Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Holiday Gift to You: A Gimme

Sorry, I couldn't find any obscure photos of bands decked out in Santa hats or pretending to be Christmas elves. So instead I've posted this beauty just 'cause it makes me chuckle. And it has absolutely no holiday connection at all.

But look at the expressions on the dudes on the right and left sides: they are priceless. Guy on the right looks like he's holding in a bonghit (or maybe just trying to suck in his gut for the camera), while the guy on the left looks like he's just exhaled his (or drank a dozen cold ones...he looks wrecked!).

And that poster in the back--a classic from a truly different era--is the best, though it's probably a dead giveaway as to this band's identity. So, chime in if you're actually paying attention to this blog instead of arguing with your family or screaming at your kids to, once and for all, stop playing with the goddamn ornaments on the tree. Ah, I love the holidays. Really do.

Check back for more fun in 2009.


Update: Our holiday ended up getting cut short due to the atrocious weather in the NW (yeah, yeah, I know we're a bunch of wimps, but we don't usually get 2 straight weeks of snow and thus are lacking in basic snow-removal equipment like plows, etc.) so I'm back a little early to confirm that "Brocas Crelm" correctly identified this band as At War--as if you all didn't know. They have reformed recently and you can check out a new demo by looking at Ian's post in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is That Chainmail...or a Sweater?

Seems like a reasonable question to ask, right? I mean these guys don't exactly seem the Armored Saint types, so maybe the second guy from the right thought that he'd just wear a nice cozy sweater to the photo shoot. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This is kind of a motley crew image wise, though the photo was certainly professionally shot (unlike some abominations I've posted here). It definitely has a distinctly '70s feel, but I can definitively say that this was taken in the mid '80s.

I have a feeling that certain people who are regulars here will recognize this band immediately as they, uh, achieved some amount of success. I don't think they lasted beyond when this photo was taken, though. May have been their last hurrah. Or at least certain members' last hurrah...

Update: Another quick (and correct) guess by Keir. Actually, he didn't really guess; he knew for sure that this is the German band Bullet. I didn't realize that this was taken for their first album, so, yes, they did have one more hurrah before packing it in. Apparently a couple of the dudes, guitarist J├╝rgen Graf and bassist Fitty Wienhold, have done time in U.D.O. (Fitty is still part of the group, in fact), fitting since Bullet were occasionally called out for sounding like Accept. Unfortunately, both albums that Bullet released in the early '80s, though reissued by High Vaultage in the late '90s, are out of print.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

They're Called Legwarmers for a Reason, Dude

Love the posing going on here. Dude on the left looks like he's about to give someone a Fistful of Metal. And cut the guy on the right's hair all tidy, take off his eye makeup and put him in some khakis and a sweater and he's ready for a J. Crew catalog.

Why he's wearing a legwarmer on his arm, however, is truly a mystery for the ages. His whole outfit seems like it was assembled by a crow that just scavenged together a bunch of shiny bits and colorful pieces of string. I'm not positive, but it looks like the tough guy on the left might have a door knocker under his chin. And I have no idea what exactly is cascading off the ear of the guy standing next to him.

Now, some of you may recognize members of this band and be a little baffled by others. I would venture to say that you may well never see this photo anywhere else again. It is a true rarity for a number of reasons that I'll reveal only when someone can correctly guess what band this is.

Update: Once again, this took no time for Nightlock to figure out. It's the Wild Dogs circa 1985, I believe. It was after Man's Best Friend and before Reign of Terror. They had kicked "Fat" Matt McCourt out because management just thought he didn't have that "commercial appeal" they needed to get a major label deal (if anyone out there ever saw them live, you'd understand...the dude had a great voice, but he was a loose cannon on stage). Anyway, they brought in this young guy with a shriek that'd peel paint named John Tejeda (far right, and below). They played a bunch of shows around the NW with him (and also apparently did a photo shoot) and just as they were about to embark on a tour opening for Yngwie and Talas, Tejeda goes AWOL and they quickly grab McCourt to cover for him on the tour. That was the end of the Tejeda era in the Wild Dogs. He later went on to front a Eugene, OR, band called Mysstress that put out an EP that's become somewhat of a collector's item. McCourt was again kicked to the curb after the Yngwie tour and Michael Furlong was brought in to sing on Reign of Terror, the final official Wild Dogs album.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Before There Was Testing For Steroids in Metal...

...there was this glorious trio of well-oiled, meaty manhood. Look, I'm not implying that these guys were on the juice, but compare them to your average metal musician, who generally never lifted anything heavier than an amplifier, and they just seem to be a little "pumped up."

How all these muscles on muscles might have affected their playing ability is up for debate. I had a demo, but my recollection of it is not good. I was, however, sufficiently amused by the promo photos they sent to hold onto them, and they still make me chuckle (I have another I've posted below).

My guess is that they ended up in the WWF or porno or something, as the opportunities available for a trio of mediocre, He-Man-looking metalheads are pretty minimal in the music biz (with apologies to Kane Roberts).

Update: Less than 24 hours later, Keir has correctly identified this beefy trio as Mesomorph, from NY. As you may have surmised, two of the dudes were brothers, and one of them (vocalist/bassist Steve Steele) actually went on to join Kane Roberts' band (where else could he go after Mesomorph?). The band issued a couple of demos in the mid '80s and contributed to the Iron Tyrants compilation (see below), but I'm pretty sure that was it.

Update 1/6/09: As promised, here's another Mesomorph photo, just for giggles.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Do You Smell Something Burning?"

Here's a band with the complete package. They've got the looks, the clothes, the attitude, the hair and even the right poses. All the photographer needed to do was to crank the smoke machine to 11 and let them work their magic. If we get nothing else from this fine photo, it should at least stand as a shining example of what a decent (i.e. not laughably goofy) promo photo should look like.

Unfortunately, these dudes weren't able to make it on looks alone. And this is why their photo ended up on my blog. OK, yeah, a couple of the bands whose pics I've thrown up here did sell an album or two, but most just contributed a track to a comp or issued a self-released EP. Their 15 minutes was fleeting.

I do know who these guys are and though they pretty much went nowhere back in the '80s, they are back together today. Which begs the question: why? Maybe they just felt that if these guys or these guys did it, they could too. Twenty years from now I'll be posting a photo of 5 fortysomething dudes asking if anyone remembers their equally obscure reunion.

Update: Once again Ian Christe comes through with the correct answer, the Bay Area's very own Ruffians. Their closest brush with "fame" was having vocalist Carl Albert (pictured above, and sadly now deceased) go on to front Vicious Rumors. And as I mentioned above, Ruffians have reunited and are still playing in the Bay Area.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Make us look cool or we won't help you out of that deep hole!"

I know, kind of a lame title for this post, but some days you have it and some days you don't. There a number of things I find comical about this photo, not the least of which is the perspective it was taken from--shot to accentuate the crotches of the band's tight-fitting jeans. Nice.

And then there's the Franknstein monster on the right who looks like he borrowed his granny's rabbit fur coat for the shoot. I mean, WTF is that?!? I may have to get an official ruling on this, but I'm pretty sure that is not metal. At all.

My final concern has to do with the odd, washed-out nature of the contrast on this--I think--B&W photo. Did they mean to make it look vaguely pink (or whatever)? And, if so, why? To obscure the fact that they were a raggedy bunch of heshers (do I see a mustache?) who had to discover the hard way that even playing in a band wasn't gonna get them any action from the ladies? Who knows.

More importantly, does anyone know who this band is?

UPDATE: My apologies to Boleslaw for getting to this update a little slowly, but you know it's the holidays and all. Anyway, congrats for FINALLY figuring out that this is Florida band Atomic Opera. I'm a little surprised it took so long since Ian Christe did a small post about the band a few years ago (which is here). Atomic Opera were contemporaries of Savatage, Siren, Nasty Savage and other mid-’80s FLA metal bands, though obviously they were all from different cities/scenes. Ian had AO's two-song demo posted at his site, but I don't know if that link is good anymore. Maybe if you ask nicely, he'll repost.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Dude Who Sat Behind Me in Math Class"

"Lynott" left a comment in a previous post about one of the guys in the band looking like the "dude that sat behind me in math class," and it made me think two things: 1) I was that dude in high school, and 2) anyone reading this probably either remembers someone like that, or was that person.

This fairly unremarkable promo photo--nothing particularly cheesy or cool, a band decked out in basic denim and leather, hanging out in a bar--struck me as a collection of five "dudes who sat behind me in math class."

Anyway, I actually used to correspond with this band back in the day. If/when someone figures it out, I'll see if I can't dig out one of the letters (written on the band's personalized stationary, natch) and post it.

(And ignore that "19 Denmark" in the bottom right corner, it's not a clue as to the country of origin or name of this band.)

Update: This is one the longest unsolved posts so far. (There's still this one.) . Anyway, Keir was flipping through his NWOBHM Encyclopedia--the lucky bastard--and he came across this exact picture. It's Soldier. And unless you went to school in the UK, none of these dudes probably sat behind you in math class. I know I said I'd try to dig out some of the correspondence I had with this band, but I've so far been unsuccessful. Maybe I just made the whole thing up in my head. Hard to say. Anyway, Soldier were one of those obscure-for-a-reason NWOBHM bands. Weren't horrible, weren't amazing. They more or less peaked with their debut single "Sheralee," a power ballad released by Heavy Metal Records in 1982. They issued a couple of demos after that and then faded away...until their inevitable reunion in 2003. They even issued a new album in 2005 called Sins of the Warrior.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dudes Look Like (Ugly) Ladies

This photo must have been taken around the time of glam/hair metal's peak, when the more the dudes in the band looked like chicks, the more popular they were. And even if the band wasn't popular, they could, for a brief time at least, get away with looking completely androgynous. It was a relatively short window of time, though, and inevitably bands had to outdo each other, leading to these kinds of shenanigans. (Thank god grunge eventually put a stop to the escalating ridiculousness.)

An interesting side note about these gals is that they had the same exact band name as a much more influential (though not necessarily popular or well-known) band from the early '80s. As far as I know, there was never a dispute over the name.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no shame in actually knowing what band this is, but if you'd prefer to post a reply anonymously, that's cool with me. I understand.

Update: Well, I was starting to think that I had stumped everyone with the last few posts, but Keir correctly guessed that this is indeed Sweet Savage from Dallas, Texas. For a good laugh, I'd suggest checking out the ridiculously longwinded bio on their MySpace page. By their own account they were "this close" to being megastars. If only...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bonus Election Day Post

Here's a band that loves its country. So much, in fact, it decided to have a promo photo taken in front of Old Glory. Good for them! Here's hoping that wherever they are today, they took part in the democratic process and voted. And if you're a registered American voter, please do the same.

UPDATE: Since Keir finally figured out that the other post that links to this is Siren, I figured I should update this as well. Yes, this is also Siren, proud patriots before it was cool to be a proud patriot. Although vocalist Doug Lee went on to front German band Mekong Delta. What's up with that?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Glam + Moustaches = Unintended Hilarity

This one's a real gem. Ignoring for a moment just how goofy the dudes in the band look, let's focus in on the fact that this black & white photo has been touched up (waaaaaay before there was Photoshop, etc.) with some carefully placed red (clothes, guitar, lips!) and yellow (hair) highlights. And I really don't know why they did this. They should have either a) just gone with a standard B&W shot, b) gone with a color shot, or c) taken advantage of the fact that they could alter a B&W photo however they pleased and given the blond dudes really outrageously colored hair (I'm thinking parrot green, or maybe sky blue) and Fanta-orange lips.

I mean, talk about a missed opportunity.

And, yeah, I know who this band is. Suffice to say, they didn't make much of a mark in the metal world, but this photo deserves to live on in infamy, if only for its vaguely Village People vibe. Anyone else have a guess as to who it is?

Update: Here's a holiday gift for you. "Andreas78" finally figured out that this is German band Black Diamond. (Strange how many of these are German bands, no?) They put out an EP called "Faces" in 1985 on a small indie label, which curiously featured a cover that may further my Village People suggestion (see below). I also have no idea why this record was called "Faces." Anyway, two of the members of Black Diamond did go on to form Dorian Gray, who are still together and putting out records.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

These Boots Are Made For Rockin'

This one should be a slam dunk. I put this up not so much because I think it will be particularly difficult to figure out, but more as an example of what bands in the early ’80s thought a metal promo photo should look like. I mean, c'mon!

To be fair, though, the entire scene was considerably less sophisticated then. Dudes in a small town with limited access to magazines and fanzines (or other local bands to look up to or emulate) only had a vague idea of what a metal band should look like so they just kind of filled in the blanks with whatever seemed kinda bad ass.

And sometimes that meant putting on giant fuzzy boots.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Clinic in How Not To Look in a Metal Promo Photo

Took me a good five minutes to stop laughing so that I was able to type anything coherent. Even still, I don't know that I have anything to really say about this that you're not gonna immediately spot (and love) yourself.

I will note that, while it might have been a good money-saving tactic to get the group photo taken at Kmart, the results are less than "pro." In fact, this band, which may have actually been decent (and I stress may), basically assured itself that it would not be taken seriously.

Anyway, I know who these guys are, so there's no mystery there. But let's see if anyone else out there has a clue. Good luck.

Update: So, all it took to figure this one out was to post a picture of Toranaga, the band that the dude in the upper right, Mark Duffy, went on to front in the late '80s. This dodgy-looking bunch is, in fact, Millennium, who were sort of latecomers in the NWOBHM. They contributed to the "Pure Overkill" compilation in 1983 and released their self-titled 10-song debut on Guardian Records back in 1984. They continued to slug it out and record demos until 1987. Eventually Duffy joined Toranaga, after answering an ad in a UK rock magazine, and I have no idea what happened to his former bandmates. Duffy is still in the music biz and his latest project is called Face the Unknown.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ah, the Classic "Stand in Front of a Big Metal Gate" Pose

I'll admit straight up that I actually know who this band is. They must have sent me a half dozen photos over the years. I was looking at one with their name on it and I put 2 + 2 together...

I also think that this is a relatively easy one. Shouldn't take too long. I would encourage whoever figures it out to provide whatever info they know about the band along with their answer.

From here on out, I'll actually know the identity of the photos I'm posting. Now that we've run through all the ones I was stumped about, this'll just be about seeing if I can stump you. Good luck!

Update: Guess it wasn't as easy as I thought it might be. Brocas Crelm did, however, correctly identify them as Hexx, a Bay Area power metal/thrash band that later dropped their lead vocalist and went for a heavier, almost death metal sound later in the '80s.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"Hi! How Are Ya?"

Waving to the camera? Not metal. Smiling at the camera? Not metal. Wearing a studded belt and black spandex? Very metal. Sleeveless shirt? Very metal. White pants? Not metal. Studded fingerless leather gloves? So metal.

I do believe, though I could be mistaken, that the most metal dude of this bunch (second from left) is wearing a Cerebus tee (see the "Scarves and Sweatpants" post). How's that for an odd coincidence? Very metal.

So, the timer is running, geniuses, let's see how quickly you can get this one.

Update: Well, 24 hrs. after I posted the above photo, Keir figured it out. It's Deathslayer from NY. They released a couple of demos circa 1984-ish (the photo has 1984 faintly stamped on the back) and had two tracks on different comps. And here's a little bonus for you: the same band gone glam.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Simon Says: Cross Your Arms if You're Troo

All right, since we seem to have some seriously knowledgeable people checking into this site now and we're starting to get rolling, I figured I'd throw another new one up.

I have an inkling I know who this is, but I'm not positive. The thing that cracks me up most about this one is that it looks like it was taken at a renaissance fair or something (see the woman in the background on the far left). Which would be OK if the band was dressed appropriately. But, no, these guys look like they were on their way to 7-11 for some beef jerky and a half-rack, saw the ren fair and thought, “Whoa, wouldn't it be cool to get our picture taken with, like, a medieval village behind us?"

Not so much.

Update: Crap! I gotta start putting some harder ones up. This was barely online for two hours before "anonymous" confirmed it as Griffin (as I had suspected). They were a power metal band from SF who recorded an album for Shrapnel ('84) and one for Steamhammer ('86). I have both, but I seem to recall the Shrapnel effort being the better of the two.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Drugstore Perms: Metal or Not? Discuss...

These dudes are definitely European. I can’t tell you why I know that. I just do. I have no idea who this band is, but I know they are definitely Old World. Or maybe Canadian.

It’s also clear that they subscribed to a number of the various “how to dress like a metal band” theories of the day: the spiked and studded leather sash, the sleeveless animal print shirt, the snug-fitting spandex, etc., etc. The leather says they're tough, the spandex says, “look what I've got, ladies.” I’m not exactly sure what the facial hair says. Maybe, “I just reached puberty.”

So, have at it. Even if you don’t have a clue who this band is, feel free to weigh in on just how excellent this picture is, or we could just argue about Fate’s Warning, if that’s your thing.

Update: Well, it seems that I’ve had one of the most hilarious pictures of Helloween known to man stashed away in storage for the last 20+ years. Although, this was probably not that hilarious at the time (circa 1985?), I’m pretty sure that these dudes would not be stoked to see this posted on the Interweb in 2008. Too bad. Congrats to my Fates Warning-loving pal Helm for nailing it right off the bat.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shirt Optional

I think this may be an easy one. Though I know this isn't Fate's Warning, for some reason, that's the name that keeps popping into my head. So, I figure this must be either from that same era, same part of the country, or same style (remember, before Fate's Warning got all proggy, they were basically just an Iron Maiden clone).

Best part of this photo is the dude in the middle. Wow. Where to begin... He's rockin' the spandex and the S&M gear like a real man should. The other dudes are pretty much just toeing the metal party line of the day, as it were--black/red/white leather jackets and pants, some white Nikes, denim vest, etc. Guy on the left, however, forgot that "smiling is not metal."

Nonetheless, this is the promo photo the band chose to send out to fanzines some 20-plus years ago. Probably had no idea some jerk would be putting it online and mocking it long after they had all given up their dreams of rock stardom. Or have they?

Update: Once again Mr. Christe has (I believe) nailed it by identifying these guys as Liege Lord. I’m inclined to believe that’s correct since that name was in the back of my mind. Liege Lord seem to still be active to some degree, but there are no photos (even old ones) on their site as cool as this one.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spot the '80s Metal Wardrobe Essentials

Let's start off by ticking off the checklist of essential "metal" accoutrements we can spot in this picture:

• Torn T-shirt (shredded to look like fringe). Check.
• Fingerless gloves. Check.
• Scarf tied around head. Check.
• Bandana around neck. Check.

I'm sure there are more that we just can't see.

A couple of other things bother me about this picture, though. First, why does the guy on the right look so scared of his bandmate's armpit hair? And second, why is blondie grabbing his bandmate's hair from behind and smiling so broadly?

My guess is that these guys are European and probably had an album or two out on some long-gone French label. Anyone?

Update: I "accidentally" discovered what band this is, and I will be stunned if anyone else gets it. Suffice to say, my guess (above) was right on the money. Good luck!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

JD Shirt: Not Meant For Tucking

OK, here's hoping this photo remains a mystery for more than 5 minutes.

What will forever remain a mystery, however, is why the dude in the middle, who is clearly the singer, decided to tuck that Jack Daniels shirt nice and snug into his high-waisted, slashed-up Levi's. And what's with the sport jacket with the rolled-up sleeves? The other sad-sacks (guess the photog didn't tell them to say "cheese") he's surrounded by at least had the good sense to sport some dead animal hide.

Anyway, if I had to guess, I'd say these boys are from the South and they probably were one of the many Maiden/Priest imitators of the day.

Update: So, yeah, I was waaaaaaay off with this one. "GJ," however, was not fooled at all. This is Swedish doom band Sorcerer. And according to BNR Metal Pages: "Sorcerer played classic Euro doom, in the style of early Candlemass." I got this photo with the demo they sent me in ’89. I'm pretty sure I recorded over that demo. Not sure if I ever even listened to it. But, c'mon, one look at that picture...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getty Metal

Don’t know who the genius was in this band—though I’m guessing it’s Hurley there on the right—who thought it’d be a good idea to get their promo photo taken at the Getty service station. Maybe his dad owned it, or he just bought a lot of Funyons there. I’m not entirely sure if the kid on the left is actually in the band, or just stopped to look at the camera while he was on his way to buy a candy bar. I see a Slayer shirt on big boy and a Black Flag Tee on the scowler next to him, but not a lot of other clues. Anyone recognize these dudes?

Update: This took about 5 minutes to figure out. It's Post Mortem, out of Boston, who had a couple of releases on New Renaissance Records in the late '80s and even soldiered on into the '90s. I think some of their stuff was even reissued later, though I'm not sure why.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Here's the Deal

I was recently thumbing through a huge stack of promo photos that were sent to me in the mid '80s when I was putting out a 'zine called Heavy Heroes (and later West Coast Thrash), and I came across a bunch that were unlabeled and I had no idea who they were. Some looked vaguely familiar, but most just looked wack.

Anyway, I thought it would be funny to let all the people in my computer (that would be you, dear reader) help me figure them out a photo at a time. I'm guessing most of these bands probably only ever put out demos, or maybe an album or two in Europe on an obscure, and surely now defunct, indie label.

So, take a look and lemme know if you recognize them. Or just add a comment. Some of these are real doozies. I'll try to put up one a week, depending on how quickly we can figure 'em out. I've already posted the first one.

Have fun.


Scarves and Sweatpants

These guys look like they're posing in the hall of their high school. And you've gotta wonder why the blond mullethead on the left thought it'd be a good idea to rock the heather gray sweatpants in a band photo. I don't know what the deal with the scarves is, though that may be a clue as to where they're from. Who the fuck is this band?!?

Update: I was starting to think we'd never get this one, but along comes "Nightlock" with the correct answer: Cerebus, from North Carolina. Another New Renaissance band who have found some interest posthumously (in Europe).