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Archive: Columns

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Pit Stories: Abiotic's Cymbal Brawl

The pit may be holy ground for metalheads, but that doesn't stop it from being site to some of the most ridiculous and sometimes violent antics from fellow heavy music lovers. Each week we share mosh pit stories from metal bands, and today we have the following story from Florida act Abiotic:

We've had our share of crazy pit stories, but one I will never forget happened when we played our first Desolation Fest in Englewood, Florida. I remember that we had some trouble before heading out to the show, so we arrived a bit late. All the kids looked like they had been waiting for a while, and they simply couldn't wait any longer for the show to continue.

We began to set up as quickly as possible. When we were ready to go, I remember my drummer giving us a queue, and just a few seconds into our first song, a kid gets kneed in the face. Everyone immediately got sucked into a huge brawl. The kid who got hit managed to get up and break free from the crowd. He took one of my drummers china cymbals, and he began to threaten everyone. This kid went utterly mental and said he was going to kill everyone's family. I don't want to sound harsh, but it was quite amusing.

Miami's Abiotic will release the new "Symbiosis" album on October 22nd via Metal Blade Records. You can listen to a new song off the album, titled "To Burgeon and Languish," at this location. Check back in again next Tuesday for more Pit Stories from metal bands. More...

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Unearthing The Lovecraftian Metal Underground

The metal underground is a truly vast and unexplored place, and every week we try to bring a few bands to light that metal fanatcis may not otherwise have a chance to discover. Today we’ll unearth the Lovecraftian underground – three bands that primarily (or even solely!) draw their lyrical and musical style directly from the works of the master of cosmic horror and weird fiction: H.P. Lovecraft.

This style should perhaps more accurately be described as the “Cthulhu Mythos” underground, as many bands don’t stick strictly to Lovecraft’s works alone, but rather pull from the greater mythos created around his work and expanded upon by many novels, games, and movies through the last several decades. Outside of music, the Lovecraft phenomena is an interesting topic deserving of several books, as it has developed amazingly far to become a mythos within a mythos. There are entire religious practices now based around the fake books described in Lovecraft’s stories, along with ceremonial magical traditions using the names and titles of Lovecraftian entities. There is even a graphic novel that postulates Howard Phillips himself really had contact with alien things, but wrote stories about them to make humanity think it’s all fake and keep us off the trail of the horrible truth.

Mind shattering horror and unknowable, malicious entities beyond humanity’s ken are material ripe for heavy metal, which has pulled from this mythos liberally during the past 25 or so years. From Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu” to the Septicflesh track “Lovecraft’s Death,” bands large and small have paid homage to the seafood hating man who warned his fellow Earthlings to stay out of the oceans and away from the stars.

Space Mirrors

We’ll start off with something a little off the beaten path this week – a gloomy rock opera style group featuring members of bands such as Hortus Animae and Hawkwind. The international act Space Mirrors is definitely a different trip than many metal fans might be used to, but if you ever enjoyed Tiamat or anything that’s along the lines of gothic rock you should be right at home here. Use the silver key and take a journey through the dreamlands through the clips available below.


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Sunday Old School: Dream Theater

With ProgPower USA wrapping up yesterday, along with our pledge to cover more progressive acts in Sunday Old School this year, it seemed like a fitting time to look at one of the biggest names in modern progressive metal, Dream Theater. Dream Theater was originally formed under the name, Majesty in 1985 by guitarist John Petrucci, bass player John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy, who met each other while students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. They filled the remaining slots in the band when Petruccis old friend, Kevin Moore joined on keyboards and vocalist Chris Collins was recruited after the band heard him singing Queensryche. The hectic schedules of the musicians resulted in them all leaving education to focus on the group and they soon recorded some songs as demos, which sold out in a matter of months. In November 1986, Majesty decided to fire Collins and after a year of searching, they appointed Charlie Dominici as their new singer, despite him being considerably older than the other members. They were to experience another change after Dominicis recruitment, when a band from Las Vegas, also named Majesty, threatened legal action if they did not change their name, leading them to choose the new moniker, Dream Theater, which was named after a theater that Portnoys father used to run.

