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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Voivod

By many outsiders, heavy metal has been dismissed as "music for idiots," but time and time again, heavy metal bands have proved the naysayers wrong by displaying well researched and intelligent lyrics, along with complex musicianship. One of the best examples of "thinking man's heavy metal," comes from Canadian progressive thrashers, Voivod. The band was formed in the town of Jonquière, Quebec in 1982, and like many of their contemporaries, where influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, as well as hardcore punk and seventies progressive rock bands such as Yes. By fusing these influences, Voivod forged their own brand of heavy metal, which would satisfy the average headbanger, as well as any music critic. The band were also known for adopting aliases. Lead singer Denis Belanger became known as, "Snake," guitarist Denis D'Amour went by the name, "Piggy," drummer and band artist Michel Langevin used the moniker, "Away" and bassist Jean-Yves Theriault named himself, "Blacky." The group released their first studio album, "War And Pain" in 1984, which followed a more speed metal style than future releases.

Their second album, "Rrröööaaarrr" featured a speed metal theme once again before the band began incorporating their love of progressive rock with their next album, "Killing Technology." The album earned the band a spot as one of the more unique young metal bands, and the group continued this path with their next album, "Dimension Hatross," which has become one of their most acclaimed albums to date and featured the staple song, "Tribal Convictions," as well as a comical cover of the 1960's Batman television show theme song. Their next album, "Nothingface," saw the band break through into the mainstream somewhat, as it became their first album to enter the Billboard charts and featured a minor hit in the form of the band's cover of the Pink Floyd song, "Astronomy Domine." Not only was it successful in terms of sales, but it gained universal praise for it's musicianship and songwriting prowess. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sweet Savage

With the recent, tragic passing of guitarist Trev Fleming, this week seemed to be a fitting time to look at Sweet Savage and the impact they had upon heavy metal music. The band formed in 1979 in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast by guitar players Trev Fleming and Vivian Campbell along with drummer David Bates and singing bass player Ray Haller. The group quickly began to build up a solid fan base and were able to secure opening slots for the likes of such big name bands as Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Wishbone Ash. Their high profile support slots led to a recording contract with Park Records, through which they released a single entitled, “Take No Prisoners” which was limited to only one thousand copies and also featured the song “Killing Time.” The single didn’t result in a permanent record deal and the band’s next record was a self-released demo simply named, “Demo 81.” The band soldiered on for two more years until Campbell left the band to become the guitarist for Ronnie James Dios eponymous new band, resulting in a period of inactivity for Sweet Savage.

The group decided to continue in 1984, though this time the lineup did not include Campbell or Fleming, instead featuring the guitar talents of Ian “Speedo” Wilson. The new selective recorded a new single with guest vocalist Robert Casserly entitled, “Straight Through The Heart” via Crashed Records. The single found little success and the band continued to perform as and when they could, finally releasing a third single in 1989 called, “The Raid” before making the decision to retire the group for the second time.

During the 1990s, the band received an renewed interest from many heavy metal fans, thanks largely to American metal stars Metallica covering the Sweet Savage song, “Killing Time” as a B-side to their “Unforgiven” single. Sweet Savage decided to reform once again, this time with Trev Fleming back on guitar and Simon McBride replacing Ian Wilson. This re-energised version of the band was finally able to record a full length studio album in the form of 1996’s, “Killing Time,” which was comprised of re-worked and re-recorded versions of their old songs. The album and interest enabled them to continue and the band released a second album in 1998 entitled, “Rune,” which featured all new material. However, owing to the desire to pursue other musical ventures, the band broke up for the third time that year. The hiatus would prove to be the bands longest, lasting a full ten years before the group heeded the call of heavy metal once again and began touring under the Sweet Savage moniker. This time the band received more support slots for big names of the present and past eras, including Saxon, Motorhead, Deep Purple and, most recently, Iron Maiden. A new drummer in the form of Marty McCloskey was introduced in 2010 and the band revealed their plans to release a new album in October of this year entitled, “Regenerator.” October is now finally upon us and while the new Sweet Savage album is still expected to be released sometime this month, it will prove to be a sad launch, as founder and guitarist Trev Fleming passed away on October 2nd, leaving behind a legacy of great heavy metal music. More...

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Sunday Old School: Death Angel

