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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Crimson Glory

Believe it or not, Slipknot, Mushroomhead and Ghost were not the first hard rock and metal bands to wear masks as part of their image. It’s been a staple of metal music for some time, with a few of these hidden faces becoming quite successful. One of these bands would help to pioneer a genre many follow today and brought a greater attention to progressive metal. They went, and indeed still do go, by the name of Crimson Glory.

Crimson Glory began life as Pierced Arrow in 1979, after a group of musicians which consisted of Tony Wise on vocals, Bernardo Hernandez and Ben Jackson on guitars, Glen Barnhardt on Bass later, and Dana Burnell on drums, formed a band in Sarasota, Florida. Not long after, Chris Campbell and John Colemorgan were brought in on bass and drums respectively by 1982, though a year later, they would go through another transformation when Jeff Lords, who had previously replaced Barnhardt, returned to the group, as well as bringing in a new singer who went by the moniker, Midnight. It was after these changes that the group would change their name to the now familiar alias of Crimson Glory. More...

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Sunday Old School: Dying Fetus

One thing that can be found in metal music that doesn’t appear in other genres is gloriously offensive band names. Metal is very good at turning away non listeners with monikers alone, with Septicflesh and Rotting Christ being two names that are always guaranteed to cause some disturbed looks from the uninitiated, with Anal Cunt and Pissing Razors usually gauging a good reaction too. So let’s take a look at another metal’s most repulsive names, Dying Fetus.

The band began life in Upper Marlboro, Maryland in 1991, the brainchild of guitarist John Gallagher, (not to be confused with the Raven frontman,) and bass player Jason Netherton. The two met guitarist and vocalist Nick Speleos a year later and from there, the group really got going, with Gallagher handling the drum duties until a permanent member could be found. The trio recorded a demo, "Bathing in Entrails" in 1993, before they hired drummer Rob Belton, as well as replacing Speleos with Brian Latta, which prompted Gallagher to also take up vocals, which were first heard on the 1994 demo, "Infatuated With Malevolence." The two demos were released together under the title of the latter as a compilation album in 1995 through Wild Rags Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Evildead

Thrash metal must have given the world more bands in its heyday than any other field. So many of the groups in the genre have released classic albums, or at least good ones from "Reign in Blood" by Slayer to "Angel Rat" from Voivod. Much like the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that inspired it, the thrash scene also gave us plenty of great bands that didn’t receive much attention or have been shuffled away but can now be uncovered and cherished. Today we’ll look at one of these bands, namely the Los Angeles based socio-political thrashers, Evildead.

Evildead was formed in 1988 when guitarist Juan Garcia decided to leave the speed metal band Agent Steel as well as Abattoir, taking bass player Mel Sanchez with him from the latter group, as well as recruiting vocalist, Phil Flores, guitar player, Albert Gonzales and drummer, Rob Alaniz. Garcia was looking for something where he could express his interest in hardcore music and thrash metal, which was present but not at the forefront of Agent Steel material and so decided to forge a new outfit, taking their name from the cult Sam Raimi film, The Evil Dead. More...

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Sunday Old School: Spineshank

In the late nineties and early 2000s, metal was being represented by the nu metal genre, which for those of you too young to remember, consisted mostly of guys with short hair, piercings and tattoos, a lack of guitar solos and perhaps most offensive to “true” metal fans of all, hit singles. While some of the big names in the field such as Limp Bizkit and Coal Chamber were being slated by metalheads, there were a few which were considered hidden gems in the hated genre, one of which was the more industrial influenced, Spineshank.

The seeds of Spineshank were sewn when vocalist Jonny Santos, guitar player Mike Sarkisyan and drummer Tom Decker were all part of a band named Basic Enigma. Shortly after forming, the group heard the album, "Demanufacture" from industrial metal favourites, Fear Factory and decided to take their music further into such a direction, changing their moniker to the now familiar name of Spineshank and bringing in bassist Robert Garcia. As luck would have it, the band befriended the members of Fear Factory, particularly guitarist Dino Cazares, who was impressed with their demo and offered them a slot opening for his band at the Whiskey A-Go-Go. More...

