Album Of The Year 2018

I know what you’re thinking.  There are a few albums I could’ve easily picked to be my top pick for this year’s Album Of The Year pick.   Hate Eternal and High On Fire both came out with new albums.  Fuck, speaking of Matt Pike and High On Fire, his previous band, Sleep, released a comeback album that some of you are STILL fisting yourselves to!  And that’s fine…but I can give two shits because Alice In Chains came back with an amazingly, dark, depressing, desolate new album. I’m talking better than 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here by fucking far!

Oh sure, I was already excited since I’ve worshiped this band and especially Jerry Cantrell for half my life now; but then I heard the opening single:

Well holy shit.  Just go straight to that chorus line and I can swear the music sounds like it could’ve fit beautifully on the band’s 1995 self titled album.  In fact, a major portion of Rainier Fog sounds very much like it would’ve fit right in on the aforementioned self titled album.  And as it turns out, the band decided to take trip back to the past to get the right aura for recording my Album Of The Year.

The band set up camp back in Seattle at Studio X, former Bad Animals Studios, which Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart owned between 1991 and 1997 and as actually named after their their 1987 album of the same name (this was when Heart were 80s sellouts playing shit arena rock).  Bad Animals is where the band recorded their self titled album, sadly their last with the late Layne Staley on vocals.  So needless to say, if you believe in ghosts, you just might here one of two on here.

The product of this return to their roots of sorts is such a fucking downer.  It’s so depressing it’s beautiful.  Gone are a lot of the Heavy Metal aspects of their previous album and especially their 2009 masterpiece of a comeback album, Black Gives Way To Blue; but there is still a shit ton of Doom all around, providing the proverbial atmosphere of a perennial rainy day.  Make no mistake though, Rainier Fog is still heavy as balls, still an exercise in Sabbath worship.

Tracks such as “The One You Know”, “Rainier Fog”, Cantrell’s tribute to the Seattle scene, “Red Giant”, “Drone” and “Never Fade”, the second single from the album, prove Alice are still the very definition of a modern day Black Sabbath…and that Cantrell is still a GOD.  These tracks in particular are the closest to being “grungy” as the band has sounded in 23 years, with slow, crushing riffs, drums that supply the groove yet still let the songs breath, and those vocal harmonies.  It can’t be made anymore obvious that whether William DuVall is singing or Jerry himself, Jerry is truly the mastermind behind some of these virtually morbid vocal arrangements.  Only Alice In Chains could ever make me want to kill myself through beautifully depressing harmonies!  In fact, I feel like “The One You Know” can be like the sequel to “Grind”!  And “Drone” is truly a Sabbath Worship song in just about every way.  The chorus line is especially depression as Cantrell sings “I’ll stay here and feed my pet black hole…”.

Speaking of Sabbath Worship, “Deaf Ears Blind Eyes”, is as doomy as it gets.  It’s main, single note guitar lines could’ve easily been used on Master Of Reality.  But what will really grab your attention is Cantrell’s haunting vocal arrangement.  Clearly a song about what happens when you let anxiety run your life, I had to do a double take and make sure I wasn’t listening to a 90’s recording with Layne on vocals because it sure sounded like it!  It’s probably one of to more lyrically profound tracks on here as Cantrell sings “feel like a fake thing/where did the time go?/Memories worth making/pass by the window…”.

On the other end of the Sabbath Worship is “So Far Under”, the one song solely penned by DuVall…who clearly has spent way too much time with Cantrell.  That bending note in the chorus is essentially the “seasick riff” Cantrell used on “Check My Brain”, hence why it can be easily to immediately think Cantrell wrote it.  Oh sure, the lyrics may be some of the most positive on Rainier Fog, but his solo (his not Jerry’s!) screams Tony Iommi and the chorus just happens to bring you r right back down…and seasick.

As for the lighter tracks on here, “Fly” is essentially the sequel to “Over Now”.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Here…just listen for yourself:

And “Maybe” is literally a tour de force of what Jerry and William are capable of as a vocal duo.  They’ve become so good at it in the last nine years that at times it can be hard to figure out who the fuck is singing what.  It’s yet another song about loneliness but their singing will make you want to embrace it in such a romantic way.  If you think I’m nuts after reading that line you’re not an Alice In Chains fan.

