It’s Already April!

There Goes My Hero…

No, I haven’t been neglecting this blog. But as I tried to find the best way to express the tragic news of December 29th, 2017, so much else seemed to be going on. I mean I usually post about the music I was into in the previous year and a list of top ten or twelve most listened-to songs from CDs I purchased. a1384632565_10Then there was the release of the new Colin Tench Project album. I decided that I had to do that one first. But, yeah, then came the shocking news that my friend, the brilliant and, let’ admit it, lovable Colin Tench suddenly and without warning passed away.

I was standing there in my work room and had just picked up my smartphone to check something when a message came in from Gordo Bennett. He broke the news to me, having just heard from Colin’s sister. I think I would have just fallen through the floor if I could. Only days before, Colin had sent me the entire album in a file so I could listen, enjoy, and write a review for Prog Archives ahead of the album’s official release. We talked about the review and the incredible album. Our final words were some pleasant Christmas greetings to one another. For the next few days I thought more about the album. I had questions to ask, things to point out, and compliments to give. There was so much more to tell Colin about his wonderful work.

And then that news. I barely moved for the next hour or so, just standing in one spot trying to fathom how it could be that this lively, active, fun-loving, creative, humorous, talented, friendly, and energetic person could so suddenly take leave of the world of the living. The community reeled. Musicians, friends, fans, family, colleagues, and acquaintances were stunned, crushed, mortified. Photos and memories were shared, tributes paid, proposals for a tribute album were made, and yet during all this a brilliant new album of music was waiting to be heard.

The official CD release date was January 30th, and Colin’s sister and nephew took over and did a stellar job of filling all the pre-orders and new orders.  The Colin Tench Project’s second album, “minor Masterpiece” reached tenth position on Prog Archives’ top 100 albums of 2017, a pretty decent feat as it had only been released in the final week of the year. The album features vocals by Peter Jones and Joey Lugassy, bass by Petri Lindstrom, orchestral arrangement by Gordo Bennett, drums by Joe Vitale, and of course guitars and keyboards by Colin Tench. Sonia Mota created the imaginative cover art.

Music Is A Journey

As recent as last November I had in mind to start a video series about music. The premier episode was to be about the new Colin Tench Project album and Colin’s music career. This is what became the first episode indeed, but with the grievous dual-purpose of being a tribute to a great and unique musician who had passed on. For now, the series continues with episodes featuring people with whom Colin has collaborated or people who have worked with the people who knew Colin. Episode two featured Petri Linstrom, Blake Carpenter, Andres Guazzelli, Stef Flaming,, and Gordo Bennett. Episode three is in the planning stage and will be recorded next week and hopefully up on YouTube by April 14th.

Moonwink

While all of this has been going on, Gordo Bennett and Joe Serwinowski, collectively known as GorFusion, have released their second piece of music entitled “Moonwink”. Last year it was “Waxed Apples“. Gordo is planning on and working on moving ahead with more GorFusion music, including a side project called GorAcoustik, and also two projects under the GorMusik moniker. We’re hoping this will be a big year for Gordo.

As with “Waxed Apples”, I did the cover art. It came together as a conceptual piece we talked about last year and which I began last summer. I had in mind to shoot the entire scene as one shot but found it was easier to shoot the main components and then add the together in smartphone photo manipulating applications. After a lot of small edits and changes, the  final art work was released to the public along with the music.

As for me, I will keep making more videos for now and hopefully still write more music-related blog posts such as another installment or two in my essays on heavy metal series. I hope the next post won’t take so long to come.GorFusion Moon Wink Album Art 2nd edit

 

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Progressive Aggressive

Essays on Heavy Metal #3 – The Prog and Punk Connection

Cream, The Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin… No one contests the blues roots of heavy metal. It was the arrival of the blues in rock and roll Britain that inspired many young British musicians to play blues in a rock band format, and as guitarists experimented more with guitar playing techniques and the fuzz box became prevalent, the music got louder and heavier, which in turn meant that drummers and vocalists had to be louder, too. When the American heavy metal scene really took off in 1969, bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Bloodrock and Sir Lord Baltimore were also following a blues format, having been inspired by their British predecessors. Of course, the blues in rock had already been a trend in the States as many garage rock bands of the mid-sixties had caught on to the British scene and began doing covers of British bands’ covers of African American blues.

But even while heavy metal’s roots are deep in the blues, the genre also shares a lot in common with two very different genres of rock: progressive rock and punk rock.

The Aggressive Side

Some would say that one of the earliest blue prints for a heavy metal song would be “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. Couple that with “All Day and All of the Night” and we can see how these two songs serve as templates for heavy metal. Both feature distorted guitar riffs, hard-hitting percussion, wild lead guitar solos, and vocals that build in intensity as the music rises toward the chorus. It’s no surprise to see “You Really Got Me” was covered in 1972 by Canadian heavy rockers Thundermug and again in 1978 by Van Halen, who gave the song a new shot at the charts.

However, there are those who point out the simplicity and raw aggressive nature of the songs to be more akin to punk rock. Indeed, in writing “You Really Got Me”, The Kinks had taken inspiration from the American garage rock scene, particularly the hit “Louis Louis”. The Wikipedia article on the song says, “Ray Davies has stated that he wrote the group’s first hit ‘You Really Got Me’ while trying to work out the chords of ‘Louis Louis’”. As the American garage rock scene expanded, many bands would go on to inspire future punk rock bands. The Shadows of Knight, MC5, The Music Machine, The Sonics, The Seeds and many other bands employed fuzz tone and pushed many of their songs in a more aggressive and energetic direction, and because of the relative simplicity of the songs, they were easily picked up by future punk rock bands who had a great distaste for the technical complexity of progressive rock or the doom and despair of ponderous heavy metal tunes. That punk and metal share a common origin can been seen in lists of proto-metal albums from 1969/70 which frequently include MC5 and The Stooges, two bands whose take on aggressive guitar rock are closer to punk than metal.

When punk rock arose in New York and London in the mid-seventies, it threatened to make both metal and prog redundant. Heavy metal was supposed on the verge of death in 1978, and even as new artists such as Van Halen brought a new sound and new life to the genre, battles between punk and metal fans ensued as author Steve Waksman describes in his book, “This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk.” Waksman expounds on a reader letter exchange battle in a music magazine where metalheads and punk rockers each denounce the other’s music preference, try to prove, among many other things, whose music style best represents masculinity with one punker decrying Van Halen front man David Lee Roth as no match for Joey Ramone.

