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Thrashback Thursday: Steal Away The Night

As mentioned when we first launched this column, despite the title, it's not exclusively dedicated to thrash metal. We're proving that this week with a look at a song from a man who doesn't have anything to do with thrash as such, but has everything to do with metal, Ozzy Osbourne. Today also marks the twenty third anniversary of the death of his guitarist, Randy Rhoads, also formerly of Quiet Riot, who would no doubt have become a bigger guitar hero than he already is, as he was unquestionably one of the most talented guitarists of the time, perhaps of all time.

Rhoads caught the world's attention when Ozzy Osbourne released his first album, "Blizzard Of Ozz," in September 1980. It was a fantastic debut by anyone's standards, striking a balance between high energy heavy metal and sixties influenced pop rock, interspersed with sentimentality on songs like, "Goodbye to Romance" and "Revelation (Mother Earth)" and Rhoads got his own spotlight on the instrumental piece, "Dee," a classical inspired work which clocked in at just under a minute but highlighted his talent tremendously.

He helped create some excellent rock songs too; "Crazy Train" and "Suicide Solution" being arguably the most well from the record, but songs such as "I Don't Know" and "Steal Away (The Night)" were no less stellar, the latter featuring a sound which perfectly blended the heavy metal at the beginning of the eighties, helping Ozzy to stay relevant and contemporary with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which had really taken off that year. What makes it such a good song, is that while it's unquestionably a (then) modern heavy metal song, it has great undertones of the sixties music which shaped Ozzy's life so evidently. It features a highly catchy chourus and a generally positive vibe which was a staple of bands such as The Zombies and Status Quo, culminating in a very enjoyable closing track and a perfect snapshot of the "Blizzard of Ozz." More...

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Pit Stories: Playing For Traffic

Usually the pit mayhem comes from the crowd, but sometimes the band decides to get involved - even while the performance is still going on!

For this week's Pit Story, Steph K. of London outfit Immortal Machinery shares this tale of a front man who decided to vacate the stage and even the venue to belt out a song in the middle of traffic:

One time my band, Immortal Machinery, were hosting a show in New Cross, east London. We'd booked an act from Wales who had, shall we say, a bit of a wild reputation. During a guitar solo their frontman, decked out in red and yellow warpaint, leaped off the stage and onto the nearest table. Still soloing and never missing a beat, he ran across it (somehow managing not to knock anyone's pint over) and ran out of the venue.

The crowd followed him outside, where we found him kneeling in the middle of the road, playing as cars swerved around him honking their horns. He got up, returned to the stage and finished the song like nothing had happened. This is a man who risked his life for petrol money and free beer. I think it's safe to say that the spirit of rock'n'roll is alive and well in this guitar-playing welder from the valleys.

What's the craziest thing you've seen a front man do during a metal show? Let us know in the comments section!

You can also hear the Immortal Machinery song "Screaming Tonight" - included on the recent Roxeavy metal compilation - in the player below. If you dig the sound, be sure to check out the full "At The End Of Time" album over at Bandcamp here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Broken Hope

The worst prompting to feature a band in the Sunday Old School column is when a member of the group dies. While the passing in question, that of drummer, Ryan Stanek, was over a week ago now, it is no less apt to feature one of death metals lesser known veterans, Broken Hope. The band was founded in 1988 in the state of Illinois by Stanek, along with vocalist, Joe Ptacek and guitarists Jeremy Wagner and Brian Griffin, with bassist, Ed Hughes joining later on.

They released two demos before signing with Grindcore International, who released their full length debut, "Swamped in Gore," the following year. Generally, it's garnered something of a mixed response from death metal fans, with some citing is as an excellent release of the time, while others appear to claim that the structure of the music can’t support the heaviness brought to the table. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Hot For Teacher

Do you like big, scary tits and David Lee Roth era Van Halen? If yes, well then, I’ve got a video for you. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Unleash The Dogs Of War

Hirax are truly one of those old school thrash bands that define the term, "hidden gem." Beneath the big names of Anthrax and Slayer and the not quite as famous names such as Testament and Death Angel, there's some excellent groups to be found, and one of the first that I found in my search for more thrash, as well as one of my personal favourites, was Hirax. They were formed in Orange County, California in 1984 and were led by their charismatic singer, Katon W. De Pena, unique for not only being one of the few black musicians in the thrash scene, but for his one of a kind singing voice, with a cadence all of his own. They released two albums, "Raging Violence" and "Hate, Fear and Power,"before losing their record deal, independently releasing a demo entitled, "Blasted In Bangkok," before Katon left the group to start a new outfit called Phantasm with Gene Hoglan and original Metallica bass player Ron McGovney, while Hirax brought in former Exodus singer Paul Baloff for a brief period before disbanding altogether.

