#15   SUMMER OF 2003


by "Metal" Larry Dolman


You read books, right? Over the last few months, the Blastit-dudes have been borrowing each other's metal CDs more and more. I'm not trying to tell you that "metal is BACK" in the Borders newstand sense of the phrase, where something has to be either HERE or GONE or HOT or NOT. When the glossy advertising mags tell you metal is back, that just means that the light turned green again for hipsters to start making fun of hair metal power ballads, and that they can wear their ironically purchased Scorpions and Ratt T-shirts to costume parties again (even though the bands they actually listen to for "enjoyment" are Wilco, Interpol, and Radiohead).
       Well this ain't about Crowd Control Central, this is about a bunch of people who are almost completely over irony T-shirts and, without having any big discussion about it, have been experiencing and re-experiencing a real deep appreciation for metal. For Sabbath (all eras), for Priest & Maiden (nearly ditto), for almost the entire NWOBHM (maybe not State Trooper and Atomkraft), for the living soul of Cliff Burton, for the differences between power, thrash, death and black. These terms get thrown around rather interchangeably by novices, but that's okay, they may be learning. However, if you ever see anyone in a possibly ironic Iron Maiden T-shirt, ask him or her right away, "What does NWOBHM stand for?" If he or she can't immediately rattle off the answer, it is your job to physically tear the Iron Maiden T-shirt right off of their chest and make them go to the electroclash party semi-nude. (Also, before they leave, they have to give you all their drugs so you can get stoned while staying home and listening to Diamond Head. Because you DESERVE it.)
       Into this new metal-appreciative environment comes a timely rock history book: Sound of the Beast, the Complete Head-Banging History of Heavy Metal, by Ian Christe
. It may not be perfect; its publishers seem to be targeting it to the Maxim Blender readers, with a 'breezy' appearance that features a lot of 'time lines' and 'top ten lists.' (No cleavage though -- not even a cheesecake shot of Doro Pesch!) The good news is that the writing itself, which is fortunately at least 94% of the book, is anti-hip and metal-appreciative. This is because Christe has been a journalistic authority on heavy metal since, I don't know, back when Alternative Press magazine was still tolerable. He may be a bit of an anti-hip hipster -- he has played in a band with Dame Darcy -- but his understanding and respect for metal is unassailable. I knew I was in wonderful hands after just reading the first 10 pages, in which Black Sabbath is declared the one true originator of metal and their monu-fucking-mental career is given the full credit it has always deserved.
         This Sabbath chapter was so stirring that it brought a small tear to my eye, and did indeed stir me, from the bed where I had been reading, and into my living room, so that I could play the first Sabbath album on my stereo. While listening, I thought of the legend Christe relates of how the album's producer cut out an 18 minute guitar solo on "Warning" -- what, the album was supposed to be three-sided??? Now that would have been heavy. Even without the lost 18 minutes it's an amazing album. Still very much a blues album, too, because in Great Britain, 1970, "heavy" simply did not exist exclusively from "white blues." But this is not just a blues band, this is a heavy progressive blues band. Check out side two's epic conglomeration of "Sleeping Village/A Bit of Finger/
Warning"; practically all of Blue Oyster Cult's output could fit inside it, particularly every solo lick ever played by Buck Dharma. Progressive, but what really made it great was that these guys were punk too. In fact, listening to the first Black Sabbath album, I was surprised how much it reminded me of a raucous gig I had just seen that week by post-post-post-post-post-punk band No Doctors. In both cases, I heard heavy and progressive dirty psych-blooz that lurched, lumbered, and wailed. (Y'see, No Doctors may be post-post-post-post-post-punk, but they're also an absolutely brand-new kind of heavy white blues band made up of punk 22 year olds, which means it's all come full circle. The fact that there is an entire genre called "Stoner Rock" is another example of a full circle that has been made around the same sphere.)
      But that's a tangent. See, this book will get you listening to metal and thinking about it. I think I mention this book or its author in every single section of this column. What can I say, I already knew a lot and it taught me even more. For example, Judas Priest may not have broken big worldwide until the late 70s, but in the metal lineage they were right on the heels of Sabbath; they formed in 1970, were from the same city (Birmingham, England), and even shared a practice space with The Great Old Ones. What else....you might've heard that Les Claypool of Primus auditioned to replace Cliff Burton in Metallica, but I hadn't heard the reason he was rejected: for being "too good." (Christe sums up Claypool's technique rather well as "banjo-style bass playing.") What else . . . another Metallica one: they were originally an L.A. band, and the young James Hetfield's local idols were . . . Mötley Crüe! However, when Cliff Burton refused to move from his native San Francisco Bay to L.A. to be their bass player, they wanted him so bad that they relocated to San Fran, from where they became famous, and still reside today. What else . . . I forget! Read the book!
Just today, about a week before this is scheduled to go to print, I was at the local underground press newstand and I saw that the latest issue of Bridge Magazine -- a pretty great and subtlely fucked-up literature quarterly made here in Chicago -- contained a series of essays on Metal, much like the series of essays you read here, except they had literary figures like Rick Moody doing it instead of me, a guy who answers to the name "Fuzz-O." So I got beaten to the punch with the idea, but it does confirm what I'm saying up there in the first sentence about how all the "Blastit-dudes" are "getting into metal." In fact, some of the guys behind the Bridge metal essays are DJs at WHPK, as am I. WHPK just scored a sponsorship deal with Metal Haven, one of the great specialty record stores I've ever been to. The station also separated out all their metal CDs into their own "metal" section. Even in the midst of one of the worst government regimes in American history it's still wonderful to be alive.

