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The Rockstar Ramblings: Flashers Optional

Warning: The following videos contain flashes of light. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 4. Cradle Of Filth

Controversy is a word that has appeared so many times over the past month’s columns. Whether it be the blasphemy displayed by Behemoth, the violent acts of some Gorgoroth members, or simply the name of Rotting Christ. However, today we’ll look at a band that caused controversy in a different fashion, when they brought black metal into the mainstream. The group labelled responsible for this supposed crime against metal, is English natives, Cradle of Filth. Cradle of Filth were formed in Ipswich, Suffolk, one of the most eastern counties of Britain, in 1991 by vocalist Dani Filth, guitar player, Paul Ryan, drummer Darren White, bassist Jon Pritchard and keyboard player, Benjamin Ryan. By the end of the next year, the band had recorded two demos, "Invoking the Unclean" and "Orgiastic Pleasures Foul," as well as a split release with Malediction. They soon signed with Tombstone Records and recorded their first album, "Goetia," although this was never released owing to the collapse of the label and the recordings being wiped, forcing the band to seek another record company.

Following another demo, "Total Fucking Darkness," which featured their new second guitarist Paul Allender and a new bassist named, Robin Graves, the band were picked up by Cacophonous Records, who marked a first release themselves with the debut Cradle album, "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh." The record also marked the recording debut of their new drummer, Nicholas Barker and featured a then unusual mesh of black metal and gothic influences, which helped grab the attention of critics who heaped praise upon the album. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Speed Junkies

Why do so many videos use Polaroid photos as imagery? That and more unasked questions answered this week with videos from Speed Stroke, H.E.A.T., and TomCat. More...

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Pit Stories: Riotgod Talks Pit Etiquette

Each week we check in with rock and metal bands from across the globe to get their favorite mosh pit memories, and this week's Pit Story comes courtesy of Riotgod vocalist Sunshine.

Check out Sunshine's tale below of experiencing a Flotsam and Jetsam show under the influence where the night's main entertainment came from an out of control skinhead:

This is kinda peripheral, but here we go: No matter what pit I have had the distinction of being in, whether while seeing the Cro-Mags or Agnostic Front at L'Amour back in the day or even in unexpected pits that break out at festivals during bands you would not think bring that out (see “Alice in Chains – Man in the Box”), I have had my share of adrenaline. Exciting but not dickish violent, that is not my scene.

As a musician – sometimes the pit breaks over onto the stage. One time a guy grabbed my mike and was sucked back in to the mosh, getting that back was a trip, kinda like fishing and rodeo at once. My audience based pit experience, it is something I deal with, as most do, to get close to the stage. Some guys are the kind who have to get in the middle of it, arms swinging, pushing and dealing.

A side note: I love it at a poorly attended local show, when ONE GUY is the pit. Anyway, I have always been a musician first and dealt with the pit. I am and have been always vigilant – helping people up – pit etiquette all that – see the Wikihow entry on moshing - can you believe that article, wow! And for this refer to #5: “...How brutal are the individuals bouncing around this particular pit? Are people just having fun, or are they going for blood? Know the difference between those who are ‘slam dancing’ and the idiot high school jock who's running around smashing people in the face with his knuckles...”

I always pride myself on being aware of what is going down, casing the situation for that one guy or group of dopes who surely will make into l:-(ss than. And though having been in more than a few pits of various sizes, as time went on, I was relatively unscathed. But... I always had a feeling that one night who-knows-what would happen but “The Pit” the scene would somehow bite me. Like a snake handler, one day you WILL be bitten, no matter how careful you are.

It was the Flotsam and Jetsam / Leeway show back in the day, at the “new” Ritz in NYC, the old Studio 54. I found a blog that described the night, someone else's take on the night: “The bill that night was Mind Over Four, Repulsion (before they became known as Type O Negative), hometown heroes Prong and Leeway (who I immediately realized most of the NY hardcore and metal kids were there for), and headliners Flotsam & Jetsam. I was nonplussed by the insanity we faced, the sheer physicality of young men with something to prove.”
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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 3. Gorgoroth

