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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Holy Dragons

Over the course of the Sunday Old School series, we’ve examined veteran metal bands from all across the world. From Aria in Russia, to Septicflesh and Rotting Christ of Greece, to Austria’s Belphegor, a Chilean band called Pentagram and another band called Pentagram (or Mezarkabul, if you prefer,) from Turkey. Speaking of Turkey, did you know that Turks are part of a larger group of people classified as Turkic? Another ethnicity that’s a member of this collective is the Kazakhs. In case you haven’t put two and two together yet, this week we’ll be expanding our map by taking a look at a metal band from Kazakhstan for the first time and their name is Holy Dragons.

The band was formed in 1992 in the then capital city of Almaty, (it was replaced as capital in 1997 by Astana,) by guitarist, Jurgen Thunderson, who was joined initially in his endeavour by singer Oleg "Holger" Komaroff. They set out to bring make music like that of their heavy metal heroes such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and in doing so, became one of, if not the first metal band Kazakhstan had produced. Keeping a stable lineup proved to be something of a difficult task, with Thunderson remaining the sole constant member. More...

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Sunday Old School: Vital Remains

Ordinarily, when a news story provides the inspiration to choose which band will be featured in the Sunday Old School column, it's because the group has split, reformed or a member has passed away. However, this week, the choice was made when a police officer in Florida was fired for joining a well known death metal band on stage and singing along to their song, "Let the Killing Begin." The quartet in question hails from Providence, Rhode Island and goes by the name of Vital Remains.

The group was forged in 1988 by guitarist, Paul Flynn, who was soon joined in his endeavour by guitarist Butch Machado, vocalist Mike Flynn, bassist Tom Supkow, and drummer Chris Dupont. Mike Flynn and Butch Machado did not last long however, as Vital Remains decided they needed better musicians and replaced the duo with Jeff Gruslin and Tony Lazaro respectively. Spurred on by the writing partnership of the two guitar players, the group became one of the most popular live acts in their local scene and after recording two demos, "Reduced to Ashes" and "Excruciating Pain," they caught the attention of French label, Thrash Records, who signed them up. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hammerfall

It always feels when looking through the Sunday Old School archives that power metal is an area that gets severely neglected. Of course, there have been some of the big names covered such as Helloween and Blind Guardian, but such acts are few and far between the likes of Napalm Death and Testament. So this week, we’re taking a step to rectify this by focusing one of the most popular bands in the history of power metal, Hammerfall.

The band was formed in 1993 by guitarist Oscar Dronjak, following his departure from extreme metal band Ceremonial Oath, who invited his former bandmate Jesper Strömblad (who had also just formed his own band, In Flames) to join him as the drummer. They were soon joined by bassist Johan Larsson and Niklas Sundin (who were soon replaced by Fredrik Larsson and In Flames guitarist, Glenn Ljungström,) as well as Dark Tranquillity vocalist, Mikael Stanne. Because of the members time mostly being spent with their other bands, Hammerfall was treated as a side project for the most part and had few original songs of their own, mainly performing covers by bands such as Judas Priest and Alice Cooper .

They mostly performed at a local music competition called Rockslaget, which they reached the semi finals of in 1996, at which point Stanne was unable to perform with the band and so, with the initial plan of making him a temporary member, Hammerfall brought in singer Joacim Cans, who impressed them enough that although the group didn’t make the final, he was made the new vocalist on a permanent basis after the show. The band started taking themselves a little more seriously after and recorded a short live performance, which eventually earned them a record deal with the Dutch label Vic Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Dark Tranquillity

Metal loves to trace the roots and popularity of a style back to specific bands. Thrash metal famously has its "big four," of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax , black metal goes back to Venom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate and Bulldozer and melodic death metal is often credited mostly to Carcass, In Flames, At The Gates and today’s featured band, Dark Tranquillity.

The band began life in 1989 after guitarists Niklas Sundin and Mikael Stanne put together a group named Septic Broiler, soon being joined in their endeavours by bassist Martin Henriksson, vocalist Anders Fridén and drummer, Anders Jivarp. Tney quickly recorded a demo, "Enfeebled Earth," before deciding to change their name to the now familiar moniker, Dark Tranquility. They soldiered on until they were snapped up by Spinefarm Records, through which they released their debut album, "Skydancer" in 1993, which was met with mostly positive reviews. It was quite different from later releases and many look back on it now as one of the dark horses of the Dark Tranquility catalogue. More...

