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Iron Man’s new album teaser will make you want to come … to their next show

Full disclosure here. My husband is the drummer for the legendary heavy metal outfit from Maryland called Iron Man. You know, that Iron Man band led by guitarist “Iron Man” Al Morris III, that’s been around for like 25 years and put out four albums and three EPs and have garnered a world-wide following, long before the interwebz made it easy.  They built their fan base the old-school way.

So I have not seen much of my beloved lately, because he and the fellas have been recording a new record with producer Frank Marchand at his studio Hudson Street Sound in Annapolis, Md. I have heard a few clips of songs as demos, and a few more songs have debuted at recent Iron Man shows. But mostly, everything in the Iron Man compound remains under wraps. I basically know nothing.

Therefore, I was genuinely excited when I saw that the band had posted a 1:23 minute album teaser video on their Facebook page.  I pressed play. And a minute and a half later I felt….um, moist. Yes, I had a visceral reaction to what I was hearing.  I am not making this up.

Give this a listen and you tell me if just this brief snippet from the album’s title track, South of the Earth, doesn’t give you an ear boner or at least send chills down your spine. Just press play.

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Spikes and spandex at the M3 Rock Fest

Every year, I pick at least one festival I would not normally attend, go with an open mind and see what happens. This year that festival will be the M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 3-4 in Columbia, Md.

What’s so special about M3? What’s the draw? For people who dig what’s called “hair metal”, the M3 lineup is a dream come true. Friday night is the kick-off party, or “Kix-off,” since Maryland heavy metal legends Kix will be performing that night, along with the super young up-and-coming locals Bad Seed Rising (more on them later this week) and sleaze balladeers Danger Danger. Friday’s headliner is the the aggressive L.A. hair band godfathers W.A.S.P.  Saturday starts early and features headliners Bret Michaels Band and Twisted Sister with support from Jackyl, Firehouse, Steel Panther, Kings X, Great White featuring Jack Russell, Loudness, JSRG (former members of Vixen), Love/Hate, Steelheart, Tuff, Trixter, Streetlight Circus, Korupt, and In the Pink.

774610_10151359604131077_160050828_oI know a little about some of these bands. I’ve seen Twister Sister a couple times live. I am very interested in seeing Japan’s heavy metal powerhouse Loudness and the prog rocker King’s X. I have something of an idea of what it will be like,  but for the most part, I will be a stranger in a strange land. It’s possible that the hair metal phase was just something that skipped me.

To gain insight on the genre, I decided to question some hardcore hair metal heads about their love for this style of heavy metal.  I picked fans from different age ranges and backgrounds. They include Lindsey “Turnbullet”, 24 of Silver Spring, an ex-Floridian and government worker bee; Hector Ub, a 30-something from Washington, D.C. who hosts the Latin American metal radio show “Imperdonables Del Rock;” and a married couple, Tess Spradlin-Collins, 41 of Baltimore, who works in health care and is a part-time DJ and her husband Chuck Collins, 39, a bartender.  Most interviewees will be attending at least one if not both days of the event. Lindsey and Hector are newbies, but Tess has gone every year since M3 started five years ago.  Chuck has attend all but the first year.

What band(s) are you most excited to see at M3?

Lindsey: W.A.S.P.! If I stay for Saturday, then definitely Twisted Sister.

Hector: Well, all of them are really good but Kix, W.A.S.P., Firehouse, Steel Panther and Bret Michaels are my faves.

Tess: W.A.S.P, Twisted Sister, Tuff, Love/Hate, Steel Panther, Firehouse, Danger Danger, Great White and Loudness. Almost all of them!

Chuck: Twisted Sister, Loudness, Kix, W.A.S.P. and Steel Panther.

Lindsey "Turnbullet" with Frost. Yes, that Frost.

Lindsey “Turnbullet” with Frost. Yes, that Frost.

Of the lineup, which band did you listen to growing up, if any, and why?

Lindsey: W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister, my dad listened to heavy metal when I was a kid, so I did, too.

Hector: That specific time frame of my life was very special, growing up around the amazing sound of rock and roll and hair bands made a difference in my life. Firehouse is really special with songs like “When I Look into Your Eyes.” It reminds me of a girl I could never have had (she didn’t like long hair dudes,  hahaha!) and of course Kix with “don’t close your eyes” and Bret Michaels with “Every Rose has its Thorn” — that was one of my first songs that I learned to play on my guitar. And how could I  forget Twisted Sister with songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and ” I Wanna Rock,” songs that made me feel free and wild back then, a feeling I want to revive, and that’s why I’m not going to miss this huge festival.”

