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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Sanctuary

It’s interesting to see how some bands formed by ex members of another successful group can over shadow their predecessors. Type O Negative became unquestionably bigger than Carnivore, Machine Head are more popular than Forbidden and whilst Nevermore became a hugely successful act, many will remember Warrel Dane (and to an extent, Jeff Loomis) for their work with a band before Nevermore formed. A band named, Sanctuary. Sanctuary formed in the city of Seattle, Washington, a place which would become famous a few years later for producing the grunge wave and acts such as Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, in 1985. Whilst they are now associated with the thrash scene of the 1980s, their music was a solid blend of thrash, power and traditional heavy metal, which showcased impressively on their first demo, which was recorded in 1986. The demo circulated around the tape trading scene and found its way to a number of record companies, including major label Epic, who offered the band a deal, which was unsurprisingly snapped up.

The band entered into the studio with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, who would produce their debut full length, as well as performing a guest guitar solo on the band’s cover of the Jefferson Airplane classic, "White Rabbit." Sanctuary spent the remainder of 1986 and the beginning of the next year working on the album, which eventually surfaced later that year under the title, "Refuge Denied." The record was notable for featuring a high pitched vocal style from Dane, one which he has not used since, with speculation stating that the vocal technique injured his voice, leaving him unable to replicate the style he utilised on Sanctuary’s debut. More...

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Sunday Old School: Lita Ford

If you grew up in the eighties you knew Lita Ford as the hard rock girl with credentials. She could play guitar and mix it up vocally with Ozzy Osbourne. Eventually you find out she was part of The Runaways and that’s when you really begin to appreciate how important she has been to rock and roll. More...

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Sunday Old School: Gwar

Given the tragic news earlier this week that GWAR frontman, Dave Brockie, perhaps better known by his stage name, Oderus Urungus, has passed away at the age of only fifty, it seemed an appropriate and respectful time to look back on the legacy of his music and the band themselves, who arguably put on the most shocking heavy metal shows known to man. GWAR began life, perhaps unsurprisingly, as a joke by a band named Death Piggy, for whom Brockie was the lead singer and bassist. The group were intending to make a movie entitled, "Scumdogs of the Universe" and decided it would be a fun idea to wear the costumes on stage and be their own support act, dubbing themselves, Gwaaarrrgghhllgh and claiming to be from Antarctica, while sacrificing fake animals on stage. After a while, the members of Death Piggy noticed that people were more interested in seeing Gwaaarrrgghhllgh than their main act, with many leaving before Death Piggy took the stage and so the band was gradually erased in favour of concentrating on the now shortened moniker, GWAR. The original lineup of the band under the slightly new name consisted of Brockie on guitar, Chris Bopst on bass, Sean Summer on drums, vocalist Ben Eubanks and former Techno Destructo member Hunter Jackson, though it would go through several lineup changes very quickly, with Brockie eventually settling in as vocalist after another singer named Joe Annaruma recorded several demo tracks.

After going through more new members, the band eventually found themselves being signed to Shimmy Disc Records, for whom they released their debut album, "Hell-O." The album is something of a talking point amongst GWAR fans, being particularly divisive for an early record, with some fans enjoying the album and a significant amount who are not so keen on it. They began touring to promote the album, though guitarist Steve Douglas would soon leave, being replaced by mainstay, Michael Derks. More...

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Sunday Old School: Corrosion Of Conformity

Throughout the history of heavy music, there have been many influential bands. Some see their signature sound copied by hundreds, others only one album which can spawn a movement, but few can go from one genre to another and remain just as popular and important as they were before. One of the new bands who can legitimately claim this, is Raleigh, North Carolina’s own, Corrosion of Conformity. Corrosion of Conformity, or C.O.C. for short, formed in 1982 by bassist Mike Dean, who would also handle vocal duties, along with drummer Reed Mullin and guitarist, Woody Weatherman. After recruiting vocalist Eric Eycke, the group released their first full length album, "Eye for an Eye" in 1984. The debut featured twenty tracks, including a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, "Green Manalishi," which had also been popularised by Judas Priest, but timed in at just over half an hour. This would prove to be their only album featuring Eycke, who left the band following the record’s release and so vocal duties were shared by Reed and Mullin on their sophomore album, "Animosity." The album saw the band begin to mix their hardcore roots with the emerging thrash metal genre, creating one of the first examples of crossover thrash in the process and was received very well, with several of their songs going on to be covered by such high profile artists as Metallica and Mr. Bungle.

