Next month Dissonance Productions release an album celebrating all that's good about the underground British heavy metal scene; Neuronspoiler feature on the album, so who better to kick off our new series Building the Perfect Beast, where we seek to put together the greatest composite British metal band of all time?
Greetings, and thanks for taking part! Your task is simple. We’re going to give you a series of musicians grouped according to their role, and we need you to pick your ideal British heavy metal band from within their ranks… GO TO IT!
First up here are some of the more notable vocalists of the last few years. Select one of these if you would: Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Ian Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne or Biff Byford… Or you could give us a different name if you like. “The perfect beast must have a proper singer. Someone who can sing in tune and convey the power of the music with conviction and bombast. Halford is the Metal God, Ozzy is a one in a million front man and Dickinson is the definition of a stadium singer who hits the back row. But, they all wouldn’t be in business if not for Ian Gillan. His controlled, effortless scream is the pioneering standard bearer”.
Okay, that’s the first perfect beast taken care of. Now to some guitarists. You can pick two if you like. Here’s our list. Glenn Tipton, KK Downing, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Paul Chapman, Phil Campbell, Paul Quinn, Vivian Campbell, Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi. Your thoughts? “Tony Iommi – He invented this world, the rest of us just live in it. And then KK Downing – because he epitomises heavy metal; on stage and on record and he had the good sense to bow out before damaging his legacy”.
He did indeed. That’s three down. Now on to bassists. Try these for size: Steve Harris, Lemmy, Pete Way, Geezer Butler or John Gallagher. Who’s holding the bottom end down? “Steve Harris – because he saw us (Neuronspoiler) play and I’ve met him and he’s a lovely guy. Plus he plays lead bass, that’s a very metal thing to do”.
I like your line of thinking. So who’s going to be Steve’s rhythm partner? Nicko McBrain, Ian Paice, Bill Ward, Nigel Glockler or Abaddon -who do you want behind the kit? “All great drummers, Ian Paice is like clockwork and maybe I would nominate Cozy Powell for his often copied double bass kick drum work, but Nicko McBrain’s snare drum sound is the most unique and signature drum sound in music. Nicko is uncomplicated, unhurried, and has been bang on point for decades! Everything you need in a drummer. Plus my chosen rhythm section will have had some experience playing together”.
A sensible decision. Now, many people would say keyboards have no place in a heavy metal band, but I’m going to give you a list to pick from anyway – but ivory tinkling is optional. Jon Lord, Don Airey, Paul Raymond, Ken Hensley and Mark Kelly are the names that spring to my mind. You? “Have to go with Jon Lord, a musician’s musician. He could do everything it seemed. From grand orchestral compositions to over-indulgent hard rock in the early eighties. Jon Lord always played for the song and brought class to every project he worked on”.
I couldn’t agree more. That’s the band put together – anything you’d like to add? “These are among the most well known musicians for a good reason; they made the most enjoyable music by writing excellent songs. I appreciate lesser known bands but there is a dangerous trend among some metal fans that seems to praise garbage music just because it’s older than they are. Not everything from the eighties was quality so championing obscure nonsense for snob value is just sad”.
JR’s Perfect Beast:
Ian Gillan (Deep Purple/Black Sabbath/Gillan) – Vocals
Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)/KK Downing (Judas Priest) – Guitars
Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) – Bass
Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden/Pat Travers/Trust) – Drums
Jon Lord (Deep Purple/Whitesnake) – Keyboards