In spite of the fan disputes, heavy metal and punk musicians were to borrow from each other, the first example being the integrated punk sound in many New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands and soon after in both American thrash metal and British grindcore. In the eighties, bands in both genres would crossover and back. As heavy metal continued to splinter into subgenres in the nineties, many such “core” styles (metalcore, deathcore, mathcore, etc.) would emerge, where “core” meant the combining of hardcore punk with a metal approach.

The Progressive Side

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we find progressive rock. Known for extravagant and lengthy compositions inspired by classical and jazz music, progressive rock blossomed in the early seventies around the same time as the first wave of heavy metal. Prog can trace its roots back to the mid-sixties with bands like Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys who were making use of the studio to create music to be enjoyed on record first as opposed to the usual approach of recording songs that the groups already were performing live. By using the studio to create songs, artists had the freedom to experiment with and devise studio techniques for achieving realizing their musical conceptions. Sounds effects, exotic instruments, backwards recordings, modification of instrument sounds, and many other things became possible, thus opening up doors for a new approach to composing popular music.

During the peak psychedelic years of 67/68, longer compositions and the use of fuzz tone became part of the nascent prog scene arsenal. Looking at bands that are considered proto-prog, it’s not surprising to see proto-metal bands on the same list. Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge both played heavy rock with guitar distortion but also wrote songs that expanded the standard rock song format into new dimensions.

It was, however, King Crimson, whose 1969 breakout song “21st Century Schizoid Man” would break the doors open for prog rock. Interestingly, while this song and King Crimson are considered pinnacles of prog rock excellence, the song has also been covered by hard rock and metal bands like April Wine and Voivod, and King Crimson easily hold a place on proto-metal and heavy seventies lists.

James M. Curtis writes this about metal and prog in his book “Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954-1984”:

“Heavy metal also has significant affinities with art rock. Both styles came from England and peacefully coexisted at first. In 1970, Black Sabbath and Yes were sharing the same bill at venues like Cardiff Arts Centre Project. In the British Context, it seemed perfectly reasonable for Deep Purple to put out a record called Concerto for Group and Orchestra. After all, their lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had had classical training; he once said that he used a Bach chord progression on the ‘Highway Star’ solo on Machine Head.”

Deep Purple are an excellent example of the connection between heavy metal and progressive rock. The band’s first three albums followed a Vanilla Fudge approach of combining a loud heavy rock guitar playing style with plenty of stunning leads with a Hammond organ (whose player, Jon Lord, was also classically trained and went on to compose several classical-type albums) and rearranging popular songs into more extravagant pieces. It would also be of extreme importance to note that the famous riff in Black Sabbath’s eponymous song was inspired by a part in “Mars: God of War” (4:25) in Holst’s The Planets (note that the opening seems to have also inspired Andromeda and Diamond Head).

There were other bands influencing metal as well. Brian Harrington and Malcolm Dume, authors of Encyclopedia Metallica, write “The Nice played a major part in the development of the pomp-school of heavy metal and certainly (Keith) Emmerson’s influence was enormous.” His costumes and his attacks on his organ set examples of how to create an exciting stage performance.

Other bands like Yes and Genesis, though exemplary prog rock bands, included heavy metal elements. Listen to “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes or some of the heavier parts of Genesis songs such as what crops up in “The Musical Box” (3:40 to 4:48) and you will hear the rumblings of heavy metal. In fact, Eddie Van Halen’s famous finger tapping technique was inspired by Steve Hackett’s finger tapping solos on songs like “Supper’s Ready” (8:10 to 8:25) and “The Fountain of Salmacis” (3:23 to 3:45). Hackett says he came up with the technique while trying to figure out how to play certain successions of notes that are easily played on a keyboard.

Furthering the connection between prog and metal, we see other British bands like T.2. and High Tide setting fine examples of early heavy metal while at the same time writing expanded and technically complex compositions, with T.2. leaning more to the jazz side and High Tide, featuring a lead violinist and including pseudo-Baroque passages, being more of the classically inspired. Necromandus were also a band that solidly straddled the line between heavy metal and progressive rock.

As heavy metal’s initial popularity began to wane after 1972/73, groups like Bloodrock and High Tide (after breaking up once) began exploring progressive rock more. Then in 1975, a band that would perfectly marry heavy rock with prog came out of Canada. The power trio Rush began developing their signature seventies style from their second album and by the time their fourth album, the monumental 2112 came out, the band had made prog in heavy rock fashionable. Their next two albums saw them experimenting with longer and complex compositions while maintaining the distorted guitars and technical lead playing. Sometimes considered the fathers of progressive metal, Rush would go on to inspire numerous metal bands of the future, perhaps the most notable of which is Dream Theater.

By the time the New Wave of British Heavy Metal broke loose, several artists delivered heavy metal with prog tendencies. One of the best examples is Iron Maiden’s debut album. Founding member bassist Steve Harris admits that prog rock had been his first love, and some of the songs on the debut album include expanded instrumental parts featuring tempo and time signature changes, rhythm changes, and a sense of melody.

Inspired by Iron Maiden, three new American metal bands would foster in the development of the progressive metal subgenre: Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Crimson Glory. Add to that the technical work of Watchtower and progressive metal had finally achieved a perfect marriage between progressive rock and heavy metal.

The Decade Metal Died Twice

Essays on heavy metal, #2 – How heavy metal nearly died in the 1970’s

“I submit that there was no such thing as heavy metal after the year 1972.”

These are the words of the famous American music critic, Lester Bangs, which he wrote in 1977 in response to the punk explosion. Bangs saw little reason for heavy metal, what was left of it in 1977 anyway, to survive. Having already become a reputable critic in the late sixties, Bangs frequently used the words “metal” and “heavy metal” in his reviews to describe the sound or musical intelligence of particular artists, and even though he may not have been the one to append it to a particular style of rock music, he frequently used the term. Bangs recognized that bands like Grand Funk and Black Sabbath had a distinct sound and message. The sound was nothing he particularly cared for. About Grand Funk, he wrote, “Grand Funk were only good when they sounded like shit…” and of Black Sabbath he famously said, “…just like Cream! But worse“.

