse starts and feels like Di’Anno era Iron Maiden with a US twist. The punk of the title isn’t just in name only, there is a punk influence here but it’s taken in a more metal direction thanks to the guitar ability. It’s not the most exciting song, the riff again is good and it does pack a punch.

Feel Your Love Tonight: A more traditional hard rock, blues infused riff and feel. Again the harmonies just don’t work, because they’re not really harmonies – it’s just singing the same lyrics in the same way in a slightly higher register. That stands out to me and I can’t shake how futile it feels – if you’re going to add harmonies, do it right. The vocals aren’t the best – very anonymous – and there isn’t a single hook to hang your bandanna on. I get why people probably think it’s fun.

Little Dreamer: Another plodder. I wasn’t expecting the nods to the blues so much, but they take what they don’t like from that genre – samey vocals. Luckily the backing vocals are better this time, the ‘oohs’ doing what the harmonies of the previous song failed to do. The guitar solo almost feels out of place – there’s this little blues ramble and a lead guitar firing off at a billion miles per hour. This one is catchy, more than I can say for most of the others.

Ice Cream Man: I know I mentioned the Blues before and I expected people to vent in the comments about how there’s no way any of this is blues. Then this disaster drops and it’s completely taking the piss. Beyond the funny lyrics this is complete nonsense – I’ve said before that Blues is the easiest music to copy and one of the most limited genres. Listen to any three or four blues songs, hand someone a guitar, and they’ll come up with the same thing. That’s what this is, but of course they bring the metal half way through. It doesn’t add anything beyond volume and some more furious guitar.

On Fire: A punk influenced closer – lots of yelling, pretty chaotic, and lots of wacky guitar. A few riffs charge about, lots of running up and down the fret, lots of shrieks, and buckets of energy. No melodies though.

On the whole I was pretty much spot on with my introduction – this doesn’t feel like a true hair metal album as it came a few years before that genre truly started. It’s something like mashing together Aerosmith, a batch of US punk bands, a touch of NWOBHM, a sprinkling of what Hair Metal would become, and capped off with Eddie’s guitar. It’s the guitar which makes this noticeable – without it this would have been a long forgotten average rock album, but because every riff is at worst solid, at best iconic, and the playing what you remember. Which is good because most of the actual songs are very ordinary, throwaway straight rock with barely a tune between them to whistle while you work. Roth was a better stage presence than he was a singer, making up for a lack of character in his voice with a series of leaps and twerks, and the other pair aren’t really noticeable for the most part. So, it’s not horrible but it lacks any real stand out tracks.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Eruption: Jamie’s Crying.

Let us know what you think of Van Halen in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Accept – Restless And Wild (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s perhaps apt that I begin this metal journey with a band whose name starts with an ‘A’. Accept isn’t a band I have a lot of experience with, at least not that I am conscious of. As with many of the bands and albums coming up, I’ve probably heard their stuff and just ignored it or not known who it was. I know fo’ sho’ I’ve heard a number of songs by Accept – their 1983 hit Balls To The Wall is familiar to most metal fans of a certain age. They’re a band who have been going since the 1970s and are still recording an touring today – when you’re metal, you never stop. Hailing from Germany, we may be in for some unintentionally hilarious lyrics or accents, and we’re sure to hit some top speeds. I know the band are one of those European bands named by later, more successful bands as an influence so I’m hopeful I get this series off with a blast. This 1982 release was apparently their fourth album, just before they hit it big with Balls To The Wall so maybe this has some of the hit-making qualities which paved the way.

Fast As A Shark: Ah yes. I know this one – it’s in the classic Demons – a movie about people trapped by zombies/demons in a cinema. It has a comedy false opening with some sort of folk song which gets obliterated by a shriek and some lightening drumming. As was standard for the genre and the period, the vocals are somewhere north of crotch-crushing. The production isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst and gives it that added grimy touch – like watching a VHS tape. You won’t be able to make out most of the lyrics, but this is all about the speed and energy anyway. You can tell where the likes of Metallica got their influence from – many thrash guitar solos which would emerge in the next few years sound just like this.

Restless And Wild: Here we get a slice of Maiden-esque galloping. It’s a great intro which falls apart in the verses as the instruments withdraw and the vocals go to strange places. For metal fans, there’s plenty here to charm you but it’s not going to entertain anyone else. There isn’t much subtlety and you can understand your average listener dismissing it as noise. The rest of the band gets in on the vocal act, chucking in deeper harmonies in that classic 80s shouty way. The solo is another belter though.

Ahead Of The Pack: A more restrained, cultured intro if you will. Of course it’s only seconds before we descend into another series of adolescent-pandering slogans and screams – just the way we like it. It’s a very classic metal feel. The verses do this interesting pause thing once each time which catches you off guard. It doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose. There’s a cool effect before the solo smashes in, and the tone of the lead guitar is dirtier than a whore on Friday.

Shake Your Heads: A slower song with a simple riff/structure. Those vocals though, they sound like a eunuch being throttled. Imagine Bon Scott being fired to the moon via a firework in his anus, and you’ll be somewhere close. Still, that’s what everyone was at those days. The solo has more room to breath with this structure, but it’s a very basic one. Maybe one the fans can practice playing along to.

Neon Nights: I just had to pause in my writing there, because that intro is fantastic. There are a few moments which remind me of much bigger metal songs, eerie and otherworldly, and then there’s a great fuzzy boom and guitar tone before the song properly starts. The vocals are more restrained, nowhere near the sphincter melting heights of every other track. The solo goes back to that fuzzy tone of the intro as the rhythm section slops along. This one was written with a little more skill and attention.

Get Ready: A more straightforward classic rock intro with a little metal kick. The vocals are back. This one feels cheesier than the rest. It’s still fun and quirky for the modern metal listener and it’s decent enough for me who remembers a lot of this sort of thing from my childhood. I’m not a big fan of the ‘shout along handful of word chorus’ approach which Def Leppard would later perfect – it’s prominent here.

Demon’s Night: It starts okay, but loses steam in its simplicity. Decent rhythm, chugs along – it’s a bit of a precursor to Creeping Death but with little of that song’s brilliance and spark. Lots of pleasingly headache inducing guitar inflections and twists – a pity of the vocal melodies and approach don’t shape up.

Flash Rockin’ Man: An intro suspiciously like Two Minutes To Midnight. Ha ha, a quick look down the comments and everyone has mentioned the same thing. METAL! The verse goes in a completely different direction from that classic and it doesn’t have a chorus – instead going for some bonus guitars. Well, it eventually gets to a chorus. I’ve no idea what he’s shouting about. It just reminds me of a time when every metal band sounded like this and some of the local hoods would walk around with ghetto blasters pissing off the oldies by playing this stuff. Some nice twists in the second half.

Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away: This one comes closest to having an actual melodic, singalong chorus. Yeah, if you want to rip your throat to pieces by trying to sing along with any of the songs on this album, by all means go ahead. It’s another simple one which gets immediately to the point and stays there with no frills. Not much to say beyond that singalong chorus.

Princess Of The Dawn: Jeepers, this one has a Two Minutes To Midnight feel too. Then it turns into Maiden’s The Clairvoyant. It’s another strong intro and this time they go all in on the melody. As much as they’re creatively able to at least. The vocals are patchy in places, mumbling and veering between the lower range and the painful high stuff. Who is the princess of the dawn? She Ra? Great solo. The best production and attention seems to have gone towards keeping the solos crisp. There’s excellent drum-work as the solo draws to a close and the final couple of minutes throw in a batch of other ideas which raise the song to further heights.

If I’d been a born a few years earlier and had access to more funds and the ability to buy stuff, I imagine I would have listened to a lot more stuff like this. As it stands, I was only exposed to the biggest bands and everything else was one-off songs until much later.  By the time I had money, it was all grunge and Brit-pop. There’s enough ability here that you can tell the band weren’t just making up the numbers in the metal community. They weren’t just playing fast and loud, they were expanding and trying other things. They don’t go very far in that direction here – maybe they do on later albums – but maybe those were enough to encourage the next wave of bands to go further. Metal fans of my age and older will enjoy this, but I don’t see many metal fans younger than me going for it – it does feel too much like a relic of another age, and it you weren’t a part of that age the style and approach may be too foreign to you. Still, I’m glad I’ve heard it and there are a few I’ll be listening to again even if I wouldn’t class any as a great.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Neon Night. Faster Than A Shark. Princess Of The Dawn.

Nightman Listens To – Martin Popoff’s Top 500 Metal Albums Of All Time!

