Friday, July 25, 2014

On the Ripple Comic Book Shelf - The Sixth Gun - Issue #41

Oni Press out of Portland, Oregon, has been sending us review copies of comics and graphic novels.  Up until a couple months ago I was not even aware that this publisher existed.  They are certainly proof, though, that some of best stuff comes from the smaller comics publishers. This series, The Sixth Gun, looks like some great stuff, with a very interesting and well thought out story arc and what you would call a mythology, I guess.  I am sorry that this book is 41 issues in and I am just finding it now, but better late than never.

The Oni Press website describes this book thusly: “During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time, the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. Vile men thought long dead set their sights on retrieving the gun and killing the girl. Only Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a shadowy past, stands in their way.”  Sounds pretty killer, right?  It is. 

In no way do I know the story line, or what went before, so I can only tell you about this particular issue, #41.  It is a great story all by itself.  It's the back story of one of the characters, the Grey Witch, and how she came to be.  She is an ancient being, originally living as a young girl in early Scandinavia, when she is chosen as the sacrifice from her village.  She survives the sacrifice and this leads to her meeting up with some ancient beings who begin to teach her in their ways and set her on the path to becoming what she is now, said Grey Witch.  And so as not to risk any spoilers I will not give away any more of the story.

The writing is superb.  The story is well told and the pacing of this issue is excellent.  The illustrations, coloring and lettering are all very well done too.  I like to read a comic that lets you get lost in the story and almost forget that you are reading a comic.  It should be an immersive experience, which means that the story and the artwork all work together.  And this one does exactly that on a high level.  This is a story that makes me want to go back to issue #1 and read the entire story to date and then follow along each month.

I highly recommend this book.  Pick up a few issues, crank some metal, and wile away a few hours with The Sixth Gun


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ripple Field Trip - Goatwhore Live In Nashville


Extreme metal veterans Goatwhore paid a visit to Nashville’s Exit/In Tuesday to entertain the masses with their high intensity live show and celebrate the release of their new studio album, Constricting Rage of The Merciless. The new album from Metal Blade Records is available digitally, on compact disc, and also on a lovely green/white split vinyl. The legendary ferocity of Goatwhore’s live act was enough to get me excited, but it was the beauty of the vinyl release that convinced me to meet up with front man Ben Falgoust beforehand and ask a few vinyl-centric questions. Lucky for me, Ben is a generous soul and gave me the opportunity.

Ben frequently traveled from New Orleans to Houston as a young man to partake in the city’s rich metal scene, and he warmly recalled lots of crate digging while road tripping. I was curious as to how being a vinyl fan may have influenced the latest record.

I learned that the new album was recorded almost entirely on analog and mastered for vinyl and that the guys were excited to get a chance to lay down tracks in the retro style that is helping fuel a vinyl renaissance among metal heads and music fans in general. The tone that Goatwhore employs to power their songs has always been full and warm, and an analog release has done nothing but further solidify those qualities.

The guys have been entertaining with their blackened brand of metal for nearly twenty years now and whiskey and determination keep them going strong nightly, battling it out in a genre filled with high energy bands and ferocious, loyal fans.

The local Tennessee whiskey must have been quite amenable, because Goatwhore took the stage and immediately transformed the crowd into moshing maniacs dancing atop a live wire of molten metal. Ben has no trouble working the crowd with piercing, soulful stares while his snarling vocals pound with unyielding force, nearly commanding the sinewy drums and artful guitar into willful submission.

It’s sort of like watching the tall man in Phantasm lead a funeral procession of black, speeding hearses down a steep quarry road into what is certainly an aberrant abyss. Driving, hammering, anvil-pounding, obsidian metal long into the steamy Summer night.

Goatwhore’s vision of viscous blackness gives the mere mortals among us a glimpse into what it's like to actually experience and thrive within the embrace of passionate, dark, biting metal. It gives us a chance to break the shackles of daily grind and become, if only for an hour, a demigod of destruction and mastery. It allows us to rise above ourselves in dauntless triumph and stand atop our feeble brethren.

If only for a night. A short, sweltering, blissful night.

