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PRESENTS... THRASH 2014
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CONTENTS 10 THE BIRTH OF THRASH Malcolm Dome and Xavier Russell debate the genre’s genesis.
16 GARAGE DAYS REVISITED The true story of Metallica and their humble origins.
22 THRASH LEGEND: CLIFF BURTON A tribute to the greatest thrash icon of them all.
Among The Living revisited and Joey Belladonna speaks!
36 THRASH LEGEND: DAN LILKER
Nuclear Assault’s enormo-haired bassist spills the beans.
Megadave on Peace Sells... and So Far, So Good… So What!
44 GARY HOLT’S GUIDE TO THRASH The Riffmaster General delivers some brutal advice.
How Bonded By Blood defined the thrash sound in ‘85.
Chuck Billy steps back in time, plus The Legacy dissected.
58 OVERKILL Words of wisdom from the indestructible Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth.
61 MURDER IN THE FRONT ROW First hand accounts from the early 80s Bay Area frontlines.
66 THRASH LEGEND: JEFF WATERS Canada’s premier thrash lord talks riffs, rum and Megadeth.
69 READER COMPETITION
Win a copy of Murder In The Front Row and a Slayer guitar!
70 THRASH LEGEND: JASON NEWSTED
From Flotsam to Metallica to Voivod: tales of the original Newkid.
How Dimension Hatröss took thrash metal into orbit.
Mille Petrozza celebrates 30 years of thrash and Pleasure To Kill.
Thrash metal’s greatest working class heroes go Brazil nuts.
88 BRITISH THRASH
Sabbat, Onslaught and Xentrix on the rise and fall of the UK scene.
96 THRASH ‘TIL DEATH?
Did the Black Album kill thrash? We investigate the genre’s demise.
100 TOP 50 THRASH ALBUMS Thrash metal’s most essential works. You probably won’t agree.
112 SKATE OR DIE Blistering thrashcore and limb-threatening antics in 80s California.
118 STILL THRASHING What are the biggest names in thrash up to today? Find out here!
124 THE NEW GENERATION Check out the bands that are keeping the spirit of thrash alive in 2014.
128 THRASH LEGEND: JEFF HANNEMAN We celebrate the life and times of Slayer’s talismanic guitarist. 8
Mediocre bands come and go, but we’re still here. We are a really good live band, I think that’s what’s kept us on top for so long. Kerry King
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Metal writers Malcolm Dome and Xavier Russell saw the birth of thrash take place before their very eyes (and ears). Here they present their own reflections on the genre’s first baby steps and subsequent rise to glory…
WORDS: Malcolm Dome & Xavier Russell
hat is thrash? Where did the name originate? What made the glory days of the 1980s so… glorious? The two of us were lucky enough to witness the all-time greats of thrash in their early days, and see how what started off as an underground, dirty offshoot of NWOBHM became arguably the most globally important metal movement. But what we’d never done is chat together about this era of thrash. The thrash era. So, when it was suggested we should do this, we grabbed the opportunity to analyse and reminisce. You probably won’t agree with everything we claim – it would be dull if you did – but hopefully this will set you thinking again about a musical form that, to quote Judas Priest, ended up pounding the world like a battering ram. Malcolm DOME: “You know, nobody has ever definitely recalled just who came up with the term thrash metal.” Xavier RUSSELL: “It’s been claimed on occasions that I invented it, and then you’ve also been mentioned as the person who first used it. I can’t remember anymore.”
“I always said it was like listening to a cement mixer whizzing around really fast. Or a Ford Escort with a bigger engine.” Xavier Russell sums up the sound of thrash
MD: “I have no doubts it originated from Kerrang! in about 1983 or 1984. Perhaps it had something to do with the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad. But, really, it doesn’t matter which person first came up with the term. It’s the perfect description of the music. But how would you define thrash? XR: “I always said it was like listening to a cement mixer whizzing around really fast. Or a Ford Escort with a bigger engine. For me, it was NWOBHM but a lot scuzzier in musical terms. That’s what set it apart from everything else at the time.” MD: “The roots of thrash were always said to be in British metal, weren’t they? I suppose we are talking about Maiden, Priest, Motörhead and Venom, really…” XR: “I think you could make a strong case for saying that Motörhead were the very first real thrash band. I remember seeing them at The Roundhouse in London in 1975 – their first ever gig – when they opened for the Pink Fairies, and the sound was just so loud and dirty. Looking back now, it was actually thrash metal, but a long time before anyone came up with that ‘thrash’ tag.” MD: “It’s interesting that we both agree that the roots of thrash were almost solely British, because there wasn’t one UK thrash band at the time who made a genuine international impact. We had ruled the metal world for so long, and then got left behind.” metalhammer.co.uk
Cliff Burton was a one-off, and perhaps no one better summarises what it is to be metal. From his stubborn individuality to his taste in music, he personified our culture in a way that few others have. We bow our heads in respect for the greatest metalhead of our time.
