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Rockstar Ramblings: Gas Mask Gary

Canadian hard rockers Diemonds have released a new music video for the single "Get The Fuck Outta Here" from the album 'The Bad Pack', released on October 2nd through Underground Operations. Fans of horror movies and hard rock will enjoy this mini production. More...

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Unearthing The West Country Metal Underground Pt.3

Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that haven't gotten as much exposure yet as they should. This week we’ll be taking another look at three metal bands from the West Country (the South West of England,) all with their own take on the genre.

Flayed Disciple

Formed in Taunton, the county town of Somerset in 2008, the awesomely named, Flayed Disciple have been performing their own brand of brutal thrash metal ever since. They released their first record, an EP entitled, "Drawn Viscera" the next year, earning almost instant acclaim in the local metal scene and going on to perform with the likes of South Western thrash legends, Onslaught and New Wave of British Heavy Metal heroes, Diamond Head. In late 2011 they signed a deal with Grindscene Records, which led to the release of their debut full length album, "Death Hammer," which was also given away with copies of the May edition of Terrorizer magazine. The group has been able to perform at a number of festivals over the years, including the ever growing Bloodstock Open Air and will soon be embarking on a trip to India where they will perform a handful of shows along with a slot on the Indian Metal Festival, the very first heavy metal festival in the country, which will be headlined by French death metal outfit, Gojira.

Flayed Disciple - "Ejaculate While Killing"
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Sunday Old School: King's X

Kings-XMost bands come together with the idea of making music, but a select few combine in such a way that they make magic. That is the case with America's ultimate power trio defined King's X, although at the time these three musicians were not aware of the impact that their collaboration would have on the metal and rock community.

The time was 1979 and the place was Evangel College in Missouri. Jerry Gaskill, enrolled in the institute for a degree in Biblical studies, met Doug (dUg) Pinnick there. Jerry was from New Jersey and Doug came down from Chicago to work with a project that Greg Volz from Petra had assembled. DUg was from a religious, Baptist background himself and had been involved in several bands in Illinois along with promoting the Christian music scene in Florida. (It was during this time in Florida that one of dUg's friends got into a car wreck, collected a settlement and bought dUg his first 'official' bass guitar). When the Petra project folded, band member Phil Keaggy invited the both of them to join his new band. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Swedish Invasion

Anyone looking for rock and roll highlighted by sleazy guitars, big choruses, and tattoos are well aware (and have been for some time) of the scene in Sweden. Veteran, new, and reformed bands continue to put out new music as well as some entertaining videos. This week we look at three of these videos.

Swedish rockers SISTER SIN have released a music video for "End Of The Line", the first single from the band's upcoming album 'Now And Forever.' Filmed at an old nuclear reactor testing facility in Stockholm, Sweden, SISTER SIN is clearly in a mood for kicking ass.

I realize this is at a nuclear reactor site, but the video begins with an Asylum feel, or at least some sort of mental institution. Liv Jagrell is not happy, also not hungry. She is ripped, sweaty, and working out inside a small cement cell. Outside (of the alleged mental institution) there are explosions. Not Macy’s type fireworks: bombs going off, signaling Armageddon. Inside, Liv does pull-ups. The video continues with more explosions and then push-ups. Liv is preparing for war. After her “Prison Work Out” she approaches her stash of guns. Hey, what type of mental facility is this? So maybe this is just her own personal bunker, a place where she can get away from that crazy outside world and get in a good workout. Also, a great place to stash her guns…

Sweden's KILLER BEE are back with a refreshed line-up and a new album called 'Hell & Back.' The band has released their first official music video from the album, for the single "Step Into My World.” This is not to be confused with the comic relief track “My World” from Guns N’ Roses ‘Use Your Illusion II’, no, this is serious.

The video displays depressing clips of poverty, rioting, and begging. A quick break from the documentary shows the band. I enjoy the abundance of jean jackets and the use of a globe as “the world on fire”, also good use of the fist pump. The video (depressing documentary) continues with more world hunger, missile crisis, etc… very somber video, I think I’m going to go listen to “My World” and cheer myself up…

TOXICROSE, a brand new band out of Sweden featuring GEMINI FIVE and LIPSTIXX 'N' BULLETZ members, have released a music video for the track "A Song For The Weak.” The song is taken from the band's upcoming debut EP, soon to be released by City Of Lights/Rock It Up Records.