Speaking of Sabbath, has anyone ever called them on the song "After Forever," from Masters of Reality? It's funny, because Harrington, in these very pages, talking about this album, described Sabbath as "Godboys," which C.M. Sienko got into further in his review of Weakling's huge Dead As Dreams album, pointing out that although these bands are singing about Satan, they weren't singing about how great he was, but rather how much he was TORTURING them. Sabbath was on Jesus's side! Something you may not have realized, and if you don't believe me, get out your copy of Masters of Reality, on which they've thoughtfully printed all the lyrics on the back cover (Harrington sez in homage to Sgt. Pepper!), and read the lyrics to "After Forever" (they are written by Tony Iommi, which is rare -- Geezer Butler usually wrote the lyrics -- was Iommi the Christian narc of the group? -- hmm, look closely at the center of the above photo -- that cross looks RIGHT SIDE UP to me): "Have you ever thought about your soul -- can it be saved? / Or perhaps you think that when you're dead you just stay in your grave. / Is God just a thought within your head or is he a part of you? / Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were in school?" Seriously, these days even Christian Rock bands don't sing that explicitly, for fear of turning people off. Sabbath could get away with it because it's hard to call a band on their lyrics when they just got done with a super-heavy song about how great smoking weed is, and now they're absolutely kicking your ass with the next song, and even if the lyrics are total Christian propaganda you'll never notice!

