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Archive: Columns

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Sunday Old School: The Accüsed

Whidbey Island, Washington isn't that remote, but is only accessible via the Port Townsend ferry on the Olympic Peninsula, the Mukilteo ferry north of Seattle and the Deception Pass bridge up by Anacortes. It is in this splendid isolation that one of America's most revered seminal crossover bands, The Accused, found its inspiration. The time was 1981 and the place was the town of Oak Harbor.

Before the beginnings of grunge proliferated to the extent of being a pox on the Seattle area (except for the really good bands), The Accused had already started honing its pioneering hardcore metal sound. There were other bands doing the same thing such as DRI, COC, Cryptic Slaughter and Broken Bones (to name a few), but The Accused came from an area far removed from these other bands and thus had a distinct sound very unlike anyone else. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Video Diary

This week a look at video’s by Reverence, Nasty Habit, Johnny Roadkill, Europe, Diehard Dolls, and a special bonus from Steel Panther. Let’s get started! More...

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Pit Stories: Don't Leave Your Mattress Unattended

Every week we get the best Pit Stories that musicians and metal lovers have to offer. While normally these stories focus on the frequently violent aspects of fans throwing down during a set, shenanigans definitely aren't limited to the mosh pit during the show itself, as many bands can attest with stories of backstage antics. This week German act Perzonal War shares the following story of sleeping arrangements gone awry:

A really, really funny thing that comes to my mind is a Perzonal War show (at this time still Personal War with “s”) that is more than 10 years ago. I guess it was around 2001 or 2002. We played in a pretty cool location that offered a sleeping room for the bands as well. My bandmates brought in their camping mats – I brought in my mother's air mattress and was called a “pussy” immediately. I am NOT Rock 'n Roll they said. “Shut up” was my comment. “I will not wake up with back problems while you will cry like babies tomorrow."

We had some drinks, it got late and when we returned to the sleeping room I saw a couple having sex on my – or better – my mother's air mattress. I couldn't believe my eyes: “What the hell are you doing here?” “Sorry, just two more minutes” was their comment and they went on riding while I stood there like an idiot!

Speechless I went out of the room; the others laughed their asses off and when I returned my mattress – no joke – was riven and stained!! The other guys could not stop laughing and at the end I was the one who could sleep on the ground with NOTHING under me. When my mother asked me for her air mattress I told her I have unforetunately lost it hahahahahaha.

Perzonal War recently released the new "Captive Breeding" album, and you can check out songs from the release over at Facebook here. Check back in again next Tuesday as we continue to share more tales from live shows from bands and metal fans.

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Unearthing The Sludge Metal Underground

There’s a whole lotta metal out there, spanning dozens to possibly hundreds of sub-genres, and it can be difficult to find new music to match your tastes if you don’t know where to start looking. Every Monday we unearth three lesser known or unsigned metal bands within specific genres or geographical areas that deserve to be heard by a bigger audience.

With metal’s roots firmly rooted in thrash, and with styles like power metal dominating a big portion of the playing field, heavy music is generally thought of as something fast and furious played while lightning fast fingers work up and down the fretboard. While this is often the case, there’s a large section of metal that likes to take a nice leisurely stroll down aural destruction avenue.

Today we’ll put the spotlight on three acts that have a seriously sludgy component to their music. Sludge, stoner, doom, drone: these genre tags and more all get lumped together and frequently intersect at varying points, so there may be some crossover and any given listener may decide these bands are more one than the other. My only qualification here is that they utterly annihilate musically, usually in slow motion and with a fair share of drawn out notes, like a low speed avalanche of crushing molten metal.

Bereft

This California act is a bit of a dream for fans of sludge or funeral doom. Formerly called Bewilderbiest before dropping a proper release, Bereft is still very much an unknown in the overall metal scene, even though it features names that will be familiar to fans of extreme metal, including Derek Rydquist (The Faceless) and Charles Elliot (Abysmal Dawn). Moving away from their normal modes of operation, these musicians are producing a more primal, less technical form of extreme metal that’s a disturbing look into the hate and despair humanity is capable of feeling.

