By Alex Brenner
While transferring all of my CD collection over to my new 1.5 TB drive, I noticed that although I consider myself to be well-versed in all that is indie rock/punk, I own a lot of metal. While I know it’s not cool to like metal anymore, I’m talking about some real unknown metal. So I guess this is the indie rock of metal – the more unknown bands – and if you are a real record geek like me you may recognize the names of some of the players.
I consider these to be some of my favorite records growing up. Most are from around the late 80′s early 90′s. Yeah, I had Fugazi and Superchunk and everything Replacements but sometimes you need a little metal in your life. At least it was fun compared to the “I’m angry and sad” grunge era. Honestly, I love Joy Division but I’d rather hear Motley Crüe sing about the devil, drugs and banging chicks. It was just a real fun time. So here are some nuggets you should check out.
Steve Stevens’ Atomic Playboys – Atomic Playboys
In 1989 Steve Stevens (best known as the guitar slinger for Billy Idol) came out with the Atomic Playboys. While the record really shows off his chops, it also featured excellent songwriting and Steven’s unbelievable musical vocabulary. This is not just a metal record. Sure they have a song called “Pet the Hot Kitty” but there are elements of jazz, R&B, flamenco and blues. This is definitely worth checking out. The jaw dropping guitar playing is worth the price of admission. It’s not shredding either. Stevens is one tasty player which makes this record really exciting. Stevens would later play on Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” and Vince Neil’s (of Motley Crüe) first solo record.
Lynch Mob – Lynch Mob
Former Dokken guitarist George Lynch formed this band in 1990 but it’s their self-titled second release in 1992 that really blew me away. Singer Robert Mason had an amazing voice, not your typical metal yelp. This is also not your typical metal record. It’s like metal Motown, plus they do a killer version of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down”. Lynch of course sports tons of chops but it’s not flashy. This band actually played songs. Crazy, I know. Check out “Tangled in the Web” and “Dream Until Tomorrow.” They kind of remind me of Alice in Chains but less drug induced.
Shotgun Messiah – Second Coming
Originally from Sweden and super glammed out, they reinvented themselves in 1991 to fit the grunge era with their second release surprisingly titled, Second Coming. This record sounds like a mix between New York Dolls and Motley Crüe. There are songs about sex, drugs and rock and roll…and even a power ballad. That was the only problem with this band. They could not stick to a style or get to their own sound. The next record was industrial type metal which was the next trend (Axl Rose tried to do the same garbage but it took him 11 years to get around to it). Either way, this is a great record and the guitar playing is top notch. Singer Tim Skold would later go on to play in KMFDM and Marilyn Manson and guitar player Harry K. Cody played on a Tom Waits record and several other recordings. I saw them on this tour and they did a great version of “Liar” by the Sex Pistols and “Babylon” by the New York Dolls.
The Scream – Let It Scream
This has to be one of my all time favorite metal records. In 1991 the hair band thing was starting to fizzle but there were still a few acts that just played it dirty. This band consisted of John Corabi (who would later replace Vince Neil briefly in Motley Crüe) and ex-Racer X members Bruce Bouillet and John Alderete. This record is really dirty blues style metal. It’s almost alt-country in a way with the dobro of “Man in the Moon” and the acoustic sounds of “Never Loved Her Anyway”. At their most rocking The Scream was an inferno of fiery rock – kind of like Guns ‘N Roses but with ballsy vocals. Bouillet’s searing leads and the awesome Rhodes intro to “Tell Me Why” really set them apart from all the crap that was out at the time. Unfortunately, they could not compete with Nirvana and the ever shifting musical landscape. Interesting fact: bass player John Alderete now plays the Mars Volta.