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Thrashback Thursday: Hang The Pope

Old columns die hard. In this case, they rock hard too. Thrashback Thursday is back again and this week we're taking a look at one of the most beloved (and short) songs from one of the East Coast's favourite names in thrash metal, Nuclear Assault. The song? "Hang The Pope."

Nuclear Assault may not have hit the commercial highs of some of their peers such as Anthrax or Megadeth, but when discussing classic thrash metal, Nuclear Assault always get brought up very quickly. With good reason too. They were one of the more aggressive sounding bands in a sub-genre which wasn't exactly known for being soft, taking the sounds of the New York hardcore scene and blending them with thrash metal, before the term "crossover" was invented. They released their first album, "Game Over" in 1986 and the record is still considered a must have for any thrash fan today. Over the course of their career, they released five more studio albums, five EPs, two live albums, three home videos/DVDs and toured the world numerous times.

It's from the beginning that we'll be looking at today though, with one of the most controversial songs in thrash metal (that wasn't written by Slayer,) entitled, "Hang The Pope," from the "Game Over" album. The song begins with a Discharge inspired bass line which opens the track in the most ferocious of ways. It's soon followed by an onslaught of noise, which was almost certainly an influence on the tiny grindcore scene at the time, then the rapid fire verse of "Hang the pope, hang the pope, hang the pope, hang the pope, hang him with a fucking rope." Somehow, the song still manages to have a catchy chourus without slowing down for an instant, as the sing along refrain goes, "Let's go to the Vatican, get him out of bed. Put the noose around his neck and hang him till he's dead." As if this wasn't enough, this is all repeated and in a song which is only forty six seconds long. Wasn't thrash a wonderful invention? More...

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Pit Stories: Is That Bread Burning?

Italian symphonic metal band Sleeping Romance sent us a story not from the pit, but from the road, or rather hotel in Slovakia while on tour:

In 2015 we went to play in a nice Bratislava club. The evening went pretty well, so late at night we reached the hotel where we would stay: a 4 star hotel, gorgeous, never seen so much luxury. They put us in the last 3 rooms of the most remote corner of the hotel's sixth and last floor. After a quiet night, we wake up to have breakfast. We felt a great smell of abrasive bread, and we were on the sixth floor, so who knows what they were cooking in the ground floor kitchen?!? At one point, Lorenzo and Federico who had slept in the same room felt knocking at the door: "guys, out, fast, there is a fire!" Federico, believing in a joke of Francesco, says to Lorenzo: let him enter. Federico was pointing his ass to the door. Well, Lorenzo opened the door and here was a huge firefighter who, with a disgruntled face, invited us to leave as the hotel was on fire. In the most panic we took what we could and ran down hard, with the firefighter who kept yelling at us running and the black smoke that was poisoning us. But the fireman's horrible face, which we believe remains suspicious about what was happening in Lorenzo and Federico's room, is one of the most precious memories we keep.

Sleeping Romance's new album "Alba," was released on November 3rd via Napalm Records. The band will tour Europe in February with Visions of Atlantis and Serenity as part of the Symphonic Metal Nights Tour. Tour dates are as follows: More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Fast As A Shark

In these times of trouble, with political and economic strife at home and abroad, human rights abuses and shows like Ex On The Beach, life can get you down pretty easily. Thursday has usually never been much of a day to look forward to, unless there's a decent sports game on, so we've decided to bring back one of our old columns to get your Thursdays off to a decent start. Every Thursday we'll be looking back on a metal song that's either a classic, a hidden gem or one which will make you say, "Oh! I haven't heard that in years!" Despite the title, it won't always be a thrash metal song, but it will be undisputed metal.

