What Were They Thinking?

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Head Explode

Head ExplodeMusic is a very subjective topic and it often amazes me how one person can hear something and praise it so highly, but the person next to him will inevitably perceive it as garbage.  However, there is something to be said about when you come across those gems that seemingly catch everyone off guard.

Those albums from legends that established themselves with a very monumental start then just out of the blue seemed to screw it up over night and managed to get the vast majority to step back and say “whoah… where did this come from?”  Albums that you would never guess came from a given artist were you not told.

With that have my opinionated rant on albums by people with greater expectations.  If you don’t like it then feel free to tell me by complimenting me.  I’ll understand your real intentions.

The Beatles – Yellow Submarine

Ok, so maybe this one isn’t entirely fair.  I was a far cry from birth when this album was received and it has a personal grievance for me.  Back in elementary school in those pseudo-music classes they made us sit through I had an exceptionally cranky teacher that made us sing songs all the live long day.  And of the entire catalog of the Beatles’ works what did she zero in on?  The freaking Yellow Submarine.  Every.  Day.  That sucked, so I told her of my disapproval in the way that came most naturally to me.  I misbehaved.

Anyway, the Beatles were always known for constantly experimenting and while this album forever tainted my impression of them because it was my first impression, I cannot take away that they did continue to experiment here, though I’m not inclined to thank them for it.  You guys scarred my childhood.  Thanks for nothing.

Steve Vai – Sex & Religion

Of all the praise he gets on this site, yes. Yes I am about to give Vai five to the eyes.  I don’t know how many people enjoyed this album, but I know how many guitar enthusiasts did.  None.  When I first found this album in a used CD store I thought “heck, I haven’t seen this anywhere else.  Wonder why.”  I had no idea what I bought, so I threw it in my CD player and boy was I surprised.  Every single song is a boring old rock song with Devon Townsend singing.  Snooooorrrreee.  Where’s the cream filling, Vai?

In fairness it’s not so much that it’s poorly written. Vai’s reputation of obsessiveness is very present.  It’s just that once you slap Vai’s name on it you immediately market it to the wrong demographic.  Vai had established a fan base of people that listen to over the top guitar wankery and experimentation, what we got out of Sex & Religion was… something quite removed from that.

Metallica – St. Anger

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Well.  Death Magnetic was a significant step up since this, but by laws of probability it would have to have been.  Metallica’s history is mired with albums of debatable quality with their oldest being regarded as classics and anything after Cliff Burton’s passing being scrutinized to the point where the band can’t win, but I argue this album is where they hit their defining low.  In the case of St. Anger we’re all losers.  I have a friend that bought this album.  Every so often I remind him just to put him in his place.

I remember back when this CD was new I was perusing a local Best Buy and one of their enlightened employees was trying to get me to buy it claiming “old Metallica is back.”

To that I say balderdash.

Old Metallica was hardly back. No solos at all?  Anywhere?  How is that old Metallica?  Oh yeah and don’t forget the insightful lyrics.

From the same mind that brought us:
“Master of puppets I’m pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams”

Later gave us:
“Invisible kid
Never see what he did
Got stuck where he did
Fallen through the grid”

What?  That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever read, and the entire album is written like that too.  I also have a personal gripe about bands that establish themselves with insightful, clean lyrics only to later go on a spree of parental advisory releases.  I don’t care about the cussing, but if you’ve proven you can be artistic, then why just throw that out?

I dub this album unforgiven.

Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus

This is the album that gave me the idea to do this list. Being a fan of the guitar I appreciate all guitar-centric genres including death metal.  I don’t know how many of our readers are into music like that, but you’re gonna get an earful from me about this one.  Morbid Angel was one of the pioneering bands that started the genre.  Trey Azagthoth took a lot of influence from Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix and did something completely new with it and changed the world.  Nearly 30 years later they just destroy everything.

Perhaps I think this one is the worst on this list because it’s so fresh in my mind, but man… I just don’t get it.  How can a group of guys go from writing to rehearsing to recording to a finished product and never once say, “guys… This kinda sucks.”  The once mighty, heavy death metal titans have suddenly tried releasing a Nine Inch Nails album… only worse.

The lyrics are blasted stupid too. Probably worse than St. Anger’s lyrics.  I mean just look at them.

“Cause we’ve been crossing the line since 1989
We’re moving the world”

Crossing the line since 89?  The band started in 84, so what were they doing then?  Minding their manners?  Saying please and thank you?  Holding the door open for their grannies?

“We’re banging hardcore radical
Maniacal and animal
Beast stomping with an appetite insatiable
We are the radikult”

News flash.  It’s 2011. Saying radical is a quick way to look like a doofus.  Referring to yourself as the “Radikult” doesn’t earn you any brownie points either, especially when some of the other members have expressed they don’t like industrial music further begging the question of how this became a finished album?

I just don’t get it.  It blows my mind.  How?  Just HOW?!?  I NEED AN ANSWER!!!!

NNGGNNAAAAAHHHH

*Head rockets off of body in a fountain of blood.

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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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