Wednesday, May 26, 2010


To be honest, metal's one of those genres- like jazz, R'n'B, hard house, pygmy nose flute, American Oi! and Japanese power electronics - that's left me pretty cold over the years. It's hard to identify the stumbling block, given that I can happily fuck up my eardrums with aggressive, discordant punk 'til the cowpats come home. Maybe it's the fact I find guitar solos boring, or it could just be that lyrics about summoning up demons / riding down Sunset Strip on a Harley, with a bottle of JD, ((bleeuccch on both counts, though Sunset Strip sounds like it could be a sleazy laugh)) don't float my liferaft. Plus there's the fact that long hair makes me look exactly like my sister ((I don't know who gets the worse deal in this scenario)). I only ever managed a Bobby Sands length barnet once, and that was only cos I was too skint to afford a haircut for months. Or, more accurately, I was spending my money down the pub a lot.

When I was a nipper, there was a graffito in Burnt Oak that read "NF - KKK - IRON MAIDEN", and that's pretty much how I remember that group, fairly or not; a sort of beer band for racist hooligans. Suffice to say, I was staggered when the group ended up colonising every Athena poster store in late '80s Britain. That beefy Chippendale holding the baby, Bart Simpson or a zombie waving a Union Flag - take your pick! I was especially gobsmacked as I consider Iron Maiden's music to be utterly irritating, tuneless drivel, but that's another argument for another day.

In Luton, even if you considered yourself the biggest bollocks anarchist going, you had to form a bond with 'alternatives' of every shade and hue. Sure, Slash was a twat who couldn't handle real whisky, and Crass were the only honest band ever, but you had to get on with G'n'R fans. After all, there were hundreds of kids out there in shell suits and flat top haircuts who hated your guts and would happily bash you for being a freak, so we needed to form alliances wherever we could, and to hell with The Ungovernable Force pissing all over Appetite for Destruction ((or vice versa)). I suppose this period was mainly up until 1992. Somehow, after that year, everyone became a lot more tolerant and less tribal. Except for the Babes In Toyland and Brutal Attack fans, but that's been covered elsewhere on this chickenpox-ridden URL.

One of my friends was a massive metal fan - I suppose you'd call it 'black' or 'death' metal now ((I don't have a clue)) but back then it was pretty much "thrash". The subcultural style seemed to be armless denim jackets festooned with band patches, studded armbands, ripped jeans, bullet belts and those big chunky basketball boots that were all the rage back then. He was especially fond of a band called Bathory, apparently a one-man unit from Sweden, who was rumoured to be a necrophiliac Satanist who lived in a bat shit-mottled castle and drank groupies' blood, or something. He also had dozens of LPs by other bands who seemed to relish posing in graveyards and producing record covers depicting some cartoon act of decapitation ((usually involving monsters or ghouls - and, occasionally, a guest appearance by His Satanic Majesty himself)). I can't really scoff; after all, I owned a copy of Why by Discharge, which had archive photos of Belsen corpses and Soviet Belarus child victims strewn across the front cover - no doubt to emphasise the fact that the band were NOT PART OF THE FUCKING MUSIC BIZ CIRCUS...and in no way to persuade curious teenage vinyl-buyers to hand over their dosh, in the belief that this must be the HARDEST MUSIC EVER MADE ((Why did come close, to be fair)).

Meanwhile, my brother in law ((and his sister)) was into what you'd probably call 'hard rock' - Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Judas Priest and similar bands who specialised in videos featuring blondes with perms and big breasts writhing around in front of a wind machine, or high speed bike chases, or whatever. I thought they all looked stupid ((ZZ Top were particularly horrific, though I suppose their brainless, 'Benny Hill goes redneck' MTV vids are now considered suitably 'post-ironic')). At least my sister's husband managed to subvert the usual popist argument that heavy metal's the preserve of privileged white males.

Anyway...I decided to work out which metal albums I could live with, and I came up with this cluster. I make no apologies for pissing off REAL metal fans, this is entirely subjective ((and remember, I listen to disco acts called Gay Cat Park)). I've excluded Thin Lizzy, because I don't think they really slot into the 'Metal' category, and no fucking way are you lot claiming Jimi Hendrix either. No Black Sabbath or Led Zep, cos, apart from Paranoid and Immigrant Song, I thought they were absolutely diabolical. Also, there's hardly any hair metal in this list, but I did find that Decline of Western Civilization 2 film quite amusing. Even though my mum forced me to turn it off before the end. Best comment box abuser wins a Bolt Thrower badge.


