Castles Made of Pixels

I don’t even remember Castlevania III : Dracula’s Curse. I don’t remember one single thing about the game, not even the music. Yet, I felt compelled to buy Mondo’s double LP release of the soundtrack a couple months ago. Compelled may not be the right word. Possessed to buy it, maybe? It’s like a sickness, folks. An addiction. Maybe it’s because I figured I bought the first two Castlevania releases, so I needed to complete the trilogy? That could be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Castlevania as a teen. That was one of the few games in my sad game-playing career that I obsessed over, but only three versions of the game. The original Castlevania on NES, Super Castlevania on the Super Nintendo system, and then Castlevania : Symphony of the Night on the original Playstation. Those three versions I loved and played like an idiot into the wee hours of the night. I’d load up on caffeine and frozen pizzas and battle all the ghouls and ghosts hidden away in Dracula’s various castles.

But not Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.

But I gotta say, the music in that game was on point. For being 8-bit(or was it 16-bit by then?), the music really grabs you and pulls you into that world of darkness and doomed baroque romanticism. What’s most interesting is that the music reminds me of the neo-classical guitar of Ritchie Blackmore and that Swedish guy Yngwie Malmsteen. When I heard the second release in this Castlevania series I dubbed it “8-bit Yngwie”. It was sort of an inside joke between me and, well, nobody. Just me. Listen to the guitar/organ solos in Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” for the neo-classical reference. Imagine that done on 8-bit instruments and that’ll give you a good idea as to what I’m talking about.

The Konami Kukeiha Club is responsible for the music to Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. I’m not sure if they’re an actual club, like with member cards and funny hats. I think they’re just an in-house music department at Konami that were responsible for creating music for Konami’s games. The list of club members is exhaustive, so I won’t list them. I’ll just say that there was a lot of work that went into creating the musical world in not only Castlevania, but so many other classic games that Konami gave us in the 80s and early 90s. What games? Contra. And a bunch more…probably.

I suppose I’ll just continue to keep buying these soundtracks up until I’m broke and selling them on Ebay in order to pay for college tuition or a ham sandwich for lunch. That’s what people with vinyl problems do. We justify these purchases with words and phrases like “nostalgia” and “childhood memories” and “collecting” and “I earned it, dammit!” I’ll have excuses till the cows come home as to why I need to buy these lovely pieces of plastic that are adorned with eye-popping artwork. Why?

Because I earned it, dammit!

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

I wish I could sit here in my lederhosen, wood clogs, and stein full of warm beer and say I’ve been hip to Krautrock since I was a stellar Midwest teen. I wish I could say I started a movement in my John Hughes years of forward-thinking teenagers filling their heads with komische music like Kraftwerk, NEU!, Cluster, and Popol Vuh. I wish I could say that. Truth is I didn’t even know what Krautrock was till I was well into adulthood. I’d heard the name now and then, though I thought it was something to do with sauerkraut that sat in the fridge too long. “Don’t use that sauerkraut! It’s got the krautrock!” Okay, maybe I didn’t think that(or didn’t I?)

Point is I had my “come to Komsiche” moment and I’ve never looked back. It started with Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express ten years ago and since then Krautrock has become one of my favorite musical genres(right behind ukulele doom metal and Mediterranean throat singing.) I think the album that really did it for me was NEU!s first album NEU!. When I first heard the motorik beat of “Hallogallo” I knew I’d found my people. With Klaus Dinger’s drums and experimentation and Michael Rother’s enigmatic guitar playing I felt like this was true blending of rock and art. Of course those two got along infamously. Dinger was the experimental chap that wanted to make everything they did a political statement. Michael Rother was more interested in making good music and the creative process. In between NEU! records Rother formed another musical alliance with two other Krautrock OGs, Cluster’s Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. That band was called Harmonia.

The first time I’d heard of Harmonia was over at my pal 1537’s place. After reading his great piece on the record I knew I needed to get it in my head. Of course I’d only listened to snippets here and there. I did check out a live album of there’s that was excellent, but I never found a copy of that debut for myself. Until now.

On a college trip to Bloomington a couple weeks ago I happened across a copy of Harmonia’s Musik von Harmonia at Landlocked Records for a quite nice price and proceeded to happily give my money to the young lady at the counter. When she looked at me funny I realized I didn’t hand her the record. Record bought, we left looking for sustenance.