- Oldfatbroke
All live photo credits Jim Ribeiro

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RED FANG: Release Free Acoustic EP; Shoot New Music Video

Band Launches UK/European Tour this Friday

Stream and Download the Free Acoustic EP via Bandcamp Here »

In celebration of the band’s upcoming European Tour, Portland, OR's huggable hard rock supervillains RED FANG have released a free acoustic EP via Metal Hammer, Bandcamp, Amazon MP3 and all streaming portals.  The EP was recorded this past March in London as an Absolute Music Bunker session for  The songs mark the first time the band recorded any acoustic interpretations of their material and the EP includes the original album versions of each track as well.  A complete tracklisting is available below.  

Additionally, the band recently shot a music video for their new song “The Meadows” from their Scion A/V 7” released in May.  The video was directed by David Brodsky (Kylesa, Helmet, Municipal Waste) and will premiere shortly.

RED FANG are gearing up for another month long European tour including numerous festival appearances like Pukkelpop, Lowlands Festival and Reading and Leeds Festival.  The shows kick off on July 25th at Rock Im Wald in Germany and end August 23rd at Leeds Festival in the UK.  Upon their return, the group will be playing Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, WA alongside Elvis Costello, Wu-Tang Clan, The Replacements and many others.

RED FANG are generating critical acclaim from SPIN, Revolver, Magnet, Alternative Press and more for their new album which was produced by Chris Funk (Decemberists) and mixed by Vance Powell (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Kings of Leon). Featuring such guests as Mike Scheidt (Yob) and Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession), Whales and Leeches propels RED FANG into the upper stratosphere of the heavy rock and metal elite. Stream the entire record via Bandcamp here.

Red Fang Tour Dates

Jul 25        Neuensee  GER            Rock Im Wald
Jul 26        Lichtenvoorde NL           Zwarte Cross Festival
Jul 27        Saarbrücken GER        Garage
Jul 28        Milan IT                          Magnolia
Jul 29        Rome  IT                       Traffic
Jul 31        Viveiro ESP                   Resurrection Festival
Aug 01      Nantes   FR                   Le Ferrailleur - SOLD OUT
Aug 02      Albi FR                           Xtreme Fest
Aug 03      Colmar  FR                   Grillen
Aug 05      Giessen  GER                MUK
Aug 06      Augsburg GER              Kantine
Aug 07      Jaromer CZ                   Brutal Assault
Aug 08      Waldhausen AUT          Lake On Fire
Aug 09      Chemnitz GER              Rock Im Betonwerk
Aug 10      Saint Maurice de Gourdans FR   Sylak Open Air
Aug 12      Martigny CH                  Les Caves du Manoir
Aug 13      Martigny CH                  Les Caves du Manoir
Aug 14      Pisa   IT                        Musica W Festival
Aug 15      Le Locle CH                 Rock Altitude
Aug 16      Hasselt BEL                 Pukkelpop
Aug 17      Biddinghuizen NL         Lowlands Festival
Aug 19      Osnabrück GER          Bastard Club
Aug 20      Bochum GER               Matrix
Aug 21      Charleville Mezieres FR Cabaret Vert
Aug 22      Reading, UK                 Reading Festival
Aug 23      Leeds, UK                    Leeds Festival

Aug 31        Seattle WA                 Bumbershoot Festival - Fisher Green Stage

A Ripple Conversation With Kobra Paige

Canadian power metal superstars, Kobra And The Lotus are taking the world by storm. Their latest album " High Priestess" is a tour de force of in your face metal. It is the album to buy in 2014. "I am, I am", "Soldier", "Warhorse", and the incredible title track, "High Priestess, this album is full of searing metal anthems. I spoke with Kobra Paige about life on the road with Kiss/Def Leppard, recording, and tarot cards.

How is the tour going so far? I know it just started.

Yeah it’s going great.  I hope it never ends.

Is the Kiss/Def Leppard tour going to Europe too or is just the states?

Just the states. We don’t know their plans after this tour but we are still planning to go overseas.

How long did it take to write the new album?

Oh man. That is hard to answer. Songs were written before. About a year in the making. Some were ideas of riffs. Songs were written at scattered times, when we had moments of opportunity.  I don’t write on the road. I try to stay healthy.

The album is darker. Do you feel that?

Lyrically. There are some more piercing lyrics and some subjects are graphic. “Soldier” is darker. It wasn’t intentional. It just happened. I guess it is darker. I never think about it. Just the way it came out.

Was it because of touring or experiences on the road?

No, I write the lyrics from experiences in my own life. Just topics that I want to bring awareness to. I wrote them all basically about life and the journey we are all on.

Do you have any Native American blood?