It’s a commonly accepted notion that heavy metal music was born in 1969/70HEAVY-METAL-1966-1984-Lester-Bangs-Paul-Suter_slika_O_43121529martinpopoff_yeoldmetal_68-72_1024x1024, with some arguing that it was actually a little before that and others claiming the exact birth

date to be February 13th, 1970, when Black Sabbath released its eponymous debut. Emerging from the British R&B scene and the American garage rock scene, brought to life by heavy, distorted electric guitars, pounding rhythm sections and powerhouse vocals, and supercharged in the post-psychedelic sixties, heavy metal was truly born around the turn of the decade, partly as rebuttal against the flower power love and peace movements of the sixties whose idealistic world never materialized as war, political corruption, environmental destruction, criminal incarceration and punishment, substance abuse, mental illness, and general human treachery proved to be the truths of a world ruled by Satan. The distorted guitar sounds had already been called “metal” several times in the sixties and the seriousness of the lyrical subjects were certainly heavy. But it was at last in the early seventies that the words were put together to suggest a certain genre and not just a sound.

Author Gene Sculatti wrote in the pages of Bomp fanzine, “By stipping back hard rock to its primal blues roots… one interesting stylistic stream was discovered and,  for about 18 months, worked energetically: Heavy Metal”. Just try a YouTube search for early seventies heavy metal and begin exploring. So many bands, whose legacies of obscure releases and shelved demos are preserved on the Internet thanks to record collectors, were trying their hands at gritty, rumbling, loud music. This 1976 article on Robert Plant in People weekly claims that the “Age of Heavy Metal” lasted approximately from 1969 to 1971 and the musical style has “faded from fashion”. Heavy metal died in 1971/72.

This is not entirely inaccurate. In 1970/71, we can find dozens of examples of bands worldwide recording heavy, buzzing and grinding riffs, often backed by a thunderous Hammond organ, and a general appreciation for very loud music and lyrics that make the hippy flowers wilt in despair. Dust members claim that no one was playing as loud as they were in 69/70 and Lester Bangs likened Black Sabbath’s guitars to battering rams.

It is interesting to consider that the very appellation of “heavy metal” may have caused the fad to fade. It was used originally as a derogatory term, notes Black Sabbath’s Terry Butler; the band’s music was described as the sound of heavy metal falling from the sky, a simile previously applied to the music of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Many musicians felt their music was being called “clumsy” and “lumbering”. Robert Plant continues to point out that Led Zeppelin were more than just about “leadbelly” music.

It’s possible that in reaction to “heavy metal’s” association with dull, juggernaut-like, graceless music that in 1972, there was a change in the wind. Many bands like Deep Purple, Bloodrock, Grand Funk, and Bang were beginning to modify their sound. More organ but not as heavy, or add piano instead of having organ. Guitar distortion more controlled and more use of less distorted or clean guitars and more obvious jazzy or bluesy parts. Some bands switched to a progressive style, some added more folk influences and acoustic tracks, others went for more melody and a radio-friendly, mainstream style. Still others broke up entirely.

Some bands soldiered on but to little avail. Sudden Death never saw their demo album released until the nineties; Necromandus and Iron Maiden (of Essex) suffered a similar fate. Supernaut, too. Canada’s Twitch tried to push the envelope but at a time when it was unfashionable. Any bands who tried to keep the gravity of their music – both in heaviness and severity of subject matter – found themselves lacking fans as guitar rock began to split between the nascent punk rock sound and AOR. A new breed of bands who sang about fast women, fast times, and a life of rock and roll and who largely relied on the pentatonic scale instead of experimenting with the chromatic scale and classical influences were taking the centre stage: Aerosmith, Ted Nugent(’s Amboy Dukes), KISS, Nazareth, Thin Lizzy, Sweet, April Wine, Bachman Turner Overdrive, etc. The dark, heavy side of metal went underground with bands like Pentagram, Bedemon, Desirèe and Cold Feet, and survived only in occasional moments of release like Nazareth’s “Miss Misery” and Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault”. Black Sabbath was the only big name band that truly refused to change their ways.

heavy metal digest

It’s all metal, baby… in 1974

Ironically, as the hard rock acts (as they are mostly recognized today) became the new black, the term “heavy metal” was applied to them. By the late seventies, heavy metal was a commonly flouted moniker for loud and heavy guitar music and applied to a good number of bands.

Yet as the punk movement grew and disco also came into vogue, heavy metal was in trouble. Like its more cultured cousin, progressive rock, heavy metal was being threatened by extinction. Or at least that was what the music press was suggesting. By 1978, it seemed that heavy metal was on the verge of death.

creem metal dead

Is Heavy Metal Dead in 1978?

Of course, heavy metal was not dying at all. It was undergoing a metamorphosis that was first suggested by Judas Priest and Rainbow in 1976. By 1977, British heavy metal bands were forming with the seeds for a new take on metal already germinating. And in 1979/80, the dam burst and a whole new generation of heavy metal enthusiasts flooded forth, not only delivering a revamped and more intense version of heavy metal to the world, but also inspiring the forth-coming thrash metal movement in the United States.

judaspriest_creem80

Back from the Dead – Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal: Music By Any Other Name

Essays on Heavy Metal, Number #1 – The significance of the term “heavy metal” as a moniker for a genre of music

Heavy metal has been around for nearly 50 years and despite repeated threats of extinction, the music has always managed to adapt and evolve, ever thriving in the underground scene when mainstream success was for the most part unattainable. Heavy metal has never truly cared anyway. The fans have never truly expected airwave dominance either. Mainstream success would mean intervening record companies who would fluff up the sound or bands who would “sell out” by choosing to fluff up their sound.

For legions of metal fans, the term “heavy metal” is synonymous with the personal choice of enjoying music that has been the bane of critics, a hot piece of iron difficult to handle for radio stations, and something of ridicule for many classic rock and pop musicians, not to mention aficionados of jazz and classical music. Choosing metal is a statement of individuality over following the galvanized pop for the masses or some hoity-toity community of ivory tower music snobs. Yet while fans maintain a pride in being “metalheads” and “headbangers”, many progenitors of the genre don’t want to be associated with the monster they created. Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin refers to early seventies heavy metal as “that horrendous boring period in music.” Cream bass guitarist and vocalist, Jack Bruce, once said, “I still don’t take the blame for inventing heavy metal. Hang that one on Led Zeppelin”. Fellow bandmate and drummer Ginger Baker put it more disdainfully: “People say Cream gave birth to heavy metal. If that’s so, we should have had an abortion.”

