Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bangin' in Belgium - Shockwave Video Review

NOTE: I wrote up this review initially in 1996 (!) when I rented this vid from Palo Alto's (now MV's) Videoscope. I figured I'd unearth this since it might be of interest to yas.

 Shockwave was a one shot Heavy Metal festival in 1985 put together by the owners of the underground Belgian label, Mausoleum (who used the similar logo as the 1983 horror film). The organizers wanted to film the bands live but ran into a connundrum - this is underground Heavy Metal on small indie labels but we could at least get coverage from the Metal fanzines like Metal Hammer (which was then only available in German), Aardshok - or better yet, Kerrang or Metal Forces. MTV's not going to touch this with a 50 foot pole. So they decided to do it themselves and the results are on. "Shockwave" was also the title of a rather good Beligan band o' Motörbangers called Killer. The cover to Killer's Shockwave" always reminded me of the movie poster of The Keep.

Since many bands were starting to release videos, the label saw it fit to not just focus on one band (and really didn't Mausoleum have 40+ bands signed by mid-1985?!?) and showcase many a metaller from Belgium, Germany, the UK, and 1 act from the USA.

Belgium's Lion's Pride - have a couple of OK but very standard riffs the vocals are in that mid-range of rough but sort of melodic sound like say, Loudness or a early 80's metal version of the guy from Agony Column. A little bland overall but sometimes interesting. I do remember seening their LP in the Record Factory in Dublin, CA sitting on the shelf for close to a year. They even put the damn thing on an end cap - thinking "somebody's GOT to buy this..." This isn't from Shockwave but this is from the same-era.

Polish bangers T.S.A. (T.S.A. stands for "Tajne Stowarzyszenie Abstynentów", which means "Teetotallers Secret Association") are up next. They were the first Polish band to make it outside their counties borders. (Turbo and Wilczy Pająk (aka: Wolf Spider) were only known by a few tape traders. Some goes for Vader who didn't take off 'til 5-6 years later). As of 2010 these guys were still playing shows (or at least some form of them). Their singer looks like Rudy Schenker of the Scorps. On a similar German metal tip, their 2nd tune on the video "Race Machine Hero" is a nice, tight speedy number that sounds right off of Accept's "Restless & Wild". Even rougher vocals than Udo. oh and, never mind the lame drum machine intro/outros.

Alaska's 2 songs are really 2 songs too many. This is the unholy equation of: Bon Jovi + John Waite (the guy mostly know for that P. Diddy sampled on "Missing You") + Tesla = puuuuke! The only "significance" this band had was Mel Galley, Bernie Marsden and Don Airey played in the early, slightly listenable version of Whitesnake. Although, Airey at least played on much better records with Ozzy and Colosseum II. Regardless of their rock resumes this is pure pomp rock hell.

Belgium's own Crossfire laydown a couple of good numbers. The Metallion site puts it aptly: "The band's music is a mix of NWOBHM, Quiet Riot and AC/DC and is nowhere near as thrashy as one would expect...Fans of everything from NWOBHM to boogie metal to Motorhead may find something here, while others may be disappointed by the lack of distinctiveness or creativity." Although supsrisingly they make all of these things work. Also, they had a song called "Killing A Cop" which granted wasn't as threatening as M.D.C. or Ice-T to "the man" but still - Belgian cops were (and probably still are) dicks to metalheads & punks. As Ali "TheMetalion" writes (again from The Metalion). And yes, they have silly mustaches and spandex but at least they did it then when that was pretty normal.  Besides, Mantas' Beligan doppelgänger is on left guitar. (Not sure if which of excellently named 6-stringers this is: Nero Neerinckx or  Rudy Van de Sype). This tune may or may not be from "Shockwaves" but it filled with some raw imagery & a rather rippin' tune'. 

Germany's Faithful Breath make some vague hard rock/sometimes Metal sound with this collision of Raven/Accept and Nazereth. All of this is odd since they started in the early 70's as a prog band! Plus, they all wear furs and the vocalist has a generic but nice viking helmet (Note: real vikings DIDN'T wear horned helmets but still they do look pretty rad if you're in a German metal band in the 80's). This isn't from "Shockwave' but it was a great song from them the exudes tough & true 80's power metal. The visuals are super-discount video but I admire bands when they just do these cheap-ass videos with the intent to just have fun and rock out. Who needs some "conceptual video" like Queensryche when you can kick ass on a viking boat made of Legos on a lake? Even the ever fading color of the video gives it that extra charm. How I love my "discount metal".

McCoy (featuring John McCoy from Gillan and Mammoth) are pretty awful. There's no clip of their footage but when you can imagine how half-assed they are with lyrics like ones here (OK, the riffs in here are good but maaaan!). Often their tempos trudge like a turtle on downers then they throw in dull "bluesy" tempos and there was some "biker mama" type in band that just made it weird and lame.

Next up with "On the Attack" is New York's Blacklace. Maryann Scandiffio's vocals here clumsy sort of like a off the mark Halford. The riffs are OK but the song's overall is a chock-a-block with dull cliches. bit above passable, the riffs are good & tight. Yet the solos and overall structure are pretty generic. Guitarist Carlo Fragnito's Eddie Van Halen-ish hot doggin' on the fretboard is no help either. The next tune this tune's in someway isn't too far from Christian Mistress. Visually there's an excess of stripes, fringe and lace aren't exactly making them standout in Circa: 1984 HM. Although, they do a bit better on the next tune "Call of the Wild" but that's due to their answering the question "What if Krokus circa: Headhunter had a female singer and sorta sounded like a Christian Mistress outtake?"

