32 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses Release ‘GN’R Lies’

When Guns N’ Roses’ debut album Appetite for Destruction finally ascended to No. 1 on the charts a year after its release, it sent the music world into a frenzy, ready to consume any and all GN’R material available. The record label capitalized on the moment with the release of GN’R Lies on Nov. 29, 1988, a disc that was marketed as a new studio album but in essence was a compilation of sorts. That said, GN’R Lies contains some of the band’s all-time greatest songs.

Combining the caustic Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide EP and four contextually polarizing yet musically brilliant acoustic tracks, GN’R Lies drove fans into stores eager to wear down the grooves of a new LP. From the first drop of the needle, new fans were treated to some brutally raw and aggressive tracks: the Hollywood Rose-written “Reckless Life,” followed by the irony of “Nice Boys,” originally by Australian act Rose Tattoo, the original song “Move to the City” and a cover of Aerosmith‘s “Mama Kin.”

These tracks serve as a fitting introduction to where the band came from and who their biggest influences were. Though the EP was not recorded live — crowd noise from one of the Texxas Jam festivals was added in — it showcases the band’s unbridled energy with their own sonic stamp. Slash‘s signature guitar work dominates the riffing attack while Axl Rose‘s jaw-dropping range transforms them from simple covers to arguably besting the originals. However, the real star of Lies is the second half of the collection.

Guns N’ Roses, “Patience”

Leading the set of acoustic tracks is the whistled melody of “Patience,” a song which seized the success wrought by the borderline ballad “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Where the Appetite single had still showcased the band’s sleazy and savage energy mixed with palpable emotion, “Patience” realized the full spectrum of the band’s songwriting abilities. The song was released in April of the following year and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Used to Love Her” came next with its country twang and cheeky lyrics, making for a fun sing-along, revealing the band’s dark sense of humor. Falling in line thematically was the original version of “You’re Crazy,” which was changed radically in the studio on the band’s debut. One of the fastest and most aggressive songs on Appetite for Destruction was initially a mid-tempo jam. Stripped down on Lies, the song provides a different imagining of how Appetite would have sounded had the song not been altered.

Guns N’ Roses, “Used to Love Her”

Always controversial, Guns N’ Roses managed to make headlines with the seemingly offensive lyrics of “One in a Million.” The song used racial, xenophobic and homophobic slurs describing an altercation Axl had once had at a bus station when he first got to Los Angeles. The album’s cover included a proactive apology with the mock tabloid for the song’s title closing with, “This song is very simple and extremely generic or generalized, my apologies to those who may take offense.”

The artwork for GN’R Lies took the approach of a tabloid newspaper, with headlines including some of the songs on the album with brief descriptions. Some of the extra bits on the cover were removed prior to the CD release, including two quips about domestic violence.

Though the record does not take on the format of a conventional studio album, it serves as a curious time capsule back to the day when a rock band would dominate the world stage seemingly overnight. GN’R Lies was an obvious industry move to propel the ballooning success of what would become the “Most Dangerous Band in the World.” Yet, the result was a release that yielded some classic tracks that hold their own among the band’s best works.

See Where Appetite for Destruction Ranks Among the Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Debut Albums

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Nick Perri Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

One of the interesting things about Gear Factor is hearing how musicians found their way to guitar for the first time. For Silvertide‘s Nick Perri, his discovery of rock music came just before he hit his teen years.

Perri credits his aunt with turning him on to rock ‘n’ roll when he was just 11-years-old. “I was raised in a very conservative Catholic household, shirt-and-tie all boys school, the whole thing. So I didn’t grow up with rock ‘n’ roll but my aunt, my mom’s sister, came over one day on Thanksgiving in the mid ‘90s with two cassette tapes. One was AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and the other was Pearl Jam’s Ten and I went upstairs, put the cassette tapes into the stereo and I remember hearing the sound an electric guitar could make and it was a total transformation. My life was different one minute before that and completely different the minute after.”

By the time Perri started playing guitar, it was another grunge era act, Nirvana, that inspired the first riff he learned to play. “Learning that for me was a big deal. I could go into school and say I knew how to play ‘Come as You Are’ by Nirvana.”

While Perri has built a following in Silvertide, of late he’s turned his focus to his solo band Nick Perri and the Underground Thieves. The group just issued their debut album, Sun Via, and Perri displays a few of his favorite riffs for the viewing audience.

Among them are the singles “Feeling Good,” “Excess” and “Everybody Wants One” before finishing out with “Politician.” The latter track has a very distinct influence, with Perri shouting out Eric Clapton’s Cream years. “Anything that Eric Clapton was doing in that era was just mega to me and it’s endlessly inspiring.”

You can pick up Nick Perri and the Underground Thieves new album, Sun Via, right here (As Amazon affiliates, we earn on qualifying purchases). Check out Nick’s full Gear Factor episode below.

Silvertide’s Nick Perri Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

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Musicians Calling Each Other Out Onstage

If you’re gonna call someone out, do it from the stage. In a time of Twitter feuds and comments section drama, we sometimes forget the glory of pro-wrestling style call-outs, which are often caught on tape.

