Δευτέρα 18 Ιουλίου 2022

Iron Maiden, the legacy of flares, Greek c#unts, rusty metal and the rebel youth.

 written by Andreas Andreou


"Α c#nt with a f#cking flare. I’m gonna sing, you f#cking cocksucker, you Greek c#nt. I’m gonna f#cking sing. F#ck you".


I am a huge fan of The Boys series and the third season that recently ended was awesome. Billy Butcher (portrayed by actor Karl Urban) is a favourite character in the sick and bloody, adult-only TV series, using strong language. The above mentioned quote could be easily one of his, if he was a singer in the show. But he is not, he is just a guy who wants to kill the supes.


That quote though came from Bruce Dickinson in the recent Iron Maiden show at Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece (July 16, 2022). A huge football stadium with thousands of people: Heavy Metal fans, Iron Maiden fans, and people who went there just for "check-in", like thousands more in big shows no matter what the music genre is. I've done it also when Eros Ramazzotti played in Patra, Greece, in 2006. I don't even know more than 5 of his songs, I just happened to be there, and I don't really remember why and how, probably someone invited me or I was just curious? In the recent Iron Maiden show, there were also a few thousand "Eros Ramazzotti" fans, just like me, the "Iron Maiden" fan that happened to be in one of his shows. That's what's happening in huge stadium shows with brand bands and artists, no matter what the music genre is. Name them Iron Maiden, Metallica, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd, Scorpions, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Guns N’ Roses, Adele, The Rolling Stones, whatever. Some people just want to be "there", it's not just a concert, it’s a show for everyone.



So, why did Bruce Dickinson shouted and cursed someone in the Greek audience? There were flares. Lots of them. Just like a few times in open shows, no matter what the music genre is, not only in Greece but everywhere, where the show organizers and their security don't do properly their job, and don't check the visitors and the paying customers. I've been in shows and festivals in Greece, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, and I've seen it sometimes here and there. I’ve been a visitor, a guest with a backstage pass, or I’ve worked in a few of them, so I guess I know it from different views. It’s not like Greece where things are more (let’s say) "loose" but I’ve seen insane things elsewhere too in Europe. They’re not just as "often" as in Greece. However, I know many people from aboard that sometimes like this "looseness" and the trip, and really enjoy local shows and festivals. But that’s another side of the coin.


There's a history with Bruce Dickinson in Greece and we know he doesn't like flares, even if the official Iron Maiden social media posted photos with flares (I guess they look impressive in photos, right?) and you can also see flares in their famous "Fear of the Dark" official live video from Donington Park, even in the same song at the En Vivo! DVD (2012), meaning it can happen anywhere, anytime, even in official Iron Maiden releases, no matter how they try to avoid these images. Sometimes, they’re just there and you can’t hide them all the time. That's not something new, that's not happening only in Greece, it can happen anywhere, where the show organizers and their security don't do properly their job. If security does properly the job, flares won't enter the venue, the arena or the stadium, no matter where it's located in the world. Well, it appears that in Greece the security is not as good as elsewhere or the Greeks have found adventurous ways to hide stuff. 



One day before (July 15, 2022) Judas Priest also performed in another location in Release Athens Festival and during "Painkiller" there were flares everywhere while Rob Halford was singing his heart out, never complained, enjoyed every minute and you could see the look of happiness and accomplishment in his face. He thanked us all and left the stage like a Metal God. If you're far away or watching a video, flares and smoke look really impressive, you can't deny that. If you're close, that could be dangerous, we all know that, too. But we also need to mention that the Release Athens Festival was nearly perfect and no one really complained. You can also find excellent gigs and festivals in Greece, just ask a few of the bands that have been here. Many of them love to be here.


If one will consider the Iron Maiden show as a fiasco (I don't, I was lucky to be in a good spot), you can blame Dickinson, you can blame the guys with the flares, but the most important thing one should blame is the lack of proper security and the organization that allowed everything within the stadium. It is funny to see people that during the economic crisis, managed to gather 80 and 90 EUR to see Iron Maiden, and they blame the kids with the flares ruining their evening. They see the tree but they missed the forest. Most of them couldn’t even see the stage because the ticket they bought didn’t match the position they paid, or the setting wasn’t good, people fainted because they were cramped in half of the stadium on the back while others were relaxed in the front, food and drinks were expensive, and security was there just not to allow people move from their area, and make sure they won’t bring beers from outside in the stadium. However, you could even bring guns within the stadium and no one would check you. But still, "the flares bothered Dickinson blah blah blah, he was right blah blah".


The Iron Maiden show of the Legacy of the Beast Tour 2022 was similar with the previous Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018. The difference is that they didn't perform "The Evil That Men Do", "The Wickerman", "For the Greater Good of God", "Where Eagles Dare" and "2 Minutes to Midnight", adding in their place "Blood Brothers" and three songs from the last studio album, Senjutsu. The 2022 setlist was: Senjutsu, Stratego, The Writing on the Wall, Revelations, Blood Brothers, Sign of the Cross, Flight of Icarus, Fear of the Dark, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden, The Trooper, The Clansman, Run to the Hills, Aces High.


The beginning of the show was impressive even if the opening song that was very well performed doesn't really work as a show opener. However, "The Writing on the Wall" sounded better than the album version something that Maiden have done in the past too, with songs such as "No More Lies". Adrian Smith always had a cooler-than-your-favourite-guitarist stage presence but that day he didn’t really had it, but let me tell you that a cool solo part in a song like "The Writing on the Wall" - even if that song is one of the many non-top Maiden cuts - sounds better than the best songs of many other bands. When the three new songs ended, the "legacy" part took over and we can't really complain about the performance and the sound quality, they're professionals and know what to do, it’s an entertainment company now, while every move on stage is prepared beforehand. A few songs were played slower in favor of both frontman Bruce Dickinson (aged 63) and drummer Nicko McBrain (aged 70) but it didn't really matter because they all delivered and Dickinson is an iconic frontman, one of the greatest ever. One might say that McBrain lost a few drum fills or he just make a couple of songs simpler but I don’t think many people noticed that. The setlist lacked of faster and shorter songs with Maiden choosing a few longer numbers of their huge catalogue but it really worked with the show and the changing of the stage sets. During "Flight of Icarus", one of the highlights of the night, Dickinson appeared with a flamethrower on stage and flares also appeared in the audience. When "Fear of the Dark" followed, the whole stadium was singing and more flares appeared here and there. And when "The Number of the Beast" started, Dickinson also started," What did I see? Α cunt with a fucking flare. I’m gonna sing, you fucking cocksucker, you Greek cunt. I’m gonna fucking sing. Fuck you", leaving the stage for a while and the rest of the band tried to keep going. Of course the song was fucked up, Dickinson wasn't synchronized and kept doing gestures against that "Greek cunt". From that point on, the rest of the show was colder. Songs like "The Trooper" and "Aces High" are Everest-high classics but everything sounded cold, at least where I was standing with my friends. Dickinson kept doing a few gestures against "Greek cunts" during the rest of the set and if you were closer you could understand by the look of his face something that doesn’t fit in his status but all of the band members kept going with professionalism, even if there was a lack of passion on stage during the last songs.