Over time, underground interest had built up and in 2000, Katon decided to bring the band back, convincing original members Scott Owen, Gary Monardo, and John Tabares to join in as well and release the "El Diablo Negro" EP later that year. Within time, there was a major lineup shift and Katon was left as the sole original member, putting together an all new lineup in time to record and release a new album, "The New Age Of Terror" in 2004. It was an excellent return for the band, cited by some critics as the best in their catalogue and featured some fantastic tracks such as, "Hostile Territory" and "Hell On Earth," but the song which stood out for me, was the closing, "Unleash the Dogs of War," which contains one of the catchiest chouruses in thrash metal history and a punishing intro. It also showcases Katon's voice perfectly and was a big part of what made "The New Age of Terror" not just a great album, but a great statement that the old thrash metal bands who had returned or were considering returning, could still rock out as hard as ever and teach the young guns a thing or two. More...

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Pit Stories: Scalped At CBGB

Tuesday's here so its time for some more pit mayhem! This week sees a story taking place at the CBGB music club - which managed to make it on the U.S. register of national historic places.

Agnostic Front's Vinnie Stigma shared this story of tearing his head open and revealing his skull to the audience:

At CBGB's 1982 Agnostic Front Death Before Dishonor, I was moshing around and going off to Death Before Dishonor when I ran across the stage and leaped off Big Rob's shoulders. I cracked my head open, hitting it on the monitor speaker that was above the stage.

When I fell to the floor, got up and realized that I got scalped. The skin was hanging off and my skull was exposed. People were throwing up and running away from me. I remember Doug Holland from Kraut puking and I'm saying to my self, I can hardly feel it. I went to the hospital and they played with out me.

Agnostic Front's new album "The American Dream Died" is set for release on April 3rd (EU), April 6th (UK/FR), and April 7th (USA) via Nuclear Blast Records. Check out a video clip for a track off the album, titled "Police Violence," below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Enslaved

A couple of weeks ago, we concluded a month long look at the black metal genre, featuring such bands as Marduk and Sigh. While researching the feature, there seemed to be quite a few bands which began life as a black metal group, but had shed this style by their second album at the latest. One such band, who named themselves after an Immortal track, was formed by thirteen year old, Ivar Bjørnson and seventeen year old, Grutle Kjellson, and who were named, Enslaved.

The duo formed the group as a typical black metal band, but gradually brought in more eclectic influences and wrote songs much longer than many of their peers, moving them away from the black metal scene, although Enslaved’s first album, "Vikingligr Veldi," was released on Mayhem guitarist’s Euronymous', Deathlike Silence Productions label, albeit after he was murdered. The debut album contained only five songs but still clocked in at around fifty minutes, while being something of an oddity for containing lyrics mostly written in Icelandic, potentially because of its similarity to Old Norse. It was a very well received album and continues to be a favourite amongst fans to this day, with critics at the time claiming that the band were keeping younger Norwegian metal bands relevant. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Carnivore

Carnivore are one of those bands usually discovered retroactively, mostly by Type O Negative fans who are told by more seasoned headbangers, "You should check out Carnivore, the band Peter Steele had before Type O Negative." This advice is heeded more often than not, and just as often will be met with positive results. Carnivore only released two full length albums; a self-titled effort in 1986 and "Retaliation" only a year later. Both albums were praised by both metal fans and critics and one song in particular which stands out to many is "Carnivore," from the album, "Carnivore," by Carnivore.

The song is very much a thrash metal track, though featuring many more elements than the average output in the genre. There's something of an industrial feel to the song, particularly in the vocal area, though not played up enough to really be a mesh of the industrial and thrash fields, as well as featuring one of the catchiest chouruses of classic eighties thrash. What helped the track so much more was its lyrical content, arguably one of the best, and maybe even the first metal songs about cunnilingus, which made it something of an them for all those who like to partake in the act. Even peers such as Kerry King of Slayer think of the song very fondly, who mentioned it in the bonus features of the Get Thrashed documentary, stating after bellowing the chourus, "Gotta have it!" More...

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Pit Stories: The Crazy Things Fans Do

Every Tuesday we catch up with metal bands from across the globe to get their most memorable tales from the mosh pit.

