Saturday, December 29, 2012

Times They Are A Changin'...

With the coming of a new year comes changes to The Vintage Warrior.
Blog series have been cancelled and a new structure will be followed.


The following blog series are laid to rest as of...now.

Comic Book Man
This was a blog I used as a headline for comic book-related things I wanted to rant about. From now on, I'll just rant about them without a Comic Book Man headline.

Vinyl Friday!
I'm pretty happy with my current vinyl collection and don't really see the need to write about it anymore. If I get new stuff that I think is cool, I'll just share a Youtube video from now on.

Just In Case You Missed It
The title is too damn long. So from now on, whenever I come across something worth sharing...I'll just share it. Sensing a trend?

Sunday Worship
This was a blog series I used to help myself get back in the swing of writing again. I found myself doing the same thing every Sunday (reading comics, watching movies, listening to music) so I thought it would be an easy thing to write about. However, my life has gotten a bit more complicated since the days of this series and I no longer find myself interested enough to write about my Sunday habits. If you know me, you know what I'm doing. 'Nuff said. So, it's done. 

Covet Corner
I've shared all my cool stuff with you via this series already. The only thing left is my still-to-be-finished redecoration of the Matt-Cave. When that's completed, I'll share pics...but not under the banner of Covet Corner.

Tenacious D - "Dude (I Totally Miss You)" Live (2006)

So what's going to be new around here?
First off, no more blog features. I think you got the point of that above.

If you've been a reader of my "work" then you know I tend to be long-winded and use a lot of pictures and videos to help break up the monotony.

This will not change.

No real purpose. Its just funny.

In fact, that aspect of this blog is probably going to get worse. Let's face it...this isn't a hugely popular blog with thousands of subscribers, and I don't really care to post 20 blogs or so every month. I know who my audience is. 

When I have videos I want to share, I'm going to wait until I have a good set of them to share at once in one blog. Look for one of those to be posted after the New Year.

Outlaws #1 page 2-3 spread (inked sketch)
by P. Emerson Williams

I'll also be using The Vintage Warrior to keep you posted on my upcoming comic book series OUTLAWS, rather than use the former blog I had set up for that. I don't see the need in having both. 

The Vintage Warrior is a place where I'll mainly continue writing random shit when I feel like practicing the writing craft (so never expect brilliance or anything to be well-crafted). Basically, the idea is that The Vintage Warrior will be a much more comfortable reading environment for you to pull out your smokes, get yourself a drink, sit in a comfy chair and have a good zone-out moment. 

Farewell 2012. 2013 promises to be an extremely busy year for me. I hope you'll catch up with me when I can catch up with you.

Until 2013...make mine METAL!

Iced Earth - "Colors" (1990)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Comic Books Today - A Fanboy Commentary


Wesley Willis - I Whupped Batman's Ass
Live @ Club Soda, Kalamazoo MI. (2003)

Can you believe that I was actually at that Wesley Willis show? Indeed I was!

Anyway, let's get real.

I've been a comic book reader/collector for the bulk of my life. I picked up the hobby around the age of 11 when my uncle gave me his collection of Batman, Green Arrow and Punisher comics. I also had another uncle who was a huge Spider-Man fanatic, and had two rooms in his house dedicated to comic books and toys. Having witnessed that "even adults read comics," I was destined to be a fan of the medium.

Green Arrow Vol. 2
Issues 1-80 by Mike Grell
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

I read comics until I was around 16, when I stopped for a few years (heavy metal became my new passion). The year was 1996, and the industry was in foul shape. Almost everything released was boring and hacky, with every book looking the same and more emphasis on muscles and violence than an actual story. Why the hell would I want to read that shit when I had Megadeth and Slayer to worship instead?

Hey, even Scott Ian of Anthrax loves comics...

I picked up comic book reading again in 2001 due to my soul-brother who lives in the Bedroom in the Basement, as he got me hooked on classic DC Comics events like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, The Final Night and so forth. I started subscribing to all of the Superman titles and the big event stories. It's been a nonstop ride ever since.

DC Comics - OUR WORLDS AT WAR (2001)
This is where I jumped in with weekly/monthly reading again.

Over the past 13 years I've seen my pull-list at the local comic shop grow and shrink. I've seen the careers of several in the industry rise and fall. I've born witness to countless event stories and even more reboots. With the industry only serving roughly 90,000 people in the U.S., comic book reading is definitely an insular hobby. You're either in or out. I understand those who feel they can't get into this stuff. To them I say "just jump in and enjoy the ride." It certainly worked for me.

However, the comic book industry is in sad, desperate times. The never-ending events and reboots have jaded many readers. Furthermore, many comics released by both DC and Marvel comics are a whopping $4 an issue. With the standard page-count for comics today being a measly 20 pages, one has to ask if this hobby is worth a gallon of gas per issue.

BULLSHIT.

