#1018: MOMENT OF METAL #199

Q #2,014: MOMENT OF METAL #199 – watch it here!

A.

That song is ‘Downfall,’ which appears on the ninth Exodus studio album, 2010’s ‘Exhibit B: The Human Condition.’ Its prequel was ‘The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A,’ the first Exodus albums to not feature a lineup change since ‘Fabulous Disaster’ in 1989.

The album cover (below) is a take on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” sketch, and is meant to represent “man and his affinity for bloodshed, ignorance, and all-around ability to be led like sheep to the slaughter.”

Exodus

The concept of the human condition is the underlying sense of morality and purpose within life as we know it. Most every religion seeks to explain the human condition, usually as a means to establish a sense of purpose and justice amidst the chaos and conflict. Many great minds have tackled the subject, from Plato’s ‘Republic,’ to Rene Descartes launching a more modern day philosophy stating “I think, therefore I am,” declaring the mind as a faculty of reason.

Guitarist and driving force Gary Holt writes the band’s lyrics, and should be considered a modern day existentialist himself, as he attempts to tackle the reasons for such atrocities in the world that he sees as absurd. The song ‘Downfall’ in particular, tackles the fall of governments through criminal economic recession, and warfare, as is the “human condition.”

The video for ‘Downfall‘ (above) was directed by Jon Schnepp, who had previously directed the video ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pvw6QEbaW60&mc_cid=2684894ee0&mc_eid=6d556098c2’ off their previous album, and is also known for his work on ‘Metalocalypse’ on Adult Swim. In the video, vocalist Rob Dukes is wearing a “Venture Brothers” shirt, another Adult Swim show directed by Schnepp.

Gary Holt puts the whole world on trial in the video for ‘Downfall,’ and presents the court with Exhibits A & B, to be entered as evidence that even amidst a world gone mad, Exodus will always be some of the heaviest philosophy you can sink your teeth into.

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#1002: Which Cannibal Corpse album turned 20 years this year?

Q #1,998: Which Cannibal Corpse album turned 20 years old this year?

A.

The fifth Cannibal Corpse studio album ‘Vile’ turned 20 earlier this year, which coincidentally means a joint 20th celebration with vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher in the lineup. Originally titled ‘Created to Kill,’ Cannibal Corpse started recording the album with founding vocalist Chris Barnes before parting ways while in the studio. Corpsegrinder left Monstrosity to join up with ‘Corpse, and re-tracked all the vocals for the record. Monstrosity managed to release ‘Millenium’ in 1996, just mere months after the release of ‘Vile.’ Both albums were recorded at the legendary Morrisound Studios in Tampa, FL, and both were produced by Scott Burns. Burns has produced death metal’s royalty, including (but certainly not limited to) Death’s legendary ‘Human’ release.

The success of this particular Cannibal Corpse record might not have had a massive surging effect on Monstrosity’s release months later, but it got guitarist Pat O’Brien to join as a touring guitarist from 1996 to 1997, and he eventually replace guitarist Rob Barrett, who left after the release of ‘Vile.’ Barret would rejoin the band in 2005, after the departure of founding guitarist Jack Owen. Owen went on to join Deicide, while Barrett would return to join forces with who was originally his replacement.

It’s always a bold move for a band to move on with a different vocalist, and this was no exception. To have recorded an entire album with your founding vocalist, only to bring in a replacement once the majority of the work has been done speaks to the distance between the band and Barnes at the time. They seem to have mutually stated that they had grown apart, and that the band wanted to move forward instead of living in the past with Barnes.

Listening to ‘Vile’ 20 years after its release, it most definitely sounds like the work of a complete band. This was a very convincing effort by a band that believed that they had boundless potential, with a desire to keep pushing forward. Two decades later (and over 2 million albums sold worldwide), these guys are still reinventing ways to implement their brand of devastation.

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#995: 2011’s ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ is the 8th studio album by what band?

Q #1,991: #995: 2011’s ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ is the 8th studio album by what band?

A.

Morbid Angel’s ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ is the band’s 8th studio album, and the first to see the return of legendary frontman David Vincent. Even though Vincent rejoined the band in 2004, no new Morbid material would surface for seven more years.

