Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power

You may have heard that it’s Vinnie Paul’s birthday today. He was the drummer for Pantera, and now drums for band Hellyeah, which isn’t nearly as good, but it’s nice to know the dude’s still got it. He’s 50 years old today.

In celebration of Vinnie’s birthday, I’m going to rant and rave about one of the first albums I ever bought: Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. It was released in ’92, and was one of the most influential albums of the ’90s. It’s been described as “one of the defining albums of the groove-metal genre”, and features many songs that have become the band’s most well-known and recognizable tracks.

This was the second album that displayed Pantera’s change of sound. Their first few records were more glam-metal, and were inspired by bands like Van Halen and KISS. When Phil Anselmo replaced Terry Glaze on vocals in ’87, they released their fourth studio album, Power Metal, which started moved away from their original glam-metal sound. Cowboys From Hell was released in 1990, and it was a key turning point for Pantera — their sound was now noticeably influenced by bands like Metallica, Slayer and Black Sabbath.

Here’s a little fun fact, the main reasoning behind the musical style of Vulgar Display of Power. When Metallica’s self-titled album (AKA The Black Album) came out in 1991, Pantera considered it to be a letdown to fans; Metallica had seemingly strayed from their thrash metal sound that was in their previous albums. It’s weird because that album gave us a lot of the Metallica classics like “Enter Sandman”, “Sad But True”, “Wherever I May Roam”. I can see their point though; those tracks aren’t nearly as heavy as “Damage, Inc.”, “Creeping Death” or “Motorbreath”. Pantera felt that they had an opportunity and a gap to fill, and wanted to make “the heaviest record of all time.”

Then Vulgar Display of Power came out with a picture of a dude getting punched right in the face on the cover. It’s now pretty iconic. The band told their label that they wanted the cover to be “something vulgar — like a guy getting punched in the face.”

pantera-vulgar-display-of-power

Nailed it.

Apparently the guy got $10 per punch, and he ended up getting punched about 30 times to get the shot just right. And then they obviously photoshopped it. Totally worth it. He’s able to wake up in the morning and say, “Hey. Good morning, world. I’m that guy getting socked in the face on the cover of one of the most influential album of the ’90s.”

The whole album is filled with heavy, gut-busting guitar riffs and hostile, angry vocals that gave Pantera their signature sound. This record introduced us to classic songs that were a big part of the soundtrack to my junior high years, like “Walk”, “Mouth for War”, “A New Level”, “Hollow” and “F*cking Hostile”. Vulgar Display of Power is just a classically heavy, no-bull, straight-to-the-angry-point album that makes you want to go around and kick things. In a good way.

Happy 50th, Vinnie Paul. You rock.

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.

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Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral: 20th Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of what is said to be “one of the most upsetting, misunderstood, and enduring album of the ’90s.”

This is by far one of my all-time favourite albums. I’m a sucker for concept albums; they’re cohesive, smart, and take you on a journey that makes the listening experience much more engaging and memorable. Each song of The Downward Spiral can really only be fully understood within the rest of the album. Without the other songs, each song is incomplete.

The tracks of the dark and unsettling concept album take us through the twisted steps of the destruction of a man. The plot follows his descent into his own inner world where he eventually meets his demise. The album opens with “Mr. Self Destruct”, which sets the tone for the rest of it and foreshadows the conclusion while serving as an introduction. The rest of the album takes us through the man — some say a serving as a reflection of Trent Reznor himself — dealing with religion, dehumanization, violence, disease, society, drugs, sex, and leading up to suicide. The last one is represented in the final track of The Downward Spiral, “Hurt”: the famously bone-chilling, disturbing song that was covered by none other than Johnny Cash himself. A lot of people don’t realize that the  song was originally the conclusion to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral.

This is one of the smartest, twisted, and most haunting albums I’ve ever listened to. It’s one of those albums that, in order to fully appreciate it, you have to close the blinds, take the phones off the hook (kind of an outdated saying, maybe just turn your cell on silent) and listen to it — all the songs, back to back. It’s by far Trent Reznor’s most mature album to date, and it’s crazy to think that it’s been twenty years since its release in 1994. It’s brilliant. Plain and simple. Happy birthday, The Downward Spiral!

