The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘1990’ Category

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell – 20 Years Later

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Twenty years has passed since Pantera’s seminal album Cowboys From Hell was released.  This album is what I like to call a game changer.  Metal got a swift kick in the ass when this came out and it influenced a new wave of metal, appropriately dubbed “nu-metal”.  It even spawned some clones…Fight anyone?

This was the beginning of the chugga-chugga era.  People from around the world started to take notice of this little band from the Dallas/Ft Worth area of Texas.  I remember hearing them several times a day on Z-Rock and even liked it when Diamond Darrell, as he was still called at the time, would come into the Z-Rock studios and let callers try and stump him on metal riffs.  I don’t think I ever heard him get stumped, even when someone called in and asked for Omen and fates Warning riffs.

This album was huge for them and launched them into being the 2nd biggest metal band of the 90s behind Metallica, and rightfully so for the times.

This album deserves every bit of praise that it ever got.  Too bad that I can’t stand this album.  I think it’s awful.  When I first heard Cemetery Gates I wanted to hurl.  That riff in the chorus with the pinch harmonics drives me nuts.  Then Cowboys From Hell?  Blech!

So please allow me to drop back and punt a little.  I had been listening to Pantera since 1986.  Projects in the Jungle was my introduction to them thanks to a former friend from high school.  I love that album, as cheesy as it may be.  I Am the Night is damned good too.  OK, Metal Magic isn’t so good, but it has some gems on it as well.  I remember buying their Power Metal album, with Phil Anselmo on vocals, and thought, “Man, these guys really kick ass!” even with the dumb lyrics.  Phil could wail.  I loved this band a lot.

I can’t iterate enough how coarse CFH was to my ears.  The band wasn’t recognizable to me any longer.  Granted they weren’t even close to being one of my favorite bands at the time but I still enjoyed spinning their albums.

I remember when they were coming to Virginia Beach to play the Peppermint Beach Club.  Some of my friends bought tickets and showed up at the venue early.  The band was hanging out and meeting with people outside the venue.  My buddies showed up with their pre-CFH record covers and Darrell and the rest of the band refused to sign them.  I’ll never forget some friends recounting Diamond Darrell saying, “Get that shit out of here.  That’s not us.  We’re not fucking signing that!”  Absolutely true story.  They were all acting like dicks.  I know a lot of people here in Texas who know/knew them and they are a bit surprised when I tell them the story.  Darrell always struck me as a nice, genuine soul from interviews and such.  Anselmo’s resume’ speaks for itself.  Pity.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is to never diss your fans.  Of course I’ve never had success like Pantera’s, but even in my little world of playing small gigs, garage bands that never even played out, making self-produced and financed records and going on the road for weekend gigs and such, no matter what, I would never talk shit to someone who took the time to come see my band play.  NEVER.  How shitty.  It really killed any future interest I could have ever had in that band after that point.

I listened to this album in its entirety again recently to see if maybe my mind could be changed after all these years.  Epic fail.  While there are a few good riffs here and there and Phil showed a few flashes of still being able to sing, the album still did nothing for me.

I know I’m in the minority on this one and I am OK with that.  A few months ago while at a show, 2 of the girls that were with us turned me on to the word Panterrible.  It’s how I have referred to them since.

RIP Diamond Darrell.  You surely didn’t deserve to go out like that.

Written by The Metal Files

September 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying (post facto review)

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I used to be a collector of all vinyl Iron Maiden.  I had a ton of stuff.  I didn’t have every pressing of every album or EP, but I had most of them.  It was crazy.  My OCD always had me looking for Iron Maiden records the minute I’d hit a record store.  Then No Prayer For The Dying came out and it seemed that Maiden had gone on marketing steroids.  Sure, they were the kings of releasing stuff since day 1, but it seemed to get crazy in 1990.  It was just too much.  I did buy a lot of the related EPs and such but decided to end it.  One reason was that the album, as I saw it at the time, wasn’t that good.

I saw that tour as well and had a good time although seeing Gers prance around on stage was utterly annoying.  Anthrax opened up on their Persistence of Time Tour.  They got pissed at the crowd for sitting down during their set.  It was a former friend from high school, Rogerson and myself at the patriot Center near Washington, DC.

Last night I decided to listen to this album again.  In a previous review I dogged it out pretty badly.  Listening to this again last night I really only cringed a few times.  I think I detested it so much back then because Adrian wasn’t on it, even though he gets partial credit for writing the worst song on the album, Hooks in You.  Musically it’s fine but the lyrics are silly.  Most likely they were written by Bruce Bruce.  I blame him.  The song sounds like it could have been on Tattooed Millionaire.

Overall I found listening to No Prayer rather enjoyable.  It was a nice trip down memory lane and there are a lot of songs on here that I actually like…a lot!  But Holy Smoke, Hooks In You and Bring Your Daughter are just dumb songs.  Absolutely horrible.  My absolute favorites would be The Assassin, Public Enema Number One, Run Silent Run Deep and even Mother Russia.  Tailgunner is just a mediocre track.

One thing that was blatantly apparent on here was the differences in the guitar solos.  There are no doubts as to who is soloing in each song.  To put is in simple terms, all of Jannick’s solos suck.  Seriously.  All of them.  I still think he sucks and still wish that he’d just go away.

