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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Iced Earth

Power metal is a genre which almost certainly is most popular in mainland Europe. The continent has given birth to many of the genre's greatest acts such as Blind Guardian, Hammerfall and Gamma Ray and continues to book such acts for their biggest festivals. However, that is not to say that the United States has had no input into the development or popularity of power metal. Indeed, one of the field's most beloved groups hail from Tampa, Florida. A band by the name of Iced Earth.

The seeds of the group were sewn in 1985 when guitarist, Jon Schaffer formed a band named Purgatory. As would be a common theme in the life of Iced Earth, member changes were frequent, with Schaffer remaining the only constant. In 1988, they decided to change their name from Purgatory to the moniker we all know today, which was suggested by a friend of Schaffer's who passed away after a motorcycle accident. They soon caught the attention of record labels with their second demo, "Enter the Realm," which earned them a deal with Century Media. Schaffer, along with drummer Mike McGill, vocalist Gene Adam, bass player Dave Abell and guitarist Randall Shawver, entered the famous Morrisound Recording studio, renowned for producing many of the greatest death metal albums, to record their self titled debut. The album was met with a somewhat mixed response, though it allowed them to perform in Europe for the first time as a support act to Blind Guardian.

They wasted little time in getting to work on a sophomore record, though not without making a few changes first. Mike McGill was replaced with Richey Secchiari and perhaps most notably, Gene Adam was fired from the band after he refused to take singing lessons, his place being taken by John Greely. This new incarnation of the band went back to Morrisound to record, "Night of the Stormrider," which faired a little better with the critics, though remains a very popular entry in the Iced Earth catalogue with their fans. The album also took a little longer to be released in the United States than it did Europe, as the American branch of their label was worried that the album would compete against their debut. More...

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Sunday Old School: Def Leppard

Many young bands starting out dream of playing in the biggest arenas, but few were seemingly born to perform on the world's largest platforms. One of the groups that were meant to pack out huge venues the world over was formed back in 1977. A band by the name of Def Leppard. Def Leppard was formed in the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield, famous for it's steel production and regularly hosting the World Snooker Championship. They began life under the name Atomic Mass with the founding members consisting of Rick Savage, Tony Kenning, and Pete Willis, before adding guitarist, Joe Elliott to their ranks, who soon switched to vocals, and a second guitarist named Steve Clark, who joined the band after performing "Free Bird" in its entirety. They were all set to begin recording their first EP, when Kenning decided to quit the group, leading them to hire The Next Band drummer, Frank Noon to record the drum tracks for "The Def Leppard EP." After recording the single, Rick Allen, then only fifteen years of age, was hired as their new drummer and they soon found their first taste of sales success, selling out all 1000 copies of "The Def Leppard EP" thanks largely to airplay given to them by John Peel. The band built up a loyal and ever growing fan base and were considered one of, and at times, the most exciting band in the New Wave of British Heavy metal movement. During this time, EMI Records were searching for a new hard rock band to promote and kept a close eye on Def Leppard, though they eventually decided to take their chances on a band from East London named Iron Maiden.

In spite of being passed over by EMI, Def Leppard soon signed to Phonogram/Vertigo Records and before long, they found themselves on the road supporting the likes of AC/DC and Ted Nugent. They also released their first full length album, "On Through The Night," which sold well enough to reach the top fifteen in the United Kingdom, although it was met with some hostility from fans who felt that the band was trying too hard to appeal to the American market. Some people made their feelings about their new direction all too clear when Def Leppard performed at the Reading festival and were met with a hail of bottles, some of which were filled with urine, although Elliott maintains that most bands performing that day were abused by the crowd. More...

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Sunday Old School: Damageplan

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the murder of former Pantera guitarist, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, one of the most shocking events to occur in the world of heavy metal. It sent shock waves throughout the music community, leading to almost everyone posting their respect online and led to tribute songs from bands such as Machine Head, Black Label Society and even Nickelback. To this day, many people posting their thoughts on a metal website still end their input with "R.I.P. Dimebag," a small but notable example of how the man is still missed by millions across the globe. Although he was known for his work with Pantera, it was with his new band, Damageplan that he was performing when he was killed and so to honour his memory, this week Sunday Old School will be looking at the formation, the tragic demise and most importantly, the music of Damageplan.