We kick off this reactivated retrospect with a look at one of Germany's all time greatest heavy metal bands, Accept. The band from the town of Solingen in the north of the Bergisches Land have a catalogue of awesome heavy metal staples and picking one is a hard choice, but "Fast As A Shark" has edged its way above many of the other anthems Accept have penned. The opening track from the group's 1982 album, "Restless and Wild" has been featured in a number of video games such as the metal themed adventure Brutal Legend and several films, including being played over one of the most awesome scenes in film history, towards the end of the Italian horror favourite, "Demons," wherein the main character rides a motorcycle through a cinema, decapitating creatures with a samurai sword, all to the sound of this metal masterpiece. More...

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Pit Stories: The Incredible Horrible Backline

We have practically seen it all in our expanding collection of Pit Stories - whether it finds us crowd surfing like legends, moshing in totally unexpected places or even attacks from psychotic large chested woman. You can find it all on Pit Stories.

Today, Jöe Anus - guitarist and vocalist of Belgian thrash act Evil Invaders - tells us about a gig in Brazil where the backline looked more hopeless than the venue itself. As things fell apart, the band continued to rage the audience and.....oh hell, let Jöe tell you about it: More...

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Pit Stories: A Mosh Pit Of Two

In the world of crowd surfing like legends, moshing in totally unexpected places, attacks from large chested woman...we have practically seen it all in our expanding collection of Pit Stories.

Today, Mark Briody - guitarist of Jag Panzer - recalls a mosh pit of two, where he and his bassist were having the time of their lives in the pit, unaware as to what was happening...

Here, Mark explains:

Many many years ago my bass player and I were at a punk gig. There was a massive pit going on. We were right in the middle, tossing elbows and going crazy. Soon we found ourselves are the only ones out there. We thought everyone else had enough so we high-fived each other. We soon found out the last song was a dedication to a deceased person, which no one moshed to. We were clueless.
More...

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Pit Stories: Attack Of Captain Big Boobs

This week's edition of Pit Stories comes from U.K.'s Dirty Thrills...who had a bit of "dirty thrills" themselves when they got the call to support Europe in 2015.

It seems the now notorious "Captain Big Boobs" made overtures and then attacked vocalist Louis James at a gig. Here, let the band tell you all about it:

We were honoured when we recieved the call from Europe, that we would be supporting them on several European dates back in late 2015. The shows were absoloutely incredible, with every show finishing on a massive high, the usual antics would take place, massive amounts of drinking and whatever else was done right after performing, and hotel mischief are all a given. But there was one particular show that stood out (as far as mad fans go anyway). Tt started off a normal morning, get up hungover and nurse it with the warm beer from the night before, then head down for some breakfast with the rest of the band and team. While tucking into mountains of bacon, eggs and beans we received a large number of picture messages on our band page. We opened them up and were greeted with a shit load of topless pics from this lady who was apparently staying in the same hotel. More...

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Pit Stories: Meeting Metal Icons

Extreme crowd surfing, moshing in totally unexpected places, throwdowns between beer throwers, shows in outhouses, goat's blood, terrible venue managers, awesome venue managers, and even naked fans trying to drunkenly "salute" their favorite bands... we've seen a whole lot over the years with our expanding collection of Pit Stories!

Today we've got Jay “Beard” Sarrazin from Toronto-based metal group Decatur sharing the latest Pit Story entry. For those wondering, Decatur has a new album titled "Badder Than Brooklyn" coming October 6th, so keep an eye out for it!

This week, Jay looks back at meeting some of his favorite musicians over the years, with some of those encounters more uncomfortable than others:

It’s hard to choose just one story of a backstage encounter for me. I have been so lucky when it comes to meeting some of the greatest musicians in my time in the music industry. I was fortunate enough to be a guitar tech/merch guy/stagehand for Anvil for a couple tours throughout the years. I got to meet Alice Cooper during one of his tours and he was so nice and humble that he even did a video promo shout out to my old band.

I have woken up on the floor of Silver Cord Studios while recording my band Decatur’s debut record to have Mario Duplantier of Gojira practicing drum licks as my alarm clock. I have partied into the night with Bullet For My Valentine while they were touring through Canada. I even got to meet Bill Killiher from Mastodon and deliver one of his personal guitars to a close friend of his and mine.

