Thrash Producers: The Sound And The Fury
Guitar World talks to the producers who crafted the sound on groundbreaking albums by Megadeth, Anthrax, Possessed, Death and other bands from extreme metal’s formative years.
Like Burns, Perialas paid close attention to gear and looked into everything that made the sound. “We were into hearing the real girth of the strings and wanted to hear all the notes in the chord,” he says. “Pickup height was something we played around with a lot. We’d actually sit there and keep striking the chord and tweaking the height of the pickup until we found the right spot where the magnets affected the string.”
When Perialas worked with Anthrax, they used custom-made Jackson guitars. Scott Ian’s primary studio guitar was a Pearl White Randy Rhoads model with a single pickup, a Seymour Duncan JB model in the bridge and “NOT” painted in big blue letters on the body. Amps were Marshall JCM800s and JMPs, including some of the early JMPs from the Seventies. In fact, Perialas still has the Super Lead master volume JMP that Ian used on his infamous side-project, S.O.D.
Scott and drummer Charlie Benante were both big hardcore punk fans and attended numerous weekend hardcore matinee shows at the legendary New York City club CBGB. After laying down his guitar tracks for their 1985 Spreading the Disease album, Ian was bored waiting for the rest of the record to be completed. With a lot of free time on his hands, he began to come up with crazy, intense riffs and short hardcore tunes. Perialas was duly impressed.
“We were putting the finishing touches on Spreading the Disease and I heard these riffs that Scott was messing around with,” Perialas recalls. “I said, ‘Man, those are sick.’ Johnny [Zazula] asked me what I thought, and I said, ‘This is crazy, we need to make this record.’ He told us to go ahead, and he said, ‘You gotta do it in three days, though. That’s all I’m gonna pay for.’
S.O.D.'s Speak English or Die
“So we just fired up and worked around the clock. I’ll never forget I was mixing that record in the control room and everybody was on the floor passed out. In those days, there were no budgets, so we were always under time constraints, the pressure of the label and the wrath of Johnny!”
The finished product, Speak English or Die, which also came out in 1985, was a landmark crossover album that further bridged the worlds of hardcore punk and metal. More than 22 years after its initial release Perialas says, “That album still has that energy to it that makes you want to break stuff. It was a statement that stands to this day.”
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