Metal Sucks

So, is it the musical style that is so repulsive or the image? Or is it just the term “heavy metal”? Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan has never liked the label. “Heavy metal is a term that is just unintentionally clumsy.” Black Sabbath’s Terry Butler said of it that Black Sabbath’s music was likened to the sound of a box of heavy metal objects being dropped. As for music critic Lester Bangs, in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, he posited a more articulate statement against heavy metal:

“As its detractors have always claimed, heavy-metal rock is nothing more than a bunch of noise; it is not music, it’s distortion—and that is precisely why its adherents find it appealing. Of all contemporary rock, it is the genre most closely identified with violence and aggression, rapine and carnage.”

Not surprisingly, for musicians who believed they were making music and not noise, being associated with such an unflattering label was tantamount to career damnation. No matter what talent you possessed, if you were heavy metal then you were just loud and noisy and unsophisticated. Lemmy Kilmister skirted the association with the label by always claiming that his band, Motorhead, played rock and roll and insisted that heavy metal was just rock and roll.

When the term “heavy metal” first began being used to describe a genre of music in the early 1970’s, it was applied as a pejorative; “heavy metal-leaden shit-rock” was how critic Mike Saunders described the music of Humble Pie’s Safe as Yesterday Is in his review of the album. Their third and self-titled album was described as, “more of the same 27th-rate heavy metal crap”. Considering that in those days, heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium were poisoning the environment, there wasn’t much that was flattering about the appellation.

Why “Heavy Metal”?

Even still, why did Saunders think to apply the label to an emerging subgenre of popular music. Deena Weinstein explores the roots of the term in her paper entitled Just So Stories: How Heavy Metal Got Its Name—A Cautionary Tale. Mike Saunders wrote his reviews while attending college and had spent some time studying the Periodic Table of the Elements. “Heavy metal” and “leaden metal” were still fresh in his mind when he considered the heavy, leaden drumming on the Humble Pie albums, drumming that lacked the “swing” of hard rock. In an email message to Weinstein, Saunders explained how he derived the term:

“I’d taken freshman chemistry during fall 1969 and spring 1970 semesters … the phrases ‘leaden metal’ and ‘heavy metal,’ along with the periodic table of elements’ neighborhood where they derived from or resided, clocked in a lot more time-share space in my day-to-day mind than any old Steppenwolf hit song … [Humble Pie’s album, Safe as Yesterday Is ] was stiff, turgid, i.e. leaden in its lack of hard rock drummer “swing” (also known as cool drum rolls/parts). Since ‘heavy’ had been around for three whole years as the most common genre term, i.e. ‘heavy rock,’ hell yeah…why NOT insert the phrase ‘leaden-metal’ in between the ‘heavy’/’rock’ tandem? Flipped around, ‘metal-leaden’ must have looked catchier on paper…’heavy metal-leaden rock’…since that put the words ‘heavy’ and ‘metal’ into a tandem status just like on the elements table. Oh yeah, the Humble Pie album that I’d wasted my money on was complete shit, so throw in the ‘shit’ word too….’heavy metal-leaden shit-rock.’ shortened in the next/final paragraph to simply ‘heavy metal crap.’ (no hyphen)…Maybe the leaden part (as pejorative describing the dreadful Humble Pie rhythm section) was just implied.”

The Steppenwolf song he refers to is of course the classic early 1968 hit song “Born to Be Wild” which includes the lyric, “heavy metal thunder”. However, in the context of the lyrics, it attempts to capture the image of a motorcycle or car engine. Indeed, Led Zeppelin would use the term in their 1975 song “Trampled Underfoot”: “Check that heavy metal underneath your hood.” But perhaps Robert Plant’s usage in this case also implied innuendo as the song’s refrain repeats, “Talkin’ ‘bout love, talkin’ ‘bout love” and the lyrics go further in suggestiveness with the line, “I’m so glad I took a look inside your showroom doors”. Exactly what is this hood he looked underneath and what are those showroom doors?

Whatever image Robert Plant was trying to imply with his use of the musical term he reviled, he was not talkin’ ‘bout heavy metal music. And neither were Steppenwolf, who were, by the way, not the first to use the term in a musical context. In 1967, the British avant-guard outfit Hapshash and the Coloured Coat used the term in their album title Featuring The Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids. Here, though, the term seems to reference a novel by William Burroughs, which we will consider shortly.

Who Was On First?

So, was Mike Saunders then the first to use heavy metal to describe a style of music? As he states in the quote above, the term heavy had already been in use for three years, as in “heavy rock”. Weinstein’s paper delves deeper into the origins of the term and there is more than one critic who demands credit for inventing descriptive moniker. Blue Oyster Cult manager and lyricist, Sandy Pearlman, claims that he came up with the term originally, again citing the Periodic Table of the Elements as the source for the inspiration. In a review he wrote in Crawdaddy! About The Notorious Byrd Brothers album, Pearlman claims he used the term “heavy metal” to describe “the incredible complexity of the distortion”.

Once again, “heavy metal” becomes synonymous with distortion and noise; however, the review was on the website ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles, and there was no mention of “heavy metal”. Site manager Tim Conners gives Lester Bangs credit for inventing the term, remarking that he lifted it from a William Burroughs’ book series that included a character called “Uranian Willy The Heavy Metal Kid”. Uranian Willy had no association with any style of music but instead the planet Uranus and its drug-addicted inhabitants. But Bangs makes no use of the term in his reviews or other writing until later on in the seventies, after the term had come into frequent usage.

Still, Pearlman used the word “metal” as early as 1967 when writing about the Rolling Stones’ album Got Live If You Want It. Weinstein observes that “metal” or “metallic” was used eight times in the first eight sentences, although the term is used to describe the sound of the music rather than a style of music.

Another contender, which is also mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for “heavy metal”, is a 1968 review published in Rolling Stone and written by Barry Gifford. He writes of musician Mike Bloomfield that his new album is “the New Soul Music, the synthesis of White Blues and Heavy Metal rock”. The author later clarified the intention of his use of “heavy metal” as a means to describe the sound of the band, and the music bears no resemblance to what later became known as heavy metal. Still again in 1968, the terms “heavy” and “metallic” were used in a New York Times review of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s album Axis: Bold as Love, where author Jim Miller wrote, “Jimi Hendrix sounds like a junk heap, very heavy and metallic loud”. Once again, “heavy” and “metal(lic)” are used to describe the sound of the music, and while Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, and The Rolling Stones all have quite distinctly different sounds to their music, we are reminded once again in the Hendrix review at least that “heavy metal” could be used in criticism of the music’s sound. Another description used elsewhere described Hendrix’s music as, “like listening to heavy metal falling from the sky”.

