Is the Soul Preacher pedal good for Metal guitar sustain?

So you ask, is the Electro-Harmonix Soul Preacher pedal any good for Metal lead guitar sustain? And I answer “no.”

I’m sure it’s a wonderful compression pedal for Funk. I love Electro-Harmonix as a company. But for increasing your sustain, it’s just not that good.

Why?

Watch the video:

Soul Preacher review for Metal lead guitar

Alright. I’ll explain why.

You need more sustain. Therefore, you buy a sustain pedal. Or you get a better amp. Or you buy a heavier guitar.

You can do any of those things to improve your sustain. Since we’re talking about sustain pedals, is the Soul Preacher pedal any good?

For heavily distorted Metal lead guitar, no. It’s awful.

Too much noise

You’ll see me adjust the settings. I try out the pedal with full sustain with all three attacks.

No luck. It’s a bad pedal because there’s too much noise. And, the sustain improvement is quite minimal. It’s simply not enough to fight with all that noise.

You’ll hear it in the video. The noise is very apparent.

Roman Astral Eyes reviews Soul Preacher pedal

Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress guitar pedal review

Have you ever heard of the Electric Mistress guitar pedal? If not, you need to. It’s a guitar effects pedal by Electro-Harmonix that features both chorus and flanger guitar effects.

I stumbled upon the company by accident. I was trying to see if anyone still made effects pedals in America. It’s something that’s important to me. As someone who has had their job sent overseas, I care about American workers.

Anyways, you could be out of the country. Or you don’t care. Whatever. You’re probably only concerned about whether or not it sounds good. Which is fine.

Electric Mistress review

So enough about politics. I’ll talk about the pedal itself.

The Electric Mistress is a guitar pedal that has both chorus and flanger effects. You could set the chorus all the way up and the flanger at 25%, reverse that, use all or not, or whatever. It’s very versatile as you can play around with any combination of those effects.

How does it sound? Watch the video:

I rarely use effects. Therefore, there’s not much of a sample of me using it on our debut album. It’s because I generally plug in straight to the amp.

However, if you’re an effects guy, definitely check out the video. I go in depth and give plenty of example of its usage.

Enjoy!

Roman is the founder of the band Astral Eyes and the Romantic Metal genre.

Roman Astral Eyes

The Harmonic Minor Scale

Remember 80s Metal? For awhile there, Neo-Classical got really big and you guessed it, that’s why we’re going over the Harmonic Minor scale. The Harmonic Minor scale was the most used scale by the Neo-Classical Metal guitarists of the 80s, until of course in the late-80s, someone gave them a memo to all start learning Jazz Fusion and Metal started getting really weird.

Well, here’s an ode to the 80s before things got really weird. It’s one of the three scales I warm up with in the morning.

What is the Harmonic Minor scale?

Simply put, it’s the minor scale with the seventh note sharped. Yes, it’s that easy. That’s what gives it that exotic sound.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

The Harmonic Minor scale

The Harmonic Minor scale

Once again, I used E because it’s easier. You get two dots so you can see exactly where it is on the guitar.

Learn the pattern. Play it forwards and backwards. Then start playing it in other keys on the fretboard.

Like always, go for accuracy first. Learn it and get the scale to flow well. The speed will come. Get accuracy down first. Learn it correctly before building up your speed. That’s very important and I can’t emphasize how important that is. Very few things sound worse than a fast player who’s missing all over the place. That stuff sounds like crap. (Don’t be that guy).

Once you’ve mastered it, build it into licks and runs. Throw in some bends. Heck, incorporate it into your riffs. Riffs built off the Harmonic Minor scale sound really cool.

Randy Rhoads used this scale in one of my favorite Ozzy Osbourne songs – Revelations. This scale is what gives the song such an exotic sound.

Enjoy! There’s no limit what you can do with this scale.

-Roman


Roman orchestrations Astral Eyes
Roman writes the orchestrations for Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar and Piano and has a Bachelor’s degree in History.

The Blues Scale

I use the Blues Scale as one of my three warm-up scales. In any order, I start the morning off with the Major scale, the Harmonic Minor scale, and the Blues scale. I’ll go into the other two another day, but today, I’ll focus on the Blues scale.

What is the Blues Scale?

The Blues Scale is simply a pentatonic scale with an additional flatted fifth. It’s very simple, but sounds quite awesome.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

Simply take the diagram and practice that pattern up and down the neck, forwards and backwards. I chose E because E has 2 dots. Let’s keep it simple.

