Detroit Free Press, 8/10/90 --------------------------- The latest metal band trend is really heavy By Gary Graff Though parents and religious fundamentalists might argue otherwise, heavy metal lost a bit of its mettle during the 80s. With bands like Poison, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Warrant and Winger laboring under its umbrella, metal became a home for mousse-modeling groups that played whomped-up, hit-oriented pop songs. Perhaps it's time to change the categories. Call those groups metal lite; the full-calorie brand of heavy metal is on the rebound, and it may be bigger than ever. "This is the new wave of the (Black) Sabbaths and (Led) Zeppelins," says Columbia Records talent scout Nick Terzo, invoking the names of metal giants of the 70s. He's talking about groups like Soundgarden, Faith No More, Danzig, Prong, Warrior Soul and Alice in Chains - bands of differing approaches but whose power and intensity pulverizes their more commercially successful counterparts. Their sounds are gritty, aggressive and dark, mixing heavy metal and punk conventions with lyrics that embrace politics, religion and metaphysics. While the Poisons and Def Leppards of the world dress up their conventional p op songs with distorted guitars, volume and visual pizzazz, these other bands - described within the music industry by words like fringe, underground and alternative - offer little to strip away. "These guys are no-frills, kick-a** rock n'roll," says Andy Secher, editor of the hard rock magazines Hit Parader and Power Metal, and head of the Titanium Records heavy metal label. "They wear T-shirts and jeans. They wear black leather - in the summer, when it's 95 degrees. I don't know if it's going to be a major trend, but it's certainly growing." Remarkably, that growth has been without much radio play or support from MTV and other video outlets. It's been accomplished almost entirely by fan support, and when the mass media has picked up on any of the songs - such as Metallica's "One" or Faith No More's "Epic" - they've been reacting to sales rather than to music itself. There are signs that the doors are opening, however. Danzig's just-released second album, "Lucifuge," is climbing the Billboard charts. There's heavy mainstream media anticipation for the new Anthrax album, "Persistence of Time." And Secher says that in his magazines, articles on these groups are getting better reader response than stories on more mainstream fare like Lita Ford and L.A. Guns. "You can't keep it away from the kids," says Glen Danzig who, as member of the groups the Misfits and Samhain, was an influence on many of the new metal heroes. "The fans for this music are some the most loyal and voracious you can imagine. I think they're pulled in by the sense of rebelliousness about it. They see we don't knuckle under for anything. We're not going to put on makeup or silly rock'n'roll clothes. I think kids respect that." Record companies, not surprisingly, understand the sales potential of this strain of heavy metal, which is why they're scrambling to sign the next Metallica, Faith No More or Soundgarden. Among the up and comers: Mother Love Bone, Dark Angel, Death Angel, Flotsam & Jetsam, Artillery, Watchtower and Defiance. And, according to Columbia's Terzo, there should be more on the way. "In a stage like this, which is kind of young, you don't know exactly what's going to happen," Terzo says. "But I think there's a little less fear involved on the part of the labels." Adds Danzig, "I think (the labels) are finally understanding that not everybody wants to see Poison or Warrant. That's what keeps me going; there should be an alternative out there. I think there's big enough audience out there that if someone gets behind one of these albums, they'll just go through the roof." ON STAGE: Danzig, Soundgarden and Corrosion of Conformity will perform at 7:30 tonight at the Latin Quarter, 3067 E. Grand Blvd. Call 873-3777 anytime.