I was sitting at home yesterday listening to 98 kupd when a couple of songs came on back to back that made me wonder what year it was. The songs were Ozzy’s Road to Nowhere, followed immediately by Metallica’s Enter Sandman. It was like it was the early 90’s all over again.
This got me to thinking about how many songs from that year are still in regular rotation on regular hard rock stations. I am defining that year as being from August of 1991 to July of 1992, a period that saw the release of Metallica’s Black Album, Ozzy’s No More Tears album, and Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction album. The fact that I just called all of those albums probably dates me a bit, eh? If Pantera had waited a year to release Cowboys from Hell, I think I could really declare this as the best 12 months for music in all of history, of course I like this type of music so YMMV.
Here it is thirteen years after the release of the most recent album mentioned above and each of them still has at least a couple of songs in rotation on the radio. There is no other year that I can think of that has had similar results. It really boggles my mind. It should also be noted that Nirvana’s Nevermind was also released during this same period. So that makes four albums from that year that are still in rotation on rock stations. And this is not a classic rock station, these songs are sandwiched in between all the latest hard rock, though I am hard pressed to remember the names of any of the songs or bands, seems the new stuff doesn’t stick with me like the old stuff does.
Sadly, even if it weren’t for Nirvana’s explosion onto the scene in the early 90’s it seems that the glory days of the other bands was coming to a close anyway. While the albums that Metallica, Megadeth and Ozzy released that year were all excellent, they were also a great departure from the roots of the respective artists. While it was quite obvious with Metallica and Megadeth, Ozzy’s departure was more in terms of his lyrics. No longer so angry and angst filled, now proclaiming “I don’t want to change the world”. Though the song Mr. Tinkertrain was still pretty damn creepy, if you really listen to it.
For fans of Metallica and Megadeth the years after this were pretty devastating. Punctuated by lackluster release after horrible, lackluster release. Metallica’s music began to suck so bad that they assumed the reason for the decline in their sales must be due to piracy, but the fact is that the stuff that was being traded over Napster wasn’t any of their new stuff. Kids just didn’t want to pay 18 bucks for a cd that was released fifteen years ago and had only eight songs on it. I haven’t bought a Metallica cd (they don’t make albums anymore I guess) since they released Load, which is one of the most aptly titled releases ever, so long as you ad of Shit to the title.
Megadeth hasn’t fared much better. While I am pretty sure that I bought all of the cd’s that they released, I doubt that any of them had any staying time in the cd rotation. In fact I really can’t remember the names of any songs after Countdown as I think about it. Well there was Train of Consequences and A Tout Le Monde which were both on the Youthanasia cd, I think. But there were several other cds released. One was called Risk which I know I own, one called The World Needs a Hero which again, I know I own, Cryptic Writings own it too, Rude Awakening yup, collecting dust along with the rest of them. With the exception of Cryptic Writings which was a single on that cd, and Insomnia from the Rude Awakening cd, I don’t remember a single song from any of those four releases. Pretty sad really.
Megadeth did release a cd in 2004 that didn’t suck, it was called The System Has Failed which, of course, I own. It took the music back to the meat and potatoes of what Megadeth once was. The song Back in the Day is a riff tastic tear down memory lane as much for the listener as the band. Many of the other songs also have really pounding guitar and drums but, as I read the lyrics, it seems that Mustaine must have found God, which is a bit disappointing. I always loved the line from Reckoning Day that said, “I like the way that you stand in line And beg salvation from the empty skies.” Not much belief at that point, eh?
I don’t think I will ever hear another cd that hits me the way that Metallica’s …And Justice for All, or Megadeth’s Rust in Peace did, that era is long gone. While my all time favorite Megadeth song remains Holy Wars…The Punishment Due, and my all time Favorite Metallica song would have to be One which were released on the cds listed in this paragraph, it took streamlining their song writing to gain mainstream access and superior staying power.
Also, I don’t feel quite so old when the songs that kids are listening to today happen to be the same songs that I was listening to as a kid. Though I might not have the hair or physique to bang my head like I did back in the day, it is still a pretty comforting thought.