The Blues Scale

The Blues Scale

Starting from the fat E string, play with your index finger on the twelve fret and your pinky finger on the fifteenth fret, then work your way up. Do it slowly and accurately at first. Go for accuracy first. Let speed develop with time.

Don’t rush speed. Speed will come. You should never rush speed. That’s a shortcut you don’t want to take because your sound will suffer, big time.

You want to practice this very slowly. Get a really nice flow first. With repetition comes accuracy and with accuracy comes speed. I know speed is a bad word to some, but whatever. I happen to think you should have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible. If you can play the mean Blues, great. If you can play fast, great. If you can play jazzy, great. If you can be groovy, great. The more tricks you have up your sleeve, the better. Don’t limit yourself because some jackass got offended because he’s being a purist snob.

So learn this scale if you don’t already know it. Learn it up and down the neck. Become accurate at it first, then let the speed develop on its own. You can incorporate it into your licks or runs or other bags of tricks. There are times when I’ll do this one on its own too. It’s got a pretty cool sound. Add a few bends somewhere in there and you’re golden.

Enjoy!

-Roman

Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is one of two guitarists in the twin lead guitar band Astral Eyes.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

Metal is about to enter a second Golden Age…

Heavy Metal music is about to enter a second Golden Age. How do I know this? I don’t. It’s a prediction. However, we have some signs:

1. People are saying that Metal in America is dead. We’ve heard this before when in the late 70s, the talking heads declared Metal dead and punk to be king. We all know what happened next.

2. The experts are declaring that music in general is dying because nobody can make money except for a very few pop acts. I hesitate to call these pop acts “artists” because most of these people are performers, not artists. Artists involves making art. This ain’t art.

3. The kids need something to listen to. I’ve talked to so many kids who are musically stuck in previous generations because they can’t stand the most of the music coming out today. (You may interpret this as a bad thing, but it’s a really good thing. It’s like buying into the stock market when everyone else has left it).

4. You don’t need a major label to record good music. There’s an excess today of extremely talented Producers and guess what? They’re charging less than they were charging in the 80s and 90s. Bad for them. Good for young bands with limited budgets. For the first time in your lifetime, you can hire these people with a bank loan or credit cards to record a full album. This has never happened before. You’d always need a record label to front you the money. Now, you can do it yourself.

5. There’s an excess of places where you can get people to listen to your music. Not too long ago, you had the radio and MTV. And that’s it. If you don’t get on the radio and/or MTV, you don’t get heard. Period. You had no career. This is a pretty epic change.

So, what does this all have to do with Metal?

Everything. Except for the 80s, Metal has been underground. Metal still has a strong, devoted following. More devoted than any other form of music. By far. Metalheads are more devoted to their music than punks are to theirs, or rap fans to theirs, or ska fans to theirs, or jazz fans to theirs.

Just being realistic. You know this is true because you’ve seen it first hand.

All we need now is for four or five Metal bands to lead the way. When it happens, it will be the second Golden Age of Metal. Mark my words. It will happen sooner than later.

You do have time to practice guitar

Yes, you do have time to practice guitar. I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you have a day job. If this isn’t a complaint of yours, you can safely ignore this article. If however, you feel like you do not have time to practice, read on.

To make time to practice guitar, you need to make time to practice. You need to start creating the right habits. One thing you’ll see in life is that people who are good at anything have consistently good habits. People who are bad at everything tend to have very bad habits. Luck actually plays a small part in life. You might hate me for saying this, but it’s true. Some folks are consistently unlucky, but with the right habits, they can make the best out of bad luck. But that’s another rant for another time. Let’s talk about practicing guitar.

Pick up a guitar first thing in the morning

What do you do the very first thing in the morning? Pick your nose? Drink coffee? Check your email? OK, if you didn’t answer “practice guitar” or anything equivalent, you gave the wrong answer. Very first thing you should do in the morning, before the coffee and before checking your email is pick up your guitar. Even if it’s for only five minutes, pick up the guitar and practice scales.

Yes, you don’t want to be late for work. I get that. Then only do it for five minutes. At least you got your scales in for the day.

You need to do that daily. Every. Single. Day. Wake up, grab your guitar, and do scales. If you got ten minutes, even better. Practice first thing in the morning. Always. No excuses.