It was decided by the band that in order to progress, they would need a new singer so that the music would be paired with one voice and so they hired Simon Bob Sinister, formerly of Ugly Americans, who performed with C.O.C. on their next EP, "Technocracy," which veered closer to thrash metal than their previous work. Despite this noisy output however, things were soon to go quiet for the band, when Mike Dean decided to leave in 1987, followed closely by Simon Bob. More...

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Sunday Old School: Autopsy

In the world of rock and metal music, it’s quite often we see a singer who simultaneously plays guitar, or sometimes bass, but it’s not often we clap eyes on a singing drummer. Phil Collins in Genesis is perhaps the most famous example and Black Sabbath's Bill Ward was able to multitask on the song, "It’s Alright," but collective hats must surely be taken off to anyone who can perform vocals and drums in a death metal band, but that’s just what Chris Reifert did when he formed Autopsy. Reifert formed the band in the summer of 1987 after leaving Death, for whom he performed drums on their classic album, "Scream Bloody Gore," along with guitarist Eric Cutler. The duo recorded their first demo that same year before recruiting a second guitarist, Danny Corrales, who almost immediately recorded a second demo with the band entitled, "Critical Madness."

The demos circulated around the metal scene and eventually reached the offices of Peaceville Records, who offered to sign the band. The group brought in Sadus member Steve DiGiorgio as a session musician and recorded their first full length album, "Severed Survival." The record was somewhat similar to "Scream Bloody Gore," but was nevertheless praised as one of the best death metal albums of its time, with many important bands in the genre such as Cannibal Corpse and Deicide citing the album as an influence. More...

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Sunday Old School: Channel Zero

When you think of Belgium, what comes to mind? Chocolate? Jean Claude Van Damme? The movie, "In Bruges"? There's a lot of history and cultural contributions to be found in Belgium, including today's featured artists, the only Belgian metal band to have sold over 100,000 albums, Channel Zero. The seeds of the band were sewn in a youth club where guitarist, Xavier Carion met Franky De Smet-Van Damme and bonded over their love for heavy metal music. Franky had told Xavier that he had just bought a guitar and the two decided to jam together, though after the first time Franky played his guitar, Xavier told him he was not cut out for it and should play bass instead. Despite their intentions of performing together, Xavier accepted a role in Cyclone, then the biggest heavy metal band in Belgium and Franky was brought on tour as a roadie. It was on this trek that he showed off his vocal skills, performing as a back up singer for two songs. Xavier was so impressed that he quit Cyclone, much to the shock of all who knew how popular the band was, to form a new band with Franky. They searched for a long time to find a drummer and a bass player but to no avail, until one night, members of the hardcore band Sixty Nine knocked on their door. After a few meetings, bass player Tino De Martino and drummer Phil Baheux joined the group, who christened themselves, Channel Zero, after a Public Enemy song.

They recorded their first demo in 1990, which impressed many listeners with its professional quality sound and raw energy and garnered them an offer from the German record company, Shark Records, with whom they released their self-titled debut in 1992 before embarking on a European tour supporting American favourites, Exhorder. Although they had a good time on the road, they soon found out how difficult touring can be, experiencing poor sound amongst other problems, which led to them recruiting a long time fan as their permanent roadie. More...

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Sunday Old School: Trust

There are some bands in the history of heavy metal music who perhaps never gained the attention and recognition they should have, but some of these are lucky enough to have bigger names exposing their fans to their music. As good as Diamond Head are, it can be argued that without Metallica name dropping them, many younger metal fans today would not have heard of them. The same can be said for when Anthrax scored a hit in 1988 hit with the song, "Antisocial," which is considered one of their trademark songs, but was actually originally written and recorded by a French band named Trust, who we will examine today.

