Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss (Album of the Week)

This week it’s time to head back to 1990 and have a look at an album that propelled Slayer into a new decade.

Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss

Released October 9, 1990 via Def American

My Favorite Tracks – Seasons In The Abyss, Dead Skin Mask, Skeletons Of Society

Slayer had quite a run of it through the late ’80’s, what with essentially redefining thrash metal with Reign In Blood and then pulling up on the throttle and chilling out a bit on South Of Heaven. The change in speed and/or sound did not resonate with everyone but was probably a wise choice, as attempting to do RIB again would have likely proven disastrous.

The band hit the studio with Def American mastermind Rick Rubin to crank out their next album and hit on a bit of gold with a combination of their more mid-tempo fare along with some bursts of energy. Slayer would also mostly pull back their lyrical fare from the demonic and supernatural to more of a look at real-world issues.

Seasons In The Abyss comes in with the standard American Recordings track list of the time at 10 songs (that’s all Rubin and company would pay a group for) and a run time of 42 minutes, which is a virtual eternity in Slayer world.

War Ensemble

The opener sets a quick pace as the band pound through a dark look at war, one of metal’s favorite topics. This is a stark look at the true scope of a battle and it’s supplemented with a very aggressive and re-energized Slayer. We don’t necessarily know what or where this battle is, though the Rhine is mentioned so Germany is a good guess, but it is definitely brutal.

Blood Red

The pace comes down just a hair as the band shred through a condemnation of governments using violence to silence their citizens. This one is quick and dirty and the next song kicks straight off.

Spirit In Black

This time we do revisit the more supernatural with a descent into Hell. Tom Araya is running the show as some poor sap is sent on his way to the eternal torture chamber. The song gives a few call backs to prior Slayer works, such as “blood forever rains” and “Hell awaits.” It’s also clear that the band did not piddle around with finding new guitar tones or anything – they have their sound locked in and banged this out efficiently.

Expendable Youth

A song that discusses gang violence, though of course in Slayer fashion. Gangs were the number one scapegoat of media and politicians around this time and of course the root causes of gang existence were never truly addressed. Slayer are not offering any solutions, though, this is more of an observation of the battle for turf and the cold reality of bodies on the ground.

Dead Skin Mask

This track is a look at infamous murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, the real-life influence for many Hollywood serial killers. Slayer amps up the creepiness factor with a twisted riff as Tom Araya yells through the process of a killer’s mind deteriorating. It would mirror how Gein would claim that he did not remember moments during his murders or grave robbing. This one has been one of Slayer’s marquee tracks through the years.

Hallowed Point

Pretty simple here – the band kicks the speed up a fair bit and discusses the issue of hollow point bullets, which were a hot-button issue in the early 1990’s. The bullets expand on impact and can literally tear apart a person’s insides, as opposed to the more straight shot of a “typical” bullet. The song does not really participate in the debate over the bullet, rather it simply follows the journey from firing to shredding someone apart.

Skeletons Of Society

The tempo on this one goes way down, almost to a doom metal pace. The song marches through the eyes of a survivor of an apparent nuclear holocaust. It’s probably not shocking that Slayer’s version of the post-apocalypse is a grim one. The solos from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman here, always dissonant, are an extra special touch on this track that’s a bit of a departure from the album’s norms.


Back to a thrash pace again and also the topic of satanism and the old classic stuff like possession and being corrupted. While couched in a lot of fanciful and supernatural stuff, the song does make a fairly real-world point about how it’s always evil that is the tempter and the attractive option, at least viewed through the lens of belief in that sort of thing.

Born Of Fire

Slayer breaks it open speed wise here as they get at least within the ballpark of Reign In Blood speed. The song is kind of a stock rundown of more evil imagery as the lyrics were written last minute by Kerry King. While Slayer’s slower pace has worked well through this album, it is nice to hear some straight-ahead bashing for a bit.

Seasons In The Abyss

The album closes with a track that really slows things down and gets into some gnarly sounding tones. A creepy intro runs for a few minutes before the song really kicks in and picks things up a fair bit. The lyrics are a bit more abstract here, they are dealing with the concept of The Abyss as presented by noted occultist Aleister Crowley. I personally have no clue what it’s really about so I’ll leave it alone. A brilliant video was also filmed for the song and was shot in Egypt, adding a huge degree of visual awe to the song.

Seasons In The Abyss would mark another notch in Slayer’s now-lengthened thrash belt. The album would get to number 40 on the Billboard album charts and also break on several other nations’ charts. An eventual US gold certification would come, and the album has sold at least 800,000 copies.

