Uncle NecRo Listens To: LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN (Poison)

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So, here’s the first in what should be a new series of articles that will be called, for lack of a better one, “Uncle NecRo Listens To…” This has been percolating in my brain matter for quite some time; where I go through the albums I once owned and listened to back in the day, and see if they still hold up.

There are some basic rules I’ve made for this series: 1) they must be albums that I’ve actually owned, and 2) the years involved would be between when I was in grade school and began listening and collecting albums, through to the end of High School. Also, these won’t be in order of when I owned them, just as they come to mind. As such, let’s get started with this first one, shall we?

poison look what the cat dragged in

The Band: POISON
The Album: Look What The Cat Dragged In
My History: This debut release from the band Poison came out in my Seventh Grade year, in 1986. I remember coming across the album at department stores, and thinking, “wow, those chicks are hot.” Which was immediately followed by a bit of confusion while reading the band member roster, because I was 12 and living in rural Eastern Nebraska in the mid-1980s. I’ve never heard of the term “glam metal” before, let alone come across anything like this before. Anyway, while several in my class had this album, it wasn’t until the summer of 1988 when I finally acquired my own copy.

It’s been literally decades since I’ve listened to this one front-to-back. Let’s see how this holds up, shall we?

Track One: “Cry Tough”
Nice opening rhythm, seems to build up to something awesome…then the power chord…seems to miss something to really push this over the edge as a lead-in song, though. Not a bad introduction, though…

Track Two: “I Want Action”
Now, this is more like it, heavy crunchy guitar and a fun rhythm. Typical “skin” song…the part where Bret sings “If I can’t have her, I’ll take her and make her” seems rather disturbing, there. And that bridge, yeesh.

Track Three: “I Won’t Forget You”
In the mid-1990s, I had a roommate who was a pretty accomplished guitar player in his spare time. He was obsessed with getting this song right, and was demonstrating how the lead was played. That was impressive, yes. That said, this is your typical unremarkable power ballad that only is marginally better than the other power ballad that Poison is known for (you know the one) if only for the fact that it isn’t as overplayed and over-saturated on rock radio stations everywhere. PASS.

Track Four: “Play Dirty”
Good riff, nice n’ heavy. “Act tough”…huh. Got’cha, Bret. Anyway, good basic hard rock tune. You get the sense, though, that the lyrics were written by someone who has never been in a bar altercation, but imagines this is what it would be like. Like they watched Roadhouse and wrote a song about it. Wait, checking to see when Roadhouse came out…never mind, it was released three years after this album.

Track Five: “Look What The Cat Dragged In”
Title track. Rather good guitar riff hook, there. Bit grittier, going for less sparkly and more sleaze. Nifty ode to 1980s Sunset Strip hedonism. Yawn. And did Bret just purr in the microphone? I believe he did. Gads. Right after boasting of his sexual prowess. Stay classy, there.

Track Six: “Talk Dirty To Me”
Full disclosure: I owned the 45 single of this song. It’s a great rock guitar riff, one of the first actual riffs I learned to play on the guitar. Surprisingly easy, once you see how it’s done. Anyway, groan-worthy juvenile lyrics aside, one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

Track Seven: “Want Some, Need Some”
Yeah, okay, great opening hook and riff, here. Good crunch, I have to admit. Again, with the whole longing for a lover of nondescript. Still, way more substance than your average Limp Bizquick song. Interesting chime ending.

Track Eight: “Blame It On You”
Again, a pretty good boogie rock tune…immediately given the eeew factor with lyrics that seemed to have been written by a horny middle school boy. Though, your average rock song normally doesn’t use the words “pizazz” and “razzmatazz”…

Track Nine: “#1 Bad Boy”
Look, the 80s were a weird time. It was a time when heterosexual men put on makeup, hairspray and adorned themselves with the finest Cosmo looks, and still were considered the pinnacle of masculinity by women. That’s why Poison could get away with writing a song about being “bad boys” without batting a heavily mascaraed eyelash. Also, this song is, musically, rather heavy and rocks my face off.

Track Ten: “Let Me Go To The Show”
Nice up-beat rocker where Bret begs his parental units to allow him to go to a rock show of nondescript to end the album off. Dig them “bad boys” playin’ that rock n’ roll, indeed.