Tess: I was in junior high when I was first discovered “hair metal.” Twisted Sister was one of the first bands I heard, along with Quiet Riot.

Chuck: Twisted Sister along with Quiet Riot, and Motley Crue were definitely the gateway into metal for me. I guess it was around 1983-84. From there I discovered Ozzy, Judas Priest, Dio, etc. Then came the flood of thrash, punk, hardcore, death metal, doom, black metal and every other subgenre classification that have sort of defined most of my life for the last thirty years.

How would you characterize this kind of “metal’?

Lindsey: Total glam hair madness (and I make no apologies!), except King’s X.

Hector: For everybody else it is glam and heavy rock, but for me is a feeling with no other name than happiness!

Tess: It’s poppy, cheesy, fun, silly, good time music, some of it is really bad, but I still love it!

Chuck: Although it’s called “hair metal,” I think that’s a misnomer. It’s just rock n’ roll as far as I’m concerned.

Hector Ub

Hector Ub

What about this style of music appeals to you?

Lindsey: Big ridiculous aesthetics and “anthemic” songs. I love a good sing-a-long. I also love drag.

Hector: Metal is my favorite and you can include any sub-genres. I’m also into a bit of 90’s alt-rock and some reggae music (Yeah Bob Marley rocks), I’m open minded about music I guess from my musician background.

Tess: It is fun, happy music. Some of the band members were very pleasing to the eye. No one can write a ballad like a hair metal band.

Chuck: It’s fun, it’s goofy, and it reminds me of my youth.

What sort of sights do you expect to see in the crowd?

Lindsey: Oh, it’s going to be prime people watching. Lots of big hair, overly tanned people, tight jeans. People who never grew out of their 80s glam phase. Lots of people with kids. Alcohol consumption.

Hector: I never expect any violence at this kind of festival. It is always full of people wanting to have a good time, enjoying the bands and making friends. I have seen whole families, teenagers, and kids learning and having an awesome time with the music of these amazing bands.

Tess: Sadly, since this type of music has all but died, you will find a lot of people holding on to their youth. I would say the finest of the white trash would best describe what you will see at M3. The people watching will be amazing.

Chuck: I expect to see lots of winners. The people watching is half the fun of this event.

What does heavy metal music mean to you?

Lindsey: It’s everything from the music to the gear to the look to the attitude. Metal has been a big part of my life for a long time and yet, I can’t succinctly describe what it means to me. I guess that means I should shut up and not do the genre a disservice.

Hector: It means my life, for me is not a style, but it is a way to live. Some people ask me sometimes why the long hair, why the rock band t-shirts and jeans.  I just say it is who I am, it represents me, who I’m inside, a wild and free spirit. I couldn’t be another person. This is me being me since I can remember, and I love who I am, hell yeah!

Tess: I like a lot of different types of metal, there’s nothing too philosophical about it.

Chuck: Heavy Metal has pretty much helped to shape the person that I am today, as corny as that may sound. Most of my friendships were forged on common musical interests, my chosen profession stems from being a musician/fan of music, namely metal. My wife and I started talking to one another at a metal show. Lastly, it has afforded me the opportunity to own thousands of black t-shirts.

Chuck and Tess Collins

Chuck and Tess Collins

Is there anything else you want to share?

Lindsey:  I’m really looking forward to it! I love bands that really get into over-the-top live shows. It’s always more fun to watch that than a bunch of dudes who stand there and look bored while they shred totally insane arpeggios or whatever. You’re great, everyone knows, but I want to be entertained, damn it.

Hector: This festival is going to be magical. Even if you already have seen these bands and you know how they rock, come and have a good time and tune in my radio show IMPERDONABLES DEL ROCK www.facebook.com/imperdonablesdelrock, Tuesdays 9:30 pm on www.honduradio.com

Tess: You can share my love of hair metal with me on the second Saturday of every month upstairs at The Otto bar. I DJ “The Hair Ball,” a night of all hair, glam, and sleaze.

Get updates on M3 at their Facebook page here.

REVIEW: Radamanthys – Eternal Judgment takes you to hell, but you’ll enjoy it

Radamanthys, a technical death metal four-some form Towson, Md. have finally released an official recording. You can find it at the end of this blog post, downloadable for free.

I say finally, because I first encountered these guys nearly two years ago and just figured it was a matter of time before they would be opening for important headliners and putting out their first full-length.