Black metal, as we’ve seen over the past month, can be a highly controversial genre. Neither bands nor fans are afraid of facing backlash for their beliefs, name or artistic integrity and some have even had clashes with the law, often receiving prison sentences. It can be said that Mayhem has one of the most violent and shocking biographies in black metal, but if they were to be rivalled by anyone in this department, it would surely be by their fellow Norwegians, Gorgoroth. Gorgoroth was formed in 1992 by guitarist, Roger Tiegs, who took the stage name, "Infernus," who was inspired to start the band after making "a pact with the devil." He recruited a vocalist named Hat, a bassist called Kjettar and a drummer with the almost amusing moniker, Goat Pervertor and together they recorded the first Gorgoroth demo, "A Sorcery Written in Blood" in 1993, which helped gain them front page attention from, Firda, one of the major Norwegian newspapers, which was formed in the bands home county of Sogn og Fjordane.

The exposure almost certainly helped the band sign their first record contract soon afterwards, when they partnered with Embassy Productions to release their debut album, "Pentagram." The record received extra credibility for featuring Emperor member, Samoth handling the bass duties and was received quite well amongst both music critics and black metal fans. Shortly after the release of the album, drummer Goat Pervertor left the band and was replaced by Satyricon skinsman, Frost, who joined in time to perform with Gorgoroth at their very first live appearance, which was part of a four day black metal festival featuring such other bands as Enslaved, Marduk and Dark Funeral, who were also performing their first gig. This appearance was followed by further gigs with Enslaved before returning to the studio to record their sophomore album, "Antichrist," which was released once again to a mostly positive response. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Birdcage

A strong international showing this week with Sweden, Germany, and Ireland all represented. Also, an answer to the question: What would a man look like if he always wore a birdcage on his head? More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 2. Rotting Christ

As you may have noticed last week, Metalunderground.com has brought back Black Metal History Month, a special time when we devote February to looking back on some of the most influential and important bands in the history of black metal. Part of the aim this year, not just for Black Metal History Month but for the Sunday Old School column overall, is to read up on bands from as many countries as possible. The first instalment of this year’s Black Metal History Month saw the column look at a band from Poland for the first time and this week, Sunday Old School will be making its first trip to Greece, as we go through the life, music and controversy of Rotting Christ.

The band was formed in 1987 by vocalist/guitarist, Sakis Tolis and his brother Themis on drums, along with bass player, Jim Patsouris and despite the style they would soon become known for, began life performing a mixture of death metal and grindcore. They would only release one record while performing this style, in 1988, when they teamed up for a split EP with Sound Pollution. By 1989, the group had turned to a very dark and harsh black metal sound, which was demonstrated on their first demo, "Satanas Tedeum," a release which saw them make their mark as one of the pioneers of the second wave of black metal. They signed with a local record company in 1991, the same year they released their first EP, "Passage to Arcturo" before releasing a 7" single, "Dawn of the Iconoclast."

With these releases under their belts, they had gained enough recognition to sign with an international label. Initially Rotting Christ looked set to head to Norway, where the black metal scene had really taken off, to sign with Deathlike Silence, the label owned and run by Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous, however this never materialised due to the murder of Euronymous by his former bandmate, Varg Vikernes. Instead, they joined forces with Osmose for their debut album, "Thy Mighty Contract," which was released in November 1993 and was received well enough to earn them a spot on the "Fuck Christ" tour with Immortal and Canadian black metal outfit, Blasphemy, where their performance was met with even more positivity, leading the label to release a new 7" single, "Apokathelosis," after which the company parted ways with the band. Rotting Christ decided to head home for their next label, signing to Greek company, Unisound, who released their sophomore full length, "Non Serviam" in 1994. However, signing with a small label back in Greece did not allow the album to be released as far as they had hoped and so many countries did not stock the album until many years later. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Smells Like Bret Michaels

I guess it was only a matter of time. Bret Michaels is selling cologne named Roses and Thorns. You can pre-order now (apparently you get a CD also with your purchase). More...

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Pit Stories: Bad Luck With Stage Diving

The mosh pit: where metal brethren gather together to get out their aggression and rock out to some of the world's best music.

Every week we check in with metal bands and fans from around the globe to get their favorite Pit Stories. This week we have a double-dose of pit mayhem from Brazilian all-female thrash band Nervosa.

