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Look-alike Metal Album Covers, Part 1

Facebook's ever-growing community, And Justice For Art has joined forces with Metal Underground to present monthly episodes of their infamous series "Look-alike Metal album covers." These short but thought-provoking articles focus on artworks that somehow, are uncannily similar, both visually and conceptually. Of course, the Metal connection will always be there. Is this a coincidence? A mere rip-off? Let's try to figure it out together....

Grave Digger Vs. Dissection


German irreverent Heavy Metal quintet, Grave Digger, finally released its seventeenth studio opus, "Return Of The Reaper." The album came accompanied by a cover art courtesy of their longtime artist/collaborator, Gyula Havancsak. It features the reaper-like figure previously established by the band, relentlessly driving a ghostly carriage throughout a graveyard.

Although the graphic seems to be a continuation of the band's previous covers (also featuring the reaper) this idea, however, is far from original. Before Gyula, legendary designer, Thomas Holm, explored a similar setting on King Diamond's "Abigail" (1987) and then, in 1993, Swedish maestro, Kristian 'Necrolord' Wåhlin (At The Gates, Tiamat) created its own rendition for Dissection's debut ,"The Somberlain."

What connects "Return Of The Reaper" cover with these illustrations (especially with "The Somberlain") is not just the theme but also the structure of the whole composition, featuring a similar point of view, the relentless attitude of the main rider character, the graveyard setting and even way the horses look like. Thankfully, Gyula's vibrant painting style is far from Whalin's quasi-monochromatic approach and this creates the well-needed differences.

Was Wahlin inspired by Holm? Was Gyula consciously influenced by Kristian Wåhlin? We just don't know. One thing is true: both "Abigail" and "The Somberlain" covers have been part of the Metal imagery for decades. Consciously or not, these images could have been in Gyula's mind at the moment of creating his own, otherwise, arresting graphic... In his defense, Gyula briefly comments: "I tried to avoid the "Abigail' direction and I love Dissection, but I forgot "The Somberlain" artwork! How could I forget "The Somberlain" cover!?"

Dear Gyula, this could happen to anyone... Better luck next time.


Iron Maiden Vs. Earth, Wind and Fire


After portraying the irreverent Eddie as punk street assassin (Killers), the devil's puppeteer (Number Of The Beast) and a mentally unstable patient (Piece Of Mind) UK's mythical illustrator, Derek Riggs, decided to adorn the cover of Iron Maiden's 1984 album "Powerslave" with the band's beloved mascot acting like a pharaoh-like, giant monument surrounded by all kinds of Egyptian references. Such arresting image, demonstrated Eddie's capacity to mutate into different characters without losing its iconic trademarks and magnetic allure.

According to Martin Popoff's book, "Run For Cover", Riggs took inspiration from a concept initially suggested by bassist Steve Harris, to reinforce some of the album's lyrics. "Steve had this picture of these five guys dragging this Pharaoh's head along, some engraving he'd found," Riggs recalls. "So I started drawing it, and it just grew and grew. Most of this I invent as I go along." Of course, the final image (rich in post modern overtones and inside jokes) was far and away what Harris and Riggs had originally imagined.

However, as original, refreshing and imposing as this cover is, its overall look, color palette and Egyptian-based thematic are however, uncannily reminiscent of another album artwork. We're talking about the illustration produced by Japanese illustrator, Shusei Nagaoka for Earth, Wind and Fire's "All 'N All." Originally created in 1977, that graphic proposes a reconstruction of the ancient Abu Simbel Temple of Ramesses II, garnished with all kinds multicultural iconography and futuristic subtext, which extents to the album's back sleeve.

Both covers ("All 'N All" and "Powerslave") have many distinctive attributes that make them original in their own right—for example, the campy humor injected by Riggs and Eddie's transformation are unrivaled. Also, Nagaoka's postmodern flare is one-of-its-kind.

However, one can't but wonder if somehow (probably unconsciously) Derek took certain inspiration from Nagaoka's which came out seven years before Iron Maiden's 5th album. Just compare the symmetric look of both compositions, the similar use of colors, the placement of the pyramids ruling over all the other elements in both pictures, etc... Is it "Powerslave's" cover a ripoff or just a coincidentally look-alike? Most probably the latter. After all, it has enough differential elements to be called an original art. After all (to be fair) the cover of the Earth, Wind and Fire's album is just a fragment of Nagaoka's entire panoramic original piece.

