It has been well documented that the nineties were not particularly kind to heavy metal. Many bands from the once popular thrash era such as Death Angel and Vio-Lence, disbanded before the decade reached the half way point and others such as Megadeth and Anthrax kept their name alive by changing their style. Of course, there a few metal bands who were able to defy critics, trends and commercial pressures and become stars of their time such as Pantera, Machine Head and Sepultura, as well today’s featured band, Fear Factory.
The group began life under the name, Ulceration in 1989, though they adopted their now familiar moniker the year after, following the more extreme style that they had taken on, culminating in a mix of death metal, grindcore and industrial influences, particularly Godflesh. The band, whose official lineup consisted of drummer Raymond Herrera, singer Burton C. Bell and guitarist, Dino Cazares, performed their first show on Halloween in 1990 and soon afterwards recorded a demo album, "Concrete," which saw Cazares handle both guitar and bass duties. The band were unhappy with the result but producer Ross Robinson saw no problem, leading to a lawsuit which saw Robinson retain the rights to the album, with Fear Factory keeping the rights to their songs, many of which they re-recorded with Colin Richardson for their official debut, "Soul of a New Machine." More...
Every Tuesday we chat up metal bands from across the genre spectrum and across planet Earth to get their most memorable Pit Stories.
This week Chris Kelly of Philadelphia outfit Alustrium shares a tale of a hardcore dancer battling invisible ninjas - but hitting a real person. While he was great at windmilling innocent passers by, unfortunately his smack talk skills weren't quite up to par (blindgreed1 would have eaten this kid up and spit him out half-chewed in the insult hurling arena). Chris tells the story thusly:
Though we've seen our fair share of notable pit moments in our career, there's one that stands out to me. A few years ago we supported a pretty heavy hitting line up at Croc Rock in Allentown, PA. That place was our go-to stomping ground for a number of years. If I'm not mistaken, the tour package was The Faceless, Revocation, and the Haarp Machine (pretty sure that was the only US tour they ever did). Despite the fact that these were some of the more prominent technical metal bands around that time, in Allentown you will never have a shortage of misplaced deathcore kids looking to fight some invisible ninjas.
Though we avidly despise that kind of ridiculous, spastic self expression, it wasn't hurting us so we kept our mouths shut. That is until the most skilled of the ninja fighters landed one of his windmilling fists on our former drummer's face. Spoiler alert: not a cool thing to do. Needless to say, our guy quickly returned the favor and a few of the venue bouncers immediately stepped in. Both guys were dragged outside and thrown into the parking lot to settle their shit.
At this point the rest of us had either seen or heard about the incident and we were all now running to the parking lot to see what was happening. The ninja warrior was uttering your typical meathead jargon; "come on, bitch, the fuck you gonna do about it?" That kind of thing. At this point our drummer had no interest in continuing to interact with this kid simply because if either of them were to kick the other's ass, it was certain that the police would get involved. However, the last thing we heard him say before pulling him back inside was "Go ahead, man. Keep being a fucking moron. Go back to Zumiez." That line alone made the entire debacle worth it in our eyes.
Alustrium just released new album "A Tunnel To Eden" last month, which you can pick up at Bandcamp here. For more details on what's happening with Alustrium lately, head over to the band's Facebook profile. More...
Speed metal is a genre that’s quite hard to define. Many bands are slapped with the tag while also labelled “heavy metal” or “thrash metal,” which most people agree are the genres that bookend Speed. Whatever the case, there are some excellent bands tagged with the label, many of whom found critical, if not commercial success. Today, we’ll take a look at one such band, which like some of Britain’s finest metal groups, formed in the North East, specifically New castle. A band whose name literally encapsulates power, Atomkraft.
The band was originally put together by vocalist, Tony Dolan and drummer, Paul Spillet as a punk outfit which went by the name of Moral Fibre, recruiting guitar players, Ian Legg and Chris Taylor along the way, though they would mostly operate as a trio. Their moniker was changed after Taylor returned from a trip to Bremen in North West Germany, with badges sporting the anti nuclear power slogan, "Atomkraft, Nein Danke!" and the group decided to take the first word for a new name, feeling that it suited their new, heavy metal approach better. More...