For Slayer it was a boost in reputation after South Of Heaven and its transitional nature left some fans alienated. Now people were used to the newer Slayer sound, and there were still a few all-out thrash moments to be had. It also positioned Slayer quite nicely entering the 1990’s, as their style would fit in with rising “alt-metal” movement while conventional thrash fell by the wayside. These songs, both in studio and live form, would frequent MTV programming, especially Headbanger’s Ball.

Though Slayer would make it through the very tough 1990’s relatively well, it wouldn’t come without some cost – drummer Dave Lombardo, often regarded as the band’s best asset, would quit the group in 1992. But he left after a successful album and tour cycle for a record that reinvigorated long-time fans and brought in many new ones, myself included.

Album Of The Week – December 5, 2022

This week’s pick is the album released in 1990 after one of heavy metal’s legendary acts spent some time in the late 80’s indulging in the sound of the times a bit. It was both a return to form and a new phase for the group, that sadly would not last much beyond the album’s cycle.

Judas Priest – Painkiller

Released September 14, 1990 via Columbia Records

My Favorite Tracks – Painkiller, All Guns Blazing, Between The Hammer & The Anvil

Judas Priest in the late 1980’s was a mixed bag – both Turbo and Ram It Down had varying degrees of commercial success but both albums were also not received as well as the band’s early-80’s classic metal phase. The band came into 1990 with a new drummer and a new approach to album crafting.

Priest were also engaged in public turmoil around this time – the infamous trial over subliminal messages was held in the summer, it was only after the dismissal of the lawsuit when Painkiller would see release.

Painkiller comprises 10 songs at about 46 minutes in its original form, the version I’ll discuss today. 3 singles were released from the record – A Touch Of Evil, the title track and Night Crawler.


Opening with the title track and one hell of an introduction for new drummer Scott Travis as he blasts his way through the first seconds of the song. The intensity keeps up as the riffs enter and especially when Rob Halford wails his way through the song in a manner raising the bar even for him. Painkiller has to do with some robot thing saving the world and has become an all-time Priest classic.

Hell Patrol

The tempo goes down a touch but the heaviness and atmosphere remain on this track having to do with fighter plane combat. Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing get a bit of time to flex some solos on this one and they stand out a touch more given the less violent musical presentation.

All Guns Blazing

Back with the speed on this aptly-named song. It’s a tried and true metal song about going for it at full capacity, as the title suggests. The slowdown of the main riff at the song’s conclusion is a nice touch to end the song in a bit unconventional fashion.

Leather Rebel

By now a standard Priest theme, get decked out in leather and kick ass. The guitars go ham on this one, it’s a marriage of classic Priest subjects with the updated speed metal of 1990.

Metal Meltdown

Another scorcher that lives up to its name and could be an accurate description of the album as a whole, as if the band were reviewing their own work in song.

Night Crawler

Rather than being an homage to the X-Men character, this song invents a monster that comes to eat everyone. Making up their own monsters worked out better for Priest than singing about famous ones, though we’re not there yet in the Priest chronology. This one is a fairly simple tune that executes very well.

Between The Hammer & The Anvil

The title offers another take on the “between a rock and a hard place” concept. The song was apparently created out of the subliminal messages trial. Rather than being a literal offering of their feelings on it, things are dressed up here to fit a song that very much recalls the classic Priest era.

A Touch Of Evil

A song that hearkens back to the late 80’s time period, replete with synth. It’s a track about how love can be painful and twisted. Though it sticks out a bit on the album it’s still a very nice addition and doesn’t detract from the proceedings.

One Shot At Glory

After the brief intro Battle Hymn, the album wraps up with this solid metal offering. It delves into the “good side” of war, that rush of adrenaline and desire to do something greater that comes with stepping onto the battlefield. It’s a nice, motivating track to close out the record.

Painkiller marked both a return to the old ways and a new direction for Judas Priest. It was heavy on a scale beyond what the band had done before, entering speed metal territory and deftly changing direction as the sounds of the 1980’s were quickly dismissed in the new decade. The album made a decent showing on several nations’ charts and has a handful of gold certifications.

Acclaim and praise would come with Painkiller. It left some jaws on the floor upon release and in the years since it is widely hailed as one of the band’s strongest efforts. It was an impressive effort all around for the metal legends.

Sadly this time period would not spark a new era of Priest classics. Not long after the touring cycle for this album, Rob Halford wished to do a side project. Due to strange contract wording Halford had to leave the band to release anything else, and he would be out of Priest for a decade. The rest of Priest took some time off before regrouping with a new singer and a couple of albums that also explored the heavier side of things.

In the end, Painkiller was a triumphant piece of the Judas Priest catalog. An old dog learned a few new tricks and translated an already successful formula to a heavier shade of metal. Even in modern times, Priest have still made a fair bit of stuff that sounds like it could have come from this album. Metal would go on to be a timeless beast, and Judas Priest were one of the ones chiefly responsible.

