Before I get started on this latest album anniversary or “music milestone” as we’ve been apt to refer to them, I must admit that way back in the days of 1988, I was NOT listening to the band Blind Guardian at all and the same applies for a lot of bands from this region of the world. We are still going to raise a goblet of our favorite drink in honor of the birthday of their debut album “Battalions Of Fear” which came out care of No Remorse Records on this very day thirty years ago. Fans of Blind Guardian who might have come on board over the last dozen years or so ago love them for the polished and exciting Power Metal that they are true masters of. Given my lack of overall background on the debut itself, I’ll be deferring readers to the official Wikipedia entry at the close
Having referenced the bands acumen as Power Metal leaders, it might surprise some of you to learn that this was not at all how the band started out. When you begin to give a listen to “Battalions Of Fear” you find instead a fast-paced, more Speed Metal meets Thrash Metal type of release. In 1988 I can honestly say that Blind Guardian had more in common with the likes of Metallica and Exodus or even Anvil in terms of how the drumming and frenzied riffs were being laid down. It was interesting to me for sure because in 1988 I was really focused on more of the US Metal, even though I did have a few bands from that side of the pond that I enjoyed quite a bit. “Majesty” rips you a new one while “Guardian Of The Blind” has some awesome layers to it and drumming that made me bang my head while I was composing this toast. Believe me that is not easy to do when you are trying to type. “Trial By The Archon” reminded me a lot of the vibe that early Iron Maiden had to them and perhaps this short instrumental number was designed to be an homage of the Brits. “Wizard’s Crown” continues the same vibe and there is a strong cohesion to the full release. The members of the band for the debut are of course singer Hansi Kursch who was also on bass at the time. Andre Olbrich was on lead guitar and Marcus Siepen on rhythm while Thomas “Thomen” Stauch played drums
Continue reading Blind Guardian’s Debut “Battalions Of Fear” Hits 30 Years (1988-2018)
Greetings friends it’s time to once again scroll back through the sands of time and pull out another classic album and celebrate its anniversary. Today we are raising a glass of whatever you like to drink the most and saying “Congratulations” to the band King’s X on the thirtieth anniversary of their debut album “Out Of The Silent Planet”. The album was released on this day thirty years ago on the Megaforce Records label and while it is a solid piece of musical work, there were far too many of us who missed out on it until much later. I say it like this because in 1988, the Hard Rock and Metal scene was getting ready for a dramatic almost seismic shift as the Grunge Movement from the Seattle side of the fence was getting ready to take a full hold of the music buying public. Back then I was listening to the reasonably new sound of Power Metal with bands like Helloween and the like and while I would catch King’s X on video playing networks such as MTV and their “Headbanger’s Ball” the bands sound eluded me. Sure, I liked a few tracks and the clips that accompanied them but was I dedicating myself to the body of work. No I wasn’t and it would take a few more albums for me to consider myself an acolyte of some kind.
That being said, many of my friends who found what I was listening to as “too much mayhem” for their liking, they became devoted followers of what King’s X was bringing to the musical table and would see them whenever they came to town. It would be many years later that I finally would catch them and one of the first things that I remembered about them that impressed me was that it was still the original three members of Dug Pinnick (bass and vocals), Ty Tabor (guitar and vocals) and Jerry Gaskill (drums and vocals). There are not many bands out there anywhere who can claim that the original founding lineup is still 100% in place. The second and probably the most important thing that I would notice when I would catch them was just how good they sounded and how close it was to the recordings that I had heard over the years.
Continue reading Toasting 30 Years Of King’s X “Out Of The Silent Planet” (1988-2018)
Though today is a gloomy and rainy day here in my NYC Metropolis, the power of music shines as radiant as the blazing sun as we raise a glass to the mighty Van Halen and their self-titled debut album which celebrates its fortieth anniversary today. Speaking frankly, “Van Halen I” as many are apt to refer to it is a “Milestone Among Milestones” and since all the hard scoop about it is already documented on its Official Wikipedia entry (linked below), I’ll be sticking to the more personal reflections on how this album hit me as a then very young music fan. Now, as I scroll back through the sands of time to my own first go-round about the album, I must admit that I couldn’t recall hearing it when it was first released in 1978 and think that it was probably closer towards the end of the Summer of 1979. I had already been enjoying the melodies of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Renaissance and KISS with the four masked men being my own discovery some years earlier. My folks listened to the other stuff I mentioned, and I remain very happy about their musical offerings to me.