Tuesday means its time for some new Pit Stories, and this week's entry comes from Canadian grind outfit Fuck The Facts.
In typical rebellious grindcore fashion, Fuck The Facts didn't bother with a story that actually takes place in the pit and instead told us about having waaaaaaaay too much fast food. Bassist Marc Bourgon had this tale to tell:
Years ago, I'm guessing around 2010 or so, we were out west on tour with The Black Dahlia Murder and made a stop in jolly old Regina for a show at the Exchange. The show was rad but it was looking grim as far as a place to stay was concerned so I got tasked with "cold calling" random people at the show to see if they would be cool with having us crash at their place. Usually someone will offer but tonight we were tossin' gutters.
We eventually found somewhere (after a reluctant girlfriend was convinced) and made our way to the dudes apartment.
In our band, we have "sober nights." This is a rotating schedule that determines who has to drive after the show/concert/bar mitzvah. I know for sure it wasn't Johnny or my night to drive because we were plastered. The wagon made a stop at a 24h McDicks for a quick snack and that's when Jibay and I got the brilliant idea of ordering 25 Mcdoubles. Ho-lee-fuck. Within a few minutes of placing the order every fucking beeper and alarm was going off behind the counter as the staff scrambled to fulfill this insane request.
When we got to the dudes house we saw that he made a stop at Burger King and picked up 20 Junior Whoppers. We barely ate any of them. It was awesome. Needless to say, we don't see much crazy road antics.
Fuck The Facts will release new album "Desire Will Rot" on August 25. You can also catch the band live on the upcoming tour dates listed below, where you should probably buy them a bunch of McDonalds or Burger King. More...
Thrash metal and Brazil go together like black metal and Norway, death metal and Sweden or moaning and Britain. Throughout the history of Sunday Old School, we’ve seen plenty of bands from Brazil take thrash metal and put their own spin on it, from the global stars, Sepultura to their crossover friends Ratos de Parão to their first wave black metal enemies, Sarcófago. This week, the column will once again be looking at some more boys from Brazil who could thrash with the best, a band by the name of Korzus.
The group began life in 1983, coming from Brazil’s most populated city, São Paulo. They released their debut album two years later, which was something of an oddity as it was a live album, simply entitled, "Korzus Live," before their first studio full length, "Sonho Maníaco" followed two years later. It was a harsh album, exploring the darker side thrash much like Slayer, Possessed and Dark Angel had done before them, though their next release, "Pay For Your Lies," a six song EP, would feature a sound more akin to Bay Area thrash metal and has been cited as a stand out release in South American metal music. More...
For all the stereotypes that exist about heavy metal fans being mindless head bangers, who just want music that’s loud, fast and full of shouting, there is also a full awareness that heavy metal has a long history of complex arrangements and a penchant for storytelling. Many bands over the years have become highly skilled at this, many of which in the progressive metal genre, which is an area we’ll be looking at today as we examine American prog metallers, Symphony X.
The seeds of Symphony X were sown in 1994 when guitarist, Michael Romeo released his instrumental solo album, "The Dark Chapter," on which he was joined by keyboard player, Michael Pinnella. The album was something of a success in Japan and the two decided to expand their partnership by bringing in vocalist, Rod Tyler, drummer Jason Rullo and bass player, Thomas Miller and christened their new outfit, Symphony X, which was also the name of their first album released later the same year. It was another well received release in Japan, leading to a sophomore full length only six months later, though in this short time, the group had parted company with Rod Tyler and recruited singer, Russell Allen. More...
Throughout much of last year, the Sunday Old School column tried to look at bands from as many previously uncovered countries as possible, bringing the spotlight to groups from places such as Greece, Russia, Turkey and South Korea for the first time. This year we’ve been able to do this twice more by covering Salem from Israel and Bulldozer from Italy and now we make it a charm by heading to Spain for the first time to take a look at one of the country’s greatest contributions to extreme metal, Avulsed.
The seeds of Avulsed were sewn when vocalist, David Sánchez González, better known as Dave Rotten to fans, moved to the Spanish capital of Madrid following his military service in 1991. He was keen to play the music he loved, at a time when death metal was beginning to really take off and bands such as Obituary and Cannibal Corpse were making a name for themselves. He was joined at first by a guitarist known as, Javi "El Largo," before more members were recruited the next year, the same time that the collective settled on the moniker, Avulsed, though by this time, "El Largo" had left. More...