Greetings, Glancers! Sigh. I know. You’re sick of all these music posts. I can’t help myself. I know they don’t make for the most interesting read, but I’m just not that interesting a person. I’ve spent swathes of my life trying to make myself look and seem as boring as possible but still the boatloads of supermodels keep dropping onto my shore and begging for me to squirt cream all over them. Sun cream, you dirty b’st’rd.

As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, when I listen to any of the Nightman Listens To albums I don’t take notes, or save a draft to update later with witty witticisms or funny… funnyisms… I simply listen and type at the same time, my fingers tap tapping whatever the first thing to come into my head happens to be. I’m putting the minimum effort into this stuff as possible. But I’ll try to make them more interesting. More funnyisms, more pics of cats, more… I don’t know what’s popular these days… racism? If you thought I jumped the shark with my quest to listen to every album released in 1966 I wanted to dive in to what I knew best:

csm_18_schrecken_und_lust_6c74f43317

Yep, heavy metal, the dirtiest two words in any music dictionary – even dirtier than ‘Idol’, ‘Factor’, or ‘lopsided sweat-flap’. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while because:

  1. I have always been a metal fan, since my 80s childhood
  2. I have no qualms both defending and ridiculing the genre, given that I have listened to so much of the stuff over the years I am qualified to do so
  3. There are large portions of metal I have either avoided or missed or just not heard, and I’m willing to give anything a chance – no point in yapping if you haven’t actually heard the stuff
  4. It gives me an excuse to listen to those albums I always meant to but never got around to

I was faffing around my laptop the other day and found one of my many ‘things to buy’ spreadsheets. In it was a list of books, so I was skimming down them to remind myself how drunk I was when I was writing it, and to see if I had actually read any of them yet. Near the bottom were three books by Martin Popoff – A Collectors Guide To Metal, Top 500 Metal Songs, and Top 500 Metal Albums. Who was this Popoff guy, and what the hell was he ‘Popping Off’ about? A quick Google revealed all, and plenty of people had helpfully transposed his choices into a nice list form without me having to go and buy the book. Maybe I still will, if it appears in one of those Bargain Book Shops, like Bargain Bookshops (though I think that has been bought over). A quick look down the Top Twenty assured me that I’d already heard most, if not all of them, so maybe this would not be such a difficult and time-consuming undertaking – maybe now was the accepted day of my (writing this post) Salvation?

So yeah, I’m going to listen to them all and comment on them. The usual rules apply – if I’ve heard it, I won’t cover it. If I’ve heard it but don’t really remember it, I will. If I think it’s going to come up in one of my existing series, I’ll probably leave it for that series. I’ll probably ridicule the album covers, because lets be frank they range from spectacular to ‘no, Mummy, why must I look at this horror’. I’m going to give a loose score to each with the criteria below:

1: Deserves to be on list/is good

2: Maybe deserves to be on list/I don’t care either way

3: Doesn’t deserve to be on list/is shite.

I’ll clarify the above in each review – some albums (I’m looking at you Hair Metal) will be shite, but will be mega-selling and probably influenced a tonne of imitators, so from a cultural standpoint probably deserve to be on the list. For example. Below, I’m going to list all 500 albums, and highlight the ones I’ve heard already – red means I won’t review, blue means I haven’t heard in ages, standard black means I haven’t heard. If there’s a link, it’s a link to some sort of review of the album.

If there are any metal fans out there, feel free to join in and share your favourites and your thoughts on the list. I believe Popoff pulled his information from a variety of other sources – I don’t believe the list is his personal choices. Also, it’s not a recent book, so many of the biggest releases of the last ten years are not here. Don’t go hunting him down if you don’t agree. Or me, because I’m bigger than you.

In almost every list of Best Metal Albums ever, you can almost always guess the Top Five, if not the Top Ten. It’s always the same albums, with the order slightly different. Check out the bottom of the post where I give some notes on the little discrepancies you may notice if you take the time to look through the list. Here we go:

