In this week’s Heavy Hitters, Metal Edge revisits four debut recordings that transformed the face of heavy music. Metal, industrial, prog, rock, dance and doom – when these bands debuted, we somehow knew music would never be the same…
MEGADETH Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!
I have a theory that Dave Mustaine had far more impact on Metallica’s Kill 'Em All debut than he’s ever been given credit for – I won’t get into it here, but find me at the Rainbow Bar and Grill sometime when my eyes are glassed over because I can’t get my wife to leave, and I’ll be more than happy to regale you. Or you can just listen to this scalding platter of razor sharp riffs and red hot thrash and have the come-to-Jesus realization that Dave Mustaine and his devil-may-care snarl and piss-and-vinegar vocal growl have done more to put thrash on the map than any other frontman out there. MegaDave had four co-writes on Kill ‘Em All, but by responding with the Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! declaration of his own in 1985, he put Megadeth on the map and laid the foundation for one of metal’s most trailblazing careers. The Final Kill 2-LP vinyl version not only features the remastered original album in all its excessive glory, but also boasts a second disc of live tracks, demos and rarities. These boots were made for thrashing, and that’s just what they’ll do.
NINE INCH NAILS Pretty Hate Machine
I remember hearing this album for the first time and having my world turned completely upside down. I was a college freshman at Marquette University, and Pretty Hate Machine did for me what Nirvana’s Nevermind would later do for countless others. “Head Like a Hole” was an epiphany, the lines “I’d rather die than give you control” and “bow down before the one you serve, you’re going to get what you deserve” resonating through my late-teenage brain and sending shockwaves through my formulative musical core. “Terrible Lie” and “Sin” introduced me to machines as musical instruments and kicked open a door to the world of industrial music that I still haven’t closed more than three decades later. And listen to “Down In It” and tell me you can’t hear the seeds that would later bloom into Fred Durst and Corey Taylor. Interviewing Trent Reznor for the cover of Metal Edge about 15 years ago was one of my favorite interviews ever, and this album remains one of my favorite albums of all time. Pretty Hate Machine may not have been intended for vinyl when it was released in 1989, but I swear “Something I Can Never Have” has never sounded better than it does on my Technics turntable through Klipsch speakers. It’s time to reimagine this classic on vinyl.
TYPE O NEGATIVE Slow, Deep and Hard
I’m a colossal Type O Negative fan, and my wife just never got it – by it, I mean any of it, which is utterly shocking to me as she worships the Beatles, so the Drab Four should at least resonate a little. But no. Fast forward to driving back from Toronto to Detroit with my iPod (remember those?) on shuffle. “Unsuccessfully Coping With the Natural Beauty of Infidelity” came on as we were approaching the Ambassador Bridge, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to skip the 12:36 juggernaut on her behalf. Driver controls the radio, right? So I’m gloriously basking in the splendor that is Type O Negative’s answer to Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” when mid-song she says, “Wait, what are they saying?” “Well,” I responded, “Peter is singing about his girlfriend, telling her that he knows she’s fucking someone else, and the rest of the guys are in the background harmonizing like a doo wop band that they know she’s fucking someone else…” “Are they serious?” she asked. “Not often,” I responded. And just like that, Type O Negative made an inkling of sense to her. She’ll never admit it, but 14 years after that fateful border crossing, I think she might even like the band a little. The moral of the story? A song about cheating that is the opening track on an unheralded debut album from 1991 that has a penis adorning its cover actually brought two people closer together. At least in my head it did. Hey Pete, thank you.
I had a dinner meeting at Grandmaster Recorders tonight. The recording studio-turned-restaurant is one of the hottest new kitchens in Hollywood and, having a drink at the bar before our meal, one of the guys who helped breathe new life into the once historic studio mentioned in passing that Tool recorded their debut album there. “That’s pretty ironic,” I told him, “because I’m about sixteen hours late with a column, and the only thing I have left to write about when I get home is Opiate…” To be clear, Undertow was the album recorded at Grandmaster Recorders, but Opiate is technically Tool’s first album. Technicalities and logistics aside, Tool are a freakish force of nature, and it all started with this 6-track EP in 1992. The title cut hints at the progressive genius of their future recordings, but despite its heaviness, at its core this is the most accessible and easily digestible offering from the band I hail as a modern-day Pink Floyd. At 2:48, I’m pretty sure Tool have drum fills that are longer than the song “Hush,” and the live tracks “Cold and Ugly” and “Jerk-Off” give us a hint of sonic missives yet to come. On March 18, the band will release a new studio version of the EP’s title track, complete with a Blu-ray documentary about the track and a hardcover book detailing the song.