The video begins very formal – an introduction to the band. My personal opinion is that the broken glass is unnecessary, but then again, that’s just me. This is pretty much what is coming out of Sweden these days: lots of guitars, lots of hair, lots of leather, and lots of chains. There is definitely s glam inspiration, but more in a Hanoi Rocks way, versus late eighties Sunset Strip. The songs are bluesy enough to hide the pop grooves and choruses. It’s glam with an edge…

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Pit Stories: Don't Mosh In Leather

If you're tired of all the election coverage and need something amusing to break up the non-stop political material, we've got a new Pit Story this week, courtesy of J.R. from New York act Slam One Down. He had this story to share of a Hellyeah pit having unexpected consequences for the band:

One night Roach and I went to promote our new demo CD at a Hellyeah concert. Roach left me with the CDs to go and mosh. Funny thing was that it was winter and Roach still had his leather jacket on while he was moshing. He looked like such an idiot with that leather jacket on. Plus you all know how sweaty it gets inside a mosh pit, and he had that leather jacket soaked in sweat.

A few days later we took a roadtrip to another gig that we were playing and there was this awful smell in the car on the way up. Yep it was the jacket! It smelled so bad and I think he threw it out that night.

Slam One Down is out now with new album "Who Really Wants To Live Forever," and you can check out tracks from the release at the band's official website or Facebook profile. Be sure to check back in again next Tuesday as we share more mosh pit stories from metal bands.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground at ProgPower USA

Each week, carrying on faithfully in the tradition of bringing the bands that are currently simmering in the underground up to a rolling boil, we feature several quality underground bands in their respective genres. With the 'power' side of the ProgPower USA XIII festival already unearthed in October, the 'prog' side remains unspoken for.

The ProgPower USA festival has taken turns at skewing the balance toward one genre, but has been notorious for bringing in bands who straddle the line between both in the eyes of those with a more liberal view of things. The lines of demarcation are not very clear and the next year's roster often ends up surprising many. Fortunately, many prog bands are able to weave their way into the system and capture some attention. One such band hopped the ocean to pre-empt their 2nd album release, unveiling that they would be selling the CD months in advance at the show.

Haken

Few bands brought the prog with such unabashed love as Haken in the festival's history. As the openers of Day Two of 2011, a spot happily filled this year by fellow prog-heads Beyond The Bridge, the boys of Haken unleashed a set list that included one song from their upcoming album, "Visions" (reviewed here,) but focused mostly on the first album, "Aquarius." Multiple melodic themes are developed throughout the albums, with expert re-interpretations for emotional impact linking up with the storylines. Both albums are concept albums, and both involve songs that go beyond the 20-minute mark, showing their prog side.

Haken is a five-piece, with keyboardist and Haken main brain Richard Henshall performing both keyboard and guitar duties. Henshall and Diego Tejeida both focus on crafting synthesizer sounds not heard elsewhere, which often makes for multi-faceted lead tones. Haken bassist Tom Maclean heads a prog metal sideproject by the name of To-Mera with Henshall assisting, as well.

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Sunday Old School: Soundgarden

Since Sunday Old School almost always finishes it's month of sundays with a column about a group from the glam metal scene, it always seems so natural to kick the next month off with one of the so-called "grunge" acts, given it was the next stage in popular rock music. And who better to start November off than Soundgarden, whose reunion has been of the most anticipated in recent times? Soundgarden was formed from the ashes of a band named The Shemps, which featured singing drummer, Chris Cornell and bass player Hiro Yamamoto. The two kept in contact after The Shemps’ demise and were soon joined by guitarist Kim Thayil, who moved to Washington with Yamamoto and future Sub Pop founder, Bruce Pavitt, from Park Forest, Illinois. The trio adopted the name, Soundgarden from a sculpture next to Magnuson Park, Seattle and soon became a four piece, when they hired drummer Scott Sundquist in order for Cornell to focus on his vocals. This lineup would continue for around a year and make the first Soundgarden recordings, which surfaced on a compilation album named, "Deep Six," before Sundquist left to be replaced by Skin Yard drummer, Matt Cameron. The band’s live performances made them one of the stand out groups in an area which had many quality bands, and it was thanks to their blistering presence that KCMU DJ Jonathan Poneman offered to contribute twenty thousand dollars to Sub Pop Records, in order to fund a Soundgarden release, which came in 1987 in the form of the single, "Hunted Down," which also featured a highly regarded b-side in, "Nothing To Say."

