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Category Archives: Heavy Metal

Heavy metal related content.

Metal Videos I Obsessed Over As a Kid

In order to prevent myself from feeling like an old man, I’ll refrain from the discussion about how videos were sparse back in the day when there was no internet. During my younger years much time was spent watching MTV when they actually played music videos. Not only that, but they had a few shows dedicated to heavy metal music videos, most notably Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes.

They were often on late at night, so it was a struggle to watch them without getting caught by the wardens (Mom and Dad). Whenever I was lucky enough to catch these shows, it was a moment of pure bliss as my eyes widened at the sight of pure heavy metal malevolence. These are a few of the more memorable metal music videos that seeped into my skull at a young age, thus planting the seed for things to come.

Metallica

One

Its iconic color scheme added so much to the overall visual appeal, but it was the cut scenes from an old movie titled Johnny Got His Gun which added that extra level of bizarre fear to the video.

Morbid Angel

God of Emptiness

I remember catching this video for the first time with my friend Nick who shared a similar love for all things heavy at the time. This was one of our first forays into death metal, and we certainly reveled in all its gruesome glory.

Dokken

Dream Warriors

My brother was a huge 80s hair metal fan, and occasionally it would rub off on me no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. Being such a fan of the Nightmare On Elm Street series, it was almost impossible to avoid this video which appeared on the third films soundtrack.

Megadeth

Sweating Bullets

This was one of many songs at the time which strived to capture the same sonic qualities of Metallica’s One, but fortunately they didn’t try to rip off the video as well. This was one of Megadeth’s best entires into the music video realm, and a great exposé into the psyche of one of heavy metals biggest egos.

AC/DC

Thunderstruck

My father is to thank for this entry since it was his love for all things AC/DC which got me hooked on this song. When I first witnessed the video, I was in awe of the spectacle where thousands of fans circled this legendary band in what looked like some sort of dystopian Mad Max setting.

Tool

Sober

Tool was always very much respected by everyone around the time this song made its way to our ears, but the video was what made people go ballistic about this peculiar band who’s faces we never actually saw.

White Zombie

Thunder Kiss 65

They were heavy, rude, catchy, and had a hot bass player. Everything a young kid could ask for in a heavy metal band. This was one of those videos that received heavy airplay at the time it came out, and you couldn’t go a day without seeing it multiple times.

How Girls and Gremlins Inspired This Fan Favorite Song

While many Autumns Eyes songs are created from an organic process inspired by instinct, there are a few tracks which have a story to tell behind their origin. Parallel Absolution is a favorite amongst fans, but it’s inception is rooted in a unique story. The year was somewhere around 2005 shortly after the release of the Autumns Eyes EP Abandoned Expression. During preproduction of the follow up album The Awakening of the Sleeping King, I randomly stumbled on who would later become the love of my life, a girl whom I have shared the past ten years with.

At first she claimed to be a fan of my music, but was not convinced it’s sound had been crafted by one person. During a chat on the phone I decided to reassure her disbelief by recording a song in real time. I put the phone down to go record a quick drum track, came back on the phone whilst I laid down bass guitar, and shortly followed up with electric guitar. To avoid embarrassment of singing over the telephone, I opted to record vocals on my own and call her back to reveal the finished product. I also made sure to include her name in the vocals to ensure absolute legitimacy.

She was excited to hear the finished product, and continued to have me play the song for her whenever she came over to visit. After the song became embedded into my musical DNA, it was only natural to translate this creation to the new album. Soon after, the short song turned into an almost ten minute sonic journey of major and minor melodies. The major chord progressions and melodies were lifted straight out of the original song, while the minor parts were added to contrast it’s overall perception and style.

The biggest shift in tone came from the lyrical content, which shifted from a few lines jotted down to impress a girl, all the way to an in depth psychological battle of sanity. Since the albums lyrics revolved around a person battling split personalities, the lyrics on what soon became the last song would focus on this central character coming to terms with his insanity.

In order to add an extra homage for my girlfriend, I decided to throw in a musical cue which she would easily recognize. If you skip to 2:42 on the song you will hear what sounds like a high pitched flute melody over the verse. This was a melody originally sang by Gizmo, the main character in her favorite movie Gremlins. After all, Ive always been a fan of adding personal touches to my songs which showcase other inspirations to the creative process besides just heavy music.

The Awakening of the Sleeping King was released in 2007, and was the first album to start the wave of support from fans who began to take notice of what Autumns Eyes was all about. To date, Parallel Absolution remains one of the most popular Autumns Eyes songs, and I owe that to the woman I love. The one person who’s own self doubt would eventually evolve into a great song, with a great story behind it.

