Welcoming to Metal Madness Month! This month will feature only posts about varying types of Metal, as well as a few in depth pieces you might not expect. Let’s get started.
Since the early 80’s, one band has come to epitomize classic American metal and Thrash. This band is Slayer. Their severely uncompromising views of religion, death, the holocaust, cannibalism and various forms of unpleasantness quickly found a niche and over the course of ten albums they’ve driven their ideas into the minds of metalheads everywhere. Today I give to you Slayer’s Top Ten Best Songs. Enjoy!
10. Mandatory Suicide, South of Heaven
From the onset, the guitars, courtesy of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King are hollowing, and Lombardo's drums are exacting. One thing you are likely not to find in the concept of what is Slayer as a band is much in the way of happiness. “Bullet holes in your face” are but one of the choice lyrics used to describe a world in which “Mandatory Suicide” is a way of life, or rather a way of death. Many people grow darker as they get older, but this was still made when the band was much younger, so imagine how negative they are now. Anyway, at number ten of our Top Ten Slayer songs, “Mandatory Suicide.”
9. South of Heaven, South of Heaven
One of many of their classic, well known songs, the title track off the 1988 album is a slow burner in every sense of the word. “South of Heaven” is extremely dark and satanic, but the instrumentation is that which modern metal is built upon. The guitars are slightly tuned down, and even when it get’s faster in its tempo, it’s still downtuned.When vocalist Tom Araya screams “On and on south of Heaven” you feel the blackness taking over your every fiber, and honestly, it’s energizing. Metal isn’t supposed to be happy or positive, and only a few bands do that well. Having said that. Slayer knows madness, and with “chaos rampant in an age of distrust,” smart men stick to what they know.
8. Dead Skin Mask, Seasons in the Abyss
“Dance with the dead in my dreams” is a weird thing to hope for when you’re ready for bedtime, but I’m not one to judge. The song features an opening that sees a grim but soft spoken voice calmly talking over a heady guitar riff. Typical stuff for this band, but it’s done very well. Araya’s voice is uncharastically slow and steady earlier on, but as the song progresses it reaches it’s signature howl. The icing on top of this violent cake however, is the children screaming at the end of the track. Even for Slayer, its highly unsettling, but in the context of a song called “Dead Skin Mask,” it works.
7. Piece by Piece, Reign in Blood
This album changed metal forever, and it’s full of many great tracks, but Number seven on our Top Ten songs by Slayer, “Piece by Piece” sees the band at it’s sadistic best. The song never lets up during it’s quick two minute pace, but it’s an immediate song from an immediate band. Every weapon the band has here is utilized well. The guitars are fast and driving, while Dave’s drums are even faster and more on point than the other instruments present on the song. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it track, but not a track worth skipping over.
6. Bloodline, God Hates Us All
While this song is easily the tamest, most radio friendly track on this list, that’s not to discount it. By this album the band had matured a bit, but they never went friendly. The music coming out is still signature Slayer, and it’s a mighty song full of conflict and ultimate victory. For me it’s one of the highlights of “God Hates Us All,” and it ties in the themes of the album in one solid track. Arya’s patented voice is at his best, and the band even tries a few new things out here guitar wise. When you hear the words “I’ll kill you and your dreams tonight,” you can’t help but raise your “devil horns” and “let your bloodline feed my youth.”
5. Stain of Mind, Diabolus in Musica
This is one of their albums that doesn’t get mentioned too often, but this track is great. This sees the band blasting all sorts of religion and and hypocrisy of being judged by those who seek to cleanse you. Jeff H. also really does a great job here of having a guitar part that is as hard hitting as the lyrics are. There are songs that make your head bounce joyously for the dark side, and this, at Number five, is very much one of them.
4. Disciple, God Hates Us All
The intro that comes before this song is amazing and a perfect buildup for the album, but this song is even more awesome. It starts with a huge crash, and from then on out we’re in for hell bent metal at it’s best and most evil. This was the first Slayer album I ever bought for myself, but having heard the other records i knew what to expect. Even that though, didn’t prepare me. the album is sometimes overlooked, but I think it’s an unfair slight. Slayer kills it on this record, and this track starts everything off in the right way. Sadly, the record was released on 9-11, so it laid a dark tone over the record release, for obvious reasons.
