34 Years Ago: Megadeth Release ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?’

As a founding member of Metallica and a major contributor to the band’s groundbreaking debut Kill ‘Em All, Dave Mustaine was clearly a gifted songwriter and a talented musician. However, his first effort to reach the top of the thrash metal hierarchy with his band Megadeth, 1985’s Killing Is My Business… And Business is Good, suffered from sub-par production and it lacked the stand-out hooks to catapult the band to stardom. Fifteen months later, on Sept. 19, 1986, Mustaine and his bandmates followed-up their debut with the exceptional, catchy and powerful riff-fest Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?

The band started working on two of Mustaine’s compositions, “Black Friday” and “Black Omen” as early as December 1985, but most of the heavy lifting for Peace Sells took place after Megadeth finished touring in support of Killing Is My Business. Again, Mustaine wrote all the songs and the caliber and quality of his new material was leaps and bounds above anything he had ever done.

“Megadeth was capable of extraordinary musicianship,” he wrote in his memoir Mustaine. “The twin guitar attacks on ‘The Conjuring,’ the great harmony line in ‘Peace Sells’ were achieved not only through careful composition, but through the camaraderie that comes when a band is really clicking.”

Megadeth, “The Conjuring”

That Megadeth clicked so well is amazing considering the physical condition all of its members were in. Guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson were addicted to heroin and sometimes pawned the band’s equipment for money to score dope. Bassist David Ellefson and Mustaine weren’t in the throes of addiction, but they were heavy users. To a large extent, Mustaine and Ellefson started abusing narcotics because they were living in barely tolerable conditions and were basically penniless.

“I was living in a building called the complex, which is where all the bands used to rehearse,” Mustaine told me in 1999. “The place was by the meat packing plants and it was a dive. David Ellefson had found some unsuspecting victim to live with. This was the singer from Détente, [Dawn Crosby]. Dave and I went over to her house one time and the sink in her bathroom looked like the sink in a gas station – and the same with the toilet. And Dave would tell me nightmares of him being over there, and her making him sleep on the floor while she had sex with another girl.”

Megadeth was still under contract with indie label Combat Records when it started recording Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? at The Music Grinder Studios in Los Angeles on Feb. 15, 1986. Mustaine co-produced the album with Randy Burns, and the group exited the studio March 20. While the budget was scant, the albums sounded much fuller and more professional than the band’s debut. Before the album was released, Combat sold Megadeth’s contract to Capitol Records, which hired engineer Paul Lani to fix the recording flaws and give the record a crisper bite.

Mark Weiss, Getty Images

Clearly, songs like the chant-along “Wake Up Dead” and the barreling, graphically brutal “Good Mourning/Black Friday” were next level stuff, but the obvious standout was the title track. From the opening jaunty bass line to the contagious main riff, “Peace Sells” remains one of the most memorable numbers from the thrash era. The vocals were snarky, but political, proving the Mustaine had more than tales of decadence and mayhem in his lyrical arsenal, and the rhythmic shifts in the song gave it lasting impact.

Even MTV picked up on the appeal of “Peace Sells,” using the bass intro for its MTV News reports for nearly 10 years. Though Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying wasn’t as musically intricate as Megadeth’s tech-metal masterpiece 1990’s Rust in Peace, it featured more challenging rhythm and tempo shifts, and more guitar fills and better leads than most early speed metal and thrash releases. And the album cover blew away Killing, establishing the band’s mascot Vic Rattlehead as an iconic metal figure right up there with Iron Maiden’s Eddie the Head.

Megadeth, “Peace Sells” Music Video

Art for the album was rendered by Ed Repka, who also rendered classic covers for Death as well as model designs for the “Hellraiser” films. “The jacket art arose from a lunchtime conversation at a rib joint in New York, across the street from the United Nations,” wrote Mustaine. “I was there with our agent, Andy Summers, and we started brainstorming. By the end of that conversation we had come up with the idea of Vic standing in front of the UN, shortly after a nuclear holocaust, trying to sell property. That became the quintessential Peace Sells image.”

Megadeth toured extensively for Peace Sells and the album reached No. 76 on the Billboard album chart. After the tour, however, Mustaine fired Poland and Samuelson because their drug problem was impeding the forward progress of the band. Peace Sells was certified gold in November 1988, and went platinum four years later.

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.

See Where ‘Peace Sells’ Ranks Among Our Top 50 Thrash Albums of All Time

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Chris Cornell’s Daughter Feels ‘Moral Obligation’ to Help People

In the age of social media and growing an individual “brand,” people can go one of two ways — use their following to advertise for companies and make money or spread awareness for the greater good. Chris Cornell‘s daughter, Lily Cornell Silver, is aware of her platform, and she feels a “moral obligation” to use it to help people.

