One of my pet hates is people dissing heavy metal, writing it off as a credible musical genre, or refusing to listen to anything that slightly resembles it.
I've been intending to rant about this issue since a recent post on the Music Ruined My Life Blog, which stated heaviness is the dullest possible metric of good music. Each to their own. But the thing I like best about (say) early Black Sabbath is the heaviness of it. Would War Pigs work as well as it does if was done as oompah or skiffle? If you are going to avoid something because it has been declared heavy metal then you are missing out on a lot of good music. At the risk of being labeled a heretic, I have always considered grunge to be badly played heavy metal - and I say that as one of the biggest grunge fans on this planet! Actually, some grunge bands (e.g. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam) are blatantly heavy metal, but it's OK to like them as they are from Seattle.
There is good and bad heavy metal, just as there is good and bad folk, funk, punk and polka music...hmmm, scratch that last reference! At the end of the day, as the legendary Rushbo says, There are only two types of music: Music you like and music you don’t like. But if you consider heaviness the dullest possible metric of good music, I suggest you stop reading at this point and come back next week when I recover my senses.
Saigon Kick emerged in the grunge era. Being a heavy metal band, they didn't stand a chance - which is a shame because their music was well written, performed and produced. I remember reading an article on the band around the release of their debut self titled album, the subject of this here post, where the band earnestly remarked that they spent all their waking hours rehearsing and writing material. This is something you don't hear bands typically say. Isn't it all meant to be easy, isn't it, like turning on a tap - the old "here's a song we wrote in the diner/in the dressing room/on the train/in our sleep (select as appropriate) before the gig" intro, before the band launches into the best god-dammed song you've (n)ever heard?! Myth building, no, but I like that honesty!
This album represents everything heavy metal can be - diverse, intelligence, and varied - everything from hardcore metal to Beatle-esque pop. Fourteen well crafted songs with no drop in quality. But probably too clever (by half) for the great unwashed masses. Though I do have two small qualms: the album is to varied to pick one song and say "this exemplifies the bands sound". And as a result, any time they verge into another band's territory/sound, it sounds a bit overt.
Opener New world starts with a cliched atmospheric heavy metal type intro, evolving into a slow, grinding atmospheric metal song complete with sitar and effect laden vocals. What you say provides a pleasant contrast, opening with vocal melodies before evolving into a pop-metal track with Def Leppard style chorus vocals. What do you do starts with a crunching hardcore metal riff, with the guitars subsiding for the verse (a trick employed throughout the album), returning for the hardcore chanted chorus. Three songs in and three metal subgenres explored!
Colours is Stones approved psychedelic Pop, featuring clean guitars over an atmospheric hum, with strong vocal melodies in verses and chorus. Psychedelic Pop. The guitar crunch returns for Coming home, a slower track with menacing yet melodic vocals, over a rolling tom beat, broken up by a superb gonzoid riff in the middle of the song.
Love of god illustrates both of my qualms above. It's basically an attempt to write a heavy metal version of U2's Pride, but it's too overt. On the other hand, Down by the ocean is a corker. Starting with grinding guitar which subsides in the verses and returns for the choruses, it has a great groove and strong double tracked vocals. But who invited Axl into the studio at the end of the song? My life is Beatle-esque, with clean guitar, vocal melodies, and a kazoo solo for god's sake!
Until this stage the guitars have frequently been heavy but the band haven't pressed the pedal to the metal. This changes with Month of Sundays and Ugly. The former is uncannily like Velvet Revolver (15 years ahead of their time!), right down to the Weiland like vocals.
Come Take Me Now features acoustic guitar, a big rousing chorus (time to get those lighters out! Hmmm, that's so last century, how about get those mobile phones out!) and a suitably tortured guitar solo.
Saigon Kick - 1991 - Self titled
1. New World
2. What You Say
3. What Do You Do
6. Coming Home
7. Love Of God
8. Down By The Ocean
9. Acid Rain
10. My Life
11. Month Of Sundays
13. Come Take Me Now
FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4