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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Gorilla Biscuits

As young metal and hardcore fans, we are constantly told to support our local scene. Often, we do so merely out of local pride, as the groups themselves aren't always particularly noteworthy. However, every once in a while, a local scene features many great bands and can become a worldwide phenomenon and leave its mark on music. It happened in Seattle with the grunge bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, in the Bay Area with thrash bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Exodus and hardcore probably wouldn't be what it is without the New York Hardcore scene, which featured some of the genre's best known bands such as Agnostic Front, Sick of it All and today's featured band, Gorilla Biscuits.

Gorilla Biscuits began life in 1987 in Long Island, founded by schoolmates Arthur Smilios and Anthony "Civ" Civarelli. They took their name from a slang term for quaaludes and initially only meant to use it temporarily, needing a name when they played their first show, which was organised for them by the band Token Entry. The moniker stuck and soon the band began recording demos, which were sold at a local dollar store and began printing their own shirts. More...

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Sunday Old School: Decapitated

What were you up to as a teenager? For many of us, we were listening to music, dealing with school, day dreaming of a life to come and maybe playing in a band ourselves. The question is, how many of us in our teens got our bands signed? That's just what happened to a quartet of young lads in Poland back in the nineties, who went on to create a legacy of brutal and proficient death metal, going by the suitably grizzly name of, Decapitated.

Decapitated was formed in 1996 by vocalist vocalist Wojciech "Sauron" Wasowicz and brothers Waclaw "Vogg" and Witold "Vitek" Kieltyka on guitars and drums respectively at a time when Vitek was only 12 years old. A year later, they recruited bassist Marcin "Martin" Rygiel, who was the same age as Vitek. They recorded their first demo, "Cemeterial Gardens" that same year, followed in 1998 by a second recording, "The Eye of Horus," which gained the attention of several record labels, including Earache, who signed the group to their Wicked World subsidiary. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hatebreed

The relationship between metal and hardcore is a funny one. Both the rivalry and the influences stem back to punk rock, which was initially something anti-heavy metal, before the likes of Motorhead showed both fan bases that common ground could be reached. To this day, both camps have fans that can't stand the other, as well as those who enjoy both genres. The two styles would combine a number of times to form such sub-genres as thrash metal, crossover and metalcore, the last of which was not always the easiest to define, but if ever one band could be described perfectly by the metalcore tag, it's today's featured group, Hatebreed.

Hatebreed began life in 1994 in New Haven, Connecticut, though some members hailed from Bridgeport, consisting of vocalist Jamey Jasta, guitarists Larry Dwyer, Jr. & Wayne Lozinak, bass player Chris Beattie and drummer Dave Russo. The quintet recorded three songs for a demo tape, which was handed out to members of the local hardcore scene before being included in a split release with Neglect. They followed this with an EP, "Under the Knife" in 1996 which included the three songs once more, as well as four other songs, all of which except the title track would later be re-recorded. More...

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Sunday Old School: Witchery

Black metal is surely one of metal's most important sub-genres. While a hefty chunk of the attention it's received has been for its image and legacy of death and arson, the music itself changed the way a lot of musicians felt towards their own style, most notably the hybrid between black metal and death metal, two styles previously thought incompatible, performed by such artists as Behemoth. It's not just death metal that felt the frostbitten grimness creeping in, thrash metal was touched too, particularly in the case of Sweden's own, Witchery.

Witchery was formed in 1997 in the southern Swedish city of Linköping, following a massive split by the black metal band Satanic Slaughter. The four departing members included vocalist Tony Kampner, guitarists Patrik Jensen & Richard Corpse and drummer Micke Pettersson, who all formed Witchery along with Mercyful Fate and future Arch Enemy bass player Sharlee D'Angelo. In January the following year, the band spent a week recording their first album, "Restless & Dead," a pun of the Accept album, "Restless and Wild." Though recorded in January, it wouldn't be until October 1998 that it hit the shelves through Necropolis Records. While it retained elements of the black metal sound that the bulk of members had performed with Satanic Slaughter, it was more or less a thrash metal album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Deftones

It's very easy to categorise some bands. One can listen to Obituary for instance and say beyond any shadow of a doubt that they're a death metal band, or turn on a Forbidden song and immediately know that they're listening to thrash. Some groups however, defy definition, whether you love them or hate them. Say what you like, but no one else sounded like System of a Down and there wasn't a band like Primus before or since. Today's featured artists also have a sound instantly recognisable and like the three previously mentioned bands, also hail from California, namely; Deftones.