The band released two further EPs, "Screaming Life" and "Fopp" through Sub Pop before deciding to sign with SST Records for their first full length effort, snubbing the interest of major labels in the process. They then released their first LP, "Ultramega OK" on Halloween, 1988, and soon found themselves regularly on MTV, thanks to the music video for "Flower," as well as eventually being nominated for a Grammy award for Best Metal Performance 1990, in addition to touring overseas for the first time. Following the "Ultramega OK" tours, the band got to work on their second album, during which they claim ideas weren’t flowing freely from all members, leaving Cornell to write the bulk of it. The second album surfaced in September 1989 as, "Louder Than Love" and would prove to be their last record with Yamamoto, who left to go back to college after he felt he was unable to contribute to the band anymore. He was replaced by former Nirvana guitarist, Jason Everman, and the band hit the road again, this time in support of Canadian progressive metal act, Voivod, with Faith No More opening the shows. There was initially some problems with the distribution for "Louder Than Love," with some retailers taking umbrage with the lyrics to the songs, "Big Dumb Sex" and "Hands All Over," but nonetheless, it became the band’s first record to hit the Billboard 200, peaking at number 108. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Kenya

Recently, Kenya celebrated 49 years as a nation independent of colonial rule. In the subsequent times that they have found themselves once again as an autonomous country, several bands have similarly exerted their creative independence. As can be expected, some of those bands are metal - since metal is a worldwide phenomenon. Heavier music has had a rough time in Kenya and in other African nations and cultures due to skepticism and the general belief that it is inherently satanic in nature. In a recent conversation I had with the congenial metal guitarist Christopher Lilako 'Yagami' of In Oath, he says that people are slowly growing accustomed to heavy metal in his country.

Christopher's band has teamed up with members of Kenyan alternative rock bands Void Of Belonging and Nightshift Theory, along with its own members, to help create In Oath's new harder sound. That rock/alternative sound has been more the norm in terms of popularity in Kenya for a while, a sound reflective in the newer metallic sounds emerging from the Eastern African nation. People are more likely to embrace the local favorites RSK, Dove Slimme, Murfy's Flaw or Parking Lot Grass in terms of musical sound, but there is a growing movement of bands prefering a heavier style.

African metal has its own distinctive sound, which scene producer Chris 'Sarcophagus' Marx conveyed with his 1994 compilation "The Death of Africa, Volume I." While that classic anthology contained many bands from the metal powerhouse of South Africa, there were also bands from other parts of the continent. In fact, Marx is putting out a Volume II sequel to that release, which will undoubtedly feature a Kenyan, Botswanan or maybe even an Angolan band. Check out the Facebook page for news on this compilation over at this location. Possibly the one documentary streaming now on Kenyan metal is Rock Scene Kenya, which features many of the musicians we will explore for you today on Metal Underground. Get a glimpse into the Kenyan scene of African metal through its participants as we unearth three bands from Nairobi today.

In Oath

This combo is one of Kenya's newest entrants. Formed in 2009 and initially influenced by metalcore, these five guys decided to hone their sound into more of a death metal style. Just this year they released their debut EP "Eulogy," four songs of Christian-themed extreme metal. "Eulogy" in its remastered form is available to stream over at bandcamp. In Oath is already recording a full-length album scheduled for 2015 release, which the band says will be its 'defining memento.'

Bassist Steve 'Gitau' Smalls from the band, formerly of Narcissistic Tendencies With Delusions Of Grandeur, made a splash five years ago with his acting debut as the character DJ in the independent film "The Knife Grinder's Tale." That award-winning short film, which received honorable mentions at fourteen foreign film festivals, told the story of a father's journey to uncover the senselessness of his son's murder in the slums of Nairobi.