But one story that always stuck with me would have to be during the first tour that I was on while working for Anvil. We were touring through the U.S.A on a 4 week tour supporting Anvil’s "Juggernaut of Justice" album. As we were touring we got word that Jason Newstead wanted to open for Anvil when they were to go through San Francisco with his project called Papa Wheelie. As a huge Metallica fan throughout my life I got super excited about it. For days I thought about it and I got more nervous as the gig got closer.

When we finally arrived in San Francisco we got to meet him at the venue and he was such a nice dude. My first encounter with him was as I was setting up the merch table for Anvil’s show that night. One of his buddies was putting out a couple shirts for Jason as well and we got to talking about all things including my love for Metallica and Jason. I even showed him one of my two Metallica tattoos.

Once he found out how big of a Metallica fan I was he immediately called Jason over and made me show him my tattoo at which point Jason put his hand on my forehead to check my temperature and asked if I was alright. I kinda laughed it off because his split with Metallica and I guess I got nervous. I then told Jason that I loved his work in Metallica and he would always be my favorite bass player. Not because I didn’t love Cliff Burton, but because I grew up with Jason as the guy in that spot. He responded by telling me Cliff was his favorite. Again I got nervous.

I went back to working and he came back over to me and gave me some merch of his band Papa Wheelie and asked me to man his merch table for the night which I happily did. About an hour or so before the venue opened for the show all the work was done so everyone piled backstage. We sat and drank some beers together and smoked some joints and Jason sat with us telling us stories of the road while playing with Metallica. From the Justice days, all the way up until his departure. As a huge Metallica fan it was so amazing to sit there listening to these stories straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak. I felt so blessed to be there at that moment. It’s a memory I’ll always keep and love.

For those who have had the pleasure (or in some cases, terror) of meeting their favorite musicians -- be sure to let us know your story in the comments!

You can also check out "Into The Night" Decatur's "Badder Than Brooklyn" record produced by Joe Duplantier below. Pre-orders are online at Bandcamp here. More...

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Pit Stories: Crowdsurfing Like A 'Legend'

Ready for a new Pit Story metal fans? This week's tale comes from the land of fire and ice: Iceland's Legend.

There is your typical crowdsurfing and then there is legendary crowdsurfing - the one that seems like it was planned all along with interactions from the band on stage and a passing of the torch (mic) while riding the hands of the crowd.

Vocalist Krummi Bjorgvinsson recalls the epic tale of drummer Frosti's adventure at an Iggy Pop performance: More...

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Pit Stories: Breathing In Our Ball Sack Juice

In recent weeks we've had completely unexpected mosh pits and gothic throw downs where punches land on the wrong fans, but there's still plenty more Pit Stories to come this month!

Today Mick McCullagh from the Frontiers Music-signed, U.K. chug rock outfit Bigfoot checked in with us to share a tale of an epic home town show.

Mick recalls this tale of a completely stuffed venue and an overly intoxicated fan who managed to mess up the equipment:

Our hometown gigs at The Boulevard in Wigan were always eventful to put it lightly... this one time in particular it was packed to the rafters. You couldn't even move in there and they sold out of most beers before we even hit the stage. As soon as we came on the crowd blew up which we love, but being so intimate and the crowd literally breathing in our ball sack juice we just knew something was gonna happen.

A let's just say extremely intoxicated lady who was right at the front tumbled on my pedal board and completely cut my guitar sound out. I laughed but wanted to murder her deep inside. Sweating serious ball sack (as she decided to aim the fan at her also) I just about managed to get my rig working again after what seemed like millennia but was only a small portion of the song in Einstein's theory of general relativity. The show went on very successfully thank god.

Bigfoot's self-titled album is due to drop October 13th, 2017 via Frontiers Music Srl. Check out a music video for album track "The Fear" below. More...

