#957: Half of the “Big Four” have released albums with what German record label in recent years?

Q #1,954: Half of the “Big Four” have released albums with what German record label in recent years?

A.

Slayer’s ‘Repentless’ was released on September 11th, 2015 through Nuclear Blast Records. The band’s first album with their new label came six years after their previous effort, ‘World Painted Blood.’ Slayer had previously released every album from 1986 to 2009 on American Recordings. Perhaps a new label helps to drive new life into the band, as their first American Recordings release was the legendary ‘Reign in Blood,’ and their Nuclear Blast debut ‘Repentless’ made it all the way to #4 on the Billboard Charts, the band’s highest charting release to date.

Anthrax’s Nuclear Blast debut, ‘For All Kings’ is a partnered release with their original and long time label, Megaforce Records. Anthrax has been through a much more turbulent and inconsistent run with record labels as opposed to their Slayer counterparts, seeing Megaforce and Island Records release all of the Joey Belladonna era albums, 1985’s ‘Spreading the Disease’ through 1990’s ‘Persistence of Time.’ Elektra Records released the inaugural John Bush fronted album ‘Sound of White Noise’ in 1993, which remains the highest charting Anthrax record coming in at #7 on the Billboard charts in the US. Perhaps another instance of “new label heroics,” ‘For All Kings’ became the second highest charting Anthrax release, hitting #9 on the charts.

Nuclear Blast has been making a great amount of waves in the metal world, with many other legendary bands signing to the label in recent years. It was recently announced that Swedish prog metal giants Opeth were signing with Nuclear Blast, as well as Gotherburg legends In Flames. The newest Carcass album was their Nuclear debut with ‘Surgical Steel,’ another legendary act’s return to form. Fear Factory’s newest release, ‘Genexus,’ is another first on the label, and was helmed by renowned A&R legend, Monte Conner.

Conner was the Senior Vice President of A&R at Roadrunner Records, having started working at the label back in 1987. Overseeing some of metal’s most legendary artists via the label, Monte Conner was responsible for bringing many European bands over to the US as well. He left the label in August of 2012, and announced a partnership with Nuclear Blast in the same month. If you look closely you can see a great deal of Monte-era Roadrunner bands making their way over to Nuclear Blast.

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#914: Name the band and song from this 1987 video clip!

Q #1,910: Identify the band and song from this 1987 video clip below!

A.

‘Indians’ appears on the legendary Anthrax album, ‘Among the Living.’ Released in 1987, ‘Among’ is the third Anthrax full-length, and is considered by many fans and critics alike to be their best effort of their early catalog, if not to date. This album undeniably serves as the launching point for Anthrax’s popularity, as it is the first of four straight certified Gold releases for the band. Not too shabby for a band that could be described as the lesser and overlooked of the “Big Four.”

The second studio album to feature vocalist Joey Belladonna, ‘Among the Living’ capitalized on the band’s rising popularity, and brought in the talents of a producer by the name of Eddie Kramer. Kramer is a South African producer and engineer, who has been a part of collaborative efforts with artists including the Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. It’s no mistake that when you mix a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame producer with Anthrax, that you get some of their best and most accomplished work. Still, ‘Among the Living’ wouldn’t be certified Gold until 1990, three years after its release, and a year after their next album, ‘State of Euphoria.’

‘Among the Living’ features a number of lyrical pop culture references, and is accompanied by an album cover that some believe to be directly tied to the lyrical subject matter.

  • The album’s title track focuses on the Stephen King novel ‘The Stand,’ and many believe the character of Randall Flagg to be the character depicted on the album cover. The character also bears a resemblance to the character of Rev. Henry Kane from the film ‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side,’ but there are no known direct lyrical connections to the story in the lyrical content.
  • The track ‘A Skeleton in the Closet’ is also inspired by Stephen King, this time taking its cues from the novella ‘Apt Pupil.’
  • ‘I Am the Law’ is a tribute to the comic book character Judge Dredd, something that guitarist Scott Ian holds very near and dear to his heart. In his liner notes of the greatest hits release, ‘Return of the Killer B’s,’ Ian says, ‘Fuck that lame movie that was made (Judge Dredd). Go back and check out the early Dredd stories from ’86 & ’87 and you’ll feel the true essence of the character.’ If my math on this checks out, then Dredd in ’87 should be on par with Stephen King.

