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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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Sunday Old School: Deep Purple

It’s a widely accepted fact that it’s important to know your history and generally agreed upon that one should also be aware of their roots. With that in mind, it seemed an appropriate to finally devote a Sunday Old School column to one of the most important bands in the history of heavy metal, though they may not strictly fit the tag by the modern definition. Most people, when discussing the first metal bands will point to three groups, all formed in England; Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, both from the Midlands are two and the other was born in the country’s capital. The other is named, Deep Purple.

Deep Purple was initially conceived as a supergroup called Roundabout, named so because the idea was for musicians to join and leave the band whenever they wanted. It was the brainchild of drummer Chris Curtis, who began assembling the band with the help of manager Tony Edwards, beginning with organist, Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Curtis was soon fired from the group owing to his behaviour and was eventually replaced by Ian Paice, who was brought along by singer Rod Evans during his own successful audition for the band, who by that time had also brought in a bassist by the name of Nick Simper. After performing a few shows in Sweden and Denmark, Blackmore suggested they change their moniker to Deep Purple, reportedly in honour of his grandmother’s favourite song. The suggestion was accepted and they began life as the outfit we all know today. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: D-D-D-Dancing…

Sleeveless jean jackets are back along with spandex and a potential prequel to an Aerosmith favorite. More...

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Pit Stories: Good Mosh Gone Bad

Every Tuesday we check in with musicians from across the metalverse to find their best Pit Stories from live shows.

While moshing is meant to be a chance to let out aggression while throwing down to your favorite band's music, some metalheads aren't exactly courteous in the pit and tempers are known to flare. Throw in someone who doesn't care about basic hygiene or personal boundaries and you've got a recipe for thrown fists and ejection from the venue.

One such unfortunate incident is chronicled today by drummer Avery Desmarais from Edmonton, Alberta-based metal band Display Of Decay. He had this story to share:

So Disciples of Power is playing their first ever reunion show at the pawnshop in Edmonton, I'm in the audience watching, enjoying the show and some giant asshole keeps elbowing and just laying out the people around him. People who aren't involved in the rowdy violent part of the crowd, people who don't look like they enjoy moshing. And he just keeps laying these people out, boom!

I'm unfortunately now beside him at this point, still watching when he turns, and shoves me pretty good. Managed to stand still, goes for it again and hits me. At this point a guy taps me on the shoulder to get my attention (I do not know this cat), he kinda nudges my hand insisting I smash this guys head in with this empty beer bottle that he is handing me. I think back on it now, I should have. but I'm like nahhh, don't need that kind of drama happening at a venue that I really like going to.

So this asshole, turns to me, and rubs the sweat from his forehead on my shoulder like a cat. Disgusted, I look at him and tell him to "Fuck off." Maybe 15 seconds passed, and I see him going for it again. At this point I'm thinking, okay I really want this guys to be bleeding from his ear right now, so I grabbed this fellow (who keep in mind, definitely has some weight on me, and a few inches, plus he was taller than me) by the shoulders of his jacket and I start whipping him around like hockey players on the ice grabbing the other by the jersey and just giving him all the weight I had.

This guy gets to his feet, swings at me, misses, I throw a punch and I'm pretty sure I hit him in the eyebrow. He swings again and clocks me, but being the spaz that I am along with the help of the pounding doom screaming from the amps of DOP during crisis, it barely phased me. Now we both were grabbed by people and I was taken outside and I went home.

I never saw that guy again. I wonder if he still thinks of me, I wonder if he remembers how we met. Only time will tell.

What's your best pit story of when an inconsiderate mosher practically begged for a beat down? Let us know in the comments below!

Display Of Decay just released new EP "Outbreak of Infection" last month, which can be heard in full below. For more info on the band, head over to Facebook here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Acid Drinkers

We've already seen twice this year, through our features on Behemoth and Vader, that Poland is a country which has contributed some great works to the art of heavy metal music. This week, we'll be taking a look at another band from the country that helped to pave the way for metal in Eastern Europe and stake a place in the thrash which had boomed in their neighbouring country, Germany. A group from Poznan known quite memorably as Acid Drinkers.