A Call For Change to Metal Musicians

I’ve taken down the tutorial section of my YouTube page because I’ve noticed a growing trend online where so many up and coming musicians are no longer learning, but rather just imitating what everyone else is doing. In my opinion this is going to oversaturate the genre with even more copy cats, and less original innovators.

Do you ever notice how metal has been sounding exactly the same lately? The kick drums are all created using the same samples, the guitars are all using the same amps, and so on. Even independent musicians are using programs like EZ Drummer and settling for the stock samples to put on their full length albums.

This is the wrong direction, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to inspire metal musicians to take a stand and explore other options. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, and dare to venture into unknown territory. We all know what a fast guitar solo sounds like, we’ve heard all the blast beats, and we certainly have had our fair share of similar sounding screams.

If we as musicians start using generalized templates in our music, we are setting the bar extremely low for future generations. Instead, we should look for new techniques and methods of creating these sonic landscapes. Has anyone tried using a jazz kit to record a black metal song? Most likely not, because popular trends tell us that our drum kits need to sound a certain way.

The only way we will progress as a genre is if we explore what we have yet to see and hear. Heavy music should be exciting and inspiring, not bland and repetitive. Metal fans should be able to recognize a band just from a few seconds of hearing their record. I love bands like Type O Negative and Pantera because you will never ever find anyone else like them. Many will try to imitate, but why would anyone want to listen to a half ass imitation when you can have the real deal?

All I ask it that those who are quick to reach for the easy way out, think before you do that. If you want a great guitar tone, don’t reach for some video clip online of what someone else considers to be a good tone. Open up your ears and start messing around with settings on your own terms, and make it work. The same goes for drum sounds, and if you can’t get a real drummer, don’t just settle for stock samples. Tweak them until they sound like something you’ve nevIer heard before.

If you get a nervous pit in your stomach, don’t turn back and take the safe route. Many artists will do this when exploring new territory, and quickly back away because it’s safer to produce something that people are accustom to hearing. Use that fear of the unknown to drive your creativity forward. Be that one person who had the guts to release an album the likes of which we have never heard before.

I always say you can’t drive forward by looking in the rear view mirror, so stop looking for what feels safe as a musician. Express yourself with no fear, and absolute confidence. Only then will you progress as a truly unique artist, and only then will we progress as a genre.

How a Song About a Goth Girl Came to Life

Hair of black, eyes of grey. That was the first line to a song I wrote thirteen years ago titled Creepygirl. I had always garnered a certain romantic appreciation for the likes of actresses such as Christina Ricci and Fairuza Balk, so it was only a natural progression to have a song come to life about someone much like these sultry starlets. The song began with that one line mentioned above, and soon took on a life of it’s own. Little did I know the fictional lyrics about a goth girl with grey eyes and black hair would soon literally take on a life of it’s own.

I was living in Boston at the time, and had the recording itch soon after I discovered how to record songs on the computer with more than just the standard four tracks I was used to working with on analog tape. Guitar and keyboard riffs would flow out of me like a running faucet, but rarely did a vocal melody spark my creativity as potently as it did here.

Later that day after writing the song I started my shift at a local gourmet deli which was oddly placed inside of a high end liquor store. I noticed someone approaching the counter, and given my horrible vision, I couldn’t quite get a good look. It soon became clear who was standing in front of me looking deep into my eyes. A female around my age, with hair black as night, and eyes that were filled with pools of hypnotic grey color.

ricci-creepy

I stood there absolutely stunned as this girl started to look puzzled, and somehow my brain figured out how to communicate with my mouth as I spewed the words “May I help you?” out of my clumsy face. She hadn’t much to say other than the fact she was looking for a job and wanted an application, and who was I to deny her that? I humbly accepted her request and handed what I believe was a job application, but very well could have been a used napkin given my current state of shock. The girl thanked me and exited the store immediately, to which I turned to the store manager and repeatedly voiced my official endorsement of her becoming an employee.

Now I understand you will all take this story with a grain of salt, but I remember it clear as crystal. As if the day couldn’t get any more peculiar, hours later, yet another girl with black hair and grey eyes entered the store. The identical goth girl was there for the same exact reason, seeking employment. At this point I was under the impression someone was playing a cruel joke on me, and when it was time for my break I walked up and down the streets in search of a familiar face who may have been pulling this brilliantly schemed prank, but alas there was no one.

Eventually the time came to hire a few new workers, and neither of the girls were even considered for whatever reason. That didn’t matter much to me at all, as what truly made the most impact on my life were the events that transpired soon after I wrote a simple little song about a goth girl with grey eyes and black hair. The whole process of events that occurred gave me an inexplicably creepy feeling down my spine, which then made it clear what I had to name the song.

