Greg Bergdorf (formerly of Zebrahead) Ranks Zebrahead's LP From the Early Years

August 30, 2021 | Scott Waldman 

With all the exciting Zebrahead news of lineup changes and a new record, Scott and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my years with the band and rank and talk about the records I was a part of for both the Justin and Matty era (Separately. We're not trying to cause waves). 

Justin era:

Honorable mention - The Show Must Go Off (Live DVD) - I wish the audio for this DVD was released to the streaming sites. It really captures the energy of the band and the fun of a live zebrahead show.

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#5 - Waste of MFZB - I know this record has a little bit of a cult following among the fanbase. But, for the most part the band agreed to relegate these songs to B-sides. And... the band rarely agreed on anything in unison during my tenure!!! I actually had to go find the full record on YouTube and listen to a lot of the songs because I didn't remember them. I actually think the best song on the record is the Spice Girls cover which was originally recorded for "Playmate of the Year" not "MFZB". The cover was almost the first single for "Playmate", but the writers/owners of the song wanted too much money for the rights to use the song at that time. So, our label decided to leave it off the record. Other notable songs I thought were pretty good were "Veil & Visions", "Lightning Rod", & "Are You For Real?". 

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#4 - Playmate of the Year - Considering this was to date the band's most commercially successful record and first of three consecutive Gold Records in Japan, you would think I would rank this one higher on my list of favorite records. To be honest, this album trended a little more "pop" than I would have preferred. And, at the time the keys/synth/drum loop parts really drove me bananas. Moreover, by my own fault, I was not happy with my guitar tones on this record. Being at the Playboy Mansion a few times for this record was easily the highlight of this album. Music highlights? Oh,... right. "Now or Never", "Wasted", "Subtract You", & "The Hell That is My Life" are my favorites from this record. To be honest, I would have loved to have had a mulligan and been part of the re-recordings of "Now or Never" & "Wasted" on "The Early Years-Revisited". While this record ranks low on my totem pole, there would absolutely be no zebrahead without this record. We all would have been broke and had to get real jobs at several points along our musical journey if this record didn't launch a very commercially successful run in Japan.  

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#3 - Untitled (The Yellow) - The songs on this record were actually the demos for what would become "Waste of Mind". I wish it was released to the streaming sites, it really deserves to be heard again. The production is raw, and it is fun to hear the arrangements progress from this record to "Waste of Mind". We spent maybe two days in the studio recording all of the tracks and maybe another two days for the mix.  My favorites are "All I Need" (which was our live set opener for quite a while), "Hate", "Check".  

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#2 - "Waste of Mind" - If I may wax nostalgic for a moment (as if this entire piece isn't just that), making this record was a dream come true for dorky, honor roll student, pimpled face, husky pants wearing eleven year old me. I'll never forget plugging in to start tracking my parts, pausing, and saying to Howard Benson (producer) and Bobby Brooks (engineer), "Here I am about to record our major label Columbia release with a producer who worked with Motorhead, Body Count, Less Than Jake and an engineer who worked Rick James & Michael Jackson in a studio located inside a mansion in the Hollywood hills. You guys asking me if I'm ready seems like such an anti-climactic start to something so momentous in my life." Bobby & Howard teased me for a few minutes asking me things like, "Do you want to go blow up some fireworks or something? Are you going to cry? Do you need a tissue? You want us to hire you a stripper? and finally "Are you ready now?". Me - "Yeah, I'm ready." Listening back to this record I really forgot how eclectic the sound was for this album especially in the context of everything else that was happening in music at the time. There is so much melding of different styles and genres from hip hop, pop punk, metal, reggae, blues, and even disco. I love the diversity of the arrangements on this album as well. I missed deviating from the formula in later records. Top to bottom I think this is a great record. Some of my personal favorites are "Feel This Way", "Someday", "Big Shot", & "Fly Daze". But honestly, I enjoy every song on this record.