In the early 2000's, the condition of Pantera was something of a mystery. The Abbott brothers, Darrell and Vinnie Paul, were keen to get to work on a new record, though they were having trouble getting the same commitment from frontman, Phil Anselmo, who had begun occupying himself with numerous side projects including Down and Superjoint Ritual. Vinnie Paul also claimed that Anselmo's drug use was affecting his live performances. Eager to record and release new music, the brothers decided to form a new band, initially named New Found Power, though their moniker was soon changed to Damageplan. They recruited former Halford guitarist Pat Lachman to fill the vocal spot, after he received a demo of the song, "Crawl" and the lineup was soon rounded up with the addition of former Jerry Cantrell guitar player Shawn Matthews on bass, although he was soon replaced by Bob Zilla, a tattoo artist who had done several pieces for the Abbott brothers. More...

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Sunday Old School: Satyricon

Given the somewhat hostile reaction of many people to Sunday Old School’s coverage of Christian rock superstars, Stryper last week, it seemed like a good idea to go in the complete opposite direction for the next column. So today, we will leave behind the sunshine of Orange County, California for the frostbitten plains of Norway, as Sunday Old School examines one of the most commercially successful black metal bands, Satyricon. The band began life in 1990 under the name Eczema, before deciding to adopt the black metal sound and style the following year and changed their name to Satyricon. Shortly after this switch, the band, consisting of founding drummer Exhurtum and bassist Wargod recruited vocalist and guitarist Satyr to the fold, although Exhurtum would be fired after the recording of their first demo, "All Evil," due to him being perceived as more interested in girls than kicking down grave stones, while Wargod departed to become a United Nations soldier. Satyr, along with fellow guitarist Lemarchand soon added a new member to the ranks in the form of drummer, Frost, who made his recording debut with Satyricon on their second demo, "The Forest is my Throne," which would be the last recognised recording Lemarchand made with the group before being fired, although he did record the guitars for their first full length album, "Dark Medieval Times," which was released in 1994 through Moonfog Records.

The record received a very favourable response and was quickly followed by a second album, "The Shadowthrone" only a few months later, which likewise was regarded very highly. The sophomore effort was also seen as a harsher approach to black metal, shedding the acoustic guitars and medieval influences of their debut and was also notable for Emperor member Samoth handling the bass guitar duties, although this would be his only contribution as a fully fledged member of the band. Since his departure, Satyricon has remained a duo in principle, consisting of Satyr and Frost, with a number of session musicians brought into to perform live and record, some of which have been quite high profile, such as Darkthrone member Nocturno Culto, who contributed guitars to the third Satyricon album, "Nemesis Divina" under another pseudonym, "Kvelduv." The third outing continued to see praise roll in and helped raise their profile as one of black metal’s highest quality acts. More...

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Sunday Old School: Stryper

Stryper is a Christian glam metal band that wears their religion on their sleeves (via stripes). The mid eighties were good for Stryper, enjoying platinum and gold record sales as well as mainstream acceptance as a Christian band. After initial success their hair also got bigger. The “big hair” led to a decrease in record sales, proving that God does have a sense of humor. More...

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Sunday Old School: Candlemass

Sunday is a day which is usually taken quite slow, deliberately or otherwise. It seems fitting then Sunday Old School pays tribute to one of the greatest bands in the history of doom metal this week, by taking a look at Swedish legends, Candlemass. Candlemass were formed in 1984 in the Swedish capital city, Stockholm by bass player Leif Edling, following the dissolution of his previous band, Nemesis. He soon recruited guitarists Mats "Mappe" Bjorkman and Klas Bergwall, as well as drummer Matz Ekström, to complete the lineup of musicians, while they went through a revolving door of singers. Before long, they had signed to Black Dragon Records, a label in France which signed the band on a one album deal and gave them a budget of less than two thousand dollars. In June of 1986, the band released their first full length record, "Epicus Doomicus Metalllicus," which was immediately met with a positive response thanks to it’s slow riffs, unusual in a time when thrash was the popular flavour in the metal world. The singer on the album was Johan Längqvist, who performed vocals despite having never heard their music before. Those who look for weaker points in the album tend to point fingers at Längqvist, though his singing was still quite impressive. He did not stay for long however and was soon replaced by Bror Jan Alfredo Marcolin, better known to audiences as "Messiah."

