Friday, January 31, 2014

Experience the Fantastic--The Big 4 of American Thrash Metal

My first exposure to thrash metal came on a mild Sunday in 1986.  My older brother and a few of his friends would be out for most of the day, doing many of the things dudes in their late teens did for enjoyment in western Maryland while it was still light outside.  (I'm sure drinking weak-ass beer, smoking weak-ass weed and then going for a swim in tepid water was involved.)  This allowed me an opportunity to rummage through his music.

My brother occupied the far-west bedroom on the second floor of the house, but most of his valuables were kept in the attic--including his vinyl records and turntable.  A couple times a month, I'd get the chance to sneak up there and spin some black circles while gaping at gatefolds.  If my bro knew about my flagrant violation of House Rule #33--little sister shall leave big brother's stuff alone--he let it slide.  Maybe he knew, but realized that soon there would come a day.  A day when his pre-teen sibling would, in her haste to hear the latest and greatest from Satan's playlist, come across Slayer's Reign In Blood and realize she had not yet heard that one.

The tale of what transpired when that very scenario materialized--will have to wait.

Welcome to my latest--and likely lastest--discography review.  Forget dancing about architecture; this undertaking was like walking through a maze of cacti at midnight on a time limit.    Trapper Jenn MD, escaping without acupuncture.  Join me as I take a chronological look at the major releases of the so-called "Big 4" of American thrash metal:

Metallica--Formed 1981, in Los Angeles, when a hyperactive metal fanatic named Lars Ulrich begged Metal Blade Records bossman Brian Slagel for a spot on his label's forthcoming compilation album, despite not actually having a band.  One newspaper ad later brought Ulrich his bandmates.  One friends idea for a killer zine name provided the group their name.

Slayer--Formed 1981 in Huntington Park, CA.  Definitely did not take their name from some stupid movie.  Fans voted "Most Likely To Self-Immolate." 

Anthrax--Formed 1981 in New York City.  The only Big 4 band not from the West Coast.  If Slayer are the devil, Anthrax are the devil-may-care.  This lighthearted approach to heavy music earned them a devoted following, but has also resulted in their work being overlooked and underappreciated by many fans and media outlets who would have preferred Exodus be in their position.

Megadeth--Formed 1983 in LA after vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine was brusquely booted from Metallica. The most overtly political of the Big 4 since Day One.  Twenty men can claim to have been an official Megadeth member.

Combined, they've sold millions, earned billions, and formed like Voltron on special occasions to rock stages.  Buncha Venom and Iron Maiden fanboys who just wanted to play it louder, faster and eventually better.  Whilst boasting iconic fucking logos. 

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