A few bands have had beef with Limp Bizkit over the years, including Slipknot and Black Label Society. Zakk Wylde actually called out Limp Bizkit during a 2002 gig in Detroit, which was recorded for the band’s Boozed, Broozed, and Broken-Boned DVD. “Limp Bizkit sucks cock!” Zakk Wylde randomly screamed out during one of their songs, adding, “Another nail in fuckin’ Fred Durst’s motherfuckin’ coffin.” Thankfully, Wylde and Durst have since buried the hatchet.

Before Guns N’ Roses reunited for one of the biggest tours in history, bad blood festered between Axl Rose and his Appetite for Destruction bandmates for years. During one gig in the 2000s, Axl commented on the feud in between songs. “Slash may sound like the De La Hoya, but he’s the fucking Vargas,” Axl said, referencing a boxing match where Oscar De La Hoya beat Fernando Vargas by TKO. “They’re a bunch of a bad cops and I’m the fuckin’ Serpico and they can suck my dick.”

One of the few times feuding musicians were actually onstage together was during a Punk panel. Sex PistolsJohnny Rotten and RamonesMarky Ramone came to verbal blows in front of an audience, arguing over their own credentials. Marky accused Johnny of not “walking the walk” when it came to punk, while Johnny lambasted Marky as “not even an original Ramone.”

Check out these Musicians Calling Each Other Out Onstage in the Loud List below.

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39 Years Ago: AC/DC Issue ‘For Those About to Rock We Salute You’

As immensely successful as AC/DC’s 1980 album Back in Black was (it has sold around 50 million copies worldwide), the band didn’t have a No. 1 record until their seventh North American release, For Those About to Rock We Salute You came out on Nov. 23, 1981.

The band came out of the gate with a full arsenal – literally. “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” now a traditional show-closer, is a mid-paced stormer about the band’s appreciation for its fans, and about three-and-a-half minutes in, the music is punctuated with cannon blasts that continue until the end of the song. It’s such a good song that it makes the other songs on the album, which rock in their own right, sound somewhat anemic by comparison.

AC/DC, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”

Really, AC/DC were in a no-win situation, and after they went supernova with the release of Back in Black in 1980, the group became a victim of its own popularity. There was no way they were going to match the cultural impact of that album, so they tried something different. The problem was, they didn’t know exactly what they wanted and it shows.

The band began working on For Those About to Rock We Salute You in July 1981 at EMI Pathe-Marconi Studios in Paris. They hired producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who had worked on their previous two albums and right away they ran into problems. Unhappy with the sound they were getting, they relocated to a warehouse on the edge of the city and rented the Mobile One studio.

After they recorded the music, Johnson tracked his vocals at Family Sound Studio and then AC/DC recorded overdubs at HIS Studios. Though they were done in September 1981 they second-guessed themselves all the way and by the time they were finished they didn’t know if they had recorded another hit or committed commercial suicide. Likely due to their unhappy experiences recording the album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You marked the end of AC/DC’s working relationship with Lange.

“Christ! It took us forever to make that record and it sounds like it,” the late Malcolm Young told Metal CD in 1992. “It’s full of bits and pieces and it doesn’t flow properly like an AC/DC album should… By the time we’d completed it I don’t think anyone …could tell whether it sounded right or wrong.”

AC/DC, “Let’s Get It Up”

There’s quite a bit of diversity on For Those About to Rock We Salute You, which combines a range of distorted, bluesy riffs, string-bending solos and left hand tapping with devilish lyrics about getting tough (“Put the Finger on You”), getting off (“Let’s Get It Up,” “Inject the Venom”), getting f—ed over (“Snowballed”) and getting ugly (“C.O.D,” “Evil Walks” and the Night Prowler-ish “Night of the Long Knives”). There’s even a political Johnson-penned track (“Breaking the Rules”), but that only emphasizes the overall schizophrenic feel of the record.

“Snowballed” and “C.O.D.” sound like traditional AC/DC, but lack the bite of anything off Back in Black, while “Spellbound” is a cool tune and aggressively trudges and pounds, yet “Put the Finger on You” sounds like lightweight ‘80s radio rock.

The band blamed Lange and their management for their inability to connect musically with the coherence they had in the past and near the end of the recording session they fired manager Peter Mensch. “I started getting weird vibes after [they played] Donnington, [England],” he told Q in 1997. “[The band’s] lawyer phoned David Krebs and he called me and said I was fired. They never told me why. I was stunned. Till then my s— didn’t smell.”

Despite its setbacks, For Those About to Rock We Salute You is still one of AC/DC’s most satisfying Brian Johnson-fronted releases. The band’s ambivalence about the release and the critics’ negative comments didn’t rub off on the fans. Not only did For Those About to Rock We Salute You debut at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, it remained at the top for three weeks and was certified platinum on Jan. 20, 1982, exactly two months after it was released. In January 2001 the record was quadruple platinum.

Almost a decade after the initial release of For Those About to Rock We Salute You, AC/DC headlined a concert in Moscow called “For Those About to Rock, Monsters in Moscow,” which also featured Metallica, Pantera, the Black Crowes and local thrash group E.S.T. The open-air event, which took place as the Soviet Union crumbled, drew 1.6 million people, most of whom were enjoying their first sanctioned rock festival. A home video capturing the event came out in 1992, but of the four AC/DC songs in the Wayne Isham-directed film, only “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” is from the album of the same name. The video also features three Metallica songs and four Pantera tunes.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

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15 Years Ago: System of a Down Release ‘Hypnotize’ Album

In 2001, System of a Down reached new heights with their Toxicity album, but rather than rush into a follow-up, the band opted to release an odds and ends collection called Steal This Album in 2002. By the time 2004 rolled around, the band had plenty to say and a lot of music set to come out of them.

