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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Sunday Old School: Amebix

Heavy metal and punk rock has had a longstanding love/hate relationship. Though some fans of one genre have viewed the other with a sense of distaste or disdain, others have given the opposing scene respect. A number of bands were well known for appealing to both sets of fans, with Motorhead being one of the earliest examples and Discharge were a punk band that heavily influenced thrash metal, but another group to bring punk to metal fans was Devon’s very own, Amebix. The group formed in the South West of England under the moniker, The Band With No Name in 1978 by Rob Miller and his brother, Chris, also known as "The Baron" and "Stig" respectively, along with And Hoare and Clive Barnes. They performed regularly in their local area and increased their profile considerably when Rob gave their four track demo tape to underground heroes, Crass, who included the song, "Universally Challenged" on their first compilation LP, "Bullshit Detector."

Shortly afterwards, both Clive and Andy left the group and a new drummer named Martin was brought in. Soon after his recruitment, the band decided to change their name to Amebix, referring to the amoeba. The band was first moved to Dartmoor, then London where Martin suffered a mental breakdown, inspiring the song, "Largactyl," following which Amebix relocated to Bristol, where they lived in squats, during which time they shocked a few people by recruiting a synth player. With something of a stable lineup in place, the band got to work on material and recorded the EP, "Who’s the Enemy?" and the single, "Winter," which reached as high as eighteen on the British Indie Chart. More...

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Sunday Old School: Humble Pie

Of all the names that have appeared throughout the Sunday Old School columns, one of the few to be expected to grace the series would have to be, Peter Frampton. Yet the man who recorded, "Frampton Comes Alive," one of the biggest selling live albums of all time, which according to Mike Myers in Wayne’s World was issued to everyone in the suburbs, was an integral part in one of the first albums to be described as heavy metal. The album in question was called, "As Safe as Yesterday Is" and the band who recorded this effort was called, Humble Pie. Humble Pie was formed in the county of Essex in south England in 1969 by former Small Faces guitarist, Steve Marriott, along with Spooky Tooth bassist, Greg Ridley, Peter Frampton and drummer, Jerry Shirley. After deciding on their name, they soon signed to Immediate Records and released their first single, "Natural Born Bugie," only six months after forming, which was able to reach as high as number four in the British singles chart.

A month later, the band released, "As Safe as Yesterday Is," which, as mentioned before, was one of the first albums to be called heavy metal by Rolling Stone reviewer, Mike Saunders, who went on to form a popular band himself, named Angry Samoans. Perhaps fitting for this bit of trivia, the record opened with a cover of the song, "Desperation" by Canadian band, Steppenwolf, who themselves have at times been credited for the term "heavy metal" after including it in their classic song, "Born to be Wild." The music press weren’t entirely sure what to make of the album, but listeners seemed to enjoy what was on offer, with the record peaking at number sixteen on the British albums chart. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pentagram Chile

The power of the metal underground can be a truly astounding thing. At times, it can give a band worldwide exposure and a large following even if they haven’t actually released a full length album. One of the best known examples of this would be Switzerland’s, Hellhammer, which of course evolved into Celtic Frost, but another band which would influence countless metal listeners was a group from Chile, who shared their name with an American group that also didn’t release an album until well into their career, a band named, Pentagram. Pentagram, or Pentagram Chile as they now go by, were formed in the Chilean capital city of Santiago in 1985 by singing guitarist, Anton Reisenegger and another guitar player named, Juan Pablo "Azazel" Uribe. They were strongly inspired by the more extreme end of the thrash spectrum and early death metal bands such Possessed, Kreator and Venom.

After recruiting drummer Eduardo Topelberg from a group named Chronos, the trio began working on their musicianship a little more seriously and eventually recorded their first demo, entitled appropriately enough, "Demo 1." Reisenegger handled bass duties for the record and the band began sending out copies all over the world. Two of the people who got a hold of the demo was the Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor, known of course as the founding members of Brazil’s most famous metal band, Sepultura, who at the time had just released their debut album, "Morbid Visions." They struck up a friendship with the two and there was reportedly intention for Max Cavalera and Anton Reisenegger to record an album together, though to date, this has not happened. More...

