#832: MOMENT OF METAL No. 162

Q #1,826: FIRST/LAST SONG: ‘Stormwind’ and ‘Dance the Night Away’

A.

‘Drop the Ball’ appears on the 1995 Anthrax album, ‘Stomp 442.’ This would be the second album with new vocalist John Bush, but also the first album without lead guitarist Dan Spitz. It is also the first Anthrax album where the entirety of the music was written by drummer Charlie Benante. When your drummer takes over the entirety of writing duties and your lead guitarist leaves, you are probably going to have a bad time, but this would not be the case for Anthrax.

Not yet officially a member, Spitz guitar tech Paul Crook would play lead guitar on ‘Stomp 442,’ but would eventually fill the position full-time. Aside from producing the follow up album ‘Volume 8: The Threat is Real,’ Crook would eventually leave to join forces with former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach. Years later, he would be asked to join Meat Loaf’s band (Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian is married to Meat Loaf’s daughter, Pearl).

Also playing guitar on Stomp 442, arguably the most notable guitarist on the record, was none other than Pantera axe-slinger Dimebag Darrell. This would be the first of his many appearances on Anthrax records, but he throws down on only two tracks on ‘Stomp 442.’ Another guitarist credited on this album was Mike Tempesta, brother of drumming legend John Tempesta (Exodus, White Zombie, Rob Zombie, Testament, The Cult). Mike was Scott Ian’s guitar tech, received credit on the Anthrax album ‘Persistence of Time,’ played guitar in Powerman 5000 and Scum of the Earth, and was my artist rep when I was with Jackson Guitars.

The cover artwork for Stomp 442 was created by legendary design artist Storm Thorgerson, and was originally supposed to be used by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson for his album ‘Balls to Picasso.’ Apparently, the price tag on the piece was too expensive for Dickinson, and he opted to draw two squares on the wall of a bathroom instead. I’m still trying to work out how Dickinson’s Iron Maiden dividends were insufficient, but Anthrax managed to put the art to good use.

Standard

#828: What King Diamond song made its debut 30 years ago today?

Q #1,823: What King Diamond song made its debut 30 years ago today?

A.

‘Snow Presents for Christmas’ (iTunes) was the debut single from the newly formed King Diamond band after vocalist King Diamond, guitarist Michael Denner, and bassist Timi Hansen departed Mercyful Fate in 1985. The band chose to embrace the King Diamond moniker as it was known from the Mercyful Fate era, carrying over fan base and the business dealings. Despite being a single, ‘No Presents for Christmas’ would be released on many a ‘Diamond release. A fan favorite, the track would appear on the remastered debut album ‘Fatal Portrait,’ the EP ‘The Dark Sides,’ live albums ‘In Concert 1987: Abigail,’ and ‘Deadly Lullabyes,’ as well as the compilations ‘A Dangerous Meeting,’ and ‘The Best of King Diamond.’ Not exactly a lightweight!

As “Snow Presents” ushered in the King Diamond era with a conviction most bands would kill their Grandma to possess, it would also serve as the debut of guitarist legendary Diamond axe shred slinger Andy LaRocque. How do you top a legendary guitar duo of Michael Denner and Hank Sherman in Mercyful Fate? Quite easily, apparently. The debut album ‘Fatal Portrait’ (iTunes) would be the only King Diamond album that featured zero writing credits for Mr. LaRocque.

A limited edition ‘No Presents for Christmas’ 12″ Picture Disc was released for Record Store Day in 2012, as a reissue of the original single that started it all. The song itself features musical interludes from ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,’ ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,’ and ‘White Christmas,’ while giving a shout out to Donald Duck, with Tom and Jerry drinking sherry. So, this Christmas crank some King Diamond and have a drink with Tom and Jerry because remember, “they don’t give a damn!”

Standard

#818: ‘One Shot at Glory’ appears on what Judas Priest album?

Q #1,813: ‘One Shot at Glory’ appears on what Judas Priest album?

A.

Judas Priest’s ‘One Shot at Glory’ appears on their magnum opus, ‘Painkiller.’ This album (released in 1990) is the band’s twelfth release, and the first with drummer Scott Travis (Racer X) from Virginia, the first non-Briton to become a member of Judas Priest. He is said to have set up his drum kit in arena parking lots to try and gain the band’s attention, and would wait for the band to leave the venue so that he could hand them tapes of his playing. Later, this sort of behavior would be called, “The Internet.”

Travis replaced longtime ‘Priest drummer Dave Holland, who left the band after dealing with health issues that were prevalent during the band’s previous album cycle, for ‘Ram It Down.’ Not only was ‘Ram It Down’ initially part of a “less successful” duo of albums along with its predecessor ‘Turbo,’ but it coincided with Holland’s health issues which led to the band using a drum machine rather than replace Holland mid-album.

‘Turbo’ and ‘Ram It Down’ (originally meant to be a double release, veto’d by the label) combined to sell a meager 3,000,000 records, with the former doing most of the heavy lifting. If you’re going to disappoint people, dare I say, this is the way to achieve such a failure.

All of this is extremely relevant, because when you hear Travis’s opening to ‘Painkiller,’ it was a message loud and clear. This album was a statement, that Priest were not “done.” They hadn’t run out of ideas, they hadn’t gone soft, and they could compete with the best of what metal had to offer.

One of the most notable guitar duos in hard rock and metal history, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing really brought their best to the table on this release. Historically, these two were a bit more meticulous, and less wildly flailing with their lead guitar work. Much more deliberate players can often be incorrectly perceived as being less technical, but on this release the two laid down some real scorchers without sacrificing their signature sound or technique.
Judas Priest
The ominous, ballad-esque ‘A Touch of Evil’ is co-written by legendary producer Chris Tsangarides (Anvil, Thin Lizzy, Helloween, Angra, Yngwie, Depeche Mode, Tom Jones), and basically features the last of the synth-era ‘Priest tunes. Multiple songs on ‘Painkiller’ initially featured synth tracks, but ‘Evil’ is the only track from which they were not removed. The album would be nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1990, but would lose to Metallica’s cover of ‘Stone Cold Crazy.’ Thanks, Jethro Tull!

Also of note, ‘Painkiller’ was the final ‘Priest release to feature vocalist Rob Halford until his return in 2005. Tim “Ripper” Owens would eventually be brought on to replace the Metal God, and the band would release two albums with Owens up front; ‘Jugulator’ and ‘Demolition.’ These albums left most fans clutching their copies of the ‘Turbo’ album duo, but they did manage to mildly influence the film ‘Rockstar,’ another Grammy loss to Metallica, and a Rob Halford spin off into some seriously heavy and awesome solo albums, no doubt picking up where ‘Painkiller’ left off.

Standard