“…a face obscured by hair leaving just a dog like snarl while playing devastating music, how very thrash…”- Harry Callahan, Youtuber
And that sums it up in a very sweet, poetic way when describing Megadeth. I didn’t hear about this speed/ thrash metal band until I was around the age of 12 during which time I was still going through my classic/hard rock/ heavy metal faze of the late 80s. Yes, I was one of the many in my youth that would ‘head bang’ to this very fast-paced, almost break-neck speed music and play air guitar. Oh, and can’t forget about that huge, long spiral, wavy hair that would obscure and twirl about Dave Mustaine’s face.
And it was the tale end of an exciting era for many in my upcoming generation as the late 80s ushered in the very early 90’s. It took me awhile to warm up to seeing the likes of Vic “Rattlehead” for the first time and I believe I saw the album Peace Sells But Whose Buying and So Far, So Good, So What and the reader might be thinking, “Who?”
Vic Rattlehead is Megadeth’s ‘see no evil, hear no evil, do no evil’ skeletal mascot very much like ‘Eddie’ is Iron Maiden’s recognizable mascot. And the sound that graced my [then] young ears wasn’t mumbling, guttural or shouting that to me remain undecipherable and unattractive, personally.
I don’t want to put down any newer music that would trample the thrash/speed metal time period, it’s just me expressing my opinion. The mainstream thrash/ speed metal music I was introduced to at the time for me had to have that certain ‘edge’ or magical appeal rather, and the lyrics must be at least 50 percent understandable for me to either like a song or few or not at all.
Could I relate to the aggression, angst and mediocre music industry standard supply with demand? I didn’t view any of the thrash/speed metal as angst-ridden or even depressing. Sure there is mention of death, dying, wars, destruction, etc. but the meaning had an opposite effect on me growing up. I was neither made sad or depressed listening to it. It was the perfect music to skateboard to or just hang out in my bedroom drawing and sketching and maybe hum along to the song. To me it was exciting and passed the time between studying and homework. The lyrics might sound ‘dated’ nowadays, but the newness never left.
‘Symphony of Destruction’ was the first song I heard on the radio by Megadeth and it was popular right around the same time frame that we were in the Persian Gulf war. So no, our country was not going through ‘peace time’. I was fourteen at the time and didn’t take an interest in politics and I certainly didn’t like seeing all the violence that the war coverage brought onto the small TV screen on the evening news. In those days we didn’t have flat screens because they weren’t thought of yet.
On the eve of the Persian Gulf war though, a few acquaintances I had made during this time spoke of the ‘what-if’ scenario of what we would do if we had been caught up in a draft. Simply put: we’d become draft-dodgers like that of the 1960’s/1974 generation. I can’t speak for my entire 80’s generation but we certainly didn’t believe in taking up arms or be shipped off to some foreign country we likely couldn’t point to on a map only to then return home in box. And none of us were even old enough to vote, be turned loose with our first driver’s permit, or even apply for our first stepping stone job.
We saw plenty of war depiction music videos to show us that war never solves anything. I remember I wept when I first saw Metallica’s 1989 video “One” when I was twelve. I was so shocked by the brutality and felt this hopeless sadness for the fictional soldier who can’t speak and is missing his limbs. I had to ask my older brother if what Metallica showed in that video really happened to soldiers when they go off to fight for our country. My brother glanced up from repairing a stereo speaker, grim expression and told me, “Yes, that’s a real possibility when a soldier leaves for war.”
I never learned about the behind-the-scenes of warring nations because public school will gloss over this and how wars get started. I remember there was a major push to tie a yellow ribbon on everything that wasn’t nailed down to show patriotism and if a student was indifferent or didn’t take any interest being patriotic, then they were bullied relentlessly in school by their peers.
I don’t miss those school days from my youth because I was indifferent when it came to wars and never liked to be a neutral party to anything ‘war’-related once the aftermath of two custody battles in my family was still on-going. A year before I had to play mediator between two arguing sides that just made false accusations. Finally, at thirteen it drove me nuts and I was a nervous wreck because of it. When I turned fourteen I had decided I didn’t want no more of that adult responsibility of fielding the phone calls. It was very difficult on me to hear my grandparents putting my parents down constantly, too. Parents don’t come with a handy ‘rule book’ just like teenagers won’t quit their dramatic, turbulent times when puberty hits.