Silver launched her online talk-series Mind Wide Open on July 20, which would’ve been her father’s 56th birthday. Created both in his honor and as a result of the global pandemic, Silver has had guests from mental health experts to Duff McKagan and Eddie Vedder join her for conversations on the topic.

Silver is aware that her relation to Cornell and close connections with members of bands such as Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains helps give her the upper hand when it comes to recruiting contenders for the show. She and one of Vedder’s daughters Olivia each have their own show now because of this.

“We were born with a platform handed to us on a silver platter, and it’s like, ‘how are we gonna use that?” Silver described to Loudwire Nights. “We both have talked about how we feel kind of like a moral obligation. How can I just sit here with this platform and use it to post bikini pics? We have to use this to spread some sort of awareness or share our knowledge.”

“[Mental health] resources and access to resources are so, so limited,” she continued. “So I wanted to create some sort of platform where it’s completely free, completely accessible, runs across multiple platforms, where I can have high-profile people like Ed or Duff, and have mental health professionals… be able to share the information and their wealth of knowledge in a way that allows anybody to access it.”

Listen to the full interview above.

12 Rock + Metal Bands Featuring Kids of Rockstars

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50 Years Ago: Black Sabbath Release ‘Paranoid’

When fans and critics look back at the early career of Black Sabbath they recognize that the band released six groundbreaking albums in a row before being consumed by their appetites for drugs and alcohol. But what they often fail to absorb is that all six albums were released within a five year timeframe. Yes, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward were reinventing the mythology of rock ‘n’ roll as they stormed from one town to another, but they had their act together enough to write some legendary music. Take, their second album, Paranoid, which was released on September 18, 1970.

The landmark release, which includes the metal staples “Paranoid,” “War Pigs” and “Iron Man,” was recorded live in the studio with producer Rodger Bain. And they tracked the entire album at Regent Sound Studios and Island Studios in London between June 16 and 21. It took just six days because, well, that’s all they were given.

“We finished the first album, toured Europe for six weeks and then went right back in the studio,” bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler told me in 2010. “It felt like the four of us against the world. We still hadn’t realized we had made it, you see?”

Sabbath started working on Paranoid so soon after returning from the road, all they had seen was negative reviews of their first album from the world’s rock press. They didn’t realize a loyal fan base was building in the U.S. and they’re main goal was to prove to their families that they weren’t wasting their time making music.”

Chris Walter, WireImage/Getty Images

“Our families had no nope in us whatsoever of ever making anything of ourselves,” Butler said. “They thought we were bums. And our friends used to laugh at the idea that we’d ever be successful at what we were doing. That brought us closer together and made us more determined to be successful. We didn’t feel like rock stars or anything. It was quite the opposite.”

Compared to the single day Black Sabbath had to record their first album, six days seemed like a luxury.

Fortunately, they had played some of the songs on the road, so when the stepped into the studio they acted on instinct. “We literally went in and played as if it was a live gig,” Butler said. “We didn’t know anything about studios or production or engineering. We just went in, set up and played live in the studio and they recorded us. It sounds easy, but it’s actually a really hard thing to do — to record a band live in the studio and get the whole feeling across. A lot of producers tried that, but dismally failed. But Rodger had the for it. He came up with a few suggestions here and there and we’d do it.”

One of the biggest suggestions was to write another song for the album that would serve as a single. So after tracking the other seven songs, Black Sabbath wrote the title track on the spot.

“I sat there during the lunch break and came up with the main riff for ‘Paranoid,’ Iommi said. “And then when the other guys came back I played it to them and they thought it was good, so we recorded that just as a filler.”

Black Sabbath, “Paranoid” Music Video

“We didn’t think anything of it because we thought it was just another song,” Butler said. “And then later the record company said, ‘Hey guys, this is the best song on the album. Let’s call the record Paranoid.’”

It was a strange suggestion since Black Sabbath and Warner Bros. Records had agreed to call the album War Pigs and were already working on the cover art. Even that was a compromise. The band’s originally wanted to use the title Walpurgis, for the record, which Butler said is “kind of like Christmas for Satanists.” The label refused and a compromise was reached – or so everyone thought.

“The record cover is really horrible to begin with, but it was based on this idea of ‘War Pigs,’” Butler said. “The cover was bad enough when the album was going to be ‘War Pigs,’ but when it was ‘Paranoid’ it didn’t even make sense.”