“The whole world’s gone crazy over the past couple of years, so that’s brought out a lot of emotions and affected our songwriting,” stated guitarist Daron Malakian to Rolling Stone. “We just want to make a great rock record, a record that will be heavy, but heavy in emotion, not just riffs.” He elaborated to Launch that war back home factored into the process, adding, “The last two or three months or whenever that happened was probably the toughest time of my whole life. Because it was like not knowing what’s going on until we got a phone call. And we get a phone call and they’re OK and we can breathe a little bit. For one month I didn’t know if a bomb dropped on my grandmother’s house or, you know what I mean? I didn’t know. It could have. It brought out a lot of good material — not necessarily political music, just emotional music, you know?”

And while System had a certain style and sound that put them on top, the band was open to not so obvious influences such as Kraftwerk, the Beach Boys and the Zombies. “We mixed a lot of styles together without making them seem like they don’t belong together,” said the guitarist. “We’re going to give everybody the System of a Down roller coaster, but don’t expect it to sound like it has before.”

The band started writing and rehearsing in North Hollywood in January of 2004, then decamped to the famous Houdini Mansion in the Laurel Canyon hills of Hollywood where producer Rick Rubin had recorded Red Hot Chili PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magik and would later work with acts like Audioslave, Slipknot, Linkin Park and more.

As the process continued, the band realized they had more than enough material to go beyond the traditional album format and while initially expected to have a new album by the end of 2004, they pushed the timeline into 2005 with not one, but two discs. Singer Serj Tankian revealed to Billboard, “There has been a great deal of upheaval for all of us over the past year or so and that has brought fourth a lot of emotional material. There’s a good amount of social commentary in the new songs, as well as songs where we deal with love, with reminiscing, relationships, politics and funny experiences.”

Still, the idea of a double album was a little bit daunting for the band. Malakian stated, “You don’t have a bunch of kids dropping acid like they used to. You can’t just release double albums and expect people to sit there and devote their time to it. Our songs are tough to digest and I would feel really uncomfortable handing someone a CD with 25 songs staring them in the face.” Rubin agreed, telling Billboard, “Everything in today’s culture is short term and disposable. We’re living in a time when people don’t seem to even listen to one full album, so we felt the only way for it to get properly heard was to spoon feed it.”

As such, the band issued the Mezmerize portion of their double disc on May 17, 2005 with the Hypnotize portion arriving just over six months later on Nov. 22, 2005.

“Doing a two-album set never entered into our thought process,” Malakian admitted to Billboard. “But when we looked at all the songs we had and arbitrarily tried to choose ‘the best’ 14 for one album, we realized we had two album’s worth of really great songs, and that they all connected with each other.”

System of a Down, “Hypnotize”

Speaking about the new music, bassist Shavo Odadjian stated, “It’s going to be pretty revolutionary. We’re taking everything we’ve done and canning it. We’re starting fresh as a brand new band. So you’re going to hear this new music. It’s going to be System, but it’s going to be a new tip. We did what we did, and at first people were like, ‘They’re doing something no one’s done.’ Now we’re going to do something else that will get the same kind of reaction.”

Malakian added, “It’s melodic in some ways and it’s heavy, but a lot of stuff happens in between the heavy. It’s not gonna sound like any of our records. We’ve had a lot of time off, and I’ve had a lot of time to rethink our sound and make some changes. Our older riffs had more of a ‘chugga-chugga’ sound. This stuff is more notey and melodic in an Eastern type of way. So this time I’ve actually put those kinds of vibes within a lot of heavy stuff.”

Prior to the Hypnotize album release on Nov. 22, 2005, the band got the ball rolling with the album’s title track. The song featured both Tankian and Malakian sharing vocals and is notable for the references to the Tiananmen Square protests and the effects of propaganda. Interestingly, Malakian says he penned the song while sitting in his car waiting for his girlfriend, which also turned into a lyric in the track. Keeping in line with the band’s red hot momentum, the track climbed to No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, while peaking at No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It also managed to crack the Billboard Hot 100, rising as high as No. 57.

System of a Down, “Lonely Day”

Though known for their rapid fire and hard hitting sounds, the band’s next single, “Lonely Day,” would be a more somber offering. Arriving in April 2006, the Daron Malakian-penned track was initially rumored to be about a family member, but that was later debunked. However, the song was quite personal to the guitarist, who provided lead vocals on “Lonely Day.” The track would reach No. 10 on both the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts and earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.

The album would produce two more songs well known within the System of a Down catalog — “Vicinity of Obscenity” and “Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll” — though neither charted at radio. Tankian had a bigger hand in “Vicinity of Obscenity,” revealing that the song was inspired by Dadaism in an online chat well after the album’s release. “Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll” may not have had the inspiration that many would suspect from the title. Malakian penned the track after reportedly running over a rabbit in his car one night. The track would go on to be a favorite in the band’s sets during touring of the album.

System of a Down, “Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Like its counterpart, Hypnotize would debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. It was certified gold within a month of release and went on to become a platinum seller. But after the massive project and knocking out five releases in a seven-year span, the band decided a break was in order.