#1 - MFZB - This album was easily the most difficult record to get across the finish line. There was A TON of conflict within the band between certain members (a.k.a. in-fighting). In my personal life, my marriage was coming to an end. We wound up exiting the producer who started the record before finishing the record with Cameron Webb & Marshall Altman. There was no shortage of headaches or drama within the zebrahead camp for this entire album cycle which was unfortunately compounded by half of the band experimenting with... well.. substance abuse that bordered on addiction. With that said, I don't think we could have made this record without the trauma. Quite a few of the songs are about the scars in our personal and band lives that were happening to us. A lot of the songs are about the in-fighting within the band, not about fighting with a girlfriend. I wrote "Hello Tomorrow" about my marriage that had just ended. "Alone" is about a meltdown brought on by extracurricular activities on tour. And, "Dear You" is about how difficult it is to be away from home and your loved ones for 6-8 months out of the year. 

From a personal standpoint, I feel like my playing turned a corner on this record. The previous records really left me disappointed with my guitar tones. As a result, I spent a lot of time and money buying and chasing vintage amps and retooling my guitar collection as well as beginning to learn and study the recording process. It also marked the first of three records where I played almost all of the guitars. Cameron (producer) believed (at least at the time) rhythm tracks were tighter if the same person played both right and left tracks. Justin was happy to focus more on his vocals, and I was excited about playing more guitars. The band and Cameron really let me have a lot of freedom to color in the blank spaces and add ear candy for this record.

This is another record where I think from top to bottom every song is very good. But, some of my favorites are "Blur", "Expectations", "Type A", "Alone", & "Falling Apart". 


Four Ways Fire Sale Has Thrived (Versus Survived) During The Pandemic

June 22, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
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Fire Sale recently released a 7” called Dark Hearts, and it is literally dark sans a heart. I like that. I had the chance to listen to Chris Swinney of Fire Sale spout four solid ways to thrive versus survive a pandemic, loss, or (insert shitty thing here):

1. Fire Sale was born out of the pandemic (because everyone is at home with little to do) and we chose to create a new band. Many of my friends have not fared well during the lockdowns, but because myself and the members of Fire Sale chose to create new music. We all had stuff to work on and to look forward to.

2. Recording studios are expensive… and we all live very far away from each other! Before the pandemic I had never recorded anything remotely. Every member of Fire Sale has the ability to record high quality audio in our respective home studios. It has been a lot of fun writing and sending songs back and forth, and while it takes time to finish… it costs little to no money to do so.

3. Due to hosting my own popular music based podcast, That One Time On Tour was forced to learn to promote via social media. With no live shows or touring occurring currently, social media was the only promotion angle for Fire Sale. With everyone hungry for new music, we were able to create quite a buzz about the band before even releasing any music.

4. After signing to SBÄM Records, the label informed us that they wanted a video to add a visual element to our first single, “Dark Hearts.” We thought about doing a lyric video, since there’s a pandemic and we all live so far apart. Because of the low budget offered and because we decided against a lyric video, I used my extra pandemic enforced free time to figure out the problem in true DIY fashion. I taught myself to edit video through YouTube tutorials, and found a website with thousands of copyright free video clips. We all filmed our own individual performance footage and then I put it all together. Video for single… Check!


Lost In Society’s Nick Ruroede Discusses His Top Five Anti-Flag LPs

June 15, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
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Nick Ruroede is Lost In Society by living in New Jersey. Hey, yo. Still, he supports the hell out of Pittsburgh’s favorite sons: Anti-Flag. Lost In Society recently announced a new EP, and its first single “Say Anything” came out on May 14. We spoke about A/F’s top five albums and dying for your government (that’s shit):

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5. American Spring (2015)

SW: THAT’S SHIT!

NR: That’s spring. 

SW: A/F is a band for all seasons, especially fall.

NR: Agreed. “Brandenburg Gate” is a tremendous song. 

SW: And it features Tim Armstrong!

NR: Yes, it does. It DOES feature Tim Armstrong and sounds ready for radio.

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4. Die for the Government (1996) 

SW: THAT’S SHIT!

NR: I’m down for that.

