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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Ogden, UT

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we look at underground bands that embody the metal genre and this week is no exception as we focus on Ogden, Utah. The metal that comes from this area and nearby is astounding, they are metal bands that fly under the mainstream radar but have metal music seared into their souls.

Better known as O-Town to locals, Ogden has an impressive emerging underground music scene. However, the metal reverberating out of this area is distinguishable for the simple fact that they bring it hard, with every show, every song and with every note. Three bands stand out from the pack for a variety of reasons, one being they scorch your souls with their intensity and two… because they are metal to the core.

Deadgates

"The Dead Gates- the entrance to eternal suffering where the hounds of hell feast upon the damned," an apt description for a band as hardcore as these boys. Hailing from Ogden, Utah, these metalheads have taken the Wasatch Front by storm, not only banging heads with O-Town fans but creating a solid fan base throughout Utah. By combining searing guitar riffs, irresistibly heavy bass lines and drum beats of ferocious proportions they create a melodic yet forceful tone that cascades over you. Add that to the vehement growls and intense vocals and you get an effectual sound that is as savage as it is addicting. Deadgates is: Sam E. (vocals), Josh W. (guitar), Mat L. (guitar), Kirk T. (bass), and Matt H. (drums). Check them out on their Facebook on Myspace and on Youtube.

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Sunday Old School: Testament

Today sees Sunday Old School reach it's 100th article. You might say reaching this milestone is a true testament to how high heavy metal fans regard the old school. Or you might say that the previous sentence was just a bad pun to lead into this week's band. Either way, this week Sunday Old School will be looking at Testament, one of the most popular bands to emerge from the Bay Area thrash metal scene.

Testament was originally founded under the name Legacy in 1983 by guitarist Eric Peterson, along with his cousin Derrick Ramirez. The band took a significant step when Ramirez was replaced by guitarist Alex Skolnick and singer Steve "Zetro" Souza. The band were late comers of sorts to the Bay Area thrash scene, with such other bands as Metallica, Slayer and Exodus pre-dating them, which perhaps might have been a key factor in Souza deciding to leave the band to join Exodus after they fired singer Paul Baloff. Despite his resignation, Souza suggested that the band attempt to recruit Chuck Billy to replace him behind the microphone, a move which proved highly successful.

After finding out that the name The Legacy was already trademarked by a jazz band, the group changed their name to Testament on Stormtroopers Of Death frontman Billy Milano's suggestion. They remained close to their Legacy moniker though, and after signing with Megaforce Records, used the title "The Legacy" as the name of their debut album. The record was a success, earning the band favourable comparisons to Metallica and containing several songs that remain in the band's setlist to this day, including "Over The Wall" and "First Strike Is Deadly." Testament supported the album by supporting Anthrax on their "Among The Living" tour, which helped to make a household name out of Anthrax and thus garnered Testament much attention. Thrash fans remained enamoured with the band when they released their second album, "The New Order," which followed in the same vein as "The Legacy" both lyrically and musically. This second album also contained future fan favourites such like "Trial By Fire" and "Into The Pit," the latter becoming something of an anthem. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: 1986 M/F/K

25 years ago hard rock and glam albums found regular rotation on the radio and pop culture thanks to MTV, Circus Magazine, and eighties culture. 1986 was riding the fringe of hair band saturation, but also the year Metallica and Megadeth put out timeless efforts. Since 1986 we have seen the grunge era, the boy band era, and the release of St. Anger. We’ve seen it all in the last 25 years.

Here’s a look back at ten of these classic albums in no particular order. There is a twist as Marry/Fuck/Kill rules apply. It’s as simple as it sounds. M (Marry) is a song you want to “save” and listen to forever, F (Fuck) is the song you get one more listen to and that is it, and K (Kill) is the song you want to go away and never be heard from again.

Master of Puppets (Metallica)
M: Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
F: Damage, Inc.
K: The Thing That Should Not Be
(NOTE: It really is the perfect “F” song) More...

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Pit Stories: An Unexpected Dose Of Violence

We've been talking with bands and fans everywhere to get their mosh pit stories. This week Eric Burnet of Montreal death metal act Derelict shares a story of a lazy pit getting a sudden dose of unexpected violence, Ninja Turtle style, along with a helpful tip about avoiding prison so you don't have to cut your hair.

