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Drinking with the Devil Dick, by Tommy Southard

Posted in Columns on May 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been almost exactly three years since guitarist Tommy Southard of SolaceThe Disease ConceptSocial Decay, etc., last turned in a Drinking with the Devil Dick beer column, but hey, I’ve got an open door policy and a permanent soft spot for Tommy, so it’s not like when he hit me up and said he wanted to do one I was about to say no. Would never happen. This time around, he hits up Tired Hands and Weyerbacher Brewing near his home outside Philadelphia, and samples a variety of fare, including candied bacon and a beer called “Stoner Witch.”

Solace have a reunion gig booked for this fall at the Vultures of Volume II fest. More info on that to come. In the meantime, enjoy:

i see darkness imperial honey porter on cask with local rasberries

11179977_10206261615597564_3977048150518709014_nWell hello there Obelisk-ers,

It’s been a long time!

Devil Dick here to talk about my current favorite place on Earth to drink beer!

A few years ago a brewery opened up not to far away from where we live in Ardmore, PA. We were intrigued but did not visit right away because I remember my wife “Yelped” it and people were talking about the food portions being small. And my second fave thing after drinking beer is eating, so we passed. I remember telling her I didn’t want to leave being hungry. So it took a while before we took a chance and ventured in. Man, I wish we were there the day they opened because the beers were AMAZING.

The place is called “Tired Hands” and they’ve have become something of a sensation across the triple beers with candied bacon and pannini -1400country. Beer nerds all over salivate to get one of their limited bottle releases in their hands.

The beers are fresh, different and never disappointing. It didn’t take long before the small place that was pumping out 1,000 barrels per year was unable to keep up in production. The once-easy-to-get-a-spot-at bar was full to capacity almost all the time. Fast forward a few years and they opened up a new and much bigger spot called “Fermentaria” just a few blocks away. This larger facility has the capability to bring beer to the Pennsylvania masses, 10,000 barrels per year. The beer has now become available at other bars around the city of Philadelphia. Pretty awesome stuff!

Jean Broillet IV and his wife Julie Foster are locals who have created an instant Mecca for beer nerds in ‘burbs of Philadelphia.

He is mad scientist of brewing, making kooky and delicious beers using interesting ingredients of all kinds. He started out learning the brew trade at Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton Pennsylvania. Jean’s main brewing focus is farmhouse ales. The brewery has brewed so many different beers that I can’t even keep track of them all. Lucky for me, a while back I started saving my growler tags so I remember the beers I had! IStoner Witch really should keep a notebook but then I’d become one of those beer geeks, heh…

Jean along with his staff are also some really cool and interesting people, who all dig music. We have often talked with them about music heavy metal and punk rock or Orange Goblin or Venom… And don’t be surprised if you walk in the place and they are jamming The Misfits or Slayer on the sound system. My kind of place! Jean has even brewed beer with some musicians like Dave Witte of Municipal Waste who is not onlyan amazing drummer but also way into beer. Made a beer in honor of the bands Baroness and Pallbearer. Named one of the beers “Stoner Witch” in homage to the Melvins.

There was beer named “Screeching Loud Thrashing Death Metal Offensive Song” which was named after a comment a lady posted that on Yelp: “Great beer, decent food, really quaint, welcoming space. But the music positively ruined this place for me…. SCREECHING LOUD THRASHING DEATH-METAL OFFENSIVE SONG THAT SETS YOUR TEETH ON EDGE & FILLS YOU WITH MURDEROUS RAGE, The wife with a pea and carrot salad at Fermentaria-1400instantly rendering conversation impossible.”

Hey, not everyone loves Slayer — their loss! They often have the Mike Lorenz Quartet playing on weeknights or at monthly bottle releases. They do killer jazz versions of Sabbath tunes.

The food at “The Brew Café”: Don’t expect typical “bar” food. You won’t get greasy burgers and fries. You can get fresh bread made on the spot, local cheeses, Panini sandwiches and killer salads but by all means GET THE CANDIED BACON!

The new Fermentaria has full kitchen with killer tacos!!!

Oh yeah, and Jean does all the artwork for the place as well. Talented guy, that Jean is.candied bacon bread and cheese plate-1400

Great beer, great food, great music and good people, it’s a win, win, win, win.

I can’t do the place justice with my words. So take a peak their website and Facebook page and check out what they are up to. And if you are in the Philly area do yourself a favor and stop in. Tell them Devil Dick sent you! You won’t be sorry.

Tired Hands Brewing website

Tired Hands on Thee Facebooks

Weyerbacher website

Weyerbacher on Thee Facebooks

Solace on Thee Facebooks 

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on October 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Woody is right. It’s been a minute since the last time there was a Spine of Overkill column featured here, but truth be told, his stint has lasted much longer than any of the other contributors in that little experiment, and since his stories are so cool, I’m happy to post them whenever he wants to send them over. Once every six months? Fine. Not like I’m working on a schedule. I’ll take what I can get.

This time around, the Mighty High guitarist/vocalist brings us a quality tale of seeing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest together at Madison Square Garden in 1982. Enjoy:

Jeez, it’s been six months since the last time I did anything for the Obelisk? Sorry H.P. You deserve better than that so I’m coming back with a big one. I could have sworn that I already wrote about the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden U.S. tour of 1982 but I did not. Thanks for your patience and to the dude on Twitter who reminded me of my metal duty to the Obelisk.

I’ve been a full blown Priest fanatic ever since hearing a live radio broadcast on WLIR from the British Steel tour. (I Rippled about that monumental day here). Next to Motörhead, Judas Priest was THE band for me. Every time I went to the record store I would discover yet another great album from them. The string of records they pumped out in the ’70s and early ’80s is fuckin’ impressive — Hell Bent for Leather, Sin After Sin, British Steel, Sad Wings of Destiny and so on. Not to mention the monumental live powerhouse of Unleashed in the East. Come on! It doesn’t get any better. 1981’s Point of Entry was a pretty big disappointment. “Heading out to the Highway,” “Solar Angels,” and “Desert Plains” kicked ass but crap like “You Say Yes” and “Troubleshooter” was totally bogus. When they played the Pier on the west side of Manhattan that tour I didn’t bother to go see them.

Then in July of ’82 Judas Priest released Screaming for Vengeance. I could tell by the album cover that it was going to be a lot better than Point of Entry and the opening priest and maiden-1400double barreled assault of “The Hellion/Electric Eye” confirmed that. The title-track, “Riding on the Wind,” “Devil’s Child,” “Bloodstone” and, of course, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” were added to the list of my mother’s least favorite songs to hear thudding through my bedroom door. I usually skipped over “Fever” and “Take These Chains.”

Earlier in ’82 Iron Maiden released their third album, Number of the Beast. The first two Maiden albums were flat out incredible and this was the first one with new singer Bruce Dickinson. While I preferred the raw vocal stylings of Paul Di’Anno I had no problem rocking out to the new album. Hearing songs like “Number of the Beast,” “The Prisoner,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” and “Run to the Hills” for the very first time was special. It was obvious Maiden were influenced by Priest but they had a Deep Purple/Rainbow/UFO angle that made them totally unique.

