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Sunday Old School: Aria

It’s interesting to think that this week will see a new album from one of the biggest metal bands in the biggest country in the world, one which has a long lasting love of metal music too, yet many, many head bangers will not have heard of them. We all know that back in the days of the Soviet Union, many freedoms were restricted by the regime, but this didn’t stop heavy metal music from leaking in and influencing the Russian youth to create their own bands. One such group hailed from the capital city of Moscow and was spawned when two Muscovite metalheads named Vladimir Holstinin and Alik Granovsky decided to pursue their beloved music with a new project named, Aria.

They chose the moniker so that it would be short, sweet and easily translatable, a memorable name inspired by the brand of guitar which Holstinin owned. They finished writing enough music for a full length album and began the process of looking for a singer, which they eventually found in the guise of Valery Kipelov. Before the end of 1985, the band released their debut album, "Mania Velichia," which attracted the attention of many rock fans in Russia because it was very different from anything else on show in the country at the time. It was even able to produce a music video for the song, "America is Behind," something which was not common for rock bands to do at the time. More...

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Sunday Old School: Mezarkabul

This past year we’ve looked at some of the old guard in a lot of places across the world. From Rotting Christ in Greece, to Belphegor in Austria to Pentagram Chile in… uh, Chile. Today Sunday Old School will once again be looking at a band from a place we haven’t examined yet, and another band called Pentagram to boot, though internationally they are not known by the same moniker as the Chilean and American groups, but rather by a word which in their home country of Turkey means "to accept the grave," a band known outside the former Ottoman Empire by the name of Mezarkabul. The group was formed in the city of Bursa in 1986 by drummer, Cenk Ünnü and guitarist, Hakan Utangaç, with bass player, Tarkan Gözübüyük joining their ranks the next year. Utangaç assumed the role of lead vocalist for the first few years, during which they performed live frequently, building up a fan base strong enough to get them signed to Nepa Muzik, through whom they released their self-titled debut full length.

Shortly after the record’s release, the group recruited a new vocalist named, Bartu Toptas, allowing Utangaç to concentrate more on his guitar playing, a pressure which was lessened when Pentagram brought in a second guitarist, Demir Demirkan in 1992. Toptas did not stay with the group for long however and his only recording with the group can be heard as part of the intro to the song, "Secret Missile," the opening track of their sophomore album, "Trail Blazer," on which vocals were performed by a singer named, Ogün Sanlisoy. The album was notable for the song, "Fly Forever," which was written about their guitarist, Ümit Yilbar, who was killed by terrorists in 1993 whilst performing national service. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Party Time!

Do kids still throw parties when their parents leave for the weekend, or do they just go to the same alley each weekend and get high? My parents never left for a full weekend and I’m still bummed about it. This week videos from The Treatment, Hessler and The Beautifully Demolished take on a typical house party. More...

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Pit Stories: The Invention Of The Bat Wing

Each week we check in with metal bands across the genre spectrum to get their most memorable Pit Stories from live shows.

Today Indestructible Noise Command guitarist Erik Barath shared this tale of the bat wing being invented in Long Island and a fan taking advantage of pain to try to make off with free merch:

The craziest pit story is probably the time we played at the Sundance in Long Island. It was Dennis' birthday and some dude jumped on stage with nothing but a sock on. He dove on top of the crowd, lost his sock and ended up bat winging a bunch of fans. I think he invented bat winging that night.

Another dude dove off the stage, smashed his head and passed out. Our manager took him back stage to recover and when he went back to check on the dude, he found the guy stuffing his pants with our merch. Dennis got wacked in the mouth with the mic stand, chipped his tooth. Fun night overall.

I.N.C. just released fourth album "Black Hearse Serenade" on Ferocious Records, as well as a music video for the track "No Turning Back," which was directed by Thomas Mignone (Slipknot, System of a Down, Mudvayne), and starring Michael Rodrick from the TV show "24." I.N.C. has been touring this month with Tantric. Remaining dates are as follows: More...

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Sunday Old School: Exhumed

Death metal is notorious for its lyrics which focus on the brutal and at times sickening aspects of life. While many bands are wrongly accused of writing material which relies solely on this area, one band who revelled in such a subject was America’s own, Exhumed. Exhumed were formed in the state of California in 1990 by then fifteen year old, Matt Harvey. They were influenced by some of the more interesting death metal bands of the time such as Carcass and Terrorizer and set out to put their own unique stamp on the branch of extreme music which they loved so much, deciding ultimately that it would be gore they focused on.