Does It Hold Up: Musically, yeah, this is a pretty good, near-solid hard rock release from a band that would later be known as the poster boys for why Grunge took over in the 1990s. Compared to their other releases, this one is the more raw sounding, leaning more towards rocking rather than the pop formula they grew into later. Lyric-wise, you can’t get much more juvenile than this. The songs are either about sex, being rock n’ roll bad boys, or…well, more sex. Which may have appealed to my hormone-addled young teenage self back in the day. Now, though, I found myself face-palming more than once.

Overall: I give Look What The Cat Dragged In a 6.5 out of 10. The guitar-driven heaviness still retained its kick, but the lyrics killed off a goodly amount of enjoyment.


Dale Huffman Tribute Special

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Just a quick synopsis, Dale Huffman is a fellow \,,/METAL\,,/ slinger with Metal Pulse Radio, who recently is going through a tough fight with cancer. And thus, another one of the Brotherhood of Metal Podcasting–David Garrison of The Master’s Metal–got ahold of a bunch of us to contribute some bits for a special tribute to the man. It’s a special MM show, and by clicking the link you’ll get to listen to it, as well as be able to contribute to the fund set up to help him and his family with the medical bills. I’m passing this on here, because Uncle NecRo cares.



The 101 Rules of Progressive Metal

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download1. Insist that your definition of prog metal is sacred and that the only progressive bands are the one you deem to be so.

2. Accuse anyone who disagrees with you regarding rule 1 of lacking musical intelligence and not being a true prog fan.

3. Have contempt for mainstream music.

4. Insist that most people listen not to the music, not to the lyrics but only the chorus and that is why prog metal is not mainstream.

5. Accuse anyone who disagrees with you regarding rule 4 of lacking musical intelligence and not being a true prog fan.

6. When showcasing a new prog metal band to a non-musician friend, put on the most technically difficult song, and skip directly to the solo part.

7. If your friend says that it is cool, tell him that he has grasped the grandeur of prog and shown that his intelligence is superior to that of the mainstream sheep.

8. If he doesn´t, accuse him of lacking musical intelligence and not being a true prog fan.

9. Renounce all contact with friend in rule 8. Racial purity isn´t all bad.

10. Make sure your drummer has a double bass pedal.

11. If he hasn´t, kick him out and get another one who has. Single pedal is NOT prog.

12. Own every side-project a member of Dream Theater has been involved in. Listen to approximately none of them regularly.

13. When a mainstream fool asks you what prog metal is, tell him something along the lines of “prog is the evolution of musical expression and experimentalism in rock.” In any case, make sure that the person in question is left with no idea of what prog metal is. He wouldn´t have understood anyway.

14. Insist that music should always progress, although as long as you write an album in the prog vein, you don’t necessarily have to.

15. Accuse anyone who disagrees with you regarding rule 14 of lacking musical intelligence and not being a true prog fan.

16. Refer to progressive metal as intelligent music for intelligent people, preferably at every occasion where a mainstream group or genre is mentioned.

17. Note that the above does not qualify as arrogance any more than pointing out that wine is drink for the more sophisticated.

18. A song under four minutes is NOT prog. If you are stuck with a song under four minutes, insert a phrygian solo trade-off between the guitarist and keyboardist as long as needed.

19. If a mainstream fool tells you that shredders are mindless wankers, tell him that “at least they can tune their guitars, har har”, and walk away defiantly.

20. Spocks Beard is NOT prog. If anyone disagrees, kill them.

21. Humming along with the melody to a prog metal song is forbidden. Burn all albums you own with hum-along melodies.

22. Loathe all music you used to like before you got into prog. This is not optional. When asked why, tell people that “I am into GOOD music now, why would I go back?”.

23. Accuse any prog metal musician that cuts his hair of selling out.

24. Often state that you don´t only listen to prog. Jazz is a good choice.

25. Yeah…like you have more than 3 jazz CDs in your collection…

26. Never accept ANY Berklee graduates. The drop-outs are so much better.

27. Riffs in 4/4 are not progressive. If you happen to come up with a cool riff in 4/4, alternate between 4/4 and progressive time signatures like 7/8 every other measure to ensure the musical complexity synonymous with prog metal.