Priest started getting some pretty heavy radio airplay with “You Got Another Thing Comin’.” One day at the end of the summer I hear a radio ad that Judas Priest was coming to NYC to play Madison Square Garden. Who’s opening? Iron Maiden. Holy shit. My heart was pounding. It seemed to good to be true — the two best metal bands on the same bill and it was happening on a Saturday night, Oct. 2. A couple days later I’m at work. The plan was to hop on the MetroNorth train into Manhattan as soon as I got paid at the end of the day. My friend Gavin (R.I.P.) from school was working with me that day and he decided to come along with me. He asked me who I was going to the show with and I said I didn’t know. Then he came up with the idea that he would go to the Priest show if I went to see Santana with him, also at the Garden. Alright, what the hell. I always liked the first few Santana albums even if I wasn’t into their current album Zebop, featuring the big hit “Winning.” We hit the city, scored our tickets and most likely bought lousy pot in Bryant Park.

That Santana show turned out to be really cool. The crowd was full of rowdy Mexican low riders and ’60s burnouts. Just about everyone had a massive afro and a thick mustache (even some of the ladies). I will never forget the enormous cloud of pot smoke hovering over the crowd at the top of the arena. Still the biggest cloud I’ve ever seen. Carlos and his band boogie’d hard with plenty of percussion discussions amongst the drummers. As good as it was, I knew Priest would be even better.

Saturday October 2nd finally rolled around and I was fuckin psyched. I’d played the hell out of my Maiden and Priest albums all Zeptember but didn’t listen to any of them all day Friday and Saturday. That remains a rule for me – never listen to the band you’re going to see on the day of the show. It’s bad luck. For some reason Gavin decided to bring along a girl named Pam to the show. Nice girl but not metal at all. Neither was Gavin. He was into Neil Young (UGH) and the Grateful Dead (BLECH). Suddenly I realized this wasn’t such a great arrangement after all. I didn’t want to be the third wheel on their stupid date! At least they brought some weeeeeeeeed and shared it with me. The train was full of wasted teenagers screaming out band names and song titles. One guy kept yelling “lick my butt!” I thought it was hilarious but my companions thought it was atrocious behavior.

I got my usual Fosters oil can when we hit Grand Central for the walk over to the Garden. The streets were clogged with metal heads and peddlers selling nickel bags, mesc and bootleg shirts. I bought a killer black jersey with red sleeves. On the front was the cover of Screaming for Vengeance and the back had Number of the Beast. Later when I unrolled mine I discovered that it said “IRON MAID” on the back and “EN” was silkscreened on the elbow. It must have been folded under when they made it. Fuck it, I didn’t care. It was still mint as hell.

Finally the lights went down and Iron Maiden hit the stage. Ourpriest ticket seats were pretty crappy — up high and off to the side but I could care less because the sound was loud as hell. Maiden opened up with “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and everyone went nuts. Everyone except for the two people I came with. They sat their holding hands and trying to talk. I ignored them and just rocked out. “Wrathchild,” “Run to the Hills” and a few more from the new album were blasted out. Then Eddie himself came out during the song “Iron Maiden.” I had seen lots of pictures of him onstage in Kerrang magazine but had no idea he’d make an appearance. So cool. They finished up the set with a big singalong on “Drifter.”

The crowd was so fired up on metal and you could hear a lot of headbangers say that Priest might not be able to top that. Soon enough the lights went down and the opening notes of “The Hellion” blasted the Garden. The stage set up was massive. Two levels with the drummer upstairs and the rest of the band downstairs. All you could see was stack upon stack of Marshall amps. Since my seats were on the side I could see Halford crouching down behind the amps on the upper level ready to make his entrance. “Up here in space I’m looking down on you” he sang as he rounded the corner. Dressed completely in black leather he had the cover to Screaming for Vengeance painted on the back of his vest. Impressive.

Priest’s set was flawless. “Riding on the Wind,” “Heading out to the Highway,” “Metal Gods,” “Sinner,” “The Ripper,” and so on. The regular set finished with an absolutely stunning “Victim of Changes.” “Livin’ After Midnight” was the first encore and they left the houselights on so everyone could see how hard the crowd was fist pumping and singing along. The pot cloud hovering above was not as big as the one at Santana but still impressive. “Green Manalishi” was up next and, finally, the Harley revved up and hit the stage for “Hell Bent for Leather.” Fucking unreal.

Over the years I’ve discovered that some of my friends were at the show before we knew each other. My friend Vinny came to the show from Queens. He said there was a girl behind him who screamed “K.K. I wanna have your baby” all night. Another friend Eric was there and enjoyed lighting banners on fire with his crew of derelicts from Brooklyn.

32 years later, almost to the day, Priest will be playing Brooklyn. Vinny and I will be there. It’s going to be a great night but a far cry from ye olde ‘82. You just don’t get nights like that anymore.

Iron Maiden, “Drifter” Live in 1982

Judas Priest, “Victim of Changes” Live in 1982

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on April 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Fact: Every time Mighty High guitarist/vocalist Chris “Woody High” MacDermott turns in a new Spine of Overkill column, it makes my damn day. It’s the last remnant in an experiment a couple years back with having outside contributors turn in specialized columns based on things they’re passionate about — in Woody‘s case, classic rock and metal — and it never fails to entertain. This time around, Woody makes the most of the season and recounts celebrating 4/20 30 years ago in Brooklyn by watching Twisted Sister at the renowned L’Amours club while on mescaline because, as he puts it, “We wanted to make it extra special.”

Enjoy:

Spine of Overkill – 4/20/84

This is gonna be a hazy one. 30 years ago on 4/20/84 I got my face melted at close range by Twisted Sister at L’Amour in Brooklyn. Back then 4/20 wasn’t an official day to celebrate marijuana, but I’ve always been ahead of the pack. On this particular 4/20, however, I got a lot more than I bargained for.

I made my first pilgrimage to L’Amour in July of 1983 to see Motörhead and returned in November with my friend Wayne to see Twisted Sister. The show was on a Friday and we went space truckin’ to Brooklyn from Pelham right after school let out. We got to the club around 4:30 in the afternoon. For some reason we felt it was important to be the very first on line so we could grab primo spots right in front of the stage. As we were sitting on the wall smoking a joint this dude that looked just like Damon, the ticket scalper from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, magically appeared and helped himself to our supply. He informed us the club wouldn’t be opening their doors for about five hours and that Twisted Sister would be going on around 1:30 or 2 in the morning. Not knowing what to do in a desolate, industrial wasteland we went searching for food but found only a Carvel.

After chowing down on some flying saucers we just went back to L’Amour and sat on the wall for a few hours. We did get to see Jay Jay French show up and go through the backstage door. I think we might have seen Mark “The Animal” Mendoza’s arrival, too. Eventually the club opened up, we got in with our fake ID’s (we were 16 at the time) and ordered some Jack & Cokes from a hot waitress named Dizzy. Being inside L’Amour was so awesome. Killer metal was blasting over the P.A. and the place was filling up with rowdy headbangers. We were easily the youngest there but no one bothered us. The show itself was incredible. Twisted Sister in 1983 was completely ferocious and really, really loud. The Animal’s bass was so loud it felt like I was going to puke. Dee would get right in our faces and scream the lyrics at us. It was close to 4AM when we finally left the club and had to figure out what to do next. I had told my mother I was sleeping over at someone’s house so she wasn’t expecting me home for hours. We took a slow ride on the B train back into Manhattan and killed time in a hotel lobby before Grand Central opened up. Arriving back in Pelham around 6AM we snoozed for a bit in the laundry room of an apartment building before heading home. The trip was such a success we couldn’t wait to do it all over again.