I actually don’t. I am Ukrainian on both sides. (laughs) I’m some kind of native. I’m from somewhere

“High Priestess” is the title of the album and one of my favorite tracks. What inspired the lyrics?

High Priestess was inspired by a tarot card. It has the high priestess representing arcane knowledge and she holds the future. We have to journey through life to gain that knowledge. She won’t tell you. So you have to profess your own prophecy. That is where that comes from. It was also a great metaphor for the album. Just an all encompassing view.

How cool is it to watch and learn from Kiss and Def Leppard?

They are great. They come down to talk quite a bit. Especially Eric and Tommy(Kiss) they pal around quite a bit. Yesterday, right before we went on, Paul (Stanley) came and grabbed me on the shoulder and was like” you got this” The crew is awesome. Def Leppard is always buzzing around. Rick came down and slapped one of our guys on the butt and said “have a great show”. Production team is awesome. We have been using their in ear monitoring system.  It has been great.

So for this tour we can safely say you have a better bus driver than the last one.
(Laughs) Oh yeah. He is awesome. Very mellow. Down to earth. They are hard to come by.

I know last year you had a crashed trailer.

Yeah. we had everything happen with those trailers.( last year's tour the equipment trailer actually passed the van they were in as it went off the road.)

The Kiss/Def Leppard audience is very diverse. How have they been treating you?

They have been great. We have to go out and win them over every night. We adore them. It is tough they are all sitting. Security keeps them all sitting. Very different than what we have been used to. No one knows us and it is a great challenge. Our job is to warm them up. We come out twice. After we play and then after Def Leppard plays we like to hang out.

Have you ever done any onstage duets with anyone?

I did the metal all stars tour.  But not yet. I would love to.

A Halford/Paige version of “Victim Of Changes” would be awesome

Whooh. Yes!  Push for that!

Who else is on your musical list that we might not expect?

I love Devin Townsend. He is brilliant. Of course Judas Priest is always going to be one of my faves.

For New England fans: Kobra and The Lotus will open for Kiss/Def Leppard at the xfinity Center, Mansfield Mass. August 1st.

- MetalRising

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Living Colour - Time's Up

I'm just going to get right to the point.  This is my favorite album, ever.  Out of all the albums I've ever listened to and could choose from, this is it.  I'm not saying this is the best album of all time or making any grand declaration like that.  Just that if you want to make me really happy, put this album on.  It will do the trick, no matter the mood, no matter the occasion. 

This was probably Living Colour at their absolute commercial peak.  Their first album had the crushing hit “Cult of Personality”, and they never wrote another song that captured the public like that one.  But that first album wasn't that great.  Good enough to get people's attention, but nothing compared to this one.  And let's just address the elephant in the room.  This band got a lot of attention and press because they were an all black band playing music that was not traditionally played by an all black band.  I think this also caused a lot of problems for them, because the music industry, in the late 80's and early 90's, with MTV in full flight, HAD to have a way to pigeon hole a band and make them fit into nice, neat categories.  This is a band of amazing jazz musicians who came together to play this amazing blend of rock, funk, soul, jazz, pretty much anything they wanted to throw into the mix, because that's how good they are.

There is some absolutely mind blowing music on this album.  “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” is a love song, but not in the usual sense.  It's probably the best summation of what it feels like to be a guy when you find that first woman that you really fall for as an adult.  No mushy high school romance, but as a young adult and you find that woman that really makes you ponder what it could be like to spend the rest of your life with someone.  The fact that its a funky little jam with a nice sense of humor makes it all the better.

“Elvis Is Dead” is my favorite track on this album.  The song is a little dated, but if you were alive in 1990 when this album was released, there was almost a hysteria among Elvis fans that he just couldn't be dead, and the tabloids had a field day with reports of Elvis sightings, theories on how he was still alive and hiding out, etc.  I have to honest.  I have always despised Elvis.  I have never found any redeeming qualities in his music.  I have never understood the hype.  And if today, you despise the Justin Biebers of the world, you can thank Elvis.  He was the first manufactured pop idol.  All manner of pop culture was “borrowed” from to create the Elvis persona.  A lot of his moves, style of singing, and stage manner was taken from black artists.  To have a black band write a song like this, taking back their own, stating openly that they were fed up with the Elvis worship, was an awesome thing.  This song captures it all and tells it like it is.  Also, it might be another thing that kept this band from being as big as they should have been.