Trust began life in the French capital city of Paris in 1977, formed by vocalist, Bernard "Bernie" Bonvoisin, guitarist Norbert "Nono" Krief, bass player Raymond "Ray" Manna and drummer, Jean-Émile "Jeannot." They released their first demo, "Prends Pas Ton Flingue" ("Don't Take Your Gun With You" later that year, before re-releasing the song as a single in 1978. A year later, the band's debut full length, "L'elite" hit the shelves, which featured a cover of the AC/DC song, "Ride On," a band who the French outfit had befriended in recent times and whose singer, Bon Scott, Bonvoisin was often compared to. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 4. Cradle Of Filth

Controversy is a word that has appeared so many times over the past month’s columns. Whether it be the blasphemy displayed by Behemoth, the violent acts of some Gorgoroth members, or simply the name of Rotting Christ. However, today we’ll look at a band that caused controversy in a different fashion, when they brought black metal into the mainstream. The group labelled responsible for this supposed crime against metal, is English natives, Cradle of Filth. Cradle of Filth were formed in Ipswich, Suffolk, one of the most eastern counties of Britain, in 1991 by vocalist Dani Filth, guitar player, Paul Ryan, drummer Darren White, bassist Jon Pritchard and keyboard player, Benjamin Ryan. By the end of the next year, the band had recorded two demos, "Invoking the Unclean" and "Orgiastic Pleasures Foul," as well as a split release with Malediction. They soon signed with Tombstone Records and recorded their first album, "Goetia," although this was never released owing to the collapse of the label and the recordings being wiped, forcing the band to seek another record company.

Following another demo, "Total Fucking Darkness," which featured their new second guitarist Paul Allender and a new bassist named, Robin Graves, the band were picked up by Cacophonous Records, who marked a first release themselves with the debut Cradle album, "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh." The record also marked the recording debut of their new drummer, Nicholas Barker and featured a then unusual mesh of black metal and gothic influences, which helped grab the attention of critics who heaped praise upon the album. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 3. Gorgoroth

Black metal, as we’ve seen over the past month, can be a highly controversial genre. Neither bands nor fans are afraid of facing backlash for their beliefs, name or artistic integrity and some have even had clashes with the law, often receiving prison sentences. It can be said that Mayhem has one of the most violent and shocking biographies in black metal, but if they were to be rivalled by anyone in this department, it would surely be by their fellow Norwegians, Gorgoroth. Gorgoroth was formed in 1992 by guitarist, Roger Tiegs, who took the stage name, "Infernus," who was inspired to start the band after making "a pact with the devil." He recruited a vocalist named Hat, a bassist called Kjettar and a drummer with the almost amusing moniker, Goat Pervertor and together they recorded the first Gorgoroth demo, "A Sorcery Written in Blood" in 1993, which helped gain them front page attention from, Firda, one of the major Norwegian newspapers, which was formed in the bands home county of Sogn og Fjordane.

The exposure almost certainly helped the band sign their first record contract soon afterwards, when they partnered with Embassy Productions to release their debut album, "Pentagram." The record received extra credibility for featuring Emperor member, Samoth handling the bass duties and was received quite well amongst both music critics and black metal fans. Shortly after the release of the album, drummer Goat Pervertor left the band and was replaced by Satyricon skinsman, Frost, who joined in time to perform with Gorgoroth at their very first live appearance, which was part of a four day black metal festival featuring such other bands as Enslaved, Marduk and Dark Funeral, who were also performing their first gig. This appearance was followed by further gigs with Enslaved before returning to the studio to record their sophomore album, "Antichrist," which was released once again to a mostly positive response. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 2. Rotting Christ

As you may have noticed last week, Metalunderground.com has brought back Black Metal History Month, a special time when we devote February to looking back on some of the most influential and important bands in the history of black metal. Part of the aim this year, not just for Black Metal History Month but for the Sunday Old School column overall, is to read up on bands from as many countries as possible. The first instalment of this year’s Black Metal History Month saw the column look at a band from Poland for the first time and this week, Sunday Old School will be making its first trip to Greece, as we go through the life, music and controversy of Rotting Christ.