They took a hiatus from August of 2006 through November of 2010, allowing for Serj Tankian solo albums, Daron Malakian to form and release material under the Scars on Broadway moniker with drummer John Dolmayan, and Shavo Odajian to found Achozen and take part in multiple projects. Though the band toured sparingly over the last decade, new music did not surface again until 2020 when the band released a pair of songs to bring attention to the war in Artsakh.

See Where Daron Malakian Ranks Among Our Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All Time

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23 Years Ago: Metallica Release ‘Reload’

In May 1995, Metallica entered The Plant Studios in Sausalito, Calif., to record a double album as the follow-up to 1991’s Metallica (aka The Black Album), which catapulted the band from thrash heroes to mainstream rock stars. But by February 1996, Metallica had only finished about half the songs, so they scrapped the double-album plan and opted, instead, to release two records one year apart.

The first, Load, came out June 4, 1996. Then in July 1997, Metallica returned to the studio to continue working on the 13 songs they didn’t finish the first time. On Nov. 18, 1997, they released the finished batch as Reload.

“The two records belong together and they should have come out at the same time, but they just weren’t done,” guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield told me in 1997. “We want these albums to be twins.” “Basically, we just didn’t feel like being in the studio long enough to finish all the songs,” guitarist Kirk Hammett said.

“We decided it would be wiser if we did two albums and staggered the releases. That way, we’d get more mileage out of them. We’d have a nice break in the middle of the touring cycle to work on Reload, then once it was out, we’d go back out on tour. That made more sense than just putting out a double album. Also, if we did a double album, it would have been a lot more material for people to digest, and some of the songs might have gotten lost in the shuffle.”

Metallica, Live in 1997

While the songs for Reload and Load were originally meant to be viewed under the same microscope, there are differences between the two albums. Load was brash and bluesy, but unapologetically straightforward. Reload, by contrast, was more experimental, blending biker metal, southern rock and unconventional arrangements into a bracing batch of songs that were familiar, but refreshingly adventurous.

“Having lived with those songs for two years, the four of us came back with very different ideas of what they should evolve into,” Hetfield said. “The good news was we still liked them, and we wanted to put them out. It’s important to point out that those songs weren’t the rejects from the first session and I think because of the extra time we had to put into them there’s a little more extremeness to them, which I like. It was a little more exciting for us to figure out more fucked up chords, things that grind, dissonant bits, than songs that were just heavy. In a few of the songs there’s helter-skelter tension built in there. We really stretched the limits of what a guitar and amp could do, which was fun.”

“There wasn’t as much of an emphasis on melody,” agreed Hammett. “Also, we grew as musicians since the release of Load, and technology brought us new things to try in the studio. We had just come off a great tour so our chops were up. And we were using the studio more effectively than ever.”

“The Memory Remains,” featured a dusky rhythm, a serpentine riff wild, wah-wah saturated licks and raspy guest vocals by the legendary Marianne Faithfull. The singer and actress, who also appeared in the video, worked perfectly for the theme of the song. “It evolved into this ‘Sunset Boulevard’ thing about this twisted movie star who still thinks they’re hot shit,” Hetfield said. “We needed a real character, been-through-it-all voice, and we were trying to think of someone when [producer] Bob [Rock] suggested Marianne Faithfull. We flew to Dublin on the way to Belgium, got her drunk and put her on the studio and she sang this bit. It was perfect.”

Metallica, “The Memory Remains”

Another surprise came on “Low Man’s Lyric,” which includes a hurdy gurdy passage that sounds almost like a cross between an accordion and bagpipes, and lends a haunting vibe to the world-weary ballad. “That song had been recorded already and it came out like a metal ballad,” Hetfield said.

“We’ve got so many of those fucking things — big drums and all this — so I finally convinced Lars to ditch the snare and play something else. Tom Waits inspired that. He’s really good at finding music in any little instrument. So we re-recorded it. [Our friend] Jim Martin (ex-Faith No More) has a hurdy-gurdy in his house, and I sat and fucked around with it for a while and I thought, ‘Fuck, this thing is awesome sounding. We’ve got to put it somewhere.’ So we brought it into the song and figured out a melody.”

Metallica gave themselves three months to record Reload, and since the songs were mostly written they figured that was more than enough. But the band spent more time than it expected trying to find more interesting ways to approach the material than it had originally come up with.

“We re-recorded a lot of the guitars because the new sounds we had were just better,” Hetfield said. “We also did a lot of re-editing. The songs themselves were good, but they needed to be re-thought. So we’ve got Pro Tools in there twisting songs around. There’s no secret that there are some drum fix-ups that happen on the computer, and that takes time.”

Metallica, “Fuel”

Bob Rock and his staff painstakingly worked with every beat, riff and vocal to make sure they had the right intonation and the meter was perfect. It was a sticking point for Hetfield and his bandmates, but instead of making it a source of discord, Hetfield did his parts the best he could and then walked until the album was done.

“Where they go is a room that I just don’t want to go in,” Hetfield said. “I don’t really agree fully on what goes on in there so I stay away. I’m not really against Pro Tools, but I just think it takes a lot longer, and I think it could be solved by playing better. But it has become something a little too big in this band. I don’t think it’s that necessary. Some other people in the band do, so I let it be. There are some cool loops and strange sounds you can create through the computer, and you can sit and fuck with that shit all day, but we’re not gonna have some computer sitting with us onstage, that’s for sure.”