There is a ton of great music on this album.  The other song I will mention specifically is “Solace of You”.  It's a beautiful song, a meditation almost on how we can have a person in our lives who is our home, in whom we can find solace no matter what else is going on in our lives or in the world around us.  It is a wonderful dialing back of the power of this band, which has blazed on through track after track for about 45 minutes at this point.  It's a great opportunity to catch your breath and to see another side of a band that just could do no wrong on this album.

You've probably gotten the point that to me this is a monster of an album.  This is a fantastic concoction of 4 musicians who are masters of their instruments, who are at the height of their powers as a band, and who just open up and let it roar.  They tackle social issues of the time and if you really care about what is going on in society it is not an easy listen.  As powerful as the music itself is, the lyrics are just as powerful and they are worth a listen.  It's worth it to sit down with this CD booklet and follow along with the lyrics.  Corey Glover is a gifted singer and lyricist and he has a lot to say.

If you heard these guys back in the day but just thought of them as some novelty act, you really need to listen to this again.  If you were a fan but haven't heard this music in a long time, you need to listen to this again.  And if you've never heard this band, you need to listen to this.  This is what music should be about.  No easy genre definitions, no fear as to topics being addressed, 4 guys letting it absolutely rip and daring us all to keep up.  Grab on and hold on tight.  It's well worth it.  Start with this album and check out the rest of their catalog.  You will be much better for it.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Wolvhammer - Clawing Into Black Sun

For the lazy: Clawing Into Black Sun is a "covers-type" album by a doom/black metal band. Think Graveyard Classics-type records done by Nachtmystium, except... Wolvhammer are good enough songwriters to make this seemingly-"covers" album an original work. This is a covers album done by a band from an extreme metal genre who are actually great songwriters.

Opener, "The Silver Key," nice intro, and nice dynamics-- gives the blast beats time to work and time for the listener to heal.

"Lethe," track two, ambient sounds effects, not unlike Salome's only record, brief, then "Death Division," the most straightforward, "rock"-ish track here, a bit like something off Wolverine Blues. Borderline catchy, like Sisters of Mercy on Quaaludes. Sounds like a less-indulgent Nachtmystium. Played acoustically, you'd probably never notice this was metal. It might come off as more morbid alt-country, something like Sturgill Simpson.

Arvo Pärt's doomy black metal. Doom rock? Death and roll?

"Slaves to the grime," "The Desanctification," are, to put it mildly, quite rocking tunes....

"In Reverence" rageful, ends hauntingly

This is not black metal, it's too crude and slow: black stone, not black rock-- black monolith?

All the songs are fairly long; "Death rock" works as a descriptor; almost like an emo, 120 minutes-type of band that's too angry and despairing to write music that won't scare off their intended audience. They're too intense to pull off emo. Heehee. Nachtmystium-like. Jeff Wilson, guitarist, is ex-Nachtmystium. So, figures.

"A light that doesn't yield." Thin, abstract, flatted-third type chords that sound like Jack Johnson warped through a Absinthe-stained glass. Builds and builds and seems to progress, but inevitable doesn't. A good thing: highlights the despair of the underlying emotions. Trapped. Claustrophobic. Gregorian blackened death rock. Listen with earphones, and your skull will resound with these hymns like a mausoleum echoing with the hymns of mourners long departed the overgrown sepulcher. Jesus Christ that was poetic.

The building chants at the end of the song should be awesome live.

"When the edge of the razor is what you need." The adaptable, ever-evolving dirge.

"Clawing into black sun." Simple, stone chords (not metal) over a r-tard-played primal beat. For when you wake up in a new place and realize it's hell. And there's been no mistake; you're supposed to be there. Sounds like something off Assassins.

"Black! Black! Black! Black!" nice. Like the 1954 Richard Matheson short story, "Dance of the dead," e.g., "To flesh insensate!" etc. Like that generation's plaints of despair, of agony, of redemption. Prayers.

Black, ashen prayers. And Clawing Into Black Sun knows how to end. It just stops. No ambiance, no echoes, just... done.

It's a consistent sound: the baleful cries of your very tissues when they're infected, or burning, or cancerous; when, if you're being honest with yourself, you realize that you were poorly designed for life.

Music that teaches you how to die.

Jesus Christ. I'm gonna go watch Good Luck Charlie on Netflix now for some ear bleach.

