diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #4

Posted: June 17th, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted May 2002)

Overlord note: In case you were wondering, Tuesdays and Fridays are now diskant rewind days where we’re posting up some of the amazing columns we wrote years ago that have since been unavailable online.

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

You know, I gotta tell ya, gang… I ‘m hip to the fact that diskant is primarily an indie music e-rag, and I try and be respectful of that, but the man who holds the knife to my throat, our beloved taskmaster, Gen. Simon Minter, has just requested – nay, demanded – that we get our new columns in right away, so I’m going to have to leave the confines of currently popular music and venture outward to ruminate on the kind of music I know best – heavy metal.

(Dig that incredibly long opening sentence, y’all. I’ve been reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft lately and let me tell you, homeslice could stretch a single sentence over three paragraphs.)

So anyway – yeah, don’t be frightened. Heavy Metal ain’t gonna hurt you. Sure, the subliminal messages may cause you to kill yourself, the satanic references may cause you to sell your soul to the netherworld, and any emulation of the heavy metal “look” may ensure you never get hired to be anything other than a gas station attendant, but otherwise, metal music is perfectly harmless. It’s got a bad reputation, but my feeling is that this poor rating has always been do more to crappy rock critics that any general opinion of the masses.*

I’ve actually got a theory of why heavy metal has always done so badly with the critics. My suspicion is that whenever a rock critic was sitting down to give a good listen to a metal album, a knock would come at the door, and he/she would open it to see a chimpanzee holding a balloon. Attached to the balloon would be a note and when the rock critic read it, they would see, “Hello. My name is Bobo. Would you like me to sodomize you?” Now we all know rock critics love to be sodomized by chimpanzees, so they would jump at this opportunity, and instead of giving the metal album on their plate a good listen, they’d quickly scribble down something like “This sucks. I hate metal” and send it off to Jan Wenner or whoever their overlord was, and then get down to all that chimpanzee-sodomizing. Of course this is just a theory, mind you – I have no proof of such activities. And I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I’m just painting a picture of such degenerate activities as a mean spirited attempt to get even with all the critics who have maligned my favorite form of music.

For example, by no means do I want you to visualize Rolling Stone‘s Jimmy Gutterman sitting alone on a Saturday Night, settling down to review Ozzy Osbourne’s “No Rest For the Wicked,” and then hear a knock and see our previously mentioned chimpanzee friend. Get such an image out of your head if it is currently residing there. (Did I mention that the chimp is wearing a clown suit?) I would wish you to focus on that no more that I would wish you to ruminate on alterna-critic Gina Arnold spending lonely hours in her bedroom, bad mouthing KISS, while intermittently pining away for a stray sodomizing primate, only to have her dreams answered by a doorbell and bobbing balloon. I beg of you, wash such iconography from you mind. Were you to continue such thoughts, you might start envisioning The Stranger‘s Sean Nelson breaking into the New York City Zoo’s Ape section when he should be giving a favorable review to Prong. Okay, that joke is quite finished, isn’t it? My point being, however, that as usual, critics speak for themselves. Regular, decent, salt of the earth fuckers like you and I, love metal. (You do love metal, right?) So I thought I’d take the time to list what I feel are some forgotten metal classics that happen to reside in my vinyl and tape collection. (What the term “Heavy Metal” means has always been a point of contention, so some people may object to my rather loose encapsulation of its definition as seen by my choices below. Generally, I think Heavy Metal can be said to include all music in the sub genres – Hard Rock (Poison, AC/DC) and Metal (Celtic Frost, Slayer.) Many will disagree with me on this and they should know I have a chimpanzee with their name on it.)

Heavy Petting
Interestingly, the only vinyl copy I have of this album was immersed in some sort of strange chemical bath before I purchased it, so half of side B is almost unlistenable (The record player needle always scrapes up piles of the entrenched goo that coats the record surface like a fine glaze.) However, the sections that aren’t covered with nuclear sludge are a fine testament to early metal, featuring the work of perhaps the first ‘nerd’ metal guitarist, Michael Schenker. The sections covered in nuclear sludge aren’t so bad either.

Judas Priest
Stained Class
As Priest albums go, this isn’t necessarily top-o’the-line, but it is the album that convinced two Nevada youths to try and kill themselves with several shotgun blasts to the head. (One survived, albeit with a big hole in his face, only to die years later from medical complications. This time Priest wasn’t involved.) It does have fairly tight instrumentation (though nothing like what Priest would do on later albums such as “Painkiller”) and at least one decent song in the form of “Better By You, Better Than Me.” Nonetheless, its value mostly lies in its status as an ornament of rock’s controversial history – a testament to the dark period when pop music was encouraging kids perform stupid acts like suicide (as opposed to shooting cops or rival gang members.)

