Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s contributors take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
Motörhead was confirmed for Mayhem Fest (though we didn’t need any press release to tell us that). Rush sent a cease-and-desist order to some guy also named Rush. And Kyng was one of the heavy additions to Metallica’s Orion Music And More Festival. So in a nutshell, it was a good week for trios in metal and rock. With all that in mind, a rather tough question popped into our heads: who is the ultimate, kick ass rock and metal trio of all time? It’s a hard choice, but that’s what Bram, Zach, Kodi and Melissa will try to determine in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl.
Zach: My initial first response would be to go with Cream, one of the classic supergroup trios of all time. However, I think I’d have to go with Motörhead. Maybe it’s cause I still have the images of seeing them live on Gigantour stuck in my head, but to me Motörhead stand out as a stellar trio. And it’s not just because of Lemmy is GOD either! Let’s give some major credit to Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee (both monsters of their instruments) for keeping Motörhead as bad ass as ever.
Melissa: Zach! You thief! You took my idea. Yes, Motörhead may have been my first choice, as God would not want you to pick any other band besides his. However, the trio that I’m going to full out argue is the best rock trio that single handedly change the direction of music and killed hair metal: yes, Nirvana. “Come As You Are”?! “Smells Like Teen Spirit”?! All of their songs are just such classics that Kurt Cobain will forever live on as an icon of our times! I love Cream and Rush, but the band that I find is more relevant to our generation is the one that shaped the 90’s. Everything revolved around Nirvana, Cobain and the whole grunge movement at that time. Nevermind WAS the grunge movement. When Kurt Cobain passed away, the number of people who felt his loss was staggering. People came out in droves to pay homage to our fallen hero.
But Cobain aside, Krist Novoselic is socially and politically active trying to raise awareness about the bills in Congress that affect music. As for Dave Grohl, we can all agree he had one of the most talked about Grammy speeches in recent times. Not to mention he has been in some of the coolest side projects ever: stint in Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, (which would be another supergroup trio) and who could forget the Devil in Tenacious D’s Pick of Destiny? With Nirvana, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts are still fucking spectacular.
Bram: It’s hard to deny Motörhead, but Rush has been around even longer, and influenced just about any band that considers themselves prog or technical. And Nirvana definitely had a huge influence on music, as well as tons of crappy radio-rock bands that tried to sound like them. But this conversation is about metal, so I guess Rush and Nirvana are only in on a technicality. As far as current bands are concerned, I’d go with a band that wasn’t always a three piece, but is tearing it up as one now – Corrosion of Conformity. I’ll be honest here and admit that I like the band slightly more with Pepper Keenan, but their new album is raw and energetic and almost as hardcore as it is metal. And on the instrumental front, you can’t mess with Russian Circles. Those guys make more noise than bands with double the members. Their mix of nuance and aggression can’t be beat.
Kodi: That’s the tough thing with these Brawls: “of all time”? “The best ever”? There really haven’t been THAT many metal trios with a load of influence across metal history, but Motorhead seems to be in a class by itself. I think you could also make a compelling argument for Venom, though their admitted intent was always to rip off Motorhead in a more provocative, shocking fashion (which they certainly succeeded at)!
So where does that leave the conversation? Well, let’s pump up the ass-kicking a bit and start considering who else you’d involve. Motorhead? Awesome, of course. Lemmy is the Clint Eastwood of metal. But they never released an album that consisted of one massive hour-long lyrical foray into bong rips, Nazareth, and a hero doing bong rips while storming Nazareth; for that reason, they get edged out slightly by Sleep and their infamous “Dopesmoker.” I’d also view Matt Pike’s current band, the monstrous High on Fire, as putting out far more interesting and badass new music than Motorhead at this point in their respective careers.
While we’re at it, honorable respect/shouts out to Boris, the current Corrosion of Conformity lineup, and the Songs For The Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age (if you don’t exempt them based on Dave Grohl being effectively a one-album guest).