Last month in this column, we examined the career of Fantomas and mentioned the topic of supergroups. Whilst Fantômas much like Cream, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Crosby Stills and Nash (and Young) crafted some excellent music and achieved great commercial success (in the latter three cases at least,) many of these projects fall flat or only last for two albums, such as Velvet Revolver and GTR. A supergroup that seemingly met the high hopes of fans however, was one formed in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, which comprised of some of the most respected names in death metal and chose the suitably brutal name of Bloodbath.
Bloodbath were formed in 1998, the brainchild of Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and Edge of Sanity's Dan Swanö, who handled vocals and drums respectively. They were soon joined by Katatonia members Anders Nyström on guitar and Jonas Renkse on bass and two years later, released their debut EP, "Breeding Death," through Century Media Records. The three track release received a generally positive response from the death metal faithful, with many feeling it was a worthy debut from such a talented collective. More...
When looking through the Sunday Old School archives, perhaps you'll notice that while we pay a lot of attention to thrash, death, black and doom metal bands, we haven't forgotten the roots of the genre we all know and love. Over the years, we've taken a look at such bands as Black Sabbath, Budgie, Blue Cheer and Spooky Tooth, who all helped shape heavy metal in it's earliest form. Today, we'll be looking at another such band, who despite a relatively short career, are still mentioned frequently when discussing the most influential groups in the genesis of metal, Sir Lord Baltimore.
Sir Lord Baltimore was formed in 1968 by John Garner, who was joined in his musical endeavour by schoolmates Joey Dambra and Gary Justin. After putting some material together, the band performed in front of talent scout Mike Appel, who would go on to discover, Bruce Springsteen. Appel agreed to mentor the group and is rumoured to have been the one to give them the name Sir Lord Baltimore, which was taken from a character in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. More...
Ready for another set of Pit Stories from the metal world? This week's tale twosome arrives courtesy of experimental U.S. outfit Gus McArthur, who shares stories (and some awesome video) of epic pits at two very different shows from Babymetal and Megadeth.
One of the coolest pits we have ever been in was Babymetal's first U.S. show in L.A. The head of their fan club comes all the way from Japan to coordinate the wall of death, which is dividing the crowd in half down the middle and waiting to charge. We stood divided for maybe 3 minutes before the song came in at the right part to charge, I honestly don't know how anyone didn't get hurt. It was fun and good vibes all around, not quite like getting punched in the face in a Cannibal Corpse pit, but close.
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been studied, mentioned and dragged up time and time again throughout the history of this here column; and with good reason. It gave the genre some of the greatest bands in the field and revitalised the friendly rivalry between the British and American heavy metal scenes. While the Midlands gets a lot of attention for producing such NWOBHM acts as Diamond Head and Blitzkrieg, as well as icons such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, the North East contributed massively to the scene with the likes of Venom, Raven and Neat Records, as well as today's featured band, White Spirit.
White Spirit were formed in the coastal town of Hartlepool, most famous for the legend that the locals hung a monkey during the Napoleonic wars, believing it to be a French spy, in 1975 by drummer Graeme Crallan and guitarist Janick Gers. They were joined in the endeavour by vocalist Bruce Ruff, bassist Phil Brady and keyboardist Malcolm Pearson, displaying a sound closer to that of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep to the more contemporary styles of Saxon and Samson. More...
Tuesday's here and it's time for another round of heavy metal Pit Stories! This week sees a host of tales from across years worth of attending shows all brought together in one place.
Joeseph Woodbury of Armed With Books shares a veritable bazaar of the most bizarre events from heavy metal and hardcore shows. From overly drunk assholes at grind shows to truly odd one-man performances, he recalls the events in question like this:
With over 15 years of playing and attending shows, I have seen many things that are worthy of a mention, and to be honest I’m finding it hard to pin point just one story. The most horrific was seeing a man stage dive, the crowd parted and I watched him land head first onto a concrete floor. He laid there twitching, some people tried to help but because of the injury sustained nobody wanted to move him in case he had also damaged his spine. The band stopped playing and were just looking around like WTF do we do. Thankfully an ambulance crew turned up very rapidly and the band and moshing resumed before the man was even out of the room.