Heavy Metal and It’s Connection to Lord of the Rings

Amon Amarth, Gorgoroth, Burzum, these are just a few bands who metal fans assumed were some of the most brutal the genre has to offer, but few are aware that these bands very foundations are bathed in the nerd loving history of J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast Middle Earth folklore. It’s funny to look back on a band like Burzum or Gorgoroth, who take themselves and their art very seriously, and suddenly realize they come from the same subculture who has often been stereotyped as skinny geeks who never get laid.

It does make sense when you think about it, all of these black metal bands do love to dress up much like cosplay fans who proudly adorn the detailed armor of a wood elf. Would you ever imagine that the frontman of Dimmu Borgir is actually named after an Orc? When I first started getting into black metal long ago, I was under the impression these musicians had a rich history that was deeply rooted in their own culture. A culture that had such a dark past, and one that would inspire their band names and song titles from the very fabric of said darkness. Needless to say I was quite surprised when I found out a healthy majority of black metal bands were actually inspired by my favorite series of modern fiction.

lotr-metal

So why is there such a strong connection between these two realms of heavy music and fantastical fiction? The answer is simple, and it shouldn’t take a genius to realize that heavy metal has always been inspired by the more fantasy driven side of fiction. Whether it be a medieval battle setting or even a blood sucking story from the Carpathian Mountains, these types of fiction have long since been paired with this style of music. Even legendary rock acts like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath have released blatant homages to the world Tolkien created.

Despite the fact that some may still consider this to be the epitome of corny geek culture, I personally find nothing wrong with it. There’s no denying the fact that art imitates art, and novelized fiction will always have an influence on those who create sonic landscapes. In fact, music and other forms of creativity would be quite stale had it not been for the inspiration found in so many different forms of art throughout our history. Whether it be stories, films, paintings, or songs, there will always be someone out there who appreciates the more imaginative side of life.

Metals Most Memorable Moments In My Life

Heavy music has always played a large role in my life since I was a wee little bastard rocking back and forth in a diaper to AC/DC and Van Halen, which was last week of I remember correctly. Unfortunately during most of my youth there was no internet, and thus no way to constantly keep up with every little piece of news like you can easily do with today’s technology. Hell, if someone burps on camera these days it makes headlines.

It’s no question that there is over-saturation when it comes to music news in today’s media, so much in fact that often times websites will struggle to find relevant topics. However, that just helps me appreciate the more memorable metal moments which happened long ago. They made headlines for a reason, and these are just a few that I will never forget.

The Black Album

After Metallica had blown everyone away with “And Justice For All” it was only natural to bask in the enthusiasm for their follow up release. When the album dropped I bought it on cassette tape, and could not stop listening for weeks. I have vivid memories of mowing my parents lawn with my Walkman glued to my ears whilst I continued to play that album repeatedly. Only when the internet became more prevalent was when I noticed people trashing the band for supposedly selling out or going soft. Despite all the negativity, I always considered it to be an amazing album.

The In Flames

Yes that’s correct, for the first year after hearing them I referred to them as “The In Flames” and I’m quite ashamed of it to be honest. My friend Nick always strolled around school from class to class with a Walkman blasting metal from his headphones, and one day I finally asked him what he’d been polluting the hallways with. He played me what I believe was material off the Lunar Strain album, and I was thoroughly impressed. Although I continually fucked up the band name, In Flames went on to be one of the biggest inspirations for everything Ive ever recorded with a distorted guitar to this day.

The Truth About Axl

Guns N’ Roses was a staple of my childhood, and it brought a deep sense of sadness and embarrassment when the media would slowly reveal what an asshole Axl Rose was. There were numerous reports in magazines and on television which painted the GNR singer to be a delinquent self-indulgent jerk, but I never wanted to believe it until I saw with my own eyes. Several interviews and concert video recordings were released to the public which showcased the lead singers rude and selfish behavior. Not shortly after it was revealed that the band was completely uninspired while making the new record thanks in part to Axl’s enormous ego striving to have the band become an ill fitted image of Axl’s warped rock and roll fantasy. Despite the turmoil and eventual breakup, I still enjoyed some of what turned out to be the double album “Use Your Illusion”.

