Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rules of Hell

Here's a history lesson for you: When rock and roll first started in the 50s, it was considered "The Devil's Music." Sure, you may have heard this, but it doesn't get publicized that much. If you read up on any rock and roll history books, you'll find that in the early years of rock and roll, even up into the 60s, that white artists would cover black artists material, and usually do better on the charts. See Pat Boone for an example. That is evil in its own way.

So I present to you some of my most favorite evil bands.

Black Sabbath

The kings, in my opinion, of "evil" rock. I actually was exposed to Black Sabbath by my friend, Robert DiNardo, when I was in 8th grade in Germany. Rob was a big Ozzy fan, and he had the Speak of the Devil double-live album which had Ozzy singing all the old Sabbath tunes, except he had Brad Gillis of Night Ranger playing the guitar, and Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot playing bass. Brad was laying down the California version of those Sabbath riffs, and just like California pale ale is more awesome than British pale ale, I always enjoyed Brad's riffs more than the original.

Over the past few years, I've become more and more interested in the stuff Ronnie James Dio did while singing for Black Sabbath. Ozzy was Ozzy, for sure, but Dio's stuff, although very fantasy (Dungeons and Dragons) - oriented, seemed just so much more real to me. In fact, RJD has quite a great bunch of songs with Rainbow, Sabbath, and his own, self-titled band.

Chuck Klosterman wrote a book called Fargo Rock City. His writing is pretty great, although sometimes he delves into more personal stuff (I know, I know...pot kettle black). This book is about his personal discovery of heavy metal, and his justification of heavy metal as a legitimate culture. I actually was able to find Chuck's email and ask him what he thought about Dio. His reply: I did not find him compelling.

I never saw Dio live, but he is somewhat annoying live, what with his, "oh ohhs" and banter while the song is going on. On Live Evil he actually shills the latest Sabbath album, like he's a DJ or something. He's still one of the best metal singers, in my opinion.


I think Black Sabbath and Judas Priest were gateway bands to more heavier stuff. I've probably mentioned ad nauseum how I had the first Metallica album when it came out in 1983. I actually missed a chance to see them open for Twisted Sister when I lived in Germany. This was before TS released "Stay Hungry."

Many of my friends moved on to other bands like Venom, Merciful Fate, and Slayer. Most of these bands freaked me out with their up-front Satanic posturing. Quite honestly, I was scared that my parents would find Slayer albums and prevent me from listening to any heavy metal. Just look at the cover of Hell Awaits. Demons ripping people to pieces as they descend into hell. Pleasant.

Then, during my senior year of high school, Slayer released "Reign in Blood" which would be too much for me to resist. Every single one of these songs is incredible. Here are two of my favorites, "Postmortem" and the title track:


Venom was another of those "satanic" bands, only they weren't very convincing to me. Some of their stuff was even kind of campy. If I'm going to go campy-evil, I'm gonna have to go with the Supersuckers.

I actually got to interview and these guys, and my band opened for them once. I still love these guys. They're really out there doing their own thing, including the release of a country album, that is more "spaghetti-country" than anything. I leave you with the Supersuckers with a bleak message about rock and roll records:


Anonymous said...

You must see Dio live. It's mind blowing how good his live performance is. If you get the chance, try to see Heaven and Hell on their next tour.

Boo said...

A. I love your love for Dio. A special place is carved out in metal heaven for those who love the Dio.

B. Tori Amos covered Reign in Blood, which might have already been mentioned on this site, but is worth mentioning at least once a day.

C. No Megadeth? No Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast? I might say No Anthrax?, but that would just be pigeonholing myself.

Jez said...

Megadeth had some pretty fucked up lyrics with lots of scary devil names or something, if I remember, back in 1987. Overall, though, I thought they were more political than evil.

Iron Maiden did have Number of the Beast, but that was only the title of their one album. They strike me as more of a book, horror film and science fiction band (see "Somewhere in Time" and that Dune song off of "Powerslave") - quite well read comparatively than other metal bands, but still, not necessarily "evil." Piece of Mind is still one of my favorite metal albums.

Quite honestly, I'm ashamed to say I even liked Anthrax. I really don't know what I ever saw in them. They used to be my second favorite band, but their music, and especially their lyrics, did not stand the test of time with me.

I am interested in Tori's version of Reign in Blood. Is it on an album?

Thanks to anon for the recommendation to see Dio. I'll try and make it the next time H&H hit Chicago.

Boo said...

I don't think Tori's version is available on an album; I think I heard it from a live recording of one of her shows.

I agree that you named the top evils of the origins of Metal; I just had to throw some other oldskoo names just to play...

Piece of Mind is great; it still lives in our rotation.

MelodyLane said...

Sabbath live was a lot of fun. I saw them a few years ago.

Slayer remains the most interesting show I have went to.