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Sunday Old School: In Flames

Over the course of Sunday Old School, we’ve seen how genres, or indeed sub-genres can be pioneered or popularised by a specific group of bands. We’ve seen how the Peaceville three (Paradise Lost, Anathema and My Dying Bride) and Katatonia, helped launch the combination of doom and death metal, and of course everyone knows the Big Four of thrash (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth in case you’ve forgot,) but another style we’ve seen spread was melodic death metal, which was brought to people’s attention by Carcass, At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity and one other group, today’s in fact, In Flames.

In Flames began life as a side project of Ceremonial Oath member, Jesper Strömblad, who wanted to add more melodic aspects to death metal. It wasn’t until he’d quit Ceremonial Oath that he was able to put together a lineup for his project though, recruiting guitarist Glenn Ljungström and bass player Johan Larsson, both founding members of the power metal band Hammerfall, another offshoot of Ceremonial Oath. After picking up another guitarist in Carl Näslund and hiring Dark Tranquility vocalist to be their session singer, In Flames recorded their first studio album, "Lunar Strain," which was released through Wrong Again Records at first and was notable for its inclusion of folk music, something which would not last long in the band’s style. More...

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Sunday Old School: Believer

It’s quite hard to think of how a Christmas special could be done in a column exclusively about metal music. We came close last year with a look at British hit makers, Slade, who are perhaps best known for their song, "Merry Xmas Everyone." This year, we’re ringing in the holidays with a band who perhaps have a more traditional take on this season, as perhaps do some of our readers who are also subscribers to the Christian faith, or should I say, consider them self to be a Believer?

Have you forgiven me for that terrible pun yet? Then let’s move on to Believer, a band formed in Colebrook, Pennsylvania , that was formed in 1986 by vocalist/guitarist Kurt Bachman and drummer Joey Daub with bassist Howe Kraft and a second guitarist, Dave Baddorf joining soon after. Initially, their music was very melodic and the group demonstrated this with their demo, "The Return," in 1987, which earned them a deal with R.E.X. Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: U.D.O.

It seems a common trait in metal music is that if a popular frontman leaves a well known group, he (or indeed she,) will form a new band named after themselves, rather than simply using their full name. Dio is one of the best known examples of this, and King Diamond of Mercyful Fate is another, with the trend continuing to this day with Immortal frontman Abbath Doom Occulta, forming his own band, Abbath. Another of the more popular acts to be founded in such a way, was done so in "the city of blades," Solingen, Germany, by the German singer, Udo Dirkschneider, who christened his new group, U.D.O.

Dirkschneider had made his name in the eighties as the gruff frontman for Accept, a pioneer of the speed metal sound and one of Germany’s most popular heavy metal groups, but in 1987, he expressed his desire to go solo, which he did with the blessing of his bandmates. He put together a lineup which included Warlock bass player Frank Rittel, as well as guitarists Mathias Dieth of Sinner and Peter Szigeti, along with drummer Thomas Franke and the quintet recorded their debut album, "Animal House," which was actually written for Dirkschneider by Accept as a goodbye present. It was very well received by fans, if not all critics, and the band took to the road to promote the album, performing with the likes of Lita Ford and Guns N Roses, who were riding high on the success of, "Appetite for Destruction." More...

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Sunday Old School: Stone Temple Pilots

This week, it was sadly confirmed that Scott Weiland, the former vocalist of Stone Temple Pilots and supergroup Velvet Revolver, had passed away at the age of 48. Perhaps the most tragic part of this news was that not too many people were surprised, given his long history of drug abuse. In spite of this, he was always respected for his outstanding vocal talents and unique stage presence that inspired dancing even during the heaviest songs he performed. This is the story of how he, the DeLeo brothers and drummer Eric Kretz made their name as one of the most popular bands in rock music, Stone Temple Pilots.

The story of how the group started is one that’s been debated. Most accounts claim that Scott Weiland met bassist Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag show, where they discussed their girlfriends and realised that they were dating the same girl, though in his autobiography, Weiland claims that he and his two friends, guitarist Corey Hicock and drummer David Allin had been chasing up DeLeo after seeing him perform with a band named Soi Disant. After convincing him to join them, the wrote for a few years before Allin left and was replaced by Eric Kretz, who the group had seen perform in Long Beach and not long after, Hicock also quit, with his place eventually being taken by Robert’s brother, Dean. The guitarist insisted that if he joined, the band would have to lose their name, Swing and so they settled on Mighty Joe Young, taken from the 1949 movie of the same name. More...