But really... what's originality? Isn't art and even human life itself, an evolutionary process? It should be perfectly Ok to take from here and there in order to create something new. Remember: there's nothing completely new under the sun, Egyptian or not.

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Sunday Old School: Amebix

Heavy metal and punk rock has had a longstanding love/hate relationship. Though some fans of one genre have viewed the other with a sense of distaste or disdain, others have given the opposing scene respect. A number of bands were well known for appealing to both sets of fans, with Motorhead being one of the earliest examples and Discharge were a punk band that heavily influenced thrash metal, but another group to bring punk to metal fans was Devon’s very own, Amebix. The group formed in the South West of England under the moniker, The Band With No Name in 1978 by Rob Miller and his brother, Chris, also known as "The Baron" and "Stig" respectively, along with And Hoare and Clive Barnes. They performed regularly in their local area and increased their profile considerably when Rob gave their four track demo tape to underground heroes, Crass, who included the song, "Universally Challenged" on their first compilation LP, "Bullshit Detector."

Shortly afterwards, both Clive and Andy left the group and a new drummer named Martin was brought in. Soon after his recruitment, the band decided to change their name to Amebix, referring to the amoeba. The band was first moved to Dartmoor, then London where Martin suffered a mental breakdown, inspiring the song, "Largactyl," following which Amebix relocated to Bristol, where they lived in squats, during which time they shocked a few people by recruiting a synth player. With something of a stable lineup in place, the band got to work on material and recorded the EP, "Who’s the Enemy?" and the single, "Winter," which reached as high as eighteen on the British Indie Chart. More...

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Pit Stories: Pants-Less Evil Clowns!

Every week we check in with rock and metal musicians from across the globe to get their best stories from live shows.

While these traditionally take place directly in the mosh pit, sometimes the best stories take place just before or after the show.

This week vocalist / guitarist "The Horde" from The New Jacobin Club shares one such tale of a pants-less evil clown wielding a cattle prod and narrowly avoiding trouble with the local police:

In 2009 we were a 10 piece horror rock/sideshow on the road in Western Canada. At the time, we were on our “Cannibal Circus Roadshow,” tour, and some of our theatrical entourage were dressed as clowns…and not the sort of clowns you take your kids to see at the circus.

One night we found out that two of them were being questioned by police outside the club. One of them was no longer wearing pants. It turns out there had been a report of “two clowns carrying a cattle prod around in public.” One of them did have a cattle prod.

Their reply - “No, officer, we just found this lying here by the alley.”

The cop said “So you’re telling me that there must be two other girls dressed as clowns that were running around the clubs on this strip with a cattle prod?”

“Yes, officer.”

The police let them go. This actually happened.

What's the closest you've come to a run-in with the law while attending a metal show? Let us know in the comments!

The New Jacobin Club will also release "Soldiers of The Mark" this coming September 2nd, 2014. You can hear a song taken off the release titled "Champagne Ivy" over at Bandcamp here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Humble Pie

Of all the names that have appeared throughout the Sunday Old School columns, one of the few to be expected to grace the series would have to be, Peter Frampton. Yet the man who recorded, "Frampton Comes Alive," one of the biggest selling live albums of all time, which according to Mike Myers in Wayne’s World was issued to everyone in the suburbs, was an integral part in one of the first albums to be described as heavy metal. The album in question was called, "As Safe as Yesterday Is" and the band who recorded this effort was called, Humble Pie. Humble Pie was formed in the county of Essex in south England in 1969 by former Small Faces guitarist, Steve Marriott, along with Spooky Tooth bassist, Greg Ridley, Peter Frampton and drummer, Jerry Shirley. After deciding on their name, they soon signed to Immediate Records and released their first single, "Natural Born Bugie," only six months after forming, which was able to reach as high as number four in the British singles chart.