I simply refuse to read any $4 titles that only offer 20 pages of story. Avengers, Captain America, Indestructible Hulk, Thor: God of Thunder, Iron Man....these are all books I would love to read on a weekly basis, but not for what they are priced. I honestly think that anyone who pays $4 for 20 pages is a moron. There's just no logical way to defend it.

On the other side of the fence, you've got DC Comics being run by a bunch of dinosaurs left over from the 1990's. People who were partly responsible for the dreck that the 1990's produced are now in control of my favorite superhero publisher. Long-time DC writers have been having huge problems with editorial, Time-Warner interferes with the books now more than ever (they want some of that Marvel-Movie-Money after all), and many of their books lack any sort of flow or consistency.

Rob Liefeld, synonymous with "shitty '90's comics."
Still working in the industry as of 2012 (however, no longer for DC)

I've never been a fan of longtime DC writer (and former MTV's Real World douche) Judd 'Fuckass' Winick (as I like to call him), but even he has left DC Comics to focus on some all-ages material for an independent press. Grant Morrison, arguably one of the most creative people in the industry and a mainstay at DC Comics, has said that he's leaving superhero books behind once he wraps up a couple stories he's working on to focus on his own creator-owned material. Paul Cornell left DC to return to Marvel due to his problems with DC's editorial staff. Even long-time DC writer Gail Simone was recently fired via email, and then re-hired once the news of her firing nearly broke the comic book community in half.

Judd Winick. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
However, his departure from DC shows how screwed up they are.

These are dire times for superhero fans, my friends. I for one can't simply find enjoyment from the books the main publishers in the industry are producing. They've become so bloated with bullshit that its hard to find enjoyment from the bulk of them. Sure, the Batman books are awesome and so is Hawkeye (surprisingly only a $3 book), but I need more.

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction.
Currently the best book on the stands for $2.99 an issue.
How long until the inevitable price hike?

Maybe I've taken superhero books for granted. As previously mentioned, it gets harder and harder to justify $3 or $4 for a book that will bring me 5-10 minutes of enjoyment. Is there salvation? Is there a place for me to go where I can find decently priced books that I'll enjoy rather than bitch and complain about?

As it turns out...salvation is where it has ALWAYS been, and that's in the hands of the independent press.

Newsflash to those that don't believe me....The Walking Dead, arguably the most successful comic book of all time, is not only a popular TV show right now....but also an independently-produced comic book that has been successful since its first issue came out nearly 9 years ago. Walking Dead-creator Robert Kirkman first built a name for himself at Marvel before moving on 100% to his creator-owned work. Many other writers have also built names for themselves at one of the Big Two companies (DC and Marvel, respectfully), and then start making some real money from their creator-owned titles that are released from the independent press.

The Walking Dead
Proof that good (and profitable) independent comics DO exist for $3 an issue.

Image Comics, once the home to most of the shitty comic books in the 1990's (Spawn, Savage Dragon, ShadowhawkYoungblood and Bloodstrike, to name a few), is now the defacto home for writers with their own story to tell. While Image still publish the likes of Spawn and Savage Dragon, they mainly release creator-owned books. Robert Kirkman, Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison, Brian Wood, Jonathan Hickman, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Scott Snyder and nearly every other main comic book writer today has at least one creator-owned title released by Image Comics, Vertigo (DC's creator-owned imprint), Dark Horse Comics or Oni Press.

And here's the kicker....those creator-owned books are far superior to anything being published by DC or Marvel right now.

So here I sit, a jaded 32-year-old comic book reader who is feeling disillusioned with the industry. 2012 marks the year that I made a switch from print comics to digital (half of my current subscriptions are purchased digitally). I mainly wait for the creator-owned books to be released in a trade paperback, as I get more enjoyment out of those stories than I do reading them issue-by-issue.

While I do still find it hard to stop following certain books or characters, more and more I am checking out the creator-owned titles that are out there. Below is a Top 5 of current creator-owned books that put a smile on my face.

SAGA 
by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Image Comics

This is one of the most praised books of 2012, and with good reason. Written by Brian K. Vaughn (of Y: The Last Man and TV's Lost fame), this book has equal parts sci-fi and fantasy with plenty of romantic tension and outworldly scenarios. The book masterfully takes references from our real world and mixes them with the sci-fi insanity of the Saga world. This is after all a book where robots with computer-heads and human bodies have sex. You're not going to see that in a Captain America comic, that's for sure!

CHEW
by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Image Comics

Chew is just an all-out fun comic book that revels in everything ridiculous. Its full of oddball and dark humor, and has an overlying mystery that has yet to fully unfold. Set in a world where chicken has been outlawed and the F.D.A. is the most powerful enforcement agency on the planet, Chew is full of social commentary and just straight-up fun. Almost every issue will make you smile, if not chuckle a bit. John Layman has recently been hired to write Detective Comics for DC. Hopefully DC will help raise his profile so that more people will look towards Chew. There's 6 trades available for this story now. Jump in!

