It’s summertime - dont just let your hair down, tease it out and get your best buds together for some grilling action! We highly suggest serving your burgers, beers and hot dogs with a side of the best hair metal anthems the 80s (and a few pre-cursors) had to offer. Light your grills (but maybe dont stand too close if youve been hitting the Aqua Net in homage) and "Turn Up The Radio" to 11 while these anthems from the Sunset Strip and beyond ring through like the crisp sound of the Liberty Bell.
Progressive metal first emerged in the late ’80s, a whirlwind of ambitious themes, sprawling concepts, aggressive precision, ambitious arrangements, off-kilter time signatures and wild displays of chops. Bands like Queensrÿche and Fates Warning would have varying intensity of the spotlight, but nothing matched the commercial and critical success of Tool, the uncompromising band that released the biggest rock record of 2019, the 86-minute Fear Inoculum.However, the seeds of lofty, lateral-minded metal churn go back to the ’60s and ’70s. Pioneering prog artists (and Tool influences) King Crimson and Pink Floyd would often venture into the heavy and strange. Lesser-known bands such as Britain’s Atomic Rooster, Germany’s Lucifer’s Friend, and Los Angeles’ Captain Beyond sunk deep into proto-metal moods. Jazz artists like Tony Williams, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and ’70s-era Miles Davis mixed bonkers playing with abrasive rock energy. French “zeuhl” bands like Magma and Belgian “rock in opposition” band Univers Zero played with time signatures in disorienting ways. Here are some bands that paved the way for prog-metal’s lofty ideas.Photo Credit: Travis Shinn
A hastily convened supergroup who combine the power and fury of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill, Prophets of Rage failed, sadly, in their pre-election mission to prevent the end of America as we know it. Still, Chuck D and Tom Morello’s intrepid crew—who continue to pulverize audiences in Europe this summer before hitting Riot Fest in Chicago—have done something that many people may have thought impossible. They’ve made a very convincing argument in favor of the most vilified musical genre of the last 25 years: rap metal.Of course, the two preeminent styles favored by this nation’s youthful miscreants have had a complicated relationship ever since their earliest flirtations, like when Rick Rubin and The Bomb Squad deployed slashing guitar riffs and big John Bonham beats in an array of seminal hip-hop tracks. With the success of Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” in 1986, the door was kicked wide open, though it really was Anthrax and Public Enemy’s matchup on “Bring Tha Noize” that formed the blueprint five years later. Then Ice-T went to war with Warner over Body Count and things couldn’t get any more aggro if you tried.And try they did, on projects like the high-concept/higher-testosterone soundtrack for 1993’s Judgment Night, in which MCs faced off against a gallery of grunge and thrash acts like Slayer and Biohazard. The results inevitably were hit-and-miss, but Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park absorbed the lessons well. By the end of the decade, the cumulative effect on the new—or nu—rap metal hordes was akin to a back-alley bludgeoning.Inevitably, the formula got stale and the parties retreated to their respective corners in the wake of rap metal’s commercial zenith in 2004, JAY Z and Linkin Park’s fittingly titled Collision Course. Yet many of the style’s foremost progenitors remain in good health today. True, many have shifted tactics—you’ll hear more EDM in Linkin Park’s new album, One More Light—but the California chart-toppers were still asking Rakim to drop by the studio as recently as three years ago. In another sign of rap metal’s refusal to lay down and die, Cash Money Records signed Limp Bizkit, but alas, the band’s would-be comeback album is still in limbo four years after the release of “Ready To Go,” a shockingly OK team-up with Lil Wayne, a man who may be more metal than 18 Cannibal Corpses put together. Prophets of Rage are planning to release an album of new material in September.For some listeners, the music will remain dude-bro bombast at its most egregious. But at its best, there’s always been something compelling—even noble, in a quiet-emotional-moment-in-a-Michael-Bay-movie kind of way—about the alchemy that’s created when musicians from different paths join together in the common pursuit of getting as loud, hard, and gnarly as possible. Let the bludgeoning begin again.Click here to follow this playlist on Spotify.