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Sunday Old School: Holy Dragons

Over the course of the Sunday Old School series, we’ve examined veteran metal bands from all across the world. From Aria in Russia, to Septicflesh and Rotting Christ of Greece, to Austria’s Belphegor, a Chilean band called Pentagram and another band called Pentagram (or Mezarkabul, if you prefer,) from Turkey. Speaking of Turkey, did you know that Turks are part of a larger group of people classified as Turkic? Another ethnicity that’s a member of this collective is the Kazakhs. In case you haven’t put two and two together yet, this week we’ll be expanding our map by taking a look at a metal band from Kazakhstan for the first time and their name is Holy Dragons.

The band was formed in 1992 in the then capital city of Almaty, (it was replaced as capital in 1997 by Astana,) by guitarist, Jurgen Thunderson, who was joined initially in his endeavour by singer Oleg "Holger" Komaroff. They set out to bring make music like that of their heavy metal heroes such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and in doing so, became one of, if not the first metal band Kazakhstan had produced. Keeping a stable lineup proved to be something of a difficult task, with Thunderson remaining the sole constant member. More...

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Sunday Old School: Vital Remains

Ordinarily, when a news story provides the inspiration to choose which band will be featured in the Sunday Old School column, it's because the group has split, reformed or a member has passed away. However, this week, the choice was made when a police officer in Florida was fired for joining a well known death metal band on stage and singing along to their song, "Let the Killing Begin." The quartet in question hails from Providence, Rhode Island and goes by the name of Vital Remains.

The group was forged in 1988 by guitarist, Paul Flynn, who was soon joined in his endeavour by guitarist Butch Machado, vocalist Mike Flynn, bassist Tom Supkow, and drummer Chris Dupont. Mike Flynn and Butch Machado did not last long however, as Vital Remains decided they needed better musicians and replaced the duo with Jeff Gruslin and Tony Lazaro respectively. Spurred on by the writing partnership of the two guitar players, the group became one of the most popular live acts in their local scene and after recording two demos, "Reduced to Ashes" and "Excruciating Pain," they caught the attention of French label, Thrash Records, who signed them up. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hammerfall

It always feels when looking through the Sunday Old School archives that power metal is an area that gets severely neglected. Of course, there have been some of the big names covered such as Helloween and Blind Guardian, but such acts are few and far between the likes of Napalm Death and Testament. So this week, we’re taking a step to rectify this by focusing one of the most popular bands in the history of power metal, Hammerfall.

The band was formed in 1993 by guitarist Oscar Dronjak, following his departure from extreme metal band Ceremonial Oath, who invited his former bandmate Jesper Strömblad (who had also just formed his own band, In Flames) to join him as the drummer. They were soon joined by bassist Johan Larsson and Niklas Sundin (who were soon replaced by Fredrik Larsson and In Flames guitarist, Glenn Ljungström,) as well as Dark Tranquillity vocalist, Mikael Stanne. Because of the members time mostly being spent with their other bands, Hammerfall was treated as a side project for the most part and had few original songs of their own, mainly performing covers by bands such as Judas Priest and Alice Cooper .

They mostly performed at a local music competition called Rockslaget, which they reached the semi finals of in 1996, at which point Stanne was unable to perform with the band and so, with the initial plan of making him a temporary member, Hammerfall brought in singer Joacim Cans, who impressed them enough that although the group didn’t make the final, he was made the new vocalist on a permanent basis after the show. The band started taking themselves a little more seriously after and recorded a short live performance, which eventually earned them a record deal with the Dutch label Vic Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Dark Tranquillity

Metal loves to trace the roots and popularity of a style back to specific bands. Thrash metal famously has its "big four," of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax , black metal goes back to Venom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate and Bulldozer and melodic death metal is often credited mostly to Carcass, In Flames, At The Gates and today’s featured band, Dark Tranquillity.

The band began life in 1989 after guitarists Niklas Sundin and Mikael Stanne put together a group named Septic Broiler, soon being joined in their endeavours by bassist Martin Henriksson, vocalist Anders Fridén and drummer, Anders Jivarp. Tney quickly recorded a demo, "Enfeebled Earth," before deciding to change their name to the now familiar moniker, Dark Tranquility. They soldiered on until they were snapped up by Spinefarm Records, through which they released their debut album, "Skydancer" in 1993, which was met with mostly positive reviews. It was quite different from later releases and many look back on it now as one of the dark horses of the Dark Tranquility catalogue. More...