In Oath - "Eulogy"

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Sunday Old School: Warrant

Few bands will ever sniff the success Warrant had in 1989-1990: two multi-platinum albums, a Rolling Stone chart number one single, and a headlining tour. The band created a song named “Cherry Pie” and sold millions of more records because of it! (True story.) Then they were off the radio, then conflict, and then finally abuse and the death of their lead songwriter. The band continues to carry on, but it will never be the same as the summer of ‘89. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Appetite For Democracy

While Guns N’ Roses is set for their 12 show - Las Vegas residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The Hard Rock Casino isn’t missing a beat on “cashing” in on this event, producing 2,500 $25 commemorative chips to be distributed this Friday. More...

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Sunday Old School: Vision Of Disorder

There’s probably no hardcore scene more famous than the one in New York. It’s produced legendary bands that have been going steadily for decades, such as Sick Of It All, as well as bands which have gone away, only to come back stronger than ever such as Agnostic Front. Another band that fits in the latter category is Long Island suburbanites, Vision Of Disorder. Vision Of Disorder was formed in 1992 by guitarist Mike Kennedy and Matt Baumbach, along with vocalist Tim Williams, drummer Brendon Cohen and bassist Mike Fleischmann, who left the band shortly after they formed, only to return a short time later. Following the release of numerous demos, the band got to work on an EP entitled, "Still," that proved to be something of a breakthrough release for the band, garnering a strong underground fan base. It was also while recording, "Still" that they partook in the documentary, "N.Y.H.C." alongside such bands as Madball, Crown Of Thornz and No Redeeming Social Value. The buzz around the group and their, "Still" record led them to sign a deal with Supersoul Records, a subsidiary of Roadrunner Records and they released their self-titled debut album in October 1996. The album was an underground hit, with many fans still considering it to be their best work to date and praising it for the innovative approach to traditional hardcore music.

The band then moved to Roadrunner Records itself, through which they released their sophomore effort, "Imprint" in July 1998. The album marked an important moment in the history of the group, receiving favourable reviews and becoming their best selling album to date, but alienated many of their old fans who were less than impressed with their new sound. Vision of Disorder were forced to record the album in only two weeks by Roadrunner, a move which did not sit well with the band and led to them leaving the company. Instead of working on new material, the quintet decided to re-record nine songs for their next CD, "For the Bleeders," which was released in 1999 through Go Kart Records. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Unplugged Glam

This week a mixed bag of unplugged, budget indie videos, old school glam, and an interesting wardrobe decision.

Former Motley Crue and The Scream vocalist John Corabi has released a video for the song "If I Had A Dime." The song will be featured on Corabi's upcoming "Unplugged" CD, scheduled for release in November in the UK and sometime around February 2013 in the USA.

We begin with a concert promo poster showing Corabi opening for Cinderella. The camera then pans through road crew, fans, and others that have many tattoos, bandanas, or are holding acoustic guitars (in some cases – all of the above). Most of the video is just a recorded live performance mixed with “tour bus” video. My favorite is the shot on the highway which shows two exits, one for Detroit and one for Flint, Michigan. Tough choice, do you want to get shot in the face or stabbed in your back?

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Pit Stories: Germán Pascual Braves The Elements

Tuesday has rolled around again and that means its time for more Pit Stories taken from directly from the musicians who keep the metal world running. Normally the mosh pit is where all the action is at, but sometimes just getting to the venue can be quite the ordeal all on it's own. Today Germán Pascual (Divinefire, ex-Narnia) shares the following story about an "act of God" nearly stopping the band from performing during a Brazilian tour:

After a great gig in Sao Paulo and a decent good night sleep we headed for Curitiba. The trip was estimated 5 to 6 hours, so we would have plenty of time to rest before next show. The weather broadcast was looking good and all of us were in great spirit.