You know how sometimes at local underground shows, the pit doesn't really get going for the first few bands? How people just kind of shyly stand around and wait for someone drunker or braver to start the pit? Well, standing amidst that crowd of pre-moshers can be a dangerous thing.

We were out on a weekend mini-tour, playing in Brantford, Ontario. The first couple of bands on the bill were quite young, and so were their fans. The pit was taking it's sweet time to get going, and many members of the other bands, myself included, were watching the show from pretty close up, as there was no dangerous action occurring. I had recently suffered a bike accident in Montreal (got rammed by a speed biker!) and I had a pretty big circular scabbed wound on my left arm. Out of nowhere, these two kids, who turned out to be a dual-vocal team from a later band, ran out into the middle of the non-pit and did a Ninja Turtle roll. By this I mean that one of them bent over to 90 degrees, and the other rolled his back over the bent-over dude's back, like the Ninja Turtles. When he landed, they both started hardcore dancing wildly and trying to start a pit. The guy who had rolled, I guess from having been rendered dizzy from his ninja flip, lost his balance and smashed into the line of people quietly enjoying the show. I got propelled into a brick wall and fell, scrapping off my scab in the process and starting to bleed all over my arm.

I'm generally not the violent type, but I have a certain line involving lacks of respect and personal attacks that should not be crossed. I walked over to the kid with the full intention of sending him to the hospital, but then something clicked in my head. It said: "Wait! You're an adult, this kid is a minor. If you go to prison, you'll probably have to cut your hair."

Thankfully, I decided to go walk it off in downtown Brantford instead of murdering anyone. However, I sort of forgot our set time and got back just in time to play, and there's live footage somewhere of me playing that set with blood still dripping down my arm. I still have the stupid scar, although the anger has subsided and I just find it funny now.

Derelict is currently working on its next full-length album, which was previewed with a recent EP release. You can check out the entire promo EP or download the track "Perpetuation" for free at the Derelict Bandcamp page. The band has also posted a separate drum track from the song, which can be found here.

Check back next Tuesday as we share more Pit Stories from band members and metal heads.

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Unearthing The Folk Metal Underground Part 2

Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground, we shine the spotlight onto three bands that may not have had a chance to hit your musical radar yet. This week we’re taking another look into a unique blend of styles that show how not every metal band has to scream about Satan or politics or personal struggles.

After previously looking at underground folk metal in general last year and then folk metal specifically from the Andes, we’re now delving into three bands that all share a love of Celtic and pagan themes, as well as a desire to mix traditional instruments with abrasive black metal or melodic power metal.

Whether you are looking for a night of fun drinking in a folk atmosphere, an in-your-face dose of extreme metal that draws from other influences, or even a more melodic and calm experience, these three bands show what Canada, Arizona, and the U.K. have to offer in the world of folk metal.

Trollband

For our first trek into folk-laced metal we’ll take a look at Canadian act Trollband, which recently released the debut album “In The Shadow of a Mountain” (reviewed here). The band has now made the album available as a completely free download to get the music out to a wider audience.

In conjunction with the album’s review, Metalunderground.com conducted an interview with Trollband to discuss the band’s decision to give away the release and other topics, such as the many guest musicians appearing on “In the Shadow of a Mountain.” The interview is available for viewing here.

Splitting the difference between a harsher act like Finntroll and a more melodic band like Equilibrium, Trollband has plenty of symphonic black metal mayhem to keep the heads banging, even while a host of folksy sounds keep the music grounded in a more traditional style. To hear more of Trollband you can check out the band’s MySpace page, or listen to the songs “Heathen Blood” or “Nidhoggr” in the clips below.

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Sunday Old School: Paul Di'anno After Iron Maiden

In 1982, British heavy metal band Iron Maiden made what would be one of the biggest decisions of their career when they fired their singer Paul Di'anno and recruited Samson vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. As everyone knows, Iron Maiden then released their third album, "The Number Of The Beast" and subsequently became one of the biggest groups in the history of heavy metal. But what happened to Di'anno after he was sacked? Quite a lot actually...

