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Archive: Columns

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Freakshow

Heaven & Earth have just released the official video for the single "No Money, No Love.” The video features magicians, old school working girls, and little people. "No Money, No Love" is featured on the band's forthcoming studio album 'Dig.' More...

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Sunday Old School: Gamma Ray

A short while ago, Sunday Old School took a look at German power metal heroes, Helloween, which was founded by guitarist Kai Hansen in 1984. Hansen left the group in 1989, only to return in some style a year later, with a new band that soon become one of the biggest and most influential in their field, Gamma Ray. The seeds of the group were sewn while Hansen was doing some studio work for countrymen, Blind Guardian, and decided to form his own project afterwards, teaming up with his friend, Ralf Scheepers, who would handle the vocal duties. The duo would soon become a quartet when they added bass player Uwe Wessel and drummer Mathias Burchardt. Despite the problems Hansen had previously had with the company, Gamma Ray signed a deal with Noise Records for their first album, "Heading For Tomorrow," which was released in February 1990 and was received very warmly by the music press and metal fans alike. Shortly after their debut was released, Gamma Ray made several changes by hiring a new drummer and guitarist in Uli Kusch and Dirk Schlächter respectively. This new incarnation of the band released an EP later that year entitled, "Heaven Can Wait," before releasing their first full length studio album together in September 1991, "Sigh No More." Despite it’s somewhat comic album cover, the record was significantly darker than, "Heading For Tomorrow," with lyrics covering topics such as the Persian Gulf War that was ongoing at the time.

Once the band returned from a Japanese tour, they made yet another lineup change, with founding bassist Uwe Wessel and Kusch leaving the group due to disagreements, with Kusch going on to join Helloween, making his debut on the fan favourite, "Master of Rings." The duo were replaced by bass player Jan Rubach and drummer Thomas Nack, who made their presence known to fans in 1993 with the third Gamma Ray album, "Insanity and Genius," which was recorded at the band’s own custom studio. "Insanity and Genius" was closer sonically to "Heading for Tomorrow," and likewise received some very positive reviews. It was notable for Hansen singing on the track, "Heal Me" and Schlächter performing vocal duties on the song, "Your Tørn Is Over." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Living Dangerously

This week we return to videos featuring bad ass jean jackets, crazy over sized sunglasses, and horrible story lines. More...

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Unearthing More Symphonic/Melodic Metal Bands

Amidst all the pig squeals and face shredding tech-death, there’s plenty of music to be found in the metal world that borrows from (or even relies on entirely!) a symphonic sound. These acts aren’t afraid to show off their melodic side, creating unique songs that blend heavy guitars and even screams with more traditional stringed instruments and keyboards.

If power metal isn’t your thing but you still want music with more melody than the standard death metal troupe, check out this week’s crop of bands as we unearth more of the metal underground.

Paganland

This Ukraine-based group has existed off and on since the ‘90s, but it wasn’t until last week that it finally dropped a debut full-length album titled “Wind of Freedom” via Svarga Music. If the name didn’t tip you off, the lyrics and themes of the music are based heavily on pagan traditions and are dedicated to the history and folklore of the band’s homeland.

Although Paganland describes itself as a “pagan black metal” band, this is much more on the symphonic and folk side than the black metal side of things, and fans of Tyr will be right at home with much of the new disc. Get a sampling of what the band has to offer through the title track available below, or hear more over at Facebook.

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Sunday Old School: Fates Warning

The band I bring you today has special significance to me, because looking at its history is almost like looking at a mirror image of my own. Thirty years ago this year, when I got my start on college radio, these guys were the first band I ever sat in on an interview with. That interview was done by the other metal DJ on WNHU, with Joe DiBiase and John Arch sitting behind the mic with a demo in hand for their new band Misfit. That session was also one of their very first interviews as a band. Special times from a period long ago indeed. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Bret Michaels, Fired!

It has been a while since I’ve wasted precious time watching Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, but when I heard both Bret Michaels (Poison) and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) would be contestants, well, I was in. Both had appeared in previous versions of the series, Michaels winning and Snider not. Last time, Michaels went to great lengths to secure his victory, staging a brain hemorrhage just weeks before the finale. That’s good acting Bret! As for Dee, I’m just hoping he doesn’t bring his family into this. More...