This is not Mrs. Dolman, this is Paul DiAnno, the original singer for Iron Maiden, circa 1981. The other day Mrs. Dolman came home with a very special gift for me. She had been visiting some friends who were getting ready to have their second child and move into a new house. The lady of this house said something to the effect of "My husband and his wild years -- just look at this!!" while picking up a classic carnival-prize coke mirror featuring a crude rendering of Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie, in the "Aces High" fighter pilot role. "Give it to Larry," they said, joking, but my wonderful wife said, "Umm, that's not really a joke, because Larry's really been getting into metal lately. Can he really have it?" They said yes, and it's one of the best things she's brought home to me, ever. I immediately put it up on my wall and then went to the archives to pull out some Maiden cassettes for the appropriate soundtrack. That's when I learned for sure what I had already been starting to hazily remember: that a few years ago I had sold back all eight of the Maiden cassettes I'd owned (everything through Seventh Son of a Seventh Son).
       I had to remedy the situation as soon as possible, which I did by raiding the WHPK library. They have the first four Maiden releases on vinyl, so I checked 'em out and listened in chronological order (they sound great on vinyl, by the way), and I must say, that self-titled debut is pretty damn hard to beat. Maybe I'm just rooting for the underdog, but Paul Di'anno rules. The opener "Prowler" is pretty great, with an instantly unforgettable guitar hook, but it's track #2, "Remember Tomorrow," that just slays me. It's a ballad, and I can't believe how calm and moody it starts out, and then when Di'anno raises his voice to a scream as the heavy guitars cascade in on the chorus, it's as heavy as anything Maiden ever did. And how about the psychedelic lyrics!: "Unchain the colours before my eyes/Yesterday's sorrows, tomorrow's white lies/Scan the horizon, the clouds take me higher/I shall return from out of fire," and then, adding a touch of sci-fi paranoia, or religious awe, or both, "Out in the madness, the all seeing eye/Flickers above us, to light up the sky."
       Of course "Running Free" is an all-time anthem, driven by Di'anno's bad-ass code-speak haikus: "Pulled her at the Bottle Top/whiskey, dancing, disco hop." The second album Killers is almost as good, with the all-time killer anthem "Wrathchild" (with its own instrumental fanfare introduction called "The Ides of March"), and the quite new wavey "Murders in the Rue Morgue." Listening to the first two back to back, I was all like forget Bruce Dickinson, gimme Di'anno! But then I put on The Number of the Beast -- side two first, because I figured the title track would be first -- and that shit is just plain classic too. A lot of people make fun of Dickinson with all his operatic wails, but the word that popped into my head while I was listening was "muscular." (And not for gay reasons.) Of course Piece of Mind is fully stocked as well, but you already knew that, and I'm still going with the debut as my favorite LP over anything with Dickinson.
      The thing about Dickinson is that whenever he's playing people do the "aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!" joke, you know, the operatic metal singer imitation joke. They mock him, in other words. It's practically as guaranteed as someone shouting "Free Bird!" That's the thing: he's mockable. You can't really mock Paul Di'anno's work with Maiden, and that's why he wins.
       (While researching those lyrics I ran across a "What's your favorite Iron Maiden album?" poll that had gotten over 7000 votes, and here were the results: 1. Number of the Beast, 2. Powerslave (kind of a surprise?), 3. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (good album, but definitely a surprise!), 4. Piece of Mind, 5. Brave New World, 6. Somewhere In Time, 7. Fear of the Dark (sorry Paul, this is ridiculous), 8. Iron Maiden (finally, my vote for number one), 9. Killers (actually my vote for fourth, or even third). Shit, I'd put a Paul Di'anno's Battlezone album ahead of Fear of the Dark. Just kidding, I haven't heard either one.)

This isn't Mrs. Dolman either, this is Cliff Burton. Christe's book devotes a few pages to the Paradise Lost documentary and how Metallica had granted free use of their music to the project. This was just one of a few convincing defenses Christe made for Metallica's much-maligned-as-of-late career, putting Load and the Napster imbroglio in the proper perspective, as relatively recent missteps in what had been a very long and mighty metal career. I found myself waking up to the fact that Metallica had been my favorite band for years, and that I really wanted to listen to 'em again, but had sold back all of their albums too, also in the aforementioned Great Cassette Purge of 1993.
       To get a quick fix I rented Paradise Lost to hear the music, and because the film itself had come highly recommended. I got my music fix right at the beginning, when the opening guitar chimes of "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" rang out. And, I got a lot more than that: the music was accompanying actual footage from a police forensic crime scene video, depicting the discovery of the naked and drained-of-blood corpses of three 8-year old boys. The very next day I happened to read an interview with hip-hop artist Aceyalone in the magazine Yeti, in which he said, "The same thing goes to how tragic murder is, but you see it in the movies all the time; we're entertained by that. It's accepted, but a really harsh look at it is disturbing, you know what I mean?"
       I did know what he was sayin', because I had experienced just such a "harsh look" at murder the night before, in the opening moments of Paradise Lost, and the stately gloom of Metallica's funereal arpeggios have never sounded more tragic. Then when Hetfield comes in with that vocal: "Welcome to where time stands still/No one leaves and no one will." Psychedelic as f******k. I think "(Sanitarium)" is one of the most devastating metal songs of all time . . . and you can trace it's roots directly back to Maiden's "Remember Tomorrow."

This is a Jason Newsted action figure,The next step was to ask my co-workers if I could borrow any Metallica albums they had, from the beginning up through the Black Album. I figured anyone who buys records between the ages of 16 and 33 is pretty much guaranteed to have at least one or two. Still, all I netted from this plea was ...And Justice For All. Of course I really wanted to be spinning the Burton years, but I love Justice too! Yes, it is their fourth-best full-length, but that doesn't mean it isn't a masterpiece. The much-maligned production is certainly strange, but in a good way, yielding what sounds to me like a futuristic form of airtight cyborg metal that still hasn't become the norm. Ulrich's paper-thin insect-typewriter drumming is a revelation. (It helps that by this recording he had thoroughly mastered his double-kick technique.) The songwriting is not only glorious prog overkill -- riff sequence after riff sequence piled on top of each other to create some metallic cubist skyscraper where only the 1st and 43rd floors look alike -- but the songs are also packed with tons of hooks. Anyone who still has it but hasn't listened in a long time, put it on and you might find yourself singing along with every line. And finally, Kirk Hammett really shines on lead guitar: every solo is a fully-formed miniature composition, brilliantly condensing NWOBHM melodicism and attitude while incorporating tones and textures from jazz and 20th-century composition (those lessons from Joe Satriani were really paying off).

