The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Archive for November 2010

It’s Black Friday, Paint the Devil On the Wall

with 2 comments

It was 12th grade (87-88) in Portsmouth Catholic High School.  I was in Ms. Harlow’s typing class and we had an assignment one day to type out something from memory be it a song or short story or anything.  She just wanted us to be typing.  I was heavily into Peace Sells by Megadeth.

I had decided to type out the lyrics to Good Mourning/Black Friday as it was fresh in my head and I knew it by heart.

We turned our papers in and the next day mine was redlined with some comments and corrections and a B- as a grade.  Ms. Harlow wrote at the top by my grade, “Do we need to discuss this?”  HAHAHAHAHA.  It was awesome.  I had that piece of paper forever but lost it in one of my many moves over the years.

Killer, intruder, homicidal man
If you see me coming run as fast as you can
Blood-thirsty demon who’s stalking the street
I hack up my victims like pieces of meat

Blood-thirsty demon, sinister fiend
Bludgeonous slaughter’s my evil deed

My hammer’s a cold piece of blood-lethal steel
I grin while you writhe with the pain that I deal
Swinging the hammer, I hack through their heads
Deviant defilers, you’re next to be dead
I unleash my hammer with sadistic intent
Pounding, surrounding, slamming through your head

Bodies convulse in agony, and pain
I mangle their face till no features remain
A blade for the butchering, I cut them to shreds
First take out the organs, then cut off the head
The remains of flesh now sop under my feet
One more bloody massacre, the murder’s complete
I seek to dismember, a sadist fiend
Bloodbath’s my way of getting clean

I lurk in the alley wait for the kill
I have no remorse for the blood that I spill
A merciless butcher who lives underground
I’m out to destroy and I will cut you down
I see you and I’m waiting for Black Friday
Turn me loose!

Killer, intruder, homicidal man
If you see me coming run as fast as you can
A blood-thirsty demon who’s stalking the street
I hack up my victims like pieces of meat

Blood-thirsty demon, sinister fiend
Bludgeonous slaughter’s my evil deed A merciless butcher who lives underground
I’m out to destroy you and I will cut you down

It’s Black Friday, paint the devil on the wall

I don’t know why she was worried.  haha.  RIP Ms. Harlow.

Written by The Metal Files

November 25, 2010 at 11:46 pm

John McLaughlin – Austin, TX – Nov. 24, 2010

with 2 comments

Back around 1985/86 one of the guys from my church had given me and a few of us metalhead kids some records to listen to.  It was jazz stuff.  The 2 that stood out for me were John Macey’s Eclipse (would love to

The Master.

find this somewhere) and Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Birds of Fire.  Bird’s of Fire quickly became an album near and dear to my heart and still listen to it often.  I really like a lot of that early 70s jazz/fusion stuff and thanks to Pat, it opened my mind up to some other music outside of hard rock and metal.  Hell, just throw some distortion in some of this stuff and it would be metal.

About 2 or so years ago I saw an advertisement on Stubb’s website for John McLaughlin and freaked out.  I nabbed 2 tickets and the day of the show Doug and I were walking up on the venue and noticed that the crowd was very young.  I was a bit perplexed.  Why would all these kids want to see John McLaughlin?  Then I saw the show poster stapled on the outside wall.  “Jon” McLaughlin was playing that night.  Some young kid and an acoustic guitar.  D’oh!  I felt pretty stupid.  What a monkey!  We ended up just giving our tickets to someone in line.  They were pretty inexpensive so it was no big deal.  The 2 kids were appreciative.

A month or so ago I was fortunate enough to see Mahavishnu’s Billy Cobham at the beautiful One World Theatre.  It was quite awesome as was the venue.  Even prior to buying my Cobham tickets, my guitar player had snagged us 2 tickets to see John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension.  In case you didn’t know, John created Mahavishnu Orchestra after playing with Miles Davis (Bitches Brew).  Miles told him to form his own band and he did.  What a band he formed!

