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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Witchfynde

It's been a while since we've dug into the vaults of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the movement in the late seventies/early eighties that was credited with taking heavy metal and rock music away from the stadiums and back to the streets. While it gave the world such big names as Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard, it also contained a number of influential groups such as Venom, Raven and Witchfinder General, as well as some cult favourites like Tygers Of Pan Tang, Jaguar and Tank. This week we'll be looking at a band which probably belongs in the third category, who may not be the first name on everybody's lips when discussing the scene, but certainly rank up there as one of the heavy hitters, Witchfynde.

Witchfynde began life in 1973 either in the town of Mansfield, or the county of Derbyshire (sources differ,) the brainchild of schoolmates Richard Blower and Neil Harvey, who assumed the positions of bass player and vocalist respectively, before adding guitarist Trevor "Montalo" Taylor to the fold. Neither Blower or Harvey stayed for too long and by 1975, the lineup comprised of Montalo, bassist Andro Coulton, drummer Gra Scoresby and singer Steve Bridges. They slogged it out in the clubs for four years before they released their first single, "Give 'em Hell" in 1979, through Round Records, the only release from the company. More...

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Sunday Old School: Primus

It is often said that the most original bands don't make it in the mainsteam. Many of metal and punk's most influential bands such as Venom, Bathory and Bad Brains have found commercial success a lot harder to come by than those whom they inspired such as Metallica or Amon Amarth, though matter how much these groups cite and praise them in the press. There is of course, exceptions to every rule and one band who were able to garner plenty of commercial success with a sound practically all of their own, was California's own, Primus.

Primus began life as Primate in 1984, formed by bass player Les Claypool and guitarist Todd Huth, who utilised a drum machine at first as they found drummers hard to come by until Claypool's friend Vince Parker returned from the army and filled in the position. With a full lineup of musicians, the band recorded their first demo, which was financed by Claypool selling his car, around the same time that they decided to change their name to the more familiar Primus, after another group called The Primates threatened legal action. This was also to be their only recording with Parker, whose departure began a revolving door of drummers, with Tim "Curveball" Wright taking over the position in 1986 for two years, before they recruited Freaky Executives drummer Jay Lane. More...

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Sunday Old School: Soulfly

Revenge is a motivation that's created some of the biggest moments in history, as well as many famous names in pop culture. Were Bruce Wayne not spurred on by the death of his parents (spoiler,) he wouldn't have become Batman and in a world closer to our own, we wouldn't have Megadeth if Dave Mustaine hadn't been kicked out of Metallica and sworn to create a faster, heavier and more intense group. Similarly, after the decision made by three of the four Sepultura members to fire their manager, her husband, the group's leader, Max Cavalera, quit the group and almost immediately founded a new one. One which has rivaled the commercial success of his previous outfit. One named, Soulfly.

Soulfly began life in 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona, where Max Cavalera and his wife Gloria had made their home. In addition to dealing with the split with Sepultura, Gloria's son, Dana, who was also a close friend of Max, had been murdered the previous year and as expected, left the couple with a feeling of total devastation. Inspired by a line in the Deftones song, "Head Up," on which Cavalera appeared, he named his new group Soulfly and recruited Lúcio Maia on guitar, bassist Cello Dias, who had previously played with another Sepultura alumnus, Jairo Guedes back in Brazil and drummer Roy Mayorga, formerly of the crust punk band Nausea and Hare Krishna hardcore group, Shelter. More...

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Sunday Old School: Black Death

It's funny how bands can create a legacy for themselves, especially if they've only released one album. The Sex Pistols are probably the most famous example of a band which only released one (proper) album but their influence is still heard in music today. There were renowned groups associated with the grunge scene who went on to be regarded highly after one studio effort too such as Mother Love Bone and Temple Of The Dog, while side projects such as Nailbomb from Sepultura's, Cavalera brothers and Fudge Tunnel singer Alex Newport, as well as Control Denied from Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner also have become cult favourites. Today's article will look at another band who only managed one album before breaking up, though in their time, they were able to gain mainstream attention and even be credited with opening doors for black musicians in rock. That band was named, Black Death.

Black Death began in Cleveland, Ohio in 1977, starting out as a trio comprising of guitarist Greg Hicks, bass player Clayborn Pinkins and drummer Phil Bullard, before recruiting vocalist/guitarist Siki Spacek (real name: Reginald Gamble.) In 1979, before the musicians had even recorded a demo together, Pinkins was murdered by gunfire and the group began recruiting a series of bass players, eventually settling on Darrell Harris. They made their first recording together in 1981, which included the song, "Outcast," a track which was to earn heavy airplay on a local college radio show hosted by Brian Sergents. More...

