Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cliff Em All, Eternal

this originally ran on the Midwest Metal MySpace blog back in's been updated for 2009

Today marks the 23rd year since Mr. Cliff Burton's human shell left the Earth. Fucking 23 years?!? I can remember getting the call from a friend breaking the news to me and it instantly did not compute. In fact, I remember vividly refusing to believe it. Instead my brain registered ex-Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr had passed but that only lasted a minute or two, it was true and what the fuck was replaced with why?

That was Sunday when we heard and at the time Chicago had two Metal radio stations WVVX and Z-Rock and we all tuned into them that night as both aired tributes to the man. I do remember the 'VVX one especially as the DJ Scott Loftus spoke about the band and it was fucking unreal. 'VVX was playing a tribute to a band they had helped so much in then their biggest year to date.

The tone of his voice was surreal and while I no longer have the tape, Scott's voice from that night is still somewhere in my head. I was only 10 when Randy Rhoads passed away and at that time was more interested in baseball but Cliff, this was our guy, our time and essentially the world's loss. Cliff was one of us and he was well on his way to achieving the ultimate musician's goal (to live off his music on his/their own terms) when it was all taken away from him at the age of twenty-four.

Twenty-Four! To a 15 year old 24 was a lifetime away and seemed rather "old" at the time, but this wasn't lost on me when I had reached that age.

Now in the fourteen years I've lived past that age I realize how young Cliff was and how his life hadn't even begun. Yeah, he lived a "full life" as far as the music world is concerned, the recording and touring and that may seem like a "lot" especially when he was able to see the World and not everyone gets to do that. But think about it, it was all done in the span of three years/thirty-six months…not too full, huh?

In fact, Cliff was still living with his parents in September of 1986 though earlier that same year Metallica management (Q-Prime) told the guys they'd "probably" be able to afford their own homes sometime that very year.

Knowing what we know now, the immense and massive popularity of Metallica (currently the 7th biggest selling band of all time with some 100 + Million records sold) he missed out on so much.

The speculations of what Metallica would have gone on to do with Cliff are endless but that's not why I'm writing this today. I'm here to honor a son, a brother, a bandmate, a musician, a spirit and an undeniable influence. I haven't got much more to say, funny as for the past 23 years I'd be able to spout off at the mouth to anyone within an earshot of the man's greatness. But today, I'll just quietly (vocally) reflect on what he left us. The immortal music and the memories that will always go hand in hand with them.

Thanks Cliff.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How many tickets for the big head Han Solo?

hey guys hit me up if you may have any star wars memorabilia you may want to part with. mostly older figures/ships, but will consider anything star wars related. possibly trade for tix to a show or merch

PS space 1999 as well if you are old enough to remember what that was!!
hit me up here (BILL)


I used to joke to a friend of mine that every friend I ever had I met either through Star Wars or music. Dorky yeah, but it was true for 80% of my life, before kids that is. But the above message is from Mastodon Guitarist and resident Star Wars collector (geek) Bill Kelliher.

Mastodon are about to kick off a tour with Dethklok (not sure I get it) and the mighty, mighty High On Fire. So if you're into space, cartoons and the heaviest trio since Celtic Head or Motor Frost, can't remember which, go see a show and support High On Fire. Here's hoping they continue to "road test" new material live so if you go chances are you'll be treated to a new song or two.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Heavy Metal Heaven II, Only the Good...

Words are hard to come by at times like this. Chicago lost one of the good ones this week and it's nothing short of a fucking shame. Tariq was a lifer , he'll be remembered as such. In tribute to him everyone listen to something heavy.


LOCATION: Krueger Funeral Home 13050 S. Greenwood Ave. Blue Island, IL 60406 *

If you are looking for a way to support the Ali family in their time of need, a benefit account has been set up at Marquette Bank. Please donate if you are able.
The account is located at Marquette Bank under Syed Ali (Tariq's dad).

Anyone can walk into any branch and make a deposit just have them look up the account or deposits can be mailed to:

Danielle Gorajski
Marquette Bank

9612 W 143d Street
Orland Park, IL 60462

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alice In Chains, 9.20.09 Milwaukee, WI.

I walked into the Eagles Ballroom/Rave in Milwaukee a bit apprehensive. I was about to see Alice In Chains live for the first time since September 1993. While I’ve been a long time fan/follower of their career this would be my first time seeing Alice proper with William DuVall at the mic. As much as I love and have loved the band I stayed away from their earlier stops through Chicago as well as their support slot on the Velvet Revolver tour of, well, whenever that was.

