#1044: What current Anthrax singer had a role in 1988’s ‘Pledge Night?’

Q #2,040: What current Anthrax singer has a role in 1988’s ‘Pledge Night?’

A.

Current, and formerly former, Anthrax frontman Joey Belladonna makes his film debut in the 1990 indie horror release, ‘Pledge Night.’ Seen briefly in the trailer being submerged into a tub full of acid on a fraternity initiation prank gone awry, Joey’s character Sid is back for revenge in this campy endeavor.

‘Pledge Night’ was marketed as containing music by Anthrax, but it does not appear that any new music was created specifically for the movie. One can likely assume that there was some sort of deal made to package some Anthrax in alongside Belladonna’s agreement to appear. Despite his most excellent portrayal of “the hungry one” on Married With Children (Joey and the rest of the band would later make a television appearance on a 1992 episode of Married With Children entitled, ‘My Dinner With Anthrax’), Joey’s dismissal from the band in 1992 did not see him go onto Jon Bon Jovi levels of acting, as seen in ‘U-571.’

Every Anthrax album released with Joey Belladonna handling vocal duties has had a higher chart position than the previous, with this year’s ‘For All Kings’ reaching the #9 spot. By these projections, it may be a safe bet to put some money down now for an Anthrax #5 album on the next go around.

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#973: The last album the Melvins recorded for a major label was…

Q #1,970: The last album the Melvins recorded for a major label.

A.

The last major label Melvins release was the 1996 album ‘Stag.’ Signing with Atlantic records, after the booming success of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind,’ the band would make their major debut with the 1993 album ‘Houdini,’ with Kurt Cobain landing guitar, production, and mixing credits across the release. ‘Houdini’ landed the band at #29 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, which you would think a fairly positive endeavor for a new signing during this era of the music industry.

The following year the Melvins would release two albums, ‘Prick’ and ‘Stoner Witch.’ At face value this sounds like a very ambitious undertaking, in a very Beatles sort of release schedule. However, ‘Prick’ was supposed to be an experimental spin off of sorts, and was released through the label Amphetamine Reptile, under a mirrored version of the Melvins moniker, SNIVLEM. Releasing this album one year after a major label debut, under a rival label, more or less under the same name just to dodge contractual obligations could not have made the suits over at Atlantic happy. Their major label counterpart to ‘Prick,’ ‘Stoner Witch,’ failed to reach a chart position. Then, the following year the Melvins released the ‘Tora Tora Tora’ EP through X-Mas Records.

Not knowing any details of their contractual workings, I can only speculate on how things went down. That said, it is more than possible that Atlantic was concerned with the band as a brand, and wasn’t keen on subsequent material being released without their consent, regarding maintaining the overall ‘product.’ I say this because by the time the Melvins made it to their third (and ultimately final) major label release with ‘Stag,’ they managed to regain a chart position, hitting the Heatseekers again at #33 in 1996. The album was co-produced by GGGarth (Garth Richardson), who has worked with Nickelback, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Testament, and Chevelle to name a few (I’ve talked about GGGarth before, on his work with Testament’s ‘Low,’ and Chevelle’s ‘Chevelle – Wonder What’s Next‘).

So, with such a well seasoned producer to keep things solid, and a chart position to boot, it’s a wonder as to why this album would result in the band being dropped. It’s likely a three album deal fulfilled, with the contractual acrobatics not sitting well at Atlantic. Melvins mainman Buzz Osborne has also made it no big secret that he is far more into the legacy of punk rock, as opposed to having dreams of arenas. It makes the band’s signing with a major quite the head scratcher in the first place, and doesn’t likely end with the band being disappointed at their release from the label.

All things considered, it was probably still an good career move to capitalize on the popularity of the Seattle / Aberdeen music scene, likely gaining a few new fans and a few extra dollars from the deal. Feel free to tweet me (@JohanssonShreds) if this period of years qualifies as a “sell out” move, weighing on material vs. belief systems. Sure, the band kept up their no frills experimental nature, but that was more on the side releases, and much less notable on the major label efforts.

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#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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#950: Happy 60th Birthday to this iconic Mercyful Fate vocalist!

Q #1,946: Happy 60th Birthday to this iconic Mercyful Fate vocalist!

A.

King Diamond is one of the most iconic and recognizable voices in the metal world, and his first endeavor as a singer in a band was purely circumstantial. Initially a guitarist looking to join a band, he saw an ad for a band (Black Rose) looking for a vocalist and thought he would show up as a singer/guitarist in an attempt to infiltrate the band in order to play guitar. Asked to perform Deep Purple covers, King had never sung a note before in his life. After a few hour long rehearsal and blowing out his voice, he began to learn to control his breathing on his own. Never taking a vocal lesson, everything began to unlock vocally as he moved forward with his performances. His iconic falsetto vocals slowly made an appearance the material in Black Rose. Approached by a fan after a show, King said he was told how great his falsetto parts sounded, and that he should do them more often. He most certainly has.