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Sunday Old School: Vio-lence

One of the wonderful things about thrash metal is that while some bands became superstars, others have earned eternal credibility amongst metal fans for their furious live shows and underground classics. Perhaps one of the best examples of the latter comes, unsurprisingly, in the form of a band from San Francisco, Vio-lence. The group was formed by guitarists Phil Demmel and Troy Fua, vocalist Jerry Birr, drummer Perry Strickland and bass player Eddie Billy, brother of Testament frontman, Chuck Billy.

Changes were soon made to the band, most notably when Birr was replaced by Sean Killian, who utilised a unique cadence in his singing style and former Forbidden guitarist, Robb Flynn. They soon signed a contract with Mechanic Records and entered the studio to record their first full length album, "Eternal Nightmare." The record is now considered to be one of the best thrash metal albums of all time by dedicated thrash fans, thanks to such songs as "Kill on Command" and "Bodies on Bodies." More...

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Sunday Old School: Belphegor

As we’ve mentioned a few times over the past months, this year Sunday Old School is aiming to cover a lot more countries in our articles. Some of the nations we’ve taken a first look at have given the world of metal some highly controversial names, both literately (such as Rotting Christ from Greece) and in terms of theatrics (such as Poland’s, Behemoth.) This week sees the latter trend continue, as Sunday Old School examines a band from Austria for the first time. A blood drenched, blasphemous, outrageous group that goes by the name of, Belphegor.

The group was formed under the moniker Betrayer in Salzburg in 1991 by guitarist, Helmuth and Sigurd, vocalist Maxx and a drummer named Chris. Whilst using this name, they recorded two demos, "Kruzifixion" and "Unborn Blood," before changing their alias to Belphegor, named after a demon who was supposedly responsible for discoveries and, according to the Dictionnaire Infernal, Hell’s ambassador to France (because if anywhere is going to have an embassy for Hell, it’s France.) They would release only one demo with Maxx after changing their name in the guise of 1993’s, "Bloodbath in Paradise." After Maxx’s departure, Helmuth assumed vocal duties and the group recorded another demo, "Obscure and Deep" through Perverted Taste Records in 1994, before their first official album, "The Last Supper" was released in January 1995 via Lethal Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Izzy Stradlin

Izzy Stradlin was the member (and co-founder) of Guns N’ Roses that presumably could handle his heroin use. He left Guns N’ Roses in 1991 and has led his own band or solo efforts since.

Izzy was born and grew up in Lafayette, Indiana where he was friends with William Bailey, later known as Axl Rose. In 1980 Stradlin moved to Los Angeles and joined the punk band Naughty Women. After a brief stint with Naughty Women, Stradlin would play with The Atoms and Shire before forming Hollywood Rose with his childhood friend Axl Rose. In 1984 the band recorded a five-song demo and also during this time (Stradlin) formed the short-lived band Stalin. In 1985 Stradlin, founded Guns N’ Roses with Rose and several members of L.A. Guns. The band released the epic ‘Appetite for Destruction’ album in 1987. Stradlin wrote or co-wrote most of the songs as well as “Patience” off the follow-up album "Lies."

The band blue up as did tensions around drug use. Around 1989 Stradlin took some time off and sobered up. In 1991 Guns N’ Roses released the "Use Your Illusion" albums. Stradlin co-wrote many of the songs, but now sober, was not happy with the band shenanigans and left the band in 1991. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bruce Dickinson

It’s usually a risk when the singer of a big name band decides to leave and go solo. Many doubted whether or not Ozzy Osbourne would be able to move on from Black Sabbath, though he went on to prove the naysayers wrong, while Judas Priest singer Rob Halford and Deep Purple’s, Ian Gillan found varying degrees of success after separating from their respective bands. Another metal legend who took the gamble was Bruce Dickinson, who made a name for himself as Paul Di'anno's successful replacement in Iron Maiden. The seeds of Dickinson’s foray into a solo career began in 1989 when he was approached to write a song for the movie, Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child, an offer which he accepted and called upon the services of former Gillan and White Spirit guitarist, Janick Gers.

