Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine

Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails made a fan of me with the arrival of 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine. Industrial music with heart and raw human emotion was Reznor’s particular form of genius, and Pretty Hate Machine functioned on multiple levels due to the strength of the songwriting.

Head Like A Hole was the breakout single, and it was full of rage, angst, and rebellion. The video gained NIN an instant cult of fanatical followers, and Reznor’s touring version of the band started building a legacy of revolutionary live performances. Other memorable songs included Terrible Lie, Sin, Sanctified, Down In It, That’s What I Get, Ringfinger, and the monumental Something I Can Never Have (my favorite Nails song).

Reznor was critical of the album’s production, and it is certainly nowhere near the level of sound that listeners would become accustomed to with subsequent NIN albums.

I always hoped Reznor would take the time to re-record Pretty Hate Machine with state of the art sound…the songs are good enough that it would have been a project worthy of salivating over!

As it is, Pretty Hate Machine established Reznor as a force to be reckoned with, and as a sort of antidote to much of the grunge explosion that would rule the music world in the following years. For myself personally, PanterA and NIN were a welcome respite from the Seattle sound (and I loved a lot of that stuff, too) in the ’90’s, so I will take a flawed production with the quality of songwriting that was present on Pretty Hate Machine.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams


Badlands released their self titled debut in 1989 following guitarist Jake E. Lee’s departure from Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band (okay, he was fired in a telephone call from Sharon Osbourne).

Lee enlisted singer Ray Gillen and drummer Eric Singer, both former Black Sabbath replacement players, and bassist Greg Chaisson to form the hard rocking Badlands.

Lee’s bluesy tendencies came to the forefront on the Badlands album, especially in the amazing Rumblin’ Train.

Other excellent tracks included Dreams In The Dark, Winter’s Call, High Wire, Devil’s Stomp, and my personal favorite, Seasons.

I got to see Badlands at The Ritz in New York City in 1991, just 2 months after they released their second (and final album), Voodoo Highway.

Although there were plenty of tensions in the band by then, Lee demonstrated monster chops on the guitar, and Gillen sang like a man possessed. His death just 2 years later effectively ended any chance of Badlands making any further music.

It’s a shame, because their bluesy hard rock may have stood a chance even in the coming storm of the grunge movement.

The shining moments of their two albums still have a spark and real passion to the music, like a band that has something to prove.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Dirt is the album that put Alice In Chains firmly in the big league. It is a brutally dark album, with death and heroin lurking in virtually every corner. There is raw beauty (the haunting vocal harmonies of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell are simply a force of nature), memorable story lines (Rooster, Down In A Hole, Angry Chair), and plenty of rock hard riffs (Them Bones, Would?) but overall, Dirt is a relentless ride through the perils of the drug life and it is a no-comprising, non flinching account of what Alice In Chains faced in the years of the early ’90’s. Is it metal or is it grunge? Who cares…it’s a masterpiece of despair with an iron core of never surrendering the fight for life…and it endures for its honesty and bravery. Art is rarely easy, and Alice In Chains found out the hard way.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 8/21/1993, I saw Anthrax, White Zombie, and Quicksand at Deer Creek, in Noblesville, IN. Quicksand began the show with a punishing set of their own unique brand of post-hardcore metal. They were touring in support of their debut album, Slip, which went on to influence the likes of Deftones and many others.

White Zombie followed with their patented horror themed insanity. This was my first time to see all the bands on the bill, and from that day forward, anything Rob Zombie has been involved in has had my attention.

Anthrax were in the era when John Bush was their lead singer, and he did a tremendous job. I knew of him from his work with Armored Saint and have always loved his voice. He was a perfect fit for Anthrax, even though Joey Belladonna will always remain their most popular front man.

Bush sounded great on the classic stuff, but had also contributed heavily to one of the best Anthrax tracks of all time, “Only.” For bonus cool points, Anthrax threw in a crushing rendition of “Thieves” by Ministry…pure adrenaline rush!

