Archive for Thrash

Deals & Steals: Call the Dealer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2014 by Lightning Slim


Now, the dealer in question might be to help with the pantload of stoner metal I just received. He might also deal in speed, sleaze, machinery or poisoned bibles by the looks of things. All prices $US.

High On Fire – Snakes For the Divine $5.59, Death Is This Communion $8.78, Blessed Black Wings $6.39, Surrounded By Thieves $6.39. I’m late to the party on these shirtless riffy wonders, so I pulled the trigger on the whole back catalogue. Awesome fun.

Destroy Destroy Destroy – Devour the Power $6.39. More side project silliness from the American core kids. I’m sure I’m meant to enjoy this Manowar parody stuff ironically, so, shhhhhhhh……

Lazarus A.D. – Onslaught $3.99. One of the finest young bands working in retrothrash today.

Scum of the Earth – Sleaze Freak $3.00. The Rob Zombie soundalikes actually made a second album. Not an original note on it, but kind of fun anyway.

KMFDM – XTORT $3.48. Because I’m a Chris Connelly fan. Also, this is a reissue that allows you to skip the stupid bonus track.

Anaal Nathrakh – Domine Non Es Dignus $6.99. Woah. Seriously nutty industrial black metal from the UK. Like Cradle mixed with old-school Earache Records.

Powerman 5000 – Transform $1.48. Can’t believe this radio-ready bit of nothing got released and Doomsday didn’t. Oh well, price was right.

And now for my new favourite thing:


Doomriders – Black Thunder $5.58 and Darkness Come Alive $6.39. This side project of Converge has a bit of everything good. At their best they sound like the entire back half of Iron Maiden’s Killers being performed by Danzig. If that description appeals to you, run don’t walk to see them.


Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?


The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?


Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule


Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.


Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!


* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

Album Review – Amon Amarth “Deceiver of the Gods” 2013

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on July 15, 2013 by Lightning Slim

AmonAmarth-DeceiverOfTheGods  When Metallica followed up Ride the Lightning with Master of Puppets, an album that is virtually identical in terms of structure and songwriting, I don’t recall anyone at the time getting butthurt about receiving more of a good thing.

Why, then, is Deceiver of the Gods getting flak for its lack of forward momentum and the band’s entirely sane decision to not go about fixing the unbroken and popular sounds they’ve achieved of late? Personally, I look at it this way:

Twilight of the Thunder God = Number of the Beast; the definitive and instant classic.

Surtur Rising = Piece of Mind; the longer and more confident follow-up. Less oomph, but definite quality.

Deceiver of the Gods = (you guessed it) Powerslave; a top-of-the-game album. Safe choices, very clean production.

It’s a fun record with all the chops you would expect and influences written all over it. It has a Priest’s worth of double harmonies and a heck of a lot of old-school thrash. “Blood Eagle”, in particular just screams Kreator. I highly recommend the deluxe version, which includes an EP of original tunes written (absolutely perfectly) in the style of Priest, AC/DC, Mötorhead and Sabbath. Johan Hegg’s Ozzy impersonation alone is worth the price of admission.

If these past three records are where the Amon Amarth wants to plateau, I have absolutely no problem with camping out a while. Let’s just hope my Maiden analogy goes no further. 8 out of 10

Riff Sammiches: 5 Multi-Riff Masterpieces

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Lightning Slim

Welcome to the first segment in my new “Lists” category. Lists are a tried-and-true method for bloggers to put up some content when they’re a little lean on material. People also like ’em because they’re so flexible and generate discussion. After all, everyone has their own personal lists and they love to compare. I’m hoping y’all are no exception, so here we go:
We’re all here because we love a good guitar riff, and there are many ways to put them together and make songs. Some artists are stingy or minimalists, and keep their riffs sparse within the tune. Others are total riff factories and splash them about liberally. Here are five tunes made better by generous helpings of guitar goodness. And yes, of course there are more out there, probably by Tool and Machine Head, but I did want to keep things under the 9-minute mark:

5. Bolt Thrower – “Contact – Wait Out”. Featuring an unloved and unfairly judged one-off vocal performance from Dave Ingram, Honour – Valour – Pride starts off with a track featuring an entry riff, a mid-song change-up at around 3:20 and an exit riff that eventually blends with the entry. Superb.