It wasn’t until Good Friday April 20, 1984, that we were able to repeat the process. We took a later train into the city but knew we would still get to the club really early. Sitting on a wall in Brooklyn was better than doing anything in Pelham. We also came up with the brilliant idea of taking mescaline for the show. Weed, Bud talls and Jack Daniels were standard issue party supplies but we wanted to make it extra special. Mesc was loaded with speed back then so we figured it would help keep us jacked up all night for maximum headbanging.

Here’s where things get a little hazy. I really have no recollection of what we did before getting inside the club. We probably went to the same Carvel for dinner. I’m not sure if we took the mescaline outside or inside the club. Either way I’m sure it was washed down with Jack & Coke. Once inside we saw Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda hanging out at one of the bars. We couldn’t believe it! Wayne had made a Twisted Sister vest and he went up and got him to sign it. The whole band was hanging out, except for Dee. Jay Jay was preoccupied with playing Pac Man but everyone signed the vest and either Eddie or AJ brought it backstage for Dee to sign. We were fuckin’ stoked.

The only snag in my plan was that my mother said I could go out but I couldn’t stay overnight at my friend’s. She was expecting me home around midnight. At some point I went out to a pay phone in the lobby and had the unpleasant task of calling her to tell her I wasn’t going to be home anytime soon. She freaked. It probably helped that I was tripping because I just kept repeating slowly and calmly that I was fine and I would see her around 6AM. It didn’t go over well but I had come too far and retreat was not an option.

At some point during the long wait for Twisted’s set I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying my trip. I felt super uneasy and paranoid. They were showing this horror film called Mother’s Day on the screen while they were blasting Mercyful Fate, Accept and Iron Maiden over the P.A. I was getting pretty freaked. Later on I calmed down when they were playing “Symptom of the Universe” by Black Sabbath. Right when the acoustic part of the song kicked in the video screen started showing a clip of a Tom & Jerry cartoon with them playing acoustic guitars. I laughed about that for a very long time that night.

The opening act was a band called Takashi. I had bought their debut EP, Kamikaze Killers, at the New Rochelle mall. They never carried much heavy stuff so I would buy anything remotely metal that they had in stock. Takashi also got a lot of airplay on Long Island college radio station WCWP during their “Rock ‘N’ Roll Weekend” programming. I wasn’t that impressed with the EP but was hoping they’d be heavier in concert. At one point early in the evening Wayne and I went into the mens room to find lead singer Danny Stanton blow-drying his hair. Never a good sign. Takashi’s set was pretty lame, very Ratt/Crüe. For their big finale they played their song “Kamikaze” and had a big Japanese guy come out and wave around a Japanese flag. A bunch of headbangers in the front row ripped it out of his hands and wouldn’t give it back. Even if I wasn’t tripping, the entire situation would have been totally bizarre.

As always, AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” signaled that Twisted was about to take it to the stage. Immediately there was a surge of people towards the front. We had a big joint and a little joint left. We debated which one to light up and some huge biker guy ordered us to go for the big one. We respected our metal elders and did as told. When Twisted hit the stage with their usual opener “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” we noticed they had on brand new costumes. After the first few songs Dee told us they were about to release a new album and wanted to try out some of the new songs in front of a raunchy club crowd. It was very cool hearing songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock” and “Burn in Hell” for the first time blasting through triple stacks and with Dee in full force. Towards the end of the set Dee said that he had a special song for us called “S.M.F.” Back then S.M.F. was a phrase known only amongst rabid metal maniacs. The place went nuts singing “sick mother fucker” on the chorus. The rest of the show was typical Twisted insanity — “Under the Blade,” “Shoot ‘tm Down,” “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll,” their frenzied version of “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” and many more. As it turns out this was a really important show in Twisted history. Not long after, they would become a huge band via MTV and leave the Tri-State bar scene. Also not long after, the drinking age was raised to 21 and the entire nightclub landscape changed.

I kept my word and got home promptly at 6AM to face the wrath of my wide-awake mother. She was beyond pissed. My poor grandmother was already up and toiling in the kitchen, preparing the Easter feast for the following day, and had to sit through all that screaming while trying to fry meatballs. I was still tripping. I went up to my room and tried to sleep for an hour before leaving for work. It was a long day. I’ve had a lot of fun playing shows on 4/20 the past decade but nothing will come close to topping that night from 30 years ago.

Twisted Sister, “The Kids are Back” Live 1984

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on February 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Reportedly “shamed into action” by the recent fifth anniversary of this site, Mighty High guitarist/vocalist and all-around champion of scene unity Chris “Woody High” MacDermott returns with a new installment of his ongoing series, “Spine of Overkill.” It’s been a while, but quite frankly I’m happy to post one of these anytime he wants to send it over. In this edition, Woody recalls CrumbsuckersLife of Dreams album and his first trip to CBGB’s to see them play a Sunday matinee.

Enjoy:

Crumbsuckers — Life of Dreams

My first trip to CBGB’s should be something that I remember really well but I don’t. It was either C.O.C. around the time Animosity came out or it was a Crumbsuckers gig. Either way, it most definitely involved quarts of Budweiser, my bullet belt and my good friend Jon. I knew all about CB’s but hadn’t worked up the nerve to go there on my own just yet. I wasn’t sure how a metal chooch from the suburbs would be accepted at the punk mecca. It took a chance meeting over 300 miles away to finally get me through the doors.

I left for college in Zeptember 1985 at SUNY Brockport, way upstate New York near Rochester. On the very first day I was standing on line for a free hamburger at some lame-ass student mixer wearing my favorite Venom shirt. Out of nowhere this short little dude with huge muscles and a mohawk comes running up to me and says “Dude, I love Venom! Are you into hardcore punk, too?” I told him I was just starting to get really into it. The next thing he says is “Cool! Do you like the Plasmatics?” Of course I loved the Plasmatics! He introduced himself to me as Jon (pronounced “Yon”) and that he was from Yonkers. I told him I was from New Rochelle and from that moment on we caused serious mayhem for several years. Talk about scene unity! He brought me up to speed on New York hardcore and a lot of classic punk stuff I’d missed. In turn I played him Motörhead, The Rods, early Iron Maiden and Slayer’s Haunting the Chapel EP. I really blew his mind when I played him Master of Reality by Black Sabbath. He’d never heard it before and it flipped his lid big time, especially “Into the Void.” He said he never listened to the Cro-Mags the same way after that, and they were his favorite band.

We both worked at the college radio station WBSU. In late ’85 or early ’86, we got in an advance tape from Combat Records — Life of Dreams by the Crumbsuckers. Jon knew all about these guys and said I’d love it. I put the tape into my Walkman and headed off to class with it pounding through the headphones. Holy shit, this was just what I’d been looking for. Hardcore intensity with metal chops crammed into short, speedy songs. The back to back openers of “Just Sit There” and “Trapped” completely floored me. This was like the best of Bad Brains and Exodus rolled into one. I played that tape over and over again. Then we played the hell out of the vinyl on the air once it was officially released. I risked the station’s FCC license by playing songs like “Shit’s Creek” and “Bullshit Society.” I felt these were important messages that everyone needed to hear. Especially “Bullshit Society,” which is still one of the few political songs I’ve ever really liked. I’ve been quoting the lyric, “It’s so true, it’s a bullshit society,” for over 25 years. And every election day I always make sure to crank up “Super Tuesday.” All 16 songs are great but my favorite by far has always been “Hubrun.” On the lyric sheet under the title “Hubrun” it says “words: insignificant” but I disagree. A song about a Long Island weeed road trip is extremely significant. Recently on the Crumbsuckers Facebook page they were nice enough to use Google Maps to show the spot where they used to score dope. They also transcribed the lyrics which include brilliant couplets such as:

Bong hit!
Go for it.
Dusted weed?
Holy Shit!

