The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Live Photos from Ray's Portfolio Circa 2006, Up at The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Janick Gers, Iron Maiden  Photo (c) Ray Van Horn, Jr.


Now running at The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr., a selection of live photos from my portfolio, taken in 2006, one of the busiest years of my life in journalism.

Click here and thanks for your support!

http://rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ray's Reflections on Van Halen's 1984 Album Turning 30, Posted at The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr.



"Might as Well Jump Back to 1984," my reflections on Van Halen's 1984 album turning 30, now at The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Hit it here:

http://rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ray's Latest Reviews Are Posted at Blabbermouth


Now running at Blabbermouth, my reviews at the latest albums from Protest the Hero, Lita Ford, Dethklok, Nashville Pussy, Ihsahn, Mutation, Kataklysm, Sinister Realm, Bones, Iron Man, Disfigurement, Matt Boroff, Attackhead, Wolves in the Throne Room, the Heretic box set, a reissue of Paul DiAnno's Killers' Murder One and Nightwish's Showtime, Storytime DVD.


Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. Blog is Back Open

My "Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr." blog where I discuss the writing side of my life and other fun matters is now re-designed and re-opened. Check it out:

http://rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 'n Me


 
 
As we get ready to turn the page on another year, I find myself evaluating 2013.  I have to, since it feels like one of the more profound years I've lived, and certainly one that concludes with the opportunity for future growth and hopeful enlightenment, as a man, as a father, as a writer, as a teammate and as a human being.  I could waste my time by grousing how this year kinda sucked, but then the aforementioned opportunity for growth is potentially missed when wallowing over misfortunes or undesirable moments.  Besides, when you survive adversity as so many people in the world do not, you have to check yourself, thank God and the universe and prepare to move forward instead of retreating into a cocoon of self-loathing.

As always, life gives and takes, particuarly in response to what you put into it.  I'm halfway sad to have come to certain realizations about people and events that affected me in 2013 and it's certainly disheartening to see friends turn on you and you discover you're not quite what you thought you meant to some folks.  On the other hand, for the friends I've lost this year, I've gained triple.  I have a new team at my day job who have made me feel like a valuable part of the process and it's been awhile since I've actually felt my back has been looked out for.  I've laughed much and had fun getting to know my current crew.  I embrace what is now.

In my writing and music journalism pursuits, I've had the pleasure of meeting so many new artists, bands, publicists and readers.  It's been a treasure to walk into a venue I'm on the guest list for and have people know what Blabbermouth is and the reception and hospitality I've been given thus is a reward few people get to experience in life.  I've been made to feel like a small celebrity and I'm honored to have had musicians buy me beers at concerts, sometimes out of their own pockets.  That is a gesture I never overlook or depreciate.  I've interviewed more than 300 musicians, film directors, actors, visual artists and writers in my time and while I've had to slow that avenue of my life down upon accepting the responsiblity of raising my adopted son, I'm so proud of what I've accomplished in this field.  Sometimes the barrage of review requests and media press releases on a daily basis becomes so cumbersome I need to retreat for a day or so, but when anything you do in life becomes in-demand, how can you not be humble about it?

I had a terrific year with Blabbermouth and increased my review load.  Sometimes it becomes a battle at home for computer time with a spouse working towards her degree and sometimes it's deflating to get up early to write and you have your little one chasing after your heels, but somehow the work gets done, even at the sacrifice of sleep.  It's a genuine gift to be a part of something bigger than you and better yet, to matter.  I don't want to be pretentious here, but I just might've won over a decent portion of the notorious rogues' gallery of commenters at Blabbermouth after being torched upon my arrival.  The wherewithal to succeed and to weather negativity with obtuse blinders on is how I've gotten to this point.  2014 looks to remain busy with the Blab and I'm so grateful to my editor, Borivoj, as I am to my employers at Resource Title who allow me to feed my family.

