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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Orphaned Land

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

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

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Sunday Old School: Lacuna Coil

Italy may not be the first country one thinks of when it comes to metal music, given its warm climate and reputation for being one of the spiritual homes for both football fanatics and dedicated followers of fashion. However, the Mediterranean has produced a number of noteworthy groups such as Bulldozer, one of black metal's pioneers, along with Death SS, Cripple Bastards and Rhapsody Of Fire. The nation also gave the world one of the first metal stars of the new millenium, a Gothic metal band from the famous city of Milan named, Lacuna Coil.

The band was formed in 1994 by vocalist Andrea Ferro and bassist Marco Coti Zelati, under the name Sleep Of Right, recruiting guitar player Raffaele Zagaria and drummer Michaelangelo Algardi soon afterwards. The quartet recorded two demos, "Bleeding Souls" and "Noise of Bolgia" before adding second guitarist Claudio Leo and replacing Algardi with Leonardo Forti. While recording another demo, the group asked friend and singer Cristina Scabbia to perform background vocals, which led to her becoming a full time member. It was also around this time that the group changed their name to Ethereal and attracted the attention of Century Media Records, who offered the band a deal which they accepted, though they soon changed their moniker once more after discovering that a Greek band was using the name Ethereal, settling instead on their now familiar name, Lacuna Coil. More...

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Sunday Old School: Superjoint Ritual

Some musicians seemingly can't stay still for a minute. Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury for example, has also been involved with such bands as Meathook Seed, Blood From The Soul, Venemous Concept and Brujeria amongst others, while Mike Patton, famous for his vocal duties for Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, has also taken part in projects such as, Fantômas Peeping Tom and Tomahawk, in addition to a lengthy list of other groups. Another of these musicians, is former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, known also for his work with Down, Viking Crown, Christ Inversion and today's featured band, Superjoint.

Superjoint was formed under the name Superjoint Ritual in 1993 by Anselmo, along with Joe Fazzio, and Jimmy Bower with the trio soon to be joined by Hank Williams III. The quartet were mostly influenced by hardcore punk such as Black Flag and Minor Threat, though a trace of black metal can also be heard in their sound too, with the band taking particular inspiration from Venom and Darkthrone, with the latter providing the name Superjoint Ritual via a line in their song, "The Pagan Winter." More...

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Sunday Old School: Blood From The Soul

In the past, we've looked at several supergroups such as Fantomas and Bloodbath, while mentioning the likes of Velvet Revolver and GTA. However, with the possible exception of Rob Halford and John 5's band, Two, we haven't really examined a collaboration project as such, what happens when two established musicians come together to record an album. This week, we'll be looking at just that, a band formed by two highly respected men in their respective genres, who put their heads together to create Blood From the Soul.

Blood From the Soul can trace its roots back to the New Titans on the Bloc tour, a response to the Clash of the Titans tour, which featured Sepultura, Sacred Reich, Napalm Death and Sick Of It All. It was during this tour that Shane Embury, the bassist of Napalm Death, struck up a friendship with Sick of it All frontman Lou Koller and the duo expressed an interest in working together on a project. More...

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Sunday Old School: Avenger

It seems to be a common sentiment that since the Midlands, Birmingham in particular, produced many of Britain's best heavy metal bands, it must have also been the hotbed of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. While it did produce such excellent groups as Diamond Head and Cloven Hoof, the north east of England had perhaps just as many great names to their name, including such heavyweights as Venom, Raven and Tygers of Pan Tang. Speaking of both the Midlands and the north east, it was from the ashes of Leicester based band Blitzkrieg that another of Newcastle's heavy hitters emerged, who go by the name of Avenger.

Avenger was born when Brian Ross, Mick Moore and Gary Young, all former members of Blitzkrieg, decided to continue writing music together in 1982, along with guitarist Steve Bird. They would make their recording debut for the Neat Records compilation, "One Take No Dubs," for which they contributed the song, "Hot 'n' Heavy Express." This was to be their only recording with Bird, who quit shortly afterwards due to hearing problems. Nevertheless, the recording impressed the label enough to offer Avenger the opportunity to release their first single, which was released in October 1983 under the title, "Too Wild To Tame." More...

