Monday, January 12, 2015

Righteous Metal CD

I can think of only two situations where the phrase "righteous metal" would realistically be used:

a) Some sort of white metal reference, such as a songtitle or compilation.

b) Uttered with a surfer accent in the late '80s/'90s by some Bill & Ted/Beavis & Butt-head type moron who should have left the horn-throwing to Dio.   WYLD STALLYNS!

Thankfully, this post deals with the first scenario.

Released in 1987, Righteous Metal was K-Tel's (through sub-label Arrival) attempt at a Christian metal compilation.  I'm hesitant to say K-Tel really pioneered anything here since their whole business model was based on capitalizing on trends, but 1987 (keep in mind, the same year the original California Metal compilation came out) was still pretty early for a compilation of this type.  It also means Righteous Metal pre-dated the release of any of the full-length Christian thrash albums (it's unlikely a label like K-Tel would have even bothered with demo bands, though in 1991 there would be a second volume that included Believer and Tourniquet).

Bloodgood - Though I could do without some of the theatrical elements, one of their better songs and a solid opener.

Barren Cross - I don't know if it's admirable or ridiculous that a band with a singer whose natural voice is as close to Bruce Dickinson as humanly possible chose not to sound more like Maiden.  Not a very flattering track for the band, with its ham-fisted "ROCK!" gang-choruses and plodding tempo.

Stryken - Stryken has a certain amount of notoriety online due to their 1986 album cover (with the band members sporting awful spandex/repurposed protective sports padding getups that make The Pack is Back-era Raven outfits look subtle) being featured at the Bizarre Records website.  They also hold a certain amount of notoriety with me for completely different reasons.*

Now, I'm not against bands incorporating football pads into their costumes, but at least do it right, like Omen or the Italian Revenge.  I was hoping there would be something musically redeeming about a band who dressed and proudly posed in such a ridiculously over the top manner, but I was very disappointed when I heard the album; it reeked of L.A. commercialism.  Their contribution here is a corny glam metal attempt at a "We Will Rock You" type anthem, complete with a horrible artificial-sounding drum beat that's made to clap to.

Messiah Prophet - OH LOOK, A SONG ABOUT ME.  Good track, much more of a metallic anthem than the last two duds.

Saint - Priest comparisons are inevitable with Saint; Josh Kramer has a lot of vocal mannerisms immediately reminiscent of Halford, and this particular song has a mid-tempo swagger which instantly brings "Metal Gods" to mind, especially coupled with the lyrics.  Speaking of which, what's with said lyrics?  I can't tell if they're allegorical or not.  A guy hiding in the sewers to escape from mutants with lasers doesn't seem overtly Christian, but then there's that line about not taking the mark or bowing to the beast.  Anyway, this is great in comparison to some of the dreck on here, but I'm still undecided on whether this is necessarily the best Saint song to showcase on a compilation.

Jerusalem - Not going to complain about their inclusion, since this is quite heavy for them and it's not an unpleasant song.  Besides, much, much worse is just around the corner.  Hard rock with clear '70s roots due to the keyboard use.

The next 5 songs - Even with some kind of perverse, overly liberal definition of heavy metal, the inclusion of the Petra and Altar Boys tracks are indefensible, and the others are shoehorned-in hard rock tracks at best.

Philadelphia - REDEMPTION!  Easily the best track on here, and they would have easily fit in with the early Metal Blade bands.  In fact, had these guys been secular, there's no doubt in my mind dozens of Germans and Greeks would be raving about them and/or masturbating to them.  That's not to say Christianity was the only impediment.  Their first album varied quite a lot in song quality.  And then, there's the band name--I get why they chose it, but the only church of Revelation that potentially makes a worse band name is Smyrna.

