Ever wondered what makes a “classic band” classic? Have you ever sat down and play records of bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, etc. just to analyze the components of what makes them be as magnificent as they are? Even more, how is it that forty, fifty years later their music still as intact and as relevant as ever before? This is the case with Pink Floyd, especially when we think about that four classic albums run that they had in the mid-seventies. Albums like The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Animals, brought us records that still are in the charts and are, basically, soundtracks of our current lifestyle. Continue reading →
Twenty-five years ago Korn released their debut self-titled album and changed the face of music. Yeah we know you think anything “Nu’ and metal bites. You can see yourself out right now. Whether you like all things Adidas tracksuits and Hip-Hop beats with downtuned riffs or not, what Korn put down on that first album changed heavy music for the better. All heavy music.
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 →
Beastie Boys were on fo the biggest, most successful groups in the work in the early 1990s when they made Ill Communication (Capitol/Grand Royale), released twenty-five years ago today. Prolific, putting out a new album every 2-3 years, the band was focused on never repeating themselves, and constantly improving. It would have been very easy for them to just keep remaking Licensed To Ill (Def Jam) over and over and that would have been enough for many bands. But Ad-Rock, Mike D, and MCA (RIP Adam Yauch) kept on changing and evolving. As they had on the previous few albums, they played all the instruments, and played them incredibly well on every track, across multiple genes. They had genius guest stars and collaborators (Q-Tip, Biz Markie, Amery Smith of Suicidal Tendencies, Money Mark, Bobo from Cypress Hill) and put the music first, before everything. Even the production on Ill Communication is incredible, all respect due to the B-E-A-S-T-I-E’s and their frequent partner at this time, Mario Caldato (“Mario C”). Continue reading →
Look, let’s just talk metalhead to metalhead here shall we? This album is an absolute rager and nothing in printed form can prepare your ears for the assault that will hit them when you press play on the new record from Poland’s Decapitated. The album is called Anticult (Nuclear Blast), and it is probably the best pure metal album since Lamb Of God’s Sacrament (Epic/Prosthetic) in 2006. 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.
Death were a band so good and pioneering that the Death Metal genre may as well have been named after them. Their place in extreme metal’s hall of fame had already been cemented long before front-man and guitarist Chuck Schuldiner‘s death in 2001, but reminders of the man’s greatness are always welcome. The Death back catalogue is undergoing the reissue treatment, with the sophomore 1988 album Leprosy (Relapse) the latest to be re-released in two and three disc editions.
The first disc consists of the original album, remastered. As a bona fide classic there’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been said before. It is old school Death Metal, mixing thrash with musical brutality and Schuldiner‘s evil bark, taken to a new level of extremity not heard before. A swirling mass of rapid riffs and time changes, it set an impeccably high standard for others to try and follow. Whether it’s ‘Pull The Plug’ or the menacing ‘Choke On It,’ this is the sound of a genre being defined. The band may have moved onto to more adventurous grounds, but Leprosy remains an essential part of Death Metal history. The new remastered sound has an extra crispness but keeps the atmosphere of the original release, inviting you to play it even louder.
Disc Two is a collection of demo tapes from a couple of rehearsal sessions. Obsessive completists will no doubt be chomping at the bit to listen to these, but there is little here of interest for the average listener. The sound is raw and muddy and few will particularly relish hearing rough versions of ‘Left To Die’ multiple times in a row. It provides a nice insight into the band’s recording process, but for most this won’t be essential listening.
Disc Three, however, proves more interesting, featuring live recordings from two shows: Backstreets in Rochester, New York and The Dirt Club in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Little more than glorified bootlegs, the sound is rough around the edges, but it captures the energy of a band on the rise. The changing volume levels and voices occasional talking over the music add to the bootleg quality, and as a little bonus has a few tracks from their debut Scream Bloody Gore sprinkled in the set lists. Better than the rehearsal disc, this still needs to be labeled under ‘one for the hardcore fans.’
Even after 26 years and countless imitators,Leprosy still sounds vibrant and essential, putting the majority of today’s Death Metal acts to shame. But, as with all reissues of classic albums, the question is always “Is it worth buying it?” And the answer is usually the same: if you haven’t already got a copy, get it. If you’re a Schuldiner worshipper, you’ll get it no matter what the reviews say. And if you’re a casual fan who already has the original, probably not.