#1036: This soundtrack goes with what horror movie?

Q #2,032: This soundtrack is from what 1998 horror movie?

A.

The soundtrack belongs to Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, from the 1998 film, ‘Strangeland.’

Written by Snider, the film’s main villain (Captain Howdy, portrayed by Snider) uses the Internet as a means to lure his victims to his home for a party. Once they show up Captain Howdy inflicts torture through body modifications, including – but not limited to – stitching a mouth shut. This particular image – spoiler alert – is the main cover art for the film. As more of a humorous twist, and I suppose to further separate himself from other films of similar interest, ‘A Nightmare on Elm St’s’ own Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund, portrays an activist set out against Snider’s Howdy. The film grossed three quarters of its budget at the box office, and received almost entirely poor reviews.

Musically you get a veritable “Hall of Fame of MTV” in the late 1990s, with Megadeth, Anthrax, and Pantera supplying the old school, with a few unknown (at the time) up and comers like Sevendust, Coal Chamber, Marilyn Manson, and System Of A Down to help round things out. If anything, the film provides a soundtrack that is a greater time capsule to the era than perhaps the movie itself.

While the main character’s overall image and look (a tattooed, body-modded metalhead) might still provide some scares for small town folk across the country, the Internet isn’t as scary as it once was. Now, the real horror is small town folk gathering and gabbing on the Internet. Wow, we’ve come full circle!

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#1025: According to Megadeth’s ‘Sweating Bullets…’

Q #2,021: According to Megadeth’s ‘Sweating Bullets,’ mankind has got to know his what?

A.

Mankind has got to know his limitations!

Coming off of the legendary powerhouse album ‘Rust in Peace,’ Dave Mustaine and company set to embark on something completely different. Megadeth entered the studio in 1992, with the intention of refining their sound to a new level of precision. The result was ‘Countdown to Extinction,’ which transformed Megadeth from a thrashterpiece outfit, into what was arguably the most technically proficient record of all the Big Four records. While Metallica’s ‘Black Album’ is an unprecedented commercial success, ‘Countdown’ showcased a more mid-tempo, shred-driven polished sound that leaned more towards acceptance of perfection, as opposed to fan perceived ‘sell out.’ This record was far from built in a day, and it is said to have be written, torn apart, and re-written multiple times prior to even entering a studio.

Megadeth, along with producer Max Norman, developed a sound almost exclusively to cater to the stylings of guitarist Marty Friedman. Friedman’s virtuosity really shines through, and juxtaposes Mustaine’s more frantic and aggressive lead guitar approach. Make no mistake, the art of the riff is ultimately what drives the album, and Mustaine brought one of his best vocal performances along to really tie the room together. Recorded in Burbank, California during the Rodney King riots, the band was bound to less than favorable studio hours. The city wide 6pm curfew was considered a hindrance to the recording process, but the final product speaks volumes to the effort put in by all parties involved.

The song ‘Sweating Bullets’ is a journey into the mind of mainman Dave Mustaine, and the lyrics most certainly help carry the song, if they aren’t specifically the reason for the song’s immense popularity. A staple of the live set, the minimalist approach of the main verse riff allows for Mustaine to greatly embellish and act out the lyrics of the song, certainly aware of his own limitations whilst having to play some of the most technical rhythm guitar parts coupled with performing vocally. Dave can really get into character with this one, and this is perhaps due to his particularly introspective lyrical subject matter.

Penned while reading a book written by comedian George Carlin, ‘Bullets’ takes you inside the mind of Mustaine, as he says “There’s someone we all confer with; it’s called our conscience. Some people cannot control their other side; it takes them over. Everybody has that psychotic side. Everyone has a thing that will make them snap.” Bassist David Elleffson remarked that the lyrics are “psychotically perfect. Because, as I heard him reading them, it sounded like the inside of a crazed lunatic’s mind, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be.”

Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell would end each tour with a unique tattoo to commemorate the run, and at the end of a jaunt with Megadeth, he approached Mustaine in Amsterdam saying “Dave! Dave! Look, man! Look at my new tattoo — it’s a blacktooth grin! There’s a line I have in a song called ‘Sweating Bullets,’ which goes, “Someday you too will know my pain / And smile its blacktooth grin.” This is also apparently the origin of Pantera’s inventive drink of choice, the “Blacktooth Grin,” a glass full of Jack Daniels with a splash of Coke.

The video for ‘Sweating Bullets’ was directed by Wayne Isham, who has done dozens of videos for some of the biggest hits of the previous 30 years. From Motley Crue, to Skid Row, to Def Leppard, to the Rolling Stones, to Judas Priest, Isham was no stranger to the iconic. And while ‘Symphony of Destruction’ was the first video he directed for the band, ‘Sweating Bullets’ really captured the schizophrenic, dissociative identity disorder of Mustaine battling with himself. Isham interestingly was also directing the Metallica videos off the ‘Black Album’ release during the same period, and would continue to make Megadeth videos through 1994’s ‘Youthanasia.’

