The Phone Debate

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Should people stop filming concerts?

It’s a pretty hot topic, one which many musical artists have chimed in on. Their train of thought is easy to follow: be present and enjoy the show; you paid to be there! However, while that seems straightforward, there are many layers to this situation–excitement, and social media presence among them.

Let’s take a look at the good and the bad.

Why It’s Okay:

You’re at a concert seeing your favorite band. For me, that’s Metallica. They come out on stage, pillars of pyrotechnics erupting behind them. James Hetfield strikes the first palm-muted chug of the night and the crowd goes nuts. I want to videotape it. I want to be able to look back at that clip the next day (or the next year) and be there again. Sure, you’ll remember it, but weren’t cameras made to improve memories?

Let’s talk social media–everyone has it. Some people run accounts with a dedicated fan base, and they want to share their experiences with them. The average person isn’t in that boat, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to add to their profiles to show their interests. Maybe they want the world to see concerts they’ve been to? Their passion for music could be a quintessential part of their identity.

It’s not difficult to feel the urge to record at a concert. The Internet is everywhere, and most of us want to contribute to the ever-growing web of information.

Why You Shouldn’t:

You paid a lot of money to see the show. The performers are leaving it all onstage. Why create a divide between you and them? They want to see your eyes, your faces… not your cell phone cameras. Those don’t show excitement; they show an incessant desire to feed the consumerism machine.

Picture yourself performing. You look out to the crowd and see an army of phones. What do you think? Now imagine instead of phones, you see faces. Happy faces. Faces of people that love you and your music. Which one will produce a better atmosphere? Clearly the latter.

Oh, and isn’t it annoying when the tall person in front of you has their arms up to record, leaving you (a shorter person, in my case) with a great view of their rear delts? Yeah, sometimes you recording can give a lesser experience to those around. It’s like being the person that talks through the movie.

The Verdict:

There never will be one. Everyone goes to a show for a different reason. Some people want to hear the band, some want to see them, and some want to do both. Often times, some of the people in the crowd don’t care–and are standing next to a group with tattoos of the band member’s faces.

There is no right answer, but remember this: it’s your experience. Don’t ruin anybody else’s, and give yourself the best one possible–with help from the band, obviously!

 

 

Top Ten: Corey Taylor Songs

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It’s hard not to like Corey Taylor, from the extreme musical assault that is Slipknot, to the catchy hard rock found in Stone Sour’s catalog. Over the years, he’s brought energy, life, and an instantly recognizable voice to the music scene between two bands. With that in mind, I take a look at my favorite Corey Taylor songs!

Come Whatever May

Kicking it off with some Stone Sour, the title track of the 2006 album is heavy, catchy, and features no shortage of groove. Corey showcases his incredible vocal range throughout the song, too!

Heretic Anthem

“IF YOU’RE 5-5-5 THAN I’M 6-6-6!” This Slipknot song is guttural and headbang-worthy. One of the tracks that cemented them as a force in the metal genre, this is a true testament to how much Corey can really growl.

Through Glass

How can you not appreciate this Stone Sour gem? A soft-sung acoustic song, yes, but not one without the talents of Mr. Taylor. Here we see just how good of a pure singer he really is, and how well he can write a song (suck it, Chad Kroeger!)

Surfacing

Corey usually introduces this Slipknot track as “your new national anthem” and rightfully. It’s unapologetically heavy and aggressive and features some of the nastiest vocals I’ve heard on a non-death-meatal track.

30/30-150

This song makes my list because of Corey’s creativity. The title is his pants size (30/30) and his weight (150 pounds) in high school, where he was picked on due to his small stature. This song is a middle finger to the bullies, and you can hear it in his voice.

Get Inside

Fast, frenetic, and full of fury, ‘Get Inside’ balances the signature yells, with the quick, breathy vocals Corey employed so often in his early work. The lyrics are dark and brooding, and the musicianship is off the charts.

