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Black Sabbath on the cover of Maximum Ink

Black Sabbath

by Paul Gargano
December 1998

Black Sabbath, the original four horsemen of the metal apocalypse, charged their reunited forces across foreign soil earlier this year, saving their triumphant return to America for a winter tour kicking off in Phoenix on New Year’s Eve. Working up to the live run, bassist Geezer Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi, fabled frontman Ozzy Osbourne, and drummer Bill Ward issued Reunion, a double live CD that smokes with the haunting Sabbath dirges and staunch, dark music of heavy metal’s most influential outfit. As Butler and Iommi indicated in a late October interview while doing press in New York City, the CD is just the tip of the iceberg.


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Rammstein on the cover of Maximum Ink in November 1998  - photo by Paul Gargano

Rammstein

by Paul Gargano
November 1998

Just how far should a band go to win over a crowd? Rammstein go further. Some musicians breathe flames, Till Lindemann sings while engulfed in them. And that’s just to open the show. With only a handful of American dates under their belts, the buzz surrounding German industrial metal giants Rammstein is spreading like wildfire, propelling their Sehnsucht debut to gold status only six months after its release, and earning them the second headliner’s position on Korn’s Family Values tour. That may seem a bit ironic for a band whose lyrics hammer from brazen metal imagery to treading a fine line between sweetly erotic and disturbing sexual extremes. Then again, when the song titles in question are smash single and MTV Buzz Clip “Du Hast”-which translates to English, “You Hate”-and the more provocatively penned “Küss Mich,” “Tier” and “Spiel Mit Mir”-“Kiss Me,” “Beast” and “Play With Me,” respectively-the risk of being too risqué is lost. Rammstein are from Germany, sing entirely in German, and according to guitarist Richard Kruspe, who joined me on the phone from his homeland with a translator, they write their music in German, as well. Whether listening to their pair of tracks on David Lynch’s Lost Highway soundtrack-edits of ``Rammstein” and ``Hierate Mich,” their American unveilings-or any of the tracks on Sehnsucht, they slam with all the eerie forboding of a militant strike, twisting American metal and industrial with their foreign flair for results that crash between hollow hauntings and throbbing mayhem. Then there’s the performance. Live, the six imports from the other side of the crumbled Iron Curtain detonate more explosions than an air raid, and spew enough sexual imagery to dement even the sickest set of Family Values. Behold, America, the wrath of Rammstein is upon us…


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the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart and Planet Drum on the cover of Maximum Ink in October 1998

Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum

by John Noyd
October 1998

To say world percussionist Mickey Hart is embarking on a new adventure is like saying the Pope is going to church this Sunday. Author, student, artist, composer, Mickey’s musical curiosity in all things cosmic has produced seventeen discs for Rykodisc’s “World” series, two books on the history and mythology of rhythm and countless shows and solos. His latest disc, “Supralingua,” continues to explore new worlds with a strong bent on digital technology and sampling. While best known for his association with the Grateful Dead, it soon became evident that the only past he was interested in conjuring happened long before there was any Haight-Asbury scene.


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Monster Magnet on the cover of Maximum Ink in September 1998

Monster Magnet

by Paul Gargano
September 1998

Monster Magnet may unleash the most bombastic arena rock this side of the Reagan administration, but frontman Dave Wyndorf is as misplaced today as he would have been in 1988. His music glows with flash and fire, a hard rock amalgamation of everything guitar-driven and melody-laced, and onstage he plays equal parts Paul Stanley, badass biker, and teenager enchanted by the allure of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. With a brilliant new release, Powertrip, that rivals Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction in sheer audacity, tenacity, and musical virtuosity, he is currently wrapping a month of amphitheater dates with Aerosmith before kicking off a blockbuster tour with Rob Zombie and Fear Factory in October. ``In 1998, there is no alternative but to just physically get out there and pound people over the fucking heads and celebrate excess,” Wyndorf said over lunch recently at a New York City tavern. “Fuck this symphonic turntable going ‘wacka wacka wacka,’ it’s time to fuck people!”


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Days Of The New on the cover of Maximum Ink

Days Of The New

an interview with Travis Meeks
by Paul Gargano
August 1998

They produce one of the purest sounds in music, they’ve spawned the most influential songs in the history of rock `n roll, and they’re the favorite for songwriters the industry over, but in the eyes of hard rock fans, acoustic guitars are still fighting for respect - on radio they’re equated with power ballads, in live shows they result in a sea of lighters, and unplugged sets have become nothing more than trendy sidebars during performances.

Enter Days of the New frontman Travis Meeks, whose acoustic guitar has meant a great deal more. It’s helped him earn a platinum album, one of the most coveted billings of the summer, and an opportunity to disprove the fallacy that unplugged bands can’t rock as heavy as their amped-up peers. An impressive list of accomplishments for a 19-year-old from Kentucky whose artistic vision projects far beyond his breakthrough commercial success.


