photo & text by nacrowe
about that voice.
historically critics have been quick to judge GEDDY LEE (RUSH) and BILLY CORGAN (SMASHING PUMPKINS) of having an irritating or unique, depending on your perspective, singing voices. either way they own them and made such an integral part of their band's sound, of which id argue made them stand out. in a good way.
unfortunately i dont share that opinion of DAVE MUSTAINE of MEGADETH. while LEE and CORGAN both have naturally nasally vocal ranges which isnt their fault, MUSTAINE has this batshit off-putting shtick he appropriated from somewhere of doing these awkward voices that make him sound constipated. it comes off forced and just weird. and it doesnt sound cool at all, not even in an acquired taste sort-of-way like with LEE and CORGAN.
while i do hate his singing and politics, which are generally regressive and staunchly conservative, what i do respect about MUSTAINE is his guitar playing and RUST IN PEACE (CAPITOL, 1990) is arguably one of the most cohesive and technically adept THRASH METAL records ever made. id put riffs off this record against anything off of REIGN IN BLOOD or MASTER OF PUPPETS. standout tracks include multi-part epics like "TORNADO OF SOULS," "HANGER 18" and "HOLY WARS...THE PUNISHMENT DUE." at its best, these particular songs showcase a musician with a preternatural dexterity and truly mesmerizing dynamic range on his instrument. not to mention that this is record has the classic lineup of MARTY FRIEDMAN, NICK MENZA and DAVID ELLEFSON. MUSTAINE himself makes great use of his "spider chord" technique that acts as a shortcut to multiple power-chord variations by utilizing all four non-thumb fingers in quick precision, almost mechanical-like succession.
i remember first hearing this record on a compound in NIGERIA i spent my middle school years living in. this was the mid 1990s and in those pre-internet days. the music you discovered is largely whatever CDs were brought back from stateside return visits or trips other families took to EUROPE. i remember other students brought back early CYPRESS HILL, SEPULTURA, PEARL JAM, METALLICA, THE OFFSPRING, PORNO FOR PYROS and GREEN DAY records. amongst that mix someone brought back MEGADETH as well, which was how i came across RUST IN PEACE. in my naive opinion at the time, i thought "HOLY WARS...THE PUNISHMENT DUE" was insane and matched or outdid anything i heard off RIDE THE LIGHTNING and MASTER OF PUPPETS in terms of guitar playing. i didnt know anything about MUSTAINE's history with METALLICA at that point which is interesting. when i left NIGERIA and moved back stateside to attend high school in MASSACHUSETTS, i soon discovered SLAYER and that was kind of it for MEGADETH or METALLICA.
ultimately that singing voice was too annoying. years later when i saw SLAYER play with MEGADETH and ANTHRAX in LONG ISLAND i remember thinking that MUSTAINE's voice sounded even worse live, cementing my opinion of the band. but those riffs man. can't knock his guitar-playing. its impenetrable and beyond reproach.
photo & text by nacrowe
KILL 'EM ALL (MEGAFORCE, 1983) is just fun. it is not the most polished, accomplished or sophisticated METALLICA record, but it is the most enjoyable. i think part of that is the fact that it was a recording that had everything to do with the lifestyle of the then burgeoning THRASH METAL scene, from the opener "HIT THE LIGHTS" to "WHIPLASH," "NO REMORSE," "MOTORBEATH" and "SEEK & DESTROY." those songs are all about the ethos of going out and unapologetically slaying the competition and your audiences with the power of METAL. alright, yes that lyrical conceit describes any number of JUDAS PRIEST songs of the same era but there is a certain hungry street-level desperation in these songs. they are immediate and precise, almost a RAMONES meets MOTORHEAD kind of vibe.
