In this epidode I explore the song “Angel of Death” for your viewing pleasure. Talking about Slayer – one of my favorite bands – is always fun and hope you like this video which I made for you, my dear metalheads.
The blog has not seen a ton of activity lately as it is now being transformed into a “vlog” or for you my dear older reader, video blog!
Please visit and comment and most of all, enjoy the music.
Up the Irons!
One of the best live albums of all time, Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death” was recorded during the World Slavery Tour 84/85. During 322 grueling days, they played 191 shows in 24 countries in four continents. The crew began work at 8 am and finished at 2 am on show days and hauled forty plus tons of equipment in six 45-foot trucks. The LP contains multiple pictures that tell the story of a long and seemingly unending tour. We see the band goofing off, having beers, playing football (or soccer for North American readers), sleeping, hugging their kids, making phone calls and rocking the stage. The album was produced, engineered and mixed by Martin Birch (who also engineered the epic Deep Purple “Made in Japan” album.)
Upon getting the album I was afraid the sound was going to be grainy and poppy because the records pressed in Venezuela were known to be of inferior quality to the imported ones. Being a teenager I could only afford the locally pressed albums. So with a bit of anxiety I opened the LP, placed it on the turntable, pressed a button, which placed the needle in the first groove and got transported to an arena in a land far, far away from Caracas. Fortunately the needle didn’t jump out of the turntable from a manufacturing defect and I was sucked into the show right away.
The beautifully engineered album begins with a fade-in of the colossal crowd cheering frantically. A few moments later a tape with Churchill’s famous 1940 speech in the House of Commons “We Shall Fight On The Beaches” plays. A guy in the crowd whistles above the cacophony and then every person seems to get on their feet and holler with all their might as they welcome to the stage the British quintet formed by Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson and Nicko McBrain. The attending masses happily provided the band carte blanche to pummel their ears, stimulate their minds and challenge their vocal chords, and to feel part of the Maiden family.
Immediately after Churchill utters the words “we will never surrender!” the bombastic start to “Aces High” makes the crowd jump, as two very loud guitars, an equally loud kick-drum, snare, cymbals combo, and the clankity-clank bass sound of Harris’s Fender smashes them in the face with over a hundred and fifty thousand watts of pure Maiden.
After a few measures Bruce Dickinson comes out of hiding after presumably processing the crowd’s energy and spits it back in the form of powerful vocals, magically pouring out melodies as though they were a warm blanket of awesomeness. The madness begins and you are taken on a hair-raising trip of fighter planes, mariners, troopers, people running to hills, damned children, numbers of beasts and torture devices from centuries of old.
During the instrumental bit of “Revelations,” the crowd’s cheers intensify several times (band: ta-na-na, crowd: haaaaaah; repeat.) Many times I wished I were there to know what was going on that made every person yell. Fortunately the mystery was resolved when I got my hands on the video: Bruce elevates his arms and the crowd responds with increased intensity as if hypnotized. He does this several times. I heard him say in an interview that he tries to make the crowd shrink which means that he works hard to make the connection with every person in the arena, from the people in the front to the ones in the nosebleed sections. In this recording he manages to do it in a way that transcends the limits of the arena and reaches your living room. When you listen to this album you are sucked into this show and feel you are there. And if you play it loud enough, you can experience the vibrations shake your body as well.
In the video you can appreciate the enormity of the set (the design, lighting, amps, props and pyrotechnics) the band’s eclectic attire and Eddie (the band’s mascot.) The Egyptian themed stage contains several sarcophagi, statues, and papyrus with symbols. It feels one is inside a pyramid. The drum set is raised and at that height a walkway surrounds the stage, which Dickinson uses to run on incessantly. The video also shows the energy of the band, the showmanship and the professionalism of one of the hardest working bands in heavy metal today (and one of the most loved.)
Bruce comes out with a mask during “Powerslave” a gigantic mummified Eddie appears behind the drum set shaking uncontrollably amid smoke during “Iron Maiden.”
The show ends with the song “Running Free” and a crowd that yearns for more and a band that could have played another few hours.
In my view, the World Slavery Tour raised the bar for Maiden. Releasing an LP and video of the tour was a great move as it brought the concert to millions of fans in countries the band did not visit and inarguably broadened their loyal fan base.
If you love metal and haven’t heard this album, it is a must for your collection. Or even better, get the video. Or get both. The song “Sanctuary” is not on the LP but it is on the video. If you’re not a metalhead but want to know what the big fuss is regarding the genre, watch the video.