First up, vocalist/bassist Fernanda Lira shares several tales of her many accumulated war wounds from mosh pits:

I love the moshpit! That's why in every show of ours, I'm always encouraging people to mosh, stage dive and sometimes I even join them! But most of my funny stories involving mosh pits happened when I was watching concerts - and I always end up injuring myself really bad!

At a Municipal Waste gig once, me and many other girls were invited to join and headbang on the stage and right after, the singer asked us to stage dive all at once, and I ended up falling from the stage and injuring my back really hard! The same happened at a Ratos de Porão gig: I jumped from the stage, nobody held me, and I smashed my face into the ground. My eyebrows started bleeding and were seriously swollen and I couldn't walk in a normal way for almost 2 weeks because something wrong happened with my knees, haha!

And the last one I remember and the most serious on, happened at a Krisiun gig where I tried to stage dive and when I was about to ask people to put me on my feet, a guy simply didn't hold me and I fell and beat the back of my head on the ground. My eyes saw a completely white blank and I almost fainted out. A HUGE bump rose on my head and after one week feeling dizzy and having strange symptoms related to my vision and hearing capacities, I went to the doctor and he said I beat my head so bad that I developed labyrinthitis!

Nervosa guitarist Prika Amaral also adds these comments about her most memorable show experience:

Last year, we played in Macapá. The show was insane, the stage was too high and a boy was pushed by the head by a security guard into the mosh pit where a tug of war was made. When we got off the stage, many people pulled our hair, we couldn't walk, the fans wanted pictures and signatures and to take my guitar. It was crazy!

Nervosa's new album "Victim of Yourself" is due out this coming March 11th in North America via Napalm Records. Check out a teaser trailer for the release below. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Nepal

Known mainly in the West as home to the arresting Himalayan heights and neighbor to every misguided hippie’s favorite destination of Tibet, Nepal is a unique little country that, like many Asian enclaves, bears a richly extensive history that belies its pin-on-the-map size.

Viewed in a metal context, Nepal’s growing foothold in the headbanging underground proves an even greater curiosity – though thanks to the Sam Dunns of the world and our great global network of online journalism, that curiosity is transforming from a novelty to the norm before our eyes. Cultural and language barriers can only hold back the equalizing brotherhood of metal for so long.

The twenty-first century has thus far seen a rapid expansion in the local metal scene of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and largest city. It’s primarily an extreme affair. Inspired by trailblazing death metal acts such as UgraKarma and championed on regional web communities KTMRocks and Nepal Underground, the bands here tend to embrace aggression and brutality with a fresh enthusiasm that conjures a strange, sweet, almost innocent nostalgia.

According to Davin Shakya, audio engineer and founder of symphonic black/death metal act Kalodin, the reasons are as much technological as cultural. “The production here is not up to par compared to the international bands we listen to,” he explains. “Mainly because there aren’t many musical production courses. Engineers here have to study everything on their own and find their way out by trial and error. It’s improving, though.”

Such a grassroots-by-necessity approach calls to mind the trials by which Western engineers learned to produce thrash and death metal throughout the ‘80s. Innovative leaps in musicianship were forced to wait for the technology to catch up. This period of exploration was the perfect breeding ground for exciting, energetic, envelope-pushing music, and more than two decades later, Kathmandu is experiencing its own evolution and refinement of extreme metal.

It’s also placing its own unique stamp on the genre. Playing the heaviest and darkest of metal offers a special opportunity to entwine it with regional culture, whether through sound or attitude, and enrich the ever-expanding genre web. Take a look at some of Kathmandu’s highlights and rising stars since the dawn of the millennium. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 1. Behemoth

Back in 2011 and 2012, MetalUnderground.com decided to devote all our Sunday Old School columns in February to some of the most important, influential and most popular bands in the history of black metal, which we appropriately named, "Black Metal History Month." This year, we’ve decided to bring back the feature and, with their new album, "The Satanist" out tomorrow in Europe, who better to kick things off than Poland’s own, Behemoth?