Oh, and speaking of loneliness, the most depressing, emotionally draining song on here clearly had to be saved for last.  “All I Am” is sad as fuck from the first atmospheric pulse as it cuts through the ending to “Never Fade”.  It’s hard to really say what the hell Jerry is talking about here.  But I can only assume it’s about someone who’s so damaged from drug use that he can’t even recognize himself anymore.  Would that be too much of a surprise?  Let’s not forget that drugs nearly decimated this band with Layne’s tragic death sixteen years ago to heroin and cocaine.  Everyone in this band were all guilty.  AS I mentioned in my review of Dirt, Jerry was drinking heavily and taking Xanax during the sessions for it.  I just know that when I heard it, I imagine someone on a raft, struggling to stay afloat as he’s being rushed through rapids, rain teaming down in him.  The final result?  Does he survive and rise above?  Does he drown?  It’s all up to you, the listener.  I just know that if you want an album that makes you feel every negative, suicidal emotion you can, Rainier Fog is your go to album.

 

Extreme Metal Gym Playlist

Gym playlists.  Man, some people out there really seem to not have the balls to delve into nastier shit than they’re accustomed to in order to really raise those adrenaline levels.  I guess they don’t really want to train with fury after all.  Pussies.  This goes back to my first true post on here, titled: “…if I had my own gym”.  I bitched that the so-called metalheads in my gym cried like little girls upon hearing my heavy-as-fuck Spotify playlist, which contained several tracks by Pantera (the super heavy shit from the mid-90’s), Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore and Meshuggah.  The remarks came flying: “What is this crap?”  “Yeah I know I’m a Stripping Young Lad but this sucks!”, “Do you have any Metallica??”

Sure, there are gyms out there that understand that Disturbed is NOT the definition of music that makes you want to fight someone of even deadlift the house.  But they’re few and far between.  Also, I’ve come across plenty of playlists on Bodybuilding.com and, while some have come close, I came across a lot of shit.  When I think of real weightlifting music Bring Me The Horizon and Miss May I are clearly, badass bands to train to.  Right?  Right?  Excuse me while I puke out my flank steak dinner and my creatine powder.

So here are my ten picks, in no particular order, for heavy-as-fuck, balls to the wall, rage fueling, gym music.

  1. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us, 2016ywnboou

I’m starting with this one because I need to get something off my chest real quick: I’m so fucking mad at these guys!  Just as this album is getting more critical acclaim and attention than any other album sounding remotely like this the band, without warning, goes on hiatus?!?!  What the fuck is this shit??  And why now???  Did Todd Jones decide he couldn’t handle the sudden popularity??  Did it go against his hardcore ethos??  Good thing I never went to This Is Hardcore in the beginning of the month because I would’ve been really pissed off!

Now that that’s out of the way…this is most likely my album of the year.  In just over twenty-one minutes, this album is literally all killer no filler…at all.  This is just straight up RAGE from start to finish.  The production is rough, the vocals are ridden with the type of slobbering anger that says Todd Jones wants to hurt you so bad.  This is true Meathead music.  It’s totally amped up my workouts since it came out two months ago and will most likely continue to do so.

Key Tracks: You Will Never Be One Of Us, Savage Intolerance, Parasite, They Come Crawling Back

2. Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill, 1996 tgstk

Yeah…this one…not Cowboys, not Vulgar…this one.  Why?  Listen to the opening seconds of the title track alone.  That’s why.  The Great Southern Trendkill is literally the most violent and intense Pantera release in their entire recording career.  It just wreaks of every negative emotion you DIDN’T expect from Pantera.  I guess it kind of, sort of, also helps that Phil Anselmo was secretly doing heroin during this time.  That shit always brings down the mood!  Featuring the late Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt on backing screams on certain tracks.

Key Tracks: The Great Southern Trendkill, War Nerve, Suicide Note Pt.2, Sandblasted Skin

3. Strapping Young Lad – Alien, 2005

alien

Ever wanted to hear what a bipolar person sounds like when they stop taking their meds just to make their most intense album ever?  Here’s your chance!  But it ain’t pretty.  Which is why I love it!  Devin Townsend knew that Strapping’s 2003 comeback record was clearly stale, minus two tracks.  So what did he do?  He risked his mental health and let the crazies out to play on more time.  I cannot listen to this record when I am driving because there were many times when this record came out that I went into massive road rage, probably came close to INTENTIONALLY running over people and driving into a wall.

