Written By Braddon S. Williams

Starz: Violation

Some of my friends turned me on to the band Starz when their first (self-titled) album was released in 1976, and it had several songs that I still love, but it was Violation (1977) that really grabbed me.

Violation was a loose concept album set in the future, where a rebellious youth discovers a “scratchy old record called Walk This Way” and consequently has a life altering experience.

As a teenager myself at that time, I imagined myself in the title role of this rock ‘n’ roll fantasy and just immersed myself in the great hard rock hooks that were all over Violation.

Michael Lee Smith had a great voice that appealed to the ladies, but was tough enough for us young dudes as well.

Richie Ranno and Brendan Harkin were a dueling duo of lead guitar finesse and bare knuckle riff power.

Pete Sweval and Joe X. Dube were a solid rhythm section and Starz (like Angel) deserved much greater success than they actually achieved.

Songs like Subway Terror, Sing It Shout It, Cherry Baby, Violation, and Rock Six Times were all killers, and when I finally saw Starz open for Foghat early in 1978, I discovered that they could pull it off live, too.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Angel: Helluva Band

Angel were signed to Casablanca Records in hopes of duplicating the massive success of Kiss. Although it didn’t quite work out that way, the lads and their gimmick of all dressing in white did achieve moderate success and a cult following. Angel’s second album, Helluva Band (1976) was their best (in my humble opinion). Featuring some pretty epic keyboards and guitar work, and the soaring lead vocals of Frank Dimino, Angel were probably a cool band to see live at the time.

I really like The Fortune, Dr. Ice, Pressure Point, Feelin’ Right, Mirrors, and Angel Theme.

Frank Zappa wrote a song basically making fun of their rather feminine appearance, so that has to count for something!


Influences And Recollections of a Musical Band

Via themusic-in.com

Sometimes one can daring to trust that even on a chaotic sounds of Grinding Gore Metal underground noises you can be an expert for finding the good and trusted supreme being in form of melodic and catchy riffs as well as like for this band – Exhumed; their three distinctive extreme vocalists shall reminding us about the late legends of The British soil – Carcass. 
   Consisting of Col Jones (drums), Mike Beams (guitars), Matt Harvey (guitars, high vocals) and Ross Sewage (bass, low vocals); bringing the Gore Metal album as one of these San Jose grinders brilliant works so far. 
   Open of Abscess, Postmortem Procedures, Casketkrusher and Deathmask completed the vision conquest to make an ultimate Deathgrind record just like the madness shown on its tasty front cover only for the sickest people. 



Written By Braddon S. Williams

Mercyful Fate: Don’t Break The Path

Mercyful Fate was where King Diamond made his mark on the metal world, and in 1984, the Danish metal masters unleashed Don’t Break The Oath.

This was Mercyful Fate’s second full length recording, and served as a primer course in black metal lyrical inspiration, but retained a more traditional style of heavy metal music with flashes of progressive rock blended in the mix.

Of course, King Diamond provided his eerie falsetto and blended harmonies, along with keyboards and harpsichord to enhance the occult vibe.

The diabolical duo of Hank Shermann and Michael Denner weaved tons of riffage and ripping lead work, ultimately earning the album the honor of greatest extreme metal album of all time from Metal-Rules.com.

With songs like Nightmare, The Oath, Desecration Of Souls, Welcome Princes Of Hell, and Come To The Sabbath, Mercyful Fate set the bar pretty high for Black Metal bands to follow.


Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

King Diamond: Give Me Your Soul…Please

King Diamond released the outstanding Give Me Your Soul…Please in 2007, a concept album that is the audio equivalent of a horror movie (an award worthy horror movie!). The story line involves a pair of children murdered by their father, and this grisly scenario provides the King with a diabolical easel of lyrical imagery choices, which he utilizes with a surgeon’s skill.

Visions of a “girl in a bloody dress” abound, and King Diamond’s trademark ethereal falsetto’s and guttural growls bring the sordid affair to luminescent life.

Songs this good don’t require videos; one only has to close their eyes and open their imagination.

