By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
When Arlington thrashers Warbeast flew overseas to co-headline a tour with legendary Pantera/Down vocalist Phil Anselmo, the band's pulverizing riffs and grueling lyrics slew metal fans across Europe. A joint album seemed like another one of the devil's pipe dreams until the two entities announced their upcoming split EP release, War of the Gargantuas, an album that not only promises to destroy metal fans but also send Bieberites and buttrockers screaming for another hit off Warbeast guitarist Scott Shelby's strings.
Warbeast and Anselmo each contributed two songs that encompass their unique styles of metal. Shelby claims Warbeast's contributions are a purer demonstration of Texas thrash metal, while Anselmo is providing fans with a preview of his upcoming "official" solo venture, a project 30 years in the making.
To promote the new split EP, Warbeast and Down are kicking off The Weed & Speed Tour: West Coast Throwdown in the Year of XIII, in Houston, Texas, on January 11 at Warehouse Live. Before the start of the tour, Warbeast will celebrate the release Saturday at the Rail Club in Fort Worth, and perhaps play some songs from their upcoming full-length, Destroy. I had a chance to chat with Warbeast lead singer Bruce Corbitt, guitarist Bobby Tillotson and bassist Dré Karst about — what else? — metal.
Saturday, January 5, at The Rail Club.
What is the most influential metal album of all time?
Bruce Corbitt: Even though there are so many metal albums that had an impact on me over the years, I'd have to go with The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden. It was released right when I first started trying to sing in bands. It honestly changed my entire direction as far as what type of band I dreamed to be in. I grew up loving the legendary '60s and '70s bands. This was a new breed of metal bands that were really getting into my blood. I already knew of Maiden and I'd already seen them open for Judas Priest with Paul Di'Anno on vocals.
Their first two albums are arguably better to many Iron Maiden fans. But for this new album, they were fronted by a confident, energetic singer with enormous stage presence and charisma. He also happened to have long hair the same color as mine. We also shared the same first name. Of course I'm talking about Bruce "Air-Raid Siren" Dickinson. So I admit, with him having the same first name as me, it made me take more of an interest in this new Maiden album.
Bruce had an undeniably powerful voice with a dynamic and wide vocal range. Because of his showmanship and stage presence, he is my No. 1 influence as a metal singer. It was obvious even from the first listen that this was a special album, an album that flowed together perfectly. It quenched the thirst of all metalheads of that era. It had breakdowns with precision timing and tightness, professionalism to the utmost, every member with a natural talent and gift. Plus, it had incredible album cover artwork featuring their mascot Eddie, an image that is stapled in the minds of every true metalhead.
Their leader, bassist Steve Harris, his songwriting skills, determination to not allow his band to bow down to suggestions and pressures of the higher powers of the music business, that is why I respect him more than any other metal musician.
Oh, and I can't leave out those fingers of his. Pointing his bass like a machine gun, with his fingers firing away on the strings so fast that they became a blur.
Add to all of this some unique-sounding guitar rhythms, dueling harmonic guitar parts and shredding, bone-chilling guitar solos. Top it all off with a powerfully skilled drummer, keeping up with ease like a human machine to bring it all together. The narration intro to "The Number of the Beast" is like the "The Pledge of Allegiance" for the metal world. We all know it by heart and we usually speak right along with it. How evil is that?
Yet there is nothing evil or Satanic about the members of Iron Maiden. They are just musicians with creative minds that can write about several different types of subjects.
One of those subjects was the continuing saga of a whore named Charlotte we knew from an earlier album. The song "22 Acacia Avenue" has a lot of meaning to me because it was the first song I ever sang with Rigor Mortis. Of course it was "Run to the Hills" that was the song that took them to another level and seemed to double their fan base over night.
For me, the true epic masterpiece on the album is "Hallowed Be Thy Name." It has every element that makes Iron Maiden so great all wrapped up into one song. It's simply their masterpiece and it's still my favorite song of all time by any band. Even after listening to it a million times. Yep, I can honestly say this album changed my entire life. Scream for me, Dallas! UP THE IRONS!
OK, what about the most horrifying metal album?
Bobby Tillotson: The most horrifying album for me would have to be Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness. When I first saw the album cover, which is a collage of autopsy and morgue gallery photos, I was truly horrified. And the opening track, "Reek of Putrefaction," is an eerie soundtrack of the macabre at its finest. Vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker and guitarist Bill Steer would make some seriously low monster-type voices, mixed with choir synthesis and screeching dive bombs, which makes for an assault on the psyche. By today's standards, it's probably not that shocking, but for a 13-year-old in 1990, it was pretty scary shit and still a favorite to this day.
Now what about the most overrated metal album?
Dré Karst: In my opinion, Metallica's [self-titled] "Black Album" is the most overrated metal album. It was praised and embraced by the mainstream, but they had completely betrayed their true core fan base. They wanted to expand their audience, but the album was lackluster and a major disappointment. Songs like "Enter Sandman," "Everywhere I Roam" and "The Unforgiven" were very commercial, weak and turned them into a completely different band. No longer were the songs riff-driven, powerful or full of energy. The band did not progress their sound, but became a cash cow project engineered by Bob Rock. Metallica had completely sold out writing ballads and catchy vocal melodies instead of doing what they did best: thrash metal. All I can say to summarize this is, "SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER!"