HIM: Love Metal Crooners!!!...

Love songs.  We just gotta, well, love them…right?  Across all genres of music, love and the relationships between a man and a woman is a prominent theme.  Whether they are of the sappy ‘without your love I would surely die’ variety or the dark and brooding ‘if you ever leave me I shall surely destroy you and everything you stand for variety’ love songs hold a special place in the hearts of musicians and fans alike.  Some musical acts have based their careers on a few of the greatest love songs they have released.  Others have completely skewed the topic of love in their music.  One band who has seemed to set out to write about the topic of the heart exclusively is the Finnish band HIM. Formed in 1991 in Helsinki, HIM is composed of Ville Valo (vocals), Mikko “Linde” Lindström (guitar), Mikko “Mingé” Paannanen (bass), Janne “Emerson Burton” Puurtinen (keyboards) and Mika Karppinen (drums). HIM released the demos Witches and Other Night Fears (1992) and This Is Only The Beginning (1995).  The former was never released and the sole copy resides with Valo.  In 1996 they released their debut EP 666 Ways to Love: Prologue only in their home nation of Finland; just 1,000 copies were pressed.  It has been said that the woman adorning the cover of their debut EP is Valo’s mother. On November 20, 2007, HIM released their debut studio album Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666.  The album featured a predominately gothic metal theme, full of down-tuned and heavily distorted guitar tracks, dark and haunting atmospheres, and what would become Valo’s trademark dramatically lamenting lyrics of love and death.  For a conceptual theme of the album HIM chose to focus on the numerical value...

Marilyn Manson: Controversial Superstar...

What does it take to be a very much talked about metal band in our generation?  A unique mixture of sonic influences?  Controversy?  Elaborate stage personas and costumes?  The religious and political right waging war against you?  Controversy?  In-band turmoil, including an onstage fight?  More lineup changes than you can remember?  Catching the blame for one of the nations most infamous mass shootings?  Did we mention controversy?  These things, at least not all of them, are necessary to be a successful and talked about metal band.  Just don’t tell Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson, the band, trace their origins back to 1989 when they were known as Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids.  Fronting the band was Brian Warner, who went by the stage name of Marilyn Manson.  The band members combined the first name of iconic female sex symbols (i.e.: Marilyn Monroe) and the last name of an iconic serial killer (i.e.: Charles Manson).  They did this in order to demonstrate laudatory appraisal of the United States and its peculiar culture.  After dropping the Spooky Kids moniker and releasing the first version of their debut album, then titled The Manson Family, Marilyn Manson released Portrait of an American Family in July 1994 on Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records, along with Interscope Records.  It was met with mixed reviews, with Rolling Stone stating that “Manson’s debut […] isn’t the sharply rendered cultural critique of America he’d like you to think it is. Most of the record comes off like some low-budget horror movie.”  The debut album peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and has since been certified Gold by the RIAA. In late 1995, Marilyn Manson released Smells Like Children, produced by Manson and Reznor.  The album...

Pantera: Power Groove Desperadoes!!!...

Being in a professional rock band is very hard work.  It involves sacrifice, countless hours in the studio and on the road, personal and collective evolution and the constant temptations that come with being a rock star.  Once a person decides to dedicate his life, time and energy to this profession, they do so knowing that their may be great rewards for their efforts, but there also may be failures and even tragedies along the way.  One band that knows these facts all too well is Arlington, Texas based ‘power’ groove rockers Pantera. Formed in 1981 by brothers Vinnie and Darrell, Pantera was a glam metal outfit originally known as Pantera’s Metal Magic.  The band consisted of Vinnie Paul Abbott (drums), “Diamond” Darrell Abbott (guitar), Terry Glaze (guitar), Tommy Bradford (bass) and Donnie Hart (vocals).  In 1982, the band shortened their name to Pantera, Hart left band for ethical reasons, moving Glaze to vocals and making Darrell the lone axe-man.  Later in the same year Bradford also decided to leave and the band recruited Rex Brown for bass duties.  In 1983 Pantera released their independent debut Metal Magic.  The album was more akin to KISS and Van Halen, rather than the groove and trash influences the band would implement on later major-label releases.  The band would continue to release three more independent glam metal releases: Projects in the Jungle (1984), I Am the Night (1985) and Power Metal (1988). Before the release of Power Metal, Pantera decided that vocalist Glaze, who had by then changed his name to Terrance Lee, did not fit the new direction they wanted to take creatively.  Being heavily influenced by the trash metal releases of 1986 and 1987 by bands such as Metallica and...

Rage Against the Machine: Rap Metal in the Name Of…...

Since the earliest beginnings of rock-n-roll, American music has been an avenue and conduit for artists to get their personal, spiritual and political views heard by the masses.  By the 1960’s this was such a prevalent them in music pop culture that the term “protest music” had been coined.   As record sales, royalties and commercial greed began to dominate and shape the mainstream music in the 1980’s and 1990’s it seemed as if the honored practice of utilizing one’s music to get important social messages heard had fell, if not completely fallen.  For one such this was never the case.  For one such band their political messages and activisms was the fuel that burned their influential, if all too brief, career bright.  That such band was Rage Against the Machine. In 1991, guitarist Tom Morello (guitar) left his band, Lock Up, looking to start another band.  During a visit to a local Los Angeles club he heard a MC/vocalist by the name of Zack de la Rocha freestyle rapper.  Being impressed, Morello asked de la Rocha to join the group that he was forming.  Morello then recruited drummer Brad Wilk.  Morello knew of Wilk because he a previously auditioned to drum for Lock Up.  When de la Rocha convinced childhood friend Tim Commerford to play bass for the band, Rage Against the Machine was officially born. After cutting a twelve song demo tape Rage Against the Machine was coveted by several major record labels.  The band decided to sign with Epic Records, of which Morello said, “Epic agreed to everything we asked, and they’ve followed through…. We never saw a[n] [ideological] conflict as long as we maintained creative control.” Rage Against the Machine released their self-titled debut album on November 3, 1992. ...

KISS: Controversial Rock Icons!!!...

One of the great things about being a rock musician or a fan of rock-n-roll music is that the live shows are unparalleled in comparison to other genres.  The energy, volume and aggression can leave those in attendance and on stage equally drained emotionally and physically, yet yearning for more.  Many rock bands, especially metal bands, have striven to provide larger than life live shows that will their audiences breathless, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on elaborate costumes, stage set-ups, even pyrotechnical fire.  One band that many consider to be the fore fathers of the truly over the top stage performance is KISS. KISS can trace their beginnings to a New York based rock group from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s called Wicked Lester.  Needless to say, Wicked Lester was not a very successful group.  But the band did have members Gene Simmons (vocals/bass) and Paul Stanley (vocals/rhythm guitar).  Simmons and Stanley quit Wicked Lester in 1972 and set out to form a new group.  They two bandmates came across an ad in the East Coast’s version of the then San Francisco based regional publication Rolling Stone.  The ad was placed by veteran New York City drummer Peter Criss, who had previously played for the bands Lips and Chelsea.  The three musicians formed a newer, harder version of Wicked Lester.  They also began to experiment with makeup and outfits, being inspired by the theatricality of acts such as Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls.  After trying to land a record deal, the group added lead guitarist Ace Frehley in early January 1973.  A few weeks after the addition of Frehley, the band dropped the Wicked Lester moniker and changed their name to KISS. As is well...