Key tracks: Skeksis, Shitstorm, Love?, We Ride

4. Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor, 2005

tge

Without question the heaviest album Nevermore ever did.  I don’t know if it was because of the permanent addition of Steve Smyth as a second guitarist, but whatever it was, it worked.  Usually known for a more diverse musical formula on previous albums, much of that is non-existent here.  Like…compared to the albums before it or after…This Godless Endeavor is musically pitch black.  I can totally see myself bench pressing to Jeff Loomis and Steve Smyth’s dueling leads on “Psalm Of Lydia”.

Key Tracks: Born, My Acid Words, Bittersweet Feast, Psalm Of Lydia

5 and 6.  Crowbar – Crowbar, 1993/Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form, 2001

Crowbar

I decided I had to put in two albums here.  Crowbar are the ultimate go-to band for intense weight training.  It’s unforgivingly brutal, fast enough, slow enough, sludgy enough and add Kirk Windstein’s increasing raspy vocals on being down and out and all I want to do is eat lots of food and deadlift.

Speaking of food, on their Phil Anselmo-produced, self titled album is a song called “Existence Is Punishment”.  If you ever watched Beavis and Butthead in the 90’s you probably saw them making fun of that song’s video, leaving Beavis to basically say that the band makes you want to eat and get fat.  Oh..and that they’re always taking a dump.  Also featured here the most badass cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” that you’ll ever here.

Key Tracks: “High Rate Extinction”, “Existence is Punishment”, “All I Had (I Gave)”, “No Quarter” (Led Zeppelin)

seiipf

Probably the fattest, sludgiest and – believe it or not – most groundbreaking album or their career.  Featuring future Goatwhore guitarist Sammy Duet, Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form truly lived up to it’s name.  But not just because it’s heavy, or you might as well consider every heavy album to be groundbreaking.  But because the songwriting here is so thought out.  Everything was perfectly arranged.  “The Lasting Dose”, the album’s most popular track – and the one where the moshpits always reach new heights – probably wouldn’t sound as amazing it does if it wasn’t well written.  This one always has me banging my head while training – I could give two shits if anyone’s looking at me.

Key Tracks: The Lasting Does, To Build A Mountain, Failure To Delay Gratification, Empty Room

7. Behemoth – The Satanist, 2014

behemoth-the-satanist-artwork

First off: Nergal is GOD.  I knew I loved Behemoth they day I heard their 2004 album, Demigod, in my college radio station, where I found myself playing it to death for a while.  It was the perfect mix of death metal with black metal themed lyrics, a new style the band were experimenting with.

But here, literally a decade later, the band is beginning to change.  Oh yeah, the brutality of their previous albums is still here, but the music itself feels fresh, much looser, much more off the cuff.  I remember hearing Nergal screaming with passion on the track “Messe Noire:: “I believe in SATAN!!!!”, me yelling to my car stereo with excitement “Oh yes you do!!!”.

Key Tracks: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Messe Noire, Amen, O Father, O Satan, O Sun

8. Meshuggah – obZen, 2008

obZen

This was band’s second album using eight string guitars, but after 2005’s weird, and heavily drum sampled Catch 33, the heaviest band to ever come out of Sweden were back with fury.  Back when everyone and their mother was still on Myspace, I heard “Bleed” on the band’s music player…and nearly fell off my chair.  The slow tempo, mixed with Tomas Haake’s double bass rolls, those bowel inducing, low tuned eight strings locked in just perfectly, Jens Kidman’s newly developed screaming…it was as if the band was reborn!  Meshuggah were already one of my top five gym bands but obZen is a modern day Extreme Metal masterpiece.

Key Tracks: Combustion, Electric Red, Bleed, Dancers To A Discordant System

9. Morbid Angel – Domination, 1995

domination

The one album that causes the most drama between fans.  You either love Domination or the thought of it makes your stomach turn, and that even goes for the members of the band.  Between the production style and the change in David Vincent’s lyrical themes and vocal approach, this is either the band’s most brutal album or the biggest pile of shit they ever recorded.  Me?  I fucking love it!  It’s virtually unrelenting, minus “Hatework”, which I could do without.  I personally think the clarity in production makes Trey and Erik’s guitars that much more brutal.

