Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heavy metal heresies

Courtesy of my heavy metal (electric) eye in the sky, Falze, here are two recent items of metal interest too juicy to pass up.

1. Dio-slagging Black Sabbath review.

I'm normally a pretty level-headed guy, but there are a few commonly held misconceptions out there that are so wrong that I can't resist stomping them out whenever I see them rear their misguided heads. These include:

1. Fantasy is for children
2. Bruce Campell is not the best actor of his generation
3. The Dio Black Sabbath years sucked

It's the latter of these three which has my current ire, courtesy of this wrong-headed review of Black Sabbath: The Rules of Hell by AP writer Chris Talbott.

Now, I can't say I disagree with Talbott's central premise: that another best-of Sabbath album is not necessary. The only band less in need of another best-of album is probably KISS. So I'm good with the first two paragraphs.

Then we're hit with this monstrous stupidity:

Five-disc "The Rules of Hell" covers the overbaked Ronnie James Dio years, an exercise that wasn't really necessary for posterity's sake. By the time the band fired Osbourne, there wasn't much of interest left musically and Dio mostly disappoints.

Excuse me? Dio "mostly disappoints?" Has this dude heard of Heaven and Hell, for my money Sabbath's best album ever, or Mob Rules? "Wasn't much of interest left musically?" Dude, Sign of the Southern Cross and Children of the Sea were an evolution in structure and sound from the Ozzy years. They're musical marvels.

This next quip caused by blood to boil:

But there's no need to lob insults at the ever worshipful camp of Dio fans. Like those Van Halen fans who prefer Sammy Hagar over David Lee Roth, just smile and nod your head when they talk.

I don't know how to respond to this one, only to state the obvious: Dio is a metal god. If you think otherwise we will duel at dawn. With broadswords, of course.

I've got two words for anyone who thinks the Dio Sabbath years were overrated: Die Young.

Disclaimer: that's not a threat, it's a title of an excellent, Dio-fronted Sabbath tune.

2. Lindsey Lohan in an Iron Maiden t-shirt.

I'm conflicted about this. I don't know a darned thing about Lohan or her music tastes. She may be a raging metalhead for all I know, in which case she has every right to walk around with Eddie on her bosom.

But I seriously doubt that's the case. Come on, you expect me to believe that Lindsey Lohan belts out Hallowed be thy Name while tooling around L.A. in her sportscar?

Here's what I really think. Iron Maiden has become one of those "retro-cool" bands that

a. Are hip to reference; and
b. Are a fashion statement (in an emo-sense)

Of course, you must do both ironically. You can name-drop Iron Maiden or wear their t-shirts, but you have to laugh it off. And, you must not under any circumstances actually listen to their music or admit to really liking Iron Maiden, because, well, that would make you decidedly "uncool."

I get the strong feeling this is why Lohan is wearing this t-shirt.

On the other hand, she looks so damned good in it, twice as good as any chick I've ever seen at an Iron Maiden concert (or any heavy metal concert, for that matter), that I'm willing to give her a free pass.

Lindsey, rock on. I'll meet you at 22 Acacia Avenue.


Anonymous said...

Man, I know exactly what you're saying about cretins hating on the Dio years for no good reason. I get hell from people because I liked the album with Ian Gillan on vocals, but I'm not the type to dismiss a band just because they change their original vocalist.

But you know who gets it worse than Dio? Blaze Bayley. People rail on the guy because he's a completely different style of vocalist in comparison to Bruce Dickinson. What they don't understand is THAT WAS WHAT STEVE HARRIS WANTED! If they had gone out and recruited a sound-alike (the fella from Helloween for instance), then that singer would be getting railed on for being a 'rip-off' instead. You can't please some of these boneheaded 'fans' out there.

So just like some of the songs Dio sang are Black Sabbath classics ("Sign of the Southern Cross", "Die Young", "Heaven and Hell"), I think songs like "Sign of the Cross", "The Clansman", and "Fortunes of War" are Maiden classics.


P.S. Tim Owens got shafted by fans in Judas Priest and Iced Earth too.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Arcona, nice to find another Dio fan out there.

I must say that I never warmed up to Blaze Bayley as a vocalist--he just wasn't my style. But I will agree that Maiden released some great songs during that period. My favorites are "Sign of the Cross," "The Clansman" and "Futureal."

Falze said...

Personally I "rail on" Blaze because he sucks. Some of the songs from his 'era' are OK - but they, without exception to my ears, sound better when Bruce sings them. Maybe it's not a fair comparison - Bruce v. just about anyone is going to result in a beat down. Maybe if Blaze was replacing, I dunno, the guy in Rhino Bucket or Gruntruck or something he'd sound like a million bucks. Steve knew he didn't have a shot at replacing Bruce, so he, cleverly, tried to replace their 'singer' with a new type of singer. Frankly, having Bruce come back and bring life to songs from two mostly lifeless albums hasn't helped Blaze's legacy.

Anonymous said...