The seeds of Deftones can be traced to McClatchy High School in Sacramento, where future members Stephen Carpenter, Chino Moreno and Abe Cunningham were students and friends, a relationship which continued into the local skateboarding scene. They began jamming together in Carpenter's garage after Moreno found out that he played guitar, while Cunningham played drums. After a while, they brought in a bassist by the name of Dominic Garcia, who eventually switched to drums after Cunningham left to join Phallucy and as a result, the group found a new bassist named Chi Cheng. By 1993 and following another change in drummer, Cunningham returned to the fold once again, solidifying the familiar lineup of the band. More...

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Sunday Old School: God Dethroned

It's been noted several times throughout the history of Sunday Old School that the Netherlands has made its fair share of contributions to the world of heavy metal, from the Eindhoven Open Air festival to such groups as Pestilence, The Gathering and even the Van Halen brothers. The Netherlands seems to always have solid representatives at festivals, particularly in Europe and one which has done the country proud for over twenty five years would be one of their longest serving death metal outfits, God Dethroned.

God Dethroned was the brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Henri Sattler, who put the group together in 1991, along with Hans Leegstra on guitar and drummer Ard de Weerd. Leegstra wouldn't stay for long however and was quickly replaced by bass player Remco Hulst who performed on their "Christhunt" demo recorded the same year. The bassist's stay would also be short lived and soon his place was taken by Marco Arends, who joined in time for the band's signing with German label, Shark Records. Through the company, God Dethroned released their debut full length album, "The Christhunt," which was received very well by death metal fans, but with practically no promotion from Shark, who had refused the first album cover, the record sold very poorly and they were soon dropped, leading the group to disband. More...

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Sunday Old School: Mercenary

Over the course of Sunday Old School, we've looked at groups from many countries, some more than others. The United States, Great Britain and Germany have all had quite a large number of bands featured throughout the history of this column, while Greece, Canada, Japan and Brazil have had a respectable number featured too. There are also countries which have only popped up once such as Turkey, Russia, Serbia and India. One country that has only had one of their native bands featured a small number of times is the northern European nation of Denmark, though their number will increase today as we take a look at their best known contribution to the power metal genre, Mercenary.

Mercenary began life in 1991, the brainchild of guitarist Hans Jørgen Andersen, who was joined in his musical endeavour by drummer Jakob Johnsen, singer Henrik "Kral" Andersen and Andreas W. Hansen on bass. The quartet recorded their first demo, "... Domicile" in 1993, with a second demo, "Gummizild" being released the next year, around the same time their song, "One Eyed Beast" appeared on the compilation, "Fuck You, We're From Denmark Vol.3." The demos garnered enough attention for the group to sign with Black Day Records, through whom they released their first EP, "Supremacy" in 1996, although by this point, Kral was the only original member left, taking up bass as well as holding his position as vocalist, with guitar and drum duties being handled by Nikolaj Brinkman, Jakob Mølbjerg and Rasmus Jacobsen respectively. More...

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Sunday Old School: Metal Duck

If there's one thing the English has a history of doing well, it's taking the piss out of things. Pretty much anything is fair game to be ridiculed in Britain, from politicians to sports and even comedy itself (as brilliantly displayed by Not The Nine O'Clock News in their Life Of Brian/Fawlty Towers sketch.) Likewise, there's been a long record of British musicians whose coming together was to make people laugh more than it was to showcase musicianship and song writing, from the Barron Knights to The Divine Comedy to Kunt and the Gang, Britain has always liked to see the funny side of music. Of course, metal music is no exception and today we'll be looking at a short lived group from the north of England who may not have become one of Britain's best thrash exports, but delivered plenty of laughter, Metal Duck.

Metal Duck was formed in the city of Manchester in 1987 by drummer David Burton, guitar player Fozzy and a vocalist who went by the name, "Arse." The three recorded their first demo, "Quackcore" that same year, showcasing a thrash metal sound typical of the time, but included some humourous intros and a particularly memorable song title, "The March of the Metal Duck to the Ponds of Hell." This was to be their only recording with "Arse," or indeed as a trio, as they replaced their vocalist with Paul "Huttie" and recruited a bass player named Keith after the release of the demo. More...

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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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