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.


Paul Rubino guitarist, composer Astral Eyes
Paul Rubino 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 Paul Rubino in July 2014 and is licensed by CC-3.0. Paul requests that if you use the picture, you give proper photography credit. Image of Paul 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

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. You might want to read this article first before proceeding, if this is the first time you stumbled on these Golden Age of Metal articles.

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.


Paul Rubino guitarist and composer for Astral Eyes for Golden Age Metal 1985 article duh-guitars.com
Paul Rubino 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 Paul shot by Kate. Thanks Kate! Image of griffin from Nino Barbieri and is licensed CC 2.5. This is a statue in Venice

The Golden Age Metal – 1984

An Essay on the Golden Age of Metal – 1984. The fifth in a series of Golden Age of Metal articles

If you just came to this site, read this definition of what Golden Age Metal is before proceeding. It appears a lot of folks have the definition wrong and falsely believe that the entire 80s was the Golden Age of Metal. The Golden Age of Metal was only 1980-1985. Today, I’ll be discussing 1984, one of Metal’s best years.

Now if you came to this site looking for George Orwell’s 1984 book, sorry dude. We’re discussing Metal in 1984 here. Metal history. Not sure how you ended up here, but have a double plus good day.

Viking picture duh-guitars.com golden age metal 1984

Golden Age Metal 1984

By 1984, we were full on into a Metal revival where Metal throughout the lands had a real following. You could play in a Metal band and actually eat. Things were good. Life was fun. All was well. And 1984 was one of the best years for Metal.

Yngwie who?

Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen, that’s who. That’s what the shirt said, and Yngwie had officially arrived on the scene. Disillusioned with Alcatrazz, Yngwie J. Malmsteen forms his own band sometimes called Rising Force and sometimes called Yngwie Malmsteen.

With a heaping amount of talent and an ego to match it, Yngwie took the Metal and guitar worlds by storm, releasing his first solo album Rising Force which somehow broke into the Billboard charts with only two songs that contained vocals. One of those songs barely did, as the guitar solo was longer than all the words combined.

This was unheard of back then. Nobody released an instrumental album that wasn’t a bunch of dance mixes that broke the Billboard charts. The guitar had arrived, and Yngwie was the next Guitar God. Love him or hate him, you had to admit that everyone ripped him off. Myself included. I’ll be the first to admit it.

Metallica is here

Metallica’s Ride the Lightning was groundbreaking. It wasn’t the first Thrash Metal album ever. However, it was one of the first Thrash Metal albums that didn’t sound like it was recorded in the drummer’s parents’ basement. When I first heard the album, it sounded like a punch in the face, followed by a punch in the gut, followed by a kick in the chest. It was fucking heavy! Although sales didn’t even come close to their later releases, it was this album that started it all. We all knew that Metallica would have a legitimate shot at the Metal crown when we heard this.

The rise of the underground Extreme Metal scene

They were already there, make no mistake about it. But they kept coming. Even a lot of us Metalheads knew they existed, but we didn’t know their names. Whereas the regular kids were all creeped out by us Metalheads, we were creeped out by these guys. Bathory’s self-titled debut was arguably the first ever Black Metal album. Although Venom earlier said those feared words, Bathory’s music really was Black Metal.

Priest vs Maiden

“Wait, you already done that one.” Well, I’m doing it again. Defenders of the Faith vs Powerslave for the Heavy Metal crown. Yeah, I was just praising Metallica earlier, but the true crown goes to one of these two. Metallica’s a rising act, but hasn’t reached the top yet.

Everybody either wanted to be Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. As much as I liked Maiden, I almost got in a fist fight on the bus because I said Priest kicked their asses. No, I’m not making this up. We Metalheads were passionate about our music.

Best Golden Age Metal 1984 albums

Geez. I wish I had more time to write. I could write a whole chapter on 1984 alone. And to leave anyone out of the “best of” list would be tragic. I sincerely wish I could give the prize to 10 bands, but I got to cut it down to a few.

Judas Priest’s Defenders of the Faith. Well, the previous album was so good, that Priest decided to release it twice. So they did. And this one was almost just as good. Contains a song that will eventually almost be banned by a nutty wife of a Congressman. The whole album was good. If you don’t own it, buy it immediately.

Iron Maiden’s Powerslave. Prog Metal begins right here. With all due respect to Queensrÿche, Powerslave came out before Operation Mindcrime.

Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. Heavy, simply heavy. See above.

Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force. Blazing. See above.