- Horn

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Curse The Son - Psychache

When I switched to vinyl in 2013, I gave a lot of thought to what my first purchase would be. I spent many hours scouring over heavy music on Bandcamp, Youtube and Soundcloud, and ultimately I landed on the freshly released Vol. II by Spelljammer from STB Records. The long, monolithic songs beckoned to me and I was excited to finally get that first vinyl into the collection.

Little did I know, the Spelljammer was a hard sell out and I would have to wait nearly three months to find a copy. I ended up snagging the All Them Witches debut, Our Mother Electricity as my first wax, but I remained deeply interested in the stoner/doom/sludge DIY scene and the amazing quality that is available from small labels like STB.

Flash forward a year, and STB is still at it. Now, with eight releases under their belt, and a determined commitment to feed profits into future releases, the label is better than ever, and so is the music.

Recently, I got a chance to spin a pre-release vinyl of the forthcoming Psychache from Hamden, Connecticut trio Curse The Son and I was thrilled to crack it open and see a beautiful tri-colored vinyl inside the creepy, black and white cover art. I plopped it down onto the trusty Pro-ject and what poured forth was a delectable slurry of shuddersome, majestic doom. Atmospheric, macabre and wonderfully menacing doom.  

The album is filled with droning, heavy tracks highlighted with alluring tempo changes, bludgeoning riffs and revenant-esque vocals. Indeed, the entire production has an eerie revenant feel to it, and formidable tracks such as Spider Stole The Weed and Goodbye Henry Anslinger will have you reaching for your best bong and begging the incorporeal vibe to wash over you like a thick cemetery fog.  

STB Records is releasing this vinyl in three distinctive versions, including the sexy tri-color black/white/grey version I reviewed limited to 125 copies, a clear, blood splattered with OBI version limited to 100 and a diehard edition with custom patch sporting a creamy bone and black blood splatter limited to 75. Each goes on sale promptly at 12pm EST, Saturday, July 26th.

While Psychache is surely no concept album, it gives the listener the same feeling that souls of the newly deceased must have experienced as Charon ferried them across the fabled river Styx. Climb into the blackened craft of madness and let them steer you along your own dreadful journey, my friends. It's a frothy ride of pure hedonistic pleasure.

 - Oldfatbroke

Gorillaz - Demon Days

I was 16. It was July. My dad was making me get things for our 4th of July party from town. My buddy, Jamie, was riding with me. A kid at school had recently burned me a copy of The Gorillaz "Demon Days." I put it in the stereo for the first time. It was one of my first introductions to a modern concept album. Damn it was good.

It hardly seems like nearly a decade has gone by since this album was released. I always listen to it around this time of year; not because of nostalgia or anything, it's just one of my "Summer Spins". Albums like Nada Surf's "High/Low" (Review here: and Radiohead's "Pablo Honey" also make it in there. Maybe those are strange choices for summer, but they just sound like the season to me.

Anyway, maybe I'm biased, but this record really hasn't aged at all. Maybe that's because it's just that good, maybe it's because music hasn't progressed much in the last 9 years. I think the argument could be made either way, but, really, the music on this album is just that good. 

I think it was the first record that showed me you could do more with all these new styles of music than what was being done. And there aren't many popular modern styles which aren't represented somewhere, somehow, in these songs. Even down to specific bands (does anyone else hear heavy influences from The Vines in O Green World?)

I just wanted to write a quick little blurb about this, but it's July 4, so I'm going to go eat some catfish, drink some beer, and play with fire. 

- Headshot

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Monobrow - Big Sky, Black Horse

Before we get into Big Sky, Black Horse I feel obligated to admit Bennington Triangle Blues was the first album on vinyl that I ever owned and purchased solely on my own. Now that may come as a shocker to some, but truth be told my parents weren't music freaks like me. I wasn't exposed to records nor did I care to purchase a piece of plastic, or wax I guess it is, to play on a record player, or turntable I suppose they call them, that I never owned. I've always been drawn to music since a young age, too young for a record player to be the most practical device to use. I grew up on tapes, then CDs, and later digital. I'm a huge advocate of digital, always have and always will be. It wasn't until early this year (2014) that I decided to immerse myself into the world of vinyl junkyism. 