"Keep It In The Family" may be a song by Anthrax, but for another American thrash metal band it means something else entirely. The band in question would be Death Angel, who were formed in 1982 by four cousins, vocalist and bassist Dennis Pepa, guitarist Gus Pepa, drummer Andy Galeon and Rob Cavestany, who also played guitar. The cousins went through a number of names before deciding to settle with Death Angel, after coming across a book by the same name. The original lineup of the band recorded a demo entitled, "Heavy Metal Insanity," which sounded alot more like New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands such as Tygers Of Pan Tang, than the thrash metal style of which the band would later be known. In 1984, the band decided to recruit their roadie, Mark Osegueda (also a second cousin of the band members) to take over the role of vocalist, allowing Dennis Pepa to focus on his bass playing and the new lineup made their live debut supporting Megadeth (which was one of only four shows to feature Kerry King as Megadeth's guitarist.) The band continued to slug it out in the clubs and refine their live show, as well as musicianship, before recording a new demo in 1986 called, "Kill As One," which featured Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett as producer. The demo proved to be extremely popular in the tape trading community, earning the band a solid fanbase and eventually leading to a deal with Enigma Records. Through, Enigma, they released their first full length album, "The Ultra-Violence," which found favour with many thrash metal fans, as well as the impressive fact that all of the band members were under twenty years old at the time, with drummer Andy Galeon only fifteen years of age at the time of release. The group also filmed a music video for the song, "Voracious Souls," but it found little airplay, owing to it's lyrical nature, which refers to marijuana.

The next year, the band released their second album, the comical sounding, "Frolic Through The Park," which saw their popularity rise signifficantly. The album received largely positive reviews and garnered a minor hit with the song, "Bored," which was inspired by the unlikely influence of U2 and was eventually featured in the movie, "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III." The record was also praised for it's diverse range of influences, which no longer confined Death Angel's music to straight forward thrash metal, and for the band's excellent cover of the Kiss song, "Cold Gin." The success of the album allowed the group to tour the world for the first time, finding particular success in Japan, where they sold out two tours in support of the record. Following the release of, "Frolic..." the band's contract with Enigma was bought out by major label, Geffen, who released the band's next album, "Act III" in 1990. Once again, Death Angel expanded their musical range, incorporating elements of funk and making greater use of acoustic guitars and backing vocals. The album featured two singles in the form of, "Seemingly Endless Time" and the ballad, "A Room With A View," which was sung mostly by guitarist Rob Cavestany. The album didn't give them the mainstream breakthrough which they deserved, but saw their popularity as a live act remain intact, selling out famous venues such as London's Hammersmith Odeon and The Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. More...

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Sunday Old School: Stormtroopers Of Death

New York undoubtedly created some of the best hardcore music of all time, producing such bands as Agnostic Front, Murphy's Law and Sick Of It All. Not only that, it also birthed some of the best bands in thrash metal, such as Nuclear Assault and Toxik, so it was inevitable that the two extreme genres would eventually meet. The band that became known for eventully bringing these two genres together would be the sometimes hilarious, always controversial, Stormtroopers Of Death. The nucleus of the band began when Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian befriended hardcore punk fan Billy Milano at one of the legendary CBGB matinees, before Ian deided to create his own hardcore band centred around a character he created named, "Sargent D." Ian asked Milano to be the group's frontman, and completed the lineup by recruiting Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, along with Nuclear Assault bassist Danny Lilker (who had also spent some time in Anthrax.) They were able to grab the attention of Johnny Zazula's Megaforce Records with their demo, "Crab Society North," which featured no less than sixty three songs. They quickly signed to Megaforce and recorded and mixed their debut album in just three days. The album, "Speak English Or Die" attracted some controversy due to it's title and politically incorrect, though tongue in cheek lyrics, which Lilker admitted were written with the sole intention of offending people. Nonetheless, the record has gone down as one of the true classics of thrash metal, as well as a blueprint of crossover thrash and earned plenty of good reviews, as well as a spot opening for Motorhead at the time.

Although a second S.O.D. album entitled, "U.S.A. For S.O.D." was planned, it never materialised and the members returned to their respetive bands, while singer Billy Milano formed a new group called Method Of Destruction, whose debut album, "U.S.A. For M.O.D." featured many lyrics written by Scott Ian. Even while the members were busy with Anthrax, Nuclear Assault and M.O.D., the band still retained a cult following and eventually reunited for a one off show at The Ritz in New York in 1992, which was released as the live album, "Live At Budokan." The live album featured not only their own material, but also covers from such a diverse range of artists as Nirvana, Ministry and Fear, along with performing the Method Of Destruction song, "Get A Real Job." Five years later, the band reunited once more, which resulted in their first European show taking place at Germany's With Full Force festival. Not only did the band perform again, but they released a new studio album in 1999 entitled, "Bigger Than The Devil." Again, the album contained many songs with humourous lyrics, that ranged from parodying other bands like Slayer, ("Seasons Of The Obese") and Celtic Frost ("Celtic Frosted Flakes,") to downright silliness ("Monkeys Rule," "King At The King," "Frankenstein and His Horse.") The album received mostly positive feedback and the band toured all over the world to support it's release, resulting in the live DVD, "Speak English Or Live."

Following the release of another DVD entitled, "Kill Yourself: The Movie!," the band broke up after reported disagreements between Scott Ian and Billy Milano. A posthumous album named, "Rise Of The Infidels" was finally released in 2007, which was described as an "extended E.P." and featured previously recorded material, including covers of Agnostic Front and Negative Approach, as well as live recordings and many of their "Ballads" (which were merely small parts of songs by a famous, deceased musician with the phrase "You're dead!" thrown in.) Despite the positive reviews the E.P. garnered, Milano has stated that the record is "the last of S.O.D." and that fans shouldn't expect a reunion to happen. Today, Scott Ian and Charlie Benante are still in Anthrax, Billy Milano continued Method Of Destruction until it's final show in 2008 and Danny Lilker performs with several bands, including Nuclear Assault and Brutal Truth. S.O.D.'s influence on heavy music can still be heard today, with many big names of modern metal and hardcore citing them as an influence, including Corey Taylor of Slipknot/ Stone Sour and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed and Kingdom Of Sorrow. More...