Bathory’s Bathory. The first Black Metal album. Ahead of its time, of course it didn’t sell well. It sounded like they tried to record it themselves. It also sounded like they were sacrificing virgins while they were recording it.

Like I said, so much good stuff in 1984. There were also bands I have to mention, like Ratt and Great White who were rising in the LA scene and Celtic Frost who was rising in Extreme Metal and Anthrax and Slayer who were rising in Thrash Metal. All these bands had major significance in what was to come. Let’s not forget Loudness and solo artist Steve Vai, who were pushing the limits of what a human could do with an electric guitar.


Astral Eyes composer and guitarist Paul Rubino

Paul Rubino is a Classically trained Composer. He plays Guitar and Piano for Astral Eyes, the world’s first Romantic Metal band.

The Golden Age Metal – 1983

An Essay on the Golden Age of Metal – 1983. The fourth in a series of Golden Age of Metal articles

You might want to read this article which gives you a definition of what the Golden Age of Metal and its years are before proceeding. It appears a lot of folks have the definition wrong and falsely believe that the entire 80s was the Golden Age of Metal. The Golden Age of Metal was only 1980-1985. Today, I’ll be discussing 1983.

John Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare for Golden Age Metal 1983 www.duh-guitars.com

Golden Age Metal 1983

Metal Health is the #1 Album!

The Police’s Synchronicity seemed like it would be #1 forever. Then suddenly, Quiet Riot’s Metal Health knocks it off from the top spot. If you weren’t alive at the time, it wouldn’t have seemed like such a big deal. But keep in mind, in the late 70s, the entire record industry wrote off Metal as DEAD. Yes, dead as in never coming back. Dead, as in, “we’re not going to sign a Metal band because you’ll just lose us money.”

Now, a Metal album is on the top of the charts. Metal now officially has to be taken seriously.

The Rise of Maiden

Also taking up the headlines in the Metal world is this band Iron Maiden. Even if you didn’t listen to Metal, you’ve seen teenagers wearing their shirts. Iron Maiden was rising faster than ever before. It seemed like bringing on Bruce Dickinson was the winning move. Piece of Mind actually charted and will go Platinum a few years later.

Slayer debuts “Show No Mercy”

Heavy for its time, but not even close to how heavy Slayer will get, Metal Blade Records produces Slayer’s debut album Show No Mercy. This is more undercurrent news as the album didn’t sell well by popular standards. However, from a historical perspective, the relative success of this album showed the world that there will be a market for what will become Extreme Metal.

Dave Mustaine is fired and replaced by Kirk Hammett

Metallica wasn’t exactly a household name in 1983. Almost nobody outside of California knew who they were. However, everyone knows the story. They all had drinking/drug problems, but Mustaine’s was the worst. So he got fired. To get back at them, he formed Megadeth. But let’s come back to this story later as in 1983, if you even knew who Metallica was, I’d be surprised.

Yngwie records with Steeler and Alcatrazz

Another side story for historical purposes only. Like Metallica in 1983, if you knew who Yngwie J. Malmsteen was, I’d be surprised. However, a year later, his playing will change pretty much everything about Metal.

The LA scene

George Lynch was one of the premier guitar dudes of the early 80s, yet nobody outside of LA knew who he was. He finally lands on an album with Dokken’s Breaking the Chains. Mötley Crüe releases Shout at the Devil. This album gets Crüe noticed and helps kickoff the LA scene. This scene will evolve into Hair Metal or Glam Metal or whatever you want to call it in the late 80s, where image became more important than music and the backlash will send the entire Metal world underground. But keep in mind, that comes later. Not yet…

The year of Metal undercurrents?

So yeah, most of 1983, looking back, was undercurrents. Besides Metal Health landing Billboard’s #1 spot, everything else was an undercurrent of what will come later.

The best Metal albums of 1983

Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind. “Revelations,” “Flight of Icarus,” and of course, “The Trooper.” Iron Maiden has landed and they’re here to stay. This NWOBHM band will go on to battle Metallica as the best selling Heavy Metal band of all-time.

Accept’s Balls to the Wall. Germany’s Accept puts out their best album. Somewhat stands the test of time. It’s still a decent album if heard today.

Dio’s Holy Diver. Featuring “Holy Diver” and “Rainbow in the Dark,” Dio leaves Sabbath and goes on his own. A great album for fantasy gaming.

Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil. Contains “Looks that Kill” and “Too Young to Fall in Love.” Don’t buy this album and expect greatness. I’m listing it more for historical significance. Of course, the singles plus “Red Hot” are pretty fucking awesome songs. But there’s also a lot of filler.