With their new, more visually stimulating name and a stronger work ethic, the band eventually caught the attention of Mechanic Records, a division of MCA Records, and released their first album, "When Dream and Day Unite" through the label in 1989. The album was met with lacklustre reviews and the label broke many promises they had made, leaving Dream Theater to continue performing mostly around New York. The group soon made two key decisions, with the first being to fire Dominici due to what they perceived as his limited vocal range, and performed with him for the last time opening for English prog legends, Marillion. Their second item of business was to be released from Mechanic, which they eventually achieved. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Leather and Boots

A common theme among sleaze rockers in 2012 has been leather, girls, and prison. Which is really the same theme every year and this week features more videos in this category. More...

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Unearthing The Scottish 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 heavy metal bands from Scotland, since it seemed criminal that we hadn't already. There is currently a tourism commercial airing for the country which opens with the line, "Scotland may surprise you," which is certainly evident in its metal scene, containing everything from traditional thrash metal to pagan black metal, and everything in between.

Cerebral Bore

Another band formed in 2006 is Cerebral Bore, who hail from Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, and perform a brutal brand of death metal that lives up to the harder than nails reputation of the city on the River Clyde. They released their first demo, "The Dead Flesh Architect" in 2006 and soon found themselves garnering attention internationally, making their first trip abroad in August the next year to perform in New York, and have since gone on to perform in many other countries including Russia, India and Israel, as well as supporting some legendary names in extreme metal such as Brutal Truth and Suffocation. In 2010, they signed to Earache Records and released their full length debut, "Maniacal Miscreation," the next year. While touring for the album, the band made headlines when guitarist Paul McGuire and bassist Kyle Rutherford were falsely arrested and jailed in New York on suspicion of murder. The two were released a week later without charge and flown back to Scotland. The band recently released a single entitled, "Horrendous Acts of Iniquity," as well as completing the Summer Slaughter tour which also featured the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Exhumed and will be kicking off a European tour this Friday (September 14th) in Lindau, Germany and last until October 14th.

Cerebral Bore - "The Bald Cadaver"

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Sunday Old School: Cirith Ungol

The band that I bring you this week is so old school that it formed during the times of older rock acts that influenced the independent metal acts of the eighties. In terms of being unique, Ventura, California metal band Cirith Ungol has no parallel. Having met in 1969 in High School, drummer Robert Garven, bassist Greg Lindstrom and guitarist Jerry Fogle started jamming under the name Titanic. Another school friend, Pat Galligan, joined them until eventually going on to play for the Angry Samoans years down the road.

Robert Garven had liberal minded parents that allowed the band to practice at their house. The year was now 1972 and the band had changed its name to Cirith Ungol, which is a reference to Lord of the Rings. Cirith Ungol means "pass of the spider Shelob" in Elvish as per the trinity, the members of the band being huge fans of Tolkien's novels in English class. Frodo and Samwise fight the spider in Tolkien's "Two Towers." In practice, the band would cover Cream, Mountain, Sam Gopal's Dream, Ursa Major, Freedom and also their renditions of Budgie tunes long before Metallica even existed. More...

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Pit Stories: The First True Metal Show Experience

Every Tuesday we chat up band members and metal fanatics to get their favorite mosh pit stories from live shows. This week guitarist Camden Cruz from Seven Kingdoms reminisces about his first true crazy pit experience at a metal show where he saw the legendary Jason Suecof:

I remember going to my first legit death metal show. It was Nechrophagist, Arsis, Nuraxis, and Cattle Decap at Will's Pub in Orlando. I was maybe 18 then just getting into the other genres of metal. I was at the front of the stage just eating up all the crazy blast beats and sweeps and it was the first time I ever saw Jason Suecof from Audiohammer. Being a huge Trivium nut back then, It was cool to finally see the guy that recorded them. The first time I saw him he was flying past the opening launching himself and his wheelchair into the sides of the pit. I just remember thinking 'Man, this guy is legit!' haha.