Jeff Becerra, bassist/vocalist of PossessedAnother student of Satriani's was Larry LaLonde, one of the guitarists for Possessed. He went on to join a certain platinum-selling Bay Area band that combined shameless Residents aping with obnoxious "banjo-style" funk-metal bass playing. When they were able to keep the funk and quirk at bay, they could be pretty heavy and dark, but that wasn't very often. I won't go into all that, though, because I'd rather mention Possessed. LaLonde was like 15 years old when he played in Possessed, and they were fucking SICK. I've listened to Seven Churches tons in the last few weeks, and I still have no idea what's even going on. Just a sick blur of crazed satanic subject matter and twisted riffs.
      Go freak out to it yourself, but first read this quote from Christe's book by bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra, describing how he joined the band: “I wanted to go heavier anyway. I was more into being heavy as far as drinking beer, going out with as many girls as I could, and playing as fast and heavy as I could, like Motörhead. I asked Mike [Torrao] what the name of the band was, and he said ‘Possessed.’ I said it sounded kinda satanic, and he said, ‘Well, it is!’ That was kinda scary.”
      (The background image on this site and the photo of Jeff Becerra above come from the OFFICIAL Possessed Home Page.)

"I know that Fenriz and I really need Darkthrone because it is our dark space."Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger is kind of emerging as the Citizen Kane of black metal albums, and a lot has already been written about it, but I have one more thing to add. You see, it's not as simple as whether or not I'm saying that this is a kick-ass album. I just wanted to point out that, even though I've grown up listening to Sabbath, Maiden, Priest, Slayer, and all kinds of other blatantly satanic music, listening to Transilvanian Hunger marks the first time I have ever actually FELT THE PULL. You know what I'm talkin' about: the dark side. Palpable this time. Not just a comic book. I did manage to shake it off about 15 minutes into the album, and then observe it from a more critical distance. Thanks, God.
        So what is it about this album that makes it one of the most effective evocations of evil ever recorded? For one thing, every song sounds unrelentingly similar, a tactic which hammers home a certain mood so hard that it starts to fill up your soul. The basic formula that repeats itself so unapologetically is a contrast between a high-speed blast-beat rhythm below, and the dark calm of the chord changes above. The changes spread out like a great fiery black mist above the rumbling, which lurks at the bottom of the music much like the deadly undertow of the ocean is hidden underneath centuries of lapping waves. All these elements are in place the very second the album begins. I can't think of another album that goes from 0 to 120 this instantaneously. On one black night when I was not sober I put this record on loud, and as the black mist washed out of my speakers I felt my head literally fall backwards in some combination of bliss and surrender.
       I remained in this highly suggestible dream-slump until the first vocals rang out, Nocturno Culto's whisper screaming from what sounds like the other side of a black Norwegian canyon, a post-hypnotic suggestion that awakened me from my deep dark bliss state. It is the lyrics that specifically invite the listener to set foot into the waves so that the undertow may fully take effect. My eyes opened, and I felt myself, as if my hands were not my own, pulling out the accompanying lyrics and following along (something I rarely do, and never on my first listen to an album). This is when I most strongly felt THE PULL.
       I followed along as Nocturno Culto sang in that perfect unspeakable voice, fire-breathing winter cold and mortuary odor, practicing the tried and true hypnosis technique of repetition: "Transilvanian Hunger . . . the Mountains are Cold . . . Cold . . . Cold . . . Soul . . . Cold . . ." After I was suitably affected, the specific recruitment effort began: "Take me . . . can't you feel the Call . . . Embrace Me Eternally in your daylight slumber . . . To be Draped by the Shadow of your Morbid Palace . . . ohh, Hate Living . . . The only heat is warm blood . . . Feel the Call Freeze you with the Uppermost Desire . . . Transilvanian Hunger, my Mountain is Cold . . ." And then, more hypnosis: "So Pure . . . Evil . . . Cold . . . Transilvanian Hunger . . ."
       The long pauses between phrases, and even between words, gave me plenty of time to focus my leaden gaze on the CD's inner sleeve art, a drawing of a grand forested valley at night, cryptically labelled "Ferdasyn." Here the band provides you not only with the call to go, but a specific picture for you to go into. This is the black canyon from which Culto sings, perched atop the far rim. Staring into the picture, I easily felt myself standing within the woods at the bottom of the valley, feeling an utterly morbid calm as the lyrics welcomed and comforted me: "Cold . . . Cold . . . Soul . . . Cold . . ."
       And then I shook off. I snapped out of the hypnosis. Maybe I just passed out. Either way, I managed to shake off the forces of evil and return to my dull and relatively safe life. Now, even the rush of the opening chords of the album is something I've heard enough to develop a tolerance for. But, sometimes still, halfway through the song, when the opening rush refrains, and Nocturno Culto comes out of a chorus by singing "AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!" my neck goes weak and my head slips backwards like a newborn baby's as I dream of Ferdasyn . . . so cold . . . cold . . . pure . . . cold . . .