Behemoth was formed in 1991 in the city of Gdansk, the fourth largest metro area of Poland by vocalist/guitarist, Adam "Nergal" Darski, Czech born drummer, Adam "Baal" Muraszko and a second guitarist known as, "Desecrator." The trio recorded three demos in their early days, "Endless Damnation," "The Return of the Northern Moon" and most significantly, "From the Pagan Vastlands," which featured a cover of the Mayhem song, "Deathcrush" and was released two months after it was recorded by Polish label, Pagan Records before it saw a release in the United States via Wild Rags. By 1995, Desecrator had left the group, leaving Behemoth as a duo, though the two were nevertheless ready to record a full length studio album for Pagan Records, which was released that year under the title, "Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)." It was given mediocre reviews by the critics, though they soon won them over with their second album, "Grom," which hit the shelves in January of 1996. This sophomore album saw the band bringing in a much wider range of influences and sounds, including the use of female vocals and earning them the respect of many members of the metal press in the process.

It was on their next album, 1998s "Pandemonic Incantations" that the band began to develop the blackened death metal sound which they are known for today. They toured for two solid years in support of the record but due to a lack of promotion from then label, Solistitium, the album did not fare well commercially. Behemoth decided that a change was needed and signed a new record deal with the Italian label, Avantgarde Music, through which they released their fourth album, "Satanica" in 1999. The label seemed very willing to promote the Polish outfit and booked them tours supporting American death metal legends, Deicide, as well as Norwegian black metal outfit, Satyricon. They were soon forced to make lineup changes however, which saw the recruitment of bassist Marcin "Novy" Nowak and guitarist, Havok. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: #RIPMotleyCrue

This week Motley Crue announced their retirement, sort of. Via a press conference the band announced a retirement that would begin after a two-year tour. Apparently they signed a contract that is completely valid unless they all decide to void or write up a new contract. Anyway, there is going to be a U.S. and International tour, maybe a new album, and a country tribute album. I’m sure the country tribute album will bring it all together. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Bangladesh

With a population of 160 million people, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The country's attitude of cultural tolerance (Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists live side-by-side) is reflected in their tastes in metal (well, at least in this article).

This Unearthing segment includes three bands of disparate styles from the city of Dhaka. The wide scope of sounds documented in the following video includes death metal, black metal, atmospheric, neo-classical, thrash, and progressive, many derived from a sole band!

Artcell

Mostly unknown in the West, Artcell is one of the most celebrated rock acts of Bangladesh. They play arenas, appear on TV shows and have over 479,000 likes on their Facebook page. In addition to the Sabbath-thy heaviness of debut "Onnoshomoy," Artcell has an affinity for melody and acoustic guitar. I'm not sure what the band sings about because all lyrics are sung in Bengali, but his voice is harmonious and passionate. Whatever he's saying, their crowds respond well. As with most prog bands, Artcell has an outstanding bass sound, very warm.

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Sunday Old School: Killer Dwarfs

Band members changing their surname as a show of solidarity is one thing, when the name is “Dwarf” that means two things: you have a sense of humor and are part of the Killer Dwarfs. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Cool as Steel

Steel Panther have done it again. Just when you think they couldn't create a more humorous video they go out and create a video for "The Burden Of Being Wonderful." A video high on comedy and high on self confidence… More...

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Pit Stories: The Miscalculated Stage Dive

Each week we check in with metal bands from around the globe to get their favorite Pit Stories from metal shows.

Today Richard Sjunnesson (The Unguided, ex-Sonic Syndicate) shares this story of a miscalculated stage dive:

This is a story from our old band Sonic Syndicate but still pretty entertaining, and seeing we are 3 persons from that band in The Unguided what the hell!? Anyway, we had this gig in Gothenburg 2007 on a festival called Metaltown. And towards the end of our set the former harsh vocalist of Dead By April, Jimmie Strimell, came up on stage for no particular reason, we barely knew the guy back back then, but I suppose he was just drunk and wanted to fuck about. Anyway; he was roaming around the stage for a while and I remember us being a bit annoyed by the fact. But after a moment he comes up with the brilliant idea to stage dive.

In his drunk mind he supposedly made some miscalculations as from where the crowd was positioned and that solid iron barrier between the stage and the fans. He however took off and made a miraculous leap towards the people, or so he thought, in fact he hit that fucking barrier head on, and made a total fool of himself. All this was of course immortalized by our manager standing in the ditch filming. And everything stupid like that eventually ends up on YouTube right? So now it can be watched below around 03:00 for everyone amusement. A small step for man but a giant fail-leap for Jimmie!

