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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Kreator

Previously in Sunday Old School, we've looked at several big names in thrash metal from all over the world. These include two of the "Three Kings" of German thrash, Sodom and Destruction. This week we'll be completing the trilogy by taking a look at Kreator, arguably the most well known of the three. Kreator were formed in the city of Essen in 1982 by vocalist/guitarist Mille Petrozza and drummer Jürgen 'Ventor' Reil, originally using the moniker, Tyrant before switching to the name, Tormentor, under which name they released two demos which attracted the attention of Noise Records, home of such other notable metal artists as Celtic Frost and later Sabbat. It was the label’s suggestion that the band change their name, due to the company already having a band from Hungary on their books called Tormentor, and so the German thrashers settled on Kreator instead. The band recorded their debut album, "Endless Pain" in only ten days, featured had a more proto-black metal sound, similar to what Sodom were doing at the time. "Endless Pain" was released in 1985 and was soon followed by the groups sophomore effort, "Pleasure To Kill," which is now considered something of a thrash metal classic and a clear influence of the burgeoning death metal genre. The success of the album led them to embark on their first ever tour (having performed only five gigs before it’s release) and soon they followed with their third record, "Terrible Certainty," which like its predecessor was critically acclaimed and warmly welcomed by underground metal fans, owing in part to the songs, "Behind The Mirror" and their first music video for "Toxic Trace," as well as a strong cover of the Raven song, "Lambs To The Slaughter."

They then focused on breaking America with their next effort, "Extreme Aggression," which was produced by Randy Burns, notable for his work with established metal bands such as Megadeth. "Extreme Aggression" became a hit in Europe and helped to achieve their goal of penetrating the American market when the music videos for the song, "Betrayer," as well as the title track received regular airplay on MTVs Headbangers Ball, before touring North America for the first time with Suicidal Tendencies. The band soon released a fifth album entitled, "Coma Of Souls," which, while praised by many, failed to gain the same recognition that previous records did, with some feeling that the album sounded rushed, though it still managed to sell quite well and spawned two singles in "People Of The Lie" and "When The Sun Burns Red." More...

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Sunday Old School: Annihilator

Many of the world's top guitar shredders fit into two types of personalities. There are the overindulgent ones with inflated egos and there are the ones with quiet self-confidence that are in it because of their love for metal music. Jeff Waters of Canadian band Annihilator fits into the latter category. He lets others put him in their charts for top guitar players in metal while he quietly goes about pursuing the field that he loves - creating music with his band and others.

Jeff loves what he does, for he's been in it for over 28 years since Annihilator put out its first demo "Welcome to Your Death" in 1984. That, and the subsequent couple of demos released, were among the top traded demo tapes in the mid eighties - giving even Metallica and Megadeth a run for their money. In the early incarnation of Annihilator, Jeff had John Bates on vocals and went through quite a few musicians in the rhythm section, even replacing Bates with Randy Rampage from D.O.A. The problem was that the band members liked partying and going to clubs, leading to the turnover. More...

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Sunday Old School: Heathen

The wonderful thing about the thrash metal movement is that there were so many bands to find, it really is something of a treasure chest. Today we’ll look at a band which released some of the finest albums known to speed and thrash metal, but arguably haven’t got the recognition they deserve, Heathen. Heathen was formed in 1984 by former Metal Church drummer Carl Sacco and Russian guitarist Lee Altus and were initially accompanied by vocalist Sam Kress and guitarist Jim Sanguinetti before replacing them after their first gig with David Godfrey and Doug Piercy respectively, whilst also bringing in bass player Eric Wong. Although from the Bay Area and often associated with the thrash metal scene at the time, their music wasn’t strictly speaking contained in the thrash vein, as they also demonstrated more of a New Wave of British Heavy Metal influence than many of their peers. Although Wong decided to leave the group after the recording of their first demo, "Pray For Death" (being replaced by Mike "Yaz" Jastremski,) the demo was something of a success and earned the band a deal with Combat Records.