28. Be able to mention 20 bands noone has heard of, not even true prog fans. Own no releases of these bands.

29. Get an Ibanez. This is not negotiable.

30. Spend 5 hours every day critiquing other musicians on forums.

31. Spend 5 minutes every other day actually practicing your instrument.

32. Yell at people who headbang at concerts: They`re not prog enough to get the music, what do they expect?

33. Sus4 is your friend. To ensure that your album is a true progressive release, include at least one part where the keyboard plays ascending sus4 chords over a single-note broken rhythm in 7/8.

34. Make sure your bandname is either a
a) Oxymoron
-Silent Noise
-Tender Harshness
-Healing Gun
Some geeky sounding name ripped from some obscure book.
c) Random combination of at least 2 three-syllable words.
-Eternal Twilight Tranquility (Can`t get much progger than that)
-Redolent Arithmetic
-Evolution of Vernacular Domesticated

35. Don`t worry about if your band name makes any sense or not. Since 90% of your fanbase is from Brazil and Japan, you can safely ignore conventional English grammar and instead focus on what´s really important: The lyrics (see rule 36).

36. Write deep and ambiguous lyrics.

37. If unable to write deep and ambigous lyrics, include at least one of the following phrases to ensure recognition as lyrical genius in prog circles:
“I`m staring towards ascension divine, caught in my own revelation, a nightly mystery of soulburning apparition”
“Mornings` gentle caress, a ray of sunlight enveloping the spirit of the sleeper ventriloquist”
“A timid, palatable genocide, turn towards the decline of mankind, the festering wound of ages past changes into the soul-spirit of vestigial sentences.”

38. Use a non-standard instrument like violin, saxophone or kazoo, regardless of how idiosyncratic it turns out to be. This constitutes being prog.

39. Make sure your bass-player has as many strings as possible. Don`t worry if he uses approximately three of the 11 strings on his custom Carvin 30 kg bass regularly, just give him a bass solo in the middle of your mandatory instrumental tune(more on that later)where he can really show the extent of his instruments capabilities. Imagine the range of scales on an instrument like that!

40. Release a live-album called “Live in Tokyo”.

41. Change time signatures. Constantly.

42. Accuse anyone who does not do so of lacking musical intelligence and not being a true progressive musician.

43. Your amp MUST be a Mesa Boogie. If a friend of yours tries to convince you´re wrong and you should check out his Marshall tell him that his tone is thin and buzzy.

44. State that Metallica can´t properly tweak the boogies. They´re so… unprog!

45. Start a Dream Theater cover band with friends just starting out playing instruments. Spend half of the rehearsal talking shit about punk bands and how people don`t understand your music.

46. Play a shitty version of a humongously difficult DT song at a Battle of the Bands-type contest. Metropolis Part 1 or Dance of Eternity are both good choices, as is Erotomania.

47. When your band ends up last, shift all blame over to the judges; hey, they have no idea what good music is! Why else would they let that boring pop band win?

48. Talking about starting playing an instrument; always start with the most technically difficult song you know. Remember, this is a testament to your immense talent, so be sure to mention this on every internet community you happen to frequent.

49. When are you able to play something at half speed very sloppy, proudly state that you “nail” the song in question.

50. People are bound to ask for a recording of the feat mentioned in rule 49. However, you are not able to provide it to them, because a) your recording equipment got dissolved by digestive acid yesterday, you don`t need to prove anything to people. Your word should be good enough c) you don`t know anything about computers (even though you sit by one most of the day), as you spend most of your day practicing your instrument.

51. Tool is NOT prog. If anyone insists they are, kill them.

52. Hate Falling into Infinity. If the feeling that you actually enjoy FII(even the “proggier” songs like TOT)sneaks up on you during a glitch of concentration, remind yourself that DT sold out.

53. Actually, state that DT sold out on every good occasion. This means every time their name is mentioned.

54. Don´t be John Arch. Insist that any pre-Alder Fates is 100% not prog.

55. Do not move on stage. Don`t under any circumstances forget that nobody at prog concerts pays attention to the audience, including the band.