Probably the strangest stories from shows I have played seem to come in the form of the opening act. I once had a man open for me wearing nothing but pants and a horse head mask playing feedback for 10 minutes. I also had a man with what I can only call a keyboard and a Sega Mega drive hooked up to a big speaker, playing his own version of the kids song "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" with dance moves included.
But the most violent would be when I watched a grindcore band play to a small crowd in a tiny pub. Some guy was pissed as a fart and stumbling all over the place. He was on stage with the band continuously knocking into the guitarist and trying to sing into the mike, the band was getting very annoyed with him as too were the crowd. The band was about 12 minutes into the set and for a grind band probably 15 songs deep, the drunken guy then stumbles and falls face first into the drum kit, knocking over the ride and floor tom, almost pushing the drummer off his stool.
Obviously, the band stop playing to see what this idiot had done and without even thinking the drummer hits the drunk guy over the head with his stick as hard as he could before the guy had a chance to stand up. The sound of wood on skull, froze the whole room, the thud was frightfully grotesque. The drunken man tries to stand like nothing had happen and the hit had maybe sobered him up, but the moment he put his hands to his face and realized his eye socket was sunken inwards to an unrecognizable shape, his face went white and he collapses onto the floor, falling forward once again in to the kit. The drummer realizing the seriousness of this assault begins to quickly pack away his breakables.
The band silently follow suit and all 4 members are out of the venue before anyone has a chance to say a word. I don’t know what happened to the drunken guy but I do believe he deserved what he got. Yes it was a seriously hard hit he took, but not only did he ruin the bands night who had probably traveled miles to get to the venue, the promoter who took weeks in planning the show. He ruined the night for all members of the crowd who had paid money to watch.
It's that time of year in the Northern hemisphere when the sun's out, the shorts are on and the Facebook feeds are filled with people complaining about the heat... Perfect timing for some Scandinavian gothic metal, don't you think? Gothic metal is largely attributed to British band Paradise Lost, not least due to the title of their sophomore full length, "Gothic," but has since gone on to become a popular and successful sub-genre in it's own right, probably providing the most female musicians in any of metal's varied offshoots. One of the first bands to lay the template for operatic, female vocals hails from the west of Norway and continue to hold a special place amongst fans of the genre, is Tristania.
Tristania was formed in 1995 by vocalist/guitarist Morten Veland, drummer Kenneth Ølsson and keyboardist Einar Moen and were joined in their musical pursuits a few weeks later by guitarist Anders Høyvik Hidle and bass player Rune Østerhus. While recording a demo, the group decided to bring in Vibeke Stene as a guest vocalist, who was soon recruited as a permanent member, although she was unaware of this until after the band signed with Napalm Records and released their debut album, "Widow's Weeds." The album itself drew considerable praise and is considered a classic in the gothic metal genre, thanks to the contrasting, "beauty and the beast" vocals and symphonic elements. More...
Ready for a new Pit Story heavy metal fans? This week we've got JP LaChapelle from Keychain to share a few he's accumulated over the years.
This week's entry is actually an audio story told as you'd hear it outside a show bullshitting with the band.
Below you can hear JP share a bevy of road report tales (all somehow combined with a common theme of strip clubs) about the learning curve of not partying too hard while touring and dealing with tour van break downs.
Has there ever been a time when metal was more at war with itself than the late nineties/early 2000s? After Korn hit the big time, many bands with a similar, though not always identical sound, soon emerged and thus, nu metal came to be. A sub-genre which was largely discredited by fans of "true" metal for its unashamed hip-hop influences, style and perhaps most offensively, lack of guitar solos. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, there's no denying that nu metal is by now, old school, thus warranting coverage in this very column. This week, we'll be taking a look at one of the earliest success stories of the era, Coal Chamber.
