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From Hell's Heart
"From Hell's Heart..." is an editorial column written by the Metal-Rules.com team. Every other month or so we
pick a metal-related topic and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas on it.
Metal memories for the year of our Metal Gods, XXXX (October 2003)
Recently I saw part of a VH1 bio on the year 1987. A lot of it was about how popular metal/hard rock was at the time with bands like Poison, G-n-R, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, etc. It got me thinking about a possible FHH along the same lines. We could pick a a year (or better yet a bunch of years) and post our memories of what was big or important to us back then in metal from OUR perspective. This would not be a research topic to go and lookup what was happening back whenever, but a personal recollection of times gone past and writing about our own experiences with metal from days gone by. Of course, each of us could write a book on this type of thing, but we kept it short and highlighted some of the important happenings.
"Metal memories for the year of our Metal Gods, 1998" - By JP
I've been a fan of metal since the mid 70's and a dedicated of metal since the early 80's so as an older fan this months topic was very hard indeed. I have a 20+ range of years to choose from and countless memories from across those years; first concerts, first records, first autographs all that stuff.
When I first heard about this topic my automatic reaction was, 'Dude!! Late 80's'!! I have much nostalgia for 1983-1990… the teen years the heady thrill of being there in the giant wave that swept the world, (although as partying dudes we didn't know at the time or even really care, we just wanted to have a good time) seeing and hearing all the now legendary bands in their infancy.
1990-1995 were great university years with countless concerts and some close friendships that last to this day and the intensity of support for the underground and flying the flag and waving the torch of true metal while legions of posers leapt on the Grunge and Alternative bandwagons.
But the more I thought about it the more I felt I have come to identify with metal from 1995 and on. The late 90's stand out for so many reasons personally and professionally but it really was 1998 that came to crystallize my involvement with metal on more than the level of just a fan.
I had been wanting to write a book about metal for at least ten years. I still have some sheets of yellowed old foolscap paper with my crude ideas, titles, chapters and headings and so on. As I aged and gained experience, time and money and increasingly disenchanted with the 9-5, suit & tie, lifestyle I was inevitably thrust into after graduating, this idea burned inside me like a glowing ember.
February 1998, a vicious cold snap and I was stuck in dead-end, no fun job pushing mail for a big company. I was newly married, I had lots of $$ to spend on CD's which was nice, but the words of Blackie Lawless and W.A.S.P. burned in my brain…"I Wanna Be Somebody." My wife saw my restless discontent and strongly encouraged me to take all this useless metal knowledge, experience and trivia and do something with it. Many of us realize that it is important to do something you really enjoy in life but as we all know execution is harder than the fantasy.
That winter I decided I was NOT going to be in a rut that I was headed for and the book was resurrected and very quickly evolved into a board game. I started a small company and creating this monster became my consuming passion. A change in seasons and jobs found me in a fulfilling job and the game became closer to reality. A new computer (my first) aids me in my quest for music as E-bay and mail-order becomes an all-consuming passion. I spend thousands on tracking down those rarities I had missed the first time around as a poor student in the mid 90's. My collection swells as I embrace the CD age, only ten years after everyone else! I write and spill out all the crazy lists and facts, trivia and ideas in my head into some semblance of a coherent format for migh tone day become the book. By winter the prototype of the game is done. Even if I never got past that stage I was proud that I actually did it.
Fall approaches and a stroke of luck and fate finds me acting as co-host to Megawatt Mayhem, now North America's longest running Metal radio show. My voice to the world to share my treasures with fans across the city and eventually via the miracle of the internet, across the world. The popular and stable show provides increased exposure to the industry teaches me an enormous amount in a very short period of time, mountains of new releases to explore and the sheer delight of introducing fans to bands they never previously had a chance to hear on the radio.
A few other things stick in my mind…Brave Words Magazine goes glossy and full colour and becomes my exclusive printed source of incoming metal news. I start regular correspondence with a number of authors around the world made so much easier by the internet and e-mail. Martin Popoff (Collectors Guide To Heavy Metal), Denis Gulbey (Sentinel Steel) and a small handful of others encourage me directly and indirectly through their intelligent and professional approach to the idea of a possible career in metal.
Musically, 1998 was a huge year for metal…well…EVERY year is a huge year for metal for me…but there were a few highlights. Hammerfall's Glory To The Brave (although released in June 1997) is still is taking the world by storm. They release a second single in late 1997 and by early 1998 have become a 'gateway' band that truly spearheads my favorite type of metal back into the global limelight driven by massive sales. They follow it up with Legacy of Kings proving it was no fluke.