We get to the theatre around 7 and hang out for a bit.  It’s pretty rare for this venue to have an opening act on stage but they did for John’s 2 night stand.  It was 2 Argentinian brothers who call themselves Seis Cuerdas (6 strings in English).  They played a short set of latin/flamenco/jazz/almost metal stuff on 2 acoustic guitars.  They were pretty damned good but I was there to see John and his band.

The band comes out to a standing ovation and John greets the crowd an the music starts.  My God.  For as blown away as I was by Cobham’s show, this was even more intense.  John’s playing was awesome and having never watched any video of him before, I was blown away by his playing style.  His fretting and picking style reminded me a lot of Tony Iommi in that it was very limited motion.  You hear a lot of things being played but you don’t see them.  No wasted motion.  It was quite awesome to see.  John didn’t talk much between songs nor did he need to.  The music surely did the talking.

His backup band was great as well.  He had Etienne Mbappe on bass.  This dude was awesome.  First time I had seen a bass player wear gloves.  There were some great moments where he and John were playing off of each other and playing the same runs together.  Just awesome.  Gary Husband handled the keyboard duties and did a great job.  He also did some drums trade-off stuff with main-drummer Mark Mondesir.  Holy hell, this dude was quite possibly one of the most incredible drummers I have ever seen live.  It could have easily been a clinic in power-jazz drumming.  He was awesome and I enjoyed his performance even over Billy Cobham’s.  This guy is just awesome and seemingly can play anything.  I recommend looking him up on YouTube.  For as awesome as the bands was as a whole, Mark’s drumming made the night for me.  I’ll always be a drummer on the inside even if I am unable to play them nowadays.  Just awesome.

I was really hoping that they would do a meet and greet after the show like Cobham did, but no luck.  It was another great experience watching a stage full of great musicians doing their thing.  Next up there for me is Al Dimeola.  That one will be my “freak out” show.  Al is in my top guitar players of all time.  Having only seen him with Return to Forever a few years ago, I am pretty excited to see him up close (2nd row center aisle seats…same ones for Cobham and McLaughlin).


Thank you and goodnight!

Written by The Metal Files

November 25, 2010 at 11:20 am

Iced Earth…a retrospective

with 2 comments

It was 1991 and I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was at Danile’s house hanging out for a few and I saw a cassette sitting on his bed.  Iced Earth (self-titled debut)?  Who?  Century Media Records?  What?  Well, it had a cool cover.  That was a good start.  So I popped it in.  Whoa.  Cool opening riff.  Singer was a bit odd but it worked well.  As the tape went on I just sat there kind of quiet (rare I know).  The riffs, the vocals, everything.  This was refreshing.  Remember, this was 1991.  Metal was going back to the underground and MTV was pushing new cash cows.  And hey, good for them.  But Iced Earth brought something new/old back to the game.  Galloping riffs, decent lyrics, and just well-played metal in general.  The riffs were well-crafted.

Shortly thereafter I was buying a copy for myself and hoping that a follow-up was in the works.  Much to my joy in 1992 they put out Night of the Stormrider.  New singer, better album.  This album is practically perfect from beginning to end.  Just awesome really.  It was really nice to have a newer metal band to dig on.  They were getting few and far between in the 1990s, ya know?  I absolutely adore this album and still listen to it regularly.  You should too!  Seriously, this is such an awesome album.

Icead Earth – 1991

Night of the Stormrider – 1992

Three years later they released Burnt Offerings.  Another singer change.  Some dude named Matt Barlow who ended up being their most popular singer and a favorite by most of their fans (not by me, mind you).  This album is very good, though.  A little darker than Stormrider, but the patented Jon Schaffer riffs are all there.  Barlow’s vocal performance is strong but he has always reminded me of Hetfield and Paul Stanley wrapped up into one, but with a better range.  Last December is the standout track for me for sure.  This album is definitely worth owning if you liked the first 2.