Sure, I’d seen him (DuVall) on a few Jerry Cantrell solo tours in the early 2000’s where ample Alice material had been played and duly conquered, but this was going to be different. For most people, Alice In Chains ceased to exist when the body of Layne Staley was discovered in 2002. This following several years of laying low, really low due to a destructive drug habit plaguing the vocalist. Even though they hadn’t performed as AIC since 1996, for many there was always a glimmer of hope they would return.

Similar to the music of the band these rays of hope tried to fight their way through the darkness, but very often these same rays were viewed from the bottom of the ocean after the waves of life came crashing down upon you. When Layne was hit by that final wave it not only took him but the band as well, or so we thought.

So we’re in Milwaukee, it’s a Sunday night, there’s no support band clogging up the vibe and the anticipation is killing me…. so let’s just get it on!

Lights go down and the front three of DuVall, Cantrell and Bassist Mike Inez saunter out, cool, calm and collected. Drummer Sean Kinney takes his place behind his drum kit and some feedback rumbling begins as they open with “Rain When I Die” off the ‘Dirt’ LP. Right off the bat the sound is massive!

The ballroom stage is huge, the crowd is vast and the music just lays perfectly still in the air. When Cantrell breaks into the wah-wah infused leads it hits me, no one plays like this anymore, no one. His sound and body language reverberates those of a man finally free after his own hibernation of sorts. This is fucking great!

“Again” off the 1995 self-titled album is up next and there’s nothing at all wrong in the world. A quicker pace of a song has DuVall on fire. He’s doing the unexpected in my mind of truly honoring Staley’s work as well as making them his own, at least just for the night. The only time I ever heard this song live was on shitty bootlegs, it’s great to hear it in the now!

Next up was the first single for the upcoming ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’, “Check My Brain”. If you’ve heard the song or seen the video you already know it’s classic Alice. Hooky, heavy, catchy and everything that’s currently MIA in modern rock music. While the crowd reaction wasn’t exactly feverish for this or the other two new songs played (“A Looking In View” and “Acid Bubble”) this is quite understandable as a) they technically haven’t even been released and b) they’re surrounded by songs the majority of the crowd grew up with. I say give it a few months after the record hits, these songs kill live!

“Them Bones”, “Damn That River”, “We Die Young” all followed, all crushed, all were taken to new heights by AIC 2009, this trio of songs just sounded so fucking alive and those in attendance obviously felt the same way, a lot of singing, a lot of happy faces made Milwaukee the place to be this Sunday evening.

The next few songs essentially cemented what I’m still feeling several days later. In my head, I had several “tests” for the band based on a few of my favorite songs. I wondered if they’d not only pull them off they way I hoped, but would they move me? “Nutshell” and “Love, Hate, Love” were two such songs. These two in particular have Layne all over them, not just the recordings but the songs down to their core help exemplify what Layne Staley contributed to the soundtrack of my life. I’m serious here when I say they exceeded every one of my expectations on every level. It was that good.

A deep cut from the self-titled album, “God Am” was a surprise, brutal people, fucking brutal. William played a decent amount of guitar live and let me tell you, a thicker wall of sound just couldn't be found. Between Cantrell's dual vocals and the twin axe attack the stakes have been raised considerably. Another new track was followed by the haunting ‘Angry Chair’ and then a hefty 1-2 punch of ‘modern rock radio hitz’ “Man In The Box” and “Would?” Yes, we've all heard these songs more than we care to admit, but when the band and audience are on fire it's impossible not to soak it in. These two songs got the biggest reactions, without a doubt, and it didn't bother this jaded bastard one bit.

The band left the stage for a few minutes and came back for encores. "It Ain't Like That", easily one of my favorite Alice tracks was played and I'm going to sound like a broken record, but DuVall killed, nailed, hit a home run whatever analogy you want to liken his performance to, he did it! "No Excuses" and "Rooster" closed the show on what was a stellar evening of music.

To Sirs Cantrell, Kinney, Inez and DuVall, welcome back and welcome home!

Special thanks to Mike (MJOB, Mikey, Mikey Boy, Sir Laze-a-Lot) for leaving his couch for the night!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Black Dahlia Murder, Interview

I think The Black Dahlia Murder are above and beyond the glut of Swedish inspired American Death Metal bands. Not sure if it’s solely based on the music (which rules) or the attitude of the band (which rules) or perhaps it's a mid-western pride sort of thing...maybe it's just the whole thing wrapped into one?