For much of the digital-music era, Metallica have been one of rock’s most high-profile holdouts. Even after their infamous 2000 lawsuit against Napster, the band waited until 2006 to make their music available on iTunes, and waited until late 2012 to get on board with Spotify. And there’s perhaps no greater sign that Metallica have not just surrendered to the changing times but are actually embracing them than the fact all four members of the band recently uploaded playlists to Metallica’s official Spotify page. The playlists, posted during a few days of downtime on the massive two-year tour in support of 2016’s Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, range from an hour to over 100 minutes, and shed some light on the listening habits of the biggest metal band in the world.JAMES HETFIELD’S PLAYLIST (FEATURED AT TOP)In the ‘80s, Metallica started to hint that their influences reached beyond metal, with The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited betraying their fondness for punk. But James Hetfield’s Spotify playlist goes deeper into mellower sounds that Metallica would never touch, from jazz guitarist Bill Frisell to Portland-via-Auckland indie-rock band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Still, Hetfield’s playlist is heavier on metal than those of his bandmates, with representation from the veteran thrash bands that influenced early Metallica like Venom and Dark Angel, as well as contemporary doom metal bands Pallbearer and Ghost B.C. Some songs appear to have caught Hetfield’s ear through films, like “Who Can You Trust” (Ivy Levan’s Bond theme-like track that opened Melissa McCarthy’s action comedy Spy), and the Gary Jules rework of Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” that was made famous by Donnie Darko. And Men At Work frontman Colin Hay’s emotional 2011 track “Dear Father” may have struck a deeply personal chord with Hetfield, who had a complex relationship with his own late father.KIRK HAMMETT’S PLAYLIST
Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett has long been known as the most musically open-minded member of Metallica, the guy who actually knew the bands they were playing with at Lollapalooza in 1996, and who praised Radiohead’s Kid A while many hard rockers sneered at the album’s lack of guitars. And Hammett’s Spotify playlist casts a suitably wide net, including Captain Beefheart, The Isley Brothers, and, of course, “Everything In Its Right Place.” Hammett’s guitar-god influences are in full effect with Jimi Hendrix and Thin Lizzy deep cuts. But he still has, by far, the band’s most stylistically unpredictable playlist, including two different, back-to-back versions of Damian Marley’s “Welcome To Jamrock” (the original and a live version with Jack Johnson) and Carole King’s title song for the 1975 animated musical Really Rosie.LARS ULRICH’S PLAYLIST
Lars Ulrich’s playlist opens with a little music from one of his bandmates, Robert Trujillo, who played on the Suicidal Tendencies track “Tap Into The Power” during his six-year stint with the L.A. thrash-funk band. Outside of a couple of groovy tracks from Bob Marley and Stereo MC’s, Lars Ulrich’s playlist is loud and guitar-driven, ranging from proto-metal influences (Diamond Head and Deep Purple) to ‘90s alternative rock (Nirvana, Oasis, and Rage Against The Machine). Ulrich also singles out the title track from The Osmonds’ 1972 album Crazy Horses, lending some credence to rock critic Chuck Eddy’s decision to include it in his list of the 500 best heavy metal albums of all time.ROBERT TRUJILLO’S PLAYLIST
While the other members of the band have dedicated their lives to Metallica and little else for nearly their entire careers, Robert Trujillo had a varied résumé before joining the band in 2003, and his playlist features some of the people he’s played with over the years. Like Ulrich, Trujillo picked a track from his tenure with Suicidal Tendencies, although he chose a classic Alice In Chains song in lieu of his work on Jerry Cantrell’s solo albums. The most intriguing tip of the hat to a collaborator on Trujillo’s playlist is to Ozzy Osbourne. In 2002, Osbourne controversially reissued two of his classic ‘80s albums with the original rhythm section tracks re-recorded by members of his then-current backing band, which included Trujillo. In 2011, those albums were reissued again with the original instrumentation restored, and Trujillo opens his playlist with “S.A.T.O.” from Diary Of A Madman, in its classic form with Bob Daisley on bass.This feature is part of our Thrash 101 online course that was produced in partnership with the good rocking folks at GimmeRadio, a free 24/7 metal radio station hosted by heavy-music experts like Megadeths Dave Mustaine and Lamb of Gods Randy Blythe. Check them out here and sign up for the Thrash 101 course here.
The Melvins—Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne, Dale Crover, and the hordes of badass musicians to have passed through their ranks—occupy space in no less than three major trees in the genre forest: heavy metal, alternative rock, and experimental music. Not bad for a band who began life not knowing if they were hardcore punks or headbanging heshers—so they opted to smash the two together and out popped sludge, doom, and grunge. This ability to upend genre, redraft borders, and confound expectations has been a constant throughout their discography (including their 2017 full-length, the crazy catchy A Walk With Love and Death). Where 1991’s “Boris” represents one of the defining moments in down-tuned dirge, the Dada-like “Moon Pie,” from 2000’s The Crybaby, helped lay the groundwork for all the weirdo cross-pollination that has occurred between metal, electronic music, and industrial since the turn of the century.Yet these accomplishments, however impressive, only represent half the story. When you ponder the sheer number of side projects and bands to have shared members with the Melvins, their stylistic reach becomes all the more staggering. King Buzzo has twiddled knobs for dark ambient composer Lustmord, jammed with Mexican art punks Les Butcherettes, and re-imagined Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me theme as a member of the wonderfully oddball Fantômas. Crover, meanwhile, pounded drums on a handful of Nirvana jams from the Bleach days, did some twangy shit-kicking with borderline insane outlaw Hank Williams III, and portrayed a young Neil Young in the “Harvest Moon” video (what?).Possibly even more impressive is the C.V. of former bassist Joe Preston. So vital to the genesis of 1992’s Lysol, one of the Melvins’ most far-out recordings, the cracked visionary helped invent drone metal with the mighty Earth, electronic avant-metal under the alias Thrones, and electronic noise-rock as a member of Men’s Recovery Project. Of course, I could rattle off a half dozen more names, yapping about Jared Warren and Karp (one of post-hardcore’s most eccentric outfits), as well as Steven McDonald and Redd Kross. (Their 1987 power pop/proto-grunge masterpiece Neurotica has aged so damn well.) But you get the picture: It’s the Melvins universe, and we’re just living in it. Crank this thing.
So long as the world is home to easily offended Christians and alienated teens addicted to horror movies and loud guitar jams, that modern day manifestation of the Grand Guignol known as shock rock will continue to be a viable pastime. As a matter of fact, the past few years have been deliciously gory ones for those unleashing malevolent riffs while smothered in freaky makeup and latex (or, in the case of the Butcher Babies, very little at all). The reigning rulers of 21st-century shock rock, Maria Brink and In This Moment, have returned with in 2017 with both a new album (Ritual—more hard rock, less Warped-brand metal) and new look. (The video for “Oh Lord” lifts its cryptic religious vibes from possession flicks like The Last Exorcism and The Witch, with a dash of Gaga’sAmerican Horror Story thrown in for good measure.) There’s also Motionless in White, who are like the metalcore reincarnation of mid-’90s Marilyn Manson (a huge compliment, of course), and Ghost B.C., who admittedly may not be looking to shock anybody; it’s entirely possible they’re just earnest, card-carrying Satanists.Now speaking of alleged devil-worshipper Marilyn Manson, a good deal of the shock rock that has emerged since he had evangelicals protesting his performances steers towards the grave and graphic. After all, there simply isn’t a lot of (intended) chuckles to be found in something like the Butcher Babies’ “Mr. Slowdeath” video, which basically is the groove metal equivalent of torture porn. Older shock rockers, on the other hand, are way more campy. They embraced their roles as villains and outcasts holding a cracked mirror up to our diseased society, but they did it with a nod and wink (most of the time). Mercyful Fate’s King Diamond—who needs to be credited with kickstarting the corpse paint look eventually adopted by the black-metal tribe—wails about the occult and Satanism with a lavish, theatrical flair. And if you travel all the way back to the ’70s, you run into Kiss, who reveled in comic-book absurdism even when launching into dungeon-clanking nightmares like “God of Thunder,” and Alice Cooper, whose ambitious concerts were Broadway productions topped off with guillotines, boa constrictors, and even dance numbers. The Coop may be my favorite shock rocker of all time—and he’d be the first to admit shock rock is just good, old fashioned show biz with a bucket of blood on the side.