The world takes notice as veterans Helloween, Blind Guardian, Virgin Steele, King Diamond and Kiss step up to the plate releasing monster albums with younger guns Rhapsody, Stratovarius, Kamelot, Symphony X and Iced Earth snapping at their heels each with critically acclaimed albums. Many of these great underground power metal acts who had been struggling for several years finally start to get some recognition by the media, (more exposure) the industry (more labels and signings) and most importantly the fans. It delighted me to read and hear of bands I had been trying to support for so many years finally making a break through.
Of course no one can hear it all the music when it comes out so in 1998 I was still catching up on 1997 another great year with releases by some of my favorites, Overkill, Raven, Malmsteen, W.A.S.P., and many more. A combination of personal and professional factors, some ground breaking life-changing decisions and a full-on metal soundtrack made 1998 my year for metal.
Metal memories for the year of our Metal Gods:
There are hundreds of bands or events I could ramble on about here. It is very hard to narrow down 20 years of listening to heavy metal in just a few short paragraphs. Clearly there will be bands, albums, etc. that I just don't have the time to mention below because this is a not a history of metal, or a history of what I listened to...these are just some of the highlights.
The first metal tape (this was before CD's of course) I bought was SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE. I had heard the song "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" at school on a large ghetto blaster that and older kid (Mark Penny - I even remember the dude's name) and thought it sounded like nothing I'd heard before. Not long after I had the tape ordered from Columbia House and I was a fan.
What really put things over the top and, in my own mind, made me a metalhead was when I shortly thereafter got SHOUT AT THE DEVIL by Motley Crue. If you not there in 83-84 you won't understand the impact that this album had on a lot of teens. It has been written by many that this album played a big part in getting heavy metal on the map in North America. As a teenager it spoke to our aggressions, frustrations with school, parents, life and empowered us to stand up for something. Nikki's popular F.T.W. attitude gave rebellion new meaning.
Other memories of these years is getting to know "Celtic Bob" who was heavily into Motley Crue and Kiss at the time. His walls were covered in posters inspiring me to wallpaper my own room with Motley Crue.
It was not uncommon for silly elementary school dances to play Ozzy, Crue, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot, etc. In fact the fist time I can remember hearing "Crazy Train" was at a school dance.
Other albums mark this period in my life like Quiet Riot's METAL HEALTH. This was another album that got a lot of people into heavier music. I think just about everyone had this record when it came out. Songs like "Cum on Feel The Noise" and "Metal Health" were on the radio often. In fact our only (at the time) FM radio station had a weekly metal hour on Friday nights which played all kinds of hard rock and metal that I'd never heard before. I wonder if the tapes from those old shows lie in some basement of their station - it be cool if they re-aired, in their entirety, some of those old shows! Sadly the station is now a haven for pop/rap/dance shit. When talking about 83-84 I also have to mention Ratt's OUT OF THE CELLAR. While not quite as good as the life altering SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, this album was still a landmark release by a band that was later shunned by fickle image-obsessed metalheads. Also, W.A.S.P.'s self titled album got a LOT of play on my walkman at the time and is to this day one of my favorite albums.
To me, this was the first album by a major metal band that had an OVER THE TOP glam image. Others had done it before of course, but no others who were as popular and as influential on teenagers as Motley Crue were at the time. Right after the album came out it seemed as if every band changed and dressed more like the Crue - Ratt, Kiss, etc. Even bands who were slightly heavier changed their appearance to look more "hip". Bands like Priest, and Ozzy looked almost as glammed up as anyone else.
It was around this time that I also got into another of my, at the time, favorite bands - Dokken. The playing of George Lynch instantly freaked me out...as did the latest sensation from Sweden - Yngwie J. Malmsteen.
There were other bands that I loved from the period of 1983-85, but this is not a recollection of every metal band/album/event from this period of my life - just the majors.
Unlike some, I didn't shun the bands that had brought me to this point. I still loved the Crue, Ratt, Dokken and newer arrivals on the metal scene like Poison and then Skid Row. However, the floodgates had been opened and things kept getting heavier...
At the time, DOWN was one of the lighter albums I was listening to a lot. It acted as a stepping stone preparing me for the last album that I'll reminisce about in this editorial. This album is responsible for turning me back to classic metal and getting me interested in what is now called power metal. The album is GLORY TO THE BRAVE and the band is HammerFall. From the soaring power of the opening track, "The Dragon Lies Bleeding" I was totally blown away. This album instantly made HammerFall one of my favorite new bands. In fact, they are just about my favorite band that formed in the 90's. Some have called HammerFall the saviours of "true" heavy metal. While some people don't agree, for me that was exactly the case.
Creation of a Metal Soul!!