Psychosocial

This was the song that introduced me to Corey Taylor. I’ll always remember the shock on my face as I heard the clean chorus after the first verse. It made me love Slipknot, which then got me into Stone Sour, who (dare I say it) I love even more.

Duality

Corey’s music has always been about balancing soft and heavy, and duality is a prime example of that. Here he manages to keep the heavy going through the verses while singing– that takes talent to keep the tension. It goes to show how good Corey really is, and what a tool his voice is.

Absolute Zero

Arguably the best Stone Sour song, ‘Absolute Zero’ is an amazing song to hear live. Corey’s intro works as a call and response, while the chorus gets everyone on their feet. Corey knows how to write smart, thought-provoking songs– this one of them.

Pulse Of The Maggots

An underrated track, ‘Pulse Of The Maggots’ is a great workout song. You can feel the power building in Corey’s voice throughout the song, in line with the ascending music behind him. It’s exciting and fun!

Ranking ‘The Big Four’

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You know the names: Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth. You know their albums, from ‘Among The Living’ to ‘Reign In Blood.’ These four bands help define the eighties thrash metal scene, and have lived on to become legends of the genre. Great rhythms, epic solos, and soaring vocals. Time to rank them!

4 — Slayer

Someone had to come in last. Slayer does on thing really well: fast. Out of all these bands, Slayer has the fastest rhythm playing and probably the heaviest song in Raining Blood. However, Kerry King’s guitar solos pale in comparison to the others on this list, and the band went a long time without putting out a great album. On the contrary, they never wavered from their original sound and themes. Slayer is unapologetically raw. They have never conceded to the market or let their polarizing lyrics suffer.

3 — Anthrax 

Anthrax started things off right with their debut album ‘Spreading The Disease,’ and from there had a series of great albums all the way to 1990’s ‘Persistence Of Time.’ However, Anthrax then fell into a tailspin, abandoning the style that made them great. Enter 2011’s ‘Worship Music,’ a fantastic return to form featuring singer Joey Belladonna at his best and chugging riffs from Scott Ian. Anthrax has always been a bit more fun, and less serious than the others on this list, but don’t let that fool you; they’re a damn good metal band!

2 — Megadeth 

If you want incredible lead guitar work, look no further than Megadeth. While they’ve always featured two guitarists, one has remained constant: Dave Mustaine. He is a downright incredible player and songwriter who (along with bassist David Ellefson) forged one of the greatest comeback stories in music history. Thier albums ‘Rust In Peace’ and ‘Countdown To Extinction’ are pure master classes of speed and aggression. It’s hard to go wrong with Megadeth.

1 — Metallica 

The kings of metal reign supreme. Metallica wins out because of their range. They can do heavy–take ‘Damage, Inc’ or ‘Sad But True’–and they can do soft equally well. They’re dynamic, and most of that credit goes to James Hetfield. His vocal range is ear-opening, and his guitar playing is catchy and technically-proficient. Kirk Hammett, while an over-user of the wah pedal, has penned some great solos, to boot. And lest we forget past bassist Cliff Burton!

 

 

 

Hidden Gem: To Die For

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Cleveland metalcore/hardcore punk band Integrity has been pumping out some vicious, headbang-centric music since the late eighties to little mainstream attention. They’ve resided in the underground scene, far away from the common eye and average ear. However, their 2003 album ‘To Die For’ is a masterpiece and a must-listen.

Bands like Hatebreed would not exist without Integrity, who was one of the first bands to blend the hardcore punk and metalcore sounds into short, visceral songs. No track on ‘To Die For’ extends past four minutes and sixteen seconds, and three songs clock in under two minutes. This is punch-in-the-face music.

However, Integrity showcases an ability to do many things on this album.

The brief ‘Blessed Majesty’ is a gritty acoustic passage soaked in angst. It also features some great soloing over top an eerie chord progression. This style pops up again later on the 22-minute album on the track ‘Lost Without You’ (albeit on a clean-toned electric guitar, you get the point).