Having left after their 1995 release, ‘Domination,’ fans were most certainly hoping for a return to form. While being a band that’s more or less continued to reinvent itself from album to album, Morbid Angel definitely strayed from that path a bit more than expected, and ended up shocking listeners in ways they would never have conjured in their nightmares. I’m not huge into reviews, and perhaps that’s a result of being on the other end of them for years at this point, but the overall response was less than positive. The band incorporated more industrial elements, which shouldn’t be as much of a shock considering David Vincent’s post-departure band was the industrial metal outfit Genitorturers. It’s worth noting that this is his wife’s band, and that in an alternate Spinal Tap universe, David Vincent could have brought his wife into Morbid Angel to indulge in all of their industrial tendencies.

Still, the inclusion of such elements on a Morbid Angel album went over about as well as you could expect from the purists. I’d venture to say that after nearly 20 years, you probably shouldn’t expect a replicant album from a band that established itself by evolving and setting the bar for all those that would dare to follow. Even the return of Carcass with ‘Surgical Steel’ wasn’t met entirely with parades and praise, though I’m sure more than a few Morbid Angel fans would’ve preferred a sequel to one of their favorite albums… even if they would’ve still hated it.

Another potential mishap on the side of “hype,” is that longtime Morbid Angel drummer Pete ‘The Feet’ Sandoval was unable to complete ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ due to back injuries. His replacement, and subsequently the only other drummer to appear on a Morbid release, was Tim Yeung. From Hate Eternal to Decrepit Birth, to Dino Cazares’ Divine Heresy, Yeung is blazingly fast behind the kit. Add his presence to the return of David Vincent, and it’s no big surprise that fans were expecting a different record.

If you are ever trying to keep track of where a Morbid Angel album lands within the band’s discography, all you have to remember our modern alphabet. The first letter of every album follows in order of release, starting with ‘Altars of Madness,’ ‘Blessed are the Sick,’ and the list continues. The wild card is the live album, ‘Entangled in Chaos,’ otherwise the studio albums jump from ‘Domination’ to ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh,’ which really drives home the letter F.

All of this is just asking to be parodied on a death metal themed Sesame Street. And with that, here is Bert and Ernie’s drum audition for Morbid Angel. I heard they didn’t get the gig because the band didn’t want to go the Slipknot route employing multiple drummers.

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#985: MOMENT OF METAL #193 😃

Q #1,982: MOMENT OF METAL #193 – watch my video here for the clue!

A.

Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ is perhaps one of the most historically revered metal albums ever to be released. Having been certified 6X Platinum by the RIAA in the United States (and their first Gold record), their third studio album has continually received similar accolades around the world. Sadly, it’s the last studio album with bassist Cliff Burton, who passed away on September 27th, 1986 while the band was traveling in Sweden while touring in support of this album.

The album was recorded with producer Flemming Rasmussen at Sweet Silence Studios in Denmark. Metallica wanted to up their production game, and take their songs to another level after their previous two successful albums. They entered the studio with much of the album completed in high grade demo form, and only did minimal arrangement work to the songs in the studio. Despite taking longer than expected to complete the recording, the band was not hung up on writing, just the execution of the material.

For an album that has become so important to influence and shape generations of metal musicians and fans alike, not everyone was as keen on the release when it came out in 1986. Yes, it seems that purists were a thing before that giant megaphone called the Internet! Spin Magazine tipped their hat to the band’s production and experimentation, but ultimately felt it was a disappointment. There is no truth, however, to the rumor that that particular reviewer is now on a bowling team with the visionary who said the Beatles would never amount to anything, or the folks who said the iPod would flop.

Aside from the millions of records sold, and the inclusion on a massive amount of “Best of” lists, the United States Library of Congress recently added the album to be preserved in its National Recording Registry. Less than 500 albums have ever been included, and Metallica is the very first of any metal-leaning acts.

