Lately, I’ve been reading newspapers and watching lots of cable new stations, and it’s all rather nauseating. The West (North America and Europe) is totally messed up. Everybody’s wantin’ to be so nice and tolerant and righteous … but we can all feel little reddevils creeping around the margins of our minds, and they crave and deserve (limited) expression. So here we go. . . .
1) Axxis, “Aftermath,” 1982
This was my first band. I was 16. We called ourselves Grim Reaper at first, but quickly discovered the name was already taken. It was me (guitar), Gary (drums) and Paul (vocals).
Erik might have been on bass. He wanted to play bass but I don’t remember him actually owning one. Back then, wanting to was enough (where there’s a will, there’s a way … maybe). I wrote a song for us called “Aftermath” which was about a bunch of slaves working in a gold mine for a demonic “overlord.” We recorded it on a Sony cassette player in Gary’s garage. It was a crap song, but you gotta start somewhere. The other guys in the band were self-described Satanists (not Erik). The black-magic stuff freaked me out, so I left the band to become a very pretentious teenage Jim Morrison-esque poet.
2) Queensryche, “Queen Of The Ryche,” 1984
What a great song. This was ‘80s American metal at its best. This was the first (and last) thing
I bought by Queensryche because a year later I was seduced by wimpy/trendy “alternative” groups like REM and The Smiths. By late ’84, my metal days were over, alas.
3) Powermad, “Love Me,” 1990
These guys were pretty good. They didn’t get very far, but at least they’re immortalized as Nick Cage and Laura Dern’s favorite thrash-metal band in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. Powermad disbanded after the movie came out and then got back together in 2007. Long live Powermad!
4) Damone, “Out Here All Night,” 2006
I first heard this amazing single on NPR of all places (Nonsensical Progressive Radio). I was instantly smitten. Noelle LeBlanc’s sweet voice glided sublimely over grinding, overdriven guitars and, yeah, I went directly to iTunes and bought the single and played it about 30,000 times. It never gets old.
5) Sleep, “Dopesmoker,” 2003
These guys aren’t great, but they’re memorable, and weirdly cool. I first heard ‘em when I went to see Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers. Damn, what a heavy noise — like a stoned mastodon wading through mud, or liquid chocolate. Heavy and sexy and a little bit evil.
6) Olaf Bruening, “Ugly Yelp,” 2000
Olaf’s a Swiss artist who made a kick ass video called “Ugly Yelp” in 2000, which I didn’t discover until 2013. If you check out the link provided here, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what most of my weekends look like.
7) Megadeth, “Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying?” 1986
“Whaddaya mean I hurt your feelings? I didn’t know you HAD any feelings.” Dave Mustaine growls his way through one of the greatest metal tracks of all time. Forget coffee … put this on the stereo at 6:30, crank it up, look in the mirror and watch antlers grow out of your
8)Loop, “Vapour,” 1990
I saw Loop in a dirty Houston punk club in 1990. They played so loud that the walls shook, but guys in the band didn’t move a muscle. Four long-haired dudes mysteriously backlit. They were never billed as a metal act … but, yeah, whatever. They’d do one chord that’d go on for 20 minutes or more. Brilliant non-show show. Somehow both utterly meaningless and yet totally unforgettable.
9) Stryper, “Free,” 1986
This is one of the singles off their third studio album, To Hell with the Devil. That’s right … Stryper was a Christian hair-metal band. I never liked ‘em but Lord knows I tried.
10) Diamondhead, “Am I Evil?” 1980
Uh, yeah, probably. Lead singer Sean Harris sang: “My mother was a witch … she was burned alive.” And he wasn’t a bit ashamed of it! Diamondhead was a huge influence on Metallica, and “Am I Evil?” ranks as one of the most thrilling metal songs, ever.
Before givin’ this a listen, make sure you sprinkle your house with holy water … just in case.
Brett Davidson, 2015