Even their heavy has different flavors. The opener ‘Taste My Sin’ is a slammer featuring heavy power chord riffing and blast-beat drumming. ‘Heaven’s Final War’ features a galloping riff that brings classic Slayer to mind. These tracks really do mix up, which is a true tip-of-the-cap to the way Integrity assembled the track listing. By sandwiching clean parts with heavy, they avoid listener fatigue.

This is an album that is punishing, fun, and chock-full of wild energy. It’s raw but doesn’t suffer from bad mixing or shoddy production like so many other underground metal albums do, which leads me to wonder why it received such little exposure. Give it a listen; you won’t be sorry. And while you’re at it, check out another Integrity album: ‘Humanity Is The Devil.’ All I’ll say is be ready for the ‘Vocal Test.’

Rewind: Ride The Lightning

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For the second time in a week, a classic Metallica album is celebrating a birthday! Ride The Lightning (RTL), the band’s second album turns 33 this year. It birthed some live staples, like the much-loved ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and the epic ‘Fade To Black.’ Ride The Lightning was a big step forward technically, as the band toyed with more complicated riffs and longer songs–some of which featuring softer, acoustic sections. Let’s take a look at some things that make RTL great!

The Heavy Songs Are Heavier Than Ever:

Metallica came out with a vengeance on ‘Creeping Death’ and the ‘Trapped Under Ice.’ These songs were faster than anything Metallica had previously recorded and launched them into a new stratosphere above the other heavy metal heavyweights.

The Acoustic Work:

However, the album’s biggest surprises proved to be the excellent acoustic work. Take the intro to ‘Fade To Black,’ which has become an all-time favourite among Metallica’s extensive catalog, and added diversity and range to their music. Everyone knew they could shred, but the world began to understand Metallica’s musical scope.  Take the beginning of ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ which kick-started a trend for Metallica: soft beginning passages transitioning into fast, thrash riffs.

Cliff Burton’s Bass Work:

On the topic of intros, how awesome is Cliff Burton’s playing on ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’? He was an extremely creative player who took bass from background noise to the forefront of the music. If only they’d done that in 1988!

The Solos:

Another great part of Ride The Lightning is the plethora of crazy guitar solos from Kirk Hammett. From his frenetic work on ‘Creeping Death,’ to the harmonized section on ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ the album features some of Hammett’s best work with the band–and showcases his ability to rival other shredders like the soon-to-emerge Dave Mustaine and former Exodus member Gary Holt.

An Instrumental:

Last but not least, we have ‘The Call Of Ktulu,’ which is one of the eeriest, bone-chilling songs I’ve ever heard. There is a sense of dread apparent throughout the entire track that only builds as the band progresses through the intro to the explosive finale. Dave Mustaine apparently wrote the whole thing, but Metallica played it and made it great– no discredit to Dave!

 

 

Concert Talk: The Serenity of Summer

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I think it’s fair to say that Stone Sour has completely escaped the shadow of Slipknot; they’re their own band, with a catalog of great music and a legion of die-hard fans. However, like Slipknot, they put on a killer live show. It started with ‘YSIF’ and ‘Tapei Person/Allah Tea’, one of the best songs from the brand-new Hydrograd album. From there, the guys transitioned into ‘Made Of Scars,’ followed by ‘Say You’ll Haunt Me.’

Oh, and don’t forget the f— Nickleback chant.

Epic.

From there, Corey Taylor and co ripped through ’30/30-150′ and visited both houses of gold and bones with ‘Tired’ and ‘Do Me A Favour.’ Those two songs proved to be major highlights from the ten song set.

A slower section followed, started by bassist Johny Chow proposing to his long-time girlfriend in front of a rowdy Toronto crowd. Red in the face, she said yes. ‘Song #3’ was dedicated to her, and the classic ‘Through Glass’ provided some more gentle fun. However, Stone Sour kicked it back into heavy gear for ‘Absolute Zero’ and Corey reminded us that it’s all downhill from here with ‘Fabuless.’

