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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Cerebral Fix

Having given birth to such bands as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, there isn't really any question that the English city of Birmingham is the birthplace of heavy metal. It, along with the surrounding Midlands areas have continued to produce some of the finest acts in extreme music since and today we will be looking at another of these such groups, Cerebral Fix. Cerebral Fix were formed in 1986 by singer Simon Forrest, bassist Paul Adams, guitarist Gregg Fellows and drummer Adrian Jones and wasted little time when it came to recording their music. By the next year they had recorded two demos, "We Need Therapy" and "Product of Disgust," which attracted the attention of Vinyl Solution, a record label in London who would also go on to sign such acts as Bolt Thrower, Cancer and Fudge Tunnel. Before the band could record their debut however, Adams parted company with the group and formed a new outfit, which would go on to become Benediction. They brought in Steve Watson as his replacement and recorded their first full length, "Life Sucks... And Then You Die!" which was released in 1988. The album garnered attention from the thrash, punk and hardcore scenes and led them to tour with the likes of Electro Hippies and Doom amongst other prominent names.

After recording two more songs for Sounds magazine, the group was to experience another change in lineup as Jones and Watson decided to quit the band, with their places being taken by former Sacrilege members Frank Healy (also formerly of Napalm Death) and Andy Baker, with whom they recorded another demo entitled, "Tower of Spite." The demo was circulated amongst labels and impressed Roadrunner Records enough to offer the band a contract, which they happily accepted. To promote the new partnership, Roadrunner booked Cerebral Fix to open for another of their exciting young acts, Sepultura, in London, before the band's sophomore effort, also named, "Tower of Spite" was released in 1990 to fairly positive reviews. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sarcófago

Brazil, home of some of the most beautiful scenery, the most gorgeous women and most enjoyable football the world has ever seen. They’re also pretty great at producing extreme music, which is hardly a surprise given the contrasting violent history of the South American country. Of course, the most famous of these bands would be Belo Horizonte’s, Sepultura, which was founded by the Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor. While Max is widely regarded as the voice of Sepultura, he was not the first. That honour belongs to a man named Wagner Lamounier, who left the band before they were able to record anything and in unfriendly circumstances. Shortly after parting company with Sepultura, Lamounier was invited to join a new band named Sarcófago, who were influenced by even more extreme music such as Bathory and Celtic Frost. He adopted the stage name, "Antichrist" after contributing lyrics to the Sepultura song of the same name, while the rest of the band also took the monikers "Butcher," "Incubus" and "Leprous."

The group soon got to work on their first recordings, which surfaced on the compilation album, "Warfare Noise 1" and consequently led them to sign with Cogumelo Produções for their debut album, "I.N.R.I." by which time they had replaced Leprous with D.D. Crazy, the brother of Butcher. "I.N.R.I." was recorded in July 1987 and released the very same month, finding an audience with metal fans that were looking for a harsher sound. Everything about the album, though particularly the music, would prove to be a big influence on the future of black metal, including the corpse paint they adorned on the front cover. It’s impact on the Norwegian black metal scene was particularly well documented, with Mayhem guitarist Euronymous reported to have been obsessed with Sarcófago’s image and felt all black metal bands should look like them, as well as trading letters with Lamounier as the Norwegian black metal scene was beginning to flourish. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cancer

With the recent announcement that British death metal band Cancer has decided to reform for a second time, it seemed that the timing was right to grant the request of some of our readers and devote an edition of Sunday Old School to these well loved, if perhaps overlooked Midlands metallers. Cancer was formed, as a number of ideas in Britain are, one night in a local pub, in this case one in Ironbridge, in the county of Shropshire by drummer Carl Stokes, bass player Ian Buchanan and guitarist/vocalist John Walker. They very quickly got to work on material and soon found themselves at the Pits recording studio in Birmingham, where they recorded their first demo, "No Fuckin’ Cover," which was produced by Stevie Young, the nephew of iconic AC/DC guitarist, Angus Young. They played their first gig shortly afterwards in the same city and soon earned a good live reputation which garnered them support slots with such acts as Bolt Thrower and punk legends, G.B.H.