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Sunday Old School: Negura Bunget

For the second time in only a month, Sunday Old School presents itself in a sombre tone. Having lost Kittie bassist Trish Doan in February and paying tribute to her at the beginning of the month, this column pays its respects to another fallen metal musician, Gabriel Mafa, better known to the world as Negru, the drummer and co-founder of what is perhaps Romania's best known metal group, Negura Bunget, who tragically and suddenly passed away five days ago from a suspected heart attack at the age of 42.

The roots of Negura Bunget can be traced back to 1994 when Negru, along with Hupogrammos Disciple (real name Edmond Karban) on vocals, guitar and keyboards, founded the band Wiccan Rede in the major city of Timi?oara in west Romania. Under this moniker, the duo recorded and released one demo, "From Transilvanian Forests" in 1995, before changing their name to the now familiar Negura Bunget, which roughly translates to "dark foggy forest." Following this decision, the two musicians traveled to the Romanian capital city of Bucharest to record their debut album, "Zîrnindu-sa," which translates to "getting weak." More...

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Sunday Old School: Grave Digger

No need to check again, we're not featuring Grave in Sunday Old School for the second week in a row. Instead, the column is taking a trip over to Germany and the power metal genre and examining one of the country's most revered groups in their field, Grave Digger (though this would surely be a great name for fans of Grave.) Power metal is something of a cult genre in the United States and the United Kingdom, but in mainland Europe, particularly in Germany and Sweden, it has a much larger following, thanks in part to some of power metal's most revered bands such as Gamma Ray and Blind Guardian hailing from these countries respectively. Grave Digger may not have quite reached the same heights as these bands, but over three decades, they have established themselves as one of the style's most respected groups.

Grave Digger was formed in the city of Gladbeck in 1980 by the trio of singing bassist, Chris Boltendahl, guitar player Peter Masson and drummer Lutz Schmelzer. Schmelzer was quickly replaced by Philip Seibel and the three piece recorded their first demo in 1982. Following the recording, Boltendahl decided to concentrate more on the vocal aspect and so the band became a quartet by bringing in bass player Willi Lackman, while Seibel was also replaced by Albert Eckardt. This new incarnation recorded another demo entitled, "Born Again," which started to garner attention from labels, particularly Noise, who featured the group on their "Rock From Hell - German Metal Attack" compilation alongside such bands as Running Wild. More...

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Sunday Old School: Grave

Sweden is a country that often gets brought up in metal circles. The Scandinavian nation in between Norway and Finland has become known as one of the more liberal countries in the world, with a highly developed welfare state, one of the highest life expectancy and satisfaction rates in the world, a long list of famous names such as scientist Alfred Nobel, writer August Strindberg and one of cinema's most revered directors, Ingmar Bergman, as well as, quite frankly, one of the sexiest accents in Europe. So why then, with so much going for it, has the country developed such a talent for extreme music, death metal in particular? We may never know, but we can be grateful that they do, otherwise we wouldn't have such classic groups as today's featured outfit, Grave.

Grave as we know them, began life in 1986 under the name Corpse, in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland. They recorded one demo, "Black Dawn" the same year before changing their moniker to the now familiar, Grave in 1988, in time for the release of their second demo, "Sick Disgust Eternal." They released a string of demos while building up a live reputation, which eventually caught the attention of German label Century Media, who signed the band in 1991 and included them on a compilation featuring some of the most exciting young bands of the time, including Asphyx and fellow Swedes, Unleashed and Tiamat. More...

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Sunday Old School: Kittie

As has been said several times throughout the history of this column, the saddest reason to feature a band is following a death in the family as it were. Following the tragic passing of bass player Trish Doan on February 11th, it seems appropriate that Sunday Old School takes the time to look at one of North America's most famous all female metal bands, with whom Doan made her name, Kittie.

Kittie began life in 1996 in London, Ontario when drummer Mercedes Lander and guitarist Fallon Bowman met in school and began jamming together. They were quickly joined by Morgan Lander, the sister of Mercedes on lead vocals and guitar and after a search, recruited bass player Tanya Candler. With a full lineup, the quartet began recording demos and performing live in 1998, with a record deal arriving the next year after the band asked NG Records executive Jake Weiner. Though they signed with NG, they were switched to Artemis Records following a takeover. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 4. Thou Art Lord

Sadly, we've come to the closing chapter of this year's Black Metal History Month. Over the past weeks we've examined the influential Czech band Master's Hammer, Canada's most beloved black metal outfit Blasphemy and the understated but important presence of Norway's, Thorns and this week, we'll be rounding things up by taking a look at a supergroup from Greece whose members all have a background in extreme music, several of whom achieved success in their own right. And so we close Black Metal History Month's sixth installment with a feature on Thou Art Lord.