Overall, Stone Sour brought a ton of energy. The guitar work from Josh Rand and Christian Martucci was spot on and sounded great. Roy Mayorga’s drums were clean and punchy. And of course, Corey Taylor showed his impressive vocal range from the soft-sung lines of ‘Through Glass’ to the screamed vocals in ’30/30-150.’

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Korn took the stage with a lot to live up to. Their set, following a ten-second countdown, kicked off their set with ‘Rotting In Vain,’ ‘Did My Time,’ and ‘Here To Stay’ from 2002’s Intouchables. It was apparent right away that Korn was going to be loud and very heavy.

Jonathan Davis addressed the crowd before ‘Y’all Want A Single’ instructing them to get their middle fingers up and yell “F— it!’ every once in a while. The song, a satirical stab at oppression,  proved to be a crowd-pleaser. ‘Clown’ and ‘Black Is The Soul’ led into ‘Shoots and Ladd

‘Clown’ and ‘Black Is The Soul’ led into ‘Shoots and Ladders’ which was a major standout. Davis came out with bagpipes and wailed until guitarists Head and Munky sliced through the noise with their razor-sharp guitar. The whole crowd sang the nursery rhymes with Davis.

‘Twist’ followed, to which casual fans asked: “What the hell is he saying?!”

From there, Korn performed 1998’s ‘Got The Life,’ and the very fun ‘Coming Undone’ with a brief Queen cover halfway through. ‘Insane,’ and ‘Make Me Bad,’ along with ‘A Different World’ closed out the set. The latter received a huge ovation, as Corey Taylor burst on stage and gave the fans another dose of his signature stage presence.

After a short break, Korn returned for an encore. They started with ‘4 U’ before transitioning into the legendary ‘Blind.’ That was a major highlight, as the entire crowd desperately awaited the “ARE YOU READY?” at the beginning of the song before head banging to ultra-heavy riff.

Korn closed out the show with ‘It’s On’ and (of course) ‘Freak On A Leash.’

Overall, I’d say Stone Sour stole the show. They showed more personality and seemed to engage the audience more. Korn was the headliner, but I felt like it was the other way around–and that’s no discredit to Jon Davis and the gang. They played their songs flawlessly and certainly brought a ton of energy on their own. Overall, it was a good, rowdy show.

 

Rewind: Kill ‘Em All Turns 34

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Today marks the 34th birthday for one of thrash metal’s greatest albums: Metallica’s 1983 debut classic, Kill ‘Em All. The album needs no introduction–Dave Mustaine gets kicked from the band… Kirk Hammett comes in… controversey…. great songs–and has stood the test of time and set the tone for the entire industry. Many imitators followed, but none (to this day) matched the fresh mix of ferocity and speed Kill ‘Em All presented.

Let’s take a look at the tracks:

Hit The Lights — The song that introduced the world to Metallica. Starting with a montage of drums and noise before giving way to an Iron Maiden-on-steroids line, this track is still a live staple in Metallica’s setlists.

The Forse Horsemen — Yes, Dave Mustaine wrote it and recorded it faster on Megadeth’s debut album as The Mechanix, but it lacked the ‘it’ factor brought by Metallica. They settled the main riff in at a steady tempo before breaking down into a slower, melodic solo section. Personally, this is one of my all-time favorite Metallica tracks.

Motorbreath — Another relentless, balls-to-the-wall thrasher, Motorbreath powers through with the very essence of the album: speed, howls, and blasting kick drums. It’s fast, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jump In The Fire — “JUMP IN THE FI-YAH!” If you ask me, this track is where James Hetfield began carving out his voice. His now trademark barks and growls became instantly recognizable–as did his exceptional lead guitar playing. This track features some of the best guitar work on the whole album.

Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) —  This song needs little analyzation. A legendary bass solo from a legendary bass player in Cliff Burton. Gone too soon, but never forgotten. The track will live on in metalhead eardrums forever.