Their debut album, "Breaking The Silence" was released through the label in 1987 and was hailed as one of the best thrash metal albums of the year. It also contained something of a hit single in "Set Me Free," a cover of a song originally by British glam rock legends The Sweet. The song received regular rock radio airplay and the video was also broadcast frequently on MTVs Headbangers Ball show. While touring for the album however, Heathen ran into some internal difficulties, resulting in Sacco, Jastremski and Godfrey all leaving the group at some stage. Several well known vocalists were a part of Heathen for a while, including former Exodus frontman Paul Baloff and ex Metal Church singer, David Wayne. More...

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Sunday Old School: Jackyl

Jackyl is probably best known for its song "The Lumberjack", which features a chainsaw solo by lead singer Jesse James Dupree. He once was asked, "How the hell can you play a chainsaw?" to which he responded, "How the hell can you not play a chainsaw?" This is the story of Jackyl.

Jackyl is made up of current members Jesse James Dupree (vocals, guitar, and chainsaw), Jeff Worley (guitar), Roman Glick (bass), and Chris Worley (drums). Past members include Jimmy Stiff (guitar), Ronnie Honeycutt (vocals), and Thomas Bettini (bass).

The 1992 self-titled debut album featured singles “The Lumberjack,” “Down on Me,” and “I Stand Alone.” Their debut went platinum, mostly due to “The Lumberjack” because vocalist Jesse James Dupree performed a chain-saw solo. People like chainsaws. The song became a hit and staple for the Jackyl live show to this day. Videos where also created for their singles.

The video for “The Lumberjack” begins with the Southern cliché of an old man sitting on a porch, smoking a Pall Mall with his shotgun close by. I’m surprised they didn’t place a Waffle House in the background. A general comment: “Lumberjack” is maybe the only performance where the lead singer seamlessly changes from a sombrero, to flannel, to a jumpsuit. Anyway, there is a school house nearby, with a bearded female teacher and students that like to bang their heads to the music of Jackyl, especially when the chainsaws are blazing. The primary lesson in this video is that chainsaws turn girls into sluts. The “Down on Me” video tells the story of a record store owner who refuses to sell CDs to underage kids because of the Parental Advisory Warning. Long story short, the owner loses his business and ends up on the street as a CD whore. I really enjoyed this video.

Ever since the release of their debut album, the band has hit the road and barely left it since. In 1994, the second album titled ‘Push Comes to Shove’ went gold. Later that year, Jackyl had a notable performance at Woodstock '94, resulting in the inclusion of their song “Headed for Destruction” as part of the Woodstock compilation album. In 1997, Jackyl released the album ‘Cut the Crap.’ The album included “Locked and Loaded”, a song with guest vocalist Brian Johnson (AC/DC). It was the first time Johnson had ever collaborated with an artist. In 2002, they would collaborate again on the song “Kill the Sunshine” off their ‘Relentless’ album. B-sides, greatest hits, and live albums would follow; however, like any true rock and roll band, it has been the live performances that have created their following.

Their live performances have earned the band two Guinness Book of World Records citations and the designation "The Hardest Working Band in Rock 'N' Roll" for performing 100 shows in 50 days as well as 21 shows in 24 hours.

Jackyl has also flirted with the reality show circuit, seen regularly on the show Full Throttle Saloon. In 2010 the band released a new album titled “When Moonshine and Dynamite Collide.” Jackyl is available to play wherever chainsaws are sold. You can usually catch them on stage at a festival near you.

The Lumberjack VIDEO
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Sunday Old School: Grim Reaper

Sunday Old School has examined many bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. From the South West in Jaguar to the North East in bands like Raven and Venom, but it’s been quite some time since we’ve looked at the movement, so let’s return to it this week shall we? One band that’s been well overdue a look is Grim Reaper, who unlike many other bands from the movement, found success in a time when many of their peers did not. Formed in the West Midlands town of Droitwich, in Worcestershire back in 1979, Grim Reaper first gained noticed by winning a Battle Of The Bands contest which featured no less than one hundred groups, which ultimately led to a deal with Ebony Records, but their debut full length album, "See You In Hell" was distributed through RCA Records in 1984. The album was quite successful, finding a place on the Billboard album charts (where it peaked at number 73) and subsequently seeing the title track appear in a number of TV shows including Beavis and Butthead and Jackass. Touring for the album also went well, and the band found themselves performing to over twenty thousand fans in Texas at one particular show.

