"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Archive: Columns

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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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Sunday Old School: Whiplash

Back in the mid-eighties, I first stumbled upon New Jersey trio Whiplash when I worked at Roadrunner Records. The Passaic thrash band had just unleashed its 1985 debut "Power and Pain" and was doing the interview circuit. I called the band, asking if they could do a 15 second radio ID for my station. A week later, I received a tape from the band to convert to audio cart, which went like this: "This is Tony from Whiplash....and this is Tony from Whiplash...and this is Tony from Whiplash...and you're tuned to 88.7 FM."

That's right, all three of them were named Tony. This tale of three Tonys began in the early eighties in the tri-state area. Tony Bono, Tony Portaro and Tony J. Scaglione got together and released a series of four demos, channeling that New York sound into thrash. While the three were fans of Bay area thrash from the left-coast, they were also a product of their roots and went for that immediate, pulverizing sound that was so prevalent in their surroundings. The scene was in its zenith, and these guys put that metropolitan sound front and center - along with such bands as Ludichri$t, Crumbsuckers, Rest In Pieces and others. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Sex Slaves Cool Ride

This week we have new videos from two bands that take the best from the past and inject youth into their sound. First up are Black Tora and then its New York City underground favorites, Sex Slaves. More...

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Pit Stories: The Oral Treatment

Every week we catch up with metal bands from around the globe to share their best mosh pit stories. While the pit is frequently home to drunken antics and bone breaking action, if you ask enough metal bands for bizarre pit stories, most of them will eventually have a memory or two of overly-amorous show goers.

After last week's lengthy story of a Meshuggah show enhanced by brain-altering fungus, today we've got a much shorter and sweeter tale of a metal fan who just couldn't quite wait to get home to express his affections with his lady. Shaun Glass, guitarist for Dirge Within, had this story to share:

One time - I believe in Houston - we were on stage, midway through our set I look up to see the whole pit stop and stare. What were they looking at? A guy was giving some girl oral sex against the wall of the speakers of the PA! They obviously did not care that 500 metal heads were also watching ha!

In other Dirge Within news, the band recently dropped off the Shockwave Festival, and also shot a music video for "Memories," which will be released soon.

Check back in again next Tuesday for more pit stories shared by metal fans and bands. If you've got a story of pit love, feel free to share below!

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Unearthing Underground Bands With Bizarre Vocals

From the completely mainstream outfits with a horde of fans to basement one-man acts, heavy metal is composed of a vast multitude of bands – and the number of metal groups continues to constantly grow. Every week we unearth three bands to help expand your metallic horizons and introduce you to styles and sounds you might not have heard otherwise.

Last week we covered groups that blend together a variety of genre styles and break trends within metal, including Germ and Vintage Flesh, two bands that utilize very odd vocal styles. While it can be argued that any extreme metal band uses vocals that most would consider bizarre, there are vocalists within the world of heavy music who go much further and produce sounds that even hardened underground metal lovers may find shocking.

From avant-garde groups like Peccatum with purposefully off-key singing, to the gut-busting and throat-shredding growls of black metal bands like Marduk, there are plenty of new vocal varieties to discover while journeying through the many sub-genres of metal. This week we’ll take a look at three lesser known bands that use vocals you are almost guaranteed to never hear anywhere else.

Abruptum

Taking the concept of evil atmosphere to an entirely new level, Abruptum was a group primarily active in the ‘90s that puts most black metal acts to shame and released its early material through the infamous Deathlike Silence Productions. Rather than evil guitar sounds and high pitched screams, Abruptum uses bizarrely distorted vocals and shrieks of agonized pain – and rumors persist that the screams are authentic due to self-inflicted wounds in the studio.

Listening to Abruptum albums all the way the through really requires a specific mood, as song structures and melody are pretty much thrown out the window in favor of highly chaotic musical expressions. If you’ve got the candles lit and the razors handy, dip into the madness of Abruptum through the clips below.