So, "Greek cunt"? Imagine being in an open air festival in Germany or USA, and there is a random British band (not Iron Maiden), the security doesn't do very well the job they're paid for and a few flares will appear from hot-bloodied fans, and then, this random British band starts cursing, "you fucking German cunt", "American fucking cunt, fuck you" and all those offensive words we were using sometimes as teenagers just for the shock value. How would it sound if it wasn't Iron Maiden? Does it make any difference because it is Iron Maiden? I've seen that it does from many fanboys that don't bother but what would happen if there was any kind of riot from Greek fans that would be furious? I’ve seen people throwing bottles on stage because they didn’t like the band, imagine a professional, paying artist, starting cursing you. Can you imagine Maiden playing in Israel and Dickinson yelling "Israeli cunt"?


But there is something more with the "cunt" word and that's another issue most people seem to ignore or don’t know. This is not like "malakas" or "asshole". When it comes from a British, it is one of the most offensive and hateful words in the English language. It is pure hate, besides the strong misogynistic overtone. Words like "fuck" or "fucker" have lost their shock value while the "cunt" word is so hateful, offensive and nearly censored, that people in England who will use it in their business environment can lose their job and can be sued. This is not just an offensive word, this is more. Airbourne supported Maiden that day and singer/guitarist Joel O'Keeffe kept saying "malakas" but no one bothered because this is not about political correctness, this is about pure hate coming from the mouth of Bruce Dickinson.


You know what, anything that I am going to write here, anything negative that a random guy from Athens, Berlin, Chicago, London, wherever, will write about Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and all those legends that shaped the music we're listening to, won't make any difference, won't bother them, we're just dust in the wind that will disappear after a while. Even if we're right. Their impact and history will remain and that's something they achieved but we're also a small, small part of it, with the support over the years, the money we're spending in live shows, the albums and the merchandise. Every time I am seeing Mantas of Venom live, he always mentions on stage that he is there because of us, the fans. Ronnie James Dio was always kind with the fans no matter what could happen below the stage and there are countless more examples. I think that the bands should not forget about it but that’s just my opinion.


A few weeks ago, there was a Greek hip hop artist using the stage name Lex (ΛΕΞ in Greek) where he played a stadium show and gathered 20.000 young people. That show had a cheap ticket of 8 EUR or something, while at the same period there was the show of Manowar that gathered an estimated number of 10.000 people, having of course a much more expensive ticket of 50 EUR. It was then, where another issue came up in the Greek social media comparing the two different music worlds and the audience. That was a wrong comparison since it was two events with a huge ticket price difference and two completely different worlds. That issue though, is not only about Greece but it is worldwide but let's see behind that contrast because it is very important and it is giving many specific answers combined with the Iron Maiden show.

During that contrast between Lex and Manowar, hip hop & rap music with heavy metal, I've read from many Greek metal fans comments like "watch all those young kids and teenagers at the Lex gig - in the heavy metal scene we're just old guys". Those boomers that were complaining about the lack of young people in the metal scene, and compared a Manowar show of an audience mainly 35+ years old with that hip hop event, probably didn't want to notice that in the 20.000 young people event, there were countless flares that turned the night to day. Those old metal fans that justified those kids because they're having fun are the same ones who today are screaming about the "Greek cunt" who brought a flare in a Maiden stadium show of 40.000 people and it bothered Bruce Dickinson. Is this confusion or hypocrisy? Truth to be told, those kids probably don’t give a fuck about you but if you want to complain about the lack of young people in metal live shows, maybe you should just look in the mirror. We’ll go to that later, for now here is a photo of that Lex show and its flaming youth.



Heavy metal has lost the element of danger, the fun, and the reaction against whatever the young people want. The young "Greek cunt" paid 80 and 90 EUR to watch Iron Maiden, a heavy metal band and will headbang, push, yell, enter a mosh pit, do a crowd surfing, even light up a flare in a very rare occasion. Then, the young "Greek cunt" will have an old dude pointing a finger to him because the young kid does his revolution and having fun, just like everyone did a few decades ago when they were below the stage of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, Motörhead and countless more. When shows had passion and it wasn't just dads sitting their ass on a soft chair, a venue corner or the balcony, complain if someone will go so close to them that will feel a touch...


Is it right to light up a flare in a concert show? I wouldn't do it, probably I never did it even when I was young. If someone does it next to me now, I will go to another place and if it bothers me I will let him know it and kindly ask him to stop. If he doesn't stop you never know how it will end. But I have no problem whatever will happen, nicely or badly. That's life.


Is it right for the artist to start cursing someone in the audience about a flare? I don't find it right but I definitely don't want it to affect the show I paid for. Also, the artist should expect a reply because it is always action-reaction. So, if the artist will do it, he should expect that probably it will be worst. That's life.


But never forget that it's not just the millionaire, professional singer and the "Greek cunt". If you want my humble opinion, it's all about the rules set by the organizer / promoter and the security paid to do a specific job. If you're paying a ticket to watch a specific show under certain rules and you don't follow them, it's the security's job to solve the problem. Of course it’s each individual’s responsibility as a human being to behave too but we’re not professional gig attenders and sometimes things can get out of hand. The professionals are on stage and the rest are working for the show (security included), so they should take care of such things.


Also, sometimes we tend to forget that this is heavy metal. We were also kids once and I have strong memories of great shows where I travelled many miles sleepless, I was yelling and screaming, and returned home with bruises. I don't regret, I don't forget, I don't want it to change, even if I am not doing it anymore. That's part of my youth and if it never happened to you, I am sorry, but in my opinion your relationship with Heavy Metal is blurry.


If all those things would bother the young Black Sabbath, the young Venom, the young Metallica, even the young Iron Maiden, we wouldn't be here, you wouldn't be here, you would be a Milli Vanilli fan. 

 





Do you want to know why you don't see many young kids in the heavy metal scene?


Because they're kids, and sometimes kids want to make their brief revolution against normality. You say yes, they say no. You say white, they say black. You say stop, they say fire! This is not bad, this is not a crime and you can't lock them. Unless you want them to be zombies with iPhones stucked in their hands. If Heavy Metal has become completely conservative, younger fans will find somewhere else to do their revolution, as they're doing with the recent example of Lex in Greece. Without promotion and without media, just the word of mouth. Goddamnit, I didn't know this Lex guy one month ago and suddenly he gathered 20.000 young kids in his concert! So there's a huge audience out there pointing the middle finger to dad-rockers and their dinosaur beliefs.


Because many of them can't be related with 60 and 70 year old guys running on a stage holding their breath, and having 40+ year old dudes below the stage pointing the finger to them so they will "behave" like they're in a Frank fuckin' Sinatra nightmare show.