Quite interesting as we get closer to the birth of the term to describe the genre of loud and metallic heavy rock, Weinstein’s paper reveals yet another usage of “heavy metal” prior to the Mike Saunders’ penned review. The surprise is that the review which included the term was written by none other than Lester Bangs, this time in a 1970 review of The Guess Who’s album, Canned Wheat. Bangs writes about the band, “They’re quite refreshing in the wake of all the heavy metal robots of the year past”. The term here describes a number of bands who have been churning out monotonous and uncreative music but not a genre of music. Still, it’s not flattering to those bands.

Heavy? Downer?

Alternatively, heavy rock, as Saunders pointed out, was already being used to describe the music of bands like Cream and Blue Cheer in the late sixties and later for Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. “Heavy” on its own, though, implied no derision, and the term had already been used by the Beats from jazz and co-opted by the sixties counter-culture youth, where it meant “deep”, “meaningful”, and even something that was good. It could also refer to something profound and serious. But by the time it was used for Black Sabbath’s music, it no doubt was applied to the sound of the heavy (i.e. low toned) guitars, the low bass, and the crushing drums.

Downer rock was yet another term used to describe music whose song lyrics dealt with the unpleasantness of reality with its wars, political corruption, environmental destruction, crime and punishment, substance abuse, mental illnesses, and death. The facts that were being addressed in the lyrics of bands like Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”, “Children of the Grave”, “Hand of Doom”), Grand Funk (“Paranoid”, “Can’t Be Too Long”), and Bloodrock (“Wicked Truth”, “DOA”) were the antipodes of the hippie idealisms of universal love and peace. Add to that the frequent use of depressant “downer” drugs by some fans of the music and a certain appropriateness of the term becomes recognizable. Indeed, Lester Bangs made more ready use of “downer rock” to describe the musical style of Black Sabbath than he did “heavy metal”. In a 1972 issue of Creem he described a Black Sabbath concert like this:

“The audience, searching endlessly both for bone-rattling sound and someone to put the present social and psychic traumas in perspective, found both in Black Sabbath … they possessed a dark vision of society and the human soul borrowed from black magic and Christian myth; they cut straight to the teen heart of darkness with obsessive, crushing blocks of sound and “words that go right to your sorrow, words that go ‘Ain’t no tomorrow,’” as Ozzy sang in “Warning” on their first album. The critics…responded almost as one by damning it as “downer music.” Since much of it did lack the unquenchable adrenaline imperatives of its precedents and one look around a rock concert hall was enough to tell you where the Psychedelic Revolution had led, the charge seemed worth considering.”

Ying and Yan

Robert Plant, in the People Weekly article briefly quoted at the beginning of this post, laments that people didn’t get the other side of Led Zeppelin, the softer and subtler parts. That Led Zeppelin should include opposite extremes of “heavy” and “light” is spelled out right in the name “lead”, a heavy metal, and “zeppelin”, an airship. Though the name was suggested in mockery by either Keith Moon or Pete Townshend (depending on your source) in a comment stating that Jimmy Page’s new band would go down like a lead zeppelin, it couldn’t have been more appropriate for the music the band would go on to create. Iron Butterfly chose their name exactly for the purpose of capturing the essence of their music, which included both heavy and light and beautiful sounds. One could consider this “heavy” and “light” connotation further by applying it to other bands such as Vanilla (light) Fudge (dark), Black (dark, unknown) Sabbath (holy day), and Judas (deceiver of Christ) Priest (religious leader and pious man). Certainly, each of these bands chose their name from other inspirations, yet the concept of dichotomies remains.

Loud, Noisy, Toxic, and Metallic – A Product of Industrial Heartlands

In the end, is “heavy metal” such a derogatory term? Weinstein writes in her conclusion that the term “showed a set of characteristics and sensibility”. Would it have included the same set of bands had it been called “downer rock” or “heavy rock”, or that more generic term “hard rock”? As we saw, both terms “heavy” and “metal” were already employed to describe the sound of the music. Mike Saunders’ brilliant spur of creative writing thought to put both terms together as an adjective for the sound of a musical style. Another source noted that the acceptance of the term for the genre rests in its appropriateness in defining how listeners interpret the music. The same could be said for “punk rock” or “progressive rock”. The name implies something about the music.

Looking to The Phrase Finder at phrases.org.uk, under the entry The Meaning and Origin of the Expression Heavy Metal, we find once again the connotation of “heavy” with “serious” or “profound”. The entry then points out the common usage of metals in band names, such as Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, Iron Maiden, and Metallica (the list of bands that used “iron” in their names can go on). Also, the toxic nature of heavy metals lends its image to the musical style (once more, unflattering to some musicians). Another interesting point is that some of the earliest bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Judas Priest hailed from industrial Birmingham, and you can add to that all the proto-punk and early metal bands like Stooges and Grand Funk who emerged out of the industrial heartland of the U.S. in Michigan. No wonder Rush’s “Working Man” resonated so strongly with the industrial working class!

Perhaps, like the birth of the music itself, the term “heavy metal” has a number of sign posts leading up to its invention. Just as heavy metal music was the product of several years of distorted and energetic guitar riff rock, psychedelic experimentation, and a return to the blues with heavier electric music, so the term “heavy metal” comes from nearly a decade of the appearance of the words being used to describe serious and profound matters and loud distorted guitar rock music. As most will agree, though, the music we call heavy metal today has evolved and progressed a long way from its first appearance.

The Year of Extreme Metal

We are three quarters of the way into 2017 and this is only my third post of the year. It’s not because I haven’t been exploring music very much this year. On the contrary, I have bitten into to something larger than almost anything I took on in previous years, with the one exception being my conscious entrance into the world of progressive rock in 2012. I emphasize “conscious” because almost since I began exploring music in the early eighties I had been adding various albums to my collection that fall under the progressive umbrella. I simply wasn’t aware that the music was referred to as “progressive”.

Over the decades, I have generally been into either a band or a sub-genre. In 1986 I was into Nazareth. From 1989 to 1992 I was largely into various styles of Christian rock and metal. For many years, I followed the Canadian power pop rock band, Sloan and other Canadian artists. Then I was looking into Japanese bands. The I got back into Scorpions and after that once more into Deep Purple. The journey I have been making has always kept me exploring new avennues.