Coal Chamber was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1993 by singer Dez Fafara and guitarist Meegs Rascón, who had both previously been members of the group, She's In Pain. They rounded up the lineup with the additions of drummer Jon Tor, who himself was soon replaced by Mike Cox, and bass player Rayna Foss. Early in their career, the band was dealt a blow when Fafara quit at the insistence of his wife, though he soon returned to the fold, at the expense of his marriage. With the help of Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares, the group earned themselves a contract with Roadrunner Records, who released their self-titled debut in February 1997. More...
I know everybody's still waiting on the second half of that epic pit story from Panzerfaust, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait just a bit longer on that front. We finally got in touch and the band is keen to share their recollections of the event, so hopefully next week!
In the mean time, we have a good old bloody tale from Forty Winters vocalist Xavier Vicuna. Xavier tells the gruesome story of unintended pit mayhem like this:
The date was Saturday, August 15th, 2015. We were on tour with Shai Hulud and xBishopx, it was our last date in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now, we were already warned that Myrtle Beach kids can be kind of crazy and all over the place, I didn't really think anything of it, haha. Fast forward to the hometown heavyweights Down In It destroying their set.
Out of nowhere someone launches a bar stool with all their might, legitimately across the room; and nails their unsuspecting friend square in the face. I have honestly never seen so much blood in my entire life.
The dude ended up going straight to the ER for stitches and still made it back in time to catch the Hulud set. He was a real good sport and took it like a champ. I snapped a picture next to one (yes one) of the pools of blood he left behind. Great night and show.
What's the most damage you've accidentally done to a buddy in the pit? Let us know in the comments section!
The South Florida heavy metal outfit Forty Winters is currently gearing up for a July 22nd release date for sophomore album "Rotting Empire," coming via Dead Truth Recordings. Check out a lyric video for opening track "Summoning Spirits" right here. More...
If there's one term in music guaranteed to raise eyebrows, and often nothing else, it's "supergroup." Arguably more often than not, the results don't quite go as hoped and for every Cream there's a Contraband and Ov Hell. There will, however, always be musicians that draw people to their projects no matter who they're working with and if ever there was a vocalist who was able to do this, it's Faith No More's charismatic frontman, Mike Patton. Throw in members of other esteemed bands such as Slayer and the Melvins and surely the results are going to be something special, which is exactly what happened in 1998 when Patton put together a new project as Faith No More were coming to the end of their first run, a project named Fantômas.
Fantômas, which was named after a French supervillain and one of the country's most popular literary figures, began initially as a series of avant-garde songs Mike Patton had penned on his own, in the hopes of putting together a supergroup of his own. He sent the songs out to his Mr. Bungle bandmate Trevor Dunn, as well as Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne and Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera. Cavalera was the only musician to decline his invite to the group, though he did suggest that the drum stool should be occupied by another highly respected metal drummer, Dave Lombardo, who at the time was busy with Grip Inc., having left Slayer for the second time six years previously. More...
You know what Tuesday means: time for some more Pit Stories from metal shows!
In recent weeks we've covered acquiring some interesting scars, making a fool of yourself in front of guys who would later be your band mates, getting crushed by a wall of death, and an ill-fated train ride to see The Misfits.
Today we've got a tale of the odd ways people behave at shows, from hating on the band to straight up getting it on in the pit rather than just heading home for the hanky panky.
Shawn Pelata of U.S. power / thrash metal band Final Sign tells the story like this:
Back in the very early 1990s, I was in a band called Oracle. We did what a lot of bands did at the time. We played a lot of shows, wrote a lot of songs, did some recording and basically tried to be rock stars. We played kind of a blend of power metal and thrash. We slugged it out in the clubs in the area like any other metal band, and we saw our fair share of strange things. At one of our shows in particular, I saw two.