Because many of the 40+ and 50 year old dudes keep saying "there are no good new metal bands". You can't have a new audience if there aren't new metal bands. Young people want to see young musicians too so they can relate to them; their generation. And THERE ARE excellent new metal bands but the boomer with the soft ass will never accept it because he is still living in the past. And as long as we keep saying that heavy metal will die once Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and all those legends will retire, that will happen for them too. And along with those legendary bands, the "old guard of fans" will also die and maybe then, maybe then, a young generation will be free from the boomer bullshit.


Because an "editor" in a magazine, website, whatever, will review a new band of 18-year old kids and see a photo of youngsters dressed up in leather and posing like their idols, playing whatever they want with passion, having a label supporting new blood, and that "editor" just writes whatever it takes just to project himself as a metal omniscient larger than the artists themselves. That is a failure. The boomer attitude that the "old guy" knows better and he can affect everyone's opinion. Bullshit. And that's coming from someone like me, who is 45 years old and works in the music industry.


Because metal music has been an expensive music nowadays. Records are getting expensive, live shows are sky-high expensive and young fans that don't have a work yet, can't keep asking their parents to give them 80 and 90 EUR to see Iron Maiden or 35 EUR to see Accept. They can go only to a few gigs and they can't really buy many albums.


I was not far from a company of high-school kids with flares in the Iron Maiden show. I saw them from distance having the fun of their life, like nothing else mattered. Time seemed to stop for them, they were yelling and smiling. I understand those who were annoyed and they have every right to be annoyed. But that image, for a while, it was a flame that sometimes is missing from life. And from Heavy Metal.


That was intended to be a Facebook post but a few paragraphs were expanded to a bigger feature of more than 3000 words (I did it again…), so it's added in the blog.

I can understand that a few people will disagree, that's fine and healthy, there's no problem with that. But if you believe that your opposite opinion is the correct one, the truth and the only truth, and everyone else is an idiot, then maybe you deserve a curse in a Bruce Dickinson way. Doesn't look nice, huh?




Edit: Meanwhile, a few days later in Germany...



Κυριακή 29 Μαΐου 2022

Celtic Frost's "Monotheist"... and the end.

Monotheist was released on May 29th in 2006. This is the best reunion album of extreme metal. Let's have a look in the abyss...

written by Andreas Andreou

 



Hellhammer was buried. After the triumph of death, the mysteries of perversity brought Celtic Frost from the demon entrails. Morbid Tales (1984), Emperor's Return (1985) and To Mega Therion (1985) are among the foundations of extreme metal, and Into The Pandemonium (1987) is a genre-breaking record that introduced us widely the term "avant-garde" in metal music. An experimental dark album with undeniable influence.

The overall influence of Celtic Frost was both musical, artistic and visual. Up to that point, the Swiss band was the ultimate ground-breaking metal act. Martin Eric Ain was separated from Celtic Frost during the recordings of To Mega Therion but returned very quickly and even if Tom Gabriel Warrior was the prime composer, Martin was the link that completed the gaze into the abyss with his contributions in lyrics, music and image.

Cold Lake (1988) was one of those disastrous decisions in the change of musical direction, Martin Eric Ain wasn't there and Tom G. Warrior doesn't want to listen to this record again. However, despite most cases in the music industry, Tom has no problem admitting that this album was a failure, a mistake he did misguided and should never happen. Vanity/Nemesis (1990) marks the return of Martin Ain but fans must have felt betrayed and drowned in a cold lake, so after a while, there was silence. During this silence, the impact of Celtic Frost, one of the most original and eccentric bands in metal music, was growing over and over...

After talking again and planning the reunion, it was finally in late 2001 where Tom Gabriel Fischer (Warrior) and Martin Eric Ain began to write music together again, along with Erol Unala on guitar and, from late 2002, drummer Franco Sesa joined them, as equal members. At that point, Tom and Martin wanted to offer an artistic conclusion of what Celtic Frost is. The album was recorded in different studios, starting in 2002 and completed in the end of 2005 under the title: Monotheist.

Monotheist is the true essence of Celtic Frost. This album isn't a simple reunion, this is a return to form that made their legacy stronger. "I am you. Stillborn. Into this state of being numb" are the first words of 'Progeny', the opening track and "I am hatred, seeping blood" are the first words of the second track, 'Ground', both of them starting loud and heavy, with an abyssic tone. Then, you have the third track, 'A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh' followed by 'Drown in Ashes' and all is cold; flesh, too. After diving deeply in the music and lyrics, you start feeling a misplaced reality of total darkness where there is no hope, where everything ceases to exist and some things seem unavoidable. Not cathartic, just unavoidable.

The following track 'Os Abysmi Vel Daath' is where Ain and Fischer enter the abyss, taking all of us with them in nothingness. There is sorrow, pain and loneliness in this album, a chilling gaze into the abyss, where there was never light, just the reflection of darkness. In 'Obscured' you can feel the loneliness, the empty space and oblivion, while in 'Domain of Decay' the existence is left behind. "There is no God but the one that dies with me", line from the song 'Ain Elohim' might summarize the general idea behind Monotheist. The way Tom G. Fischer pronounces words like "flesh" and "wrath" is beyond evil and Tom's performance in Monotheist is his best of all the Celtic Frost albums. He is morbid and grotesque, a true artist, not an act. The Triptych part of Monotheist starts with the unspeakable 'Totengott' followed by the 14-minute blasphemy of 'Synagoga Satanae' and completed by 'Winter', the third and final chapter of Celtic Frost's Requiem.

The album's tracklist is:
01. Progeny
02. Ground
03. A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh
04. Drown in Ashes
05. Os Abysmi Vel Daath
06. Obscured
07. Domain of Decay
08. Ain Elohim
09. Totengott
10. Synagoga Satanae     
11. Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale)

but there were two more songs in different editions of the album. 'Incantation Against You' was an additional track in the double vinyl version, and 'Temple of Depression' was a bonus track in the limited digipak CD version. Years later in 2017, 'Temple of Depression' was released as a limited edition shaped vinyl disc. You can see those versions in the picture.
 

 

Monotheist was produced by Celtic Frost, and Peter Tägtgren was employed as co-producer because they wanted the input of someone from the then contemporary scene, while they retained full decision power. Moreover, as mentioned by Fischer, they were unhappy with Tätgren's mix and later mixed the album again themselves in Switzerland. This is the version that was released, even if the album credits we know are slightly different.

Additional contributions to the album include: Simone Vollenweider (vocals) Lisa Middlehauve (vocals), Satyr (vocals), Cornelia Bruggmann (operatic voice), Carla Grundmeier (choir - soprano), Florian Lohmann (choir - tenor), Sebastian Naglatzki (choir - bass), Keno Weber (choir - baritone), Sibylle Hauf (choir - alto), Viola Hauf (choir - alto),  Ravn (backing vocals), Peter Tägtgren (death grunt), Michael Sopunov (French horn), Christoph Littmann (classical & choir arrangement, conductor). In 'Winter': May-Britt Altendorf, Laurent Plettner, Frauke Pohlmann (violin) - Katarzyna Bugala, Sandra Rehle (viola) - Jong Sung Choi (bass) - Dmitry Struchkov, Ya-Hee Yoon (cello).

