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Archive: Columns

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DIY Update: 3 Livestream Ideas You Can Use Today

I talk a lot of the time with people about they need to do more live streams and the concept seems to be generally very intimidating to them. I totally get it. Performance live streams are hard. Getting the audio right, the visuals, all that jazz is not easy stuff. So what if there were other variations on live streams you could do that maybe weren’t as labor intensive?

Well it turns out there are! I wanted to break down three of my favorite types of streams that don’t require complex rigs. These include conversations with other bands, behind the scenes run downs and of course video game streams. Some of these ideas might be corny to you, but maybe one of them will inspire you to do more! More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Astral Tomb

One look at the promo pic of Astral Tomb will lead hordes of tried-and-true death metal fanatics crossing their arms, assuming the young band is a part of the trendy “cavernous” or “OSDM” flock. Judging a book by its cover isn’t always the best option. Then again, viewing the promo pic through a more optimistic lens might be an adequate entry point. The youthful appearance and aesthetic seems true to the spirit of a young Obituary back in the late eighties and early nineties. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: StarGazer

Australia has been a hotbed of extreme metal madness for decades. Whether we are talking about the classic eighties thrash of Hobbs' Angel of Death (RIP Peter Hobbs), the disgusting noise of blackened death metal pioneers Sadistik Exekution, the bar-room brawl aggression of Damaged, or—more recently—the psychotically evil death metal oppression of Eskhaton, there’s something nasty and vile brewing in the heavy metal cauldron that’s Down Under. There is also the invigorating avant-garde black/death metal band StarGazer, revered in select underground circles but virtually unheard of by many death and black metal acolytes. The act has been kicking out the evil jams for a quarter of a century at this point, and the black magical band will release its latest full-length album, “Psychic Secretions,” at the beginning of February of the new year via Nuclear War Now! Productions. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Kaligula

Indonesia has been a hotbed of death and black metal for years. The Southeast Asian country is primarily known for the rabid fanaticism of its fans significantly more than for its homegrown talent. That isn’t to say that there is a lack of quality bands, however. The death metal juggernaut Kaligula is our case-in-point. More...

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DIY Update: What To Do When Pitching To Labels

So often bands want to pitch to labels but have no clue how to do it. In my time working with such labels as Prophecy Productions, Blacklight Media (Metal Blade subsidiary), Ripple Music, and many more I’ve learned a thing or two about A&R.

In my first article for MetalUnderground.com I wanted to break down for you, in layman's terms, what to have put together before you pitch yourself to a label. Furthermore, often bands pitch at the wrong time or in the wrong way – I want to help you understand how to do it right. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Sacrocurse

The Mexican/Texan entity known as Sacrocurse has been hurling vile, dark metal since 2012. The unit’s leader is ZK, who began his career with Mexico’s Unholier in the early nineties, and he’s performed with the likes of Nodens, Morbosidad, Russia’s Pseudogod. But the prolific musician has been making noise more recently with Sacrocurse, an act that has a couple of full-length albums under its belt as well as a few other releases. And on January 20, 2021, the band will release the awesome EP entitled “Supreme Terror,” on multiple formats via Shadow Records/Regain Records. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Omegavortex

Something vile has been brewing in Germany. The ensemble known as Omegavortex initially formed in 2007 as Ambevilence, a project that released just a handful of songs. Omegavortex is cloaked in obscurity, referencing the majority of its members by only the pseudonym of a singular letter, including one “X”—who was presumably involved in the awesome, now defunct death metal band Beyond. The band’s mysterious nature permeates its ominous and punishing debut full-length, “Black Abomination Spawn,” which is set for release by Invictus Productions on November 13. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Hanging Fortress

A massive wave of younger hardcore bands and kids morphing into “Old School Death Metal” influenced bands has been flooding the American metal scene for a while now. Whatever their backgrounds may have been musically and in terms of influence, Toledo’s Hanging Fortress does indeed sound like a hybrid of modern, groove-based hardcore and classic death metal. The majority of such cross-bred bands sound good on paper, depending upon who you ask, yet the results are stale and forgettable more often than not. While the Ohio band in question isn’t pushing the envelope in any area, they stand out because of how catchy their testosterone-fueled death marches prove to be. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Nexul

There’s something absolutely disconcerting and ominous about the black and death metal bands from the border town of El Paso, Texas - whose sister city of Juarez, Mexico, is one of the murder capitals of the world. The hellish hymns of bands like Obeisance, Satanik Goat Ritual, Hellvetron and Nyogthaeblisz are distinct yet common in their shared, distinct sense of darkness. Members of the latter two acts also stand together in the occult-obsessed blackened death metal band Nexul that is also a part of what’s known as the Ordo Satanae Imperium collective. Conceived in 2011, the quartet hasn’t been the most prolific band out there—having released only a demo and a full-length album—but the Texans have clearly focused upon quality rather than quantity. More...