Of course, King Diamond isn’t just about the vocals. Throughout Give Me Your Soul…Please, there is a veritable army of melodic, yet slashing lead guitar pyrotechnics from Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead, and atmospheric keyboards supply extra dramatic touches. Neverending Hill, Pictures In Red, Give Me Your Soul, Shapes Of Black, and The Girl In The Bloody Dress all stand out, but you really need to listen straight through to get the full cinematic experience.

All hail the King!


Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

The Cult: Electric

Rick Rubin was brought onboard to produce The Cult’s 3rd album, Electric (1987), and it made all the difference in the world.

I love when rock music hits like a battering ram, and Electric is a sonic knockout punch, complete with kick drums knocking you off your feet, snare drums that crack like gunshots, and guitars that crunch in that perfect way that lets every note ring out and still smacks you like your momma did when you were really bad. Ian Astbury’s distinctive vocals ride comfortably atop all this delicious musical power and compliment Billy Duffy’s riffs with lyrical fire of their own.

My favorite tunes on this killer disc include Lil’ Devil, Peace Dog, Love Removal Machine (first song I ever heard by The Cult…love at first listen!), a swampy, slowed down cover of Born To Be Wild, and my personal top pick, the supremely cool King Contrary Man.

I have had discussions (or debates) with other Cult fans as to whether Electric or the follow up Sonic Temple is better. Well, Bob Rock produced Sonic Temple, and although it has great songs and performances, too…I will take Rick Rubin for the win. Rubin produced Slayer and Rock produced Metallica, so it is no surprise to me which producer captured the best sound for my ears.

Either way, you can’t go wrong with The Cult. Listen up and crank ’em LOUD!


Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By John Weiderhorn Via Loudwire

Note* This was written for Loudwire 2 years ago and is being reposted on Vinyl Lair on the 15th anniversary of Dimebag Darrells death in remembrance.

The metal community was turned upside-down on Dec. 8, 2004. On the twenty fourth anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, music fans across the globe were bombarded by instant messages, emails and phone calls from friends and family informing them or wanting to know if the rumors that Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell had really been killed onstage. Was his brother and drummer Vinnie Paul still alive, and what happened to everyone else?

As the hours passed, the horrible truth was revealed and the metal scene was irrevocably altered. Dimebag had indeed been shot and killed while performing onstage with his band Damaegplan. Not only had the world lose a charismatic wildman, a generous soul and a stellar musician, the game instantly changed for nearly every other musician. No longer were fans rushing the stage viewed as welcome participants; they became potential assailants.

“After something like that happens to one of your best friends, how could you ever feel safe, anywhere, ever?” said Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian. “The few times that kids have made it up onto the stage during our show, no matter how friendly the scenario, the first thing I think is, ‘Dude, you should not be on this f—ing stage. You should know better.’ To me, everything changed after Dime was killed. The stage became off-limits for everyone but musicians. I don’t give a f–k how much fun you’re having. Stay the f–k off the stage.”

At the time of the tragedy, Damageplan were two shows away from the end of a tour to support their debut album, New Found Power, and Dime and his brother drummer Vinnie Paul were looking forward to celebrating the holidays and then getting and getting back into the studio to work on a follow-up record.

The afternoon of the shooting, the band arrived at the Alrosa Villa club in Columbus, Ohio. Soundcheck went without incident and then Dimebag, who remembered playing the place in Pantera’s early days, thanked the club owner for booking Damageplan, the group he and his brother formed when they put Pantera on hold. After soundcheck, Dime went back to the band’s bus to get ready for the show. Then the two brothers stood by the side of the stage to watch the opening band.

“They were doing Parliament songs heavy metal style and they were all dressed up like G.I. Joes,” Vinnie Paul told me in 2006. “We were catching such a nut on them. We were back there doing shots and peeking out and cracking up about the whole thing. So, we were all in a good mood and we had a full house that night and went up on the deck and right before we went on Dime was warming up his hand and putting his lip gloss on. The last thing I ever said to him was ‘Van Halen?’ And he gives me five and says, ‘Van f–in’ Halen!’ That was our code word for letting it all hang out and having a good time. And that’s the last thing he ever said to me, man. It’s insane.”