Album Of The Week – October 24, 2022

For this week I’m going back to the early 90’s and the practical genesis of the brief yet powerful “alt-metal” movement. This album was the second in a line of four that served as one alt-metal figurehead’s impressive body of work. And while every music artist is divisive to some degree, this dude really gets opinions flowing and tempers flaring.

Danzig – II: Lucifuge

Released June 26, 1990 via Def American Records

My Favorite Tracks – Snakes Of Christ, Her Black Wings, Tired Of Being Alive

Glenn Danzig had entered the scene as vocalist of punk group The Misfits, then entered metal territory with Samhain before evolving into his own-named outfit. The band took up a blues-based metal sound that explored the various facets of evil, a template still very much in place on Lucifuge.

And while the debut album would hit platinum, we aren’t quite there yet. Danzig was on a major label but was still an emerging concern in 1990. It would be a few years before the hit would climb the charts, even though that hit had already been recorded and released.

The original CD packaging was also interesting – the booklet insert folded out into a huge upside-down cross. There are also a few versions of the album cover – the one I posted is the US CD version, while other variations feature headshot photos of the band. To my knowledge, the songs are the same across all versions.

Our album today weighs in with 11 songs over the course of 50 minutes. Several music videos were filmed for tracks, though nothing was technically “released” as a single. Note that some of the videos are not hosted on official channels for whatever reason and might not hang around for too long, I don’t know.

Long Way Back From Hell

The album opens with an epic riff fest that establishes the tone for the album. It is dirty blues straight out of a Louisiana swamp, and the opening lyrics place the song right there. The nasty riffs of John Christ meld with the distinct “Evil Elvis” bellow of Glenn Danzig to offer up some truly wicked metal. The song’s premise is simple – don’t do something you aren’t prepared to face the consequences for, it truly is a long way back from Hell.

Snakes Of Christ

Something super cool happens here, there is an abrupt transition between tracks 1 and 2. This is something almost obsolete now in the digital age, but it’s pretty cool to go from one banger straight into another. A very signature riff opens Snakes Of Christ, and the song moves on into a critical examination of how religious teachings have been perverted over the centuries.

On the subject of the song’s main riff – Danzig has stated in the past that he feels Stone Temple Pilots ripped off this song’s riff for their single Sex Type Thing. This 1997 interview, provided via archive, outlines his argument. The STP camp doesn’t seem to have ever addressed the issue.

Killer Wolf

This is a slower, very blues-based number that is really just about some old horn dog going out on the prowl for women. The song features Danzig’s vocal inflections to such a degree that Danzig detractors might call this song “Exhibit A.” I think it’s a pretty cool track, myself.

Tired Of Being Alive

Another banging tune with a monster riff. The title might indicate the same kind of desperate, crushing depression found in doom metal, but this song retains the “I am badass and evil” vibe while still expressing a similar feeling of being done with it all. Everyone gets sick of it all at some point.

I’m The One

An acoustic blues track about a little boy who discovers he’s the “one,” likely being the Antichrist or some other evil dude. The song was originally cut during sessions for the debut album but was saved for this one.

Her Black Wings

Often viewed as the signature song from the record, Her Black Wings goes beyond the “dark blues” and gets straight into heavy metal. The song is about some hot, powerful demon woman who shows up and does her thing. This song perfectly sums up the Danzig experience.

Devil’s Plaything

A bit of a departure from the blues here, this track offers up a preview for what the next album would sound like. This veers more into the gothic realm and offers a more quiet experience through a fair bit of the song before opening up in a powerful surge a bit later. Danzig did not always have to be loud, something that would come into play after this record.


It’s straight back into the bayou with this dark blues track. The song is apparently about apocalypse, though it’s expressed in vague terms. No matter, it is a powerful song and another highlight of the record.

Blood And Tears

It’s ballad time, this being a dark tune that explores someone coming out of a failed relationship. The song departs from the pure evil explored in other places and presents a more realistic version of things.


A very rocking tune with not many lyrics to it – “Girl, let’s fly too high” is about all you really need to know. The song works very well even without a great deal of exposition to it.

Pain In The World

The album ends with a heavy song that gets into the origin of evil and its arrival on the planet. While it’s more of a deep cut from the Danzig catalog, it is still a signature Danzig tune.

Lucifuge did not see massive mainstream success, but did initially chart on the US Billboard 200. It was well-received critically, with many writers calling it a huge leap forward from the debut. The album did spread through the metal network and Danzig became a more visible force, with a mainstream breakout a few years away.