Success continued to stay with Grim Reaper when they released their sophomore album, "Fear No Evil" in 1985. Though not quite as acclaimed as "See You In Hell," the record once again proved popular amongst heavy metal fans on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the most notable things about this album in a more modern sense, is that the music video for the title track was to resurface twenty years later, though this time used by the alternative rock band Weezer as the initial video for their song, "We Are All On Drugs." Following the success of “Fear No Evil,” the band found themselves away from the stage and in the courtroom, battling a case against Ebony Records which took up two years of the bands existence, resulting in their third album, "Rock You To Hell" being delayed by such time, not finding a place on the shelves until 1987, by which point they discovered that a lot of heavy metal fans and turned away from the safer sounds of traditional heavy metal and more towards the likes of thrash metal. Even though the music video for the title track received regular airplay and the record itself was released through a major label, the album was considered something of a commercial failure. The failure of the album, coupled with another legal battle with Ebony Records, took its toll on the group and they decided to call it a day in 1988, right before they were supposed to work on their fourth album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Exciter

You know you're old school when you've had an album on Shrapnel records and can count eleven full-length albums among your repertoire. This is where the story of Canadian thrashers Exciter begins - way back in 1978. They began as Hell Razor and changed their name out of homage to the Judas Priest song and put out a demo, getting the attention of the legendary Mike Varney. He was the head of Shrapnel records, a label that catered to the forefathers of American thrash and all the classic guitar heroes. Mike put Exciter's track "WWIII" on his second compilation, "US Metal Volume II" in 1982. The debut, "Heavy Metal Maniac," followed on the label in 1983. This album already had great hype as a nine-song tape traded overseas, and ten thousand metalheads had put in an order for it upon its release. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cannibal Corpse

It’s common in heavy metal music for fans to exaggerate how important or how good a band they love is, but Cannibal Corpse genuinely deserves to be recognized as a ground breaking act in the field of death metal, being the biggest selling death metal band in the United States, as well as having a sound that has been copied countless times. The band was formed in Buffalo, New York from the remnants of popular local bands Tirant Sin, Leviathan and Beyond Death and through friends the members made, made their live debut in April 1989 opening for Dark Angel.

Not long after this impressive debut, Cannibal Corpse was snapped up by Metal Blade Records after the manager of the record store where vocalist Chris Barnes was working sent in the band's self-titled demo tape, becoming the label's first death metal band in the process. The first album, "Eaten Back To Life" was recorded at the Morrisound Recording studio, a place now famous for producing albums by the likes of Sepultura, Morbid Angel and Napalm Death amongst other big names in extreme metal, before being released in August 1990. The band didn’t do a conventional tour in support of the record, performing only a handful of shows when possible, including one which featured no more than thirteen people in attendance.

Cannibal Corpse returned to Florida shortly afterwards to record a sophomore album, "Butchered At Birth." This would mark the beginning of causing outrage and controversy on an international scale, as the record was banned in Germany and was only available to people over the age of eighteen in Ontario, Canada due to its graphic cover artwork. Despite this, Cannibal Corpse soon embarked on a first headlining tour, which took place in Europe, where the group was greeted very warmly by extreme metal fans. Upon returning, the guys set out on their first North American headlining tour, this time being joined by Atheist and Gorguts.