WORDS: MICK WALL & Joel Mciver PHOTOS: HARALD OIMOEN & Brian Lew
or Kirk Hammett, time was moving backwards as he remembered the fallen soldier who put the metal into Metallica. “Cliff had a lot of integrity,” Kirk said, quietly. “His way of expressing that integrity was in one stock sentence which I still use to this day, and it was: ‘I don’t give a fuck.’ He really just cared about the music and the integrity behind the music. He was just very, very real.” He certainly was. You only had to look at him to see that. The long, straight hair, parted down the middle. The motheaten cardigan and bell-bottom jeans; the weird little bumfluff ’tache; the tee with some obscure band on it. At a time when poodle-hair, Spandex and make-up were the norm in rock, these were all signifiers of what made Cliff Burton different, signposts to a soul born old that didn’t know how to compromise. That truly didn’t give a fuck. Kirk sighed. “I don’t know if he knew somehow that his time was limited but he really lived it like it was his last day, because he just wouldn’t settle for anything other than what he believed in. And that taught me a lot. To this day there are situations that I’m going through, and I can just picture Cliff saying, ‘What’s real to you? What really matters?’ And he would go through a bunch of points that didn’t really matter. He would name them off and at the end of each one he’d say, ‘I don’t give a fuck!’ He was a very, very strong guy. Stubborn at times, and because of that he and I would clash sometimes. But we really were just bros and he was a big influence on all of us.” He remains so to this day. The legend of Cliff Burton is the biggest unifying influence on all subsequent generations of metal. Being true to yourself may have been the founding tenet of the original rock and metal giants, but by the time Metallica came along in the 80s,
metal had become codified. The rules had straightjacketed the music’s freewheeling spirit. Cliff made it his mission to break those codes. Every musician who has tried to do the same owes him big time. Cliff was fearless, the guy who stood his ground, holding up his middle finger saying: “What’s real to you? I don’t give a fuck.”
“Cliff Burton was not your basic human being. He meant business, and you couldn’t fuck with him. I wanted to get that respect that he had” James Hetfield on Cliff’s unique personality
lifford Lee Burton was born February 10, 1962. His father Ray, from Tennessee, worked in San Francisco’s Bay Area as an assistant highway engineer. Ray’s wife Jan was a special needs teacher. Cliff was the youngest brother to Scott David and Connie. When Scott died of a brain aneurysm when Cliff was 13, it had a profound effect on him, reinforcing the idea that life was not to be squandered on trying too hard to make other people happy. Cliff had played the piano since he was six. Now he told others, “I’m gonna be the best bassist for my brother.” Jan was “totally amazed ’cause none of the kids in our family had any musical talent.” His early influence was a teacher named Steve Doherty. “He was the one who made Cliff take Beethoven and Bach, made him learn to read music.” Speaking in 1987 with Cliff’s old friend Harald Oimoen, Jan described Cliff as “very quiet” and “normal” except for his insistence from a very early age on being “his own person.” There was also a stubborn, Aquarian side to Cliff. Playing with kids outside was “boring”. Cliff preferred his own company, reading books and playing music. “He was very bright; in the third grade they tested him and he got 11th grade comprehension.” Playing Little League baseball for the Castro Valley Auto House team, he was known as a big hitter. As a teenager, he took a Saturday job at an equipment rental yard called Castro Valley Rentals, where the
A true one-off: Cliff at the Keystone in Palo Alto, Halloween 1983
Pucker up, Dave: Mustaine at San Francisco’s Old Waldorf, October 18, 1982
Every band starts somewhere, and Metallica were no different. Before they were the biggest metal band in history, they were teenagers without a sound to call their own, a record deal or a clue. WORDS: MALCOLM DOME PHOTOS: BRIAN LEW & BILL HALES 16