All I wanted was to get happily lost in this new thrash/ speed metal music that I found fascinating. I wanted to forget about trying to act all ‘adult’-like at fourteen and just skateboard until my heart was content. I wanted Eddie Van Halen to amaze me on 8 track tape since I bought two of Van Halen’s albums in 1991 from a thrift store: Van Halen (self-titled) and Van Halen II. I played those 8 tracks until I wore them out. And David Lee Roth could sing! And he had long hair and was cute too I thought. My mom had a very different viewpoint (from a well-meaning concerned ‘parent’ perspective) and made me throw out the black and white poster depicting David Lee Roth chained to a chain link fence, bearing his chest looking at the camera with a sultry stare. Yep, too much sex appeal was my guess as to why my mother made me throw away that poster. It was very mature to be tacked to a teenage girl’s bedroom wall.
Oh, yeah, and Peter Criss still had to put a shirt on and quit showing off those leather studded bandoleers across his chest even though my parents had trashed my first Kiss collection the year prior. My mom thought the Peter Criss picture was too suggestive, and I believe I tore that out of a Peter Criss 1978 songbook that was given to me by my friend’s uncle who was a die-hard Kiss fan and grew up during the time the band was in their heyday of the 1970’s. But he expressed to me as he placed that song book in my hands that I could have it under two conditions: I keep it safe because in thirty years from the time he gave it to me in 1990/91 it would become a valuable collector’s item if kept in good condition, and secondly, that I never, ever do street drugs of any kind. Those were the two promises he made make to him. I didn’t follow through on the first promise to keep the song book in good condition, but I kept it safe as possible when it was in my brief possession and should it ever surface in my lifetime by remote chance unknown to the universe, I’ll know it when I see it because I colored in the KISS logo on the first inner page and put my contact information on the back inner cover and it’s missing one of the three color pages too. I did uphold my second promise to my friend’s uncle and never touched street drugs, by the way.
And there’s too much ‘male’ manliness going on an average typical healthy teenage girl’s bedroom, I suppose. 🙂 Although at the time the word ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ don’t enter into my teenage vocabulary at all. In fact, I’m very much uninformed at fourteen because I don’t ask twenty questions and the word ‘hormones’ doesn’t exist yet since everything seemed to me at the time to be strictly taboo in my household. The word and definition of hormones finally enters my vocabulary when I’m in my early 30’s. And no, this doesn’t make me inept. I simply have to locate the word and look up its definition, then do a palm smack to my head, say “Doh!” and laugh it off. 😀
Due in large part of the heavy censorship in my household growing up I never got to see the new video by Megadeth for Symphony of Destruction since MTV was scrambled on the cable box. However, many years later I did see the video, or at the very least, a very well put together fan’s tribute to the aforementioned song perhaps. There were two different videos for Symphony of Destruction. One video depicts a mock (fake) presidential campaign where a fictional presidential candidate or senator gets assassinated. And there’s the other version where a group of WWII soldiers parachute behind enemy lines from their cargo plane that gets struck by enemy fire, and before the fiery plane explodes and later crashes, one lone soldier bails out in the neck of time and lands safely behind occupied enemy lines. The rest I won’t spoil for those who may not have had a chance to see either Megadeth video. But the latter version appealed to me, not for its gory, horrific and traumatic depiction of war, but I felt the lyrics matched up better for the visual story-telling of the song.
And Megadeth’s song Hanger 18 was about the Roswell incident from what I heard about and the song became very popular on the radio in the winter of 1991. Again, I never got to see this music video either, but enjoyed seeing Vic Rattlehead depicted as a main character in the Hanger 18 video many years later instead of seeing this mascot as a one-dimensional depiction on Megadeth’s album covers and in magazine album announcements.
I never bought the cassette tape of their newest album “Rust in Peace”, but did have the magazine album announcement taped to my bedroom wall for the longest time. I elected not to buy the album because I knew my parents would have thrown it in the trash since they still ruled the house with a ‘zero’ tolerance policy in regards to the music we were allowed to have. I always heard from being a [then] young ‘metal head’, if you couldn’t name at least a band’s first three albums or even know one popular song, then you weren’t considered a ‘fan’ by any stretch of the imagination. Nowadays, I’m happy to see this is a thing of the past. I’m also very pleased to see the older music being embraced and loved by a whole new generation as well, although the special meanings might get a little confusing since my generation got to experience it and live it first hand and the new generation is discovering it like staking their claim to a new land mass.