After a second demo and a bootleg live album recorded in Wrexham, Wales entitled, "Bloodbath in the Acid," the group signed a deal with Vinyl Solution, who were impressed with "No Fuckin’ Cover." They returned to Wales, this time to the small Monmouthshire town of Usk, to record their first full length studio album, "To The Gory End," which they finished in only four days before it was sent to the famous Morrisound Studios in Florida to be mixed by Scott Burns, who brought in Obituary vocalist, John Tardy to add backing vocals to the song, "Die, Die." The record was released in the spring of 1990 and Cancer soon found themselves touring with Obituary, as well as their Florida comrades, Deicide. More...

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Sunday Old School: Arcade

A short-lived “super band” from the eighties, Arcade, was also very under-the-radar. After two great albums, proving the artists could make great music on their own, the band broke up to (ironically) rejoin their previous bands. More...

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Sunday Old School: Praying Mantis

A look back through the Sunday Old School archives will help you find a plethora of bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, from stars such as Iron Maiden and Saxon to somewhat lesser known acts like Jaguar and Angel Witch. Today, we will look at another band from the scene, which never became celebrities like some of their contemporaries, but like Raven and Tygers Of Pan Tang, established themselves as one of the standout acts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a group by the name of Praying Mantis. Praying Mantis were formed by brothers Tino and Chris Troy in 1974 but despite the early formation, it would take them five years to record their first demo, "The Soundhouse Tapes," which was named such because they, like many other bands at the time, recorded it at the Spaceward studio, owned by DJ Neal Kay, who also managed the Heavy Metal Soundhouse club. They followed this with their first single the next year, an eponymous track which featured the song, "High Roller" as a B-side, along with another short release entitled, "The Soundhouse Tapes Part 2" in 1981. These releases and supporting slots for bigger acts garnered the attention of Artista Records who signed them up and distributed their first full length album, "Time Tells No Lies," also in 1981. The debut is considered their best known work to date, as well as perhaps, their highest quality of material.

Despite the favourable response they found after their debut, the band soon entered a turbulent period. They recorded a version of the song, "I Surrender," by Russ Ballard, but unfortunately for them, Rainbow, the band formed by ex Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, had also recorded their take on the track, which prevented Praying Mantis from releasing theirs. To add insult to injury, the Rainbow version went on to be a hit single worldwide. Instead, Praying Mantis recorded a single called "Cheated," which was only able to reach number 69 on the British singles chart. They followed this with a cover of The Kinks’ classic, "All Day and All of the Night," which also did relatively poorly, causing Artista to drop them from the label. They released one more single through Jet Records entitled, "Turn the Tables," which was also unsuccessful and the band decided to call it a day soon afterwards. They did however briefly return under the new moniker, "Stratus" for an album named, "Throwing Shapes," though they went no further than this one album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Samael

Formed by brothers Vorph and Xy (originally going by the much longer titles Vorphalack and Xytraguptor) way back in 1987, Swiss act Samael is one of the longest running bands in the black metal scene, although there have been many times throughout the group’s career where the term “black metal” didn’t apply at all.

Despite the tension that would appear to occur with two family members writing, recording, and performing together constantly, Samael has been forging ahead without any signs of slowing down for more than 20 years. The band’s lineup is currently rounded out by bassist Mas, who has been involved with since the early ‘90s, and “newcomer” guitarist Makro, who joined in 2002. Makro also plays in the devastating death/doom outfit Sludge, which has previously been covered in our look at unknown side projects.

Samael has actually had one of the most stable lineups in a band with this sort of longevity, only splitting with three members in 26 years, with the core of the band remaining stable in all that time. Despite that lack of membership changes, the group has had a constant theme of evolution throughout its history, refining and even changing styles completely several times.

