Flash Metal Suicide: Dangerous Toys
This week: the debut album from Dangerous Toys, a band without whom modern metal might not even exist. Maybe.
“I never even had no school/hey sugar, don't ya think I'm cool?” - Teas'n, Pleas'n
Before we get to the clown, let's talk about Watchtower for a minute. That was Jason McMaster's old band. They were a big deal in the underground world of metalzines in the early 80s and their debut album, 1985's awkwardly titled Energetic Disassembly, was one of the most eagerly awaited and well-received indie-metal albums of that year. Now hailed as perhaps the first “progressive metal” record, at the time Watchtower were often labeled “Technical metal”. Which is why I never really bothered with Watchtower. Technical metal sounds like it involves math, and I got into rock n' roll for whatever the opposite of math is. Also, they shared the same name with the flagship magazine of a popular Christian death cult. Don't know if the Jehovah's Witnesses are still around or not, but they would send weird old ladies to your door to sell copies of Watchtower magazine and to let you know the world was gonna end in two weeks.
Looking back I guess that's pretty fuckin' metal, but it seemed like a misfire at the time. Anyway, when you consider how overblown and ridiculous prog-metal has become over the ensuing decades, it's funny to think that something as relatively primitive as Watchtower could spawn orchestral nightmares like Symphony X. Seriously, Watchtower just sounds like a garage band with an over-enthusiastic bass player. But then again, it was the 1980s. We had no idea what progress meant. We were listening to cassettes and re-electing Ronald Reagan.
If rock n' roll does have an opposite of math, it's got to be sleaze metal. You don't even need to know how to read to dig sleaze metal. It's flash metal's hipper, more dangerous cousin, all teeth and claws wrapped in denim and leather. While glam flirted with cross-dressing and celebrated rock's party atmosphere, sleaze metal took on the iconography of outlaw biker gangs and revelled in the mud and blood of rampant hyper-masculinity. Anything that could ruin you, sleaze metal was for it. Sleaze metal drank too much, did too many drugs, slept with too many (usually evil) women, broke more bones than Evel Knievel, rode (and crashed) crazy motorcycles, and feared nothing. Sleaze metal practiced the art of manly living. Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction took sleaze metal to its cartoonish limit, but there were plenty of other chest-thumpers making the rounds by the late 80s: Circus of Power, Rogue Male, the Cult (Electric/Sonic Temple era), Warrior Soul, Horse London, Sea Hags, The Hangmen, Junkyard, Jetboy, Four Horsemen, Little Caesar, Cycle Sluts from Hell, The Almighty, etc. And that's the blood-for-fuel train Jason McMcaster hopped on next.