Category: heavy metal

On this day in music history: October 9, 1978 – “Killing Machine” (aka “Hell Bent For Leather”), the fifth album by Judas Priest is released (US released is on February 28, 1979). Produced by Judas Priest and James Guthrie, it is recorded at Utopia Studios and CBS Studios in London from August – September 1978. Only six months after the release of their second major label album “Stained Class”, Judas Priest return to the studio to work on the follow up. Continuing to evolve, the band begin developing the sound that will make them icons of heavy metal. While still heavy and dark sonically, the songs are more “commercial and accessible” unlike their first two independent label releases. At this time, Judas Priest also changes their look, wearing black leather and studs, an image that becomes synonymous with the band and their lead singer Rob Halford. Working with Pink Floyd engineer James Guthrie, Priest record their fifth album in under a month. It is also the last release to feature Les Binks, who is replaced by Dave Holland in late 1979. The album features several songs that become standards in Judas Priest’s catalog including “Evening Star”, “Rock Forever” and “Take On The World”. With “Stained Class” still on the charts in the US, “Killing Machine” is held back from release until February of 1979. A cover of the Fleetwood Mac song  "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)“ is also added to the US version. The title is also changed for its American release to "Hell Bent For Leather” after another song on the album. Change comes when executives from CBS Records in the US feel that the title is too controversial, and will draw negative attention. The move is highly ironic considering the major controversy that Judas Priest faces over a decade later from the “Stained Class” track “Better By You, Better Than Me”. Original UK LP pressings are issued on red vinyl on a limited basis. “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 with two additional live bonus tracks. It is reissued on vinyl in 2010 by UK label Back On Black Records, featuring two bonus tracks, and pressed on red, green and black vinyl. The album is also reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2014, as part of their “Silver Label Vinyl Series”. “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” peaks at number one hundred twenty eight, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 7, 1986 – “Reign In Blood”, the third album by Slayer is released. Produced by Rick Rubin, it is recorded at Eldorado Studios in Hollywood from early – mid 1986. Following the release of the thrash metal band’s first two albums (and one live album) on independent label Metal Blade Records, they make the jump to a major label when Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin signs on to produce them. The album is handled by Geffen Records when Columbia Records (Def Jam’s distributor at the time) refuses to release it because of its graphic cover artwork and for the violent imagery in many of the songs lyrics. Upon its release, it is praised by fans and critics for its virtuoso musicianship and the heaviness of the material. It greatly widen the bands fan base and introduces them to the mainstream metal audience. In time, it is regarded as one of the best thrash metal albums of all time. The song “Angel of Death” written about infamous Nazi SS “physician” Josef Mengele, is sampled by Public Enemy as the basis of their track “She Watch Channel Zero” in 1988. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1994, and again in 2006 with one additional bonus track added.  "Reign In Blood" is reissued on vinyl in 2013, pressed on blood red, green and standard black vinyl. It is also reissued in 2014 as a clear vinyl LP limited to only 666 copies, sold exclusively through the Nuclear Blast Webshop. “Reign In Blood” peaks at number ninety four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 3, 1982 – The first US Festival is held at Glen Helen Regional Park in Devore near San Bernadino, CA. The massive three day concert is sponsored by Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak and produced by Bill Graham Presents, the event intended to be a “celebration of evolving technologies; a marriage of music, computers, television and people”. Twenty major acts play over the three day Labor Day weekend including The Police, Talking Heads, The B-52’s, Pat Benatar, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The English Beat, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, Oingo Boingo, The Cars, The Ramones, The Kinks, and Fleetwood Mac among them. The festival attracts over 300,000 people, over the three days that it is held. In spite of the sweltering heat (reaching as high as 110°F), 35 drug overdoses, and a $12 million financial loss by Wozniak on the first festival, it is deemed successful enough that a second and even bigger festival (lasting four days) taking place over the Memorial Day Weekend in May of 1983.