Flashing back to 1991 again, I went up to JMU to see Kelz for a weekend.  From my beer soaked memory of that weekend, I remember him letting me read a newer comic called Spawn.  I read the first few issues and thought it was a cool story.  When I had read that Iced Earth was doing a concept record based around the Spawn story, I was intrigued.  I’m not a big comic book fan but this one kept me interested for a few years.  As it was, Iced Earth released The Dark Saga in 1996 with an album cover by Spawn’s creator, Todd McFarland.  While this album is more straightforward than the previous 3, it was well done.  They fleshed the story out pretty well in my opinion and I still listen to this album quite often.

Burnt Offerings – 1995

The Dark Saga – 1996

It was right around mid-1997 time that I had started my own little online CD business and was starting to get promos from labels like Metal Blade and Century Media.  I remember them sending me Iced Earth’s Days of Purgatory.  Essentially it was rerecorded versions of some demos and songs from their first 2 albums with Barlow handling the vocals.  In the words of Homer Simpson…”BORING!”  Seriously, what a letdown.  But it gets worse for me.

In 1998 they released Something Wicked This Way Comes.  Iced Earth was at their height of popularity in the US and were HUGE overseas.  This album was them jumping the shark for me.  It got whimpy.  Too many ballads, the riffs were lacking, and Barlow’s voice was really grating my nerves now.  Do you really need that much emotion?  I was done.  Jon Schaffer, their mainman, was integrating too much comic book imagery and such and in my opinion their music started to suffer.  Sure, it’s his band and he can do what he wants, but I always felt that he was selling out to a degree.

On this tour I was given the privilege to interview Schaffer and Barlow before the show.  I don’t think Schaffer was too happy with the interview.  I pulled no punches, I never do.  Iced Earth is legendary for their numerous lineup changes and I questioned him about it.  He gave the right response in saying that it’s his band and if someone isn’t toeing the line like he wants, they’re gone.  Right on, I respect that.  But he didn’t like the question.  hen when I asked him about Keith Menser (Mystic Force) being pictured on the album but not actually playing on it, he got a little pissed and talked shit about Keith, but in a politically correct sort of way.  Overall Jon was cool and he had some issues with the venue that I think had him worked up.  They almost didn’t play at all because of the hip-hop that was playing on the jukebox when they were setting up for soundcheck.  Barlow didn’t speak much, but he was super cool and very amicable.  The show they put on was great and Barlow even mentioned my little cable access TV show between songs.  Very cool!  I never aired the interview.  I should post it one day.

So in 2001, Iced Earth released Horror Show which had songs related to characters in horror films.  Without saying anything else, I’ll just say this.  “zzzzzzzzzz”.  That was it.  No more for me.  I heard clips of subsequent albums that featured Ripper Owens (one of the most boring singers ever!) and the return of Barlow but I just couldn’t get into them.  That early stuff just couldn’t be touched.  It still can’t.

With the above being said, I do have a ton of respect for Jon Schaffer.  While I may not like the changes he made in the band’s musical style, I love how he marketed his band.  He obviously read the marketing handbooks written by KISS and Iron Maiden.  Put out shirts, EPs, anything.  Make the cash!  I totally respect that.  Make people know who you are!  They have done a great job with that, even if it did come mid-way through their career.

If you’ve never heard them and want to start somewhere, this is the order that I’d recommend them to anyone:

  1. Night of the Stormrider
  2. Iced Earth
  3. The Dark Saga
  4. Burnt Offerings
  5. Everything else

Through much of the 90s, I used to work November-January at a mall record store for some extra cash and just out of boredom.  When people would come in asking for metal recommendations, I’d quiz them a bit about the style of metal they were into and if they were of the Maiden/Priest/Accept/etc type metalhead, I always offered up Stormrider as my recommendation to them.  I even offered a guarantee that if they didn’t like the album to bring it back and I would buy it off of them.  I guess I probably sold about 10 or so of them and no one ever brought one back.  A few people even came back and thanked me for it.  That was pretty cool.

Video from the show I filmed in 1998.  The rest of the show is up there as well.  Enjoy!

Written by The Metal Files

November 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm