Tag Archives: Mastodon

018 Brutal Truth

BrutalTruth_logo_inv

Before Metal Urges was born, Brutal Truth was one of the first bands we talked about covering, and it just so happens that bassist/vocalist Danny Lilker announced last year that Brutal Truth, the band that he founded in 1990, is disbanding on Oct. 18 of this year, which was his 50th birthday. In a prepared statement, he remarked that he is “retiring from being a full-time recording and touring musician.” So this is a tribute to his longest-running band—long live Brutal Truth!

P.S.P.I.,” “Birth of Ignorance,” “Collateral Damage,” “Walking Corpse,” and “Time,” from Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses (1992, Earache)
BT was formed when Anthrax bassist Danny Lilker left thrash band Nuclear Assault. Their more-death-than-grind debut on Earache is one of our favorite metal debuts of all time. “Collateral Damage” holds a Guinness Book world record for the shortest video: 2 seconds long with 48 still photos displayed in rapid succession, ending with an explosion. “Walking Corpse” was later re-recorded in 2011 for a Decibel Magazine flexi.

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“Black Door Mine,” “Godplayer,” “Ordinary Madness,” and “Choice of a New Generation,” from Need to Control (1994, Earache)
This was the mindblowing sophomore album from these soon-to-be grind freaks. Original drummer Scott Lewis was replaced by Ninefinger’s Rich Hoak, who has been their drummer ever since. Hoak changed the band’s output with his grind drumming style, whereas Lewis was more of a death-metal drummer. NTC had less death metal and more grind this time, yet it was hailed as their most progressive and experimental material. This is the band’s definitive album, though its music is not indicative of the majority of their output.

“Blind Leading the Blind,” “Pass Some Down,” and “Hypocrite Invasion,” from Kill Trend Suicide (1996, Relapse)
The band split from Earache because of ongoing frustrations with the label and joined Relapse, which certainly boosted their status as the premier grindcore label. BT would stay on Relapse for the rest of their career. KTS was a definite musical shift for the band: no more death-metal leanings, just straight-up grind, some slow, some fast: 10 songs on a mini-album. The cover art was photographed in the old Lancaster apartment of Pellet and Jeff Wagner, then publicists at Relapse.

Sounds of the Animal Kingdom album cover featuring the old Relapse UPS guy.

Sounds of the Animal Kingdom album cover featuring the old Relapse UPS guy.

“Jemenez Cricket,” “Callous,” and “Pork Farm,” from Sounds of the Animal Kingdom (1997, Relapse)
This album was a rapid follow-up to the very short KTS with much of the same grind. The cover art shows a half-man, half-ape—one of the coolest metal covers at the time. The model was actually Relapse’s UPS delivery man, and after the photo shoot they gave him a case of beer in payment!

“Sugar Daddy,” “Branded,” and “Humpty Finance,” from Evolution Through Revolution (2009, Relapse)
The band had broken up in 1998 and released a swansong compilation of odds-and-sods, 1999’s Goodbye Cruel World. During this hiatus, BT members kept themselves busy in other bands: vocalist Kevin Sharp joined Australian death/grinders Damaged for 2000’s Purified in Pain on Rotten Records. Before and during BT, Lilker played in the bands Anthrax, Exit-13, Nuclear Assault, Hemlock, The Ravenous, Stormtroopers of Death, Malformed Earthborn (Shane Embury’s noise band with former BT drummer Scott Lewis on their sole release, 1995’s Defiance of the Ugly by the Merely Repulsive), et al. After BT, Lilker starred in a reformed Nuclear Assault, Venomous Concept (with Sharp plus Danny Herrera and Shane Embury of Napalm Death). Hoak heads up his own grind band Total F**king Destruction and founded Deaf American Records. Longtime guitarist Brent “Gurn” McCarty didn’t return for this reunion; instead, Lethargy guitarist Eric Burke joined the ranks. ETR is much more grind-based than their other recordings, almost to the point of redundancy.

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“Simple Math,” “Malice,” “Swift and Violent (Swift Version),” and “Trash,” End Time (2011, Relapse)
End Time sounds like much of the same from ETR: very grindy, very fast, better production.

“The Stroy,” The Axiom of Post Inhumanity (2013, Relapse)
BT’s swan song is a split release with powerviolence noisemongers Bastard Noise from California. Bastard Noise have over 100 releases since the ’90s, so we’re sure BT were excited to do a split release with them. It’s fitting that their final (?) recording is noise, so our outro for this episode is a noise track similar to our episode intro: the noise track #1 from their debut album.

The Future of Brutal Truth?
Sharp is now in Primate (with Bill Kelliher of Mastodon), Lock Up (with Tomas Lindberg of At the Gates and Shane Embury of Napalm Death) and writes a monthly column for Decibel. Lilker is back in Nuclear Assault and is working on a new album for release in 2015; he adds, “I will still have creative output with my 2 local bands in Rochester NY, Nokturnal Hellstorm and Blurring and do the occasional project tour, but as of mid-October, Brutal Truth will no longer exist.” Hoak continues to have amazing drum faces in TFD and his ambient band Peacemaker.

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017 Alice in Chains


They're so metal, they even have a patch for your denim vest, dude.

