Metal, Brum, and me.


By now I’m sure you’ll all have heard at the very least some rumblings about this HOME OF METAL project that the good ladies at Capsule have kicked into action over the past few weeks and months. For this – my first attempt at a blog on this site – I’ve tried to get across the reasons that I joined the team, and why I felt compelled to volunteer. I’d also like to explain what the bands that Home Of Metal are concentrating on mean to me.

For those who don’t know me, probably numbering millions, I’m Duncan (also known as Drunk for reasons I cannot understand…). I used to play in Mistress and deadsunrising amongst others, so by default I have connections within the Birmingham metal scene and have done for a long time. I also had a spell as a freelance writer for Terrorizer for approximately 12 months, during which I managed to realise one of my dreams and interviewed Napalm Death upon the release of their latest album at the time. With this background, I hope to be able to create a number of different blogs to be posted throughout the project, and I initially aim to write a few pieces on each of the bands we are concentrating on.

Before I joined Mistress, and whilst DSR were still in a very young and embryonic stage I used to produce a fanzine called Blindspot which tried to concentrate upon the local bands around Brum, coupled with reviews, interviews of whomever I dug at the time. Given that this was around 1997, I’m quite ashamed to admit that this included quite a lot of nu-metal type stuff, although by the second issue I had started to develop my own tastes, and this included an almost puritanical obsession to really try and shout the praises of the British acts around at the time, for example Earthtone 9, Stampin Ground and Iron Monkey to name but a few.

This led to a realisation that Birmingham not only had a load of great contemporary bands, but had a rich history, including the likes of Napalm Death who I always had held in high regard (more of this later!) through to Black Sabbath, whose albums I had inherited by a metal-loving father of one of my mates, and then Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest, whom my mother used to enjoy reminiscing about watching those bands in her youth.

Once I had joined Mistress, it was obvious that at the time we held a debt to Sabbath with our de-tuned riffs and lumbering speeds, although not that pronounced, was always just there. Before I joined, the first Mistress demo contained a song called Black Sabbath. And by the time we had released our first couple of albums and were doing the associated interviews to promote them, one of the most consistent questions – especially from the European magazines – was, “What is it like to be a band from Birmingham : the home of Black Sabbath and Napalm Death? ”.

To the outsiders, Birmingham was a mythical city, located somewhere between Middle Earth and Valhalla, where metal was law, and Ozzy ruled as mayor-stroke-deity. Once, a stoner rock band from Sweden arrived to play a show at the now-demolished and much-missed venue The Foundry, and immediately asked Dirty from Mistress (who was supporting them in his prior band Sally) where to find where Ozzy was born. He was swiftly advised that he’d be more likely to be stabbed or offered glue to sniff than find any plaque proudly proclaiming that ‘The Prince of Darkness was born here’.

And that story really encapsulates (no pun intended) one of the main aims of this project, to be able to create a lasting testament to those bands who raised the profile of the city on a global level, who not only were fucking great bands, but actually created a whole new style of music. Given the traditionally self-deprecating sense of humour that the English, and by default that the brummies possess, we have never really embraced this fact, and certainly, if Memphis can proclaim proudly to the world that they are the home of Country music, then Birmingham has every right to scream from the rooftops – preferably in a Rob Halford wail – that Birmingham IS heavy metal.

To follow : my musings on Black Sabbath, their impact, and Bill Wards pants.

By now I’m sure you’ll all have heard at the very least some rumblings about this HOME OF METAL project that the good ladies at Capsule have kicked into action over the past few weeks and months. For this – my first attempt at a blog on this site – I’ve tried to get across the reasons that I joined the team, and why I felt compelled to volunteer. I’d also like to explain what the bands that Home Of Metal are concentrating on mean to me.

For those who don’t know me, probably numbering millions, I’m Duncan (also known as Drunk for reasons I cannot understand…). I used to play in Mistress and deadsunrising amongst others, so by default I have connections within the Birmingham metal scene and have done for a long time. I also had a spell as a freelance writer for Terrorizer for approximately 12 months, during which I managed to realise one of my dreams and interviewed Napalm Death upon the release of their latest album at the time. With this background, I hope to be able to create a number of different blogs to be posted throughout the project, and I initially aim to write a few pieces on each of the bands we are concentrating on.