This year I was invited to contribute some editorials and I was able to place a few short stories for publication and I received some nice feedback.  I just had a horror story, "Before the Ball" accepted for an upcoming anthology, "Axes of Evil" and I couldn't be happier.  That story was an homage to eighties culture and B-horror of the day and I'm ecstatic that story resonated with the editors.  I took up the 50K word novel challenge for National Novel Writing Month and while I fell short with only 32K words, the excercise to try to and write it in a month was worth it just to see what I could pull from myself.  That novel project, "Lucky Burns" took me to a new level of my craft and I'm ready to finish it in 2014.  All I need is a literary agent and I'm ready to take over the world.

Comic books came back into my life this year in a big way.  I haven't read them with seriousness in quite a while since I've been cultivating my fiction and journalism efforts, yet I got sucked into them after taking my son to Free Comic Day last year and again this year.  I tripped over the Batgirl reboot with Gail Simone writing and became addicted.  Such a humane treatment of an underrated character.  I then found myself trolling through old boxes of comics and graphic novels and found my fires lit.  I've been catching up with today's scene and have seen so much wonderful writing and art out there it's made me passionate about the medium once again.  I wrote a 64-page graphic novel script this year, "Drowning Man," and am ready to turn it into a potential series once I get an interested party to dive into it.  Now as the year turns, I'm about to enter Top Cow Comics' Talent Hunt for the upcoming year.  I did intensive study of their Witchblade, Artifacts and Darkness series and cannot wait to pen my entry script in January.  I would yell "Excelsior!" but that's exclusive to a different imprint.

My son has grown so much this year, physically and intellectually.  I have to remind myself I have a six-year-old little man under my roof and I address him as I would most other people.  I respect his intelligence too much to downplay my speech, other than employing sensible censorship.  I think he as a full appreciation of his life and who his adopted parents are.  I never want him to know what it means to make sacrifices and how fatiguing and sometimes frightening being a parent can be.  I'm blessed that this child is mature beyond his age, even if kids are kids and boys are boys, and he'll push us to the brink as any child would.  Still, I'm immensely proud of this fine young man who exhibits tremendous smarts, feelings and courage.  Right now, all he wants to do is play video games, but I've had so much fun this year taking him on so many hiking trails we've bonded more than ever as a result.  Sometimes I'm too exhausted to play action figures or games with him, but that comes with being a 43-year-old man who admittedly works way too much.  It's a necessity given the household climate, but on those days I gimp out of nite-nite story from tumbling and running in the yard or doing my Indiana Jones bit on the playground, I smile through the aches.  I love this kid.  He might as well be my flesh and blood.

I'm not going to trap myself into some silly resolution for 2014 that'll get swept to the side once the grind of life takes over as it always does.  In a complicated society such as we live in today, circumstances are always changing and they tend to influence, if not dictate your actions at times if you're not the master over your own life.  Who is master over one's life, those without gratuitous time and fortune to do so?  I hope the tone of this reflection indicates that I've chosen to overlook the bad parts of the year, and there were so many I often felt like chucking in the towel.  I like to hope that on those days I experience defeat, the feeling hangs over me for maybe a day and then I mentally adjust and come back fighting once again.  I persevere because I must.

2014.  You're mine, sucker.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ray's 25 Immaculate Receptions for 2013

Ahh, 2013, another intriguing year for metal music, a year filled with drama, controversy, arrests, fan bitchery and sagging sales reports, all of which we could've lived without.  On the other hand, Black Sabbath's 13 became one of the biggest success stories of the year and a number of artists pushed beyond their considerable talents to evolve even further and maintain a sense of credibility for the genre.  Ihsahn, The Ocean, Cult of Luna, Kylesa, Scale the Summit and of course, the mighty freedom fighters, Chthonic, all come to mind.  Beloved veterans Motorhead and Monster Magnet delivered career-defining records with Aftershock and The Last Patrol respectively, while ex-Iced Earth singer Matt Barlow came back to the scene and gave what I believe to be the finest metal vocal performance of the year with his new band, Ashes of Ares. 
 
Soprano Floor Jansen is one of the hot topics of metal in 2013, emerging as the new vocalist for Nightwish plus her own band, Revamp, both of which released products this year.  She also peeks in with Simone Simons for a pair of duets on Epica's astounding Retrospect.  Floor appears destined to become a household name in the symphonic metal bracket.