56. The best songs are those that are over 15 minutes, have multiple named sections, and have solos by everyone in the band INCLUDING the drummer.

57. Accuse anyone who disagrees with you regarding rule 56 of lacking musical inteli…Yeah, you`ve got it now, haven`t you?

58. Never ever under any circumstances say “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence ruled.”

59. Never let anyone tell you that Dave Weckl is better than any prog metal drummer. If they still insist, don`t kill them, but rather put on the Mike Portnoy drum solo from 1993`s “Live in Tokyo” vid, which still today is the benchmark for good drumming, REGARDLESS of genre.

60. It would still be a good idea to have that gun ready, though.

61. Drummers: Huge kits are MANDATORY!!!! If all you have is a 4-piece with 3 crappy cymbals, then you don´t belong on stage. A 5-piece single bass drum kit is the bare minimum and even that´s on the edges of bare bones. If you have a tiny kit BUY MORE DRUMS AND CYMBALS!!!!!!!

62. No, 6 toms are not enough, MORE DRUMS AND CYMBALS!!!!

63. Reform with old members and release an album intended to make up for years of bad reception from fans (see Yes) or claim your next album will be a return to past glory (see Queensryche). If it flops, be sure to blame a producer or record company.

64. When someone asks you why prog metal isn`t more popular if it is so darned good, tell them that it is because “it is over the mainstream peoples heads”.

65. Talent = Technical skill. Hail any band with lightning-speed solos for their immense talent.

66. Publicly state that your band is non-religious, then make many religious and/or spiritual allusions in the lyrics.

67. Stress your openmindedness. State that you like all forms of music, except lower forms of music like pop, rock `n roll, blues, techno, trance, rap.

68. Accuse fans of the aforementioned genres of not being openminded.

69. Get a Kurzweil. As the undisputed <<>>, Jordan Rudess plays it, you have no choice but to get one yourself, no matter what synthezisers you actually like. ALL BOW TO THE MIGHTY 88-KEY <<>> KURZWEIL!!!

70. ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNO-KURZWEIL!!!!(Futuruma fans will know what I`m talking about)

71. Show off with your equipment. Show off with your playing/singing. Show off with your *ahem* length. Show off with your girlfriend. Show off with anything you can think of. Show off with your DOG for god´s sake.

72. Get a dog.

73. Play air-drums or air-guitar at concerts. This will make sure that other prog fans recognize your immense talent.

74. Stuck in song-writing? Insert a part with a slow single-note gallop rhythm where the singer yells “ENTER THE SUUUNNNNNNNN” several times.

75. Note that you can substitute “ENTER THE SUUUNNNNNNNNN” for either of the following: “FATHER, MY ADOLESCENCY IS AGONNNNNYYYYYYY” or “THE APPARITION DIVIIIIIINNNNEEEE”. All three are suitable choices.

76. What do you mean, you haven`t trigged your bassdrum?

77. Remember, faster=more progressive. Slow songs cannot be progressive, best example would be Pink Floyd.

78. If anyone says PF are prog, kindly refer them to rule 1 while you prepare to do a “Varg”, so to say.

79. During recording, make sure that you accuse the producer, the recording engineer and half of your band of not playing the song properly at least once.

80. Make sure your album cover contains either a psychedelic computer-drawn image, a lavish painting with mythological figures, or is illustrated by Travis Smith.

81. Write epics.

82. In case you didn`t know, epics must be about adolescence, concerning a legend, or a deep dystopian tale where a cheesy fictional city/world/pizza shop serves as a metaphor for this world.

83. Have racks with loads of equipment.

84. Have racks without equipment. Who is going to see them if you don`t display them?

85. No intro for your song? Insert a single-note broken rhythm accented on the snare, with shifting keyboard chords underneath.

86. Refuse to lend prog CDs to mainstream friends. When asked why, tell him/her that (s)he “will understand when (s)he matures”

87. When playing ANY gig, from the lowliest bar to the most gargantuan arena, be sure that no member of the audience will leave without having heard every lick you are able to play.