Before I joined Mistress, and whilst DSR were still in a very young and embryonic stage I used to produce a fanzine called Blindspot which tried to concentrate upon the local bands around Brum, coupled with reviews, interviews of whomever I dug at the time. Given that this was around 1997, I’m quite ashamed to admit that this included quite a lot of nu-metal type stuff, although by the second issue I had started to develop my own tastes, and this included an almost puritanical obsession to really try and shout the praises of the British acts around at the time, for example Earthtone 9, Stampin Ground and Iron Monkey to name but a few.

This led to a realisation that Birmingham not only had a load of great contemporary bands, but had a rich history, including the likes of Napalm Death who I always had held in high regard (more of this later!) through to Black Sabbath, whose albums I had inherited by a metal-loving father of one of my mates, and then Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest, whom my mother used to enjoy reminiscing about watching those bands in her youth.

Once I had joined Mistress, it was obvious that at the time we held a debt to Sabbath with our de-tuned riffs and lumbering speeds, although not that pronounced, was always just there. Before I joined, the first Mistress demo contained a song called Black Sabbath. And by the time we had released our first couple of albums and were doing the associated interviews to promote them, one of the most consistent questions – especially from the European magazines – was, “What is it like to be a band from Birmingham : the home of Black Sabbath and Napalm Death? ”.

To the outsiders, Birmingham was a mythical city, located somewhere between Middle Earth and Valhalla, where metal was law, and Ozzy ruled as mayor-stroke-deity. Once, a stoner rock band from Sweden arrived to play a show at the now-demolished and much-missed venue The Foundry, and immediately asked Dirty from Mistress (who was supporting them in his prior band Sally) where to find where Ozzy was born. He was swiftly advised that he’d be more likely to be stabbed or offered glue to sniff than find any plaque proudly proclaiming that ‘The Prince of Darkness was born here’.

And that story really encapsulates (no pun intended) one of the main aims of this project, to be able to create a lasting testament to those bands who raised the profile of the city on a global level, who not only were fucking great bands, but actually created a whole new style of music. Given the traditionally self-deprecating sense of humour that the English, and by default that the brummies possess, we have never really embraced this fact, and certainly, if Memphis can proclaim proudly to the world that they are the home of Country music, then Birmingham has every right to scream from the rooftops – preferably in a Rob Halford wail – that Birmingham IS heavy metal.

To follow : my musings on Black Sabbath, their impact, and Bill Wards pants.

3 comments on “Metal, Brum, and me.

  1. Pete Nelson Dave Biddulph

    Toally agree with the sentiments above but I feel that this project also needs to focus on the lesser known groups the area has produced over the years – think Diamond Head. I’ve lived in the Black Country all my life and have fond memories of seeing them live in local veues and blowing away so called bigger names. I also have one of the original signed self released albums sold through Sounds magazine. There were plenty of other great bands too, some with the typical Brummie sense of humour – Quartz anyone?!

  2. Pete NelsonDuncan

    Thanks for the comments Dave, most appreciated.

    Have recieved similar feedback from others who have made contact asking for us to include other bands from Birmingham and the surrounding area not part of the original five that we chose to concentrate on.

    In all honesty, I can’t see us expanding past those five for the near future – certainly not past the next two open days as there is a danger of us casting our net a bit too wide, which could have a negative impact to the formatting of the archive, especially in the first few months or so of its operation.

    That said however, if everything goes well there may be a chance for us to expand the focus of the project although nothing is confirmed yet – we’ll wait and see if everything works OK with the initial five bands to start with.

    FYI, at the open day on saturday, we managed to get some early 7″ singles scanned in for possible future use from an old band called Requiem (maybe around the NWOBHM time perhaps?)

    Thanks again for the feedback, and hope you continue to visit the site!!

    Cheers
    Duncan

  3. Pete NelsonDamian B

    Totally agree re Dimaond Head! They’re one of the few bands from around Birmingham who not only were metal but influenced legitimate heavy metal acts (ie acts not from the UK). Still, nice tribute to Boogie Rock here…

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