Is this what is called "Legs Akimbo"? It's a funny thing about Thin Lizzy -- a lot of people who think they love 'em because of their bad-ass name are disappointed when they actually hear their music the first time -- because it sounds like Seger! Or Springsteen! It's true -- the chords are often jazzy, the melodies often bluesy, the lyrics and delivery always heartfelt. A saxophone would not be out of place -- but they didn't use one, which says a lot. The more you listen, the heavier it all gets. I think it was described best by (guess who?) Ian Christe when he described Lizzy as "the missing link between Steely Dan and Iron Maiden." And once you really get into it, it's much better than that would even suggest.
       Most people seem to prefer the Jailbreak album, from 1978, featuring their biggest hit, an unassailable choice, but for some reason Johnny the Fox, from 1976, is the one for me. I was way into it in high school and now that I've pulled my Sony HF 90 Normal Bias dub back out -- Black Rose on the other side -- which Troy Van Horn made for me SIXTEEN YEARS AGO I'm way into all over again. And getting more out of it: back then, I might have heard that underground superstar bassist/vocalist Phil Lynott was a drug user, but I never realized just how much of himself he was projecting with the characters and lyrics of his songs. Just look at the opening cut, "Johnny," on the surface a hokey tale about how "Somewhere on the waterfront Johnny's hiding with a gun" -- the Springsteen kind of thing that may scare some people away -- but there's more to it, as "Johnny" is a junkie who breaks into drugstores, "to cure his daily need." Lynott the junkie plays Johnny the junkie convincingly, his performance searing when he sings the fictionalized lines "You see that nun, she's his sister / She doesn't know that he's gone bad / When they told it to his father / It drove the old man mad." The way he growls the last line, I just know Phil is singing about his own family, whether his real-life sister was a nun or not, or whether he even had a sister. The anguished chorus of "Oh Johnny! Oh Johnny!" really gets to me, because he really just means "Oh Phil! Oh Phil!"
      Track two "Rocky" is about a different, more upbeat side of Lynott's personality, one he's sang about before: The Rocker. Just listen to him chew his way through the line "Cocky Rocky's a rock and roll star!," using the techniques of consonance, illiteration, and internal rhyme that pepper all of his songs. Next is “Borderline,” a huge sorrowful ballad. I love the echo effect on the opening chords, and for anyone who overlooks Lynott’s bass playing due to his mammoth vocal/lyrical presence, check the way he weaves a simple high bass note into the main arpeggios of this song.
“Don’t Believe a Word” was a U.K. hit single, and it’s easy to see why, with it’s swaggering riff, and Lynott’s soul man con game: “Don’t believe me if I tell you/That not a word of this is true.” Also notable for the plangent lines in Brian Robertson’s guitar solo, and especially the opening note of the solo, for which Robertson bends a single blues note up, opening the wah effect as the note rises – a simple idea, but he plays it like the first guy ever to think of it.
       Next comes “Fool's Gold,” with its devastating heavy metal spoken intro, Lynott intoning historical pronouncements in his grave accent (“In the year of the famine/When starvation and black death raged across the land…”) while the guitars play single lines that blend into forlorn chords as only Lizzy can. Then, after this brief fanfare, the very riff from Pat Benatar’s #1 single “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” kicks in, four years early, a slightly slower and much more stately treatment. I love the line, late in the song, when Lynott furthers the album’s vague concept: “Oh my God is there nothing that can save her . . . in steps the Fox to thunderous applause…”
       “Johnny the Fox meets Jimmy the Weed” is an infamous tune in which Lizzy proved that funk-metal didn't have to be a bad word, long before the Chili Peppers and Mind Funk and whoever bastardized the form. Grandmaster Flash was listening up in the Bronx, and got hold of a copy, which he worked seamlessly into his DJ sets. (For killer evidence see The Official Adventures of Grandmaster Flash, STRUT CD 011.) I’m sure it was mainly because of Brian Downey’s awesome funky beat, and all the space (for scratching!) left by the ultra-cool guitar and bass riffs, but one lyric in particular probably also caught Flash's ear: “Around the Bay/They've got some crazy DJs/Send you right out to heaven."
       I love every song on this album with all my heart, but that's probably enough description for now. (There are more great tracks, like “Sweet Marie,” which I thought was a little maudlin on my first couple listens, but it just gets so deep the more time I spend with it. A lament about being on the road that Mssrs. Perry and Bongiovi surely looked up to, with another great Phil aphorism: “Home is where the heart is, but my heart is not at home.” I'd also like to mention “Boogie Woogie Dance” -- this song is like a test run for "Bad Reputation," the stone classic that came out a year and two albums later (and was recently featured to great effect in the Dogtown and Z-Boys skateboarding documentary), with the same kind of killer metal riffing and powerhouse Downey beat.)