I think Megadeth took a little more heat than they deserved for Super Collider, but I understand why the faithful turned from that album.  It's nowhere near as offensive as the general consensus believes, but still, it'll be (as always) interesting to see where Mr. Mustaine and the crew go next after issuing a pop-flavored hard rock album instead thrash.  Then Voivod defied the odds with Dan "Chewy" Mongrain doing a remarkable job filling shoes nobody ever thought could be replaced.  Target Earth was a major surprise and it filled my heart with giddiness since I've sung Voivod's praises for much of my life.  Hails.

Two of my selections for this year's Immaculate Receptions list for metal music are barely metal (i.e. Conny Ochs and Matt Boroff), but they are so ingenious, infective and relevant they deserve their spots on this list.  There are a bigger number of Honorable Mentions I flagged this year because there was so much good material being generated they simply deserve acknowledgement.  It was a great year for me personally at Blabbermouth and I was happy to have made many new band chums, industry friends and readers this year.  2014 should be no less fun at the Blab and I'm ready to rock.

With that, here's my 25 Immaculate Receptions List for 2013: 

                                    


1.  ChthonicBu-Tik

2.  The OceanPelagial

3.  VoivodTarget Earth

4.  Cult of LunaVertikal

5.  SoilworkThe Living Infinite

6.  Black Sabbath13

7.  Soul RemnantsBlack and Blood

8.  Palms s/t

9.  CarcassSurgical Steel

10.  DisfigurementSoul Rot EP

11.  Monster MagnetThe Last Patrol

12.  IhsahnDas Seelenbrechen

13.  A Pale Horse Named DeathLay My Soul to Waste

14.  Conny OchsBlack Happy

15.  TomahawkOddfellows

16.  MotorheadAftershock

17.  Ashes of Aress/t

18.  A Storm of LightNations to Flames

19.  CzarNo One is Alone if No One is Alive

20.  Death AngelThe Dream Calls for Blood

21.  Fates WarningDarkness in a Different Light

22.  KylesaUltraviolet

23.  Matt BoroffSweet Hand of Fate

24.  Philip H. Anselmo and the IllegalsWalk Through Exits Only

25.  Be’LakorOf Breath and Bone
 
    
                                 

Honorable Mention List:

AnnihilatorFeast


SkeletonwitchSerpents Unleashed

Vista ChinoPeace

Children of BodomHalo of Blood

Scale the SummitThe Migration

MoonbowThe End of Time

AttackheadVoices in the Dark Red Vinyl Edition

SepulturaThe Mediator Between Head and Hand Must Be the Heart

Hank 3’s 3A Fiendish Threat

Nephren-KaThe Fall of Omnius

Queensryche (Todd LaTorre camp) – s/t

Black TuskTend No Wounds EP

Ephel Duath - Hemmed by Daylight, Shaped by Darkness

Oceans of Slumber - Aetherial 

Melvins - Tres Cabrones

Sinister Realm - World of Evil

Iron Man - South of the Earth

Mutation - Error 500

Kataklysm - Waiting for the End to Come

 
 
 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ray's Favorite Blu Ray/DVD releases of 2013





My favorite 5 music Blu Ray/DVD releases of 2013:

1. Epica - Retrospect
2. Kreator - Dying Alive
3. Mudhoney - I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney
4. Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88
5. Rammstein - Videos 1995-2012

Though it's technically copyrighted for 2009, I enjoyed the hell out of Metallica's Quebec Magnetic for review at Blabbermouth earlier this year.


Stand by for my annual 25 Immaculate Receptions list for 2013...

Sunday, December 08, 2013


 

A huge load of my reviews posted at Blabbermouth today:  Korn, Motorhead, Fates Warning, Melvins, Saxon, Metal Church, Leaves' Eyes, Skeletonwitch, Czar, Monsterworks, Felix Martin, Argus, Coven 13, Beasto Blanco, The Mezmerist, Sirens & Sailors, Funeral Circle, Cursed 13, the 10th anniversary edition of Lamb of God's masterpiece, As the Palaces Burn and the Black Label Society DVD, Unblackened.  Yes, more to follow as they make it to the web.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ray Van Horn, Jr. Interviewed at The Ripple Effect



I was recently interviewed by Todd Severin from my good buddies over at The Ripple Effect. 