A month later, the band released, "As Safe as Yesterday Is," which, as mentioned before, was one of the first albums to be called heavy metal by Rolling Stone reviewer, Mike Saunders, who went on to form a popular band himself, named Angry Samoans. Perhaps fitting for this bit of trivia, the record opened with a cover of the song, "Desperation" by Canadian band, Steppenwolf, who themselves have at times been credited for the term "heavy metal" after including it in their classic song, "Born to be Wild." The music press weren’t entirely sure what to make of the album, but listeners seemed to enjoy what was on offer, with the record peaking at number sixteen on the British albums chart. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Fuck It!

In case you missed the previous news - Icona Pop’s single “I Love It” has been covered by Buckcherry. Yes, that single and yes, that Buckcherry. The video is part of an EP titled simply ‘Fuck’ that contains several covers with the chorus and/or lyrics changed to the album title. This particular song is titled “Say Fuck It.” More...

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Pit Stories: Slayer's Double Circle Pit

Every week we check in with musicians from across the rock and metal scene to get their most memorable Pit Stories.

This week, guitarist David Mena Ferrer from U.K. outfit In Search Of Sun shares a story of a band that frequently makes the top of anyone's favorite pit list: Slayer! David had this to say:

Well it has to be none other than SLAYER!!!!!! June 9th, 2007 to be exact. It was my second Download Festival ever and the weather was immaculate for a change, the sun was blazing and we sank warm beer after warm beer. My friends and I were positioned left of the main stage, chilled down at the little hill (you know the one), and watching the masses of beautiful festival freaks stumble past us, already half cut, all eagerly awaiting the coming of the mighty Slayer to blow our fucking brains out!

I even remember seeing a dude dressed in a burglar costume eating a crab that day…wherever the Christ he got that from I don’t know! But anyway, the time was finally upon us so we decided to get our asses up and get closer to the action. Maybe a bit too close perhaps…
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Sunday Old School: Pentagram Chile

The power of the metal underground can be a truly astounding thing. At times, it can give a band worldwide exposure and a large following even if they haven’t actually released a full length album. One of the best known examples of this would be Switzerland’s, Hellhammer, which of course evolved into Celtic Frost, but another band which would influence countless metal listeners was a group from Chile, who shared their name with an American group that also didn’t release an album until well into their career, a band named, Pentagram. Pentagram, or Pentagram Chile as they now go by, were formed in the Chilean capital city of Santiago in 1985 by singing guitarist, Anton Reisenegger and another guitar player named, Juan Pablo "Azazel" Uribe. They were strongly inspired by the more extreme end of the thrash spectrum and early death metal bands such Possessed, Kreator and Venom.

After recruiting drummer Eduardo Topelberg from a group named Chronos, the trio began working on their musicianship a little more seriously and eventually recorded their first demo, entitled appropriately enough, "Demo 1." Reisenegger handled bass duties for the record and the band began sending out copies all over the world. Two of the people who got a hold of the demo was the Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor, known of course as the founding members of Brazil’s most famous metal band, Sepultura, who at the time had just released their debut album, "Morbid Visions." They struck up a friendship with the two and there was reportedly intention for Max Cavalera and Anton Reisenegger to record an album together, though to date, this has not happened. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Stressed Out!

New music and videos from Sixx:A.M. and Screaming Eagles this week. More...

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Pit Stories: The Unwanted Pit

A few weeks back Halycon Way checked in with us to share a Pit Story about a massive wall of death at a Lamb of God show, and now the Atlanta prog metal group is back for another tale of pit shenanigans.

This week the group shares a tale of an unwanted pit failing to erupt at the NAMM convention. Halcyon Way had this to say about the event:

So, it's the Winter NAMM show in January of 2013. I'm at the Grove in Anaheim for an industry-only show there, and it's Exodus, Prong, and Jeff Loomis playing. I'm with a group of friends - other musicians, manufacturers, our producer Lasse Lammert is there, it's a good group. The Grove is a good sized venue, and it's probably about half full, so there's a pretty fair amount of room in the crowd area too, because the venue's floor is kinda segmented, with 20 foot sections going up from the stage. Basically, you have a 15-20 foot deep section the width of the venue, then there's a couple of steps up and a short wall, and there's another level a couple feet higher. I think there's 3-4 total. Keep in mind that this is an industry-only event, and that the general public was not allowed in. You had to get a pass from Dean Guitars in the NAMM show at the convention center.