Following his departure, Di'anno formed a self-titled band, releasing only one album, also called, "Di'anno," before breaking up in 1985. While touring in support of the record, the band angered fans by refusing to perform any Iron Maiden songs, instead focusing on their own material with a few covers thrown in. Before disbanding, the group was also able to release a live video, "Live at the Palace," which is now available on DVD as "Live In London." After his self-titled endeavour, Paul then found himself part of a new heavy metal supergroup called Gogmagog, which was intended to be a rock opera project. The band saw Di'anno reunited with his former Maiden bandmate Clive Burr and also featured original Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis, former Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray and White Spirit/future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers. The band didn't fare well and folded after only releasing a three song EP, "I Will Be There." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Best. Bartender. Ever.

If Steven Adler (Adler’s Appetite, ex-Guns N Roses) has a “to do” list it would probably read “Make Amy Fisher Cry on Celebrity Rehab” and be crossed off several times... More...

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Pit Stories: Familiar Faces

We've been talking with bands and fans everywhere to get their mosh pit stories. This week we've got a story from Cyprus label Pitch Black Records' owner Phivos Papadopoulos to share:

On December 4th, 2010, Arryan Path were to headline a show in Thessaloniki, Greece, at Harley Bar and I tagged along with the boys. We arrived the day before and during the evening (of December 3rd) we were invited to go to Harley Bar where an Iron Maiden tribute band (The Prisoners) were to perform. Indeed an awesome band which simply amazed all of us as they played every maiden tune to perfection and kept going non-stop from around “2 minutes to midnight” til about 3am.

During their set however and while watching them onstage I kept thinking about how all the band members looked so unbelievably familiar to me; but I just couldn’t place them. My guess was that they also belonged in other bands that I may have seen here or there but nevertheless I kept struggling with my mind trying to figure out where the bloody hell I knew them from!

So the next day comes and during sound check I get to talking with the venue owner. At some point we start discussing the previous night’s cover band and how good they were. I asked if they play in any other bands and his reply was like a smack in the face, leaving me just standing there with my mouth wide open and feeling like a complete idiot. “Sure, they’re in Emerald Sun, a great local band!”

Hell yeah they’re a great band, I should know! They were our newest signing and their new album (“Regeneration”) was already scheduled to be released on February 11th! Of course, apart from phone calls and email exchanges, I had never actually met the guys face to face until then. It occurred to me then that the reason they all looked so familiar was from the time I spent reviewing their album’s booklet and looking at their photos in it. It goes without saying that I rang them up immediately and they came down for Arryan Path’s show and we all had an absolute blast!

Arrayan Path (recently changed from Arryan Path) recently announced that they're working on their third full-length album, "Ira Imperium."

Emerald Sun released their latest album, "Regeneration," earlier this year through Pitch Black Records. The band recently posted a song from the album online, "Chasing the Wind."

Be sure to check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Perth, Part 3

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 I am checking out Perth’s thrash and thrash-influenced metal scene.

Perched on the arse end of a continent-spanning desert, Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, and not surprisingly this has led to a very active local metal scene. The bands highlighted today have in common some kind of thrash influence – although how heavily that influence manifests itself in the music varies from band to band.

Enforce

Enforce has been around in one form or another for over 10 years, releasing in that time three full length albums including the latest, “Biblakil,” in the first half of 2011. But the live show is where this band is at its best, whether supporting an international act (Enforce has opened shows for Behemoth, Obituary and Kreator, to name a few), touring Australia, or playing local gigs.

Although a lot of death metal flavors their sound, Enforce has an undeniably strong thrash influence – just look at frontman Guy Bell’s patch jacket!

Enforce - "As Death Sets In" (Live)
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Sunday Old School: Ministry

More often than not with heavy metal bands, many fans will say how much they preferred a band’s early work, often saying the first album was the best and that the band changed their style too much later on. The latter is certainly true of Chicago’s, Ministry, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a Ministry fan who’s favourite album was “With Sympathy.” This album was the first from the band, who formed in 1981 from the ashes of Special Affect, which also featured Groovy Mann, later of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and unlike their later work which heavy metal fans are more familiar with, was a synthpop record, much more in the vein of such bands as Depeche Mode or the melodic pop stylings of Spandau Ballet. The album was a slow seller but nevertheless was able to reach the 90s position in the Billboard album charts.