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On this day in music history: August 25, 1988 – “…And Justice For All”, the fourth album by Metallica is released. Produced by Metallica and Flemming Rasmussen, it is recorded at One On One Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from January 28 – May 1, 1988. When the bands regular producer Flemming Rasmussen isn’t available, Metallica begin the recording sessions with producer Mike Clink (Guns N’ Roses). When things don’t work out with Clink, Rasmussen takes over co-production when his schedule frees up. The material Clink records with Metallica are issued as single B-sides and on the compilation album “Garage, Inc”. Many of the songs follow the themes of injustice in politics and the legal system (specifically in war, censorship, and the arms race), backed by some of the bands most musically complex arrangements to date. The album is first full length release to feature bassist Jason Newsted, and spins off four singles including the epic “One” which is based on the novel and film “Johnny Got His Gun” (starring Jason Robards. The songs video incorporates footage, as well as dialogue into the track. The album receives a Grammy Nomination for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 1987, and infamously loses the award to Jethro Tull’s “Crest Of A Knave”. Reissued numerous times on CD and vinyl since its initial release, it is remastered and reissued as a double vinyl LP set in 2008, to commemorate its twentieth anniversary. It is also released as a limited edition four LP box set, mastered at 45 RPM. The box set is given another limited run in 2011, pressed on green vinyl, quickly selling out and turning into a sought after collector’s item. “…And Justice For All” peak at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: August 25, 1951 – Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford (born Robert John Arthur Halford in Walsall, West Midlands, UK). Happy 68th Birthday, Rob!!

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On this day in music history: August 21, 1987 – “The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited” by Metallica is released. Produced by Metallica, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA and Conway Studios in Los Angeles, CA in July 1987. Still reeling after the death of their friend and co-founding member Cliff Burton, the surviving members of Metallica find it difficult to work for several months. Even with Burton’s replacement Jason Newsted having proved his mettle and having survived an intense “hazing period” during his initial months as a band member, Metallica are still having a hard time writing new material for the follow up to “Master Of Puppets”. The pressure to come up with a new release nearly causes the band to implode. Things are further complicated when guitarist and lead vocalist James Hetfield breaks his wrist while skateboarding, forcing the band to take even a longer hiatus from the studio. We he recovers, they come up with a different plan to continue. In order to get back up and running, and break in their new bassist, Metallica decide to record an EP rather than a full album with original material. The five song vinyl EP (also issued on CD with the amended title “The $9.98 EP”) features covers of some of the bands favorite New Wave, British Heavy Metal and Hardcore Punk songs. Metallica includes the list price in the title to insure that fans are not overcharged for it by retailers. The EP goes out of print in the 90’s, and becomes a much sought after and high priced collectible among fans until it is reissued in 1998 in expanded form as “Garage, Inc.”. Out of print for nearly thirty years in its original form, the EP is reissued on limited edition 180 gram orange colored and standard black vinyl, cassette and CD on April 13, 2018. The vinyl reissue also comes with a mp3 download card of the full EP contents. The CD edition also comes packaged in a cardboard long box, like the original 1987 release, with the added feature of the box sporting a lenticular cover. “The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited” peaks at number twenty eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 12, 1991 – “Metallica”, the fifth album by Metallica is released. Produced by Bob Rock, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, it is recorded at One On One Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, B.C., Canada from October 6, 1990 – June 16, 1991. Impressed with his work on label mate Mötley Crüe’s “Dr. Feelgood” album, the veteran metal band hire producer Bob Rock to produce the follow up to their successful fourth album “…And Justice For All”. Musically, it differs from previous Metallica albums, with many of the songs having slower tempos than the band’s trademark high velocity “thrash metal” style. The recording sessions with Rock are often tense as he pushes the band members outside their normal comfort zone within the studio. The intense atmosphere spills over into their personal lives as well, with Hetfield, Ulrich and bassist Jason Newsted all winding up divorced from their spouses by the time recording is completed. In spite of all of the turmoil, the album is a huge critical and commercial success, launching Metallica into the mainstream on a worldwide basis. Nicknamed “The Black Album” by fans (for its stark black cover featuring the bands logo and a coiled snake in dark grey print), it spins off six singles including “Enter Sandman” (#16 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock), “Sad But True” (#98 Pop, #15 Mainstream Rock), “The Unforgiven” (#35 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock) and “Nothing Else Matters” (#34 Pop, #11 Mainstream Rock). The album wins a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992. Available on vinyl only sporadically since its original limited run in the format in 1991, the album is issued equally limited pressings as a four LP set mastered at 45 RPM in 2008, and a two LP set by Simply Vinyl in 2000. It is remastered an reissued again as a double vinyl 180 gram LP set in 2015. “Metallica” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 16x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Ceritification.