So, during Prong's set there's a small pit breaking out in the lowest level, and that's cool. The people that didn't want to pit were up higher watching the show....until some drunk numbnuts decides he's going to start one 2 levels up. And the douche didn't even know how to really do a pit, he just decided to drunkenly stagger from one side of the venue to the other, and ram into as many people as he could. Women? Sure. Dudes? Of course. Mom with baby? He would have if there were one there. The guy was being a complete toolbag, just ramming into anyone at random, hitting them from behind, etc.
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Sunday Old School: Vio-lence

One of the wonderful things about thrash metal is that while some bands became superstars, others have earned eternal credibility amongst metal fans for their furious live shows and underground classics. Perhaps one of the best examples of the latter comes, unsurprisingly, in the form of a band from San Francisco, Vio-lence. The group was formed by guitarists Phil Demmel and Troy Fua, vocalist Jerry Birr, drummer Perry Strickland and bass player Eddie Billy, brother of Testament frontman, Chuck Billy.

Changes were soon made to the band, most notably when Birr was replaced by Sean Killian, who utilised a unique cadence in his singing style and former Forbidden guitarist, Robb Flynn. They soon signed a contract with Mechanic Records and entered the studio to record their first full length album, "Eternal Nightmare." The record is now considered to be one of the best thrash metal albums of all time by dedicated thrash fans, thanks to such songs as "Kill on Command" and "Bodies on Bodies." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Guns N' Booze

A couple so-so videos this week that are redeemed with a GREAT ASS; a couple other videos masquerading as PRO gun and alcohol public service announcements. More...

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Pit Stories: Cpl. McTrailerpark Shuts Down A Fest

Get a bunch of amped up metal heads into an enclosed space and shenanigans are bound to happen, but add alcohol to the mix and you've got a recipe for pit craziness.

For this week's look at Pit Stories from metal bands across the globe, Crimson Shadows bassist Morgan Rider shares this tale of a festival getting shut down when the crowd turns on an unruly fan:

I have been playing shows the entirety of my adult and teenage life. I have seen just about as much crazy shit at concerts I have attended as the next guy has too. But actually PLAYING the show gives you that vantage point on the crowd and the pit that being a part of the crowd does not provide. Above all, some of the most insane crowds I have ever seen have been in our home country of Canada. I don't know if it's in the water or the poutine, but I personally think it may be the fact that Canada is one of the less-hit markets in the world for metal. The crowds here NEED their fix of metal!

One instance I can recall comes from another band I play in. We were playing an outdoor festival in Ontario right next to the lake and we were one of maybe 10-12 bands. I remember vaguely as we were gearing up to step up on stage, a roamer happened into our backstage area and started to harass our guitar player at the time that we had better play Lynyrd Skynyrd or Pink Floyd or he'd stab us in the throat or something to that degree. We told him to fuck off so we could get ready to play. And yes, this is the part where he losses his shit and attacks our guitarist who he was previously harassing. The quick tussle ended up in them both being bloody-nosed, bruised and covered in dirt, but otherwise OK! We kicked the random guy out of the backstage area and we moved onto the stage to perform. We didn't really hear him shouting at us about how he was going to round up his boys and come back for us though. Onward the show!

And this is where it gets interesting. We were maybe 3-4 songs into our set; we were enjoying the awesomely large-ish and crazy crowd, the cold Canadian beer and the feel of the breeze coming off the lake when Cpl. McTrailerpark and Company come drunkenly stumbling up into the festival grounds. I guess the guy originally did not realize we were the next performing band, so he went straight for the first long-haired and bearded fellow he happened across and a fight broke out immediately. Of course, we saw everything that was going on, so we shouted at someone to break the fight up before it got even further out of control. Now I have never seen this happen, except if a soccer team loses in Brazil or a bunch of fans streak across a football stadium, but the ENTIRE crowd B-lined and went straight for the guy and his buddies!