Metallica’s Kill ‘em All. Like the above album, I’m listing it more for historical reference. Today, it’s dated and cheesy. It doesn’t quite stand the test of time. However, their next two albums are the best albums the band has ever done, and two of the top Metal albums ever recorded.

Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at the Moon. It was a letdown to pretty much everyone. The first studio album without Rhoads. Jake E. Lee though isn’t bad as for those of us in 1983, we did play this album a lot and enjoyed it. It just wasn’t up to par with the previous two.

Quiet Riot’s Metal Health. Topped the Billboard charts. But it wasn’t that good of an album. Had two strong singles, which were both pretty good songs. Plus one or two other songs that were good. And the rest was filler. After this release, the band will decline fast.

Hang on though for 1984

“What a depressing article” you’re probably thinking. But hold on. Wait a year. 1984 is one of the best years in Metal history.


Paul Rubino Astral Eyes Romantic Metal composer

Paul Rubino is a Classically trained Composer. He plays Guitar and Piano for the Symphonic Metal band Astral Eyes.

Image of The Nightmare by John Henry Fuseli is Public Domain. Image of Paul used by his permission.

The Golden Age Metal – 1982

An Essay on the Golden Age of Metal – 1982. The third in a series of Golden Age of Metal articles

You might want to read this article which gives you a definition of what the Golden Age of Metal and its years are before proceeding. It appears a lot of folks have the definition wrong and falsely believe that the entire 80s was the Golden Age of Metal. Anyone who says that is simply wrong. The Golden Age of Metal was only 1980-1985. Today, I’ll be discussing 1982.

Vlad the Impaler for duh-guitars.com Golden Age Metal 1982

Golden Age Metal 1982

The Death of Randy Rhoads

I remember the death of Randy Rhoads very well. It was March 20, 1982 that we read about it in the newspaper. Ozzy Osbourne at the time was my favorite band and not knowing a lick of guitar, I knew from other people that Randy Rhoads was the best. (Yes, I know he died the 19th, but we didn’t have the internet back then so we found out about everything a day later in the newspaper).

That was a crippling blow to me. But Metal chugged on.

The beginnings of Extreme Metal

Venom Black Metal golden age of metal 1982 duh-guitars.com

By today’s standards, you may listen to this album and say “you call this Extreme Metal?” OK, be a historian, not a critic. For its time, it was pretty extreme. Black Metal was Venom’s second album and the one that got Venom noticed. No, it didn’t sell well, but we all knew of it. They sung about Satanism and all those other fun topics that the whole family can sing along to.

Priest vs Maiden for the Heavy Metal crown

Maiden fired Paul Di’anno and replaced him with the air raid siren – Bruce Dickinson. A historic event in Metal, as Dickinson had the consistency, the direction and the stage presence that Di’anno lacked. But in ’82, Priest was King. Judas Priest defined Heavy Metal fashion and hundreds of other bands not only copied their look, but their music as well.

Screaming for Vengeance was the Heavy Metal album that defined Heavy Metal album in 1982. And in 1982, you’d hear very little argument to the contrary. Of course, Iron Maiden will eventually go on and beat Priest in total album sales. But once again, this is 1982, not today.

Ronnie James Dio left Black Sabbath for Dio. Although Speed Metal existed since the late 70s, Accept’s Restless and Wild actually sold albums. And Manowar releases their first album Battle Hymns, which is one of the pioneering Power Metal albums.

Best Metal albums of 1982

Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance – THE Metal album of 1982. Featured the single “You Got Another Thing Comin’,” which we actually saw on MTV and heard on the radio, something that just didn’t happen that often for Metal music in 1982.

Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast – Great album. Contains fan favorites “Run to the Hills” and “Hallowed by thy Name.”

Scorpion’s Blackout – Listening to it now, a few songs don’t hold up too well. But “No One Like You” was another Metal tune that they actually played on the radio and MTV.


Paul Rubino Astral Eyes Symphonic Metal composer

Paul Rubino is a Classically trained Composer. He plays Guitar and Piano for Astral Eyes, the world’s first Romantic Metal band.

Image of Vlad the Impaler is Public Domain. Image of Venom’s Black Metal album cover is Fair Use. Image of Paul used by his permission.