They recorded a significant number of demos, split releases and EPs in the early career before eventually signing a record deal with Relapse, a label which had become known as the home of the American branch of grindcore, much like Earache was known as in the United Kingdom. They released their first full length album, "Gore Metal" in 1998, which featured an incredibly gruesome front cover and contained a cover of the Sodom song, "Sodomy and Lust" in addition to the twelve original compositions on offer. Although somewhat sloppy by Harvey’s admission, the record was received quite well by the death metal audience and they were soon hitting the road to promote the album. More...

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Unearthing An Eclectic Slice Of The Underground

Although we'll cover the big names like Metallica and Motorhead, our goal at Metalunderground.com is to always to bring the lesser known local bands that deserve your attention out of obscurity and into the collective metal consciousness.

To that end we periodically unearth bands you may not have had the chance to hear before that all offer up quality material. Today we'll cover a huge range of sound and even a massive number of miles between countries with three bands from different corners of Europe who all lean towards drastically different corners of the genre spectrum.

Postvorta

Experimental, ambient, introspective... Postvorta soothingly beckons you through smooth and seemingly stable sonic corridors, then unexpectedly blows up the ceiling and drops tons of bludgeoning metal on your head.

The Italian sound smiths have dubbed their music “post metal.” I call it “something you need to listen to immediately if you dig Neurosis or Isis.”

The full “Beckoning Light We Will Set Ourselves On Fire” album was self-released earlier this year and just last month saw a physical edition through Bleeding Light Records. The whole album can be heard through the player below, and you can pick up a digital or physical copy at this location.

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Sunday Old School: M.O.D.

Heavy metal contains some worldwide rock stars, from Ozzy Osbourne to Metallica. But in addition to the famous names, metal also has a large number of underground icons and cult favourites. One of these beloved people in this category is a man named Billy Milano, who’s known for his large presence and sometimes hilarious lyrics, two things he brought with him when he formed Method Of Destruction in 1986. Method Of Destruction, (or M.O.D. as they are often referred to,) was started by Milano after Stormtroopers Of Death (S.O.D.,) a thrash metal supergroup for which he was the vocalist, placed themselves on hiatus.

In 1987, the band recorded and released their debut album, "U.S.A. For M.O.D.," the title of which was a play on the planned Stormtroopers of Death album, "U.S.A. For S.O.D." It was co-produced by Anthrax guitarist (and Milano's S.O.D. bandmate,) Scott Ian and continued on from where the previous group left off, spouting tongue in cheek diatribes mostly written from the point of view of their mascot, Corporal Punishment. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Euro Invasion Part X

Entertaining and rock fueled videos this week by way of Europe in the form of Santa Cruz, Crazy Lixx, Million Dollar Reload and Sister Sin. What is it about Sweden? Must be something in all that snow they eat. More...

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Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath Part 4

As so many of our readers are aware, in the United States, the month of February is Black History Month. It’s also the time when we devote the Sunday Old School column to Black Metal history. What many of our readers might not know however, is that Black History Month is also held in the United Kingdom, albeit on a far less noticed scale. Since it doesn’t make sense to dedicate two months of the year to one genre, Metal Underground and Sunday Old School in particular, will focus on a different history, that of arguably the first, and many would say best, heavy metal band of all time. Welcome to the final installment of Black Sabbath History Month!

The eighties had not been as kind to Black Sabbath as it had to some of their contemporaries and after a string of overlooked albums and cancelled tour dates, it seemed that unless something special happened, the band would soon be over. Fortunately for them, and indeed the fans, something spectacular did indeed happen, as following a guest appearance by Geezer Butler at a Dio concert, the bassist and singer returned to Black Sabbath, eventually also being rejoined by Vinny Appice. More...

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Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath Part 3

As so many of our readers are aware, in the United States, the month of February is Black History Month. It’s also the time when we devote the Sunday Old School column to Black Metal history. What many of our readers might not know however, is that Black History Month is also held in the United Kingdom, albeit on a far less noticed scale. Since it doesn’t make sense to dedicate two months of the year to one genre, Metal Underground and Sunday Old School in particular, will focus on a different history, that of arguably the first, and many would say best, heavy metal band of all time. Welcome to Black Sabbath History Month!