In my original review I gave this album 2/10.  I am going to change it to a 6/10.  It’s energetic and Steve Harris was still a prominent feature in their sound.  Nowadays he’s just in the background.  What a pity.

If you were like me and hated this album back then, give it a new chance, especially after hearing how much they have changed in the last decade.

My ticket stub and a sticker that Maiden dropped from the ceiling at the end of their opening song, Tailgunner. (click to enlarge)

Written by The Metal Files

August 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Dokken – Up From The Ashes

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was living in Western Branch off of Taylor Rd with my cousin.  I don’t remember album-up-from-the-ashesexactly what day it was on but it was Jan/Feb 1991 only weeks before my 21st birthday.  I believe it was a Saturday and I was driving home from somewhere listening to Z-Rock and the local affiliate comes on the air to interview Don Dokken and Mikkey Dee about their concert that night at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA.  A former friend from high school and I had tickets and were pretty excited about the show.  I had been listening to Up From The Ashes since it came out a few months prior.

So as I am listening to them interview Don and Mikkey, I pull over to a gas station a few miles from my house and try to call the station to see if I could talk to them.  I was so damned excited that I kept fat fingering push buttons on the pay phone.  After about 3 or 4 tries I got through off air and got to talk to Don and Mikkey.  I asked if there was a way to meet Mikkey prior to the show and he told me what time to be at the Boathouse (super early).  I told him that I was a huge fan of his from the King Diamond days.  He said make sure I don’t have more than one person with me and everything would be cool.

So at this point I am flipping out (of course not on the phone but internally).  I get home a few minutes later and told my buddy what the plan was and that he had better be ready when I came by to get him.  He was notoriously slow at everything.  I told him if he wasn’t ready when I got there that I was leaving his ass behind.  Fortunately he was ready when I got there and we headed to Norfolk to the Boathouse.

We’re the first people in the lot along with the staff cars and Dokken’s bus.  Some dude came to the door of the bus and said they were coming from the hotel in a few minutes and to wait.  So we waited only a short amount of time and a minivan with Don, Mikkey Dee, John Norum and Billy White in it.  Mikkey gets out of the van and asks, “Are you Sean?”  I acknowledged and we were instantly escorted onto the bus.  So Don hands me a band photo which was already signed by Baltes (who was inside the Boathouse already).  So Don and the rest of the band sign it along with some other stuff like cassette covers and such (I hadn’t gotten into CDs yet).  He stood with us for a few minutes then hightailed it to the back of the bus to take care of stuff.  At this point I am freaking out because one of my all time favorite drummers and musical influences and standing next to me.  I don’t get start struck easily as I’ve met a lot of musicians over the years but this one was different.  This was Mikkey Dee…the guy who played drums on King Diamond’s Abigail.

We hung out for what seemed like an hour but was likely a lot less.  Talking with John Norum and Billy White was pretty neat.  Unfortunately in my giddy starstruck state I had forgotten that Billy White played on Watchtower’s debut.  To this day in my head I still hear my inner voice say, “You’re an idiot.”  Kelz reminds me of this regularly and he pointed out after the show, “Dude, how was it to meet Billy from Watchtower?”  Ummm…D’oh!  I am a Watchtower fanatic as well.  What a doofus.

But all in all, I was there to hang out with Mikkey which was the first of 3 times that I got to spend time with him, the other 2 being with Motorhead in 1993 and 2000.  Will post about those meetings some other time.

In my conversation with Mikkey, I noticed he was wearing an Abigail backstage pass.  It had one of the heavenly aura’s around it.  haha.  So being the fanboy that I was that night, we talked about drums and about some certain aspects of his playing that I tried to emulate.  I asked him if he was going to do a drum solo and he said there would be one.  I asked him if he could incorporate the intro to Welcome Home from the Them album.  He said, “That’s a good idea, we’ll see.”

So the opening act was on the stage at this point and it was time for us to get off the bus so they could get ready.  I can’t overstate how accommodating these guys were.  I honestly didn’t even need to see the show after that!  But we went in and caught the 2nd half of the set by The Blonz.  Wow.  They were just awful.  One of the worst bands I have ever seen.

So we make our way towards the front of the stage and got on the barricade at stage left which ultimately was in plain view of Mikkey when he was on the kit.  Perfect!

So out comes the band and they rip into their set.  They were absolutely incredible and it was one of the tightest sets I have ever seen by any band.  Watching Mikkey slay the drums and both Norum and White manhandling their guitars with such precision was pretty incredible.  Definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen.  Don’s vocals were clean and clear and he was an excellent frontman.

So I guess this blog is really about an album review, eh?  I’ve seen this one get trashed in many a metal review and I could never understand why.  It’s easily Don’s second best album behind Tooth and Nail and pretty much the last album that he actually sounded really good on.  Initially the main reason I bought the album was because I had read that Mikkey Dee was drumming on it.

Even with some of the slightly cheesier songs like Mirror Mirror and Stay, it’s an album of which I don’t ever feel the need to skip any of the tracks.  Good production as well.

This one gets 10/10.