SWEET TOOTH 
by Jeff Lemire
Vertigo Comics

Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite creators right now. I'd also have to say he's been a big influence on my own comic book writing, as he's a master at developing character and dialogue. Sweet Tooth is just about to wrap up its 40-issue run, but all the trades are widely available. If you like post-apocalypse with a weird animal-human-hybrid twist, then this is a book to check out. I also highly recommend any of Jeff Lemire's other self-contained creator-owned books, Essex County and The Underwater Welder. If you like character-driven stories with a sense of mystery, then look no further than the works of Jeff Lemire.

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS 
by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra
Image Comics

Jonathan Hickman is one of Marvel's top writers right now, as he's handling the Avengers franchise at the moment, and just came off a highly-regarded run on Fantastic Four. However, The Manhattan Projects is where you really see Hickman shine. The set-up of the story is simple: The scientists behind the atomic bomb, a.k.a. The Manhattan Project, used the project as a front for even more dastardly experiments. Einstein is a locked-down loner, Oppenheimer is actually the sociopath/psychotic half-brother of the real Oppenheimer, and the government is into sci-fi elements so deep, that everything is secretly in chaos. Its a great book with a lot of mystery, look into it.

MIND MGMT.
by Matt Kindt
Dark Horse Comics

Its hard not to notice some of the similarities between the works of Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire. They have a similar art style, and have worked together on a few projects. Matt Kindt even supplied fill-in art on a few issues of Sweet Tooth when Jeff Lemire needed some extra time to finish The Underwater Welder. Anyway, what makes Mind Mgmt. so amazing is that its a well-crafted mystery with amazing twists and hooks in each issue. It also spits right in the face of the problems with the current comic book market.

True, each issue is $3.99 but this is the ONLY book in all of creation that deserves to be read despite the cover price. First off, each issue is 24 pages. There are mini-stories included on the front-inside and back-inside covers. There's 2-page back-ups that add to the world of the story being told. Even the back covers of the book feature fake advertisements, which when put together at the end of an arc adds more to the story at hand. Each page also has little blurbs added near the spine of the book in fine blue print that add another layer of texture. Furthermore, all of these bonus things won't appear in the trade paperback. Mind Mgmt. is truly a book worth the cover price, as it takes me a good 20 minutes or so to fully digest each and every issue.

Yes, dolphins are creepy as hell in real life & in Mind Mgmt.
They must be stopped.

In conclusion, I feel that a major shift in the comic book reading populace is needed. As a whole, we need to stop supporting the corporate books as much as we have been, and start looking towards the creator-owned books. DC and Marvel are corporate shills, who are selling out their characters for movie treatments and quick cash-ins.

Even though I enjoyed the Kick-Ass movie, I'm a bit pissed that writer Mark Millar uses the comic book medium to pitch movies to Hollywood.

This is NOT what comic books should be about. They are not meant to be storyboards for movies. Great art and even greater storytelling is what keeps us coming back to our subscriptions week after week, not the fact that it could be a cool movie. Its time to send a message to the Big Two to stop fucking around and get back to story, not spectacle.

Even as I say that, I know I'll never be able to leave corporate comics entirely. However, they make it easier and easier each and every month to start looking elsewhere to spend my entertainment dollars. If you're like me and have become jaded with the Big Two...check out those creator-owned books I listed above. They will make you love comics again. GUARANTEED.

I'll catch y'all on the flipside. Until then, happy reading!

And Scott Ian....go ahead and bow us out with your Judge Dredd song, ya bald bastard!

Anthrax - "I Am The Law" (1987)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Remembering Mike Scaccia (1965-2012)

Metalheads and rivetheads alike are currently mourning the passing of Mike Scaccia, guitarist extrordinaire who contributed to bands such as Ministry, Revolting Cocks and Rigor Mortis. He passed on December 22, 2012 of a sudden heart attack while performing onstage at a 50th Birthday Party for Rigor Mortis singer Bruce Corbitt. Mike Scaccia was 47 years old.

Mike Scaccia (1965-2012)

I've seen Mike Scaccia live a couple of times. Once with Ministry in 2004, and again on the Ministry/RevCo tour in 2006. Mike Scaccia was essential to Ministry's "industrial metal" sound. Having been brought into Ministry in 1989, Mike played on the platinum-selling 1992 album Psalm 69 and continued to record with the band until he died.

Ministry - "Just One Fix" Live (1996)

Ministry - "Ghouldiggers" (2012)

In addition to Ministry, Mike Scaccia played in 1000 Homo DJ's, Revolting Cocks, Lard and Buck Satan...all of which are side-projects of Ministry main-man Al Jourgensen. I've always enjoyed each one of these bands (with the exception of Buck Satan). It's going to be hard to imagine what Al Jourgensen's music will sound like now that Mike Scaccia is gone.