“There’s a guy standing there with a shield and a sword, with the album title called Paranoid,” added Iommi. “Imagine the questions we got asked after that? “What’s the have to do with Paranoid?” Well, nothing, really. But that’s how it was.

Black Sabbath, “War Pigs” — Live (1970)

Contrary from being the Satanic album it was portrayed as, Paranoid is filled with relevant social and political commentary. For example, “War Pigs,” with the famous line, “Satan laughing spreads his wings” isn’t about the Devil at all. “To me, war was the big Satan,” Butler said. “It wasn’t about politics or government or anything. It was evil. So I was saying ‘Generals gathered in the masses / Just like witches at black masses’ to make an analogy. But then everybody turned it all upside-down and accused of being Satanists. And in a way, I suppose we bought into that, but of course we never were.”

Another song, “Fairies Wear Boots,” which was based on an incident in which the band members were harassed and threatened by a gang of skinheads wearing Dr. Martens boots. “I wrote about whatever I saw going on around me,” Butler said. “I wrote about the Cold War in “Electric Funeral.’ It was always touch and go whether Russia would drop the atomic bomb on us or we would drop the atomic bomb on them. So atomic war was always imminent, we thought.”

Chris Walter, Getty Images

Much of the energy of Sabbath, especially on their first two albums, stemmed from their disgust with the rest of ‘60s youth culture. Having grown up in war-torn Birmingham, ‘flower power’ was an entirely foreign concept. They were surrounded by bombed out parks and when they looked around they saw unhappy people with dead-end jobs.

“We were four working class people in the most industrial part of England and all we had to look forward to was a job working in a factory,” Butler said. “We felt hopeless and constantly frustrated and we thought at any second we’d be called up to drop in to the Vietnam war because it looked like Britain was going to get involved in it as well. So there wasn’t much future in anything for us.”

As legendary as it became, Paranoid was a slow grower. The album reached No. 23 on the U.S. charts and No. 8 in Britain. The album went Gold in the States on May 7, 1971, almost eight months after it was released. And it took another 15 years to go platinum. In 1995, the album was certified quadruple platinum.

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.

Black Sabbath Songs Ranked (Ozzy Osbourne Era)

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29 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses Issue ‘Use Your Illusion I’ & ‘II’

In retrospect, the much revered “classic” lineup of Guns N’ Roses was together a relatively short time, with the first significant changes in the band coming in the early ’90s, but even with the initial alterations to the group, it was still one helluva ride the band was enjoying after monstrous success of their debut album Appetite for Destruction and the follow-up compilation Lies.

While it could have been easy to capitalize on the early successes and churn out another album quickly, the band instead chose to double down on their work and release an ambitious two-volume collection on Sept. 17, 1991 called Use Your Illusion.

Frontman Axl Rose told Rolling Stone in 1991 that the project was well thought-out and a calculated career move, choosing to challenge themselves to do something special rather than taking the easy road.

“People want something, and they want it as soon as they can get it,” Rose says. “Needy people. And I’m the same way, but I want it to be right — I don’t want it to be half-assed. Since we put out Appetite for Destruction, I’ve watched a lot of bands put out two to four albums, and who cares? They went out, they did a big tour, they were big rock stars for that period of time. That’s what everybody’s used to now — the record companies push that. But I want no part of that. We weren’t just throwing something together to be rock stars. We wanted to put something together that meant everything to us.”

But getting there was no easy task. The band had a tumultuous split with drummer Steven Adler after his hard-partying ways became too much for the band to ignore. Adler would later file suit against the group. Guns N’ Roses also bid adieu to manager Alan Niven amongst other key members of their crew.

Rose stated, “There’s a lot of desire to keep what we have together. I mean, we already lost one guy. Actually, we lost a lot of people. It would’ve been nice to stay with Alan [Niven]. It would’ve been nice to work with certain photographers, certain security, road crew, stagehands…. Whether you’re glad you’re in a situation or not, there’s always a part of you that goes, ‘I wish I could’ve been happy there, just stayed happy somehow.'”

Guns N’ Roses, “You Could Be Mine” — Live at Rock in Rio (1991)

But as one chapter closed, another began. In 1990, keyboardist Dizzy Reed was invited to join the group. And with Adler on the way out, the group needed a new drummer and found their man in Matt Sorum, whom the band had seen drumming with The Cult.  “Having a keyboard player in the band was something they talked to me about a long time ago,” Reed stated. “I never really thought it would happen.”

But Reed got the call at just the right time as he was about to be thrown out of his apartment right as he got the invite. As for Sorum, he took over behind the kit for a majority of the songs, though Adler still received credit on the song “Civil War.”