Besides the sound change as the band evolved from black metal towards an electronic/industrial vibe, the lyrics themselves have morphed significantly. The themes went from explicitly negative lyrics attacking religion in the early days (“I vomit on the holy bible” being one iconic line from the “Ceremony of Opposites” album) to more mystical leanings in the transitory middle era. The metamorphosis came full circle by the time of the 2004 album “Reign of Light” (reviewed here), where the band was still critical of religion, but the lyrics had become positive and uplifting instead. The follow-up “Solar Soul” (reviewed here) then shifted yet again, this time towards current events, politics, and warfare.

Samael’s first full-length “Worship Him” arrived in 1991, which witnessed the band’s most overt early black metal sound that is about as old school as it gets.

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Sunday Old School: EyeHateGod

With the recent passing of their drummer Joey LaCaze, it seemed an appropriate time to look back on Eyehategod, one of the most esteemed metal bands to ever come from New Orleans, a city which has produced some of the finest music to ever come from the United States of America. Eyehategod were formed in 1988, on April 20th to be precise, by LaCaze and guitarist Jimmy Bower, before being joined shortly afterwards by vocalist, Mike Williams, bassist Steve Dale and second guitarist, Brian Patton. They soon recorded two demos entitled, "Garden Dwarf Woman Driver" and "Lack of Almost Everything" and sent them off to various labels, eventually finding success in their pursuit when they were signed to a French label named Intellectual Convulsion. Through the label, they released their first full length album, "In the Name of Suffering," which was noticeably more hardcore in sound than their later work. Not long after releasing their debut, Intellectual Convulsion Records folded and the band were forced to find a new label, which came in the shape of Century Media, who re-released the album.

The following year, Eyehategod got to work on their sophomore record, "Take as Needed for Pain," which displayed their blues and southern rock influences a lot more prominently than their previous efforts. It also featured the recording debut of their new bass player, Mark Schultz, though this would be his only album with the group. The album was released to a positive response, with Mike Williams claiming that it remains almost all of the band members' favourite material, and allowed them to tour with other established acts such as White Zombie and Corrosion of Conformity amongst others. Despite the positive response, the band was put on hold for a short while whilst the members of the band contributed to other projects, perhaps the most notable being Jimmy Bower who performed drums on the Crowbar album, "Broken Glass" and "NOLA," the debut album by supergroup, Down which also featured the frontmen of Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity and Pantera. Some of the other members' activities included Brian Patton performing guitar duties on the debut Soilent Green album, "Pussysoul" and Mike Williams contributing to Metal Maniacs magazine. More...

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Sunday Old School: Slash’s Snakepit

In 1993 Guns N’ Roses guitarist, Slash, put together another band. He needed a side project, a distraction. He needed a break from Guns N’ Roses. Slash’s Snakepit would release two albums, with the first selling over one million copies. That is one successful side project. More...

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Sunday Old School: Ratos de Porão

For many people, the mere mention of Brazilian metal will instantly, and in some case solely, conjure up memories of Belo Horizonte’s, Sepultura. But if one were to look deeper at the heavy music of this vast and amazing country, a treasure trove of great music will be uncovered. Today, we look at one of the oldest heavy acts from Brazil that are still going, who made a name for themselves in both the punk and metal scenes, led by a larger than life vocalist named João Gordo, whose very name means fat. I'm talking of course, about Ratos de Porão. Ratos de Porão were formed in 1981 in Sao Paolo, the largest city in Brazil and were almost immediately considered one of the most aggressive and fierce sounding bands in the Brazilian punk scene, thanks largely to them being more influenced by the UK82 bands such as Discharge and The Exploited than the previous punk scene that inspired their contemporaries. They focused their lyrical themes on speaking out against the Brazilian government and society, a concept that was somewhat radical for a band from Brazil to do, given how oppressive the government was compared to other countries with flourishing punk scenes, including the United States and Great Britain. The lyrics shone through on their debut album, "Crucificados Pelo Sistema," which was released in 1983 through Ataque Frontal and immediately established itself as one of the most abrasive punk records ever to come from Brazil. Despite the attention their debut received, the group was forced to call it a day soon afterwards, when the punk scene in Sao Paolo was all but dissolved thanks to gang violence.