Having completed the tour, Cannibal Corpse recorded another album entitled, "Tomb Of The Mutilated," which once again featured a shocking album cover and also contained at least two of the group's best known songs in the shapes of, "Hammer Smashed Face" and "I Cum Blood." Shortly after the release of the album, the band parted ways with guitarist Bob Rusay, replacing him with Rob Barrett, known for his work with Malevolent Creation. After an appearance in the hit comedy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the band once again got to work on a new album, which surfaced in 1994 under the name, "The Bleeding." The record was praised for its more disciplined approach to song writing and featuring plenty of catchy riffs, not to mention more charming song titles such as, "Fucked With A Knife" and "She Was Asking For It." More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM - Primordial

Black metal has certainly come a long way over the years. Starting from the almost sloppy sounding thrash of Venom and Hellhammer, it has incorporated many other elements into its sound as time’s gone by, including traditional folk music, a combination worked to perfection by Irelands own, Primordial. The earliest incarnation of Primordial was formed in 1987 by brothers Pól and Derek MacAmlaigh, along with guitarist Ciáran MacUiliam under the name Forsaken in Skerries, a small seaside town in County Dublin, where they began life by performing covers of popular extreme metal bands such as Death before recruiting vocalist Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) in 1991 and adopting a much darker approach, more inspired by the proto black metal bands of the time such as Celtic Frost and Bathory. The band released a demo in 1993 entitled, "Dark Romanticism" which attracted the attention of numerous labels, including Candlelight, but ultimately it was Cacophonous Records, then home to British extreme metal outfit Cradle Of Filth, who successfully signed the group. Through the label, Primordial released their first album, "Imrama" in 1994. The album was noteworthy for its focus on medieval Irish folklore and use of the Gaelic language, in addition to combining the black metal sound with traditional Irish melodies, becoming one of the first Celtic Metal bands (along with Cruachan and Waylander) in the process. Despite some difficulties faced after the release of the record, including performing only one show in 1996, which was stopped half way through by the police, things began to take an upturn for the band in 1997 when they found a new drummer in Simon O'Laoghaire and performed with the recently reformed Mayhem in the United Kingdom.

The melodic aspect was expanded upon by the time Primordial released its second album, "A Journeys End" through Misanthropy Records in 1998, which featured the use of whistles and mandolins in order to accentuate their nationality and heritage. Right after releasing their sophomore effort, the band had decided that Misanthropy was not the right record label for them, and signed with Hammerheart Records, immediately getting to work on new material, which surfaced a year later in the form of an EP entitled, "The Burning Season," before releasing their third album, "Spirit The Earth Aflame" in 2000. Once their fourth album, "Storm Before Calm" was released, Primordial knew that some changes were needed to be made, and started by recruiting a new guitarist named Michael O Floinn and began the search for a new label, which they found following tours with the likes of Enthroned, Rotting Christ and Ancient Rites, when they signed with Metal Blade Records and got to work on their darkest album yet. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM - Mayhem

Black metal is a genre of music shrouded in controversy and perhaps nowhere is controversy more prominent in the field, than in Mayhem. The group was formed in 1984 by guitarist/vocalist Øystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous,) along with bassist Jørn Stubberud (aka Necrobutcher) and drummer Kjetil Manheim (aka Manheim). They initially were influenced by the more extreme metal music at the time, particularly proto-black metal bands such as Venom and Celtic Frost and released their debut demo tape, "Pure Fucking Armageddon" in 1986 before Euronymous decided to concentrate on solely on playing guitar, first replacing himself in the vocal department by a singer named Eirik Nordheim (Messiah), then Sven Erik Kristiansen (aka Maniac,) with whom the group recorded and released their first EP, "Deathcrush," which was distributed by Euronymous himself through his own Posercorpse Music label. Maniac left the band soon afterwards however, along with drummer Manheim. Taking their places would be Swedish vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (aka Dead) and local drummer Jan Axel Blomberg (aka Hellhammer,) setting in place the beginning of the most infamous chapter in the history of Mayhem.