To be totally honest, I haven’t spent much time listening to Linkin Park lately, and I’m not familiar with their most recent albums. My Linkin Park phase was in high school—Hybrid Theory (2000), Reanimation (2002), Meteora (2003), and Collision Course (2004) came out during that time. At that point in my life, I was mostly a classical, jazz, and rap fan—I wasn’t into heavy rock or metal, so Linkin Park was the most intense thing I listened to in my teenage years. And as I think back on it, it seems bizarre that I liked the band so much, because they really didnt fit with anything else I was listening to. But it makes sense now, because the reach and scope of their music were powerful enough to grip people outside the typical realm of nu metal. There’s something almost transcendental about early Linkin Park. They were too anthemic to be fully nu metal (à la Korn, Limp Bizkit, or P.O.D.), too hip-hop to be rock, and too emo and mainstream to be “cool,” at least as far as what was considered cool among my peers. Theirs was a profoundly relatable music that flipped the script on what it was supposed to be. Their lyrics had a radically human core, one that embraced and tried to work through longing and alienation. These people were dealing with complex emotions like guilt and shame when the Dave Matthews Band—probably the most popular band in my community—was singing about getting high and ejaculating. And the actual music of Linkin Park was very intriguing, boasting intelligent percussion, authoritative washes of reverbed guitar, disciplined use of electronics, and methodical pacing. Listening to Meteora as an adult now, I’m still moved by its quality, its musicianship, and its acuity. Growing up before social media, in a fairly bland, conservative suburban community, I didn’t know a lot about the world of music. I don’t remember too much of what I listened to back then, but I do remember relating to the angst and hopelessness of Meteora in a powerful way. Linkin Park were basically my Smiths, and I’m fine with that. They were the therapeutic outlet that was available to me, and I’m glad they were. It’s sad that Chester Bennington is dead, because his music always pointed, more than anything, toward a desire for deliverance from pain. I don’t know whether he achieved that in the end, but I do know that his music was there for countless lost teenagers like myself.
This past July, NPR released their list of the 150 greatest albums made by women. On first glance, the list appears to be wide-reaching in its scope. Meshell Ndegeocello, Sleater-Kinney, and Egyptian superstar Umm Kulthum all make appearances, with iconic figures like Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell nabbing the top spots. However, renowned metal critic Kim Kelly quickly noted on Twitter that the the “definitive” countdown failed to include any albums metal albums by women—so she Tweeted out a list of her own.Given that metal often embraces envelope-pushing shock value as a statement of apolitical art, its omission from NPR’s list reveals a common misconception about the music: that it is dominated by men. Kelly’s comprehensive breakdown tells another story, and the majority of her list comprises catharsis-inducing extreme metal that seeks to both agonize and empower through its sheer heft.Her expert selection spans traditional early ’80s heavy-metal bands like Chastain and Bitch all the way to the sludge-fueled prowess of Windhand and Trish Kolstad’s screeching one-woman experimental project, DödsÄngel. Also making the cut are already canonical standouts by newcomers like False, Dakhma, King Woman, and Cloud Rat.Kelly’s list serves an additional function of dispelling the assumption the women who do make metal music fall into a specific category: white, straight, and cisgendered. The Chilean speed-metal group Demona, the Japanese black-metal outfit Gallhammer (pictured), and the acclaimed Santa Cruz grindcore band Cretin (whose frontwoman, Marissa Martinez-Hoadley, came out as transgender in 2008) serve up some of the most memorable moments on the list. Kelly’s crash course does more than simply construct a history of women in metal; she highlights the diversity in female and non-binary artists who have transgressed the genre itself.