Iron Maiden continues to fill arenas all over the world. Even today their shows are as dazzling as this one. Experiencing them live last year in Atlanta, GA during the Maiden England tour was as if time had stood still. These guys refuse to age and continue to work really hard to make every show an incredible experience for their fans. And for this love and dedication I say Up the Irons!
While my friend Ken and I waited to settle our tab at the local watering hole, he said “this is so surreal. Back in 1983, when I was listening to [the Iron Maiden album] Piece of Mind I never in a million years imagined I’d be drinking an Iron Maiden beer!” My friend Ken’s reflection touched me. We were teenagers at the time each one living in our native countries, too young to drink and too naive to imagine a beer with Eddie adorning the bottle. I am sure the sentiment is shared by the millions of Iron Maiden fans who can now in the USA get a hold of the Iron Maiden “Trooper” beer, brewed by Robinsons Brewery in Stockport, England from a recipe created by Bruce Dickinson, the band’s lead singer (who is also a pilot and an accomplished fencer, may I add.)
I’ve been an avid craft beer drinker for nearly a decade now (and a regular beer drinker for, er, ne’er mind.) One’s palate changes little by little through the years as one gets used to the taste of the different beer styles. I began with the sours, then switched to the stouts, and slowly welcomed the hoppy beers. Nowadays I prefer strong-flavored beers like triple IPAs (we know them lovingly as the “palate killers”) and Russian Imperial Stouts, so naturally before I tasted The Trooper beer I was a little scared it would be too bland for my experienced palate. Would it live up to my expectations? Would the beer suck and my credibility be tarnished after I’d been advocating this as-of-yet untasted beer for months? If I didn’t like it, would it mean I’m a beer snob? Fortunately the fears were unfounded. The Trooper was well liked by fellow friends and beer drinkers alike and received the approval from my favorite Englishman and a beer connoisseur par excellence: my husband.
The beer is a straight-up English Ale, and a perfect example of the kind. The aroma, body and taste makes one think one is in a stone-walled pub with a name like Ye Ole Quenay Pub, and a door frame so low one has to bend down to get in.
The chosen brewery, Robinsons, has been in existence over 170 years. The Trooper beer sold in 8 weeks what they had projected to sell in the first six months: a million pints! It is the first time in their nearly two-centuries of existence that a new brew sells at this rate. The demand has been so great that they are using the entire facility for this beer alone. This feat was achieved with little advertising and before a major supermarket in England started carrying the beer, which reminiscent of the band itself: with no radio airplay they continue to sell millions of records and sell out arenas all over the world.
I had been waiting for this release for months. I’d been a thorn on the distributor’s side trying to get a release date. Initially it was thought it would hit Florida in July, but it wasn’t until about a week ago that it started to be spotted in local stores. And at last I saw it at a local liquor warehouse and bought two bottles: one for immediate consumption and one to display next to my Iron Maiden memorabilia. Other fellow metalheads are buying cases. Fortunately stocking up on this beer is not necessary. Robinsons added the beer to their list of normally offered brews, so this beer is here to stay. Hurray! (or should I say “Murray!”…ba-dum-psh!)
The artwork on the bottle is a throwback to the Derek Riggs days, an Eddie clad in a torn military uniform holding a battered Union Jack flag looking as though he’s going to jump off the bottle and fight you for it. In fact, this label was too controversial for Sweden, where it was changed to depict a close-up of Eddie’s face. It is against the law in that country to show any war-depicting icons on alcoholic beverages.
The beer is delicious whether in the bottle or on draft. If you’re in Orlando, head on out to Oblivion Taproom who have it on draft at the moment. But don’t delay, the keg won’t last long.
I’ve been drenched with Iron Maiden’s music most of my life. Little did I know I’d be able to quench my physical thirst with them too. Up the Irons!
Iron Maiden is my favorite metal band. This is very difficult to admit because I am in love with other metal bands and to them, I apologize.
To honor Iron Maiden, I will be posting an as-yet-undetermined number of articles about every album, every concert, and about every time their music made me feel like a million bucks.
And without further ado, Part I begins:
This story begins a little over 25 years ago. One of the most iconic and influential metal bands in the world, the mighty Iron Maiden, did not get radio or video airplay in my native land of Venezuela. I had read about them in metal magazines where I found that the band didn’t get radio airplay in most countries. Despite this fact, their fan base kept growing steadily becoming one of the biggest metal acts in history.
So how was I to get my hands on some Iron Maiden? When I began the ninth grade, I met kids that had their albums. The fact that classmates liked the same music as I did gave a huge boost to my social life. I finally had buddies with whom to share albums and songs and tapes and the passion of loving heavy metal music. Finally, I was surrounded by kids that “got it.”