  1. Metallica: Master Of Puppets: 1
  2. Iron Maiden: The Number Of The Beast: 1
  3. Slayer: Reign In Blood: 1
  4. Metallica: Ride The Lightning: 1
  5. AC/DC: Back In Black: 1
  6. Black Sabbath: Paranoid: 1
  7. Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime: 2
  8. Iron Maiden: Piece Of Mind: 1
  9. Van Halen: Van Halen: 
  10. Guns ‘n’ Roses: Appetite For Destruction: 1
  11. Megadeth: Rust In Peace: 1
  12. Judas Priest: Screaming For Vengeance
  13. Iron Maiden: Powerslave: 1
  14. Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath: 1
  15. Ozzy: Blizzard Of Ozz:
  16. Black Sabbath: Heaven And Hell
  17. Dio: Holy Diver: 1
  18. Metallica: Kill Em All: 1
  19. Metallica: And Justice For All: 1
  20. Pantera: Vulgar Display Of Power: 1
  21. Judas Priest: British Steel
  22. Motley Crue: Shout At The Devil
  23. AC/DC: Highway To Hell
  24. Deep Purple: Machine Head
  25. Black Sabbath: Master Of Reality
  26. Judas Priest: Painkiller
  27. Metallica: Metallica: 1
  28. Slayer: Seasons In The Abyss: 1
  29. Ozzy: Diary Of A Madman
  30. Led Zeppelin IV: 1
  31. Megadeth: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?: 1
  32. Iron Maiden: Killers: 3
  33. Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  34. Judas Priest: Sad Wings Of Destiny
  35. Mercyful Fate: Don’t Break The Oath
  36. Helloween: Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II: 1
  37. Accept: Restless And Wild
  38. Deep Purple: Deep Purple In Rock
  39. Rainbow: Rising
  40. Black Sabbath: Sabotage
  41. KISS: Alive!
  42. Judas Priest: Live In Japan
  43. Motorhead: Ace Of Spades: 1
  44. Slayer: South Of Heaven: 1
  45. Black Sabbath: Mob Rules
  46. Black Sabbath: Vol 4
  47. Dream Theater: Images And Words
  48. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti: 1
  49. Anthrax: Among The Living
  50. Venom: Black Metal
  51. Judas Priest: Stained Class
  52. Alice In Chains: Dirt: 1
  53. Megadeth: Countdown To Extinction: 2
  54. King Diamond: Abigail
  55. Def Leppard: Pyromania: 3
  56. Iron Maiden: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son: 1
  57. Slayer: Hell Awaits: 2
  58. Accept: Balls To The Wall
  59. Led Zeppelin 2: 1
  60. Pantera: Cowboys From Hell: 1
  61. Bruce Dickinson: The Chemical Wedding:
  62. Judas Priest: Defenders Of The Faith
  63. Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden: 3
  64. Kiss: Destroyer
  65. Metal Church: Metal Church
  66. Carcass: Heartwork
  67. Sepultura: Arise
  68. Twisted Sister: Still Hungry
  69. Mercyful Fate: Melissa
  70. Iron Maiden: Somewhere In Time: 1
  71. Aerosmith: Rocks
  72. Bruce Dickinson: Accident Of Birth
  73. Dio: The Last In Line
  74. Pantera: Far Beyond Driven: 1
  75. Rush: Moving Pictures
  76. Riot: Fire Down Under
  77. Exodus: Bonded By Blood: 1
  78. Scorpions: Blackout
  79. Judas Priest: Killing Machine
  80. Led Zep 1: 1
  81. Fear Factory: Demanufacture
  82. Aerosmith: Toys In The Attic: 1
  83. Black Sabbath: Born Again
  84. Rainbow: Long Live Rock And Roll
  85. WASP: WASP
  86. Nevermore: Dead Heart In A Dead World
  87. Iron Maiden: Live After Death: 1
  88. Deep Purple: Made In Japan
  89. Helloween: Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1: 1
  90. Motley Crue: Too Fast For Love
  91. UFO: Strangers In The Night
  92. Queensryche: Empire
  93. Deep Purple: Burn
  94. Sepultura: Chaos AD
  95. Faith No More: The Real Thing: 1
  96. AC/DC: Powerage
  97. Savatage: Hall Of The Mountain King
  98. Blind Guardian: Nightfall In Middle Earth: 2
  99. Rush: 2112
  100. SOD: Speak English Or Die
  101. Yngwie Malmsteen: Rising Force
  102. Montrose: Montrose
  103. Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger: 2
  104. Anthrax: Sound Of White Noise
  105. Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales
  106. Emperor: Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk
  107. Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion: 1
  108. Queensryche: Rage For Order
  109. Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar Babies: 1
  110. Possessed: Seven Churches
  111. King Diamond: Them
  112. At The Gates: Slaughter Of The Soul
  113. Skid Row: Slave To The Grind
  114. Nirvana: Nevermind: 1
  115. Scorpions: Love At First Sting
  116. Whitesnake: Whitesnake
  117. AC/DC: Let There Be Rock
  118. Ratt: Out Of The Cellar
  119. Celtic Frost: Into The Pandemonium
  120. Morbid Angel: Altars of Madness
  121. Kiss: Kiss
  122. Thin Lizzy: Jailbreak
  123. Anthrax: Spreading The Disease
  124. Van Halen: Van Halen 2
  125. Annihilator: Alice In Hell: 1
  126. Motorhead: Overkill
  127. Slayer: Show No Mercy: 3
  128. Tool: Aenima
  129. Iron Maiden: Brave New Blood: 1
  130. Motorhead: No Sleep Til Hammersmith: 1
  131. Manowar; Kings Of Metal
  132. Testament: The New Prder
  133. Quiet Riot: Metal Health
  134. Led Zep 3: 1
  135. Rush: Hemispheres
  136. Amorphis: Tales From The Thousand Lakes
  137. Rage Against The Machine: Rage Against The Machine :1
  138. Deep Purple: Perfect Strangers
  139. Testament: The Gathering
  140. Scorpions: Lovedrive
  141. Angel Witch: Angel Witch
  142. Helloween: Walls Of Jericho
  143. Machinehead: Burn My Eyes
  144. Ozzy: No More Tears
  145. Nevermore: Dreaming Neon Black
  146. Led Zep: Houses Of The Holy: 2
  147. Testament: Practice What You Preach
  148. Ozzy/Randy: Tribute
  149. Pantera: The Great Southern Trendkill
  150. AC/DC: High Voltage
  151. Van Halen: 1984
  152. Type O Negative: October Rust
  153. Emperor: In The Nightside Eclipse
  154. Def Leppard: Hysteria: 2
  155. Strapping Young Lad: City
  156. Death: Human
  157. KISS: Creatures Of The Night
  158. Van Halen: Fair Warning
  159. Helloween: Better Than Raw
  160. Dream Theater: Metropolis Pt 2
  161. Judas Priest: Sin After Sin
  162. Slipknot: Slipknot: 3
  163. Blind Guardian: Imaginations From The Other Side: 1
  164. Uriah Heep: Demons And Wizards
  165. Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet: 1
  166. Type O Negative: Bloody Kisses
  167. Iced Earth: Something Wicked This Way Comes
  168. Tool: Undertow
  169. Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
  170. Sepultura: Roots: 1
  171. Halford: Resurrection
  172. Skid Row: Skid Row:
  173. Pearl Jam: Ten: 1
  174. Accept: Metal Heart
  175. Danzig: Danzig
  176. Alice In Chains: Facelift: 1
  177. Queen: A Night At The Opera: 2
  178. Fates Warning: Awaken The Guardian
  179. Korn: Korn
  180. Badlands: Badlands
  181. Faith No More: Angel Dust
  182. Saxon: Strong Arm Of The Law
  183. Soundgarden: Superunknown: 1
  184. Testament: The Legacy
  185. Death: Scream Bloody Gore
  186. Dokken: Tooth And Nail
  187. Gamma Ray: Land Of The Free
  188. Death: Symbolic
  189. Alice Cooper: Love It To Death: 1
  190. Mayhem: De mysteriis dom Sathanas
  191. Corrosion Of Conformity: Deliverance
  192. Queensryche: The Warning
  193. Rush: A Farewell To Kings
  194. Blue Oyster Cult: Agents Of Fortune
  195. White Zombie: La Sexorcisto
  196. Therion: Theli
  197. Thin Lizzy: Thunder And Lightning
  198. Motorhead: No Remorse: 3
  199. Uriah Heep: Look At Yourself
  200. Death: Leprosy
  201. Megadeth: So Far So Good So What: 2
  202. Overkill: The Years Of Decay
  203. Down: NOLA
  204. Testament Low
  205. Carcass: Necroticism
  206. Crimson Glory: Transcendence
  207. Manowar: The Triumph Of Steel
  208. Tesla: Mechanical Resonance
  209. Blue Oyster Cult: Secret Treaties
  210. White Zombie: Astro Creep
  211. In Flames: Clayman
  212. Ozzy:  Bark At The Moon
  213. Saxon: Power & The Glory
  214. Bathory: Under The Sign Of The Black Mark
  215. Def Leppard: High ‘n’ Dry
  216. Kreator: Pleasure To Kill
  217. Dissection: Storm Of The Light’s Bane
  218. Stratovarious: Visions
  219. Thin Lizzy: Live And Dangerous
  220. Opeth: Still Life: 1
  221. Morbid Angel: Blessed Are The Sick
  222. Sepultura: Beneath The Remains
  223. Voivod: Nothingface
  224. Black Sabbath: Dehumanizer
  225. Guns N Roses: Use Your Illusion 2: 1
  226. Manowar: Hail To England
  227. Savatage: Streets A Rock Opera
  228. Death: Individual Thought Patterns
  229. Dokken: Under Lock And Key
  230. Fear Factory: Obsolete
  231. Dream Theater: Awake
  232. Paradise Lost: Gothic
  233. Black Sabbath: We Sold Our Soul For Rock And Roll
  234. In Flames: The Jester Race
  235. Motley Crue: Dr Feelgood
  236. Savatage: Gutter Ballet
  237. Iron Maiden: Fear Of The Dark: 3
  238. Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare: 1
  239. Entombed: Wolverine Blues
  240. Slayer: Divine Intervention: 2
  241. Whitesnake: Slide It In
  242. Megadeth: Youthanasia: 3
  243. KISS: Dressed To Kill
  244. Opeth: Blackwater Park: 1
  245. Rising Force: Marching Out