One evening in Winston-Salem, NC, as we played our sets (we would play two sets of all original material back then), periodically I would see a man pacing back and forth, from one side of the stage to the other and back again. He was carrying a beer...and he was flipping us off. Now, it wasn't uncommon to see a bunch of middle fingers in a rowdy crowd back then. It was almost a salute. However, this guy, seemed to really hate what we were doing. He slowly, intentionally, made his way back and forth behind the crowd, his middle finger raised high and aimed directly at the stage, and was just glaring at us. I saw him 3 or 4 times throughout the night, but never saw him once we were off stage.
That same evening, as we played our song "Valley Of Sadness," one of my guitar players and I noticed a man and woman in the crowd just straight up "dirty dancing." Again, we played like a power metal/thrash hybrid and here are two people, obviously feeling zero pain, just grinding away, holding drinks, to a song about finding your way out of the valley of sadness before your life fades away. Although they were fully clothed, I truly believe she went home pregnant.
Final Sign's latest album "Hold High The Flame" is out now via Divebomb Records / Tridoid Records. More...
We've covered bands from many countries over the course of Sunday Old School's history. From Mezarkabul in Turkey to Aria in Russia and Holy Dragons from Kazakhstan across to Asian bands like Crash from South Korea and Sigh, Loudness and Church Of Misery from Japan. However, one thing we haven't done as of yet, is look at a group who's entire history took place in a country that no longer exists. Of course the land is still there, but the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia has since become several countries and the former capital city of Belgrade is now the capital of Serbia. Despite being gripped in the rule of Marshal Tito, a dictator whose legacy remains disputed, rock and metal music was able to find it's way into the country and was pioneered when it came into the hands of the proud ones, or rather, Gordi.
Gordi, which as the previous paragraph alluded to, is Serbian for "the proud ones," was formed in 1977 in Belgrade by guitarist, Zlatko Manojlovic, along with his brother Goran, drummer Stevan Milutinovic Steva and bassist Dragan Jankovic, who was soon replaced by Zdenko Pomper. It was only after this change that the group were able to record and release their first album, "Covek," through the Ljubljana based major label, ZKP RTLJ. It was very much a progressive rock affair, with Zlatko Manojlovic later describing it as "psychedelic." More...
Gather 'round metal heads, it's story time!
That's right, we're back for your Tuesday Pit Story, this time from Dan Gargiulo of U.S. outfit Revocation.
For this week's tale, Dan shares a story about getting knocked out quite unexpectedly in Boston... in full view of a future band member. Gargiulo tells the story like this:
I was about 19 and a band I was in played a show in Boston. I was watching one of the openers fairly close to the front row. Next thing I know I'm having a dream about some clouds and stuff, but a few moments later I regained consciousness and my buddies were asking if I was alright.
Apparently a pit busted out and before I even realized it, some dude cracked me in the jaw hard enough to knock out a skinny teenager. I drank some water and I was awake but definitely confused and I didn't really know where I was. We were on next so I just got up on stage and did my thing. I'm told we played alright, but I don't remember many details from that night. I wonder if I had a concussion?
Anyway I'd love to file that under "embarrassing scenarios that nobody but me remembers", but I can't, because one of the attendees of that show was none other than David Davidson, who I would end up meeting a few years later. When I joined Revocation, we had some laughs over that story.
Revocation's new album "Great Is Our Sin" is coming July 22nd via Metal Blade Records. A lyric video off the release is available below. The band also currently on tour in North America - get a full list of upcoming dates right here. More...
Those of you who follow international football (or soccer, if you insist,) you will probably know that less than two hours ago, the Republic of Ireland were eliminated in the Euro tournament by the host nation, France. While we won't be seeing any more Irish contributions to the Euros, the nation's reputation when it comes to music is outstanding. Irish folk music, along with that of the Middle East, is possibly the best known in the world and the country has produced a number of top rock and metal bands too, with Thin Lizzy probably the most famous example. With kudos in both of these musical styles, it was only a matter of time before Ireland had a world class folk metal band and they arrived in 1992, under the name of Cruachan.