Dead helped attract a lot of attention to the band, delivering notorious and in some cases, baffling performances on stage which included self mutilation and burying his clothes days before a show, so that he really would look like a corpse. The members moved into a house in the middle of a forest to begin work on their album, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" but were soon to deal with a major blow when Dead lived up to his name and committed suicide. He was found inside the house by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head, along with a note which merely apologized for firing the weapon indoors along with the now infamous caption, "Excuse all the blood." What followed was just as macabre, as Euronymous decided that instead of calling the police, he would venture into town to purchase a disposable camera, with which he took photographs of the corpse along with rumours that he made necklaces out of pieces of Deads skull and even that he made a stew with parts of the brain, though this has never been confirmed. The death of Dead would prove to be hard for Necrobutcher to handle and he decided to leave the band soon afterwards, leaving Mayhem to find both a new vocalist and a new bass player, which they did in Tormentor frontman Attila Csihar and Burzum mastermind, Varg Vikernes. This lineup would prove to be the one that would record, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" but the members were far from friendly and the controversy wasn’t yet finished with, nor was the deaths. More...

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Sunday Old School: Blood Duster

Plenty of old school metal bands come from Australia. Immediately coming to mind are Destroyer 666 and Mortal Sin...but don't forget about Blood Duster. Nobody, but nobody is like Blood Duster. They have made a career out of taking sounds and cliches from other genres and turning them on their asses into supremely heavy grinding rock. This year marks 21 years of existence for these crazy Aussies who started pissing in our ears in 1991 when they formed the band, claiming to have met at a peep show. Very underground and cult, you may have missed them if you blinked or were looking in the wrong direction back in the 90's.

But, do not underestimate the impact they had on the scene with their irreverence and complete humorous take on the grindcore genre. In fact, Blood Duster's style of grinding death rock with slabs of retro grooves shows how they are the sum of their parts. Many of the band members came from all kinds of metal bands like Hecatomb and Pod People, so their music is influenced by almost anything. The difference is, through all the chaotic sounds Blood Duster incorporated they always did it well - and did it best. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM - Darkthrone

It’s February once again and MetalUnderground.com has decided to bring back Black Metal History Month, (see what we did there?). This month MetalUnderground and in particular Sunday Old School, will be looking at some of the biggest and most important bands in the history of black metal. If some of your favourite black metal bands don’t get featured this month, such as Norwegian titans Immortal or Emperor, chances are it’s because we’ve already covered them. Speaking of Norwegian black metal, it only seems right that we kick the month off by looking at just such a band, and who better to examine than Kolbotn’s own, Darkthrone?

As previously mentioned, the band formed in Kolbotn, a suburb of the Norwegian capital city, Oslo, in 1986 by drummer Gylve Nagell, along with guitarist Ivar Enger and bass player Dag Nilsen. They originally went under the moniker, Black Death and performed a more death metal orientated brand of music, before they changed their name to Darkthrone the next year and were joined by a second guitarist in 1988 named Dag Nilsen, who would leave the same year. Following the recruitment of Ted Skjellum, the group would release four demo tapes before landing a record deal with Peaceville Records. They were helped in their endeavour to record their debut album by members of Entombed and Nihilist, since Darkthrone had a very small recording budget. It was on this first album, "Soulside Journey" that traces of black metal began to show in their music. They then took this a step further, adorning corpse paint and adopting pseudonyms, much like Venom before them.

Their transition to black metal was completed with their second album, "A Blaze In The Northern Sky," which despite causing problems between Darkthrone and Peaceville and seeing Dag Nilsen depart soon afterwards, was eventually released in February 1992 and has since become one of the most acclaimed black metal albums of all time. A third album, "Under a Funeral Moon" was recorded merely four months after the release of "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" and saw the band completely discard their death metal roots in favour of what Nagell, now known as Fenriz, called, "100% pure black metal." Once again, the album would be soon as a major landmark for the black metal genre and was adored by fans. Enger departed soon afterwards however and ever since then, Darkthrone has consisted of Fenriz and Ted "Nocturno Culto" Skjellum. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hanoi Rocks

“Keep the punk leather jackets but bring a kind of transvestite vibe to it” - Nasty Suicide on the look of Hanoi Rocks. More...