With the new lineup intact, Guns N’ Roses started putting together the disc in 1990, spending nearly a year on the recording. The band made use of numerous studios, including A&M, Record Plant, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios and Metalworks Recording Studios.

Guns N’ Roses, “Civil War”

Ever the perfectionists, the band also mixed 21 tracks with engineer/producer Bob Clearmountain, but later scrapped the mixes, starting from scratch with Bill Price handling the mixing. But when it came down to it, Guns N’ Roses had set the bar high with their previous work and were intent of maintaining that push for excellence.

“I’ve had a good understanding of where I wanted Guns N’ Roses to go and the things I wanted Guns N’ Roses to achieve musically,” says Rose, “And I can’t say that everybody’s had a grip on that. We’re competing with rock legends, and we’re trying to do the best we can to possibly be honored with a position like that. We want to define ourselves. Appetite was a cornerstone, a place to start. That was like ‘Here’s our land, and we just put a stake in the ground. Now we’re going to build something.'”

Released on Sept. 17, 1991, Use Your Illusion I and II arrived with much fanfare. The second volume opened at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart, with the first volume finishing second.

As for the separation of the tracks, Rose told Here Today Gone To Hell, “We didn’t actually take into consideration that people knew more songs on II than I. We thought that ‘Civil War’ and ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door‘ would be old news, rather than people wanting to get them in their hands. We looked at it like the first half of Use Your Illusion I was more similar to the energy on Appetite for Destruction, and would be a lot more fun to skateboard to. We thought of it that way. We thought it would be more successful in the beginning and we’d have to work on II, but actually II took off harder so it gave us the time to work on I and also drive wide and push it.”

Guns N’ Roses, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” — Live in Tokyo (1992)

He added, “I’d say ‘Civil War,’ ‘Heaven’s Door,’ ‘Breakdown,’ ‘Estranged,’ ‘Locomotive,’ and the second version of ‘Don’t Cry’ are a bit deeper and more mature than some of the songs on the first side of Illusion I. Those are just as important to us, but were more fun and more raw expressions of emotions.”

The first song to arrive came from the Use Your Illusion II album. The propulsive rocker “You Could Be Mine” was used for their soundtrack of the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day after Arnold Schwarzenegger personally invited the band to dinner at his home to negotiate a deal. The song actually had a long history with Guns N’ Roses, with guitarist Slash revealing that the earliest origins of the song dated back to the first pre-production session for Appetite for Destruction.

Other Use Your Illusion II songs to hit included the band’s cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the power ballad “Yesterdays,” the protest song “Civil War” and the powerful “Estranged.” While most of the Use Your Illusion II songs would not become major radio hits, they did become classics within the Guns N’ Roses catalog.

Guns N’ Roses, “Estranged”

Of “Civil War,” bassist Duff McKagan told Rockline, “Basically, it was a riff that we would do at sound-checks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And… I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that’s when: “Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: ‘Peace could last forever’? It’s just true-life experiences, really.”

As for “Estranged,” Rose would become particularly attached to the emotion evoked by the track. He told Here Today Gone to Hell, “There’s something really wild, for me, in performing ‘Estranged’ ’cause all of a sudden I realized I don’t want to be sitting at the piano playing this song to keep the energy of the song moving live. I need to be moving around and there’s something about being able to be up there moving around during it that’s actually a present, a gift or something. Being able to dance and rejoice in a song. That came from situations and emotions that were killing me. You know, we pretty much mean everything we say. We don’t put anything down that we’re not willing to stand behind or attempt to stand by for the duration. “Estranged” also has a video that’s part of a key trilogy for the band that also included clips for Use Your Illusion I songs “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain.”

Speaking of Use Your Illusion I, it had more success at radio, with the tracks “Don’t Cry,” “November Rain” and a cover of Paul McCartney‘s “Live and Let Die” all commanding the airwaves. Fans also latched on to such favorites as “Garden of Eden” and “Right Next Door to Hell.”

Don’t Cry” proved to be one of the band’s biggest hits and a key track in linking the two albums together as different versions of the song appeared on both discs. The Use Your Illusion I track became the hit, with the Use Your Illusion II version offering alternate lyric and a slightly different melody. Also of note on “Don’t Cry” is a backing vocalist who appeared on a number of Use Your Illusion tracks — Shannon Hoon — who would later rise to fame as the vocalist for Blind Melon. Hoon and Rose both hailed from Indiana and relocated to Los Angeles to pursue music and found a common bond in their journey. Hoon also appeared in the video for the song.