*from Wikipedia: "In June 1987, the members of Stryken were detained by police after disrupting a Mötley Crüe concert in San Antonio, Texas. Carrying a large wooden cross and clad in full body armor (inspired by the theological teaching of the 'Armor of God' as found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book, Ephesians), Stryken first proselytized concertgoers outside of the venue and then proceeded inside to the front of the stage. After being detained by police, the band was released without charges."
(Since that would have been Girls Girls Girls era, completely acceptable)

Also, there's a section of Stryken's "Crush the Head of Satan" where the word "crush" is repeated in a way that brings to mind a much later Megadeth song...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sebastian Bach is not a big Korrozia Metalla fan

Here's more from the special but with most musical footage cut out.  Contains: great Klaus Meine impression, footage of Skid Row accosting Moscow commuters, and a surprisingly funny Yngwie joke.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What daring! What outrageousness! What insolence! What arrogance!

Crom - The Cocaine Wars 1974-1989

My first exposure to these guys was on the CD version of the first two Cry Now, Cry Later compilations; I initially had bought it for the Meat Shits stuff but I noticed and was impressed (by the idea--the music, not so much) that a band had chosen to cover Hirax.

This full length is a fun album to listen to--not because of the uh, original music, though, which is just grindy and/or doomy filler that helps segue between and flesh out tracks that are otherwise brimming with samples and song sections repurposed from older bands.  No, what makes this album enjoyable is that it's full of bits lifted from elsewhere.  It's like listening to a goregrind album where the intro samples are more interesting than the music, the Venom live 7" with the brilliant Cronos repartee, and one of the innumerable metal CDs where the band's original music is completely eclipsed by a cover song all at once.

The thing that immediately endeared me to this album was how they throw all sorts of crazy shit together in a wonderfully stream of consciousness sort of way.  Of course, the majority of the samples are the requisite Conan the Barbarian soundbites, but Tom Araya, Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy Osbourne (the entire band, in this case), Hawkwind (the Robert Calvert bit from "Sonic Attack" know, about bleeding orifices, aching pelvises, etc.), and even the Doobie Brothers appear.  Now is a good time to publicly state for the record that I will check out any recording that has 1983-85 Slayer stage banter sampled in it, no matter how terrible it may be. 

They also throw in short little tributes to bands of the past.  There are a  few seconds of "Toxic Trace," "Lethal Tendencies," "Die by the Sword," "Black Funeral," and "Jesus Saves" among everything else, and I suspect there are a couple more I missed (please point these out).  Even without these parts, there's a pretty healthy dose of metallic influence here.  I see the band commonly classified as powerviolence, which I think is kind of lazy and ignores that influence, but I also realize the complexities of trying to classify a band where a grindy part may be followed by a James Earl Jones sound bite and then a borrowed Kreator riff.

I didn't mention the Hyborian Age much in this post--odd when writing about a band whose theme is centered around Conan--but I'm not terribly qualified to do so.  I love the original movie, but I've spent more time in my life reading NWoBHM liner notes than Howard's works.*


Friday, July 18, 2014

Commercial Metal, Vol. 7 - K-Tel compilations

A logo that sort of resembles looking into a chick's blouse from the side...
K-tel is a company best known for hawking their compilation albums on TV--their heyday was the '70s, making me too young and my parents too old to truly appreciate those halcyon times.  More detail or historical info about K-tel could easily go here, but I'm less interested in informing readers and more interested in listening to Kreator.

In fairness to the company, their '88 Rising Metal compilation had a surprisingly good tracklist and was one of my first exposures to thrash metal.*

Anyway, they did some metal compilations that had some TV ads, hence this post:

As with almost every corporate label metal compilation, real heavy metal is tempered with commercial pap.

AND WHAT'S WITH THE MASTER OF METAL HIMSELF?  I dig his gladiator-of-the-dystopian-future look and his jerky low-frame-rate animation, don't get me wrong.  But what's with the face, and arm, for that matter? Is he supposed to be cybernetically enhanced, ala Kano of Mortal Kombat?  Is he some kind of robotic compilation shilling Terminator homage?

Actually, you know what?  Fuck the Master of Metal.  "I bring you..."  Yeah, you brought me an album with Bon Jovi on it.  Fuck off.

These seem to be more solid albums overall, and both volumes have Graham Bonnet on them!  Plus, I absolutely love the Axe Attack logo!  It's rather unfortunate that no NWOBHM bands took the moniker and stole the logo. Guitar Pete didn't even bother to use it.