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Sunday Old School: Doro

All too often, the role of women in heavy metal has been relegated to either eye candy or soprano singer for symphonic bands. But they can also rock just as hard as many of the guys can. No further proof of this is needed than Düsseldorf’s own, Doro Pesch. Doro began her musical journey in the early eighties singing with such bands as Snakebite and Beast before she was recruited by another local band named Warlock. This would prove to be one of the biggest decisions of her career as after a year of hard work performing in the clubs of Europe, the band received a record deal from Belgian label, Mausoleum, through whom the group released their first studio album, "Burning The Witches" in 1984. The album led Warlock to sign with Vertigo for future releases, beginning the next year with, "Hellbound."

They toured Europe heavily in support of the album, before their third record, "True As Steel" brought them to the attention of North American head bangers, thanks largely to the single, "Fight For Rock," which was able to find a place on the Billboard Singles Chart and receive regular airplay on MTV. Their profile was also increased in their native continent, perhaps most notably when they opened the 1986 edition of the Monsters Of Rock festival, which also featured Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead and fellow German rockers, Scorpions. Warlock was dealt a blow when two members, Frank Rittel and Peter Szigeti left the band to join U.D.O. the new band from former Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider, leaving Warlock to recruit Tommy Bolan and Tommy Henriksen for their next album, "Triumph And Agony," which spawned the popular single, "All We Are." Their status continued to rise worldwide, particularly in North America where they toured with such bands as Megadeth, Sanctuary and Fates Warning amongst others. More...

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Sunday Old School: Dub War

Personally, one of my favourite things about metal music is finding ways to fuse it with other genres. From rap to jazz, metal seems to find a way to work with anything. In the early nineties a group from Wales named Dub War found a way to entwine it with reggae. Dub War began life back in 1993 in Newport, Wales, and immediately gained notice for their distinctive sound, which quickly earned them a record deal with Words Of Warning Records, a small label which had previously released records from Britcore legends Gunshot amongst others. Through Words Of Warning, Dub War released their debut mini LP, "Words Of Dub Warning," which circulated throughout the metal underground and eventually found its way to a Mr. Digby Pearson, founder of Earache Records, who were known for putting out music by such extreme bands as Napalm Death, Morbid Angel and Godflesh amongst others. Pearson decided to take a chance on the band and Dub War were signed to Earache in 1995, releasing their first album through the label, "Pain" the same year.

"Pain" proved to be fairly successful. While the first single, "Gorritt" was largely ignored, the band earned their first charting single in the form, of, "Strike It" which entered the British Singles Chart at number seventy. With the release of the album, a charting single and the touring process that came with it, Dub War soon gained a reputation for their live shows, which featured the members experimenting with their sound and singer Benji Webbes commanding stage presence, coupled with his unique form of crowd interaction. The tour even took them to the legendary Dynamo Open Air festival in the Netherlands, where they played alongside such bands as Agnostic Front, Machine Head and Madball amongst many others in front of a crowd of 135,000 people. More...

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Sunday Old School: Coroner

Many are under the misnomer that Coroner got it's start as Celtic Frost's roadies, but that's not entirely true. Coroner had been an established band a couple of years before they served as Celtic Frost's road crew on a U.S. tour. Coroner went on this tour of America as a way of promoting it's "Death Cult" demo in the U.S. back in 1986, and Tom G. Warrior even sang on it. When it came time to release their debut, "RIP," Tom once again offered to do vocal duties. By then, Coroner had bassist Ron "Royce" Broder assume the vocals as well. Ron had never sang before and even surprised himself with how well he rose to the occasion. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bon Jovi

Discuss New Jersey rock and roll and many think Bruce Springsteen; however, Bon Jovi has built quite a reputation themselves. With over 130 million albums sold, the boys from Sayreville, NJ continue to change up their sound and are making a run at "the boss" for notoriety in the Garden State.

