Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Old Metal Mag -Slayer 1986

Old Metal Mag with Slayer doing press for their new album, 'Reign In Blood' from Metal Forces, Issue 20 Oct/Nov 86.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Movie Review: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

Last night we attended the first of two screenings of the long awaited Jack Osbourne directed, ‘God Bless Ozzy Osbourne.’  I’m not sure what I went in expecting from it, I’d only just recently watched the trailer to the film and I thought it looked very promising.  I have to say, at the end of the two hour film I felt nothing.  I’ve seen many, many music films and documentaries and after the special ones they make you want to root for the subject.  Anvil, Lemmy, Iron Maiden, Metallica etc. etc.  In those films the story outweighs the music in connecting the artist to the fans.  The film makers do this through emotion and a storyline extremely well put together and the connection is almost impossible to ignore. 

In ‘God Bless Ozzy Osbourne’ there’s definitely a conscious effort to remove all the glitz and glamor and a sincere hope people view his father in a different light, that’s something I can understand.  However this isn’t 1978, 88, or even 2008 and the public opinion of Ozzy isn’t what it used to be.  I mean are there really people who still think Ozzy is a “devil worshipper,” “chicken-killer,” “bat-biter,” and “Alamo-pisser?”  Really?  I didn’t think so.  In my opinion, where Jack Osbourne ultimately fails as not only a film maker but as a story teller, he fails in his choice of stories!  
If you’ve seen the early 90’s VHS release ‘Don’t Blame Me,’ or VH1’s “Ozzy Osbourne :Behind The Music” or any of the A&E/Biography/E! channel specials on Ozzy, sorry to say you’ve basically seen ‘God Bless…’ I’m not saying they’re identical, but how many more times do we need to hear about Ozzy lapping up Nikki Sixx’ piss from 1984?  You see it’s not just the Nikki piss story, it’s all the other folk lore Ozzy stories I alluded to earlier, “Alamo,” “Bat,” “Dove.”  They’re here, again, told the same way.  Like the crazy uncle telling stories from his hippie days at Christmas, they’re good the first ten or so times.  You laugh, good stuff, right?  However you want to suffocate the motherfucker with a pillow after the twentieth time!  Even the Sabbath stuff, we know how the name came about, we know so much of this stuff, why not make good on the film’s trailer and give the audience something new?  

The “new” I am referring to is the interview footage shot with the Osbourne children.  Not only the ones Sharon gave birth to, but more importantly, Jessica and Louis, the children from his first marriage.   I’ve said many times, here and in person, Ozzy Osbourne is not capable of telling his life story.  The key to putting all the pieces together is his supporting cast.  When it comes to Ozzy the musician, there are several key characters you MUST speak to/with.  When it comes to John Michael, the human being it’s all about the children.  I thought that’s what this film was supposed to be about.  Its unfortunate there’s not more in the film with each of them.

But thinking about it, really how much more “he wasn’t there for us” could both Ozzy as well as the audience listen to?  Each child had their own stories of the hell and horror of having to live with the super addict Ozzy Osbourne is/was and how substance abuse can take a toll on being a parent.  One of the children, maybe Aimee, told the story of not knowing whether Ozzy was on “uppers” or “downers” and how much alcohol he’d consumed and what that would do to his mood that day.   Now, this is the tough part, one of them at least, about getting older and seeing this film as a father myself.   The young Tom wouldn’t think twice about what a shitty father Ozzy was to his family.  40 year old Tom finds it sad and disgusting.  When one of the interviewers asked Ozzy the birth date of his first daughter…and I don’t fucking care what marriage she was from or any of that shit…but he had no idea.  