This From Hells Heart should be one of the easiest and hardest that I have written. There are so many memorable years in my metal life that it is hard to pick just a few to relate. Being the oldest of my siblings and also the oldest of my cousins I was pretty well the first to get into any music so I really had no one to turn me onto bands and albums. In 1981 I got into music in a big way at the age of 9 when I discovered Chris DeBurgh and Rick Springfield. I bought 45 after 45 (for those of you too young to remember, a 45 was a vinyl single) until I happened to come across Michael Jackson in 1983. His Thriller album was blasting through the charts and I was determined to have it. It was also during this time that a black and white striped band by the name of Quiet Riot released “Cum on Feel the Noize” as a single. My mother was on her way to Zellers (department store) so little 11 year old me told her to pick me up the cassette for Michael Jackson and if that wasn’t there I would settle for Quiet Riot. Well THRILLER was all sold out and I ended up with METAL HEALTH by Quiet Riot. The moment I played that cassette I had an epiphany. I couldn’t believe that music like this existed. It just lit a fire inside me that I couldn’t explain. Michael Jackson was soon forgotten and I played that cassette to death.
If Quiet Riot opened my mind to heavier music it was Much Music and the Power Hour that cemented my metal future. In 1984 Canada had its first Heavy Metal video show on the new music video station. The inaugural episode introduced me to 3 bands that would turn my heart to a bleeding blackened mass of twisted metal: Ratt, Motley Crue and Twisted Sister. Though tame by today’s standards these 3 bands are relatively lightweight metal, back then they were my metal triumvirate. They opened up the dark recesses of the metal world to this 12 year old. When the Vince Neil, with his bleached and scraggily hair, screamed “Shes Got the Looks That Kill” and had a group of scantily clad women caged like animals I knew that I wanted to be just like him!! The Power Hour also introduced me to many other bands that would become the basis of metal world. Though I have branched out over the years into all kinds of metal both mainstream and underground, I will never forget these 2 events in my life. In 1983 Quiet Riot single handedly turned me from the pop path and brought me to the metal light with their screaming guitars and metal anthem BANG YOUR HEAD. The POWER HOUR and The Crue, Twisted Sister, Ratt and other bands like The Scorpions, King Kobra and Dio opened up a whole new world or music that I never knew existed and cemented my love for metal which endures to this day.
1988: The Year I Became A Man - by Lord of the Wasteland
1988 was the year I became a man (get your mind out of the gutter…it's not what you're thinking). Now, I didn't even turn 17 until December of that year, but in my eyes, I was a "man". By becoming a man, I mean my musical tastes evolved from that of my youth and parental influences to the music that would change my life-HEAVY METAL!!
First of all, here's what led up to it…
At home, I was a slave to my parent's ABBA and Neil Diamond records. Besides these grim musical selections, my tastes were shaped by AM radio. Music channels were still something I had only heard of and the term "heavy metal" was not part of my vocabulary yet. Being an only child, I didn't have an older brother or sister whose Kiss albums or Judas Priest tapes I could hear. When we finally got the "deluxe" cable package in 1985, Much Music opened up a whole new world with the Pepsi Power Hour that aired on Mondays and Thursdays. The Power Hour, with its intro of "Metal Tim" Henderson getting chased through the smoke-filled basement of Much Music headquarters by the metal phantasm, seemed fascinating to me. Every week, I faithfully tuned in to see such heavyweights as Kiss, Motley Crue, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Unfortunately, my parents refused to buy me any of this "crap" music so these 2 hours per week was all the metal I could get my hands on.
