Deftones, even at their best, have been a band of dichotomies. That is what makes them a special band in the history of heavy music: opposing forces pulling and pushing them apart and back again. They may have been coming apart at the seams in the run-up to making Diamond Eyes (Reprise), and you couldn’t blame them. If you follow the band closely, you know the history. The band was nearly done tracking their highly anticipated album Eros in the fall of 2008, when founding bassist Chi Cheng was in a car wreck, on his way home from a funeral. Chi was left in a vegetative state, and the band was in shock. As Chi fought for his life (he passed in 2013, RIP), the band was left wondering what to do. They wanted to make music, but the experience with their best friend caused them to shelve Eros, never to be heard (almost never). When they came back together, the results were unexpected and wild. Continue reading
Black Sabbath, one of the greatest bands ever, was an act in transition as it entered the 1980s. Less than a year earlier they sacked their legendary lead singer Ozzy Osbourne and replaced him with equally great Ronnie James Dio, previously of Rainbow. The flailing former greats and the hungry vocalist reignited each others passion for Heavy Metal to create something incredible in Heaven and Hell (Vertigo/Warner Bros) The album not only gave the band a shot in the arm, but it also launched their second era with a bang, one their fans would never forget. Continue reading
For many, the nineties would prove to be the end of heavy metal as we knew it. Bands who rose to greatness in the preceding decade suddenly found themselves either retreading old ground, out of their depth trying to explore new territories, or simply grinding to an unceremonious halt. Within just a couple of years, denim, leather and even the term “heavy metal” itself, were out. Continue reading
On the sleeve: a grainy picture of a woman dressed in black. A stagnant pond. A creepy looking mill house.
And two words. Black Sabbath.
On the record: Rain. Thunder. A tolling bell. Those three notes. That voice.
And just like that, in February of 1970 – appropriately enough on the 13th – the face of music was changed forever.
Think back if you will to the late great 1999. That was the year we were supposed to party like we were out of time. The states were in the throes of the Y2K scare. It was the year Nelson Mandela stepped down as president of South Africa and Kosovo went to war. It was also the year that Korn released Issues (Immortal/Epic Records). The first single, ‘Falling Away From Me’ was actually given away for free to the fans. Love them or hate them, it was a novel idea at the time and ended up raising over a quarter-million dollars for charity. Continue reading
Fifty years ago, The Beatles released what was their final recording together, Abbey Road (Apple Records). Even though the ‘Get Back’ single sessions and the massive Let it Be (also Apple). Let it Be is always remembered as the swansong and has the epic title track ear-wormed into our souls, but Abbey Road was the last time the band would work together collectively on music. Although they were the biggest band on the planet at the time, and their relationships were disintegrating, the group made some of its best music ever on this album. Continue reading
Even geniuses get beat up by the press and fans sometimes. There were very few albums as big, pervasive in music culture and brilliant as Nine Inch Nails career highlight The Downward Spiral (Nothing/Interscope) was in 1994. The problem is, how do you follow it up, especially when the entire world jumped on the bandwagon and copied your style? Well, you don’t do a belly flop into stasis, you work harder than ever to expand, change drastically and do all the things. The Fragile (Nothing/Interscope) is Trent Reznor doing all the things, really well. Continue reading
On this day forty years ago, Led Zeppelin signaled the begging of the end when they released their final studio album, In Through The Out Door (Atlantic). That title alone should have been then first clue really, that this was not your older brother’s Zep album. The turmoil stricken members fought through loss, and injury, and drugs, and excess, but wound up still making fine music. ITTOD is a solid album with moments of greatness. It’s definitely a late-era gem in their catalog in many ways, but also a signpost to the fatigue they were feeling after over a decade on top of rock’s peak. Drummer John Bonham would pass away just thirteen months and two weeks after this release, more or less ending the band as a regular unit. Continue reading
Do you remember where you were on September 24th, 1991? That is, if you were even alive, since it was a quarter century ago. I was in class at community college in my home town. As usual I was hanging out on the soccer field, guitar in hand, hanging with my usual band of freaks, geeks, stoners, punks, metalheads, and the like. The buzz around campus was this song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ that was not only all over MTV, but also becoming an actual hit song on the radio.