Musik von Harmonia is quite the aural feast. It loops, blips, and bleeps all over the place like a drunk android giddy on high octane motor oil. The album opens with the bouncy “Watussi”. It seems to unfold over the course of its nearly 6 minutes like an endless red carpet that elevates to spatial levels. They’re not songs more than they’re moments of exquisite discovery. “Sehr Komische” floats and expands over the course of nearly 11 minutes. It pushes the boundaries of ambient music to new heights, really. Out of the ether you can make out a motorik beat attempting to come to the service, the gauzy tones raising as the beat does. “Sonnenschein” has somewhat of a tribal beat to it. Synths glide in and out as the rhythm gains momentum.

I can almost picture Rother, Roedelius, and Moebius inside the old house pictured on the inside gatefold sleeve, maybe under the influence of mind-altering substances, just throwing these ideas out and seeing where they’d land. Moving from instrument to instrument and seeing what would happen. By the sound of it they came across some pretty amazing ideas. “Dino”, for example, is classic krautrock goodness complete with the classic motorik beat. It has that NEU! airiness to it without sounding just like NEU! or Cluster. These three seem to have really loved the creative process. Then you get to something like “Ohrwurm” and all bets are off. Buzzing tones and wobbly guitar seem to illustrate musically a mental breakdown. “Veterano” sounds like sounds the Mothersbaugh brothers would attempt to create with Devo. “Hausmusik” starts out as a melody line but quickly descends into electronic noise, like low tide washing away drawings in the sand. Soon enough our melody reappears to help finish the song out.

With a lot of komische music there seems to be a regimented code that is followed. Everything feels free-flowing and spontaneous, but it’s very much a controlled chaos. Harmonia seem to leave regimented improvisation at the studio door and let artistic expression flow freely. There’s a lightness to the tracks on Musik von Harmonia that is infectious. I have yet to hear their other records, so I can’t comment on future Harmonia endeavors. Rother, Roedelius, and Moebius would all head back to their previous projects and continue to make boundary-pushing art in their respective “name” bands, but none would ever capture the airy magic that Harmonia created. At least to my ears.

 

 

 

“We’ll Go Down The Line”

It’s been a rough couple of days, so not much to report here. Lots of rain and some disturbing news about a friend. I’ve found solace in the last two days in the band Beach Fossils of all things. I’ve really liked this band since their debut, and especially their last album Clash The Truth. They’ve got a nice jangle to them to where they remind me of both old school R.E.M. and Power, Corruption & Lies-era New Order. Basically early 80s alternative without any doom or gloom. Bass guitar is up front and the guitar lays down some nice melody. Vocals are sweet but not overpowering. I’d been revisiting Clash The Truth for the past couple weeks on and off, thinking about writing about it when I heard their new single “Down The Line”. It’s hard to describe how much this track has hit me. It’s eloquent in its simplicity. Beach Fossils seem to be taking a page out of the Real Estate book and taking a beautifully stoned approach to their sound. A slinky bass line pushes the song forward while echoed guitar adds an air of melancholy. The lyrics seem to hit a melancholy plea with lines like “I’m thinking of you fondly/When I’m on the train/I really hate your poetry/You hate mine the same” and “These days I feel like I do nothing right/So come with me and we’ll go down the line“. There’s a feeling of regret and longing here that I can relate to. If this new album, which is called Somersault and is coming out in June, is filled with tracks like “Down The Line” then this will easily be one of my favorite albums of the year.

So go tell those you love you love them, and if things are getting heavy for you let someone know that you need help. You’re not alone. Hell, let me know. I’ll be here for you. I’ll just be here listening to Beach Fossils for the umpteenth time.

 

Oh yeah, this song is pretty amazing too.

 

And this, too. Jesus.

Moog Muzak

So there I was minding my own business mowing like any other middle-aged guy, when last Saturday afternoon a package arrived on my doorstep. It had arrived from the frozen tundra and icy, harsh landscapes of Canada. From what I’ve read on fan fiction sites and in The Federalist, it’s a desolate place where Prime Minister Geddy Lee rules with a iron fist wrapped in super heavy gauge bass strings, people fight to the death with hockey sticks in the streets of Toronto and Quebec City, and by graduation every high school student must know by heart all three seasons of Degrassi Junior High and must write a thesis on Wheels’ journey to find his grandpa. Now I’m no fool, I’m perfectly aware that Wheels left to find his dad, not his grandpa. Regarding all the other stuff, well I’ll wait for more fan fiction to fill in the blanks.