Few months prior to the release of Monotheist in 2006, Martin Eric Ain, one of the main responsible persons for the visual artistic direction of the album, visited the offices of the label (Century Media) and unfurled full-color printouts of the complete layout, including final artwork for everything (both CD and vinyl) and provided detailed explanations about all symbolism, meaning and importance of what he presented.
 


Photo taken on January 16th of 2006, courtesy of Century Media Records. At that time and after the years of Noise Records with the problems and artistic limitations they had, they knew exactly what they wanted and everything was done under their control. It was the time when Celtic Frost finally presented everything the way it should be. And while there are many people that don't consider Monotheist as the "best" Celtic Frost album, this is definitely the ultimate and absolute Celtic Frost album.

Sometimes, words fail to express the feelings.

There is also something else about Monotheist. And Celtic Frost also. And Tom Gabriel Fischer's core music works too. The greatest pieces of music are not created by viewing the art of music as "mathematics". One can learn to play the guitar or follow vocal lessons but you can't teach someone talent. And you cant' teach someone how to be original. You either have it or not. Anyone can create something, and that's good, but the most unique pieces of music weren't created just by "numbers" or just because someone wanted to follow a specific plan and/or direction and sat down to write music from 9 in the morning to 3 at noon. You can write and perform great music that way and many of our favourite albums were created that way. But the greatest and most original ones will always be the ones created spontaneously. With passion and fire. And not planned to be written at a specific time.

Vangelis (Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou) died on May 17th of 2022 and he is known as one of the greatest musicians born in Greece. His music is spread not only in every corner of the Earth but in space too. Vangelis was self-taught, no one taught him how to write and perform music, he had his own code of creating music, and he believed that music guides the human being and not the opposite. In Vangelis' world of ideas and harmony, one can write a piece of music because one thought about it and how this piece was planned to be. But one can also write music spontaneously, without thinking of it, just like Vangelis did. Music found him, he believed.

Music is all over around us, everywhere in the world we know and understand (and the things we don't) and it's coming to you. In the '70s, some people would call it "jamming" but in reality (whatever reality is in the Theory of Forms) the artist's greatest talent is to be always available for music ideas, at any time. Then, the artist should have the fire needed to light up the creativity and expand the idea. And that's how I view Tom Gabriel Fischer and all true artists.
 

February 2006 - Photograph by Jozo Palkovits


Tom Gabriel Fischer and Martin Eric Ain had a background of sadness and their childhood years weren't easy. They had a vision in music and things they wanted to do but at the same time there were limitations in technical capabilities. But the vision and the talent was there. Both of them started reading books about different aspects of the occult, philosophy and everything else that helped them shape their own beliefs. They started creating their own imagery, symbols and ideas. Music can be found everywhere, even in darkness, nothingness, silence. Stare into the abyss, and the abyss stares back at you.

Monotheist is crushing and intense, a scary and dark album. Every lyric, every line, every note, every symbolism, every detail, everything has its meaning. And those meanings create a larger idea, larger than the album itself, larger than Celtic Frost. Monotheist is a unique experience. Abyss itself.

Flesh has failed. Os abysmi. 



Everything will come to an end.

On April 2, 2008, Tom Gabriel Fischer left Celtic Frost, the band that was his own life's work, the content of his existence. Celtic Frost has always been fraught with adversity from the inception to the end, a confrontational entity that doesn't fit anywhere and Tom is the soul of this entity. Not an act, but the essence and the soul. On June 16th of 2008, there was a statement by Martin Eric Ain & Franco Sesa (who was also Martin's close friend and the voice that disagreed with Tom), mentioning among others: "Tom Gabriel Fischer has left the band, but Celtic Frost is still alive, albeit in a coma of sorts. Franco and I are not going to continue recording or touring as Celtic Frost. This would be preposterous without one of its founding members, the original voice and its defining guitarist. But we are not going to officially disband Celtic Frost."

Tom's reply to Martin is known, since it was posted in his (incredible) blog Delineation II sometime ago, mentioning among others: "I explicitly think it is wrong to give fans cause for hope when there is none. There will be no reunification of Celtic Frost, at least not with me. Just how many times should we reunite and dissolve the band? [...] I cannot imagine reuniting Celtic Frost one more time, not with me and certainly not without me."

In September of 2008, Martin Eric Ain and Tom Gabriel Fischer discussed the situation and agreed that any continuation of Celtic Frost without either one of them would be absonant and decided to lay Celtic Frost to rest, with respect to their ideas and the legacy of this unique band.

It seemed though that Martin Eric Ain was already tired by touring and the "band" life in contrast with his comfortable life. "Martin lives on a different planet to the rest of us", Fischer told Iron Fist magazine, in 2014. "He runs an empire of clubs and bars in Zurich, and we're not talking about metal clubs - he runs the hipster clubs. Martin is a millionaire and that's his world now". But the lives of all those surrounding him, will never be the same without him. Tom's, also.

Tom Gabriel Fischer formed Triptykon.

There wasn't any other sign of Celtic Frost. Martin Eric Ain left the mortal world on October 21st, 2017 by heart attack.

After two triumphant studio albums (Eparistera Daimones 2010, Melana Chasmata 2014), Triptykon released Requiem (Live at Roadburn 2019) including 'Rex Irae (Requiem, Chapter One: Overture)', 'Grave Eternal (Requiem, Chapter Two: Transition)' and 'Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale)'. Celtic Frost's requiem was originally begun in autumn of 1986 and its first part, 'Rex Irae', originally appeared on Into the Pandemonium album. 'Winter' originally appeared on the Monotheist album and Fischer started writing it in 2001. It was supposed that the requiem should be concluded once Celtic Frost recorded the second part but in the end, requiem was presented in its entirety by Triptykon with the Metropole Orkest.

Then, the Triumph of Death walked upon us again.

 


 

Πέμπτη 3 Φεβρουαρίου 2022

February the 3rd, 1990: One rode to Jessheim and the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal.

 One could say that the story of Mayhem is the story of True Norwegian Black Metal even if no one can really imagine how Black Metal would evolve if those "events" wouldn't happen. Still though, no one can really write the complete story of a genre that is more than music until the mid-90s. And since it is "more than music", there are really no rules and guidelines.

Documenting the music, the beliefs, the aesthetic, the people and the events, is something that can't be objectively done, since different people will have a different perspective on different memories and facts, many times distorted by the passing of time. And while the author of this blog tried to write the brief story of Black Metal under the title "The Past is Alive: Gazing into the Void of Black Metal" for Vinylom, which date could be considered as the birth of Norwegian Black Metal? That date is February the 3rd of 1990. Because it has to be a date surrounding Mayhem. And since Deathcrush is not really a "true Norwegian black metal" release, while De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was finally released in a year where many other black metal albums already had emerged from the depths of Hell, we will mark the date that made people witness blood and darkness.