After parting ways with band member Stephen George, Ministry founder Al Jourgensen performed more or less as a solo artist for the next Ministry record, “Twitch.” While it was still an electronic record, the album contained a heavier and darker tone and once again placed Ministry in the Billboard album charts, though only just this time, reaching a peak position of 194. Following, “Twitch,” Jourgensen began to become interested once again in playing the electric guitar and brought in Paul Barker and William Rieflen of The Blackouts for the next album, “The Land of Rape and Honey.” The record was a huge critical success and featured one of Ministry’s most popular songs, “Stigmata,” which was featured in 1990 film, Hardware. The use of electric guitars on the album made for a more metal approach to their music, which continued and was embellished on the next record, “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.” The album fared a little better than “…Rape and Honey,” earning it the number 163 spot on the Billboard album charts, one place higher than it’s predecessor More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Dirty Pearls

The Dirty Pearls are a NYC based band keeping the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll sleaze alive today. They have just released a video for their latest single, “Who’s Coming Back to Who”. When I heard Penthouse of the Year, Nikki Benz, would be in their new, well, I felt it was worth a look, or five. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Monterrey

Mexico is an enormous country just like our own, composed of 31 states and the Federal District. And like us, their music scene is exploding with bands and talent. Besides some of the bigger acts that have made a name for themselves over the years like Shub Niggurath, Cenotaph and Transmetal (a band once produced by Eric Greif) - not enough is heard with the requisite frequency about this active scene in Mexico. There are dozens of metropolitan areas all throughout this country that have metal bands, and there are several record labels that have been spawned to release this vast amount of groups. The interest in Mexican metal was no doubt piqued in American listeners years ago when such acts as LA's Brujeria showed what a winning combo death metal in Spanish could be. In focusing on one scene from our neighbors in Mexico, we will look at some of the interesting bands that have been coming out of the northern metropolis of Monterrey.

Living in the desert southwest where all of my Mexican neighbors come from Michoaca, Tamaulipas or Guanajuato, it is only natural I have wanted to discover more about this country and it's music. While I've travelled to my share of border towns, which have their own energy and club scene and bars that have pools where you can play volleyball, the only way to truly experience this country is to go deeper south and start seeing all the pueblos and cities that start to have a purer Mexican identity amidst the colorful landscape. I've been to Tijuana, Nogales and Mexicali countless times, been hustled off the street by guys paid to get you into their bar, and enjoyed plenty of drinks while listening to loud thrash metal. But in order to get a truer picture of what the country has to offer, it is vital to go further in and start seeing the true essence of it all. You pass through countless towns as you go deeper into Mexico - almost all having a cathedral, soccer field and a bar within the same block while the locals are listening to their ranchera music. But you know somewhere down the street are a bunch of guys with metal t-shirts on rocking out to heavy tunes on their home stereo. Metal is big down there.

A couple hours southwest of McAllen, Texas is the picturesque city of Monterrey. It is hard to believe that Mexico's third largest metropolitan area (ninth largest city) is this close to the U.S. Driving the desolate chaparral outback to get there is half the fun. Mexico has a system of free roads and toll roads - "carreteras de cuota" - throughout most of this northern area. If you can pay the toll you get to drive on the 4-lane highway. If not, you drive on the free road alongside a produce truck that's falling apart and emitting black smoke. As I watched a man trying to sell his hand tools so he could pay the toll, I couldn't help but be reminded of that song "Caseta de Cobro" by El Tri (about a toll booth operator who steals half the money he collects, buying pot and taking vacations.) I've been stopped by cops on roads like this, and a ten dollar bill usually gets me out of a ticket. Too bad it's not like this in the U.S. In Mexico, the laws of the frontier still prevail, which is sometimes a pleasant departure from regimentation and bureaucracy. You've got to love the rugged outback and a sense of adventure, and that's one of the reasons to head down to cities like Monterrey.