The band was formed in September 1986 by singing bassist Tomasz "Titus" Pukacki and guitarist, Robert "Litza" Friedrich, who were soon joined by drummer, Maciej "Slepy" Gluchowski and another guitar player named, Dariusz "Popcorn" Popowicz. They recorded their first songs together before Pukacki was forced to put his musical aspirations on hold for two years to do his part for the army. He returned two years later and eventually reformed Acid Drinkers with Friedrich and Maciek "Slimak" Starosta. They performed their first gig in August 1989 in western Poland's largest city, Wroclaw. The thrashers quickly made a name for themselves, earning a record deal with Under One Flag, an English record label which had previously released albums by such artists as Onslaught. More...

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Pit Stories: The Unwanted Flautist

Joining the band on stage is a dream for many metal lovers, but sometimes that doesn't always go down the way you might of hoped.

For this week's Pit Story, Martin Drozd from beer-guzzling folk metal outfit Protokult shares a story of inviting a young fan to play on stage without first checking with the rest of the group:

So there we were, doing what we do best and indulging during our pre-show ritual. This venue/backstage was conveniently located right next to a parking lot which was nice and easy access for us to get obliterated before our set.

The sun went down and the Kult was in town and all of a sudden a group of random teenage school kids approached us in the parking lot. They looked a little under age, plus I don't like sharing with strangers so we didn't offer them any swigs but I noticed one nerdy looking kid was carrying some sort of small instrument case. "Hey man, what instrument you got there?" I asked. "I'm a flautist," he chirped back; "just finished a busking gig." I thought to myself, "interesting." Turns out he had the same name as our guitarist (Jeremy) and I decided to test his musical abilities. "If you claim to have studied music all these years, fuck it, join us on stage for a few numbers," I suggested. I am easy going like that and figured it would be worth a laugh; hell, maybe the kid would be amazing!

The young Jeremy was delighted at the thought and I quickly mentioned a few chord progressions for him to keep in mind and practice to. Fast-forward inside the venue. As we're setting up, the nerdy, homeless looking minstrel wanders up on stage and starts blowing his heart out on the flute. Coincidentally, this was the same weekend as the Toronto Jazz festival so I decided to troll the audience a bit. "Good evening folks, this is Jeremy on the flute and welcome to the Toronto Jazz fest." Confusion and apprehension lingered amok but the joke seemed well-received by a majority of the audience. As Jeremy kept fluting relentlessly for what seemed a lifetime, we launched into our first song.

Ekaterina climbed up on stage and gave this kid a swift kick off-stage and in less than a heartbeat, he was gone! He tried weaseling his way back on for a few numbers but she wasn't having it. Being very drunk and focused on my own performance, I took no notice to the occasional plea for mercy and desperate cries of "Please give me a chance, I'm a human being!" Moral of the story? Make sure the full band is aware of any guest appearances prior to performance.

Protokult's new album "No Beer In Heaven" just came out last month and can be heard in full via the Bandcamp player provided below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Danzig

In some ways, being part of a hugely influential band can be a real hindrance to a person’s future endeavours. Many times they’ll be unable to escape from the shadow of their past glory, though there are some musicians who have bucked the trend and gone on to find success again. Dave Grohl is one such well known example, as is former Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig, who was able to triumph with his eponymous band. Danzig began life in 1986 when Glenn Danzig’s band at the time, Samhain, performed what was billed as their final show in New York. In the audience that night was producer, Rick Rubin, who approached the singer about taking part in a supergroup he was looking to put together. Danzig wouldn’t take part in another band without bassist, Eerie Von and eventually, two other members of Samhain, John Christ and Chuck Biscuits (also formerly of Black Flag and D.O.A.) were brought into the fold. Despite consisting entirely of Samhain members, the group decided to change their moniker to Danzig, given their shift in musical direction.