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Ultraspank on the cover of Maximum Ink in July 1998 - photo by Paul Gargano

Ultraspank

by Paul Gargano
July 1998

If OZZfest is any indication, Santa Barbara, CA is the metal capitol of America, represented on the tour by Life of Agony frontman Whitfield Crane, Snot, and newcomers Ultraspank.

“It’s a weird scene,” says Ultraspank lead singer Pete Murray of his hometown. “There are like three colleges there, so you get people coming from all different parts of the country.” That’s the case with Ultraspank, as Murray, guitarist Jerry Oliviera and drummer Tyler Clark migrated to the coastal community for school. “It was either there or Maine,” Murray, a native New Yorker, muses of his choice. But even with a degree in Film, his interests were always aimed at music, as he and his future bandmates spent the better portion of the decade playing in local Santa Barbara outfits before coming together, as Spank, about two years ago.


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The Dirty Three in Maximum Ink in June 1998

The Dirty Three

an interview with Warren Ellis
by John Noyd
June 1998

The fluid ease with which Dirty Three create the romance of tidal pulls and the despair of lonesome oceans in their new CD, Ocean Songs, is both tranquilizing and electric. Drums, guitar and violin serve a common purpose, swirling with deliberate ingenuity that lulls and soothes while cutting against the grain. Billowing sails and creaking timbers have room to stretch out. Gurgling mysteries lay simmering beneath the trio’s simple nuances and subtle twists.

Formed in a bar on the rough side of Melbourne, Australia, Dirty Three sound both weathered and full of life, deliberate, yet lazy. Warren Ellis’ winding gypsy fiddle skims and plummets while the cavernous drums of Jim White sound like sharp splashes and plodding depth charges. Their spacious longing can turn romantic and does so several times, stunningly in, “Sea Above, Sky Below,” while the sullen, barren slogging of “Authentic Celestial Music” forms a musical mechanical contraption that starts out of breath then steps up the pace. The ambling ambiance is both hypnotic and ambient, gracefully stumbling in slow motion then turning dangerously monomaniacal. No better example of this appears than Mick Turner’s breezy guitar playing on the whispery “Distant Shores,” a three-hundred-and-sixty degree turn from his crashing, savage churning in “Deep Waters.”


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Life Of Agony on the cover of Maximum Ink May 1998 - photo by Paul Gargano

Life Of Agony

by Paul Gargano
May 1998

an interview with Alan Robert of Life Of Agony during the Whitfield Crane era


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Stuck Mojo on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 19998 - photo by Paul Gargano

Stuck Mojo

by Paul Gargano
April 1998

When zealots declared “The South will rise again!” the farthest thing from their minds was a black man leading the charge, fronting a band inspired by Twisted Sister and World Championship Wrestling. But obviously, the people that swooned over “Sic Semper Tyrannis” had never heard of heavy metal music, let alone Fender guitars, Pearl drums, and Marshall stacks that project a din loud enough to stifle any Civil War cannon blast.

Enter Stuck Mojo, Atlanta’s metal godfathers, the South’s reigning kings of musical fury and onstage chaos, and underdogs turned favorites to topple the loud rock hierarchy.

Selling a combined 75,000 copies of their first two releases on Century Media Records, Snappin’ Necks (1995) and Pigwalk (1996), Stuck Mojo are indie-metal’s marquee attraction, having chiseled a name for themselves through aggressive touring, explosive live shows, and an attitude that defines heavy metal as it was always meant to be.


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Lorenzon Music on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 1998 - photo by Rokker

Lorenzo Music

by Jeff Muendel
March 1998

Despite grumblings about the supposedly long lost Madison music scene, new and talented bands keep rising up as if nothing had ever burned or closed down. The better ones, like anywhere else, are those that seem to defy easy categorization. You hear a hint of this and a reference to that, but you can’t pin the group down. Such is the case with Lorenzo Music.

At the core are two musicians who have experienced the changing musical tides here between the lakes. Tod Schwenn spent a good amount of time in Rapscallion during the late-80s and early-90s, around the same time Tom Ray was in Fallacy. After those bands broke up, the two decided to start jamming and writing together. The songs came together so well that they decided to form a permanent band and, after finding the right musicians, did their first gig in March of 1996.

Lorenzo Music explores many areas of sound, going from keyboard- driven, Doors-like jams to lounge swings to power guitars in a single song. The key is that they do it gracefully, at times almost unnoticeably. Most of the keyboards are done on a vintage Rhodes electric piano that Ray bought for $150 when such instruments were out of style. Schwenn supplies the guitar and the two share the vocal work. Every musician in this band has experience: second guitarist Brandon Krueger was in Peep Show, bassist Mark Whitcomb played in Insanity A.D., Carl and Swiggo, and drummer Scott Beardsley also gigged with Swiggo as well as Mindox (which also featured Buddo of Magic 7 & Last Crack).


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