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Sunday Old School: Quiet Riot

With the recent announcement that Quiet Riot are to return this year with a new vocalist in tow, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at the band, and how they broke a major barrier for the genre of heavy metal. The band made a name for themselves in the 1980s but were actually formed by guitarist Randy Rhoads in 1973 under the name Mach 1. The group used this moniker for a short while, before changing it to Little Women until they made the wise choice to change their name once again, this time to the label we know them today, Quiet Riot. While the name may sound like a way to stick in people's minds, it actually has a fairly humourous origin. While the band were talking with Rick Parfitt of the legendary British rock band Status Quo, Parfitt mentioned he'd like to name a band "Quite Right," but owing to his English accent, the band members mistakingly believed he said, "Quiet Riot" and settled on the moniker.

The band slugged it out in their native Los Angeles with their new name for two years before eventually landing a deal with Sony. Strangely though, the deal only entitled the band's albums to be released in Japan. They released their self-titled first album the same year, which featured covers of songs by the likes of Dave Clark Five and The Small Faces. A second album, simply named, "Quiet Riot II" followed in 1978, but the band parted ways with bass player Kelly Garni soon after, with future Ozzy Osbourne, Dio and Whitesnake bassist Rudy Sarzo replacing him. The next year would see another lineup change for the group, when founding guitarist Rhoads left for what proved to be a critically acclaimed, though ultimately tragic stint as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist. Quiet Riot soldiered on for a while, but eventually changed their name to DuBrow, after the band's vocalist, and went through a number of lineup changes. More...

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Sunday Old School: Accept

While most people will tell you that heavy metal was born in Great Britain, the same people will tell you that metal's home is in Germany. Germany has several large festivals dedicated to the genre, and has produced some of the best bands ever to pick up a guitar, including the Teutonic Thrash Scene, the only thrash metal movement than can be seen as a legitimate rival to the American scene. Most of the bands from the Teutonic thrash era will explain however, that they may never have found their sound, without the influence of a band from Solingen named Accept.

Accept was originally formed in 1968 by vocalist Udo Dirkschneider and guitarist Michael Wagener under the name Band X and performed at an amateur level for around eight years before being offered a spot on the Rock am Rhein bill. The performance at the festival was impressive and led to the band receiving a record deal shortly after. They released a self-titled album in 1979 but found little success with the record and as a result, guitarist Gerhard Wahl and drummer Frank Friedrich, being replaced by Stefan Kaufmann and Jörg Fischer respectively. Accept would find greater rewards with their next album, "I'm A Rebel" however, resulting in their first televised performance, with even more success coming the next year when the band released, "Breaker," which earned them a spot supporting Judas Priest on their "Point Of Entry" tour. The group began evolving their sound somewhat with their next album, "Restless And Willd," which would prove to have a profound effect on the speed metal genre. More...

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Sunday Old School: Angel Witch

Although the most famous city in the United Kingdom, London itself hasn't seemed to have made a large contribution to heavy metal in the grand scheme of things. Of course, there was Iron Maiden, who were hailed as the leaders of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement, but many of these movements bands came from the Midlands and the North of England, rather than the capital itself. That being said, there was another metal band from London during this era that would prove to be hugely inflential on young bands around the globe, from Celtic Frost to Metallica, namely Angel Witch.

The band was formed in 1977 and originally used the moniker Lucifer, but decided to change their name after parting with several members, leaving vocalist/guitarist Kevin Heybourne and guitarist Rob Downing. The two recruited bassist Kevin Riddles and drummer Dave Hogg but before long, Downing also made the decision to quit the band, leaving Angel Witch as a three piece outfit. They recorded a demo and quickly found some success in the metal mainstream, after their song, "Baphomet" was featured on the Metal For Muthas compilation. The attention the band received from the song led them to signing a record deal with major label EMI, though unfortunately the deal was cancelled soon afterwards as a result of manager Ken Heybourne refusing to hand the band over to professional management, along with the bad performance of their single "Sweet Danger," which stayed in the British Singles Chart for only one week. More...

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Sunday Old School: Raven

Arguably, without Venom, thrash metal would never have been as fast and ferocious as it was. But many of the genre's best musicians state that Venom wasn't the only band to influence them in such a way, but another band from Newcastle had just as big an impact; a group by the name of Raven. Although Raven was classed as part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the band's formation predates the movement, as they were founded in 1974 by the Gallagher brothers Mark and John (not Noel and Liam) and guitarist Paul Bowden, before adding drummer Paul Sherrif to their ranks. Even in their early days, the band was known for their energetic live performances and taking musical risks, but it was to be some time before they received a record deal. Eventually, they landed such a contract with local label Neat Records, which is now regarded as one of the most important labels in British heavy metal as a result of them signing so many N.W.O.B.H.M. acts, including Raven's fellow Geordies, Venom.

