Archive for September, 2008

You’ll never know where you’re going till you know where you’ve been!!! The last episode of the HISTORY OF ROCK!!! 1950,1960,1970,1980 are all behind us and we now settle on what will be remembered as quite possibly the last decade of brilliance for years to come!!! Join me as I go through the 90’s legends!!

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 32 – It’s a girl!

Posted: September 21, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

Rock for me is a thing of joy, so what happens when I combine that joy with having a baby? An amazing freakin show, that’s what!!!! A show for my new love, with bands like New Found Glory, Ok Go, Everclear, The Ramones, and a Salute that was a long time coming!!!

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 31

Posted: September 14, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

Maximum Mike has started biting his nails as listeners begin to have new interests, ie Country, Indie, Electronic!! So this week hes had no choice but to make this the best damn show possible!!! This week, fly with the Bees, pick up your Styx, and pour some Saliva in the Garbage!!!

Oh no, not me. I have been here all along. Manning the decks of “Electronic Voyage” and bringing you the best in Electronic Music from across the decades. Who I want to welcome back is a band that has much to do with my early development as a Metalhead, and just reinstated themselves as an awesome force in music.
Of course I am speaking about Metallica. Before that however, let’s take a look back into the past of the music that made Heavy Metal popular, and then took it to new and unforeseen heights. Their debut in 1981, wow that seems so long ago, was a blistering (I think I am going to be using that word a lot) manic expression of force and naïve rage. Just listen to the opening riff from “Hit the Lights” the album tore open the seams of Rock, and left an entire era of bands trying to recapture the magic of that album while Metallica forged ahead one landmark album after another. What set the music apart from anything at the time is that while speedy and angry, the music was focused, the musicianship second to none, and the song structure unparalleled. Sometimes in the early Metallica recordings the best riffs come at the bridge of the second chorus, Look no further than the intricate noodling of “Whiplash,” and the deep crunch of “No Remorse.” What was perhaps so shocking about the debut is the maturities of the players, who were at the time, barely out of their teens.
Then everything changed. Well kind of. While the rest of the Heavy Metal community were trying to make their own “Kill Em All” Metallica transcended the form with “Ride the Lightning.” It was fast heavy and mean to be sure but there was something more. From the almost Baroque opening to “Fight Fire with Fire” here was a band transformed. On every track they seemed to try something new and succeed. Intertwined guitar solos, complex time signatures, and my favorite song of all the thudding greatness that is “For Whom the Bell Tolls” it was a second revolution for a band that was starting to sell out stadiums without Top 40 support. The question then became, could it be topped? The answer was yes.
“Master of Puppets” took everything the band learned about themselves and the world from the previous album and did not push the envelope so much as refine the idea. The album got noticed by critics outside of the scene and the album sold three million copies with no radio support at all. The songs were longer and more complex, but the aggression and speed remained constant. Here was a band amassing a stunning body of work, and rocketing to the top, doing things on their own terms and in their own way. The music moves up and down slowing at times and braking out at others. Not a note is misplaced, and the obsessive attention to every detail shows in the perfect way the songs are crafted, but this time they work even better as a cohesive unit.
Then everything changed. Cliff Burton, one of the greatest Heavy Metal bassists of all time, was killed when their bus flipped off the road in Sweden. The band grieved in the way they knew how, by falling into bottomless wells of alcohol. One binge drinking night ended with vocalist James Hetfield standing in the middle of the street screaming “Cliff…Cliff…Where are you?”
The band was not done. Not by a long shot. They regrouped, recruited Jason Newstead from Flotsam & Jetsam (an extremely underrated group) and went back into the studio. When they emerged, they had created “And Justice for All” the bleakest, most complex work of their catalogue. The only question mark on the record is the production. Jason Newstead’s bass is turned so far down as to be barely audible, and that makes the record sound tinny. I have always wondered how it would sound remastered. It still remains as my favorite of their albums.
Then they hit the mainstream. Producer Bob Rock helped them with “Metallica” their fifth album and one that has gone platinum ten times. He wanted the band to relax, loosen the reigns and start having fun. It worked. The record is great, but a much more downtempo affair then their previous releases. Then came “Load” and “Reload” and the band seemed to resemble little of the brilliant angsters of yore. Now they were a midtempo Hard Rock band at best. It was something that seemed destined to happen, because it often does with bands as they reach the downward spiral of their careers. I even think that “S&M” live with the San Fransisco Symphony was ill conceived. The music often existed in the same time but not the same dimension as each other. It was done with skill to be sure but it sounded forced and a little silly. “Garage Inc.” a collection of new and old covers was fun, but again it seemed like the band had run out of steam. For me what happened next proved that beyond a doubt.
Remember Napster? Remember Metallica taking them down? I don’t blame them because it is their right, it just seemed so corporate of a band that single handedly pulled themselves out of the underground by sheer force of will and talent. Watching Lars Ulrich testify before a Senate Grand Jury; look I love the band but I cannot help getting a little sick every time I hear him speak. Even now I am all pissy, and it is about to get worse.
Do not listen to anything you hear which trys to salvage “St. Anger.” It is garbage, pure and simple. Unfocused, and poorly produced it sounded like fifth graders in their garage. I know about the infighting, and the substance abuse. All of the drama. I know all the stories, they do not matter. What matters is that the album was a dismal representation of their skill and could very well have been the final step in the destruction of the band. Maybe in some respects it should have been. They could have taken a look at themselves and the inexcusable piece of …too much hate, I have to relax.
Because this is not a normal band. This is Metallica, and as soon as I heard Bob Rock was out and Rick Rubin was in as producer I was intrigued. Rick Rubin, was the guru of Trash in the 80s working for a long time with Slayer, and also creating Def Jam recordings with Russell Simmons. The guy knows his stuff, and his Metal. I was dare I say excited, but nervous, very nervous. Then Michael played me the first single off of the album. “The Day that Never comes” is ok, perfect for radio but just ok. It sounded a lot like Load or Reload, but I had definitely heard worse. The song was a little all over the place too. James Hetfield’s vocals border on Country, and the drums still had that damn tinnyness.
Then I got my hands on the album (never mind how) and listened. They are back. The heroes have done it again. The songs blister (yes that word again) at a rapid pace sounding like a nice Thrash throwback but with a definite feeling of the now, the moment at hand. The edge is back the crunch is back and while it cannot be “Master of Puppets” it is a refreshing return to form for a band that taught us how to rock then forgot how to do it themselves. The credit goes to the band yes, but also to Rick Rubin who showed the boys they still had it in them. “Death Magnetic” rocks plain and simple, and makes me happy to still be a fan of Metallica.

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 30

Posted: September 7, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

We’ve finally reached a turning point here at Rock 4 Rookies, the 30 Week Episode Special!! Let’s celebrate with Social Distortion, The Donnas, Bad Religion, Sabaton, and high flying, rootin tootin Salute!!! Expect nothing, get everything this week on R4R!!!