Album Reviews Articles Observations and Musings 

Hardwired…to Self-Destruct: Reconciling with Metallica

Full disclosure. I was one of the fans that felt alienated by the “Black Album.” Those feelings only intensified with the release of Load and Reload. I hated their new image, the haircuts, the music, but most of all, I resented that they had turned their backs on metal. In short, I disconnected from all things Metallica. Please don’t be angry with me. I know many fans stayed with the band every step of the way. Millions came on board during the era that caused me to flee. I don’t…

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Articles Observations and Musings 

Blue Oyster Cult: Don’t Fear the Reaper in Movies and Television

Blue Oyster Cult scored their biggest hit with “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” The macabre love song quickly transcended the music world to appear in movies and television. With a creepy riff that highlighted a lyrical embrace of death, it’s little wonder that “Reaper” first appeared in a horror film. John Carpenter set quite a precedent when using “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in Halloween. Expertly combining the song’s fixation on death with marijuana culture, he touched on two themes that future filmmakers would revisit. Even in the seventies, “Don’t Fear the…

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Articles Observations and Musings 

All The World’s A Stage: Shakespeare Through the Lens of Rush

Rush have a long history of using literary themes in their songs. Songs like “Tom Sawyer” have obvious sources. Other adaptations are less clear. If not for the liner notes explicitly giving thanks “To the genius of Ann Rand,” the author’s influence in “2112” may have been missed entirely. Yet, when the band invokes Shakespeare, the public immediately recognizes the immortal bard. Rush has utilized the line “All the world’s a stage” twice in their career. Taken from Shakespeare’s comedic play, As You Like It, the connection between theater and music…

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Album Reviews Articles 

Black Sabbath: Revisiting Born Again

Born Again has enjoyed renewed interest in recent years. The only album to feature vocalist Ian Gillan, the lineup faced the unfair burden of competing with preconceptions of what Black Sabbath should be. Gillan soon returned to Deep Purple while Iommi began work on the Seventh Star record. Born Again has since become a half-forgotten gem in the vast Sabbath canon. Time has a way of mending wrongs. As older fans listen with fresh ears and younger ones retroactively explore Deep Sabbath, Born Again has earned a cult following. Not only…

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Articles Observations and Musings 

DREAM EVIL: THE EVOLUTION OF RONNIE JAMES DIO

If Your Circle Stays Unbroken Then You’re a Lucky Man ‘Cause it Never, Never, Never has for me No words spoken by Ronnie James Dio rang truer than the lyrics to “Invisible.” Heartfelt and honest, the statement finds Dio reflecting on the past while in the midst of reinvention. His story is one of broken dreams and unimaginable triumphs. In the end, Dio emerged a legend whose legacy continues to strengthen after his death. Dio was no stranger to change. An elder statesman, Ronnie’s music career pre-dates the very existence…

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Album Art Exploration Articles 

Murray: A Short History of the Dio Mascot

If Ronnie James Dio had simply been the singer of Rainbow and Black Sabbath, his name would have been firmly etched in the annals of rock and roll. With Holy Diver, Dio escaped the shadow of his past and forged an identity that was truly his own. A carefully assembled band helped create the music. The image, however, can be attributed to a monstrous mascot named Murray. An evil creature with blood red eyes, our first glimpse of Murray shows this beast choking a drowning priest with iron chains. The…

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Articles Top Ten Lists 

Ten Thrash Ballads

Thrash metal is extremely technical music. Its practitioners are accomplished musicians who have spent years mastering their instruments. They shine in the context of fast, aggressive music, but sometimes speed obscures the nuances of their craft. It’s little wonder that ballads soon crept into the repertoire of thrash bands. These slower songs provided a sense of dynamics that allowed musicians to shine without the hindrance of extreme distortion. Naturally most of these “ballads” became full-on thrashers before the song was over. What follows are ten examples of the heaviest bands…

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Articles Observations and Musings 

To Live Is To Die: A Tribute To Cliff Burton

Cliff Burton was already a legend when I discovered Metallica. Not that I knew who he was at the time. And Justice For All was a brand new album and I was taking it all in through the ears and eyes of a 6th grade boy. Vague, half-remembered memories remain of watching the “world premier” of the “One” video just days after first hearing Justice. There was a feeling that I was witnessing a historic moment. Turns out, I was. Metallica had just released their first record without Cliff Burton….

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Articles Observations and Musings Top Ten Lists 

WE’RE A HAPPY FAMILY: THE CRETINS OF THE RAMONES

Right out of the gate The Ramones had the best lyrics. Their first album contained songs of sniffing glue, chainsaw wielding maniacs, and tales of beating brats with baseball bats. It also ushered in the first of many colorful characters. This list celebrates the most beloved cretins in the vast Ramones universe. JUDY IS A PUNK Jackie and Judy are a lovable pair of punks with a thirst for adventure. For reasons unknown, they ran away to Berlin and joined the Ice Capades. The lyrics offer little in the way…

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Album Art Exploration Articles 

LEGACY OF BRUTALITY: THE MISFITS AND THE CRIMSON GHOST

The Crimson Ghost or The Fiend Skull. Call him what you will, the fiendish ghoul has been the face of The Misfits for decades. With the “original” Misfits reunion looming, the time is right to revisit the legacy of this iconic mascot. The Crimson Ghost first found life in the 1940’s. Starring in a serialized film, the masked villain went to murderous lengths in his attempts to steal an invention dubbed Cyclotrode X. Capable of deflecting atomic rays, the machine would be invaluable in preventing an atomic attack during the…

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