3. Angel of Death, Reign in Blood
An “Angel of Death” is something I think we’ve all thought was following us at some point or another, but to hear to Tom Araya tell it, it’s a force of nature that has overtaken or attempted to overtake souls for centuries. Tales of patient torture, Nazi death camps, and serial killer Ed Gein are just some of the dark deeds spoken of in this amazing track, but I feel like it’s used to indicate the sometimes unrelenting need for human beings to destroy the world around them. Even beyond that though, the music is superior. The guitar solo rounding out the song is at a breakneck pace, and the kick drum solo briefly derails the solo and the forms into one big glorious noise monster.
2. War Ensemble, Seasons in the Abyss
This song, in and of itself, was made for the brutalities of war. I was going to highlight some choice lyrics, but with this song is nearly impossible. All of the verses are chosen to show the beast that is modern warfare. The best one’s though, without a doubt are the rallying cries “War Support” that run through the song. When you hear the song it’s very easy to picture those old black and white videos and images of the war crimes and battles we’ve all seen for decades as part of the evening news, but it really does go hand in hand with the kick ass song.
1. Raining Blood, Reign in Blood
Certain songs are just obvious number ones, and this is one of them. There’s no better Slayer song than the masterpiece that is “Raining Blood.” The song begins with darkness, thunder, and imposing evil. Then, all hell breaks loose when the guitar begins, and before long, the whole band is running for it’s musical life to a pace that would make most bands half their age call it quits. I was fortunate enough to have seen this band quite a few times, and this is always the highlight. They’ve even been known to rain blood over the stage from time to time. What i wouldn’t give to see that. The song, even when not discussing the band directly, is mentioned as one of the best heavy metal tracks of all time. For me, it’s up there with Metallica’s “One” as one of the greatest metal tracks of the eighties, and for good reason. Number one on the Top Ten Slayer songs, the gloriously menacing “Raining Blood.”
It's Times like these we learn to love again( Or my top 10 must see bands at the Voodoo Music Fest 2014)
So Voodoo Fest in New Orleans is only a few weeks away, and frankly, I'm slightly excited. I've been many times before, and if you're a fan of the city and a crazy mix of music, you should have fun. Obviously, much has been made of the declining quality of recent lineups, but this year is a bit better than most. Still nowhere near what they could be doing in my opinion, but for a somewhat major festival 5 miles from my house, it's pretty good. Just as a warning, on this list you're not going to find any of the big name dance acts, or even just big names. Honestly, I picked the ten that are the most fun for me, and ran with it. These bands are all good in their own way, and if you haven't heard of any of these, you should check them out. It's a pretty diverse group, but so is this festival. Anyway, here are my top 10 must see acts of Voodoo weekend!
10. Flow Tribe, 3:00, Ritual Stage, Saturday November 1st
So I saw these funky New Orleanians at the festival last year (not to mention a show a few months later at a club that was just as much fun) and they absolutely blew me away. Just tons of fun, amazing energy, and a great mid afternoon set. The singer, K.C., even used to come through where I formerly worked and we would chat about shows and music. This year, they open the Main Stage, and if they bring the same amount of energy as they've displayed previously, that stage is going to be full of swagger and smiling faces once these fella's get moving. One of the best known local bands in town, they deserve to be bigger, and hopefully after you see them, you'll agree.
9. The Revivalists, 3:30, Flambeau Stage, Sunday November 2nd
I first saw these guys at Jazz Fest a few years ago and was totally taken off guard. They have a ton of talent and a pretty good following around the city. The sound is slightly funk, some indie rock, and a voice vaguely reminiscent of Alice in Chains' Layne Staley. If you like any of what I just mentioned, take a walk over and see them. This will be my third time seeing them, and if you are looking for new bands to check out, I highly suggest you make it to their set. The timing of their set is also really ideal. It's a great time of the day to watch a band, have a few drinks, and start dancing. If that's your sort of thing, get there.
8. Big Freedia, 9:00, Carnival Stage, Saturday November 1st
Ass everywhere. Basically that's all you need to know. This originator of NOLA Bounce is well known in the area and is one of the pioneer's of the genre. I've seen her quite a few times, and it's both the most energetic and surreal show you'll see. You might think I'm being fucked up, but it's awesome and ridiculous and will have everyone shaking their asses the whole time. Even if the crowd isn't initially getting their ass shaking on, the dancers on stage will be. You're likely not even going to see their faces because of ass. Bounce music at it's core here, so be aware of what you're getting yourself into.