This year started out safely enough. I was determined to make 2017 the year I did not spend too much money on music. Early on I became interested in Dream Theater and bought five more albums, and decided to finish off my Opeth collection, purchasing four more albums. For the next eight weeks I placed no orders and only looked forward to a few new releases coming up in the early summer.

But with Opeth I realized that I was at last ready to delve into death metal. Back in the eighties I had loved thrash metal and was a fan of other extreme bands such as Bathory, Kreator, and Celtic Frost. By the time death metal truly became its own sub-genre of metal, however, I was moving away into sixties and seventies proto-metal and early hard rock. I didn’t appreciate the deathly gutteral growls and roars. Strangely enough, as heavy metal whethered the grunge scene and sprouted new branches like nu metal and groove metal, I was not particularly interested. Pantera, Disturbed, and whatever else my metal-loving friend was buying, did not grab me. I liked Marylin Manson a bit; Nine Inch Nails were interesting, but Rob Zombie, Fear Factory, Korn, and System of a Down just didn’t click. Slipknot? They were okay, I guess. As I had no connection with extreme metal bands anymore, I didn’t know what was happening. I just stopped buying Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer albums and enjoyed the classics from the eighties.

So, Opeth was a kind of gateway drug for me, but I had already been primed by Devin Townsend and Strapping Young Lad, and some other bands like Baroness, Mastodon and Suspyre, ready for more aggressive, more brutal, and more compelx music.

Since around May of this year then, I have been exploring the world’s of death metal, Norwegian black metal, death doom metal, a little industrial, thrash and post-metal, and some progressive bands tinkering with metalcore or djent. I check out playlists on YouTube such as “The Best 50 Old School Death Metal Albums (part 1)” or “Top 50 Greatest Thrash Metal Albums of All Time” or “Top 10 Norwegian Black Metal Albums“. The lists go on and on.

Another big help has been Banger TV’s program, “Lock Horns“, which has introduced me to key bands and albums in various branches on the heavy metal tree. Some bands and albums will be mentioned in my YouTube travels two, three or even more times, and it’s those that I often decide to check out, first listening on YouTube to see if I might like them, and then placing the choosen albums in my Amazon cart and putting them on standby. Naturally, not only has my cart reached nearly a hundred albums but I have already brought home about sixty this year. The good thing is that extreme metal albums are often quite a bit cheaper than prog albums, and my guess the reason is because death metal albums –  the older ones anyway – are usually about 35 minutes long as opposed to prog albums which easily go over 65 minutes, sometimes even being double albums.

Choosing albums is not always easy either. Essential albums like Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness, Cynic’s Focus, or Darkthrone’s Under a Blazing Northern Sky are easy enough; however, when it comes to bands it’s a bigger challenge. Do I choose the essential album, the debut, a recent release, or listen to various samples and choose the one I think sounds best? For Immolation I chose the debut, Dawn of Possession because it came up two or three times on these compilation videos. But it was the most expensive album in their catalogue! For Obituary I chose the album that I thought sounded best and ended up with World Demise, not one of their higher rated albums and not an easy album to get a hold of either (I got a used copy of the CD in near-mint condition but the case and booklet look awful). For Nile I chose the more recent Those Whom the Gods Detest and was duely impressed; however my next purchase of Annihilation of the Wicked didn’t thrill me as much, possibly due to a muddier production. And then there was Vader’s Revelations, one of the cheaper albums but one that got me interested in the band. Two more albums were recently purchased but again, not the same thrill level.

The quest for albums that totally impress me continues.

Yes, I have had a lot I wanted to write about this year. I read the biography of Dream Theater and wanted to write a post. I had things to say about Opeth’s interesting career. More recently, I am interested in just how it was that so many subgenres of extreme metal developed in the eighties and early nineties and also how heavy metal continues to evolve and develop new sounds, playing and song writing styles, and new sub-genres.

But I am still on this new leg of my journey. I am still watching, listening, reading and learning. It is now October and I usually try to wrap up my purchasing for the year by this month. Orders in November can become delayed and arrive just before or during my winter holidays when I have no time to listen to music. I’m considering the last ten albums to order. Should I make it twelve albums? Can I go until January with 90 albums in my Amazon shopping cart and a few more in my Discogs cart without ordering anything? If I watch a video that introduces an important, essential album, can I summon the willpower to just leave it until next year? More importantly, can I afford to keep buying so many CDs?

Music is far too attractive to a mind like mine. But I am loving this part of my journey into extreme heavy metal.

Explosion of Metal Subgenres in the 80’s

I entered my teens when heavy metal became a household word. Back in 1983/84, heavy metal was the music of choice among my friends. We had such a choice, too. There were Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and the old boys, Black Sabbath. Then there were the hits bands like Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister, and Motley Crue. There were the German bands: Scorpions and Accept. And then there were all the bands who managed to squeak a video on the late night video programs, bands such as Killer Dwarfs, Krokus, Kick Axe, and so on.

Helix

Helix

Back in those days, heavy metal was not neatly divided into various sub-genres as it is today. Van Halen, Blue Oyster Cult, Motorhead, Venom, Saxon, Helix, and even AC/DC all fell under the metal banner. If your music was loud, hard, heavy, pounding, fist-pumping, head-banging rock, that was enough. Headpins “Turn It Loud” was metal enough. Santers made it in the heavy metal pages. Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, KISS, and the list goes on. These days metal scholars and fans are much more critical and discerning about what gets called metal and what is hard rock. Metal itself has splintered into so many subgenres, and I would say that the 1980’s were responsible for this rapid branching of the metal tree.

classic-exodus-live-shot full in bloom music

Exodus (photo from Full In Bloom Music)

The first subgenre I heard about was thrash metal. While the Los Angeles metal scene (which gave us what is now referred to as glam metal or hair metal) was producing wild and colourful bands like Ratt, Poison, Cinderella, and so on), metal purists who loved Judas Priest, Motorhead, and Venom and who also liked hardcore punk, decided to go against the grain and emphasis speed and aggression over party rock and cosmetics. The leaders here in the 1983 to 1987 period were Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Violence, and a host of others. The music became not only faster but, as in the case of some bands, it also became more technical.