From insane circle pits to overturned cars and even fans who can't wait to get home to "get their energy out" so to speak, there's a whole lot of craziness to be found at metal shows - who better to share it than the bands themselves?

This week Swedish metal outfit Lancer shared these memories of the bizarre things metal heads do:

The craziest pit experience I ever witnessed was back in 2004 at the Swedish festival Gates Of Metal. I was attending a Morbid Angel concert late at night. It was a great gig with a lot of energy both on stage and down on the ground. Suddenly, I was standing in an empty pit in the middle of the audience. In the mud, beside me, I found a naked couple doing the missionary on a black leather coat. That was a weird experience that I'll never forget.

Another funny story about a crazy crowd member was at a gig I had with an Yngwie Malmsteen cover band. There was this drunken guy in the front row who knew all the lyrics and solos, and he went all crazy on the first songs of the set. Then suddenly he just disappeared. Later on we had several power failures at the venue. After the show I was told that this insane Yngwie fan had taken over the light table, and by accident switched the power off several times in his attempt to do the most spectacular light show since the 80’s.

Swedish heavy metal quintet Lancer will drop sophomore outing "Second Storm" on April 10th via Despotz Records.

You can pre-order your own copy at this location. To hear music from the coming album, watch the "Masters and Crowns" music video at over here or check out the lyric clip for "Behind These Walls" below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Racer X

Some bands tell you what they’re all about from their name alone. AC/DC promise high energy rock, Death was balls out death metal and Motorhead are all about speed, plenty of it and in more ways than one (allegedly...) Another band which attracted metal fans looking for something fast and furious that used their name to do so, was a young band from Los Angeles, California by the name of Racer X.

The seeds of the band were sown in the Guitar Institute of Technology, when students Juan Alderete and Paul Gilbert (who was soon to become a teacher at the school) met and decided to form their own band. Being highly skilled musicians themselves, they approached a gifted drummer, Scott Travis to join them, though he declined in favour of sticking with his band, Hawk. Instead, they recruited another fellow student, Harry Gschoesser, a native of Austria and the future founder of social networking site, Speedgig. The band completed their lineup with the addition of Phoenix, Arizona resident, Jeff Martin, who was unable to rehearse regularly with the band due to the long distance, but nevertheless, worked hard on writing lyrics for demos which Gilbert sent him. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Darkness Returns

If you like graphic novels, blood and snappy dialogue you are in for a treat. If you like all three and also really like feet you are Quentin Tarantino. Here’s the new video “Barbarian” from The Darkness. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Escape To The Void

Growing up listening to the "big 4" of thrash, Sepultura was another step toward the extreme for me.

"Beneath The Remains" had an early death metal feel, while "Arise" was thrashy and full of speed, but did not necessarily have all the qualities of what one would call thrash.

Having passed over "Schizophrenia" (1987) for decades due to its poor production, I finally picked up a remaster of the album and was amazed at the gems found on it. Many of the songs are flat out thrashy ("To The Wall," "Rest In Pain"), but "Escape To The Void" sticks to the old school thrash formula the best.

If you're a thrash fan, but a bit picky about production quality, and passed over "Schizophrenia" like I had, it's time to remedy that. At least give this song a listen:

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Pit Stories: The Norwegian Squatter's Paradise

The Pit: that magical place where sex, violence, property destruction, and a whole lotta head banging collide. We're on a never-ending quest to get the best pit stories in existence, which is why we check in with rock and metal bands from across the globe and tap into their tour stories.

For this week's Pit Story, drummer Brandon Burghart from Kansas-based outfit The Midnight Ghost Train shared this tale of Norwegians out of their minds on psychedelics:

We were playing a small freezing town in Norway on a weekday. The venue was basically a frathouse turned squatter paradise. The crowd were equal parts too old to hang out and too young to be there. Folks didn't so much rent a room as they rented one of several beds or couches in the place. We got there not knowing what to expect, but they reassured us that it was going to be a good night. There was also a rave cave in the basement with neon paint covering the walls and only lit by black light. The stage was pretty small as was the dance floor. We were headlining, so we waited around most the night while the other bands played. 

That's when we noticed the crowd was starting to get a little strange. We figured it was what you got when Norwegians drank too much. Then my guitar player told me that a gang of Spaniards broke into the basement and started raving with their own boombox. They were quickly chased out by the bar owners. The last band finished and we started loading on stage. I think half the crowd had passed out by this time. We started playing and they jolted back to life moshing and destroying the room.