It's a double pit story day! Earlier we heard from Leave The Living about an overly large mammal (homo sapien in fact) taking a short but devastating flight through a bar door, and now Pennsylvania band Rosetta shares another story about a questionable venue and a fan short on cash hoping to trade sex for merch. Rosetta's Matt Weed (guitar) offers up this tale:
Years ago we had booked a weekend of shows around playing the Emissions From the Monolith Festival. The last show was in the Virginia panhandle, in an area none of us had ever seen before. When we got there, the town was mostly just a collection of trailers on the side of a hill, at the foot of an enormous mountain. The show turned out to be your basic punk house show – except that the show wasn't in the house, it was in a corrugated metal shed next to the house.
By the time we got our amps in there, set up cockeyed on the gravel floor, you could get about 13 people in there with us. But almost a hundred people showed up to the show. So we played with the shed doors open, to a crowd that was mostly in the driveway and the street, looking at this huge mountain while the sun went down behind it. Totally surreal.
After the show, we decided to pack up early because there were a lot of underage kids drinking and things were getting rowdy. A girl came up to the van and wanted to buy a CD before we left. We told her it was $10, and she replied with “do ya'll take sex?” One of us yelled “NO” and we all jumped in the van and shut the doors, after which she started licking the van's side window. We bailed and drove all the way home to Philadelphia.
In last week's Pit Story we learned you are just not ready for the insanity of a Terror show, and this week Canadian band Leave The Living steps up to share a new tale of a bar that's usually clam and quiet - until one crazy of night of metal rolls around. Leave The Living had this Pit Story to share:
We used to play shows in this little dive bar in our home town, maybe an 80 person capacity. The owner couldn't care less how many people we jam in the place as long as they're drinking. There were literally no issues for over a year. No fights, no one got too crazy, an all around good time for all involved.
Well, this one time we throw a 7 band rager in there and the place was jumping. 130-150 people, I mean, it was packed. Still, the night is going really, really well. We get up to play and the set is just flying along when a couple of our good buddies decide to get in the pit. Now these are two very large land mammals we're talking about. So they start moshing, everything is fine.
We get to the last song and one of the guys picks the other up by the front of his battle jacket and throws him through the door to the kitchen! Door comes off the hinges and breaks in half, owner comes up screaming, we have to move our gear now. Long story short, no pay, no more shows there. Totally worth it. I can still see him flying through the air.
You know the phrase, "the gift that keeps on giving?" That seems to have been made for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Everyone and their dog knows about the big stars from the movement such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Venom and Saxon, but there are so many great bands produced from the scene. There are the cult favourites such as Raven, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Angel Witch and then scratching even further beyond the surface, we find other great, often short lived groups such as Holocaust, Jaguar and today’s featured act, Tokyo Blade.
Tokyo Blade were formed in Salisbury, Wiltshire, itself a city well known for its musical history, particularly in the eighteenth century, in the late seventies and underwent several name changes, before settling on their now familiar moniker, which was settled on 1981. The name change proved fruitful for the band, as before long, they signed a record deal with Powerstation Records, releasing their self-titled debut album through the label in 1983. It cemented their place as one of the bands from the later stage of the NWOBHM that were well worth the listeners time, earning them plaudits from critics and head bangers alike and still being held up as one of, if not their best album to date by fans. More...
After a McDonald's cheeseburger break down from Zimmer's Hole and fights breaking out in the pit during every. single. song. of an Oceano set, today's Pit Story comes courtesy of Gyre guitarist Chirag Bhatt.
In the tale below, Bhatt reminisces about a simpler time when he wasn't cool enough to listen to At The Gates and ended up stranded atop a table in a sea of thrown fists during a Terror live set:
So, this brief but amusing tale takes place at the now closed Cricket Club in Irvington, New Jersey, sometime in the mid-2000's (honestly, every year from that decade has blurred together in my mind). It was probably my first time at a real hardcore show with bands like Terror and others playing. Though me and a few friends were really only there to see The Black Dahlia Murder because we were in our late teens and nowhere near cool enough to listen to At The Gates.