Find time to practice guitar while watching TV

Second, do you watch TV? If you answered no, then you have time to practice. If you answered yes, then practice guitar while watching TV. If may drive your girlfriend or your boyfriend nuts, but that’s their problem. They’ll get used to it. Grab the guitar, don’t plug it into the amp, and practice while watching TV.

You can multitask. Your ancestors did it. If you’re watching an hour show, get an hour in. You’ll still absorb the show but more importantly, you’ll get your hour of practice in.

Every chance you get, practice. Coming home for lunch? Squeeze in five to ten minutes of practice. You cooked and the food is in the oven? Good. That gives you time to practice guitar. Doing laundry? Let the machine do the work and practice your guitar.

Every chance you get. Make time to practice guitar. Get those good habits going and within only a few years, you’ll be a pretty good guitarist. It’s all about time. The more time you practice, the better you will be.

-Roman

Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is the Guitarist, Pianist, Composer, and Orchestrator for the world’s first Romantic Metal band – Astral Eyes. Their first album “Another Sacrifice Gone Wrong” is available now!.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

When Your World is Up in Flames

Looks like it’s been awhile since we updated this site. A lot has happened. Bridget is doing fine and is very busy in school. And my band is doing pretty well. We just released our first video, Up in Flames. Click on the image below to hear it:

Up in Flames video

A lot of changes

We’ve had a lot of changes. Astral Eyes actually disbanded in late 2014 and came back to life earlier this year. Lots of drama I won’t get into.

For those of you who have been following the band for quite some time, we’re no longer a female fronted band. Skitz joined earlier this year and was immediately thrust into the studio. We’re also a twin lead guitar band now instead of just me doing the leads.

We also have our first album out. You should give it a listen. Up in Flames is our first single. It came out 10/31/2015 and we’re already getting decent sales.

Up in Flames video

The video itself was a blast to make. We shot it between Chico and Paradise in Northern California. Here are a few screenshots to show how beautiful the locations they chose were:
Astral Eyes Up in Flames video

Astral Eyes Up in Flames video

The song is about a girl who is to be sacrificed to a dragon and instead, the dragon falls in love with her and is giving her the choice to turn on her enemies. The original video was to be animated, but the record company was against it. They said it needs to feature the band, especially since it’s our first ever video. I guess looking back it makes sense. The animation had a little twist where the girl was actually a witch and she cast a spell to make the dragon fall in love with her.

So instead, you see a live action video. We do like it, so no regrets. We did get rained on a lot. California’s going through a drought and of course, when we go to shoot a video, we get rained on.

Anyways, if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.


Roman guitarist, composer Astral Eyes
Roman is the founder of the Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar, Piano, and is a Classical Composer, Orchestrator and has a BA in History.

Sevendust Band Review

OK, so I haven’t posted in a while, life was hectic for a while there. Without further introduction, I choose Sevendust as the next band review. I was supposed to see them a few months back, but unfortunately didn’t make it on time to see them on the stage.

Sevendust band review

Sevendust

Sevendust band review

Sevendust has been around since 1994 and continuing and they have 10 CDs. For the sake of this article, and just like before, I will not review all 10. I respect your time in which it would take to read a review about 10 CDs and all of their tracks. The band members are Lajon Witherspoon as lead vocals, Clint Lowery and John Connolly as guitarists and backing vocals, Vince hornsby as bassist, and Morgan Rose as the drummer and percussionist.

The CDs I have picked for this review is the self titled and first CD, Sevendust from 1997, Seasons from 2003, Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow from 2008, and the latest Time Travelers and Bonfires from 2014.

The debut CD has 11 tracks, I will use track 1, 6, and 11 for this CD’s review.

The first track, “Black”, is relatively simply yet very entertaining, mostly due to the rhythm of the song as a whole. It is very bluesy type of jazz… Which metal and rock are influenced by traditionally, much like Alice Cooper’s generation of metal/rock genres. It is not a heavily or, rather, over produced song style. It is rather raw yet still polished. The guitar solo around 2:40-3:06, and it is really groovy. I love groove in music; no matter what genre. So this song is very simplistic, both lyrically and musically. It is refreshing because so many bands now try to had too much. It reminds me of the simpler music that the old school rock and metal had, and I actually really like this song. I love fancy music, but sometimes, it can be a little too much when it is done constantly.