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Pit Stories: Unexpected Moshing

Mosh pit Monday is over, which means its time for another weekly edition of Pit Story Tuesday!

This week we have Napalm Records hard rock / heavy metal crossover group Kobra And The Lotus on tap to discuss favorite live show pit memories.

Less on the extreme end than our typical Pit Story band, Kobra And The Lotus shares a tale of when moshing broke out quite unexpectedly, to delighted results.

The band had this to say about a Los Angeles show with some very enthusiastic fans:

Here’s the thing, we aren’t exactly a mosh pit inducing kind of band… or so you would think. Some of our tracks like "I Am, I Am" could foreseeably start something but for some reason that never happens. Instead, the most inconspicuous tracks off the album get the serious action. Just recently at our show in LA, a mosh pit broke out during the verse of our latest single “You Don’t Know." A few of us actually burst out laughing on stage but mostly out of sheer enjoyment.

The verse in that song is one of the most chilled out moments of our entire set so it was completely unexpected. Those people were champions though and we salute them for having a good time!! Go check out our latest music video for “You Don’t Know” and listen to the verses. You’ll see what I’m saying!

What's the oddest time and place you've seen a mosh pit break out? Let us know in the comments section below!

Kobra And The Lotus wrapped up a tour with Xandria earlier this year and the band's latest album "Prevail I" was released on May 12th via Napalm Records. Check out the music video for "You Don't Know" in the YouTube player below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Theatre Of Tragedy

Heavy metal has long been associated with Gothic imagery, even before the term "Gothic metal" was created. The coming of the sub-genre in the 1990s was an important era in the history of heavy metal, not only for another new sound but that it also arguably helped bring in a large number of female fans to the genre. Part of this was due to the presence of female vocalists in the Gothic sub-genre, in what was dubbed the "beauty and the beast" sound, namely a operatic female voice paired with male death growls. We recently saw an example of this with the band Draconian and this week we'll be looking at another group which helped pioneer the technique, Theatre Of Tragedy.

The seeds of the band were sewn on October 2nd 1993 in Stavanger, Norway, when vocalist Raymond István Rohonyi and guitarists Pål Bjåstad and Tommy Lindal formed a group named Suffering Grief, which soon welcomed into the fold drummer Hein Frode Hansen, formerly of Phobia. They recorded their first song, "Lament of the Perishing Roses" the same year, shortly after which, they decided to change their name to La Reine Noir for a brief time and then to the now familiar, Theatre Of Tragedy. Initially, the vocals consisted solely of death grunts from Rohonyi, but while recording their first demo in 1994, they were so impressed by guest soprano Liv Kristine Espenæs that they invited her to join on a permanent basis. More...

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Pit Stories: Gothic Throw Down

Today we've got a midweek Pit Story for you all about the mosh!

After eight year olds being carted on stage at a festival and a very out of place band at a black metal ritual, this week we're headed back where we belong: throwing down in the pit!

Vocalist Raf Salazar from Century Media rock band Loaded Guns recalls this story about learning your place in the pit:

I remember being at a Marilyn Manson concert in the pit & going absolutely nuts (how you're supposed to) but this one tough looking dude wearing a pentagram on his a back is looking very annoyed & trying to protect his girlfriend from us maniacs.

Anyway the pit is super crowded (It's Marilyn fucking Manson) & you can tell he is getting increasingly annoyed with the pushing / moving crowd. Anyway, I accidentally fall on him & he picks me up & tries to punch me, I duck & instead he punches another really big gothic guy & they go at it. Anyway pentagram dude gets beat up & when security came they escorted only him out. Was definitely a fun time & hopefully he learned a lesson.