The group didn’t stay inactive for long, returning to the scene in 1985 with more of a thrash metal take on their sound. Lead singer João Gordo remained, as did original drummer Jão Carlos, who switched to guitar, his place behind the drum kit being taken by a man named Spaguetti. After releasing their second album, "Descanse Em Paz" through Baratos Afins, they began to associate with the heavy metal scene a lot more, perhaps most noticeably with four long time fans who had a band of their own named Sepultura, as well as other soon to be known bands such as Korzus. RxDxPx then released their third album in 1987, entitled "Cada Dia Mais Sujo e Agressivo," which was their first album to be released in English, as well as their native Portuguese, a move they had previously shied away from for fear that their grasp of the English language was so poor that fans outside Brazil would make fun of them. More...

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Sunday Old School: Vengeance Rising

For all the controversy heavy metal has generated, one of the biggest and sometimes most divisive talking points within the genre itself is the concept of Christian metal. For a genre which has been accused time and time again of attacking the values of Christianity and portraying Satan in a more positive light than he’s used to, the idea of using the music itself to promote devotion to God may seem like something of a contradiction. However, a number of bands have not only found commercial success with their musically heavy spiritual themes, but also established a large, devoted fan base and respect among secular fans. This week (on a Sunday, appropriately enough,) we’ll be looking at one of the heaviest examples of early Christian metal, albeit one whose story takes a considerable turn, Vengeance Rising. The band was formed in 1987 by vocalist Roger Martinez, initially under the moniker, “Vengeance,” before their name was lengthened to their more familiar tag. Martinez was heavily involved in the Pentecostal Foursquare Church, eventually becoming a pastor in the denomination in Hollywood, California. He was joined in the band by guitarists Larry Farkas and Doug Thieme, along with drummer Glenn Mancaruso and bass player Roger Martin. Merely a year after forming, they released their first album, "Human Sacrifice" through Intense Records, which is considered by many to be one of the most radical albums in the history of Christian metal, adopting a brutally heavy take on thrash. Despite the promotion of their religion, they found that the favour was not returned by Christian stores, who found the sound and front cover to be demonic.

The lyrics were also a heavy topic of conversation. Despite some of the more positive (daresay Stryper-esque) titles such as "Salvation," "He Is God" and "I Love to Hate Evil," it also featured tracks with such names as, "Beheaded" and "Fill This Place with Blood." This was another reason why the record was pulled from many stores, though the same themes can be heard from most borderline insane preachers in the street. The band soon embarked on a tour to promote the album, where they caused more controversy for essentially staging their own Passion Plays on stage, depicting the death of Jesus Christ in a very graphic manner. More...

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Sunday Old School: Manowar

Some bands play heavy metal music. Others embody it in every possible way. Perhaps the best example of the latter would be a group who formed in Auburn, New York in 1979. A band by the name of Manowar. Fittingly enough for a group so devoted to heavy metal, the seeds of the band were sewn on the touring cycle for metal godfathers, Black Sabbath, who were supporting their album, “Heaven and Hell” at the time. Their bass tech and fireworks manager, Joey DeMaio got talking to former Dictators guitarist, Ross Friedman (AKA Ross the Boss,) who was then performing with Black Sabbath’s support group, Shakin’ Street. They became friends quickly and decided to form their own band, rounding out the lineup just after the tour by adding drummer Carl Canedy and DeMaio’s former classmate, Eric Adams on vocals. They began by performing covers before moving on to craft their own brand of metal, eventually crafting their first demo, "Demo 1981," their only recording with Canedy, who left soon after and was replaced by Donnie Hamzik, a native of Poland. He joined at a fortunate time, as Manowar soon signed their first record deal with Liberty Records, with whom they released their debut album, "Battle Hymns," in August of 1982. The eight song record was perhaps most notable for the inclusion of acting great, Orson Welles who performed the narration on the song, "Dark Avenger." They promoted the album by joining controversial hard rocker Ted Nugent on tour as his support act, but the partnership wasn’t the most fruitful and the young metal act soon arranged their own North American tour, as well as their first gigs in Europe, where they found particular favour in Germany and Great Britain. These tours proved too much for Hamzik, who decided to leave the group upon returning to America and Manowar soon found their third drummer in Scott Columbus.