7. Givers, 7:00, Flambeau Stage, Saturday November 1st
Another great band from the state, Givers come two hours west from Lafayette and bring with them a pretty unique and fun take on the local indie scene around the state. A little bit pop, a little folkly, they've been around for awhile now, and have steadily gotten better and more well known. They even played Coachella and Bonnaroo, so they have a little national cred going for them. The second album isn't out yet, but expect them to share plenty from the upcoming record at their set on Day two of the festival.
6. Rise Against, 6:00, Ritual Stage, Friday October 31st
One of the best, most energetic shows I've seen, these guys really know how to bring the A game for shows, and I'm incredibly pumped to see them for a second them. Some people might not consider the music punk rock or not, but the tone of the message is without a doubt in line with other well known punk bands. Something about the anthematic qualities of the music, and the optimism they have in their message really drive the point home. Seeing them in a club was fantastic, so hopefully they can win the crowd over and make a lasting impact. You'll be able to find me somewhere, singing and pumping my fists in the air, because well, that's what you do at a Rise Against show.
5. 30 Seconds to Mars, 7:45, Ritual Stage, Saturday November 1st
I'm sorry, they're a guilty pleasure, and not all of their music is great, but Jared Leto is the one person who did a good job at both music and acting. That being said, I was surprised to see them on the lineup because I wasn't even aware they made music anymore, but it should be a cool show. I'm aware they have quite a large fanbase, so it should be interesting to see how big the turnout is. It's been a bit since I have listened to them, but the first album is still pretty amazing, so i'm looking forward to seeing the 30 Seconds to Mars brand of sci-fi futuristic rock hard as the night fills the sky.
4. Slayer, 7:30, Ritual Stage, HALLOWEEN FUCKING NIGHT.
As a kid growing up, Slayer was one of my favorite bands, and to this day, I'll still throw on some “Reign in Blood” when the mood strikes. Seriously, one of my favorite items I own is a pair of limited edition of Slayer shoes, that still look good even after 12 years or so. Easily the most brutal band on the bill, and wouldn't you know it, they're unleashing hell on All Hallow's Eve. I've seen them a number of times, and it's always loud, in your face, and chaotic. Also, they're direct support to Outkast, so that should make for a very intriguing crowd mix. How are hip hop fans going to deal with one of the most unabahsedly evil bands of all time? Only time will tell, but even if you aren't a fan of old school demonic thrash metal, it's worth it just to say you've seen Slayer.
3. Outkast, 9:20, Ritual Stage, Friday October 31st
Finally, I get to see one of the best, most original hip hop acts of the last 30 years. These legends have done so much for modern music it's absurd. A few of the early shows had subpar reviews, but it seems Andre and Big Boi have found their groove and the shows have gotten progressively better. It's going to be right after Slayer, so hopefully everyone still has energy because I'm sure these ATLiens plan to make the asses move and to close out the first day of the festival in utter happiness.
2. Death From Above 1979, 4:30, Ritual Stage. Saturday November 1st
Just two days ago I wrote about these guys, so you know I'm stoked for them. They will lay waste to the park when they walk on stage. A different type of heavy from Slayer, but they might actually cause more destruction. For a two man band, they're going to bring enough ammo to make sure everyone is gasping for air once they exit the grounds. As you can see from their placement on this list, they're one of the main reasons I'm going to the festival, and I plan to bring my dancing shoes and thrashing about in a state of panicked jubilation for the duration of their set. Cheers, there is “Blood on our Hands” again.
1. Foo Fighters. 6:30, Ritual Stage, Sunday November 2nd
Whether or not you're fan of this band, the show itself is worth checking out. However, if you are a fan and haven't seen them before, you're in for one hell of a show. Two and half hours of amazing songs, a metric shit ton of energy and mulitple sing a longs sounds like the exact way to end a great weekend. The new album won't be out until later that week, but i'm sure we'll hear plenty of new tracks, along with plenty of other songs from their previous albums. I can't even decide which songs I want to hear the most, but whether or not they play any of them doesn't really concern me. Oh, as you may or may not know, a few songs off the new record were recorded here in New Orleans, so there's a pretty good chance the Foo's will have some surprises up their sleeves for us. These guys were made to create music, and on the last day they're gonna show us why they continue to be one of the best working bands in music.
Hope you enjoyed the list, See you in two weeks!!
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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