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Sunday Old School: Persian Risk

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's lost count of the amount of times the Sunday Old School has dived into the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement and found a subject. Then again, why not? It's the gift that keeps on giving, spawning metal icons, cult heroes and buried treasures, it was a nationwide scene that changed metal forever and gave the world some of the best heavy metal music ever. It was also where members of some of metal's biggest names got their start, including Tygers Of Pan Tang guitarist John Sykes, who went on to to bring some much needed vitality to Thin Lizzy and Motorhead guitarist, Phil Campbell, who was found while playing with today's featured band, Persian Risk.

Campbell formed the band in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff in 1979 and was joined initially in his venture by vocalist Jon Deverill, second guitarist Dave Bell, bass player Nick Hughes, and drummer Russell "Razz" Lemon. Deverill was not to stay in the band for too long however, as he left the following year to join up with the Tygers of Pan Tang and was replaced by Carl Sentance, who had previously performed with Hughes and Razz in a band named, Leading Star. The quintet then released their first seven inch single, "Calling For You" a year later, which has become a highly collectible release among heavy metal fanatics. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sacrifice

Thrash metal was truly a phenomenon. Not only did it create legendary scenes in the United States and Germany and give us some of the most beloved metal bands in history, but it spread worldwide, spawning movements in Great Britain, Brazil and of course, Canada. The great white north has brought the world some well respected thrash over the years, including today's featured band, Sacrifice from Toronto.

Sacrifice began when two friends, Rob Urbinati and Joe Rico, both guitar players, decided to form a band, initially playing covers of some of their favourite bands, bringing in bassist, Scott Watts soon afterwards. After bringing in drummer, Craig Boyle and his friend, singer John Baldy, the quintet recorded two demo tapes, which mostly consisted of covers of bands such as Metallica and Judas Priest, with the one original coming in the form of, "Turn in Your Grave." As time went on, Sacrifice developed a heavier sound, with Urbitani taking over the vocalist position as well as seeing a slew of drummers coming through the ranks, before the group settled on Gus Pynn. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cripple Bastards

When one thinks of grindcore, the likelihood is that the first thought will turn to the scene in the United Kingdom that produced the likes of Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and Carcass, while the over the pond, some of the genre's best bands such as Brutal Truth and Terrorizer were formed. But grindcore wasn't exclusive to the UK and the US, there was plenty of demand for extreme music in mainland Europe too, and today, we look at one of the more well known names from this era, Italy's own, Cripple Bastards.

Cripple Bastards originally went by the name Grimcorpses and were formed by singer Giulio the Bastard and guitarist Alberto the Crippler, originally as a punk band with some metal influences, before forging a harder style by throwing grindcore into the mix and changing their name to the now familiar moniker, Cripple Bastards. With this new style, they were able to stand out among other bands and bring some attention back to the hardcore scene in Asti, which is around 34 miles east of Turin, and released a string of split EPs and seven inch singles, as well as the EPs, "Life's Built On Thoughts" and "Frammenti di Vita." More...

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Sunday Old School: Atomic Rooster

One of the great things about the Sunday Old School column is getting to go way back and examine some of the very earliest examples of heavy metal, some of whom even denied the term when it came around. Over the course of this column, we've already taken a look at the likes of Budgie, Blue Cheer, Humble Pie and Spooky Tooth, as well as the big names such as Black Sabbath and this week we'll be adding to that list by observing another strangely named group from that era, Atomic Rooster.

Atomic Rooster was formed in 1969, by keyboardist Vincent Crane and drummer, Carl Palmer, who had both decided to leave The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. When putting the band together, they had hoped to recruit Rolling Stones guitarist, Brian Jones, but due to his death, this was not to be. Instead, they brought in singer and bass player, Nick Graham and began performing around the London club circuit, where on their first headlining show, they were supported by a young band named, Deep Purple. It didn't take long for them to earn a record deal, signing with B&C Records and releasing their debut, "Atomic Roooster," the following year. This was to be their only record with this lineup, as weeks later, guitarist, John Du Cann joined the band and Graham left, followed soon after by Carl Palmer, who quit to form a new band called, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. More...