 

Written by Andreas Andreou

 

On February 3rd of 1990, Mayhem performed live in the town of Jessheim, and many people claimed to witness that event, but according to Faust (born Bård Guldvik Eithun) as mentioned in the book(let) that accompanies Mayhem's Cursed in Eternity box set (with 4 live shows of 1990), "Several thousand people have in retrospect claimed to be there, whereas the club only holds around 200 people". But Faust was there. And so did a few other people that in the years that followed were among those who shaped Black Metal. That's how important that specific date was, and also Euronymous' influence upon everyone else. Abbath Doom Occulta (born Olve Eikemo) and Demonaz Doom Occulta (born Harald Nævdal) that were previously in death metal bands like Old Funeral and Amputation formed Immortal. Kristian Vikernes, also of Old Funeral, formed his own black metal entity named Burzum, and Samoth (born Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen) with Ihsahn (born Vegard Sverre Tveitan) of death metallers Thou Shalt Suffer, formed Emperor. Even Darkthrone who released their debut death metal album Soulside Journey in 1991, changed to black metal. And many of those iconic black metal figures were there, on February 3rd of 1990, witnessing the birth of True Norwegian Black Metal.

 

I tried to locate someone who was there, but not really one of those musicians and people that became part of the music industry, just one random person who happened to be there. While studying the history of Mayhem and Black Metal, I randomly noticed that from time to time, different people (like Faust and Necrobutcher) mentioned two Greeks who were there. After a research, I located Evangelos Zaoutsos and he shared his story. I was expecting to hear something completely different but Vaggelis (mentioned just as "Vagge" from now on) was very honest and didn't try to sound as an "important part of the history" just like others would do. But his story during the birth of Norwegian black metal has its charm and reveals another side from a person who was really there.

 

"I had found Øystein Aarseth's address from Metalion's Slayer 'zine", recalls Vagge. "I sent him a letter because I wanted to buy the Deathcrush vinyl, and added US dollars hidden in a silver foil. When I got the record we started corresponding and sending letters to each other". Vagge kept for years most of those letters and a few parts of them will be presented here.

 

It was the era of "tape trading" and Vagge was mostly into noisecore music, while he also had hundreds of letters from many contacts and bands of the late '80s and early '90s, including Paradise Lost and Marduk from their early years. Euronymous also told him that he liked a lot Rotting Christ from Greece, and Mayhem also had a contact with Rotting Christ who would arrange a Mayhem gig in Greece during 1990, but it never happened because of a miscommunication even if Mayhem were already on the road, finally performing in Germany and Turkey. However, the great overthrow in the discussion between Vagge and myself is the real reason why he went to Norway...

"In the summer of 1988, I met in Crete a girl from Norway and kept contact with her through letters" says Vagge, and he also mentioned her to Øystein. Vagg's girlfriend was from Oslo and he had a crush on her. [Note: the author of this blog knows the name, and also saw pictures of her, but we will keep it private]. Vagge told her that once he will save a few money, he will visit her for a week in Oslo. So, he gathered 150000 drachmas and travelled to Norway in a period where this kind of trip wasn't the easiest thing in the world. "That was the real reason for my trip to Norway", says Vagge. "Øystein wanted to help me find the places as soon as I arrived in Oslo to meet her and he would host me for a few days. It wasn't Mayhem the reason I travelled in Norway... It was my love for this woman".

"When we started corresponding in 1988 no one imagined what would happen after 3-4 years", Vagge adds but to his surprise things didn't end as planned. If there was ever a plan. "When I met her, after 4 days, she told me that she can't do anything for me and I should leave her house... so Øystein told me that I can stay at his place as long as I want, and so I did, until all of my money ended, and I returned back home with expenses of the Greek Embassy in Oslo which I paid as soon as I returned to Greece".

That's a memory also mentioned in Jørn "Necrobutcher" Stubberud's book The Death Archives (Mayhem 1984-94) with a different way. As Necrobutcher states, during the first gig with Pelle (February 3rd), large crowds started showing up in the flat and there was also some visitors from Greece, living there. "We couldn't get rid of them", notes Necrobutcher in his book. "After a while we had to go to the Greek Embassy and plead for money to send those guys home". According to Necrobutcher, they just showed up one day.

 

During Vagge's staying in Langhus many things happened, including the Mayhem shows that shaped the Norwegian Black Metal. On February 3r of 1990, Mayhem performed live in Jessheim, and that was the first live show of the line-up of Dead (vocals), Euronymous (guitar), Necrobutcher (bass) and Hellhammer (drums). A few weeks later (February 28th, 1990), Mayhem performed live in Sarpsborg. That was the show known from the notorious bootleg Dawn of the Black Hearts that was first released in 1995 by the Colombian Warmaster Records. That specific gig was part of the "Support for Slayer Magazine" festival, organized by Metalion (Jon Kristiansen) of Slayer 'zine. Adding detail to the story, the owner of Warmaster Records was Bull Metal (born Mauricio Montoya Botero) who was a member of Colombian bands like Agressor, Masacre, Typho, and a friend of Euronymoys. The Dawn of the Black Hearts bootleg is known for the cover that has Dead's body after his suicide, photographed by Euronymous after re-arranging some items. Bull Metal got the photo directly from Euronymous since he introduced him to the Colombian extreme metal scene who already had an important act like Parabellum in the '80s, an influential band for early Mayhem. As for the audio of that gig, it is said that Bull Metal got a VHS from Metalion including the Sarpsborg show. Just like Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin, Botero was found dead in December of 2002, commiting suicide.

 

When Vagge was asked about the first moments he landed in Norway and his meeting with Øystein, he said: "When I arrived, Øystein was waiting for me at the airport. I remember the ice when I entered the new country, we went to a supermarket to get basic stuff and we went to his home. Euronymous drank a lot of Coca-Cola, he was a huge Coca-Cola fan... There were 3 people living in that house, Øystein (Euronymous), Pelle (Dead) and Jan (Hellhammer)... and myself for a while. Before me, there was also a guy from Poland living there for a while but he had left earlier".

 

January 1990
Euronymous at a Mayhem rehearsal (with Coca-Cola bottles behind him).
Photo by Vagge.

 

But what kind of guys were Mayhem in their early 20s? "They were OK", Vagge recalls. "Everyone was in his room, several hours all together, just like you're sitting in your home with friends. Only Pelle was spending many hours alone in his room, the room he shot himself. Øystein was writing letters all the time, he never stopped. There was also a rehearsal where I took a few pictures of them. Years later I sold them to a guy from Japan on eBay". Vagge kept seeing those pictures in various blogs and sites, the photos from that rehearsal that were probably spread all over from Euronymous... or after his death when his stuff was also spread among different individuals. Many people claim "memories" and "I-was-there" or "I-was-talking-to-him" things after Euronymous' death and despite the fact that Euronymous was in contact with countless people, no one will probably understand who was really "there". But that's a thing that happens all the time in life, isn't it? 