A few years ago I was invited to appear on a few of The Ripple Effect's podcasts, and it was my honor when Todd approached me again in October for a new interview where we discussed my doings in the music business, my passion for music and other various topics.

Check it out by clicking this link:

 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Currently reviewing for Blabbermouth...



LMAO...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ronny Munroe of Metal Church with Ghost of War Live Photos - 11/8/13 - Rock Harvest II, The House of Rock, White Marsh, Maryland

 

So on the second day of Rock Harvest, I had the pleasure of interviewing west coast thrashers Attackhead (stay tuned for excerpts of that chat appearing here at The Metal Minute) and Metal Church vocalist Ronny Munroe. 

Ronny was in town as a special guest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania's Ghost of War and together, they whipped out a mini-set of Metal Church classics, plus a fresh selection from the latter's new album, Generation Nothing. 

Be on the lookout in the immediate future for my review of Generation Nothing over at Blabbermouth.  In the meantime, enjoy a few shots from that banging tag-team between Ronny and Ghost of War:






 





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Megalist of current reviews by Ray at Blabbermouth



Since it's been a little while, here's a round-up of current reviews I have live at Blabbermouth:

Albums:

Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood, Monster Magnet - The Last Patrol, Trivium - Vengeance Falls, Vista Chino - Peace, Phil Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only, Devildriver - Winter Kills, Annihilator - Feast

Children of Bodom - Halo of Blood, Ashes of Ares - s/t, James LaBrie - Impermanent Resonance, Soulfly - Savages, Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head and Hand Must be the Heart, Carcass - Surgical Steel, Watain - The Wild Hunt, Hank 3's 3 - A Fiendish Threat, Doyle - Abominator

Gwar - Battle  Maximus, Trouble - The Distortion Field, Chthonic - Bu-Tik, Norma Jean - Wrongdoers, Revamp - Wild Card, A Storm of Light - Nations to Flames, Scale the Summit - The Migration, Eve to Adam - Locked and Loaded, Freedoms Reign - s/t, FaithXtractor - The Great Shadow Infiltrator, Dead - Idiots
                                                             
Moonbow - The End of Time, Erihma - Reign Through Immortality, Katatonia - Dethroned and Uncrowned, Night Demon - s/t EP, Bone Cave Ballet - Will of the Waves, Ferocity - The Sovereign, Emblazoned - The Living Magisterium, Nephren-Ka - The Fall of Omnius, Masada - Hideous Rot EP, Infernal Opera - Emissary of Steel, Sworn In - The Death Card

Lair of the Minotaur - Godslayer EP, Crossfaith - Apocalyze, The Dead Daisies - s/t, Be'Lakor - Of Breath and Bone, Potential Threat SF - Civilization Under Threat, Admiral Browning - Give No Quarter, Reptilian Death - The Dawn of Consummation and Emergence


DVDs:

Judas Priest - Epitaph
Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88
Mudhoney - I'm Now:  The Story of Mudhoney
Rammstein - Videos 1995-2012


...and it doesn't stop there.  New reviews have already been submitted and will appear live in the immediate future.  Visit www.blabbermouth.net, as if I needed to link you all...


Ashes of Ares Live Photos - 11/7/13 - Rock Harvest II, The House of Rock - White Marsh, Maryland

 
                                    
 
 
My favorite album reviewed last month for Blabbermouth was, hands-down the debut album by Ashes of Ares, featuring former Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow, ex-Iced Earth bassist Freddie Vidales and one-time Nevermore drummer, Van Williams. 
                                                                                       
I was honored to be invited down to the Rock Harvest II festival by Matt Barlow at The House of Rock in the Baltimore suburb of White Marsh.  The festival was a three-day benefit show for Fallen Blue, a charity organization for the families of police officers lost in the line of duty. As an active duty officer himself, Matt Barlow and Ashes of Ares put on a monster set as headliners of the opening night of Rock Harvest II, playing the self-titled Ashes of Ares album in its entirety.
 