My good friend Aaron over at keepsmealive came across this most excellent record called Moog Groove during one of his record store stops and sent a pic of it to me. He asked me if I would be interested in it, and I said “Yes!” A week later it arrived in all of its cheeky glory for me to enjoy(and annoy my family with.) Aaron, along with his pal James, do a fantastic job over at Keepsmealive of talking about music in a way that musicphiles can sink their teeth into. It’s not the “passing fancy” kind of music writing. It’s dudes deep into the grooves, professing their love of the musical arts to the Gods and mortals across the universe. They also have this thing called the “Grail List”, where they’ve amassed a large collection of albums folks from across these great lands are in search of. When they’re out and about they look for said grail albums for those that cannot find them. Aaron has espoused on “Community!” to me, and he is a firm believer in chipping in and helping folks get those sweet, sweet vinyls in their grubby hands. If you ask me, I think the guy should be sainted, or knighted.

Or at the very least maybe get a gift certificate for a free coffee and donut.

So now that you know how I came to possess Moog Groove, let me tell you about it. It came out in 1969, and it was a novelty LP where hits of the day were performed almost entirely on a moog synthesizer. By this time the moog had gone from this space age instrument creating the sounds of the future to the musical equivalent of a plastic kazoo or a whoopie cushion. They were being used for sound effects on tv shows and sci fi films, while one was even highlighted in a beer commercial.

Makes you want to pop open a Schaefer, doesn’t it?

Anyways, the point is this highly technical, beautifully constructed instrument had become sort of mainstream. Wendy Carlos showed what could be done with a moog on her 1968 album Switched-On Bach, an album that may sound kitchy, but the time it took to create those pieces is anything but kitchy. But by the time 1969 rolled around every K-Tel Records wanted to have their “Moog” album out. Moog Groove was that for Mercury Records.

Okay, so this album is novelty, cheeky, corny, and pretty much any other “-y” word you can think of. But there’s also a certain aged charm to it. Like that old guy that smelled like Swisher Sweets that told crazy stories at family get-togethers out at the picnic table. Stories that used to bug you and make you feel a little queasy, but now that he’s gone and that picnic table has long given into the elements you sort of miss those stories and that faint smell of cheap cherry-scented cigars. Listening to the Moog-tastic “Hey Jude”, “Both Sides Now”, and “Feelin’ Alright” there’s a twinge of melancholy that comes over me. It reminds me of times of being a kid and riding my bike to the local convenient store and buying a bagful of penny candies and playing arcade games as I gulped down a Mountain Dew. It puts me in our old Oldsmobile and going with my mom the JC Penney mail order pick up store to grab those green Osh Kosh pants she ordered for me. I think of watching In Search Of, old Charlie Brown holiday specials, and lousy 60s sci fi flicks with my dad on Friday nights. Or having epic paper football games with my older brother in his room on rainy Saturday afternoons.

Even the cheekiest of novelty music can do something to you. It gets my overactive imagination going. Listening to this record I imagine some alternate world where all the popular songs of the day are turned into these Muzak-rendered songs, performed on these circuit-filled wooden boxes that an android in all chrome performs for the matriarchy that rules. Everything sounds like space-aged elevator music. There’s something sickly sweet about that.

But the most interesting piece on here is “Windmills Of Your Mind”. They take a Dusty Springfield hit and turn it into this dark, baroque lament. There’s something quite eerie and haunting about the sound of a Moog creating human emotion through minor key melodies. The song, thanks to the ghostly beauty of the Moog, is transformed into something like a medley for a sad android. For me, this is what the Moog was created for. It’s like a machine yearning to feel. Or something like that.

So there you have it. Moog Groove, as cheesy as it may be, can still pull on the heartstrings. My heartstrings, anyways. It’s a K-Tel collection for the paranoid android. Many thanks to Aaron. I owe you one, my friend.

Now, how about an ice cold Schaefer?