Revolting Cocks - "10 Million Ways to Die" (2006)

Lard - "War Pimp Renaissance" (1997)

1000 Homo DJ's - "Supernaut" (Black Sabbath Cover) (1990)

Mike Scaccia was also involved in the thrash metal scene, having been one of the founding members of Rigor Mortis. While Rigor Mortis was nothing innovative or new, they were definitely an awesome thrash band with an interesting sound. Mike Scaccia can be heard playing on their self-titled first album below, which is an album some could claim is the only one worth owning.

Rigor Mortis - "Die In Pain" (1988)


Before I close out this tribute, I'd like to also give mention to Chuck Schuldiner, the singer/guitarist/songwriter of the seminal death metal band Death. Chuck Schuldiner passed away December 13, 2001 from brain tumor complications. I meant to post a blog about him but was busy with non-blog stuff and missed it. However, he's another cherished musician that was lost in the month of the giving season and its only right to give him praise as well. We miss ya, Chuck. 

Let's not let their deaths damper the mood of the season. Mike and Chuck wouldn't have wanted it that way. 

This one's for you guys...as a good laugh is always needed!

Twisted Sister, completely selling out.
Yikes.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Outlaws Update For the Post-Apocalypse

Well, thanks to the Mayans...the world ended today. In these desperate and confusing end-times, does anyone remember that I'm writing a comic book? Anyone? Anyone???

Well, it's still true. My comic book series OUTLAWS is actually under production right now, after a long stream of bad luck and unprofessionalism.

Outlaws #1 cover sketch (not final artwork)
By: P. Emerson Williams

I finished the script for Outlaws #1 back in June of 2011. The first issue isn't expected to be released until sometime in 2013. All things considered, that's not too bad of a delay for small-press independent comics. However, the delays on this book are 100% the fault of the previous artist. I would love to trash this guy online and start some sort of smear campaign against his slow unprofessional ass, but that would only give that douchebag more press and he doesn't deserve that.

I only received 5 inked pages and 2 sketched pages from this guy over the course of about 15 months. The art was great, but by the time I finished the script for the 4th issue and hadn't even seen an end-date from the artist for the first issue yet, a change had to be made.


So when I had to fire my old artist, I turned to the one guy I knew I could count on for professional work. Enter new artist P. Emerson Williams, a good online friend of mine whom I've known and worked with for several years but have never actually met in person. Some folks with better memories than mine may remember some of the album artwork Williams did for AcidVictim Records, my old record label. His band Choronzon appeared on the Underground Metal Compilation Vol. 1 that I released, and he was responsible for handing a lot of the art duties I simply didn't have the skills to manage. Williams was pretty much the unsung hero of AcidVictim Records. The label wouldn't have lasted as long as it did without his involvement.

The album that drove me insane and made me seriously consider a new hobby.
But damn, what a cover! (by P. Emerson Williams)
(2006)

The final album released by AcidVictim Records. Dummo broke up about a month after I released this split-CD, so that was the death knell.
P. Emerson Williams did both covers, based off low resolution scans that he had to completely redesign.
(2007)

While the style and look of OUTLAWS will be drastically different, I feel that Williams will give the book much more of a gritty noir look than the previous artist could do. Here's a couple of character sketches he did for my two main characters:

Min (2012) by P. Emerson Williams

Pharos (2012) by P. Emerson Williams

We've got the storyboards done for all 22 pages of issue #1, so the hard work will begin soon and hopefully you will all be able to read my story (if interested) in the near future. Again, it will be a black and white book with color covers, and will also be available digitally. Cover price should be reasonable. I hate $3.99 comics with a passion, so our book will hopefully be cheaper than that.

Hopefully the next OUTLAWS update will have some actual product I can share samples of. Have no fear though, we're on the right track and Outlaws #1 will be available via WhatTheFlux! Comics soon. 

Until then.....keep it gangster.


Fuckpot 
"Acid For Breakfast"
Fuckpot EP (2004)
2nd release from AcidVictim Records

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Roky Erickson vs. Entombed

...Aaaaaand we're back with a new edition of the blog series VERSUS, where I take things I like and make them duke it out. This edition will be a bit different from previous ones, as this time around I'm having a cover song fight its original version, rather than band vs. band.

What we have here is the song "Night of the Vampire" as covered by Entombed, one of the metal bands I used to love back in the day. Entombed's version will go head-to-head with the original version by Roky Erickson.

So without further ado....duke it out, bitches.


VERSUS

ROKY ERICKSON




Entombed was one of the bands that came from the Gothenburg death metal scene in Sweden, which sprang up in response to Tampa, FL's death metal scene. They released some classic death metal masterpieces (look no further than their 1991 album Clandestine, released by Earache Records), and eventually tried to make it big with a shitty commercial album (do yourself a favor and never check out their 1998 album Same Difference, released by Roadrunner Records). Entombed have lost a few band members here and there, but are still around today. I haven't followed them in years, but I did enjoy them quite a bit when I was around 20 years old. 