4. Arch Enemy – “Enemy Within”. Another album starter, this time built on one of the best intros in the genre and the big debut of Angela Gossow. I always have to listen to this track twice because as beautiful as the solo section is, the rhythm guitar work underneath it is just as interesting.

3. Iron Maiden – “Powerslave” C’mon, where do you think Arch Enemy got the idea? Sure, we all know the big title riff, but the middle section has enough spare six-string in it write at least three more songs. Those were the days, no?

2. Overkill – “Gasoline Dream”. No strangers to riff largesse, Overkill often close out their records with something even more big and epic. Sometime it has to do with their Overkill-themed masterwork, sometimes not. “Gasoline Dream” is one of the stand-alones, filled with speed changes, multiple ideas and a Sabbath-influenced acoustic ending.

1. Black Sabbath – “Symptom of the Universe”. Did someone mention Sabbath? Mad drum fills! Super-stoned bouncy-bass outro! Cybernetic unicorns! Containing something for literally everyone, “Symptom” is like seven songs in one; none of which make sense and all of which are great.

Album Review: Battlecross “Pursuit of Honor” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Geez, what a fun thrash record. Battlecross make a fantastic case for filling the void left behind in American thrash by the untimely departure of Himsa, and would slide neatly into a bill with Lazarus AD and Skeletonwitch. Severe guitar wizardry meets oddly poignant lunch-pail working class anger in these songs, with few wasted moments. A band to watch, for sure.

Highlights: The single “Push Pull Destroy” which may start its own dance craze, “Man of Stone” and “Better Off Dead’, the latter a classic hating-peoples-guts song that no thrash band should be without. 

Lowlights: Frequent and suspicious use of 909 kick-drum drops, which I suppose an old geezer like me is going to have to get used to.

Full marks also for putting what appears to be an ersatz “Sargent D” on the cover. 7.5 out of 10

Album Review – Overkill “The Electric Age” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Overkill have always had two faces; they are capable of some very grim, dark, European-style thrash but they can also bust out road-racing, crowd surfing, beer metal when they want. Ironbound was one heavy, serious act to follow, so the band wisely decided to avoid repeating themselves and try a different approach. As a result, The Electric Age is a fun, speedy, rocktacular ride  with little pretense, and solidly entertaining throughout.

Second track “Electric Rattlesnake” is a great example of what’s going on. The base tune is a standard three-minute Motorhead/Chrome Division ditty, but Blitz and company manage to stretch it out to Purple Zeppelin size by doing what they do best: putting in more bridges than the Army Corps of Engineers. It has a loose, bar-band feel to it, which carries through to the more succinct. “Wish You Were Dead”. Other highlights include “All Over but the Shouting” and “Old Wounds, New Scars” which declares the band has “got a lotta mouth for a Jersey white boy”. Truth!

Unlike its massive, majestic predecessor, which settles in for a heavy winter drinking session, The Electric Age charges up to the bar, does a line of shots, flips off the crowd and books it. Good times. 8 out of 10 

Album Review – Ministry “Relapse” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Zero to Three with tags , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  It wasn’t so long ago that I was saying in this space that Ministry has left the Aughts riding high, and that if they had nothing left to say this would be a great place to take the exit ramp. Obviously, Jourgensen and Co. don’t read obscure Canadian weblogs, because since that time they have squeezed out not one but two slightly shabby, unnecessary covers albums and now this studio record, Relapse.

If nothing else, Relapse can be said to be Ministry’s most meta-textual album. Most of the songs relate the trials and tribulations of a washed-up old junkie named Al Jourgensen, and his battles against addiction, the music industry and the one-percent. Unfortunately, although the record gasps, wheezes, tantrums  and blusters its way through dozens of bad-boy cliches, it remains thoroughly unsuccessful at convincing us they are battles he intends to win. Indeed, the title track contains a sheepish and (briefly) endearing admission of quite the opposite.