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Anvil

Around this same period, specifically 1982 to 1984, three other countries also saw movements toward extreme metal. In Toronto, Canada there was a concurrent metal movement that was initiated by the band Anvil. Anvil are often seen as the link between traditional heavy metal (Judas Priest, etc.) and thrash metal. But Anvil were not alone. Sacrifice, Slaughter, Razor, and Exciter were also part of this speedier and more aggressive scene. The Canadian label Banzai began stamping albums with a speed metal logo. Quebecers, Voivod, also earned this label, as did some European bands like Destruction. Speed metal today is recognized as being different from thrash metal and also power metal in that it is a little looser, and bit more biker-ish. As it was described on Banger Lock Horns (44:55 to 45:15 in the video), it’s like power metal but with a five-o’clock shadow.

Meanwhile, across the pond in England, the hardcore punk scene was taking an interest in metal. Going the opposite route from American thrash metal bands, who added hardcore to metal, British grindcore bands added metal to hardcore. By the latter half of the 80’s, you had two similar metal scenes with different roots.

Then there was Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden. Inspired by the music of Judas Priest, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, and Venom, new bands emerged in these three countries that would prove to be very influential in the development of new emerging subgenres. In Germany, Kreator focused on violence and aggressive, heavy music. Though similar to thrash metal music, Kreator’s sound was more evilly intense, more threatening, the vocals gruffer and growlier. Switzerland produced first Hellhammer which evolved into Celtic Frost. Here was a band that combined the speed of thrash metal with the slow and heavy riffs of doom metal and featured a vocalist who could growl and roar even lower and more ominously than Motorhead’s Lemmy or Venom’s Chronos. Finally, up in Sweden, a young Tomas Forsberg created Bathory, a band which focused on Satanic lyrical themes and, like others, combined speed and heaviness. Most outstanding was Forsberg’s vocal style: a back-of-the-throat, rattling, croak that could resemble a wicked witch singing. Though they were not yet fully developed, the subgenres of death and black metal were gestating amid the sounds of these bands.

Back in the U.S.A., two important bands were taking thrash metal in a new direction. Possessed from California released “Seven Churches” in 1985. The music was thrash-based, but Jeff Becerra’s deep, roaring, guttural vocals and the band’s Satanic themes took thrash metal as Slayer had conceived it into darker territory, if that were possible. Across the continent in Florida, Chuck Schuldiner was putting together Death and the first album, “Scream Bloody Gore” was released in 1987. While thrash metal lyrics were more about violence and war, death metal focused on gore and the occult. The American death metal scene produced bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, and Autopsy in the late eighties, and by the early nineties the scene had fully grown, particularly along the East Coast and up into Quebec with bands like Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, Malevolent Creation, and Gorguts.

darkthrone

Darkthrone – Black metal from Norway

By the late eighties, both Norway and Sweden had picked up on the sounds of black metal and a second generation was born. Though both countries would contribute, it was basically Norwegian bands that moved from death metal over to the black metal scene, while in Sweden death metal became the more popular.

Taking a cue from as far back as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, power metal was yet another subgenre to emerge from the eighties metal scene. Ronnie James Dio, who had sung with Rainbow in the seventies, took the knights and dragons theme further in the mid-eighties on his “Sacred Heart” album (the tour featured a towering dragon on stage).

Virgin Steele

Virgin Steele

Virgin Steele in New York also moved from a trad metal approach into power metal. As someone on Banger TV said, power metal is trad metal but with louder, bigger, more over-the-top, with bolder melodies and an almost symphonic approach to music themes. It’s totally conceivable that symphonic metal developed from a combination of power metal and prog metal. The vocal style is usually more operatic, and Judas Priest’s Rob Halford can be seen as creating the blueprint. Manowar, Helloween, and Blind Guardian are recognized as early true power metal bands; however, elements of power metal can be found in the music and also the lyrical themes of bands like Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Uli Jon Roth era Scorpions, and Accept.

While it seems a natural course for heavy metal music to become more aggressive, more technical, darker, faster, and heavier, two other subgenres that emerged from in the eighties were looking to travel with their guitars down slightly different paths. Perhaps the older of the two would be progressive metal. The instigator would likely be Iron Maiden. Bassist and founding member Steve Harris was a fan of progressive rock bands of the seventies and right from the debut album in 1980, Iron Maiden proved there were more than just a band of three to four minute songs. They included instrumental sections that were not just dedicated to guitar pyrotechnics and even instrumental tracks. Iron Maiden was clearly an influence on two important American bands now associated with the development of progressive metal: Fates Warning and Queensryche. Add to that Crimson Glory and Watchtower and you have four of the earliest prog metal bands.

queensryche-band-photo-1986

Queensryche

Following the lead of Iron Maiden, these bands endeavored to write music that had complex instrumental parts, or danced around odd time signatures. Lyrics were often more intellectual and socio/political. The star child of progressive metal would be born in the eighties but not stamp its mark on the subgenre until 1992. Dream Theater was the band that seemed to define what progressive metal should be about, and yet the desire to take metal into more progressive territory was already spreading to the thrash and speed metal scene in 1986/87 as Metallica introduced longer songs with multi-part musical themes on “Master of Puppets” and “…And Justice for All” and Voivod created their own form of space sci-fi prog metal, culminating in the classic album “Nothingface” in 1989.

godflesh rate your music

Godflesh

The other new and also more experimental subgenre of metal was industrial metal. Musicians combined metal’s heaviness and aggression with techno and electronica, giving birth to a new underground movement. Ministry, Godflesh and others both in the U.S. and overseas in Europe (Germany’s KMFDM) kicked off the first generation of industrial metal in the latter half of the eighties and the movement continued into the nineties, gaining a second momentum by the middle of the decade.

One other important subgenre that came into its own in the eighties would be doom metal. Originally born in the sound of Black Sabbath in late 1969, bands such as Saint Vitus and Pentagram (who were actually active concurrently with Sabbath in their heyday) emphasized slow and heavy riffs and particularly Saint Vitus sought to recreate that early seventies sound. As the eighties progressed, some bands combined the speed and deep guttural vocals of death metal with the slow and heavy riffs of doom metal, and thus the death/doom subgenre was also born. Autopsy were one band that emerged from the Florida death metal scene who liked to slow down at times and get heavy. Meanwhile back in England, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost also emphasized deep, growling vocals and slow heavy riffs. Interestingly enough, the European bands would go on into new directions now labeled gothic metal and post metal, as would many bands from the black metal scene.

It’s not uncommon to hear people criticize the 80’s for a lot of crimes against pop music and rock. However, I find it really interesting to see how heavy metal experienced an explosion of growth in subgenre branches. We saw thrash metal, speed metal, grindcore, black metal, death metal, progressive metal, industrial metal, doom metal, and death doom all emerge from the heavy metal tree. Now we recognize traditional metal, hair or glam metal, and hard rock as the three most popular forms of heavy music in the eighties. But in the underground, so much more was happening.

