Posts Tagged “Ruts”

Jacky BamBam of Philadelphia’s 93.3 WMMR radio station recently conducted an interview with Jimmy Crespo about the former AEROSMITH guitarist’s involvement with “When Rod Was God”, the tribute band featuring the actual touring band that played and co-wrote many of Stewart‘s hits. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.

Jimmy is best known as the man who replaced Joe Perry in AEROSMITH from 1979 to 1984. In addition to appearing on the “Night In The Ruts” album, Jimmy co-wrote the majority of songs and performed almost all the guitar on “Rock In A Hard Place”.

Interview (audio):

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If you’ve ever seen Slayer live (and you damn well oughtta if you haven’t), you can all but guarantee “Chemical Warfare” is going to pop onto the set list.  Whereas many legacy bands might get the ruts of playing their best-known material from three decades ago to satiate their fan bases, you can’t imagine Slayer having the shits of “Chemical Warfare.”  You just can’t.

One of the thrash giant’s most perfect storms of annihilation, “Chemical Warfare” from Slayer’s 1984 EP Haunting the Chapel might as well be considered the prelude to their halcyon album Reign in Blood.  It’s been said ad infinitum that Haunting the Chapel is a stepping stone piece for the band and it’s fitting that Slayer continues to whip “Chemical Warfare” out in their sets these days.  They still play the cut as a tribute to themselves with the same fiery angst as they originally conceived it and there’s not a true headbanger alive who doesn’t draw from the antagonistic energy of “Chemical Warfare.”  If you don’t dig “Chemical Warfare,” hang up your denim and leather right now.

Of course, this is easy for me to say today as a journalist having confronted thousands of heavy metal records as both a fan and a writer.  Frankly, Slayer scared the snot out of me in my early teens and Haunting the Chapel was then for me no better than saying The Dunwich Horror got my rocks off.  I avoided Slayer’s Show No Mercy, Haunting the Chapel and Hell Awaits as I did the entire Venom, Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost catalogs.  Call it living under the cross, if you will, since I had just completed my Catholic confirmation and I’d weathered a gauntlet of kids in school who thought I was in league with Lucifer for wearing a Motley Crue Shout at the Devil shirt around.  Considering they later wore Crue tees during the Girls Girls Girls period, you have to laugh.

All of it is pretty freaking silly in the grand scheme of things, since Slayer has emerged over the years as titans of this genre, a band who lures listeners from academia and medicine as they do from the darkened corners where disaffected loners hate everything and everyone.  Since I interviewed Tom Araya and he admitted to being a Christian on my tape, I’ve looked at my terrorized initial reaction to the band as utterly stupid.  Of course, at age 13 I’d bolted for the confessional the first time I saw The Exorcist because I thought I’d spit on God just by watching it–and it was a censored version, no less.

The thing with Slayer and Venom, for that matter, is they’ve ridden the rails of their careers in the name of Satan, but it’s always been done to a smarmy roasting effect.  Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate are just too great to dismiss.  When I saw Frost play live, it felt very much like a holy experience, and not of an arcane nature, though that certainly came through in their stage presence.  Venom for sure were larks and I’ve long since come to see them as a great big put-on who still kicked ass, especially on stage.  Ditto for Slayer.  They’re nowhere near as tongue-in-cheek with their lyrical nihilism, much of it having been broiled over a hypothetical spit of burning brimstone.  Yet whatever their collective or individual attitudes on spirituality may be, Haunting the Chapel,  frequently blasphemous for certain, is an important cornerstone of heavy metal music.

No point describing “Chemical Warfare” beyond calling it thrash perfection.  I personally enjoy the back story of a younger Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan in-arms together at this time, to the point Hoglan was asked to grab hold of Lombardo’s kit on the floor while Slayer laid down “Chemical Warfare.” Hoglan, who helped Lombardo refine his trademark double kick, went on to smack skin for Dark Angel and he’s enjoyed long-term success in his own right.  You’ve got to love that.