Strike the flint to the steel and torch up that old bowl.
And that smoke hits your lungs, and its all minty and cold.
Then this rush hits your head, just like a tidal wave.
And before you know it, you’ll become its slave.

Shortly after the album’s release I was talking to Combat’s radio rep, a big guy named MegaDon. Spring break was coming up and I asked him if any Combat bands were playing NYC while I was in town. He said the Crumbsuckers were doing a CB’s Sunday matinee and filming it for some videos. I was fuckin’ stoked! Whenever I was home I’d work a bunch of shifts at Joey’s Luncheonette in Pelham to earn some extra scratch for albums, shirts and beer. On Sundays I’d open the store at 5:30AM and work until 2PM before space trucking into the city. MegaDon put me on the guest list so I had even more beer money than usual. I have no recollection whatsoever who else played that Sunday afternoon but I do remember the Crumbsuckers blowing the roof off the place. I’d only been to a few punk shows before this but this one was more nuts than usual, probably because of the cameras. It was only a few years ago that I saw the actual video for “Trapped.” Thankfully my ridiculous GBH style hair isn’t prominently featured.

As great as the CB’s show was, the one they played in Rochester later that year was even better. They were opening for Discharge at the Penny Arcade on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. This was gonna be a killer show! Then a friend of mine picked up the new Discharge album Grave New World. Holy shit, it sucked! At first we thought it was some kind of a spoof on King Diamond but each song was worse than the next. But there was no way we were gonna miss the Crumbsuckers no matter how bad the Discharge album was. The label hooked me up with a free ticket again and said if we got there early we could interview them. Me, Jon and a few other dudes piled in a car and got there just after soundcheck. The Crumbsucker guys were very cool and answered all of our stupid questions. Guitarist Dave Wynn was especially nice to us. All he wanted to do was smoke pot and talk about Frank Zappa, King Crimson and Santana. They were pretty adamant about saying they weren’t a hardcore band and wanted to be known solely as “Crumb-Rock.” They did some hilarious station ID’s for us using the “Crumb-Rock” tag-line. When it was show time they blasted out a killer set playing just about everything off of Life of Dreams but even faster. There was only about 20 or 30 people there but they didn’t let that bother them. Discharge was completely horrible. They sounded like Zebra. The only good part of their set was when they let Crumbsuckers vocalist Chris Notaro sing “State Violence / State Control” with them.

[If you’d like more info on Discharge’s disastrous US tour for Grave New World, check out this report with amazing audio from their San Francisco show.]

Over the next year or so I saw the Crumbsuckers a few other times but those were definitely the most memorable occasions. Round Christmas 1987 I got an invite to the Relativity/Combat holiday party at the China Club in NYC. Most of the Crumbsuckers were there and we got really drunk while Joe Satriani played a set. I was looking forward to their next album but when Beast on My Back came out in 1988 it was a major disappointment. It was more metal but had all these parts that sounded like Queensryche. I was totally confused and not into it at all. That seemed to be most people’s opinion, though I know there are some out there who love the album. The band broke up not long after. They did a successful reunion show a few years ago and it’s just been announced that the Italian label F.O.A.D. is putting out a mint deluxe double album of early demos and live shows (pre-order info here). It looks awesome and I’m definitely ready for some more CRUMB ROCK!

Crumbsuckers, “Trapped” official video

Crumbsuckers, Live at L’Amours 1986

Crumbsuckers on Thee Facebooks

F.O.A.D. Records

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on September 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Following a hiatus which was reportedly spent in regression therapy and headbanging to well-worn vinyl — which I suppose is a kind of regression therapy in itself — Chris “Woody High” MacDermott of Mighty High returns with the much-anticipated next installment of his Spine of Overkill column. This time around, Woody recalls picking up Accept‘s fourth album, 1982’s Restless and Wild.

Please enjoy:

I knew I was going to have trouble following up my last Spine of Overkill. How could I top a story about space truckin’ to L’amours in Brooklyn by myself to see Motörhead? I spent a lot of time in deep meditation to relive the details of that day and I’m not sure if I want to do that to myself again. 15 was a terrible age.

One thing that did come up while undergoing that past-life regression therapy was the thrill of hearing “Fast as a Shark” for the first time. I thought I knew all the fastest metal jams at that time — everything by Motörhead, “Delivering the Goods” by Judas Priest, “Mothra” by Anvil, etc. but “Fast as a Shark” completely floored me. I’m pretty sure I asked somebody at the show, “who is this?” I had never heard of Accept before but I knew I had to track down the album as soon as possible. I knew Restless & Wild was the album to get because the DJ at L’amours also played the title track. I knew it was the same band that did “Fast as a Shark.” At first I thought the lyrics were “Let’s dance” but I knew that couldn’t be right. Luckily someone near me screamed the chorus of “Restless and wild!” enough times to make it sink in.

Within a week I was back in NYC on one of my usual record buying trips. Top of the list was to find “Fast as a Shark.” I wasn’t sure if the band’s name was Except or Accept but I started in the metal section under “A” at Bleeker Bob’s and there it was. I was used to seeing rows of Marshall stacks on stage but this album cover offered something different. They had THREE speaker cabinets piled on top of each other rather than the usual two. The drummer was pounding a giant chrome drum kit with two of the biggest bass drums I’d ever seen. One guitarist was soloing on a Gibson SG in a leather jacket while the other had on a leather vest and was chugging on a Flying V. Total Judas Priest. Front and center there was a small guy with short hair strangling the bass player. This had to be good!

It was an import, which meant it wasn’t shrink-wrapped and I could check out the inside. There was an inner sleeve with lyrics on one side and a big Accept logo on the other, perfect size for tracing and putting on book covers. Even better was the clear red vinyl. I knew I was buying the album but that just made it even minter. Everything about it was totally metal, even the record label — Heavy Metal Worldwide. I started paying attention to what labels were releasing metal albums. If it was on Metal Blade, Megaforce, Neat, etc., you knew it was going to be metal no matter what. You couldn’t trust the major labels. They’d market something as metal and it would sound like REO Speedwagon or Loverboy. Fuck that shit! A few months later I saw the German version of Restless & Wild. It had a pair of flaming Flying V’s wrapped up in barbed wire. That was cool but too expensive for me to buy a second copy. In hindsight I should have bought it since I was going to be playing the album to death for the next 30 years.

I could not wait to crank it up and was not disappointed. To this day, “Fast as a Shark” is my favorite opening to any album. I never get tired of hearing the pops, scratches and the “hi-dee-hi-do-hi-dah’s” of a children’s folk song. It’s such a great build up before the big needle scratch and Udo’s opening scream. Many years later I found out the song was called “Ein Heller und ein Batzen” (“A Farthing and a Penny”) and one of the children’s voices belonged to Dieter Dierks, noted Krautrock producer who also worked with Scorpions. Even though the song was written in the 1830s, it was a popular marching song during the Nazi era and caused Accept a lot of grief. “Fast as a Shark” is simply stunning — the perfect combination of Motörhead speed and Judas Priest precision riffing. A lot of headbangers back then considered Motörhead too noisy and chaotic. On “Fast as a Shark” you could hear every note of every chord. This took songs like “Rapid Fire” from British Steel and delivered it at “Overkill” velocity. Fucking awesome. It still sounds incredible today. I remember playing this song for some of my punk rock friends who claimed most metal was too slow. They were speechless.