The film is not terrible, I don’t want my criticism to sound like the film is worthless, it definitely has some historic and entertainment value. Some excellent Black Sabbath and Randy Rhoads archival footage as well as multiple TV pieces throughout the years help tell the amazing rags to riches story. Ozzy visiting his childhood home in Aston, Birmingham is one of the best scenes in the film.  Actually all of the footage filmed in Birmingham is excellent.  We see the prison where Ozzy spent time in after getting busted for breaking into a store.  There’s also a shot of Ozzy standing outside his grade school [which if I can dork out for a second, the school they show? that playground?  If we presume that’s the school where Tony Iommi used to beat on Ozzy as kids during their school years, that’s amazing to see]  and the absolute honesty in both his voice and eyes tell more of a story than what you see on screen. 

There’s some almost shocking stuff based around ‘The Osbournes’ series and hearing about Ozzy’s state during the filming and re-watching some of that footage several years down the line is frighteningly real…put it this way, Sharon is an evil cunt of a woman, but I can’t believe she allowed her family to be filmed at such a time in their lives.  From her Cancer to the others being completely fucked up, the power of the dollar rules all!

Cameos in the film are similar to any other music doc, some are essential and add color and spice to a story and some just waste oxygen.  Henry Rollins, Rudy Sarzo, Robert Trujillo, the three members of Black Sabbath and Ozzy’s PA, Tony Dennis are all pleasures to watch reminisce on screen.   While it would NEVER happen, a book by Tony Dennis would be one of the greatest stories ever told!  However, one doesn’t keep a job like his for 30+ years by spilling the beans, shame though!   The end of the film basically focuses on the sobriety aspect of the Osbournes.  There’s an interview at the end of the film with Ozzy and Jack and some great stuff is spoken about, and believe me, I salute them and anyone facing the throes of addiction.  It’s amazing what sobriety has done for Ozzy as his health, speech and demeanor are light years ahead of what we’re used to seeing. 

In closing, maybe it’s the ol “feel sorry for the fanatic” syndrome.  Perhaps if I didn’t know so much about the man, then maybe the film would have been exactly what I was hoping for.  However to debunk this myth, Mrs. Vader accompanied me to the theater and while she’s no “encyclopedia metallica” she’s seen some of the above mentioned television programs/videos and felt ‘God Bless…’ could have come up with something more than a bunch of rehash.   

Maybe this was and my problem…I suppose when you go to see something that holds so much promise you want to love it, you want to cheer for it, you want to tell your friends about what you just experienced and how it’s moved you. I didn’t get any of that tonight.  I feel this film is made for the casual fan, the outsider, the person who does not buy or listen to Ozzy or Sabbath music.  Why???  Why pander to them? To those people Ozzy Osbourne will always be the “bat-biting,” “Alamo-pissing,” “Suicide Solution,” “Dove-chomping,” “piss-licking,” sonofabitch. You know what, that makes me happy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Old Metal Mag - Metallica

My goal for this blog from here on out is to have something new at least once per week.  Lofty aspirations I agree, but truth be told life's fucking hectic these days and "brand new" content will not always be readily available, so anything I can share on even a weekly basis is good for me. 

I recently acquired a fucking slew of old Metal Mags.  Seriously, I struck gold in many ways so here's the first from this haul.  


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thrash of the Titans : 2001-2011 Ten Years After

Wow, 10 years have gone since the totally epic ‘Thrash of the Titans’ show was held in San Francisco on August 11, 2001.  I remember the event as well as the events that lead up to this monumental happening quite well, in fact I look back at that time rather fondly.

In July of 2001 I had taken a self-imposed hiatus from life.  At the time I was working for a big coatings company and managing Usurper.  When I left my job, all I did all day was take care of Max.  He was two years old and leaving him every morning was fucking killing me.  So all day we’d do whatever the hell we wanted to do all day and at night I’d write and take care of Usurper stuff if needed. 

Earlier in 2001 the band decided to part ways with their label at the time, Necropolis Records and it was my job to find a new one.  By Summer I was in talks with two labels, one of them daily, trying to figure out a way to get a deal done ASAP. 10 years later at least I can say I did it, but I don’t miss that bullshit one bit.  I still have the Earache contract the band eventually signed, it’s like 60 pages long, filled with so much bullshit it’d make you sick.