As trashed as early-'90s Camden High Street at 4am. Fuck irony, this is a brilliant LP; OK, the chart hits were on Tattooed Beat Messiah, but I reckon this one wins outright, just for the title track, Hymn of the Speed Kings, Dangerous and Wild Child. I'd also highly recommend Mark Manning's autobiography Crucify Me Again, which is packed with debauched brags about consuming live rodents, albino kung-fu masters, a totally unhinged journalist girlfriend ((she slagged off a certain transgendered industrial superstar in an issue of 'New Humanist', if you're wondering)), firing crossbows at each other on tour, dropping UXO off the top of a tower block, getting a pierced willy with Marc Almond...oh, and possibly the most hilariously OTT account of the 1981 Chapeltown riots ever committed to paper.

See, this is what it's about: "I STORM THE GATES OF HEAVEN / ON WHEELS MADE IN HELLL!" One of my former flatmates actually yakked up from laughing at the VHS they put out, though we had been drinking since midday. But there was nothing remotely kitsch about Zod - this album's the sound of a man confronting his inner beast, and finding a werewolf driving a Panzer tank over a field of weeping Keane fans. Fucking ace.


Some old goths reckon that this band was pretty much toast after its Southern Death Cult / Death Cult incarnations, but I think that's rubbish. OK, I could live without the cover of Born To Be Wild, but the rest of this platter is total class. I remember the evening that the Wild Flower video popped on TV ((can't recall which show)), and my mum took one look at Ian Astbury, and said, "She's pretty". Oh hang on, that might have been Motley Crue...OK, I don't really remember it. But that piss-simple riff burned its way into my brain and I became a Cult fanatic overnight. When I picked up Electric on cassette, the year I started secondary school, I caned it so much I had to buy a replacement copy a few months later. In my tiny mind, The Cult soon emerged as the biggest rivals to The Pogues, causing me much gleefully pointless self-introspection.

The Cult were the nomad outlaws of the M1. While other boys my age dreamed of raiding Kim Basinger's laundry basket, Electric was busy comparing raven-haired, biker-jacketed, sultry vixens with flowers and devils. It was as if Yorkshire had decided to re-write beatnik history, with Astbury ((an ex-Crass fan)) selling his soul to Old Nick at Junction 31, and rock'n'roll clambering out of a nicotine-stained curry house at dawn, gasping for a B&H. Maybe I was just a hopeless sucker for lines like Mayhem children take no lip, Fallen angel, out of time!, I'm a wolf child baby, howlin' for you, B-52 baby, way up in the sky, She came on with a cyclone kiss, etc.

I mean, Li'l Devil basically has Ian Astbury playing Jesus, re-enacting the Big Yin's 40-day desert fast in some one-horse backwater, with a gothed-up scorpion child completely shattering his attempts to meditate - can you get any more fucking post-Byronic?

A-Punk and Industrial might have completely derailed me years later, but that bit in the album closer Memphis Hip Shake, where Astbury's crooning You'll never get back hoommme! at least vandalised some of the train tracks. And, 23 years on, I still never get sick of listening to this.

Sadly, after this album, Astbury developed an ego the size of China and Sonic Temple was a lame follow-up. The Pogues also came crashing down in due course, and I recall feeling totally cheated and inexplicably saddened by 95% of Hell's Ditch.


Eight true, unbelievable facts:

1) The singer's name was Jesse and the drummer was called Big Dick.

2) Wild Cat sounds like the bastard offspring of AC/DC and Thin Lizzy, with a bit of Motorhead thrown in. And a sliver of Cockney Rejects, every now and then.

3) The lyrics to Euthanasia ((Come into the chamber / It's really clean / You won't catch any diseases / Hey gran, we're not that mean)) could have been culled from a punk 7".

4) Jesse was apparently kicked out of the band after this debut LP, and the Tygers became a 5-piece with a real singer ((who did more than just rasp in a transatlantic accent)). From thereon in, they sucked.

5) Money is about as heavy metal as a grim reaper tattoo and a crash helmet with viking horns.

