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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Blitzkrieg

Even if some bands from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal aren't as well remembered as others, some of them are still able to write songs that easily classics of the movement. No greater example is there of this than Blitzkrieg, who formed in the city of Leicester in 1980. The group quickly signed to Neat Records, who championed the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal by signing a number of other bands from the movement, including Venom, Raven and Tygers Of Pan Tang. Through the label, the band were able to release their first single, "Buried Alive" in 1981, though in later years, greater attention was brought to the singles B-side, the eponymous "Blitzkrieg," after it was covered by Metallica. Unfortunately, the band decided to call it a day after the single's release and the members went on to join different projects, the most notable of which was singer Brian Ross who had stints with such other bands as Satan and Avenger.

Following these other tenures, Ross decided to bring Blitzkrieg back in 1984, together with original guitarist Jim Sirotto and new members Mick Proctor, Mick Moore and Sean Harris, who had all performed in a number of other noticable British heavy metal bands. With this lineup, the band were finally able to release full length album, which came in the form of 1985's, "A Time Of Changes." The record was well received by fans and was noticable for it's re-recording of their self-titled song, as well as "Pull The Trigger," a song written by the band, Satan but was never used on any of their releases. It would be six years before Blitzkrieg released a new album, but at last in 1991, "Ten Years Of Blitzkrieg" was released, much to the delight of long time fans.

However, the band soon found themselves without a label and soldiered on until Neat Records re-emerged in 1995 and immediately signed the band to a three album deal, the first release of which was "Unholy Trinity," which had actually been recorded in 1992. Two more albums, "Ten" and "The Misfits Of Avalon" followed and both were well received by heavy metal fans worldwide, but in 1998, Brian Ross suffered from a serious car injury and the future of Blitzkrieg was placed in doubt once again. Lightning war was never stopped by automobile accidents however, and before long Ross resurrected the band once again, eventually releasing a new album in 2002 entitled, "Absolute Power." The band are still going strong today, performing at concerts and festivals worldwide, and still producing new albums, with their most recent effort being 2007's, "Theatre Of The Damned." More...

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Sunday Old School: Saint Vitus

It’s always a shame when death is a factor in choosing which band to cover for Sunday Old School, but after the tragic death of drummer Armando Acosta, it seems only right we remember his work with Saint Vitus, one of the first and most influential bands in doom metal. The band was formed in 1979 by Acosta, bassist Mark Adams, guitarist Dave Chandler and lead singer Scott Reagers under the name, Tyrant but changed their name shortly after to Saint Vitus a Black Sabbath song. The band were eventually offered a record deal from SST Records, which was run by hardcore legends Black Flag, another of the group’s biggest influences and they released their self-titled first album in 1984 before following it with a second album, "Hallow’s Victim" and an EP, "The Walking Dead" in 1985.

Following these releases, Reagers decided to leave the band and Saint Vitus recruited The Obsessed frontman Scott "Wino" Weinrich. The first record with Weinrich was the full length album, "Born Too Late," which became the group’s best selling release to date. Although their next album, "Mournful Cries" didn’t sell as well as their previous album, it still garnered positive reviews from fans and critics. The band parted ways with SST Records soon afterwards and signed with Hellhound Records, through which they released the album, "V" in 1989. The album would prove to be the last studio recording with Wino to date, as he decided to leave the band following the release of a live album to reform The Obsessed in 1991. A new singer was found in Count Raven frontman Christian Lindersson but he would only record one album with Saint Vitus, 1993’s, "C.O.D." Following the tour in support of the album, Lindersson was replaced by the group’s original singer Scott Reagers, with whom they recorded one more album, "Die Healing," before deciding to call it a day in 1996.

In 2003, the "Born Too Late" incarnation of the band decided to get back together and perform some live shows, but they made it clear that it was not going to be a permanent reunion, and disbanded once again before the year was over, releasing a live DVD from the tour in the process. A more promising reformation would happen in 2008 however, when the band announced that they were returning and eventually confessed that new material was being written. Once again, this reformation featured the "Born Too Late" lineup and they were able to perform at some of the biggest festivals in Europe such as Roadburn and Hellfest. However in 2009, Acosta parted ways with the band due to health concerns and was replaced by Blood Of The Sun drummer Henry Vasquez. Acosta passed away on November 25th of this year, leaving behind a great legacy of heavy metal and carving himself a place as one of the most respected drummers in the history of doom metal. A new Saint Vitus album is expected to surface sometime next year, which will be their first without Acosta. More...

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Sunday Old School: Blind Guardian

When going through the Sunday Old School archives, it struck me as rather strange that while over sixty bands have been covered thus far, there has yet to be an article on a true power metal band. So today I make amends for that as we take a look at one of the most loved bands in the genre, Germany’s Blind Guardian. The band formed in 1984 under the original moniker, Lucifer’s Heritage in the town of Krefeld by singing bassist Hansi Kürsch and guitarist Andre Olbrich.

