Thirty years ago this summer thrash metal came ripping out of America’s West Coast with the release of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. The band and their “Big Four” brethren; Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, were influenced in equal parts by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and hardcore punk, grafting the musicianship of the former to the aggression and social consciousness of the latter and laying down a musical gauntlet that made metal’s old guard take notice and the bedazzled glam bands quake in their patent leather cowboy boots. The ecstatic reception of the recent “Big Four” concerts, which featured the above bands on a single bill for the first time, and new bands that carry the flame such as Lamb Of God and Gojira testify to the genre’s enduring popularity and importance. Take a gander at some of these guitarists from thrash metal’s biggest and best bands and see if you can identify the shredders from their axes alone.
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Fans of classic rock and early heavy metal were saddened to hear of the passing of Blue Oyster Cult’s Allen Lanier yesterday from heart disease at the age of 67. Lanier was a founding member of the group, playing keyboards and guitar on their seminal records of the 1970s and early ‘80s which blended atypical proto-metal riffing with art rock flourishes and cryptic lyrics inspired by science-fiction and fantasy novels. The group were a major concert attraction throughout the 1970s and have been cited as an influence by a diverse array of bands including first generation Australian punk rockers Radio Birdman, indie rock legends the Minutemen, metal titans Metallica, the jam band moe. and modern horror rockers Ghost B.C. Besides his work with B.O.C., Allen Lanier was an esteemed sideman and session musician, most notably contributing to albums by former-girlfriend Patti Smith and poet-turned rock singer Jim Carroll.
Ah, the early 1990s. The era of flannels, of cut off shorts worn over long johns and the first painful dalliances with the tattoo gun and mosh pit as Generation X apathetically ambled into the mainstream. Last weekend thousands flocked to the annual Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago’s Grant Park to see such well-mannered bands as Mumford & Sons and Vampire Weekend however the festivals’ roots were a more raucous affair altogether as the emerging alternative rock nation brought together the leading lights in underground rock, hip hop, industrial and, oh yeah, GRUNGE. Take a gander at the following gallery and see if you can guess these first generation Lollapalooza artists.
ZZ Top are Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees, classic rock mainstays, beloved 1980s music video stars and one of the more misunderstood bands in music. Psychedelic survivors who shuffled out of Texas at the dawn of the 1970s with some of the finest and most genuine blues rock ever played they were initially pigeonholed as southern rock also-rans. Despite their roots music pedigree their influence is most keenly felt in the work of hard rockers like Motorhead, who covered them, and Queens Of The Stone Age, with whom guitarist Billy Gibbons has recorded. And while the Eliminator album, their 8th full-length overall, and its iconic music videos increased their audience exponentially, most of these new fans knew nothing about their earlier records.
They may not get the glory like lead singers and guitarists but any great rock band you can think of usually has a great bass player holding down the low end. Ever since Leo Fender introduced the Precision Bass in 1951, rock bands have anchored their rhythm sections around the 4-string electric bass guitar, replacing the unwieldy, acoustic double bass with it’s more portable and easily amplified offspring. Initially relegated to the back of the bandstand, Paul McCartney in The Beatles and The Beach Boys‘ Brian Wilson helped raise the instruments’ profile in the early 1960s and when Cream‘s Jack Bruce plugged his Gibson EB-3 into a Marshall amplifier stack, bassists were ready to take on those pesky guitarists in the volume wars. Take a gander at these master bassists, old and new, and see if you can recognize them just by their instruments.
The sound of the electric guitar is the sound of rock ‘n’ roll, plain and simple. American blues musicians were the first to crank their amps into overdrive to be heard above the din of juke joints and find the rich, saturated tones pleasing to the ear. In the mid-60s British fans started spray-painting “Clapton Is God” around London in honor of Eric Clapton’s groundbreaking lead guitar work with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The age of The Guitar Hero had arrived. And no guitar god worth his weight in groupies goes without a signature six-string by his side. Peruse these legends of rock guitar and see if you can guess who they are just from pictures of their iconic axes.
30 years ago today, a little known heavy metal band from Northern California released their debut album on a fledgling independent record label run out of a New Jersey flea market. The album, Kill ‘Em All, was the opening salvo of the nascent thrash metal movement and the band, Metallica, had a profound effect not just on heavy metal itself, but the music industry as a whole. To mark the album’s 30th anniversary, we’ve asked fellow musicians and Metallica fans what they thought when they first encountered one of the music’s most groundbreaking albums. These include metal gods like Rob Halford from Judas Priest, fellow thrash titans Kerry King from Slayer and Anthrax’s Scott Ian, our trio of That Metal Show hosts, as well as a few people with personal ties to the band like longtime bassist Jason Newsted and Kirk Hammet’s former guitar teacher, famed guitar shredder Joe Satriani.
Each week fans tune in to That Metal Show to see Eddie, Jim and Don weigh-in and argue about such important subjects as What Are Led Zeppelin’s Top 5 Albums or Who Are Metal’s Top 5 Hired Guns? For season 12 we moved the debate online and let you, the fans, make your voices heard in our weekly TMS Top 5 polls. The season has come to an end and we saved the best for last and asked the boys to help rank the Top 5 hard rock and heavy metal bands of the 1980s.