Under Neat, the group released their first album, "Rock Until You Drop" in 1981, which found critical success straight away and is considered by some to be Raven's best album. Commercial success was also found with the record, as it entered the British albums chart at number sixty three. The album is also remembered for it's fantastic front cover, which shows a trashed stage with the band's members buried beneath the rubble of amps and instruments.The band then wasted no time in recording a follow up, which came in the form of 1982's "Wiped Out." Although it didn't chart in the United Kingdom, it was just as highly regarded by fans and the music press alike and did well enough to attract the attention of record companies in the United States, resulting in Megaforce Records offering them a deal. Their next album, "All For One" was released the following year and, like the two albums before, was cited as another heavy metal masterpiece. The album allowed them to perform in America for the first time, giving support slots to such young American bands as Metallica and Anthrax. More...

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Sunday Old School: Witchfinder General

Sometimes in the world of heavy metal and hard rock music, one band can prove to be a major influence on hundreds, if not thousands of future fans of the genre. We have already seen how this is true when we looked at Geordie noise merchants Venom and the influence they had on black metal, so now shall we see how another band from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement would make their mark, this time on the doom metal genre. The band in question is Witchfinder General, who, like many other heavy British bands before them, including Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, came from the Midlands area of England. The group was founded in 1979 by the duo of Zeeb Parkes (vocals) and guitarist Phil Cope and settled on the name Witchfinder General, which they got from the classic Vincent Price movie. Before long the lineup was completed when the pair recruited Cope's cousin Steve Kinsell on drums and bass player Toss McCready. After writing material, the band released their first single in 1981 entitled, "Burning A Sinner" (sometimes jokingly reffered to as "Burning A Singer") through Heavy Metal Records. The next year, the group released an EP entitled, "Soviet Invasion," which while only featuring three songs (one of which was a live track,) clocked in at thirty minutes long.

The next step for the band was to release a full length album, which was finally unleashed in 1982. The album was entitled, "Death Penalty" and immediately became notorious as a result of it's album cover, which featured topless model Joanne Latham with hooded figures in the yard of a church in Enville, Staffordshire and had not been approved, nor even granted permission to be taken, by the church's reverend. Despite the controversy however, the album received positive reviews and has since gone on to be recognised as a true classic in the doom metal genre. A second album would follow the next year, in the form of "Friends Of Hell." Once again, the album contained a controversial front cover, with the band posing with semi-naked models in front of a church. However, the controversy had proved less beneficial than "Death Penalty," with some seeing it as almost a parody of themselves. The album itself received some backlash from fans for attempting to expand the group's fanbase to a more mainstream audience with the single, "Music," which ultimately failed to achieve it's primary goal. After being unable to grow the way they had wanted to and the band called it a day in 1984.

Like many New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands however, they eventually returned to the music scene, although this time without vocalist Zeeb Parkes. They announced teir reformation in Novemeber 2006, with Cope bringing back bass player Rod Hawkes, who had played on the "Friends Of Hell"record and drummer Dermot Redmond, who had joined the band after the second album's release, along with new member in the form vocalist Gary Martin. The band's first move as a regrouped unit came the next year when they released a compilation entitled, "Buried Amongst The Ruins," which featured both the A and B-Side to the "Burning A Sinner" single, the "Soviet Invasion" EP and four live tracks, among which was a live version of a previously unreleased song entitled, "Phantasmagorical." In 2008, the band released their first album of all new material in twenty five years entitled, "Resurrected." Though the band has repeatedly stated they will not perform live again, the possibility of another album could well come true and their influence and mark on the doom metal genre cannot, and nor should it be, ignored or overlooked. More...

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Sunday Old School: Agnostic Front

For many people, when they think of hardcore, the first place they think of is New York. And with good reason too, the N.Y.H.C. scene is perhaps one of the most well known in the world of heavy music, right up there with the Bay Area thrash scene. New York has produced dozens of hardcore bands that have gone on to become legends in the field and the now sadly defunct CBGBs club hosted more hardcore shows than a Red Light district in Amsterdam. One of the absolute top dogs from the New York scene, is a band that has been around longer than most and arguably played CBGBs more than anyone, Agnostic Front.

Agnostic Front was formed by guitarist Vinnie Stigma, formerly of The Eliminators in 1980 and went through a few singers before settling on Roger Miret, himself the former bassist of The Psychos. Before long, the band recruited bass player Adam Moochie and drummer Ray Barbieri (aka Raybeez) on drums and released their debut EP, "United Blood" in 1983. The EP was well received by fans and the group recorded their first full length, "Victim In Pain" soon after, releasing it in 1984. The album pushed them to the top of the New York hardcore scene and earned them a tour with Scotish hardcore act, The Exploited. More...