So, TBDM goes up and crushes their set and I spend the next 10 minutes downing glasses of water for my damaged throat as I had attempted to growl along the previous 30 minutes while forgetting that I don't know the first fucking thing about growling. In any case, it was a fun, crazy time in an old-fashioned metal mosh pit.
Soon enough, Terror goes up and suddenly the mosh pit turned into MJ's "Beat It" video sans the dancing. A flurry of flailing fists and face bandanas eventually lead to my friends and I standing on top of a couple of tables on the edges of the venue because we came to listen to metal, have a good time and not lose teeth. But before we got too down on ourselves for not being so down with the cool kidz, I looked over to the table to my right and saw none other than a few members of TBDM standing right on those tables with us wondering what in the actual fuck was happening - a sentiment we expressed to each other through bewildered looks and monosyllabic grunts of fear. All in all, the moment was a bizarre mix of fanboyism and concern for our physical well-being. But what more can you ask of a metal show?
The band’s new self-released EP "Moirai" is out now and available for stream/purchase at Bandcamp here (also available for listening below). If you missed it, check out Gyre's "I Release" drum playthrough video at this location. More...
Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel and A Christmas Carol. These are stories that we all know and in the case of metal fans, another story everyone knows is that of Metallica. However, since it’s the three hundredth edition of Sunday Old School (hooray for us,) we'll be marking the landmark with a look at one of metal’s biggest bands, even if we do all know the documented story by now. A band which has always been both revered and reviled but continued to do things their way throughout their illustrious career. A band known simply as, Metallica.
The group was the brain child of a young, Danish heavy metal fanatic named Lars Ulrich, who had gone as far as to travel to Europe to see his heroes, Diamond Head, eventually staying with the band for a month. Upon returning to the United States, where he had lived since his teenage years, he was determined to form his own band, inspired massively by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, even name dropping groups from the movement such as Tygers of Pan Tang in his advertisement looking for like minded musicians, which answered by Leather Charm guitarists, James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner, though Metallica itself would not be formed until five months later, when the drummer asked Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel if his band could appear on their forthcoming, "Metal Massacre" compilation. More...
It's that time of the week - today comes a new Pit Story from vocalist Brittney Slayes of Unleash The Archers. In this week's tale, Slayes heads back into the pit after a long hiatus to down cold cheeseburgers and potentially ruffied beer at a Zimmer's Hole show...
So I suppose we can begin with the fact that I do not usually go into mosh pits at all; I used to when I was young but got an elbow to the face one night and it just never felt the same after that… Regardless, I am more of a stand at the back and headbang type, unless the band is one of my faves and I’ve had a few too many, then I’ll usually stand at the front and headbang hahaha.
There is a band here in Vancouver called Zimmer’s Hole that is just the raddest most hilarious metal ever, if you’ve never listened to them then I strongly recommend you get your hands on "When You Were Shouting At The Devil;" Gene Hoglan on drums, Chris ‘The Heathen’ Valagao on vocals, seriously just some killer metal, really great for driving in traffic hahaha. Needless to say I was into them pretty hard back in 2009 and when they finally came to Victoria to play a show I was beyond stoked.
I did my darndest to be my usual hide in the back self, but these guys just get you so riled up! The Heathen dresses up like the devil (full red body paint) in assless chaps and a blacksmith’s apron (very Hephaestus) and has awesome props and a voice straight outta the depths of hell. So the beers go back way too easy and next thing I know my favorite song ‘Fista Corpse’ is on and I just can’t help myself. I’m back in the pit like a 15 year old, singing way too loud and fisting the plastic skeleton corpse thing that had been thrown into the pit.
They also have this great thing called a ‘cheeseburger breakdown’ where The Heathen throws McDonald’s cheeseburgers into the audience and you just shouldn’t eat that stuff but here I was sharing a cold cheeseburger probably purchased five hours ago with some random metalhead standing beside me in the pit. Suddenly there’s a beer in my hand to wash the burger down, probably roofied but who cares. The bar we were in was not big, and the area for the mosh pit was probably a third of the floorspace so pretty much the whole bar is in there with me now and it’s sweaty and disgusting and everyone smells like McDonald’s, but it is probably the greatest mosh pit I have ever been in, and thus it was the last because I mean really, how can you top a pit like that?