SW: AF: DFTG. RAR. BRB.

NR: It’s pretty tough, and it’s pretty silly.

SW: That’s youth! Wrong album! Right sentiment! Fuck the alt-right!

NR: Perfect.

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3. American Fall (2017) 

SW: THAT’S SHIT!

NR: The best shit out of the “current” sound they started to jump into on the title track.

SW: THAT’S IT!

NR: Spring changed to fall in the best way.

SW: Trouble follows me.

NR: TROUBLE!

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2. The Terror State (2003) 

SW: THAT’S SHIT (HOW AMERICA WAS AND STILL IS)...

NR: Power to the people.

SW: Whoa. Let’s go!

NR: Mind the G.A.T.T., Scott. Mind it.

SW: (whispers to himself) One people…

NR: ONE STRUGGLE!

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1. For Blood And Empire (2006)

SW: That wasn’t shit. I had fun. I had a ball. A great time over here! This album rules. It’s my second favorite. I’m Scott. Hi.

NR: This album rules. It’s MY favorite. (pauses for 2006 seconds) War sucks, let’s party!


Lenny Costa From Down Again Ranks The Devil Wears Prada’s Album Catalog

June 8, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
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Down Again is a fantastic post-hardcore (or whatever you want to call it) trio from Northern California. They just released an EP called Live Acoustic Sessions. The Devil Wears Prada is a fantastic metalcore (or whatever you want to call it) band from Ohio. What do these two acts have in common? You decide! Anywho, Down Again’s vocalist Lenny Costa is a huge DWP fan and he ranked their seven album catalog below with some brief explanations as to why.

Let’s praise poison:

7. Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord (2006)

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LC: Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord is the first CD that I ever bought myself, and I remember listening to it non-stop on my walkman, and being totally blown away. 

SW: Mine was Crash Test Dummies’ 1993 classic God Shuffled His Feet. Slightly less heavy.

LC: Ha! Dear Love is fast, heavy, chaotic, and creative. I have still never heard anything else like it. 

SW: It surely began the band’s ascent.

LC: What really hooked me were the angelic melodies sang by Jeremy DePoyster, acting as the perfect contrast to Mike Hranica’s raw screams. Seventh place is no disrespect to the album, as Dear Love probably had the biggest influence on me of any Prada record.

SW: Let’s get our acts together and talk about their most recent effort.

6. The Act (2019)

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LC: I see what you did there. 

SW: Isn’t it strange? (pauses) Please say no.

LC: The Act is one of the best executed sound changes in recent memory, with the band moving into more of a post-hardcore/post-rock soundscape for much of the record. 

SW: New DWP is good DWP. FYI: My favorite DWP LP is your fourth favorite. AND, the Zombie EP is my favorite overall release from the band. Just saying.

LC: Lock & load. Anyway, this album has a number of top tier tracks. “Lines of Your Hands” is a perfect example of the band growing up and growing into a new sound and totally crushing it. The Act has me as excited as ever for what the band has coming next.

SW: Girl, same.

5. Dead Throne (2011)

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LC: Mammoth.

SW: YES! YES! YES!

LC: Following up the massive success of With Roots Above And Branches Below the band wanted to distance themselves from their screamo beginnings and put out a straight up metalcore juggernaut. 

SW: Mammoth.

LC: (laughs) Dead Throne is heavy as shit, and if not for the beautiful interlude “Kansas,” you would suffocate in its relentlessness. 

SW: I still can’t believe that this record came out ten years ago. Getting older sometimes feels like you’re born to lose.

4. Transit Blues (2016)

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LC: Speaking of birth, with an all new lineup, The Devil Wears Prada reimagined their sound on Transit Blues to produce a masterpiece. 

SW: I agree. I wish others did as well.

LC: This is about as interesting of an album that you can find these days. Maybe it’s not as traditionally “heavy” as their prior work, but the album still seems to bring the gravity in other ways. 

SW: How so? I think I know but I am genuinely curious.