I first learned about the existence of Van Halen on the streets of Brooklyn and while that might sound tougher than it is, its just reflecting on the times when teens spent time together outside. There weren’t home video games like there are today and while Atari had its “Pong” and I think another game, no one I knew owned a console, so you did other stuff. One of the girls in my circle of the day pulled out this sleek looking record with the cool cover and awesome logo and asked if we had heard them yet. We hadn’t, and she let us hear the track that was playing on some radio stations which was “You Really Got Me” (the bands take on the classic by The Kinks) and I have to admit that I was hooked straightaway. We also got a good listen to the guitar skills of Edward Van Halen on the “Eruption” track and I remember friends who dabbled with guitar at the time looking dumbfounded. The stuff Eddie was doing during this solo seemed like from another dimension of sound. Let’s look at the full-on album tracks before continuing.
Continue reading Van Halen’s Mighty Debut Is Four Decades Old (1978-2018)
Historically speaking I have been following the band HIM since around 2003 which was a full six years after their debut “Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666” would hit the racks of music stores over in Europe. This brooding opus of sound is celebrating its 20th Anniversary today. Thinking back on it, I remember that first time that I heard the band and it was while at work at an incredibly boring and terrible job as I browsed around Yahoo Music. I remember that the service was superb in letting you discover new and exciting sonic things. My first song from HIM was “Join Me In Death” from the “Razordblade Romance” album from 2000 (the bands second release) but it hooked me and once I was able to find them online, I would work my way back from there and it was a musical journey that I would greatly enjoy.
As usual with these missives they are much personal recall as I can muster together and when it comes to this particular album, it was from listening some years post release. I’d like to think that had I the chance to listen to them on their initial debut that I would have enjoyed them immensely right off the bat. I was a big fan of Type O Negative and they had a brooding and solemn sound that a lot of folks called Gothic Metal and while many would come to label these Finns as the same, I felt that Dark Metal and the soon coined “Love Metal” fit more to a tee. Founder Ville Valo made the bands framework to be about the topics of love, heartbreak and even death. During this beginning stage of the band, the groups members included Valo along with guitarist Mikko Lindstrom (Linde) and Mikko Pannanen (Mige). According to research this is the only album to feature Antto Melasniemi and Juhana Rantala on keyboards and drums. Below let’s review the original track release from the album and then discuss some favorites.
Continue reading HIM’s “Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666” Hits 20 Mournful Years (1997-2017)
Light the candles in the study as we open the arcane tomes in celebration of King Diamond’s sophomore album as a solo artist with the seminal work “Abigail”. An album that was released thirty years ago on this very day. It was the King’s second outing as I’ve noted but his first full length concept recording. He touched upon his sinister storytelling with “Fatal Portrait” on a few numbers but with “Abigail” a terrible tale was woven across each and every track. You can read more about the whole premise and the finer details down on the official Wikipedia entry as I always include them here.
At the time of the original release I must admit that I was not listening to much that King Diamond was dishing out. I was a very latecomer to Mercyful Fate and while some of their stuff intrigued me back then, I always felt it was a bit much for me and I leaned more towards the building Power Metal genre. It wouldn’t be until King’s “Them” album that I immersed myself more into his work. As I listened to the release once more for its anniversary, it’s amazing to find that it still holds up really well and still sends chills down your spine as the tale plays out. The whole album was written by King but guitarists Andy LaRoque and Michael Denner tossed their talents into a couple of tracks as well. The band was rounded out by bassist Timi Hansen and drummer Mikkey Dee. Andy and Dee would quickly become a lot of aspiring musicians favorites based on their his skillful playing. The King Diamond band was a quick lock for fans of the Mercyful Fate group based on that bands bassist Hansen and guitarist Denner being in the lineup with the King. Let’s take a look at the original track listing and then toss together our favorites.
Continue reading King Diamond’s “Abigail” Hits Its Thirtieth (1987-2017)