Because of the extra time that went into editing, Metallica had their backs against the wall when their studio time was almost up and they were still working on Reload.

“No matter what we try to do we always end up spending 60 or 70 percent of our time on the first 20 percent of the album, and then the last 30 percent on the last 80 percent of the album,” Hammett explained. “It felt a bit more like crunch time because we didn’t have a lot of time to begin with. The songs were already written and the drums were already recorded, so on paper it seemed like a total cake walk, but in true Metallica fashion, it didn’t work like that.”

Metallica, “The Unforgiven II”

Like Load, Reload featured cover art by controversial photography Andreas Serrano, who uses urine, sperm and milk in his psychedelic shots and whose striking 1987 image Piss Christ – a crucifix submerged in a bottle of urine – caused public outrage from conservative and religious groups.

“I hated the art for Reload, but it had to match Load,” Hetfield said. “It’s matching hatred. I’m not a big fan of the man and his perversions. There’s art and then there’s just sick motherfuckers, and he’s one of them. The thing is, they belong together because they’re both weird combination of liquids. I don’t care if the guy blows donkeys. The art has got to match.”

Ulrich and Hammett agreed with Hetfield but unlike their bandmate they were thrilled to return to Serrano for another piece of art. “I’m really into Serrano,” Hammett enthused. “I really like his picture of [a man about to have sex with] a [naked female] dwarf [from his History of Sex series]. That’s one sexy dwarf.”

Like Load, Reload entered the Billboard album chart at No. 1, selling 436,000 in its first week. The album went double platinum on Dec. 12, 1997, and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA on Nov. 18, 1998.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

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25 Massive Rock + Metal Bands Ranked by Spotify Monthly Listeners

Streaming continues to be a growing trend in music listenership and Spotify continues its reign as a streaming giant. Loudwire contributor Ryan J. Downey has compiled a list of over 550 rock, metal, punk and hardcore artists and their monthly streaming numbers via his Stream N’ Destroy newsletter. Below we count down the Top 25 and share their monthly streaming listenership on Spotify.

There are certain bands you expect to be there. It should come as no surprise that AC/DC rank near the top, especially given the recent anticipation for their Power Up. Likewise, the 20th anniversary of Linkin Park‘s Hybrid Theory rallied a rush of nostalgia for the hugely influential band over the course of 2020.

Meanwhile acts like Queen and Guns N’ Roses both made the Top 10 for Spotify monthly listeners, showing that fans have followed them to streaming and continued to embrace their music there even without major 2020 plans. As intriguing as that may be, there are a few acts you might expect to be in the Top 25 overall who just missed the cut.

To see the full list of over 550 acts and their monthly Spotify streaming listenership, you can subscribe to Downey’s Stream N’ Destroy newsletter here. It’s full of hard rock and metal industry news. And also be sure to check out Downey’s Speak N’ Destroy podcast at this location.

Top 25 Rock + Metal Bands Based on Spotify Monthly Listeners 

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Enslaved’s Ivar Bjornson Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

Enslaved‘s Ivan Bjornson is the latest guest for Loudwire’s Gear Factor, taking fans through the history of how he learned guitar and the riffs that shaped him.

Dating back to his youth, Bjornson calls out a track first made famous by Bob Dylan before being electrified by guitar god Jimi Hendrix. “The song I remember the most, and I guess that was the first riff, is ‘All Along the Watchtower,'” says Bjornson.

It didn’t take long for the guitarist to gravitate to something even heavier. He credits his father for turning him on to a Venom live video that caught his attention at a young age. “It was just amazing the raw power and everything, and I remember playing the ‘Countess Bathory’ riff over and over again.”

His love of heavy music references a number of iconic bands with Bjornson paying tribute to Kreator, Bathory and Norwegian pioneers Darkthrone and Mayhem.

Showcasing a bit of one of his early works, he shares a bit of “Heimdaller” from the Yggdrasill demo. It’s a track he loves for its “really catchy symphonic kind of riff.”

Also from the early years of Enslaved, Bjornson shares the verse from “Allfoor Ooinn.” He digs into “The Crossing” and “Ethica Odini” as well, marveling over its drop tuning and the “punchy, catchy” sounds of the latter offering.

Taking us closer to modern day, Bjornson finished out this edition of Gear Factor with a pair of riffs from their Utgard album. First comes “Jettegryta,” with the guitarist sharing the opening riffs as well as another favorite piece later on. He also shares “Homebound,” which he views as “a bit of an homage to the good ol’ thrash metal.”

Enslaved’s Utgard album was released in October and is currently available at this location (As Amazon affiliates, we earn on qualifying purchases). Watch the full Gear Factor episode with Enslaved’s Ivar Bjornson below.

Enslaved’s Ivar Bjornson Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

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22 Years Ago: The Offspring Release ‘Americana’

Call it a sign of the times. The Offspring had evolved musically with their previous record Ixnay on the Hombre, though the creative growth didn’t exactly yield the commercial returns expected, but inspired by a solid touring run and finding comfort in where they were as a band, The Offspring made a quick turnaround for their 1998 release Americana.

By today’s standards, Ixnay had a relatively short run arriving in February 1997, with just a year of touring before the band jumped into new music, but that’s due in part to the passion The Offspring were feeling for their writing at the time. The band called in producer Dave Jerden, who had also worked with them on Ixnay on the Hombre, and right after their touring had concluded, they started work in Burbank in July of 1998.