Their cover of Roky Erickson's "Night of the Vampire" appeared on a 1995 split 7" EP with The New Bomb Turks. It was a limited release, but the song was a single and also appeared on the self-titled Entombed album in 1997. Take a listen:
Entombed - Night of the Vampire 
(1995 cover)


ROKY ERICKSON

I've never actually heard anything else by this Roky Erickson fellow, nor have I heard of him beyond the fact that Entombed covered one of his songs. A quick Wikipedia search reveals that Roky got his start in 1964 and is one of the pioneers of the psychedelic rock genre. He was also a member of 13th Floor Elevators. So he's got that going for him, which is nice. Unfortunately, he suffers from schizophrenia and at one point received electroshock therapy against his will....which is bad.

Here's the original version of "Night of the Vampire" by Roky Erickson in all of its glory:
Roky Erickson & The Aliens - Night of the Vampire 
(1981)


So what's the verdict? I kinda like the Roky's original version better. Entombed's version drags on a bit, and gets a tad redundant and boring. You might as well just listen to Roky's original, ya feel me?

Besides, just look at the guy:
Yeah. Roky wins.

Sorry L G Petrov, singer for Entombed. Although, you certainly are a contender in the "look crazy" category.

Go ahead and bow us out with some of your nonsense, Petrov. Catch y'all next time!

Entombed - Wolverine Blues (1993)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

See You In Hell My Friend 3.1: Honorable Mentions

Welcome to the addendum edition of SEE YOU IN HELL MY FRIEND. There were so many albums spinning in my mind after concocting the list of 12 albums you've (hopefully) read about in parts 1-3. After writing those blogs, I kept thinking about albums that I couldn't fit into my list, or ones I felt like changing my mind on. So what the hell.....here's a few more for the list. Not every album listed is good, they just helped point the way. Lets start it off with a tie....

ONE
SEPULTURA
Chaos A.D. (1993) Epic Records
Roots (1996) Roadunner Records
"Propaganda"
"Ratamahatta"

It's impossible for me to pick which Sepultura album listed above deserves to be here more than the other, because they went hand in hand for me. The Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight Soundtrack may have been where I first heard Sepultura, but it was Chaos A.D. and Roots that made me a fan.

Roots was the first album I picked up. I remember really enjoying it at the time. At the time I wasn't quite the extreme metal aficionado that I am today, but I thought it was awesome how Sepultura mixed up metal, hardcore and tribal stuff. I came across Chaos A.D. from a friend of mine in 11th grade on the school-bus. He saw that I was listening to the Roots CD on my Discman (remember those?), and asked if I had Chaos A.D. I didn't, so he sold me his copy for $5 the very next day. His loss, my gain!

I absolutely loved these two albums in those angry teen years. I was sad to see Max Cavalera split from the band after Roots to form his nu-metal band Soulfly, as Soulfly was pretty much just Roots-lite.

TWO
OBITUARY - Back From the Dead (1997) Roadrunner Records
"Threatening Skies"

This is an album that definitely doesn't hold up today, but its one that I enjoyed purely out of ignorance. I bought this album because it was heralded as "the return of one of death metal's originators" in Metal Maniacs Magazine. Since I hadn't checked out Obituary yet, I figured this would be the best album to start with.

Big mistake. Had I known then that their earlier albums Slowly We Rot (1989) and Cause of Death (1990) were death metal masterpieces, I would have seen this album as the piece of shit that it is. However, this was my virgin Obituary experience, so my opinion at the time can't be trusted. I liked this CD a lot, and it was one of the CD's that had constant rotation in my car. I tried listening to this album again a couple of weeks ago, and couldn't even make it through the whole thing. The first track, "Threatening Skies," is the most promising song on the album. Take that for what its worth.

THREE
CRADLE OF FILTH - Cruelty and the Beast (1998) Music For Nations Records
"The Twisted Nails of Faith"

Yikes. Do you have a headache yet? I honestly don't know why I ever liked Cradle of Filth. I really don't. Trying to listen to them today is worse than nails on a chalkboard (hence the song I picked!). For some godforsaken reason I thought Cradle of Filth was awesome even when I went off to college. I actually wore a t-shirt of this album out on a date once, and didn't get laid. Big shock!

Cradle of Filth was a band that all three goth girls in my high school loved. So when I bought Dimmu Borgir's Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and enjoyed it, I figured Cradle of Filth would be a good band to check out next. Both Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth got me into the symphonic, over-produced black metal. For a long time this was the only type of black metal I'd listen to. Today, you couldn't pay me enough to listen to a new Cradle of Filth album, or any other bullshit symphonic black metal band. However, I used to love them so there you go.

FOUR
WHITE ZOMBIE - Astro Creep 2000 (1995) Geffen Records
"Electric Head Pt. 1 (The Agony)"

What the hell is a former MTV-favorite band doing on a list of extreme metal albums? Blasphemy you say?! Maybe. However, when it comes down to it the first band I ever got into that opened the door for darker music was none other than White Zombie. Astro Creep 2000 was the album that started it all.