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#936: Happy birthday to this guitarist who played for King Diamond, Megadeth, and Testament

Q #1,932: Happy birthday to this guitarist who played for King Diamond, Megadeth and Testament

A.

Canadian guitarist Glen Drover turns 47 today – Happy Birthday, Glen!
Glen Drover (@glendrover555 on Twitter) is most known for his lead guitar work with King Diamond, Megadeth and Testament, despite releasing a large body of work with his original band Eidolon. Glen and his brother Shawn (Act of Defiance, ex-Megadeth) released three Eidolon records prior to Drover landing the King Diamond gig in 1998. Glen would only appear on the studio album ‘House of God’ and would leave the band by 2000. Three more Eidolon albums later and Glen would then become the new lead guitarist in the reincarnated Megadeth in 2004.

Initially this new Megadeth lineup was an entirely different touring lineup from the lineup alongside Dave Mustaine on ‘The System Has Failed,’ and the touring lineup briefly included longtime drummer and fan favorite, Nick Menza who recently passed away last Saturday night at the age of 51. When Menza was deemed an improper fit for the next Megadeth line-up, Drover’s brother Shawn was brought into the fold. Almost fifteen years prior, Mustaine had turned away Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell before the release of ‘Rust in Peace,’ as ‘Dime insisted that his brother Vinnie join the band, too.

Drover would remain in Megadeth through 2008, with his brother Shawn remaining long after his departure, recently departing in 2014. Glen played on one studio album (‘United Abominations’), and appeared on the live ‘That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires’ release. After his departure from Megadeth, Glen Drover also served as a fill in guitarist for Testament’s Alex Skolnick multiple times up until present day.

What an unbelievable group of legendary bands to be a part of in less than a 20 year span. It should go without saying that Drover’s guitar abilities are in the top tier, as he has been tasked with filling in for and replacing some of metal’s most legendary guitarists. During his Megadeth years, he’s had to fill multiple pairs of shoes, including Chris Poland and Marty Friedman. In King Diamond, he had to replace the ridiculously underrated Pete Blakk. This reads like a metal guitar player’s list of dream gigs, but it can also start to slip into nightmare territory fairly quick. Drover recently commented on being tasked with being the new guy in such a prolific band like Megadeth with such a devout following.

“… there was a lot of force of trying to be somebody else to a tee. And I don’t think that’s right, because I think that — like I said — you should try to keep certain pieces intact, certain melodies and certain key points of solos or whatever it is. But everybody’s got their own DNA, and that should be injected. You shouldn’t try to play something note for note… for me, it didn’t take too long to get to the point where it became boring.”
Glen Drover, 2015

Now for me personally, I don’t know how playing for a band like Megadeth cold be boring, when you are tasked with covering some of the intense guitarists the genre has ever seen. Recently former Forbidden guitarist Craig Locicero posted a link to all of Chris Poland’s isolated guitar solo tracks on ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?’ You’ve never heard that record correctly. Never. Listening to those in isolation is a real eye-opener. Nobody has played those Poland leads “note perfect,” and it’s likely no one else will at this point. So if Marty Friedman isn’t playing Chris Poland to a tee, but everyone loves Marty anyway because of the material he was fortunate to be a part of, why are fans so unforgiving with other players? Is it because they’re really in love with the material, and want to listen to the record live instead of seeing someone try to make it a bit of their own?

Earlier I used the term “fill multiple pairs of shoes.” It never struck me until writing that in this email, that guitar players are about as likely to fit another guitarist’s personal style as they are fitting in another guitarist’s actual shoes. Sure, there are some guys out there who can seemingly recreate any number of other players, but do they then also maintain their own style? When listening to ‘House of God,’ a lesser of the King Diamond releases, and something that has remained largely off my own radar while still holding King Diamond as one of my all time favorite bands, I instantly hear Glen playing, just as I can always pick out Andy LaRocque’s playing. Whether it was on Death’s ‘Individual Thought Patterns,’ At The Gates’ ‘Cold,’ or Sylencer’s ‘Afflicted,’ you can hear everything about Andy coming through in his work. There’s something to be said for the ability to carve out your own sonic footprint, especially in the overly saturated Internet age.

Being comfortable in your own shoes and knowing your own limitations and embracing them; that’s what I would argue makes for some of the most interesting guitarists. These guitarists master playing to their own strengths and make it work within the material they either created or were given to contribute to. But I can also understand the fan’s eagerness and – let’s call it what it is – selfishness to demand the utmost respect be paid to their favorite musical soulmates. You don’t want to go see a band play a bunch of songs that become unrecognizable as the night goes on, but there needs to be some sort of room for interpretation, if not simply error. These days when I see anyone make subtle mistakes, I love and appreciate the authentic nature of what’s going on. If someone is putting their whole body into a performance, and you hear some differences, or a flub or two, you know they’re not faking it. They’re not using backing tracks. I’m sure some bands use backing tracks because they couldn’t perform in the studio either, but are some bands feeling too pressured to deliver the note-perfect album like performance that so many seem to long for?