The band was formed in 1987 by vocalist/guitarist, Sakis Tolis and his brother Themis on drums, along with bass player, Jim Patsouris and despite the style they would soon become known for, began life performing a mixture of death metal and grindcore. They would only release one record while performing this style, in 1988, when they teamed up for a split EP with Sound Pollution. By 1989, the group had turned to a very dark and harsh black metal sound, which was demonstrated on their first demo, "Satanas Tedeum," a release which saw them make their mark as one of the pioneers of the second wave of black metal. They signed with a local record company in 1991, the same year they released their first EP, "Passage to Arcturo" before releasing a 7" single, "Dawn of the Iconoclast."

With these releases under their belts, they had gained enough recognition to sign with an international label. Initially Rotting Christ looked set to head to Norway, where the black metal scene had really taken off, to sign with Deathlike Silence, the label owned and run by Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous, however this never materialised due to the murder of Euronymous by his former bandmate, Varg Vikernes. Instead, they joined forces with Osmose for their debut album, "Thy Mighty Contract," which was released in November 1993 and was received well enough to earn them a spot on the "Fuck Christ" tour with Immortal and Canadian black metal outfit, Blasphemy, where their performance was met with even more positivity, leading the label to release a new 7" single, "Apokathelosis," after which the company parted ways with the band. Rotting Christ decided to head home for their next label, signing to Greek company, Unisound, who released their sophomore full length, "Non Serviam" in 1994. However, signing with a small label back in Greece did not allow the album to be released as far as they had hoped and so many countries did not stock the album until many years later. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 1. Behemoth

Back in 2011 and 2012, MetalUnderground.com decided to devote all our Sunday Old School columns in February to some of the most important, influential and most popular bands in the history of black metal, which we appropriately named, "Black Metal History Month." This year, we’ve decided to bring back the feature and, with their new album, "The Satanist" out tomorrow in Europe, who better to kick things off than Poland’s own, Behemoth?

Behemoth was formed in 1991 in the city of Gdansk, the fourth largest metro area of Poland by vocalist/guitarist, Adam "Nergal" Darski, Czech born drummer, Adam "Baal" Muraszko and a second guitarist known as, "Desecrator." The trio recorded three demos in their early days, "Endless Damnation," "The Return of the Northern Moon" and most significantly, "From the Pagan Vastlands," which featured a cover of the Mayhem song, "Deathcrush" and was released two months after it was recorded by Polish label, Pagan Records before it saw a release in the United States via Wild Rags. By 1995, Desecrator had left the group, leaving Behemoth as a duo, though the two were nevertheless ready to record a full length studio album for Pagan Records, which was released that year under the title, "Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)." It was given mediocre reviews by the critics, though they soon won them over with their second album, "Grom," which hit the shelves in January of 1996. This sophomore album saw the band bringing in a much wider range of influences and sounds, including the use of female vocals and earning them the respect of many members of the metal press in the process.

It was on their next album, 1998s "Pandemonic Incantations" that the band began to develop the blackened death metal sound which they are known for today. They toured for two solid years in support of the record but due to a lack of promotion from then label, Solistitium, the album did not fare well commercially. Behemoth decided that a change was needed and signed a new record deal with the Italian label, Avantgarde Music, through which they released their fourth album, "Satanica" in 1999. The label seemed very willing to promote the Polish outfit and booked them tours supporting American death metal legends, Deicide, as well as Norwegian black metal outfit, Satyricon. They were soon forced to make lineup changes however, which saw the recruitment of bassist Marcin "Novy" Nowak and guitarist, Havok. More...

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Sunday Old School: Killer Dwarfs

Band members changing their surname as a show of solidarity is one thing, when the name is “Dwarf” that means two things: you have a sense of humor and are part of the Killer Dwarfs. More...