Thou Art Lord began life in the Greek capital of Athens in 1993, the brainchild of Rotting Christ frontman Sakis Tolis and George Zacharopoulos, AKA The Magus of Necromantia (and part time keyboardist for Rotting Christ) on guitars and bass respectively, being joined in their endeavour by Mortify vocalist Gothmog (John Hiotellis.) The trio recorded a demo "The Cult of the Horned One" before releasing their first EP, "Diabolou Archaes Legeones," both in 1993, the same year that they also released a split 7" vinyl with Belgian black metal group, Ancient Rites. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 3. Thorns

If there's one place that springs to mind when one thinks of black metal, it's Norway. The Scandinavian country may not have invented the genre, but they certainly shaped it into what we know today. Many of the most famous names in black metal were formed in Norway, including Immortal, Darkthrone and Dimmu Borgir, but there were also plenty of cult (or should that be kvlt?) favourites, including today's featured band, Thorns.

The roots of Thorns dates back to 1989 in the city of Trondheim, when guitarist Snorre W. Ruch and vocalist/bassist Marius Vold formed the band, Stigma Diabolicum, with whom they recorded one demo, "Luna De Nocturnus," as well as releasing a rehearsal tape and a live recording, "Live in Stjørdal." They soon added to their ranks, bringing in a bassist named Harald Eilertsen, allowing Vold to concentrate on vocals, as well as drummer Bård G. Eithun, better known to black metal fans as "Faust," who would later join Emperor. The quartet changed their moniker to Thorns around 1991 when the use of Latin was becoming more prominent in black metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 2. Blasphemy

Black Metal History Month is up and running once again, covering some of the darkest and most brutal bands to ever lace up a pair of boots. It's a genre often associated with the freezing cold, in part due to the barren tone and unforgiving nature of the music, but also due to many of the genre's most famous (or rather infamous) bands such as Mayhem, Emperor and Burzum originating in Norway, while other bands like Dissection and Impaled Nazarene also hail from cold countries such as Sweden and Finland respectively. Today we'll be looking at another group from one of the world's chillier nations, though this time on the other side of the Atlantic, as Sunday Old School travels to Canada to take a look at what is perhaps North America's best black metal band, Blasphemy.

Blasphemy were formed in 1984 in Vancouver, British Columbia by childhood friends Sean Stone and Gerry Buhl, adopting the respective monikers of 3 Black Hearts of Damnation and Impurity and Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds. They were joined in their pursuit by guitarist Geoff Drakes, AKA Caller of the Storms, before adding a second guitar player the following year in the guise of Blake Cromwell, who took on the name Black Priest of the 7 Satanic Blood Rituals. The group started out covering songs by the likes of Sodom, Slayer and Bathory and immediately made a name for themselves when they began performing live, as according to Black Hearts, the show caused a riot in the streets, a factor in the group being blacklisted from Vancouver along with too many fights breaking out at shows. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 1. Master's Hammer

It's back! February means only one thing for Metalunderground.com, a month of darkness and controversy, with a few history lessons thrown in and some of the most extreme music ever recorded; Black Metal History Month! Throughout February, we'll be featuring black metal bands past and present in various columns and Sunday Old School will be taking a look at four bands from the genre, each from a different country. Speaking of countries, today will be the first time the column features a group from the Czech Republic and one cited as a big part in the development of black metal as we know it; Master's Hammer.

Master's Hammer was formed in the Czechoslovakian capital of Prague in 1987 (the Czech Republic and Slovakia would not go their separate ways until 1992,) by vocalist and multi instrumentalist, František "Franta" Štorm, along with bass player Milan Fibiger and drummer Ferenc Feco. The trio recorded their first demo, "The Ritual Murder," that same year before bringing in a second guitarist named Míla Krovina and recording another demo, "Finished," in 1988. They continued to self-release their own material, including a live album in 1989, entitled imaginatively enough, "Live in Zbraslav 18.5.1989." More...