Digression aside, Monterrey is far enough inland to be uniquely Mexican but close enough to the U.S. to hear faded radio station signals. What strikes you about it is how incredibly big it is. As it's located in the border state of Nuevo Leon, this city of 4.5 million people often gets overlooked as being "too gringo" and not having enough true Mexican culture. It has twice the per capita income as other cities in Mexico, an educated workforce - but a lot of strife like many of the northern areas due to the Gulf and Zeta cartels fighting for control despite President Felipe Calderon's drug war. Politics aside, the people of Monterrey pass their day by listening to either tejano/nortena music or different forms of rock and roll - but usually not both. The city has, to me, a rugged beauty in that high desert plains way with it's statuesque palm trees and the jutting outcropping known as the Cerro de la Silla mountain. It's a large commercial and industrial hub with plenty of businesses that export a variety of products (several multinational companies have headquarters down there, such as Nokia, GE and Toyota among the many) and contains several colleges like La Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon within it's permiter. Universities mean youth, ideology and music - hence helping create the musical renaissance over a decade ago. Metal bands have been thrashing here since the 80's, mind you, but in the past ten years the scene has really taken on a whole new life of it's own. More...

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Sunday Old School: White Zombie

Before Rob Zombie was known for his movies, his Woolite commercial or "Dragula," he was known as the frontman of New York's White Zombie, one of the most popular heavy metal bands of the 1990's. The band was formed in 1985 by design student Robert Cummings (Rob Zombie) and his girlfriend Sean Yseult, who would prove to be the sole constant members of the group. They formed their own record label, Silent Explosion, through which they released three EPs "Gods On Voodoo Moon," "Pig Heaven" and "Psycho-Head Blowout" before self-releasing their first full length album, "Soul-Crusher." The album helped them to attract the attention of Caroline Records, with whom they released their next record, "Make Them Die Slowly." The album marked a significant departure in sound for the band, heading in a much more heavy metal orientated direction than their previous punk rock style.

Following guitar player John Ricci's carpel tunnel syndrome preventing him from playing guitar anymore, Jay Yeunger was brought in to replace him, making his recording debut with White Zombie's next EP release, "God Of Thunder," which featured a cover of the KISS song of the same name as well as two previously unused songs. After the release, the band searched for a new label, attempting to grab the attention of major labels. While RCA showed interest, but the band eventually decided to sign with Geffen. Thanks in part to the backing they received from a major label, as well as creating catchier songs, they were able to break into the mainstream with their next record, "La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1." The album featured the song, "Thunder Kiss '65," which received heavy rotation on MTV (which played music back then) and became something of a hit single. The song's popularity, coupled with the band's hard working approach to touring helped the album go Gold by the end of 1993, before going Platinum the next year.

The band were now faced with the task of following up a successful album and recruited new drummer John Tempesta (formerly of Exodus and Testament) to help out. They proved they weren't a flash in the pan with their next record, "Astro Creep 2000," which was able to reach number six on the Billboard 200 albums chart, not least due to the popularity of the songs, "More Human Than Human," "Electric Head Part. 2" and "Super-Charger Heaven." The album has since been certified double Platinum since it's release, selling over two and a half million copies. It was also around this time that Zombie began working on solo material, performing a duet with the legendary Alice Cooper for a tie in CD for the hit show, "X-Files," which received a Grammy nomination, as well as penning the song, "The Great American Nightmare" for Howard Stern, which has been used as the theme song of his radio show since 1999. While it's unclear if these solo endeavours factored into the demise, White Zombie decided to call it a day in 1998. Since then, Rob Zombie has achieved considerable success as a solo artist and is now known for his film directing too. Yseult joined a surf rock band called The Famous Monsters, in addition to other musical pursuits, before releasing a book, "I'm With The Band" last year. The other members have also continued a career in music, particularly Tempesta, who has gone on to perform with other well known artists such as Helmet and The Cult. Despite a White Zombie box set, "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie" being released in 2008, the members have been adamant that a future reunion is very unlikely. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Back in Rehab

Back from rehab and ready to go…

Motley Crue lead singer, Vince Neil, is set to receive an entertainment lifetime achievement award in Las Vegas. Rumor has it that there will be a special guest presenting the award to Neil. Given it is Las Vegas, fingers crossed that we may be very close to seeing Carrot Top’s defining moment in show business… More...