88. Have at least 5 solo spots during a concert.

89. In case you have forgotten while reading this, prog metal is intelligent music for intelligent people.

90. No, Marillion is not prog. I kindly refer you to rule 20.

91. BOOOM!!!

92. Buy new albums from past prog-greats.

93. When they turn out to be crap and nothing like the old albums, hit yourself in the head with a hammer until you like them.

94. Hold that there is no bad prog, only DIFFERENT.

95. Of course, that only applies to bands you like. See Rule 1.

96. In case you wondered, Dream Theater is and will always be the benchmark for prog metal. The more something sounds like Images and Words, the more progressive it is.

97. Proclaim Rule 96 to people with a straight face in all seriousness. This is not optional.

98. Have side-projects. Make sure that all side-projects consist of pointless jamming over endless repetitions of clichéd riffs.

99. Make sure that at least one of your side-projects feature Mike Portnoy on drums.

100. If you cannot get Mike Portnoy, get someone who sounds like him.

101. You mean you have been reading this when you could have been practicing along to Metropolis Part II or composing a sidelong epic? For shame!!!!

Metal Memories: SLIPPERY WHEN WET (Bon Jovi)

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Years ago, when I was still enslaved to the will of Jimmy John and his sammich chain, the song “Wanted Dead Or Alive” was playing overhead, and while I was readying yet another delivery to go, my boss strides out of the kitchen, reading his smart phone, and asks us one of his typical pop culture quiz questions: “Who plays this song?”

I immediately respond with, “Bon Jovi. From their album Slippery When Wet. Released in 1986, on the Mercury label.” Maybe a bit more information than he was actually looking for, but I drove home my point. That being that I am the resident Metal Demigod, and none shall defeat my superior knowledge of all things hard rock and metal. It helps that Slippery When Wet was one part of the overall soundtrack that helped define my Junior High life back in the day.

Ah, Slippery When Wet. This was the album that broke the New Jersey rock band into superstardom. The first two albums – the self-titled debut from 1984, and 1985’s 7800 [degrees] Fahrenheit – were lackluster releases, as far as having massive pop radio appeal, and everything was apparently hinging on the success of the third album, which originally was going to use the working title of Wanted Dead Or Alive after one of the songs included on the album.

Essentially, what happened was, the band brought in professional songwriter Desmond Child to collaborate on the songs, and wrote a grand total of 30 songs. These they decided to demo to the local teenagers in New Jersey and New York to find out what songs didn’t suck.

The original artwork...rather glad they decided against it...

The original artwork…rather glad they decided against it…

That must have worked wonders, getting the outside opinions of the demographic they were shooting for, because when Slippery When Wet was finally released in August of 1986, that thing blew up. The first song, “You Give Love A Bad Name” was everywhere. It was hard rock awesomeness, with slick production, heavy guitars and a hook that you’d need a pair of pliers to remove from your brain. I remember remaining glued to the radio, hoping that song would come on rotation again, just so I could lip sync along to it. The next single, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, was even bigger, having a bit darker edge to it, but still catchy as all get-out. By the time the last two singles – “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and the Junior High dance staple “Never Say Goodbye” – were released, they were firmly embedded in the minds and tape players of my fellow classmates, pretty much almost everyone I knew owning a copy of Slippery When Wet. Of course, it was a while before I was able to own a copy of my own, but that didn’t stop me from taping off the songs from the radio to listen and re-listen to over and over and over.

Outside of the hits, I would argue that Slippery When Wet ranks as one of the best hard rock albums released in the 1980s. At least the Top 10. Sure, there’s the issue of the keyboard player, but let’s face it: the keyboards just enhance the music, and doesn’t overpower it at all. The first song starts off with a keyboard riff, yes, but builds up to a guitar-driven hard rock anthem appropriately titled “Let It Rock”. The next two tracks are the hits “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Livin’ On A Prayer”, two songs that still hold up to this day, but after listening to them a bazillian times on both their initial run, and later on AOR radio stations, I probably would be able to not care if I never heard them played again. The following song, “Social Disease”, is a catchy if risque rock tune that…um, starts off interesting. Yeah. Anyway, the final song on the first side (if you remember records and tapes) was the immensely popular ode to travel burnout, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, which I have to admit, proved to me that the acoustic guitar can actually be used for rock beyond just stupid balladeering.