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Sunday Old School: Rotten Sound

Throughout the history of the Sunday Old School series, our grindcore coverage has focused primarily on the scenes in the United Kingdom, save for looking at a few American bands such Brutal Truth and Anal Cunt. The genre spread worldwide, particularly across Europe and as usual, once the Scandinavians got hold of a new brand of metal, they made significant contributions of their own, one of which we'll be looking at today, who go by the name of Rotten Sound.

Rotten Sound were formed in 1993 in the city of Vaasa, located very close to the border of Sweden, by guitarist Mika Aalto. He was soon joined by vocalist Keijo Niinimaa, bass player Masa Kovero and drummer Ville Väisänen, who would leave the band following their first release, the single, "Sick Bastard" in 1994. He was replaced by Kai Hahto who took part in the recording of the subsequent EPs, "Psychotic Veterinarian" and "Loosin' Face," as well as split releases with Dischord and Control Mechanism. Finally in 1997, the band were able to release their first full length album, "Under Pressure" through Spanish record label, Repulse Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tang Dynasty

Our quest for old school heavy metal throughout the world has taken to so many places and seen such a variation of music. From the anthems of Turkish heavy metal band Mezarkabul to the Satanic subjects of Behemoth and Vader from Poland, there's literally a whole world of metal music to explore. Only last week, the Sunday Old School column featured Kryptos, arguably India's premier metal band and this week will be quite similar, as we head back to Asia, this time to examine the group many have dubbed "China's first heavy metal band," Tang Dynasty.

Tang Dynasty were formed in 1988 in the Chinese capital city of Beijing by guitarist Kaiser Kuo, bassist Zhang Ju and vocalist Ding Wu, with the former being replaced the next year by Liu "Lao Wu" Yijun. The group began developing their craft and gained attention in 1991 when they released a version of the socialist anthem, "The Internationale" in their native language. The following year, they released their debut album, "A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty," which officially sold over 2 million copies throughout Asia, in addition to the numerous bootlegs circulated throughout the world. It earned some excellent feedback from rock and metal fans the world over, who complimented the musicianship displayed, as well as the clear inspiration of Chinese history and culture. More...

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Sunday Old School: Kryptos

Throughout the history of the Sunday Old School column, we've visited and explored more places than Dora (you thought you'd escape your child's favourite TV show on a metal website? No such luck.) We've looked at such South American bands as Korzus and Pentagram from Brazil and Chile respectively, as well as Eastern European bands as Aria (Russia) and Gordi (Serbia,) in addition to Asian groups as Crash from South Korea and Japan's Sigh, Loudness and Church Of Misery.

In between Eastern Europe and the far East however, we of course have other side of Asia, of which the most populated country is the fascinating land of India. Despite a strong religious presence in the country from Hindus, Sikhs and Catholics, the latter of which caused the Slayer album "Christ Illusion" to stop being sold in the country, heavy metal is alive and well there. They have a number of solid metal publications and more bands are performing there than ever, while the underground Indian metal scene continues to grow, with perhaps the most prominent name in the scene being today's featured band, Kryptos.

Kryptos were formed in 1998 in the city of Bangalore, the capital of the Karnataka state. The original lineup consisted of vocalist and bass player Ganesh Krishnaswamy, guitarist Nolan Lewis and drummer Ching Len. They took influence from some of the biggest names in classic heavy metal such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, as well as cult favourites like Mercyful Fate and Candlemass and took their moniker from the Latin word "Cruptus," meaning a burial site underneath a church. More...

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Sunday Old School: Asphyx

The Netherlands has always had a soft spot for hard music. The country has played host to many metal festivals over the years, most notably the Eindhoven Metal Meeting, where many of metal's most beloved names have performed and several have recorded live albums. Their contribution to the music itself has also been quite noteworthy, especially in the death metal field. Today we'll be looking at another of their more notable bands, Overijssel's, Asphyx.