Seven Kingdoms is set to release new album "The Fire is Mine," which was produced by Jim Morris (Iced Earth, Obituary, JOP, Jag Panzer etc), on October 9th, 2012 through Nightmare Records. For more info on Seven Kingdoms, check out the band's Facebook profile here.

Be sure to check back in again next Tuesday as we continue to share more pit stories from metal shows. More...

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Sunday Old School: Alice In Chains

Usually at the end of every month, Sunday Old School examines a band from the glam metal genre, so we’re kicking off a new month of Sundays this week by taking a look at one of the bands that helped to kill off the era of men in lipstick, Alice In Chains. The band was formed in 1987 by guitarist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bass player Mike Starr, and soon recruited a singer named Layne Staley, who joined in return for Cantrell participating in his funk project. The funk band broke up soon afterwards and the quartet performed under a number of different monikers, before eventually settling on Alice In Chains, which stemmed from Staley’s former band, Alice N’ Chainz. The group caught the attention of local promoter, Randy Hauser, who offered to pay for their demo recording, which was delayed when the studio they were set to record in was shut down a day before the recording was meant to take place, due to the biggest cannabis raid in the history of the state of Washington. The band eventually recorded a demo named, "The Treehouse Tapes," which was passed around the local scene until it reached Don Ienner, the president of Columbia Records, who decided to sign the band and make them a top priority.

In July 1990, Alice in Chains released their first EP, "We Die Young," and its title track became an instant hit on metal radio. Based on this positive response, the label rushed the band to release its full length debut, which surfaced only a month later in the form of, "Facelift." The album sold modestly at first, until the music video for, "Man in the Box" found its way into regular airplay on MTV and became a top twenty single. Six weeks later, "Facelift" had sold over 400,000 copies and was certified Gold before the year was out, peaking on the Billboard Charts number 42. The album was also highly praised by critics and their peers alike, and soon the group were invited to open the Clash of the Titans tour in North America, which apart from themselves, featured a thrash metal lineup of Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. The band found themselves subject to some hostile audiences but Anthrax bassist Frank Bello recalls them earning the respect of others by standing up for themselves. "If there was a guy starting shit, Layne would jump into the audience and beat the FUCK outta that guy!" he recalls in the documentary, Get Thrashed. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Lust, Glitter, and God

This week a start on the darker side with the Lust Boys followed by a Brazilian Christian band and then back to the sleaze with Glitter Magic. That’s right we are starting with drinking, finding God, and then back to drinking. It’s the circle of life, or the life of a spiritual alcoholic. More...

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Pit Stories: Slayer's Craziest Pit

Blasting metal at home or in the car is one thing, but extreme music is frequently meant to be experienced live with a sea of headbangers surrounding you, which is why we share favorite pit stories from musicians and fans each week. Today guitarist Kragen Lum of Prototype shares this tale of seeing a crazy Slayer show:

Probably the craziest pit that I have ever seen was at the Hollywood Palladium during Slayer’s set on the Reign In Blood tour. Dark Angel opened the show that night, as a last minute replacement for Flotsam and Jetsam, and got the crowd pretty pumped up. By the time Slayer came on the stage all hell broke loose. The adrenaline was flowing and at various times during the show there were fist fights in the audience. The real craziness was in the pit though. There were literally 2 huge pits, side by side on the floor, and at various points the pits joined together into what looked like a figure 8. It was a sea of bodies slamming into each other in a strange, almost coordinated effort.

As Slayer continued to play, the crowd got more and more violent and the spotlights were moved to point at the fights in the crowd instead of at the band. I had been to lots of shows already at that point but I had never seen anything like that pit. It was so intense in there that the police had called in the riot squad to wait outside the venue and help disperse the crowd after the show. I’ve heard Dave Lombardo refer to this show in interviews as the most insane pit he’s ever seen. There is no question in my mind that he is absolutely correct.