It was a bit frightening since the stage was about a foot tall. Much of the show was pushing people back trying not to get your knee dislocated when the nearest body pummeled into it.  At one point I look over and a tiny woman has latched herself to Steve's back and he was trying to shake her loose. After being covered in various liquids and almost having our equipment destroyed, we finished our set. We later found out that the wine bottles that everyone had been passing around had been laced with an outrageous amount of acid. That mixed with the copious amount of drugs already available at the show turned it into one of the strangest nights of my life. We have since played there again but make sure we personally break the seal on any drink we open.

The Midnight Ghost Train's new album "Cold Was The Ground" is scheduled to drop on February 28th (EU) and March 10th (North America) via Napalm Records. Check out a lyric video off the album below. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 4 - Impaled Nazarene

Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth installment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.

As we saw in last week’s Sunday Old School covering Marduk, Norway was not the only Scandinavian country contributing significantly to the black metal scene, though it is no doubt still considered the home of the genre. Yet, Norway and Sweden were not alone, as the Swedes other neighbours were also about to launch their own scene, one which was given greater attention thanks to a particular band from the city of Oulu. A band by the striking name of, Impaled Nazarene.

The group was formed twenty five years ago by vocalist and sole constant member, Mika Luttinen, guitarists, Ari Holappa and Mika Pääkkö, bass player, Harri Halonen and drummer, Kimmo "Sir" Luttinen, the brother of frontman, Mika. They were forged with a fierce sense of independence and aggression, evidenced by their ambition to stand out from what other Scandinavian bands were doing. Whilst bands from Sweden such as Marduk were welcomed into the black metal scene in Norway, Impaled Nazarene became known for their hatred of it, though they would eventually bury the hatchet in the frost, with Luttinen claiming that he made peace with Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous before his murder. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Beber Até Morrer

Whilst Brazil is known primarily in the metal world for Sepultura, they have produced a number of other excellent bands such as Sarcofago, Krisiun, and of course, the legendary Ratos de Porão. The band made their name in the early eighties punk scene but were never shy about showing off their heavy metal influences and making friends with metal bands, particularly the aforementioned Sepultura, whose drummer, Igor Cavalera, helped the band sign with Roadrunner Records towards the end of the decade.

Their first album through the label was, "Brasil," widely regarded by both fans and critics to be one of their best works, thanks to strong tracks such as, "Sofrer," "Amazônia Nunca Mais" and of course, the drinking anthem, "Beber Até Morrer," which roughly translates to, "drink 'til you die." The song, as is typical of the band, is a relatively short, but furiously fun blast of energy, performed at a very quick tempo, with enough room for melody and a sing along chourus which Ratos de Porão were one of the best at writing. It's one of their more jaunty tunes, not steeped in the critiques of capitalism and the mistreatment of Brazil's poor, proving that even those seen as the little people by those on high, no matter how literally huge, can enjoy themselves as much as anyone. More...

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Pit Stories: Doubling The Painter's Salary

At the beginning of each week we catch up with rock and metal bands from around the globe to get their most memorable Pit Stories from live shows.

For this week's edition, the Finnish hellions from Santa Cruz have shared the following tale of a pre-drunk crowd resulting in one banged up girlfriend and one even more banged up venue:

Few years back we had this show in our home town Helsinki at this club called Bar Bäkkäri. They had just re-painted their floors and done some other renovations as well so the night was kind of this celebration of the bar's new facelift. Anyhow the place was packed that night and we went on stage around 1:30 am meaning the crowd was shitfaced (not like they had had a few beers before the show, the consumption should have been measured in gallons).

The pit started straight away and we saw our drummer's girlfriend between those spaced out vikings like a chopstick in a wrecking ball jungle and I was already planing what am I gone wear next Sunday at the funeral service. Well the 8th miracle of the world happened and she survived whit shattered glass sticking out of her arms and without any bigger surgical operations she made it through that night. What suffered more critical damage was the re-painted floors of the venue, it was all fucked. Well at least the painters doubled their salary thanks to us.

Santa Cruz will hit the road in Europe in March, followed by a U.S. tour with Amaranthe in May. Dates are available at this location. Santa Cruz's self-titled album is also due to drop March 10th, 2015 via Spinefarm Records. More...

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...And Justice For Art Presents: Look-Alike Covers

While the online community And Justice For Art prepares for the imminent release next month of their long-awaited book Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers, they keep delighting Metal Underground readers with their series "Look-alike Covers." This time the focus is on Swedish Dark Rock/Metallers, Ghost BC (aka Ghost).