After going numerous lineup changes, the band signed a deal with No Remorse Records and decided to change their name to avoid accusations of Satanism and to stop them being lumped in with the emerging black metal bands at the time such as Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost. Through No Remorse, the band released their debut album, “Battalions Of Fear” in 1988, which was predominantly a speed metal album in which the influence of countrymen Helloween shined through. The album was well received and a sophomore full length, “Follow The Blind” was released the next year, which featured a guest performance from Helloween founder Kai Hansen. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sabbat

As has been discussed before, while thrash metal was influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, thrash metal bands in the United Kingdom found little success. Out of the several British thrash bands worth mentioning, arguably only two really stand out. We’ve already taken a look at one of them, Bristol’s, Onslaught, so this week, we’ll be examining the history of Nottingham’s Pagan thrashers, Sabbat. The band was originally formed under the moniker, Hydra in 1985 by vocalist Martin Walkyier and bass player Frazer Clarke, along with guitarist Adam Ferman. A second guitarist was recruited soon afterwards in the form of fifteen year old Andy Sneap, though two weeks later he became the band’s sole guitarist when Ferman quit, taking drummer Mark Daley with him, leaving the drum stool open for Simon Negus. With the new members on board, the group decided that a change in name was appropriate and settled on Sabbat, after finding it in a book on witchcraft. Once Sabbat released a demo entitled, "Fragments Of A Faith Forgotten," they saw their popularity soar, receiving a two page spread in Kerrang magazine, a BBC Radio One session, a flexi disc release for Warhammer’s White Dwarf magazine and eventually a record deal with Germany’s, Noise Records (the label had previously shown interest in the band, but were unable to sign them because Andy Sneap was not yet eighteen.)

In May 1988, the band released their debut full length album, "History Of A Time To Come," which garnered rave reviews from critics and was very popular amongst thrash fans for it’s different approach to thrash metal. The album also received a lot of interest as a result of it’s lyrical themes which contained well researched insights into the occult and religion. They followed this record with their sophomore release, "Dreamweaver," a concept album based on the book The Way of The Wyrd by Brian Bates. On this record, the songs were noticeably longer and featured a new member in second guitarist Simon Jones. Although the album was hailed as a classic, it helped to fuel the tensions within the band, as some of the members expressed concern regarding the growing length of the songs. These feelings, combined with poor management and the lack of interest from Noise, caused an internal meltdown. Guitarist Simon Jones quit the band during a U.K. tour and was replaced by Neil Watson, who appears on the live video, "The End Of The Beginning." Bassist Frazer Clarke decided to quit the music industry entirely not long afterwards and Sneap and Negus took over the band, outing Walkyier and bringing in new vocalist Richie Desmond, along with bass player Wayne Banks. For many fans, “Dreamweaver” marks the last Sabbat album but this lineup recorded a third record studio album entitled, “Mourning Has Broken,” which was released in 1991.While not without it’s praise, the album was considered nowhere near the level of quality that the first two records had set, and so the band decided to call it a day soon after.

A reunion was scheduled to take place in 2001 by Martin Walkyier, who brought with him Clarke and Simon Jones, but this was blocked by Sneap, who felt that since the other members had quit, leaving him and Negus to take care of the bad financial situation the group was in, amongst other problems, they had no right to the Sabbat name. Instead this lineup toured under the moniker, Return To Sabbat but folded in 2003. However, fans were delighted to hear that in 2006, Sabbat would return to the stage, this time utilising the "Dreamweaver" lineup. The shows were a result of Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth’s longtime appreciation of the band, and it was he who convinced Andy Sneap to reunite the band, in return for a special guest slot on Cradle Of Filth’s short tour of the United Kingdom that year. The reunited performances were a hit and to celebrate, Sabbat re-released "History Of A Time To Come" and "Dreamweaver" with bonus tracks the next year. Since then, the band has continued to perform sporadically across Europe and have stated that, while they have found the shows to be a lot of fun, there are no plans to record a new studio album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Assassin

German thrash metal is widely hailed as the only international thrash scene that could rival their American counterparts. However, when discussing German thrash, the names Kreator, Destruction and Sodom are the three that are always brought up first. There’s a good reason for this, all three bands were and are outstanding, but if one were to dig deeper then a treasure chest of thrash can easily be uncovered. One of the best examples of hidden German gems, would be the Dusseldorf based, Assassin. The group was formed in 1984 and released a demo shortly afterwards which quickly sold out all five hundred copies. After releasing a second demo entitled, "Nemesis," the band was able to secure a record deal with German label, SPV. The signing allowed them to release their first full length album, "Upcoming Terror," which sold around 15,000 copies.

After recruiting some new members, the band released their second album, "Interstellar Experience" in 1988. The album was widely praised by thrash metal fans and earned the band a supporting slot on Death Angel’s first European tour, which was also a success. The group began working on their third studio album after the tour finished but disaster struck when all of their equipment was stolen by burglars. Not having the money to replace the gear, the group decided to call it a day, leaving work on the album unfinished.