LC: Mike Hranica delivered some of my favorite vocal performances of his career on tracks like “Home For Grave Pt. II” and the record’s title track. 

SW: Blues in transit.

3. Plagues (2007)

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LC: Number Three, Don’t Forget.

SW: Don’t dink and talk.

LC: When this album dropped, it was all that anyone was talking about. Plagues took the winning formula from their debut record and cranked everything up to 10. 

SW: And that album cover was SO on brand for 2006.

LC: Mike Hranica’s screams were noticeably better and the music was significantly more refined without sacrificing intensity. Of all my favorite “scene-core” albums, this one has stood the test of time. 

SW: It still sounds just as good today as it did on my MySpace page.

2. With Roots Above And Branches Below (2009)

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LC: Speaking of MySpace…

SW: I think that this was the one that truly blew up the band.

LC: I remember buying this album the first day it came out at a record store. 

SW: REMEMBER THOSE?

LC: Yup. This one closed down. R.I.P. - Prada delivered a home run. 

SW: By their next album, they were probably promoted to actual managers.

 

1. 8:18 (2013)

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LC: 8:18 is not only my favorite album from TDWP, but it’s my favorite album of all time. 8:18 often falls through the cracks, as it came on the heels of their two best selling records, but to me, this is their crown jewel. 

SW: WE GET IT. YOU LOVE THEM. (pauses) They’re great.


Napoleon's Jon Elmaleh Lists Eight Canadian LPs That Helped Shape How He Writes Music

June 1, 2021 | Scott Waldman 

Canada is not just a nice place to live, it also has at least nine bands that shaped how many people write music. Let’s focus on eight and let’s hyperfocus on the incredible band Napoleon. Jon Elmaleh sings and plays guitar for the band, and we had a chance to discuss eight specific Canadian LPs that shaped how HE writes music. 

Blame Canada and read his words below whilst doing so:

8. Death From Above (1979) - Outrage! Is Now

Death From Above is one of those bands that consistently tries to outdo themselves, and on their third LP, Outrage! Is Now, they completely hit the mark. This record is perfect, and is easily my favourite record by them. After the band reunited, whether or not they would stay together was unclear, and even after they released their second record The Physical World in 2014, which was also a very good album, it only became clear to me that they were going to be sticking around when Outrage! came out. Honestly, for a band with only 2 people in it, to make such a great record after so many years, that’s so inspired, it means that they really love what they are doing. That’s something that can be said for every band whose records appeared on this list), and I really hope that as I grow older, my passion and commitment to my music stays the same, just like theirs did. 

7. Single Mothers - Negative Qualities

Single Mothers is one of the most respected punk bands in southern Ontario. The band has a revolving door lineup, with the only consistent member being the vocalist Drew Thomson, and his commitment to the music and willingness to always try new things is incredibly inspiring. Their first LP Negative Qualities is a quick listen, but literally every song is perfect. There is not a single dull moment on this thing. The pure energy of this record, which translates perfectly live, is truly inspiring to me. 

6. The Dirty Nil - Higher Power

This record had the same impact on me that the PUP album (that I have yet to discuss as of now) did. It’s one of those pure rock n’ roll energy types of records. Every song is an absolute banger. In 2017, I saw them open for Billy Talent at the Air Canada Center, and I was so shocked that a band playing that kind of music was able to get to that point... Especially only one year after releasing their debut album (though they had been around for a few years prior and released multiple 7” and an EP). Every record that they’ve released since has only gotten better as well, and they just keep getting bigger and bigger, but when I got into them through this record, which was about a year after it came out, I was just so blown away. Their singer Luke Bentham is also an extremely talented vocalist, and we were very excited to have him sing on our 2020 single “Amends.”

5. Silverstein - Discovering the Waterfront

There isn’t much that can be said about this record that has not already been said. Similar to Alexisonfire, this record has songs that are just so well written that you could strip them down and they’d still be great, and again, the result is a record that spawned two major hits, “Smile In Your Sleep” and “My Heroine”, which are now both scene classics, as well as a incredible selection of deep cuts, including a handful of fan favourites like “Call It Karma” or the title track. (editor's note: THIS WAS ONE SENTENCE FROM JON). This is the album that, with good reason, made Silverstein a household name. 