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Sunday Old School: Orange Goblin

There seems to be a theory these days that younger metal bands aren't particularly interested in where their style came from, focusing too much instead of who can be the most "brutal." Fortunately though, there will always be those who never forget the time when metal featured great riffs, a fun atmosphere and a band named Black Sabbath. This week, we'll be looking at a British band, who in the time when death and black metal had been firmly established and industrial metal was continually gaining momentum, showed that the roots and traditional heavy metal were still cool and they are called, Orange Goblin.

The London quartet was formed in 1995, by vocalist Ben Ward, bassist (and former Queens Park Rangers trainee,) Martyn Millard, drummer Chris Turner and guitarist Pete O'Malley, originally using the name Our Haunted Kingdom, under which moniker they released a split with a young doom metal named Electric Wizard a year later through Rise Above Records, the label owned by another doom cult hero, Lee Dorrian of Cathedral (and formerly of Napalm Death.) This was the band's only release as Our Haunted Kingdom, before changing to the now familiar name, Orange Goblin before releasing their debut album, "Frequencies From Planet Ten," through the same label in 1997. Though not all critics were impressed, it was well received by fans of the stoner metal genre, with some citing them as future champions in the field. More...

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Sunday Old School: Suicidal Tendencies

Thrash metal is a hugely influential genre which brought the heavier side of metal to mainstream attention with some big names and albums back in the eighties. Many bands such as Hirax and Vio-Lence were as thrash metal as it gets, while some brought new ideas and new styles to the genre. Today's column looks at a band which did just that, one which went from gang associated skaters to thrash stalwarts with danceable bass lines. Of course, this could be no one else but the one and only, Suicidal Tendencies.

Suicidal Tendencies was formed in 1981 and was originally intended as just a party band by vocalist Mike Muir, but before long, their live notoriety and popularity had the group creeping to the front of the singer's life. What helped create such a buzz around Suicidal Tendencies was the rumours surrounding them, mostly that they were involved with gangs, in part due to Muir's blue bandana and in time, a gang that revolved around the group called Suicidal Cycos sprung up in California. The band, which also consisted of guitarist Mike Ball, Carlos "Egie" Egert on drums, and bass player Mike Dunnigan, soon recorded their first demo and appeared in the Surfpunks documentary, performing the songs, "Kill" and "Parents For Adoption." Egert left after the first recording and Mike Dunnigan's brother, Sean took his place, though both brothers left after their appearance on the Slamulation compilation. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cynic

It's funny how a band who releases one album can create such a legacy and a clamouring for more. The Sex Pistols are probably the best example of this, as their only album, "Never Mind the Bollocks," revolutionised rock music and young politics for decades, yet they never recorded a second album of new material. Today we look at Cynic, who, in their initial run, released only one album, "Focus," before breaking up, though thankfully returned and released new music twelve years later.

The band was put together by guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert and the next year recorded their first demo, simply called the "'88 Demo," which featured Mark van Erp on bass and vocalist Jack Kelly, who parted company with the group soon after, with Masvidal taking over the singer position. Cynic also added a second guitarist, Jason Gobel to the lineup and the next year recorded a new demo, "Reflections of a Dying World," which was their last recording before bringing in Tony Choy on bass. This incarnation of the band recorded two more demos, before inking their first record deal with Roadrunner Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Korn

It was going to happen eventually. Nu metal, or at least what most people refer to as "nu metal," is being covered in Sunday Old School. Somewhat surprisingly though, it's definitely been around long enough to be featured in the column and despite the criticism the genre still gets, there's no denying it was a big part of the late nineties and early 2000s, providing plenty of gateway bands that led young rockers to "true metal." Today, we'll be looking at one of the most successful bands of the era, who many people credit with inventing the style, Bakersfield, California's own, Korn.

Korn began life in 1993, forming from the ashes of the bands L.A.P.D., which featured guitarist James Schaffer, drummer David Silveria and bassist Reginand Arvizu, and who released two albums before breaking up. The three aforementioned members decided to continue working together and recruited a second guitarist, Brian Welch and eventually a singer named Jonathan Davis, who only joined the group after consulting a psychic. That same year, the band released a demo album, "Neidermayer's Mind," which wasn't received particularly well by many listeners or critics, but nonetheless, seemed to attract enough interest to earn them support slots for House of Pain and Biohazard. More...