Whether it was coincidence, divine intervention, or just me being my normal cheap ass self I saw the sale price at the Heavy Ripples big cartel store and was inspired to purchase the record. My copy of Bennington Triangle Blues will soon be joined by its latest brethren Big Sky, Black Horse and has since been reunited with Monobrow's self-titled on wax as well. All that rambling be told, let it be said, Big Sky, Black Horse absolutely destroys and I'm going to have trouble finding room on my shelf for it. After only half a year my collection is nearing 100 records of mostly all new bands and albums of many different styles that I absolutely love.

(Side note, there are several package deals on bandcamp for ordering multiple Monorbrow vinyl releases at a discounted rate including the new one linked with the self titled, and the self-titled with Bennington Triangle Blues)

I'm the first to admit that I'm not opposed to instrumental music. I just don't prefer it. That said, when an album like this comes around, and a few including King Dead, Brunt, and the latest Tumbleweed Dealer already have this year, I am all ears. In fact why ruin a good thing with sub-par vocals when you can put that added energy back into the real instruments to enhance the core of the heavy rock? Monobrow push the envelope with an invigorating blend of heavy riffs, catchy hooks, classic melodies and flawless transitions.

Cicada opens the record with a driving upbeat tune straight out of the classic rock handbook. It takes me directly back to the 70's, which is difficult because I was born in '81, yet I can feel the spirit of the 70's pumping through me like bell bottoms flapping in the wind. The song wastes no time showing the band’s diversity and the theme of the entire record. It transitions around a tripped out tribal drumbeat with a soft haunting riff that fades in and out for the remainder of the song reminding you that you are not alone.

These Mountains Don't Want Us Here, but they surely coax us with their canyons echoing with gusty melodic riffs. Like realizing your worst nightmare is only a dream and waking up to the reality that supersedes your nightmare. The grinding riff at the 5:10 mark swallows you limb by limb, slowly churning away it's groove into your cavity for the remainder of the song before spitting you out onto the battlefield of the next song like a storm cloud spews heavy flakes of frozen tundra.
There's a weighty essence of doom metal throughout keeping the record accessible to the heavy hearted doom crowd, yet the record has enough psychotic breaks and pauses to enlist the above average progrock nerd as well. Stoner love is a given as Monobrow is covered with a light fuzz, especially connecting the surface above and around the upper eye socket.

As the record plays on, the excitement soars and the riffs march on. Even acoustics shine as in the short lullaby Hamartia which leads into the title track. Big Sky, Black Horse not only lives up to its name in terms of natural brute force, but it adequately portrays the detailed cover art in an organic fashion. Creeping in at the 11:43 mark, the title track almost doubles the average length of the rest of the songs. Shear doom madness spews all over the speakers within the first 2:00 of the track, oozing towards a faster paced rock n roll ballad by 2:30. The riffs reek of the doomiest odor as they linger amongst their crushing volume and catchy tone. The song builds and builds, like you wish every instrumental song should, towards a finale of rhythmic ecstasy.

In short, Monobrow have unleashed a beast of an album which deserves your utmost attention. From the superbly tenacious white horse struggling through black tar on the cover to the heroic melodies tracking its sound, Big Sky, Black Horse serves as an inspirational instrumental relic representing modern stoner/doom metal.

-The Huntsman

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ripple Library - Killers: The Origins of Iron Maiden 1975-1983

First of all, I must take my hat off to Neil Daniels for tackling the morass that is the early years of one of metal's most legendary bands, Iron Maiden.  With the "one day here, next day gone" band line-ups and seemingly random personnel changes, it's certainly not the easiest period of rock history to write about. Combine that with the fact that no records were kept of what the band was doing back then and no one really seems to remember all the band's permutations, and it truly was a labor of love for Daniels to try and make sense of it all.

And in that regard, he succeeds admirably.  As a massive fan of the early Maiden (yes, I'm much more Di'Anno than Dickinson) I've always wanted to understand the early years of the band.  Particularly, I never had a clear understanding of why the band parted with Di'Anno and why they kicked out Dennis Stratton.  I also knew next to nothing about the infamous Thunderstick years.  Now I have a much better glimpse and it all makes perfect sense. Once I fully realized Harris' fearless dedication to his vision, it all made perfect sense. 

Daniels does a great job of delineating Steve Harris' undying drive and commitment to Maiden, his relentless passion for the band and music, and the intricate line-up changes that are the history of these legends.  He does a stellar job of really outlining what each new (or outgoing) member brought to the band culminating in the now classic line-up of Harris, Dickinson, McBrain, Smith and Murray.  He also does and admirable job of following the musical growth of the band from those original, raw Soundhouse Tapes, through the first four classic albums.  Daniels' own love and admiration for the band comes through loud and clear, making this more a fan's retelling of legendary history than a dispassionate critic's looks at the past.  And the book is better for it.  Daniels' love of Maiden bleeds through every sentence and it adds to the passion of the book.