My son Luke was 8 years old and had discovered the word “mosh” and he kept telling me he was going to mosh. I told him repeatedly that he wouldn’t be doing that, as he was too young and small.  When Anthrax played “Caught In A Mosh” near the beginning of their set, a colossal circle pit materialized in the center of the lawn and Luke ran down onto the walkway between the lawn and the pavilion and looked up at me in wide-eyed intensity and proclaimed “I’m not going in there!” I told him that was a pretty good idea and inwardly smiled a huge smile! Every band killed that night and Luke became a gigantic Rob Zombie fan. Proud papa? You bet!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

Motionless-in-White-motionless-in-white-37815829-500-281On this date in history, 8/14/2015, Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Bullet For My Valentine, and Motionless In White combined to play an impressive show at Deer Creek. I had seen each of these bands at least twice, but the teaming up of 4 such diverse bands made for a really enjoyable time.  Motionless In White kicked off the show with youthful energy and the charismatic presence of Chris Motionless, a less menacing version of the goth icon, Marilyn Manson. Whether one labels them metalcore, goth metal, or whatever other metal subgenre one wants to use, Motionless In White write great songs that translate well in big outdoor shows.


imagesBullet For My Valentine played the best show I have ever seen them play, doubtless spurred on by what preceded them and mindful of the titans that would follow. They had just released Venom, their 5th album, and it seemed they were fired up to make it successful.

Lamb Of God also had recently released a new album, VII: Sturm und Drang, the latest in a long line of crushing collections of brilliantly constructed mosh inducing mayhem.


Indeed, as someone who was up in the lawn area, the pits were quite volatile and ferocious, a perfect accompaniment to the precision attack of the Richmond, Virginia maestros.

Few bands could follow Lamb Of God on a good night, but Slipknot are one of them, and follow they did, playing probably the most impressive set I’ve yet to see them play.


Everything was louder, brighter, simply MORE…a 9 ring circus from Hell…the Iowa based madmen bring the spectacle and I’m quite sure they have done for young metal fans what Kiss did for me in my formative years, which is to say they act as a gateway to so much discovery. One just has to peek behind that door and walk in to a world of music and entertainment.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

imagesOn this date in history, 6/29/1999, I witnessed my second Ozzfest in the friendly confines of Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. This one was one of the best lineups they ever had, in my humble opinion, featuring Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Slayer, Primus, Godsmack, System Of A Down, Apartment 26, all on the main stage, with Fear Factory, Static-X, Puya, Slipknot, Hed (Pe), Flashpoint, Pushmonkey, and Drain S.T.H. on the second stage. 88a04e3ef23045e4c5f262e8039b09df

For some unknown reason even to myself, I didn’t see any of the second stage bands that year, but I have heard from many sources that the first Indiana appearance of Slipknot was legendary. I know that Static-X and Fear Factory likely delivered crushing sets as well.

This was a concert of firsts for me. I saw System Of A Down, Godsmack, Slayer, and the mighty Black Sabbath for the first time at this show. I had seen Rob Zombie with White Zombie, but this was also the first time I saw him solo.

System Of A Down were up there doing what they do, and I was having a hard time wrapping my ears around it, having never properly heard them yet, but I started watching this guy who knew every word to every song and through his enthusiasm I caught their passion and became a fan instantly.

I went out and bought their debut cd the following day. Primus provided another first as they brought out Buckethead for an utterly mind blowing guitar solo segment during their performance. They also delighted the crowd by performing their self-penned theme song from the South Park tv show, creating a frenzied mosh pit that would have made Eric Cartman proud.

Speaking of frenzied mosh pits, Slayer came next and incinerated the playing field with their Slaytanic assault, melting faces and unleashing their legendary fury. I felt a little sorry for Deftones, who had to follow the blitzkrieg, but they are an amazing band in their own right, and they played great, as usual.