The Church Burnings

I was never too familiar with what was going on across the pond with those zany Norwegians, but once news hit that churches were being set ablaze by local angry metal heads, my curiosity could not resist. Looking back on it I have a completely different perspective, as I now have respect for people’s beliefs no matter what they are. Everyone is entitled to their faith and to believe what they want, and most of the people who defy that end up becoming more preachy than the people they preach against. Unfortunately that wasn’t my mindset back when the churches burned, and I often defended the reckless behavior as a sign of strength. Thankfully I’ve grown out of that immature mentality, as my life would be a miserable one had it been shrouded in such stupidity and ignorance.

The Cunt Shirt

If you’re a Cradle of Filth fan, or even just aware of this band, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those not informed, it was a shirt that pictured a nun masturbating with a bloody cross and the phrase “Jesus Is a Cunt” printed in large text on the back. Being a rebellious metal head who was hopelessly in love with black metal, this shirt was a glorious revelation at the time and sparked a reaction similar to this when I first viewed it with my own eyes. As much as I’d love to have held on to all my offensive metal shirts from yesteryear, my disposable instinct took over and the relics are all but a memory now.

A Chat With Lindsay Schoolcraft From Cradle of Filth

She’s a brilliant musician who’s trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music, she excels at arranging luscious choir and string sections, she has a haunting yet beautifully pristine voice, she plays the harp which is one of the most difficult instruments in the world to learn, she releases her own solo material under the name Schoolcraft, and she lends her amazing keyboard and vocal talents to legendary extreme metal band Cradle of Filth. Lindsay Schoolcraft is the real deal folks, and I challenge any and all of you find someone in the metal community who has as much unique talent and ability as she does. I can assure you the list would be quite short.

Heavy metal musicians should possess a certain sense of intimidation towards not only an audience, but other musicians as well. Unfortunately today’s metal genre is saturated with those more concerned with imitation, rather than putting in the hard work and creating something unique. When you lower yourself to such pathetic standards you lose any chance of intimidating anyone, and fail at translating the power and darkness which this type of music should convey. Not only has Lindsay put in the work, but she continues to breathe life into her work which clearly reflects how passionate she is about her craft.

lindsay-1

Music

Before we get started on our interview, let’s take a moment to get everyone familiar with her work, in case you haven’t already.

Interview

How did your journey into music begin?

At the very young age of 7 years old is where it all started. I think it began with the Disney movies like most children of my generation. I’d find myself jumping around and singing to the soundtracks of The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and The Beast and so on. At that age I also took up the guitar under the patient teachings of my Dad. In my tweens I lost some interest, but at the age of 15 I took up music again full force with the bass guitar and music lessons. It all escalated from there.

Was Schoolcraft your first foray into creating music on a professional level?

I would have to say my first professional attempt at songwriting was with my old band and our last and only album. Being in a band is a whole different musical experience with so many creative heads in the game and sometimes having to sacrifice your creative vision slightly. I’ve personally found it so much easier to be a solo artist.

How did you come about the gig with Cradle of Filth?

It was literally out of the blue. I was contacted by Melissa Ferlaak (ex. Visions of Atlantis current: My Eternal) about the gig. At first I thought it was a joke, well just for the first few seconds, but then when it clicked that this was for real I started to shake. It was scary, writing the cover letter and doing the audition tape, but now I stressed for nothing because apparently I was the only one applying for the position at the time. I’m really lucky to have been able to take on this opportunity. It’s not every day that something like this happens to a small town musician.

Are there any differences or similarities in how you approach music with Schoolcraft and Cradle of Filth?

I find Cradle’s music was more technical and tedious, while my solo work is much easier and has a radio friendly structure and flow. I enjoy many genres of music so it’s always easy for me to switch between the two. My top two favorite genres are metal and pop ballads so it only makes seen I balance between the two daily.

What instrument do you find helps communicate your creativity best when trying to convey raw emotion?

I think it would be my voice and the strings. If I had an entire string section at my disposal I would just sing with them all day. But I really do also like to include the piano and harp as an accompaniment. When it’s just me and cellist Nathen Morrison working on the Schoolcraft songs I get chills and can’t concentrate at times because the cello really pulls at my heart strings.

How has your training at the Royal Conservatory of Music been applicable to a gothic environment, or even that of an extreme metal band?

The Conservatory is a finicky learning system. It opened me up to not just classical, but a lot of folk and jazz as part of my exam pieces. While the basis of all the technique for voice and piano is classically driven it’s just not limited to classical music. That was something I really enjoyed about the exams and my training.

Plus I also have an excellent vocal coach by the name of Jackie McIntyre. She was able to teach me so many styles of singing. It was challenging but a lot of fun. While classical opera is the foundation of all healthy singing it’s nice to be so fully rounded with other genres. It really helped me find my own voice and be able to mimic other styles when the songs have called for it.