Golden Age Metal – 1981

An Essay on the Golden Age of Metal – 1981. The second in a series of Golden Age of Metal articles

You might want to read this article which gives you a definition of what the Golden Age of Metal and its years are before proceeding. It appears a lot of folks have the definition wrong and falsely believe that the entire 80s was the Golden Age of Metal. No, it was a shorter time period than that.

In the mid-1980s, Metal split into dozens (and later hundreds) of subcategories and you had groups that literally hated each other. It got even more extreme in the 90s when there was at least one actual murder between Black Metal and Death Metal rivals. But let’s rewind here all the way back to 1981.

St. George and the Dragon for Golden Age Metal 1981 article.  Shot by Joachim Köhler

Golden Age Metal 1981

Imagine a time long ago before Metal became mainstream. It was overblown and dead in the late 70s, then suddenly, a New Wave of British Heavy Metal comes out and this time around, instead of the media calling bands “Heavy Metal,” they call themselves “Heavy Metal.” A different time indeed. That time was 1981.

In 1981, you had several things going on.

The rise of Metal, led by NWOBHM

Metal seemed to come out of nowhere. You had Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, and Def Leppard (this is 1981, not 2014) as the premier Heavy Metal bands. The previous year, Priest released British Steel which actually sold records in America. Maiden was still quite underground, but quickly gathering fans in the States. Ozzy of course was having smashing success with his young guitar virtuoso. And Def Leppard was winning over what would become the more mainstream Metal fans in the 80s.

Eddie vs Randy vs George and the battle for Planet Guitar

You know Eddie and Randy. But who the **** is George? That would be George Lynch. According to Joel McIver’s book Crazy Train, at the time there were three top Los Angeles guitarists – Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and George Lynch. A lot of people thought Lynch to be the best of the three but Van Halen had already been signed and had several albums out that were selling a lot of records. Rhoads faltered with Quiet Riot and recently had a pretty whopping success with Ozzy Osbourne. And where was George Lynch? Struggling with Dokken. So despite him being huge in LA, nobody outside of LA knew who he was. So it was Eddie and Randy who ruled Planet Guitar in 1981.

Why is this important? Fast forward a few years and the guitar became the dominant factor in Metal, even more than the vocalist. This is one of the rare cases in history when instrumentalists are more famous than the singers in popular music. That’s why it has historical significance. Sure, you can name bands here and there, but this was an entire scene where it was so.

Best Metal albums of 1981

Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman – To this day, still matters. Musically, Rhoads was on the top of his game and on the top of the world. Ozzy was winning over legions of fans. Everything was peachy. Even if you hated Metal, you know songs from this album and its predecessor. And you’d probably sing along.

Maiden’s Killers – In my not so humble opinion, I loved this album. Not quite mainstream yet, but Maiden was rising fast. This would be the last album with Paul Di’anno before he was booted in favor of Bruce. You know the rest. If you don’t know this album, you should. It has historical significance, and it still stands the test of time.

Def Leppard’s High ‘n’ Dry – Sure, it was Pop Metal, but this is still a damn good album. You’ll see balding men in their late 40s still blasting this album and rocking out, thinking of the days when they’d get drunk and get laid to this album. Fun times indeed. Too bad I’m hearing about them secondhand, but regardless, this is still a good album.

Black Sabbath’s The Mob Rules – Although it didn’t have the historical significance of the other albums, this is the best Sabbath album since the early 70s. Dio paved the way in the world of Swords and Sorcery for future generations of Metalheads. Featuring several choice cuts including two pieces that made the 1981 animated movie Heavy Metal.

Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love – because once again, it has historical significance. Mötley Crüe led the LA scene which eventually would spawn Glam Metal, which would eventually be so bad that Metal would self-destruct and go underground. But like I said, historical significance. This wasn’t a good record. I think even Mötley Crüe would admit this.

-Paul


Paul Rubino guitarist for Astral Eyes for Golden Age Metal 1981 article
Paul Rubino is a Classical Composer/Orchestrator who loves all things Metal. He plays guitar for the world’s first Romantic Metal band – Astral Eyes. He’s proud to say how much he was influenced by Golden Age Metal.

Image of Paul shot by Kate. Thanks Kate! Image of Stained Glass of St. George and the Dragon by Joachim Köhler and licensed CC 3.0. Thanks Joachim!

Huntress Band Review

Huntress Band Review by Bridget for duh-guitars.com

Bridget’s Huntress Band Review

Now, I’ve heard many complaints about how metal has been taken over by symphonic metal bands and thus decreased the quality of metal. Huntress is not a symphonic metal, but a 2009-present traditional metal band.