Rob Zombie put on a stunning visual overload type of show that he has made his career on, and proving beyond a doubt that he is one of the best metal headliners around. During “Thunder Kiss ’65”, Kerry King from Slayer joined Zombie on stage to deliver a ghoulish masterpiece.

imagesWhen Black Sabbath finally took the stage they opened with “War Pigs” and all the hair on my neck and arms literally stood up. I can’t begin to describe the glorious totality of that SOUND…Sabbath is like the slow moving lava cruising down the side of Mt. Doom, crushing all in its path in this infinitely compelling darkness. Without them, metal would have still been born one way or the other, but thankfully it WAS born with them, and this Ozzfest will always hold a special place in my heart. Sabbath and Slayer for the first time at the same concert? Yeah, that pretty much ruled!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic


On This Day in History

On this date in history, 6/4/1989, a hair metal show featuring Ratt, Great White, and Warrant descended on the still brand new Deer Creek facility in Noblesville, IN.

As I have already reported, the first rock show at that venue had occurred just a couple of weeks previously.

2224a26e448365fc551ed588c03f3530The hair metal phenomenon was in full swing and this was a good lineup of bands that more or less complimented each other’s styles.


Warrant opened the show with their stylized choreography, pop metal, hook filled songs featuring the soaring lead vocals of Jani Lane and plenty of flashy guitar solos. The ‘80s hair metal scene produced its share of great music.

Great White followed with a much bluesier approach, but Jack OutoftheNightGWRussell’s vocals were also in the high register and lead guitar was the guiding force of the music.

Ratt were champions of the sleaze rock style and probably owe Aerosmith a great amount of thanks for showing them the way to do it.

Stephen Pearcy sang with a much grittier and harsher vocal style that set his band apart from the rest of the hair metal scene, but ratt2010aWarren DeMartini’s blazing guitar talent planted Ratt firmly in the upper echelon of hair nation.

I was already firmly becoming of fan of the Deer Creek venue and am eagerly looking forward to more experiences there this summer.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka  The Concert Critic




On This Day in History

On this date in history, I witnessed my first Pantera show back in 1995 at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis. From start to finish it was an absolutely pepsi collusieumastounding display of vulgar power…truly stronger than all! The show started with a really solid set by the goth metal powerhouse, Type O Negative. I remember complaining about the guitar player’s sound, but other than that small detail, I thoroughly enjoyed their time on the stage. Peter Steele was amazing, from his general appearance (jet black hair, tall and menacing sinister demeanor) to his hilarious comments between songs. At one point he proclaimed that if it would have been up to him we would have all been allowed into the show for free. Of course the crowd roared its approval…until he said in that deep, diabolical voice of his, “But I would charge you all $50 apiece to leeeeeeaaaave!” Too awesome!


Pantera & Type O Negative Tour


As good as they were, there was an electric feeling of anticipation in the air as we awaited Pantera’s arrival. From the moment they hit the stage it was as if a bomb had detonated and scattered us to the four corners as a churning maelstrom of mosh pit frenzy broke out in the middle of the floor. This was metal 101, every song, every riff, every note, designed to pulverize and conquer the devoted fans of the best metal band (in my humble opinion) to ever take a stage. Phil Anselmo was ill that night, but you would never have known it by his performance. He sang like a man possessed, and his energy was boundless. Dime demonstrated over and over why he was the king of metal guitar, matching Phil’s energy and boosting it even further. Rex and Vinnie laid down the fat Texas grooves that allowed Dime to build mansions of intense molten lava glorious riffs upon. Pantera had SONGS, plain and simple. There will never be anything like them again…often imitated, but never duplicated. Dime and Peter Steele are both gone, and I am so lucky and fortunate that I got to see them both on this magical night. Long live PanterA!

Pantera concert disturbed by Type O Negative


Written By:  Braddon S. Williams

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