ctober 15, 1981. Ring any bells? It should. Because on that day, Metallica were officially born. It should have happened with the biggest celestial light show of all time, a firework display the like of which makes Krakatoa erupting seem like an egg hatching. This was the birth of our universe. The Biggest Bang. And yet, did anyone apart from those involved realise the importance of the moment? Er, no. The reality was that Metallica was predicated on a piece of political ‘artistry’ from Lars Ulrich that would become his motif. No one who’s ever known the Danish drummer will be surprised by the deft way in which he persuaded James Hetfield to start a band with him, on the basis that they were promised a track on a planned compilation. Nor that he convinced the man who had the vision for this compilation, Brian Slagel, to guarantee him a spot, even though there was no band at the time! After all, later, Ulrich was clever and determined enough to phone a New York manager from a phone box in London, when the former – Peter Mensch, who looked after Def Leppard – expressed an interest in Metallica. The future drummer was born on December 26, 1963 in Gentofte, Denmark. His father was tennis pro Torben Ulrich, and Lars’ initial talents seemed to lie in hitting tennis balls rather than drum kits. What changed life was seeing Deep Purple play when he was nine years old. “My father was a talented musician, as well as a tennis player,” Ulrich said in 1984. “When Purple came to Copenhagen in February 1973, he got five passes to the show for him and his mates. But when one of them dropped out, he decided to take me along. I’d never seen anything like it. The whole atmosphere just got to me – and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was totally inspired by watching Ian Paice behind his kit.” The next day, Ulrich bought Purple’s Fireball album, and by the time he was 13, he had his first drum kit. Tennis, though, was still believed to be his vocation, and he moved to Los Angeles at the age of 17 in order to further ambitions in that direction. But his devotion to metal was by now the dominant force in his life.
Power metal: Ron McG ovney and James Hetfield at the Old Waldorf, October 18, 1982
“I bought the British magazines every week, and would read through the classified ads, trying get as many New Wave Of British Heavy Metal records as I could. It didn’t matter how obscure they were, I wanted them.” The band who made most impact on Ulrich were Diamond Head, the Midlands four-piece regarded by many at the time as the new Led Zeppelin. So smitten was he by their talents, the teenage Ulrich actually came to the UK and followed them on tour. “He would go everywhere to see us,” recalls Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler. “And he spent many nights at my house, sleeping on the floor. We’d spend hours talking about metal, and Lars did tell me one day he was putting together his own band.” In the summer of 1980, an advert appeared in The Recycler, a Southern Californian classified ads newspaper. ‘Drummer looking for other musicians to jam with, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Diamond Head and Iron Maiden’. It was placed by Ulrich – who’d nearly auditioned for new band Metal Church but decided to go his own way instead – and was seen by James Hetfield. Born on August 3, 1963, in Downey, California, James Alan Hetfield came from a strictly religious background – both of his parents were devout Christian Scientists. One of the precepts of this cult was a refusal to use conventional medicines. This was to have its impact when Cynthia, Hetfield’s mother, died of cancer. Later in life James’ father, Virgil, would also die from this disease.
“My dad had split, and there was pressure on me to cut my hair and get a job. I refused” James Hetfield
Hetfield’s first encounter with music came via piano lessons. But it was through one of his half-brothers that he got the bug. “I had two half-brothers, both considerably older than me,” Hetfield explains. “One, Chris, was away at college. The other, Dave, stayed at home while he was at school, and I roomed with him. He was a drummer with a band called The Bitter End, and a kit was always up at my house. When he was out, I ‘d play stuff from his record collection. Beatles, loads of old rock’n’roll singles and Black Sabbath. But he’d always know I’d played his records, because I’d leave the turntable on.” Hetfield picked up a guitar at the age of 14, but he was far from a natural. “I didn’t know anything about how to play. I would hit the strings and get frustrated, because I didn’t sound like those guys on the posters on my wall – Zeppelin and Aerosmith.” His first band was Obsession in 1978, in which he was the singer. By the time he’d formed Phantom Lord (who never played a gig), Hetfield was playing guitar as well as singing. Neither of these bands lasted long. But, determined to pursue his dreams, Hetfield teamed up with a bassist called Ron McGovney (whom he’d met at school in 1977; McGovney also roadied for Obsession), as Phantom Lord became Leather Charm. “I had problems at home. My dad had split, and there was pressure on me to cut my hair and get a job. I refused – how could you be in a band with short hair?” 17
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