  246. Dimmu Borgir: Spiritual Black Dimensions
  247. Armoured Saint: Symbol Of Salvation
  248. Cradle Of Filth: Cruelty And The Beast
  249. Krokus: Headhunter
  250. Manowar: Into Glory Ride
  251. AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  252. Angra: Angels Cry
  253. Iced Earth: Horror Show
  254. Jag Panzer: Ample Destruction
  255. Van Halen: Women And Children First
  256. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? 1
  257. Motorhead: Another Perfect Day
  258. Deicide: Deicide
  259. Morbid Angel: Covenant
  260. Candlemass: Nightfall
  261. Dark Angel: Darkness Descends
  262. Trouble: Manic Frustration
  263. Destruction: Infernal Overkill
  264. Iced Earth: The Dark Saga
  265. Saxon: Denim And Leather
  266. Entombed: 666
  267. Savatage: Edge Of Thorns
  268. KISS: Alive II
  269. Trouble: Trouble
  270. AC/DC: For Those About To Rock
  271. Cradle Of Filth: Dusk And Her Embrace
  272. Queen: Queen
  273. Saxon: Wheels Of Steel
  274. King Diamond Conspiracy
  275. Dimmu Borgir: Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
  276. Dimmu Borgir: Entrone Darkness Triumphant
  277. Cradle Of Filth: Midian
  278. Ted Nugent: Cat Scratch Fever
  279. Danzig: Danzig II
  280. Judas Priest: Point Of Entry
  281. Samael: Ceremony Of Opposites
  282. Diamond Head: Lightning To The Nations
  283. Anthrax: Persistence Of Time
  284. Cannibal Corpse: The Bleeding
  285. Hammerfall: Glory To The Brave
  286. Michael Schenker Group: Assault Attack
  287. Ozzy: No Rest For The Wicked
  288. Entombed: Left Hand Path
  289. The Cult: Electric
  290. Savatage: Sirens
  291. Voivod: Dimension Hatross
  292. KISS: Hotter Than Hell
  293. Malmsteen: Trilogy
  294. Deep Purple: Purpendicular
  295. Manowar: Battle Hymns
  296. Slayer: God Hates Us All: 2
  297. Paradise Lost: Icon
  298. UFO: Lights Out
  299. Van Halen: 5150
  300. In Flames: Whoracle
  301. Alice Cooper: Killer: 1
  302. Entombed: Clandestine
  303. Overkill: Taking Over
  304. Megadeth: Killing Is My Business And Business Is Good: 2
  305. In Flames: Colony
  306. Pantera: Reinventing The Steel
  307. Overkill: Horrorscope
  308. Venom: Welcome To Hell
  309. Ministry: Psalm 69
  310. Moonspell: Wolfheart
  311. Motorhead: Orgasmatron
  312. Savatage: Power Of The Night
  313. Fastway: Fastway
  314. The Gathering: Nighttime Birds: 2
  315. The Gathering: Mandylion: 1
  316. Judas Priest: Turbo
  317. Hammerfall: Legacy Of Kings
  318. Kyuss: Blues For The Red Sun
  319. Thin Lizzy: Johnny The Fox
  320. Dark Tranquility: The Gallery
  321. Twisted Sister: Under The Blade
  322. Judas Priest: Jugulator
  323. Queen: Sheer Heart Attack
  324. King’s X: Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
  325. Amorphis: Elegy
  326. Godsmack: Godsmack
  327. Scorpions: Taken By Force
  328. Death Angel: Act 3
  329. Fight: War Of Words
  330. Rhapsody: Symphony Of Enchanted Lands
  331. Destruction: Eternal Devastation
  332. Paradise Lost: Draconian Times
  333. Armoured Saint: Delirious Nomad
  334. Boston: Boston
  335. Corrosion Of Conformity: Wiseblood
  336. Testament: Souls Of Black
  337. Tygers Of Pan Tang: Spellbound
  338. Metal Church: The Dark
  339. WASP: The Crimson Idol
  340. Dokken: Back For The Attack
  341. Kreator: Extreme Agression
  342. Suffocation: Effigy Of The Forgotten
  343. Anthrax: Fistful Of Metal
  344. Black Sabbath: Technical Ecstasy
  345. Extreme: II Pornograffitti
  346. Kyuss: Kyuss
  347. Metal Church: Blessing In Disguise
  348. Motorhead: Iron Fist
  349. Scorpions: Animal Magnetism
  350. Exodus: Fabulous Disaster
  351. My Dying Bride: Turn Loose The Swans: 1
  352. Dio: Dream Evil
  353. Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine
  354. WASP: The Headless Children
  355. Nevermore: The Politics Of Ecstasy
  356. UFO: Obsession
  357. King’s X: Dogman
  358. KISS: Revenge
  359. WASP: The Last Command
  360. Bathory: Blood Fire Death
  361. Black Label Society: Stronger Than Death
  362. Meshuggah: Destroy Erase Improve
  363. Rush: Rush
  364. System Of A Down: Toxicity: 1
  365. Voivod: Killing Technology
  366. The Cult: Sonic Temple
  367. Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse: 2
  368. Raven: All For One
  369. Aerosmith: Get Your Wings
  370. Death Angel: The Ultra Violence: 2
  371. Trouble: Psalm 9: 1
  372. Queen: News Of The World
  373. Twisted Sister: You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll
  374. Prong: Cleansing
  375. Emperor: IX Equilibrium
  376. Korn: Follow The Leader
  377. Ratt: Invasion Of Your Privacy
  378. Vai: Sex And Religion
  379. Manowar: Fighting The World
  380. KISS: Love Gun
  381. Neurosis: Through Silver In Blood
  382. Rhapsody: Legendary Tales
  383. Cinderella: Night Songs
  384. Sentenced: Down
  385. Anvil: Metal On Metal
  386. Carcass: Symphonies Of Sickness
  387. Budgie: Budgie
  388. Alice Cooper: School’s Out: 2
  389. King Diamond: Voodoo
  390. Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile
  391. Queen: Queen II
  392. Scorpions: Virgin Killer
  393. Tiamat: Wild Honey
  394. KISS: Rock And Roll Over
  395. Motorhead: Motorhead
  396. Rhapsody: Dawn Of Victory
  397. Grim Reaper: See You In Hell
  398. Savatage: The Wake Of Magellan
  399. Saigon Kick: The Lizard
  400. Edge Of Sanity: Crimson
  401. Rainbow: On Stage
  402. My Dying Bride: The Angel And The Dark River
  403. Opeth: Morningrise: 2
  404. Cream: Disraeli Gears
  405. Sex Pistols: Nevermind The Bollocks: 1
  406. Warlock: Triumph And Agony
  407. Death: The Sound Of Perseverance
  408. Judas Priest: Live
  409. Nightwish: Oceanborn: 1
  410. Primal Fear: Jaws Of Death
  411. Cinderella: Long Cold Winter
  412. Motorhead: Bomber
  413. UFO: Force It
  414. GnR: Use Your Illusion 1: 1
  415. Tesla: The Great Radio Controversy
  416. Children Of Bodom: Hatebreeder
  417. Exciter: Violence And Force
  418. Stratovarious: Episode
  419. Faster Pussycat: Faster Pussycat
  420. Kreator: Coma Of Souls
  421. Life Of Agony: River Runs Red
  422. Monster Magnet: Powertrip
  423. Tool: Lateralus: 1
  424. Angra: Holy Land
  425. Motley Crue: Theatre Of Pain
  426. Fates Warning: No Exit
  427. Metallica: S&M: 3
  428. Suicidal Tendencies: How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today
  429. Black Sabbath: Headless Cross
  430. Nirvana: In Utero: 1
  431. AC/DC: The Razor’s Edge
  432. Carcass: Swansong
  433. Flotsam And Jetsam: Doomsday For The Deceiver
  434. Vanderberg: Vandenberg
  435. Aerosmith: Pump: 1
  436. Nazareth: Hair Of The Dog
  437. Sanctuary: Into The Mirror Black
  438. Voivod: War And Pain
  439. Rush: Fly By Night
  440. Cathedral: The Carnival Bizarre
  441. Deep Purple: Fireball
  442. Poison: Look What The Cat Dragged In
  443. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis Bold As Love: 2
  444. King Diamond: The Eye
  445. Coroner: Mental Vortex
  446. Stone Temple Pilots: Core: 2
  447. Symphony X: The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
  448. AC/DC: If You Want Blood
  449. Aerosmith: Get A Grip: 2
  450. Black Sabbath: Live Evil
  451. Blue Oyster Cult: Fire Of Unknown Origin
  452. Ace Frehley: Ace Frehley
  453. Riot: Thundersteel
  454. Dio: Strange Highways;
  455. Uriah Heep: Sweet Freedom
  456. Helmet: Meantime
  457. KISS: Lick It Up
  458. Ted Nugent: Free For All
  459. Autopsy: Severed Survival
  460. Mercyful Fate: 9
  461. Scorpions: Tokyo Tapes
  462. Avantasia: The Metal Opera
  463. Def Leppard: On Through The Night
  464. Europe: The Final Countdown
  465. Rush: Permanent Waves
  466. Disturbed: The Sickness
  467. Dream Theater: When Dream And Day Unite
  468. Armoured Saint: March Of The Saint
  469. Motorhead: 1916
  470. Witchfinder General: Death Penalty
  471. The Dillinger Escape Plan: Calculating Infinity
  472. Exciter: Heavy Metal Maniac
  473. Jethro Tull: Aqualung
  474. The Who: Live At Leeds: 1
  475. Blue Oyster Cult: Blue Oyster Cult
  476. Fates Warning: Parallels
  477. Van Halen: Balance
  478. Kick Axe: Vices
  479. Steve Vai: Passion And Warfare
  480. Witchery: Restless And Dead
  481. Bad Brains: I Against I
  482. Accept: Russian Roulette
  483. Marilyn Manson: Mechanical Animals
  484. Budgie: Bandolier
  485. Love/Hate: Blackout In The Red Room
  486. Sweet: Desolation Boulevard
  487. Rainbow: Down To Earth
  488. Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral
  489. Ted Nugent: Double Live Gonzo
  490. Amorphis: Tuonela
  491. Metal Church: The Human Factor
  492. Rush: Signals
  493. Nightwish: Wishmaster: 2
  494. Raven: Wiped Out
  495. Cheap Trick: Cheap Trick
  496. Nirvana: Bleach: 2
  497. Riot: Narita
  498. Holocaust: The Nightcomers
  499. Savage: Loose And Lethal
  500. Y&T: Black And Tiger