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Sunday Old School: Armored Saint

Often in the Sunday Old School articles, we tend to focus on the sub-genres of heavy metal such as thrash, death and black metal, amongst others. This week we take a look at a great example of traditional heavy metal in the form of California's Armored Saint. Armored Saint was formed in 1982 by brothers Phil and Gonzo Sandoval, who played guitar and drums respectively,along with friend Dave Prichard who also played guitar, whilst students at South Pasadena High School. Soon after their formation the band recruited bass player Joey Vera and lead singer John Bush. The name of the band was suggested by Gonzo while the band were watching the movie Excalibur and a five song demo was recorded not long afterwards, that included the song, "Lesson Well Learned," which was featured on the Metal Massacre II compilation. After releasing a self-titled EP through Metal Blade Records in 1983, the band signed to Chrysalis Records the next year. Their debut album, "March Of The Saint" was released that year and earned the band a minor hit with the song, "Can U Deliver?," as well as critical praise. A second album entitled, "Delirious Nomad" was released in 1985 and, like the first album, earned the band critical acclaim.

Soon after the release of "Delirious Nomad," Phil Sandoval decided to quit the band, leaving Armored Saint has a four-piece. The quartet began work on their next studio album, which resulted in 1987's "Raising Fear." The album did not sit as well with critics as the past two albums had and many believed that Phil Sandoval's exit had shaken the band's confidence. The album did however garner the band another minor hit with the song, "Isolation." After "Raising Fear" was released, a live album named, "Saints Will Conquer" hit the shelves the next year but sadly these would be the final albums to feature guitarist Dave Prichard. Although Prichard participated in the writing and demoing of their next album, he unfortunately passed away from leukemia during the sessions. The resulting album, "Symbol Of Salvation" was released in 1991 and used the guitar solo Prichard recorded for the song, "Tainted Past." The album also featured the return of Phil Sandoval, as well as new guitarist Jeff Duncan. The record was seen as a return to form and perhaps their best yet by critics and fans alike but ultimately the band were unsure of a future without Prichard. During this period of uncertainty, John Bush was asked by Anthrax if he would be interested in becoming their new vocalist, replacing the recently departed Joey Belladonna. Bush's decision to accept the job proved to be the final straw for Armored Saint and they decided to call it a day. During the band's inactivity, other members kept themselves busy with various musical proects. Bassist Joey Vera found success as a producer, whilst also performing in bands such as Fates Warning and Lizzy Borden and the Sandoval brothers formed a new band together entitled Life After Death, which was more inspired by the likes of Thin Lizzy than the heavy metal influences of Armored Saint. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sacred Reich

The thrash metal movement in the eighties saw bands all over the world adopt the new approach to heavy metal, and the United States were arguably the champions of the genre. Although it was California and New York that were credited with some of the biggest and best names in thrash, other states produced some of the heaviest hitters of the bunch. A great example of this, would be the state of Arizona, which produced the politically minded Sacred Reich. The band formed in 1985 by vocalist and bass player Phil Rind and signed to Metal Blade Records, one of the biggest labels for thrash metal at the time, soon after. They released their first album, "Ignorance" in 1987 and was extremely well received by thrash fans all across the globe. An EP entitled, "Surf Nicaragua" followed the next year and featured a cover of the Black Sabbath classic, "War Pigs," as well as a passage from the song "Wipe Out" in the EP's title track.

After another EP, this one recorded live at the Dynamo festival in the Netherlands, Sacred Reich released a second album named, "The American Way" in 1990. The album saw a departure somewhat from their thrash metal sound, without discarding it completely and once again, was loved by fans and critics alike. Their next album, "Independent" did not find as much favour as their first two releases, but contained some stellar material, such as the title track. This album would also introduce drummer Dave McClain, who later went on to join Machine Head. Three years later, Sacred Reich released their fourth, and to date final studio album, "Heal," which regained the critical praise that "Independent" did not receive. After an absence of six years, the band's original drummer Greg Hall rejoined the group and they subsequently released a live record entitled, "Still Ignorant" in 1997. Sadly, this would prove to be the final release from Sacred Reich, as they decided to call it a day in 2000.

In 2007, the band decided to reform with the lineup of Phil Rind, Greg Hall and guitarists Wiley Arnett and Jason Rainey, peforming live around the world, most noticably at European festivals such as Wacken Open Air and Graspop Metal Meeting. Although the band has showed no sign in ending these performances any time soon, Rind has repeatedly stated that the band will not record another studio album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hellhammer

Very few bands are able to amass a cult following having never released a proper album. Fewer still can be credited with being a key influence in not one, but two genres. No ordinary metal band could achieve such praise, but then Hellhammer were not an ordinary band. The band formed under the name Hammerhead in the Swiss capital of Zurich by guitarist and vocalist Tom G. Fischer (aka Tom Warrior) and bassist Urs Sprenger (aka Steve Warrior,) along with drummer Pete Stratton and took influence from many British bands such as Black Sabbath, Venom, Angel Witch and Raven. Before long, Stratton had left the band, to be replaced by drummer Jörg Neubart (a.k.a. "Bruce Day") and the group changed their name to Hellhammer. This lineup of the band recorded two demos, "Death Fiend" and "Triumph Of Death," but only released the latter initially, sending it to record labels and magazines, finding little to no positive feedback at first.