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Bloodsoaked Necrovoid

Latin American countries are home to a distinct kind of dark extreme metal. It is one that’s uniquely raw and demonic whether we are speaking about early Sepultura or Sarcofago from Brazil, Criminal from Chile, Mortem from Peru, or Shub Niggurath from Mexico. True to this wicked spirit is new blood squeezed from the soil of Costa Rica by the name of Bloodsoaked Necrovoid. Since forging together in 2018, the death/doom ensemble has been relatively prolific, having released several demos, songs on a compilation and a split. More...

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Unearthing Serpents of Secrecy

The gentlemen behind Baltimore’s doom rockers Serpents of Secrecy are set to release their highly anticipated debut release, “Ave Vindicta,” on Halloween. The effort is a tribute to the band’s late great bassist, the Reverend Jim Forrester, who was tragically murdered in 2017 outside of the tattoo shop at which he was employed. The band’s surviving members sidelined the creation of Ave Vindicta and the entire project at the time to cope with the gravity of the situation. More recently, the act—drummer Chuck Dukehart III, vocalist Mark Lorenzo, and guitarists Todd Ingram and Steve Fisher—reconvened to finalize the album which is a powerful blend of stoner swagger and dark doom heft. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: WoR

In terms of new blood, there has been an extensive void in the realm of groove metal. They’re not exactly the next Pantera or Lamb of God, but North Carolina’s WoR seems to be one of the promising new acts that’s worthy of attention. Guitarist Ben Kaiser, the act’s founding member, has a background that’s far from the norm from most metal musicians. He was a collegiate football player at NC State University in North Carolina, having played alongside several current NFL players. The common thread between that element of his past and present with WoR is obvious: primal aggression. More...

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Unearthing CONTRACULT Collective

Fans of catchy industrial metal have reason to rejoice with the introduction of CONTRACULT Collective. The Los Angeles-based duo, operating under the pseudonyms Culprit and Svart, had initially come together while they were members of Brooklyn’s hardcore/sludge metal hybrid White Widows Pact. That band’s 2015 album “True Will” concluded with a hidden song that foreshadowed the divergent path that led to CONTRACULT Collective. The unit has just released its debut EP, “A Cult of Opposition,” via their own imprint, Hogwasche Music, and the release is available via Bandcamp and all major streaming services. More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Exaugurate

Buried in the belly of America’s deep South is the interesting death metal entity known as Exaugurate. The new project is comprised of members, past and present, of Hollowed Idols, Ectovoid, Ritual Decay, Cemetery Filth and Seraphic Entombment. Exaugurate is steeped in the spirit of classic death metal without being riddled by the cliches and tropes of the en vogue “old school death metal” scene. While Exaugurate summon’s the filthy spirit of genre progenitors Autopsy, whilst occasionally churning out Immolation-styled riffs and squeals, the band’s label, Rotted Life Records, rightfully likens them to dank, brooding, post-2000 death metal bands like
Dead Congregation, Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum.

Speaking of Cruciamentum, that act’s main-man, Dan Lowndes, actually provides excellent lead work on “Ascendant Beyond Carrion,” the final song of Exaugurate’s outstanding, four-song debut EP “Chasm of Rapturous Delirium.” Lowndes also mixed and mastered the release. “Chasm of Rapturous Delirium” stands out because Exaugurate clearly focuses upon substance and song-craft above all. With plans for a full-length album in the works, and the expressed desire to perform live and tour once such efforts are realistic, Exaugurate is clearly a new death metal band worth your attention.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Video Nasties

Liverpool will forever be known in the realms of pop and rock by virtue of it being home of the Beatles. Fast Forward to 2020, a band by the name of Video Nasties may be drinking from the same water, but they’re as stylistically removed from the Fab Four as Mr. Rogers is from Howard Stern. The act pulled it’s name from the singular form, “video nasty,” an English colloquial term referring to low-budget horror and exploitation films. The moniker is apropos considering that the quintet’s debut full-length, “Dominion,” is a filthy and melodic slab of fun-loving but aggressive, horror-obsessed black ’n roll.