First, some basic clarifications; I’m going by memory here, and like most things built in The UK, my memory is faulty. Some of the albums I’ve highlighted in blue (meaning I’ve heard bits of it) maybe should be red (meaning I’ve heard it all and don’t need to again) but I just can’t remember, and some should be black (meaning I haven’t heard it at all) and that I may be mixing one album up with the next. I know I’ve heard some Overkill and Kreator and Savatage albums, I just can’t remember which songs are on which album off the top of my head. Next, for the majority of those albums left in black, I’ve probably heard one song from each. For the vast majority, I’ll have heard multiple songs by the artist, but won’t know which album they’re from – basically, just because it’s black doesn’t mean I know nothing about it. There are however, quite a few albums I’ve never heard of and likely haven’t heard songs from – Dissection’s Storm Of The Light’s Bane for example.

Now for the slightly more detailed annotations – I’ll go into even more detail when I come to actually listening and reviewing each – this post is stupidly long already, even by my gargantuan standards. Operation Mindcrime is an album I would have heard a lot when I was much younger – I liked parts of it. I’m aware it’s heralded by many critics so if it’s your cup of tea then by all means give it a 1. Because it’s been so long, I’m listening to it again to see what I remember and if my score changes. The same goes for most of the Ozzy Sabbath albums – by name and virtue alone they deserve to be on the list, but I’ve always had a hit and miss relationship with the band – their first album I’ve given a 1 because it has a few great songs and was basically the first true metal album. I’m going to listen to it again because when it comes to Sabbath I tend to take the 2-3 songs I like from each album and ignore the rest.

Holy Diver and Vulgar Display Of Power again I listened to a lot when I was a kid, and not much since. Those I loved at the time and I’m aware of their significance, but I want to listen again to see how I feel about them now. Same applies to Peace Sells, Ace Of Spades, and Pyromania. And Cowboys From Hell. The two Dickinson albums I’m already going to listen to as part of my Maiden series. Bonded By Blood and Toys In The Attic – again time has past and I want to re-evaluate. The two Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums again are from my youth – it’s reached the point now where I don’t really remember the difference between them, except that I recall liking Part 2 more. The Real Thing is a case of not remembering which songs are on it versus Faith No More’s other albums. Same with the next two Celtic Frost albums, though I know To Mega Therion is a favourite of many people I know/used to hang around with.

No Sleep Till Hammersmith and Rage’s first album I’ve heard most of, not all, but know they are called classics. Def Leppard’s stuff in general I’ve never liked, beyond when I was about 8 and singing their hits, but I’ll give it all another go. Slipknot’s debut I haven’t heard all of, but I’ve not liked what I’ve heard and they just seemed like another cookie cutter Nu Metal band for angry little boys. Again, I’ll give it a go. Sepultura’s stuff I listened to a lot as a kid, but not sure where the songs fall and I don’t remember listening to a full album – maybe Roots. I’m not going to go through the rest of the list – if anything looks weird, it’s probably a similar reason to something in the above two paragraphs.

For any naysayers, and anyone who’s still reading but doesn’t know much about Metal – remember, this isn’t my list, or my choices. There are quite a few bands here who are completely over represented and there are a lot of albums I wouldn’t dream of including. I’m sure you’re the same. I wouldn’t have so many live albums and absolutely no greatest hits. For the uninitiated, Metal fans love nothing more than bitching and moaning about what is and isn’t Metal, where it started, what’s good, what’s not etc. I won’t get into that much here, other than to say Metal is at its simplest a sub genre or extension of Rock. Sometimes it’s louder, sometimes it’s faster, sometimes the subject matter and delivery is darker and more vicious. To me, Metal has also always been about attitude, sometimes moreso than music. To me, The Holy Bible by The Manic Street Preachers is one of the greatest Metal albums of all time – most Metal fans wouldn’t call it Metal, but it is much darker, and angrier, and honest than most Metal albums. To me, Eminem is more Metal than most of what came out of the US in the 80s – his technical ability and brutality far outweighing the pop with guitars and faux attitude of Sunset Strip’s posers. In other words, Metal is a very broad umbrella and everyone has their own take on it.

The list covers bands such as Led Zep and Queen – purists might object because they have never been ‘Metal’, but were instead building some of the foundations of what would become Metal. It contains a lot of grunge (not so much punk) which your traditional Metal fan won’t like, mainly because grunge took one look at the painted celebrities of 80s Metal and recognised them for what they were – ABBA with guitar solos. Grunge bands brought Metal out of the stadiums and back into the bedrooms and cellars where kids rightfully pissed off at the world could channel their own anguish and rage. Of course it ended up back in the stadiums. There’s an awful lot of, for lack of a better term ‘cheesy shite’ – Manowar, Saxton, KISS, Dokken, Scorpions and the like, but those acts ranged from cult to massive so you can’t really ignore them. You have your early and big hitter Death and Black metal bands – two genres I could never take very seriously, but there’s a more distinct lack of female fronted bands and later sub-genres from folk to epic to viking and whatever other crap there is now. There should be something for everyone.

So if you are new to Metal or an expert looking to dip their toes into a few unknown territories, why not join me on this epic quest? For anyone new to Metal, I’d recommend you go listen to the ones I’ve highlighted in red first if you haven’t already – those are among the most popular and best the genre has to offer, and have less of the extreme edges you probably think of when someones mentions the type of music. Even better, go back to the earlier roots and heavier rock albums of the 70s  – Led Zep, The Who, Alice Cooper, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd – each of those and more had their own distinct influence on Metal but are a more gentle introduction. They’ll get you into the groove, the attitude, the style of playing, and will ease you in rather than getting your face ripped off by the opening twelve seconds of Angel Of Death. I can’t say when I’ll start this quest – at time of writing it’s 3rd July 2019 and I haven’t even posted my 1966 balls yet. I’ll get to it some day, hopefully starting by the end of this year (Nightman – Feb 2020 – Ha!). So yeah, listen along, chime in with your comments, and let me know what you think.

Nightman Listens To – Samson – Head On! (Iron Maiden Solo Output Series)

51-jFsC-keL._SY355_

Greetings, glancers! As I warned you previously, it’s time to listen to some more of the Iron Maiden side-output. So where is the Iron Maiden connection you ask? Keep reading and you’ll learn. Samson were another NWOBHM band emerging in the late 70s and featured at various times both Clive Burr on drums and Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Dickinson joined as their first album (Survivors) was released, but played no part on it. We’ll skip that one. Head On was their second album, released in 1980, features Bruce on vocals and an early version of The Ides Of March which would appear in a different format on Maiden’s second album. It’s all very confusing, as is much of metal. How about I shut up and listen before the executioner on the album cover fulfills his wish and fists me?

Hard Times‘. I listened to the first track of Survivors first – As imagined the production isn’t stellar, but gives a very raw, garage feel. The bass was very prominent, has a very rusty feel (I mean that as a positive), and was overall a fine punk influence track. This has a similar production, possibly a little thinner, and Dickinson has a weird and unnecessary effect on his vocals. He sounds young here, but not unrecognizable. The song itself is fun, a clear enjoyable riff, but the whole thing is let down by very tinny drums which sound more like someone tapping a pen on a table in places. The drumming itself is fine, the guitar solo is serviceable following a descending rhythm, and it feels fairly commercial. I’m guessing it’s named after the Bronson/Hill movie based on the lyrical content.

Take It Like A Man‘ starts with some distant whistling, what sounds like someone chucking a milk bottle, then the crunching guitars come in nicely. The intro is at odds with the eventual verse – it has an early Di’anno era Maiden feel actually, a rough edge, a joyful intensity, and a sense of fun and ambition. Dickinson sounds pretty different here, the drums are excellent, if again a little under-produced, and the guitars are good. Bruce does let out a trademark screech at one point. Good song.

Vice Versa‘ opens with cascading drums before shifting into some bizarre slow tempo, otherwordly verse. It’s interesting, and I like it, and as it progresses the effects give way and a more traditional vocal and sound emerges. The drums here are hilarious, going off on their own Keith Moon or Mastodon style, using it as a lead instrument rather than providing a beat and fill. There’s a lot of phasing on the guitars, Bruce singing ‘vice versa’ actually sounds more like ‘bite faster’ or ‘fight bison’. We get a groovy instrumental section in the middle followed by a very abrupt stop and return to the verse. PS: I know what this reminded me of – One Track Lover from Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. 

Manwatcher‘ opens with another dirty riff, Bruce’s vocals following its melody. There isn’t a chorus so it feels a little repetitive, at least so far. Samson loves those sudden pauses. It’s moving off into a new section now which bears little resemblance to the first part aside from the obvious. Again the drums are maybe the best part, good guitar solo, but its still let down by the production – listening through Youtube certainly isn’t helping. Bruce doesn’t sound like himself here – less force, less volume.

Too Close To Rock‘ gets straight to the point, big riff and hanging backing chords, the riff feeling a little Zeppelin-esque and having little changes each time. Bruce really sounds like Bruce here, though the drum sound is again a let down. The song suddenly shifts around the minute mark for what I suppose is a chorus, but feels like a random charging increase of pace. There is another verse and chorus, followed by an electric, energetic instrumental/solo section. I like how without warning these shifts are – no pre chorus or change of beat, just straight in almost as if there was something edited out. It’s refreshingly short, and closes on a trademark Brucie ‘WAOOW!’