4. Counterparts - You’re Not You Anymore

This is probably the heaviest album on this list. What I really admire about it though is honestly just how good it is. A lot of people thought that this was going to be the worst Counterparts record because it was the first one to come out after some major line-up changes, yet I think, and I know many other fans also agree, that this is their best record. This band just never gives up and keeps going (and the results speak for themselves). 

3. PUP - The Dream is Over

Honestly, any band that is playing a more aggressive style of music that comes from Toronto should be looking to PUP for inspiration. They are the definition of a band that worked their asses off to get to where they are today. I remember hearing this record when it first came out: I was only 15 at the time and I was so impressed by the rawness of this record. It’s not overproduced at all, there’s no flash on it whatsoever, and it sounds like exactly what it is: Four dudes jamming some really great songs. When I was 16, I went to see them headline the Danforth Music Hall in support of The Dream is Over, which is around 1500 cap and they played 3 sold-out nights in support of this record. It really showed me that if you put the work in, play really sick shows and make really great music, you will succeed, and saying “rock is dead” is not an excuse. 

2. Alexisonfire - Crisis

It’s kind of hard to listen to Billy Talent and not have heard the name Alexisonfire. They were the first band I got into that really had a lot of screaming in it, and that helped me get into more bands from there and really appreciate heavier, hardcore/metalcore bands. One thing that I’ve always appreciated about Alexisonfire is that they always wrote truly great songs that were not relying on flashy drums, breakdowns, and ridiculous screaming parts to be cool. All of their records are fantastic, but Crisis was the one that got me into them, and is still my favourite. 

1. Billy Talent  - Billy Talent II

While every single record on this list has had a huge impact on me, this is the one where truly I do not think I would be playing music had I’d never heard it. I remember when I started high school, I was starting to get into more and more bands. Before, I basically listened to exclusively classic rock, and I remembered hearing “Red Flag” in a movie or something when I was a bit younger, so I searched it up and listened to the whole record. I was absolutely hooked from the second the drums kicked in on “Devil in a Midnight Mass,” and Ben lets out that insane high pitched scream. At the time it seemed so heavy to me, and I thought it was so cool, and the more I got into not only that record, but their entire discography, I knew that was the type of music I wanted to play.


Rob Rufus Of Blacklist Royals Provides Five Can’t Miss Tips For Punk Doomsday Prepping

May 25, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
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Blacklist Royals’ Rob Rufus is in a band with his twin brother Nat. If that’s not enough of a reason to showcase that they’ve been prepping for doomsday since they were both born, we don’t know what is. Check out Rob’s five can’t miss tips for punk doomsday prepping and please recycle your 40s:

1. Have Compadres Who Share The Same Conspiracy Theories

Believing in facts is best.  But, in lieu of that, make sure everyone in your bubble believes similar conspiracies.  Also, axe anyone who panics easily.  There's one dude in every zombie movie who freaks out and gets his group killed.  Identify them in your crew and kick that motherfucker to the curb ASAP.

 

2. Have Lots of Drugs & Booze 

Get your arm torn off?  Pop some of these painkillers!  Need to drive three days straight to get to Checkpoint Alpha?  Snort some of this adrenal!  Being straight-edge won't make a stockpile any less handy.  Christ, talk about bargaining tools.

 

3. Have a Pet

I adopted a disabled puppy a few months before the pandemic hit.  He's an exhausting, disgusting amount of work.  But the higher the maintenance, the bigger the distraction!  Every moment he’s peeing on me is a moment I don’t think about the news.  The companionship is pretty nice, too.

 

4. Have a Creative Outlet

I admit that, as a writer, isolation is easier for me than most.  It allows me to live inside my head, where the world can temporarily go away.  So, I encourage everyone to take up something creative.  Something immersive.  Something besides making inedible sourdough bread.