Anthrax dedicated this album to the late Cliff Burton, who was killed while they were on tour with Metallica. Scott Ian talks about that dark moment in metal history on Chris Jericho’s podcast:

“I remember getting off the bus and walking into the lobby and I saw our tour manager and he was talking to some guy … and he said, ‘This is so-and-so, the promoter of the show tonight’ and then he told me. He was like, ‘There was an accident last night. Metallica’s bus crashed and Cliff Burton was killed in the accident. Lars was hurt and everyone else is kind of on their way here now. But Cliff died.'”
Scott Ian, ‘Talk is Jericho’ Podcast Episode #13 (2014, via Loudwire)

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#909: Which Big Four band went on hiatus in 2002 due to injury?

Q #1,905: Which Big Four band went on hiatus in 2002 due to injury?

A.

It was April 3rd, 2002, when business was no longer good for Megadeth. Dave Mustaine announced that he had suffered an injury rendering him unable to play guitar, resulting in his officially dissolving the band. Earlier in the year, Mustaine was hospitalized for the treatment and removal of a kidney stone, which lead to a relapse of this drug addiction due to his receiving pain medication. Because of this, he checked himself into a rehab center. While at rehab, Mustaine fell asleep with his arm over the back of a chair. The result? Radial neuropathy. While that sounds like a b-side to a Carcass album, its colloquial terminology is far less endearing; “Saturday night palsy,” brought Megadeth to its knees, and nearly brought an end to a thrash metal icon.

The particular “Saturday night” brand of Mustaine’s radial neuropathy involves compressing the radial nerve at the spiral groove. The radial nerve extends the length of the arm, and damage can include but is not limited to numbness, and the inability to voluntarily straighten or extend the fingers or thumb. Again, this all sounds like a list of great song titles, but it’s fairly easy to develop this particular brand of guitarists’ nightmare fuel. While it is stated that heavy medication or intoxication can lend itself to the trauma, simply sleeping with your head on your arm can also inflict radial nerve palsy. This is why you don’t go on WebMD while expecting to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Feeling that his career might be over, Mustaine decided that it was better to not leave fans hoping for the best by leaving them with the worst. The most recent album at the time was ‘The World Needs a Hero’ which many outlets described as a Megadeth return to form, and it was also what I consider to be the best Mega line-up next to the classic ‘Rust in Peace’ line-up (with drummer Jimmy DeGrasso and Al Pitrelli, above).

Prior to Mustaine’s injury, Megadeth had seen the departure of drummer Nick Menza, followed shortly by the legendary lead guitarist Marty Friedman. This alone could’ve been seen as a justifiable end to Megadeth by a great many die hard fans. In fact, this lineup is always the go-to suggestion every time Megadeth cycles a member or two. If this had been the end of Megadeth, they would’ve still been going out on a relatively high note. Watch the live DVD ‘Rude Awakening‘ and hopefully you’ll understand.

After a year of physical therapy, electroshock treatment, and a bit of luck, Dave Mustaine strapped on his guitar playing boots and got back in the game. He even took guitar lessons, something that he had never done prior, to speed along recovery. Mustaine began working on a solo record with a phenomenal group of session musicians including former Zappa drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and country music session extraordinaire Jimmie Lee Sloas. Word would eventually make its way back to Megadeth’s European record label EMI, and the solo album became a Megadeth album via contractual fulfillment. Imagine if Megadeth went out without owing anyone any albums, would ‘The System Has Failed’ have been a Dave Mustaine release? Would people have treated it more or less harshly as a result? At the very least, this contractual obligation helped to launch the beginning of a revolving door of Mega members, and another pile of albums.

Would this later set of chapters in the Megadeth story have been better omitted? Could the “Big Four” shows have still happened if Mustaine had never rebooted Megadeth? What if Dave never regained the use of his arm, but continued to sing while bringing in a second guitarist? At least Dave isn’t fronting AC/DC’s remaining rescheduled tour dates, right?

For me, ‘Rude Awakening’ is the last time Megadeth had, “the vibe.” Tweet-fight me (@JohanssonShreds) about it!

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