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Sunday Old School: Michael Schenker Group

The great thing about a lot of legendary metal bands is that you can usually find a connection between several groups. In today’s case, the connection sees a member of not one but two all time great rock acts who went on to release more great music under his own terms. I’m talking, of course, about the former Scorpions and UFO guitarist, Michael Schenker. Schenker, along with his brother, Rudolf, were founding members of the Scorpions and performed their first gig when Michael was only eleven years old. Four years later the band recorded and released their debut album, "Lonesome Crow," which saw them hit the road with UFO, who offered the now eighteen year old guitarist the position of their new lead guitar player, which he accepted, despite the handicap of not being able to speak English. His contribution to the band was immediate and successful, writing the bulk of the music for their major label debut, "Phenomenon," which featured such classic UFO songs as "Doctor Doctor" and "Rock Bottom." Despite his excellent song writing, his attitude and performances left something to be desired and his time with the band has been well documented as rocky and uneasy, thanks to his drinking and habit of walking off the stage, which would sometimes cause the cancellation of concerts. After recording the live album, "Strangers in the Night," Schenker finally parted company with UFO and rejoined with his brother in the Scorpions.

His return to the fold was not as joyous as it perhaps could have been. He teamed up with the band while they were recording their album, "Lovedrive" and performed on three of the album’s songs before the band began touring in support of the album. However, after only three months, he was out of the band once more, this time as a result of alcohol abuse, fatigue and an inability to perform live anymore. Now without either of these big name heavy hitters, he attempted to join even larger names and auditioned for such bands as Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones. After the death of his guitarist Randy Rhoads, former Black Sabbath singer, Ozzy Osbourne thought Schenker would be the ideal replacement, as he was a big influence on the fallen guitar player. Schenker did not join up with Ozzy, though reasons for this differ. Osbourne claims that Schenker made too many demands which bordered on the extravagant, which Schenker maintains that he was the one who made the call after he had a feeling that he would be making a serious mistake. More...

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Sunday Old School: Discharge

Stoke-on-Trent is an English city which might not be well known outside of Britain, but they’ve produced some outstanding talent, such as legendary England goalkeeper, Gordon Banks and Phil Taylor, perhaps the greatest player in the history of professional darts. But it’s not just sport that Stoke has contributed to. The world of punk rock, and indeed all heavy music, was changed forever in the city when five young Stokies got together in 1977 and formed Discharge. The seeds of the band were sewn by vocalist Tezz Roberts and guitarist Royston "Rainy" Wainwright, who quickly added Tezz’s younger brother Anthony, aka “Bones” on guitar, as well bass player Nigel Bamford and drummer Anthony "Akko" Axon. Like most punk bands starting out at the time, they were influenced by the likes of the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, the latter two they would go on to support following the release of their first demo.

Their style was soon to change however, after Bamford and Axon quit the band and they hired vocalist, Cal Morris, leading Tezz Roberts to take up the position of drummer, while Rainy switched to bass. The new addition saw them shedding their Sex Pistols style in favour of a much more aggressive sound, influenced largely by Motorhead (whose frontman, Lemmy, was also born in Stoke-on-Trent) and their lyrics began to take a form as harsh their guitar tone, focusing on the fear of nuclear destruction and the evils in society that was caused by Capitalism. Although this change was made of their own accord, several other bands in Britain had also begun to perform a more abrasive style, such as Amebix and Chaos UK and the new second wave of punk was ready to unleashed, eventually referred to by rock historians as "UK82," which takes its name from a song by The Exploited. More...

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Sunday Old School: Six Feet Under

Side projects can be a dangerous thing. Whilst they can provide a creative outlet for a band member, they can also bring about arguments regarding commitment and sometimes cost said musician his place in the first band. Many of these projects don't even go anywhere, but this was not the case of Six Feet Under, the group formed as a side project by then Cannibal Corpse vocalist, Chris Barnes. Six Feet Under started in 1993, when Barnes joined forces with Allen West, one of the founding members of Obituary, who also brought with him bass player, Terry Butler, formerly of Massacre and currently the bassist of Obituary. The lineup was rounded off by Butler's brother-in-law, Greg Gall and they soon embarked on their first shows, performing a set mostly comprised of cover songs. They took themselves a little more seriously the next year, writing more original material and easily securing themselves a record deal with Metal Blade, thanks in part to Barnes already being signed to the label with Cannibal Corpse. The band teamed up with such respected names as Brian Slagel and Scott Burns to complete their debut album, "Haunted," which was released on September 1st 1995 to good reviews from critics who were impressed with the distinctive vocals and the group not being reliant on guitar solos to complete their songs.