After losing three iconic singers in Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath were dealt yet another huge blow when Geezer Butler decided to quit, leaving guitarist Tony Iommi as the sole original remaining member. Iommi decided that he should record a solo album and leave Black Sabbath alone, though their name was soon brought back when the original lineup reunited to perform at Live Aid in the United States, however it wasn’t the full time resurgence fans had hoped for, as Ozzy returned to his solo career immediately afterwards. Iommi returned to the studio and continued to work on his solo album, along with vocalist Glenn Hughes, another former member of Deep Purple. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Ball Breaker

Very few things make me laugh out loud – television doesn’t do it for me anymore and even movie’s labeled as comedies rarely split my gut. However, Steel Panther still makes it happen for me. Their videos continue to top one after another. Probably not for everyone, but you have to give it to them – apparently no one ever says “too much” when pitching video ideas. More...

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Pit Stories: Protokult Shares A Trio Of Tales

Tuesday has rolled around yet again, and that means its time once more to dive into the pit!

Each week bands from across the metal spectrum (and spanning the entire globe!) check in with us to share their most memorable Pit Stories.

You may recall some weeks back that the beer loving folk metal band Protokult shared a story about an unwanted flautist taking to the stage.

This week the band has returned to share a trio of stories covering all sorts of on and off stage shenanigans, from spilled beer to a desperate attempt to get back on stage during a song and even the disappointment of meeting a band that didn't turn out to be as awesome as you thought.

Lemons Made, Beer-Drenched Gear...

A recent pit experience occurred at our own CD release gig. We were playing to a packed punk club; so although cozy, it was jam-packed, smoldering hot and aesthetically challenged. Throw in some beer wenches who joined us on stage with alcoholic refreshments and it was a party set in full swing! Mid-way through our set (I found this out afterwards), a young woman (or beer wench) got bumped in the pit and her entire pint ended up seeping into our guitarist's pedal board. His signal began cutting in and out until finally, it completely died out. When life gives you lemons folks, make lemonade! Which is what Jeremy "Vodnik" Jackson precisely did. Rather than being a party pooper and sulking off-stage, this 6'4 pot-smoking, son-of-a-bitch began dancing moronically and next thing we know, he dove head-first into the pit! Most of our audience (who conveniently happen to be women most of the time) were certainly intimidated and we lost sight of him for a few minutes, so it's safe to say Jackson landed on his head=).

A Drunk, Raging Bull - The Struggle More...

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Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath Part 2

As so many of our readers are aware, in the United States, the month of February is Black History Month. It’s also the time when we devote the Sunday Old School column to Black Metal history. What many of our readers might not know however, is that Black History Month is also held in the United Kingdom, albeit on a far less noticed scale. Since it doesn’t make sense to dedicate two months of the year to one genre, Metal Underground and Sunday Old School in particular, will focus on a different history, that of arguably the first, and many would say best, heavy metal band of all time. Welcome to Black Sabbath History Month!

Following the firing of their lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath’s future was cast in to a shadow as dark as their music. That was until their manager Don Arden’s daughter Sharon, now known of course as Sharon Osbourne, suggested that they bring in Rainbow’s former vocalist, an American by the name of Ronnie James Dio. Dio not only brought a new voice to the fold, but also a new attitude, helping the band become more driven than they had been in years. Though Geezer Butler at one point left the group, he returned in time to record their first album with their new frontman. More...

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Pit Stories: Should Have Gone To Specsavers

To coincide with the band's new album release today, U.K. doom act Alunah has checked in with us for a Pit Story that's a bit different from the norm.

We've all seen assholes in the crowd heckle a band, and sometimes even the band's front man heckling people in the crowd, but it's less often someone in the pit directly heckles security (without getting a one-way trip out of the venue that is).

Alunah drummer Jake Mason shared the tale below of a bumbling security guard at a Napalm Death show [for those in the U.S. who may not get the joke - Specsavers is an optician chain that's big in Europe and Australia].