 

Tea Leaf Dancers and the Bonus Beat

Flying Lotus, aka Steve Ellison, has been somewhat of an obsession of mine for the past couple of years. His beats are like these liquid-y flows that carry psychedelic melodies through the ether. His music is transformative. There seems to be a constant state of movement and reforming. It’s hip hop-based, for sure. But as his albums have progressed there’s a sense of jazz free form composing going on. It’s electronic music, but it sounds organic. Even the weirder stuff seems like if you threw it into the earth it would act as compost and come back as something newer, greener, and heartier. I also think that for a lot of folks only about 25% of what Ellison makes is something you’d want to hit repeat on. Maybe 20%. Me? I went all in with Flying Lotus after I bought You’re Dead! back in 2014. It was so out there at times, yet the underlying rhythms kept me going back. It’s like Ellison is the Zappa or Beefheart of the electronic/hip hop/breakbeat world. J Dilla kept it mostly with beats and groove, where Flying Lotus took it one(or two or three) steps further by adding this alien personality in it.

I’m sure I’ve said all this before in previous rants, so sorry.

This time I’m here to say that if you were ever on the fence with Flying Lotus or you prefer him in smaller doses, then the Reset EP is for you. I saw this one sitting at my local record store for the longest time and wondered if I should pick it up. I hadn’t done much research on it and wasn’t sure if it was an EP or single. Turned out it was Ellison’s debut with Warp Records and it came out a few months before his excellent Los Angeles(another album I think the “on the fence” crowd would really dig as a whole.) So a couple months back I grabbed Reset EP and am glad I did.

There’s not much to it, really. It’s 6 tracks and they’re spread over two sides of a 12″. What it lacks in songs, it makes up for in quality songs. “Tea Leaf Dancers” is a sultry, groove-heavy track complete with soulful vocals by Andreya Triana. Strangely enough I could hear a certain Thom Yorke singing this one, too. It snakes along at its own pace. This one really shows the genius in Ellison’s approach to building a beat and committing with some serious melody. “Vegas Collie” is just an absolute killer beat. It’s seems to be unraveling and reforming before your very ears. Wonky sounds and video game noises come in and out of the mix. It’s one of those tracks you see some slow motion kung fu fighting happening as this blasts your ear holes. “Massage Situation” is more languid grooves and expertly placed vocal samples. “Spicy Sammich” sounds like a galactic jungle rhythm Miles Davis might’ve dreamt up in a fever dream. It’s very moody and dark before the snare kicks in and things get very street level. “Bonus Beat” has a video game quality to it, like something Ellison would’ve come up with for his Cartoon Network music montages. “Dance Floor Stalker” sounds like its name. You can almost picture some weirdo heading out on the dance floor looking for some unsuspecting victim to gyrate next to. It’s a quirky 808 beat with wonky noises laid out throughout. Perfect way to end a debut.

Like I said, within months of this EP Flying Lotus released his second Warp Records release, the excellent Los Angeles. Reset EP is very much in the vein of that album. Ellison had yet to truly fly his freak flag on this one. Here he’s honing his beatmaking skills to the nth degree. It’s a swift shot of liquid beats and organic clicks and clacks with some serious street grit and groove.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a spicy sammich with my name on it waiting for me.

 

 

Not Enough Room In My Head

Sometimes it takes awhile for an album to find it’s rightful spot in my brain. It’s not necessarily a “grower” kind of album, as it may immediately be catchy and enjoyable, but sometimes there’s just not enough room in my head for those songs to live and breathe. Or maybe I may not be in the right emotional spot to really dig what’s coming at me at that moment. Or maybe five albums hit in one week and I didn’t really have enough table time with a record so it gets shelved prematurely. The latter is sadly usually the case. That’s the case for Craft Spells’ Nausea, anyways.

I first got into Craft Spells back in 2012 when I heard their Captured Tracks debut Idle Labor. That year I found myself in the throes of a pretty heavy shoegaze/dream pop/post-punk bender and Captured Tracks were putting out all the fixes I needed for that musical addiction. Idle Labor seemed to be this mix of early 80s sounds; stuff you would’ve heard on early Depeche Mode, New Order, IRS, and 4AD releases that your big brother tried hiding from you. Craft Spells, aka Justin Vallesteros, was mining some pretty heavy hitters in order to create his own version of those essential records that came out prior to Reagan’s second term. For me, there was this air of upbeatedness(I trademarked this word last week, btw) that I loved. Vallesteros played all the instruments and his voice was a smooth tenor that delivered these pop-centric tunes with an air of maturity. You felt like you had found some lost album from the neon era, as opposed to some young turk that rummaged through his parents old college records and made his own version.

