Auditory Assault

“I thought for a mad split second, ‘I could snap your neck like a straw, snap it and let you fall and say it was an accident.’ But then I just let him drop. I couldn’t kill him, I couldn’t live with that on my conscience.”

— Ozzy Osbourne discussing his recent run-in with a burglar.

Intro …

So, consider this a brief “follow-up” or “answer-back” to Gloomchen’s column from yesterday.

Living in the New England area, I was psyched when the local boys seemed poised to break out and make it big on the national scene. It must have been mid-’97, Godsmack was getting heavy rotation on local rock radio (and by local, I’m talking only in the immediate Boston area). The band’s album, “Smack This,” was near impossible to track down up in New Hampshire (at least near the Vermont boarder). I finally got to check the band out live opening for Creed (back when Creed was fresh and not-that-bad). The band seemed genuinely surprised that the fans knew most of the songs they were doing (especially since Fuel had been the scheduled openers but bailed on the show for some reason).

Still, an excellent show all around.

Around the same time, there was an underground rumbling surrounding Staind. The band had put out a brutal metal album, “Tormented,” and those in the know were scooping up copies on consignment. Truth be told, no one ever thought they would hit it so big.

Other local bands weren’t doing too bad. Harvard madmen Reveille were riding high on the success of a simple EP. Powerman 5000 were finally catching a break after toiling around the local circuit…

Then everything sort of exploded and imploded all at the same time.

Godsmack blew up huge, re-released “Smack This” as a self-titled effort (the same album with “Whatever” added to the mix). Reveille scored a record deal and released a killer debut (“Laced”). Powerman’s “Tonight the Stars Revolt” exploded. Staind released “Dysfunction,” which seemed to have just the right mix of metal, pop and rock to score big with commercial radio.

There was talk of other local bands ready for the big time (most notable: Nullset which was, at the time, called Gangster Bitch Barbie) … and then … nothing?

Well, not quite…

Godsmack got big and still are to this day, though the band seems content to rehash the same album time and time again. I’ve enjoyed them all, but do find them lacking that certain spark from when the group first burst on the scene.

Powerman 5000 had it’s share of problems … sort of broke up but now releases album via the group’s Web-site.

Staind is the most disappointing, from a metal stand point: the band stripped away its metallic edge over the few short years since “Dysfunction” shelved. Melodic crooning and angst replaced Aaron Lewis’ once tormented wailing.

Reveille is the most disappointing: after a not-as-successful yet still solid follow-up (“Bleed the Sky”), the band toured briefly, then disbanded. I always enjoyed the groups vocals and lyrics, and the news of a break up came out of left field. Such is life I suppose…

At any rate, the giant metal scene we say exploding in the late-’90s seemed to dry out. Except, more extreme metal madmen were waiting to take their place. Sure, we aren’t talking about Massachusetts as a hotbed for metal anymore, except it is. Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage and All That Remains are all kicking ass on the national scene, after toiling around the New England club scene. There’s some other great bands to keep an eye out for, but that’s another story for another day.

And one more thing …

I loved Slipknot from the second I heard the demos that surfaced before Roadrunner Records put out the self-titled disc. From the band’s first effort (“Mate, Feed, Kill, Repeat”) all the way to this year’s “Vol. 3,” the band hasn’t released anything I’ve disliked. Sure, they’ve altered the style along the way, but I’ve always enjoyed the bombastic triple-threat of percussion and slaying riffs.

“Purity” is a great track, and completely destroys the demo of the track (“Despise”) just on the force of how eerie the track becomes with the slowed-down tempo.

I love the crazy, experimental nature of “Mate, Kill…”; the strength of the self-titled major label debut; the brute force of “Iowa” (something I don’t think most fans knew how to digest); and the risks the band supposedly took on “Vol. 3.” It’s all Slipknot, and it’s all good.

Let’s be Thankful for metal …

Since North America is preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought I’d celebrate by giving thanks to some notable metal albums I’ve seem to forgotten over the past few years. Think of this as a mini-essentials-type feature — I’ll keep the list short (five albums), the descriptions short, and the entire list limited to stuff form the 1990s. NOTE: After compiling the list, I seem to have been drawn to 1992, so this is our year of choice. This list is basically discs I’ve been spinning lately; if you have them and haven’t listened to them lately, re-check them out; if you never got them make a point to seek them out, you won’t be disappointed.

White Zombie: “La Sexorcisto-Devil Music Vol. 1” (1992)

What a great album in retrospect. I remember picking this up on a whim after the initial release, and really enjoying the first three or four tracks … but that was it. More recently, I find myself giving a quick spin for a “Welcome to Planet Motherf*cker/Psychoholic Slag” fix, and unable to turn the thing off. From the crisp vocal delivery from Mr. Zombie, straight through the killer bass-riffs and eerie guitar work, from “Black Sunshine” to “Grindhouse (A-Go-Go)”, this was definitely an album ahead of it’s time. End-to-end greatness!