 

5. Have a Killer Record Collection

Think vinyl collectors are douchebags?  Well, we are.  But you'll wish you had your own records once the Terminators shut off the grid!  The new Blacklist Royals EP, Doomsday Girl, is a good place to start.  My undying appreciation will be here long after the last cockroach dies.


Elizabeth Nistico From Revenge Wife Lists Her Top 5 Horror Films

May 18, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
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Elizabeth Nistico started Revenge Wife in 2017, and released her first song in February 2021. In addition to making sad material seem playful, Liz also likes to blend horror and comedy, which is displayed prominently in her recent music video for “Home”. I had the chance to discuss revenge, wives, horror, movies, and horror movies with Liz. Here are her top five and a sterling dialogue to accompany such: 

5. The Lodge (2019)

SW: We’re starting this off in a disturbing manner.

EN: My favorite horror films are the demonic type. 

SW: Alicia Silverstone was far from a demon in the Aerosmith videos.

EN: She kills it in the intro of this. Honestly, her acting is just so good, especially the part when she’s curling her eyelashes, ugh.

SW: I need to see it. I need to see all of these. Wait. I don’t need to. I don’t want to. I am scared. VERY scared. (pauses) Sorry.

EN: Well, the Lodge is definitely a mind fuck. 

4. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

SW: This movie sounds like a literal mind fuck of a pregnancy. 

EN: That’s what happens when you let your cult neighbors possess your body at night.

SW: Sorry about that. My bad.

EN: Rosemary’s Baby is such a classic, it really feeds the fear of possession. 

SW: FEED ME, SEYMOUR!

EN: Rosemary is hungry. 

3. Suspiria (1977 & 2018) - both versions tied for 3rd

SW: I’m hungry. Give me a minute. (leaves room for 5 minutes) Hope you weren’t in bated breath.

EN: I was in dance rehearsal. 

SW: Dance dance.

EN: Ok, but in all seriousness, let’s talk about the fact that Tilda Swinton plays the old man in Luca Guadagnino’s remake. 

SW: I can’t comment on that. Sorry to keep you in suspiria.

EN: It’s chill, do you want to learn this new choreography that I’m doing? 

2. Goodnight Mommy (2014)

SW: No.

EN: Ok, talk about a plot twist in Goodnight Mommy

SW: Good morrow, Lizzy?

EN: My twin brother is haunting my bedroom. 

SW: MY twin brother is haunting MY bedroom.

LN: Don’t tell mommy.

1. Hereditary (2018)

SW: If I do, E it would be quite hereditary. I’m out of control with these dad jokes. 

EN: *Inserts meme of dad on fire.*


Cassadee Pope Releases Music Video for 'What the Stars See' on PEOPLE

May 14, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
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Cassadee Pope has officially debuted her ’80’s inspired music video for her new single, ‘What the Stars See,’ on PEOPLE. The track is produced by Nickolas Wheeler of The All American Rejects (Wheelhouse Studio Nashville) and features Karen Fairchild (Little Big Town) and Lindsay Ell, combining Pope’s pop-punk roots with her traditional country elements.

Pope tells PEOPLE, “I wanted to use Nick Wheeler to produce the song because he's a rock guy, but I also wanted somebody like Karen to be involved to cater to my country side and not forget that and not lose sight of that. I loved bringing both worlds together."

Check out the article and video here.


Zach Blair Of Rise Against Lists 5 Classic Thrash Records That You Should Know And Actively Listen To

May 4, 2021 | Scott Waldman 

Zach Blair joined Rise Against in January 2007, but has been playing professionally since 1992. That’s quite an appeal to reason, but we will make it stop. Zach loves thrash, all things classic, and will rant about his top five classic thrash records that you should know and actively listen to:

(in no particular order)

1. Voivod - Nothingface (1989)

SW: 1989!

ZB: I love Public Enemy as well.

SW: Flava Blair!

ZB: (ignores him) Voivod is Well puta band from Montreal that only fell under the definition of “thrash metal,” due to lack of another term. They created a new type of music in my opinion.