Unleash The Achers has a new album titled "Time Stands Still" set to drop via Napalm Records on June 26th (EU) and July 10th (North America). Check out a teaser trailer below. More...
The pit is the heart of the metal scene, and there's a 1,001 amazing stories to be found there. We're on a quest to unearth them all!
This week guitarist Raphael Pinsker from New York's Fin'amor shares the following tale of a fight breaking out during every single song of an Oceano set:
It had been a few years since I had last seen Oceano live, the last time being New England Metal & Hardcore Fest. The band is known to "bring the beef" live and I was excited to finally see them again. The amount of energy Oceano brings to the stage is massive and I was looking forward to seeing what would happen at this show.
As I walked into the venue I immediately notice how "DIY" this place looked: makeshift bar? Check. Makeshift bathrooms? Check. On the second floor the toilet was flooded, the sink was stuffed with trash and empty beer cans were afloat at the rim. This place was a complete shit hole, but deep down inside I knew something had to go down that night.
I met up with my buddy Al and we grabbed beers at the "bar." Oceano begins their set and no more than 30 seconds in, the entire place is rocking back and forth. Everyone in the venue gets pushed back, beers are dropping, people are falling on each other, and the pit is raging. First song in: FIGHT. Al and I look at each other confused as kids are trying to break it up. The band continues playing through all of this as if nothing happened.
Oceano moves onto their second song, again another fight. Like clockwork, Oceano is bringing the beef and the fights keep coming. During the breakdown of their sixth song a massive fight breaks out, Al and I look at each other with huge grins on our faces. He points over to the sound booth as we see the sound engineer grab an iron pipe and hop into the crowd to help break the fight up. Staff and security are pulling kids off of each other and kicking them out of the venue.
The house lights get turned on and staff is ejecting everyone in sight. We turn around to the bar and everything has been packed away into blue bins and was being carried upstairs. After the room was cleared Al and I were recapping on what we had just witnessed. Al tells me "There are shows, and then there are shows you remember. This is a show that you will remember for the rest of your life." It's true.
Jazz is something which a lot of people would initially think is worlds away from heavy metal. After all, no one can say that "Blue in Green" sounds anything like, "Reign in Blood" and death metal vocals are hardly a copy of Chet Baker’s. But give it some thought and a little bit of research and it’s clear to see that jazz has had a big influence on the genre, including some of its biggest names such as Megadeth, whose lineup on the first two albums featured two jazz musicians in Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson, while Testament guitarist, Alex Skolnick has released a number of albums in the genre and bands like Sigh and Shining (Norway) are making the connection clearer than ever before. One band that helped bring it to the extreme end of metal was born in Florida, arguably the home of death metal and they go by the name of Atheist.
The band began life in the city of Sarasota, originally using the name, Oblivion before changing it to, R.A.V.A.G.E. and then settling on the moniker, Atheist. It was founded by guitarist, Kelly Schaeffer and drummer, Steve Flynn, joined soon afterwards by vocalist, Steve Freid, another guitarist named, Rand Burkey and eventually by bass player, Roger Patterson. They slogged it out in the live scene for four years before finally recording their debut album, "Piece of Time," by which point, Freid had left the band and Schaeffer assumed the vocalist duties as well. More...
Throughout the history of the Sunday Old School, we’ve looked at a number of undervalued bands formed by musicians from more famous bands. Be it the recent article of Fastway, formed by Motorhead guitarist,"Fast" Eddie Clarke, the collaboration between former Sepultura/Soulfly frontman, Max Cavalera with Fudge Tunnel’s, Alex Newport on Nailbomb, or Rob Halford’s endeavours with Fight and Two. This week, Sunday Old School will continue this by taking a gander at what drummer Dave Lombardo got up to shortly after leaving Slayer for the second time.
After taking his leave from the thrash giants, Lombardo put together a new outfit with Polish guitarist, Waldemar Sorychta, a former member of the German thrash metal group, Despair. They took their influence from the groove metal style which had been popularised by Pantera and christened their new outfit, Grip Inc., being joined in their musical pursuit by British vocalist, Gus Chambers, a former member of punk band, The Squad, and bass player, Jason Viebrooks. This new quartet didn’t take long to attract interest from record companies and before long, they signed with German label, SPV. More...