Asphyx was formed in 1987 by drummer Bob Bagchus and guitarist Tonny Brookhuis, who soon recruited a second guitar player named Eric Daniels and singing bassist Chuck Colli. This lineup lasted for two years but only recorded two demos, "Carnage Remains" and "Enter the Domain" before replacing Colli with Theo Loomans for the "Crush the Cenotaph" demo, which itself was the last recording before Brookhuis quit the group. Left as a trio, they recorded an album entitled, "Embrace the Death," though due to label problems, it remains unreleased to this day. More...

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Sunday Old School: Unseen Terror

For some people, grindcore is a hard to define genre. At the time, many bands rejected the tag, which was coined by Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris, who when speaking of the experimental rock band Swans, could only use the word "grind" to describe them. Though Napalm Death and Brutal Truth gladly took on the mantle, the likes of Extreme Noise Terror outright rejected the term. One band, who straddled the line between grindcore and extreme metal and proved to be influential regarding both, was Unseen Terror.

Unseen Terror were formed in Birmingham in 1987, from the ashes of Warhammer, arguably Britain's first death metal band and featuring Shane Embury on drums, along with guitarist Mitch Dickinson. Though not necessarily a grindcore project, their blend of extreme metal and the harder edge of hardcore punk put them in with the burgeoning genre. The two worked together on their craft, taking particular inspiration from Idaho based group, Septic Death, who gave Dickinson the inspiration for the name Unseen Terror from the song, "Unseen Terror - Terrorain" and focusing lyrically on the politics of the time, a common theme of the grindcore scene, as well as the nod to everyone's favourite lasagna eating cat, Garfield. More...

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Sunday Old School: Meathook Seed

Over the seven year history of the Sunday Old School column, we've covered well over 300 bands. Somehow though, it seems that at least a third of these groups have ties to British grindcore fathers, Napalm Death, whether it's guest appearances, touring buddies or shared members, bands such as Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror and Godflesh among others, can all trace themselves to the brutal Brummies in one way or another. Today's featured outfit is another example of the brilliance of the founders of grindcore, as we take a look at the project launched by Napalm Death guitarist Mitch Harris in the early nineties, which went by the suitably heavy name of Meathook Seed.

The band was formed in 1992 by Harris, who was looking to experiment somewhat. While discussing his idea with Obituary guitarist Trevor Peres, the latter expressed his desire to perform vocals in a band, which was increased further when he heard the demos Harris had recorded. Around the same time, Napalm Death performed a show in Tampa, Florida, where Harris jammed with Peres's Obituary bandmate, Donald Tardy, who was easily persuaded to join the Meathook Seed project. More...

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Sunday Old School: Y&T

It's never a happy introduction to an edition of Sunday Old School when we need to kick things off with a tribute. However, following the sad passing of Leonard Haze at the age of 61, it feels appropriate to finally look back at his work with one of America's most underrated heavy metal groups, whose influence has been cited by many but overlooked by more. Of course, I am referring to Yesterday & Today, who would become better known as Y&T.

The band was formed in Oakland, California by Haze, along with Bob Gardner and Wayne Stitzer, who performed bass and keyboards respectively in 1982. Following a brief stint with Robin Irons on guitar and vocals, they replaced him with a guitarist named Dave Meniketti, who also handled vocal duties. Shortly afterwards, they were invited to perform their first gig, which consisted entirely of cover songs and was one of the few, if not only, performance with Wayne Stitzer, who quit a little while later, leading Gardner to take over on keyboards and a new bass player named Phil Kennemore, though Gardner himself would leave in 1974, to be replaced by Joey Alves. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tiamat

As a teenager in Britain, myself and any other guy with long hair, or even somebody wearing an Iron Maiden hoodie, was immediately classified by the non metal listening peers as a Goth (spelled "Goff" of course due to the average intelligence of these people.) It may come as a surprise to any of these people who think/thought this way then, that Gothic metal is a thing of its own, with not a great deal in common with the likes of Judas Priest and Deep Purple. Paradise Lost are often credited as the band which created the genre, which went on to create more pioneers, favourites and legends, including today's featured band, Tiamat.