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On this day in music history: July 27, 1984 – “Ride The Lightning”, the second album by Metallica is released. Produced by Fleming Rasmussen and Metallica, it is recorded at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark from February 20 – March 14, 1984. After the underground success of their debut release “Kill ‘Em All” and the subsequent tour to support it, Metallica begin writing new material for the follow up, road testing many of the new songs before going into the studio. For their sophomore release, the band work with Danish recording engineer and producer Flemming Rasmussen, beginning a collaboration that lasts over the next four years. The band and Rasmussen work quickly, recording the new album in only three and a half weeks. Like their debut, “Lightning” is very well received by fans and critics, being praised as an “instant classic”, featuring several songs that become staples of Metallica’s live concerts, including “Fade To Black”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Creeping Death”. Without mainstream radio play, the album is steady seller, moving more than a half million copies in short order, after the band signs with Elektra Records only seven weeks after its release by Megaforce. Elektra re-releases the album on November 19, 1984. “Ride The Lightning” peaks at number one hundred on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 25, 1983 – “Kill ‘Em All”, the debut album by Metallica is released. Produced by Paul Curcio, it is recorded at Music America Studios in Rochester, NY from May 10 – 27, 1983. The San Francisco, CA based thrash metal band temporarily relocates to the east coast to record their first album after being signed by indie metal label Megaforce Records. Prior to going into the studio, there is one major personnel change when original guitarist Dave Mustaine is fired (for drug and alcohol abuse) and is replaced by Kirk Hammett. Mustaine goes on to form Megadeth after leaving Metallica. The album’s original working title “Metal Up Your Ass” is changed when Megaforce refuses to release it under that title. Bassist Cliff Burton comes up with the new title “Kill ‘Em All” after Burton is quoted as saying “why don’t we just kill ’em all?” when record distributors are apprehensive to sell the record with its original title. Though only a modest success upon its initial release, the album will contain a number of songs that become staples of Metallica’s live performances, becoming fan favorites including “Seek & Destroy”, “No Remorse” and “Jump In The Fire”. “Kill ‘Em All” is reissued by Elektra Records in 1987 (followed by a second issue in 1988 with two additional tracks) after the band is signed to the label first peaking at number one hundred fifty five on the Billboard Top 200, eventually reaching a chart peak of number one hundred twenty in 1988. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 1995, with its original ten song track listing, with a double vinyl LP reissue released by Rhino Records, and mastered at 45 RPM in 2004. Another limited reissue of the double vinyl LP is released in 2010, pressed on translucent red vinyl. On April 16, 2016, a limited edition numbered deluxe boxed edition (3 LP’s, 5 CD’s + 1 DVD) of the album is released. The box includes the original LP, with the second LP including  a two LP live concert recorded at Live At Espace Balard in Paris, France on February 9th, 1984. The third disc is a three track 12" picture disc EP titled “Jump In The Fire”. The set also comes with five CD’s, featuring the original “Kill ‘Em All” album, interviews, radio station ID’s, rough mixes,  the “Whiplash EP”, and a live performance recorded at the Keystone Corner in Palo Alto, CA on Halloween night of 1983. The DVD features a live performance of Metallica at The Metro in Chicago, IL on August 12th, 1983.  Finally, the box also includes a 72 page book and a sew on embroidered patch. “Kill ‘Em All” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 17, 1982 – “Screaming For Vengeance”, the eighth studio album by Judas Priest is released. Produced by Tom Allom, it is recorded at Ibiza Sound Studios in Ibiza, Spain in Early 1982. After having their commercial breakthrough in the US with the albums “British Steel” and “Point Of Entry”, Judas Priest return to the studio in early 1982 to record their eighth album. Once again, they record on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza (for tax purposes)The veteran heavy metal bands eighth release is their most successful to date in the US, spinning off two singles including “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (#67 Pop, #4 Mainstream Rock) and “Electric Eye” (#38 Mainstream Rock). The band also tour extensively in support of the album and other metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Krokus and Uriah Heep opening for them on the US leg. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001, with two additional bonus tracks added. The expanded reissue is also released as a double vinyl LP by Back On Black Records in 2010, pressed on green, yellow, orange and standard black vinyl. “Screaming For Vengeance” peaks at number seventeen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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