The duo composed the song, "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter," which would later be included on the Iron Maiden album, "No Prayer For the Dying" and become the band’s first number one single in Britain. Given the popularity of the song, Dickinson and the same lineup returned to the studio to work on a full length album, which was completed in only two weeks and released in 1990 as a Bruce Dickinson solo album entitled, "Tattooed Millionaire." The album received positive reviews from many fans and critics and a tour in support of the record soon followed. More...

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Sunday Old School: Krisiun

As most sports fans, and even many who aren’t, are aware, today marks the final day of the FIFA World Cup, the largest international tournament in the sporting world. This year, it was held in Brazil, a country known globally for their love of and talent for football. But there’s another area the Brazilians seem to excel at, as Sunday Old School has shown in the past by highlighting such bands as Ratos de Parão and Sarcófago, and that is that Brazil has given birth to some of the most crushing metal bands of all time, as we’ll see today by taking a look at another of their excellent exports, Krisiun. The band was formed in Ijuí, Rio Grande do Sul, in 1990 by three brothers, Moyses and Max Kolesne, who handled guitar and drum duties respectively and singing bassist, Alex Camargo, who uses their mothers maiden name. They were heavily influenced by the aggressive metal of such acts as Morbid Angel and Slayer and recorded two demos before deciding that their career would stand more of a chance if they moved to Sao Paulo in 1995, where they were almost immediately spotted and signed by Dynamo Records.

The band recorded and released their debut studio album, "Black Force Domain" that same year and displayed their influences proudly with covers of "Nuclear Winter" by Sodom and the Kreator track, "Total Death." The album was well received by the death metal fans who heard it and soon afterwards, their brutal sound was to be brought to a larger audience when they signed with German record label, GUN. The group’s first release through their new label came in 1998 with the album, "Apocalyptic Revelations," which was also met with a positive response amongst the death metal community. More...

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Sunday Old School: English Dogs

Punk rock is well documented as having changed the face of music forever. It certainly left it's mark on heavy metal, with many punk bands influencing the fledgling thrash movement, to the point where thrash’s first sub-genre, crossover thrash, almost completely blurred the line over what’s thrash and what’s punk. But interestingly, this new style went full circle and began to influence many punk groups of the day, with bands such as Discharge and The Exploited incorporating it into their sound. Another respected punk band that brought this harder edge to their music and appealed strongly to metal fans was Lincolnshire natives, English Dogs. The group were formed in the market town of Grantham in late 1981 and by the next year had recorded two demos entitled, "Show No Mercy" and "Free to Kill," earning them support slots with bands such as Discharge and G.B.H. The exposure was helpful for the band, who soon signed a record deal with Clay Records and released their first EP, "Mad Punx and English Dogs" in 1983.

The next year, the band released their first full length album, the rather bizarrely entitled, "Invasion of the Porky Men," which was perhaps their most punk rock orientated album to date. Following the release of the album, vocalist Pete Wakefield, also known as, "Wakey," parted company with the band and was replaced by Adie Bailey, formerly of Ultraviolent. It was also around this time that the band brought in guitarist, Graham "Gizz" Butt, who was very important in the history of English Dogs as he brought with him a metal style of guitar playing, which changed the course of the band’s music. More...

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Sunday Old School: KISS

This week is a special week for Sunday Old School because it’s the 250th column. One of the genres covered has been the glam and hair bands of the eighties. No band provided more of an influence in this area then KISS. Known for over-the-top antics, make-up, merchandising and farewell tours the boys from KISS have ruled since the seventies. Still, there is the question: Which came first, the music or the makeup? Spoiler Alert: We can’t prove either only that success followed. So without further ado, your 250th Sunday Old School post from the biggest band of all time: KISS. (Note: If you don’t believe this is the biggest band of all time just ask Gene Simmons.) More...

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Sunday Old School: Tankard

Looking back through the Sunday Old School archives, we certainly seem to love our thrash metal. We’ve covered most of the big names in British thrash, a large number of American bands and a good portion of the German scene. However there is one band we have yet to cover in this column that hails from the last country mentioned, a band who will be releasing their sixteenth studio album this week. A band which goes by the name of Tankard. Tankard were formed in 1982 in the city of Frankfurt, located in the state of Hessen, by classmates, Andreas "Gerre" Geremia and Frank Thorwarth on vocals and bass respectively, as well as fellow pupil, Axel Katzmann, who played guitar. They became notorious for their heavy drinking even at an early age, when they would pour milk out of the cartons at school and fill them with beer, fuelling their good time thrash metal and helping them become party favourites. After two demos, "Heavy Metal Vanguard" and "Alcoholic Metal," the band eventually signed with Noise Records, though not before being passed on by SPV, who were shocked by the drunkenness exhibited by the group at a live show.