The original band has been together since their first studio album (one exception being a change at bass in '94). The initial line-up was led by lead singer Jon Bon Jovi (who shortened his name from John Francis Bongiovi, Jr.), guitarist Richie Sambora, bassist Alec John Such, keyboardist David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres. The initial thought when looking at this band was not that they had a lot of hair, but that they were also very pretty and smiling at the camera -- unlike the scowls of David Lee Roth, Nikki Sixx, and Stephen Pearcy, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were just a couple of guys with a hardhat mentality and hair most women would kill for. Was it just me or did David Bryan actually have better hair than Jon? Just me... okay. Anyway it is quite preposterous to think that the keyboardist would have better hair than the lead singer. Moving on...

The first album, their self titled debut from 1984, featured a single titled "Runaway" that displayed Jon Bon Jovi wearing either leggings or bandanas around his ankles. This video was also the beginning of the rise of Jon Bon Jovi's hair, something that would peak during the second course of "Livin' On A Prayer." In 1985 they put out their second album, "7800 Fahrenheit," an album with "In and Out of Love," a song showing arena anthem potential complete with a live video showing the world how much fun you can have at a Bon Jovi concert. The first album showed potential and gave hope of the band becoming a hit, but the second album didn't blow up, instead steadily building on the first album, if nothing else, an example of a band working hard to create music and tour to support. This hardest working band mantra would last from their start through present day. Of course, they would get a break, which changed everything in 1986. More...

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Sunday Old School: Life Of Agony

Alternative metal is probably the loosest tag of any metal sub-genre, which is what makes it so alternative I suppose. Nevertheless, today Sunday Old School looks at Life Of Agony, an alternative metal band from Brooklyn, New York. Life Of Agony was formed in 1989 by singer Keith Caputo, guitarist Joey Z and bass player Alan Robert, who went through a number of drummers before settling with Sal Abruscato, a founding member of the gothic metal band, Type O Negative. The group slogged it out for four years before signing a record deal with Roadrunner, who were also home to Type O Negative. Through the label, the band released their debut album, "River Runs Red" in October of 1993. The album was critically praised and in time has become known as one of the finest records in the entire Roadrunner catalogue, gaining popularity through singles such as, "This Time" and "Through And Through."

A more emotional direction was employed on the group’s next studio album, "Ugly," which was released in 1995. The album was once again highly praised and was notable for featuring a cover of the Simple Minds hit, "Don’t You (Forget About Me,)" as well as a cover of Bob Marley’s, "Redemption Song" on the special edition of the album. Shortly after "Ugly’s" release, Abruscato announced that he was leaving the band and was replaced by Dan Richardson, formerly of the bands Pro-Pain and Crumbsuckers. With their new drummer in tow, Life Of Agony recorded and released their third album, "Soul Searching Sun" in 1997, but were dealt a major blow when Caputo announced his resignation from the group, claiming his heart was no longer in to the type of music Life Of Agony wrote. The band soldiered on, initially recruiting former Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane, but parted company with the singer when they began working on a new album. After toying with the idea of Robert switching to vocals and guitar and bringing in Stuck Mojo bassist Corey Lowery, Life Of Agony decided to simply call it a day, feeling that the band couldn’t continue properly without Caputo. More...

