On this day in 1992, Megadeth released Countdown to Extinction to the masses via Capitol Records. This was the second release to feature the “classic” lineup of Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, David Ellefson and Nick Menza, and one that changed the band forever. As Dave has previously stated, “Countdown was a turning point for us. We saw the writing on the wall that an era was ending. We knew we couldn’t make Rust In Peace again, but I believe we kept a lot of our credibility with these songs because some were still really heavy, while others were just as evil, but slower.”
The end result was a record that featured instant classics like ‘Skin O’ My Teeth’, ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, and ‘Sweating Bullets’, and their fans responded in a huge way. Countdown to Extinction entered the Billboard 200 chart at number two, which is the band’s highest debut ever, and it’s still widely considered a must-have for anyone who calls themselves a fan of heavy metal. Continue reading →
The almighty Slayer released Reign In Blood (Def Jam) on October 7th, 1986, and completely changed the game. The follow-up to 1983’s Show No Mercy (Metal Blade) and 1985’s Hell Awaits (Metal Blade) was highly anticipated by fans all over the world, and the four legends delivered on every level. Reign In Blood immediately became an instant classic in the metal scene, and thirty years later, it’s still considered one of the most important records in the history of heavy metal. Continue reading →
The metal world was rocked earlier this week when Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy announced she was stepping down from the band after 13 years to slide into a management only role. Even more shocking to some was the coinciding announcement of Angela’s hand-chosen successor, Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist. Also, The Agonist have announced they had already procured their new singer, Vicky Psarakis, and that they are planning their next release soon. From the outside, it sure looks like all of these moves were plotted and planned for a long time, so this no shocking revelation, except to the fans of these bands.
Now I can understand the dismay of some about the Angela departure, especially if Arch Enemy is one of your favorite bands. And I can see some of the skepticism about Alissa stepping in to the band, if you are unfamiliar with her and only know The Agonist from their proggy-metalcore hits. In terms of style and aesthetics, Arch Enemy and The Agonist are two different entities. However, if you look closely, the move makes sense on a lot of levels. Replacing someone in a band, especially someone of Angela’s stature and talent is not a move made lightly. The new person coming in has not just be able to do the job of performing the classic songs the band is known for, they have to fit in on a personal level. Alissa was clearly not just chosen just because she can knock it out of the box vocally (she will do great, trust us), but she lines up personally with the values of the band (vegetarianism, social activism, other endeavors outside of music, artistic qualities, able to keep up the touring/press lifestyle, marketability etc.) that make her a natural fit. Sure, I understand extreme fandom, and when a change comes to a band you admire and follow closely, it hurts. At that same token the reaction of some people is ridiculous, citing how much better the band was before Angela came in, Johan Liiva is better this, and Black Earth that. If that is your real opinion, fine, but to most people, the two eras of the band are quite different. I’m sure that Arch Enemy aren’t going to suddenly have huge sing-a-long melodic choruses in every song either, whenever they get around too making new music with Alissa. Which won’t be soon, sine AEs last album coming out with Angela drops in June.
Even though lineup changes happen to big iconic bands more often these days, we are reaching the age where drastic changes come to bands that are either established or rising stars are going to have upheaval in their ranks. This happens all the time, such as when Jesse Leach left Killswitch Engage just as they were getting big in 2002. Despite the mulch-platinum success with Howard Jones, some fans always clamored for Jesse, and he did in fact make a triumphant return with the band in 2013. This has happened over and over when band members depart, form new bands or things outside of the music world take precedence over people’s lives, such as personal problems, jail or deaths. Plus as the latest generation of bands turns 40 or even gets into their 50s, some of these bands that we have come up with as fans are going to start breaking up, retiring or going through long periods of inactivity as the grind of the music business wears them out. Maybe Arch Enemy will lose you as a fan, and maybe not, but having them continue with Alissa is certainly better than no more Arch Enemy at all. Her addition might actually be a shot in the arm for them, lighting a fire under them to move forward, since you can argue they may have been just retracing their steps on their last few efforts with Angela. But in terms of whether they suck now or not, perhaps you might want to hear Alissa perform with the band, before passing judgment. Just a thought.