Following up “Fast as a Shark” with “Restless & Wild” is an unbeatable one-two combo. Certain songs belong together. Separating “Waiting for the Bus” from “Jesus Just Left Chicago” is lame. Same with “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman).” “Restless & Wild” kicks so much ass. It’s just the right tempo for headbanging and has some built in dynamics to give your neck a rest before the big chorus. The rhythm section drives hard and the twin guitars are so powerful and crunchy, but razor sharp. Herman Frank is pictured and credited as a guitarist but he joined the band after the album was recorded. All of the guitar parts were laid down by the incredible Wolf Hoffmann. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for developing the tight, powerful riffing style that guys like James Hetfield and Scott Ian would build their own styles off of. Then there’s the powerhouse grunt of Udo Dirkschneider, a shrinky-dink version of Rob Halford with a bark all his own.

The rest of side one is great but falls a bit short of the excitement that the opening two songs generate. “Ahead of the Pack” and “Shake Your Heads” are solid mid-tempo bangers. “Neon Nights” starts off with some fancy, introspective solo electric guitar before it gets all distorted and drops down an octave. Parts of it sound a little bit like what Cliff would do on his bass solo a year later on Metallica‘s first album. When the song kicks in, it’s a moody Scorps-influenced pounder.

Side two starts off with the blatant “Livin’ after Midnight” tribute of “Get Ready.” I’ve always been surprised this song wasn’t a big hit. “Get Ready” and “Rock Forever” by Judas Priest are my two favorite songs to blast with the windows down when pulling into the parking lot of a heavy rock concert. If you’ve ever wondered what Mercyful Fate would have sounded like with a more “normal” singer, then “Demon’s Night” might be a good indication. Wolf fires up a killer riff that’s always reminded me of Black Sabbath‘s “Zero the Hero” from Born Again (released a year after R&W). Back then I used to accuse Iron Maiden of stealing “Two Minutes to Midnight” from Venom‘s “Welcome to Hell” but Accept‘s “Flash Rockin’ Man” might have been the source, too. “Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away” is kind of a commercial track with some cool woodblock on it. It all wraps up with the outstanding “Princess of the Dawn.” Years later when I started reading about Krautrock I always hoped it would sound like “Princess of the Dawn.” It didn’t. Nothing really sounds like “Princess of the Dawn.” Only Saxon‘s “Dallas 1PM” has a similar hypnotic, driving groove but Accept‘s is a bit more exotic sounding. Only Udo can get away with singing about fairytales and still make it sound metal. The abrupt ending to the song totally confused me at first but over the years I’ve come to really like it. The album starts off with such a big “fuck you” and it kind of ends the same way, too.

After buying Restless & Wild, I went back and picked up their earlier albums Accept, I’m A Rebel and Breaker. They all had some good songs but were pretty uneven. (There are rumors of a version of the song “I’m A Rebel” with Bon Scott on vocals but who knows if that’s true or not). When Balls to the Wall came out later in ’83, I picked up the import immediately. It was a good album but nowhere close to Restless & Wild. By the time Metal Heart came out in 1985 I had moved onto bands who built their entire reputation on every song being like “Fast as a Shark.” Goddamn, what an album. Go crank it right now.

Accept, Restless and Wild (1982)

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on July 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This one is something special, and since the story Chris “Woody High” MacDermott is telling is so excellent, I don’t even want to spoil it with too much intro. Here, 30 years to the day, are Woody‘s memories of seeing Motörhead for the first time ever, July 31, 1983, at L’Amour in Brooklyn.

Enjoy:

It certainly doesn’t feel like THIRTY FUCKIN’ YEARS ago that I first saw Motörhead, but the ticket stub clearly states 7/31/83. And not only was it my first time seeing my favorite band but it was also my first trip to the legendary metal club L’Amour in Brooklyn.

I have no idea how I heard about the show. Probably from one of L’Amour‘s radio ads. They’d loop the opening riff to Van Halen‘s “Mean Streets” as background music and an announcer would read off the list of upcoming shows — Twisted Sister, Johnny Winter, Saxon, etc., etc. Earlier in ’83, L’Amours opened a second location called L’Amours East in Elmhurst, Queens. A lot of bands would play both clubs on consecutive nights. But when Motörhead came to town they had to outdo everyone and play three nights in a row – – Friday, July 29, in Queens then Saturday and Sunday in Brooklyn. The Sunday show was going to be all-ages. (The Queens show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show and later released on CD). I was 15 years old at the time with a fake ID acquired at the Postermat on 8th Street in Greenwich Village. It worked buying beer at Milk-N-Things in Pelham and Jack Daniels at the liquor store next to it, but I had no idea if it would get me into a Brooklyn nightclub. The drinking age was only 18 back then but I didn’t want to get shut down trying to see Motörhead. The Ticketron outlet in the New Rochelle mall must have been gone because I had to take a MetroNorth train into Manhattan to buy a ticket at the Grand Central location. I can still remember the thrill of buying that ticket. I had worked all morning on a Saturday at my job making trophies in the garage of my science teacher. We finished early that day and when he paid me I walked straight to the train station. I didn’t have time to go downtown to buy any records on this trip but I did pick up a Hustler magazine and a Foster’s oil can for the train ride home. Even just a 20-minute visit in NYC provided more thrills than a month up in Westchester County.

In June of ’83. Motörhead had released their latest album, Another Perfect Day. I just happened to be in Bleecker Bob’s the day that it came in. Man, I was fuckin’ stoked. I knew they had a new album coming but had no idea when I’d actually see it. There it was in the bins alongside a 12″ single for “I Got Mine.” Even though they were both expensive imports ($5.98 for the single alone!), I knew I might never see them again. The cover to Another Perfect Day really tripped me out. It looked like someone had the cover to Overkill painted on the back of their denim jacket in watercolors and then left it out in the rain. There was also a cool insert with lyrics on one side and a hilarious comic strip on the other. The band photo on the cover of the “I Got Mine” single was cool. They all looked completely hungover. Brian Robertson‘s designer jeans and silver jewelry looked a little silly but, hey, he was in Thin Lizzy and he looked better than he did on the cover of Fighting. I instantly loved the record. I thought it kicked ass from start to finish and I thought Brian‘s guitar playing was incredible. Totally different from Fast Eddie‘s but it still sounded like Motörhead. There was zero radio airplay and no one else at school had the record so I wasn’t influenced at all by other people’s opinions. Kerrang gave it a decent review but I didn’t give a shit what they had to say neithers.

Anyway, it was complete torture waiting for the end of July to roll around but eventually it was Sunday, July 31. My friend Wayne was supposed to go to the show with me but he made the mistake of telling his parents the truth and got shut down. I, of course, completely lied to my mother. Never in a million years would she go for it. The only reason she let me go to shows at Madison Square Garden was because I bought the tickets with the money I was earning. As long as I put a certain amount in the bank every week, my metal habit was barely tolerated. I had a big decision to make. Should I blow off Motörhead or travel to Brooklyn alone? There really was no choice. (I must mention that about a year later I had to bail out on Wayne for a Metallica show at L’Amour at the last minute. I’m still not over it.)