What I’ve always founded interesting about “Captor of Sin” is its merge of NWOBHM march rhythms with darker, uptempo crunk.  This one gives fans a peek into the band’s future songwriting ethos, straight down to the punchy breakdowns and bat-screeching solos from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.  While nowhere no as fast as Reign in Blood, the moshing verses plus the blitzing bridges and solo section of “Haunting the Chapel” are by all means the blueprints for the inevitable juggernaut of crush, “Angel of Death.”

Depending on which version you have, you’ll get the grimy basement track “Aggressive Perfector” which belongs more on Show No Mercy or a Metal Massacre compilation trailing anything of the same period by Exciter.   All told, however, Haunting the Chapel represents a fierce excavation of speed metal’s potential in its infancy years.  Even then, Slayer was dusting Metallica, the acknowledged champs of the Bay Area thrash zone and today, listening to such daring competition at play is something you can’t necessarily convey in words. 

–Ray Van Horn, Jr.

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If you’ve ever seen Slayer live (and you damn well oughtta if you haven’t), you can all but guarantee “Chemical Warfare” is going to pop onto the set list.  Whereas many legacy bands might get the ruts of playing their best-known material from three decades ago to satiate their fan bases, you can’t imagine Slayer having the shits of “Chemical Warfare.”  You just can’t.

One of the thrash giant’s most perfect storms of annihilation, “Chemical Warfare” from Slayer’s 1984 EP Haunting the Chapel might as well be considered the prelude to their halcyon album Reign in Blood.  It’s been said ad infinitum that Haunting the Chapel is a stepping stone piece for the band and it’s fitting that Slayer continues to whip “Chemical Warfare” out in their sets these days.  They still play the cut as a tribute to themselves with the same fiery angst as they originally conceived it and there’s not a true headbanger alive who doesn’t draw from the antagonistic energy of “Chemical Warfare.”  If you don’t dig “Chemical Warfare,” hang up your denim and leather right now.

Of course, this is easy for me to say today as a journalist having confronted thousands of heavy metal records as both a fan and a writer.  Frankly, Slayer scared the snot out of me in my early teens and Haunting the Chapel was then for me no better than saying The Dunwich Horror got my rocks off.  I avoided Slayer’s Show No Mercy, Haunting the Chapel and Hell Awaits as I did the entire Venom, Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost catalogs.  Call it living under the cross, if you will, since I had just completed my Catholic confirmation and I’d weathered a gauntlet of kids in school who thought I was in league with Lucifer for wearing a Motley Crue Shout at the Devil shirt around.  Considering they later wore Crue tees during the Girls Girls Girls period, you have to laugh.

All of it is pretty freaking silly in the grand scheme of things, since Slayer has emerged over the years as titans of this genre, a band who lures listeners from academia and medicine as they do from the darkened corners where disaffected loners hate everything and everyone.  Since I interviewed Tom Araya and he admitted to being a Christian on my tape, I’ve looked at my terrorized initial reaction to the band as utterly stupid.  Of course, at age 13 I’d bolted for the confessional the first time I saw The Exorcist because I thought I’d spit on God just by watching it–and it was a censored version, no less.

The thing with Slayer and Venom, for that matter, is they’ve ridden the rails of their careers in the name of Satan, but it’s always been done to a smarmy roasting effect.  Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate are just too great to dismiss.  When I saw Frost play live, it felt very much like a holy experience, and not of an arcane nature, though that certainly came through in their stage presence.  Venom for sure were larks and I’ve long since come to see them as a great big put-on who still kicked ass, especially on stage.  Ditto for Slayer.  They’re nowhere near as tongue-in-cheek with their lyrical nihilism, much of it having been broiled over a hypothetical spit of burning brimstone.  Yet whatever their collective or individual attitudes on spirituality may be, Haunting the Chapel,  frequently blasphemous for certain, is an important cornerstone of heavy metal music.

No point describing “Chemical Warfare” beyond calling it thrash perfection.  I personally enjoy the back story of a younger Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan in-arms together at this time, to the point Hoglan was asked to grab hold of Lombardo’s kit on the floor while Slayer laid down “Chemical Warfare.” Hoglan, who helped Lombardo refine his trademark double kick, went on to smack skin for Dark Angel and he’s enjoyed long-term success in his own right.  You’ve got to love that.