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Sunday Old School: Persian Risk

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's lost count of the amount of times the Sunday Old School has dived into the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement and found a subject. Then again, why not? It's the gift that keeps on giving, spawning metal icons, cult heroes and buried treasures, it was a nationwide scene that changed metal forever and gave the world some of the best heavy metal music ever. It was also where members of some of metal's biggest names got their start, including Tygers Of Pan Tang guitarist John Sykes, who went on to to bring some much needed vitality to Thin Lizzy and Motorhead guitarist, Phil Campbell, who was found while playing with today's featured band, Persian Risk.

Campbell formed the band in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff in 1979 and was joined initially in his venture by vocalist Jon Deverill, second guitarist Dave Bell, bass player Nick Hughes, and drummer Russell "Razz" Lemon. Deverill was not to stay in the band for too long however, as he left the following year to join up with the Tygers of Pan Tang and was replaced by Carl Sentance, who had previously performed with Hughes and Razz in a band named, Leading Star. The quintet then released their first seven inch single, "Calling For You" a year later, which has become a highly collectible release among heavy metal fanatics. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sacrifice

Thrash metal was truly a phenomenon. Not only did it create legendary scenes in the United States and Germany and give us some of the most beloved metal bands in history, but it spread worldwide, spawning movements in Great Britain, Brazil and of course, Canada. The great white north has brought the world some well respected thrash over the years, including today's featured band, Sacrifice from Toronto.

Sacrifice began when two friends, Rob Urbinati and Joe Rico, both guitar players, decided to form a band, initially playing covers of some of their favourite bands, bringing in bassist, Scott Watts soon afterwards. After bringing in drummer, Craig Boyle and his friend, singer John Baldy, the quintet recorded two demo tapes, which mostly consisted of covers of bands such as Metallica and Judas Priest, with the one original coming in the form of, "Turn in Your Grave." As time went on, Sacrifice developed a heavier sound, with Urbitani taking over the vocalist position as well as seeing a slew of drummers coming through the ranks, before the group settled on Gus Pynn. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cripple Bastards

When one thinks of grindcore, the likelihood is that the first thought will turn to the scene in the United Kingdom that produced the likes of Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and Carcass, while the over the pond, some of the genre's best bands such as Brutal Truth and Terrorizer were formed. But grindcore wasn't exclusive to the UK and the US, there was plenty of demand for extreme music in mainland Europe too, and today, we look at one of the more well known names from this era, Italy's own, Cripple Bastards.

Cripple Bastards originally went by the name Grimcorpses and were formed by singer Giulio the Bastard and guitarist Alberto the Crippler, originally as a punk band with some metal influences, before forging a harder style by throwing grindcore into the mix and changing their name to the now familiar moniker, Cripple Bastards. With this new style, they were able to stand out among other bands and bring some attention back to the hardcore scene in Asti, which is around 34 miles east of Turin, and released a string of split EPs and seven inch singles, as well as the EPs, "Life's Built On Thoughts" and "Frammenti di Vita." More...

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Sunday Old School: Atomic Rooster

One of the great things about the Sunday Old School column is getting to go way back and examine some of the very earliest examples of heavy metal, some of whom even denied the term when it came around. Over the course of this column, we've already taken a look at the likes of Budgie, Blue Cheer, Humble Pie and Spooky Tooth, as well as the big names such as Black Sabbath and this week we'll be adding to that list by observing another strangely named group from that era, Atomic Rooster.

Atomic Rooster was formed in 1969, by keyboardist Vincent Crane and drummer, Carl Palmer, who had both decided to leave The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. When putting the band together, they had hoped to recruit Rolling Stones guitarist, Brian Jones, but due to his death, this was not to be. Instead, they brought in singer and bass player, Nick Graham and began performing around the London club circuit, where on their first headlining show, they were supported by a young band named, Deep Purple. It didn't take long for them to earn a record deal, signing with B&C Records and releasing their debut, "Atomic Roooster," the following year. This was to be their only record with this lineup, as weeks later, guitarist, John Du Cann joined the band and Graham left, followed soon after by Carl Palmer, who quit to form a new band called, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. More...