For me, it was a terrific night getting to meet Matt, his wife and the Ashes of Ares crew, including touring bassist Dean Sternberg (also of Into Eternity fame) who was kind enough to buy me a beer at the venue.  Cheers, brother! 
 
The entire night was spent meeting musicians, publicists and making new friends plus scoring a copy of the expanded 18-song Japanese version of Iron Maiden's Maiden Japan.   I was flattered to meet numerous readers of Blabbermouth who came up to me and struck conversation.  A damned good first night of the festival and I want to thank Matt Barlow personally for having me down.
 
Stay tuned for photos of the second night of Rock Harvest II featuring Metal Church vocalist Ronny Munroe.            
 
Ashes of Ares is available through Nuclear Blast Records.  Get on it, already!  Also, please visit www.fallenblue.org to learn more about Fallen Blue and to donate to the cause.
                                               
 
 
 
 
 
 












 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

"Your Rep Means Everything, Especially in the Music Business," an essay by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at ReadWave



Photo by Ray Van Horn, Jr.


Sorry to be incommunicado lately, readers!  I've had much going on lately, which I'll get into with future posts.  For today, I'd like to direct you to a quick little essay I have running at ReadWave.  It's a brief glimpse into the world of a rock journalist with what I hope carries an upbeat message. 

Click below to check out "Your Rep Means Everything, Especially in the Music Business"

http://www.readwave.com/your-rep-means-everything-especially-in-the-music-business_s16409

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ray Van Horn, Jr.'s satire of the rock journalism life "An Off Night," running at New Noise Magazine

 
 
Hello, readers!
 
I wanted to share the publication of my short story, "An Off Night" at New Noise magazine.  The story is a no-holds-barred satire of the rock journalism life as seen through my eyes, but with more of a gonzo twist.  Have a go by clicking on this link:

 http://newnoisemagazine.com/night-ray-van-horn-jr/
 
Next month I have a flash fiction piece scheduled to run at Akashic Books' "Mondays are Murder" series, "Off the Record," so stand by for that official announcement in the near future.  I have also recently completed a 64 page graphic novel script entitled "Drowning Man" and as ever, I continue to serve up media review analysis for Blabbermouth. 
 
Thank you all for your ongoing support.  Game on...



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Preview Excerpts from Ray's Interview with Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke for New Noise Magazine



My recent interview with Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke is currently running in the print version Issue # 3 of New Noise magazine.  Jaz is by far, one of the most intriguing individuals I've ever sat across in this life and this was my second time interviewing the man.  Below is a pair of excerpts from the New Noise session.



RVH:    I think what you’re touching on with today’s generation being constantly plugged in to tech and being obtuse to just about everything else supports the line “ADD generation” from “Corporate Elect,” one of my favorite lyrics from the MMXII album.  I think it’s a dead-on statement.  I remember ferrying into Manhattan a few years ago and everybody looked like the Borg from Star Trek:  The Next Generation, cords dangling out of their ears into gadgets.  It looked so dead and mindless to me and I think this disaffection partially raises a homegrown terrorism from these twenty-somethings we’ve had to cope with here in America the past couple years.
 
JC:  Well, it’s nothing new.  Governments and establishments for centuries always needed an enemy to divert the attention of the people.  Of course, the last American administration really made sure of that, you know?  (laughs)  The situation is so complex for anyone who should take government, because whoever gets into power, they inherit a protocol, a system, which refuses to change in itself.  Here’s the thing; the lives that we enjoy with our motor cars and flying on airplanes, Mr. (Zbigniew) Brzezinski was very clear about it in ’98, where he said effectively, if you want to continue this lifestyle we’ve all become accustomed to, we’re going to need to secure the Eurasian oil fields.  Otherwise, a consortium of Russian and Chinese will likely do so before us.  He said the problem is the domestic electorate in America is not interested in foreign policy.  It’s not interested in overseas adventures, least of all, military adventures.  Unless we have a catalyzing effect like a new Pearl Harbor, it would remain like this.