Prototype is gearing up to drop new album "Catalyst" on September 11th via Nightmare Records. You can check out a trailer for the release at this location.

Be sure to check back in again next Tuesday as we continue to share mosh pit stories from fans and metal bands across the globe. More...

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Unearthing The Heavily Atmospheric Underground

Monday means it’s time to expand your metallic horizons again as we delve into the underground metal scene and dig up three bands you might not had a chance to check out yet, but which all deserve to be heard by a wider audience. This week we’re looking at heavily atmospheric groups that incorporate specific sonic elements to create an undeniable mood throughout the music. In this instance by “atmospheric” we’re not necessarily referring to ambient or even symphonic bands (although these acts do have some symphonic sounds), but rather to bands that have a clearly present atmosphere in addition to being extreme metal.

Porta Nigra

This out-of-nowhere band just signed on with Debemur Morti Productions to release an upcoming album titled “Fin De Siècle.” The vocalist’s weird, screechy screams almost would have qualified this act for our previous look at unearthing bands with bizarre vocals, and those screams are put to good use to foster a specific tone and mood.

The abrasive, off-the-wall screams mixed with the atmospheric clean singing and mid-paced guitar riffs draws all ears in, and basically forces attention as the music builds and becomes more frantic. The video for “Megalomanic,” available below, embodies the depressive black metal ideal, creating a sort of unhinged and demented sound, while vaguely giving the impression of being utterly alone in the middle of nowhere.


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Sunday Old School: BulletBoys

Love the BulletBoys. Hate the BulletBoys. Never heard of the BulletBoys. There are only three options here. MAYBE, a fourth option: being a fan of Marq Torien’s hair. Nah, if you were a fan of Torien’s hair then admit it: You loved the BulletBoys! More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Hessler Reality TV

Chicago heavy metal band Hessler have released their new single and music video for "Last Alive". The band plans on taking the next two months to record their second album, the follow-up to 2011's 'Bad Blood', which will include "Last Alive." Hessler are Igz Kincaid (guitars), Frankie Sripada (guitars), Lariyah Daniels (vocals), Marcus Lee Cox (drums) and Erik Michael (bass). More...

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Pit Stories: Balls Out Bawling

Every week we talk to bands from all over the world and hear some of their favourite stories from the mosh pit.

This week, Therapy? frontman Andy Cairns dishes some dirt on two of the most common things to be seen at a Therapy? show, nudity and crying, two things which really don't go together.

I've seen quite a lot of nudity in my time. Once in Oxford a friend of ours, Diamond Dave, ended up coming over the barrier wearing nothing but a sawn off Coke can taped to his genitals, how he didn't castrate himself Idon't know.

We also get a lot of screaming and crying. We had a hit in Europe with a cover of Husker Du's 'Diane' and for a while lots of gigs would have lots of inflatable dolls flying through the air with the crowd surfers, quite a sight. Yep, nudity and sexual deviance seem to feature heavily among some of the more enthusiastic members of our fans.

We recently spoke to Andy Cairns about the new Therapy? album, "A Brief Crack of Light," touring and why he feels the band have always been outsiders. "A Brief Crack Of Light" will be released on September 11th in North America and is available now in Europe. Be sure to come back next tuesday for more Pit Stories!

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Boston

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. This week, we'll weigh in on the scene around Boston, Massachusetts.

Boston has been my home all my life. Back in 2006 when I first started Nefarious Realm Productions, I worked with local bands, promoting and booking shows. It set the foundation of what NRP is today. Boston has an unbelievable scene spanning all genres. Most people only think of the heavy weights like Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, fast-rising Revocation, etc., but there lies a wealth of bands that are just mind-blowing. Lunglust, Ramming Speed, Sexcrement, The Summoned, Abnormality, Dysentery, Phantom Glue, Give Zombies The Vote, Morne, Sonic Pulse... I could go on and on but Metal Underground.com has limited me to three, and I'm going to span the sub-genres here. Hang on to your pants, you're going for a ride!