The second side starts off with “Raise Your Hands”, which has a guitar riff that one can argue is close to the speed metal riffs that I had yet to discover (give it a couple of years from that point). “Without Love” is the typical mournful sounding power ballad. Eh. “I’d Die For You” has a rather heavy hooked guitar and keyboard duo that recalls a lot of the style from the mid-80s. The final single hit, “Never Say Goodbye”, is usually skipped (sorry, no need for sentimentality at this stage in life), and the final song – “Wild In The Streets” – brings things to an end, a fitting “roll credits” type end song to an overall solid release.

Yeah, I know I sound like I’m just reviewing this thing, but that’s pretty much my thoughts on the album even way back then. It’s something I can still pop on and rock out to. Back then, I had to be pretty handy with the fast forward button; nowadays I can just program the player to play the songs I like. And yes, for continuity sake, I have all the songs in the MP3 copy I have, along with the artwork and such. And while my memories of Junior High isn’t exactly filled with happy days and sunshine, Slippery When Wet certainly does bring back pleasant memories of the time.



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[NOTE: I originally posted this particular brain dropping on June 5, 2013, on the 10th anniversary of the release of Metallica’s St. Anger; keep that in mind in case some of the wording seems a bit off, there]

Metallica-St-AngerSo, today marks the ten year anniversary of the release of Metallica’s St. Anger.  Yes, that’s is correct: Metallica’s eighth studio album (not counting those two covers albums they did) was foisted upon the general metal community exactly one decade ago.  And while this little milestone doesn’t make me feel as old as, say, knowing that the baby featured on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind album has been of legal drinking age for nearly a year now, this release from one of the bands that was instrumental in shaping my formative years is rather significant.

St. Anger was the album that made me realize that I could stop pretending that Metallica actually mattered anymore.

Like the victim of an abusive alcoholic, I stood by the side of Metallica through some rather dark times, taking what they threw at us with a smile and a spark of hope that, maybe, they would see that I loved them enough to understand and go back to the gloriously happy days of their first four records.  While the cracks in the relationship were minute but still visible with the release of …And Justice For All, it was understandable, considering what they went through at the time.  The metal was still solid, if not up to the same quality as Master Of Puppets was.

Then the so-called “black album” came out, and the band we loved wasn’t quite the same one we fell in love with.  But that was okay, as the spark was still there, and we still had the thrill that ran up and down our spines whenever we heard their songs.  Sure, there were many more other people seeing them, people we never thought we would be going up against, vying for our special band, but that was okay too.  The more the merrier, right?  Besides, they more than made it up to us by way of the live Binge & Purge boxed set.

Then…Load happened.  That was when the relationship truly ended, but we were too much in shock to see it end.  We thought, hey, no problem, it’s just a minor set back.  They’ll see what they’ve done, and make it up to us.  But instead, we got the slap on the other side of our faces: ReLoad.  Looking back, we can see now that the cover artwork for both held more symbolic meaning than we could even realize.

From there, it was just a downward spiral of broken promises and tears.  And yet, even through the releases of the two-disc covers album and the S&M release they did with the orchestra, we kept a brave face, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will one day realize what they were doing, and redeem themselves with their next release.

St. Anger was the final slap to the face.  After so much taunting, after so much hyped up promises, we were given something that was the musical equivalent of drunken shouting and pounding on galvanized cans: crappy production, crappy playing, crappy singing, lousy lyrics…this was truly when I realized that Metallica had become nothing more than a sad parody of their former selves, and shook my head.  And then I did the only sensible thing – I bid them luck on their future, and left them.

Do I regret this decision?  No.  Even with their nice try at reconciliation with Death Magnetic, it was just a case of too-little, too-late.  And not too long after that, they were back to their old ways, collaborating with Lou Reed on the LuLu release.

Certainly, I do look back fondly on the first four albums.  Even the self-titled one gets a bit of a nostalgic look from me once in a while. But, that Metallica is gone forever.  The band that’s in their place is a far cry from the one I loved before.  And while there was the decade of denial, I’m what you would call oddly indebted to St. Anger for being the final straw to let me get on with my life.