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Sunday Old School: Edge Of Sanity

Oh Sweden, sometimes you are too good to us. The Scandinavian country has long been one of rock and metal's biggest exporters, giving the world such great punk bands as Anti Cimex and Disfear, as well arguably the most creative death metal in history with the likes of the melodic In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, as well as the brutal, Unleashed and the progressive, Opeth. Speaking of progressive death metal, that's another area we'll be exploring today, as we take a look at another of Sweden's more daring extreme bands, Edge Of Sanity.

Edge Of Sanity were formed in Finspång, a small town in the Östergötland county in 1989 by Dan Swanö, a multi instrumentalist who recruited guitarists Andreas Axelsson and Sami Nerberg, in addition to bass player Anders Lindberg and drummer Benny Larsson to complete the lineup. The quintet recorded their first demo, "Euthanasia" that same year, before releasing three more ("Kur-Nu-Gi-A," "The Dead" and "The Immortal Rehearsals") in 1990. These demos along with a growing live reputation were enough to catch the attention of Black Mark Records, who soon snapped up the band and released their debut album, "Nothing But Death Remains" in 1991. More...

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Sunday Old School: Criminal

When one door closes, another one opens, right? That's not always the case for musicians, many of whom that find success with one band are unable to repeat it with the next. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, perhaps most famously being Dave Grohl who after the demise of Nirvana achieved fame with Foo Fighters. It's happened in metal too, with today's Sunday Old School lesson demonstrating how Pentagram (now called Pentagram Chile) mainman Anton Reisenegger went from the influential but struggling death metal favourites to form his country's biggest thrash metal group, Criminal.

Criminal was formed in 1991 by Anton Reisenegger and Rodrigo Contreras and were joined in their endeavour by Primate drummer Jose Joaquin Vallejos and bass player Juan Francisco Cueto in the Chilean capital of Santiago. The group were able to make use of Reisenegger's underground cred to gain an instant name for themselves, as evidenced by their very first show being an opening slot for Kreator before they had even recorded a demo. In 1992 however, the band recorded two demos, with the latter, "Forked" earning particular attention and praise internationally. More...

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Sunday Old School: Nightfall

Those of you who listened to the interview I conducted with Rotting Christ frontman, Sakis Tolis, will have discovered that in addition to being a die Queens Park Rangers fan, I'm a follower of the Greek football club, PAOK (which stands for Panthessalonikios Athlitikos Omilos Konstantinoupoliton, for any of you who insist on pronouncing full names.) While attempting to find a stream of their match against AEL Larissa today, I discovered that the game has been postponed as a result of heavy snow. It may seem strange to think that a hot and usually sunny country such as Greece can produce such weather, but it's not uncommon. Perhaps then it shouldn't come as a shock that the small but fascinating nation has also produced some very dark bands over the past few decades, including one of Gothic metal's early favourites, Nightfall.

Nightfall were formed in the Greek capital of Athens in 1991 by vocalist and bassist Efthimis Karadimas, joined in his endeavour by guitar players Christian Adamou and Mike Galiatsos, as well as a drummer simply known as Sotiris. This lineup recorded the group's first and only demo, "Vanity" that same year. The tape contained four songs with lyrics, as well as an instrumental, an intro and an outro and showcased a death/doom style, which had begun to be popularised by the likes of Anathema and Paradise Lost. While circulating in the metal underground, the demo found its way to France, where Holy Records took notice and offered the band a deal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Anti Cimex

Heavy metal and punk have more or less always had an uneasy relationship. There's been taunts and violence from both sides, yet there's always been a level of mutual respect, perhaps moreso in recent years than when the two genres were at their commercial (some might say, cultural) zenith. Many metal bands have cited the likes of the Sex Pistols, Discharge and Bad Brains as an influence, while numerous bands from the punk and hardcore scenes such as Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I. and The Exploited have channeled the metal sound into their own to create crossover thrash and in later cases, grindcore. This week, we'll be taking a look at another legendary punk band who struck a chord with fans of both styles, Anti Cimex.

Anti Cimex were formed in Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city in 1981 and initially consisted of vocalist, Nils "Nillen" Andersson, Joakim "Joker" Pettersson on guitar, drummer Charlie Claeson and bassist, Tomas "Freke" Jonsson, the last of which had also been a member of another notable Swedish punk band, Shitlickers. This lineup would only record one EP together in December of that year entitled, "Anarkist Attack," which wasn't released until 1982. Shortly afterwards, Nillen was sacked from the group and Frecke took over the position of vocalist, with the band bringing in Christian "Cutting" to handle bass, before he was replaced by a bassist known simply as Conrad. More...