Huntress is an American Metal band and is fronted by Jill Janus with Bake Meahl on lead guitar.
They currently only have two CDs and have been to Mayhem Festival 2013 ( I got to attend but sadly did not make it to see them.)

Their debut CD is the 2012 Spell Eater, with a total of 11 songs. The first song on the CD is that of the same title “Spell Eater” and was the first song I listened to from the band that made me a fan. The intro of the song has a nice strong guitar strumming along side a cool rhythm guitar melody. The drums follow shortly; this intro is nothing short from being bad ass. At about 0:30 the drums speed up and the guitar and rhythm guitar are dueling for the melody. Jill’s strong vocals then start at 0:34, leaving no time to get tired of the riffs and drums. Around the one minute mark, the guitar riffs change to this really cool melody but gives way to Jill’s strong voice so you are not overwhelmed. At 1;10 that changes into this really racing tempo for the lead guitar, right as Jill is not using her full vocal power. When she goes back to taking the focus, the guitar eases up. They really know how to be well balanced. If there was a way to copy the sounds of the riffs on to paper, I would…but would read “Bun duuuuun dun buh…digdiot do dit do do do DOOOOO” In English, the guitarist is pretty awesome. Specially since I lost hope for any American metal band out there. The whole purpose of the guitar riffs in this song is to convey power and greed and being unable to stop due to dying if the “spell eater” and her coven does. So it turns to not wanting to stop to not being able to.

“Night Rape” is another noteworthy song, however, there is not an official video for this song.
From 1:19 – 1:30, there is this maniacal riff before the vocals come back, following the riff with the lyrics “Can’t sleep can’t breathe”. The vocals describing victims and the riff adding the menacing atmosphere to the song. Starting at 1:45 there is a kickstarter to a longer guitar solo, which starts at 1:53 – 2:21, consisting of scales, shredding and string bending. Giving the song a new urgency besides the danger earlier in the song. Lyrics wise, I feel that “Night Rape” is about society forcing beliefs onto others, not actual rape. Or, you can go for the face value and say it is strictly fantasy lyrics talking about a demon summons gone terribly wrong. Either way, the lyrics are interesting even if they are a little short. And the song gives way to an awesome guitar solo due to how short lyrically it is.

“Terror” is another song from the first CD, the 9th track, actually. The very start of the song, the guitar and drums live up to the title, portraying, terror; shit is about to get real. “No one stays alive” is part of the beginning lyrics…”this is war, you will never get out” is after. The guitars definitely scream that this is strictly war and you won’t be able to fight back. Throughout the song, the guitarist adlibs quite frequently and nicely at that. At 2:05 the guitar solo starts, and it is powerful and distorted and angry and ends at 2:30. Jill’s growl at this point was pretty sweet at that too. Starting at 4:00, the rest of the song is instrumental, telling the listener it was not a very good outcome for those who were attacked. The guitar riffs throughout the end were well worth the wait. One of the best songs to listen to the guitarist in my opinion.

The Second CD is Starbound Beast from 2013, 11 tracks as well, the last track (gasping) a Judas Priest cover! In this CD, there is another guitarist, Anthony Crocamo. You can hear the two different styles of the guitarist throughout the tracks of the CD; it is really awesome to have two guitarists teaming up with two different styles! It gives a cool effect, like that in the song “Blood Sisters”. It is in the whole song, where you can hear the two distinctively. The song is not very thrilling, but musically speaking, especially the beginning until 0:28, the musicians are really talented. This seems to just be on the CD just to show off her band, which doesn’t happen often in a CD.

So, the next song is “I Want to Fuck You to Death”, The vocals are the main point in this song, and rightly so, she is amazing. And then at 2:01, the guitar solo reaps out even more lust to the listener. Back to the song though, at first listen, you will think it is just about, well, sex. However, to me, I hear this coming from a succubus, because “Let me suck your breath”. Succubi, are the female versions of Incubi. Both use sex to drain life out of the person they seduced and they cannot reproduce; so either way it is a provocative song indeed. The guitar solo really makes me want to dance and I can see this being used in a strip club. Not for the obvious reasons honestly, but for the guitar solo, which ends at 2:28. This song should also be noted for having the lowest note I’ve heard her sing so far. The ending instrumentals are pretty fun and her echo of the title until 3:30 is a nice touch and then it just ends. The guitarists do a splendid job all the way up to the last second of the track.