I mean, there’s so much actual good metal out there, I can’t be wasting my time with an over-bloated zombie corpse like this, right?  Right.  Cheers, then.


“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – METAL

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"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." - METAL“Metal is dead.” It’s a proclamation I still here from time to time. Nowadays from Indie Music-listening hipsters I run into from time to time, in between elitist sneers and pulls from their bottle of PBR. Because nothing says “elitist” more than wearing thrift store castoffs and drinking beer-flavored water, all while misunderstanding the concept of irony entirely. But I digress.

Proving my theory of “what goes around comes around,” there’s always going to be that point in time where metal and hard rock — the two main musical genres I proudly identify with, unabashedly — will be proclaimed “dead” by whatever musical pop phenominon happens to become the rage at the time. Marilyn Manson even had a hit with the song “Rock Is Dead” in the 1990s, though I suspect that was more tongue-in-cheek than a serious observation of the pop music landscape, as bleak as it was at the time.

Let’s take the most famously remembered period where everyone was certain that metal was, if not dead then at least in its death throes: the early 1990s.

Most who were either born after 1990, or were dyed-in-the-cardigan sweater alternative types anyway, usually look back on the ’90s as a period of musical reniassance. It’s all based on personal preferences, of course; for me and many of my kind, the majority of the 90s represented a dark, barren and scorched wasteland, with maybe a small oasis of refuge here and there.
(metal in the 90s looked like this...only less bright and sunny...)
(metal in the 90s looked like this…only less bright and sunny…)

Ask any long-time metal head what we thought of the ’90s, and we’ll just grumble, sneer with contempt, and depending on who you talk to, contemplate recreating a living rendition of Anthrax’s Fist Full Of Metal album cover with your face. Not that such antisocial thoughts ever popped in my brain, mind you…
(kinda like this)
(kinda like this)

Y’know, come to think of it, the ’90s were such a bleak and darkly oppressive time, that it could very well be that metal itself mutated into the industrial and shock rock of the time as a reflection of the overall period. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I tend to do that.

The first two or three years of the 1990s was a high-water mark period for metal and hard rock. Megadeth’s Rust In Peace; Anthrax’s Persistence Of Time, Poison’s Flesh & Blood; AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge; Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusions parts I and II; Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid; Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss; Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood (okay, technically released in 1989, but let’s face it — it’s a 90s album); Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind; Bullet Boys’ Freak Show; Ozzy’s No More Tears. And who could forget Metallica’s “black album”? For a couple of years, you couldn’t get away from that album. Double-edged sword; while it still is a fantastic metal album, at the time people I went to high school with who normally never associated themselves with Metallica suddenly were wearing Metallica shirts and asking to borrow my collection so they could be more informed about their other songs when they went to the concert. Yeah, for a short time in my Senior year, I went from weird metal-head to being ahead of the pop curve. Weirder things have happened, really.

Then came Nirvana, and their first big label release Nevermind. I’ll admit that I did like a few of their songs on that album, and even owned it at one point or another. I just considered ’em another hard rock band in my collection, along with the Soundgarden and Alice In Chains albums I purchased previously that year. Both considered staples in the so-called Grunge / Alternative Rock movements of the 90s, but let’s face it — hard rock is hard rock, no matter how you dress it up. And Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and Alice In Chains’ Facelift are great hard rock albums.
(pictured: Corporate Rock Whores)
(pictured: Corporate Rock Whores)

Obviously, with the new bands came a shift in the pop music landscape. Mostly, I believe, because of the smell of money; Nirvana sold oodles of their album, so other labels began pushing their “grunge” and alternative rock groups, and also clamored to sign more artists from this new, fresh genre cash cow, regardless of talent. Kind of like the hair metal of the late 1980s.

Did you catch that? I just compared the grunge movement (snicker) to the hair metal that is supposedly killed off. Would that be considered irony? I don’t know anymore — that word has been overused and misused so much, it ceased to have any meaning for me a while back. I’ll just say, “sure, why not?” and shrug. Ironically.