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Sunday Old School: Thunder

By the time the nineties reared its head, metal music had evolved significantly from the blooming genre it was twenty years previously. It had been commercialised as glam metal, deified by thrash metal and taken to the extreme by the emerging death and black metal sub genres. But not everyone had shrugged off or forgotten about the roots of metal, which were firmly in the blues. There was one band who decided to put the blues back into metal and hard rock, who went by the suitably striking name of, Thunder.

The origins of the band date well back to 1975, when guitarist Luke Morley and singer Danny Bowes met at college and formed a band called Nuthin' Fancy, who released an independent single, "Looking For a Good Time," before changing their name to Terraplane. It was after adopting this new moniker that they found some relative success, releasing two albums and performing at the 1982 Reading festival. However, in time, 1989 to be exact, the band decided to rename themselves to their familiar alias, Thunder and in that same year, inked a record deal with EMI after impressing with a demo audtion. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cryptopsy

Despite my recent live report in which I stated my disappointment with Cryptopsy during their show with Brujeria, it would be most remiss of me to ignore their contributions to the death metal genre. The group are one of the most influential names in the field of technical death metal, along with the likes of Atheist and Pestilence and have a rich catalogue of brutality behind them, so today we're going to be looking at Cryptopsy, one of the of the most hailed extreme metal acts to ever come out of Canada.

The band began life under the name Necrosis, with the original members consisting of vocalist, dan Greening, who became better known to fans as, "Lord Worm," drummer Mike Atkin and guitarist Steve Thibault, before they brought in bassist, John Todds. Under their original moniker, the band recorded the demos, "Mastication and Heterodontis" and "Realms Of Pathogenia," before a self-titled demo was released in 1992, the year the group performed their first live show and changed their name to the now familiar, Cryptopsy. Shortly after this, Atkin left the and was replaced by Flo Mounier, a recommendation of John Todds, who himself would leave before long, with Kevin Weagle entering the fold as the new bassist, while Dave Galea joined as a second guitarist. More...

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Sunday Old School: NWOBHM Trilogy

This week in Sunday Old School, we're going to be doing something we've never done before and taking a look at the careers of three different bands. We've established by now that the New Wave of British Heavy Metal had a lot to offer, going back to the early days of the column when we looked at big names in the movement such as Venom and Diamond Head, to more recent editions examining Atomkraft and Tokyo Blade, but there were a number of bands who had very short careers but remain cut favourites amongst the NWOBHM afficianados. Today, we'll be looking at a trio of these treasures, starting with...

Ethel The Frog

One of the strangest names in heavy metal, quite literally, was Ethel the Frog. Their name came from a Monty Python sketch about the Piranha Brothers, themselves a parody of sorts of the infamous Kray Twins. They were formed in 1976 in the Yorkshire city of Hull and steadily built up a strong following in the north, which grew after they gained attention for their first single, a heavy take on the Beatles' classic, “Elanor Rigby.” Shortly afterwards, they joined prestigious company by contributing to the Metal For Muthas compilation series and signed a record deal with EMI, who had recently picked up Iron Maiden. The band released one self-titled album in 1980 before calling it a day soon after. More...

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Sunday Old School: Fear Factory

It has been well documented that the nineties were not particularly kind to heavy metal. Many bands from the once popular thrash era such as Death Angel and Vio-Lence, disbanded before the decade reached the half way point and others such as Megadeth and Anthrax kept their name alive by changing their style. Of course, there a few metal bands who were able to defy critics, trends and commercial pressures and become stars of their time such as Pantera, Machine Head and Sepultura, as well today’s featured band, Fear Factory.