Loaded Guns just released debut EP "Unstoppable" this past Friday, August 25th through Century Media Record. Check out a music video for "Bring Us Down," produced and directed by Matt Akana, in the player below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Probot

When searching through the history of metal, one will come across numerous gems such as bands who were unable to break into the mainstream, collaborations (Ozzy and Miss Piggy not being one of the more treasured discoveries) and side projects. Today we'll be looking at a release which combined the latter two of those finds, which saw one of the most successful rock stars of the modern age team up with some of his cult heroes to create one solid album, the self-titled debut of Probot.

Probot was the brain child of Dave Grohl, who after performing in underground acts such as Scream, joined Nirvana, who became the biggest rock band in the world after their sophomore full length, "Nevermind" was released. Following the suicide of the group's frontman Kurt Cobain, Grohl again achieved worldwide success with Foo Fighters, which began as a series of songs he'd written at home while in Nirvana. The more the world was exposed to Grohl, the more his reputation grew, both as "the nicest guy in rock" and as a sincere fan of metal and hardcore, despite becoming a star by playing alternative rock. More...

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Pit Stories: Miss Frizzle's Fucked Up School Bus

Guys, guys, I don't even know where to start with this one guys. The fact that this really apparently happened is as horrifyingly hilarious to me as that time a naked dude tried, and failed, to jack off in front of Behemoth.

This week's pit story comes courtesy of vocalist / bassist Eric Bluebaum from Ohio sludge band Maharaja, who had the misfortune to catch the end of a Five Finger Death Punch festival set. Eric recalls the life-altering F5DP experience at Rock On The Range:

Somehow each year I manage to get a free ticket into Ohio's largest rock and metal concert: Rock on the Range. A carnival of trailer fashion, Bud Light, and indiscernible male/female nipples. This particular year I got a pass for the day Rob Zombie headlined. My friend and I didn't have field passes so we strategized on a way to sneak in. As we were faking up a backstage lanyard a cop comes up to us and asks us if we're trying to get into the field. We both reply "Yeeeea?" and the cop reaches into his pocket and gives us two field passes. I try to cheers him but he didn't fall for it. I'm glad he didn't kill me about it.

As most festival goers know, if you want to get a good spot for the band you want to see then you have to watch the tail end of the band before them. In my unfortunate case it was none other than Five Finger Death Punch AKA Bizarro Limp Bizkit that decided to stretch Wes Borland's look across three band members and dip Fred Durst in a Kentucky Waterfall by the ankle. It was the monkey at the zoo eating its own shit that you cant stop watching. Especially for their final song.

As Ivan Durst tells the crowd its their last song he makes a motion to the stage hands and tells the crowd they're doing something very special tonight. He says "Tonight we're gonna bring out our biggest fans to help sing along to this last tune" as he brings on stage twenty eight year olds. I don't know if this was their sick play on the old dead baby joke "whats the best thing about 28 year olds?/Theres 20 of them" but they literally brought out 20 8-year-olds on stage. I'm stricken with horror as the lead singer says "This last song is called...BURN MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!"

A zippy tune blazoned with lyrically prowess such as "I just don't give a shit, you need to feel it or you'll never fucking know it." The crowd goes wild, the kids are amped as fuck, and I'm losing consciousness. The caucasity. Its like a Kids Bop ad but its just the actual band with a bunch of kids behind them and Mickey Mouse is snorting meth off Minnie's mouse tits in a port-o-john back stage.

As the song is coming to a close the singer walks down the line of children and gives each one a turn to scream "BURN!" as he intervenes and says "MOTHERFUCKER!" as to somehow edit the song for the kids, or some shit, while also effectively screaming "MOTHERFUCKER!!" in the face of 20 eight year olds as a mom stuffed into a tube top films it all for Facebook later. The set ends, the kids get back in Ms. Frizzle's Fucked Up School Bus, and no one questioned any of it. Thirty minutes later Rob Zombie is setting off fireworks to "We're an American Band" in between his many cowboy hat changes. My life was never the same.