Bereft has now released debut album “Leichenhaus” (reviewed here), and while tracks from the release are unfortunately sparse online, there are a few ways to check out the music. A live performance video of two songs off the album can be heard below, or you can check out the full album version of “Withered Efflorescence” via Facebook. Noisecreep is also currently hosting a stream of the track “Ethereal Dispersal” at this location.

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Sunday Old School: Living Colour

The great thing about alternative metal is there's such a wide variety of bands in the one genre, some of whom retained a constant signature sound, while others such as Faith No More experimented continuously to create a brand of rock music which painted with every colour from the palette. Faith No More weren't the only band to do this, a band from New York named Living Colour combined everything from funk to electronic in their attempt to produce hard rocking, but interesting music. Living Colour was formed in 1984 by Vernon Reid, an English born guitarist that grew up in New York who was also one of the founders of the Black Rock Coalition, an organisation which sought to encourage black musicians with an interest in rock music. He performed with a large number of musicians under the Living Colour moniker before eventually finding a stable lineup in 1986 which featured bassist Muzz Skillings, drummer Will Calhoun and vocalist Corey Glover, who up to that point had been an actor and had appeared in the Oliver Stone movie, Platoon amongst other things.

They performed regularly at the legendary club, CBGBs and it was whilst playing there that they caught the attention of iconic Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger. They soon signed a deal with Epic Records and got to work on their debut album, "Vivid," which was released in May of 1988. The album featured guest appearances from Mick Jagger, who performed harmonica and backing vocals, as well as Chuck D and Flava Flav from Public Enemy, and became one of the most acclaimed records of the year. Though sales were initially rather slow, its momentum was boosted immensely when MTV began playing the video for the albums opening track, "Cult Of Personality," helping the album to reach as high as number 6 on the Billboard Album Charts and eventually achieve Double Platinum status. Their profile increased greater still when they performed on the legendary TV show, Saturday Night Live, before joining Guns N Roses to open for the Rolling Stones. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: A Jackyl Screwdriver

This week Bret Michaels (Poison) announced he is working on a movie about his life. For those of you that missed this announcement (God Bless You) you didn’t notice that Michaels has a production company with partner Charlie Sheen. What!?! The movie is the story of his life starting in Pittsburgh and then…you know what, I can’t do this. This is not a good idea. More...

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Pit Stories: Chinese Uprising At A Drone Show

Every Tuesday we check in with musicians and fans to have them share their most memorable mosh pit stories from metal shows. This week's Pit Story of Chinese fans bucking the system to have a good time comes courtesy of vocalist Moritz "Mutz" Hempel from Drone:

Well, we were touring in China and played a show @ the expo plaza in Shanghai. Big fuckin crowd, but sitting on chairs. OK, we knew that this was common in the past, but did not expect that. Anyway…we were shredding and moshing as usual giving a flying fuck about the people sitting, lying or standing. You know, the Chinese audience is always very grateful and responds very well as they do not often get the chance to see western (no country ;)) bands performing. Long story short: they sat.

A couple of guys stood up and started to dance in front of stage but security reproved 'em to be calm and sit the fuck down. They obeyed and sat on their asses. We watched this play a couple o times until a hand full of European metal heads ran towards the stage, screaming and moshin like shit! The security wasn’t sure how to handle these bad ass motherfuckers and did not interfere. Everybody on the plaza used that moment, jumped of their chairs, ran to the stage and started a mosh pit. Out of fuckin nowhere!