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Pit Stories: Slayer Retains The Crown

We've been talking with bands and fans everywhere to get their mosh pit stories. This week, metal guitarist turned solo artist Jake Dreyer reaffirms that Slayer's pits are, in fact, the most brutal (not Katy Perry's):

The bands I have played/toured with have all been under the prog-metal category. Most of the time there is not a lot of pit action going on during our set. Majority of the people in attendance are musicians who stand with their arms crossed while their girlfriends appear bored out of their minds and have the "when is this song going to end?" look on their faces. So Unfortunately, I don't posses any good stories aside from what would be found at a usual gig. However, I do have some moments from shows where I have been in the crowd.

The craziest pit I have ever been in was at a Slayer show in Los Angeles. People were getting carried off in stretchers, bones were getting broken. I still have this mental image of seeing a massive shirtless bald guy being escorted out of the pit by two equally as big security guards. While the guy's ankle looked like it was twisted 90 degrees to the left. I was also made a witness to the infamous dude that head bangs and pukes at that same time...There is nothing like seeing a guy windmill and simultaneous throw up cheap beer all over the place while "Spirit in Black" plays on in the background. A visual moment I can now honestly say I crossed off my bucket list...

Metal guitarist Jake Dreyer released his debut solo EP, “In the Shadows of Madness,” in April of 2011, currently available through Amazon.com and iTunes. The instrumental EP showcases his many years of study under such masters as David “The Shred Demon” Shankle (DSG, Ex-Manowar), Chris Broderick (Megadeth, Ex-Jag Panzer, Nevermore) and Rusty Cooley (Outworld). Jake cites his main musical influences as Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Yngwie J. Malmsteen and Jeff Loomis.

“In the Shadows of Madness” also features Adam Sagan (Echoterra, Ex-Into Eternity) on drums and Noah Martin (Arsis) handling the bass guitar duties.

Be sure to check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In The Maritimes

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. For this article I’m going to be looking at three very distinct styles, but all are committed to their style and fan base.

The Maritimes, with its small population and many rural areas, might not be considered the hotbed of metal, but when you look into the underground you see a very different story. With all styles of metal being accepted and embraced, the underground is growing each and every late night. In the name of the Maritimes, sit back with an Alexander Keith’s and enjoy this ride through our underground.

Cicada

Bass + Guitar + Drums = A Band. Bass + Guitar + Drums + Deep Growls + High Shrieks = A Metal Band. Bass + Guitar + Drums + Deep Growls + High Shrieks + African Djembe = CICADA. Cicada consists of Chester Long (bass/vocals), Anson May (guitar/vocals), Joe Pottie (drums), and Nathan Collupy (Djembe). The obvious white elephant in the room is the Djembe. The Djembe creates an instant groove to their whole performance. The groove sound it creates is something that all bands work hard at achieving with some very complicated bass work, but with Cicada the Djembe frees up Chester to work in tandem with the drums and create a very heavy rhythm that Anson can play in an out of.

It’s not very often that you hear something and think (a) “that’s different” and (b) “that’s really good,” but that’s the simplest expression I can use when describing a band of great guys that has created something really good and really different. You can hear this amazing sound at their ReverbNation page.

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Sunday Old School: Toxik

Thrash metal has more or less always been about speed, aggression and ferocity, but like all good things, sometimes it’s the technical side that makes it so good. Some of the best bands in the genre focused their musicianship and song writing on being phenomenally gifted technical players, and one of these bands was Toxik. Toxik was formed in 1985 in Peekskill, New York by bass player Lee Erwin and guitarist Josh Christian, initially under the banner, Tokyo. However, shortly after deciding on this name, the group was threatened with legal action by another band who had already trademarked the name and thus, Toxik was born. The band started off by struggling to maintain a stable lineup, with founding member Erwin being amongst those to leave, and drummer Sal Dadabo being asked to join heavy metal heroes Twisted Sister. Eventually however, the band found stability when Christian was joined by vocalist Mike Sanders, drummer Tad Leger and bass player Brian Bonini.

