In 1987, one of the first bands of the grunge movement, Alice In Chains, formed. Their contemporaries would eventually end up killing off glam metal in the eyes of the mainstream. But for this retrospective we’re talking about two albums that are hugely influential but couldn’t be more different. The first is the height of 80s excess and the second is the height of no-frills brutality.
Napalm Death- Scum
Words By Matthew Brooks
Napalm Death’s Scum is a truly interesting album. It’s first side has almost an entirely different line up to its second, and that shows in its sound. The first half- up until the infamously short You Suffer- focuses on riffing that sounds as though it could have come from Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, with hardcore style barked vocals and occasional blasts of incredible speed which would become the corner stone for the grindcore genre. In the second half everything gets much nastier. The production is much closer to death metal as are the vocals. The bass tone in particular sounds like some form of horrible static or feedback, a production technique similar to that employed by Kurt Ballou. This second half is much closer to grindcore as we know it today. It’s high speed, hyper political, and uncompromising. There’s only a single song longer than two minute, and despite having nearly thirty tracks the album is over in a little more than half an hour. There are few albums as extreme, ground breaking and consistent as Scum. It spawned an entire subgenre. It’s not for everyone, but it’s earned it’s place in the extreme metal pantheon. What more is there to say?
Guns And Roses- Appetite For Destruction
Words by David Steed
There’s no denying that the 80s was a crucial decade for heavy metal: it produced many of the bands that today are considered legends of the genre. While many of these acts were, and still are, highly successful, there was only one band who produced what is commonly cited as the greatest debut album of all time.
Knowing where to begin with this album is difficult. It has been analysed, discussed and researched countless times by the not just the rock and metal journalists, but across the music industry. Never has a single album catapulted a band into success and held them there for so long. Granted, Guns N’ Roses haven’t been an active band for many of the intervening years, but three decades later and the band have (mostly) reformed and gone out on one of the most lucrative tours of all time, and much of the hype and love around them stems from this one album. The irony is that when the album was first released it received little in the way of either critical acclaim or commercial success. It wasn’t until the following year that things really began to take off, with the release of the now universally recognised singles like Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child O’ Mine.
The glam rock/metal scene in LA was booming in the 80s, so it might not be surprising that yet another release went a little under the radar. But Guns N’ Roses, made up of Axl Rose (vocals), Slash (guitar), Izzy Stradlin (guitar), Duff Mckagan (bass) and Steven Adler (drums) were not just another glam metal band. They brought the glam rock hooks, but they also had a hard rock edge and musicianship that elevated them above their contemporaries. Slash didn’t become one of the most respected guitarists of all time for his partying habits after all. That said, the lifestyle of the band garnered almost as much attention as the music itself. For every iconic riff and chorus there was an infamous story to go with it, such as Axl Rose having sex with Adriana Smith (the on/off girlfriend of Steven Adler) in the recording studio to elicit the moans that you can hear on Rocket Queen. This very open living of the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle is part of the reason that Appetite… was so successful: people wanted to hear who this outrageous band were. But the music is the reason it has lasted through the ages and remains one of the greatest records ever written. Whether it is Welcome to the Jungle’s instantly recognisable stuttering guitar opening, the soaring solo of Nightrain or the high-octane energy of Think About You, this album has everything a rock fan could want. That is without even mentioning the iconic Paradise City and Sweet Child O’Mine. Yes, these days they suffer from a little over-exposure, and for every fan that loves them there is another who is fed up of hearing them. All I would say is, have a break, avoid it for a few months, then go back and tell me that the solo on Sweet Child… isn’t musical genius. While it isn’t strictly considered as a ‘metal’ album, Appetite for Destruction remains one of the greats in the rock and metal world. In terms of pushing our beloved genre out into the wider world, there are few, if any, albums that can match it.
Read our coverage of 1988 here.