GALLERY: Varg Vikernes, wearing his own band's T-shirt . . . Venom -- the hatchet makes it . . . Celtic Frost, looking incredible . . . Dead carrying a chandelier on the cover of Mayhem's Live in Leipzig . . . and a bonus pic of Slayer live in 1982!

Damn, Varg Vikernes is one of the worst black metal singers ever. I can't stand looking at his picture either. (Nice beard-braid, dude.) Music is great, at least on the early Burzum stuff, but the vocals practically ruin it. The best black metal vocals are where you assume it's all screaming but after a few lines you start to wonder if maybe it's actually just whispering (secrets in your ear). As for Varg, I'm tempted to describe it by borrowing the kind of phrase I hear all day out on the street when I'm sitting at my window, and say that he just sounds "like a whiny little bitch." Oh yeah, he's also criminally insane. . . . . Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion is the album everyone recommends by them. It does have an incredibly bad-ass name, but I much prefer their EPs Morbid Tales and Emperor's Return. Of course the song that goes "Are you morbid??" is classic for being bad-assedly humorous, but then the song on To Mega Therion that goes "Hey!" is just as good in that department. I don't know what it is that makes the EPs better, just something about the production. More hooks, too . . . . . The Venom song that has been knocking me out the most is "In League With Satan." Holy shit what a chorus: "EVIL! In league with SATAN!" But man these guys could NOT play together all that well. They were truly the Shaggs of Metal. (There's even a visual resemblance!) Listen to any live Venom bootlegs for proof -- I played one on the radio the other day without previewing it and my jaw was scraping the ground the whole time as the band struggled to change from one part to the next. I can't wait to hear it again . . . . . . . . Mayhem's Live in Leipzig may not be their definitive record, but then again it might be. It's a soundboard recording featuring what All Music Guide calls "the classic lineup" (even though they credit the group as "Necrobutcher - Group Member, Maniac - Group Member, Blasphemer - Group Member, Hellhammer - Group Member", which doesn't seem quite right). Vocals, by Dead, are mixed super loud to bloodcurdling effect, although Count Grishnackh (Varg Vikernes again!)'s bass often seems to go the way of Newsted's on ...And Justice For All. That just leaves Euronymous's guitar and Hellhammer's drums, and they absolutely shred in a thrashing unison that makes me think of Greg Ginn and Black Flag, except it's even faster and the riffs have more tritones . . . Been hearing lots of good things about High on Fire without actually hearing them, but I finally got to when a co-worker showed up with Surrounded By Thieves, and holy shit! I might never listen to Sleep again! Somehow they sound just as slow and static as Sleep did, while simultaneously sounding MUCH faster than Sleep did. It must the drummer -- he goes off, caterwauling around the methodical low-end riffs in a way that reminds me of Boston punk metal band Jerry's Kids and their amazing drummer Brian Betzger, on their 1983 debut EP.