After the recording of the first two demos, bassist Urs Sprenger left the group to be replaced by former Schizo bass player Martin Eric Ain. Ain and Fischer began working together to break away from the confines that they felt Hellhammer imposed on them, taking the band in a more radical direction and recording one more demo entitled, "Satanic Rites," before their first commercial release, the "Apocalyptic Raids" EP. The release was not very successful initially, but ultimately proved to be a huge influence on many metal bands, especially in the black and death metal genres. The band decided to call it a day three months after this release, with Fischer and Ain resurfacing in Celtic Frost, another hugely influential band.

Although Hellhammer was widely slated in their time, they have since been regarded as one of the most important bands in the history of extreme metal. Many bands have covered Hellhammer in the past, including such big names as Sepultura and Napalm Death, as well as Tom Fischer himself during his time with Apollyon Sun, the band he formed after the first Celtic Frost breakup and in 2008, a compilation album was released entitled, "Demon Entrails" which featured all three demos. More...

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Sunday Old School: The Exploited

The relationship between punk rock and heavy metal has been one containing as much respect as it does rivalry. While many fans of both genres have criticised the other for varying reasons, there's no doubt that without punk, the variation that we enjoy in today's metal music wouldn't exist. After the first wave of punk in the seventies, a harsher, angrier form of the music would begin in both the United States, and the United Kingdom. Of all the bands in the U.K., Scotland's The Exploited were regarded as one of the best and their influence can be heard as much today in metal, as it can in punk.

The band was formed in 1979 in the Scotish capital of Edinburgh and began gaining more of a following when vocalist Terry Buchan was removed from the band, being replaced by his older brother Walter aka Wattie, who had just returned home after serving in the British army. The band quickly formed their own label and released their debut EP, "Army Life" soon after, which spent more than 18 months in the top 20 of the British independent charts. They gained more independent success afterwards with such singles as "Barmy Army" and "Dogs Of War," which have since gone on to become staples of the band's live shows. The Exploited then proved that they were not just a singles band in 1981, when they released their first album, "Punk's Not Dead." With it's iconic title and vicious attitude, The Exploited captured the minds of frustrated British youths and spat in the face of journalists who had dismissed punk as a flash in the pan. Another outstanding album followed the next year in the form of "Troops Of Tomorrow," which featured the song, "UK82." The song was featured in the Tim Roth movie "Made In Britain," as well as being so important, that the British hardcore punk scene of the time, featuring such other bands as Discharge and G.B.H. was named after it.

After two more albums, "Let's Start A War (Said Maggie One Day)" and "Horror Epics," the band changed musical styles somewhat with their fifth album, "Death Before Dishonour," which featured a sound much more in the vein of crossover thrash. The album cover itself seemed to capture the band's crossover appeal brilliantly, as it featured British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher holding hands with the Grim Reaper, blending the 80s heavy metal imagery with their continued punk beliefs. Ever since then, the group has carried on this musical style, reaching the ears of both punks and metal fans with their aggressive message of anarchy and anti-authoritarianism that's as true today as it was thirty years ago. The Exploited are currently writing material for a brand new album, which will be their first since 2003's, "Fuck The System." More...

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Sunday Old School: Pestilence

Since today marks the first time the Netherlands have appeared in the FIFA World Cup final since 1978, it seemed a good idea to revisit the country's contributions to the realm of metal, and probably one of the best contributions they made, was Pestilence. The band formed in 1986, originally adopted a thrash metal sound and was able to gain the attention of Roadrunner Records after releasing two demos, "Dysentry" and "The Penance." The signing with Roadrunner allowed them to release their first full length album in 1988, "Malleus Maleficarum." Guitarist Randy Meinhard quit the band soon after the album's release, and was replaced by Patrick Uterwijk, with whom the band recorded their next studio album, "Consuming Impulse," which followed a much more death metal orientated sound. The album was well received in the extreme metal crowd and helped the band to achieve an international fanbase.

Although they found some success with "Consuming Impulses," vocalist/bassist Martin Van Drunen left the band to become the frontman of Asphyx, leaving the rest of the group to find new members. They filled the gaps in the band by enlisting Cynic bassist Tony Choy and vocalist Patrick Mameli, and recorded a new album of original material named, "Testimony Of The Ancients" in 1991. Although the album wasn't considered as harsh as previous records, the band demonstrated an obvious growth in musical ability and skill, as well as much better production. They would record one more album in the 1990's, this time with Jeroen Paul Thesseling on bass and incorporating jazz fusion into their sound. The resulting album, "Spheres" was released in 1993 and earned the band an even bigger fanbase, but unfortunately, tensions within Pestilence also grew, and the band decided to call it a day in 1994.