Then it all started to go wrong BANG, a flat tire! Imagine 10 hungry metal heads in 40C = to about 110F degrees in the middle of nowhere. Thank God the chauffeur took hold of the situation together with the roadies. The rest of us started a long walk to the nearest restaurant. Drained in sweat we finally had lunch and later on met up with the others. Still on time we continued our trip south.

After half an hour the traffic started to get crowded. Very slowly but still in motion we noticed that the sky went darker. It started to rain. For all of you who haven't been in a tropical country I must mention that when it rains, IT RAINS! The traffic stops and we don't move for hours. Now we are getting the picture of a wrecked schedule, but still in a hopeful mood. We start to move, slowly, and now we can see what made the traffic jam. The road is totally flushed away, gone, zero, nothing! With heavy heads we almost gave up. But still we were moving forward and we saw cars that crossed to the other side. High up in the mountains with just a tiny string left of the road, we too took the daring and insane decision to move on. Safe on the other side and half way there we were late. Okay, Sound check: no time, a refreshing shower and change of clothes: no way.
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Unearthing The Synth Metal Underground

Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that haven't gotten as much exposure yet as they should. This week, we will be taking a look at three bands who mix hard rocking sounds with synthesisers. Those of you who have read my posts in the Now Playing threads in our forums will probably be aware by now that I'm a big fan of synthpop and electronic music, particularly the likes of New Order and the Pet Shop Boys. So with this in mind, I went in search of bands that combine these digital sounds with the aggression of heavy metal. As it turns out, there’s quite a few bands out there melding the two, and it’s not a brand new experiment either. In 1998, nu metal outfit, Orgy covered one of the biggest hits by New Order, "Blue Monday" for the second single from their debut album, "Candyass." Make of it what you will.

Orgy aren’t the first band of more modern times to cover a classic synthpop track, most of us have heard Lacuna Coil's rendition of the Depeche Mode staple, "Enjoy The Silence," and even the old guards of heavy metal have taken a stab at paying tribute to their eighties contemporaries. For example, below we can hear German power metal kings Gamma Ray performing a cover of the haunting Pet Shop Boys track, "It’s A Sin." More...

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Sunday Old School: Tad

botsc
Tad - such a little name for such a large and imposing guy. But Tad always kept it short, even in his song and album titles. Back in the early eighties, the former 300 lb. butcher/lumberjack was a big fish in the small town of Nampa, Idaho. Even Boise was overwhelmed by him, so he took his love of underground music even further westward and settled in Seattle. By 1987, Thomas 'Tad' Doyle helped pioneer the pacific northwest grunge genre. Creating his eponymous band Tad, Doyle's interpretation of grunge had more in common with the metal side of things like the Melvins, whereas his cohorts in the scene like Cat Butt or Mudhoney took the more garage/punk approach.

Tad Doyle had assembled his veritable grunge band from guys he knew in the scene. His band H-Hour had played with bassist Kurt Danielson's group Bundle Of Hiss, and he knew drummer Steve Weid from Skinyard and guitarist Gary Thorstensen from Treeclimbers. The 1987 debut Sub Pop single "Daisy/Ritual Device" by Tad was one of the earliest singles on that label. Produced by Jack Endino, it helped usher in an era of those classic singles on that label. Back in the day, it was an event to see which single Sub Pop would release every month. That release was followed by Tad's debut album (eventually called "God's Balls") in 1989, also produced by Endino. The great cover shot of the band shows Tad sporting a wristwatch, and if you look closely at that Texas Instruments styled timepiece you can distinctly see that it says "Tad." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Six Feet Under

This week our video journey begins in Germany (Kissin’ Dynamite), then heads to Sweden to check out Dirty Passion, and finishes up in the UK where Heaven’s Basement have released a new single/video. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground At ProgPower USA

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. With the ProgPower USA festival still fresh in my mind, this week I will take on the festival's “power” metal side.

Most people think that the majority of what you see and hear at ProgPower USA is just the bands on stage. Of course, this is true, but there are also many other avenues at the festival in which the metal connoisseur can explore and discover new bands. For one, the merchandise area at "Vinyl" is just about the greatest record store you can ever find in the world (see my first reaction to that in my op/ed piece “The ProgPower USA Experience From The Eyes Of A Newbie” over at this location). However, there are times where this is almost too much to take in, so while you are at the festival its best to make time for many trips to the merch area.