The news of Chuck’s Cancer didn’t do too much to me.  Yeah, of course it was a shame, but I was in a different head space then.  At the time it felt like if I couldn’t see you or if I didn’t truly care about you, I couldn’t give a fuck about you.  No middle ground, that’s just the way it was.  But it was strange that another Metal musician named Chuck had been stricken by this illness in a relatively short amount of time.   Not long after Chuck Billy announced his illness his friends put together a benefit show. It was decided that all monies would be split between the Billy and Schuldiner families.   It was a good thing and you know what?  The show went down in history…

I was honored to cover the show for two magazines. Terrorizer from the UK and Unrestrained! from Canada ran my reviews and I was chuffed as fuck to have my writing in Terrorizer for the first time.  Looking back I’m not entirely impressed with the writing.  Bad punctuation and other shit that makes me cringe a bit, as it should!  I hope we’re all a little better at something a decade later, eh?  Having more work in print via Unrestrained! was also nothing short of a thrill.  I respected the hell out of the original U!Crew and shared many a drink with them.  Adrian left us a few years ago, the Metal world lost a good one there.

So I’m not going to re-review the show, no way.  But I will give a run down as if I were reviewing the show today.

Sadus: Still remember them being “on,” Steve D of course nailed it. Drummer Jon Allen I think was jamming with Testament at the time so he was loose. He was a fucking monster on the kit all day and night long.  TOTT was a good day for drummer watching, off to a great start.

Forbidden: I was never the biggest Forbidden fan.  Didn’t like it at the time and not crazy about them today either.  I think their brand new album, ‘Omega Wave’ is the best thing they’ve ever done.  Their songwriting finally caught up with their abilities, good shit.  Ten years ago though?  Yeah, they were good.  I make mention of Tim Calvert joining the band on stage and then Paul Bostaph takes over on drums?  Still good memories.  The band had been out of commission for several years before reuniting and recording the aforementioned ‘Omega Wave’.

Exodus: I could have been a bit more honest in regards to Exodus.  But seeing as it wasn’t my magazine I didn’t want to start calling people out, you know?  But looking back, fuck they were sloppy and yeah, a bit of a mess but they still had that balls-out/chaotic Exodus vibe.  Set-list was cool, nothing more to really say. This was one of Paul Baloff’s last gigs and six months later he’d be gone.

Death Angel: For the same reasons I mention in the reviews, this was a real release of emotion and aggression.  This was the first time the band had performed as Death Angel in 11 years.  Their set was electrifying; it remains one of my favorite live sets from any band any where.  They played a great selection of songs covering all their releases to date. They were well rehearsed and really made an impact.  Their “reunion” continues to this day.

S.O.D.: Killed It.

Anthrax: Same thoughts now as then. “Gung-Ho” with John Bush.  Other than that the usual set-list they still play to this day.  They were going strong and totally fucked up by playing “Bring Tha Noize” at a Thrash Metal Revival.  Seriously, I’ll never forget how disappointed I was.

Vio-Lence: Amazingly good.  Still after all this time, they destroyed like no other band that day or night.  Vio-Lence were 90% of the reason I attended this show to begin with and they made it more than worth it.  They crushed and conquered, it was fucking awesome. Remember the rumours of Jason Newsted playing Bass for Vio-Lence for this show if Deen Dell couldn't? Check out the ‘Eternal Nightmare’ reissue with the live record from December 2001. 

Legacy/Testament: This was a fun set, a lot of inter band changes from John Tempesta to Derrick Ramirez to Zetro to Steve D from Sadus. All jammed early Testament songs including “Reign Of Terror!” Chuck Billy guests at the very end on "Into the Pit", great end to a great show.  Testament has returned and are currently writing a new record.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Machine Head and more - Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival - Tinley Park, IL 8.5.2011

I attended the ever professional yet monstrous Rockstar Energy Drink MayhemFestival on Friday August 5th and knew from the get-go this was going to be a bit different.  I usually fly solo to mega-big shows and events.  I usually have “work” to do, be it interviews or photos or what have you and I don’t know, it just sometimes makes it tough to do these things when someone is tagging along.  Don’t even get into the guest list situations and the usual absence of “+1’s,” etc.