Widow Sunday

This "dance metal" outfit is sure to get you moving, that be breaking' faces or shakin' your booty. Each member brings distinct influences to the table, fusing elements of death metal, groove metal, hardcore, and electronica. Think of Meshuggah, Lamb of God, Bury Your Dead, and The Browning all smashed together.

The five-piece brings quite a live show with their stage antics and their "have fun" attitude. Widow Sunday just recently released a new EP earlier this summer and are already writing for a followup full length to their 2010 debut, 'In These Rusted Veins.' Below is a video for "Blood Money" from 'ITRV' and a live clip of "The Wave" which appears on the new EP, 'Dance Metal." For more on the band, check out their Facebook.


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Sunday Old School: Katatonia

Catatonia are one the biggest successes in the history of Welsh pop rock, having forever entered the annals of British music with such classics as "Road Rage" and "Mulder and Scully." No, sorry, I got mixed up. This week, Sunday Old School will not be looking at a female fronted pop rock group, but rather a band with a similar name who created some of the darkest and most atmospheric music of their time, and continue to push boundaries, Katatonia. Katatonia were formed in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm in 1991 by guitarist Anders Nyström and singing drummer Jonas Renkse, and soon recruited keyboardist and singer, Dan Swanö, which would be released in 1992 as an EP entitled, "Jhva Elohim Meth... The Revival." They followed this with the release of their first full length album, "Dance of December Souls" the next year, which featured a new member in bassist Guillaume Le Huche, but saw Swanö appear only as a guest musician. These early releases proved to be landmark entries into the emerging hybrid of death and doom metal, a crossover also launched by such British bands as Anathema and My Dying Bride, and they followed this direction for their next release, a four track EP named, "For Funerals to Come" in 1994, which would prove to be the last recording with Le Huche, who left the band soon afterwards. His departure was quite a blow for the band, and they took over a year to find a new lineup they were satisfied with.

Katatonia eventually returned in 1995, after Renkse decided that Fredrik Norrman, a bandmate in his new group, October Tide, would fit in well. Soon after bringing the band back, Renkse discovered that he could no longer perform harsh vocals and focused on clean singing instead. So that the style wasn’t missing from their new material however, the band invited Opeth frontman, Mikael Åkerfeldt to perform death growls on their new album, "Brave Murder Day," which was released in November of 1996 through Avantgarde Music. The album was notable for going to pressing unmastered, something which wasn’t rectified until it was re-released in 2004 through Peaceville Records, along with their next EP, "Sounds of Decay," which also featured Mikael Åkerfeldt, who claims that two versions of the EP were recorded and that he preferred the unreleased edition. More EPs were released during this time, including, "Scarlet Heavens," (a split with Irish black metal band, Primordial,) which the group did not want released owing to it’s noticeably different sound from their previous work and "Saw You Drown" in 1997, which marked the start of Katatonia’s complete shedding of harsh vocals. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Casting for Bret Michaels

A couple of weeks ago Bret Michaels (Poison) announced that he is working on a movie about his life. The biopic will take the audience from his roots in Pittsburgh to Hollywood, California. Is this a movie that needs to be made? After two weeks to digest I still have no comment. It does bring up the question of who will play the lead role. Here are a couple suggestions. More...

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Unearthing The British Hardcore 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'll be taking a slightly different approach to the article and focusing on hardcore music instead, specifically hardcore music in the United Kingdom.

The history of hardcore in Great Britain dates back a long way, beginning with what would become known as the "UK82" scene (also called "No future punk" and "UK Hardcore" amongst other things,) which featured massively influential bands such as The Exploited and the socially concsious, Discharge, who were so influential that they had a sub-genre named after them called D-Beat (similar to hardcore, only even faster,) which featured other high quality British hardcore acts like The Varukers.

Discharge - "Never Again"

The Varukers - "Soldier Boy"

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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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