The whole crowd swarmed these guys and totally gang-beat them. Of course we did not stop playing. Within 5 minutes, ambulances, police cars and a paddy wagon all arrived with an even larger crowd of on-lookers. Eventually, the police came on stage and stopped us from playing and stopped the entire festival.
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Sunday Old School: Belphegor

As we’ve mentioned a few times over the past months, this year Sunday Old School is aiming to cover a lot more countries in our articles. Some of the nations we’ve taken a first look at have given the world of metal some highly controversial names, both literately (such as Rotting Christ from Greece) and in terms of theatrics (such as Poland’s, Behemoth.) This week sees the latter trend continue, as Sunday Old School examines a band from Austria for the first time. A blood drenched, blasphemous, outrageous group that goes by the name of, Belphegor.

The group was formed under the moniker Betrayer in Salzburg in 1991 by guitarist, Helmuth and Sigurd, vocalist Maxx and a drummer named Chris. Whilst using this name, they recorded two demos, "Kruzifixion" and "Unborn Blood," before changing their alias to Belphegor, named after a demon who was supposedly responsible for discoveries and, according to the Dictionnaire Infernal, Hell’s ambassador to France (because if anywhere is going to have an embassy for Hell, it’s France.) They would release only one demo with Maxx after changing their name in the guise of 1993’s, "Bloodbath in Paradise." After Maxx’s departure, Helmuth assumed vocal duties and the group recorded another demo, "Obscure and Deep" through Perverted Taste Records in 1994, before their first official album, "The Last Supper" was released in January 1995 via Lethal Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Izzy Stradlin

Izzy Stradlin was the member (and co-founder) of Guns N’ Roses that presumably could handle his heroin use. He left Guns N’ Roses in 1991 and has led his own band or solo efforts since.

Izzy was born and grew up in Lafayette, Indiana where he was friends with William Bailey, later known as Axl Rose. In 1980 Stradlin moved to Los Angeles and joined the punk band Naughty Women. After a brief stint with Naughty Women, Stradlin would play with The Atoms and Shire before forming Hollywood Rose with his childhood friend Axl Rose. In 1984 the band recorded a five-song demo and also during this time (Stradlin) formed the short-lived band Stalin. In 1985 Stradlin, founded Guns N’ Roses with Rose and several members of L.A. Guns. The band released the epic ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album in 1987. Stradlin wrote or co-wrote most of the songs as well as “Patience” off the follow-up album "Lies."

The band blue up as did tensions around drug use. Around 1989 Stradlin took some time off and sobered up. In 1991 Guns N’ Roses released the "Use Your Illusion" albums. Stradlin co-wrote many of the songs, but now sober, was not happy with the band shenanigans and left the band in 1991. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Day Drinking

This week’s videos give us a classic bar scene and the possible return of the movie Cobra. More...

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Pit Stories: Crashing Into The Wall Of Death

It's Tuesday again, which means it's time for more Pit Stories!

This week we head into one of the most infamous, bone crunching, bruise-inducing pit activities: the dreaded wall of death.

Atlanta prog metal band Halcyon Way shared this story with us about a wall of death during a Lamb of God set:

One of my all time favorite bands is Lamb of God, and if you know Lamb of God at all then you know that they are known for doing a wall of death at the end of their show. So I was attending their show in Atlanta at the Tabernacle, and the time came for them to play "Black Label" which everyone knows is when the wall happens. So people started lining up, my best friend and I decided that we were gonna do it! So Randy Blythe started counting, when he hit 4, both sides of the room flew towards each other.

In the confusion I lost sight of my best friend and just began fending for my life it seemed! I saw some people on the ground, but saw that they were being helped up and didn't think much of it. It wasn't until I saw videos on Youtube later on that I realized that the side of the wall we were on had completely collapsed under the pressure from the other side and that we were mere feet away from being right in the middle of it, with no idea that it was even happening! It was definitely a blast though and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Halcyon Way's forthcoming album "Conquer" is due to drop on August 19th in North America via Nightmare Records and August 23rd in Europe via Massacre Records.