Still though, Vagge also met Fenriz, Faust, he was in the studio when Cadaver were recording their debut album Hallucinating Anxiety, he met Mortem and many more, but as he adds, "It happened by luck". He was just there for a woman and Øystein helped him because they were pen pals, talking about different things. They even exchanged letters about communism since Euronymous had specific ideas about it and it was just 2 years later when everything started getting wilder reaching the edge of different and extreme ideas leading to the "events". Some ideas poison people and change them. Some people change, others not. Some people regret, others not. Some people use extreme ideas and images just for the sake of their art, others truly believe them, and always, there is a different context and impact to different periods.

People talk highly about those Mayhem ‘90s shows, their vibe and the electric atmosphere. For people that later were part of bands such as Emperor and Immortal, seeing Mayhem live in 1990, was a life-changing experience. Vagge's memories from the live shows weren't exactly what you would expect to hear. "What I remember from the show is that Pelle cut himself in front of us and I didn't like that... The show was a typical live gig like those you could see in Athens. Loud with mosh. That's what I remember". But that first show, on February 3rd of 1990, can really be considered as the birth of the Norwegian Black Metal, with a sound that others found life-changing, others a chaotic mess, Dead cutting himself, the corpse painting, the blood, and the pig heads on stakes. Mayhem was already a legend in 1990. According to "album release dates", it is often said that Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky (March 1992) is the first true Norwegian black metal album with Burzum's debut album released a few days later, but nothing would happen without those Mayhem shows when people listened for the first time a chaotic live black metal sound of songs like "Funeral Fog", "Freezing Moon" and "Buried by Time and Dust". A sound that was completed by Snorre W. Ruch (using also the stage name Blackthorn) and the Grymyrk tape of his band Thorns that created the Norwegian guitar sound we all know. Grymyrk was actually 6 tracks of guitar and bass only, recorded in 1991 by Snorre and bassist Harald Eilertsen, so the other two members of ex-Stigma Diabolicum, singer Marius Vold and drummer Bård Eithun (Faust) could listen. Euronymous was heavily inspired by that recording and more or less, Blackthorn and Euronymous sat down and created what is known as the tremolo-picking Norwegian black metal riffing style.

 

As noted in the beginning of this article, someone could say that the story of Mayhem is the story of True Norwegian Black Metal and no one can really imagine how Black Metal would evolve if those "events" wouldn't happen. When Vagge was asked about those "events", he said: "I stayed in Norway for 35 days during January and February of 1990. I remember I learned about Dead's suicide by a letter but after that I exchanged just a few letters with Øystein and then we got lost. Around 1992 things started getting wild... When Øystein was killed, I lost my interest in black metal. I never listened completely to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and I sold my copy. I sold my records because I needed money... I know it is not right but I needed that money. I sold my 2 copies of the original Deathcrush pressing for 2000 US dollars each... As for now? I guess I am a wussy and I only listen to pop, synth, industrial, dark electro and bands like Depeche Mode. And always Celtic Frost".

 


 

Left picture: Euronymous' personal Norwegian-English dictionary, sent to Vagge in 1989. Euronymous was willing to learn more from other languages, and also suggested that to other people too.

Right pictures: Pelle's favourite Swedish tobacco. Ηe used to put it on his gums so he would not smoke.


 



Κυριακή 9 Ιανουαρίου 2022

Metal Nerdism Vol. 10: BLOOD & STEEL - 20 EPIC-er METAL songs to make you raise a sword.

It's not the best ones or the greatest ones, even if a few of them are undeniable champions. It is the 20 EPIC-er METAL songs to make you raise a sword (or an axe... or a hammer) according to Crystal Logic. There is just ONE RULE: One song per band. We don't want to present a list with 20 songs written by Quorthon or the Shark.

by Andreas Andreou

 


It is said that there are no specific rules to define Epic Metal and even if the correct term is Epic Heavy Metal, there are still bands, albums and many songs that are simply Epic Metal. A few of them will be found below. So, what's Epic (Heavy) Metal? The number 1 song in the list below sums up everything but it is more. Lyrics are also a part of it. You know them, name it battles, warriors, fantasy, sword & sorcery, mythology (even folklore), historical events, ancient times, mostly things that offer escapism. Epic Metal though has also the deep and academic approach of modern bands such as Atlantean Kodex and their unique lyrical approach that gives to this so-called sub-genre a quality that requests a devotion in order to approach it and understand it. At the end of the day, Epic Metal can be something more than simple "escapism" and it doesn mean of course that you should go out in the streets wielding a sword!

Roots? Many. It is about bands but mainly songs, and also the visual aspect. The roots in the '70s heavy and rock don't have many differences than the ones of Power Metal, so let's just add songs like Rainbow's "Stargazer" and Ronnie James Dio lyrical approach, Black Sabbath's "Supertzar" and the galloping rhythm of "Children of the Grave", Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song", a few more '70s songs of Uriah Heep, Judas Priest, Rush and Scorpions, the imagery of cover arts from bands such as Dust (Hard Attack, 1972) and Molly Hatchet (Molly Hatchet, 1978), and this is just the top of the ice cube, since there were more less known bands here and there. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal leading to the '80s and Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell was the foundation upon which bands like Manilla Road and Manowar shaped part of their characteristics.

The first ones? I guess we all agree that bands such as Manilla Road, Manowar and Warlord can claim the "Epic Heavy Metal" term as the leaders without adding any "proto-metal", "proto-epic", "proto-whatever" this thing is, bands. When was this term firstly used? We will discuss it in the last songs of the list below.

A few diverse and controversial choices are a must sometimes, so the list goes like this:


20. BATTLEROAR - Hyrkanian Blades

For us, old fans of Battleroar the debate for the best album was always Age of Chaos or To Death and Beyond... but I was always with the later since there was one of the greatest epic heavy metal openers ever ("The Wrathforge") and songs like "Hyrkanian Blades". Huge band in the underground epic metal scene back then, but it was never the same after the third album. It was just a different act.

Check also: RAVENSIRE - Drawing the Sword


19. SOLSTICE - To Ride with Tyr

I am always trying to find ways so I can add something from Solstice in every list. This wasn't very difficult this time, so Mr. Rich Walker is here, with this epic (doom) metal masterpiece from Halcyon EP. "We die as brothers, and ride with Tyr".

Check also: ISEN TORR - Mighty & Superior


18. TWISTED TOWER DIRE - Axes & Honor

Taken from the third album of one of the best bands of the true new wave of traditional heavy metal movement that took shape a few years before bands like Enforcer led the way, "Axes & Honor" is a glorious anthemic epic heavy metal song. Grab an axe and held it high!