The Last song to judge is…the Judas Priest cover! “Running Wild”. She is very grudging and growly in the song, an aspect I don’t really enjoy. But the long notes she gets to hold out, has nice vibrato. The guitarists and drums have no issue covering this song and they seem perfect.
I wish, vocally, she would have just sang it. Because there is a couple of notes I hear that she is just amazing on and then she starts doing the growly thing. Otherwise, the musicians did perfectly and Jill, not so much.

The rest of the second CD is amazing along with the rest of the first. The Guitarists are fun and talented and the metal style is refreshing since metal is being overrun by “bands” like Cannibal Corpse.

My ratings:

CDs 9/10
Guitar(s) 10/10
Band 10/10


Bridget duh-guitars.com Huntress Band Review

Review by Bridget. Bridget is a professional writer. Her hobbies include guns, knives, and archery. Image of Huntress by Floris Looijesteijn. Licensed under CC 2.0. Thanks Floris! Picture of Bridget used by her permission

Golden Age Metal – 1980

An Essay on the Golden Age of Metal – 1980

You might want to read this article which gives you a definition of what Golden Age Metal is before proceeding. It appears a lot of folks have the definition wrong and falsely believe that the entire 80s was the Golden Age of Metal.

Um, no. Metal started branching in the early 80s and by the mid-80s, you had two camps who would literally get in fist fights at school over what is Metal and what isn’t. No, I’m not exaggerating. That’s how it was.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria looks good for Golden Age of Metal 1980 post

Before we go to 1980, let me say the state of Metal in 1979. Well, let’s just say the press already declared Metal officially dead. Ozzy got fired from Black Sabbath, Punk had already peaked and was being replaced by New Wave, and Disco was huge, (except Disco already had a growing backlash).

One thing people didn’t realize is that there were plenty of Metal bands out there. It was just nobody was signing them.

Enter the New Wave of British Heavy Metal

Shortened to NWOBHM, bands like Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Diamond Head, Saxon, Def Leppard, Angel Witch, and others started to get noticed outside of Britain. NWOBHM bands dropped the Blues influence from earlier Metal bands, incorporated some of Punk’s speed and added a layer of mean. Of course, most of the bands didn’t last, but some of those names you recognize. And one other band struggled in the 70s but got worldwide recognition due to being lumped together with the NWOBHM bands – Judas Priest.

This movement led to a lot of diversity in Metal. Some of the bands like Def Leppard, left Metal altogether and became hard rock. And others influenced what would later become the catch-all phrase “Extreme Metal.”

Must listen to in 1980

Alright, what you really wanted to hear was for me to list the top Golden Age of Metal albums of 1980, right? Note that this may cause some conflict because you might think to yourself “how come he’s not listing AC-DC’s Back in Black or Queen’s The Game?” It’s because, they’re both awesome albums, but they’re not Metal. I love both bands, but Metal is a different beast than hard rock. It is NOT a subset. That’s like calling Country music “Folk.” Sure, it came from Folk, but I don’t think anyone with more than a few brain cells will put them in the same category in 2014.

Golden Age Metal 1980

Judas Priest’s British Steel. I’ve always admired Priest for flying the Metal flag, even when it would cost them album sales. Here they are declaring their Metalness. Songs like “Breaking the Law” and “Metal Gods” have become classics. Also notable about this album is it gave Metal the “Metal look.” The previous album, they dressed like this as well, but it was British Steel that really gave Metal its look.

Iron Maiden’s Iron Maiden. Love this album. The beginnings of Progressive Metal can be traced to this album. Also, Maiden incorporated all the things that made Punk great and combined them with Metal.

Motörhead’s Ace of Spades. One of the originators of what would become Speed Metal, a genre that lasted only a few years before being incorporated into Thrash Metal. But a very important genre indeed in the History of Metal.

Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz. Still to this day one of the greatest albums ever in any genre. The Ozzy camp discovered Los Angeles legend Randy Rhoads and the rest was history. “Mr. Crowley,” “Suicide Solution,” “Revelations Mother Earth,” “Goodbye to Romance,” “Dee,” heck, the whole album was one classic song after another.

Diamond Head’s Lightning to the Nations. Listening to it now, it sounds dated and cheesy. But even today, songs like “The Prince” and “Helpless,” you can tell would have been pretty good songs if they had a better Producer. At the time though, this was a pretty influential album.

Saxon’s Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law. These albums actually somewhat hold up. Both albums declare their Metalness. Both are bold. Although Saxon never became big in the States (I saw them open up for Yngwie), they definitely deserve their place in Metal History.

Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell. Overshadowed by the better Blizzard of Ozz, this album is notable for Dio’s dungeons and dragons like imagery. Musically decent, lyrically set the stage for a lot of 80s Metal.

-Paul


Paul Rubino guitarist for Astral Eyes for Golden Age Metal 1980 article
Paul Rubino is the Guitarist, Pianist, Composer, and Orchestrator for the world’s first Romantic Metal band – Astral Eyes. He’s proud to say how much he was influenced by Golden Age Metal.

Image of Paul shot by Kate. Thanks Kate! Image of castle from Library of Congress and is in Public Domain. Author unknown. Thanks unknown person!

Dream Evil Review

Welcome back! This review is for the Swedish Metal band Dream Evil. Here is the brief background information to get started: Swedish band, formed in 1999-still formed, and they have had different guitarist and other band members over the years. There are five CDs from this band.

Dream Evil for Bridget's Dream Evil Review

Bridget’s Dream Evil Review

The first CD, Dragonslayer, has 12 songs total. In the song “Heavy Metal in the Night”, you get this awesome riff, and the drums join in. It feels like the old epics from Homer if they had a Metal soundtrack; sounds like war, power, fame! About 2:50 or so into the song you get the start of the guitar solo. I loved how the guitarist entered in the solo by doing the sliding on the guitar. Throughout this song, they sound victorious. So, I listened to yet another song. So I tried the ballad “Losing You”, it is just the piano and the lead vocals, beautiful and painful, until 1:02 the guitar hits a strong strum, sending the shivers through even more than the start of the piano’s weeping melody. The guitar is slow, strong, and passionate, perfectly balancing out the piano’s sorrow and the vocal’s longing. The lyrics are powerful and it is done justice with the guitar and piano. As the song builds up vocally, the guitar solo starts using a lot of bending on the chords and strings and a lot of small slides; it makes the guitar sigh and cry.

The guitarist for this CD is Gus G. Hi is only 33 and is Greek. He has been with a lot of bands which include Arch Enemy and Ozzy. No wonder why he is so amazing! He is on Evilized and The Book of Heavy Metal. So, Evilized has 12 songs originally, however, since the band is infamous in Japan, they get three bonus tracks.

The song “Children of the Night” starts with a distorted rhythm guitar which leads into the lead guitar shredding. This song is calling out for all those lost souls, for all the insomniacs out there.

It is catchy and I could not help dancing to the guitars – lead and rhythm. “Children of the night, searching for the light…One can never be prepared” and then the shredding guitar solo kicks in at 2:33. I was singing along, the guitar solo picked back up. The guitar riffs are so…energetic and, well, metal! It seems to me, that the CDs going forward get better and better. The Rhythm guitarist has been there since 99’ – today; after all it is his band – Fredrik Nordstrӧm.

The second song for Evilized is “By My Side”, the moment I played this song, I went “woah…” my speech was taken from me from the drums and the rhythm guitar riff the started as soon as the YouTube video loaded. It is another fighting/war riff that pounds along side the drums. It is urgent and less about fun in a war like “Heavy Metal in the Night”. “By My Side” is more about pressing forward, loyalty and the stress of battle. You can hear the loss of war in the speed of the riff of the guitars and the drums. “dun dun dun dun…dun dun…(insert odd guitar solo here)”. By odd, I mean unique, I have yet to hear how the short solo is started anywhere else. It sounded almost techno like but is was purely just the guitar and how Gus G. was bending the strings and chords. You can hear the difference in the guitar riffs and solos from the two songs. “Heavy Metal in the Night” is saying “Yeah, let’s rape, pillage, and kill! We will win! We always are victorious, no matter the enemy!”. The guitars are joyous while you can still tell it is sounding like war, while “By My Side”’s riffs and solo is more about just surviving in war.

The third CD The Book of Heavy Metal, Gus G stayed around for the recording and was then replaced by Markus Fristedt for live performances of previous music and for the fourth CD United. I will not review the third CD as the line up of band members kept changing. You can hear the difference is though, and it is still a good CD musically. Just really confusing. As the singers, drummers, and guitarists were in and out of the album. The musical direction also changed slightly. But it isn’t of any complaint.

United, the fourth CD, has a great and fun opening song “Fire! Battle! In Metal!” It is just pure fun, with amazing entering guitars! It is, in my opinion, more pop-y however, because it is so catchy.