What I’ve always founded interesting about “Captor of Sin” is its merge of NWOBHM march rhythms with darker, uptempo crunk.  This one gives fans a peek into the band’s future songwriting ethos, straight down to the punchy breakdowns and bat-screeching solos from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.  While nowhere no as fast as Reign in Blood, the moshing verses plus the blitzing bridges and solo section of “Haunting the Chapel” are by all means the blueprints for the inevitable juggernaut of crush, “Angel of Death.”

Depending on which version you have, you’ll get the grimy basement track “Aggressive Perfector” which belongs more on Show No Mercy or a Metal Massacre compilation trailing anything of the same period by Exciter.   All told, however, Haunting the Chapel represents a fierce excavation of speed metal’s potential in its infancy years.  Even then, Slayer was dusting Metallica, the acknowledged champs of the Bay Area thrash zone and today, listening to such daring competition at play is something you can’t necessarily convey in words. 

–Ray Van Horn, Jr.

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Duff McKagan’s LoadedThe Taking
2011 Eagle Rock Entertainment/Armoury Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

The merry-go-round of Guns n’ Roses and its displaced connectors continues ad infinitum. This is a band the world just won’t let go of, despite its principals being unable to patch the ruts to put out what might be, at this point, the rock record this sales-slumped industry needs. Axl Rose was able to pass off Chinese Democracy with an appreciable amount of fanfare, while the in-transition Velvet Revolver represents one of few mega-rock bands left to the American music scene. We wait in anticipation of an announcement to Scott Weiland’s Velvet successor while Weiland himself is parading around once again with his Stone Temple posse on the summer circuit.

As Velvet Revolver attempts to solve its own frontman puzzle, both Slash and Duff McKagan have been lending their talents elsewhere, be it in collaboration with Macy Gray (also bringing along Velvet drummer Matt Sorum) or in Slash’s case, The Black Eyed Peas at this year’s Super Bowl. Slash recently issued his self-titled me ‘n my pals solo album last year, while McKagan did a stint for fun with Jane’s Addiction and he’s now back on the prowl. This includes a reboot of his side band, Loaded, which last released the album Sick a couple years ago.

And around a-around a-round we go…

Duff McKagan’s Loaded returns this year with reknowned producer Terry Date on the console to whip up their second album, The Taking. In case you’re unfamiliar with Loaded’s structure, McKagan dumps bass for guitar and fields the vocals. Jeff Rouse from Alien Crime Syndicate takes up the bass in Loaded, while Nevada Bachelors’ Mike Squires occupies lead guitar. For The Taking, new drummer Isaac Carpenter (Loudermilk) joins the Loaded squad.

McKagan has described The Taking as something of a loose concept album based on a man’s capability to rise from his personal ashes. Not so much a confessional album, The Taking certainly takes its stride from experience, i.e. “Follow Me to Hell,” “Cocaine,” “Wrecking Ball” and “Lords of Abbadon.” Without overtly preaching, The Taking at times rings of street spirituality and human redemption.

While The Taking risks a few off-the-cuff measures such as a blatant Foo Fighters hail on the otherwise uplifting “We Win,” it rocks when it’s supposed to and tries its hand at establishing empathy between band and listener. “Lords of Abbadon” engages its audience with a rolling set of chunky riffs and a wailing top layer of guitars. You can hear both Velvet Revolver and GNR in “Lords of Abbadon” even with a more gravelly voice that McKagan brings forward.

McKagan switches to alto on “Executioner’s Song,” while the band digs in with a slow and heavy grinding rhythm setting up a loud ‘n proud solo section and quick bridge leading into the final verse. “Dead Skin” picks up the tempo and the quick-picking verses indicate Duff McKagan is writing with Guns in mind until he switches the scheme to a more contemporary pop rock slide on the bridges and choruses.

McKagan wallows all over “Easier Lying,” which carries a hint of The Beatles on its shambling, murky groove. The song holds its focus upon the stasis of Jeff Rouse’s slinking bass, and maintains its melancholic choke which nearly derails until Mike Squires decorates the track in the later segments.