Along with a new drummer, the band found themselves a new label after parting ways with Liberty. They signed with Megaforce Records for their North American releases and caused a stir on the other side of the Atlantic when they signed a European deal with Music For Nations in their own blood. They began recording their sophomore effort immediately afterwards, releasing an EP named, "Defender," (it’s title track featuring another collaboration with Orson Welles,) before releasing their second full length, "Into Glory Ride." The album was a big hit with metal fans the world over due to the more adventurous nature of the music and the group planned to tour extensively in support of the album, paying particular attention to the United Kingdom, though they would ultimately be forced to cancel their British shows. To make up for the disappointment they caused their English fans, they titled their third album, "Hail to England," which, as one might expect, gained them an even larger fan base in the title country. The album was recorded and mixed in under a week but was instantly hailed as their best work, going on to be regarded as the pinnacle of their "classic" lineup by many fans. They teamed up with Danish black metal pioneers, Mercyful Fate for a number of shows, where they were initially serving as support, before audience reaction bumped them up to the headline position. More...

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Sunday Old School: Guns N’ Roses

With over 100 million worldwide albums sold, Guns N' Roses gave heavy metal a much needed kick in the ass when they burst upon the scene. Sex, drugs, riots, racism, fights...the band has been involved in anything you can think of, earning Guns N’ Roses the label of “world’s most dangerous band.” Watch the video for “Welcome to The Jungle” and you begin to understand the initial stigma of Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses. Rose and company let fans and critics into their lives through music and videos (this changed over the years as communication came more via rants, letters to the media, and court issued documents). A Midwest boy exploring Hollywood for all of its worth: part-relishing, part-horrified. Axl Rose was later rumored to be diagnosed as bi-polar. Watch the video; it was always right in front of our eyes. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sleep

Providing you don’t have to be up early for church, one of the best things about Sundays is sleep. This week, the last word in that previous sentence will have a double meaning, as we take a look at the band Sleep, one of the pioneers of the stoner metal genre. The band’s origins go back to the sludge metal group, Asbestosdeath, which featured singing bassist, Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius, along with guitarist Tom Choi, with a second guitarist named Matt Pike being added to the lineup soon after. The quartet recorded two singles. One for the label, Profane Existence entitled, "Dejection," and a self-released cut named, "Unclean." These would be the only recordings made with Choi, who left the group shortly afterwards and was replaced by Justin Marler. The change in members brought about a change for the band as a whole, who decided to abandon the Asbestosdeath moniker and go by, Sleep from here on in.

Now marching under a new banner, the four piece recorded their first full length album, "Volume One," which was released in 1991 through the Tupelo Recording Company. It is hailed as the darkest work of their career, more akin to doom metal than the stoner sound they would become known for. It would be their only release with Marler, who took the somewhat unexpected decision to quit the band to become an orthodox monk quickly after the record hit the shelves, leaving them as a trio for their EP, "Volume Two," which consisted of a live cover of Black Sabbath’s, "Lord of This World" and early versions of the songs, "Nain's Baptism" and "The Druid." More...