But this thrash/ speed metal wasn’t all about to annoy the parents or crank it up so loud that they’d gladly throw out their teenager’s stereo setup. And that’s how some 80s ultra conservative more strictly religious parents dealt with noise pollution in their households from what I later heard throughout the years. I thanked my lucky stars that my stereo speakers just had too many miles put on them when I bought them second hand, and my parents never went that overboard. Sure, there was some questionable lyrics dripping with sexual innuendos that flew over my head when I was a teenager. I didn’t ponder or even analyze the meaning of the lyrics growing up. If the visual appeal of the album covers caught my eye, I wanted to hear a sample the music. And how was this possible? You can’t hold an LP or a cassette tape up to your ear like a sea shell and hear the music.
And what I’m about to describe is what I seriously miss about music shopping nowadays since everything is instant with a few clicks of a mouse button. Have you ever seen those price check scanners throughout stores they have nowadays? Well, back in my day this ‘listen before you buy’ of hearing a song was made possible by scanning the barcode of those old single-song cassette tapes and it was phenomenal!
I remember my older sister showed me how to scan the barcode of the albums and we listened to a snippet of several songs by different bands one at a time and smiled. I remember I was a little worried about the red laser that scanned the barcodes since in my [then] young mind I still considered these laser scanners as being potentially harmful which didn’t turn out to be the case. I was twelve years old at this time and you couldn’t expect me to know everything about laser technology advancements. I was both awed and intimidated of the laser barcode scanner because I viewed it as part of the mark of the beast we heard so much about growing up. This isn’t to say we were living in the dark ages, far from it. And my older sister and I certainly weren’t living under a rock. The information about what exactly this ‘number of the beast’ was all about became muddled from one religion to the next.
Now scanning the barcode and hearing a one-minute of music was something very brand new and revolutionary that was launched sometime during 1989 when I took new keen interest in music. And like some new technological advancements, this barcode music sampling vanished very soon after for reasons then unknown to me. The department stores I patronized growing up had all fazed out this way of hearing a snippet of a new album and I didn’t see anything similar take its place until a good eighteen years later when a song from a CD could be sampled in similar fashion.
Most of the time Wally World’s music sampling scanner was out of service and I didn’t like to listen to it through a pair of headphones. To me I found putting on a pair of publicly shared headphones was gross and very unhygienic, for one. Secondly, the excitement and thrill was lost when the music could no longer be heard blaring throughout the electronic department. And if you were still using the model T of computer connections, mine was the incredibly slow ‘dial up’ since it was cheap, then often I’d have to wait about three hours for one new song to download without it re-buffering or the connection being lost. But that was the downside of sampling music nowadays. The album can either be worth the money or a waste of it if it doesn’t have any good songs.
I didn’t buy any new albums for a few years once the five dollar or less cassette tape bin became non-existent. I still loathed compact disc and the compressed, flat sound it produces. There’s no bass boost. The lead singer sounds like their crooning out of a Mason jar. Did they find the guitarist in a garage band? And was the drummer pounding on pots and pans or trash can lids? And did the bassist just decide to go back to their day job?
What’s become of music nowadays… I shook my head in dismay and often didn’t bother to give the album or band a second glance in most cases. I will forever be an LP, 8-track tape and cassette tape-collecting aficionado because those are my creature comforts that I’m familiar with and know well. 🙂
Megadeth never released an album on 8 track tape to my knowledge. Please dub one of their albums on a recordable 8 track cartridge tape for me and I would be a happy camper. Anything is possible with an 8 track player recorder and the proper stereo setup. I’ve done it before as a test in the past so I know its possible to dub from cassette onto 8 track tape and vice-versa because I wouldn’t settle for hearing these early formats of music being re-vamped, polished, digitized, compressed, and to my ears, ‘lost’ on a compact disc. Now Iron Maiden I know released some of their early albums on 8 track tape, but boy howdy, those are extremely rare and are way out of price nowadays when they do surface.
Am I regretting the time I downsized and threw out almost all of my cassette tapes? No, because they were so worn out there was a lot of bleed through and the music had begun to oxidize. That’s where the music becomes ‘whisper quiet’ sounding and this can be due to touching the tape thus ruining the magnetic pickup that reads and plays back the music and of course as the years pass by this can speed up the oxidization process.
Stay tuned for more and as always, thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging, commenting, tweeting, etc. I truly appreciate it! 🙂