Like many thrash bands however, a reunion was inevitable, an in 2002, Assassin decided to regroup and were quickly offered a spot on the 2003 edition of the famous, Wacken Open Air festival. The performance was critically acclaimed and the band experienced a small but noticeable resurgence in popularity. To celebrate this, a third Assassin album named, "The Club" was finally released in 2005, much to the delight of longtime fans. Although the group have been keeping fairly quiet since then, they recently announced that they have re-signed with SPV, and will be releasing a brand new album in 2011, aptly entitled, "Breaking The Silence." More...

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Sunday Old School: Overkill

It’s undeniable that heavy metal has some of the most talented and confident vocalists in the world. Some are merely copies of the genre’s best, while others create a style so unique it can become as synonymous with their band as a guitarist’s style or drummer’s beats. Perhaps nowhere in the history of American heavy metal is there a vocalist more unique than Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, of New Jersey based thrashers, Overkill.

Overkill was formed in 1980 after drummer, Rat Skates and bassist D.D. Verni left their punk band, The Lubricunts. They quickly recruited Ellsworth on vocals and hit the East Coast club scene with full force, mainly performing covers but with a few originals seeping in. After releasing a demo entitled, "Power In Black," the group gained some interest from record labels, resulting in their debut self-titled EP. The success of the EP earned Overkill a multi-album record deal with Megaforce Records, one of the biggest metal based record companies at the time, through whom they released their first full length album, "Feel The Fire," in 1985, which was instantly hailed a thrash metal masterpiece. They released their next album, "Taking Over" in 1987, which Megaforce distributed in co-operation with major label, Atlantic, enabling the band to produce their first music video in the form of, "In Union We Stand." More...

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Sunday Old School: Alice Cooper

As it’s impossible not to notice, today is Halloween. It’s probably a general consensus that Halloween goes with metal better than it does any type of music, but why is this is? In two words: Alice Cooper. With a stage show that included hangings, guillotines and chicken throwing (ok, that only happened once), the Alice Cooper band brought the shock to rock and it could be argued that nobody has been able to do it better to this day. Although now known as the solo act of singer Vincent Furnier, the name, Alice Cooper was originally the name of the band that Furnier sang in, taking their name from a witch they believed they had contacted through the use of a Ouija board.

The group was formed in 1964 as The Earwigs, choosing the Cooper name in 1968. They released their first album, “Pretties For You” the next year which was unsuccessful both critically and commercially, a fate which would also befall their second album, “Easy Action.” However, the band eventually achieved a breakthrough with the single, “I’m Eighteen,” which became a hit and helped the album, “Love It To Death” climb to the number 35 spot on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. The next album, “Killer,” not only yielded more hit singles, but saw the band expand their live show into something rock audiences had never seen before, featuring boa constrictors, chopping up bloody baby dolls and ending with Furnier being hanged in a gallows. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tygers Of Pan Tang

Ask any fan of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal to name five of their favourites and chances are Tygers Of Pan Tang will be amongst that list. The band may not be quite as well known now, but during the N.W.O.B.H.M.'s period of popularity, they were certainly considered one of the standout groups in the pack, and they had the songs to back it up. The band was formed in 1978 in the town of Whitley Bay, which is located in the North East of England near Newcastle, and quickly signed to Neat Records, which was known for releasing many records from British heavy metal bands at the time including Venom, Raven and Jaguar. The partnership with Neat was only to last for the single, "Don't Touch Me There" however, as the Tygers signed to major label MCA soon afterwards. Following a few more single releases, the group finally released it's debut full length album in 1980 entitled, "Wildcat." The album did well in the United Kingdom, debuting at number 18 on the British Albums Chart. The band was soon to see a big change in terms of lineup however, when they recruited John Sykes, formerly of Streetfighter, as second guitarist and split with singer Jess Cox after he and the rest of the band had a falling out. The band decided to replace Cox with Jon Deverill, best known as the vocalist of Persian Risk and this lineup recorded a second album entitled, "Spellbound," which was released in 1981 and once again entered the British Album Charts, though this time peaking at the lower place of number 33, as well as spawning the single, "Hellbound," which also saw chart success, peaking at number 48 in the United Kingdom.

The next year, Tygers Of Pan Tang released a third album called "Crazy Nights," which was unable to spawn any successful singles but did enter the British Albums Chart at number 51. Following this record, Sykes decided to quit the band in order to pursue a position as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, which he didn't fulfil, though he was recruited as the new guitarist for hard rock heroes Thin Lizzy soon after. Sykes was replaced by guitarist Fred Purser and the band got to work on their fourth album, "The Cage." "The Cage" ultimately proved to be the band's biggest success in terms of chart performance, entering the U.K. charts at number 13 and featuring three successful singles in the form of "Love Potion No. 9," "Paris By Air" and "Rendezvous." Despite the good commercial reaction to the album, the band decided to call it a day soon afterwards as a result of tensions with their record company. A new version of the band was formed in 1985 however, featuring Deverill and drummer Brian Dick and released a new album named, "The Wreck-Age" the same year. The record was the first Tygers album not to chart in the United Kingdom, and following poor reviews of their next album, "Burning In The Shade," they disbanded once again. More...

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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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