A year later, in 1996, Barnes was fired from Cannibal Corpse while they were recording a new album, "Created To Kill," which was eventually released under the name, "Vile." His attention could now be paid fully to Six Feet Under, who released a new EP, "Alive and Dead" before the year was out, which featured two new songs, four live tracks and a cover of the Judas Priest song, "Grinder." Just less than a year later, they released their sophomore album, "Warpath," which is considered one of their best works to date and was notable for taking a few risks, such as the inclusion of clean vocals and broader lyrical themes, such as smoking marijuana, as well as the usual blood and guts stories associated with death metal. "Warpath" was also the last album to include Allen West, who parted company with the band and was replaced by another Massacre alumni, Steve Swanson. More...

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Sunday Old School: Dangerous Toys

Before Steel Panther was Dangerous Toys, a hard rock band with a sense of humor that loved sex and melody. More...

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Sunday Old School: Iced Earth

Power metal is a genre which almost certainly is most popular in mainland Europe. The continent has given birth to many of the genre's greatest acts such as Blind Guardian, Hammerfall and Gamma Ray and continues to book such acts for their biggest festivals. However, that is not to say that the United States has had no input into the development or popularity of power metal. Indeed, one of the field's most beloved groups hail from Tampa, Florida. A band by the name of Iced Earth.

The seeds of the group were sewn in 1985 when guitarist, Jon Schaffer formed a band named Purgatory. As would be a common theme in the life of Iced Earth, member changes were frequent, with Schaffer remaining the only constant. In 1988, they decided to change their name from Purgatory to the moniker we all know today, which was suggested by a friend of Schaffer's who passed away after a motorcycle accident. They soon caught the attention of record labels with their second demo, "Enter the Realm," which earned them a deal with Century Media. Schaffer, along with drummer Mike McGill, vocalist Gene Adam, bass player Dave Abell and guitarist Randall Shawver, entered the famous Morrisound Recording studio, renowned for producing many of the greatest death metal albums, to record their self titled debut. The album was met with a somewhat mixed response, though it allowed them to perform in Europe for the first time as a support act to Blind Guardian.

They wasted little time in getting to work on a sophomore record, though not without making a few changes first. Mike McGill was replaced with Richey Secchiari and perhaps most notably, Gene Adam was fired from the band after he refused to take singing lessons, his place being taken by John Greely. This new incarnation of the band went back to Morrisound to record, "Night of the Stormrider," which faired a little better with the critics, though remains a very popular entry in the Iced Earth catalogue with their fans. The album also took a little longer to be released in the United States than it did Europe, as the American branch of their label was worried that the album would compete against their debut. More...

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Sunday Old School: Def Leppard

Many young bands starting out dream of playing in the biggest arenas, but few were seemingly born to perform on the world's largest platforms. One of the groups that were meant to pack out huge venues the world over was formed back in 1977. A band by the name of Def Leppard. Def Leppard was formed in the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield, famous for it's steel production and regularly hosting the World Snooker Championship. They began life under the name Atomic Mass with the founding members consisting of Rick Savage, Tony Kenning, and Pete Willis, before adding guitarist, Joe Elliott to their ranks, who soon switched to vocals, and a second guitarist named Steve Clark, who joined the band after performing "Free Bird" in its entirety. They were all set to begin recording their first EP, when Kenning decided to quit the group, leading them to hire The Next Band drummer, Frank Noon to record the drum tracks for "The Def Leppard EP." After recording the single, Rick Allen, then only fifteen years of age, was hired as their new drummer and they soon found their first taste of sales success, selling out all 1000 copies of "The Def Leppard EP" thanks largely to airplay given to them by John Peel. The band built up a loyal and ever growing fan base and were considered one of, and at times, the most exciting band in the New Wave of British Heavy metal movement. During this time, EMI Records were searching for a new hard rock band to promote and kept a close eye on Def Leppard, though they eventually decided to take their chances on a band from East London named Iron Maiden.