Alice Cooper
Billion Dollar Babies
I maligned one of Alice’s other efforts in a recent review column, but you can’t go wrong with “BDB”. The great thing about Cooper is that he’s always been so much more than just hard rock – he pulls in ragtime, psychedelia and Broadway show tunes. (Indeed, the reason Cooper sucks today is that he has confined himself to the limited vernacular of today’s dirge-metal. Plus, he’s a Christian.) “Billion Dollar Babies” has a classic single, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, as well as tons of Broadway- inspired rock that kept a generation of stoned Americans saying “Dude…”

Play Dirty
I only recently started listening to this band and I have to say I’ve quickly become quite enamored of their sound. Setting sail from Britain in the early eighties, the all female Girlschool wrote several catchy heavy metal choruses and backed them up with musicianship that might get Chrissie Hynde to rethink her despairing observation about the lackluster amount of skilled y-chromosome guitarists (There’s a quote of hers out there somewhere, in which she maligns the state of female guitarists. Unfortunately I can’t find it). Granted, their lyrics were of the bland “We’ll Keep Rockin’ Through the Night” variety, but you can”t win ’em all.

Sign in Please
I risk being called a fag by hardcore metalheads for including a pop metal act like Autograph in this list, but that’s familiar territory to me. This is simply one of those albums I never tire of – it’s an endless string of candy-coated metal hooks, delivered with singer/bassist Steve Plunkett’s leering throttle. I’ve always loved his loose interpretation of the rhyming scheme as evidenced in their hit “Turn Up the Radio”: ‘Turn Up The Radio, I need the music, Gimme some mo’ (‘Mo’ being the timed equivalent of the ‘o’ in ‘Radio’. Fucking genius!)

Sink Your Teeth into That
This is a definitely hard to find little gem featuring bassist Billy Sheehan of David Lee Roth and Mr. Big fame. Sheehan’s fretwork is impressive, but what keeps me listening is a remarkably strong set of songs. One of the weaker numbers, “Shy Boy,” ended up on one of David Lee’s post-Van Halen solo albums.

Thin Lizzy
No list is complete with Ireland’s premier hard rock band. This is another one of those bands whose lesser known work far outshines their “hits”. (Which would include tunes like “Jailbreak” and “Boys are Back in Town”.) “Chinatown” is a great place to start of you want to get introduced to the quintessential Lizzy sound.

Our House (single)
Yeah, yeah, I know this isn’t anything remotely near a metal tune. However, it’s playing on the house-stereo of the Starbucks I’m writing this in, and I’m reminded of what an ass-kicking song it is.

By the way kids, you’ll notice there’s not a single instance of that dreadful nu-metal in my list. Here’s why: for me to consider any music heavy metal it must have guitar solos, which 90 percent of this nu-metal (or snooze-metal as I like to call it) does not. The post-grunge world has created a backlash against guitar solos, allowing every Tom, Dick and Chino** to form some talentless, hackneyed band and call itself metal. Truthfully the logic for this backlash has always eluded me. It’s based on the punk premise that rock music should be fun and not overly intellectual, but nobody ever looks like they’re having more fun that the lead guitarist. Look at any picture of Eddie Van Halen circa 1987. He looks like he’s about to blast a big load across the stage, for Christ’s sake. (Indeed, rock solos are often called masturbatory, and as we all know, few things are more fun than masturbation. And recording a good solo, like spanking, carries with it a vast sense of accomplishment. After you’re done, you can sit back and say, “I made that!”) Guitar solos salute man’s nature at it most primal – egotistical, narcisstic and selfish – in short: fun!

Well, that’s it for now, gang. Remember – today’s musical icons are tomorrow’s joke. Don’t get into a band unless you’re willing to have people make fun of you for it five years down the line.

*Ah, hell, who am I kidding? Even I have to admit that a monumental amount of heavy metal is completely retarded, especially in the lyric department. But what’s always allowed me to bypass this is my firm belief that most lyrics, across all genres of music are pretty stupid.

**Actually, I don’t mean to knock Chino of the Deftones here, as I had the pleasure of briefly making his acquaintance and found him to be a remarkably unpretentious individual. I also have to admit a soft spot for rap/metal kings, Linkin Park.

Wil Forbis

Wil writes for the delectable Acid Logic webzine, as well as for this crackin' outfit here. He's also an obvious habitual liar, going on how he describes himself in his other writings. Truth is, Wil is a two foot tall computerised metal monster who likes nothing better than to CRUSH, CRUSH and CRUSH humanity to within an ounce of its puny life. When he's not CRUSHING, he enjoys tennis and jogging.


Comments are closed.