Cruachan came to be following guitarist Keith Fay's endeavours with the J.R.R. Tolkien inspired black metal band, Minas Tirith. He had formed a new group, taking it's name from the capital of the middle ages Irish kingdom of Connachta, after becoming more interested in folk music and hearing how two of his favourite genres could be blended on the debut Skyclad album, "The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth." It would be two years before the band recorded material, which surfaced in the guise of the "Celtica" demo in 1994, before a full length album, "Tuatha na Gael" followed the next year through Nazgul's Eyrie Productions. More...
If you were hoping for the follow-up to last week's Vow Of Thorns pit story about a crazy show in Orlando, sadly I've got to let you down: Panzerfaust hasn't sent me the other half of the tale yet!
We've got something just as good though, as Australian group Be'lakor has got in touch to share a tale from the pit in which an overzealous fan getting injured in the pit led to a very happy ending indeed:
Many years ago, we were playing a lot of local shows in Melbourne and routinely had quite a few regulars show up. One of these guys would really get into it—head banging, shouting and, as is tradition in Australia, heckling the band. On one occasion, he was moshing with such reckless abandon that he struck his forehead on the fold back monitor. He split the skin open pretty deeply, there was a lot of blood and it left a Harry Potter scar on him. This didn’t slow him down one bit though. Fast forward to 2016 and this guy – Elliott – has now joined Be’lakor as our new drummer. He’s a wizard behind the kit!
Be’lakor os a progressive/melodic death metal band from Melbourne that will release fourth album, "Vessels," worldwide through Napalm Records on June 24th. The full album has also come online for advance streaming and can be heard right here. More...
There are some countries where heavy metal is very popular, then there are countries which don't just appreciate heavy music, they contribute to it... heavily. Many fans of the genre will tell you that it was born in England but Germany is its spiritual home, though Scandinavia is where it's very welcome to stay. Indeed, it's not uncommon to see metal bands reach high chart positions in Finland and their neighbours to the west, Sweden, are almost as welcoming, spawning many amazing and important bands of their own, as well as the famous Swedish death metal sound. This tone is often credited as the Gothenburg sound but many of these groups came from the capital city of Stockholm, including today's band, Unleashed.
Unleashed was founded in 1989 by singing bassist, Johnny Hedlund, who had only just been fired from Nihilist, the band that was to become Entombed. He was joined in his endeavour by drummer Anders Schultz and guitarists Robert Sennebäck and Fredrik Lindgren. The former was replaced by Tomas Måsgard pretty quickly and the group set about making their mark by recording the demos, "Revenge" and "Utter Dark." The tapes soon found their way to German label Century Media, who snapped up the band almost immediately, resulting in their 1991 debut full length, "Where No Life Dwells." The record was hailed instantly as a death metal classic and remains one of the most popular albums to emerge from the Swedish metal scene to this day, which helped propel the band's popularity massively, allowing them to tour Europe and the United States with fellow death metal favouites, Morbid Angel. More...
Time for the next in our ongoing series of heavy metal Pit Stories! This week Canadian black metal group Vow Of Thorns shares a tale of an infamous night with a very drunk crowd where nothing went quite as planned. Vow Of Thorns tells the story like this:
Last June we were playing a show in Sarnia, Ontario, with Wounds and Panzerfaust, and the whole night was just ridiculous. It was a big party in town that weekend and we had one drunk and drug fueled crowd.
During our set some coked out old guy gets going wild at the front of the stage. At one point I look at him and he’s got his hands on his belt undoing his pants. I’m thinking this guy is about to whip his dick out at us, so I turn my back to the crowd and jab our bassist with my guitar to get his attention. He looks up just in time to see this agile old fella with his pants around his ankles bent over damn near touching his toes. Now he’s disgusted and I’m laughing my ass off.
After he got his pants back he decides he’d like to join us on stage. There was no way I was about to let this guy on the stage. He’s right in front of me trying to climb up. He would’ve ended up right on my pedal-board and fucked something up. So I thought, do I kick him in the head? Or do I kick him in the chest? I figured a boot to the face might be a bit much, so I gently nudged him off the stage… well I don’t think I kicked him that hard, but he took quite a tumble.