6) Wild Catz sounds like a gang of bikers heading off to chase soul boys around a car park, and Jesse pronounces "cycle" as "sickel", which Phil Lynott also did once. I don't know why I find this so endearing.

7) My brother in law gave me his copy, because I thought the front cover looked great. He also gave me a copy of Spellbound, which was total shit ((see 4)).

8) Their name's filched from a Michael Moorcock novel, or something.


I could never bring myself to check out Venom, 'cos their singer looked like an old woman, and Metallica were so physically repulsive ((and had such a stupid name)) they were also off the cards. As for Slayer, fuck that pro-Pinochet dickhead. Megadeth couldn't spell and all I remember about Anthrax was they did some godawful 7" with Public Enemy, which wasn't a patch on the Beastie Boys, and were always being mentioned in '2000AD' comic. Anyway, this aforementioned mate was nuts about Bathory, and why not - named after a Hungarian aristocrat who used to butcher virgin peasant girls and bathe in their blood ((B..but...they said it would help my complexion!)), and with lyrics dedicated to popular topics such as Satan, Satan, Satan, Satan, Satan, Satan and Satan. Oh, and Satan.

While I can't pretend to have given Bathory ((not sure how you pronounce it, my mate went for 'Barfory')) much thought since my voice broke, I did download this off Mediafire recently, and have to admit - the opening salvo of Hades, Reaper and Necromansy ((sic)) actually sounds great at full blast! Kind of like a cross between GBH and early Motorhead when they were still speed-freaking their way across Ladbroke Grove, though the vocals remind me of a joke somebody once made about Ian Curtis going shopping ((I can't do it here, you need the vocal effect)).

To be honest, I stopped listening to this at the point where Necromansy descends into solo wanking, and popped Black Is Soul - The Pama Singles Collection onto my playlist instead, but Bathory does bring back a funny memory of the time we had a school trip to York Castle and our teacher went ballistic after the attendants asked us to leave. I think some kid called Patrick nearly knocked a suit of armour over, but I was busy howling and running up and down the stairs with two other idiots, to the other visitors' disgust. My Bathory-digging mate played this album on repeat on the coach journey there and back. We got in trouble for running around in a service station too. I have no idea why our school trips all ended in detentions or reprimands. I doubt this Scandi ever drank anyone's blood and I'm bloody glad I had Conflict instead, but I wouldn't mind if somebody wanted to stick this on the turntable. Wholesome, mindless fun.
through bizarre circumstances - mostly my job - Ian Astbury came to my birthday party once. This was in the late 90s before he joined the Doors (snigger) and he was dead sweet. Reticent even. Although he did forsake the wearing of trousers at one point, in favour of ethnic wraps, when I worked with him, which enabled me to feed a headline to a music paper "Ian Astbury: What's Gone Sarong?"
Oh yeah, forgot about the Doors...IMO, he could have picked a much better backing band, but I guess it was sort of apt they chose him. Sarongs are unforgivable, though. Oh God, please don't tell me if he ever wore flip flops, or it'll be raining dying fairies.

I'm not sure what happened to them in the '90s: I vaguely remember a new album, around '94, with a ram's head on the cover (poss?) but I couldn't be bothered to check it out. I remember reading that they went on tour with Metallica and quit half-way through, with Astbury berating the audience for awful music taste (ha ha!) and loudly voicing his opinion that The Cult should have been headlining.
i worked with them about 96-97 when Beggars reissued the main 4 albums. I had all these journos begging for the remastered CDs (and promo Love tshirts) and then refusing to discuss it when I asked if they were going to review anything. Dirty little secret, clearly. I did see Astbury's AWFUL band round that time, Holy Barbarians: at Phoenix, he tried to do a clever "drop the tambourine onto his heel, flick it back, catch it and keep banging it" routine, but it went wrong and hit a punter in the face...
Saw Zodiac Mindwarp back in the day; they were utterly brilliant.

I was at the bar getting a beer in when they came on stage, but they put so much dry-ice out to mark their entrance that it flooded the venue. Even up at the bar there was a total white-out, so that the barmaid could no longer see me and vice versa. The band came on and bumbled around, presumably unable to find amps, etc, so intro-music played on and on until normal vision was resumed....

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