Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Horror Playlist: Jeff Herman

(Jeff Herman is the drummer for Substance Clad in Shadows, the band for which I play keyboards, provide soundscaping and vocals, and for which our own The Black Glove co-editor, Steve Duarte, plays bass. Jeff's top ten list has a wide range of rock and metal influences.)

When asked to do this near daunting task, I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was. I mean, asking to choose my top 10 albums?! What about all the albums I left out of this list with great guilt? After much contemplation, internal battle, and musical-soul-searching, I present (but not limited to) my top 10 album list.

1. Tool/Ænima – This album was by far not only a jump in Tool’s musical career from straight beating rock to bringing the listener to another realm of music where polyrhythmic time signatures link haunting vocals with a more progressive instrumentation, but a jump in hard rock as we know it. This album challenged other bands to explore deeper into their minds and reach for that untapped emotion.

2. Pantera/Far Beyond Driven – As 80’s hair rock was just about dead and Seattle grunge was ruling the rock scene, Pantera releases an album that was privy to the scene because everyone was a virgin to this type of sound. Their in-your-face vocals and ear-piercing guitars surfaced a group of rock listeners who have been waiting to beat their heads to this type of sound. Pantera brought forth their cult following with Far Beyond Driven of people who have something to be pissed about and want a way to express it.

3. Machine Head/The Burning Red – Machine Head came on the scene with the album “Burn My Eyes” that included hard-hitting beats and aggressive vocals and lyrics. I feel Machine Head truly found themselves with The Burning Red as a controlled chaotic force that was all over the emotional spectrum. The song The Burning Red ends the album on a somber note and the hair on the back of your neck standing up asking for more.

4. Sevendust/Home – Sevendust hit home with this album. Intelligently constructed, a stream of songs bleed into each other leaving you still sitting in your car still listening to this album when you should already be inside your destination. Musically tight with complex drumming and fast-picking guitar work, the vocals layer the music with their R&B/rock sound drawing you into the experience. There are no limits as the song “Licking Cream” has powerful vocals by Deborah Anne “Skin” Dyer from Skunk Anansie and the song “Bender” includes vocals from the unique and dynamic Chino Moreno of Deftones.

5. Led Zeppelin/How the West Was Won – Not only a brilliantly constructed album, but the band was strategically constructed by Jimmy Page who searched for the perfect ingredients in this formula of Rock Gods and epic song-writing. How the West Was Won brings me to a place I unfortunately have never been (since I was born in the year The Led disbanded) and that’s a brilliantly constructed Led Zeppelin live show. This is unfortunately as close as I can come to a Led Zeppelin live experience.

6. Stevie Ray Vaughan/The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – I have not heard any other musician make their guitar as close to an extension of the body, mind and spirit as Stevie Ray Vaughn. Not only does his blues inspired rock guitar support the feeling he is portraying through his music, but his soulful vocals plants his emotion right in my mind and spine. Like Led Zeppelin, this CD gives me as close to a live SRV experience as I can get.

7. Tool/Lateralus – I didn’t think any band on earth would be able to develop a decent enough follow up to Ænima, but I should not have doubted Tool in this challenging task. Lateralus again brought their music to the next level by complicating their time signatures and delving even deeper into the human mind, body and spirit. Let’s not forget their unique and darkly artistic music videos by Adam Jones.

8. Metallica/Master of Puppets – Two years after Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets really marked Metallica’s presence in the metal, rock, and music world. Songs from this album are still being covered to this day to mark their immortal sound. As the late Cliff Burton’s last album, this album draws awareness to the listener of addiction and control. For its time, their sound they invented with this album was unheard of and paved the path for metal and rock from the mid-eighties on. Metallica became one of those bands (which you can count on one hand) that every guitarist pupil adopts as an example and teacher of rock metal, the rocker scene, and sticking it to the man.

9. Pink Floyd/The Dark Side of the Moon – Rock was waiting for this concept album. Its dark element brought the listener to that region that almost every previous band from their time didn’t dare go. The band’s conceptually constructed music including sound effects and haunting backup vocals by Clare Torry and David Gilmore’s lead vocals define this album and placing it in a realm people face in our day-to-day lives. Becoming a cult classic album, being played synchronously with The Wizard of Oz, and still being played on the radio to this day, The Dark Side has been reissued, remastered, and become a legacy.

10. Alice in Chains/Dirt – Always remembering the first time I ever heard this album I was waiting for a change (or “update” if you will) in rock, and I found Dirt. Not only was the music something that I craved in new rock, but Layne’s unique vocals spoke directly to me uncovering his vulnerability by displaying his deepest and darkest moments in life. I can actually picture him pouring his heart out as he lets loose on the microphone. Jerry Cantrell wrote some new books in rock with this album as the music plays just about every emotion in this one album by letting the music get in your face and philosophize at the same time. This album was constructed around all the “dirt” life has to offer; heart-break (Down in a Hole), mortality (Them Bones), war (Rooster), passing judgment (Would?), and drug use (Hate to Feel, Dirt, God Smack, Sickman, Angry Chair, and Junkhead).

--Jeff Herman
(The Black Glove thanks Jeff for his time and efforts. Visit Jeff at his Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/JTHerman777?ref=ts)