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Sunday Old School: Brutal Truth

It’s been a while since Sunday Old School has looked at a truly extreme band, and music doesn’t come much more extreme than grindcore. The grindcore movement was doing well by the late eighties in Europe, but America was yet to produce a proper, standout band in the genre. Perhaps the first band to do just that, was Brutal Truth. Brutal Truth was formed in 1990 by bassist/vocalist, Danny Lilker as a side project while he focused his efforts on the thrash metal outfit, Nuclear Assault. He was joined in the endeavour by guitarist, Brent "Gurn" McCarty and drummer, Scott Lewis and it wasn’t long before the trio recorded their first demo, "The Birth of Ignorance." They soon went from three members to four, when they recruited music journalist, Kevin Sharp to become their new vocalist, allowing Lilker to focus his attention on playing bass. They performed when possible, eventually attracting the attention of grindcore home, Earache Records, who offered the band a record deal, as well as Lilker’s escape route from Nuclear Assault, who he had grown distant from.

Brutal Truth recorded their first album, "Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses," which was hailed immediately as an instant classic in the still burgeoning grindcore genre and in 2009, was voted the best American grindcore album of all time by Terrorizer magazine. The album spawned music videos for the songs, "Ill Neglect" and "Collateral Damage," the latter earning the group a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records for the shortest music video ever, clocking in at only four seconds. They soon hit the road to support the record, perhaps most notably when they teamed up with three of the biggest names in British extreme metal, Carcass, Cathedral and grindcore godfathers, Napalm Death for a North American tour, before heading to Europe with Fear Factory. More...

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Sunday Old School 200: Monsters Of Rock

This week’s edition of Sunday Old School is a very special one because today sees Sunday Old School reach two hundred official articles! So to celebrate this little milestone of ours, I wanted to look back in rock and metal history and find a true landmark moment in the genre. A moment that let the world know that heavy music was here to stay and meant so much to so many. And nothing seemed like a bigger moment in general metal history than when promoter Paul Loasby teamed up with Maurice Jones and formed a festival, which was to be held at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, and would be known as Monsters of Rock.

The one day event was initially scheduled to be a grand final date for Rainbow’s UK tour, a band whom Loasby had recently been promoting. Rainbow were joined at the inaugural event by established German rockers, the Scorpions, who had just released their seventh album, "Animal Magnetism" and Judas Priest, who were riding high thanks to the wildly successful, "British Steel" album. Also on the bill that day were heavy metal upstarts, Saxon, who were considered the leaders of the exciting young, New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement at the time, Canadian hard rock veterans, April Wine and New York openers Riot and Touch. The festival was a resounding success, drawing in thirty five thousand fans and a live compilation album, which sold well.

Although it was initially conceived only as a vehicle for Rainbow, it was announced on the day of the first edition that the festival would return the next year. AC/DC were to be the headliners in 1981, marking the first of their record holding three headline appearances at the event. It was a somewhat lighter tone in the sophomore year, where AC/DC were joined Whitesnake, American stars, Blue Oyster Cult and quite interestingly, British glam rock veterans, Slade, who had recently found favour with the heavy metal audience after a brief time out of the limelight. Rounding off the bill was Blackfoot, a Southern Rock band from Jacksonville, Florida and More, who were notable for featuring former Iron Maiden vocalist, Paul Day, as well as a DJ set from the BBC’s voice of rock, Tommy Vance. The varied lineups continued, with Status Quo (AKA, your nan’s favourite band) headlining the event in 1982, where they were joined by other established rockers such as Gillan, Uriah Heep and Hawkwind, as well as a young Canadian group named, Anvil and Monsters of Rock veterans, Saxon, who became the first band to appear twice, before Whitesnake closed the event in 1983, which also featured Meat Loaf and ZZ Top, who were placed higher than such heavy metal favourites as Dio, Diamond Head and Twisted Sister. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hurricane

It was Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot) who introduced Robert Sarzo to Tony Cavazo. When DuBrow introduces two guys (who just happen to be kid brothers of members of Quiet Riot), you must start a band, it’s a rule. They named their band Hurricane. More...