2016 – Favourite Music Acquired This Year

The year is coming to an end and what a year it has been. In the news there have been so many high profile deaths and many others of lesser fame yet still tragic losses to the music world. On the bright side, this is the year that I made a number of new musician friends whose music careers have been taking off or climbing steadily higher.

Since we are at the end of another year, it is time for me to post where my journey in music exploration has taken me this year. In some ways the year started out as usual. Orders placed at the end of 2015 were brought home in early January and by February I was checking out the top albums of 2015 on Prog Archives and seeing which ones I thought would be worth ordering. By spring I was back into music history, topping off my Canadian 70’s hard rock and metal and my 60’s garage band collection. Then I discovered the progressive music of Quebec in the 70’s and brought home over a dozen albums from those exciting days. There was a brief period of Slayer and Megadeth classics, and then by the end of the summer I was checking a few more recent prog albums before launching into a 2016 release festa. In fact, I ordered more new releases this year than any other year since the mid-eighties when I was rapaciously following everything metal.

Here are a few lists of songs and albums that I really enjoyed.

Albums of 2016

img_121810. Strategies by Jesus Munoz – Quite a surprise this one. Jesus Munoz is a Spanish amateur guitarist who recorded an album’s worth of music in 2015 and then released it with two additional tracks and a real drummer in 2016. His playing style reminds me of a cross between Steve Howe and Steve Morse. “The Limpid Green” is the track that stuck in my head the most, though nearly every track on the album is really great.

9. Distance by Structural Disorder – I heard about this band through the Facebook page, Progressive Rock Fanatics. The fact that they use an accordion as a lead instrument but make it sound like a synthesizer for most songs intrigued me. I pledged money toward their new album and I was not disappointed. Progressive metal with lots of atmosphere and beautiful slower parts included, I enjoyed listening to this several times before reviewing it.

8. The Perfect Map by Elephants of Scotland – An album that was getting some attention during the end of the summer, I picked it up in the fall and was impressed. Though the vocals need a little more something, the music is top notch modern prog.

7. The Clockwork Fable by Gandalf’s Fist – Three discs! And a concept album! What made this one stand out was not so much the great music but the narrative that it went with. While most narratives are told in the lyrics, this album has a cast of voice actors and comes across as a radio play with musical interludes. For the first two listens, I was more interested in the story than the songs!

marco-ragni

6. Land of Blue Echoes by Marco Ragni – An excellent psychedelic / space rock inspired album of progressive music. Marco released a new album a few months later, “California” which is also very good. It’s thanks to this album that I got to know guitarist Peter Matuchniak of Gekko Projekt.

5. Silence Between Sounds by Karmamoi – An Italian band that don’t sound like RPI, Karmamoi’s album will keep you guessing where each track will take you. Four female singers contribute to the vocals. Great music and singing!

4. Holophinium by KariBow – A perfect blend of melodic rock and progressive rock. Oliver Rusing’s KariBow has been a personal project for nearly 20 years. “Holophinium” was his big leap into having a band and including several guest musicians. He also rereleased an older album, “Man of Rust” in the fall.

3. Overwrite the Sin by Maglev – Another almost one-man-band, Joost Maglev’s first full-length progressive rock album is a treat. Five songs each with its own approach and expertly executed.

2. Evership – self-titled debut. What a class act this is! A perfect blend of modern prog with late seventies / early eighties progressive rock sounds. A real treat!

ctp

1. Hair in a G-String (Unfinished but Sweet) by Colin Tench Project. The subject of my previous post, let’s just say this is a blend of many styles, sounds terrific and is entertaining as well.

 

Favourite Songs of 2016 Purchases

fish-on-fridayOf course each of the above albums had songs that stuck in my head and demanded repeat plays, sometimes over the course of a week, sometimes coming back again and again. CTP’s “Part 4b”, Maglev’s “Judith”, Evership’s “Slow descent into Reality” and KariBow’s “Quantum Leap” were some of the songs that became favourites this year. But here are ten other songs from my 2016 purchases that were played well over a dozen times.

Orbit by Thundermug
Phasors on Stun by FM
Madman by Klaatu
Bloody Well Right by Supertramp (yes, I finally bought some Supertramp albums)
Back to the Stars by Rosenkreutz (one of the best 17-minute plus songs I’ve heard in a while)
A tout le monde by Megadeth
The Endless Knot by Haken
Tick-Tock by Fish on Friday
Meditations by Modern-Rock Ensemble
A ciel ouvert by Grandval

Harmonium_-_Si_On_Avait_Besoin_D'Une_Cinquième_Saison

Rock progressif Quebecois – 10 favourites
I wrote about the progressive rock of 1970’s Quebec in a previous post. Here are some favourite tracks.

En pleine face by Harmonium
Eclaircie by Et cetera
La marche des hommes by Morse Code (keyboard player Christian Simard passed away recently at age 67)
Vivre la mort by Pollen
Voisins (mon chum) by Vos Voisins
Les folleries by Maneige
Algebrique by Sloche
Agneau de Dieu by Dionysos
L’alarme a l’oeil by Contraction
Le chant du Guerrier by Octobre

coney-hatch-outa-handHere’s a list of five new favourites from the hard rock and metal of Canada of the late seventies through to the early nineties.

Turn It Loud by Headpins
Don’t Say Make Me by Coney Hatch
Too Much Carousing by Goddo
Under the Influence by Sven Gali
Metal on Metal by Anvil (such a classic)

nemo

 

Finally, I want to mention ten bands and artists that were mostly new to me whose albums impressed me enough to deserve their own list.

Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales (Peter Jones)

Refuel by Rocket Scientists

The Road to Avalon by The Minstrel’s Ghost (Blake Carpenter)
Chapter One by Cell15 (Robert Scott Richardson)
Coma by Nemo
Ones & Zeros by 3rdegree
Who’s the Boss in the Factory by Karmakanic
Godspeed by Fish on Friday
The Ones I Condemn by Sacrifice (I’ve known about Sacrifice since the 80’s but this album really stands out)
Mood Swings by Harem Scarem

I want to close off with honourable mentions going to Peter Matuchniak’s solo work, GorMusik, Grandval, Yuka & Chronoship, Q65 (a Dutch garage rock band of the 60’s), and The Troggs (for some of their hard and heavy hitting music of the 60’s).