See, I don't think Blaze is a poor singer by any stretch. Yes, he has more of a 'hard rock' styled voice than the typical metal air raid siren, but he's still got a good set of pipes, especially for singing those dark and brooding songs on The X Factor (which was my favorite Maiden album before AMOLAD came along). I know I'm part of the minority in liking the Blaze era (although many of the diehards have started to come around in the past few years). I think naysayers should check out either the Wolfsbane stuff or his solo albums (his latest just came out and KICKS ASS) before saying he's the shittiest singer on the planet (I know falze didn't say that, it's just a generalization).

If certain fans think either of his two Maiden era albums suck, they shouldn't always assume it's just the singer's fault. For instance, I think Virtual XI is weak because of the weird production sound they were going for and the strangely subpar drumming from Nicko.

I honestly hate it when Bruce sings the tunes from that era during the live shows. He butchers them, big time. They were written and composed for Blaze to sing, plain and simple. Granted, Blaze butchered the Bruce songs when they were on tour with him... but seriously, Bruce's rendition of "Lord of the Flies" on the Death on the Road CD/DVD is cringe worthy.

And neither singer can do justice to the Di'Anno songs. Let's face it, Bruce sounds like a king on "Hallowed Be Thy Name", but sounds like a fool trying to sing "Sanctuary" or "Phantom of the Opera" properly, because Paul had that punky vocal style.

My feeling is that the Maiden nadir happened before Blaze joined the group (kinda like Sabbath's dip in form on the last two Ozzy albums before Dio joined). Both No Prayer For the Dying and Fear of the Dark, while containing a few great songs each, are pretty dull on the whole.


Falze said...

As I said, I think a lot of Blaze's 'rating', including by me, is due to comparisons to Bruce. He might be a fair singer absent that comparison, but I don't hear it.

Other than that, arcona, I don't think we have any common ground on which to even continue the discussion if you think Bruce butchers the Di'anno and Blaze stuff. I couldn't disagree more. Phantom on LAD is so good it was worth picking up yet another copy of the CD when they finally put one out that had it on it. I do agree that some of the songs may not be a great 'fit' for him, but it ends up being irrelevant because I still prefer his versions to Blaze's. As for Di'anno, instead of sounding 'punky', I get more 'scruffy drunk that doesn't play an instrument so he's the singer' from his vocal performances. Just doesn't work for me, personally. Frankly I'm not sure what you're doing listening to Iron Maiden if you think Bruce sounds like a "fool" singing Sanctuary. I'll take his sharp ferocity over Di'anno's slurred rumbling any day of the week.

We're totally on the same page with the last 2 pre-Blaze albums. The only surprising thing is that they pulled themselves out of that death spiral at all. Bruce saved Iron Maiden by leaving. And I totally agree on the non-vocal work on the Blaze albums, he never really had a chance since the band seemed to be going through the motions. All Steve wanted to do was record the crappy songs that Bruce wouldn't do and the rest of the guys were just there for the ride (well, except Adrian who smartly left). Como Estais? Gimme a friggin' break. Bruce saved Maiden again by coming back.

You know who Blaze reminds me of? Jorn Lande. Listening to them I get the feeling that there's a good singer in there, and I want to hear them blow me away, but then the song's over and they never unleashed it. Jorn does it sometimes, but not enough for my tastes. I just bought like 5 CDs with him singing on them, groups and solos, and for the most part he's just a singer. I wanted to hear stuff like the 2nd half of The Scarecrow on The Scarecrow but almost never get it. I'm not paying to hear a guy idle, I want my doors blown off if he can do it. Blaze never seemed to get there with Maiden, maybe Steve didn't want him to really blow because then he'd be compared to Bruce. Maybe he didn't do it himself for that reason. Still, I'd rather hear him really go at it if he can. Good singers should almost never put out solo albums, they end up being ridiculous self-absorbed junk for the most part. Jorn's stuff is downright boring based on the 3 I have. I love Michael Vescera, but basically flushed money down the toilet getting his Windows album. Strawberry effing Fields? You've got to be kidding me. Bruce avoids that by surrounding himself with great writers, although I think he's doing more on his own now. Rob Halford was just putting out nutty crap for a while, although I kinda like it. I need somebody to give me an electric shock whenever I start to buy a singer's solo album from now on if their name isn't Bruce Dickinson.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that it's fair to say I have no business listening to Maiden if I don't like how Bruce sings some of the tunes from the first two albums. I could easily say the same about any person who doesn't like "Phantom of the Opera" with Paul. I love Bruce, I think he's the greatest singer of all-time. I just happen to prefer the older songs with their original singer. I seriously doubt I'm alone in this opinion either. My father, for instance, is 51 years old and saw the boys way back when they were first getting started, and he feels about the same as I do. I'm sure some of the older fans appreciate what Paul did during his time with the band, even if Bruce is hands down a better singer.

Some fans have become blinded by Bruce's awesomeness. Which I can understand, I suppose... but man, you have to give more credit to Adrian for coming back. It wasn't just Bruce returning that revitalized the group, it was the debut of a new wildcard to their sound, previously unheard on a Maiden record: the three guitar assault. Davey, Jan, and Adrian combined are the freaking dream team. That to me is what really rejuvenated the group. If H hadn't come back I think they would've just gone on to make Fear of the Dark part II.


Falze said...

Yeah, I meant to put that in my comment about Adrian coming back with Bruce after mentioning that he wisely left earlier. Good catch.

Now if we can just get him to shave properly...