Just a few bars into the opening song “Breathing New Life,” a six-foot-five inch former marine, Nathan Gale, burst out from behind a seven-and-a-half foot-high wall of amps and ran across the stage with a Beretta 9mm handgun. He stopped directly in front of Dime and fired three shots at the back of the guitarist’s head and one that hit his hand. Gale kept firing as members of the crew charged him. The gunman killed four and injured two before putting Paul’s drum tech, John “Kat” Brooks” in a headlock and taking him hostage. That’s when officer James Niggemeyer, responding to a 911 call less than three minutes after it was made, arrived on the scene without backup and shot Gale dead with a single well-placed shot from 12-guage Remington 870 shotgun. Gale had 35 rounds of ammunition left when he was killed. “I knew from that distance I could shoot the suspect, as long as I aimed high enough and wouldn’t hurt the hostage,” Niggemeyer told MTV News in 2005. “At that point, almost immediately, I fired.”

While he was proclaimed a hero, Niggemeyer suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety and eventually quit the police force. In 2011 he got a civilian job and was still seeing a counselor because of the emotional distress he suffered in 2004.

At first, the police thought Gale shot Dimebag because the he was convinced the guitarist was responsible for breaking up Pantera, his favorite band. The news widened the already huge gulf between Vinnie Paul and Pantera vocalist Philip Anselmo, whose continuous pursuit of side projects and lack of communication with the other members of Pantera contributed to the Abbotts’ decision to stop trying to get Pantera back together. During that time, Anselmo and the Abbott brothers exchanged verbal barbs in the press and Vinnie Paul was especially miffed by a comment Anselmo made to UK magazine Metal Hammer that Dime “deserves to be beaten severely.”

“There’s no doubt the guy who did this was out of his f—in’ mind,” Vinnie Paul told me. “He’s somebody that should have been incarcerated. When you’ve got somebody with obvious mental problems, it’s not a great idea for his mother to go get him a gun that’s used for killing people in the military. And obviously, he knew how to use it. He wasn’t just some ragtime dude who grabbed a gun. I saw what happened, and I knew exactly that the dude was on a mission, man, for whatever reason. And the kind of s— [Philip] said [to Metal Hammer] is the kind of s— that might incite the guy that did this to do the kind of things that he did.”

A thorough police investigation following the shooting determined that Gale was a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of Pantera were stealing his thoughts. Although Anselmo hasn’t spoken with Vinnie Paul since before the shooting and was told he wasn’t welcome at Dime’s funeral, the vocalist continues to speak highly of his former close friend Dimebag and insists “it just keeps getting tougher and tougher” every year without him. In addition, he continues to extend an olive branch to Vinnie Paul.

“He can come through that door with fifths, a handshake — any of the above — just as long as he comes because I love the guy,” Anselmo told me in 2010. “I love him. I love Vince. He’s a big part of my life, man. I just want to say on my end, I am an open door. I am an open door.”

As the first decade since Dime’s death passed in 2014 it became clear that Vinnie Paul isn’t ready to welcome Anselmo back into his life and he may never be. “It’s just not important to me,” Vinnie said during a Hellyeahinterview. “If you had an ex-wife and it was a pretty bitter split, you might not ever want to talk to her again. Who cares if everybody in the family and your friends want you to say hello again. It’s your choice whether you want to do it or not.”

While time has helped heal the wounds of seeing his brother and bandmate killed in front of him, whenever he stops and thinks about Dime, Vinnie starts to get depressed. That’s the main reason he bought a house in Las Vegas, where he spends much of his time.

“Texas will always be my home, but me and my brother used to go to Vegas all the time to escape,” Paul said. “When my brother was taken from us, there were so many ‘I’m sorrys.’ In Dallas that never stopped. It’s always a reminder of what happened when it comes up. People don’t understand that. They mean well, but I could be out somewhere watching a show, having a good time and I’ll hear, ‘Hey, sorry about your brother, man,’ and I’m right back to thinking about that night and him. It was hard to deal with. So I started going to Vegas for a few weeks at a time and I didn’t hear that as much. Then I found out you could buy houses for nothing because the housing market crashed. So I got a really nice house and now I really enjoy spending time in both places.”