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Sunday Old School: Agent Steel

We’ve looked at plenty of thrash metal bands over the nearly 200 Sunday Old School columns written so far, but perhaps one are we’ve neglected would be the sub-genre’s predecessor, speed metal. Today, we’ll rectify this with a look at one of the top dogs in the speed metal field, Agent Steel. Agent Steel were formed in 1984 after vocalist John Camps (AKA, John Cyriis) left the band, Abattoir and teamed up with drummer, Chuck Profus. The original Agent Steel lineup was completed with the addition of bass player, George Robb and guitarists Mark Marshall and Bill Simmons. The quintet soon entered the studio to record their first demo, "144,000 Gone," which was received favourably in the local California metal scene, enough so that it found some radio play and earned the band a supporting slot for Slayer as their very first show and helped them receive a record deal with Combat, who had also recently signed Megadeth. Before they could record their first album however, they experienced problems with their guitarists and a short revolving door situation evolved, before they finally settled on Kurt Colfelt and Cyriis’ former Abattoir bandmate, Juan Garcia and set about recording their first full length, which was released in the summer of 1985 under the title, "Skeptics Apocalypse." The record was very well received and is now considered a true classic in the speed metal genre.

Despite the acclaim, Colfelt quit the band soon afterwards when relations soured between him and Cyriis and formed a new band called, Holy Terror. His position was filled by Bernie Versailles who made his recording debut with the band on the "Mad Locust Rising" EP, which was notable for its cover of the Judas Priest song, "The Ripper." Following the release of the EP, the group had to find another new member when George Robb quit and was replaced by bassist, Michael Zaputil. With a new bassist on board, the band got to work on their sophomore full length, though the album’s recording was interrupted for a while by a European tour with countrymen, Anthrax and Overkill, footage of which was later released as part of the home video, "US Speed Metal Attack." More...

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Sunday Old School: Fudge Tunnel

Earache Records is without a doubt one of the biggest record labels in metal music. They made their name by signing some of the best extreme bands around, but also branched out into more experiemental areas at times, including with today's featured band, Fudge Tunnel. Fudge Tunnel were formed in 1988 in the English city of Nottingham, where the original lineup of singing guitarist, Alex Newport, drummer Adrian Parkin and a bassist known only as, Mark, would rehearse above a working men’s club. After Mark decided he’d be more comfortable playing guitar, the group recruited a new bass player named, David Ryley, before Mark left altogether. The trio’s first release was a self-titled EP, which hit the shelves via Pigboy Records in 1990 and was very well received by the music press. They built on their attention by joining up and coming industrial metal outfit, Godflesh on a tour and releasing a second EP named, "The Sweet Sound of Excess," both of which helped them to gain a record deal with Earache, who were based in Nottingham and had made a name for themselves by signing such popular acts as Napalm Death, Carcass and American death metal group, Morbid Angel.

Their debut album, "Hate Songs in E Minor" drew controversy before it was even released. Just three weeks prior to the record’s release, the Earache Records office was raided by the Nottingham Vice Squad, who confiscated any "offensive material" which included the original artwork for the album (as well as, according to Carcass frontman, Jeff Walker, an Alice Cooper poster.) The setback forced Fudge Tunnel to using live images for the cover art instead (charges were eventually dropped and the original artwork appeared on t-shirts.) The album itself met a very strong reception from metal fans and featured a unique sound which remains very difficult to pinpoint, as well as some unique song titles and two covers, both classic rock staples, namely, "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream and "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent, who the album was also dedicated to. Among the album’s admirers was Sepultura frontman, Max Cavalera, who was so impressed with the record that he invited the band out on tour with Sepultura, though Newport would later express his distaste that the tour seemed to have lumped Fudge Tunnel into the metal category. More...