After an uneventful MetroNorth train ride into Grand Central I had to confront the reality of not knowing how the hell I was going to get to Brooklyn. Don Cherry asked the question “Where Is Brooklyn” on his classic Blue Note album in 1966. Here I was as a 15-year-old dipshit with a Motörhead ticket inside my velcro Motörhead wallet with the same problem. I asked the token booth clerk how to get to 62nd Street in Brooklyn and he told me to take the B train. After a few confused attempts, I finally found where to get on the B and I was on my way. The summer of ‘83 was the first time air conditioning was added to some subway cars. The one I was riding on definitely did not have any for the very long ride into Bensonhurst. When I finally got off the train I had no idea where the club was. I spotted a dude in a Twisted Sister shirt puffin’ on a joint so I asked him. Without exhaling (or offering me any) he just pointed down the street. As I turned the corner I saw a completely industrial block full of headbangers. I could hear someone blasting a Motörhead tape out of a parked car. People were hanging out and drinking beers. Every single person had on some kind of metal shirt and most had a denim vest with something painted on the back and covered in patches. There were lots of bullet belts, studs and spikes, too. I thought I was hot shit in my Motörhead shirt with an Iron Maiden button on it. Not so much.

Stepping inside L’Amour was unreal. The DJ was cranking some of the best metal I’d ever heard and a lot of it was brand new to me. I will never forget hearing Accept‘s “Fast As A Shark” for the first time there. The crowd was singing along to the “hi-dee-hi-doh-hi-da” intro and I had no idea what was going on when I heard a big needle scratch. When the furious double-bass drums kicked in I was completely floored. People were seriously losing their shit and headbanging like crazy. The first band hadn’t even played yet! It was also the first time I heard “Nuns Have No Fun” by Mercyful Fate. Everyone but me seemed to know the words. I didn’t even bother trying to ask anyone about where to get these records or which ones to buy. It was like I was trying to start a fire with two twigs and they had flame throwers. I had a lot of catching up to do. The DJ announced some upcoming shows, including one the following week by Raven and Metallica and people went completely berserk.

There were two opening acts. The first was The Poison Dollys, an all-female metal band. I’m pretty sure the second one was Cities. I don’t remember much about them because once Motörhead stormed the stage they were ancient history. There was no intro tape or anything. The DJ stopped playing records and everyone just started screaming “MOTÖRHEAD” at the top of their lungs. The first one out was Philthy behind the drums, followed by Lemmy and Robbo. There were only one or two people in front of me on Robbo‘s side of the stage. There were three Marshall stacks behind him. Lemmy had three more on the other side. Phil‘s drum set was huge. They started checking their instruments and it was significantly louder than Judas Priest and Iron Maiden at Madison Square Garden. That was a loud show. It was also louder than the Ramones show I saw in the front row of Iona College in New Rochelle the year before which was also loud as hell. Holy shit, this was gonna be awesome.

After screaming something into the mic about today’s show being for the young, Lemmy fired up the bassline to “Back at the Funny Farm,” the opening song on Another Perfect Day. When the band came in the noise was tremendous. You could see everyone sort of lean back for a second. Me and everybody else were banging their heads ferociously. This was at least a year before “moshing” became a regular thing at metal shows and it was glorious. The whooooshing sound of your noggin’ rockin’ only added to the deafening cacophony of Motörhead at full bore. It was no big deal if the dude behind you or next to you rested an arm on your shoulder to steady himself from time to time. The sound was so powerful it could knock you off balance. No worries. There were a few skinheads and punkers around, too but there were no hassles at all. I miss those days.

Most of the set were songs from Another Perfect Day — “Marching off to War,” “Tales of Glory,” “One Track Mind,” etc. They only played a few older songs like “America” and “Iron Horse.” No “Ace of Spaces,” “Bomber” or “Overkill.” I was dying to hear those songs but didn’t really care what they played as long as it was fast and loud. Robbo used some kind of fancy guitar synthesizer on the song “Another Perfect Day” to replicate the stuff he did on the album. I was totally blown away seeing a guitarist that great up close. I was also impressed he could rock that hard wearing satin shorts and a mesh tank top. The club was hot as hell and Robbo kept a bucket of water nearby and he’d splash himself in between songs. He wouldn’t take off his guitar or anything. I thought he’d electrocute himself. He would also duck behind his amps pretty regularly for a second and come back sniffing like crazy. It was obvious all three of them were jacked up to the max. I thought it was so cool how blatant they were about everything. Philthy had a big rotating fan behind him. He had horrible B.O. and it was just getting blasted into the crowd on top of the soundwaves. Lemmy had on a black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans, bullet belt and white boots. Earlier that day while waiting to get into the club I saw Lemmy come out of the backstage area and cross the street to get on the bus in the same outfit except for flip flops and cut off denim shorts. Bullet belt included.

When the show was over I was basically in a metal daze. I couldn’t hear a fuckin’ thing and my mouth must have been hanging open. It took almost three hours to get home but it was worth it. The next morning my ears were ringing very loudly. I loved the sound. I was amazed that they continued to ring for EIGHT MORE DAYS. After seeing Motörhead at L’Amour life was never the same.

Motörhead, Live at L’Amour East, Brooklyn, July 29, 1983

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on May 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

In his first Spine of Overkill column since the passing of Jeff Hanneman, Chris “Woody High” MacDermott pays homage to the late Slayer guitarist and recalls the glory days of Haunting the Chapel and Hell Awaits. It’s as fitting a tribute as I could imagine.

Should you happen to be in the area, Woody‘s band, Mighty High, have a gig this Friday in Brooklyn. The show is at The Grand Victory and Black Thai, Infernal Overdrive and Tarpit Boogie share the bill. More info on Thee Facebooks.

Enjoy:

The death of Jeff Hanneman hit every metal fan hard. Fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR are one of the few bands that all metal heads agree on. When it was announced earlier this month that Jeff had passed away from liver failure everyone was reaching for their favorite fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR album to blast at maximum volume. For most, it’s the 1986 classic Reign in Blood, one of the greatest metal albums of all time for sure. But when old dudes like me want to get nostalgic, we reach for the ones that came before the Reign.

My last Spine of Overkill column was all about picking sides in 1983. Great bands were beginning to get stale and a new breed were emphasizing everything faster, louder and more intense. Fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR‘s debut Show No Mercy came out in December 1983 and there was no turning back for me. Show No Mercy was a great album of Venom-fueled Satanic panic but there was a lot of competition out there. Every month there was at least one new demo tape of blasphemous speed arriving in my mailbox, not to mention the deluge hitting the racks at the record stores. How was fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR going to keep my attention and avoid getting confused with another band called Slayer from San Antonio? The answer arrived in June 1984, when Metal Blade issued the three-song Haunting the Chapel 12″ single. EPs (extended plays) were kind of unusual for metal, even more so in America. British bands like Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc., had a tradition of releasing singles in both 7″ and 12″ formats with great artwork and killer jams on the B-side, usually one unreleased song or exclusive live versions. Diehards would buy both versions but if you could only afford one, it was always the 12″. In early ’84, Metallica put out a 12″ of “Jump in the Fire” with supposedly live versions of “Seek and Destroy” and “Phantom Lord” on the flip side. The cover art was cool even if it was kind of an unexciting release. Later in ’84, Metallica would put out a 12″ of “Creeping Death” from their forthcoming Ride the Lightning album with great covers of Diamond Head‘s “Am I Evil?” and Blitzkrieg‘s “Blitzkrieg” on the back. Still one of the best things they ever put out and my blue vinyl version is one of my prize possessions.

But fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR‘s Haunting the Chapel was a totally different story. This was three brand new songs and no mention anywhere on the sleeve of “from the forthcoming album…” It was also in a legit cardboard album cover, not one of those flimsy, top loading sleeves that 12″ import singles came in. As usual, I waited to read what Bob Muldowney had to say about it in his essential zine Kick*Ass. He gave it a rave review and I picked it up immediately. As great as Show No Mercy was, fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR made a huge leap forward on this release. The six minute “Chemical Warfare” was the only song on side A. The first thing I thought of was of the Dead Kennedy‘s song with the same title. As soon as I dropped the needle down, I instantly forgot it. With “Chemical Warfare” fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR also made me forget about most bands. Holy shit. I knew right away that any band bragging about being the fastest and heaviest was now full of shit. After playing “Chemical Warfare” a few times in a row I decided to give the other side a try, figuring it probably wouldn’t be as good. Turns out I was wrong. “Captor of Sin” starts off with a drumstick count off and someone yelling in the background before launching into a frenzied Mercyful Fate-inspired romp. The pounding chorus is still one of my favorites to yell along with – “Hot! Wings of hell! Burns! In my wake! Death! Is what you pray! BEHOLD! Captor of Sin!” The Venom-inspired title-track wraps up the blasphemy. Apparently, recording engineer Bill Metoyer was a religious sort and the opening lyrics of “the holy cross, symbol of lies” made him question his career path. Another fun fact is that while recording this EP, Dave Lombardo‘s drums were sliding around on the floor. I guess no cinder blocks were around so Dark Angel drummer and fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR roadie Gene Hoglan held the kit together while Dave bashed the skins.

The Haunting the Chapel EP only made impatient headbangers like me want more fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR. Luckily there were new albums from Venom, Exciter, Celtic Frost and VoiVod to keep me happy when I wasn’t blasting Motörhead’s No Remorse for the rest of 1984. Fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR threw us a bone later in the year with another EP, this one a picture disc called Live Undead. Side one had three songs from Show No Mercy recorded live in a New York studio — “Black Magic,” “Die by the Sword” and “Show No Mercy.” The performances were definitely live but the people screaming in the background sounded like they were added later. The other side had the same studio versions of “Captor of Sin” and “Haunting the Chapel” from the EP as well as “The Final Command” from Show No Mercy. I had heard it was going to include a cover of Judas Priest‘s “Dissident Aggressor” but that didn’t get recorded until 1988’s South of Heaven. Live Undead was cool to have for the artwork but only made me want new fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR as soon as possible.

Thankfully, the wait wasn’t too long and in the spring I got my hands on Hell Awaits. I had trouble finding it at first but a dude I was tape trading with on Long Island grabbed a copy for me at Slipped Disc in Valley Stream and mailed it to me. Can’t remember the dude’s name but whoever you are, wherever you are, thanks again. Hell Awaits is still my favorite fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR album. The front cover is low budget but scary. The back cover is even cooler with all the live photos of the band. No more raccoon eye makeup for fuckin’ SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR. Kerry’s armband full of nails immediately made me think of the one Richie Stotts wears on the cover of Coup D’Etat by the Plasmatics. Someone should ask Kerry if that’s where he got his inspiration. The full band shot is awesome. They’re all headbanging, there are upside down crosses on the amps and a huge cloud of smoke so you can’t see the drummer just like on Priest‘s Unleashed in the East. I interviewed Reed Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity for my high school newspaper right around this time and we were both really psyched that Jeff was wearing a C.O.C. shirt on the back cover.

The first spin of Hell Awaits is something I’ll never forget. The long intro with the chanting seemed to go on forever. It sounded like they were saying “synot” over and over but I knew this was a backwards message just like at the start of Venom‘s “In League with Satan.” When I stopped the turntable and began spinning it back I was thrilled to discover they were saying “join us!” Hell yeah, I knew this was gonna be good. Once the music kicked in, it was exactly what I had hoped for. Seven long songs that were totally heavy, totally fast, totally Satanic, drowning in reverb. It sounded like they had snuck into a cathedral and recorded it there under a full moon. I loved every song but side one with “Hell Awaits,” “Kill Again” and “At Dawn They Sleep” remains my favorite SLLLAAAAYYYEEERRR side to this day. The photo collage on the lyric sheet is still fun to look at. There’s a shot of all four members of VoiVod wearing Show No Mercy shirts. There’s another cool photo of them partying with Mercyful Fate. Every tiny photo is jam packed with stuff that I wanted to do back then — snort giant rails off the bar, harass a life size Michael Jackson cutout, hold a can of beer and scream, etc. A fun fact about Hell Awaits is that it was mixed by Ron Fair, who would later go on to be a big pop music producer for the Black Eyed Peas, Pussycat Dolls, etc. Only in Hollywood!

Farewell, Jeff. Thank you for helping to accelerate my bad habits and antisocial behavior the last 30 years. Kill again!

Slayer, “Chemical Warfare” live 1985

Slayer, “Hell Awaits” live 1985

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on April 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Metal aficionado and Mighty High guitarist/vocalist Chris “Woody High” MacDermott returns with a new installment of his column, “Spine of Overkill.” This time around, Woody asks who’s side you were on in 1983: Was it Slayer and Raven or Def Leppard and Quiet Riot? Fortunately for all of us, Woody made the right choice in his younger days.

By way of a plug, Mighty High will be playing a 4/20 spectacular at The Gutter in Brooklyn with Pants Exploder and Smokewagon. More info on that is on the Thee Facebooks event page.

Please enjoy:

In one of my frequent, restless and wild internet pontifications, Swiss metal maniac Erich Keller spontaneously erupted a bold theory about the year 1983. Basically, he pointed out that a lot of great metal bands began to stink in 1983 and the new breed of bands coming up were either lightweight bullshit or mega heavy real deal. 1983 was the year headbangers were forced to choose – are you gonna wimp out or go heavy? Be sure to check out Erich‘s excellent blog Good Bad Music For Bad, Bad Times for some killer vinyl rips from his immense collection. Warning! You will spend a lot of time there.

The 1983 challenge was put out right off the bat in January with two albums representing the extremes – Def Leppard’s Pyromania and Exciter‘s Heavy Metal Maniac. Pyromania was inescapable back then. They were constantly on the fuckin’ radio and MTV. Everyone in my high school would walk around saying that stupid “ooben eeben ouben glouben” thing that starts of one of their songs. Ugh! It was even worse when it seemed like the entire school bought those British flag shorts and sleeveless shirts. I’d been pretty indifferent to Def Lep prior to that point but now, as Tank would say in June of ‘83, “This Means War!” I wish I had scored a copy of Exciter‘s Heavy Metal Maniac when it first came out, it would have made the rest of the year easier for me. I was a diehard Motörhead fan and searching for more stuff like that. It wasn’t until the end of the year that I even saw a copy of Heavy Metal Maniac when I started making regular trips into NYC to buy records. Paul’s Record Hut in New Rochelle carried a lot of cool stuff but not much heavy.