So I knew this would be a different sort of gig as I was going to be bringing my 12 y/o to the show.  He’s been digging more and more music, gravitating towards music of ‘The Big 4’ and especially Megadeth.  He has the first four Mega CD’s on his iPod, he’s set for now, no?   So his interest in Machine Head is also on a steady rise and seeing as both bands were on this year’s edition of the festival, twas a no brainer. 

I definitely was not on “festival coverage mode” so I wasn’t too concerned with our arrival time, we entered the gates as Suicide Silence was ending.  We headed back to the dressing rooms as I wanted to say hello to Robb and the guys as well as introduce everyone to Max.  Max meeting Robb was a planets collide moment for me, definitely memorable.  Roadrunner UK press goddess Michelle Kerr was here with Metal Hammer scribe Dom Lawson working on the Machine Head ‘fanpack' it's always great to see these long distance friends.  

(Robb Flynn/Max Trakas...sporting a shirt from the Jan/Feb 1988 Dio/Magadeth/Savatage Tour)

We caught several songs from Hatebreed, but I must admit Hatebreed now has so many songs, so many I don’t know and it lessens my enjoyment of their set.  I love their earliest work, but lost em somewhere several years ago.  One of the best live bands around, but not knowing their material loses me. Around the time Hatebreed was shutting down Max and I spent a few watching the Metal Mullisha crue.  Good god, those guys are out of this world crazy.  I never thought I’d be writing about them here, but they were kick ass and this year’s show was one of their most impressive yet. 

There’s something telling about seeing a band’s next era for the first time.  I mean if you take notice of such things, and really pay attention to one or several bands, its interesting stuff.  Because of my interest in Machine Head I couldn’t wait to see the “…Locust” era of the band commence.  I had helped usher in the ‘Blackening’ era of the band back in February of 2007 in Denver.  I remembered how different the vibe of the band was on stage in comparison to the last time I saw them as their “Through The Ashes…’ cycle finished. 

Four years on, Machine Head take the stage victorious before a single note is struck at least that's the feeling I get.  Back on the main stage for another several shows, the crowd is now in the ten’s of thousands are theirs for the next half hour.  Opening with “Imperium” Machine Head plays with an intense swagger but with all the hunger of a band 10 years their junior. “Beautiful Mourning” one of three songs from ‘The Blackening’ was met with a roar as the audience grew. 

Locust” from their upcoming LP ‘Unto The Locust’ out September 27th was played and I was impressed with the reaction, very promising response especially considering how many attendees were seeing the band for the first time.  The song came off without a hitch and gave a hint of the next era of the band.  Definitely darker, groove is there but it’s a much heavier groove, this track needs to be heard live.  “Aesthetics Of Hate” and “Halo” closed out the Machine Head portion of the show in grand fashion.  Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the “guitar duel” between Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel but it’s still kick ass.  A new era begins…

Truthfully, and this is funny, but Max lasted several songs of Megadeth.  Personally, I think he was so used to the records and the intensity being so high on those that modern Megadeth live at least, really do not cause any type of stimulation, thus causing 12 year olds to sorta lose a little interest.  Not total interest but when we invited to grab some dinner in catering, food won the war.  Megadeth were themselves, the songs we saw were good, but they could do themselves a helluva favor by mixing the set up a little here and there.  

That was really about it, the rest of my night was filled with much laughter and thankful to be in the company of the MH family, even if for just several hours.  Cheers to all who made a father and son hang more than memorable.  Xtra special thanks to Randy "Big Unit" Johnson for the photo and not being a dick!