We went crazy and started to throw beer into the pit and charred some good old German drinkin' cult with the audience. The stage manager freaked out, yelling NO NO NO no good no good. We replyed YES YES YES very good very good. The rest of the show was legendary and will not be forgotten. For sure, we’ve seen bigger, harder, or more brutal pits, but this one came from the heart and had some kind of symbolic yell for freedom. Freedom to think, dance and shout whatever and whenever you want to. Freedom of opinion, a basic right in OUR constitution. Everybody, who has paid a visit to china, will totally know what I mean! That night, the people did not just stand up for us, but for themselves!
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Unearthing Female-Fronted Underground in Taiwan

Taiwan has no shortage of ass-kicking front women in its growing metal scene, with a collection of female-fronted groups that are making a name for themselves both locally and abroad. Here are three bands from Taiwan with ladies at the helm that prove metal is no longer nearly as male-dominated as it once might have been.

Eye of Violence

Though just in her early twenties, Eye of violence front woman Lala Lin is already a seasoned veteran in the Taiwan metal scene, having previously done time in Hardcase before making a move over to Eye of Violence in 2009. The band has been active in Taiwan, playing all over the country, and recently made its first couple of forays to foreign shores, making two appearances in South Korea. Combining elements of metalcore, deathcore, and hints of electronic music, Eye of Violence has a determinately modern sound for the younger generation of metal fans. Currently, the band is playing in support of its debut EP, “Tears of the Victims.”

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Sunday Old School: Faster Pussycat

Faster Pussycat was part of a large second wave of the glam eighties. They followed the template of successful debut and even more successful follow-up album, popular ballad (with video), deep decline in interest (as the grunge arrived), and then reunite only to break-up and attempt to have two versions of the same band. No, it may not be the road most chosen, but it was the road taken by the band Faster Pussycat. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Raise Your Fist

Another week and another group of young Aussie rockers; “Raise Your Fist” is the first official music video from the upcoming 2012 album from the band Mystery. While they finish work on their new album Mystery has announced that for each of their original songs they will produce a video that will be correlated into a movie. “Raise Your Fist”, today’s video, is presumably part of this bigger picture. More...

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Pit Stories: Chair-Meets-Head / Pit Revelations

Every week, we catch up with band members and metal fans to get their best stories from live shows. Many bands and fans alike share a fascination for the myriad ways that crowd members can express their love of the music through brutality in the pit. Other bands would rather see the look of a deep emotional connection with the music on the faces of the crowd rather than blood running down their faces. MetalUnderground.com writer Frank Serafine interviewed three Impending Doom bandmates at a Nashville tour stop, who share three stories as well as what they really like to see at a show. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Argentina

I truly would not doubt it if Argentina has almost as many bands as America does, as it's the second largest country in South America. It's history with the metal genre has some similarities with our own, but yet as one would expect it is vastly divergent from our own annals. To arrive at the huge scene they have today, Argentinians went through many hardships in the beginning and along the way.

Back in the late seventies/early eighties rock bands began to play more metallic sounds to add to the rock stylings of locals Pappo's Blues or V8, but during that era there was plenty of government censorship when it came to music. Heavy metal always bore the brunt of the bad press and some bands were even threatened by the authorities. Some bands like Riff added to their own demise by putting out a year-end party "Riff termina el ano sin cadenas," which broke out into such revery, debauchery and violence that it plagued that band for years and almost sounded the death knell for it. More...

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Sunday Old School: Slayer

Today marks the 150th official column in the Sunday Old School series (we’re not counting the April Fools article which looked at Limp Bizkit) and to celebrate, we’ll be taking a look at a band that we’ve been asked to feature for years. If you haven’t worked it out from the title, this week's Sunday Old School will be examining Slayer, one of the most controversial bands in the history of metal music, with a fan base more akin to the characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest than the average head banger.