I managed to find some fan-filmed footage of the event in question (unless this is something the band just does regularly....) in a YouTube clip. It starts with one kid, but sure enough, soon there's a gaggle of 'em up there shouting away.

Maharaja will release the "Kali Yuga" album next month on September 22nd, with an advance track available below. Follow the latest on the band at Facebook here. More...

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Pit Stories: Should We Have Brought Goat's Blood?

Guess I'm getting forgetful in my old age, because I somehow completely missed that yesterday was Tuesday. Your regularly scheduled Pit Story will arrive today instead!

This week we've got Devin Doucette from Toronto outfit Centuries Of Decay sharing a tale of when your band doesn't quite fit into the show.

Devin recalls this tale of being the only band not sporting robes and candles at a Satanic Black Mass:

I guess the most interesting live story is about a show we played sometime in December of 2015. We had just finished playing a gig at the Velvet Underground in downtown Toronto in what was supposed to be the venue's final gig before it closed (was bought and reopened under the same name). The show went well for us and we played like a well oiled machine. Afterwards, a promoter approached our bassist Anthony and asked if we would be interested in playing a black metal gig that was being held in downtown Toronto. Now, we have some elements to our music that derive from black metal, but we are certainly not a black metal band (I mean, Anthony had a long sleeved, striped maroon shirt on for the show). The one final detail is that the show was being put on by true Satanists.

It's December and we are loading into the event. We are greeted by the promoter with open arms and a Jim Beam gift set (very thoughtful). We were opening the event, but before the party got started, candles were being set up on stage and shortly afterwards a Satanic mass began. (Before I go further, I would like to state that I don't judge anyone for what they believe or think. Everyone has a right to their own opinions etc.) We were 4 dudes wearing mostly black street cloths, and there were people here with capes and corpse paint, cloaks and masks, taking part in a straight up satanic ritual.

The ceremony began with an incantation read from the Satanic Bible (presumably) by a young man, also donning a cape and extremely nervous. Despite the packed venue, it was super quiet, so quiet that we could hear someone entering the bathroom stall and fire up the hand dryer during the reading.

Despite us being 'visually' out of place, everyone at our show had a great time. We met some great bands and were paid in advance, more than any other show at the time. The promoter was amazing and generous and everyone had a blast. It was one of the best shows we ever played. Lesson is that music can transcend boundaries, and making those connections in turn makes the music community stronger.

Pro tip -- if you'd bring a bottle of wine when going to a dinner with new friends, the least you can do when meeting new black metal bands is bring a flagon of goat's blood to spill. Anything else is just a plain old social faux pas.

Centuries Of Decay unleashed a debut, self-titled concept album on August 4th, 2017. You can check out a track below, or hear the full album and pick up your own copy at Bandcamp here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Picture

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was truly an amazing movement. Like punk, it succeeded in taking rock music back down to street level and saw working class kids like Def Leppard and Iron Maiden become global superstars, while others like Venom, Raven and Diamond Head become cult favourites. Some fans of this type of heavy metal claim that the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was more of a sound than a national happening and claim that some groups from outside of the United Kingdom should be included when discussing the era, one of the names which is brought up the most in this argument is one of the first heavy metal bands from The Netherlands; Picture.

Picture was officially formed in 1979, two years after bassist Rinus Vreugdenhil and drummer Laurens Bakker began jamming with other musicians before eventually finding guitarist Jan Bechtum and vocalist Ronald van Prooijen, completing what would become known as Picture's "classic" lineup. They soon signed with Warner Brothers but decided to leave the label before releasing an album, as they felt the company was attempting to steer them towards a pop direction. Instead, they signed with Backdoor Records, a sub-label of Phonogram, through which they released their self-titled debut album in 1980, which spawned the single, "Bombers." More...

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Pit Stories: Nearly Flattened Like A Pancake

Last week we had a harrowing tale of out an out of control venue manager, and this week we're diving straight back into the mosh pit for some body slamming mayhem!