Whiplash — What if we go faster? I figure that’s what the boys in Metallica were thinking when they wrote Whiplash, a blistering track–while simple–that never lets up. It also features the lines: “Life out here is raw/but we’ll never stop / we’ll never quit / ’cause we’re Metallica!” Awesome.

Phantom Lord — A bit slower, but no less heavy, Phantom Lord is another quintessential track on Kill ‘Em All. The riff is catchy, the drums punch through the mix, and the solo coming out of the slow section is a real face-melter.

No Remorse — Coolest song title on the album? Coolest song, period? Possibly! No remorse is a long one, clocking in at six-and-a-half minutes, but holds a steady chug for basically the entire song. There are some great choruses on Kill ‘Em All, including No Remorse, and of course…

Seek And Destroy — “Searching… SEEK AND DESTROY!” A true Metallica classic, Seek And Destroy has survived the years and proven itself in every live show. The intro riff is iconic, as is the absolutely insane guitar solo that even Kirk Hammett can’t replicate. Not much more needs to be said.

Metal Militia — Finally we reach the closer, which following two of the album’s longest tracks, is a shorter, faster ride. I always feel a bit let down by Metal Militia… probably because it has the impossible task of following up Seek And Destroy!

In summation, Kill ‘Em All is a classic.

 

My Top Ten

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Welcome to my metal blog!

I’d thought I’d introduce myself with a nearly impossible to create list: my top ten favourite metal bands. Remember: like any list, this is my personal opinion. These aren’t the ten best metal bands ever… just my favourites. Some you’ll probably expect, others may surprise you a bit. Without further ado, here we go!

10 – Trivium

Trivium are a special blend of lightning fast riffs and alternating vocals. Their music is fast, visceral, but still maintains coherence and even melody. Their sound has softened in recent years, and while Silence in the Snow pales in comparison to something like In Waves, it is still a good album in it’s own right. They’re a band that doesn’t get enough recognition for their work.

9 – Lamb of God

Sacrament is one of my favourite albums ever. Amazing guitar work from Willie Adler and Mark Morton, and downright brutal vocals from Randy Blythe make for a classic. However, their other outstanding work, like Ashes Of The Wake and As The Palaces Burn land them on this list!

8 – Opeth

Two words: Blackwater Park.

7 – Iron Maiden

These guys are legends, no doubt. While many might have them higher on their list, I just love six other bands even more. Iron Maiden has some true classics, from The Trooper to Powerslave, and some all-time genre-greats like Hallowed Be Thy Name. They’re fast, fun, and put on a great show!

6 – Avenged Sevenfold

A7X, to me, is the perfect balance between heavy and melody. Each musician in the band is an expert at their craft. City of Evil, Nightmare, and The Stage are all amazing albums worth listening to on repeat.

5 – Machine Head

Most underrated band in metal? I’d say so. Nobody puts out more head banging riffs than these guys… well expect maybe the number two band on my list. However, albums like Burn My Eyes and The Blackening are highlights are their awesome discography.

4 – Megadeth

Dave Muscatine and Marty Friedman might be the most shred-tactic duo in metal history! Never before have two guitar players of such elite skill penned majestic solos for the same songs. Even before and after Marty, Megadeth has continually released songs that make guitar players everywhere dream–and envy.

3 – Tool

What are Tool? Are they a metal band? Or are they progressive rock? Are they even from this planet? Part of Tool’s charm is the fact they’re such an enigma–and the fact they make amazing, spacey music. It’s heavy and challenging at the same time. They make the listener think, which I really appreciate.

2 – Pantera

Dimebag, RIP. Hands down the best metal guitarist of all-time. No band has ever put out more crushing fight songs than Pantera. No band makes you want to jump around and break stuff quite like the cowboys from hell.

1 – Metallica

You knew by the picture. I’m a Metallica fanboy, what can I say? They’re just awesome. From the early masterpieces of Kill ‘Em All through …And Justice For All, to the commercial (but still epic) ‘black’ album, and further into new great material from Hardwired To Self Destruct, Metallica has been rocking for decades. James Hatfield is a master player and singer, and a true icon.