November Rain,” an epic power ballad, climbed all the way to No. 3 on the Billboard 100. It too was a long-in-the-works track, with Tracii Guns revealing that Axl had been working on it as early as 1983.

Guns N’ Roses, “November Rain” Music Video

Guns stated that Rose started the track on piano, adding, “It was the only thing he knew how to play, but it was his. He’d go, ‘Someday this song is gonna be really cool.’ And I’d go, ‘It’s cool now.’ ‘But it’s not done, you know,’ he used to say. And, like, anytime we’d be at a hotel or anywhere, there’d be a piano; he’d just kinda play that music. And I’d go, ‘When are you gonna finish that already, you know?’ And he’d go, ‘I don’t know what to do with it.'” With a killer guitar solo from Slash, orchestral backing and several shifts in tempo, the track would become a classic, well fleshed out from its earliest incarnation.

As for the touring cycle, it took it’s toll on the band. There was the incident in St. Louis when Rose was cited with inciting a riot after going into the crowd after a photographer. There was the ill-fated 1992 tour with Metallica where riots erupted. And during the run, Izzy Stradlin tired of life in the band and eventually exited, with Gilby Clarke eventually joining the group.

Amidst the fame and drive for success, it was a tough road to haul. But as Slash stated in an almost eerie Rolling Stone interview given what was to come, “You know, I love the band fucking with all my heart. I mean, there will be a point when this will all finish, the tour will end, the album will die and I’ll keep jamming with cats that I dig playing with. But then we’ll just go do another record. I don’t think anything’s really gonna break us up. The only thing that ever made it look that way was just our own fucking insecurity. We just flip out, because everything seems to be so much.”

He added, “Sometimes you go, ‘What the fuck is it for?’ Then you try to look where to escape to, and there’s nowhere to go. We’ve been doing it for so long that we really would all feel sort of lost and lonely if it fell apart and we had to go out and do solo records. Because it wouldn’t be Guns. None of us could reproduce that. Axl’s got so much charisma — he’s one of the best singers around. It’s his personality. He can go out and do something. What freaks me out is, if the band falls apart, I’ll never be able to shake the fact that I’m the ex-Guns N’ Roses guitar player. And that’s almost like selling your soul.”

Sadly, Guns N’ Roses would record one more album, the covers disc The Spaghetti Incident, with much of their “classic” core intact. Slash would exit in 1996, McKagan a year later, leaving Rose as the sole original member and a decade-plus process in putting together the Chinese Democracy album amidst numerous lineup changes took the band out of the spotlight for a good part of the latter ’90s and early 2000s.

But during the early ’90s, there weren’t many acts that could touch Guns N’ Roses and the Use Your Illusion albums were an example of a band on top of their game pursuing something special. Both albums would go on to be certified seven times platinum by the RIAA and the wealth of singles from the two discs remain staples in the band’s catalog to this day.

Guns N’ Roses’ Dizzy Reed Reflects on the Use Your Illusion Albums

Guns N’ Roses Songs Ranked

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System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian Plays ‘Wiki: Fact or Fiction’

If COVID-19 has proven one thing, it’s that you shouldn’t trust everything you see on the Internet. In that spirit, we hopped on a Zoom call with System of a Down bassist and North Kingsley musician Shavo Odadjian to prove and disprove what’s written about him on Wikipedia.

Shavo tells some incredible stories in this Wikipedia episode, including the time he managed to get into an AC/DC music video shoot featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shavo ended up directly next to Arnold in the “Big Gun” video. “The shot they used, the lights hit me more than they hit him. I was shining. It should have been a crowd and Arnold, but there’s a kid right next to Arnold — me. The next day, I was popular at school.”

The bassist also cleared up some misinformation about the infamous 2001 riot caused by a System show gone awry. Odadjian says it wasn’t police who cancelled the gig, it was the fire marshal, because between 15,000 and 20,000 people (not 7,000-10,000) showed up for a free Toxicity release show. According to Shavo, fallout from the cancelled gig resulted in System’s gear getting stolen and destroyed, with his bass cabinet ending up on the sidewalk on Hollywood and Vine.

Another famous piece of System lore — that “Chop Suey!” was originally called “Self-Righteous Suicide” — turned out to be incorrect. Shavo says the song was simply called “Suicide” and that the band’s record label pushed to change the title since a song called “Suicide” would be difficult to push as a single. Nineteen years later, the “Chop Suey!” video is about to hit one billion views on YouTube.

Watch Shavo Odadjian play ‘Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?’ in the video below and click here to grab the new North Kingsley EP, Vol. 1.

System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian – Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?

Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Bassists of All Time

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50 Most Game-Changing Hard Rock + Metal Albums of All Time

Stretching across nearly 50 years, the definition of hard rock music from its early days is almost unrecognizable by today’s standards. Classic rock, proto-metal, garage rock, punk, traditional metal, thrash, glam, death metal, black metal, sludge, hardcore punk, grunge and everything else outside, in between and combined now represents our general understanding of the all-encompassing genre.

But how did all of these styles come to be? Of course, the prime movers of each genre can be traced, which is just what we’ve done here! Examining those who changed the game of rock altogether, we’re looking at the albums that had the most profound impact on entire scenes or even something less grandiose but still unequivocally crucial like a certain playing technique.

One of the most glaring examples, of course, is Black Sabbath’s debut record, which many cite as the first ever heavy metal record. Tony Iommi’s riffing style was so immediately different than his contemporaries, that it warranted a name all its own (some also called it “downer rock” back in the day) and the Satanic themes, well that’s just extra credit!

We won’t spoil too much before you get to reading and we’re sure you already have more than a few guesses as to which albums you’ll find ahead, but rest assured there’s some surprises along the way as we outline what it really means to be an innovator, a pioneer, something different, unique, unafraid and game-changing in the gallery at the top of the page!

The 50 Most Game-Changing Hard Rock + Metal Albums

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Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

In this episode of Gear Factor, Ihsahn takes us through his life as a musician, from learning Iron Maiden, to the groundbreaking black metal band Emperor and into his prolific solo career.

When it came to his beginnings as a metal musician, it was Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” that really got Ihsahn excited. “Not much to it,” Ihsahn says about the track’s basic chord structure, “but the title and the chorus was enough.”

As for his favorite riffs from Emperor, one of Ihsahn’s personal favorites “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” from the pivotal black metal album Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. “It’s really tricky to sing and play this simultaneously,” the musician shares before showcasing the dynamic verse riffs.

“Coming from that ‘80s Iron Maiden background, instantly, I wanted to find a melody to go over those chords,” Ihsahn says of creating “I Am the Black Wizards.” “Of course, it’s not a very diatonic thing. It’s really just an E and an F. So I came up with this melody that’s played both fast and slow in the song.”

As for Ihsahn’s solo career, he plays the fresh cut “Stridig” from his newest EP, Telemark. “It’s a very simple riff, but I think the dissonance and the way it’s arranged, to be both the hook and the verse, is kind of nice. The main guitar is playing the same thing all the way through.”

Watch Ihsahn play his favorite riffs in the Gear Factor episode below and click here to grab a copy of his Telemark EP.

Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

Top 30 Black Metal Albums of All Time

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13 Rock + Metal Bands Who Somehow Don’t Have a US Platinum Album

Platinum album certifications, at least in the United States, are a particularly hard thing to come by over the last decade especially. We could go on about the collapse of album sales, the digital era and all that crap, but you’re as sick of hearing about it as we are of writing about it. But even back when seemingly everyone netted a Platinum record or two, quite a lot of rock and metal bands never reached that cherished milestone.

Would you believe that half of thrash’s ‘Big 4’ have only been able to attain Gold status at best? Okay, we’ll make you feel a bit better about that — the two bands at least have a handful of Gold albums apiece. One of them even managed to score a Platinum-selling EP… but it’s full length albums or bust on this list!

And we’re sure you’ve heard just about everyone try to act like a rock trivia braggart, confidently posing the question, “Did you know the Ramones have sold more shirts than albums?” Our T-shirt sales track is currently MIA, but it’s not a stretch to believe that assertion. That’s right — no Platinum album for the band that invented punk rock! That same notion of shirts vs. album sales can likely be asserted with the Misfits, too.

We can’t spoil everything for you though, so go right on ahead and see what other Legendary Rock + Metal Bands Somehow Don’t Have a Platinum Album in the U.S

13 Rock + Metal Bands Who Somehow Don’t Have a Platinum Album in the U.S.

The 20 Best Selling Hard Rock + Metal Albums in the U.S.

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Top 90 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the ’90s

The ’90s were one of the most fascinating decades in rock and metal, widening the gap between the two genres and putting fans on opposing sides, either clinging to their denim patch vests or trading them in for flannel shirts. Grunge signaled the death of metal supremacy that put a stranglehold on heavy music in the prior decade, but the underground kept the metal going strong while rock acts were assuming their role on the world’s biggest stages.