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Sunday Old School: Orange Goblin

There seems to be a theory these days that younger metal bands aren't particularly interested in where their style came from, focusing too much instead of who can be the most "brutal." Fortunately though, there will always be those who never forget the time when metal featured great riffs, a fun atmosphere and a band named Black Sabbath. This week, we'll be looking at a British band, who in the time when death and black metal had been firmly established and industrial metal was continually gaining momentum, showed that the roots and traditional heavy metal were still cool and they are called, Orange Goblin.

The London quartet was formed in 1995, by vocalist Ben Ward, bassist (and former Queens Park Rangers trainee,) Martyn Millard, drummer Chris Turner and guitarist Pete O'Malley, originally using the name Our Haunted Kingdom, under which moniker they released a split with a young doom metal named Electric Wizard a year later through Rise Above Records, the label owned by another doom cult hero, Lee Dorrian of Cathedral (and formerly of Napalm Death.) This was the band's only release as Our Haunted Kingdom, before changing to the now familiar name, Orange Goblin before releasing their debut album, "Frequencies From Planet Ten," through the same label in 1997. Though not all critics were impressed, it was well received by fans of the stoner metal genre, with some citing them as future champions in the field. More...

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Sunday Old School: Suicidal Tendencies

Thrash metal is a hugely influential genre which brought the heavier side of metal to mainstream attention with some big names and albums back in the eighties. Many bands such as Hirax and Vio-Lence were as thrash metal as it gets, while some brought new ideas and new styles to the genre. Today's column looks at a band which did just that, one which went from gang associated skaters to thrash stalwarts with danceable bass lines. Of course, this could be no one else but the one and only, Suicidal Tendencies.

Suicidal Tendencies was formed in 1981 and was originally intended as just a party band by vocalist Mike Muir, but before long, their live notoriety and popularity had the group creeping to the front of the singer's life. What helped create such a buzz around Suicidal Tendencies was the rumours surrounding them, mostly that they were involved with gangs, in part due to Muir's blue bandana and in time, a gang that revolved around the group called Suicidal Cycos sprung up in California. The band, which also consisted of guitarist Mike Ball, Carlos "Egie" Egert on drums, and bass player Mike Dunnigan, soon recorded their first demo and appeared in the Surfpunks documentary, performing the songs, "Kill" and "Parents For Adoption." Egert left after the first recording and Mike Dunnigan's brother, Sean took his place, though both brothers left after their appearance on the Slamulation compilation. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cynic

It's funny how a band who releases one album can create such a legacy and a clamouring for more. The Sex Pistols are probably the best example of this, as their only album, "Never Mind the Bollocks," revolutionised rock music and young politics for decades, yet they never recorded a second album of new material. Today we look at Cynic, who, in their initial run, released only one album, "Focus," before breaking up, though thankfully returned and released new music twelve years later.

The band was put together by guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert and the next year recorded their first demo, simply called the "'88 Demo," which featured Mark van Erp on bass and vocalist Jack Kelly, who parted company with the group soon after, with Masvidal taking over the singer position. Cynic also added a second guitarist, Jason Gobel to the lineup and the next year recorded a new demo, "Reflections of a Dying World," which was their last recording before bringing in Tony Choy on bass. This incarnation of the band recorded two more demos, before inking their first record deal with Roadrunner Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Korn

It was going to happen eventually. Nu metal, or at least what most people refer to as "nu metal," is being covered in Sunday Old School. Somewhat surprisingly though, it's definitely been around long enough to be featured in the column and despite the criticism the genre still gets, there's no denying it was a big part of the late nineties and early 2000s, providing plenty of gateway bands that led young rockers to "true metal." Today, we'll be looking at one of the most successful bands of the era, who many people credit with inventing the style, Bakersfield, California's own, Korn.

Korn began life in 1993, forming from the ashes of the bands L.A.P.D., which featured guitarist James Schaffer, drummer David Silveria and bassist Reginand Arvizu, and who released two albums before breaking up. The three aforementioned members decided to continue working together and recruited a second guitarist, Brian Welch and eventually a singer named Jonathan Davis, who only joined the group after consulting a psychic. That same year, the band released a demo album, "Neidermayer's Mind," which wasn't received particularly well by many listeners or critics, but nonetheless, seemed to attract enough interest to earn them support slots for House of Pain and Biohazard. More...

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