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Sunday Old School: Exodus

This past October Sunday Old School looked at British doom metal band, Electric Wizard. In the introduction, I stated that some bands are essential to a genres fan base, the first example being California thrashers, Exodus. So this week we’re going to examine the band in greater detail and see just how important to the thrash metal scene Exodus really are. The band was formed in Richmond, California by guitarists Kirk Hammett and Tim Agnello in 1981, along with drummer Tom Hunting, vocalist Keith Stewart and bassist Carlton Melson, who was soon replaced by Jeff Andrews, with Agnello leaving shortly afterwards to become a minister, leaving the second guitarist spot to be filled by guitar tech, Gary Holt. More departures would soon follow, with the band deciding to replace Stewart with their eccentric friend, Paul Baloff and Jeff Andrews departing after the band recorded their first demo to form an early version of Possessed and most notably, founding member Hammett leaving to join Metallica, who were just about to record their debut album, "Kill ‘em All" in New York. With Hammett now replaced by Rick Hunolt, the band began recording their debut album, "Bonded By Blood," which despite taking over a year to release due to business issues, proved to be well worth the wait, as it has since been hailed as one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback Exodus received for "Bonded By Blood," they decided to fire Baloff as he was too much for them to handle and replaced him with Legacy frontman Steve "Zetro" Souza. This lineup of the band proved to be stable to some degree, and they released their second album, "Pleasures Of The Flesh" in 1987 which entered the Billboard charts at number 82, a position which was matched by the third Exodus album, "Fabulous Disaster." This album featured the song, "Toxic Waltz" which received regular rotation on the MTV show, Headbanger’s Ball, ultimately proving to be one of the most popular Exodus songs. Tom Hunting left the band after the release of "Fabulous Disaster" but they took a big step by signing with major label, Capitol Records, who housed fellow Californian thrashers, Megadeth at the time. The resulting fourth album, "Impact Is Imminent" received very negative feedback and after a live album, "Good Friendly Violent Fun" and another album, "Force Of Habit" in 1992, which saw the band experiment with their sound, they decided to call it a day, reuniting with Baloff briefly in 1997 for a live album entitled, "Another Lesson In Violence" before breaking up again. More...

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Sunday Old School: Artillery

It is always so unfair when you see mediocre and lackluster bands becoming hugely popular and selling millions of albums, especially when a band with overwhelming talent gets the shaft and never realizes it's true potential. But I learned a long time ago that life was never meant to be fair, and not a better example of this exists in the annals of metal than the story of Artillery. Formed in 1982 in Taastrup, Denmark - this band came along at the beginning of thrash metal and was one of a very small handful of bands that pioneered the technical metal genre. They were ahead of the times, and sadly still fly under the radar in terms of recognition within the metal community. The old schoolers and metal elitists know and recognize them for what they are, though - perhaps the greatest and most technical thrash band of all time. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pantera

It’s very close to that time of year again when metal fans all over the world pay their tributes to Dimebag Darrell Abbott, the legendary guitarist from Pantera who was murdered on stage on December 8th, 2004 while performing with his post-Pantera band, Damageplan. To understand why his death is so important to metal fans, it’s best to start, as all legends do, at the beginning. Darrell formed Pantera thirty years ago with his brother Vinnie Paul, along with guitarist Terry Glaze, vocalist Donnie Hart and bass player Tommy Bradford. Hart and Bradford left the group the same year, with the latter being replaced by Rex Brown, while the rest of the group decided that Darrell would be the bands sole guitar player. They soon became an underground favorite, touring throughout their native Texas, as well as Oklahoma and Louisiana, and supporting the likes of Quiet Riot and Dokken.

In 1983, the band released debut album, "Metal Magic" through its own record label of the same name with a second album, "Projects In The Jungle" following the next year. Both albums were very much in the glam metal vein but the second demonstrated the first hint of thrash metal influences, a style which was embellished on the third album, "I Am The Night."

Thrash metal soon crept its way into Pantera's sound permanently however, leading the group to part ways with Glaze and search for a more aggressive vocalist, which was found in New Orleans native, Phil Anselmo. With Anselmo, Pantera recorded the fourth album, "Power Metal," a hybrid of thrash metal and the popular hard rock style of the time. Following this release, Pantera decided to radically reinvent itself, shedding the big hair and make up the group had previously adorned and soon gained itself a manager in Walter O’ Brien, with a record deal coming shortly afterwards with Atco Records.

Despite now being considered something of a debut album for the band, the fifth album, "Cowboys From Hell" was released in 1990 and was instantly a hit with fans of the heavier side of metal, as well as some of their heroes such as Judas Priest and Slayer. It was certainly a breath of fresh air at the time, varied in sound but fluent, songs like the pummeling title track were just as much a part of the band's sound as the haunting epic, "Cemetery Gates." The band toured heavily to support the album, taking to the road with such respected acts as Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies and even earning a slot on the Monsters In Moscow festival with the likes of AC/DC and Metallica, in what was still the Soviet Union. More...

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