Singer Dexter Holland told Guitar World, “The idea wasn’t to reinvent the wheel. We expanded our horizons on our last record and that’s okay, but I don’t feel like you have to be a completely different band on every record.” As the group started to write, a theme began to form. “A lot of the things that I started writing I realized were kind of this theme of American culture in 1998; that is what Americana is: American culture,” Holland told Billboard.

“I was thinking about how today’s America is distorted really. It’s not Norman Rockwell anymore; it’s Jerry Springer. It’s not live on the farm; it’s going to Burger King. So I kind of expanded on that and made a lot of the songs as kind of vignettes of my version of America in 1998.”

It being The Offspring, Holland added his own brand of humor on certain tracks, while continuing to develop a more pointed commentary with a precise point of view on others. “The songs on Americana aren’t condemnations, they’re short stories about the state of things and what we see going on around us,” the vocalist explained to the San Francisco Gate. “We want to expose the darker side of our culture. It may look like an episode of Happy Days out there in America, but it feels more like Twin Peaks.” He went on to add that while some tracks leaned more critical in spots, it was his wish that people would also garner some hope from the songs.

“I didn’t want it to be a record that made you feel hopeless,” stated the singer to the L.A. Times. “At the end of the day I hope that you can get something positive out of it. So there are songs, like ‘Staring at the Sun‘ and even ‘Pay the Man,’ which says, ‘How am I gonna find my own way as an individual through the world?’ If you think for yourself, you can still manage it. The bottom line of what I’m trying to say is that you have to create your own life and your own priorities.”

The Offspring, “Pay the Man”

By the time, Americana was released by Columbia on Nov. 17, 1998, the Offspring were already climbing the charts with the lead single. Keeping things light out of the gate, the band let their sense of humor show with the single “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).” The song offered a lot of different touchtones for listeners, starting with “Gunter, glieben, glauchen, globen” opening from Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” before delving into a Latin-flavored sound reflecting their SoCal roots and a witty assessment of white suburban teens embracing hip-hop culture.

Holland told Spin the track was inspired by those who are “from Omaha, Nebraska, regular white-bread guys, but who act like they’re from Compton. It’s so fake and obvious that they’re trying to have an identity.”

As for the vibe, with its cowbell firmly entrenched and low end solidly defined, Holland told Billboard, “I kind of wanted to do a song that was like a punk version of ‘Low Rider.’ I really love that old Latino voto stuff. It’s really cool, so we built a song around that kind of bass line.” The song would shoot to No. 3 on the Modern Rock chart and No. 5 at Mainstream Rock, ensuring the group another fan favorite at shows, but playing more for wry smiles rather than a deep statement. That would come later in the album cycle.

The Offspring, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” Music Video

As the calendar flipped to 1999, the spring saw the birth of another new favorite with a certain nostalgic vibe. Mirroring a bit of the structure from the Beatles bouncy favorite “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” played against the light-hearted nature of the sound reflecting stories of characters on their slacker significant others mooching off them.

Holland revealed that his fascination with trash TV at the time played a role in the song coming together. “I admit I’ve kind of got a morbid curiosity where I get drawn to those shows. It’s like watching a car wreck or something,” the singer told MTV. “‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’ is [one] of those songs where the stripper comes on ‘Jerry Springer’ and her boyfriend doesn’t work, and he just stays at home and smokes pot, and she has to support him, and she’s here to tell him she’s going to kick him to the curb.”

If the song sounds like a blast, that’s because it was for the band.

Fellow SoCal favorite Gabrial McNair of No Doubt laid down the horns on the track, while a gang backing vocal included a strange cast of characters including John Mayer, Davey Havok, Jack Grisham and Calvert “Larry Bud Melman” DeForest. Like its predecessor, the song went Top 10 in both the Modern and Mainstream Rock charts and gave them another hit.

The Offspring, “Why Don’t You Get a Job?”

But after keeping listeners enthralled with catchy tracks that generated as many smiles as head-nods, The Offspring went a little darker and meatier with their third single, “The Kids Aren’t Alright.” With a driving guitar line and a more straight up punk feel, The Offspring looked at the world around them and found a darker side to the life of the suburban youth.  “I was driving around the block [in Garden Grove] thinking of all the stuff that had happened to everyone growing up there,” Holland told Billboard. “This one had a nervous breakdown; another guy got killed in a driving accident. You grow up in America and [you’re supposed to] have such a bright future, and it’s really not that way.” The anthemic track caught on and gave The Offspring not only another Top 10 hit, but one of their most enduring songs, especially with the USC marching band making it a staple at sporting events.

Americana also served up “She’s Got Issues,” which earned significant airplay but not nearly on the scale of its predecessors in terms of chart success, a rather punked-up anti-cover of the Morris Albert ’70s favorite “Feelings” and solid deeper album cuts in “Pay the Man” and “Staring at the Sun.”

Though they’d be hard-pressed to meet the success of Smash, The Offspring definitely made their mark with Americana. The album debuted at No. 6 and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart and went on to be certified five times platinum in the U.S., with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. The disc also spent an amazing 22 non-consecutive weeks in the Billboard Top 10 for albums.