Of course, before I was into White Zombie I was already into heavy metal. Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax and more were already in my CD collection and receiving heavy rotation. But it was White Zombie's Astro Creep 2000 that really clicked with me. White Zombie was a happy medium at a time when I was a bit afraid to listen to the darker, more satanic metal bands out there. Once I was used to White Zombie, I was on to the more extreme stuff. 

Its funny, almost every time heavy metal music is in the limelight, there's the popular stuff and the underground stuff making waves at the same time. When bands like Metallica and Megadeth had the limelight, tons of death metal and black metal bands were forming and damning souls everywhere. When Korn, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot were the next big thing ("nu-metal"), technical metal bands like Mastodon and Opeth came from the underground and spearheaded their own movement.

People are always quick to say bands like Limp Bizkit or Metallica are lame (and they're right), but I've always kept in mind that great things often come from humble beginnings. If I never got into White Zombie, I wouldn't have Napalm Death in my car right now. Everyone starts somewhere, and SEE YOU IN HELL MY FRIEND was where I started.

FOUR-POINT-ONE
There's one more band that deserves an afterthought, even though I was unable to justly fit them anywhere on the list. That band of course is Slayer. The only reason they failed to rank is because they just happened to be a metal band I liked, not necessarily one that set anything off. However, they were a band I listened to during the glory years of 1995-1997, so their importance can't be ignored. I mean, come on...it's Slayer.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series. This is the last entry for it, I promise.

Until the next time you visit The Vintage Warrior here in the Matt-Cave...bow us out Slayer!

SLAYER - Divine Intervention (1994) American Recordings
"Killing Fields"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

See You In Hell My Friend Part 3

Low and behold, the final blog entry for the See You In Hell My Friend series. Let's take a moment to enjoy a classic (non-death metal) video that inspired the title of this 3-part series.

GRIM REAPER - See You In Hell (1983)

That song rules. 

Ok, back to the scary stuff! In this final chapter, I will share with you what is now a lost art: Cheap Compilation Albums. Back in the 1990's, almost every independent record label would release cheap compilation albums (all under $5) that would feature their roster of bands. For many of us, this was how we checked out a plethora of bands from various underground circles. I often bought these cheap compilations as well as movie soundtracks, because I didn't have any other way of listening to a wide variety of metal. 

Here's 4 compilations that opened the door wide. Enjoy.

ONE
TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT - Official Movie Soundtrack (1995) 
Atlantic Records
Sepultura - "Policia"

Remember the "asshole metalhead kid" from my 9th grade algebra class that I mentioned in Part 1? He's responsible for me buying this album. Pretty much the only reason I bought this was because I recognized Biohazard, Machine Head and Sepultura from the asshole's t-shirts. Since I wanted to get more into metal, I figured why not. 

As it turns out, most of this CD sucked. I greatly enjoyed the Megadeth song, as well as Sepultura (linked above), Machine Head and Ministry...but the rest was blah. However, both Sepultura and Machine Head led me to checking out their albums (released by Roadrunner Records), which in turn exposed me to more of the extreme bands out there. 

TWO
MORTAL KOMBAT - Official Movie Soundtrack (1995)
Napalm Death - "Twist The Knife (Slowly)"

Honestly, it was a toss-up between this one and The Crow soundtrack. However, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack featured more "extreme" metal and techno, while The Crow soundtrack featured more grunge and industrial. In the end, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack introduced me to Fear Factory, Napalm Death, Type O Negative and GZR, so it wins.

I don't really remember much about the movie. I'm sure it was cool when I was 15 and probably doesn't hold up well today. I'm sure the same could be said about the soundtrack, but it was a product of its time. There was a silly trend in the late 1990's to do mash-up movie soundtracks. In addition to The Crow and Mortal Kombat, they did it with the Judgement Night soundtrack (metal and hip-hop), the Spawn soundtrack (metal and techno) and even the Escape From L.A. soundtrack (alternative/grunge, industrial/metal). It was a bit ridiculous. Of course, I owned all of these soundtracks...but it was specifically the Mortal Kombat soundtrack that led me to checking out bands like Napalm Death and more.

THREE
EARPLUGGED 2 (1997) Earache Records
At The Gates - "Blinded by Fear"

I still listen to this compilation to this very day. It was one of those cheap discount compilation CD's that I mentioned earlier, and has always been one of my favorites. Earache Records was home to a lot of the classic death metal and grindcore bands, and this compilation featured their newest stuff, along with a few more oddball bands that Earache signed that didn't really mesh with the metal stuff. Despite that, this was a killer compilation that introduced me to such bands as At The Gates, Carcass, Entombed and Cathedral.

As with most compilations, I didn't like everything on this CD, but it definitely gave me a shopping list of bands and albums to check out, and that's why it was one of my more influential purchases. 