Sonically, Relapse fares little better. No record made by a man who began his career in electronic music and spent years as a producer and remixer deserves to sound this rushed, this forced or this poorly recorded. Jourgensen has a huge library of b-side, ugly-stepsister songs usually buried in side-projects, but here they have been pushed, blinking and mediocre, into the spotlight. Opening track “Ghouldiggers” starts out with promise but goes on far too long, and it’s pretty much downhill from there. Full marks for Stormtroopers of Death cover song “United Forces”, but that’s just a bit of sizzle when there’s not much steak in the kitchen.

We were worried about a world without a Ministry, but this is a depressing alternative. Relapse shows us a Ministry no longer an innovative industrial powerhouse, nor a speed metal monster. It’s more valuable as an example of franchise zombification than an entertaining piece of music. 3 out of 10

Album Review – Skeletonwitch “Forever Abomination” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Good Skeletonwitch music is like bad barbecued chicken: it tastes metallic, it’s blackened around the edges, and deep inside it’s still totally raw. Forever Abomination certainly qualifies as a non-fix of the band’s unbroken style, serving up no-nonsense thrash for the beer and burger set. EDIT: Clearly I was hungry when I wrote this. 

I know I give a lot of bands shit for lack of evolution, but there are always exceptions. The Skeletonwitch Method, much like the Riddle of Steel or the formula for Dr. Pepper, should be kept locked down, and screwed around with as little as possible. 

A great way to kill half an hour, Forever Abomination is designed for cruising, with a nostalgic ear for the cassette tape. It makes you want to “flip it over” and play it again. 8 out of 10

Album Review – Forbidden “Omega Wave” 2010

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , on March 10, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Bust out your high-tops and skinny blacks, because Forbidden’s Omega Wave hits like a bomb made of 1991, ridden by a T-800 and delivered from orbit by Ellen Ripley. All riffs are furiously picked, the drums are fast without blast and the vocals a pleasantly non-ironic wail reminiscent of mid-career Ozzy. In short, it’s a pure thrash record. Twelve tracks, no dogs.

Omega Wave is so good it’s made me a Forbidden fan. I’d always considered them strictly Tier 2, but this album places them firmly in the vanguard of thrash revival. 8 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Overkill “The Years of Decay” 1989

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  The Years of Decay shares many attributes with …And Justice for All in that it’s a huge undertaking made up of the band’s highest aspirations, produced at the height of the North American thrash movement. Overkill set out to make the biggest record of their career and succeeded admirably.

This album is almost too big, too heavy and too powerful to be enjoyed in a single sitting (like that’s a bad problem to have). It’s a wheelbarrow full of long, intricate songs stacked up like riff sandwiches of Scooby-Doo proportions, aided by a whalloping, woofer-destroying mix from Terry Date. When all stringed instruments focus on the same target it can suck all the air from a room like a hypnotic smoke chamber in a cult lodge. Not that they always operate in lockstep; D.D. Verni often snatches the spotlight and carries long stretches of material on his own by laying down massive, catchy bass lines and licks. It’s impressive that he shows off his virtuosity without overstepping his place and getting Steve Harris-like in his noodling and leaving rhythm section territory. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth delivers his banshee howl with just a hint of a lip-curling snarl as a tip of the hat towards the band’s punk roots on temper-tantrums “I Hate” and “Birth of Tension”, and exudes a world-weariness beyond his years on dirge of doom “Skullkrusher” and the album’s triumphantly melancholy title track.

Just when you think things are getting a bit too lengthy, Overkill steal a page from their better-known contemporaries by tossing in a (relatively) short, sharp, lightning fast ball of hate to close things out. “E.vil N.ever D.ies” is the perfect palate cleanser, and also (by inserting the occasional sneaky rifference) serves as a stealth entry in the band’s sprawling “Overkill Saga”.

The Years of Decay shows off Overkill at their most large and in-charge, but in the end, the momentum proved unsustainable. Bobby Gustafson would depart the band and Overkill, along with the majority of thrash, would go back underground for 20 years. In those years, however, they have continued to make music, some of it excellent, and the scene itself has not decayed at all. Thrash fans have remained fanatically loyal, and albums like this one are a big part of the reason for that loyalty and the foundation for the resurgence we see today.  8.5 out of 10

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