The way I see it, the so-called hair metal that was big in the late 1980s and the early 1990s wasn’t killed off by grunge. Hair metal (for lack of a better term) was a victim of its own excess; i. e. – hair metal killed itself.
(could have also been an open flame, reports at the time are still spotty)
(could have also been an open flame, reports at the time are still spotty)

Pop music was bored and was ready to move on. Nirvana and the whole grunge / alternative rock movements just happened to be at the right place at the right time, claiming the killing blow that they never made in the first place. It’s the equivalent of blaming Yoko for the breakup of the Beatles.
(pictured: Opportunist Wankers)
(pictured: Opportunist Wankers)

But what of metal? Did it die out? Does any form of pop music really die out? Will I ever understand that by answering a question with a question I sound rather conceited? Seriously, though- as with other music forms, metal never dies; it just goes into a deep, dark underground crevice somewhere and mutates like the monster it is.
mutates like the monster it is
Things like this comes in cycles. Even the so-called “indie” music the hipsters listen to were considered “alternative” back in the much-reviled 1980s, back before “alternative” became mainstream popular in the 1990s, and thus creating a paradox of massive perportions.

But, that’s another overblown and pointless blog post for another day.


TOP TEN: Guilty Pleasures (Hair Metal Edition)

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…and now, to lighten up the mood, I present to you something that was inspired a few days ago by a friend’s post on Facebook. Here is:

 Uncle NecRo’s TOP TEN GUILTY PLEASURES: Hair Metal Edition 

10) “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” (Quiet Riot)

…and at Number 10, we start off with what is arguably the song that helped usher in the so-called “Hair Metal Movement”. Yeah, it’s big, it’s beefy, and it tends to get cranked whenever it comes on the radio, or the MP3 player, and the fist gets pumping along with the chorus.

9) “Hey Stoopid” (Alice Cooper)

…okay, technically Alice Cooper is “shock rock”, but back in the late ’80s and the first part of the ’90s, he was firmly ensconsed in the commercial hair metal style. And the video to the title track from 1991 has all the trappings. Great song.

 8) “Round And Round” (Ratt)

…pure L. A. sleeze, with a fantastic hook and dripping machismo. Almost makes you overlook the late, great Milton Berle in drag. And I do believe that butler is much more METAL than this video deserves.

 7) “Here I Go Again” (Whitesnake)

…another band that never started out as a hair metal act, per se, David Coverdale regardless tried to bring his flagship band Whitesnake into that trend with the self-titled 1986 album, and this reworking of their song “Here I Go Again”. Yeah, it was all over the place in junior high.

 6) “Up All Night” (Slaughter)

…this is a song that just begs to be cranked, while cruising around at night in your car with the windows rolled down. Never mind that it’s the dead of winter, and the only two people out at that time are you and maybe the county Deputy.

5) “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” (Motley Crue)

…sure, there are more in the Crue’s song list that I could have chosen from, but it’s this cover song off of their third studio album that is the true, hands-down hair metal guilty pleasure here. And the video is just as cheese-a-riffic fun as the song, too. And yes, that’s the guy from the original The Hills Have Eyes movie.

 4) “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (Def Leppard)

…it’s a shame that all that’s played nowadays is this “Video Remix” version of the song; the album version is what I prefer. Ah, well. Whatever version, the intro always gets me scrambling to crank the volume. Never mind that the lyrics make no logical sense. Actually, that would be the perfect metaphor for the 80s all together, come to think of it.

3) “You Give Love A Bad Name” (Bon Jovi)

…the first few months of my seventh grade year, and Top 40 radio ushered in Bon Jovi’s finest hour with this first of many singles off of Slippery When Wet. I dare you to try and not sing along with this.

2) “Nothin’ But A Good Time” (Poison)

…and in the end, isn’t what these songs are all about? *ahem* You know, for a band that was mostly gimmick and barely talent, this tune from probably their only actual somewhat decent album pretty much nailed the near-perfect party anthem. And who doesn’t want to have Poison rocking outside your place of employment, whenever you kick the back door open in frustration…or for a smoke break.

1) “The Final Countdown” (Europe)

…admit it. Every time this song comes on, you immediately begin singing along. Or at least lip syncing to it. Once that opening synth riff kicks in, this audio herpes will be stuck in your head for DAYS, leaving you a whimpering mess. You’re singing along to the video clip right now, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?!? I know I am…


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