However, after fourteen years of inactivity, vocalist Patrick Marmeli decided to resurrect the band as a three piece, with him performing vocal and guitar duties, bass player Tony Choy and Darkane drummer Peter Wildoer. The new lineup of the band recorded a brand new album entitled, "Resurrection Macabre," which saw a release in 2009 through Mascot Records. That same year, bassist Tony Choy once again left the band, to be replaced by Jeroen Paul Thesseling, who is also the current bass player for Obscura. The reformed band are currently working on their next album, tentatively entitled, "Doctrine" and plan to release it in 2011. More...

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Sunday Old School: Carcass

Last December we took a look at Napalm Death, the British band who is credited with the invention of grindcore, and saw how they were related to a number of other highly recognized names in extreme metal. This week we examine one of those bands, who may very well be just as acclaimed as Napalm Death, Carcass. Carcass was formed by guitarist Bill Steer and drummer Ken Owen under the name of Disattack. The band recorded one demo entitled, "The Bomb Drops..." before deciding to hire new members in the form of vocalist Sanjiv and former Electro Hippies frontman Jeff Walker on bass. Not long after these two joined the band, Steer was recruited as the new guitarist of Napalm Death and recorded the second side of their debut album, "Scum" in March 1987, with Jeff Walker designed the album's front cover. Shortly after recording "Scum," Disattack changed their name to Carcass and the group recorded their first demo under the new moniker, entitled "Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment." This would prove to be the only recording the band made with Sanjiv, who left the band soon after, leaving Walker and Steer to share vocal duties, with some help from drummer Ken Owen.

This lineup of the band released their first album, "Reek Of Putrefaction" in 1988 and despite being very unhappy with the end result, received a positive fedback from many crtics and fans of extreme music, with legendary British DJ John Peel claiming it was his favourite album of the year and inviting the band to perform a coveted "Peel Session" on his show. Carcass would expand on this success with a second album in 1990 named, "Symphonies Of Sickness," which moved away from their previous grindcore sound somewhat, into a more death metal orientated territory. While touring in support of the album, the band decided to recruit a second guitarist in the form of Michael Ammott, who would later go on to form the popular band, Arch Enemy. After recording another Peel Session, the band recorded their first full length album as a four piece, "Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious." With it's better production and catchy title, Carcass would expand their fan base some more with this album, along with a mandatory schedule of heavy touring, including the Gods Of Grind tour with Cathedral (which includes former Napalm Death singer Lee Dorrian), Entombed and Confessor. Carcass also released an EP to coincide with the tour called, "Tools Of The Trade" which featured a new song, as well as re-recorded versions of other songs and the track "Incarnated Solvent Abuse" from the previous album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Stuck Mojo

Rap metal is a genre that has long been the subject of much criticism within the heavy metal community. Most fans when thinking of the term, tend to be reminded of the late '90s/early Century nu-metal genre and bands like Limp Bizkit. However, before the nu metal phase came into effect, there were a handful of bands that dared to mix heavy metal music with hip-hop frontmen, following the example set by Anthrax and Public Enemy.

One of the earliest of these bands was the Atlanta based Stuck Mojo, who could shred with the best and featured influences as wide as Black Sabbath to Run D.M.C. The group was formed in 1989 by guitarist Rich Ward and continued for a further six years before they were able to release their first full length album, "Snappin' Necks" in 1995 through Century Media Records. The band wasn't well received at first, with some critics labelling the band as Rage Against The Machine clones and even facing prejudice as a result of their African-American frontman Bonz. However, they were better received in Europe, where they won the MTV Europe Award for Best Live Act. The band released a second album the next year entitled, "Pigwalk" which, while not receiving many more favourable reviews, helped to expand their fan base across the globe. More...

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Sunday Old School: Onslaught

When one thinks of thrash metal, the two countries that come to mine are the United States and Germany. However thrash had it's scenes all over the world. From Canada to Australia to Brazil and beyond, there was no country that thrash didn't touch and of course, Great Britain was no exception. Although the British thrash scene is largely overlooked, those who bother to explore it will find some of the best thrash of it's time and most were in agreement, that the best of these was Onslaught. Onslaught was founded as a punk band in the vein of Discharge and The Exploited by Nige Rockett in Bristol, England in 1983, being quickly joined by drummer Steve Grice. The band released a demo later that year before releasing an EP entitled, "What Lies Ahead" in the same year, which featured new members Jase Pope and Paul Hill.