The focus of today’s Moment Of Metal was the song ‘Disposable Heroes,’ which opened Side B of the album and punches you right in the face. The opening riffs compounded by some thunderous drums, really stand out on an album full of greatest hits material. The sound of the track really captures the essence of the vocal passages, where the two seem to really gel and help create more of a sonic landscape as opposed to music juxtaposed to lyrics.

At some point over the years I remember hearing that a bridge section of ‘Disposable Heroes’ was removed and ended up being used in ‘Battery.’ Maybe I heard this at the same conspiracy theorist convention where Dave Mustaine previously laid claim to parts of ‘Leper Messiah.’

There was even a conversation between Lars Ulrich and Rush legend Geddy Lee about working together, before the release of ‘Master of Puppets.’ So there is an astronomical butterfly effect – would ‘Master of Puppets’ have tanked with Lee at the helm? Would the band’s already progressive tendencies on the record have been overly indulged, or mastered? Could Geddy Lee have been to Metallica what Steven Wilson was to Opeth on ‘Blackwater Park?’

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#982: MOMENT OF METAL 192 (WITH VIDEO!)

Q #1,979: MOMENT OF METAL #192 (watch my newest video here!)

A.

‘Believe In Nothing’ was Nevermore’s lead single off of their catalytic fourth studio album ‘Dead Heart in a Dead World.’ Produced by the legendary producer of all things metal, Andy Sneap (Arch Enemy, Megadeth, Annihilator, Testament) helped to capture the sonic fingerprint of the first Nevermore album to feature the use of seven string guitars. Included on the album is a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence,’ which enters a musical “celebrity death match” versues the newly released Disturbed effort. I have yet to hear back from Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel’s respective camps to get their final say on which is the superior version.

Speaking of covers, ‘Believe In Nothing’ was covered by two separate bands in the same year; both Gus G’s Firewind and All That Remains covered the track in 2008. I’m inclined to think that Firewind wins the death match on this one, for a few reasons; the two driving forces of this song are the uniquely dark and melodic vocal lines of Nevermore’s Warrel Dane, and the powerful guitar melodies found in Jeff Loomis’s lead lines and guitar solos. While both Firewind and All That Remains seem to easily tackle the musical instrumentation, Firewind seemed to combine that Dane-esque vibe within their own style.

Also, it is greatly worth noting that this style of guitar work could be very easily mistaken for Arch Enemy’s Mike Amott. The wah-pedal sing-songy lead style counter balancing the vocal is something that Amott really has locked in. Both Gus G (briefly) and Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis (currently) have gone on to do time in Arch Enemy alongside Amott, so while this particular track doesn’t feature anything too techincal on this side of the seven strings, it is a great Arch Enemy cover waiting to happen. It would be delightfully humorous to see Amott take the lead on this one, with Loomis providing the rhythm backing.

To recap: ‘Dead Heart in a Dead World’ featured a cover, spawned a few other covers, and it set the bar for Nevermore as far as production was concerned in the eyes of the band’s fans. Three years later the band followed up with ‘Enemies of Reality’ in 2003. This was recorded as the band’s contract with Century Media was ending, and negotiations were ongoing. The two sides struggled to reach an agreement to re-sign before the album went into production, and the label cut their budget down to a mere $20,000. Believe it or not, this was seen as unacceptable to the band, with Jeff Loomis saying the budget was “a nothing deal to do a record.”

Andy Sneap was called back to remix the album in 2005. As I have said before in what feels like 278 Skull Toaster emails at this point, the album was plagued in reviews over the production. Warrel Dane said, “I find it really strange that the production on that album got reviewed more than the songs did.” The songs were different, the production was different, and the band felt they weren’t going to play it safe with attempting to recreate ‘Dead Heart.

The follow up to ‘Enemies, and revered as an instant classic, was 2005’s ‘This Godless Endeavor.’ With Sneap back at the helm, many attributed this to the band’s return to form, but it’s certainly not a Dead Heart knock off. The band has always embraced the “progressive” side of writing, and not limiting themselves to one particular blueprint. Would Enemies have been seen as another “instant classic” if Sneap had handled the mix the first time? Should the mix really determine the quality of a song? Personally, most people should stick to worrying about how they mix their drinks!

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