The sixth track, “Prayer”, is a slower song, that picks up and you can hear the jazz and blues-y influences even more in this. Specifically in the guitar, bass, and vocalizing. Then the drums pick it up making it a little heavier. The lead singer’s screaming during “Who do you pray to?” is on the weak/newbie screamer side, so it really does show how fresh to the music scene they were, and that is also probably why they took a few years after being formed to put this CD out in 1997. I do like his voice, and the song is pretty self explanatory. A 2:22-2:43, the music is picked up and a little heavier, it is fun and it really made me want to sway and dance while trying to head bang…I don’t recommend doing those three things all at once if you get dizzy though. It gave a nice change to the otherwise pop style lyric pattern. The lyrics are honest and well meant, it can get stuck in your head due to the pop style they used during writing it. Most of the time, pop style lyrics can be annoying, and which it is for this song after a while. Although I still love the lead’s voice and the guitar and bass in this song.

The 11th track, “Born to Die”
This track comes in to a very heavy dark cloud of awesome. the singer’s growl is a lot stronger on this track. This whole song is meant to do head banging with. I could not stop myself, especially with the part where the drums and the guitars are pounding together in pulses.

The lyrics have no special meaning and it would of been perfect to have some kind of purpose with such potential to the vocal lines. The singer is giving of his best anger to this song but it is just very simple lyrically. It gives it a kind of genius to have something so instrumentally fun with very plain lyrics, while also making me wonder why did they not write stronger lyrics. My favorite part of the song is from 2:41 – 3:48. Because after the 3:48 mark, they do this loud static buffering distortion and my ears are very sensitive to that type of sound, otherwise the whole last part of the song would have been my favorite.

The second CD, seasons, has 12 tracks, and I have chosen 1, 4, 8, and 12 for this CD.

Song one is titled “Disease”, this CD is a HUGE improvement on all fronts! Vocals, lyrics, and overall instruments. The singer’s vocals have strengthened and have developed depth that was originally missing. The song is pretty much up to interpretation, ranging from greed, prejudices against those with body modifications, or to how hypocrisy is plaguing the world (wanting change while not doing anything about it). Lajon’s voice has this pleading quality in the song in parts, which quickly changes into rage. Then his voice changes into a wise understanding tone back into rage; constantly going back and forth between each tone throughout the song. The drums and guitar are very catchy and very well defined – very enjoyable.

Song 4, “Broken Down” starts with this electronic filter bass, the whole song has the electronic filter but in hints, not overpowering. the guitar riffs are subdue to match the overall feel of the vocalizing. the drums and guitar pick up slightly during the chorus. It is tastefully done. The song sounds like is may have a female vocalist in there, pointing out clearly this is a failed relationship song, possibly someone is still attached. The Female voice I am hearing could possibly be Rose. It is very gothic in its arrangement while being very electronica metal. I think the two voices match well together; adding a blend of love, tenderness, and morosity, effect.

Song eight is “Disgrace”, and the intro is very jammin’ with the bass, perhaps the coolest bass intro from Sevendust so far. The song is pretty much about regret in one’s life, these mistakes make the it clear it is the writer’s fault and he takes responsibility, but wishes to move on. It is definitely very relatable. This song shows off Lijon’s strong singing voice (no growls are included in singing, sorry.) the rest of the song’s riffs are simple and muted. The focus is Lijon’s voice, up until 3:35, where his voice is slowly leaving the song until the song’s end. I can literally feel the concern and the regret from his voice.

The last song, twelve, is “Face to Face”, heavy distortions on guitars and bass, vocals are raw but still improved, so it is like a visit to their past vocal style. The main feelings I get from this song, it has been done before. The sound is not fresh and reminds me of a few other artists’ songs. It isn’t bad, but since it sounds like another song, it isn’t good. The vocals are boring in this song, and it gets very korn style like also. but the guitars and drums are still solid. The main unoriginality is the vocal lines, the message of the lyrics, and the overall melodies and rhythms. But you can still rock out to it, and if that is all you are into, or you want a decent workout song to get pumped to, this could work.

Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow has eleven tracks, the tracks for this CD review are 1, 6, and 10. I am looking forward to 6 has it has Chris Daughtry featuring in the song.