In retrospect, Lucifuge has been hailed as one of the best albums of the band’s career. The evil blues sound wouldn’t be found on any future Danzig records and it stands out among the other releases. I haven’t entirely answered the question for myself yet, but this is a true contender for my favorite Danzig release.

Of course, with Glenn Danzig comes a lot of discussion. While he’s had his fans over the years, he’s also had plenty of haters. His singing style has been roundly dismissed and he has often been portrayed as an asshole. And maybe he is, I don’t really know.

It doesn’t affect my listening habits if people don’t like someone I do like, so it’s no huge deal. But it has been funny over the years to hear the outcry over Danzig, bringing up his name at all can lead to some interesting conversations.

But at the end of the day it’s the music that matters, and Lucifuge was a triumphant statement from Danzig. It came along at the right time for my young, impressionable self and it helped set the tone for the music of the early 1990’s. No amount of hang-wringing over what kind of person Glenn Danzig is can change that.

Album Of The Week – October 3, 2022

I’m back to my normal posting schedule and I’m back to the album of the week with a no-doubter and an all-timer. It is the album that truly sucked me into heavy metal. It is one of my favorite albums of all-time, it is often considered the band’s magnum opus and it is hailed as one of the best offerings of the thrash genre. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest pieces of recorded music in history.

Megadeth – Rust In Peace

Released September 24, 1990 via Capitol Records

My Favorite Tracks – Tornado Of Souls, Rust In Peace … Polaris, Hangar 18

Megadeth made waves on the up and coming thrash scene through the 1980’s. Dave Mustaine formed the band after being dismissed from Metallica and, well, all that’s had volumes written about it so on to the album.

Rust In Peace marked the dawn of Megadeth’s most stable line-up – Dave Mustaine on guitars and vocals, Marty Friedman made his Megadeth debut on lead guitar, then-trusty sidekick Dave Ellefson remained on bass and Nick Menza made his recording debut after joining the band a year prior.

All credit to Ellefson and Menza for holding down the backline with precision, but this album is known for one thing and it’s guitars. What Friedman and Mustaine got up to here is a master class in guitar performance. Even in the guitar-centric realm of thrash, this is unparalleled stuff.

There is one note to make before anyone goes running to Spotify to listen to this masterpiece – the album was remastered in 2004 and Mustaine made the curious choice to re-record some vocal tracks. The result was pretty awful and the 2004 remaster lives in infamy among Megadeth fans. The original version of this album is the one to seek out.

There are nine tracks with a time of 40 minutes to get to and there’s a fair bit to discuss, so off to it.

Holy Wars/The Punishment Due

Two singles were released and they are conveniently located as the first two tracks of the album. This dual-titled beast begins with some all-out thrash and sets the tone for the record to come. The topic here is conflict, the song was inspired by Mustaine seeing bootleg Megadeth merch that supported the IRA.

The song slows down for The Punishment Due, an interlude that was apparently inspired by The Punisher of Marvel comics. The song winds back up into a frenzy, featuring a great many guitars, before concluding.

Hangar 18

Here the band offer a massive thrash tune about the alien crash landing theories surrounding Hangar 18 in Ohio and Area 51 in Nevada. A few brief verses roll off, followed by the very brief chorus and then – guitars. A whole hell of a lot of guitars as Mustaine and Friedman go off with something like 11 solos in the space of a few minutes. Even on an album full of guitar heroics, Hangar 18 stands out for them.

The song became iconic for the band and was a central focus of the imagery surrounding the record. Megadeth would go skydiving near Area 51 for an episode of Headbanger’s Ball on MTV and a sequel to the song would surface in 2001.

Take No Prisoners

This cut discusses the horrors of war by way of accounting its brutality. It is yet another fantastic slab of thrash. It was also the central focus of re-recording on the 2004 remaster and in my opinion it was totally botched.

Five Magics

Here Megadeth play Dungeons and Dragons on a tale of a wizard’s adventure to obtain the necessary magic to defeat a monster. While the song’s protagonist practices magic, Megadeth’s weapon of choice is – you probably guessed it – the guitar. Friedman uses the song’s first several minutes to just play solo after solo. Whatever monster that wizard is facing has no idea what’s coming for him.

Poison Was The Cure

A song about Mustaine’s long struggles with heroin. Ellefson’s bass opens the brief tune and then the band slams through the proceedings in a bit of groovy fashion. While still certainly thrash, there’s a good bit of rock and roll feel here.


Here we have a song composed about a ghost that Mustaine thought was in his attic. It’s a fittingly creepy tune that still keeps the thrash and guitar attack going full steam ahead.

Tornado Of Souls

Exiting the realms of war and fantasy for a moment, this song is simply about ending a relationship and getting back into the world with a winning attitude. It’s also, in my estimation, the ultimate expression of everything that works about this album. It’s a fantastic composition, with the guitars, lyrics and everything coming together to kick the ass of anyone listening.