Kurt Cobain became the voice of a generation in Nirvana, while Dave Grohl steamrolled the success into the Foo Fighters following Cobain’s tragic death. Meanwhile, Texas groovehounds Pantera were flying the banner for heavy metal, keeping the genre in the mainstream. In the meantime, a new genre called nu-metal was emerging, taking the rhythmic approach of metal even further and fusing it with rap influences. Below the surface, extreme genres like black and death metal were thriving, scaring parents, exciting kids and netting headlines rife with controversy.

We started with a list of nearly 300 albums to contend with and narrowed it down to the 90 Best Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1990s. Take a trip down this diametric decade of music and see which album is No. 1 in the gallery below!

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PEOPLE = S#!T #2 (Fails, Public Freakouts + Instant Karma)

What do ya know? People still equal s—t! We’re serving up another compilation filled with fails, public freakouts and instant karma moments from the world of music.

One of the biggest fails in modern history took place at the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which featured performances by Smash Mouth, Trapt, Quiet Riot and more. One study estimated that Sturgis has been linked to over 250,000 new cases of COVID-19, though various health professionals have disputed that number due to a lack of modeling. Regardless, COVID rates in the Dakotas are spiking at higher rates than anywhere else in the country, with hundreds of new cases being reported each day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

We’ve also included a guitar store edition of World’s Dumbest Criminals, where a local lad stuffed an entire axe down his pants in a bizarre attempt at theft. The man was caught red-handed and on camera, but even though he got busted, the dude returned a second time only to stuff another guitar into his trousers. Needless to say, he didn’t get away with it.

Remember the trashiest wedding in history? A video of a bride walking down the aisle and twerking to Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” went viral years ago. However, she wasn’t even the star of the video. An unfortunate attendee stole the show, giving a timeless reaction before cradling his innocent son, protecting the young boy’s ears from Josh Todd singing, “You’re crazy bitch, but you fuck so good I’m on top of it.”

Watch People = S#!t No. 2 in the Loud List below.

PEOPLE = S#!T #2 (Fails, Public Freakouts + Instant Karma Compilation)

57 Rock + Metal Bands Who Changed Names Before Getting Famous

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Slayer Albums Ranked

Are you ready for a fight?

Because that will be the inevitable outcome as we proceed to rank the 11 studio albums in Slayer’s incredible discography, which, despite the band’s occasional tinkering over the years, remains the living definition of thrash metal.

Of course, it was Slayer, along with fellow Big Four peers Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth, who pretty much codified the style that took heavy metal by storm in the 1980s, spawning several worthy secondary bands and countless hopeless imitators, to say nothing of virtually every subsequent branch of extreme metal: death, black, grind, you name it.

And then, when thrash metal’s initial inexorable onslaught gave way to these ensuing musical innovations, beginning in the 1990s, it was the men of Slayer who remained steadfastly loyal to the cause, refusing to pervert their sound so as to fit in with the times (we won’t name names – hint, hint) and, thus, earning the virtually unassailable respect their recorded legacy still commands today.

Still fighting!

Slayer Albums Ranked

Every Slayer Song Ranked

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12 Years Ago: Metallica Release ‘Death Magnetic’

After Metallica released the widely lambasted St. Anger in 2003, the band was at a crossroads. It had always advocated taking chances and stepping outside the box, but the band members seemed to have fallen out of the box and needed to regain their footing. Then came Death Magnetic, which was released on Sept. 12, 2008. Those who dismissed Metallica as rich family men who had lost touch with the frustrations and fury of their audience were left stumbling over their words as the opening riffs of the first track “That Was Just Your Life” burst out of the audio openings of their earbuds.

This was Metallica as they were meant to be, barreling in full-on progressive thrash mode in a way they hadn’t since 1988’s …And Justice for All. Not only was the band firing on all cylinders creatively on their ninth studio album, they were vibing in a way they hadn’t since the death of Cliff Burton. Even though the album was the first to feature bassist Robert Trujillo, Metallica had the chemistry of the Four Musketeers. And it wasn’t just that the music that was incisive, eclectic and on-point, the band members were seeing eye-to-eye in a way they hadn’t in years.

“We finally found out what our dynamic should be,” drummer Lars Ulrich told me in 2012. “At some point we just stopped competing and found out that we’re better off when we’re not trying to trump one another. It’s not about winning or losing an argument, it’s about appreciating the fact that the sum of both of us will always be better than either of us individually and we sort of depend on each other and need each other and are better off for having each other.”

Metallica, Full 2008 Live Show at Rock Am Ring

Ulrich first noticed the personality shift almost a year after Metallica stopped touring for St. Anger. The band played a pair of shows opening for The Rolling Stones on Nov. 13 and 15, 2005, in San Francisco, and suddenly their relationship took on a warmer tone than it had throughout the St. Anger cycle. “We hadn’t seen each other for the better part of a year and then we played those shows. I can’t explain why, but when we got together again there was a different vibe. That’s really seems to be when the transformation happened.”

