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Baker's Dozen

Reinventions Of The Near Future: James Dean Bradfield's Favourite LPs
Emily Mackay , September 23rd, 2014 08:25

With their Holy Bible shows just announced, the Manic Street Preachers frontman talks Emily Mackay through his all-time favourite albums


Alice In Chains - Dirt
Now the heaviness comes! It's up there with Sehnsucht by Rammstein: just pure molten lava, classic metal. Alice In Chains were such a weird band: losing their singer, when he had gangrene and was addicted, and they went and did a record with fucking Elton John… just a truly bizarre band! Jerry Cantrell was the guitarist, and Layne Staley was the singer who sadly passed away. If you look at old footage of Layne Staley, he really was one of the most doom-laden, foreboding metal presences you could ever wish to see. Look at old footage of him and he'll just stand there, stock still, with his glasses on and he always had his arms covered because there was always something bad going on with him, but his voice just came out of him like the eternal cracking of the oldest oak in the mythical forest. His voice was just wipeout, it was so low and had so much meaning. And Jerry Cantrell was such a pointed, furious, lumpen but spry guitarist, and there hasn't been a classic metal album for a long time I think. This is a bit of a shit muso point, but I think a lot of that is down to modern day metal musicians tuning down. They do this drop, this detuning where everything is just 'du-doom du-doom du-doom'. That's why you don't get this kind of music anymore, because all the guitars are tuned too low. But Jerry Cantrell obviously has a classicist's mind when it comes to metal, and the song 'Them Bones'... it's a simple rudimentary chord, but as soon as it comes on there's a spectral, dying scream in the background, four chords going up in semitones, and it's just like, "Fuck me… how do people find this erudition out of simplicity?" That's when rock & roll is at its best, when it finds that complexity in simplicity, and power in loss or whatever you want to call it.