You can see what’s really required is such a massive, colossal change, and the only thing that can initiate that is cataclysm, because people do not want to change.  They will not stop drilling up oil.  There are 18 new nuclear power stations about to be built up around the world.  Man hasn’t learned his lesson, so cataclysm will be.  Not long.  Professor (James) Lovelock says surely by 2020.  

RVH:  I was thinking within 50 to 60 years. 

JC:  You’re optimistic, aren’t you?  I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  We need to change our ways.  We’re parasites.  

RVH:  And we’re trying to colonize other planets if we can reach them, so we’ll leave this one a wasteoid one day and go infiltrate another planet…

JC:  I so believe in sustainability.  You’re motivating me.  If you go back to our third album (Revelations), there’s a song called “Chapter III.”  It says, “Attack behind attack, a war behind a war, wise thoughts to broad horizons, a nation the very least.” I didn’t really understand that until I changed the music in the national anthem, the meaning of that.  I believe and I am certain that there’s a special force around you, us.  If I survive to 2018, I’ll so be part of that, the next stage, you know?  All we need is one successful model of sustainability so we can emulate it.  You know, they said I was mad when I said I used to dream of an island.  Well, now I’ve got one in the Pacific.  There’s 300 of us on a big island, covered in rainforest.  They said I was mad for my dreams.  Now I’m dreaming of the idea of green collectivism.  I’m dreaming of how I can serve the public in a small way.  Part of that will be my farm assisting farms.  It’s sustainability.  The other part of that will be…I have political ambitions.  (laughs)  Even when they dig up the shit on me, they’re mad because I’m a Christian and repented, so fuck off!  (laughs)

RVH:  (laughs)  Well, you know, it’s going to have to go back to the primitive, and to me, that’s what a lot of Killing Joke’s music is about, especially the songs with the tribal beats and elements to them.  It’s back to the primitive and reject modernism, you know?

JC:  Well, I love Killing Joke, but you must understand I’ve never seen the band.  I’d really like to go to one of our concerts.  
 


RVH:  People at-large tend to de-value as much as they embrace reminiscence... 
 
JC:  As a public, we should cherish our natural history and our local resources, our forests and our rivers.  We shouldn’t let corporations just take over what is rightfully the people’s to be shared.  I believe this, and I’m not a Marxist or a socialist.  All we need is one successful model.  Sustainability is what we must strive for.  Every back garden, every public park is a source of food.  The Reverend Thomas Malthus who believed basically in population control by stealth, I’m against this.  As a meat eater, we should only eat livestock on festival days and we should be vegetarian the rest of the time.  We need to take ponds and breed fish, not just one species, but a polyculture.  I really have a vision of Paradise.   

The population of New York is being born every two weeks.  I believe if we resort to Malthusian means of depopulation, we lose our humanity.  We change our diets, so we should then let Mother Nature by cataclysm regulate population.  Otherwise, we lose that which defines us, our humanity, our sense of empathy, our compassion.  All of these attributes are, you could say, Christ-like, because Christ, to me, is nothing historical; it’s a metaphor.  When you’re in a state of grace doing your God-gift, you are the Christos, the Anointed One.  Christ is in each and every one of us.  It’s the God-gift.  I believe in an inner-revolution.  By changing ourselves, we can change everything, so don’t you worry about anyone else!
 
 

Photo and interview footage (c) Ray Van Horn, Jr.


 Click here to visit New Noise magazine
 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ray's Latest Reviews Running at Blabbermouth

                       


Now running at Blabbermouth, my reviews of the latest from H.I.M., Sevendust, The Ocean, Skid Row, Suicidal Tendencies, Anger as Art, Sacred Steel, Oceans of Slumber, Fall City Fall, the Dust reissues and Iron Maiden's "Maiden England '88" DVD.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Book Review: The Merciless Book of Metal Lists, by Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins

                                    

Metal purists and longtime scene haunts Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins have assembled an unconventional (and frequently hilarious) book on the ethos of heavy metal that calls for an unconventional mode of review.  Metalheads and punkers, more so than any other type of music fan, have historically been compelled by nature to create lists to somehow organize their obsessive inner babble about outsider music seldom few actually get, much less care about.  In here, Abrams and Sacha methodically list the best of the best and of course, the not so best in heavy metal music.  Yet there's much more to their compendium of chaos that not only includes a forward and afterword by Kerry King and Phil Anselmo respectively, there's a reckless, no-rules ethic presiding that reflects the core of its topic at its most authentic.  Opinionated, brash, occasionally annoying yet ultimately comprehensive, Abrams and Sacha have assembled one of the nuttiest yet most entertaining examinations of metal culture delivered in compact fashion.