Song numero uno, “Inside” has the drummer using her percussions, about time! I am a huge fan of percussions! It is very electronica in the beginning, with a slow build up, a powerful shred on the guitar’s and bass’s riffs, along with a very cool and sweet drum fill. Lijon’s vocals come in hot and growly, then he starts singing and his voice once again improved. His screams are seemingly influenced by Disturbed (yuck) and Lijon has outdone that band’s lead singer’s own style! The normal singing style is almost like Rush’s (over rated) Geddy Lee meets R.E.M’s (too whiney) Michael Stipe. The difference is the fact he is not nasally or whiney, his vocal tone quality is a hundred percent better. The reason I compared him to those two singers is because of how he sings certain words and vowels; like “yourself this time”, “try”, “inside”, “Coming”, “Warnings”, and “me”. Then there is dueling guitars and bass right at 3:09, then at 3:24, there is a kick ass guitar riff. So this song is already an amazing start to this CD.

Song six, “The Past”, is a ballad, The voices are a great contrast, Lijon doesn’t have a rasp like Daughtry’s, plus Daughtry has a folk/country/rock quality to it. So it is perfectly balanced out by Lijon’s smooth vocals. In this particular song, there is a very brief moment in Lijon’s voice that reminded me of Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheeper. The guitars are acoustic for this song and is a very nice touch. This song is about moving on and repairing from any type of depression or incident. And dealing with the constant up and downs of the mind and emotions that life, relationships, or chemical imbalances throw at you.

Number dix! “Contradiction”, There is not much to say about this song vocally. It does have a cool soft electronica intro and awesome riffs. This seems to be the first song with real guitar solos, in several places. The one towards the end is my favorite. Vocally speaking, it is another unoriginal style. This is disappointing due to the really cool instrumentals and short instrumental breaks. I really like the distortions and the drums and the guitar solos though. It even as a “Psych! Song isn’t over.” ending. It is worth listening to just because of the band’s work on the music – minus the vocals.

The latest CDs Time Travelers and Bonfires. This CD is what I am most familiar with.
The three tracks for this CD’s review is “Come Down”, “One Life”, and “Black”.

“Come Down” is perhaps my favorite song, it is also the CD’s first track. I love it because of the vocals and the simple intro that continues down throughout the song. It has a very different feel to it than all the rest, which is amazing since it is original. They are known to have songs that sound like other bands’ music, because those music melodies sell. This is also one of the most mellow of their songs besides their ballads. This song is like new age meets metal, and I really like how they did it. the bass and guitar shine to me in this song, especially at 2:30.

“One Life” is the ballad on this CD that is absolutely addicting, not because of how mushy it is, which it is, but I just really love the raw emotion in it, and the melody is beautiful, especially when it picks up in parts. The drums add a very nice atmosphere to match a scene in a TV show right were something dramatic happens in a relationship. the timing is perfect and I loved the piano. It sounds very honest, like all of their music, but this song in particular is the most honest of them so far. The song’s guitar solo is epic yet short, at 3:18, it gives an extreme sense of the emotion behind the lyrics.

“Black” has this great intro, using bass, guitar, and acoustic guitar, the sound is amazing when it is combined. His vocals has a great edge to this track also. A type of subdued anger I wish he would use more often. This song isn’t the best off this CD, but his voice is something to take note of here, and as earlier stated, the intro is pretty cool. That being said…

Ratings:

CDs: 7/10
Guitars/bass: 10/10
Band: 10/10

I just wish they would kick their style up a notch, since they have the talent and all…


Bridget duh-guitars.com Sevendust Band Review

Review by Bridget. Bridget is a professional writer. Her hobbies include guns, knives, and archery. Image of Sevendust by Jodo and licensed under Creative Commons 3.0. Thanks Jodo! Image of Bridget used by her permission.

Metal is not Rock

An essay explaining why Metal has evolved from Rock and Roll, but no longer a sub-genre of Rock

Let’s go back to the 1950s. In the 1950s, Rock and Roll was its own genre. But, there were still a lot of people still calling it Rhythm and Blues. It’s because, Rock and Roll evolved from Rhythm and Blues and it was still not distinct enough where you can tell them apart easily.

As the years went on, it became more obvious that Rock and Roll was a separate genre. Sure, you could trace its roots to Rhythm and Blues, but it has become a completely separate genre. By the 1970s, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would call Rock and Roll a sub-genre of Rhythm and Blues.

Metal is not rock

Cannons in the Caribbean

Metal is not Rock

By the same token, Metal is not Rock. Two completely separate genres. In the 1970s and 1980s, they were very close and you still had a lot of people, people I respect and admire greatly like Ronnie James Dio and Ozzy Osbourne who called their music “Rock and Roll.”