Check also: CRUSH - Kingdom of the Kings


17. DOMINE - The Aquilonia Suite

That song could be higher in the list but having also the music of Basil Poledouris heavily added it would be unfair for all the rest. Conan the Barbarian is the key element here and Domine more or less offer us their epic heavy metal take on the John Milius' film with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leading role. Perfect from start to finish, the 11-minute epic is a highlight in Domine's impressive catalogue.

Check also: IRONSWORD - Cimmeria


16. CIRITH UNGOL - Nadsokor

"Mighty warrior raise your sword against the seething chaos horde" is the first line and the voice of chaos brings an archaic and mystical aura that only Cirith Ungol had in specific moments of their albums. One Foot in Hell is definitely not the best Ungol album (that one is King of the Dead for all of the older Ungol fans) but "Nadsokor" is one of their epic-er songs that's also has been covered in the debut album of the following band in No.15.

Check also: STONE DAGGER - The Siege of Jerusalem


15. DOOMSWORD - Heathen Assault

DoomSword is one more of the bands that can be labeled simply as "Epic Metal". They have the doom element in their music (and name) but this is just pure epic metal because playing slow metal music doesn't really make you doom metal. "Heathen Assault" sums up the essence of the band. The band's music is forged in tales of steel and battles, the triumph of the conqueror and the blood of the conquered.

Check also: BLOOD COVERED - Memories Through Centuries...


14. WRATHBLADE - God-Defying Typhoeus

Wrathblade is the most underrated epic heavy metal band ever. Everyone, more or less, has taken the credit it deserves but Wrathblade still haven't. Following the band from their early years and having seen them live numerous times (almost everywhere) before even releasing the debut album Into the Netherworld's Realm (2012), I was confident that this album was going to rule. And it did. The opening track "God-Defying Typhoeus" was a live favourite (just like "Reins of Doom") before even the album was released, among the few fanatics of the Athenian legion. A different kind of lyrics, epic but different and unique, the most suitable voice for their epic music, huge riffs and an excellent rhythm section, a lack of guitar solos and keyboards that adds an archaic and barbarian feeling, and the perfect production for their stuff. Wrathblade is the real epic heavy metal deal.

Check also: TALES OF MEDUSA - Bade the Myrmidons


13. ATLANTEAN KODEX - The Atlantean Kodex

There are many songs you can add here from Atlantean Kodex, but this anthemic epic heavy metal track is the hymn of the Kodex battalions and having seen live many times the German epic metal armada, it is also a live favourite. Atlantean Kodex is a very special epic metal band, the greatest one of the new era alongside Eternal Champion, but their approach differs and makes them really unique. It is the overall aesthetic element of the music, the lyrics, and the band's physical products. The band is already considered as one of the greatest in epic heavy metal and in the years to come, the new generations will view them as masters of their game. Still though, don't get fooled, the music of Atlantean Kodex is not a game, it is a form of art and at the same time, pure and regressive metal. Behold the fire, behold the force.

Check also: SCALD - A Tumulus


12. ETERNAL CHAMPION - I Am the Hammer

What Eternal Champion did with The Armor of Ire is bring back the way one album could change the scene instantly. That was the underground metal scene of course, but it really changed. Instantly. It was the moment where people thought "I can do that, too!". No one really did it so far but many tried. Others failed, others came close but still to this day, Eternal Champion stands as the greatest modern epic heavy metal band. A band with a songwriting and sound that influenced many and brought back to the USA a new generation of fans wanting traditional metal. The album's opening track "I Am the Hammer" is a modern totemic epic metal monument.

Check also: SMOULDER - Ilian of Garathorm


11. LORDIAN GUARD - War in Heaven

"And lo, Michael with sword in hand, he leads the Lordian Guard to slay, to damn"... that one, was the line that stuck in my head the first I listened to this song. It was during the pre-internet era where there was a rumor that "Bill Tsamis is coming back with Warlord". It wasn't Warlord though but the shock of listening to that album was one of the biggest in my life. It still has a very special place in my heart and adding blasphemy to the Christian themes Tsamis was dealing with back then in his lyrics, I listened more often to Lordian Guard than Warlord nowadays. Nothing really bothers me in Lordian Guard and I can't imagine those songs with another voice, arrangements, even "drums". "War in Heaven" is one of the greatest songs Tsamis ever wrote. And no, the version in Warlord's Rising Out of the Ashes is not a better one. The way William has added the keyboards in the Lordian Guard version is unmatchable and perfectly suitable with his guitars, plus Vidonne's theatrical voice sounds like descending from the sovereign sky forth God's command.

Check also: BLACK SWORD THUNDER ATTACK - Evil Sorcery


10. YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN - I Am a Viking

Speaking of the roots of power metal, what Yngwie Malmsteen did with his first two albums, is one more of the most important steps to the evolution of the genre alongside the early years of Europe. And while in Sweden you have Heavy Load standing at the top of what we're talking about here, "I Am a Viking" is just a pure epic heavy metal masterpiece coming from one of the greatest albums ever made. When maestro Malmsteen was writing music for a line like "I'm a Viking, I'll walk all over you and by my sword you will die", he definitely felt like the ruler of this world. He probably still feels like that even if there aren't any vikings in Florida.

Check also: HEAVY LOAD - Singing Swords


9. BROCAS HELM - Fly High

You can't understand Brocas Helm if you weren't raised with underground metal. And if you joined the epic heavy metal wagon and the underground scene in a later age during the social media, you still can't understand the true essence of underground metal. Sorry, but that's true. Brocas Helm is the ultimate underground metal band. It's not the best, but it's the essence of everything underground metal stands for. Among their catalogue, "Fly High" stands as the ultimate anthem of epic heavy metal with the insane opening lead and its galloping riff. The galloping riff, the riff that sounds like horses riding is one of the elements that makes a song "epic heavy metal" as long as it has the suitable lyrics too. There you go! You have another definition too!

Check also: STEEL ASSASSIN - Spartacus


8. RUNNING WILD - Conquistadores

Running Wild are mostly known for their pirate era, often labeled just as a Heavy Metal band but they really have played almost everything between heavy, speed, power and epic metal until the mid '90s with an unmatchable sequence of 10-rated-out-of-10 albums. And while their heavy metal from 1989 up to 1995 is more "power metal" than the majority of American bands labeled as such, they always had a few raise-fisting epic power metal hymns like "Conquistadores" with its anthemic chorus and the powerful leads that put to shame most of your favourite bands. If someone considers bands like Fifth Angel as "power metal", then Running Wild is ultra power metal. So what's our beloved German band? The ultimate soundtrack to hooliganism, one of the few bands that makes you raise your fist (and sword sometimes) in the air all the time and breaking stuff. Any kind of stuff. "Conquistadores" is an epic heavy metal hymn.