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Radamanthys

Well, life is funny and sometimes life gets in the way. Either way, their debut effort Eternal Judgment is a beautiful beast of a thing. It’s just four songs and clocks in a just less than 15 highly satisfying minutes. Radamanthys is Alex Conti on vocals and guitar, Mario Pareja-Lecaros on lead guitar, Basil Chiasson on bass and Dan Sullivan on drums.

Eternal Judgment follows a theme of traveling down into the dark underworld of Hades. The listener is invited along a path from which there is no escape. But it is also about tight musicianship, expert execution and classic death metal melodies.

“March of the Dead” launches the demo with militaristic drumming and searing guitars that foreshadow what’s to come. It goes straight into the title track with its piercing guitar leads and the first strains of Alex’s vocals. And oh good gracias those guitar leads. The rhythm section is on point. You will have to check the stereo again and again to remind yourself that you are not listening to much more experienced musicians.

“Tartanus” pops opens with some heavy King-Crimson-esque chords. The group’s technical savvy really shines in the complexity of this song. The final track “Asphodel Meadows” is amazing, building tension to about its halfway point when Alex cries out “Never to get away!”  In some ways, I feel like this track could be the halfway point of a full length, where the other half tells the story of how our dearly departed possibly escapes his final destination…or maybe he doesn’t.

Anyway, the demo is a brilliant effort for a young band. Hopefully, the people that matter will take note. I sent the band some questions. Here’s what they had to say:

How did Radamanthys come into existence?

Mario: So, since we started playing guitar we wanted to start a band. We use to jam at my house, brainstorming and getting our chops up. Our first incarnation featured Alex and me on guitars, Mo on vocals, Nick on bass and Mikey on drums. We had some disagreements on the bands directions, which led to the departure of Nick and Mikey who later went on to form Myopic. Basil joined us soon after, and I contacted Ari to play with us for the time being. This worked for a while, but we ran into problems with Mo mostly due to the travel distance since he came from Virginia. We brought Alex Hura to fill in vocals for a short period of time but ultimately decided to handle vocal duties ourselves Ari decided to focus on his other band Encrypted Sun. That led to recruiting Dan and that’s where we are now.

Who was Radamanthys (the character)?

Mario: Radamanthys has a few pieces of lore; he was one of the more just kings of Crete and upon his death was appointed a judge of the dead by Hades. He serves in the underworld determining what kind of punishment a person will receive and sending them to the appropriate area of Hades

Who writes the songs and what are they about?

Alex: I wrote most of the music and lyrics. Songs were then presented to the other band members who had free reign to alter their parts. Basil heavily edited the bass parts, I only wrote the basic framework. Sections with solos and leads were left blank to be completed by their respective players. The exception is “Asphodel Meadows” where Basil wrote the bass lead in the intro first, and I wrote a song around that.

The whole demo is a concept EP about descending into Hades to discover your fate in the afterlife. “March of the Dead” is supposed to be a literal march of the dead as deceased souls enter Hades and await their judgment. “Eternal Judgment” is about arriving at Hades and going through the process of being eternally judged. The songs refers to actual places and processes in Hades from Greek mythology such as crossing the river Styx lead by Charon on the ferry to the plains of judgment. It discusses the various realms of the underworld such as Tartarus (hell) and Asphodel (purgatory.) The chorus sums up the demo as we describe Radamanthys’ role and allude to everyone’s eventual eternal judgment. The next two songs are basic descriptions of the places mentioned in eternal judgment as you descend through Hades.

Here is the map I used for reference.

Where did the idea for this come from originally though, I mean for you to make this journey into songs?

Alex: Well, I wrote “Eternal Judgment” first and I realized there were all these cool places that we could elaborate on that were only briefly mentioned in the song. So I had the idea of taking a couple of these places and using them for other song. The melodies may have been already in the process, but I matched them on purpose. “Tartarus” has a very hellish feel, while the tapping riff in “Asphodel” has a very stagnant never-ending feel along with the creepy middle section with solos. That’s because, in a way, Asphodel is the worst of all, not painful but not pleasurable– “The Asphodel Meadows not of virtue nor sin.” We just did some research and tried to use of the information as best as we could and then along the way we made some stuff up on our own, because that’s really what mythology is.

What does the future hold for Radamanthys?

Alex: We will be promoting this demo as much as we can and try to get our name out to as many people as we can. Now that our demo is finished, we are currently looking for shows, and people should feel welcome to get in contact with us through our Facebook page for any show opportunities. We’re also possibly going to shoot a music video for one of the tracks!

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