Regarding The Ungudied we are just about to release our sophomore album “Fragile Immortality” and once that’s out we are going to support it by doing some touring here in Scandinavia and a bunch of festivals during the summer. We are also looking into doing some touring around Europe under 2014. Going to be a busy year!
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Sunday Old School: Michael Schenker Group

The great thing about a lot of legendary metal bands is that you can usually find a connection between several groups. In today’s case, the connection sees a member of not one but two all time great rock acts who went on to release more great music under his own terms. I’m talking, of course, about the former Scorpions and UFO guitarist, Michael Schenker. Schenker, along with his brother, Rudolf, were founding members of the Scorpions and performed their first gig when Michael was only eleven years old. Four years later the band recorded and released their debut album, "Lonesome Crow," which saw them hit the road with UFO, who offered the now eighteen year old guitarist the position of their new lead guitar player, which he accepted, despite the handicap of not being able to speak English. His contribution to the band was immediate and successful, writing the bulk of the music for their major label debut, "Phenomenon," which featured such classic UFO songs as "Doctor Doctor" and "Rock Bottom." Despite his excellent song writing, his attitude and performances left something to be desired and his time with the band has been well documented as rocky and uneasy, thanks to his drinking and habit of walking off the stage, which would sometimes cause the cancellation of concerts. After recording the live album, "Strangers in the Night," Schenker finally parted company with UFO and rejoined with his brother in the Scorpions.

His return to the fold was not as joyous as it perhaps could have been. He teamed up with the band while they were recording their album, "Lovedrive" and performed on three of the album’s songs before the band began touring in support of the album. However, after only three months, he was out of the band once more, this time as a result of alcohol abuse, fatigue and an inability to perform live anymore. Now without either of these big name heavy hitters, he attempted to join even larger names and auditioned for such bands as Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones. After the death of his guitarist Randy Rhoads, former Black Sabbath singer, Ozzy Osbourne thought Schenker would be the ideal replacement, as he was a big influence on the fallen guitar player. Schenker did not join up with Ozzy, though reasons for this differ. Osbourne claims that Schenker made too many demands which bordered on the extravagant, which Schenker maintains that he was the one who made the call after he had a feeling that he would be making a serious mistake. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Just Say Yes

This week Vitne, The Sandness, and Beasto Blanco bring videos full of pretty colors, suckers, and Pall Mall cigarettes. More...

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Sunday Old School: Discharge

Stoke-on-Trent is an English city which might not be well known outside of Britain, but they’ve produced some outstanding talent, such as legendary England goalkeeper, Gordon Banks and Phil Taylor, perhaps the greatest player in the history of professional darts. But it’s not just sport that Stoke has contributed to. The world of punk rock, and indeed all heavy music, was changed forever in the city when five young Stokies got together in 1977 and formed Discharge. The seeds of the band were sewn by vocalist Tezz Roberts and guitarist Royston "Rainy" Wainwright, who quickly added Tezz’s younger brother Anthony, aka “Bones” on guitar, as well bass player Nigel Bamford and drummer Anthony "Akko" Axon. Like most punk bands starting out at the time, they were influenced by the likes of the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, the latter two they would go on to support following the release of their first demo.

Their style was soon to change however, after Bamford and Axon quit the band and they hired vocalist, Cal Morris, leading Tezz Roberts to take up the position of drummer, while Rainy switched to bass. The new addition saw them shedding their Sex Pistols style in favour of a much more aggressive sound, influenced largely by Motorhead (whose frontman, Lemmy, was also born in Stoke-on-Trent) and their lyrics began to take a form as harsh their guitar tone, focusing on the fear of nuclear destruction and the evils in society that was caused by Capitalism. Although this change was made of their own accord, several other bands in Britain had also begun to perform a more abrasive style, such as Amebix and Chaos UK and the new second wave of punk was ready to unleashed, eventually referred to by rock historians as "UK82," which takes its name from a song by The Exploited. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: How to Be a Ho

This week a new video from Nasty Habit, an eighties throwback looking to inject some fun back into rock and roll with their new video, "Strut Your Stuff.” The message of this song and video appears to be that wearing your Sunday best isn't always best. More...

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