Tiamat were formed in the municipality of Täby, in Stockholm, Sweden, originally using the moniker Treblinka and performing no nonsense black metal. After recording some demos, the band recorded their first full length album, "Sumerian Cry" in October 1989, though not long after they finished the record, guitarist Stefan Lagergren and drummer Anders Holmberg quit, leaving vocalist/guitarist Johan Edlund and bass player Jörgen Thullberg as the only remaining members. The two decided to change the name of the band to Tiamat, taking the name from the Mesopotamian goddess of the ocean before "Sumerian Cry" was released, giving them time to change the moniker for the albums release and for their appearance on a split with Unleashed, Asphyx, Grave and Loudblast. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sevendust

As you may have noticed by recent Sunday Old School columns focusing on the likes of Coal Chamber and Spineshank, nu metal, or rather bands lumped into that category, are now being covered in this feature. It was a strange time, as following grunge's almost complete removal of metal from mainstream popularity, save for the likes of Pantera, Sepultura and Fear Factory, it was another brand of metal that removed it. The problem was, many metal fans hated what they saw as the bastardising of their genre. There were however, several bands which earned respect for their clear talent and songwriting abilities, including today's featured group, Sevendust.

Sevendust were formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1994 by bassist Vince Hornsby and drummer Morgan Rose, who christened their new project, Snake Nation prior to being joined by guitarist John Connolly. After recording a demo, which they felt was let down by a poor vocal performance, they began a search for a new singer, one which would lead them to Lajon Witherspoon, with the lineup being completed six months later when Clint Lowery joined as a second guitarist, at which point the band renamed themselves, Rumblefish, before changing it to Crawlspace and then finally settling on the moniker Sevendust after a band named Crawlspac sent them a letter demanding $2,500. More...

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Sunday Old School: Gorefest

The Netherlands has a long history when it comes to metal music. This small, European country has produced plenty of excellent groups over the years such as Pestilence and God Dethroned and held plenty of festivals, including the Eindhoven Metal Meeting, where so many bands have performed and recorded live releases. Adding to this list of talented metallers is a group with one of the most suited monikers in death metal, the Zeeland based, Gorefest.

Gorefest were formed in 1989 in the city of Goes in the Netherlands and initially comprised of guitarists Alex van Schaik and Frank Harthoorn, drummer Marc Hoogendoorn and vocalist/bassist Jan-Chris de Koeijer. This lineup recorded their first demo, "Tangled in Gore" that same year, which was received extremely well by the extreme metal underground and led to them appearing on the split record, "Where Is Your God Now?" with such bands as Dead Head, Acrostichon, Disfigure and Sinister, before recording another demo, "Horrors in a Retarded Mind," which was also met warmly by metalheads and gained enough attention for them to be booked as the support for Carcass in the Netherlands and Belgium. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pissing Razors

Believe it or not, oh young headbangers, groove metal doesn't begin and end with Pantera. Exhorder are of course cited as one of the great progenitors of the style, as are King's X, while other popular bands such as Sepultura and Prong also took on the design. Though perhaps not the most famous of metal's many sub-genres, groove metal nonetheless produced it's own legends and cult favourites, one of which began life in El Paso, Texas and went by the suitably brutal name of Pissing Razors.