All that ear training and technique really helped me pick up on Cradle’s repertoire, especially when it came to Martin Powell and Les’s keyboard parts. Well written keyboard parts, but very tricky indeed! Since my voice and singing have always been easiest for me I had no problem learning any backing vocals.

As for Schoolcraft, it makes songwriting go a lot faster during the process. Plus with the harp you really need to know your theory to be able to move around on those levers. It was a long, tedious journey with the conservatory, but totally worth it when I reflect back on it today.

Where do you draw inspiration from when it’s time to let the creativity flow?

I really don’t know because it just comes and goes. I find to be in the mood to write a song is most prominent when someone I care about is going through something seriously upsetting, but that also goes for myself with such situations. Yes, I am one of those dark types who broods over the piano with all the gloom and doom present. Surprisingly though, once I get a song out about what is upsetting me I feel I have healed from it and then have a good story to go with it. Not a bad trade off really.

What are some key pieces of gear that you reach for when writing Schoolcraft music?

Just my Yamaha portable grand piano and my Dusty Strings harp. After that I get down some rough ideas on the synth strings pad and send it off to Spencer Creaghan where he does his magic with East West Quantum leap orchestra samples.

While on the technical side, what is your go-to gear while working with Cradle of Filth?

For live I have my NuMotion Revo 1 Keyboard and my Sennheiser in ear monitors as well as microphone. My in ear plugs are also by Shure and really do the trick!

Can you give us a peek into your future and what we can expect to see or hear from you next?

Well, Schoolcraft will have a single coming out within the next month. Then I will be launching a fan funding campaign to help me complete my first ever full length album for Schoolcraft. I am currently working on the next Cradle of Filth album with the guys in the band. And I will be a character on the first ever rock opera video game Karmaflow! I am VERY excited about that!

Lindsay’s Top 6 Heavy Tracks

Puritania by Dimmu Borgir
March of Mephisto by Kamelot
Burn by We Are The Fallen
Mater Lacrimarum (Featuring Dani Filth) by Claudio Simonetti
Blue by The Birthday Masacre
Sangreal by Septic Flesh

I’ve been a musician and a fan of heavy music for over twenty years now, and I’ve met an abundance of musicians over the years. People like Lindsay are few and far between, and I sincerely believe that such people deserve a bigger spotlight than many of the pop stars dominating the air waves today. Unfortunately we will always have a music industry which is a slave to the all mighty dollar, and quantity with always reign over quality. Thankfully, with the advent and uprising of underground bands and musicians online, we can now give artists like Lindsay a platform to share music with those who care and respect true talent.

She deserves every ounce of success that is headed her way, and I cannot stress how important it is for all of you who love what you saw and heard here, to share it with everyone you know. The only way we can help the artists we love, is to keep word of mouth going and give them the sustained momentum they need in order to continue sharing their true passion with the rest of the world. Lindsay Schoolcraft’s legacy is one that is just getting started, and I for one cannot wait to see what she will do next.

Follow Lindsay on Twitter
Schoolcraft on Reverb Nation

Cradle of Filth Website

Iconic Heavy Metal Imagery

As with every genre of music, the imagery plays a big part in creating an overall atmosphere to match the music. Jazz has smokey clubs, hip hop has urban sensibility, but what iconic imagery does heavy metal have? Let’s take a look at a few things that go hand in hand with heavy music.

Wall of Amps

While it may be more of a relic, we still see several of the bigger name metal bands on stage supported by a gigantic wall of Marshall amplifiers. Well, they actually aren’t amplifiers but rather speaker cabinets, and most of the time they are just empty boxes made to look cool when stacked all over the stage.

wallofamps

Long Hair

It’s no coincidence that headlines were made when Metallica cut off their hair back in the late 90s. Heavy metal has long been associated with long locks, so fans and even foes of the genre were quite shocked to see the Bay Area thrashers turn into handsome lads who wore makeup.

longhair

Black…Everything

Shirts, pants, hats, jewelry, shoes, boots, makeup, whatever it is…it’s black. At least that’s the mentality of many metal heads who stock up on all the accessories the genres fashion sense dictates.

blackclothing

Make a Mean Face!

In a metal band? Well it’s standard procedure to make a mean face for the camera at some point in time so as to make sure the rest of the world takes you seriously as a tough guy or bad ass chick. Pop stars have their glossy white smiles, and metal heads will always have their mean mugs.

meanfaces

Swearing, Lots of Swearing

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a metal head, chances are you’ve heard plenty of f-bombs dropped all over the place as casual adjectives. I’m quite guilty of this myself, and often find it difficult to filter my potty mouth while conversing with strangers in public. Oh well, fuck it.

swearing