I was recently reminded of one of the best heckles I've ever heard at a gig when Napalm Death were playing a launch show back in 2009 for the release of their "Time Waits For No Slave" album in Birmingham. As you'd expect from a Napalm gig it had been a pretty frantic start both on and off stage. So frantic in fact that the two poor security guys (who were wearing glasses) at the front of the barrier felt the need to refresh themselves, and gently threw a bottle of water to each other as Napalm tuned up for the next song... only for one of them to drop it clumsily in front of the onlooking crowd. With perfect deadpan timing and quoting the famous U.K. Specsavers TV advert a lone voice from the pit loudly stated that "you should have gone to Specsavers mate." Cue giggles from the band and crowd for the rest of the show. Somehow the gig was never quite the same after this piece of advice!

What's the best heckle you've ever heard - either from the pit or from the band? Let us know below!

Alunah's new album "Awakening The Forest" saw official release in North America today via Napalm Records. Check out a track off the album below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath Part 1

As so many of our readers are aware, in the United States, the month of February is Black History Month. It’s also the time when we devote the Sunday Old School column to Black Metal history. What many of our readers might not know however, is that Black History Month is also held in the United Kingdom, albeit on a far less noticed scale, in the month of October. Since it doesn’t make sense to dedicate two months of the year to one genre, Metal Underground and Sunday Old School in particular, will focus on a different history, that of arguably the first, and many would say best, heavy metal band of all time. Welcome to Black Sabbath History Month!

The seeds of Black Sabbath, and perhaps heavy metal itself, were sewn when guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward teamed up with bass player Terry "Geezer" Butler and vocalist John "Ozzy" Osbourne, an old schoolmate and reported bullying victim of Iommi’s. They formed the Pulka Tulk Blues Band, which also featured a slide guitarist named Jimmy Clarke and saxophonist, Alan Clarke. The sextuplet quickly shortened their moniker to Pulka Tulk, before changing their name once again to Earth. In order to remove Phillips and Clarke from the group in the most polite way possible, the founding quartet decided to disband then reunite the band as a four piece, recording new, exciting material such as "A Song for Jim," (a tribute to their manager, Jim Simpson.) After being mistaken frequently for another British band of the same name, Earth decided to once again rechristen themselves, choosing the now iconic name Black Sabbath upon Geezer’s suggestion, who remarked how interesting it was that people would pay to be scared by films such as the Boris Karloff feature from which the quartet took their name. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: #EnoughAlready

This week a look at new videos from Volt 22, Diamond Lane, Helix and The Sinner Saints that try to teach us about the real backstage rock and roll lifestyle, champagne toasts and how to use hashtags in a video (note: we learn nothing). More...

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Look-Alike Metal Album Covers Part 2

Through the history of popular music, many album covers have paid homage to the iconic War World II photograph, "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima." This still features a group of United States Navy men raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima. The original, taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in 1945, won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and even inspired the equally iconic Marine Corps War Memorial monument located at Arlington, Virginia.

Two of the most recognizable cover album homages came out in 1986, barely months apart from each other. One was the sleeve for Savatage's third full-length, "Fight for the Rock" and the other belonged to Status Quo's "In the Army Now."

Savatage Vs. Status Quo

There are many factors that indicate that the conceptual similarities between both artworks were just coincidental. Ripping off each other or the original photo wasn't the point here. First, there was a short time frame between both albums' release dates—Savatage's in June; Satus Quo's in August. Probably, by the time "Fight for the Rock" came out, the cover for "In the Army Now" was already completed and heading into production and promotion. After all, let's remember that albums take a long time to put together from writing, production, to graphic design, marketing to release.

On top of that, the origins of both arts cannot be more different: Heavy metallers, Savatage, ordered their image (featuring the members of the band raising an American flag) apparently as a direct consequence of not including band photos in their previous albums' layouts. Their label (Atlantic) was demanding a portrait so instead of just simply posing like any other band, they opted for re-recreating the famous Iwo Jima still.

In the case of rockers, Status Quo, designer Mark Wilkinson (Judas Priest, Europe) remembers that the cover concept for his hand painted image (featuring fans and a British flag) "was suggested to me by singer/guitarist Rick Parfitt,—to reflect their 'denim army', the fans who followed them." More...

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Pit Stories: Joining Fans In The Pit

Every Tuesday we check in with metal musicians from across the genre spectrum to get their most memorable Pit Stories from live shows.