They wasted little time in getting to work on material and in 1988, released their self-titled debut album, which remains their best selling album. The record contained the single, "Mother," the video of which was banned by MTV for it’s provocative imagery, specifically the ending sequence which featured a chicken being supposedly sacrificed, with an inverted cross then being drawn in the animals blood. Three other music videos, "She Rides," "Am I Demon" and "Twist of Cain," the last of which featured Metallica frontman, James Hetfield performing uncredited backing vocals, were made to promote the album and helped the record reach its popular status. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Wet Dreams

This week we have videos that remind us of wet dreams, the hot desert and just how much fun dynamite and drinking and driving can be. More...

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Pit Stories: Bridging The Punk/Metal Divide

Tuesday's not just new release day - it's also when we have the best of the best in the metal world share their most memorable Pit Stories.

This week metal warrior Casey Orr of Rigor Mortis (...and Warbeast, and GWAR, and Ministry, and a whole bunch of others) shares a tale of camaraderie in the pit when metal heads and punk rockers come together to tear shit up and have a good time. Casey recounts the story thusly:

I grew up in Arlington, TX, just east of Ft. Worth and about 30 miles west of Dallas. Though only about 30 miles apart, Dallas and the Arlington/Ft Worth area are very different. While Arlington/Ft. W was clearly the birthplace of heavy metal in North Texas, Dallas, being a bit more "big city," was a fertile breeding ground for punk. At that time my only exposure to punk had been through main stream outlets. I was aware of Devo, The Sex Pistols, and The Ramones, but not much else. Our side of the Metroplex was all about Sabbath, Skynyrd, Led Zep, and the burgeoning NWOHM.

Sometime in 1984, a friend told me and Rigor Mortis drummer, Harden Harrison, about this crazy club in Dallas we HAD to check out. It was a punk rock club called The Circle A Ranch, and we said hell yeah, let's go! So one night Harden and I drove out to Dallas to this seedy area called Deep Ellum in search of enlightenment, or beer, or a fight, or all of the above.

We found the club, a dingy dump up a rickety flight of stairs, and we entered. As we got to the top of the stairs I looked around and realized we were the only longhairs in the room. It was all skinheads and mohawks! The band that was playing (I've long forgotten who) was playing faster and more aggressively than almost any of the metal I'd heard up to this point. After a slight verbal altercation between Harden and the doorman over "being a long haired hippie," which ended in mutual respect and acceptance (I was so mesmerized I barely noticed, I think I threw money at him and just went in), we proceeded into the room and soaked in this amazing scene that appeared in front of us. The first mosh pit we had ever seen!

There must have been 50 - 75 hardcore punk rockers slamming each other as they moved in a counter clockwise direction. It looked like they were beating the shit out of each other, but they weren't. In fact if someone went down, they were immediately helped back up and the melee continued. I felt like John Belushi in The Blues Brothers when he's in the church and has his revelation about "the band." After a couple of minutes we looked at each other, grinned, and jumped right in. Of course we went the opposite direction as they were going; what better way to introduce yourself? After a couple of songs we stepped out to catch our breath. Right about then two boots and braces type skinheads also left the pit and came right to us. The bigger of the two, who was bleeding from his forehead, said "I don't give a shit if you guys come here or not, but that shit (pointing at my spiked wristbands) has got to go!" Without even thinking about it, I popped the wristbands off, threw them over my shoulder, threw my arm around the big skinhead and dragged back him into the pit with me. We had a blast that night and it definitely changed me forever.

Rigor Mortis eventually played our first Dallas gig at The Circle A Ranch, and were the first metal band to infiltrate Deep Ellum and the punk scene. Sure there were constant scuffles between our fans (The Longhairs), and The Skins, but we never backed down and gained the respect and friendship of most of the punks in Dallas. And the press did wonders for our reputation!
More...

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Look-Alike Metal Album Covers, Part 1

Facebook's ever-growing community, And Justice For Art has joined forces with MetalUnderground.com 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. More...

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