The rest of The Taking is a variance of moods and vibes ranging from angry to frolicky. “Cocaine” an example of the former, the up-tempo shake of “Indian Summer” the latter. Vocally, Duff McKagan shows on “Indian Summer” why he frequently backed Axl on Guns n’ Roses’ most memorable work. “Wrecking Ball” is performed with an intentional sense of inebriation to convey the haplessness of its drunken muse. McKagan slucks and glubs the initial verses before letting a power groove usurp the track, showing his muse has emerged clean.

The Taking requires patience at times and probably a few spins is recommended in order to properly unearth what Duff McKagan is trying to expel to his listeners. “King of the World” is an attention-grabber with its pounding beat and declarative rawk projection, while “Easier Lying” and “Wrecking Ball” need a chance to roll around in the ears because of their awkwardness in greeting.

“We Win” would be a tremendous success for Loaded if the Foos hadn’t recorded “The Best of You” first. Then again, Dave Grohl has borrowed from the Guns manual at times, so fair’s fair, right? That, or one can look at McKagan’s rip on “We Win” as a tribute to Grohl’s massive standing in the rock industry. Either case, it’s annoying despite its positive nature. Fortunately, most of The Taking is enjoyable and it further cements the legacy of Duff McKagan as an individual artist, much less an important cog to two of the best rock bands the scene has ever embraced.

Rating: ***1/2

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The Metal Minute: CBGBs had its hardcore weekends and California had the Metal Mondays at the Old Waldorf in the early eighties before the Bay Area thrash explosion erupted later in the decade. Tell me about Metal Mondays. Did you guys draw sizable crowds since metal was only just starting to catch on in the U.S.? What were some of the goofiest moments of Metal Mondays that you can recall?

Geoff Thorpe: Metal Monday was great! We were one of the first bands to get started there. I remember the Scorpions’ Klaus (Meine) and Rudy (Schenker) showed up at our gig and the bar was closed. I had already offered them some beer! So we ran around and got two pitchers from all our half empties! I still have photos of us all drinking that nasty beer! We had great shows there. I used to come out of a coffin. Long story.

TMM: (laughs) I’m sure there must be days when you wonder “What if Vinnie Moore had stayed in Vicious Rumors longer?” Not that we need to dwell too long upon the past, but does it ever weigh on your mind what might’ve been, considering the Bay Area thrash scene came up with a ton of future household names who brought the scene up?

GT: No, not really. He’s a great player but a small part of Vicious Rumors history. It’s all about the songs.

TMM: Digital Dictator and the self-titled Vicious Rumors album put the band on a crash course of intense touring in the late eighties and early nineties, just as metal was coming through the tail end of its first running cycle in the U.S. Looking back, what would you say were some of your fondest memories of road life at this critical point in the band’s career and did you ever go through personal ruts after those touring cycles when grunge relegated metal acts to the far-flung parts of the underground?

GT: We did have some great road trips! Of course, in the underground you have your ups and downs. I’m very proud to have this long run and with this new CD Razorback Killers, the best is yet to come. We are just about to start a huge tour of Europe with 10 major festivals! The CD is getting killer reviews! Plans to tour the USA are in the works! All details are at www.viciousrumors.com.

TMM: As you mentioned, Razorback Killers is your latest album and as with every Vicious Rumors recording, there’s a hefty mix of thrash, power metal and NWOBHM. With this being your third album of the 2000s behind Warball and Sadistic Symphony, what do you feel is your personal draw to staying true to Vicious Rumors’ unwavering mission statement?

GT: We live for the action! We love what we do and we have a long way to go. Life is short so live it well. We are living the dream!! 33 years of Vicious Rumors for me! It’s taken me around the world and it’s given me the love of my life. I am so lucky to live this charmed life. We feel are one of the last bands of our kind and we will hold the flag high! With the Scorpions and Priest saying goodbye, Vicious Rumors will still be here to kick your ass!

TMM: Righteous, brother. Tell me, have you ever had any run-ins with an actual razorback? That might serve as a cool premise to a Z-horror-metal flick!

GT: Almost every day with my Dean Razorback guitar and that’s as close as I want to get! Keep it metal!

Copyright 2011 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

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