Thunderburst’ reminds me in its opening moments of Alice In Chains – acoustic, mysterious, ominous. Then the thunderburst comes in, crushing guitars, tumbling drums. As Maiden fans will surely note, this is an early version of The Ides Of March and in all honesty it isn’t much different.

Hammerhead‘ starts with a little drum snap before another cool riff. This does suffer from those silly group vocals shouts that I always hate but the melodies, especially in the chorus are reminiscent of some 80s Maiden tracks – just commercial enough to widen the listening net. The drums are good again, but you know by now the production lets things down. There seems to be some sort of breaking glass noises in the background too. There is a sort of middle 8th or change in the middle where a lot of the distortion is withdrawn – it changes things up just a little before the obligatory solo. It’s another good New Wave metal song that I had no idea about previously, not too sure about the fade out ending though.

Hunted‘ sees the band almost breaking out into a bit of funk. There’s a prominent bass line and some Di’Anno style verse vocals. Nice reverb on the guitar gives the song an air of mystery, the backing guitar lines have a nice crunch to them. The chorus is a bit of a let down, musically and lyrically, but we can forgive it as the song as a whole is short. Interesting ending too.

Take Me To Your Leader‘ has a weirdo intro, effects and flange, but it’s only for a few seconds before the speed pounces on you. This one sounds much more like the Bruce we know, lots of screams and yelps, and the pace is relentless. You know the score by now – drums, playing – great, production – not so great. Nifty bass again here, and the lyrics are amusing. This one seems like it had a bit more thought in the construction, it’s more dynamic, and it has another interesting ending. The band had ideas, weren’t merely playing hard and fast.

Walking Out On You‘ opens with a plodding single bass note, like someone flicking an elastic band. Then a lot of weird stuff happens – noises, distorted choir vocals, creaks, alien guitars – I wasn’t expecting anything like this, so props to them. This goes on for about a minute before a more traditional song structure emerges. It’s heavy, slow, then the volume withdraws and we get a more subtle verse – still lots of effects on the vocals and guitar, and the drums are still doing their own thing. The whole quiet verse, loud chorus thing had mostly been perfected by Zep, but it’s nice to see an actual metal band giving it a go. Nice instrumental section in the middle with guitar parts I quite enjoyed, the beat remaining steady throughout. The final minute goes a bit crazy, with Christmas bells, spoken parts, kids, all sorts of weird effects and oddities.

Angel With A Machine Gun‘ gets this back to basics – simple riff, Brucey vocals, tight playing, fact pace, standard British metal lyrics. As seems to be the case with the band, they add the occasional little twist – a brief drum interlude or twist on the existing guitar riff. Otherwise, this is straightforward stuff, nothing startling, but plenty of energy and fun.

Kingsway Jam‘ is apparently a bonus track. It’s near 10 minutes long too  – will it be instrumental? We get stuck in straight away – a fade in to chaos, drums blasting and distant guitars twiddling. Bruce unleashes one so we’re not in instrumental territory. This feels like a live track from the production, the vocals are noticeably less polished on this one, but I could attribute that to them simply arsing about in the studio with this one. Guitar and drums are good as always. This ostensibly follows a verse and chorus format, just that there are longer jams between each, at least until the 4.30 mark where the pace slows and Bruce starts talking hilariously. He’s laughing as he does it, adding to the banter. This settles into a more routine steady slow jam, along with some fairly funny lyrics, and more instrumental pieces. It’s your standard bonus track jam in other words.

Overall I would say this was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it a lot more than Bruce’s first solo effort, and I think I was relieved that it didn’t succumb to many of the tropes and ‘mistakes’ of early 80s metal. There’s a lot of ideas, if not full blown ambition on display, and there is that unmistakable quirky sense of fun which comes from the band being British – there are a lot of tongues in cheeks, but the band prove they can play with the best of them. It’s a shame the production isn’t the best – the overall sound has a lot of hissing and the drums lose the impact which they no doubt would have had with a fuller sound. Nevertheless, this is one I’ll listen to again and one I’d recommend to any fellow metal heads who enjoy this era or are looking into the past.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Head On and if you have any special memories of the band or the time!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Take It Like A Man. Take Me To Your Leader. Hammerhead.

 

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time: Dead Skin Mask – Slayer

Opeth

Raise those horns, shit is about to get loud. Oh yeah… that’s not a Slayer pic up there, but one I took of Opeth back in 2010 – thought I’d better add some pictures to these posts ‘cos the words sure as shit ain’t exciting. If you follow my blog, you’ll probably know a little of my musical preferences by now. I was a rock, metal, and grunge kid in the early 90s and most of my books and homework were covered in scrawls of guitars, band logos, skulls, and snakes. Metallica, Nirvana, Guns’n’Roses were the most common, but every so often I’d whip a Slayer out. The funny thing was, I didn’t actually know any Slayer songs. Give me a break, I was like 10 years old. As big as metal was at the time, you think that shit was getting played on the radio? Not only that, I didn’t have MTV. One of my friends and metal comrades did though, so it was during my sleepovers at his house that we would stay up to catch Headbanger’s Ball and Beavis And Butthead and late night music videos. I don’t remember ever catching a Slayer song though… and in truth I don’t recall when I really got into them. I wasn’t… then I was.

Slayer had been growing in power and influence throughout the 80s, and their fifth album Seasons In The Abyss came in 1990, right around the time the industry was about to drastically change. While still incredibly fast and brutal, the songwriting had matured significantly and the band were branching out into some slightly different directions, if not outright experimenting. While War Ensemble is the leading single from the album, it’s Dead Skin Mask which makes the most impact. A significantly slower song with a clearly defined riff, borrowed from South Of Heaven, it tells the story of Ed Gein complete with spoken male and female parts and screams. The song builds and builds in a way more akin to Metallica and Megadeth than the all out fury and shredding we are more used to from Slayer.

The verses are static and monotone as many Slayer songs are, but stripped back to just drums and sustained chords while the chorus hilariously is about as singalong and commercial as you’ll ever get from the band. It’s stupidly catchy and each repetition adds a pulsating mesmeric rhythm right up until the finish with the yelping woman screaming to be let out. Even the solo is more refined than the usual whammy stylings of Kerry, and the lyrics vary a little more than the Slayer trope of how many times can you say ‘Death’ in a minute.

Dead Skin Mask remains popular with fans and still pops up when the band (sadly not for much longer) play live. In terms of covers… you’re not going to get many non-metal renditions of a song like this, but the likes of Black Metal band Dark Funeral and experimental noise band Nadja have offered their own wildly different interpretations. The song was one of a small number of Slayer songs which got regular enough rotation at my local metal bar ‘The Venue’ in Belfast. It acted as both a breather between faster songs, and one for the blokes to shuffle about to and warm up their neck muscles while the ladies grabbed a beer and waited for some Nine Inch Nails. I’m sure once I started DJing, I played it too though it and the band were rarely requested. Still, it’s a safe enough introduction to Slayer for non-metal bands due to it’s slower pace and restrained brutality – be sure to check it out by clicking any of the links in this post.

What do you think of Dead Skin MaskLet us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Maiden Solo/Other Output

Greetings, Glancers! As many of you may know, I’ve always been a bit of a metal fan and rank Iron Maiden as one of my favourite bands. One thing I’ve never actually bothered to do though is listen to the other work by the various band members – solo or with other bands. And why the hell not? It’s probably crap, as is usually the way with these things, but I’m going to do it anyway, and you can come along for the ride. Oh yeah, I’m not going to bother with the Blaze Bailey or Paul Di’Anno stuff. I can’t be arsed. Maybe one day. For now, here’s a handy list of the albums I’ll be covering:

Bruce Dickinson: Tattooed Millionaire. Balls To Picasso. Skunkworks. Accident Of Birth. The Chemical Wedding. Tyranny Of Souls.

Samson: Survivors. Head On. Shock Tactics.

Steve Harris: British Lion. Calm Before The Storm.

Urchin:  Urchin. High Roller. Get Up And Get Out.

ASAP: Silver And Gold

Psycho Motel: State Of Mind. Welcome To The World.

Primal Rock Rebellion: Awoken Broken.

Streetwalkers: Downtown Flyers. Red Card.

Fish: Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors

Gillan: Double Trouble. Magic. Gillan’s Inn.

Any favourites, let me know!