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Sunday Old School: Megadeth

With their new album, "Super Collider" having hit the shelves this past week, today seemed like the best possible time to take a look at one of the biggest and most controversial names in the history of thrash metal, Megadeth. Everyone and their dog knows that the seeds of Megadeth were sewn in 1983 when Metallica sacked their aggressive guitarist, Dave Mustaine, right before they were scheduled to record their first album, "Kill 'em All." They sent Mustaine back to California from New York on a bus, where he sat and furiously plotted to form a new band which would be faster and nastier than Metallica. While he was on the bus, he found a pamphlet which contained the phrase, "The arsenal of megadeath can’t be rid no matter what the peace treaties come to." Liking the sound of the word, "megadeath," he chose it as one of the first song titles for his new group, which was formed a few weeks later under the name, Fallen Angels, though this was changed soon after to Megadeth at the suggestion of the band’s original singer, Lor Kane. Mustaine and bass player, David Ellefson auditioned a number of drummers, singers and guitarsts throughout the forging of Megadeth, most notably Slayer guitarist, Kerry King, who performed a handful of shows with the group before deciding to concentrate on his own band, much to the disappointment of Mustaine.

Eventually, Mustaine decided to handle the vocal duties himself and they hired fusion drummer, Gar Samuelson before landing a record deal with Combat Records, after which they finally found a second guitarist in Chris Poland, who knew Samuelson from their time together in the jazz fusion outfit, The New Yorkers. The group received eight thousand dollars advance from Combat to record their debut album and were forced to produce the record themselves after spending a large chunk of it on drugs and alcohol. The result, "Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good," was a success, selling well for an independent release, being hailed as a thrash metal classic and gaining the attention of major label, Capitol, who would sign the band after they were unhappy with the initial recording of their second album, which Capitol also bought the rights to. This sophomore effort, "Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?" was finally released in 1986 and would prove to be their breakthrough and is now considered to be amongst the top thrash albums ever, along with "Master of Puppets" by Metallica and "Reign in Blood," by Slayer, both of which were also released in 1986. The title track from the album was made into a music video, a first for Megadeth and was a popular choice on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball show. The success of the album allowed them to tour with other established acts such as King Diamond and Alice Cooper, the latter of which once summoned the group to his bus one night to warn them of their drug habits. More...

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Sunday Old School: Uriah Heep

A few weeks ago, Sunday Old School took a look at British hard rock legends, UFO, one of the architects of the heavy metal sound. With the recent passing of their bass player, it seemed like an opportune time to examine another English band that helped define the heavy style, Uriah Heep. The band was initially formed under the moniker, Spice by guitarist Mick Box and singer, David Garrick, who met while members of another band called, The Stalkers. They rounded up the lineup with the additions of Scottish drummer, Alex Napier and bass player, Paul Newton. They performed regularly, working their reputation up to being a regular headline act and soon led them to sign with Vertigo Records, whereupon they decided to change their name, deciding to go with "Uriah Heep" after the character from the Charles Dickens novel, "David Copperfield," since "Dickens’ name was everywhere in Christmas 1969 due to it being the hundredth anniversary of his death." It was also around this time that the group decided to add a keyboardist to the mix, inspired by another early heavy band, Vanilla Fudge, a position which was eventually filled by Ken Hensley, who previously played with Newton in The Gods.

They released their debut album in 1970, which was self-titled in the United States but was known everywhere else as, "Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble," which was a reference to a phrase frequently said by the Uriah Heep character in "David Copperfield." Although the album has found favour over time and contains one of their trademark songs, "Gypsy," it initially received a very frosty reception. Cold enough in fact, that Rolling Stone reviewer, Melissa Mills opened her review of the album with, "If this band makes it, I’ll have to commit suicide." The band followed, "Very ‘eavy…" by releasing, "Salisbury," a progressive rock record if ever there was one, exemplified by the sixteen minute long title track, in which the group were accompanied by a twenty four piece orchestra. Like their debut, it also featured one of their best known songs, this time, "Lady in Black," which would become a hit in Germany when it was re-released six years later. The album itself was not received much better than it’s predecessor, but nevertheless, generated enough interest to allow Uriah Heep to tour the United States for the first time, where they joined Three Dog Night and Canadian rockers, Steppenwolf. More...

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