Fast forward to 2014 and the release of Craft Spells Nausea. 2014 was a crazy year for me. Not like bad crazy or anything, but just crazy. The wife got a new job where she was traveling quite a bit, so I was home with the kids in the summer a lot while mom was down in North Carolina and Kentucky. I’d discovered Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, which took up many of my afternoons of working out and mowing the lawn, and it was generally a pretty great year for music in my world. The War On Drugs, Real Estate, The Night Terrors, Jakob Skott, Jonas Munk, and a bevy of other heavy hitters put out some of my favorite albums of that year. I preordered the Captured Tracks limited edition version of Nausea when I saw it come up for sale, since I’m weak-kneed when it comes to phrases like “limited edition”, “special edition”, “preorder”, and “limited quantities”. The album arrived and I listened to it a couple times, enjoying it, but then it just sort of got pushed to the side as more goodness showed up in the mail. It eventually made its way into the vault where it sat for nearly three years…until now.

At work on a whim I found Nausea on one of those streaming music sites the kids are always talking about and listened to it whilst doing work things. With the whole job situation getting increasingly stressful I needed something to pull me out of it all. Opening track “Nausea” is this easy, breezy, and calming track that feels like a cross between Alan Parsons Project and OMD on tranquilizers. It has a slow motion quality to it that pulls you into its world. Vallesteros’ voice is really quite perfect for this kind of musical trip. He has an Eric Woolfson thing going on, but without all the melancholy. This track never hit me quite like it has lately. “Komorebi” keeps that vibe going to stunning effect. One of the biggest changes from Idle Labor to Nausea is that Vallesteros has replaced his “guy recording by himself” M.O. with a full band scenario in the studio and it suits him perfectly. There’s a real 70s quality to this album. “Komorebi” is this lush, dreamy track that has the sonic heft of Steely Dan with the wistful vibes of something I can’t quite put my finger on. “Dwindle” sounds like The Smiths in their latter years, before it all came to an end. Vallesteros isn’t quite the drama queen that Morrissey is, but he creates plenty of mood to go on. “Twirl” is a fun little number that grooves and shakes like Tigermilk-era Belle and Sebasitian. It’s a perfect summer day kind of song. “Breaking the Angle Against the Tide” has a bit of that old, dream pop vibe that Craft Spells lived in on Idle Labor, but with a lusher, fuller sound. It’s a great mixture of the musical worlds Justin Vallesteros loves to create in. “Still Fields(October 10, 1987)” is the piano-driven closer. For me, this hints at what Vallesteros could do in the future, which would be film scoring. It has such a cinematic feel to it. It’s quiet, emotive, and full of feeling. I could see this playing over the beginning or ending of a film. Perfect outro music, really.

I’m glad music works on us the way it does. We can’t force it to fit our emotional needs when it’s convenient for us. Sometimes it takes awhile to sink in. Craft Spells’ Nausea wasn’t meant to move me back in 2014. It was meant to move me in 2017. It’s a lush and beautiful album that’s subtle in its impact. It’s my go-to record in the mornings at work now. It silences the noise of frustration and lets me get to it.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

 

 

South of Heaven…North of Kentucky

I can remember in those formative years of mine it was taboo to listen to Slayer. It was bad enough getting caught listening to something like Megadeth’s “Good Mourning, Black Friday” or Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” by yourself in your bedroom with the lights off, your comforter draped over you like a cape while praying over a bucket of chicken blood. I mean, the rules were ALWAYS never take a bucket of chicken blood in your bedroom. You could stain the carpet. Anyways, for me listening to Slayer was like a filthy little secret. It was tantamount to keeping Playboys under the mattress or worn copies of Faces of Death 1, 2, and 3 hidden under puzzle boxes and Hot Wheels in your closet. Those California thrashers were just so dark. You got the feeling there was very little laughter going on behind the scenes. I could be wrong, but the band that wrote songs titled “Crypts of Eternity”, “Aggressive Perfector”, and “Dead Skin Mask” surely wasn’t getting stoned on the tour bus and laughing at Tex Avery cartoons and singing along to “Penny Lane”.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