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Sunday Old School: Repulsion

Happy new year one and all! While everything is pointing towards another year of events set to depress everyone, Metal Underground will be keeping it brutal too throughout 2017 and what better way to live up to that promise than by covering a band a group credited as one of the earliest and biggest influences on extreme music? It's fair to assume that many bands dream of becoming influential if not commercially successful when they start out, and to make a mark before releasing an album is one only a handful of groups have ever achieved, though some bands were able to do just that including Hellhammer, Siege and today's featured band, Repulsion.

Repulsion were formed in Flint, Michigan in 1984, originally using the name Ultra Violence, before changing it to Genocide and recorded their first demo, "Toxic Metal" the same year. Though they quickly made a name for themselves in their local scene, maintaining a stable lineup proved difficult and it seemed as though they were finished after one demo when core members Matt Olivo and Scott Carlson were invited by Chuck Schuldiner to join Death. The collaboration did not last long and so the duo returned to Flint, determined to pick up where they left off with Genocide, eventually recruiting drummer Dave "Grave" Hollingshead and recording a second demo, "Violent Death." More...

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Sunday Old School: The Gathering

The Netherlands has a long history of love for rock and metal music. The Eindhoven Open Air festival was once one of the main highlights of the calendar and the country also gave us one of the greatest driving anthems ever in the form of "Radar Love" by Golden Earring. They've also contributed to a wide range of metal, including death metal groups like Pestilence and God Dethroned, as well as symphonic metal outfit Within Temptation. Today we're taking a look at one of Holland's other cult names, The Gathering.

The Gathering were formed in North Brabant city of Oss in the south of the Netherlands in 1989 by Nijmegen born brothers Hans and René Rutten on drums and guitars respectively along with local vocalist Bart Smits, taking their name from the cult favourite movie, "Highlander." They soon completed their lineup with the additions of bassist Hugo Prinsen Geerligs, guitarist Jelmer Wiersma and Frank Boeijen on keyboards and started out performing doom metal, with some death metal influences, not unlike contemporaries such as Paradise Lost and Katatonia. This lineup recorded their first demo, "An Imaginary Symphony" in 1990 and followed it a year later with, "Moonlight Archer," which caught the attention of the metal underground and allowed them to open for such groups as Morbid Angel and Death, before being snapped up by Foundation 2000 Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Nasum

We've seen before in our Sunday Old School series of columns how grindcore, a sub-genre more or less agreed upon to have been started in England, a suitably grim setting for such a filthy style, has spread throughout the world since its genesis. While the scenes in the UK and the United States provided us with some of grindcore's biggest names such as Carcass and Brutal Truth, bands such as Cripple Bastards in Italy showed that the style wasn't just limited to English speaking nations and such is the case with today's featured band, Nasum.

Nasum were formed in 1992 in the city of Örebro by guitarist Anders Jakobson and drummer Rickard Alriksson, who also provided vocals, a rare thing but seen before by such bands as Autopsy. They were soon joined in their endeavour by Polish guitar player Mieszko Talarczyk, who joined in time to participate in recording the split release, "Who Shares the Guilt?/Blind World" with Agathocles through Poserslaughter Records. It was the first of a number of split releases, which saw the band share vinyl with the likes of Psycho, Autoritär and Abstain amongst many others, with EPs of their own finally surfacing in 1995 and 1997 unde thte titles, "Industrislaven" and "World In Turmoil" respectively. More...

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Sunday Old School: Orphaned Land

Folk metal has become one of the more popular sub genres among rockers in the current age. While it was pioneered by the likes of Skyclad and Cruachan, it has gone on to produce stars such as Korpiklaani and Finntroll. However, one country which has the ingredients to make a great folk metal band is Israel, for it contains a mix of rich folklore from both Jewish and Arab populations, as well as the tense atmosphere and constant threat of war which contributes to the metal style so well. One of the country's most well known bands, as well as one of the world's most popular folk metal groups, would be Orphaned Land.

The band were formed in 1991, by vocalist Kobi Farhi, bass player Uri Zelcha, guitarists Matti Svatizky and Yossi Sassi and drummer Sami Bachar, originally going by the name Resurrection, before changing their moniker to the more familiar Orphaned Land. The group slogged it out in the club scene, eventually recording a demo in 1993 entitled, "The Beloved's Cry," which was met with very strong praise from the metal underground and gained the attention of French record label, Holy Records, who soon snapped up the band. More...

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