FOUR
IDENTITY 3...D! (1997) Century Media Records
SAMAEL - "Rain"

This cheap compilation CD was probably the one that is responsible for exposing me to extreme metal more than any other album out there. Upon listening to this CD and discovering bands like Samael, Strapping Young Lad (Devin Townsend), Moonspell, Arcturus and Rotting Christ, Century Media Records became my go-to label for the bulk of my metal collection.

From my fascination with extreme metal came the idea of doing my own fanzine (anyone remember Isolation Magazine? Anyone?) and from that my many other endeavors in life. 

You may have noted that the bulk of the albums I discussed were released between 1995 and 1997. I was definitely a metalhead product of my time, and even though not everything that got me into metal are classics, they opened my mind to the world of wonder that is metal.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series. Bow us out, Devin!

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - "Detox" (1997) Century Media Records

Monday, December 3, 2012

See You In Hell My Friend Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of See You In Hell My Friend, a blog series where I go back in time and pinpoint the 12 crucial albums from my childhood that led me to becoming the lover of extreme metal music that I am. I certainly don't take any lyrics, viewpoints or beliefs from any of these bands seriously. I just came for the metal! So let's get started.

Part 1 of this series detailed the first four albums that put me on the path. I will calmly discuss 4 more albums with you now.

ONE
CYNIC - Focus (1993) Roadrunner Records
"Veil of Maya"

I didn't discover Cynic until 1997, but their impact on my tastes in metal were profound. Profound I say! Cynic was the first metal band I listened to that helped expand my mind beyond the growling vocals and blast-beats that I thought were the only things that made metal great. Cynic opened my mind to the possibilities of listening to something other than metal for a change. Believe me, that was a terrifying notion for a 16-year-old metalhead with a huge chip on his shoulder!

I was introduced to Cynic by two older friends I had at a local grocery store I worked at in high school. These fellows shall remain nameless, but they wound up being the best friends I had while in high school. They got me through a lot of tough times, and Cynic's Focus was often playing in the background. A brilliant band and a brilliant album. I suggest anyone reading this to explore beyond the song I linked in above.

TWO
EMPEROR - Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997) Century Media Records
"Thus Spake the Nightspirit"

If memory serves correct, this was the first black metal album I ever saw at a Best Buy. I remember being jealous of a friend of mine in 10th grade Biology class who had gotten a copy of the Emperor/Enslaved Split CD at Best Buy after we discovered this mysterious genre of music (due to an infamous Spin Magazine article). When I saw this album in 1997, I instantly bought it. Inside I found the mailorder catalogue that not only got me going on ordering metal via mailorder, but also opened the door for that Nordic Metal compilation mentioned in Part 1 of See You In Hell My Friend to arrive at my doorstep.

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk has always been my favorite Emperor album, and I still don't know what the hell a "welkin" is supposed to be. Many metalheads will claim foul at that and say that In the Nightside Eclipse was their defining album. I don't care. This was the first one I got and its the one I've listened to the most. 

THREE
MORBID ANGEL - Domination (1995) Giant/Warner Brothers Records
"Dominate"

If I had to take a wild stab in the dark, I'd have to say that Morbid Angel's Domination was one of the first death metal albums I ever checked out. It was a somewhat divisive album when released in 1995. For starters, it was one of the first death metal albums released by a major record label (which was blasphemy to many). It also featured a more "understandable" vocal style from Dave Vincent and a lot of ethereal interlude tracks. I bought this album on a whim, based on the advertisement and accompanying interview with lead "singer" Dave Vincent. While I didn't really like this album at the time, it grew on me over the years. I never got into the post-Vincent era of Morbid Angel, but their first 4 albums are classic. 

After 16 years, there is another Morbid Angel album with Dave Vincent on vocals. 2011's Illud Divinum Insanus has proven to be even MORE divisive than Domination was, as it features a very cold production and many industrial elements. I happen to like it, but I can see why many Morbid Angel fans are calling foul on Dave Vincent. The way I look at it, the seeds for Illud Divinum Insanus are easily found on Domination. Illud Divinum Insanus should have been expected by everyone.

FOUR
DIMMU BORGIR - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997) Nuclear Blast Records
"Mourning Palace"

The final album I'd like to share for today's installment is Dimmu Borgir's Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. I bought this CD roughly around the same time I did Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. Not only did I wonder why black metal bands had such long album titles, but I also looked into this band based solely on their look and interview in Metal Maniacs magazine. Can you sense a trend?

I don't count Dimmu Borgir as one of my favorite black metal bands in the slightest, but there's no denying this albums' influence on my metal tastes. Dimmu Borgir were the first black metal band I heard that used symphonics and had vocal screams that I could actually understand. They opened the door for the theatrical black metal bands (such as Cradle of Filth, Limbonic Art, etc.) that I grew to like during this era. As a youth I enjoyed black metal much more than death metal, which is in contrast to me liking death metal a bit more than black metal today. Strange.

That's it for this installment of See You In Hell My Friend. Join me next time where I'll go over the last 4 albums that corrupted my soul. Until then, take it away "Morbid Angel"!

Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus (2011) Season of Mist Records
"Radikult"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

See You In Hell My Friend Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of the 3-part blog series, See You In Hell My Friend.

I've been in a death metal mood for the past 3 months. I can't seem to stop listening to the late 80's/early 90's-era death metal from the Tampa, FL. area and beyond. This happens to me every once and awhile for some odd reason. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm getting older and have a sick desire to cling to the things that gave me joy in my youth.

Or maybe it's simply because death metal is fucking awesome, and I'm rediscovering my love for it.

Whatever the reason, this recent metal streak has made me think about the albums that solidified my excitement, awe and intense love for heavy metal of the most extreme variety. As with many metalhead kids from the early 1990's, I was of course drawn in to the scene by the likes of Metallica and Megadeth as a youth. I'd have to say White Zombie and Pantera also had a little to do with it as well. However, it was the brutal, sick, disgusting, vile and downright evil stuff that piqued my interest in the metal genre more than anything.

This blog series will share a total of 12 crucial albums that helped form my love for extreme metal (4 albums per blog). Please note that while not every album will be highly regarded by the harshest of critics...they are simply albums that put me on my path of greatness. 

So without further ado....I'll see you in hell, my friends (part 1). 

ONE

FEAR FACTORY - Demanufacture (1995) Roadrunner Records
"Zero Signal"

Boy, does this album bring me back! I was 15 years old when this album came out, and this was one of the first metal albums I bought that featured "growling" vocals. I remember being intrigued by the album cover and the interviews with the singer (Burton C. Bell) in the classic Metal Maniacs magazine. This album also helped plant a few seeds of love for industrial music. Fear Factory used a lot of industrial elements on this album, and that led me to not only checking out other "brutal" bands on Roadrunner Records and beyond, but also the industrial music scene in general.

One of my fondest memories from college was going to see Fear Factory with some of my best friends. They were supported by System of a Down and hed(PE). The story of how the hed(PE) singer kept saying "I drink my wine, smoke my weed....fuck my woman in the ass 'til she bleeds!" over and over AND OVER during their set never gets old.

TWO

V/A - NORDIC METAL: A TRIBUTE TO EURONYMOUS (1994) Necropolis Records
MayheM - "Pagan Fears" (demo)

Just look at that album cover. Does that look like the entrance to hell or what? This album was not only one of the first (if not THE first) black metal CD that I got, but it was one that started me off on getting my extreme metal via mailorder. This was pre-iTunes after all. Back in the day, if you wanted the good death metal and black metal, you got it via mailorder. Nordic Metal was my first attempt at getting black metal, and it was amazing. Even more amazing is that I have an original pressing of this CD. Since Necropolis Records went kaput in 2003, you can find the original copies on eBay upwards of $30 or more. I think I paid $14 for it in 1995. Score.

Black metal is an interesting form of extreme metal. It's definitely not for everyone, but I always loved it. Fast metal, screeching vocals, insane drums....awwww yeah give it to me. Nordic Metal is still an essential part of any true black metal collection.

THREE

CANNIBAL CORPSE - Tomb of the Mutilated (1992) Metal Blade Records
"Hammer Smashed Face"

You may know Cannibal Corpse as being that metal band in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Believe it or not, Jim Carrey was a big Cannibal Corpse fan back in the day. While Ace Ventura may have been where mainstream audiences were exposed to Cannibal Corpse, I was exposed to them by an asshole metalhead kid in my 9th grade algebra class. Even though this guy was a complete prick (he was so metal, no-one else was worth his time), he actually introduced me to a lot of bands by wearing their t-shirts. It was because of this guy that I ever listened to the likes of Slayer, Sepultura and even Cannibal Corpse. I vividly remember the day I saw him walk into class wearing the Tomb of the Mutilated shirt. I asked him what was going on in the picture, and he told me "it's a dead zombie eating out another dead zombie." And I said "cool."

Here's the scene from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, just in case you want to refresh your memory:


FOUR

DEATH - Spiritual Healing (1990) Combat Records
"Spiritual Healing"

This was the first death metal album that I ever saw in a store. I remember being at Best Buy and seeing it on the shelf. I thought the artwork was really cool, and the subject matter of the cover challenged a few thoughts I had in my 14-year-old brain. It actually took me several more years to get a copy of this album for myself. Death's Symbolic album, released in 1995, was the first one I ever purchased. I loved that album so much, the very next one I bought was Spiritual Healing.

Chuck Schuldiner (singer, guitarist, songwriter) of Death unfortunately died December 13th, 2001 from brain tumor complications. One of my greatest regrets in life was missing out on seeing them live in 1999 when I had a ticket to go see them, but no-one to go with me. So I never went. We still miss ya, Chuck.


Be sure to tune in next time for 4 more albums that unlocked the road to hell that was paved with good intentions. Until then, take us away Chuck!

Death - "Symbolic" from Symbolic (1995) Roadrunner Records