The band was formed in 1994 by brothers Danny and Eddy Garcia, originally using the moniker Back Door Cyclops and were joined in their endeavour by vocalist Loco McNutt, who is credited with coming up with coming up with the change of the name, after he allegedly caught the clap after visiting a Mexican brothel, describing the condition as "pissing razors." His time with the band, much like that of Danny Garcia, was short lived and both decided to quit around 1996, at which point Eddy Garcia switched from guitar to drums and brought on board singer Joe Rodriguez and bassist Rick Valles, while bassist Matt Lynch moved to guitar. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bloodbath

Last month in this column, we examined the career of Fantomas and mentioned the topic of supergroups. Whilst Fantômas much like Cream, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Crosby Stills and Nash (and Young) crafted some excellent music and achieved great commercial success (in the latter three cases at least,) many of these projects fall flat or only last for two albums, such as Velvet Revolver and GTR. A supergroup that seemingly met the high hopes of fans however, was one formed in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, which comprised of some of the most respected names in death metal and chose the suitably brutal name of Bloodbath.

Bloodbath were formed in 1998, the brainchild of Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and Edge of Sanity's Dan Swanö, who handled vocals and drums respectively. They were soon joined by Katatonia members Anders Nyström on guitar and Jonas Renkse on bass and two years later, released their debut EP, "Breeding Death," through Century Media Records. The three track release received a generally positive response from the death metal faithful, with many feeling it was a worthy debut from such a talented collective. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sir Lord Baltimore

When looking through the Sunday Old School archives, perhaps you'll notice that while we pay a lot of attention to thrash, death, black and doom metal bands, we haven't forgotten the roots of the genre we all know and love. Over the years, we've taken a look at such bands as Black Sabbath, Budgie, Blue Cheer and Spooky Tooth, who all helped shape heavy metal in it's earliest form. Today, we'll be looking at another such band, who despite a relatively short career, are still mentioned frequently when discussing the most influential groups in the genesis of metal, Sir Lord Baltimore.

Sir Lord Baltimore was formed in 1968 by John Garner, who was joined in his musical endeavour by schoolmates Joey Dambra and Gary Justin. After putting some material together, the band performed in front of talent scout Mike Appel, who would go on to discover, Bruce Springsteen. Appel agreed to mentor the group and is rumoured to have been the one to give them the name Sir Lord Baltimore, which was taken from a character in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. More...

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Sunday Old School: White Spirit

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been studied, mentioned and dragged up time and time again throughout the history of this here column; and with good reason. It gave the genre some of the greatest bands in the field and revitalised the friendly rivalry between the British and American heavy metal scenes. While the Midlands gets a lot of attention for producing such NWOBHM acts as Diamond Head and Blitzkrieg, as well as icons such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, the North East contributed massively to the scene with the likes of Venom, Raven and Neat Records, as well as today's featured band, White Spirit.

White Spirit were formed in the coastal town of Hartlepool, most famous for the legend that the locals hung a monkey during the Napoleonic wars, believing it to be a French spy, in 1975 by drummer Graeme Crallan and guitarist Janick Gers. They were joined in the endeavour by vocalist Bruce Ruff, bassist Phil Brady and keyboardist Malcolm Pearson, displaying a sound closer to that of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep to the more contemporary styles of Saxon and Samson. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tristania

It's that time of year in the Northern hemisphere when the sun's out, the shorts are on and the Facebook feeds are filled with people complaining about the heat... Perfect timing for some Scandinavian gothic metal, don't you think? Gothic metal is largely attributed to British band Paradise Lost, not least due to the title of their sophomore full length, "Gothic," but has since gone on to become a popular and successful sub-genre in it's own right, probably providing the most female musicians in any of metal's varied offshoots. One of the first bands to lay the template for operatic, female vocals hails from the west of Norway and continue to hold a special place amongst fans of the genre, is Tristania.

Tristania was formed in 1995 by vocalist/guitarist Morten Veland, drummer Kenneth Ølsson and keyboardist Einar Moen and were joined in their musical pursuits a few weeks later by guitarist Anders Høyvik Hidle and bass player Rune Østerhus. While recording a demo, the group decided to bring in Vibeke Stene as a guest vocalist, who was soon recruited as a permanent member, although she was unaware of this until after the band signed with Napalm Records and released their debut album, "Widow's Weeds." The album itself drew considerable praise and is considered a classic in the gothic metal genre, thanks to the contrasting, "beauty and the beast" vocals and symphonic elements. More...

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