The late Ian Fraser Kilmister lived life as fast as Motörhead’s violently charging rock ’n’ roll. Of course, many readers will assume such a statement refers to the legendary bassist’s decadent reputation. After all, his appetite for drink, drugs, and sex (as chronicled in the 2010 documentary Lemmy) was insatiable and produced no shortage of outrageous tales (some false, but many quite true). But he also lived a fast life in terms of his art and creativity. As both a musician and actor, Lemmy was damn near everywhere. When he wasn’t leading one of the world’s most influential metal bands (who, it should be noted, dropped a posthumous covers compilation Under Cöver on September 1, 2017), he racked up an absurd number of side projects and guest spots onstage, in the studio, and on screen. Whether he was leading Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, and Dennis Thompson of the MC5 through a raspy blowout of their proto-punk jam “Sister Ann,” popping up in Boys Don’t Cry’s cheesy “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” video, busting retro-rockabilly with HeadCat, unleashing the vicious “Shake Your Blood” with Dave Grohl’s Probot project, actually joining The Damned for a spell... you name it, he did it.Of course, all this action occurred after Lemmy had started Motörhead. Here’s the crazy thing: By the time he, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor recorded the band’s thunderous, game-changing debut in the summer of 1977, he had already been in the rock ’n’ roll game for a dozen years. Most folks know he helped pioneer chugging space rock and proto-punk as a shaggy member of the mighty Hawkwind, but he also served time in two fantastic British Invasion-era outfits. In addition to playing guitar and singing in Sam Gopal (a deeply moody psych-rock outfit who released the cult favorite Escalator in 1969), he lent his services to The Rockin Vickers, a beat group unloading manic R&B rave-ups much like the early Who and Kinks. (They whipped-up a searing version of Pete Townshend’s “It’s Alright” in 1966.) And if all that weren’t enough, young Lemmy actually shared a flat with bassist Noel Redding, who helped him land a gig as a Jimi Hendrix roadie in the downtime between Sam Gopal and Hawkwind.Here’s to Lemmy—no human has ever embodied rock ’n’ roll abandon as passionately as you. Well, maybe Keith Richards. But as we all know, you were always a Beatles guy, one who just so happened to see the Fabs at the effin’ Cavern when you were 18. Insane!
In July 2017, veteran Washington State sludgemasters The Melvins unleashed their 26th album (and a double, to boot), A Walk with Love & Death. At the time of its release, we gave you a thorough introduction to their extended family; now, with his debut solo album,The Fickle Finger of Fate, out this month, drummer Dale Crover has created a special Dowsers playlist celebrating his kings of the kit.
"Heres a playlist I made of some of my favorite drummers. I left off the obvious. Theres no Bonham, Moon, Charlie, or Ringo on the list. All of these songs/drummers have had a big influence on my playing. Even though none of these songs date past the 1980s, I can still listen to them to this day and get excited. Enjoy!"—Dale Crover
1. Judas Priest, "Exciter" (Unleashed in the East version)Drummer: Les Binks
2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Little Miss Lover"Drummer: Mitch Mitchell
3. Black Flag, "Slip it In"Drummer: Bill Stevenson
4. Blondie, "Dreaming"Drummer: Clem Burke
5. The Stooges, "Dirt"Drummer: Scott Asheton
6. Gang Of Four, "Hed Send In The Army"Drummer: Hugo Burnham
7. Alice Cooper. "Public Animal #9"Drummer: Neal Smith
8. The Sweet, "Sweet FA"Drummer: Mick Tucker
9. Deep Purple, "Fireball"Drummer: Ian Paice
10. Iron Maiden, "Murders In the Rue Morgue"Drummer: Clive Burr
11. Kiss, "Parasite"Drummer: Peter Criss
12. Mountain, "Never In My Life"Drummer: Corky Laing
13. Cactus, "Evil"Drummer: Carmine Appice
14. Black Sabbath, "Turn Up The Night"Drummer: Vinnie Appice
15. Jeff Beck Group, "Shapes Of Things"Drummer: Mickey Waller