You see, Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King, and Dave Lombardo looked like dudes you did not cross. I imagined someone mouthing off at one of their shows and Araya pulling out a trident and forking them in front of the entire Palladium crowd. Maybe there were moments of levity in-between cases of Heineken and devouring the souls of virgins from town to town. But I’m sure those only lasted until the bloodlust returned and the band had to feed once again on the blood of the young. Okay, okay, so these guys weren’t monsters, but for the 16-year old me they scared the hell out of me. They were the musical version of those video nasties I always heard about. I knew a girl named Karrie in 10th grade. She was in my geometry class. She’d moved to our Republican stronghold of a town in 1990 from the east coast. I’m not sure exactly from where but I think I think maybe Massachusetts as she had a bit of a Bostonian accent. I may have had a bit of a crush on her as she dug metal and had teased bangs that were at least 8 inches long. She even sold me her VHS copy of Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder. How could I not be smitten? I was putty in her hands. Anyways, Karrie had told me a story about how she and a girlfriend had partied with Slayer and that her girlfriend slept with Tom Araya. Back then I was a little jealous, but now that I’m an adult and a dad with daughters I’m horrified at that story. I mean, she was 16. Ugh.

Point I’m trying to make is that Slayer were an infamous band in my mind. My junior year in high school I became a fan with Seasons In The Abyss, but my first true exposure to Slayer was actually the Beastie Boys. Both “Fight For Your Right” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” had Hanneman playing his famous squealing, all over the place guitar solo. I believe he was in the “No Sleep” video as well. I thought, “Hey, if the Beasties dig Slayer maybe I should too?” Of course that didn’t happen, but two years later my brother was inviting me into his bedroom so he could show me what he procured from Butterfly Records that afternoon. It was Slayer’s South Of Heaven. He put it into his console stereo and I was feeling like I did the first time I watched Henry : Portrait of a Serial Killer, which means I felt a little queasy.

South Of Heaven felt like this overwhelming of the senses. It was this perfect melding of their hardcore roots and what would become speed metal. But they weren’t singing about Stephen King books, drug addiction, or covering the Sex Pistols. Slayer seemed to be summoning Satan himself in their breakneck rhythms, speed-picked solos, and Araya’s manimal vocals. Songs about serial killers, devil worship, the horrors of war, and general depravity felt more like hearing a psychotic’s journal being read over death marches than four drunk California punks having a good time. You took these guys at their word when they sang lines like “Bastard sons beget your cunting daughters/Promiscuous mothers with your incestuous fathers.” Songs like “South Of Heaven”, “Live Undead”, and “Mandatory Suicide” were relentless. They seemed to push the boundaries of musical dexterity and human decency. But still, there was something about them that kept me wanting to hear a bit more. There was this lawlessness to their music that was appealing. I sort of looked past the lyrics about necrophilia, masks made of human skin, and wartime atrocities in order to appreciate what was going on musically.

All these years later and I feel like I’m having a bit of a speed metal renaissance. Last year I got a little overzealous on Discogs and located some first pressings of Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood, and South Of Heaven. Out of those I’d have to say that South Of Heaven is my favorite. It’s still that perfect mix of youthful aggression and disgruntled middle age, bashing each other into a bloody pulp. Lyrically they go for the jugular, but it’s more about shock value than actually summoning demons from Hell. I think Tom Araya had one of the best metal vocals in the 80s. It was this spitfire delivery. It was strong, upfront, and not to be stifled with. Rick Rubin’s production was near perfect. No overused effects or studio trickery. The songs were raw and in your face. Hanneman and King weren’t intricate players, but they’d built up their speed and could speed riff better than anyone. Their solos sounded like wounded animals or howling damned souls, which seemed to suit the songs well. And Dave Lombardo? Man, the best drummer of the era period. That guy’s double kick drumming was unlike anyone else. There was power and finesse, but he could also kick it old school and knock out some serious hardcore beats. Lombaro was Slayer’s secret weapon, and once he left for good they just weren’t the same for me.

I’ve learned to not fear Slayer, but embrace them. And I’ve learned that first pressings can be a little expensive. More expensive than a VHS copy of Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder? Hell yes. Worth every penny? Oh hell yes.