Video Nasties is comprised of alumni of such notable underground UK metal bands as SSS, Magpyes, Heresy of Thieves, The Bendal Interlude and Iron Witch. The English metal scene vets may have been around the block, but as a new entity, Video Nasties performs with the enthusiasm and vitality of a collection of passionate 18 year olds jamming in the garage. The form is thrashing blackened death, with a pinch of doom thrown in for good measure, but they perform with the spirit of a coarse punk band. Whether it’s the pummeling opener “Stay Gold” or the groovy, mid-paced burner “Drone Eagle," the gentlemen of Video Nasties unleash catchy metal that’s just as fun-loving as it is lethal and cut-throat. The synths and electronics augment the horror soundtrack qualities throughout, fleshing out the robust metal attack that’s helmed by charismatic frontman Damian Von Talbot. In short, Video Nasties is a compelling band that extreme music enthusiasts should keep an eye on.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: Dining with Dogs

Dining With Dogs is an atypical name for a heavy band. More importantly, Dining with Dogs is an atypical kind of heavy band, in the best possible way. The band differs immensely from The Dead See, the ensemble’s precursor outfit that was a gargantuan and lethal hybrid of Neurosis and Crowbar, as well as from frontman Mark Key’s current experimental mind-fuck that is BLK OPS. In a nutshell, Dining With Dogs is a metallic version of the legendary noise rock band Jesus Lizard that unravels in defiance of strict genre classification, touching upon the foundation of sludge metal and hard rock along the way. While 2020 has been deemed by many as a “write-off” due to the current pandemic, Dining With Dogs’ debut “The Problem With Friends” is cause for celebration for fans of inventive heavy music.

Accomplished music video director Marcos Morales’ murky and punchy bassline opens the spacious soundscape of “Oddly Shaped Skull” right off the bat, underlying Josh Paul’s steady beat and Mark Key’s soulful, subdued crooning that has more in line with a narrative quality than standard guitar-driven music vocals. Key’s guitars subsequently come crashing with a forceful hard rock surge that’s delivered with a sense of purpose. “Sweet Talkin’ Psycho” follows up with a groovy swagger that’s almost danceable. The simplicity and rhythmic stabbing here and throughout “The Problem With Friends” are the reasons why the release is so memorable. The riffs and the punctuations simply have meaning. Later, “Puzzled” rolls forth with hearty portions of melodic post-rock majesty that are reprieves for the burly scream-along fracas.

The individual pieces of the puzzle of “The Problem With Friends” aren’t entirely unique. But they’re assembled in a manner that’s refreshing and distinct. This is an exciting starting point for the new Austin-based band that is comprised of seasoned musicians. And Dining With Dogs is a band worth keeping an eye on for heavy music aficionados who are yearning for something new and fresh.

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Pit Stories: One Foggy Night

New Jersey’s Spider Rockets sent in a well-told story of traveling between gigs one foggy night while touring in upstate New York:

It was late, and we had finished our last night playing a festival in upstate New York. We were dirty and tired of hanging out with nature and decided to hit the road instead of camping out for another night. All around us were mountains and enough one-lane winding roads to make one uncomfortable driving in the daytime. Cell phone service was pretty much unavailable, too. Definitely no hotels. Also, as you can imagine, no nearby cities... The fog started coming in as we were leaving. We started driving and we realized how bad the visibility actually was.
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Pit Stories: Metalheads VS Methheads

Every week on Metal Underground, we receive stories of life on the road from metal bands all over the world. This week, we received a story from Denver based Pile Of Priests about the time watching a show went wrong:

"Hey Metal Underground! Evan from Pile of Priests here, we’ve got a wacky story for you. Back in 2010 we played the the Wichita Extreme Metal Festival, it was our first show out of state and we brought two roadies along with us to help out. After our set, we proceeded to have some beers and whiskey shots with the other bands.

