Hail to you sir, and thanks for taking part in this latest series. We’re building the perfect beast – where the ‘beast”= in question is the ultimate British heavy metal band, and we welcome your input. So, without further ado, let’s get into it…Go, Nazarkardeh, go!
Who would fill your vacancy for Vocalist? We’d like to nominate Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Ian Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne or Biff Byford for the role, but you can nominate whoever you like. “I should probably state ahead of time that my choices in creating this particular Frankenstein’s Metal Monster might be controversial. However, that is when metal is at its best, so no apologies. Besides, choosing Dickinson, Smith, Murray, Harris and McBrain would make this far too easy… I’m going to take none of the above and choose Robert Plant. Should Led Zeppelin be considered heavy metal? When they were heavy they were very heavy, and when they were very heavy, Robert Plant transformed from a rock singer to something straight out of the Celtic mythologies he was so obsessed with. There’s a slight irony to people who hear the vocals in extreme metal and whine that it sounds abnormal considering that Plant’s vocals in 1969 were just that. If Bruce Dickinson is an air raid siren, Robert Plant is a wailing banshee!”
A good start – and yes, we heartily agree that a bit of controversy is good! Onto the guitarists… You can pick one or two from this list, or, if you want, name someone else. We’ll give you Smith and Murray as already mentioned, and add to that KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Paul Chapman, Paul Quinn, Phil Campbell and the non-related Vivian Campbell. Thoughts? ““This beast will only need one guitar player, and that will be Richie Blackmore. There’s nothing I can say about him that In Rock, Rising or Under A Violet Moon cannot say better, but I’ll try! The way he evoked the sounds of Bach and medieval European folk into metal in a time that most of his contemporaries were flogging the same insipid, boring twelve bar blues riffs is massively inspiring, and by doing so he developed a style that sounds truly unique even today. That is one of the reasons why I can’t choose another guitar player – his sound stands on its own. The other reason is that the only thing bigger than his sound is his ego, which fills up the extra space that a second guitarist would take. And a third. And a fourth”.
Yes, he certainly did put a rocket up the arse of the bluesmen! Now on to bass players. Our list: Steve Harris, Lemmy, Pete Way, Geezer Butler and John Gallagher. Your nomination? “Greg Lake of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. What kind of heretical nonsense is this? A bassist who never played a note of heavy metal? True, but listen to the midsection of 21st Century Schizoid Man and tell me it isn’t a tragedy that we never got to hear that immaculate bass playing on a metal record. We have Lake to thank for the modern DiGeorgio/Choy/Webster style as much as we do Harris. The best metal bassist that never was, and the antithesis to the backwards idea that bass in metal should only be a frequency filler”.
More controversy! Let’s have a listen:
Now, onto the other half of the rhythm section: Drummers. We’ve got Nicko McBrain, Ian Paice, Bill Ward, NIgel Glockler and Abaddon on our list. What about you? “Our bassist Hægtesse’s instant response to the ideal British metal band question was Ozzy – Iommi – Butler – Ward. For this one I won’t disappoint him. To me Ward isn’t at his core a ‘metal’ drummer, he is the world’s heaviest jazz drummer. That Buddy Rich influence and years of cutting his teeth in bleak, smoke filled jazz gigs in Birmingham pubs is why Ward’s style has that disgustingly filthy swing. Combine that with Iommi’s riffing and you hear exactly what left so many Christian Evangelicals clutching their crucifixes and soiling themselves over the ‘music of the devil'”.
If any of you Christian Evangelicals are still with us now, get your Nappies ready…
Now lastly – and this one is entirely voluntary, given it’s heavy metal we’re talking about, what about keyboard players? I’m throwing the names Jon Lord, Don Airey, Mark Stanway, Paul Raymond and Ken Hensley at you. “Some people have a real dislike to keyboards, and feel they are totally superfluous to metal. Fuck those people. My choice is Peter Bardens from Camel. Not metal? As Opeth openly admit to having ripped off Camel riffs for decades (yes, even when they were still a metal band!) I say they get a pass. I don’t understand why an album like Mirage, so ahead of its time, was denied the praise of some of Camel’s contemporaries. Barden’s twisting and prominent yet never overbearing presence is what definite that record and would have made for a monstrous presence in the metal world. Worth more than a thousand Rick Wakemans. Or would that be Wakemen?”
Now there’s some real controversy right there, though I must say I am partial to a bit of Camel every now and then. And that’s your perfect best! Anything you’d like to say by way of a closing remark? “What possessed me to choose this lineup? To me, metal – whether it is classic heavy metal then or black metal now – should be subversive. It should anger people too conservative to listen to anything other than the same records with the same tried and tested riffs, and so I chose five musicians who people still struggle to surpass. I believe if this five came together to make a record, it would be a record far ahead of its time in 2017, let alone 1975. Either that or the clash of egos would result in them all murdering each other. It’s a gamble I would be willing to make.”
Nazarkardeh’s Perfect Beast:
Robert Plant (Band of Joy/Led Zeppelin/The Honeydrippers) – Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple/Rainbow/Blackmore’s Night) – Guitars
Greg Lake (King Crimson/Emerson, Lake & Palmer) – Bass
Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) – Drums
Pete Bardens (Camel/Keats/Mirage) – Keyboards
Formicarius‘ new album, Black Mass Ritual, is out now.