Have you guys listened to it? What do you think? What are some of your favourite albums?

 

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Queen & Adam Lambert

Earlier this week, it was announced that Queen with Adam Lambert are doing a 19-date North American tour this summer, stopping in Edmonton on June 24th.

This isn’t the first time original Queen guitarist Brian May and original drummer Roger Taylor have teamed up with Adam Lambert. They first performed together in 2009 on American Idol, then performed at the MTV European Music Awards in 2011, then in 2012, they collaborated again for a series of shows around Europe.

Brian May said about the tour:

“This happened organically with Adam. People are going to ask whether it’s Queen without Freddie. I don’t know. We just want to go out there one more time. Adam isn’t an imitator.”

Roger Taylor added that Adam is “the most incredible frontman.” As if the world didn’t already know, Adam Lambert is a diva, and Taylor says that’s been great for them, that they need that theatrically.

To me, this trio seems to know what they’re doing. Still, people are boycotting the tour, saying that it’s “wrong” without original frontman Freddie Mercury. That it’s not Queen without him. People are bashing Adam Lambert, saying that he’s not even close to being deserving of touring with the original members. A guy on Facebook even said: “I’m not going to pay money to go watch a karaoke session.” But, is that really what this tour is going to be? People are acting as if Freddie Mercury was Queen. Yes, he was an idol. He was the face of Queen. But there were other people in the band. And the fact that those legendary rockstars are wanting to tour one more time, even with a different singer, is beyond exciting. And I think Adam Lambert has a great voice. Yeah, he’s annoying. But he can do Freddie Mercury justice. May and Taylor wouldn’t be collaborating with him if he couldn’t. Adam Lambert has said that Freddie Mercury is his idol, his hero, and that it’s been surreal to be honouring his memory. I trust the dude.

I’m not going to pass up hearing “Bohemian Rhapsody” live. I’m going to be able to tell my future rockstar kids that I saw the legendary Queen live. It wasn’t all the original members, but hell, it was closer than I thought I’d ever get. What about you guys? Are you boycotting the tour, or are you going to go rock out to “We Will Rock You” and “Fat Bottomed Girls?”

 

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Movie Soundtracks

Hey, the Oscars are tonight! Let’s talk about movies.

To me, the soundtrack to a movie is almost as important as the content in the movie itself. A story can be compelling, moving, thought-provoking, but the music has the ability to make a movie epic. It has the power to make it iconic and legendary.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of moving movie soundtracks is obviously Lord of the Rings. The music is iconic, timeless, and makes me cry (but we won’t talk about that). The Lord of the Rings is my favourite trilogy. The score was conducted, produced, orchestrated and composed by Howard Shore. He earned two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for best score, with good reason; it’s made the movies iconic. Anyone who hears the simple flute for The Shire theme automatically knows what it is.

I mean, how can that not make you cry?

Another given when it comes to iconic, timeless, and instantly recognizable soundtracks is Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back is on TV downstairs, and I can assure you the music will be stuck in my head for hours. My mom’s unknowingly whistling it while working on her computer, too. Everyone knows the Star Wars theme. I remember teaching myself Darth Vader’s theme on the piano when I was young and thought I was just the coolest person on the planet.

More of my favourites include Inception (never fails to give me chills), Pirates of the Caribbean, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and, God help me, Harry Potter. The iconic Harry Potter music makes me cry (this seems to be a reoccurring theme that I may want to get checked out) because I’ve loved Harry Potter since I was six-years-old and first picked up The Philosopher’s Stone. The music brings me back to when I first saw the movie in theatres. I finally convinced my parents to let me go see it even though it had the word “hell” in it. (I was seven, leave me alone.) The music’s able to bring me back and fill me with an overwhelming and somewhat exhausting sense of nostalgia.

Anything by Hans Zimmer and is a-okay in my books, too. That man is a genius. I have the soundtracks to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises on my iPod. Bane’s theme, good lord. Goosebumps. I also cried at the very end of The Dark Knight Rises just because the music was so epic. Hans Zimmer made my second favourite trilogy way more epic than it would have been without the music. He’s also responsible for the award-winning scores for Gladiator, Sherlock Holmes, The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Inception.

What do you guys think? What’s your favourite movie soundtrack? 

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.