The ’90s have never sounded better than they do right now—especially for modern-day indie rockers. There’s no shortage of bands banging around these days whose sound suggests formative phases spent soaking up vintage ’90s indie rock. Not that the neo-’90s sound is itself a new thing. As soon as the era was far enough away in the rearview mirror to allow for nostalgia to set in (i.e., the second half of the 2000s), there were already some young artists out there onboarding ’90s alt-rock influences. But more recently, there’s been a bumper crop of bands that betray a soft spot for a time when MTV still played music videos and streaming was just something that happened in a restroom. In this context, the literate, lo-fi approach of Pavement has emerged as a particularly strong strand of the ’90s indie tapestry, and it isn’t hard to hear echoes of their sound in the work of more recent arrivals like Kiwi jr. or Teenage Cool Kids. Cherry Glazerr frontwoman Clementine Creevy seems to have a feeling for the kind of big, dirty guitar riffs that made Pacific Northwestern bands the kings of the alt-rock heap once upon a time. The world-weary, wise-guy angularity of Car Seat Headrest can bring to mind the lurching, loose-limbed attack of Railroad Jerk. And laconic, storytelling types like Nap Eyes stand to prove that there’s still a bright future ahead for those who mourn the passing of Silver Jews main man David Berman. But perhaps the best thing about a face-off between the modern indie bands evoking ’90s forebears and the old-school artists themselves is the fact that in this kind of competition, everybody wins.
It may be that 2019 was the best year for ’90s metal since, well, 1999. Bands from the decade of Judgment Night re-emerged with new creative twists and tweaks: Tool stretched out into polyrhythmic madness, Korn bludgeoned with more extreme and raw despair, Slipknot added a new drummer (Max Weinberg’s kid!) who gave them a new groove, and Rammstein wrote an anti-fascism anthem that caused controversy in Germany (and hit No. 1 there too). Elsewhere, icons of the era returned in unique ways: Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor scored a superhero TV series, Primus’ Les Claypool teamed up with Sean Lennon for some quirky psych rock, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton made an avant-decadent LP with ’70s soundtrack king Jean-Claude Vannier. Finally, the soaring voice of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington returned for a moment thanks to Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton, who released a song they recorded together in 2017.
Taking a look at the playlists for my show on Boston’s WZBC might give the more seasoned college-radio listener a bit of déjà vu: They’re filled with bands like Versus, Team Dresch, and Sleater-Kinney, who were at the top of the CMJ charts back in the ’90s. But the records they released in 2019 turned out to be some of the year’s best rock. Versus, whose Ex Nihilo EP and Ex Voto full-length were part of a creative run for leader Richard Baluyut that also included a tour by his pre-Versus outfit Flower and his 2000s band +/-, put out a lot of beautifully thrashy rock; Team Dresch returned with all cylinders blazing and singers Jody Bleyle and Kaia Wilson wailing their hearts out on “Your Hands My Pockets”; and Sleater-Kinney confronted middle age head-on with their examination of finding one’s footing, The Center Won’t Hold.Italian guitar heroes Uzeda—who have been putting out proggy, riff-heavy music for three-plus decades—released their first record in 13 years, the blistering Quocumque jerceris stabit; Imperial Teen, led by Faith No More multi-instrumentalist Roddy Bottum, kept the weird hooks coming with Now We Are Timeless; and high-concept Californians That Dog capped off a year of reissues with Old LP, their first album since 1997. Juliana Hatfield continued the creative tear she’s been on this decade with two albums: Weird, a collection of hooky, twisty songs that tackle alienation with searing wit, and Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police, her tribute record to the dubby New Wave chart heroes (in the spirit of the salute to Olivia Newton-John she released in 2018). And our playlist finishes with Mary Timony, formerly of the gnarled rockers Helium and currently part of the power trio Ex Hex, paying tribute to her former Autoclave bandmate Christina Billotte via an Ex Hex take on “What Kind of Monster Are You?,” one of the signature songs by Billotte’s ’90s triple threat Slant 6.