You Love Us

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

Ostensibly where it all began, the song where the band truly announced itself to the world, looking every inch like a band nobody wanted and instead claiming to be the band everyone needed, the band to save the world or implode trying. Hated by other artists, feeding off the finger-pointing and setting themselves clearly apart from every other act in the world, they unleashed this torrent of seductive, caressing hatred, mocking fans, mocking themselves, and looking like they were having the most fun in the world, living the rock and roll dream while admonishing it for the nightmare it truly was. It’s a fast paced, chugging rock behemoth that didn’t sound like anything on the airwaves, Bradfield’s sneering vocals and lightning fast guitars, Edwards and Wire’s luscious stares and snarling wit, and Moore’s marching band percussive attack, it’s one of the classic statements in all of rock music. Looking at it as a song on its own merits, it is fairly simple stuff with a plain verse chorus attack, but there is such joy in the melody, in the unashamedly big chorus, and such brilliance in the final, Paradise City style instrumental blow out, that it can’t be avoided, or disliked.

The first link below is the album version – in my opinion the best version. There have been multiple versions of the song, each one with slight notable variances, so try all the links below and find your favourite. There was also a ‘new’ version a few years back but I can’t find a good link to it.

You Love Us: 4/Great

Video

Heavenly version

Stars N Stripes Mix

Misheard Lyrics:

  1. Our voices are furry
  2. Realize and won’t be bought
  3. Honestly we can never be loved
  4. Throw some mess into your face
  5. Your lessons drill in heaven instead
  6. Parliament you flick like C4 (?)
  7. Your life a cycle holocaust/you love a psycho holocaust

Actual Lyrics:

  1. Our voices are 4Real
  2. We realised and won’t be mourned
  3. Understand we can never belong
  4. Throw some acid onto your face
  5. Your lessons drill inherited sin
  6. Parliament’s a fake life saver
  7. Your life is like a holocaust

 

Nightman Listens To – Bruce Dickinson – Tattooed Millionaire

Greetings, Glancers! As I said in a previous post, it’s time for me to delve into the other output which the the core members of Iron Maiden have released over the years. I don’t know much about any of these, I don’t have high hopes of any of them being any good, but if any of them are then it’s going to be Brucey’s solo stuff. While we’re here, we may as well listen to the bonus tracks from the various re-releases. Lets go.

Son Of A Gun‘ opens with a tinny, distant, atmospheric riff. Sounds like early Maiden. Dickinson singing in his more traditional voice than the gruff approach. Slow, heavy. Doesn’t have an 80s vibe, just sounds like classic metal/rock. The chorus isn’t great melodically, and on the whole it’s very simple – not too many risks or progressive elements – I was expecting it to get faster at some point but it stays on the same level throughout.

Tattooed Millionaire‘ is one I may have heard at some point, but I can’t remember. This one is very 80s and does feature a more Fear of The Dark era vocal by Dickinson. It’s a little faster, a little lighter musically – a little more Def Leppard in other words. It has a commercial chorus, though the lyrics are as biting as what Maiden were putting out at the time. Good solo in there, but this is basically a pop song with more prominent guitars. That lead/ending riff also sounds like a copy of Run To You by Bryan Adams.

Born In ’58’ starts quite nicely, not metal at all. Nostalgic lyrics. This could be anyone, sounds like stadium rock, but a bit more subtle. It’s quite nice, feels like a centerpiece and Dickinson saying he can do more than just metal. As The Mullet Man might say, this is one for the ladies.

Hell On Wheels‘ is slow – ACDC slow. Gruff vocals for the verse, old school for the chorus.  Instead of locked he sings ‘lacked’, that style. Very simple and plain. Standard uninspired rock, okay melodies.

Gypsy Road‘ starts slow and soft, similar to ‘Born In 58’. Everything on the album is much lighter than the Maiden wall of sound. It’s Springsteen again, but via Dickinson’s mind and mouth. It’s all very formulaic, verse chorus verse chorus solo chorus end stuff. Melodies okay again.

Dive! Dive! Dive!‘ is presumably going to be higher, starting with an ‘Aces High’ vibe. Then it goes… weird. Oh wow oh vocals. No guitars. Drum, bass, vocals. Then guitar and oh wow oh. I won’t call this one formulaic, though there’s nothing outlandish here. It’s just weird, not weird in a good way, weird in a ‘who thought this was a good idea’ way. A good minute long than it needs to be, not that any of it needs to exist.

All The Young Dudes‘ is Bowie with Bruce’s voice. If you’ve read my Bowie posts you’ll know I’m not a massive fan of Bowie’s vocals. Bruce does a Bowie mimic here for the most part. Still a good song, but get the feeling that all of these should have just been B-Sides or demos or something.

Lickin’ The Gun’ follows what has gone before – gruff vocals, slow pace, basic structure. This one is riff heavy but still sounds weak – middle of the road and uninspired. This could be any 80s rock or soft metal band.

Zulu Lulu‘ opens with howls and guitars. That steady pace is here again and we can already tell from the intro how this is going to go. Talky vocals, lots of pauses in the guitar parts, simplistic. Maybe Bruce had all this crap boiling up in him and needed to get it out of system before getting back to Maiden and making good music again?

No Lies‘ is, of course, the early Bruce version of Bring Your Daughter, with a very similar opening riff. This feels like a demo as the same few words are repeated over and over. Then in the second minute the lyrics start pouring out. It’s a little bit better than most of the other stuff, but it has the same problems – vocals aren’t great and there’s nothing new or of any decent quality. It just reminds us of better songs – No More Lies due to the title, Bring Your Daughter, and Can I Play With Madness thanks to the drums in places. We have this long section in the middle with drums and distortion and nothing else, a bit of bass that no-one cares about. After this brief dalliance with the pointless we return to the chorus and an okay solo.

Spirit Of Joy‘ is the first bonus track. It’s an Arthur Brown cover. A lot of these will be covers. It has a faster pace, sounds better already than most of the album stuff. Not a song I’m overly familiar with but it’s fine.

Darkness Be My Friend‘ is not a cover. It starts well, ominous and soft, much better vocal. Like a dark and lonesome folk song. This is easily the best song so far. Then the flute (?) comes in. Yet it works, even if I imagine pixies skipping about a glade or something.

Sin City‘ is AC/DC, so not my favourite band. Starts with starty stoppy chops of music. Ding don ding dung. Then the familiar ACDC beat comes in. Then the vocals and the cut-off guitars. Not my thing. Growly vocals sound silly. Shite all round.

Winds Of Change‘. Ha ha, this really does sound like G’n’Rs version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. And that’s all we’ll remember from this. This is some sort of love song with big Brucey vocals. It’s cheese, but it’s fine.

Riding With The Angels‘ is a Russ Ballard cover – he wrote songs for KISS and others. Sounds live. Screeches and talking. At least this is fast and energetic which makes a change from the rest of the album. It sounds both like very early Maiden and early 90s Maiden. Just a bit of throwaway speed fun.

Bring Your Daughter‘. You know it. You love it. Or hate it. Maybe you haven’t heard this version. It’s almost the same though, slightly different vocals, different guitars but almost the exact same song.

Ballad Of Mutt’. It’s a funny name, and it seems it’s a funny song with some unfortunate vocal appropriation. Still funny though, funny lyrics, standard blues stuff. I wrote a song almost exactly the same as this. Except mine was called ‘Barnaby’.

Black Night‘ is Deep Purple. Live again. More energy and speed. You all know this one, right? Feels like Sabbath, but isn’t, so must be Deep Purple. It’s unfortunate when your covers, which aren’t that great, are better than most of the songs on your official album.

So I said at the top I didn’t have high hopes but that this was likely the best? Oh dear. If this is the best, then we’re in for a whole crapload of crap in the coming listens. Mercy, please. Let us know in the comments what you thought of this – did I get it wrong, does it deserve another listen?

Nightman Listens To – Steve Harris – British Lion

Greetings, Glancers! So, we’ve listened to solo Dickinson, and we’ve listened to pre-Maiden Dickinson. It’s time to tackle some alternative work from Maiden’s primary songwriter Steve Harris. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of his solo, or non-Maiden work and I have no idea what this will be like. Harris has been with Maiden from the start, and they are a fairly prolific band, and while they do change it up a bit in each album you generally know what you’re going to get – fast paced metal. Maybe Harris wanted to explore other avenues, other sounds? Maybe this is more streamlined rock? Maybe it blues? Maybe it’s simply material he didn’t feel was good enough for Maiden, or suited the direction the band was going in at the time. Lets consult the online world – the album was released in 2012, and came about after a band of the same name contacted Harris in the early 90s. It seems he was impressed with them to the extent that he decided to mentor and eventually join them as a side project. Fair enough, lets do this.

