Thursday, October 18, 2012


This was a few weeks ago, but somehow, some way I had gotten put on the email list for Loudwire which seems to be some online metal magazine. Maybe I signed up for it but I don't remember doing it. Anyway, every day or so they have some news story, obviously, pertaining to the world of metal. Well, on this day they focused on their top ten albums of 20 years ago, 1992. I am a sucker for, well I was going to say a good list, but pretty much any list, this one, though, was particularly interesting. And it wasn't interesting because it was a look back 20 years ago, it was interesting because looking at it it shot me back to 1992, being fifteen, and being in the beginning stages of finding myself and finding the music that I got into, and, in a way, shaped me. Here is the list. The thing is when I went to look at the list I really didn't expect to be knocked back 20 years, nostalgia-wise, but it is one of those things about lists where everything is clumped together in one place, and all of a sudden I realized 1) just how much great stuff came out in 1992 and 2) what effect it had on my burgeoning love of music, and on, well, myself. It was really surprising, and it was even more surprising that some dumb list in some dumb online music magazine can have this effect on me. An effect powerful enough where I have had trouble being able to actually write about it for a couple weeks. I didn't know if I would have the words to convey what I want to. I still don't know. But I decided to just start writing.'s it going so far?
Well, it sent me down a youtube rabbit hole as well which I only recently crawled out of. I turned into a madman trying to figure out what was the big hit from the Soup Dragons' second album that came out that year. But that's just sort of tangential and we'll get to that (Maybe).

Now,  starting with the list, I'll go through the list and make substitutions where necessary, because while their list made me think of 1992, some of these didn't exactly make a huge impact on me.

10) Faith No More - Angel Dust

Yeah, this should have been ranked higher. I would have taken their list and upended it, I think, but when there is so much goodness all this becomes really subjective. This album simply has stuck with me all these years and has remained a favorite. What was odd was even at the time of it's release it saw the band pushing the boundaries of what was considered hard or even metal, and I remember some people NOT being on board with it. But I think it is a classic that deserves to remain so. I still kick myself that was unable to see them on their reunion tour last year. BUT I did get to see them open up for Metallica and Guns 'N' Roses in Foxboro. They played when it was still light out, which, I don't think exactly helped them but it was still overall awesome. My first, big, stadium concert experience with a bunch of degenerate metal heads. If my Mom, who didn't let me get out early from school and drove me all the way up there, really knew what she was letting me go to. In retrospect, that was pretty cool of her. We did get to see one guy punched in the face, and my friends were almost hit with a glass bottle thrown from above. But the album itself, well, I mean besides the music which still holds up, and the fact that if you laid back and closed your eyes this album would be a fantastic soundtrack to whatever dreams you might come up with. But an ongoing theme here is going to be the fact that this was an album that reminds me of being in high school, coming out right before I got my license, and sharing it with my friends, especially my friend Jef, who I am lucky enough to STILL be great friends with. This is the time juuuuust right before we got heavily into hardcore and what not and for a while, at least for me, I would sort of put aside some of this stuff before realizing that was dumb and coming back to it. But I feel like getting into a lot here laid that sort of foundation, perhaps in a backwards sort of way to get into more underground stuff. We didn't have older brothers that were letting us hear their records, so we relied on our friends and peers for the new stuff.

9) Helmet - Meantime

I feel like the reputation of this album has been sullied generally but thousands of inferior imitators. But this was the original and the best (along with the albums before this one that Helmet put out that we found later). This was so good, and it still holds up to me. Jef and I went to one of first smaller shows together to see Helmet at Toad's Place in New Haven. In retrospect, this was cool that we were able to pull this together, we were on, I think, Spring Break from high school and we discovered they were playing in New Haven, and astonishingly both of our mom's agreed that we could go. At the time, my sister was going to Yale and her dorm was literally right around the corner from Toad's Place and she agreed to let us stay over there. I could be wrong, but the plan seemed to take shape in the span of a couple days, and we were able to pull it off, even getting my Mom (again, man, maybe I really owe her one or two) took us to New Haven. I am not sure about Jef, but I feel like our eyes were really opened to this quasi-underground hard music scene that night. It was an awesome experience in our young lives, seeing these guys that look like the high school swim team rock out, and seeing the more experienced concertgoers going crazy. On a side note, an oldie olderson one, an irish band named Therapy? (yes question mark included in the name) opened up for Helmet (Their album Nurse, also came out that year) and they played a song which had the refrain "James Joyce is fucking my sister" in it. I felt like we spent a good amount of the next, man, year or so trying to figure out where we could find that song and what album they had had it on and everything. Nowadays we would just hold up our phones and be able to figure it out before they even went on to the next song. One last thing: we both bought Helmet t-shirts at this show and proceeded to absolutely wear the shit out of them over the coming years. God, I loved that shirt. And I am quite sure I thought I was SO COOL.