We love Alice in Chains! And we were so inspired by Requiem Metal Podcast’s Alice in Chains Episode 164 that we wanted to do our own tribute to Layne Staley and the boys. Consider this a companion to the Requiem episode, and we guarantee that there’s no overlap in songs. AIC was the most metal of the Seattle grunge bands, naturally, and deserve lots of love from Metal Urges!

Look, ma!  A cassette tape!  How does that even work?!

Look, ma! A cassette tape! How does that eve work?!

“Whatcha Gonna Do (Demo),” 1999’s Music Bank (originally from 1988’s Treehouse Tapes)
The band was first called Diamond Lie before changing it to Alice ‘N Chains. Treehouse Tapes was AIC’s third demo as a band but their first as Alice in Chains (the band was called Alice ‘N Chains on the first two demos)—and their first to feature the classic line-up of Layne Staley (vocals), Jerry Cantrell (guitar), Mike Starr (bass), and Sean Kinney (drums), Four of the eight cuts were compiled on 1999’s Music Bank box set, and our pick, “Whatcha Gonna Do,” shows Staley’s obvious worship of Guns ‘N Roses’ Axl Rose (maybe Alice ‘N Chains was titled after G’NR?).

Facelift

“It Ain’t Like That” and “Love, Hate, Love,” Facelift (1990, Columbia)
The band’s debut album, Facelift, went gold after the video for “Man in the Box” went into heavy rotation on MTV. They opened the Clash of the Titans tour for Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer and also opened for Van Hagar on their For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour. Sadly, AIC lost their Best Hard Rock Grammy to Van Halen that year, mimicking a hauntingly similar upset during 1989’s Grammy Awards when Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave won over Metallica’s far superior …And Justice For All.

“Right Turn,” Sap EP (1992, Columbia)
This acoustic EP was an interesting shift for the band, released at the same time when Nirvana’s Nevermind was at the top of the charts, thus augmenting their grunge cred. It featured contributing Seattle mega-stars: Heart’s Ann Wilson, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm. “Right Turn” was credited to Alice Mudgarden in the liner notes because of Cornell and Arm’s vocals. AIC were featured as the bar band in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 movie Singles, and they recorded the classic “Would?” for its soundtrack.

Dirt Image

“Rain When I Die” and “Dam That River,” Dirt (1992, Columbia)
This was a busy year for the band: after mega-success with the Sap EP and Singles, they released their sophomore album Dirt, which turns out to be their defining album. It sold quadruple platinum and is the most popular album of their career. Slayer’s Tom Araya lent his screams to “Iron Gland.” AIC were one of the top featured bands on the Lollapalooza summer tour in 1993 but refused to headline; Primus gladly accepted. They opened for Ozzy Osbourne on his No More Tears tour. Bassist Mike Starr was having drug problems, so he was replaced by Ozzy bassist Mike Inez.

“What the Hell Have I? (Remix),” 1999’s Music Bank (from 1993’s Last Action Hero)
This was a predominantly metal soundtrack to Ahnold Schwarzenegger’s box-office flop. It featured non-album tracks from Megadeth, Anthrax, Tesla, Queensrÿche, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Fishbone, Aerosmith, et al. and spawned five singles in its wake! AIC was the only band featured to have two songs—this one and “A Little Bitter”—and were the only reasons to keep the CD until both tunes were compiled on 1999’s Music Bank.

“I Stay Away,” Jar of Flies EP (1994, Columbia)
This was first EP in rock history to hit #1 on the Billboard charts. After extensive touring in support of Dirt, the band decided to return to the studio and record acoustic songs like on Sap. Jar of Flies produced AIC’s first #1 song, “No Excuses”; second single was “I Stay Away.” Their summer ’94 tour was scheduled with Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, Danzig, and Fight, but Staley’s heroin addiction flared and the band backed out one day before the first gig; they were replaced by Candlebox, which proved to be pivotal for that band’s career.

“Again,” Alice in Chains (1995, Columbia)
Before recording this album, Staley joined Mad Season for a one-off album, Above, which featured members of Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, and the Walkabouts. That album produced a #2 single, “River of Deceit.” Staley rejoined AIC to record their self-titled album, also called the “Tripod” album because of the three-legged dog on the cover. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, though the band didn’t tour in support of this album because of Staley’s drug problems. Staley overdosed and died on April 19, 2002. Cantrell dedicates his second solo album, 2002’s Degradation Trip, to Staley.

“Check My Brain” and “A Looking in View,” Black Gives Way to Blue (Virgin, 2009)
After a few one-off shows with Comes With the Fall vocalist William DuVall, AIC begins to write brand-new material, the first without Staley at the helm. BGWTB is released in 2009 on Virgin, the band’s first non-Columbia release. “A Looking in View” and “Check My Brain” are the first two singles, respectively. Heavy touring followed, including the Blackdiamondskye tour with Deftones and Mastodon.
On March 8, 2011, former bassist Mike Starr died from a drug overdose; he had been the subject of a MTV reality show called Celebrity Rehab.

“Stone,” The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Columbia, 2013)
DuVall & company follow up BGWTB with The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, back on Columbia, and the album peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts. The title is a reference to a religious belief that Satan buried dinosaur bones in the earth to confuse believers.

Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

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