This Is My God: A promising start – heavy, but not punishingly so. An immediately different sound than Maiden. There’s a lot of wah and effects on the guitars, not something Maiden usually play with, and the vocals and style are very different. It’s at a slower pace than I was expecting, but feels very assured. It’s almost more in the vein of something like Audioslave. There’s a spoken part in the middle that we could have done without, but I do like the chorus, and overall I think it’s a good song.

Lost Worlds: The bass is more prominent here. I appreciate the melodies in the opening tracks, there’s a lot of focus on their crafting rather than knocking us on the head with volume or speed or technique. There seems to be a lot of negativity against the vocals – I must say I really like them so far, but then I’m not an entrenched metal fan who can’t look beyond sheer force. he has a great tone and a lot of emotion and range. This is… actually great stuff. There’s a fake ending leading into a softer acoustic section which closes the song.

Karma Killer: This starts with a fat, wah based riff, crashing steady drums, before the vocals and bass take over in the verses. Not a fan of the pronunciation of ‘deeper and deeper’. The chorus is fairly simple, vocals matching the fat riff. Maybe the heaviest feeling song, but the weakest so far.

Us Against The World: This has the most Maiden intro so far. I know, I shouldn’t be comparing them, but I wouldn’t be listening to them otherwise. The comparisons fade in the verse, and we’re back on track with more atmospheric melodies. The vocalist is somewhere between the guy from Khoma and Gary from Haven. This has much more interesting chorus than the previous song. It must be said that there isn’t anything new here, it’s just emotional, commercial heavy rock.

The Chosen Ones: This starts like ACDC, or early Maiden. It doesn’t feel like it will fit with the rest of the album. The verses are muck, but there are moments in the pre-chorus and chorus which work well enough. It’s all very cheesy and is very out of place – like a different band from the one who performed the previous songs.

A World Without Heaven: This starts off like Fear Of The Dark era Maiden, a more atmospheric rock feel. I like the punch of the chords, I like the vocal melodies and emotion in the verses, though the chorus needs a bit more force or grit to really push it forwards. I will say that the pronunciation of ‘heaven’ is awful. Why is it ‘havan’? That almost puts me entirely off the song, which is unfortunate as the rest of it is great. The extended instrumental section seems tacked on for the sake of appeasing Maiden fans, but it’s much more simplistic than what we would get from Maiden, and the guitars are very plain. Still a good song though, just held back from being great.

Judas: Deeper vocals this time around. The guitars move between metal and rock, the verse melodies are largely one-note and uneventful, while the chorus for some reason reminds me of The Stereophonics, and that’s never a good thing. After the second chorus the song takes a very abrupt shift – like mid note – into some weird faded acoustic section which I probably enjoyed more than the louder half of the song. The loud part comes back for the last minute.

Eyes Of The Young: What is this happy horseshit… was my first thought on hearing the opening riff. This is clearly going for the positive, yearning anthem. It has crowd friendly ‘wooh ohhh’ chants and decent enough melodies, but it doesn’t quite work. It’d fine, but it’s no Summer Of 69. 

These Are The Hands: Another slower start. Don’t worry, it’s still heavy. It follows the atmospheric and melodic qualities of the reset of the album. This one feels a little more assured and complete, and it’s a great vocal performance. I like everything about this one – it’s not amazing, but very catchy and the melodies flow superbly throughout.

The Lesson: It’s only four minute so it probably won’t be an epic closer. It starts off in that vein though – piano and strings, two of my loves. It’s like a condensed version of a latter day Maiden intro. Lots of not quite off key guitar and bass. It never gets out of that first gear though – I keep expecting the volume to switch, but it’s content to remain soft and… miserable isn’t the right word. It’s good, but an odd choice to end the album.

I assumed when I started this post that this would be an early 80s band. I wasn’t expecting them to be so recent, and I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. I know that many will complain about the vocals – it’s not Bruce essentially – but I enjoy that sort of sound and tone. There are moments when the vocals could have been more urgent or forceful, but on the whole I think they suit the songs very well. Let us know in the comments what you think of British Lion – if you’re a Maiden fan, does this style grab you too, or do you crave Dickinson?

Chart Music – 1992

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

0628-cover-238x

Greetings, Glancers! It’s time for me to think of another absurdist metaphor concerning looking to the past, as we look to the past – 1992 to be precise. In 1992 I was already a bite-size metal and grunge kid, watching Headbanger’s Ball and reading Kerrang magazine. Thanks to my love for those genres, even by that point in my life I was pretty miffed at the state of UK music charts. The bands I liked never got any credit or praise from the mainstream media and the radio would play the same shite. Sometimes of of course they were forced to bow to audience pressure and play something with a rock vibe – I remember many times that certain stations would play something like Sweet Child O’Mine or Smells Like Teen Spirit, yet cut the song short before it had ended. Even when the genres were at a commercial peak, they were shafted and pushed to the side.

But what else was happening in 19 and 92? George Bush senior disgraced himself and his nation by barfing all over the place, then officially ended The Cold War, The Maastricht treaty was signed, The Bosnian War kicked off, LA had some riots, Barney The Dinosaur appeared, Denmark won Euro 92, the Olympics were held in Barcelona, and Slick Billy prepared to become President. In music, Nevermind was number 1 in the charts, Mariah Carey went unplugged, John Frusciante left the RHCP, November Rain became the most expensive music video ever, James Hetfield got burnt, and The Bodyguard became the biggest selling soundtrack ever.

  1. Tasmin Archer: Sleeping Satellite

This was everywhere in 1992, and is still one of those songs that you can’t forget once you’ve heard it. I did like it then and listening now it’s still pretty great. Those gruff vocal parts are funny… I don’t think I’ve heard another Tamsin Archer song so I’ve no idea if she was a one hit wonder. I don’t remember the wacky organ solo.

2. Boyz II Men: End Of The Road

Speaking of songs that were everywhere, this thing was at number 1 for about 12 years. I’m not sure why it was so popular – I get why it was successful – but not why it was such a monster. It’s a decent ballad, but it’s cheesy as fuck and that video is horrific – four funny looking blokes with incredible voices moping about in funny looking clothes. This is what women were into in 1992 apparently.

3. Bizarre Inc: I’m Going To Get You

From the name alone I don’t remember this so I’m going to guess it’s a one hit wonder chav mess. Aaand, with the first second I remember it. Okay, I managed the first minute, that’s all you need to hear. I mean, it is dreadful. The singing, the repetition, the music, and the theme which seems to be rape.

4. Madonna: Erotica

We’ve covered this on the blog before.

5. Bon Jovi: Keep The Faith

We’ve covered this on the blog before.

6. Doctor Spin: Tetris

Now we get into the really bad shit. This wanky dance music was seriously popular at the time and if today’s charts are anything to go by, wanky dance music won the race. It’s basically the main Tetris theme tune with some weird voice in the background and other Nintendo noises zooming around. Just think for a second – someone actually made this, and enough people bought it that it reached the Top 10 in the UK charts.

7. Dr Alban: It’s My Life

The second medical practitioner turned shit music maker in our top ten this year. This one at least is less repetitive and has a weird, creepy, industrial vibe. I don’t think that was intentional. The overlapping beats are actually cool and this one has held up much better. Only the vocals really date it.

8. The Shaman: Ebeneezer Goode

Congrats, it’s another one that I refuse to link to because it’s an absolute abomination. One of undisputed worst songs of all time.

9. Take That: A Million Love Songs

And this is one of Take That’s less annoying songs.

10. Arrested Development: People Everyday

I’ve no idea what this is, so I’d better give it a listen. I don’t think I’ve heard this before, but I could be mistaken. It sounds so generic that any of these type of songs from this period all sound similar to me. It is quite annoying, all the call, response stuff, and weird backing vocals stuff, plus the kind of rap which was successful in the UK at this time was so tame.

So, a mixture of dreadful and bearable. 1992 saw plenty of major, genuinely good releases – Generation Terrorists, Vulgar Display Of Power, Little Earthquakes, Somewhere Far Beyond, Countdown To Extinction, Dirt, Tourism, Automatic For The People etc. For a much more invigorating and lovely list of songs from 1992, have a gander at these boys.

  1. Alice In Chains – Nutshell
  2. Del Amitri – Always The Last To Know
  3. Manic Street Preachers – Condemned To Rock And Roll
  4. Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
  5. 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up
  6. Nirvana – Aneurysm
  7. Dr Dre – Fuck Wit Dre Day
  8. Mr Big – To Be With You
  9. Richard Marx – Hazard
  10. Shakespears Sister – Stay

Feel free to share your memories, musical or otherwise, of 1992 in the comments below!