For our second Pit Story of August 2017 we got in touch with melodic metal group Counterfeit Culture.

Bassist Elijah Pagan recalls the following story of nearly getting laid out flat during a Lorna Shore show in New Jersey:

I'll never forget this one show I went to around 4 years back at Gamechanger World, in NJ. Lorna Shore was headlining the show and it was just after they had released the EP titled "Maleficium." I had been a Lorna Shore fan for awhile at that point and I was pretty excited to see them play the songs off that EP. It was super heavy. So myself and a couple of my friends drove down to the venue to watch them play. Some sick local bands played, and then when Lorna was setting up on stage more people started rolling in. The crowd ended up being pretty big. My friends and I moved up to the barrier closest to the stage thinking that would be a decent place for safety. Let me tell you... it wasn't.

The lights on the stage dimmed and Lorna was going on. Don't get me wrong I was super excited to see them, but I wasn't excited for how rowdy the crowd was going to be. So Lorna's set starts everything seemed to be alright. The pit was behind me, and I figured I was alright where I was. Next thing I knew, during one of the breakdowns in the song "Cre(h)ate," a much bigger man then myself climbed on the stage and I knew exactly what was about to go down.

The dude must've been like 300 lbs and I saw him climb up on the stage from the side and start running towards the end of the stage in my direction. The dude ran and belly flopped off of the stage swinging his arms and legs in every direction. I looked up and saw his whole body extended above me in the air. At that point, I just closed my eyes, held on to the barrier for dear life, and waited to be made into a human pancake. After a couple seconds of nothing I preceded to open my eyes to then see the people standing directly behind me, knocked over and on the floor with that big dude on top of them trying to get up as fast as possible. That was hands down one of the craziest pit experiences of my life.

Counterfeit Culture just released the "Deathwish" EP earlier this month, which can be picked up over here. Latest single "Apothecary" (featuring Ricky Armellino from This Or The Apocalypse) can also be heard below. For the latest on Counterfeit Culture, head over to the group's Facebook profile. More...

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Sunday Old School: Draconian

Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time (don't judge me for that reference, your sister probably watched it every day as a kid too,) but in metal terms, it's something which has really come to be a prominent aspect of the dark and depressing side of the genre. Many bands have utilised the method, that of a male growling vocalist and a female clean singer and today we'll be looking at one of the most acclaimed bands to do so, Sweden's own, Draconian.

The band came together in the town of Säffle in 1994 when drummer Johan Ericson, guitarist Andy Hindenäs and bass player Jesper Stolpe came together and formed the blackened death metal band named Kerberos. After seven months as a trio, they recruited vocalist Anders Jacobsson and changed their name to Draconian and in 1996 released their first demo, "Shades of a Lost Moon." It was an ambitious debut recording, featuring guest flutist Jessica Eriksson, who also performed guest vocals along with Susanne Arvidsson, who stayed on as a clean vocalist. More...

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Pit Stories: Manager Of The Year

Man, the summer's almost over already and we're in our first August Pit Story somehow! Where did the time go?

This week we've got Chicago hard rock crew Aeraco on tap to dispense a new tale of pit hijinks, this time with a wrench thrown in the works not by an unruly fan, but rather by a venue manager who just wasn't feeling the music...

Aeraco bassist Beast recalls the harrowing experience like this:

My first gig with Aeraco was at a local bar in the western suburbs of Chicago. Nothing too crazy to brag about, but it was a good size bar with a good atmosphere. These were the thoughts that ran through my head the night prior to the gig as the whole band went out to scout the place. A local talent known for their profane titles and lyrics was playing that night. There was a pretty good crowd that evening, which set an expectation for the following night.

The next night, Saturday, we load all our gear in to find out that the venue only provides a very small and outdated PA. No mics, no cables, no stands. Good thing we came prepared, but that was about as good as it gets. We were able to salvage the gig by providing our traditional 3 vocal mic setup across the front of the "stage" (most likely recognized as a corner to most people). Not having any other mics or inputs for the PA, we dialed our amp volume levels to the drummer and then dialed the PA over everything else. I was actually pretty impressed at how it sounded considering the conditions.