Lastly and not live at all is Venom's videos for "Witching Hour" and "Bloodlust". These are more like "performance" videos. Especially considering the massive amount of guitar wailing during "Witching Hour" which show Mantas not even holding his guitar! Still, these are 2 pretty potent versions of two of their early 80's classics. If you want to experience these songs in full - go check out the 1996 reunion show at Dynamo or their '85 "Hell At Hammersmith" video.

Endnotes: Zoinks! After writing all this I found someone's done an entire blog for this videotape! Let me introduce you to your new friend, Shockwave Heavy Metal Blogspot

Some old rants against bad music writing

AKA: The Metro’s Fails and Bad!

Flipping through the kitty litter liner alt-weekly Silcon’s Valley Metro in recent weeks has been more than enough to rile my music geek status. Buried among the random articles about random “cool stuff” in the nowheresville ‘burg of Morgan Hill and ads for the ultra lounge pestilence was some music blurbs. Keep in mind the Metro has had a horrible record of supporting good, local music. When Sleep, Neurosis and the Melvins were playing shows they got not next to no coverage. Whereas if one of ex-pro skater Steve Cabellero’s shitty bands had a show at the Cactus Club then there would be at least several paragraphs. (Same went for the equally awful "scene mag" City Revolt). Funny how that one turned out. No one’s ever listed Shovelhead or Soda as an influence.

Some emo-indie nerd in the August 27th-September 2 edition wrote about the upcoming Metal Masters Tour by referencing nothing abot the music. Here’s the blurb in full

“Metal Masters Tour
WHILE THE LEGACY of Judas Priest certainly extends beyond Ron Halford's coming out of the closet, the synthesizing punk rocker known as Atom and His Package immortalized the significance of that event in a song called "Hats off to Halford." "When Rob Halford came out of the closet, it may not have been a big thing," sings Package, "Well, today we're one step closer to hearing the metal dudes sing, 'I wanna be, I wanna be a homosexual.'" Join Judas Priest for their "Metal Masters Tour," which also includes Heaven and Hell, Motorhead and Testament.”

Oh, Halford is gay is old REAL old news but this is still annoying as fuck. “While the legacy...extends beyond coming out of the closet...” then is goes into referencing the not-metal at all 90’s blip on the map, Atom And His Package and even throws in a reference to Sloppy Seconds (by changing the words of their “I Don’t Wanna Be A Homosexual” to “I Wanna”). Oh, yeah never mind Judas Priest helped define Heavy Metal throughout the late 70’s & into the 80’s. Or never mind that they’re playing with Atom’s moment in the indie rock/college radio sun was amusing for a short spell but really does anyone save this Metro writer, go back, listen and talk about how stands the test of time?

Secondly and equally dumb was this jab at Cheap Trick.

“Over the years since Perry's departure, Journey has had a slew of temporary lead singers, but in 2007 the group made headlines for choosing Philippines native Arnel Pineda after guitarist Neal Schon saw videos on YouTube of Pineda performing covers of Journey songs. Pineda's spark onstage has reignited Journey's fire, and the group is performing with more dynamism than fans have seen since the Perry years. Sister act Heart and '80s hair band Cheap Trick open. (CY)"

80s? Hair Band? Seriously? First off all this easily could’ve been fixed with a simple search on AMG, Discogs or even Wikipedia. Cheap Trick’s first album came out in 1977 and they continued making some of the best hard rockin’ power pop of the latter half of that decade. Around 1982 they started sucking with too many “yes men” and guest producers around them (George Martin being one of them).

If anything Cheap Trick’s "hard rock vs. pop" stuff formula worked for them and only was a curory influence on bubble gum/big hair bands of the 80’s. The only one that took maybe a direct influence from C.T. Was probably fellow Illnoisians (Illinoisers?), Enfu Z’ Nuff. ‘The Trick’s music was featured in a variety of movies that have a cult following: Meatballs, Heavy Metal, and the ultra-awesome “Over The Edge”. Lest, we forget that they did the theme song to the otherwise, crappy sitcom, “That 70’s Show” because they were a band from the 70’s! Cheap Trick wasn’t a friggin’ ‘hair band’. Besides, what “80’s hair band” has ever done a theme song to "The Colbert Report" much less had an official day?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Things That Nyogthaeblisz could do at Chaos in Tejas aside from being annoyingly boring

As you may know noisy, shitty sounding Mentors rip off  satanic black metallers, Nygothaeblisz have been dropped off the bill from Chaos in Tejas fest. 

Were I in the booker's place wouldn't have these idiots on the bill in the first place and instead seek out some far better metal bands i.e. Slough Feg or these recent Canadian ragers, Sepulchre. Although...I would have them on if only they could meet the following stipulations: 

10. Must have at least 1 Weird Al cover in their set
9. Admit that Sammy Davis Jr.'s catalog is far more interesting 99.9%* of the bands on their label
8. Develop non-ironic, totally die-hard dedication thread on NWN! Forum to Boy George.
7. Explain what the fuck a Burzum is
6. Band plays their songs only with wooden spoons & kazoos while opening for Neil Hamburger.
5. Change band name to Mothra's Vagina
4. Perform musical version of the label info on Danzig's fave kitty litter brand
3. Band must perform at least one 3 Stooges routine to intro opening song (must be from the Curly-era). 
2. Band must perform in only the following colors: pink, chartreuse, and neon yellow. 
1. Band must admit their name is pronounced "Toto" after every song. 

( * = Sacrofago had a vinyl re-issue on their label, but otherwise...)