after KILL 'EM ALL the band understandably grew into and eventually expanded their sound on THRASH METAL classics like RIDE THE LIGHTNING (MEGAFORCE, 1984), MASTER OF PUPPETS (ELEKTRA, 1986) and ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (ELEKTRA, 1988), but this is the one record in their catalogue that has that spit-in-you-eye, devil-may-care, lay-it-all-on-the-line sense of abandon. it also has some gnarly riffs like "JUMP IN THE FIRE" and "THE FOUR HORSEMAN" courtesy of DAVE MUSTAINE, who was famously dismissed before the recording and replaced by KIRK HAMMETT of EXODUS.
another standout track is "ANESTHESIA (PULLING TEETH)" by bassist CLIFF BURTON which displays his impressive compositional chops which would pay dividends on subsequent records. you really got the sense with BURTON that he was a student of his craft and took it very seriously, and this track is early evidence of such.
ultimately this a great record of a band exploding its way out of the gate. most definitely required listening for fans of THRASH METAL or really any METAL genre in general since this is such a pivotal record and longtime fan favorite.
photo by nacrowe
with the impending second bankruptcy of GUITAR CENTER likely to be finalized at the close of this month, it seemed as good a time as ever to look back at the live performance series GUITAR CENTER SESSIONS that they co-produced with DIRECT TV that took advantage of their iconic flagship HOLLYWOOD location.
it feels like the end of an era with their impending doom, but sadly they never took advantage of the internet and basically ceded that ground to competitors like SWEETWATER. it is mind-bogging that COVID knocked them out give that this lockdown period we've been living through has sold more guitars and instruments then any other period in history. just think about that.
oh well, at least we have these performances until they inevitably get taken down.
parodies by nacrowe
tonight's new episode of DEER GOD RADIO at 8PM EST on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC is dedicated to the early career of THRASH METAL icons METALLICA, especially their work with legendary bassist/songwriter CLIFF BURTON (RIP). guest hosting tonight will be my friend VERONICA (biggest METALLICA fanatic i've ever met) who will be broadcasting live from ARGENTINA! gonna be fun, make sure to tune in!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo manipulation by nacrowe
what was originally intended as behind-the-scenes footage to be utilized as extra content for their upcoming release transitioned into a seminal documentary about the dissolution of a band in real-time, something that has not been documented before or since to my knowledge.
controversial at the time of its release among METAL fans, the documentary SOME KIND OF MONSTER (THIRD EYE, 2004) by directors JOE BERLINGER and BRUCE SINOFSKY (BROTHER's KEEPER, PARADISE LOST trilogy) has proven in retrospect to be arguably their highest achievement (other than those perfect string of legendary CLIFF BURTON albums in the 1980s). i say this because there is a lot of posturing and machismo bullshit in METAL. it is by far the aspect of the genre i dislike the most and for years METALLICA were the pied pipers of this toxic brand of masculinity. that was until their second bassist JASON NEWSTED departed in order to claim the freedom of pursuing other projects. this was the first domino in a series of internal debate and reconsiderations that led to group therapy and lead singer/rhythm guitarist JAMES HETFIELD's admittance into rehab for alcoholism.
again, given their history with these issues it was a brave move. original lead guitarist DAVE MUSTAINE of MEGADETH fame was booted out for his behavior when intoxicated. he wasn't afforded a second opportunity. to interview him and put all the cards on the table in such a public manner really altered the culture in my opinion. none more so than the issue of therapy.
METALLICA was mocked extensively for going in to group therapy as such was perceived (moronically) as being weak, passive and not metal. if anything this was a power move that took incredible courage. i look back now at a seminal band like PANTERA who had internal struggles that were never dealt with out of a sense of toxic masculinity and they broke up out of spite with one another. they battled each other in the press and ultimately cowered to their corners with their respective enablers and hangers-on, never addressing anything in person, man-to-man. in my mind stepping up and speaking your truth and probably more importantly, the act of listening would have been more METAL. but what do i know?
i feel as our culture becomes ever more coarse and driven by wedge issues that seek to divide us, here is an example of a group of men looking each other in the eye dealing with their internal issues directly with begrudging respect. taking control of their behavior. being adults. thats what this film represents to me.
too bad the album ST. ANGER sucked.