Metallica met at their studio in San Rafael, Calif., in early 2006 and started assembling the songs that would eventually compose Death Magnetic. While the band retained some of the groove of St. Anger and Load on tracks like “The End of the Line,” “Broken, Beat & Scarred” and “The Day That Never Comes” and “The Unforgiven III” are similar to the lighter fare of “The Black Album,” most of Death Magnetic is fast, and thrashy, with multi-faceted songs that clock in at an average of about seven minutes long. The album also featured melodic guitar harmonies and nimble-fingered solos, other Metallica trademarks that were absent from St. Anger.

Metallica, “The Day That Never Comes”

While the material for Death Magnetic really started to gel in the studio, Metallica had been jamming riffs backstage at venues as early as 2004. By April 2006, Metallica had the frameworks in place for six to seven new songs. The next month guitarist Kirk Hammett said the band were working with roughly 15 songs and continued to bang out new material at an average of two or three songs per week.

Parting ways with Bob Rock, who had produced every Metallica album since “The Black Album,” the band worked with producer Rick Rubin (Slayer, Slipknot, Black Sabbath), who encouraged them to listen back to their first four albums to gain a new understanding of the type of fast, focused songwriting they were striving for. The problem wasn’t that Metallica didn’t know what to do for any given song; it was more a case of having too many ideas.

“I feel that we’re so good at writing that there are so many options of what a song can be and sometimes I long for when I didn’t feel that was the case,” Ulrich said. “James Hetfield will play a riff. It’ll be a great riff. Now, I can have him play it in a way that his right hand makes it gallop more and I’ll play a really fast drumbeat to that riff and it can became a really fast thrash song. I can find a way for it to be more of a mid-tempo stomper. That same riff, I’ll play more of a 4/4 Phil Rudd type of thing, and he changes the pattern on the right hand a little bit or picks it different. I can suggest he plays the same notes in a melodic picking way and I’ll put a ‘Fade to Black’ kind of vibe behind it and it becomes a ballad. All those options present themselves instantly because we’re really on top of the particular niche that we do.”

Rubin didn’t start recording Metallica until he was sure their new songs were as close as possible to being finished. The group quickly winnowed 25 songs down to 14, then in April, 2007 they started tracking with Rubin at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Calif. They also recorded at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, California, and the band’s own HQ in San Rafael.

Metallica, “All Nightmare Long”

Thematically, Death Magnetic is a dark album, addressing mortality, self-immolation, betrayal and addiction throughout its ten tracks. “Some people are drawn towards death just like a magnet,” Hetfield told VH1 TV. “Other people are afraid of it and push away. And the concept that we’re all gonna die sometimes is over-talked about and then a lot of times never talked about. No one wants to bring it up. It’s the big white elephant in the living room. But we all have to deal with it at some point. So that’s kind of the [main] subject matter.”

In keeping with its subject matter, the cover of Death Magnetic depicted a white coffin at the bottom of a grave, and it was surrounded by metal shavings that formed a magnetized pattern around the image. But the way it was rendered, it resembles a hairy vagina. Whether the intent was to point out the duality between birth and death, or whether it was an unconscious move on the artist’s part is unclear.

But Metallica were surely aware of the double-entendre. “Of course we knew what it kind of looked like,” Ulrich said. “Those elements were with us from the very birth of that idea. When we were sitting around with David, our designer, and he was showing us different ideas, we were obviously well aware of that and we liked the abstractness and the many different ways it could be viewed, absolutely.”

Metallica, “My Apocalypse”

Metallica finished recording Death Magnetic on May 22, 2008, and by Aug. 10 it was mixed and mastered. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart nearly going gold in three days of sale, with 490,000 units shifted. It was the highest first week sales for Metallica since Load came out in 1996 and it gave the band its fifth straight number one album debut. In addition to debuting at No. 1 in the United States, Death Magnetic also topped the charts in 33 other countries. It remained at number on in the States for three straight weeks and remained in the top 200 for 50 weeks.

Three years after the release of Death Magnetic, Metallica released the four-song EP of tracks that didn’t make the cut, Beyond Magnetic. Each of the songs on the EP, “Hate Train,” “Just a Bullet Away,” “Hell and Back” and “Rebel of Babylon” were given away to the band’s fan club members earlier that month at special shows celebrating Metallica’s 30th anniversary.

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.

Every Metallica Song Ranked

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