Key Tracks: Dominate, Where The Slime Lives, Eyes To See Ears To Hear, Dawn Of The Angry

10. Black Label Society – Live Alcohol Fueled Brutality + 5, 2001

bls live

Right off the bat, fuck the “plus 5” on the second disc, it doesn’t matter.  I almost didn’t use this album but first off, Zakk Wylde is GOD.  Second, this live album is endlessly loud, violent, and brutal.  This was recorded on that infamous 2ooo tour were Zakk’s famous “grail” Les Paul was stolen, not to be seen again for a good three years.  This is another album I’ll bang my head to and sing out loud in the gym regardless of who’s watching me.  Fuck them, they’re all listening to the shitty dance music playing through the speakers or some watered down “rock” through their earbuds.

Key Tracks: Low Down, Lost My Better Half, Bored To Tears, No More Tears (Ozzy Cover)

Possibly the best Ozzfest lineup ever? Ozzfest live at the Tweeter Center August 26th 2004

So just over a year since my last concert I was invited by my then-bandmates, Chad and Idrees, to go with them to see Ozzfest at the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ on August 26th, 2004.  And if you looked at the main stage line up for this tour alone it’s easy to see why.  Dimmu Borgir (fake, pretentious, symphonic black metal), Superjoint Ritual (Phil Anselmo acting even dumber than the last time I saw him), Black Label Society, Slayer, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath.  Yeah, Judas Priest was THE big deal at the time, with the band announcing the return of Rob Halford on vocals just ten months earlier and following the release of the band’s box set.  The three of us definitely had our musical differences – making me wonder how I didn’t quit them earlier – with me liking a little bit of everything yet leaning towards heavier stuff more and more, Idrees listening to Thrash and ONLY Thrash, and Chad being the Power Metal guy who was practically jerking off every night to all things Iron Maiden and Steve Vai; but who the fuck doesn’t even remotely like Judas Preist??  I’m waiting….

The morning of the show they were supposed to come to my house with Idrees’s dad driving to pick me up.  They were very late and whenever I called either of their cellphones no one picked up and it really irritated me.  When they finally did show up I do remember letting them both have it, although I don’t remember their lame excuse.  Idrees’s dad reminds me of a cross between Nile Rodgers and Isaac Hayes, Niles in the voice department and Isaac in looks, it was pretty funny just hearing him talk.  We arrived in Camden around 1pm due to shitty traffic once we got off the NJ Turnpike; ever been to Camden before?  No?  Ok, ever hear Chris Rock talk about why you should never anywhere that has a Martin Luther King Blvd?  Well, we were on it and we saw why.  Here’s an example of what we drove through to get to this place:

  Image result for camden poverty 

Isn’t this just sexy?  I’d totally live here!

After maybe twenty minutes of my suddenly wishing we took Chris Rock’s advice and ran we finally got to the Tweeter Center, the huge outdoor arena placed in the location of the Armageddon we all apparently missed and right across the water from Philadelphia.  Idress’s really cool dad was going to spend his day at the New Jersey State Aquarium not to far down the road from us and right by the ferry that was bringing in drunken Philly trash for Ozzfest.  But I’ll get back to that later!

The three of us walked in to the horrible sounds of Otep on the second stage, having just missed God Forbid, who I really wanted to see.  They sadly broke up in 2013 but if you’ve never heard of them check out their 2004 album Gone Forever.  So we walked around for a bit, bought beads to throw at girls to have them show us their titties, etc.  We went back to the second stage because I wanted to see Lamb Of God.  They were literally five days away from release of their major label debut on Epic Records, Ashes Of The Wake, following the success of their last album, As The Palaces Burn, and it looked like they totally did a major gear upgrade with there being to big walls of speaker cabinets like only Slayer would do.

Chad and Idrees left me there because they weren’t fans of the band.  I think it was literally just too modern for either of them.  Lesson #1: if you’re only 19 years old – like these two knuckleheads were (I was a year older) – nothing is too modern for you.  Life’s too short to be THAT pretentious over music.  I may have just turned 32 but I still have an open mind!  Lamb Of God were absolutely awesome, playing a good chunk of their material from the last record as well as the first single off the new album, called “Laid To Rest”.  What I didn’t understand was Randy Blythe’s need to curse literally every other word – that’s not an exaggeration – as well as constantly saying he was in “Killadelphia” when we were actually across the water.  Dumbass.