Tornado Of Souls has become one of Megadeth’s most popular cuts, having been played live extensively and often hailed as one of their best overall tracks.

Dawn Patrol

This very creepy, short song has Mustaine snarl through an Ellefson bass line to illustrate people living underground after an environmental disaster, such as the nuclear holocaust about to come in the next song. In a way it’s more of an interlude or intro piece, but it took on its own life as a curiosity from the album.

Rust In Peace … Polaris

The album closes with the title track and the song is inevitably about the subject the title confers – nuclear war. The lyrics are sung from what seems to be the perspective of a mad tyrant unleashing nuclear hell but the perspective is apparently that of the missile itself.

This track doesn’t feature any guitar solos in an effort to let the song communicate its own excellence. Still plenty of nice and nasty riffs to be had and the lyrics basking in the world-ending nuclear conflict make their points well.

Rust In Peace was hailed upon release as one of the finest moments in thrash metal. Megadeth would see their profile raise considerably during the album’s cycle. The album went platinum in the US and its legacy as a masterpiece has been cemented over the ensuing decades. People love making lists of “best of” thrash and metal, and people love putting Rust In Peace on those lists.

For me this was the album that truly hooked me on the heavier side of metal. I was already into Iron Maiden and I’d heard other thrash albums before, but this one just grabbed me and took my soul. From then on it was a race to find the heaviest stuff out there, and in many respects that race is still going 32 years later.

While Megadeth would go on with a lot of ups and downs over the years since 1990, there is no denying the place Rust In Peace holds in the band’s legacy. A whole new generation of musicians influenced by the album would revive thrash in the 2000’s and bring new life to the genre thought dead. It is a legacy secure in the riffs and plentiful solos.

Album Of The Week – January 16, 2022

I’m switching up the format a bit this week. There will be a post every day and the four others all deal with the subject of hair metal. So for my AOTW pick this week I’m not going to reminisce over some beloved-to-me work that I fondly recall and could write about at any given time.

Instead I’m picking a hair metal work that I haven’t listened to in maybe 30 years and I’m going to see what I think on the fly. I played the tape way back when in early 1991, just before the storm came to wipe hair metal off the map. But I can’t really “place” this album at all and it requires a new listen for me to really decide what I think about it.

Warrant – Cherry Pie

Released September 11, 1990 via Columbia Records

My Favorite Tracks – Cherry Pie, ???

The ominous release date stands out but of course this release was 11 years before those events. It was truly just another day back then. It does feel a bit odd to look back in those terms but this AOTW has nothing to do with that so I’ll press on.

This was Warrant’s biggest hit in terms of albums and resulting singles. The band were one of the more interesting prospects in latter-day hair metal and were perhaps second only to Skid Row in terms of popularity. Warrant also handled the demise of hair metal more adeptly than many of their peers, as they retooled with new sounds that saw industry success through the 1990’s before entering their nostalgia phase in the 2000’s.

There is debate over who actually played guitar on the album. It has been semi-confirmed that ex-Streets guitarist Mike Slamer played many of the solos. I don’t see a ton of confirmed info other than C.C. DeVille’s credited turn on the title track so I won’t get too far into it. Using studio players to spruce up an album was far more common than many people realize so the topic is more trivia than a major discussion topic.

I will go through the album track-by-track and see what I think. This is far more off-the-cuff than I normally do but I wanted to dig more into the end portion of hair metal and explore it rather than pay homage to one of the handful of records I revere and could write about at any given time.

Cherry Pie

We’re right out of the gate with the title track and Warrant’s most recognizable song. It’s a wonderfully done hard rocker that is obviously talking about sex without really talking about it. The song and resulting video were big hits and this is everything right about hair metal. Sure it’s silly and that likely turns off a lot of detractors of hair metal, but there’s nothing wrong with having some fun now and again. I’ll have to get through the rest of the album before any final verdict but I’m sure this will stand as my favorite tune when we’re all done.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

On to another of the album’s singles. This song is not an ode to the classic novel of the same name that would greatly influence the debate over slavery in America. Rather it is more of a murder ballad, telling the tale of two cops who murdered and were disposing of the bodies in the swamp.

It’s a really good song that changes up the hair metal formula of party rock or love ballads. I don’t know why songs like this are so intriguing, the case here is fictional, but these types of “I saw the killer” songs always grab attention.

I Saw Red

We go now to full ballad territory. This song was a hit single for Warrant. It is a sad account of the narrator finding his lover in bed with someone else. The song is well arranged with somber instrumentation to accompany the heavy topic at hand. The tune keeps things more high-minded and does not descend into a need for revenge or anything like that.