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Sunday Old School: Queensryche

Given the recent headlines about Bellevue, Washington natives, Queensryche, along with Sunday Old School’s promise last month to cover more progressive bands, it seemed inevitable that the band in question would soon be appearing in our Sunday column. Queensryche began life in 1981, originally using the moniker, The Mob, formed by two members of a heavy metal covers band named Cross + Fire. The duo (guitarist Michael Wilton and drummer Scott Rockenfield) soon added to their ranks by recruiting bassist Eddie Jackson, and a second guitarist, Chris DeGarmo. Initially they had trouble finding a vocalist, but the group was able to convince singer Geoff Tate, who fronted another band named Babylon, to perform with them at a local rock festival. Tate refused to commit to the band at first, citing a lack of interest in performing heavy metal, though he was soon coaxed back to The Mob to record vocals for their demo tape, but returned to his current band at the time, Myth, soon after. The Mob soon changed their name at the urging of their manager, taking the tag, Queensryche from a song on their demo tape, which by now had been circulating worldwide and received massively positive feedback from such publications as Kerrang!, which proved to be enough to finally convince Tate to join the group on a full time basis.

The reception to their demo led to Queensryche signing a major label deal with EMI Records, immediately finding chart success when their self-titled debut EP (a re-release of their demo) entered the Billboard Charts at number 81. After performing their first tour together, the band flew to London to begin work on their first full length album, which hit the shelves in September 1984 under the mysterious title, "The Warning." The album climbed twenty places higher than their EP and found success overseas, particularly the song, "Take Hold Of The Flame" which was a hit in Japan. In addition to this commercial success, Queensryche were hired to support Kiss on their Animalize tour and soon released their second album, "Rage For Order," a more glam orientated affair than their previous work and laden with keyboards, but continued their commercial success, hitting the charts in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as reaching number 47 on the Billboard Charts. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Badass or Not?

This week a look at up and comers The Treatment and Wildside Riot with new videos that beg the question: Is this badass? More...

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Pit Stories: Fungus Enhanced Meshuggah

The mosh pit is home to some of the craziest events known to the musical world, from flying body parts to bizarre sexual encounters, and each week we find metal bands to share their most interesting mosh pit stories. Today we've got the following tale of Kasey from Ninth Moon Black experiencing technical metal live in a whole new way, courtesy of a few psychedelic fungi:

I once took mushrooms right before going into a Meshuggah concert. For a very brief moment, I contemplated the ramifications then shrugged them away. I quickly popped the magical fungi into my mouth thinking I’d have plenty of time to adjust once I got through the doors but the mushrooms had other plans. While I stood in line for what seemed an eternity, the psilocybin took over my senses. My stomach churned, my mind turned sideways and the antennae of heightened awareness tuned into the world with that bizarre psychedelic slant. As I entered the venue I felt like a ship navigating some alien terrain.

The Faceless were in full swing and never before had I experienced music so terrifying, yet so awesome. The venue was already near capacity and the floor a sea of movement. I hugged the walls trying desperately to avoid any contact with the people moshing as well as the extraterrestrial spirits hovering above the crowd. They watched me with their sinister gaze that was most likely only visible to my eyes. I managed to make my way to the back of the room, anchoring myself to the wall until Cynic took the stage. Their entrance was serene and they lured me away from the walls as they calmed the crowd with their meditative musings. I closed my eyes throughout the duration of their set, allowing myself to journey through their progressive zen. As they finished off their set with "Evolutionary Sleeper," I opened my eyes only to realize I was damn close to the front row.

It was time to make a quick decision; take the plunge and enter the dark waters of Meshuggah or steer my inebriated vessel back to where I had watched The Faceless, and witness Meshuggah from the safety of the “outside.” Since the very reason I was there that evening was to see Meshuggah, I decided I needed to brace myself and grabbed tightly to the barrier between myself and the stage. A moment later, Fredrik Thordendal positioned himself right in front of me with Jens Kidman just off to my right. They began to play, their music taking hold of sanity and commanding bodies into rhythmic collisions. Song after song, I fought the wave of bodies crashing into my own when suddenly I had an epiphany, the madness of the mosh pit becoming a metaphor for my life. Rather than fight the aggression, why not ride it?
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