In spite of being passed over by EMI, Def Leppard soon signed to Phonogram/Vertigo Records and before long, they found themselves on the road supporting the likes of AC/DC and Ted Nugent. They also released their first full length album, "On Through The Night," which sold well enough to reach the top fifteen in the United Kingdom, although it was met with some hostility from fans who felt that the band was trying too hard to appeal to the American market. Some people made their feelings about their new direction all too clear when Def Leppard performed at the Reading festival and were met with a hail of bottles, some of which were filled with urine, although Elliott maintains that most bands performing that day were abused by the crowd. More...

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Sunday Old School: Damageplan

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the murder of former Pantera guitarist, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, one of the most shocking events to occur in the world of heavy metal. It sent shock waves throughout the music community, leading to almost everyone posting their respect online and led to tribute songs from bands such as Machine Head, Black Label Society and even Nickelback. To this day, many people posting their thoughts on a metal website still end their input with "R.I.P. Dimebag," a small but notable example of how the man is still missed by millions across the globe. Although he was known for his work with Pantera, it was with his new band, Damageplan that he was performing when he was killed and so to honour his memory, this week Sunday Old School will be looking at the formation, the tragic demise and most importantly, the music of Damageplan.

In the early 2000's, the condition of Pantera was something of a mystery. The Abbott brothers, Darrell and Vinnie Paul, were keen to get to work on a new record, though they were having trouble getting the same commitment from frontman, Phil Anselmo, who had begun occupying himself with numerous side projects including Down and Superjoint Ritual. Vinnie Paul also claimed that Anselmo's drug use was affecting his live performances. Eager to record and release new music, the brothers decided to form a new band, initially named New Found Power, though their moniker was soon changed to Damageplan. They recruited former Halford guitarist Pat Lachman to fill the vocal spot, after he received a demo of the song, "Crawl" and the lineup was soon rounded up with the addition of former Jerry Cantrell guitar player Shawn Matthews on bass, although he was soon replaced by Bob Zilla, a tattoo artist who had done several pieces for the Abbott brothers. More...

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Sunday Old School: Satyricon

Given the somewhat hostile reaction of many people to Sunday Old School’s coverage of Christian rock superstars, Stryper last week, it seemed like a good idea to go in the complete opposite direction for the next column. So today, we will leave behind the sunshine of Orange County, California for the frostbitten plains of Norway, as Sunday Old School examines one of the most commercially successful black metal bands, Satyricon. The band began life in 1990 under the name Eczema, before deciding to adopt the black metal sound and style the following year and changed their name to Satyricon. Shortly after this switch, the band, consisting of founding drummer Exhurtum and bassist Wargod recruited vocalist and guitarist Satyr to the fold, although Exhurtum would be fired after the recording of their first demo, "All Evil," due to him being perceived as more interested in girls than kicking down grave stones, while Wargod departed to become a United Nations soldier. Satyr, along with fellow guitarist Lemarchand soon added a new member to the ranks in the form of drummer, Frost, who made his recording debut with Satyricon on their second demo, "The Forest is my Throne," which would be the last recognised recording Lemarchand made with the group before being fired, although he did record the guitars for their first full length album, "Dark Medieval Times," which was released in 1994 through Moonfog Records.

The record received a very favourable response and was quickly followed by a second album, "The Shadowthrone" only a few months later, which likewise was regarded very highly. The sophomore effort was also seen as a harsher approach to black metal, shedding the acoustic guitars and medieval influences of their debut and was also notable for Emperor member Samoth handling the bass guitar duties, although this would be his only contribution as a fully fledged member of the band. Since his departure, Satyricon has remained a duo in principle, consisting of Satyr and Frost, with a number of session musicians brought into to perform live and record, some of which have been quite high profile, such as Darkthrone member Nocturno Culto, who contributed guitars to the third Satyricon album, "Nemesis Divina" under another pseudonym, "Kvelduv." The third outing continued to see praise roll in and helped raise their profile as one of black metal’s highest quality acts. More...

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