Like anything else, I would argue that moderation is the key to finding the musical middle ground between fan expectation and a band’s musical execution. Drover’s time with King Diamond and Testament didn’t prove to be as harsh. “You know, when I played in bands like King Diamond and Testament, where it was okay to be, like ,’Okay, try to play the solos like they are, but you’re not that guy, so you inject your own personality into that.'” said Glen, “For me, even outside of that, just watching as a fan, I wanna see what the guy has to offer. I don’t wanna see somebody being a complete clone. That’s boring. I can listen to the album at home, man. That’s the way I see it. But not everybody sees it that way. And that’s cool.”

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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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#885: Which of the “Big Four” bands has the fewest founding members on its roster today

Q #1,880: Which of the “Big Four” bands has the fewest founding members on its roster today?

A.

Out of seventeen active members in all four “Big Four” bands today, Scott Ian of Anthrax is the lone original member in his band Anthrax. The two Dave’s (Mustaine and Ellefson) are the two originals in Megadeth, metal’s dynamic duo of Hetfield and Ulrich are still providing “YEAHS,” and questionable snares in Metallica, and Slayer’s Tom Araya and Kerry King are still reigning.

It’s hard to argue this group of bands’ continual impact on the always present state of affairs in the metal world, as they continue to headline tours and festivals around the globe, while continuing to release new material that managing to sell enough to keep the metal train moving along.

Seventeen current members of the “Big Four,” and seven of them are original members. We are all more than well aware of Dave Mustaine being in Metallica prior to Kirk Hammett, and this sort of leads me to a point I’ve seen wildly disputed all over the bowels of the Internet.

What degree of participation does one need to be considered a founding member of a band? Mustaine received writing credits on the first two Metallica records so, yes, he was more a part of the band than not, despite not appearing on the band’s debut record. But if you’re merely a body in the room at the point of inception, no more than a William Murderface attempting to snag credit to material being created around you, what is your true degree of involvement?

Anthrax’s Scott Ian being the sole founding member of Anthrax initially confused me, and if you’ve read any of my emails before, my metal six-degrees-of-separation is usually pretty on point. So after discovering an entire page dedicated to Anthrax members, I was pretty shocked to see that there was such a list beyond the 48 (not really 48) members I could already readily name in Anthrax.

There were four lead vocalists in Anthrax before Neil Turbin showed up on ‘Fistful of Metal?’ Three in the same year? Did these guys really help found a band, or shape the sound of what they would release to the world? I’m not saying that musicians can’t help found a band and help shape its sound, only to depart before an official release. But for me, there has to be some sort of qualifier for people to be given a greater amount of credit than merely “was in three rehearsals, had a pulse, drank some beers.”

A band like Anthrax WASN’T Anthrax until certain members added the fuel to take it to new places. I’m going to go ahead and say that drummer Charlie Benante was integral to the formation of the sound of Anthrax. When they went into the studio to record the debut, the songs weren’t even said to have sounded the same way from the last rehearsal to the first roll of tape.

The band in the studio shaped the band that everyone has come to know, not the list of guys that happened to be there beforehand. Sure the band existed before ‘Fistful of Metal’ was recorded, but Dan Spitz’s lead guitars laid the foundation of the band that everyone knows.

If the list of members doesn’t change so heavily around 1983, maybe the word anthrax remains lowercased and only appears in scientific journals and terror-threat press releases. If Scott Ian and company had changed the name prior to the debut release, would that adjust the founding members even if the material was the same? Does it come down more to who wrote the songs and who played on the albums? If you didn’t write the songs, and didn’t play on the albums, are you more of a member or employee? Maybe employee would’ve been scoffed at in 1983, but it’s 2016 and it’s hard not to see these bands as anything but businesses.

I just saw a “press release” circulating about a former AC/DC singer that thinks his fans and fans of the band would like to see him return during vocalist Brian Johnson’s unfortunate hearing loss situation. My first reaction was, “satire site? Who is this? Am I having a stroke?”

Apparently this guy sang with AC/DC from 1973-1974, but he’s listed as only being a member next to Angus and Malcolm Young. Nobody else was even in the band. Is that even a band? No releases, and no complete lineup, but he gets to say he was in AC/DC? Is that mix sounding thin to anyone else?

What do you loyal Skulltoasters think? Who do you think of when you think of the founding fathers of the Big Four? Is it more about who was technically there first, or who is actually responsible for the first works that launched the band forward to success?

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