“I don’t feel obligated to try to change the world, though I do like to think that what we do has some substance and makes people think,” Holland stated about Americana to the San Francisco Gate, and whether it be as light as a feather (“Pretty Fly”) or as direct as a sledgehammer (“The Kids Aren’t Alright”), the band accomplished their mission, easily delivering some of the most on-point commentary of their career.

The Offspring Albums Ranked

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10 Epic Rock Star ‘Muppets’ Moments

Some of the most iconic rock star cameos in TV history have taken place on The Muppets Show. From an epic Dave Grohl drum battle to an uncharacteristically playful performance by Prince, we rounded up 10 immortal moments.

Dave Grohl lit up the Internet after going up against Animal in a drum battle. “I’ve been waitin’ years for this, Animal,” Grohl said before the rock ’n’ roll Muppet responded, “Now we see who best.” The two musicians crushed their kits together, eventually declaring each other as the superior drummer.

Remember when Alice Cooper cameoed on an entire episode of The Muppets? One of the most memorable moments came when Sam the Eagle confronted Cooper in his dressing room. “Mr. Cooper,” Sam began. “Let me come right to the point. You, sir, are a demented, sick, degenerate, barbaric, naughty, freako!” Of course, the shock rock icon’s response was, “Why, thank you!”

Some of these moments happened away from The Muppet Show set. On an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! Fozzy the bear guested beside Ozzy Osbourne. “We almost worked together,” Fozzy declared, “but when Kermit came in wearing a cape, Ozzy almost bit his head off.” Ozzy responded, “What am I talking to a fucking sock puppet for?!”

Check out these 10 Epic Rock Star ‘Muppets’ Moments in the Loud List below.

10 Epic Rock Star ‘Muppets’ Moments

15 Rock + Metal Bands Banned By Disney

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18 Years Ago: Pearl Jam Release ‘Riot Act’

Pearl Jam dominated the 1990s. The upstart rockers survived massive amounts of fame and managed to keep their head, carefully overseeing their career and taking control of just about every decision that could possibly affect their brand and their future. But as the 21st century arrived, Pearl Jam’s world got rocked a little. They managed to release five studio albums during the ’90s, and their sixth, Binaural, came in 2000. However, the disc became the first released by the band to not reach platinum status.

On a more personal level, Pearl Jam suffered through a concert tragedy that no band should ever experience when nine people died and another 15 were injured in a crowd crush situation during the band’s performance at the Roskilde Festival in 2000. Eddie Vedder told Seattle Weekly, “The days following, we were all pretty inconsolable. I’m sure that the families and friends have had to live with it in much rougher ways that us. But our own personal experience was that we were practically in the fetal position over the reality of what had happened.” Band manager Kelly Curtis recalled, “When we still weren’t sure what had happened or how it went down, I think we all thought at the time, ‘This could be it.'” But the band would eventually continue, though it was a hard road to complete.

Simply put, it was time for a break and the band decided to step away for a year shortly after their support of Binaural was complete. During this year off, Pearl Jam watched on with the rest of America during the events of 9/11 and pretty soon, not only did the band have something to say, but they decided to use their platform to say it. So after nursing some wounds, the band regrouped with determination, ready to lay the groundwork for new music.

First up was a decision to work with producer Adam Kasper for the disc. Drummer Matt Cameron said, “I think we came into this thing pretty prepared and focused in terms of what we wanted to do. Adam is a super guy, and that helped a lot—the working environment was really relaxed. We tore through it, tracked everything in about four weeks. You’re really hearing it ‘live,’ the sound of a band playing together in a room—which you don’t hear too much these days.”

As stated, the sound took on more of an immediacy, and that includes the vocals and lyrics coming from Eddie Vedder. “The biggest difference we heard, from like the first day we started, was how emotional Ed’s approach was,” said bassist Jeff Ament to Philly.com about the sessions. “He was talking about things that you could tell mattered to him, in his gut. Stuff like ‘Bu$hleaguer‘ wouldn’t have happened five years ago; he’s really gone someplace different, both in terms of what the lyrics are saying and how he sings them.”

Pearl Jam, “Bu$hleaguer”

Vedder added, “Right after 9/11, there was this sense of unity that was deeply moving. But what bothered me was how quickly that became a blind patriotism. I remember a few days after the attacks realizing that the progress being made on the environment and other issues was going to take a hit, and it seemed like even questioning that was anti-American. Well, it’s not anti-American to be critical of the government… . We wanted to put some ideas out there that might help create an open and honest debate.”

He told Billboard, “You start feeling like, ‘What do I have to say? What is my opinion?’ Then I realized I did have an opinion. Not only did I have one, but I felt like it was formed by processing a lot of information and having good influences.”

Guitarist Stone Gossard recalled, “Every day it would be something different. Ed would come in with an idea, sometimes it was as simple as ‘all you need is love… ‘ You’re thinking that this is going to go down the path of corny sentiment, but because he hasn’t made a career out of saying stuff like that, and because of how the music comes together behind him, it doesn’t. It ends up being pulverizing.”