8) Ministry - Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed and The Way To Suck Eggs

Before I start, in the video up there I wonder why they couldn't say "Jerry Lee Lewis was the devil" like they do in the song on the album? Was Ministry that scared of getting sued by the Jerry Lee Lewis estate? Maybe saying "Jesus was the devil" seemed more radical? Weird. I have no idea. I think in later years I would actually come to like The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste a bit better, but I can't deny that this was a big one back in 1992. The thing was, and you'll see this comes up a lot, in my quasi-Norman Rockwell, small town, sheltered, catholic, upbringing there was A LOT that I wasn't exposed to (duh) and in a way moving into high school as stupid as it sounds now, looking back, seems like certain parts of the world were opening up. Even if it was just in smallish ways now where there was new and weirder music positing ideas that would have had my parents passing out. At the time, Ministry was quite literally like NOTHING I had ever heard before, I think it might have been my introduction to anything "industrial" and it knocked my socks off, to say the least. From the production, with those sound clips, to the eerie atmospherics and the sledgehammer music, it was something that was just completely new to me, and it probably says a lot about me that I embraced it the way I did at the time.

7) White Zombie - La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1

 Hahahaha I'll be honest here, I'm not quite sure I was ever into the ENTIRE album although I am sure at some point, in a carpool or just hanging out I have heard the entire album. But that single, man oh man was that catchy as all hell. Rob Zombie was already wearing his influences on his sleeve, his love of B-movies, and horror/exploitation were just right out there. The samples made him seem like Al Jourgenson's less evil, kinda dorky younger brother. But credit where it's due, he has been able to take his love of all these things and turned from kinda funny, quasi horror music maker to actually making the horror movies that he loves so much. At the very least this song is still loads of fun.

6) Dream Theater - Images and Words  Sonic Youth - Dirty

I have never to this day heard a Dream Theater song. But 1992 was the year Sonic Youth's most "accessible" album came out, and since I was snatching up anything at the time that MTV said was grunge (or alternative, sheesh) I snatched this up. And even at their most "accessible", when I first heard it I still didn't get it. It was quite the grower for my younger self, I think it took me a long time to actually get into it besides the lead single, it took me a long time to crack the code, I guess, but I am glad that it finally happened.

5) Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

I remember first hearing about these guys when Lollapalooza was coming near us in Rhode Island, it was maybe it's third year in existence when it was still a traveling show. I definitely didn't catch this album in 1992 when it first came out. I heard OF them being on the lineup for that Lollapalooza, and then went to my local record store where I found a couple of their singles, on CD, and scooped them up before the show to see what they were like. I remember one of the singles, Bombtrack, had a picture of Che Guevara on the cover, years before 1) I really knew who he was and 2) years before it became a thing to have him on t-shirts and hats all over the place. Politically, I had a hard time wrapping my head around Rage at the time, and it would probably be a a few years until I caught up with them on that front. Musically, this was way before Limp Bizkit and the whole rap/rock thing became it's own genre, so at the time, this sounded really new and really different. I remember seeing them at Lollapalooza and Zach De La Rocha read a poem and they also stood there in silence for a while to protest the PMRC (Tipper Gore's and her people). Yeah, at the time I did not get it and just wanted to see some music. Of course, that sort of thing (just like myself) would change and evolve. But I mean, Rage, at the time made some blistering music that went RIGHT TO that part of an adolescent's soul that hit you in the sweet spot when you were angry at everyone, especially people in authority, I feel like everyone was there, and you just wanted to jump around and yell (It would be a few years, when I had gotten into more, for lack of a better term, underground music, and learned that Zach De La Rocha had actually been in a hardcore band called Inside Out where he would get really emotional and only yell and scream). But, man, it wouldn't work if the songs weren't so catchy: imagine a group of teenage boys, it's not hard to do, driving or running around just yelling out to the refrain that ends "Killing In The Name"-even if we (or I) didn't quite understand the politics, we knew it was fun to get amped and chant swears.

4) Stone Temple Pilots - Core  Nine Inch Nails - Broken

I will say this in the interest of full disclosure: like I mentioned above with Sonic Youth, there was a time when I would just grab anything labeled "grunge" or "alternative" particularly by MTV and even MORE particularly if I had seen it on 120 Minutes. Oh man, that shit was legit. So, Stone Temple Pilots were one of those that I picked up at the time, funnily enough, not because of the song "Plush" but because of the earlier single "Sex Type Thing"

So yeah, I owned Core (and I probably owned the Blind Melon album for the same reason. I do remember it turning me into a jackass too: "Man I heard No Rain like a YEAR before it became popular!".Ugh)

But I would probably say that Nine Inch Nails' Broken had a much bigger effect on me. It looks now like the bridge between Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral, all classics that still stand up. The ones that stuck, like Ministry, with my brief flirtation with industrial music.

3) Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction  Tool -Opiate

This may or may not come as a surprise but I was never that into Megadeth. I remember that song, "Symphony of Destruction" being all over the place and I think I liked it well enough, but I dunno, I could never really get into them. Maybe I had a premonition of Dave Mustaine turning into a gigantic asshole.