The four members now a sturdy unit, the band found themselves being offered a contract from Roadrunner Records, a proposition which they accepted and finally released their debut album, "World Circus" in 1987. The album was acclaimed by thrash metal fans and the metal press alike, with some considering it one of the best thrash releases of the year, a statement backed by being awarded College Music Journal’s "Best New Metal Album Of The Year" accolade. The album also won them respect amongst their peers and Toxik were offered a spot on the next Metal Massacre compilation, which they contributed to with the song, "Wastelands." More...

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Pit Stories: A Tradition In The Making

We've been talking with bands and fans everywhere to get their mosh pit stories. This week, Anders Johansson, drummer of Fullforce, shares the making of an interesting tradition at the band's shows:

Well, we are a new band with just a few gigs under our belt but one thing that has happened a few times now is that when we play our song "Wall of secrets" it seems the crowd think they should pour beer onto the guitar player Stefan Elmgren. Someone somewhere started it and and it has spread. We first got a bit annoyed, but the crowd seems to show their appreciation this way in that specific song. We don't have a clue why but as long as they are happy...so are we.

The Swedish five-piece consists of members Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Vocals), Stefan Elmgren (ex-Hammerfall, Guitars), Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Drums), CJ Grimmark (ex-Narnia, Guitars) and Tommy Larsson (ex-Heed, Bass). Fullforce will release its debut album, "One," via SPV/Steamhammer on July 26th in North America. The band released the first music video for the song "Walls of Secrets" earlier this year.

Be sure to check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Nashville Cover Band Underground

How far down have you dug into the Nashville metal scene? NOT FAR ENOUGH. They don’t call Nashville “Music City” for nothing, after all. For this week’s Unearthing the Metal Underground, we dig a little deeper than Part 1 and Part 2 to really get into the muddy fun area of cover bands.

Five-time chart-topping Country singer Rodney Atkins has a guitarist in his crew named Phil Shouse who, alongside being a monstrous guitar player, moonlights as Shredward Dan Halen in "The Mighty Dan Halen." Shouse, alongside Taylor Swift’s bassist, Kelly Clarkson’s drummer, and a guitarist formerly with Shooter Jennings all gave a stellar performance covering Metallica and Megadeth at the first of a series of explosive Nashville cover band shows known as, “Metal At The Mercy”. The drummer for The Reverend Horton Heat also played in other acts on the bill. These people could have (and actually have) all played on the legendary stage of the Grand Ole Opry the very night before donning metal gear and melting faces at a metal cover show.

What do you do with your down time if you’re a Nashville big shot? Play metal, apparently. This week, we take a look at one Nashville cover band and one Nashville festival of sorts for metal cover bands. More...

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Sunday Old School: Skid Row

For a band associated with the hair and glam movement of the eighties, Skid Row has spent most of their time post the "Decade of ME." Formed in 1986, it wasn't until 1989 that their debut album, the self-titled Skid Row record that mixed glam with arena rock and ballads, was released. It was that initial album that put the band on the map, but it was the subsequent albums that made this band one of the top acts of their genre.

The original Skid Row lineup was Rachel Bolan (bass) and Dave "the Snake" Sabo (guitar), Scotti Hill (guitar), drummer Rob Affuso, and Matt Fallon -- the vocalist who was quickly replaced by Sebastian Bach in early 1987. Is there any nickname better than "the Snake"? No. Do you think Dave Sabo and wrestler Jake "the Snake" Roberts ever get together? Is there a "the Snake" nickname convention? I like to think there is.

The self-titled album separated Skid Row from a group of bands that were getting more difficult to separate from. They had a little more of an edge compared to some of the other bands. If you were a male and were carrying Poison, Def Leppard, and Skid Row CDs, you would put the Skid Row CD on the top, covering the others. They were somewhere between Poison and Guns N' Roses. A little dirtier than Poison, but not quite the GN'R mess; you could sense Sebastian Bach didn't wash his hair every day.

The initial band was formed to be the next Bon Jovi. With Bach's good looks, shrieking voice and heavy band playing alongside, Skid Row was to continue making glam rock with a smile. However, during the recording of the first album something happened. Their band developed their own sound, still heavy metal pop, but with more street credentials. Despite most of the first album considered "heavy," it was the ballads, "18 And Life" and "I Remember You" that would receive air play and be known by the denim jacket crowds. Obviously Bach and company owe a thank you to all of the bands before them that made the power ballad what it was at that time. More...

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