I will give the song full credit for being good but it’s also pushing it for me in terms of sappiness or whatever. I can do without a ton of that in my diet so this is one I wouldn’t revisit on a regular basis.

Bed Of Roses

It’s back to back with the sappiness, though this song picks up the tempo. The song is pretty good but I’m choking a bit on the sap levels. I don’t know why every rock band went for the “bed of roses” trope around this time. Stuff like this is probably what led me to getting into death metal.

Sure Feels Good To Me

We get fully back to rock and roll on this banger. This tune is quick, hard and simple. And that’s just how things should be. And uh, whoever played the solo on this did a fantastic job.

Love In Stereo

The tempo stays up and the theme stays the same. This song is a piano-backed jam that is perfectly fine. Warrant aren’t reinventing the wheel here but they’re executing well. These more “filler” songs are holding their weight so far.

Blind Faith

This was the fourth single from the album. It wasn’t a chart topper. The song is a very simple, prototypical power ballad for end-era hair metal. It doesn’t stand out as anything special compared to I Saw Red but the song is ok. I don’t mind listening to it but it’s not a song I’d playlist.

Song And Dance Man

The lyrical fare is sillier than shit here but the song thankfully picks up the tempo for the chorus and saves it from totally losing my interest. It’s one of those songs that’s just about whatever. Sometimes songs like this work really well, other times they’re garbage. This one sits somewhere inbetween.

You’re The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised

I don’t know entirely what’s going on here, if this was intended as some call and response to the Johnny Paycheck classic I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised, or what. Whatever the case the song is pretty good and picks up this second side a bit, things were lagging there for a minute.

Mr. Rainmaker

I notice that this track has a lot more Spotify streams than others from the record’s second side. It’s probably because the song is head and shoulders above anything else on this side. This is a well-executed hard rocker about finding love and not needing to be rained on anymore. The way the album was going I was afraid the quality was going to further descend into something horrible, but this song really picks things up.

Train, Train

Our last proper song is a cover from southern rock veterans Blackfoot. Warrant fit the song very well into this album’s vibe. It’s not a trasnformative cover by any means but it’s done nicely and keeps the album’s listening experience up after the excellent track prior.

Ode To Tipper Gore

Tacked on to the album’s close is this small rant directed at the PMRC’s queen bee. Rather nice timing as I was just discussing the PMRC and the Filthy Fifteen last week. This is just a compilation of Jani Lane saying fuck and shit a lot and is of no real listening value. It is funny to recall it in the context of the PMRC’s grip on popular music at the time, this is the kind of stuff musicians provided in response.

That does it for the original studio version of Cherry Pie. There are bonus tracks scattered around from various reissues of the album over the years. The band would change course for more rock and quasi-grunge sounds after this release but would keep their heads above water as many other hair acts fell by the wayside.

Cherry Pie turned out to be a pretty enjoyable listen. I remembered the hits but I had to re-acquaint myself with the other material. Overall I found it worthwhile to listen to, just one or maybe two songs approach but don’t quite fully fit the term “stinker.” The music here isn’t transcendent by any stretch but it was done at a level above a lot of the hair metal drek coming out at the time, just before the death knell of Nirvana sounded a year after this album’s release.

The standout performance on the record comes from singer Jani Lane. He was all over the album with the appropriate vocal for whatever mood the song evoked. He only went full throat a few times on the album, it’s a bit of a shame that they didn’t make better use of their best instrument. Lane would be in and out of Warrant over the ensuing years before his tragic death in 2011.

Overall I’d say Cherry Pie does a good job of being an album above the hair metal fray in the waning days of hair’s reign over rock. I’m glad I picked this one to revisit, there was some awful music coming from the Sunset Strip around this time and this could have gone a lot worse.

And that will be the topic for my posts the rest of this week. I’m going to get into the gritty details and look at just who really is guilty for killing hair metal. We all know the obvious suspects and we mostly all know the real answer, but it turns out there are few others who were at least accessories to the killing. I’ll be in tomorrow for the first of four posts on that topic.

Made By Metal

So far I’ve been over my first forays into music and also the period of the late ’80’s where I got big into hair metal. Today it’s time to drop the hair and really get into metal.

I’m going to save part of this for next week. Simply put, Iron Maiden is my favorite band of all time, and also they’re putting out a new album on Friday. Next week seems like a good time to talk more about them so I’ll get into them specifically then. But I did start listening to them in 1988, just for context.

I was content with hair metal in 1989 and even 1990, but let’s be real – change was coming. Grunge did not actually come out of nowhere when Nirvana hit in 1991 – they, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains were known entities already, though of course still a bit undeground before ’91. But grunge isn’t all that important to me because I didn’t entirely take to it, at least right away (save AIC).