But with the birth of Extreme Metal in the 1980s, putting these bands in the same genre of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, etc., just looks silly.

Metal has been evolving since its inception in the early 1970s. It’s over forty years old now, but the Metal you hear today is quite different sounding than the Metal back then. That’s because things change and music continually evolves, which is a good thing.

Metal has spawned numerous sub-genres in itself. There’s a HUGE difference between Black Metal, Glam Metal, Symphonic Metal, Thrash Metal, and Progressive Metal. And those five I named are only five sub-genres. There are literally hundreds now.

Define Metal

OK. You want a definition? How about from a historical perspective since I am a Historian. Heavy Metal is a genre of music that evolved from Rock and Roll that has a thick, heavy, and massive sound. It contains heavy amounts of distortion and is characteristically violent. It is a reaction to the horrors of the industrialized world and is also an expression of masculinity in an increasingly metrosexual world. It is aggressive and in your face and pulls no punches and makes no apologies.

Whereas Rock and Roll is sexy, Heavy Metal is violent. Heavy Metal music can be one dimensional and cartoon-male, but it also can be deeply introspective where the lyricist realizes how much he has in common with the monster and is trying to grapple with his own internal struggles of good vs evil.

These are constructs that simply aren’t found in Rock and Roll. It’s because, they have become two separate, distinct genres.

One last parting shot

And one last parting shot. Hard Rock was a term coined to describe a type of Rock and Roll music that was harder than normal Rock music. So as the music elevated in heaviness, we needed something stronger than a hard rock. Thus, Metal. Like a Dwarf hammering away at rocks to find gems, Metal shatters Rock. Yes, terms matter. I’m a human, and if you’re reading this, so are you. We humans love to categorize everything. It’s part of being human. And Metal is not Rock.


Roman guitarist, composer Astral Eyes
Roman is the founder of the Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar, Piano, and is a Classical Composer, Orchestrator and has a BA in History.

Image of Fortaleza San Felipe in the Dominican Republic shot by Roman in July 2014 and is licensed by CC-3.0. Roman requests that if you use the picture, you give proper photography credit. Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

Golden Age Metal – 1985

An Essay on the Golden Age of Metal – 1985. The final piece in a series of the Golden Age of Metal articles

(If this is your first time reading this series, click here for the definition of Golden Age Metal).

Contrary to a lot of folks’ opinions, the Golden Age of Metal was very short. It was only from 1980 to 1985, before the great Metal schism where Metal splintered into two main groups and dozens (now literally hundreds) of sub-groups.

Griffin in Venice for Golden Age Metal 1985 duh-guitars.com

Golden Age Metal 1985

This is the final piece. The undercurrent had arrived, and this was the last year if you were a hard-core Metalhead where you didn’t have to take sides. You can like both. It wasn’t illegal. But in 1986, you either sided with Thrash or Glam. It was especially true in 1987 and on before Metal went entirely underground in the early 1990s.

Crazy Washington, D.C. wives try to censor Metal and Rap

But let’s talk about 1985. Heavy Metal was the reason why good parents had kids do bad things, according to some idiots in Washington, D.C. Tipper Gore, who hated female masturbation more than Jesus hated bankers, led the PMRC in an assault against the twin evils of Western civilization – Heavy Metal and Rap music. Heavy Metal was making teenagers think about violence and Rap was making teenagers think about sex, according to these crazy women. Because of course, teenagers would NEVER think about sex and violence on their own. It had to be the music.

Frank Zappa, Dee Snyder, and John Denver led the counterattack and made the PMRC wives look like the crazy shrill women they were. But of course the industry caved in and what we got now is the Tipper Sticker plastered on the album art whenever a record label is scared of offending nutcases.

The Metal artists that were specifically mentioned in Tipper’s filthy 15 were Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Venom, Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fateand Def Leppard. Note that hard rock act AC/DC was also mentioned.

This all backfired. We all know how teenagers think – you tell a teenager not to do something and they want to do it more. So Metal bands HAD to put swear words in their albums or else their sales would plummet.

The whole thing was stupid, and a violation of our First Amendment. But like a lot of stupid people in America today, who needs Freedom if you can protect just one child, right?

Best Metal albums of 1985

Picking the best albums for Golden Age Metal 1985. I hate doing this, because there were so many. Note that I’m mixing my favorites here with the ones I feel the most historically significant. So you’re getting a mixture of both. You can read between the lines and figure out which is which.