Gwar: “America Must Be Destroyed” (1992)

“Ham on the Bone” is one of the sickest, most insanely thrash songs to open a CD. What follows is a crazy cornucopia of musical styles, all with a metallic Gwar edge. From blues (“Have You Seen Me?”) to ballads (“The Road Behind”) to straight out rock (“Morality Squad”) and industrial bliss (“America Must Be Destroyed”), this is one perfect album. Is it Gwar’s best? I think so, but some may argue. Still worth picking up.

Biohazard: “Urban Discipline” (1992)

While Biohazard’s self-titled debut was a grittier album, “Urban Discipline” took the gritty street-smart sound to a whole new level. I’m hard pressed to find a bad song at all on the album (I pull “Wrong side of the Tracks” or “Hold My Own” just because there was no need to re-do the tracks). The whole album sounded like a steamroller trudging through a back alley and the band never again sounded so completely venomous. This is probably the best album on this list.

Life, Sex, Death: “The Silent Majority” (1992)

How many of you have actually heard of this band? “The Silent Majority” was the only full-length put out by LSD, but over 10 years later the contents of said album are still burned into my brain. For a brief synopsis of the band, I refer to’s review: Life Sex & Death (who abbreviated themselves as LSD) were a loud, trebly hard-rock band with a pretty interesting gimmick. Their lead singer, a dude named Stanley, was allegedly a homeless person drafted into the band on the basis of his instrumental and singing skills. Stanley’s stage persona was that of the filthy, disheveled street preacher, spitting out prophecy and venom to all who crossed his field of vision. The album is filled with surprises: the hard-hitting “Tank,” the emotional “Rise Above,” the fun “Big Black Bush” (recorded live) or seething “Fucking Shit Ass,” this album hit on all cylinders. Hard to track down, but worth it…

Pantera: “Vulgar Display of Power” (1992)

Not quite the peak of Pantera’s killer brand of metal (I might lean more towards “Great Southern Trendkill”), this was the band’s third album with Phil Anselmo on vocals. This was the album that made Pantera, solidified them as the metal legends they are today. The album is track after track of simply amazing metal, “Mouth For War,” “New Level,” “Walk” (!), “Fucking Hostile” (!!), “This Love,” “Rise” … it never ends. If you are a fan of metal, you NEED to own this album. Go listen to it now, don’t even finish this column. That’s how good it is.

In brief …

..:..Killswitch … Engage (again)..:.. Word is that Killswitch Engage are planning to re-release their self-titled effort through Ferret early next year (sometime in the beginning of January). Killswitch guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz will re-mix the effort, which is also said to include the group’s original demo (four songs). I wonder if they’re doing this with the new lead singer?

..:..A chaotic tour offering..:.. This has to be one of the coolest and unique line-ups for a concert tour I’ve seen in quite a while: Senses Fail, A Static Lullaby, My Chemical Romance, Converge, The Used and Killswitch Engage will embark on the Taste of Chaos tour early next year. Underoath will also be on the bill for the East Coast dates, while Saosin will handle duties on the West Coast. Tour dates and other bands included on the jaunt can be found here.

..:..Remaining Killswitch..:.. All That Remains will be the support act when Killswitch Engage tour Europe early next year. In other All That Remains news, the band will be shooting a video for “This Darkened Heart” at the end of the month. All That Remains is an excellent metal/hardcore act so it’s nice to see these guys finally start to hit it big.

..:..Crazyfists drop off tour..:.. Roadrunner Recording artists 36 Crazyfists have opted to not take part in the announced Dry Kill Logic, Nonpoint and Candiria tour. The band will take the rest of the year off before heading into the studio next year.

You (and I) need to hear this…

Here’s some CDs I want, recently picked up or already have that I haven’t listened to nearly enough (you should check them out too):

Nirvana: “With The Lights Out”

Sparta: “Porcelain”
Pearl Jam: “Rearviewmirror”
Children of Bodom: “Hate Crew Deathroll”
Grave Digger: “The Last Supper”

In closing…

So, after watching a recent episode of “Viva La Bam” (where Bam declares HIM the greatest band in the world), I decided to pick up the latest HIM album. I remember this disc getting pimped routinely on MTV2 during “Headbangers Ball,” but never looked into it.

Anyway, I got the thing the other day to see what all the fuss was about … and, well, I don’t see it. The album is pretty solid, but nothing I’d freak out about (sort of a post-modern synth-metal amalgam with more sung than screamed vocals).

I’d be interested to hear what any of you might have to say about this band, so send me an email. I won’t go all the way to recommending the band, but I wasn’t disappointed and will hold onto the disc. Let me know what you think.

And that’s that. As always, drop me a line. Until next time, I’ll be here at Inside Pulse making sure no metal news falls through the cracks.

Take it easy…