Messiah made his recording debut almost immediately upon joining, which surfaced in 1987 in the form on the sophomore full length, "Nightfall," although by this point Bergwall and Ekström had also left the group, their places being filled by Lars Johansson and Jan Lindh respectively. "Nightfall" was another critical success for the band and saw them branch out commercially too, most notably with their first music video for the song, "Bewitched," which features a young Per Yngve Ohlin, better known to most people as Mayhem vocalist, "Dead." They would release a third album a year later entitled, "Ancient Dreams" which spawned their second music video for the song, "Mirror Mirror." Although it didn’t receive quite as much praise as it’s predecessors, it became the first Candlemass record to hit the charts in the United States, reaching number 74 on the Billboard album chart. They won back some of their detractors with their next album however, 1989’s, "Tales of Creation," though following a live record simply entitled, "Live," they were once again forced to search for a new singer, as a falling out with Messiah Marcolin resulted in him leaving the group. More...

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Sunday Old School: Living Sacrifice

Of all the reunions and reformations of bands over the past decade, from Carcass to Immortal, few have been as demanded or anticipated as highly as today's featured band. Although their break only lasted five years, fans of a four piece from Little Rock, Arkansas felt a signifficant void had been left by their absence, which was filled in 2008 and the news was broke that the world would see the return of Living Sacrifice. The band was formed in 1989 by bass player and vocalist Darren Johnson, guitarist Bruce Fitzhugh and drummer Lance Garvin, with Jason Truby joining the group as a second guitarist soon afterwards. The band took their name from the Biblical passage Romans 12:1 and from the outset aimed to promote their Christian beliefs, which was reflected in the title of their first demo, "Not Yielding to Ungodly." The demo proved popular in the metal underground and soon found its way to Believer members Kurt Bachman and Joey Daub, who helped get the band signed to R.E.X. Records, a label which specialized in Christian metal artists. The band recorded their self-titled full length debut, which was released in 1991 and featured a more thrash metal orientated approach than their later work, earning them comparisons to other popular thrash acts such as Slayer.

Although their first record was received very favourably by metal fans, Christian or not, the band decided to drop the style and move towards the down tuned death metal genre that had been increasing in popularity thanks to such artists as Obituary and Morbid Angel. Their first foray into this tone came in 1992 with their sophomore effort, "Nonexistent," which the band see as something as a disappointment, expressing their dissatisfaction with the work of the producer, although it is still thought highly of by their fanbase. They then sought to combine the two styles they had previously exhibited, which culminated in their third album, "Inhabit," which was something of a return to their thrash sound, owing to the vocal methods employed by Johnson, but musically carried on in the vein of death metal, resulting in what is generally considered the group’s heaviest work to date. It was met with mixed to positive reviews but the band were soon dealt a blow when R.E.X. Records announced that they had gone bankrupt, leaving them without a label for a time, before they eventually signed with Solid State Records, who they trusted to help broaden their audience. More...

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Sunday Old School: Flotsam And Jetsam

In the United States, the main focus on thrash metal seems to be on the states of New York and California, though anyone who knows a bit about the genre will tell you that America produced some excellent thrash from all across the country. Take for example the state of Arizona, which gave birth to an act still going strong today, Flotsam and Jetsam. The seeds of the band were sewn in 1981 in Phoenix, Arizona, where drummer Kelly David-Smith formed the group with guitarists Pete Mello and Dave Goulder under the moniker, Paradox. They were soon joined by bassist and vocalist, Jason Newsted, who was in town with his band Gangster, who broke up in the city on their way to California from Michigan. After a few members came and went, along with the new name, Dredlox, Kelly reached out to an old schoolmate named Eric A. Knutson, who was attending the same summer school class and agreed to audition for the band. The group soon changed their name once more, this time to Dogz, before rechristening themselves yet again under the moniker, Flotsam and Jetsam.

They soon established themselves in the Arizona club scene and would frequently make the trip to California, leading them to support such acts as Megadeth, Mercyful Fate and Armored Saint amongst others. They recorded their first demos in 1985, "Iron Tears" and "Metal Shock," as well as a video for "Hammerhead," which they recorded in guitarist Ed Carlson’s living room. Their efforts impressed several record companies and before long they were signed to Metal Blade Records, who had previously signed Metallica and Slayer. They released their debut album, "Doomsday for the Deceiver" in 1987 to instant critical acclaim, becoming the first album in history to be rated 6/5 in Kerrang! magazine and is still regarded today as one of, if not their strongest work and one of the best debuts in the history of thrash metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Brides of Destruction

During 2002, the rock and roll landscape was bleak for eighties veterans. Given this, it makes perfect sense that if Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) and Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) decided to put together a band the name should be Cockstar, the original name for their super group later renamed Brides of Destruction. More...

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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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