Releasing seven studio albums with Mercyful Fate, and twelve studio albums with King Diamond, he has served as an influence for generations of musicians. The shock rocker pioneered the heavy metal horror concept album, with ‘Abigail’ in 1987 and has never once looked back. By the time King was doing press tours for Abigail, he had already casually sold over 100,000 albums.

Multiple variants of the King Diamond makeup have been created over the years, but King has never seen a KISS “Unmasked” era. When appearing as an unlockable character on the Guitar Hero video game franchise, the game’s creators did not allow him to don his usual makeup as it contained inverted crosses. King agreed to alter his makeup for the game as long as he was able to design the alternate version. A year ago in July he performed without makeup at a show in Milwaukee per doctor’s orders, but this sort of instance is few and far between.

Speaking of doctor’s orders, after King went under the knife for triple bypass heart surgery in 2010, he was the only patient in the hospital’s history to walk on his own from the intensive care unit to regular care. Perhaps he had a little help from ‘Them.’

King’s persona has been the stuff horror legends are made of for nearly forty years. He has said that while some of the rumors originated from actual events, a great deal of the stories that have gotten back to him simply aren’t true. That being said, he has done his best to keep certain details ambiguous over the course of his career so that it may be left up to the fans’ imaginations. The goal of the over the top stage shows is to assist with the musical experience, not to counteract it. King’s theatrics are to accompany the music in such a way that the listener will have no choice but to conjure the imagery that they have seen accompany the material live.

While the stage show includes some non-threatening props like the use of real human bones as a microphone handle, it can also lead to some potentially hazardous working conditions, as King nearly lost his life during one particular performance. The crew member who would normally handle this casket-based stunt handed off the task to another, who had never handled the materials before. His misfire due to botched timing left King inhaling nothing but fumes, with the added potential of creating a small explosion due to exposure to flames. King said “I kicked for my life,” and finally leapt out yelling “Are you trying to kill me?!” I’m fairly certain that King could’ve performed a live human sacrifice on that particular evening, and nobody would’ve known the difference amidst the show’s normal theatrics.

King Diamond are reportedly working on a new album for a 2017 release, the first ‘comeback’ record since his back and heart surgeries, and the first album since the Grammy Nominated “Give Me Your Soul…Please” back in 2007.

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#942 Destruction has ‘(BLANK) of Confusion’

Q #1,938: Genesis had ‘Land of Confusion,’ but Destruction has ‘_____ of Confusion’

A.

That’d be ‘Days of Confusion’ from their 2001 album, ‘The Antichrist.’

Formed originally under the name Knight of Demon in 1982, German thrashers Destruction are considered to be a part of “The Big Four” of German thrash along with Kreator, Sodom, and Tankard. The early material of three of the four bands (sans Tankard) is even loosely credited with helping to spawn what would eventually become black metal.

It would seem that as Destruction and company refined their sounds into a thrash sound that countless bands would attempt to replicate, what they left behind launched another genre. Not a bad mark to leave on the collective metal scene. Also worth noting is that Destruction and Sodom are both three piece acts; not one US-based “Big Four” band was a trio, nor were many of the other thrash notables like Overkill, Exodus, or Death Angel.

As with most bands, Destruction has endured more than a few lineup changes since the band’s inception. Guitarist Mike Sifringer is the only member of Destruction to remain constant throughout the band’s career. Original bassist and vocalist Marcel Schirmer would appear on the band’s first three albums, which were all released by the label Steamhammer/SPV. Upon his departure from the band, Destruction released their fourth album “Cracked Brain” via Noise Records in 1990, with Poltergeist vocalist Andre Greider handling vocals. This would be his one appearance with Destruction.

The following period in the band’s history is referred to as the “Neo-Destruction” era. Guitarist Mike Sifringer self-financed releases for the Brain Butcher label, and these releases typically strayed from the thrash stylings that fans had come to expect from the band. Two EP’s and one album were released during the Neo era, from 1994 through 1998.

With the return of bassist and vocalist Marcel Shirmer in 1999, the band returned to form and signed to Nuclear Blast. The album ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ was released in 2000, with a quick follow up in 2001 with ‘The Antichrist.’ Both of these releases were produced by Hypocrisy mainman Peter Tagtgren, who seemingly helped get the band back on track. Destruction’s 2003 release ‘Metal Discharge’ would be the band’s last with Nuclear Blast, though Tagtgren would return to assist with the recording of the 2005 release ‘Inventor of Evil,’ released on the AFM label. This album featured a multitude of guest vocalists on the track ‘The Alliance of Hellhoundz,’ including Saxon’s Biff Byford, Doro Pesch, Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath, former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno, and Soilwork’s Bjorn “Speed” Strid.

Destruction returned to Nuclear Blast records in 2011 with their twelfth studio album, ‘Day of Reckoning.’ The band recently released their fourteenth album ‘Under Attack’ in May of 2016, which featured a very similar album cover to their 2001 release ‘The Antichrist.’

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