The group began life under the name, Ulceration in 1989, though they adopted their now familiar moniker the year after, following the more extreme style that they had taken on, culminating in a mix of death metal, grindcore and industrial influences, particularly Godflesh. The band, whose official lineup consisted of drummer Raymond Herrera, singer Burton C. Bell and guitarist, Dino Cazares, performed their first show on Halloween in 1990 and soon afterwards recorded a demo album, "Concrete," which saw Cazares handle both guitar and bass duties. The band were unhappy with the result but producer Ross Robinson saw no problem, leading to a lawsuit which saw Robinson retain the rights to the album, with Fear Factory keeping the rights to their songs, many of which they re-recorded with Colin Richardson for their official debut, "Soul of a New Machine." More...

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Sunday Old School: Atomkraft

Speed metal is a genre that’s quite hard to define. Many bands are slapped with the tag while also labelled “heavy metal” or “thrash metal,” which most people agree are the genres that bookend Speed. Whatever the case, there are some excellent bands tagged with the label, many of whom found critical, if not commercial success. Today, we’ll take a look at one such band, which like some of Britain’s finest metal groups, formed in the North East, specifically New castle. A band whose name literally encapsulates power, Atomkraft.

The band was originally put together by vocalist, Tony Dolan and drummer, Paul Spillet as a punk outfit which went by the name of Moral Fibre, recruiting guitar players, Ian Legg and Chris Taylor along the way, though they would mostly operate as a trio. Their moniker was changed after Taylor returned from a trip to Bremen in North West Germany, with badges sporting the anti nuclear power slogan, "Atomkraft, Nein Danke!" and the group decided to take the first word for a new name, feeling that it suited their new, heavy metal approach better. More...

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Sunday Old School: Korzus

Thrash metal and Brazil go together like black metal and Norway, death metal and Sweden or moaning and Britain. Throughout the history of Sunday Old School, we’ve seen plenty of bands from Brazil take thrash metal and put their own spin on it, from the global stars, Sepultura to their crossover friends Ratos de Parão to their first wave black metal enemies, Sarcófago. This week, the column will once again be looking at some more boys from Brazil who could thrash with the best, a band by the name of Korzus.

The group began life in 1983, coming from Brazil’s most populated city, São Paulo. They released their debut album two years later, which was something of an oddity as it was a live album, simply entitled, "Korzus Live," before their first studio full length, "Sonho Maníaco" followed two years later. It was a harsh album, exploring the darker side thrash much like Slayer, Possessed and Dark Angel had done before them, though their next release, "Pay For Your Lies," a six song EP, would feature a sound more akin to Bay Area thrash metal and has been cited as a stand out release in South American metal music. More...

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Sunday Old School: Symphony X

For all the stereotypes that exist about heavy metal fans being mindless head bangers, who just want music that’s loud, fast and full of shouting, there is also a full awareness that heavy metal has a long history of complex arrangements and a penchant for storytelling. Many bands over the years have become highly skilled at this, many of which in the progressive metal genre, which is an area we’ll be looking at today as we examine American prog metallers, Symphony X.

The seeds of Symphony X were sown in 1994 when guitarist, Michael Romeo released his instrumental solo album, "The Dark Chapter," on which he was joined by keyboard player, Michael Pinnella. The album was something of a success in Japan and the two decided to expand their partnership by bringing in vocalist, Rod Tyler, drummer Jason Rullo and bass player, Thomas Miller and christened their new outfit, Symphony X, which was also the name of their first album released later the same year. It was another well received release in Japan, leading to a sophomore full length only six months later, though in this short time, the group had parted company with Rod Tyler and recruited singer, Russell Allen. More...

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Sunday Old School: Avulsed

Throughout much of last year, the Sunday Old School column tried to look at bands from as many previously uncovered countries as possible, bringing the spotlight to groups from places such as Greece, Russia, Turkey and South Korea for the first time. This year we’ve been able to do this twice more by covering Salem from Israel and Bulldozer from Italy and now we make it a charm by heading to Spain for the first time to take a look at one of the country’s greatest contributions to extreme metal, Avulsed.

The seeds of Avulsed were sewn when vocalist, David Sánchez González, better known as Dave Rotten to fans, moved to the Spanish capital of Madrid following his military service in 1991. He was keen to play the music he loved, at a time when death metal was beginning to really take off and bands such as Obituary and Cannibal Corpse were making a name for themselves. He was joined at first by a guitarist known as, Javi "El Largo," before more members were recruited the next year, the same time that the collective settled on the moniker, Avulsed, though by this time, "El Largo" had left. More...

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