Every week we chat up musicians from throughout the heavy music scene to get their favorite Pit Stories from the mayhem of metal shows.
Today David Defeis of Virgin Steele shares the following tale of a fan who found a rather odd place to take a nap:
Virgine Steele played a place in Staten Island called The Paramount Theatre a couple of times with Manowar. On this one particular evening, during our set I noticed that a kid had passed out inside the bass bin of one of the PA stacks. I asked security to check on him, they said they would, and I assumed that they did and I went about my night doing all the things that one has to do at a gig.
When I finally had a moment to catch a view of the stage once again, somewhere near the end of Manowar's set, I noticed that this same kid was still passed out in the bass bin. I don’t know what happened to him, his hearing or his reproductive capacity… but it could not have been a terribly good thing for him to have been held in the grip of that sonic onslaught for all those hours from 2 very loud groups!
Virgin Steele is gearing up to release "Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation" on June 22nd in Europe and June 23rd in the USA via SPV/Steamhammer. Check out the lyric video for "Lucifer's Hammer" below. More info on the album can be found at this location. More...
It’s always interesting to look back at the very early days of heavy metal. That first batch such as Black Sabbath, Budgie and Blue Cheer that would influence even iconic bands such as Judas Priest before they were even formed. One such band which is often put into this group, straddling the line between hard rock and the new heavy metal genre, would be Cactus. Cactus were formed in Long Island, New York by former Vanilla Fudge members Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, initially planned to include English guitar hero Jeff Beck before he had an automobile accident and was forced out of the music world for a long while. Instead, they brought in Jim McCarty and vocalist, Rusty Day, who had previously performed in The Amboy Dukes with Ted Nugent.
The quartet released their first full length album in July of that year, a self-titled debut which was adorned with a rather crude looking cactus. It’s become a genuine staple of early seventies hard rock, taking great influence from the blues, as evidenced by the covers of "Parchman Farm" and the Willie Dixon song, "You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover," as well as their own compositions. More...
Flailing limbs, wheelchair crowd surfing, overturned cars, lost teeth, and mid-show coitus - heavy metal has a million and one Pit Stories and we're going to unearth them all!
This week The Great Discord shares the following tale of a shambling zombie wall of death at a Skinless show:
So we went to this Skinless concert in France at the Hellfest festival in 2008. We were standing in the middle of the crowd when the vocalist called for a wall of death. “What a swell idea” we all thought! So the crowd divided itself down the middle, it was probably around two or three thousand people there. They played this sample from the stage about someone having sex with an amputee. The singer instructed everyone not to do this the regular way but rather as a bunch of fumbling zombies.
When the song began it was basically like everyone got drunk at the same time. So we started walking slowly towards each other looking like a bunch of senior citizens with inner ear infections. It took a while, but we reached the other crowd and everyone just kind of leaned on each other, it was bizarre!
We all laughed so much that we didn't notice when the “zombies” turned into a regular mosh pit. An arm came flying out of no where and knocked one of Fia's front teeth out. The dentists had a hard time making it symmetrical again and if you look closely at one of our teasers or videos you can actually notice one of Fia's front teeth sticking out a little further than the other. So thank you Skinless for lulling us into a false sense of security! Awesome show though.
Video of a Hellfest zombie wall of death can also be seen here: More...
The worst inspiration in choosing which bands get covered in the Sunday Old School column is always whenever a band member dies. With the sad passing of Pagan Altar vocalist, Terry Jones this past week, it seemed only fitting that we take a look at one of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's lesser known, though highly influential bands, who along with contemporaries, Witchfinder General, were a big part of forging the genre we know today as doom metal.
Pagan Altar was founded in 1978 by Terry Jones, along with his brother Alan on guitar and were joined in their venture by Glenn Robinson, Les Moody and Ivor Harper. Somewhat typically for heavy metal bands of their time, they focused on occult themes and dark subject matter, though without being as overtly Satanic as Venom, for example. This original lineup didn't last long and at the beginning of the eighties, Pagan Altar consisted of what is now known as their "classic" lineup, which saw the Jones brothers joined by bassist Trever Portch and Israeli native, John Mizrahi on drums. More...