What did start catching my attention was heavy metal. And at that time the strain of metal that was abundant was thrash.

I dabbled on the edges of thrash for a bit but nothing really took for awhile. That would change in October of 1990. For some reason we got out of school early that day, some sort of teacher conference or whatever. With my family being teachers I was left to do absolutely whatever I wanted. One of the skateboarders I was friendly with was also bored so we wandered around town a bit.

At one point he shows me a tape, an album that just came out. He said it was intense and killer and I should check it out. We went to my house and put it on.

That’s when heavy metal really hit for me. Before I would find thrash a bit off-putting, I was still young and more used to the slickly produced, smoother tones of hair metal and pop rock. But Megadeth eliminated whatever barriers remained between me and headbanging.

It was off to the races after that. It wasn’t always easy for me to come by thrash albums. It was less popular than other stuff so it wasn’t as easy to find. Plus, my tiny hometown wasn’t a mecca of music shopping.

But I made do. I slowly started accumulating Overkill, Testament, and the like. And sure, it wasn’t all about thrash – I did also start with King Diamond around that time, and I’d pick up Judas Priest right around the time Painkiller hit. I’d also, while intending to buy Queensryche’s current hit Empire, wind up with their prior album, Operation: Mindcrime. Though it’s another story for another time, that is my favorite album ever recorded. And this is the time period I acquired it in.

This all sets the table for entering 1991. I’ve touched on it before and will talk more about it again – 1991 was the most important year in music for me. No matter what came before or since, that was the year that blew everything wide open.

That year I’d work my first job over the summer. I was making enough money to have plenty of disposable income for an almost 14 year old. In most cases, a 14 year old’s entire paycheck is disposable income. While I’d previously been into baseball cards and comic books, my focus in 1991 shifted to music and very heavily into metal. I went from having a few tapes to having to buy a new caddy to hold them. (Of course, I wasn’t necessarily paying full market price for all of them, thanks again Columbia House!)

Heavy metal itself is kind of a mutating entity – it doesn’t remain constant, it is always shifting. Just as you find one strain of it, a new one is already being worked on. In the fall of 1991 in freshman algebra class, the guy sitting in front of me asked if I wanted to check out something he was listening to on his walkman. I said sure and got my first dose of Sepultura. It was the title track of Arise. I was instantly hooked and that also set the table for me to go even deeper than thrash.

Going beyond thrash and mainstream metal would take me a bit, though. There is one more metal-related issue to discuss involving 1991. One band refined and polished their sound and absolutey took over the world with it. That band, of course, was Metallica.

I got straight into the “Black Album” when it hit just as I was starting high school. There wasn’t going to be any hair metal parties like I had previously envisioned in high school so Metallica quickly became a badge to define one’s self. Poison posters would be replaced with Nirvana in most lockers, in mine it was Metallica. It was gratifying to be into something that was so popular, some kind of validation or whatever from it. (That’s absolutely a thread for future discussion, too).

But just as I went along wherever we might roam, I also sat with their first four albums. And that was the Metallica I wanted more of. Hell, Master Of Puppets is probably a perfect metal album. Ride The Lightning is ferocious and has some of their best songs on it. I sort of backed into the older albums due to my age, but I would wind up becoming one of the “old guard” Metallica fans who would eventually turn on the Black Album.

There’s another discussion about heavy metal and being young, especially in the early ’90’s, to be had here. For me it was deeper than just liking heavy music. It did mean something more.

As I was growing up I was supposed to be the proto-typical “good kid” – good grades, gifted classes, scholar-athlete type of thing. Well, I hated it. I couldn’t stand the people involved with that stuff, I got messed with one too many times for my tastes in junior high, and I felt the whole thing was soulless and useless. I came from a family of people who did all that stuff and achieved things through it, but I did not see myself on that same path.

My freshman year of high school I rebelled. No more sports – I wasn’t good at them and no one in my scholar-athlete family seemed to care enough to help me get better. No more “honor society” or whatever, I simply quit going to that. I went to school, then went home and sat in my room, listening to metal.

This line of discussion could certainly go on into more issues, deeper issues, all of that. I’ll leave that set where it is for now. I’ve considered writing more along those lines, about the trials of scene and identity as it relates to music. But being real, it gets to be some heavy shit sometimes and I don’t know if it serves my purposes in this day and age. Might be something that pops up down the line, though. We will see.

But the die was cast in 1991 – I was a metalhead. Of course people in my family scoffed at it, declarinig it was “just a phase.” I know many a metalhead has heard that.

Of course it’s just a phase. It’s a phase that is 30 years strong now and has no end in sight. Hails and horns, brothers and sisters – we’re riding this train of “satanic death rock crap” all the way to the end.