If you’ve ever heard music that makes your ears perk like a dog’s when it hears a fire truck siren and your hairs raise like when the boy you like locks eyes with you, then you understand the impact Iron Maiden had in my metal life.
The band went through several lineup changes, most noticeably the change of vocalist Paul Di’Anno to Bruce Dickinson in 1981 and drummer Clive Burr to Nicko McBrain in 1982. The lineup of the last 5 albums at the time was: Steve Harris, bass; Adrian Smith and Dave Murray, rhythm and lead guitars; Bruce Dickinson, vocals; and Nicko McBrain, drums.
To the best of my memory, the first LPs I devoured on a Wednesday afternoon were Killers, The Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind. My dad’s turntable was in the corner of the small dining room, with the speakers located at either side of a china cabinet. Neither mom or dad were home so I cranked it up! Each of the cups and plates and other china figurines vibrated with every guitar howl, drum beat and ear-piercing screams. It was love at first listen.
I sat at the dining table carefully studying the album sleeves while eating a fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt. The covers were fascinating. Several details were there for the curious eyes to find: people hiding in alleys, Egyptian totems, funny stick figures, and drawings that appeared in several albums. The band’s mascot Eddie, created and drawn by Derek Riggs, appeared on most of the album covers. Eddie was pure bone covered by muscles, his eyes afire, his mouth open in a silent scream. In one of the album covers he was the puppet master of the Devil and his minions on a land covered by fire, presumably hell.
I eventually got my hands on every album released up to that point. Additionally to the albums mentioned above they were: Iron Maiden, Powerslave, Live After Death and Somewhere In Time.
I spent many days writing the lyrics to every song on a special spiral notebook. I preferred penning them instead of typing them in the computer as I felt more in touch with the words that way. I learned about Alexander the Great and about the loneliness of long distance runners, about Indians running to hills and battles fought in the air. My goal was to memorize every word of every album like I had done a few years before with The Police (yeah, I knew every word to every Police song!)
Instead of studying boring, tiresome and lame school crap, I spent my time away from school listening to the albums, learning the lyrics. New words entered my vocabulary and I practiced the English language by singing in my room at the top of my lungs. The school assignments fell short from the vivid, descriptive, fantastic and thrilling stories portrayed in the Maiden songs, so my grades suffered. A passing grade was all I cared about. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about school. School could suck it.
About two years later, Iron Maiden released a new album: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. Getting my hands on it was going to be a challenge: the internet was a thing of science fiction, the band was still not played on the radio or TV, very few record stores carried imports and it would take a while to be released locally. Luckily my father was traveling abroad on business that month and was able to bring me a copy.
It was the first time I’ve listened to a Maiden album almost at the same time the world did. I was not listening to a five-year-old album. It was fresh, right off the presses.
At first listen I had mixed feelings. I did not love the song Can I Play With Madness. Honestly, I hated it. However, the rest of album was incredible. But allowing this one commercial song in the album scared me. Would the follow up to Seventh Son have more rock songs? Would they become an extension of Bruce Dickinson’s solo work? I wasn’t sure but I would find out a few years later.
Iron Maiden gave me a platform on which to view the world from a totally different angle. They introduced new sounds, new stories, new imagery, and gave me a peek at events I’d never heard of. I learned more from their songs than from school.
Catcha at the next installment…
Up The Irons!
3/19/10 Club Firestone, Orlando.
W.A.S.P. Live. I witnessed their fury for the first time 25 years ago in the small screen, thousands of miles away in my native land of Venezuela. Their song “I Wanna Be Somebody” captivated my teenage mind and I immediately became an admirer. But today I was going to see them in concert up close and personal at a venue so small that I could touch them. The anticipation was exciting!
I arrived early enough to catch the first few bands. Of them, I remember the last of the opening bands, “Rain”. They were phenomenal. This Italian metal band rocked. With a style that combines old-school metal and rock ‘n’ roll, a strong stage presence, and excellent musicianship, their set went down like a fresh glass of lemonade on a summer day.
After the curtain closed, I headed to the outside area to check out the CDs and other goodies for sale by each band. While chatting with the manager of Rain about their tour through America, we heard screeching guitars and bombastic drums blasting in the venue, so I headed back inside to find out if that was a sign that the W.A.S.P. set had begun. Not surprisingly it was the sound check, at a volume from hell, indicative of what we were going to be subjected to very soon. The all-ages crowd began chanting “W.A.S.P.! W.A.S.P.!, W.A.S.P.!” and by doing so they unknowingly gave the go-ahead to be blown to pieces. Surely enough, the curtains opened to a foggy, dimly lit, empty stage. A large screen hung behind the drum set, which was reminiscent of other bands that enhance their show with really cool imagery. I imagined we might be in for a treat, that we were going to witness an additional creative outlet of the band’s translated onto moving pictures, or perhaps a live projection of the crowd in between the videos. But we had to wait another many long moments before the mystery of the screen was to be unleashed.