Regardless I’m looking forward to hearing the new album, ’Deflorate’ when it comes out on 9/15 and of course I'm always looking forward to seeing them destroy live again.

I caught up with TBDM guitarist Brian Eschbach right before the band took the stage at the Tinley Park stop of the 2009 Mayhem Fest and while this was totally off the cuff and unplanned, I think it came out cool enough - length aside.


This interview was done before the Slipknot/Anthrax/The Black Dahlia Murder tour fell apart, so at the end when Brian’s talking about that tour, I left it in because well, #1 I’m not sure if they’re back on the rescheduled dates and #2 I think it shows their mindset and attitude of doing things their own way.

None But My Own: So, tell me what’s going on with The Black Dahlia Murder, new record out soon and you’re on the Mayhem tour doing some pre-promotion, huh?
Brian: Yes, new record ‘Deflorate’ comes out on September 15th on Metal Blade Records. It’s the first album with our new lead guitarist Ryan Knight, who came from a band called Arsis. He’s a very talented young man and we’re excited for people to hear the new songs with what we think is the next level in lead approach.

What has Ryan brought to the team, so to speak?
He’s just got all these tricks and bells and whistles up his sleeve!

Has he inspired you?
Yeah, yeah! I’m always having him show me tricks and exercises and shit, but yeah I’d like to play that good, but I think I missed the train already!

Well you could always jump on the caboose, right?

I hope so!

Every artist usually has a fault or something they wish they could change with their records. Even though it’s not even out yet, what can you say about ‘Deflorate’ at this early stage?
Nothing like that just yet, it’s way too soon. See me in about nine months and I’m sure they’re will be a few things.

How often do you listen to your own music?
Not often. Last time I put one of our albums on, which one I can’t even remember but I wasn’t really listening to it I was just playing along to it.

We spoke about what Ryan might have brought, what did you bring to the table this time?
I don’t know? I wrote maybe 85% of the music…

Where the fuck do I go with this (laughing)?? I guess you could say you brought the damn table or at least the legs, right?
Hahaha! Something like that, yeah!

OK, so with you writing that much of the music, in which ways do you or the band practice quality control? When does a part or a riff get thrown out? Is it entirely up to the person who wrote it or is it more of a band decision?
Well first off, anything that I would write that I’d question myself, no one in the band will hear that stuff! But then there’s times where I know I have a riff or a part and it’s just not going anywhere so I show it to the band and everyone does their own thing to make it happen. Once they add to it, it usually works. Most of the time though I’ll just keep working on an idea until I know for sure it’s us.

After the release of ‘Nocturnal’ and up until the writing of ‘Deflorate’ were there any new influences on your writing? We’re talking about a two year period.
No, not really. It’s rare for me to have like one specific individual influence, these days, from new stuff. I mean you’ll hear a good song or something most people can instantly tell they’ve heard it somewhere, it sounds like this guy or that guy and then there’s the production and it seems like everyone’s heard everything already! I mean there’s only 12 fucking notes and a bunch of octaves. We just don’t come out and think everything we do is the most original thing on the planet, hopefully they’re just cool songs.

Let’s talk about one of my favorite DVD’s of the year, ‘Majesty’ the reaction to it was unreal…
It’s just a bunch of bullshit…

I agree, but c’mon you had to be surprised at the response!
Yeah, for sure but mainly because I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch that for two and a half hours! I mean the stuff we do, someone watching it for that long is the surprising part!

But you have to admit, ‘Majesty’ succeeds in showing the retarded (off stage) along with the serious (on stage) and it came together nicely. So many times bands have tried to do the wacky off stage stuff and it’s simply not funny, let alone entertaining!
Well it was one of those things where the label wanted to put out a DVD and we were hesitant, like “sure” because we weren’t sure if our music fit that format or whatever, but it did.

I think the band has accomplished quite a bit in the realms of underground metal, I really do. What do you feel is left out there to conquer?
I really don’t know. Sometimes things we do aren’t even goals or whatever they just happen to be cool shit that falls your way! We’re going to be doing a tour with Slipknot. Now say what you will about them, but to tour with arguably the biggest heavy act out there touring right now? Sure Metallica is bigger but a tour like Slipknot speaks to a more generational crowd, the window of ages is a little more narrow with Slipknot.

So is it a tour you feel you’ll have to ‘step up’ to?
No, not really. It’ll just be us and our tunes, not really a ‘step up’ thing because it’s not like we’ll be bringing our own lights or stage show or pyro, nothing like that. If they like the tunes, cool. If not, fuck em, we go this far without them already!