My two dopey friends came back just in time to rescue me from Shitknot (I was a fan of them for a few years but 2004 was the year they broke my heart Godfather Part 2 style) and Hatebreed.  In fact, after LOG there were no others bands I wanted to see on the second stage at all!  So we had lots of time to kill.  While there I bought a BLS shirt that I still have today and the classic Slayer eagle shirt, which mysteriously disappeared on me a few years back.  I’m still pissed about that one, by the way.  While walking we came across a lot of that drunken Philly trash I mentioned before.  I’m talking a bunch of ridiculously sunburnt dudes in Eagles jerseys (the football season had just started) yelling out in unison “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!”….over….and over….and over again.  We also found a good spot at the guard rail on the lawn, where we could throw beads at bitches AND have a pretty good few of all the bands.

After while it was finally time for the main stage acts to go on.  First? Black Label Society.  This was to be my first of seven times seeing them, in fact I can’t make fun of Chad’s fixation on Maiden without stressing that between 2002 and 2008 I wanted to play like Zakk Wylde so bad.  I had other influences, of course, but at that time Zakk was the ONLY one who was that popular while playing that kind of music.  Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul had already risen from the ashes of Pantera, but their current band, Damageplan, was not getting over on the old fans easily.

Right out the gate he was ripping it up on a custom made Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar.  He’s shredded for maybe two minutes before breaking into “Funeral Bell”.  Idrees and I loved it.  Chad?  “Zakk Wylde’s not that great”, he said with this arrogant smirk on his face.  Chances are he was already jaded from listening to technical shred nerds who never left their mother’s basement.  Lesson #2:  It really doesn’t matter how much better one guitar player is than the next.  Zakk himself will even acknowledge that there are players that will bury him.  But what’s more important than having all the technique there is to have is being able to have your playing reach out to more than one niche crowd.  That’s why Zakk passed the audition to play with Ozzy in the first place.  Even Ozzy knew Zakk had already developed a sound that would one day make him recognizable!

Superjoint Ritual were next.  Where Phil Anselmo pretty much told us last year in Brooklyn where he stood in music (as in not with Pantera) he pretty much took that and acted like a dumbass this time around.  First off, their latest album, A Lethal Does Of American Hatred, sucked balls in plain English.  Also, it’s one thing to command your audience to mosh; but when you tell them that they’re pussies if they don’t you’re just a jackass.  The band were still great…so long as the played the music off the first album…but it was weird when Phil ended the band’s set by saying “keep sucking dick!” on the mic before doing his classic shitty rendition of the last words to “Stairway To Heaven” that he’d been doing since the Pantera days.  Drugs are bad, m’kay?

Dimmu Borgir were TRASH.  Bad enough I already don’t like Symphonic Black Metal but Dimmu were and are just awful.  Next? Slayer.  How funny that, as Idrees left us to mosh in the makeshift pit area right behind us, Chad and I both realized that the guardrail was pretty wobbly – yeah, we were fucked and we knew it.  Because as soon as Slayer got on stage all Hell broke loose and we were almost instantly pinned to the guardrail.  That shit hurts!  Of course, once they kicked into “Raining Blood”, the pit had become it’s most violent.  But who really fucking cares?  This is Slayer – and with the classic lineup back together!  Whenever I was able to get a glimpse of the band without getting pummeled I look straight at Jeff Hanneman.  He tore that guitar up better than Kerry King that night….and all the time.

After surviving the moshpit from hell we made sure Idrees came to us so we wouldn’t lose our spots before Priest came on.  At this point on it was more like an arena style concert, because who moshes to Priest or Sabbath anyway?  This was the one band to have a really elaborate stage setup.  Here, look for yourself:

 

I was able to notice on my own that Halford was relying HEAVILY on a teleprompter because he’d go to one place on stage and just stay there for two of three songs before going somewhere else.  Didn’t matter though because he was on fire, proving why he’s the Metal God.  When they played “Breaking The Law” I called up my college radio station’s programming director to bust his balls and left him a voicemail of the band playing the chorus line.  Why was I busting chops?  Well…let’s just say he did just that over a month earlier.