I secretly wished chairs would magically appear so I could finish my beer sitting comfortably down. But not in this joint. I was in the pit of a heavy metal show, standing up high and totally prepared to rock. But if I could sit down just one more minute…
And as I stood there watching the stage, curiously trying to figure out if there was a rack of guitars sitting in the back so I could guess the make, an intro began playing and a tall, prominent figure’s profile emerged onto the smoky stage. Its long, black hair, black pants and half-moon saws sticking out from the top of its forearms gave away that we were indeed graced by presence of the one and only: Blackie Lawless. The remaining members of the band joined him immediately after: Doug Blair on guitar, Mike Duda sporting the bass and Mike Dupke on the skins. Quickly they began storming through “On Your Knees”. With the start of the song the screen came alive with a video shot in concert around 1984. In it, I recognized Chris Holmes and Randy Piper on guitars. I was confused, and wondered if Chris and Randy were going to come out from the side of the stage and join them or if it was a prank pulled by Blackie at the current band members. But no, this was no prank. Original videos were played throughout every song of the concert, some of them extremely cheesy, or to put it mildly, passé by today’s standards. The band played in perfect synchronization with the videos, mimicking them in some parts. It felt awkward. I am not sure how Blackie sold this idea to the rest of the band, which borders on the tacky and the embarrassing. But he did. And it did not work. Not for me anyway. After all, this concert was not promoted as “The Commemoration of 27 Years of W.A.S.P.”
So I decided to ignore the screen. What a good decision that turned out to be. The show was clearly about these four men rocking their hearts out right then and there. Blackie’s voice was in perfect form, the band was tight, and the volume was obnoxiously loud. I could feel the sonic book from the bass drum traveling through my body, and the guitars piercing my brain like tiny shocks of lightning. A terrific metal show experience indeed.
Without missing a beat, they plunged into “Doctor Rocter”, and the crowd went wild as they did with every song. Duda showed us why he was chosen to be part of W.A.S.P. He had incredible precision and technical ability (he plays with his fingers instead of the usual pick in metal bands) and a great stage presence. He performed a very cool Robert-Trujillo-esque move, twirling around and around until the bass was as the same level as his shoulders. Blair used a varied array of LED-lit guitars. Certain frets lit up when pressed. The body of one of the guitars, in the area where the pickups sit, looked like a bright nebula that somehow got sucked into that tiny space. His guitar solo during the song The Idol was peppered in awesomeness. To make it even better, the screen was turned off as soon as he began the solo, and he had the stage and the attention of the audience all to himself. His fingers flew up and down the neck with a feeling worthy of any spectacular blues player, and the metal edge merged itself in these notes in a way evocative of pure beauty.
Dupke had his moment to wow us as well, with a really fast, precise, and excellent little solo. Bang bang, boom boom, crash crash. I wish I could verbalize it for you!
Blackie, with white boots contrasting his otherwise black outfit, and a football jersey with his name on it, was on fire. His voice, impeccable. His presence, excellent as always. His playing, terrific. He is either a vampire or he found the fountain of youth because he rocked without a hitch.
Predictably, the crowd went totally ballistic during “I Wanna Be Somebody” which was sung in its entirety by the audience. Blackie did not sing the pre-chorus or chorus until the last word of the song: “Somebody! Somebody!” and I felt goose bumps from head to toe. The fourteen year old girl in me cried like the girls in the black and white videos of a Beatles concert.
Cheers to the little girl, cheers to the rockness of W.A.S.P. and cheers to you the reader for experiencing this event with this humble writer. It was a great show worthy of seeing again and again.
- On Your Knees
- Doctor Rocter
- Love Machine
- Babylon’s Burning
- Wild Child
- I Don’t Need No Doctor
- Arena of Pleasure
- The Idol (crimson idol title track)
- I Wanna Be Somebody
- Heaven’s Hung in Black
- Blind in Texas
Obituary entered my life a long, long time ago when I lived in my native Caracas. The first album Slowly We Rot had just been released. The first time I heard it, it paralyzed my blood and mesmerized my soul. I was in love! I had never heard such melted-chocolate guitar riffs, vocals sounding like hurling and gargling simultaneously with such fierceness as if emanating from the guts of Lucifer himself, and brutal drums that merged nice and tight with the bass line. It was crisp metal peppered with ethereal mysticism. Absolutely delicious.