SW: They created a nothingface type of music in mine.

ZB: Well put.

2. Possessed - Seven Churches (1985)

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SW: Well pent(agram).

ZB: Hotly disputed as the first “death metal” album, but in fact, satanic metal made by teenagers. Also, the debut of a young Larry LaLonde from Primus.

SW: Primus. Posssessed. P.

ZB: Well put.

SW: Dominion. Damned. Demon.

ZB: Dipshit. Dickhead…… not you, necessarily.

3. Rigor Mortis - Rigor Mortis (1988)

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SW: Agony. In. Paradise.

ZB: Rigor Mortis were THE Texas thrash metal band from the 80s/90s. Their guitarist ended up in Ministry, and their bassist ended up in GWAR (and got me the gig in that band in ‘99 ).

SW: Bodily dismemberment?

ZB: Fuck yeah, bodily diememberment.

SW: Ripper.

ZB: Full on ripper.

4. At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul (2014)

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SW: Where is said ripper? I’ll tell ya. Wait for it, wait for it. (waits for 666 seconds) IT IS AT THE GATES, ZACHARIAH.

ZB: (fakes a laugh) So, at 

SW: Dude, that was cold.

ZB: At The Gates are THE quintessential Swedish death metal band, and there isn’t a bad song on this record. There also isn’t a metal band alive that doesn’t love ATG. FactYes

SW: Need.

ZB: Yes, you do.

5. Vio-lence - Eternal Nightmare (2014)

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SW: KILL ON COMMAND! KILL ON COMMAND!

ZB: Vio-Lence got a bad rap because people didn’t like their singer,Sean Killian. I loved him and I wore a few copies of this record out in multiple mediums. (Fun fact: The guitarists form this band later formed Machine Head.)

ZB: I approve.


Attorney Eric German Lists The Top Nine 90s Albums That Blurred The Lines Between Alternative And Metal

April 27, 2021 | Scott Waldman 
Eric German, music attorney.
Eric German, music attorney.

According to music attorney Eric German, there was this wonderful time in the 1990s between thrash/hair metal and indie rock/nu-metal when the hard rock/metal kids and the alternative rock/arty kids actually hung out together and liked the same bands. TRUE STORY. German believes that these bands changed music forever, and created a lasting legacy that is still apparent today. Speaking of today, there appears to be an analogous crossover right now between hard rock and alternative (a la the “Rock This” playlist).

Anyway, I had the chance to talk with German about his top nine 90s albums that blurred the lines between alternative rock and metal.

Even flow:

9. Primus – Sailing the Seas of Cheese (1991)

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SW: Good morning. The seas are ready.

EG: And cheesy, but I think that that was the point. Everything Les Claypool did was tongue-in- cheek, but always delivered with the utmost intensity and top notch musicianship.

SW: Now that’s a quote I would put on a poster! A Primus poster. Alliteration.

EG: Alternative is more alliteration. To me, the word alternative implies “weird,” and this band is really freaking weird in all the best ways.

SW: HERE COME THE BASTARDS!

EG: I saw the band a few years back at Rock On The Range and watched some of the hardest musicians in rock get downright goofy rocking out to these tunes. 

8. Alice In Chains – Dirt (1992)

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SW: There’s nothing goofy about Dirt.

EG: In fact, some of the lyrics are downright frightening.

SW: Such a sad loss and such a great album.

EG: Depending on my mood, sometimes I like Facelift more, but this had such an impact on hard music that it had to be my choice.

SW: You chose well, and we have eight more to go. Let’s go down in a hole.

EG: For the album as a whole, the iconic jam has to be “Rooster,” “Down In A Hole” exhibits so much pain that you’re not alive if you don’t feel something while listening to it.

7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

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SW: How can you pick ONE iconic jam from this juggernaut?

EG: “Under The Bridge” has to be the most famous, but the real hero here is the Rick Rubin production. It’s probably not the most important Rick Rubin record in my life, that would belong to Slayer’s Reign In Blood, but it sure does sound the best. 