We had overheard that guy bragging about being a KKK member and spouting some white power bullshit, so I didn’t feel too bad about it. The night just got worse from there. Mainly just a few idiots causing problems. One fight that started inside and ended in a street fight. I only caught part of that. But the night was capped off with one strange little sadist offering himself to Panzerfaust. That part of the story, however, is probably better told by Panzerfaust's vocalist...
The Ontario-dwelling black metal doom fusionists making up Vow Of Thorns will release "Farewell To The Sun" on July 15th, which will be preceded by Canadian tour dates. Check out a track off the album below. More...
Maybe you never would have heard of Trust if Anthrax hadn't covered "Antisocial." Many American metal fans, and indeed younger fans from all across the world were introduced to the likes of Diamond Head, Budgie and Holocaust via Metallica covers. Speaking of Metallica, it was on an unlicensed documentary about the Bay Area quartet that I discovered today's featured band, as one of the interviewees mentioned he only attended one of their early shows because he wanted to see another group, by the name of Laaz Rockit.
Laaz Rockit was formed in San Francisco in 1982 by guitarists Aaron Jellum and Phil Kettner, along with vocalist Michael Coons and bass player Dave Starr, taking their name from the Clint Eastwood movie, "The Enforcer," before rounding up their lineup with drummer Victor Agnello, as well replacing Starr with Willy Lange in 1983. That same year, the band recorded their first demo, "Prelude to Death," which led to a record deal with Target for their debut, "City's Gonna Burn." Though by no means a bad album, there are fans who regard it as a slightly weak debut, feeling it's an unfocused work that didn't capture the band's full potential. More...
Time for another Pit Story my metal loving friends! Sorry about missing last week - I was a wee bit busy in the hospital having my son be born and forgot all about the column.
Now that we're back on track, we've got a tale from Denmark's Helhorse, who warns about the possibility of a wall of death going bad if the crowd doesn't have the right energy going. Helhorse tells the story like this:
At some point (no one remembers excatly when) after the release of our second album ”Oh Death” our lead singer Mikkel – when playing live shows - got into the habit of doing a a wall of death, and before the audience would run into each other, he would get off stage and put him self in the middle telling people to do their worst and really rough him up. And it always seemed to work, the crowd would go nuts after that.
At one show in a small Danish city he did it once again. Up to that point it had been kind of a weird show. The vibe was sort of off. The crowd for some reason seemed a bit pissed off (maybe they all simultaneously had a shitty week.) But at the same time they didn't move a lot, so we weren't getting the reaction we wanted to.
A lot of tension was building. So Mikkel did his thing and put him self in the middle of the wall of death. And when it came to it, they just tackled him like it was the rugby match of the century, they were furious, it looked absolutely crazy.
Right after they hit him, he went down, and for 5 or 10 seconds he stayed down. We all started to get worried, but he slowly came on his feet, his face slightly bloody looking very confused. Mikkel has never – for some reason – put him self in that situation again.
Helhorse just released a self-titled album last month after signing with Spinefarm Records earlier this year. Check out a music video taken off the album for the "Hell Of A Ride" track below. You can also follow the latest on Helhorse at Facebook here. More...
We're back! After a long hiatus, save only for a very welcome contribution from xFiruath, Sunday Old School has returned. I could bore you with the details of the red tape that's caused such a long delay and the hassles that emigrating can bring, or I could tell you all about one of my new homeland's most revered bands in their contribution to heavy metal. A band that took their name from one of the most legendary figures of the first world war, Manfred von Richthofen. A band by the name of Baron Rojo.
Baron Rojo were formed in the Spanish capital of Madrid in 1980 by brothers Carlos and Armando de Castro, originally going by the name of Coz, though an internal split led to two versions of the band going at the same time for a period, before CBS Records, who owned the rights to the name demanded the version with the de Castro brothers change their name, with the siblings picking the more familiar, and frankly better, moniker. More...