"We were watching Stonehaven’s set, when some tweaker in the pit began fucking with our roadie (Dan) trying to shove him from behind. Dan is a tall dude so we aren’t sure why he decided to pick on him, and let me tell you, bad idea! Dan shrugged it off until this bozo threw a punch at the back of his head. It was on, and Dan began shoving him outside for a proper ass beating.

"By this time Stonehaven finished their set and EVERYONE from the show was outside watching Dan whoop this dude’s ass. Our other roadie (Nick) was pretty wasted by then and was heckling the shit outta this guy while Dan was giving him the beatdown. The fight ended and some of the tweaker's friends showed up, so it was time for us to split before it got nasty. As we were finishing loading up the trailer, Nick was getting into it with one of the other tweekers. He was just trying to piss the guy off, yelling “You want to fight a 16 year old!?” repeatedly (Nick was 21 at the time). We yanked him into the van, he continued yelling insults out the window as we peeled off into the night. Dan was thus dubbed “The Tweaker Beater” by the Wichita metal scene, they still ask about him to this day."

Pile Of Priests' new EP, "Tenebrous Labyrinth" is available now through their official bandcamp page

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Pit Stories: D&DD

Every week on Metal Underground, we receive stories of life on the road from metal bands all over the world. This week, Warraxe, lead vocalist of eclectic Canadian group Nordheim shares a tale of Dungeons & Dragons with some surprising twists!

"So there was that time when we were going to Toronto... When we're driving to a venue, we usually play D&D in the tour van all ride long, yeah I know it's sounds geek as fuck but wait for it...

"We also have a habit of putting a big flashy sing with stupid shit written all over it so we can see the reaction of people driving by and it's always a good time. So this time we wrote on it : Show us your tits we're rockstars.

"We didn't know what to expect, we got lots of smiles, people laughing, angry old ladies... typical stuff. So we kept on playing D&D while keeping an eye on cars passing by, the occasional manboobs you know... We had a good laugh at the first hairy ass that we saw but things got cool when we saw a super classy Mercedes pass by. I don't know who she was or where she was going but this girl wasn't shy at all. She had I would say something like 36 DD at least and they where exactly how they look in porn movies, minus the jizz. Super tanned, gigantic shades and expensif clothing, the perfect stripper kit. We had a good laugh and threw her the horns and kept playing D&D feeling a little less geeky. Nothing like a big pair of dice to spice a game up hahahahaha."

Nordheim's latest studio album, "RapThor," is available now through Maple Metal Records.

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Thrashback Thursday: Hearts On Fire

It can be surprising where some seeds are sewn. If you were to tell someone that members of two of Sweden's most influential death metal bands were in the same group together at one stage, they'd probably think they already know what the music would sound like. Then tell them that the band in question that featured members of Dark Tranquillity and the founder of In Flames was one of the biggest names in power metal and they might not be so sure of themselves. Nevertheless, Hammerfall has included members from these groups and while starting off as something of a side project, as over time become one of Europe's most beloved heavy metal groups, selling thousands upon thousands of albums worldwide and becoming a mainstay of the summer festival circuit. This week we'll be taking a look at one of their most popular songs, "Hearts On Fire."

"Hearts On Fire" is arguably the stand out track on the "Crimson Thunder" album from 2002, which is not the most revered release by the band but nevertheless has its place in Hammerfall history. After the superb debut, "Glory to the Brave" in 1997 and the strong follow ups, "Legacy Of Kings" and "Renegade" in 1998 and 2000 respectively, some fans were a little disappointed with this fourth effort, feeling it was overproduced and formulaic. Despite this, "Hearts On Fire" is generally seen as a good starting point for those seeking to find out about the band or the power metal genre.

It begins with a two punch opening, led by a memorable riff. The verse itself doesn't offer much musically to be honest, but this is where the song is more focused on the delivery of the lyrics, leaving the listener to focus on the story at hand, told by vocalist Joacim Cans. This works in service of the sweeping, almost football chant style of the chourus. Essentially being a song about brotherhood, the chanting of the title works excellently as a unifying cry, aided by additional lines from Cans. After repeating this structure, the song lulls a little into a more hushed take on the refrain, before exploding with energy again. It may not be the most complex song Hammerfall have ever written, but it will stick in the listener's head for days and has become one of the band's best known tracks ever since. More...

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