By now, it's well now the Swedish band's affinity for creating album covers based on iconic movie posters. This episode of And Justice For Art's Look-Alike-Covers explores these artworks and its origins.


Opus Eponymous

The cover art for the Swedish band's acclaimed debut album is attributed to a design entity known as Basilevs 254. The overall composition and ominous atmosphere is partly based on the classic poster for the Stephen King's vampire TV mini-series "Salem's Lot," which was also edited as a theatrical feature film.

The artwork substitutes the iconic image of the menacing vampire for the likeness of frontman, Papa Emeritus. The eerie Marsten House of the mini-series was also substituted by a church reminiscent of Sweden's Uppsala Cathedral.


Infestissumam

The artwork for their sophomore full-length recording was unashamedly based on the iconic promotional poster for the 1984, Oscar-winning film, Amadeus. However, the image is not a vile rip-off. It incorporates dramatically contrasting bright colors, Vatican City's St. Peter's Square, Papa Emeritus II and the figure of a baby that morbidly suggests the presence of evil.

Ghost B.C. commissioned Polish artist, Zbigniew Bielak for the creation of this artwork and inner illustrations. He confirms that indeed, "the band came up with the idea of using Amadeus poster as main reference for the cover." Outstanding re-imagining, indeed.


If You Have Ghost (EP)

Ghost used the talents of renewed illustrator M. Frisk for the creation of this particular art. He admits that the image is directly based on an iconic still taken from the highly influential 1922 silent horror film "Nosferatu." On Frisk's rendition, Papa Emeritus II substitutes the iconic vampire while he is standing on a ship.

"Ghost had a clear concept and a plan for everything so this was also their idea," Frisk recalls. "The images from Nosferatu are iconic and therefore great to use as a reference. The commission was quite clear from the beginning; my job was to make their idea work."

The EP's back sleeve also features another image featuring the silhouette mythical vampire. Frisk admits that "that was my idea to put the shadow in there to make the back of the EP a bit more interesting."

To find out more about everything happening visually-wise in the world of Metal, check out the official And Justice For Art Community.

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 3 - Marduk

Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth installment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.

Sweden is perhaps best known in the extreme music world for their contribution to death metal, having been the birthplace of such bands as In Flames, Entombed, At The Gates and Katatonia, but they have also made a good contribution to black metal, perhaps most notably thanks to Bathory, one of the earliest influences on the genre. However, one of the more controversial names in the field (which is saying something when talking black metal, believe me) would be a band from the city of Norrköping which go by the name of Marduk.

Marduk was formed by guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, with the intention of creating the most blasphemous and offensive band in the world. They began by fusing death metal with black to create a very extreme sound. They unleashed their sound in 1991 with the release of the demo, "Fuck Me Jesus," before releasing their first full length album, "Dark Endless" the next year. It was well received and the band took to the road to perform across Sweden, expanding their fan base along the way. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: God Bless Chris Holmes

This week we have videos from Killit and Lucifer Rise, but what really matters is that we have another video from Chris Holmes. If you are having a bad day, watching this video may just be the cure. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Destroyer Of Worlds

Welcome to the first edition of a brand new column entitled, Thrashback Thursday! The purpose of this new feature is to find a metal song (and not necessarily thrash, before anyone starts screaming and pointing fingers) that the writer hasn't heard for a while, felt has been overlooked or simply just likes. So let's get things started with British thrash metal legends, Onslaught!

In early 2007, Onslaught, perhaps the favourite name of British thrash metal, finally released their long awaited comeback album, "Killing Peace." It was a big thing for fans as it was their first album in eighteen years, one which proved waiting for thanks to songs like "Burn" and the title track, though the song which stood out to me personally was, "Destroyer of Worlds." I had seen (and indeed, heard) Onslaught for the first time a year before when they were supporting Venom in London and "Destroyer of Worlds" was the only new song they played to the crowd, which went over a treat.

It’s easy to see why. It has a fantastically dark intro and builds up to a sneering and aggressive verse, showcasing the unique vocal style of Sy Keeler perfectly. From there it works its way to an anthem like pre-chourus, before exploding into a rapid fire storm of verbal bullets. A chourus so quick is rarely so catchy and it really does stick with the listener for a long time. It’s an excellent example of a thrash band proving their place in the modern metal world and one which helped make, "Killing Peace" such a triumph of metal. More...

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