Slayer was founded in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, who met when they went to audition for the same band. They soon completed the group when they recruited singing bassist Tom Araya, a native of the South American country Chile, and drummer Dave Lombardo, who met King while working as a pizza delivery man. The quartet initially performed at local parties, covering songs by the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, as well as using a "Satanic" image, influenced by such bands as Mercyful Fate and Venom. In 1983, the band pooled money saved by Araya and borrowed from Kings father to record their debut album, "Show No Mercy," which was released through Metal Blade Records in December of that year. Although some had criticised the record for its production quality (or lack thereof,) it became the biggest selling album on Metal Blade at the time, shifting over 20,000 copies in the United States alone. They followed the album with a three song EP entitled, "Haunting The Chapel," which featured the live staple, "Chemical Warfare" and soon performed in Europe for the first time, including opening for UFO in Belgium and a show at Londons infamous 100 Club, where the band were upset about being spat on by the audience (though this was actually a sign of approval from British punks.) More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Sisters Doll

During my weekly surf for new bands, videos, and porn I sometimes come across something that forces me to look deeper and say, “Is this for real?” This was my reaction when stumbling upon Sisters Doll. I still don’t have a definitive answer other than this band lies somewhere in between Cinderella, Alice Cooper, The Backstreet Boys, and Steel Panther. More...

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Pit Stories: Vampire Nazi Boot Stomp at Deicide

Each week Metal Underground.com offers our readers a new Pit Story. Usually, these tales originate from band members. This time, however, I’m going to recount one of the bloodiest, most violent pits in my twenty years of attending metal concerts. Skinheads gathered in hundreds at concerts in Detroit during 1995-1996. When a band finished a song, a sea of arms extended outward forming the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil.” The huge number of shaved, white skulls marked a stark contrast to the mostly African American environments outside of venues such as Harpos and Saint Andrews Hall.

The racism was not the scariest aspect of these shows for those in attendance. Skinheads flailed knees and elbows in the pit, often leading to fellow moshers leaving the circle with bloody noses or worst—being knocked down and stomped by lead-weighted boots. The violence at those shows has never been duplicated at any venue I have attended across the country. I will never forget the first time I experienced this chaos: More...

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Unearthing The Goregrind Underground

The other day I was trading video uploads with fellow staff member Carl, whose taste usually gravitates towards classy traditional metal. I sent him a track from the grindcore band Cuntscrape, "Giving Head to Mr. Ed," leaving him speechless. His reply went something like this - "I thought there was a limit to the extreme. I was wrong." Ha ha, poor Carl.

Nope. There's no limit to the extreme in sight. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, the progenitors of twisted and depraved metal like Lividity or Broken Hope couldn't have imagined how contorted the genre would have gotten. Nowadays it gets more brutal than anyone could have ever envisioned. The horror fantasy themes have given way to pornogrind lyrics, inaudible vocals and psychopathic themes. Over time lyrics have been all but done away with, almost as if they are too sensitive and get in the way of what should be primal. It's all meant to be hilarious and over the top, and goregrind is the last frontier when it comes to offensive, loud metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Skyclad

It’s interesting that in well over a hundred columns, Sunday Old School has barely touched on the folk metal sub-genre, (unless you include Primordial and Bathory.) This week we will be rectifying this by examining one of, if not the first folk metal band, Skyclad. Skyclad was formed in 1990 by vocalist Martin Walkyier, who had recently left his position as lead vocalist of the thrash metal outfit, Sabbat, and former Satan guitarist Steve Ramsey, with the intention of forming the "ultimate pagan metal band," which initially included such ideas as costumes, though thankfully these were soon ruled out. The original lineup was completed by drummer Keith Baxter (later of Northern Irish alternative metal group, Therapy?) and bass player Graeme English, who had worked with Ramsey as part of Pariah. They soon signed with Noise Records, a surprising choice considering how they were alleged to have treated Sabbat and released their first album, "The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth" in 1991.

They added to their ranks after a tour with New Jersey thrash metal legends Overkill, when they recruited Fritha Jenkins to perform keyboard and violin duties and released their acclaimed sophomore record, "A Burnt Offering of the Bone Idol," the next year, in what was to be the first of several album titles involving what appears to be Walkyier’s love of puns, something brought up again on the third album, "Jonah’s Ark," on which they had replaced Jenkins with Cath Howell. Their next album was to be entitled, "Prince of the Poverty Line," which according to some members is their biggest selling album to date and is loosely a concept album, dealing with a decaying Britain left after the Thatcherite reign. Special editions of the album included a number of tracks from the groups, "Tracks From the Wilderness" EP, including a faithful but unique cover of "Emerald" by Thin Lizzy. Skyclad soon faced difficulties in keeping a stable lineup. After replacing Howell with Georgina Biddle for their fifth album, "The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea," both Pugh and Baxter decided to leave the group, though the band were still able to support Black Sabbath on their 1995 "Forbidden" tour, albeit as a last minute replacement for Tiamat, as well as releasing another album that year named, "Irrational Anthems." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Evil Eyes