I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to analyze a book entitled The Merciless Book of Metal Lists than to follow suit in list fashion. 


10 Questions My Five-Year-Old Son Asked While I Reviewed The Merciless Book of Metal Lists:

1.   "Dad, could Pirate Mickey Mouse take Spiderman in a fight?"
2.   "Is that a boy or a girl in that picture, Dad?"
3.   "Why do you like loud music so much, Dad?"
4.   "Is that grown-up drink you're putting in your cranberry juice?"
5.   "Was the Scarecrow (from The Wizard of Oz) ever a baby, you know, like a Scarebaby?"
6.   "What's a Sepultura?"
7.   "Did you interview that band, Dad?"
8    "What's a cassette tape?"
9.   "What are those things on that scary guy (Lemmy Kilmister)'s face?" 
10.  "Can animals toot like us, Dad?"


10 Things From The Merciless Book of Metal Lists That Put Me On the Floor:

1.   Richard Christy's "Quadruple Poople."

2.   Richard Christy pissing his pants three times during a Maiden show so he wouldn't miss a minute.

3.   Richard Christy cooking his own shit in an oven.

4.   "10 Observations From Lemmy's Warts."  (alone, this sells the entire project)

5.   "What Would Varg Vikernes (Burzum) Do?"

6.   "Half-off trip for two to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. with Varg Vikernes," from "10 Heavy Metal Livingsocial/Groupon Deals You Never See."

7.    "The Very Best Qualities of Metallica's Load and Reload Albums."

8.   Candlemass' "Bewitched" video roasted in "Thoroughly Embarrassing Metal Videos."

9.   "10 Illegible Black Metal Logos (Rorschach Tests?)"

10.  "Best iTunes Playlist to Set On Repeat for a Drive of Eight Hours or Longer," by Danny Lilker (totaling "around eleven seconds of playtime.")


10 Things The Merciless Book of Metal Lists Gets Spot-On:

1.   Including the mighty Voivod in many categories.  To do less would make this book a sham.

2.   Proposing that Led Zeppelin is "JNM" (Just Not Metal).

3.   "Completely Unnecessary Heavy Metal Subgenres"

4.   "The Very Best Qualities of Metallica's Load and Reload Albums"  (lampoon genius)

5.   "25 Great Hardcore/Metal Crossover Albums"

6.   "Glorious Paul Baloff Stage Banter"

7.   "All Hail the Original Man - Some Metal Bands That Have, Or Have Had, Black Members" (also "10 Things You Should Know About Being Black in a Metal Band," by Hirax vocalist Katon W. De Pena)

8.  "Some Non-Metal Artists Metalheads Love" (perfecto list DESPITE omitting Killing Joke and Can)

9.   "The 10 Best and Worst Things About Being a Female Fronting a Metal Band," by Betsy Bitch.

10.  "20 of the Greatest Metal Voices"


5 Things The Merciless Book of Metal Lists Shanks:

1.  While agreed that Def Leppard's Pyromania is not a metal album, but a melodic hard rock album, it's hardly the "turd dropped from pop music's ass."  Pardon me, gents, but that dishonor goes straight to the shameless huckstering that was Hysteria.

2.   Maiden's Somewhere in Time, a shark-jumping record?  No arguments with Celtic Frost's Cold Lake, which Tom G. Warrior himself told me directly was "an abomination."  Ditto for Load and Reload, but Somewhere in Time?  Bull to the fucking shit.

3.   The Merciless Gay Bashing of Rob Halford.  Seriously, a joke's a joke and funny once, but a persistent flogging of the man?  The rest of us have let Halford off the hook, for Christ's sake.  He is the Metal God, period, the end.  Having interviewed him, I say the man is a king who doesn't know he has a crown.  Just leave him alone.