That third Lollapalooza must have been a bonanza for me. Because I believe we heard of Tool and sought them out because we learned they were going to be at Lollapalooza that year as well. I just remember listening to this album a lot. Well, it was really more of an EP really, and to be honest it WAS really good. But I think a part of listening to it for me was the idea that I was doing something vaguely bad and listening to something kind of evil. I mean for the time and my age. I can't completely say it was because of this one EP or anything but it's one of the many things, and thread that runs through all of this, but effecting me in a way and in a minuscule manner, helping to change my perspective on the world. No matter how small it seemed at the time, I really think all this had that sort of cumulative effect on me. Plus, Matthew Sweet of ALL people was wearing a Tool hat in an interview and Jef made it his mission in life to find and buy that hat which he did at Lollapalooza that year. It became sort of the counterpart to his Helmet shirt and he wore it as much as possible.

2) Alice In Chains -Dirt  Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
See all the previous entries for the whole Alice In Chains thing. Grunge....The Singles soundtrack...I mean, at the time, I REALLY like this but this is the perfect example of something that just DID NOT stand the test of time for me or even hold up that well, outside of occasional nostalgic listening. Like I LOVED this song

They are also one of those bands which I have, you know, really moved past but some people STILL love. Kind of like Soundgarden. Hey, to each his own.

I could have actually slotted a lot of stuff into this space, whether I discovered it later or not (Like say The Jesus Lizard's Liar or Mighty Mighty Bosstones' More Noise and Other Disturbances) But I got to give props to the Beasties with this comeback from their at-the-time commercial flop, now all-time classic, Paul's Boutique. What's crazy to think about now is it's not like they came back with some straight-forward album or went back to something more Licensed To Ill-esque, but instead took another leap forward: playing instruments, using Bad Brains samples, incorporating punk rock into the mix-it's really extraordinary and doesn't have the same sort of love Paul's Boutique tends to in showing the Beasties growing in leaps and bounds, and, frankly, being unafraid to really try new things. And it also makes me think as I went through high school and got more into some styles of music and got less into others and what not and and later go back to things I might have neglected (this is really confusing but we've all been adolescents and gone to high school you can understand) My point being is the Beasties have always been there. I even had the vinyl of Ill Communication when it came out.

1) Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power

Now to be clear, I am just following Loudwire's list here, I am not sure if I would have put it at the top of my own list, but I am willing to bet it would be there. Put simply, when I first heard Vulgar Display Of Power I was blown away. I mean, I had heard Metallica and at the time I was probably most familiar with The Black Album but this was the hardest thing I had heard up to this point. I remember being over a friend's house and having that Stand By Me moment when you are sitting around in their room talking about all the stuff that seemed so important at the time (although this still might be a conversation I would have today) talking about Pantera and asking questions like, "What do you think is the hardest album you've ever heard?" Well in my very limited experience this was it for me, an it hit me right in that rebellious teenager sweet spot. Of course this is way before we all learned what an asshole Phil Anselmo was and before Dimebag Darrell was sadly killed. But, at the time, in my own little bubble this was just mind blowing. Of course, I would soon move away from the metal (well not entirely considering how it creeped into hardcore, but still) I figure everyone has to start somewhere, and I can still say that this holds up 20 years later.
So putting this all together (I've honestly been thinking about this entry for over a month, I hope that doesn't disappoint knowing how long I have been stewing over it) I kept looking over the music released in 1992 and there was so much good here it could almost engender a second entry. From early Green Day and Rancid to Jawbreaker and Dr. Dre. Here is a partial list, check it out:

Green Day-Kerplunk
Social Distortion-Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (sue me, I liked the foray into rockabilly back in the day)
Fu-Shnickens-F.U. Don't Take It Personal
The Jesus and Mary Chain-Honey's Dead
They Might Be Giants-Apollo 18
Kriss Kross-Totally Krossed Out
Das EFX-Dead Serious
The Soup Dragons-Hotwired

The Cure-Wish
Gang Starr-Daily Operation
The Lemonheads-It's A Shame About Ray
Eric B. and Rakim-Don't Sweat The Technique
Danzig-Danzig III: How The Gods Kill
House Of Pain-House Of Pain
EPMD-Business Never Personal
Morrissey-Your Arsenal
Sugar-Copper Blue
Ugly Kid Joe-America's Most Wanted 

Redman-Whut?Thee Album
R.E.M.-Automatic For The People
Sick Of It All-Just Look Around
Prince-(Love Symbol album)
Mudhoney-Piece Of Cake
Ned's Atomic Dustbin-Are Your Normal?
Positive K-The Skills Dat Pay The Bills
Ice Cube-The Predator
The Pharcyde-Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde
Dr. Dre-The Chronic
Jawbreaker-Chesterfield King

So all that makes the think: I wonder what kids are listening to now that in twenty years they'll look back and think of how it influenced them in some way? What music is still going to be talked about either way in 20 years?

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