Float on the Steel Breeze
No matter what I do, I just can't get it out of my head.
No, not thoughts of illicit sex- I'm married and happy as a clam. No, the sights and sounds that are clamoring for space in my head are the crunchy, dulcet sounds of molten heavy metal. I don't know which of these events triggered it - reading Chuck Klosterman's Fargo Rock City, getting hooked on Avenged Sevenfold and Lacuna Coil, or discovering the 4:56 version of Better( the Chinese Democracy demo) - but I am officially on 1989 time. And I couldn't be happier. I never thought listening to Tesla could make me so content, but I'm pleased (and somewhat embarrassed) by this unexpected development. Every time the power chords and drums kick in for "Be A Man", a huge grin spreads across my visage. Def Leppard's Adrenalize reveals new and complex shadings, Black Sabbath's first four records are criminally good- hell, even Winger sounds refreshing after a decade and a half on ice (OK, maybe not Winger). I'm kinda over the whole hip-hop thing- too much posturing and negativity for continuous listening- and grunge is a downer. I had forgotten just how much fun metal could be- probably due to the huge nostalgia rush it creates- and stand in awe at the melliflous wonder of the expertly played guitar solo.
Of course, metal has plenty of posturing as well- it's just that two decades later, it all seems so innocent. I doubt that in 2026 we'll look back at 50 Cent and see anything other than an extremely well marketed outlaw...but I could be wrong, since people wax rhapsodic over N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton, and that's as old as Appetite for Destruction(Good God, is that really true?). I think this year is going to be better than average for hard rock, with the eagerly anticipated Tool record on May 2nd and Chinese Democracy later this summer ( I'll believe it when I see it). Although I already weighed in on the leaked Demos in an earlier post, I have to update my thoughts on the song called Better: it's ferocious. Not since Welcome to the Jungle has Axl's voice sounded so feral, like the archetypal wounded animal. At the 2:32 mark,the band launches into one of the hardest riffs ever, and the song takes off like a rocket, pure visceral adrenaline. Do whatever you need to do, but hear this song.
I'm going to end this post with ten absolutely essential metal masterpieces. Feel free to post yours in the comments..and remember to bang your head on the way out.
1.Volume 4-Black Sabbath
A glorious coke-induced nightmare.
2.Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffiti
Custard Pie+Sick Again+ In My Time of Dying= Genius
3.Metallica-And Justice for All
Before they got too commercial.
4.Megadeth-Rust in Peace
The title track is the single most vicious thing ever written about L.A.-and the most accurate.
6.Van Halen-Fair Warning
Diamond Dave and Eddie peak, and the world gasps.
7.Guns n Roses-Appetite for Destruction
Mr.Brownstone is a dead-on portrait of a junkie with a scalding solo by Slash.The rest of the album ain't bad, either.
8.Ac/Dc-Back in Black
Ooof. It's tough to pick just one record, but when pushed, I'll select this shockingly great record.
9.Tesla-Great Radio Controversy
Sacramento's best straight ahead metal band.
10.Motorhead-Rock and Roll
Lemmy may be the funniest person (and one of the smartest) in all of metal.