An hour later, we began rocking out some of the greatest tunes to ever hit the radio. Some of the people that came out to see the gig were digging it, but nowhere near the amount that was there the night before. We had 3 hours or so of set time, so I was in it for the long haul. After about 2 or 3 songs, we had a woman approach us. I'm thinking alright we are doing pretty good and now our first request of the night. But she quickly changed that perception after she snarled at us, "Turn down! You guys are too loud!" Our contract says Hard Rock Band, what else would you expect? So we turn down our amps a little bit and the PA as well. Still a good balance overall, just less in your face.

After another song and a half, she comes storming in again, but we keep chugging along thinking she'll have to wait till we're done to speak to us. Instead, she B-lines it towards the PA and just starts turning knobs. Being the one that setup the PA and being the closest at the time, I noticed the knobs she was turning were for the vocals effects type and volume. I started chuckling as I watched her try to figure it out and becoming increasingly frustrated with no noticeable results. The rest of the band wound up stopping the song after noticing her struggled effort. She proceeds to tell us that she is the manager (who we had been looking for earlier in the day so we could get paid), and that we were still too loud. So reluctantly, we turned down even more, both the amps and the PA till we got her approval.

At this point, the drums are now the loudest thing, I can barely hear myself through the amp, and the PA isn't producing enough sound in the room to hear the vocal cues. What a nightmare! We make it through another song. Woo! We must be quiet enough to play the rest of the night. Finally!

We continue rocking out despite the low volumes and not being able to hear ourselves. After making it 75% of the way through the next song and are about to bring it home, when you guessed it! The Manager of the Year stomps her ass all the way to the stage. I was thinking she was going for the PA again. But she's full of surprises, and this was no exception. She starts waving her arms in the air like she's trying to signal for help as if she was Tom Hanks in Cast Away. She yells for us to stop! Stop Playing! We finally settle our instruments and roll our eyes as she begins to open her trap again.

She says, "I'll give you $200 to pack up and leave right now." We all were perplexed. We couldn't believe what we were hearing. We bickered for a little while, but eventually gave up as it was quite clear we were not wanted there. We had a contract to play for 3 hours for way more than 200 bucks, but apparently they weren't willing to uphold their end of the deal. Kind of a shitty first gig after a killer audition for me. After all that, I definitely had some second thoughts on whether or not I made a good decision to play with this band. But in the end, I stuck it out and now we have our brand new album titled "Baptized By Fire" which was inspired by experiences like these. Always keep Rockin!

A music video for the title track off that album can be found below, and you can hear more from Aeraco by heading over to SoundCloud here. To follow the latest on Aeraco, check out the group's Facebook profile. More...

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Sunday Old School 400: Led Zeppelin

When will it all end? Today the Sunday Old School column celebrates its 400th edition, having covered bands from the "proto metal" era such as Blue Cheer and Budgie to the more extreme acts of the 90s and 00s. To celebrate such a landmark, today we'll be looking at one of the most titanic bands in the history of music, one which helped spark heavy metal and influence bands from every spectrum of the metal genre. The one and only; Led Zeppelin.

Despite often being credited as a Birmingham band like fellow heavy music pioneers Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, none of the members were from the city. The seeds of the band were sewn by Middlesex native Jimmy Page, a session guitarist based in London, joined The Yardbirds in 1966, which at the time also included Jeff Beck. His time with the group didn't last long as following the departure of Beck later that year, The Yardbirds slowly dissolved. Page was eager to continue working with Beck however and initially tried to put together a supergroup with his former bandmate and The Who rhythm section, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon. Page, Beck and Moon did record one song together, with session bassist John Paul Jones, but nothing more came of the project. More...

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