Quiet Riot released Metal Health in March. I bought a copy at Crazy Eddie’s in Yonkers just because it had the word metal in the title. I tried convincing myself that I liked it because I paid full price but after a few plays I realized I’d been tricked. Fuck! Two other albums I picked up in March were better – Saxon‘s Power & The Glory and Thin Lizzy‘s Thunder & Lightning. Both albums had a lot of filler but there were enough killer jams to maintain the steady screams of “turn it down!” from my mother.

In April, things really began to change for me. On a trip to Bleecker Bob’s I saw an album called Forged in Fire by a band called Anvil. Remembering how I’d been burned by Quiet Riot I wasn’t sure if I should take a chance. It was an import, two or three bucks more than a domestic album. Three dollar bags of weeed were being phased out but you could always find someone to split a nickel bag with. Every dollar really mattered. Back then import albums were never shrink-wrapped so I checked out the lyric sheet and the raunchy lyrics of “Motormount” appealed to me so I picked it up. Thankfully the album was indeed heavy and not a repeat of the Metal Health experience. Metal on Metal held its own when I played it back to back with Ace of Spades and British Steel. Now the search was really on for more stuff like this.

Iron Maiden‘s Piece of Mind was a mandatory purchase in May of ‘83. I liked it a lot but not as much as Number of the Beast. Dio‘s Holy Diver came out the same month. I opted not to buy it but to tape it from a friend. By this point metal was getting bigger and most of my friends were getting into it, too. It was great not to have to buy every record. My after school job assembling trophies in my science teacher’s garage didn’t exactly pay big money so I had to spend wisely. My mother certainly wasn’t going to give me any money for albums, concert tickets, t-shirts, beer or weeed so I really had to hustle to keep up. Maiden‘s show at the Garden later in ‘83 was great, even with Quiet Riot opening up, but it was one of my last arena show for well over a decade. There were guys with Venom album covers painted on the back of their jackets and covered with patches of bands I needed to discover.

June was a huge month for me. Twisted Sister‘s second album You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll came out and had a lot of kick ass Godz-like biker rock. But even better were the import 12″ singles with unbelievably heavy live recordings on the B-sides. Twisted Sister had yet to break nationally in the US but were massive in the UK. They recorded some shows at the famous Marquee club and the versions of “Destroyer,” “Tear it Loose,” “Run for Your Life” and the blistering cover of “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)” they released let everyone know this wasn’t a phony glam band. Not yet, at least.

Ads in Kerrang let me know Motörhead was putting out a new album called Another Perfect Day featuring their new guitarist Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy. Motörhead were my favorite band and I made sure to get a copy as soon as it hit the shelves at Bleecker Bob’s. I wore that album out. I fuckin’ loved it and didn’t care that it got bad reviews. I scored a ticket to see them play an all ages show at L’amours in Brooklyn at the end of July. I’d never been there, had no idea how to get there but knew I’d figure it out. That show was an eye opener for sure. It was the first time I ever heard “Fast as a Shark” by Accept, “Nuns Have No Fun” by Mercyful Fate and a ton of other killer jams. Motörhead’s set was devastating. I knew I couldn’t go back to sitting in the balcony of Madison Square Garden after standing about 12 feet away from Robbo‘s triple Marshall stacks. My ears rang for eight days.

Metallica‘s Kill ‘em All came out in July on a brand new East Coast record label called Megaforce. Anticipation for this album was high since the No Life Til Leather demo had been circulating fast and furiously. I scored a third or fourth generation dub of it not too long before the official album. It was a great tape but my copy was so hissy and washed out it was hard to hear anything. I also thought it was dubbed at the wrong speed because the vocals were so high pitched. The same day I picked up Kill ’em All I decided to buy another new release from Megaforce, Manowar‘s Into Glory Ride. Both these albums blew me away but Kill ’em All was exactly what I was looking for: Total Motörhead/Venom speed and aggression mixed with Priest/Maiden twin axe attackery.

Megaforce followed up those first two killer releases with another one, Raven‘s All for One. God damn! I was looking for heavy and Megaforce was delivering big time. It is to my eternal regret that I didn’t see the Kill ‘Em All For One tour. I knew they were playing L’amours but it wasn’t all ages and didn’t want to take a chance of not getting in with my crappy fake ID. It wasn’t until years later that I found out they played the Rising Sun in Yonkers. I should have tried getting in to that show. Ugh. What a drag.

Also out in August was Accept‘s new one Balls to the Wall. After hearing “Fast as a Shark” at that Motörhead show I immediately bought Accept‘s Restless & Wild. That album really blew me away but Balls was a bit of a disappointment. It had some great songs but nothing close to R&W. Black Sabbath‘s Born Again came out that same month and it felt like I was the only person in the world that liked it. I’d always been a huge Deep Purple fan and thought it was a great idea when Ian Gillan replaced Ronnie James Dio. I still listen to “Trashed” and “Zero the Hero” all the time. I taped a friend’s copy of Flick of the Switch by AC/DC, another album I still love. I liked it a lot more than For Those About to Rock but I’ve always been in the minority on that point, too. Shit that was a good summer!

Back to school in Zeptember brought Mötley Crüe‘s Shout at the Devil. I’d bought so many albums at Record World in the New Rochelle mall I had a coupon for a free one. I decided to give the new Crüe a try. It had a pentagram on the cover so how bad could it be? Turns out it was Quiet Riot time all over again for me. I liked some of it but was disappointed that the Satanic lyrics weren’t evil enough. I had no idea if Venom were really devil worshipers but “Sons of Satan” was the sound I preferred to “Too Young to Fall in Love.” And while we’re talking about Satan, I got a lot more than I bargained for when Mercyful Fate‘s Melissa was released by Megaforce in October. Jeezus, that album confused the hell out of me. The music was unbelievable. It sounded like the album I wanted Iron Maiden to make after Killers, but I was totally unprepared for the bizarre vocals of King Diamond (or “Queen Rhinestone,” as my hero Bob Muldowney of Kick*Ass Monthly used to call him). The Satanic lyrics didn’t bother me in the least but the screeching got on my nerves until I sort of got used to them. I actually like Fate a lot more now than I did then.

A big bummer in October was the release of Riot‘s Born in America. Restless Breed and Fire Down Under remain some of my favorite albums of all time but Born in America just didn’t cut it. The metal landscape was changing so fast. Riot went in a more commercial direction with disastrous results. After being dropped by Elektra, Riot wound up on a Canadian label. Even if they had the money to really push it, the album just wasn’t very good. It didn’t help that Quiet Riot was the biggest metal band around and no one gave a shit about just plain old Riot. Such a shame. They shoulda broken through in ‘81 or ‘82 and helped “Kick down the Walls” for the next wave of heavy bands. In November, I taped Headhunter by Krokus and Bark at the Moon by Ozzy but didn’t listen to them too much.

1983 ended with the sound of my future – Slayer‘s Show No Mercy. If any album forced you to decide which side you’re gonna be on, this was it. Some of the more mainstream headbangers were resistant to Kill ’em All at first but were starting to come around. Just as they’re getting used to heavier shit, here comes Slayer. On New Year’s Day 1984 I certainly wasn’t listening that fuckin’ U2 song. I had made my choice. What did you do?

THIS!

Not this.

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