I also enjoyed the contributions of my buddy Ray Van Horn Jr, who always has something interesting to say about metal, rock, and comic books for that matter.

Having said all that, I gotta say, this is a hard book to recommend to anyone but the most fervent of Maiden fans (such as myself).  The book doesn't have any real fascinating or diabolical rock n roll stories, no rampaging chaos on the road or groupie tales, and it doesn't offer any hilarious Spinal Tap moments that would appeal to any random reader of rock and metal books.  It also doesn't really offer any new stories, lost photos, vignettes, or great new interviews with band members, past or present.  Most of the interviews and first person accounts are recalled from published interviews elsewhere.  The new interviews we have are fairly standard and non-illuminating.

Further, a vast amount of the book is spent detailing many early gigs and debating on which date, "so and so" show took place or at what show "so and so" first played guitar. ("Better luck at The Swan in Hammersmith perhaps? Marginally.  The date of this gig has been the subject of some debate - possibly 5 or 6 July has been postulated, but, in actual fact, it was almost certainly 12 July, because said gig was "last Thursday." The paper went on sale on Thursday 19 July (two days before cover date) so "last Thursday" would have been the 12th." -- page 36).  Examples like this litter the book, and in fact the above quote was found by simply opening to a random page.  Since nobody really kept records, it's unclear when a lot of shows actually happened, and in reality, it's not very important or interesting to know the exact dates.  Even less interesting to read about someone debating back and forth as to when those dates occurred.

So, in reality, the book reads more like a fan's research paper on the band, a historical thesis if you will, rather than a rampaging story of an early band struggling to make it big.

Which is fine in and of itself.  Die-hard fans of bands gobble this stuff up.  Like comic book fans, they debate dates and line-ups and facts, and guitars used, and string tunings, etc.  So, that's all fine if that's what interests you. 

But what's not fine are other issues.

Daniels has a bad habit of repeating himself way too much.  Much of this is done by using previously published quotes that touch on the same subject, but it ends up being very repetitive.  For example, I must've read 6 times in just a few pages that "Dianno was too punk" for Maiden or many more times how much Harris hated punk.  Cool.  That's good to know and it does explain a lot.  But really, you don't need to tell me over and over.  It simply becomes repetitive. 

Also, for a book that seems to be so painstakingly researched, when a mistake is made it stands out worse than glitter eyeliner on a pig. The biggest error I came across that I just couldn't get past was:

"Manager Rod Smallwood had a significant amount of input into Iron Maiden's growing fanbase, having got them signed to EMI when other British metal bands were on much smaller labels such as Arista or Chrysalis, or even more obscure labels such as Neat, Shadow Kingdom, Buried by Time and Dust, High Roller and Steel Legacy."


Come on, Neil. Buried by Time and Dust is a reissue label run by a couple of brothers who were both in grade school when Iron Maiden signed to EMI.  They certainly weren't a label "other British metal bands" signed to in 1979.  Likewise, Shadow Kingdom started in 2004 and the label didn't exist until 2007, High Roller has a similar history as a reissue label which is based in Germany actually, not UK. And Steel Legacy (as the name implies) is a reissue label also started in 2004 and based in Greece.  I can guarantee, no NWOBHM bands were ever signed to these labels in 1979.

There were tons of very small labels that were started or issued NWOBHM releases like Rondolet, Ebony, Killerwat, and of course Neat.  And Smallwood did do an excellent job getting Maiden signed to EMI rather than one of these smaller labels.  I don't want to belabor this point, but when the book exists to be a more "scholarly"history of an early period in the band's history, minor errors like this are remarkably glaring. 

In the end, these types of errors and the repetitiveness are nothing that a good editor couldn't have fixed.

Overall, I like the book and I'll not soon be parting with my copy.  If you are a diehard fan of the band and love to debate minutia with your friends or ever once carried your own cardboard "air" guitar to an early NWOBHM gig, you may find a lot to enjoy here.  As a casual fan of Maiden or someone simply wanting to read about a rags-to-riches rock and roll success story, or debauchery on the road, you be be better served elsewhere.


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