To get a preview of the album, you can stream the track "Home" at this location or watch the "Web of Lies" music video here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bruce Dickinson

It’s usually a risk when the singer of a big name band decides to leave and go solo. Many doubted whether or not Ozzy Osbourne would be able to move on from Black Sabbath, though he went on to prove the naysayers wrong, while Judas Priest singer Rob Halford and Deep Purple’s, Ian Gillan found varying degrees of success after separating from their respective bands. Another metal legend who took the gamble was Bruce Dickinson, who made a name for himself as Paul Di'anno's successful replacement in Iron Maiden. The seeds of Dickinson’s foray into a solo career began in 1989 when he was approached to write a song for the movie, Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child, an offer which he accepted and called upon the services of former Gillan and White Spirit guitarist, Janick Gers.

The duo composed the song, "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter," which would later be included on the Iron Maiden album, "No Prayer For the Dying" and become the band’s first number one single in Britain. Given the popularity of the song, Dickinson and the same lineup returned to the studio to work on a full length album, which was completed in only two weeks and released in 1990 as a Bruce Dickinson solo album entitled, "Tattooed Millionaire." The album received positive reviews from many fans and critics and a tour in support of the record soon followed. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Dirty Lips

This week new videos from Glitzy Glow and Kristy Majors and the Thrill Kills; the videos may be new, but the music is a throwback to simpler, stranger time. More...

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Sunday Old School: Krisiun

As most sports fans, and even many who aren’t, are aware, today marks the final day of the FIFA World Cup, the largest international tournament in the sporting world. This year, it was held in Brazil, a country known globally for their love of and talent for football. But there’s another area the Brazilians seem to excel at, as Sunday Old School has shown in the past by highlighting such bands as Ratos de Parão and Sarcófago, and that is that Brazil has given birth to some of the most crushing metal bands of all time, as we’ll see today by taking a look at another of their excellent exports, Krisiun. The band was formed in Ijuí, Rio Grande do Sul, in 1990 by three brothers, Moyses and Max Kolesne, who handled guitar and drum duties respectively and singing bassist, Alex Camargo, who uses their mothers maiden name. They were heavily influenced by the aggressive metal of such acts as Morbid Angel and Slayer and recorded two demos before deciding that their career would stand more of a chance if they moved to Sao Paulo in 1995, where they were almost immediately spotted and signed by Dynamo Records.

The band recorded and released their debut studio album, "Black Force Domain" that same year and displayed their influences proudly with covers of "Nuclear Winter" by Sodom and the Kreator track, "Total Death." The album was well received by the death metal fans who heard it and soon afterwards, their brutal sound was to be brought to a larger audience when they signed with German record label, GUN. The group’s first release through their new label came in 1998 with the album, "Apocalyptic Revelations," which was also met with a positive response amongst the death metal community. More...

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Pit Stories: Leaving The Show In A Trunk

The live show is the heart of the metal scene, and both fans and musicians from across the globe have their share of epic stories from the mosh pit.

From amorous couples who can't be bothered to wait until getting home, to bursts of violence, and on to booze-addled shenanigans, the pit has been the site of just about every crazy scenario imaginable.

This week King Of Asgard guitarist Lars G. Tängmark shares this story of trying to see a Paradise Lost show but botching the whole affair from the beginning when he runs into his old friend Jagermeister:

This was the cold winter of 1992 and Paradise Lost was going to play Norrköping. It was probably one of the many brilliant club nights held under the "Trash Bash" flag in the early 90's where international metal celebrities could be enjoyed on a small stage, in small town, on a regular basis. All this less then hour by train away from the even smaller town where I lived and rehearsed with countless obscure musical projects (nothing has changed today BTW).

At the time I was in habit of being absolutely pissed before even leaving home on a Friday night, but on this particular day I made an exception and didn't start pouring Jagermeister down my throat until I got on the train. Had I made an estimation (which I was NOT in the habit of making) I should have understood that the show was still three hours away and I would have to pour the Jager really, really slowly to even be conscious at the time of the show. Did I mention that I looked really good too? I didn't really have the "metal" look going at the time, probably because of some kind of constant identity crisis, so I my hair was semi-long and part at the middle. I had decided for some type of normal clothing, but since I was in "experimental" mode when leaving the house I opted for a huge darth-vader black trenchcoat that looked more weird-granny than Edward Scissordhands. Neat.
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