SW: Rick Rubin’s discography is necrophobic. He went to my high school. I met him once. He was kind. “Breaking The Girl” is SO fucking good.

EG: I feel like 100 bands have copied “Give It Away,” and none have gotten it right.

SW: If you have to ask, my lovely man.

EG: Somewhere I still have the original white tour t-shirt from the Blood Sugar Sex Magik from this tour. It has folds in it and doesn’t quite fit right, but it still looks cool as fuck.

6. Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)

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SW: The video for “Jeremy” may be the most cool as fuck video of all time. This is not a dad joke.

EG: The real gem on this record is “Black”. Wow. Just wow.

SW: Does anyone know the lyrics to “Yellow Ledbetter,” which was on the “Jeremy” single? I don’t. ONTHETREDAOHTHEVOICESOFARADIA.

EG: Nailed it! Fun fact: Hyro The Hero’s manager Berko Pearce was in a Seattle band with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam.

SW: Love Hyro. Love Pearl Jam. What a release.

EG: There certainly is a lot of Seattle on this list. I back it.

5. Tool - Undertow (1993)

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SW: I back your inclusion of the band with the most ardent fan-base in the world: Tool. 

EG: This is not their most evolved album, but it certainly is what started it all!

SW: I like to start all of my days sober.

EG:  Those creepy animated videos were sobering, I can tell you that.

SW: Crawl away, German. Crawl. Away.

EG: To this day, I think of that Lollapalooza Tour every time I hear this record.

4.  Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)

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SW: I never had the chance to go to Lolla but I am jealous of you. AND, you probably can’t hear if you went to a Nine Inch Nails show.

EG: The 1991 Lollapalooza Tour was where I discovered Nine Inch Nails (well, that and the goth girls at my college), but the most memorable NIN show I ever saw live had to be Woodstock ‘94:  Attack Of The Mud People!
SW: I love this album but the most memorable NIN show that I ever went to was at MSG on The Fragile tour. Marilyn Manson came on stage and sang “Starfuckers Inc.” with the band prior to his cancelation.

EG: I can’t decide what the signature track is here. My favorite jam might be “March Of The Pigs,” depending on the mood. The hit is “Closer” and oh boy, what a chorus!  But the most elevated song might be “Hurt,” especially once you’ve also digested Johnny Cash’s cover and re-listened through that lens.   

SW: MR. SELF DESTRUCT!

EG: While I love this album, my favorite Trent Reznor music isn’t even NIN-branded.  Try listening to the soundtrack to The Social Network sometime - it is gorgeous music.

3. Beastie Boys – Check Your Head (1992)

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SW: Finger lickin’ good.

EG: This is the record where they went back to playing their instruments. Utterly brilliant.

SW: Rick Rubin’s discography is necrophobic. He went to my high school. I met him once. He was kind. “Gratitude” is SO fucking good.

EG:  Yes Scott, Mr. Rubin’s production clearly has as much of an impact on my 90’s list as it did on you when you met him.

SW: That’s so funky boss of you to say!

EG: So this is what I’ve got to say to you all … Be true to yourself and you will never fall. And now I’d like to pass the mic to Scott…

2. Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against The Machine (1992)

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SW: This is a SCOTTtrack.

EG: How many rap rock bands ripped this album off?

SW: 54567.

EG: I feel like the 90’s went hard with Public Enemy, Rage, Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, etc...  THEN Fred Durst started breaking stuff and shit got a bit dark.

SW: Rage’s self-titled debut album is one of the strongest first albums ever. The previous sentence contains no sarcasm or dad jokes.

EG: Indeed. And do yourself a favor: Watch the YouTube video of their first show on the college campus during the daytime. That has to be the strongest first SHOW ever.

1. Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger (1991)

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SW: And now we’re at the top of the fucking mountain. BADMOTORFINGER.

EG: Pound for pound this is one of the best rock records of all time. Clear your mind, sit in a comfy chair, slap on the vinyl, and just listen, front to back. Then I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. 

Spoiler alert: He isn’t wrong.


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