This week guitarist Nick Lee from Riot V shares a tale of a band that's not afraid to leave the stage and get right into the pit with fans - all while still playing the set! Nick had this to say:

I've grown up in pits at local shows and I feel like this was my favorite story to tell. My favorite pit-like experience has to be anytime Alabama's Daikaiju rolls through NYC. Within the first few songs of their set the band (amplifiers, drum kit, and all) is right in the middle of the floor with the audience.

The last time I saw them, right after they set their cymbals on fire in the middle of a tiny, cramped, dive bar with spectators' faces mere inches away, they had the crowd hoist the drummer, and each of his drums into the air, where he played the next song on top of any hands, shoulders, and heads he could balance on. Meanwhile their guitar players are taking turns climbing the bar, and surfing across the audience on their backs, never missing a note. The audience takes the cue and finds their own way to add to the insanity while the employees of the bar look on in horror.

I chose these experiences because they are always intense, sweaty, physical, over-the-top RAGERS but without any violent, chest-beating, machismo bullshit that tends to ruin the vibe of heavy shows. The audience leaves battered and bruised but never without a smile on their face and some crazy stories to tell their friends who stayed home that night.

Riot V - the band born from the remaining members of U.S. metal outfit Riot - is now dropping brand new album "Unleash The Fire." It was released in Japan back in August, and will be released in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. in October.

"Unleash The Fire" is the first record since the passing of guitarist and Riot founder Mark Reale. It features Riot veterans Don Van Stavern on bass, Mike Flyntz on guitar, and Frank Gilchriest on drums, and it is the first record with Todd Michael Hall on vocals and Nick Lee on guitar.

The band is also getting ready to play Loud Park '14 in Japan on October 19th with headliners Dream Theater & Manowar, as well as lining up new tours for 2015. More...

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Sunday Old School: Lock Up

A few months back, Sunday Old School examined the career of Brujeria, a band which proved that not all super groups are disappointments. They featured amongst their ranks Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Dino Cazares of Fear Factory and Shane Embury of Napalm Death. Embury has never been one to shy away from side projects and collaborations, as his stints with Brujeria, Venomous Concept and partnership with the British hip-hop group, Gunshot demonstrates, but there was another project he worked on which gained considerable attention. Indeed, it could be considered another supergroup, this time going by the name, Lock Up.

Lock Up was formed by Embury and then Cradle of Filth drummer, Nicholas Barker (later of Benediction, Dimmu Borgir and also Brujeria, amongst others.) The seeds were sewn one night when the two were drinking together and listening to some of their favourite metal records, talking about how they’d like to do a band which encapsulated the fun and brutality of early Napalm Death records, as well as being influenced by the Terrorizer album, "World Downfall," whose founder, Jesse Pintado, was then also in Napalm Death and was brought in to the Lock Up ranks, along with Swedish musician, Peter Tägtgren, perhaps best known as the driving force behind the death metal band, Hypocrisy. More...

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Pit Stories: Friends Don't Let Friends Stage Dive

Gather around metal heads: it's Pit Story time again!

This week Dave Davidson from Revocation shares a tale of trying to get a fellow musician to stage dive, who wisely turns the offer down.

Undeterred, Dave decides to show the fans in the mosh pit how it's done, with some unfortunate consequences. He tells the story thusly:

We were playing Cleveland at Peabody’s on the Darkest Hour Legacy tour and I was drinking at the bar with Misha from Periphery. The subject of mosh pits and stage diving came up and he said that he had never stage dived before. I was pretty drunk at that point so I was kind of teasing him about not doing it and challenging him to stage dive. He wasn’t into it so I went up and stage dove during Darkest Hour’s set and came out unscathed.

I came back to the bar and Misha was still not having it so I went for round two to prove my point… but then things didn’t go quite as planned. I dove off the stage backwards but I kind of over shot my jump so instead of catching my whole body the crowd only caught my legs which flipped my body around so that my head came crashing to the concrete floor.

I stood up in a daze after basically “piledriving” myself in the middle of the pit and felt a wetness on the back of my head. I soon realized that wet feeling was actually blood and one of the dudes who worked at the club was nice enough to take me to the ER. 8 staples later I was sent on my way. Misha got the aftermath of the stage dive gone awry on video for your viewing pleasure.

Revocation's forthcoming fifth album "Deathless" will drop on October 14th via Metal Blade. Get a taste of the release by hearing "Madness Opus" here or check out the title track at this location. Check out the end result of Dave's mistimed stage leap in the player below: More...

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