The lyrics are not intelligent at all, and it obviously for fun. 2:38 has a short guitar solo that should have been longer, as it was really fun and very enabling of dancing. The whole CD is very different. You can hear the change in drums and guitars, it is more tin sounding and more hammering and a kind of not so good but not bad either. I personally like it, yet miss the sound of the first two CDs. Some people might not welcome the change as much as I did, which is why I had stated it is not bad nor good. The guitar riff in “Let Me Go” is still really strong and unbridled, just, different in style. Markus is a lot different than Gus G and you can tell. This song’s major solo starts at 3:08 and is a lot more melodic and slower than that of Gus G. It is all about preference, I like both styles. So I will also talk about “Love is Blind” off of this CD. It starts slowly and builds up. no specific solo until 3:34. Until then, the slower parts are arranged awkwardly for the vocals and the heavier parts are better. The solo is pretty awesome as in one part sounded for Native American music-ish.

The Latest CD is In The Night. The first song “Immortal” had an awesome guitar riff and intro. the vocal are back to normal, the guitarist is Daniel Varghamne. His style is amazing, definitely better than Markus from United and is good if you preferred Gus G. No foul on Markus, he is just as talented, just a style preference for me. Even lyrically is back on track of the first two CDs.

“In The Night” is nice and heavy; it sounds like another war anthem. The riff during this song is distorted and angry; it seeps out demanding intentions to rally the troops. It is a war anthem for Metal music! The whole CD (not counting the Japan bonuses) is beautifully done. It is definitely a nice come back from all the line up issues.The only thing is, the CD’s theme, it is about being a rock star, about being in a metal band, about hardship and beliefs.

The only thing is, Daniel left and Markus came back, so the current line up is: Fredrik (rhythm), Niclas (vocals), Peter (bass), Pat (drums), and Markus (lead guitar).

Each musician is amazing. It just comes down to preferences.

Ratings:

I will rate things from a talent perspective to prevent my own biases

CDs Overall 10/10
Guitarist(s) 10/10
Band overall 10/10

Each member has talent, and each CD has something for everyone. I would have spent more time on each CD but probably would be a novella if I analyzed every detail.


Review by Bridget.

Bridget duh-guitars.com music reviews Dream Evil Review

Bridget is a professional writer. Her hobbies include guns, knives, and archery. Dream Evil image shot in 2008 by Anchjo. Anchjo allowed this image to be used as Public Domain. Thanks Anchjo! Image of Bridget used by her permission.

Active vs Passive pickups

A War of Words – Active vs Passive Pickups

What are better, active or passive pickups?

If you’re a guitarist, you may get asked this a lot by inexperienced players. Do like active or passive pickups better?

Well, what are the differences?

First off, active pickups use batteries. Passive ones don’t. If you’re the type of person who fears your batteries going out at the worst possible time, then you probably shouldn’t use active pickups. But fear not, when the batteries start getting weak, you’ll know it’s time to replace them. The sound becomes, well, weak, and it will be time to replace them.

Then why use active pickups in the first place? Well, active pickups are more predictable. And more consistent. And block out noise much better than passive pickups.

DiMarzio pickups in an Ibanez Xiphos

That sounds like active pickups are better, right? It depends on your taste. Passive pickup fans say that passive pickups sound more natural. Also, if you’re playing dynamic music, meaning if you want more significant volume changes depending on how heavy or soft you play the guitar, you’re gonna want to use passive pickups. Active pickups have a more compressed sound, which means that the volumes will be more consistent.

Personally, I can’t stand active pickups. I hate them. I think they sound unnatural and I prefer the dynamics of passive pickups. I used to swear by Seymour Duncan pickups, but after playing a few other solid passive pickups, I’ve stopped having an allegiance to one brand.

That’s not to say actives don’t have their purpose. One advantage of active pickups is playing live. Between songs, with passives, you have to either have some noise filter or be quick with your pinky finger at working the volume knob. I got really good at working the volume knob. Not everyone wants to do that though, and not everyone wants a noise gate.

How much do pickups affect the tone anyways? They’re a part of it. I wrote an earlier article here on tone and another one here on a few studio tone tricks. They’re a part of it, but there are several other factors in determining tone.

As always though, you have to do what’s right for you. Just because I prefer the tones of passive pickups doesn’t mean you will also.

-Paul


Paul Rubino Astral Eyes the sweet smell of gunpowder
Paul Rubino is a Classically trained Composer. He plays Guitar and Piano for Astral Eyes. He’s also an amateur historian, a gun nut, and a fan of the Green Bay Packers who still has a soft spot for Brett Favre, despite the harsh breakup.