Their debut album was released in 1986 under the title, "Zombie Attack," which was quite well received by metal fans, especially in their native Germany. This was followed only a year later with their sophomore record, "Chemical Invasion," which was something of a concept album based around the arguments over the planned Beer Purity Law in Europe. Once again, they received positive feedback for their effort and continued performing live and earning themselves a reputation as one of the best thrash metal bands in Germany. More...

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Sunday Old School: Moonspell

So far this year, the Sunday Old School column has certainly been living up to the ambition of covering more bands from around the world, having for the first time featured bands from Greece (Rotting Christ,) Poland (Behemoth and Vader) and Belgium (Channel Zero) and so this week, we continue our global metal excavating by looking at a Portuguese band for the first time, one of the finest examples of gothic metal, Moonspell. Moonspell were formed in 1989 in Amadora, located in the North of Lisboa, initially under the moniker, Morbid God. In 1992, the group decided to change their name and got to work on new material, which they released in 1994 as part of their debut EP, "Under the Moonspell." The EP proved popular in the metal underground and impressed executives at Century Media Records enough that they offered the band a six album deal. It wasn’t long before the band had recorded their first full length effort, which was released in April 1995 under the title, "Wolfheart" and was considerably more in line with black metal than the gothic vibe which they would become known for.

Although the album was somewhat ignored by the metal media, it allowed the group to embark on a tour of Europe, during which guitarist, Mantus left the band, to be replaced by Ricardo Amorim. A new guitarist also meant a new style for Moonspell, who quickly adopted a gothic approach to their music, which they showcased on their sophomore album, "Irreligious," released in 1996. The album was a landmark for the band not only in terms of style change, but also their first single and music video for the song, "Opium," as well as some other Moonspell classics such as "Awake" and "Full Moon Madness," which has become the standard final song at the majority of Moonspell concerts. In addition to these personal successes, the band also found some commercial achievement when the record sold over ten thousand copies in their native Portugal. However, as with the cycle for "Wolfheart," the band would soon find themselves departing with another member, this time with bass player, Ares, whose fallout with the group was bad enough that lawsuits were soon brought into the mix. More...

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Sunday Old School: Razor

In 2008, a highly anticipated documentary entitled, "Get Thrashed" was released on DVD. For those of you who bought it, you may remember a segment in the bonus features where Municipal Waste guitarist, Ryan Waste states that, "If you live in Canada there’s no reason to be pissed off. That band sounds so god damned pissed off." The group in question is one that formed in 1984 in Guelph, Ontario and who goes by the name of Razor. The band was fronted by singer Stace "Sheepdog" McLaren, who was joined in his metal endeavour by guitarist Dave Carlo, Mike Embro on drums and bassist Mike Campagnolo. They worked hard on creating their music, taking inspiration from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement and the blossoming thrash metal scene, eventually resulting in their self-financed and self-produced album, "Escape the Fire," which was released the same year, before they signed with Voice Records for another 1984 release, the "Armed and Dangerous" EP, which was also self-financed and quickly sold out of its 1200 pressings. The EP spread around the metal scene and garnered the band a deal with Canadian label, Attic Records.

Now on a proper label, Razor quickly recorded their official debut full length, "Executioner’s Song," which was comprised mostly of material from and written during "Armed and Dangerous." It was an underground hit and led to the band being considered one of the most extreme in Canada at that time. Although it was only released in April 1985, the band would release a second full length only six months later, in the form of the frankly excellent, "Evil Invaders," which is considered by many today to be a classic album in the thrash metal genre. The record spawned the bands first music video for the title track and helped them gain even more attention when they toured with such big names and cult favourites as Slayer, Venom and Motorhead in Canada and the United States. More...

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