Playlist discussion – Best of Rock 1990

Ok so this won’t be what anyone would consider “top tier” content. This is scraping the bottom for stuff to post. I didn’t have a Friday post ready for this first week so I went back to this idea I had worked on a bit a few months ago as I was preparing to re-enter the blogosphere.

I sat through the “Best of Rock 1990” playlist on Spotify and checked it out. I wrote what I thought about each song down. I quit doing it a thrid of the way through because there are 60 damn songs on this list and no one cares what anyone thinks about every one of them.

So in desperate need of content to float me through my first few weeks of a new blog, I decided to revisit this and pare it down to where I just discuss a handful of the songs. I left off a few things that I’m going to do more in-depth posts about later and I also left off some that all I have to say is “why did you write that?” It’s also out of order because I think Spotify shuffles stuff around on these sometimes and because this whole thing is kinda boring.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”

Good way to open. I know people are down on AC/DC but I always dug ’em, and Razor’s Edge specifically was a badass record. This always was one of their better songs.

Scorpions – “Wind of Change”

I played the shit out of Crazy World back in the day. Yeah, I know the CIA maybe secretly wrote this song. I gotta check that podcast out someday.

Jon Bon Jovi – “Blaze of Glory”

I actually do dig this song. Sure it’s whatever, but I always jammed out to it when I was young and dumb. Now that I’m older and dumb I’d still play it but I never really do.

The Black Crowes – “Hard To Handle”

The Crowes are all over this playlist and with good reason. The whole album is a monster. One of the best things to come from the year.

INXS – “Suicide Blonde”

The death of Michael Hutschene was to sex what the death of Dale Earnhart Sr. was to auto racing. Advances in auto-erotic asphyxiation devices have kept generations safe in lonely hotel rooms since. I know I feel safer.

Oh yeah, the song totally slays. INXS were badass.

Alice In Chains – “Man In The Box”

I’m all about AIC, I took to them right off the bat when this vid hit MTV back when MTV was MTV. Sure, local cover bands beat this song to death in every dive bar across our great land. But that doesn’t deter my enjoyment of it.

Bad Religion – “21st Century (Digital Boy)”

Here we are with the first thing I’m not familiar with on here. I never did give this band a proper listen and I don’t remember if I’ve ever heard this song. I should definitely throw the band onto the “check out” pile. This song is fine, I don’t know where the band’s fans rank this recording or anything like that.

Jane’s Addiction – “Stop”

Jane’s were a good time back in the day. This song does a bit more for me than the ever-present “Been Caught Stealing” but it’s all good.

Queensryche – “Silent Lucidity”

So yeah, it’s that song that scored big for them and also marked a pretty big shift in their sound. That’s a bit misleading though since they reshaped their sound on every prior record anyway. I’m cool with it and it was my intro to the band. I went to buy this tape but it was sold out and so I settled for their prior album. That changed my fucking life.

Poison – “Unskinny Bop”

Nothing like a Poison track to usher in a new decade. This surely flew the flag for hair metal and ensured it would carry on through the next ten years.

I was into Poison when I was young. Like, I asked for their second album for Christmas and I got the tape. My mom went through and tore out a huge part of the insert that had bunch of pictures of them partying, often with scantily-clad women. Gotta love those good Christian households, always looking out for your welfare.

I don’t really mess with Poison these days but hearing the stuff now and again doesn’t really bother me.

Blues Traveller – “But Anyway”

Oh yeah, this is the song from Kingpin. Love that movie. But anyway, I’m not a huge BT fan though this is a pretty cool song.

Cocteau Twins – “Heaven Or Las Vegas”

Ok so I do like shoegaze but I literally just started listening to it last month so I don’t know jack about it. MBV and Slowdive are like all I really know about, which if the memes are to be believed, means I know all I need to know.

I know that CT predate shoegaze but they were clearly very influential to the movement. That doesn’t mean I really want to listen to much more of this, though.

Depeche Mode – “Enjoy The Silence”

I do really like Depeche Mode. That said, Violator is the only album I’ve ever owned of theirs. But yeah they were/are really good and this happens to be my favorite song of theirs.

I didn’t realize this came out in 1990, I thought it was earlier. Oh well, time is made up anyway.

Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine”

So I only know that song about the burning beds from them that I mistakenly thought Talking Heads did. This song is fine but I don’t really have to have it in my life. 1990 was weird, man.

I think that about covers it. 1990 was the year before I absolutely dove headfirst into music so this was kind of a “before the storm” time for me anyway. What would happen in 1991 would blow apart the music landscape and then by the end of the decade I don’t know what the hell anyone was doing. We’ll call this good and try to post stuff that isn’t as lame. (Next week is a good week for that, by the way)