In alphabetical order:

Accept’s Metal Heart. One of the German Metal bands best efforts, but Accept is my primary example of a Metal band that would go on to be a casualty of the great Metal schism as they were smack dead in the middle and didn’t take sides.

Anthrax’ Spreading the Disease. The kings of East Coast Thrash Metal. Although not quite as big as Bay Area Thrash Metal, historically, we have to list this album.

Dokken Under Lock and Key. Reached pretty high on the Billboard charts. Historically, Dokken helped push the LA scene, which eventually morphed into Glam Metal.

Exodus’ Bonded by Blood. San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal. A scene with huge historical significance. This album was Exodus’ debut album and greatly influenced the underground aspect of the scene and helped rise the scene to a respectable level. Great album, but unfortunately for them, delays caused it to be released in 1985 instead of 1984 and we all can guess how history would have treated Exodus differently.

Faith No More’s We Care a Lot. I overlooked it at the time, but looking back, this album would have tremendous historical significance for what would become known as Alternative Metal.

Iron Maiden’s Live After Death – What? A live album? Yes. Every Metalhead in 1985 owned this album. It was Maiden live and it was awesome.

Loudness’ Thunder in the East. The first Japanese Metal band to crack the American Billboard 200, this actually was a pretty good album. Led by the downright amazing guitar playing of Akira Takasaki, “Crazy Nights” was the lead single but not the best song on the album. Only the most commercially friendly.

Megadeth’s Killing is my Business…And Business is Good. Sounding like it was recorded in someone’s basement, Megadeth made this album specifically as a revenge against getting fired from Metallica. It was faster, meaner, more raw, and the guitar playing was more in your face. It only lacked production value, which is a shame as it would have been Megadeth’s best album.

Mötley Crüe’s Theater of Pain. Looking back, this could arguably be the most historical Metal album of 1985 although it is a collection of really excellent tunes mixed with several quite forgettable filler songs. “Home Sweet Home” dominated MTV. Dominated is no understatement. MTV had to enact an unwritten rule where one song couldn’t be #1 for more than 30 days. Not making this up. “Home Sweet Home” was #1 for three months. Had not happened before and hasn’t happened since.

Rising Force’s Marching Out. Yngwie’s best work. The only album I’ve heard of Yngwie where he worked hard on his rhythm guitar playing and it showed. Teenaged guitar players not only studied his leads, they also played his riffs from this album. And Jeff Scott Soto can actually sing. Of course, Yngwie would later sack Soto then move in a pop direction and lose a lot of his Metal fans. Still, if you don’t own this album, you need to. Every Metal guitarist in the 80s either was directly influenced by Yngwie’s first two solo albums or they lied and denied it.

Slayer’s Hell Awaits. Slayer was on a whole new level of angry. It really is a shame that they didn’t have a better recording budget for this album as historically, it’s one of the more significant albums ever put out. No, it never broke the Billboard charts. But who cares? Slayer became required material for learning how to write angry music. And, they were pretty fucking good musicians. Love ’em or hate ’em, you cannot deny that.

I am leaving a lot out. I still want to give kudos to Ratt, the Scorpions, Dio, Exciter, Overkill, Possessed, Twisted Sister, and a lot of other bands. 1985 was both a great year for Metal in terms of how many great albums were released in one year, and also a historically significant year as it was the last year before the great Metal schism. Afterwards, Metal was split into two camps – Thrash (which was the forerunner of Extreme Metal), and Glam (which would decline to a form of music where image was more important than writing quality material and would evoke a huge backlash against Metal).

Now, I’m not against all Glam. I thought some of it was musically good. But I will say it here because it needs to be said – the vast majority of Glam Metal was a marketing gimmick where the bottom line mattered more than the music. Glam turned a lot of people against Metal. I am not against the concept. I am against what it became.


Roman is the guitarist and composer for Astral Eyes for Golden Age Metal 1985 article duh-guitars.com
Roman is the founder of the Symphonic Metal band Astral Eyes. He’s proud to say how much he was influenced by Golden Age Metal. He plays Guitar, Piano, and is a Classical Composer and Orchestrator.

From a personal note, the PMRC is yet another reason we’re sticking with an independent label – they have sworn to never put the Tipper sticker on our album art. This matters greatly to us as we hire some of the best young talent we can find for our album art.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate! Image of griffin from Nino Barbieri and is licensed CC 2.5. This is a statue in Venice