Up last?  Sabbath.  But of course there was a catch.  Before the band were to go on stage Bill Ward came out to announce to everyone that Ozzy was sick and could not play.  BUT, apparently Rob Fucking Halford volunteered to sing so the band wouldn’t have to cancel their performance.  There’s a bootleg floating around of Halford doing the favor for them back in 1992 but I was actually going to hear it??  Needless to say I wasn’t bummed out much longer after hearing that!

Being that someone else was singing, regardless of the fact that it’s a guy that’s STILL amazing at his age, they kept the setlist floating around the just the first three albums.  I’d bet that was just to make it easier on Rob, who surely didn’t have enough time to practice.  But it still was pretty awesome to hear.

 

Idrees’s dad was waiting for us right outside the arena, having stolen banana daiquiri mix from some vendor stand during what I think he said was some kind of police situation…or something.  The show was awesome as a whole.  If I only knew then that I’d NEVER see the classic Sabbath lineup.  But was this THE best Ozzfest lineup ever?  I think the following year’s beat it; but I’ll get to that in the future.

Quick Reminder

Confessions Of An Angry Metalhead is now on Facebook!  So click on this link here

and be sure to like my page because it’s the only way I’ll be able to get my own URL for it.  You’ll also get more status updates and news briefings based on things I normally discuss on here, as well as quicker notifications on new blog postings.

 

The Rock Carnival…And The Biggest Parking Lot Fuckjob Ever.

This past Saturday my girlfriend and I went to Day 2 of the three day Rock Carnival put together by WDHA and WRAT at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, NJ.  I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to go to this because the only bands I’d give a shit about at all were King’s X, Sevendust and especially Black Label Society, hell, Anthrax wouldn’t be playing until the next day and the lineup for that day was shit compared to what we saw the day we went; but Courtenay REALLY wanted to see King’s X and she REALLLYYYYY wanted to see all the food trucks.  So we went.

It was a nice day out, especially with it being the last day of summer.  First off – I call absolute BULLSHIT on having to pay $20 to park on the field for the day.  Second, it looked real nice when we got there; they had a ferris wheel, four stages tents everywhere, a beer garden and of course, food trucks.  But the set up was so fucked up and unorganized.  We felt like we had to go through a fucking maze to go from one stage to another, or from the beer garden back to the one of the two main stages.  Fucking stupid!

The first band that was on when we arrived was this shit emocore band called Bad Case For Big Mouth.  Someone should tell them the they a real bad case of playing some really shitty music.  I also think anyone with whinny vocals should just chop their balls off.  Hell…whoever the first fuckface was who decided it was ok to whine like a bitch should just fucking go and kill himself now – you reading this Morrissey????  So after seeing that shit we ditched their asses immediately to check out the rest of the carnival.

While walking around we saw a tent.  The closer we got I remember seeing that Game Changer Wrestling was on the bill.  The closer we got after that I noticed someone a little too familiar to me.  Yeah…it was Jaka…

Jaka

My little backstory with him is something I’ll get into another time.  The important thing is if I saw him I knew before he even told me that was definitely going to see this guy…

chris dickinson

Chris Dickinson…wrestler turned drummer turned wrestler again.  I actually played guitar in his very first band but that was about eleven years ago now.  Around the time he had gone back to wrestling he and Jaka were feuding but now they’re part of Team Pazuzu and the two of them will actually be wrestling The Steiner Brothers in Manville, NJ on October 16th.  Anyway, I decided to stick around to see Chris wrestle since I hadn’t since I was a ring announcer in a no holds barred match he had against Jaka six years ago.

Here’s the match:

I caught him for a few minutes after the match ended before he and the rest of Team Pazuzu had to drive off to Connecticut for another match that night.  So we walked around a bit more until 5pm when Skid Row were about to go on.  I personally could give two flying fucks about them without Sebastian Bach but Courtenay was curious to see what they sounded like with their brand new singer Tony Harnell, who sadly used to sing for TNT.  New Jersey is the band’s home town so the old school crowd that probably saw them in bars turned up for this shit.  They were not that bad but dude…their singer was in TNT.  Done.  Over.