This week a classic new vs. old video showdown; on one side we have Aerosmith, the other side, The Last Vegas. Aerosmith is famous for a career that spans four decades and now Steven Tyler’s (yawn) work on American Idol as a judge. The Last Vegas are a new sleaze rock band that put a unique spin on their videos (and songs) by incorporating horror and humor when possible. SPOILER ALERT: No losers here today! More...

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Pit Stories: Why Earplugs Are A Bad Idea

Every week we catch up with band members and metal fans to get their best stories from live shows. While the pit is usually where most of the action is, heading outside for a break can come with many dangers all on its own, as Kevin George from Martriden and At Home In Hell recently learned. Kevin shared the following tale of unexpectedly entering a fight while seeing a show with his girlfriend:

Katelynn and I were out at the Odyssey show, decided to go outside because Hooves (the opening band) were actually too loud, even for me. Next door, In This Moment were playing, so there were a lot of confused-with-life individuals hanging around outside.

We were standing there for the time being, trying to decide whether to go get earplugs or not, when we realized that 8 ft away from us was not just some overly excited girls...but one was just thoroughly giving the other a verbal lashing like no other. Some shit about "how dare you tell everyone I work on Sprague" came up...for the uninformed, she got called a hooker.

After about a minute of this belligerent retardfest, the angry one hits the other girl in the face pretty good-like. She then grumbles some other incomprehensible bullshit and cocks her fist back again. The other girl...the receiver, if you will...runs between Katelynn and I, tucks he head between us and cries the most feebly pussified "help me" that a little emo girl who couldn't get in to see In This Moment ever could. It was pretty pitiful, actually.
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Unearthing The Genre Flip-Flopping Underground

The overall realm of metal is an incredibly expansive and diverse place, with many different styles and sub-genres all vying for your attention. To help our readers navigate the metallic landscape we unearth three underground or unsigned metal bands every Monday that deserve to be heard.

Awhile back we covered bands that combine different genres or simply ignore genre trends, and on a similar note this week we’re uncovering three bands that drastically changed either sound or lyrical theme from the early works to their modern releases. There are plenty of more well-known (in the extreme metal community anyway) acts that have gone through such a transformation: Samael’s change from black metal to electronica, Katatonia’s move from harsh growls to a cleaner rock sound, Amorphis switching gears with “Am Universum,” Ulver changing things up on pretty much every album, and so on. Instead of rehashing those bigger names that everyone knows about, instead we’ll cover three lesser known acts that have essentially become different bands over time.

Ereb Altor

Ereb Altor’s underground days are very quickly waning, with the band now releasing new album “Gastrike” through Napalm Records, but there was a time not long ago when nobody knew about Ereb Altor, and it is a side project of an already unknown band, so we’re going to slip this one in here.

The Swedish duo’s debut album “By Honour” (reviewed here) definitely wanted its audience to take the scenic route and enjoy the ride, with slow moving, Viking-style doom metal that took some clear cues from Bathory. Things started to change a bit and the songs become shorter on the follow-up release “The End,” which as the title suggests, was intended to be the demise of the project. Ereb Altor just wouldn’t die however, and now with third album “Gastrike” (review coming soon) the band has radically shifted gears into mid-paced black metal, with only a few underlying doom and Viking metal moments.

To hear the change, check the title track “By Honour” below, and then listen to either of the two songs from “Gastrike.” With the exception of the atmospheric intros, we’re dealing with two completely different genres between these songs.

“By Honour”
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