Hill was soon to be replaced by Jase Stallard and the group took on a more metal orientated approach to songwriting and signed to Children Of The Revolution Records, under whom they released their debut album, "Power From Hell" in 1985. The album contained lyrics which were satanic in nature and also featured a song entitled, "Death Metal," leading to some metal fans crediting the band with coining the term, along with Possessed. That same year, vocalist Paul Mahoney moved to the position of second guitarist, when the band hired vocalist Sy Keeler. This lineup travelled to London to record their second album, "The Force" in 1986, which is now regarded as one of the genre's true classic albums, containing such thrash anthems as "Let There Be Death" and "Flame Of The Antichrist." After the release of "The Force," the band signed to major label London Records for their next album, though things did not go as well as they had hoped. Under pressure from the label, the band let Keeler go and hired Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett, in an attempt to help the band reach a more mainstream fan base. The subsequent album, "In Search Of Sanity" was released in 1989 but proved to be a disappointment for hardcore fans, oweing to the change in vocals and more polished production. Grimmett left the band soon after and the band was dropped from their label, before deciding to call it a day in 1991.

Key members Steve Grice and Nige Rockett remained good friends throughout the inactivity of Onslaught, and upon finding out that a record label had been selling Onslaught albums without permission, the two decided to reform the band. They contacted Sy Keeler who soon agreed to rejoin the band, along with bassist Jim Hinder, who had performed with the group during the "In Search Of Sanity" era. The band performed some low key gigs, along with supporting slots to the likes of Venom, before releasing a new studio album entitled, "Killing Peace" in 2007. The album was regarded as a natural follow up to "The Force" and was extremely well received from fans and critics alike. Since the release of the album, Onslaught have been touring relentlessly to take their rightful place as one thrash metal's true greats, performing all over the world and releasing a live album entitled, "Live Damnation" in the process. The band are currently working on their fifth studio album, which is expected to be released later this year. More...

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Sunday Old School: Les Légions Noires

The LLN. The Les Légions Noires. The Black Legions. By whatever name, they were an infamous group of underground black metal artists/bands that emerged from France in the early 90s in response to the newly born Norwegian second wave of black metal (bands like Mayhem, Burzum and Emperor). With a penchant for prolific demo output, next to no full lengths, rough and raw material, barely audible/listenable recordings, obscure naming conventions, true satanic piety and rabid anti-commercialism - the LLN made a name for themselves by intensifying almost every black metal stereotype known to the metal community. More...

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Sunday Old School: Rose Tattoo

When thinking about Australia's contribution to hard rock and heavy metal, 99% of people will instantly think of AC/DC, which is fair enough, but many of these same people tend to overlook another of the country's best exports, Rose Tattoo. Rose Tattoo were undeniably one of the hardest rocking bands to ever plug into an amp and they proved it by not just writing some fantastic songs, but by taking the stage with a ferocious attitude that bands like Guns 'N Roses would later be known for. The band was formed in 1976 in the city of Sydney by guitarist Peter Wells, who was formerly a member of the heavy metal band Buffalo. The original lineup also featured vocalist Tony Lake, guitarist Leigh Johnston, drummer Michael Vandersluys and bass player Ian Rilen, who taught himself the instrument while he was in prison. Johnston was soon to be replaced by Mick Cocks however, and shortly afterwards, more lineup changes occured, most notably the new addition of notorious frontman Gary "Angry" Anderson. The band released a single on Albert Productions named "Bad Boy For Love" after being recommended to the label by AC/DC. This would mark the only recording with Gilen, who left soon afterwards to form the punk rock band X.

Rose Tattoo followed the single by releasing a self-titled album in 1978, which entered the Australian Top 40 and began to become involved in social issues when they released a single supporting the legalisation of marijuana entitled, "Legalise Realise." A short while later, the band began to achieve success in foreign markets when their debut album, (re-released under the name Rock And Roll Outlaw) entered the British charts at number 60, the German charts at number five and the French charts at number two. They released a second album in 1981 named, "Assault And Battery" which entered the Australian Top 30 and topped the British heavy metal charts, just like the band's previous release. After gaining a following in Europe and the United Kingdom, the band recorded a third album, "Scarred For Life" and set their sights on the United States, supporting the likes of ZZ Top and Aerosmith. While the tours didn't prove to be the groundbreaking introduction they needed, they left a resounding impression on some audiences, particularly in Los Angeles, with many bands from the area later citing Rose Tattoo as an influence. Several lineup changes occured soon after they got back from the States and Anderson recorded what was intended to be a solo album named, "Beats From A Single Drum," however due to contractual issues, it was released under the Rose Tattoo moniker. The band split soon after and Anderson earned himself a hit single with the song "Suddenly" after it was used in the popular soap opera, "Neighbours."

A brief reunion happened in 1993 when Guns 'N Roses asked them to support the group on their Australian tour. Although the reformation didn't last as long as fans hoped, a second reunion occured in 1998, eventually resulting with the album, "Pain" in 2002, their first studio album in sixteen years, along with a live album entitled, "25 To Life." Although the band would suffer a set back when guitarist Peter Wells passed away in 2006, they soldiered on and released a new album, "Blood Brothers" in 2007. Sadly the band has been mainly inactive in recent months, owing to the death of guitarist Mick Cocks in December 2009. Though not as largely known by fans of heavy metal and hard rock audiences of today as they arguably should be, Rose Tattoo have undoubtedly carved a place in music history as one of the most aggressive, though simultaniously fun bands to ever emerge from Australia. More...

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