After they got off they were setting up for Sevendust while methhead led Puddle of Mudd were on the other stage – I’m surprised Wes Scantlin even made it out to the gig without getting arrested again!  Too bad you still sucked ass.  Courtenay, being a towering 5 ft wanted to get as close to the stage as she could before anyone showed up or she knew she wouldn’t be able to see Sevendust, since she could barely see Skid Row; so there we were, standing there, subjecting ourselves to Puddle of Shit until Sevendust were to come on.  The most entertaining part of the wait was the way the crowd cheered as Skid Row’s banner was being brought down.  Puddle of Meth took FOREVER to finished their lame as fuck set.  Of their entire catalog most people only know of one shitty CD and they just dragged it out to death.

Then…a REAL band came on:

Lajon Witherspoon?  Corey Glover on steroids.  The guy is still a BEAST on the mic, one of the best singers of my generation, criminally underrated.  Morgan Rose…I want his drum kit…now.  I lost my way with Sevendust for a long time and it’s not their fault.  Starting with their 1997 debut – which I have on cassette – they were pretty much lumped in with the nu-metal movement, most likely because of their grooves but in reality they thankfully are nothing like that.  Sometime in between songs Lajon decided to talk about how he’ll always be the guy that talks to all the fans and how grateful the band are to us because they’d be doomed without us.  When I hear people say things like that I automatically assume they’re just full of shit.  Or was he?

After Sevendust finished up I immediately took Courtenay by the hand and rushed us to the other main stage to see Black Label Society.  This was going to be the seventh time I saw them and I wasn’t going to miss shit.  Zakk Wylde is GOD.  There was no one else that night that could play worth a shit compared to Zakk Fucking Wylde, not Slash, not the Skid Row guys, not even Ty Tabor – no one.  The band’s set were intense as usual, hell, ever since he got sober the band’s shows have been like religious experiences and this was no exception.

Here are the first two songs:

Considering each band had just fifty minutes to play I found it amusing that Zakk managed to fit a brief solo section into the set. “Now this is just meedly meedly stuff”, said Courtenay.  Me?  It’s the best meedly meedly you can get here.  After we finished watching Zakk pound his chest like Captain Caveman we relaxed a bit before we walked over to the “Birch Hill” stage to see King’s X.  No way we were seeing Stephen Pearcy.  Fuck him.  Fuck him and every single washed up glam rock asshole that was there.  But while hanging around I noticed a tent with a bunch of middle aged metalheads raffling off bass drum heads signed by 80’s thrash bands as well as selling some nice rarities.  Oh shit is the Old Bridge Metal Militia really back from the dead as a result of mid life crisis?  I think so!  But I have to admit, it was nice to see them out.  No, I didn’t talk to them.  I wasn’t even born yet when they were giving Metallica a home when they came to Old Bridge from California.  What was I going to say to them??

IMG_20150919_202941288 IMG_20150919_202916867 IMG_20150919_202156689

They even made an attempt at being slightly relevant by making a webpage.  Aaawwww!  Check them out at http://www.oldbridgemetalmilitia.com

After Ratt’s washed up ex singer finally shut the fuck up we walked to the stage.  That’s when I noticed dUg’s bass cabinets and had a real bad Beavis and butthead moment:

IMG_20150919_211237651

Huh huh, hey Beavis, look at the letters on his amps, huh huh.

This was going to be my first time seeing King’s X, what an honor…just too bad Eddie Trunk had to announce them on stage.  Ok we get it, you were there for everything that happened…a million years ago.  I used to love listening to him but he caters way too much to his age group.  The band came on…dUg Pinnick looks really good with a goatee, makes him look a lot younger than 65…it’s good to see Jerry Gaskill still doing this after enduring two heart attacks and the loss of his home to Hurricane Sandy.  Ty Tabor is an incredible guitarist and he showed his ability to keep up with dUg and Jerry during some long jams.

As I was filming their set Courtenay pointed out to me the back of someone’s dreadlocked head.  “Lordy lordy!!!” he yelled out with a big excited smile as he was talking with other people during the show.  It was Lajon Witherspoon; I thought he was just bragging for the sake of image when he spoke about his love for the fans and not being afraid to go out to the crowd but there he was in the flesh.  In fact he was standing right next to me at one point and when I said the band were amazing he talked to me about them.  Wow.  After King’s X ended their AMAZING set I approached Lajon, told him I’d be honored to take a picture with him and Courtenay.  “Let’s do it!” was his immediate response.  Amazing guy, very down to earth, more people should be like Lajon Witherspoon.