By the time 1987 had come, I had my first job and it was glamorous-I cleaned my Dad's office once a week for a whopping $100 per month! I felt like a king with my new found wealth. Finally, I had some money that I could buy what I wanted with. I remember sneaking in a couple of metal albums on my parents' record binges at Sears or Woodward's before this (Quiet Riot's METAL HEALTH, Ozzy Osbourne's THE ULTIMATE SIN and Motley Crue's THEATRE OF PAIN immediately come to mind), but the first metal albums that I bought with my OWN money were CRAZY NIGHTS by Kiss and W.A.S.P.'s ANIMAL (FUCK LIKE A BEAST) 12" at A&A Records. When my Mom walked into my room and saw the W.A.S.P. cover featuring a bloody sawblade coming out of a guy's crotch, she went berserk!! She insisted I take the record back to the store and didn't want that "garbage" in the house. Fortunately I had already opened the record so the store wouldn't take it back and I had to keep it, but the reaction I got from my Mom clued me in right away-this is it!!! From then on, I was a metal junkie. I let my hair grow a bit longer and did away with the nerdy "side-part" cut that I had been forced into since my Dad first took me to the barber. I began buying magazines like RIP, METAL EDGE, HIT PARADER and CREEM and my room became wallpapered with posters and clippings of the heavy metal gods. For a small-town kid, I began amassing a pretty decent collection of metal LPs ranging from Van Halen to Kiss, Ozzy to Motorhead. Operating on a pretty slim budget of $100 per month didn't allow for a lot of records, so I turned to a life of crime and switched over to the more shoplifter-friendly format, the cassette tape. Though I am not proud of what I did, it is still part of the story that must be told. How I managed to avoid getting pinched still amazes me. I had balls of steel and never hesitated to slip a tape up the sleeve of my beloved jean jacket and was quite an accomplished thief, too, but fortunately I saw the light and quit before I got busted. Still, I managed to acquire a couple hundred tapes in a few months and soon found myself with a collection that drew breathless gasps from people visiting my metallic lair. Being as well-versed in the metal arts as I was, the chicks couldn't stay away either. Soon, I had my first "real" girlfriend and with her came a whole new world (again, get your mind out the gutter…it's not what you're thinking)…
The first time I went to her parent's house, I was amazed at what I saw-a satellite dish. In my naïve young mind, only the wealthy had such extravagances. This was a black market satellite dish with all the American channels I had only read about-HBO, ESPN and MTV. In the mid- to late 80s, heavy metal was a popular style of music that actually got played during regular rotation but besides that, there was a program on Saturday nights called "The Headbanger's Ball". This show was 2 hours of metal videos hosted by various musicians and it was the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread. While Much Music's Power Hour program had its share of videos, many were repeated often and their playlist was limited due to a small budget and the dreaded "CanCon" restrictions. MTV on the other hand was at the top of its game. The Headbanger's Ball opened my eyes to a whole new era of bands like Overkill, Testament, Slayer, Poison, Cinderella, Megadeth, Stryper, Faster Pussycat, Guns 'n Roses, L.A. Guns, Tesla and Dokken. I was smitten and had to get my hands on EVERYTHING these bands released.
I was also fortunate enough to see my first metal concert on March 9th, 1988. My parents needed their bathroom painted and I wanted to see Kiss in Calgary. A deal was reached where they would buy tickets for my girlfriend and I if we painted the bathroom. Once the job was done, we were rewarded with 2 tickets for Kiss and Anthrax!! Even then, Kiss was my favorite band and I was beyond excited to see them LIVE!! Kiss was touring for the CRAZY NIGHTS album and Anthrax was supporting their masterpiece AMONG THE LIVING, so this was quite a show. I should add that I still have the ticket stub and face value was $21 each…a far cry from the $100+ the band is charging now on their current run with Aerosmith, but that's a topic for another FHH article.
1988 was a great time to come into metal as a whole slew of bands were either releasing some of their greatest albums or seeing them hit big: Guns 'n Roses' APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, Def Leppard's HYSTERIA, Anthrax' AMONG THE LIVING, Aerosmith's PERMANENT VACATION, Dokken's BACK FOR THE ATTACK, Great White's ONCE BITTEN…, Motley Crue's GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS, Whitesnake's self-titled album, Cinderella's LONG COLD WINTER, Queensryche's OPERATION: MINDCRIME, Bon Jovi's NEW JERSEY, Slayer's SOUTH OF HEAVEN, Metallica's …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, Poison's OPEN UP AND SAY…AHHHH!, Overkill's UNDER THE INFLUENCE, Van Halen's OU812, Testament's THE NEW ORDER, Death's LEPROSY, Manowar's KINGS OF METAL, King Diamond's THEM, Dark Angel's LEAVE SCARS, Helloween's KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS PART I & PART II, Megadeth's SO FAR, SO GOOD…SO WHAT?!, Ozzy Osbourne's NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Vinnie Vincent Invasion's ALL SYSTEMS GO, Stryper's IN GOD WE TRUST, Iron Maiden's SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON, and debut albums from Sanctuary, Living Color, Winger, L.A. Guns and Danzig. Classics all, my friend!
As the years have passed, tapes and records have been upgraded to CDs and at almost 32 years old, I'm still a proud and dedicated metalhead. True, my hair has gotten shorter, the earrings have come out, and fitting into the size Large metal t-shirts is now a pipedream, but with over 2,000 CDs, you'll find everything from Sepultura to Soulfly, Slipknot to Skid Row, Stryper to Scorpions and everything in between. As friends hit their 30s and have either veered off into lite-FM garbage or given up listening to music altogether, I still carry the flag of metal onward, never forgetting what turned me into a man!!