4.    The dismantling of Overkill while listing them as a candidate to make "The Big 4" of thrash a 5.  While maybe straying for a couple albums, this is one of the most consistent bands speed metal's ever seen.  Suggested Listening only for the Power in Black demo?  Groan.  Horrorscope, The Years of Decay, Taking Over, Feel the Fire...even their last two albums have been faster than just about anyone outside of Slayer or grind tech.   C'mon, brothers.

5.    Picking on Grim Reaper has been fashionable since Beavis and Butthead torched the "See You In Hell" video long before Abrams and Jenkins do so here.  It's passé.  While the video does betray a cheese element relative to the time in which it was conceived, Grim Reaper was a damned fine band also relative to their time.  It's just lame getting on their asses about this video.


10 Coolest Guests Appearing in The Merciless Book of Metal Lists:

1.   Betsy Bitch
2.   Danny Lilker
3.   Katon W. De Pena
4.   Kerry King
5.   John Gallagher
6.   Phil Anselmo
7.   Brian Slagel
8.   Jon and Marsha Zazula
9.   Paul Baloff (vicariously through the authors and Gary Holt)
10.  Hoya Roc
11.  Max Cavalera (okay, make it 11 Coolest Personalities Appearing On the Guest List of The Merciless Book of Metal Lists, sue me)


10 Things I Learned From The Merciless Book of Metal Lists:

1.   Producer Flemming Rasmussen's recount of jumping from 12 hours a day in the studio to 14-16 hours during the recording of Metallica's ...And Justice For All.  I wonder how Jason Newsted would tally it.

2.   My editor at Blabbermouth, Borivoj Krgin, is considered a master guru of the pre-internet tape trading days that I cherish and miss dearly.

3.   Max Cavalera and Sean Lennon did a duet together, "Son Song."

4.   Ron Fair, who engineered Slayer's Hell Awaits, is responsible for the discovery and production of Christina Aguilera.  Strange cosmos.

5.   The Goo Goo Dolls and Cannibal Corpse played shows together in their beginnings.  Um, wow...

6.   Ace Frehley ordered a tuna fish sandwich at an upscale restaurant in Manhattan in the company of Jon and Marsha Zazula.

7.   Jaromir Jagr is a metalhead.  Dammit, wish I'd known that when I was covering the NHL.

8.   The intro to Raven's "Rock Until You Drop" consists of the band "stamping on plastic coffee cups in a stone bathroom."

9.   There are idiots in the world who truly believe Scott Ian is Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

10.  Betsy Bitch laments not having a boob job.  As if one was needed, crikey.  She's still hot.


10 Albums That Were Played While I Reviewed The Merciless Book of Metal Lists (when my son wasn't up my crawl):

1.   The Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle
2.   Killing Joke -  Absolute Dissent
3.   The Return of the Living Dead soundtrack
4.   Slayer - Haunting the Chapel EP
5.   The Ocean - Pelagial
6.   Can - Ege Bamyasi
7.   Bitch - Be My Slave
8.   Raven - Life's a Bitch
9.   AC/DC - Flick of the Switch
10.  Voivod - Dimension Hatross


5 Things I Plan To Do After Wrapping On This Review:

1.   Pour myself another cranberry and vodka.

2.   Watch some Stanley Cup, Phantasm II and Frank Zappa:  The Torture Never Stops in succession.

3.   Knock out a review for Blabbermouth, starting with the new Kylesa joint. 

4.   Attempt to convert my wife to heavy metal for the 2,397th time before asking for a shag.

5.   Say hello to Mr. Happy Hand when # 4 fails royally.

Friday, May 03, 2013

RIP Jeff Hanneman of Slayer

                     Photo Credit:  Kevin Winter/Getty Images


I can still see the man jamming along to Zeppelin on Slayer's tour bus, a hundred lit candles all around him, nodding to me as I passed by to the rear of the coach for an interview with Dave Lombardo.  I'm absolutely stunned by this as I'm sure the entire metal community is.  RIP, Jeff...