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Posts tagged “Power Metal

Drawing Lines – The Self-Defeating Division and Derision in the Metal Community

You may remember me writing a different article on prejudice and bias in the metal community a while back. Consider this a companion piece to that one, as I’m taking on the same basic issue from a slightly different angle. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of  Last.fm

Image courtesy of Last.fm

I had an interesting talk with a co-worker the other day.

This co-worker of mine is big into the punk scene. He’s very much like me in his approach to punk in that he believes all forms have bands with merit. He doesn’t discriminate between pop-punk bands like Gob, hardcore like Black Flag, proto-punk like The Stooges, etc. He feels that there is quality music to be found in every portion of that genre. He feels that for punks to put themselves in even smaller boxes is ultimately self-defeating.

I couldn’t agree with him more. As someone who likes glam metal, death metal, NWOBHM, tech-thrash, and a whole host of other styles, I feel that for a metal fan to deny ones self exposure to new music based purely on some kind of prejudice against a certain scene or time frame is the definition of narrow minded.

For example, I’ve met my share of progressive metal fans in my travels. These are guys who like the high-minded, technical side of traditional and power metal. They like their music to be intelligent and ever-changing. I too think that progressive bands are incredibly interesting and would call myself a fan of several. But many prog fans deride glam metal as some kind of lower form of entertainment for less evolved beings. I don’t think that those fans, in all honesty, are being fair to themselves. Sure, there are many bands in that genre that could be considered simple pop music with hard rock guitars thrown in. But for every Poison or Bon Jovi, there’s a Mötley Crüe or Ratt.

That may make a lot of you chuckle, because they aren’t a technically gifted outfit, but think about it the breadth of their material. Throughout the course of their career, Crüe has never made the same album twice. Their sound has always fluctuated and changed and they now have one of the most musically diverse catalogues of music in heavy metal. Just through their first four albums they have glam rock/glam punk (Too Fast for Love), traditional heavy metal (Shout at the Devil), Sleaze Metal/Hard Rock (Theatre of Pain) and straight-up rock ‘n roll (Girls, Girls, Girls). That’s four different styles of music, each presented within the band’s own identity. Has Dream Theater ever been as diverse from album to album?

If you’re a prog fan who’s in it for the technicality and musicianship more than the variety and evolution, you might appreciate Ratt, who’s simple radio-friendly structures hide supremely talented and technical players. Just listen to the chops on “You’re In Trouble” from their first album.

Courtesy of KonigNick

To go for another example, I’ve met many people who claim to be massive fans of Pantera. I ask them if they’ve ever heard any of the stuff off of Power Metal, Projects In the Jungle, Metal Magic or I Am The Night; the band’s early, glam metal albums. More often than not they just stare at me looking perplexed. This is largely because that band, as awesome and awe-inspiring as they would become, completely abandoned and ignored their older material. I understand the reasons behind that decision, but I still feel it’s a shame that they felt the need to do that. There’s a ton of great songs, like “Out For Blood“, “Right on the Edge“, and “Death Trap“, that many Pantera fans have simply missed because, at the time, the band felt their only way to survive was to completely shed not only their old image, but their old material as well. To this day, many fans don’t know of that fantastic old-school material with Dimebag (Then known as “Diamond”) Darrell’s always stellar guitar work. That is down to the total derision of an entire section of the metal community in the 90s.

So don’t just ignore whole sub-genres based on your own prejudices or preconceptions. Give every band a fair chance to win you over, even if you’re not particularly fond of their image. You may find interesting material in places that you wouldn’t have thought to look.


Weekly Rare Track: Avatar – “Do You Want Me Now”

**I do not own any of the rights to this material. All writing, recording, production, publishing, and distribution rights are that of their respective owners**

Vocals: Jon Oliva
Guitar: Criss Oliva
Bass: Keith Collins
Drums and Percussion: Steve “Dr. Killdrums/Doc” Wacholz

Avatar was a curious and extraordinary band. You may not have heard of this Clearwater, Florida Metal crew, but I certainly hope you’ve heard of the band they would become: Savatage. Much of what would come from that band is already present on the collection of demo tracks known as Beyond the Doors of the Pit. One of the tracks displaying the hallmarks of early Savatage is “Do You Want Me Now”.

Even though it would still be a couple of years before signing with Par Records, merging “Savage” with “Avatar”, and creating one of the most pulverizing, classic Metal albums of the 80’s, you can already hear the songwriting and technical chops of the Oliva brothers and co. Criss Oliva and bass guitarist Keith have fantastic interplay (best witnessed on the second pre-chorus) and Criss is already displaying that shred-tastic soloing that would make him one of the most beloved guitarists of the 80s Power Metal scene. Jon’s vocals are spot on and showing much of the medieval menace (check out the scream at 2:54) the man would become famous for, as well as his more tender side. One of the most unique, powerful drums sounds in metal is already present from “Doc” Wacholz as well.

Even the lyrics to this piece are some of the most intelligent I’ve ever heard on this subject matter (a love-triangle type situation, told from the perspective of the rejected man) and despite that subject matter that, the song is able to retain much of the band’s hallmark dungeon-esque creepiness. Jon Oliva really is one of the best vocalists in Metal, even at this early stage in his career.

It’s no surprise that this exact line-up would go on to create Savatage’s first three epic calling cards. R.I.P. Criss Oliva

Left to Right: Keith Collins, Steve Wacholz, Criss Oliva, Jon Oliva

To check out current acts involving Avatar/Savatage members, visit JonOliva.net, Trans-Siberian.com,  ReverenceMetal.com and ChrisCaffery.com

Weekly Rare Track: Glacier – “Devil in Disguise”

*I do not own the rights to this recording. All recording, writing, producing, publishing and distribution rights are that of the perspective owners.*

Song: Devil In Disguise
Band: Glacier
Recording: Glacier [EP]
Label: Axe Killer
Year: 1985

Glacier was a Heavy/Power Metal from Portland, Oregon. Formed in 1979, their only output was two demo tapes (one in 1984, the other in 1988) and a lone EP from which this song is taken. Very much a band in the same vein as Omen, Virgin Steele, or Halloween, their lyrical content was loosely Christian but predominantly based in fantasy. In any case, the line-up that crafted this 5-track opus (Loren Bates [Drums], Patrick Goebel [Guitars], Timm Proctor [Bass, Vocals], Sam Easley [Guitars]) are a solid unit who created a truly solid EP well worth your time.

Full EP Tracklisting:

1. When Heaven’s At Hand
2. Vendetta
3. Ready for Battle
4. Devil in Disguise
5. Speak No Evil