IMG_20150919_215338669

Then there’s that parking lot bullshit.  We tried to leave after our selfie with Lajon but it wasn’t happening.  In fact there was a line that just didn’t move.  At one point Courtenay just parked her car all over again to save gas because we were going nowhere.  People were increasingly enraged, drunk, both.  So I walked to the nearest parking lot attendant and asked him what the fuck was happening.  “None of this would be happening if the police just listened to us.” was his answer so I realized that the police were directing traffic JUST one way.  This was absolutely disgraceful.  It was over two hours before we finally got the fuck out of there.  Hell, my friend Maureen from Brooklyn said fuck it and took car service back to her hotel and left her car in the lot just to avoid the bullshit.  I also know there were a lot of complaints the next day and I also know that I’m not going back until WDHA and the Clark Police Department figured out how to safely organize and run an event like this.

The show was nice…just really fucking disorganized from start to finish.

…if I owned my own gym…

I’ve have thoughts about trying to open my own gym for the past four years now.  Not only would I be my own boss but I could do what I want with it, which obviously includes dictating the entire vibe of the place.  Who would my gym cater to?  How would I design it?  What equipment would I bring in?  And of course there’s also the music. I love hardcore gyms like the ones I’ve seen in articles and on youtube.  They cater to serious trainers, bodybuilders, powerlifters, you name it they are serious trainers.  I’d love to go to a place like Metroflex in Arlington, TX, with those SICK designs all over the walls, music blasting through the speakers and dudes likes Branch Warren training their asses off; a place like Pumping Iron not too far from me.  THAT place is Grunt City!  The first time I walked in there they grunted and screamed so loud they were cutting through the music!  These people were cutting through two big, 80’s era life size speakers! I train at a newly christened Powerhouse Gym.  The owner bought Atlas Gym from the original owner and is looking to renovate the entire building.  Thankfully, Mike, the new owner likes to play lots of rock music and some metal.  But of course he’s not going to play the good shit all the time.  I’ve already heard shit bands like Shinedown, Trapt, Limp Bizkit, Guns N Roses.  Yeah I included Guns on that list – overrated and pretentious as fuck if you ask me! But Mike does let us put our phones/mp3 players into the stereo system – just ask the guy who’s always playing his Eminem mix every Thursday night!  So one day I asked him if I could plug in my Spotify gym mix and he let me.  I need the heaviest music I can think of to amp me up, especially when I’m squatting and deadlifting on the same day.  This is my initial gym playlist called simply Gym Music:

  • Nevermore -Born
  • Meshuggah – Combustion
  • Crowbar – The Lasting Dose
  • Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill
  • Morbid Angel – God of Emptiness
  • Black Label Society – Black Sunday
  • Strapping Young Lad – Shitstorm
  • Crowbar – All I Had (I Gave)
  • Pantera – Use My Third Arm
  • Slayer – War Ensemble
  • Meshuggah – Future Breed Machine
  • Nevermore – My Acid Words
  • Strapping Young Lad – Oh My Fucking God
  • Meshuggah – New Millenium Cyanide Christ

Pretty heavy, right?  And I know a few guys in the gym that are metalheads but man, not even THEY could handle my shit.  Within a few songs dudes were bitching to me that what they were hearing is “garbage”, “dude you have any Metallica?”, “Why don’t you make a playlist where you mix it up so everyone could enjoy it?”.  Are you people fuckin’ pussies??  This is lifting music!  It’s not supposed to be Master of Puppets; hell, everything on this list fuckin’ buries ‘Puppets six feet under in terms of intensity! The best was when the music ended Eric, one of those metalheads, quietly said “Thank god it’s over!”.  Eric…I heard you buddy.  But that’s not even my problem.  Whenever I go to the gym a lot of what I hear is SHIT in plain English, but I don’t say a word because what right do I have?  Therefore, what right do they have to bitch about my music?  If you don’t like what you hear there’s a thing called HEADPHONES you pussies.  Man, if I had my own gym the music would be loud and heavy as fuck all the time.  And yeah, I’d probably scare a lot of people away…an exercise in weeding out the weak. Also… RIP AJ Pero 1958 – 2015