Back then, sitting in my room, playing the Slowly We Rot album over and over again, the thought of seeing them in concert was an abstract thought, like say, having a romantic dinner with your favorite actor/actress. As far as I was concerned, these five guys were aliens from a faraway planet.
Fast-forward to 2013…
We left Orlando early and headed to Ybor City to catch the Obituary show (yeah!). Our trip began with a typical June Florida-famous thunderstorm. It started to pour as soon as we merged onto I-4 Westbound as if ordered by Zeus himself (bastard!). The traffic was slow, visibility dim. Fortunately my friend in whose car we traveled proudly announced he changed the tires recently so the chance of water-gliding in the 2-door Japanese car was less likely than getting crushed by a semi. Goody.
The downpour continued for hours, even after we arrived at The Orpheum. People piling in were drenched like they had hit the shower fully clothed. But risking catching pneumonia is a small price to pay for experiencing the up-close and personal show of a world-class death metal band like Obituary. The mere memory of that night sends electric shocks from my chest to my core and back.
The show was streamed live through the band’s U-Nation page. Fans from all over the world could tune in for only $4.99. Generating revenue in this manner is a creative way for the band to obtain funds, and it’s a valuable service for the fans. Nowadays finding one’s favorite music for free is as easy as clicking a button. Bands need to find innovative ways of making money in order for them to continue writing awesome material instead of worrying about menial things like paying bills. We need to support our favorite musicians if we want more of their awesome music.
The stage was ready. The gigantic Obituary backdrop threatened us from above! Donald Tardy’s drum kit sat on a platform neatly “miked” for the online streaming. Marshall amps on both sides of the stage waited to be ravaged. The band came out of the shadows and took their places. This is it! History in the making! The first professionally streamed Obituary show, and we were part of it!
The opening riffs of the dueling guitars poured from the speakers like the waters of Niagara Falls. The sound paralyzed my body. My eyes widened. I couldn’t believe it! I was witnessing the grand sound of a band I’ve loved for over 20 years. And so it hit me, the sudden rush of emotion I expect at every Obituary show. The tears welling and the lump on my throat. I’m getting faklempt writing this so go ahead and talk amongst yourselves.
My nineteen-year-old self jumped up and down, moved by the spectacle playing out in front of her. She wanted to get in the pit and slam-dance the night away, so my feet started toward the pit while my brain screamed no! And as I got closer, a guy in the pit was pushed in my general direction. The people between us tumbled like dominoes almost taking me down with them, and my desire for slam-dancing dissipated faster than my beer.
In the previous two shows I had been to, the band played with one guitar player and although the mighty Trevor Peres holds his own at every performance, I longed for the second guitar like one longs a lover’s caress. This time they added Kenny Andrews on lead and rhythm duties. The sound was complete, at last! Alternating melting-chocolate riffs! Solos to pierce your insides! Mammoth dueling-guitar action!
The show kept getting better and better. Most of the songs were from the first three albums. Although I’m a huge fan of this band, I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know the names of most songs or know what songs are in which albums (same thing happens with Black Sabbath). Back in the day I listened to the tapes over and over again usually in my car. And it was difficult to sing along to Obituary. I heard or read somewhere that the lyrics were not included in the album sleeve because John Tardy’s vocals acted like another instrument. So without lyrics, I growled along to the music. Lyrics were an obsession so not having access to them was a bummer, although it left room for the imagination.
At one point the band paid tribute to Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman who passed away the previous month. Donald and the band raised their beers to the sky and the crowd began chanting “Slayer! Slayer! Slayer!” and I again choked up.
The pit didn’t stop for a second. Fans stage-dived at their leisure, almost bumping into Terry Butler (bass) at one point. After a while, the fans were getting a little comfortable on-stage and though they meant no harm to the band, they were asked to get off and not come back. The stage-diving stopped for the most part so the band could again concentrate on playing instead of watching out for a slam dancer’s elbow.
The band played a nice and long encore, satisfying our thirst for more! Friends and I spent most of the time at the edge of the pit, as close to the stage as possible minimizing the risk of injury. I love you guys, you know who you are!
After the show I was lucky enough to see and briefly speak to John and Donald Tardy. They are the sweetest, most down-to-earth rock stars in the planet (so is Trevor, who I spoke to at another show… ERMAHGERD!)
So once more the dream of seeing Obituary kill on-stage came true. My batteries recharged, my young-self floating in bliss, another fulfilling experience at the hands of the delirium-inducing quintet. When Obituary hits your town, the wise thing to do is to check them out. Or stream the live show. And always show them the love they deserve.