Check also: JAG PANZER - The Moors


7. VIRGIN STEELE - The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii)

Often labeled as the bigger rival of Manowar in the '80s, Virgin Steele that decade didn't really have the "total" epic heavy metal album but they definitely had the songs! Released the same year with Manowar's Kings of Metal, Age of Consent didn't even come close but among a few others it had "The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii)", one of the greatest Virgin Steele songs ever, coming from an uneven album that became better with its 1997 re-release and the addition of bonus material such as the "Perfect Mansions (Mountains of the Sun)" song. While David DeFeis' band met its bottom by entering the '90s with the album Life Among the Ruins and its suitable title, the following albums established them as one of the greatest American epic heavy metal bands. Still though, no one can deny that if you'll make a short list with the best Steele songs, there's a strong possibility most of them coming from the '80s, including the one mentioned here in the top.

Check also: BLACK KNIGHT - Warlord's Wrath


6. OMEN - Teeth of the Hydra

The 3-out-of-3-row-of-albums Battle Cry, Warning of Danger and The Curse is one of the greatest in the field of epic heavy and power metal. The excellent songwriting, the A-male voice of J.D. Kimball, the master riffing and the pounding rhythm section pretty much sum up that advert used to promote The Curse writing "Tired of bands that are better looking than your girlfriend? We have the answer: Omen. True Metal returns to L.A." Having once more the term "true metal" used since the '80s already, The Curse is the better sounding Omen album so far including also one of the best metal drum sounds ever, even if most of the people will give to one of the two previous ones the "best Omen album" tag. No argue with that. Still though, "Teeth of the Hydra" is one of the strongest candidates for "best Omen song". And you can't argue with that, too.

Check also: OVERLORDE - Keeper of the Flame


5. WARLORD - Deliver Us from Evil

There weren't so many metal musicians in the '80s so unique and talented like William J Tsamis. Since the early Warlord songs you always had a different kind of approach in melody and lyricism that's weird how it didn't create a legion of bands influenced by that style. A truly ahead-of-its-time guitarist and composer with an unmatchable guitar tone and style recognizable at once. Huge part of the Warlord's music was always drummer Mark Zonder too, something you can easily understand by listening to "Deliver Us from Evil", one of the most iconic Warlord songs, and Epic Heavy Metal in general.

Check also: AGATUS - Perils of the Sea (Pt II) 

 


4. MANILLA ROAD - The Veils of Negative Existence

Mark Shelton is one (if not The One) of the most important key figures of epic heavy metal. The third Manilla Road album Crystal Logic (1983) is one of the cornerstones of this so-called sub-genre and Manilla Road is the band responsible for all those epic (heavy) metal bands formed over the last 20 years. The line "I will never put my sword down, I will never run away" is so effective that stuck in your head for eternity from the very first moment. And every time you're listening to one of those classic '80s Manilla Road albums, you rediscover the essence of epic heavy metal. Mark Shelton was always a person that never stopped following the metal scene and always was listening to new bands and albums. From the early Rush-and-Sabbath influenced albums, to the Angel Witch and NWOBHM influence you can catch in Crystal Logic, the Shark never stopped breathing metal, just like that "Metal is dead so I've heard but not while I'm still above ground" line in "Dig Me No Grave" from 1990's The Courts of Chaos. Most bands that were changing in the history of metal music from 1980 onwards, were just getting "softer" and less aggressive, while Manilla Road (with the addition of drummer Randy Foxe) echoed the changes and were getting more aggressive leading to the almost-thrashy Out of the Abyss album of 1988. "The Veils of Negative Existence" is another mythical song in the band's catalogue, that became extremely influential for many bands, including the one you will see in Number 3...

Check also: THUNDER RIDER - Blackwing


3. CANDLEMASS - A Sorcerer's Pledge

Have you ever thought that the album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is probably the first official time where you see the origin of the term "Epic Metal"? This is definitely the birth of Epic Doom Metal (that wasn't widely used until the '90s) but most likely, it is also the moment when Epic Metal made its first appearance as a term. We're in 1986, Manowar have already started their "Death to False Metal" crusade and since there is "false metal", there's also "true metal" (whatever that means), right? The "true metal" term has also been used in metal magazines and fanzines in the mid '80s but has the term "epic metal" been used before 1986? Is it written anywhere?

We used to keep terms since their first appearance but sometimes this is blurry. For example, Possessed used the "Death Metal" term for their same-titled demo in 1984 and the "Death Metal" song also appears in the Seven Churches album of 1985, so we use to have this as a starting point but already in 1983, editor Bernard Doe of Metal Forces magazine writes, "Hellhammer take the meaning of Death Metal it its extreme" reviewing (burying actually) the Triumph of Death demo of Hellhammer. So, this term is already used. Might happened with Epic Metal too, but it wasn't widely used until Greek Metal Hammer's editor and shady character Charis "Sun Knight" Prasoulas started using that term and later it was spread from Greek metal fans influenced by his texts, around the globe through letters and tape trading, so after a while, you could see this term also used in Italy, Germany and more countries, leading to a whole new underground movement and later, even bands that described their music as "Epic Metal".

Candlemass' Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is the beginning of Epic Doom Metal, but the closing track "A Sorcerer's Pledge" can also be described as one of the greatest epic metal songs ever. A dramatic song separated in three parts. Starting with the acoustic first part that sets the atmosphere, the second epic part of "a tyrant that will conquer, so spoke the wise, of the day when the sorcerer will rise" and the third part that brings the atmosphere of the opening part with the exceptional use of keyboards and the ethereal female anthemic chanting sealing those ancient halls.

Check also: SOLITUDE AETURNUS - Opaque Divinity


2. BATHORY - Song to Hall Up High / Home of Once Brave

There are many Bathory songs you can add here and even if we're talking about two tracks, this will always be one song. Quorthon has managed to shape different metal sub-genres and has been called innovator of both Black Metal and Viking Metal. But his "viking metal" is actually what we can call "Epic Metal" in its purest form. This is not epic heavy metal or epic black metal, this is just Epic Metal. He did it with his albums Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods, Blood on Ice and both parts of Nordland. So, if viking metal nowadays is something you can call bands such as Amon Amarth, then Bathory is definitely something else, even if Quorthon created this sub-genre.

Music is a form of art. Art has many forms and ways of expression. Art can be a mirror of life, art can be escapism, art can just be the expression and feelings of the artist. The artist's will and/or need to express specific ideas, visions, feelings. And just like there are no boundaries in art, there are also no rules and/or guidelines of how an artist should express its art. Not everyone can understand that a few of the greatest forms of art were created through the feelings and the need the artist wanted to express. Art is not about only following a specific guideline of how you "must" sing, perform, write, paint, act, dance, paint, create. There is not only one way. And Quorthon was a unique artist that never really followed the way you "must" follow, that's why his art will remain forever, creating legions of bands and musicians influenced by him and the sub-genres he shaped. A true artist that surpassed his imperfections with a remarkable epic metal songwriting that breaks the boundaries of simple "songwriting" and becomes a wormhole to an age long gone. 

Check also: ZEMIAL - In Monumentum (Stone of the Ages)

 


1. MANOWAR - Secret of Steel

The epitome of Epic Metal.