Despite the onslaught of material at the merch area, the first place any attendee should check is the free promotional CD that the festival itself gives out each year (see full track listing at this location). For 2012, the giveaway was expanded to three CD’s and all are chock full of power and progressive acts from all over the world. Now I pride myself on knowing thousands of metal bands, but I was shocked at how many I hadn’t heard of on this triple CD. The bands showcased here all appear on the promotional CD, though did not perform at the festival: Seven Kingdoms (USA), Siren’s Cry (Austria) and Draekon (USA). More...

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Sunday Old School: My Dying Bride

To paraphrase an old joke, there was once a band with a sound so loud you could hear them over three fields; Sheffield, Huddersfield and Wakefield. They were formed in another area of Yorkshire named Bradford in 1990 and would become one of the most influential groups in death/doom metal, and they are called, My Dying Bride. The genesis of the band began when guitarist Andrew Craighan and drummer Rick Miah left their previous band, Abiosis and joined forces with singer Aaron Stainthorpe and another guitar player named Calvin Robertshaw. After six months of writing material, they recorded their first demo, "Towards the Sinister," which led them to release their first official single, "God Is Alone" through a French label named, Listenable. The single was limited to one thousand copies, which sold out extremely quickly, and the buzz around the band saw them begin a love affair with Peaceville Records, a company which had previously specialised in anarcho punk bands but had now decided to expand their horizons by signing metal acts such as Paradise Lost, Darkthrone, Anathema and of course, My Dying Bride, who have been loyal to the label ever since signing.

After recruiting a new member in bassist, Adrian Jackson, the band released their first EP, "Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium" in March of 1992, and two months later released their debut full length, "As the Flower Withers." The album saw the band team with artist Dave McKean, known for his work on the legendary Batman graphic novel, "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Ground," and most recently for his work on the Richard Dawkins book, "The Magic of Reality," but more importantly, it saw the band begin to break through into the modern metal consciousness, allowing them to perform in mainland Europe, as well as embarking on a big tour in their native, Great Britain. The band then decided to broaden their sound by hiring Martin Powell as their keyboardist and violinist. Powell made his recording debut with the band on their next EP, "The Thrash of Naked Limbs," which was released in February 1993. While filming a video for the title track, Miah had a nasty fall which forced the group to cancel their tour in support of the record. Instead, the band got to work on their second album, "Turn Loose the Swans," which was met with a very strong response, with Rolling Stone describing it as, "Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ for the ears." They continued to tour Britain and Europe and released another EP named, "I Am the Bloody Earth" in January the next year. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: From Slash Till Dawn

Slash is back into the animated video world, this time for his song “Bad Rain”, the latest single from his album ‘Apocalyptic Love.’ More...

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Pit Stories: Slayer Stops For Nothing

Every week we scour the metalverse to get the best and most memorable mosh pit stories from musicians, and this week we have a tale of all-out war that didn't end well for one show-goer's car.

The antics of Slayer shows are no stranger to the Pit Stories column, and today guitarist Paul Coleman of Connecticut act Graven Image adds the story below to the ever-expanding "Slayer has insane pits" category.

Let us know if you remember this show, and feel free to share your favorite Slayer live memory in the comments section below.

If you want to catch Graven Image live, the band will be opening for Anthrax, Testament, and Death Angel at The Webster in Hartford, Connecticut on October 4th, 2012.

WEST HARTFORD BALLROOM: SLAYER/OVERKILL/MOTORHEAD...Slayer is on and the place goes absolutely into a frenzy man, I mean the pit is going out the door into the parking lot. Never seen anything like it, there were some words exchanged outside and like a 30 on 30 war started right there man.

I remember a Volkswagen got flipped right over on its roof...people drinkin, fightin, fuckin right out in the open...crazy, crazy night! Slayer never stopped playin, the shirt sale booths got trampled, all the merch taken! Just insane!

For more info on Graven Image, head over to the band's official Facebook profile here. Check back in again next Tuesday as we share more pit stories from the metal world. More...

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