Pearl Jam, “Love Boat Captain”

The band also opened themselves up musically to additional sounds. The disc that would be known as Riot Act was the first to feature Pearl Jam collaborator Kenneth “Boom” Gaspar, who lent keyboard tracks to the song “Love Boat Captain” as well as several other songs on the disc. Gaspar, a Hawaiian musician, first got to know Eddie Vedder through surfing and admitted to the Honolulu Advertiser, “I knew him as my friend Eddie. I didn’t know how big he was. I just loved him for how he was … and how he came off to us.” After some time jamming, the beginnings of “Love Boat Captain” was born and Vedder invited Gaspar to join the group in the studio. Then one song turned into more and was eventually followed by an invite to join the band on tour as well.

With the tracks finally completed over two sessions in February and April of 2002, the band turned their focus to releasing the album that would be titled Riot Act. It arrived on Nov. 12, 2002, preceded by the single “I Am Mine.” The sing-along style of the track instantly connected with listeners, as well as the band. Mike McCready told Billboard, “It touched me immediately. His lyrics: ‘The in-between is mine.’ It’s kind of a positive affirmation of what to do with one’s life. I’m born and I die, but in between that, I can do whatever I want or have an opinion about something. It seems very positive to me. It meant a lot to me and still does when I hear it.” The song became the biggest single off the album, reaching No. 7 on the Mainstream Rock chart and No. 6 at Modern Rock.

Pearl Jam, “I Am Mine”

The stinging but humorous dig at President Bush, “Bu$hleaguer,” came next. Gossard recalled, “I wrote that. That was written at the same time we were putting together [new songs for] the [2001 edition of the] Bridge School [benefit]. That’s another experiment that worked out really well. It’s so satirical. People are going to enjoy it. The four-on-the-floor drum feel that Matt is playing — he’s playing a kick drum pattern we don’t have a lot of in our songs. The groovy, spooky outtro is kind of a different thing.” Ament added, “Everything Stone brought in was kind of dark. The one lyric he had was “blackout weaves its way through the city.” That’s a totally heavy line. The way Ed wrote lyrics around that, they were almost kind of humorous. It made the song even creepier to me. It took me awhile, because he actually originally sang over the verses in that song, and he had a really cool melody. I had a hard time letting go of that.” The song never really connected at radio, but became a favorite amongst Pearl Jam fans, especially with Eddie Vedder often donning a George W. Bush mask during performances driving home the politically-tinged track.

The album’s other charting single was “Save You,” which arrived in February 2003. It’s a love/hate relationship song with a punk-influenced sound. McCready stated, “I came in with that riff and we just kind of started jamming on it. It was a blast to play. The track that actually ended up on there, halfway through the song, Matt lost his headphones. He was going off. That’s my favorite part of that song, his crazy drum fills. I like the solo too, but the drum fills are insane how good they are. He’s doing them without his headphones, just by watching the bass.” Cameron added, “It was me watching Jeff’s fingers and hoping I was in time, you know? There’s a breakdown of just me and Jeff. I hit a cymbal, moved my head, and the headphones went flying. A little point of interest there for the listener!”

Pearl Jam, “Save You”

The final song to be released off the album was the aforementioned “Love Boat Captain.” For Pearl Jam, it was a bit of a unique song. Cameron recalled, “There weren’t any lyrics when we tracked it, so we did what we thought would be a good, tight instrumental version that would later have vocals on it. When we tracked it, I was like, “Huh? What’s this?” It made no sense to me. But then when the vocals were added, it made perfect sense and it elevated the entire piece.”

When all was said and done, the Riot Act album was considered both a creative and commercial rebound after a rare dip in Pearl Jam’s career. The album debuted at No. 5 and went on to be certified gold by the RIAA. And the band’s touring showed an energized band delivering one of their more memorable tours in the history of the band. Though not a hugely successful album for the group, it is one that is highly underrated and was key in launching the second decade of the band’s career.

Pearl Jam Albums Ranked

10 Best Pearl Jam Songs

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Jared Dines Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

The death of Eddie Van Halen has shown just how much of an influence the guitarist was on multiple generations of players. In this edition of Gear Factor, YouTuber Jared Dines tells us that Eddie was the one who made him want to pick up a guitar.

“The first song that made me want to play guitar was ‘Eruption,’” says Dines. “It really started with Eddie Van Halen for me. Like millions of others, I started with Van Halen 1 and that record still blows me away and I learned as many Van Halen songs as I could at the time.”

Another band that was instrumental in his early playing days was P.O.D., with Dines pointing to the track “Messenjah” as the first riff that he ever learned. “P.O.D. just had some sick riffs back in the day. As a beginner I just loved learning those songs.” He then rocks a bit of “Boom” as well.

But it wasn’t always easy for the musician, who told us, “The thing I struggled with most was probably tremolo picking. Just getting precise plucks instead of just flailing as fast as I possibly can.” To help get past that, Dines says he played with a smaller pick and learned that he needed to loosen his “death grip” on it.

Digging into his own music, Dines tells us, “I play in a band called Daddy Rock. It’s kind of a fuse of classic ‘80s shred with modern metal. Our riffs are pretty simple because I wanna have fun, you know? I don’t want to have to think when I’m up onstage.” He then plays bits of “Raise a Glass” and “Into the Light” for viewers. Check out the full Gear Factor episode below to see Dines taking us through his history playing guitar.

Dines is currently working on a new album with Howard Jones as well as a solo album. Plus, he’s got his own signature Sterling by Music Man guitar as well. You can learn more about that and pick one up here. Stay up to date with Jared Dines’ hugely popular YouTube channel here.

Jared Dines Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

25 Best Metalcore Albums of All Time

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