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Sunday Old School: Nuclear Assault

It seems to be a fairly regular start to the story of many metal bands: "It began with a firing…" In this week’s case, the story of Nuclear Assault began when New York thrash giants Anthrax fired their bass player, Danny Lilker, who decided to form a new band with a more aggressive approach. His first recruitment into the band that would become Nuclear Assault was vocalist John Connelly, who had previously been a roadie with Anthrax, before rounding out the lineup with guitarist Mike Bogush and drummer Scott Duboys. With the group now complete, they soon recorded a demo which featured some of the songs that would become staples of their future live shows such as, "Hang the Pope" and "Stranded in Hell." They followed the demo with their first live show at the Union Jack in South River, New Jersey, before deciding that Bogush should be replaced, with his position being taken by Anthony Bramante, who made his debut with the band at the legendary L’Amour club in Brooklyn. Nuclear Assault made another change after this performance, when drummer Scott Duboys left the group and was replaced by Glenn Evans, formerly of TT Quick. This new incarnation of the band recorded a second demo entitled, "Live Suffer Die" and increased their profile by performing across the United States.

Their hard work paid off and the quartet signed a multi-album deal with Combat Records, who had previously released the debut album from Megadeth, as well as several records from European bands such as Celtic Frost, Venom and Raven. The first of these albums came in April 1986 under the title, "Game Over." The record was a hit among thrash fans and it earned the group a spot supporting speed metal act Agent Steel and British outfit Atomkraft in Europe, garnering them attention across the Atlantic. Despite their deal with Combat, Nuclear Assault felt that their contract with the label was very constrictive and they left to sign with I.R.S. Records, releasing their sophomore album, and their first for their new label, "Survive" in 1988. The record was a success, reaching number 145 in the Billboard Album Chart and spawning two singles in the form of "Fight to be Free" and the Led Zeppelin cover, "Good Times Bad Times." The commercial success of "Survive" led to the group touring extensively, including performing as the opening act for Californian thrash kings, Slayer, and their own headlining tour of Europe, where they were supported by British thrashers, Acid Reign. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Low Budget Edition

Some videos are made with blue light special budgets while others are made to look cheap or gritty despite pumping in the cash. This week we look at videos from both sides of the monetary track and see if money really matters. More...

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Pit Stories: Fen's Prank Gone Awry

Every Tuesday, Metalunderground.com checks in with bands from around the world to hear their most memorable Pit Stories from live shows. Today we have a story from Vancouver's Fen (not to be confused with the U.K. act) about a band prank backfiring:

Last fall, on a day off from our BC/Alberta tour we climbed a small mountain in Fruitvale. We reached a lookout and Jeff and Taty sat down to enjoy the view of the valley while the rest of us kept bushwhacking to see if there was a higher peak. Along the way Nando scratched his forehead on a branch so we hatched a plan to freak out the others. We came back down to the viewpoint with Sam and I propping Nando up on either side, and there was blood smeared on his forehead. We said he'd fallen and hit his head and he pretended to be dazed. Jeff jumped up and doted over Nando with a terrible look of concern, helping us as we laid him down on the moss. Then we started laughing. Jeff was pissed. Taty said we were shitty actors. It was the classic horror movie intro.

The next day we were in Calgary at Vern's Bar. It was a Tuesday night and we were stoked there was anyone there at all. After we played, it was The Reckless Heroes, a hilariously energetic punk metal band. They flew all around the stage while people just sat and watched. Still pumped from our set, Sam and I started a pit. It maxed out at 5-6 people so there was a ton of room and we were getting some pretty good runs at each other. The bassist kept jumping off the stage and bashing around with us. At the end of the night, loading up gear I noticed Sam was missing. Jeff said, "Didn't you hear, he messed up his foot while moshing."

Right away I was suspicious, thinking Jeff was setting me up as revenge for the shit we'd pulled on the mountain, but I went along with it, helping carry Sam's gear while he sat in the bar with his foot up on a chair and sipping beer. When it was time to leave he walked only on the heel of that foot. It looked pretty painful, but I was paranoid that the second I showed any sympathy, he would start walking normally and Jeff would jump out of the woodwork and call me a sucker for carrying the extra gear. Two days later the foot was turning black and after an x-ray it was officially declared broken. I felt like a jerk for being so suspicious. Sam played the rest of the gigs in a chair in front of his 4x12.

Fen is out with latest album "Of Losing Interest," and you can also check out the music video for "A Long Line" below. For more info on the band, head over to the Fen Facebook profile here, and be sure to check back next week for more Pit Stories. More...

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Unearthing The "Black Metal" Underground Part 3

The U.S. and a couple of other nations celebrate Black History Month, which was created back in February of 1926 to coincide with the birthdays of Abe Lincoln and Frederick Douglass - and to highlight the achievements of noteworthy black citizens and events shaping black history. It may be February, but here at Metal Underground we feature metal from all ethnicities on any given week.

But in keeping with the Black History Month theme, today we will explore three groups that are composed partially or entirely of all black members. The aggression and power of metal is a worldwide phenomena that crosses all genders, races and creeds. Something about metal just touches your soul, blacks and non-blacks alike, connecting you to this style of music that you just instinctively know you were born to listen to. More...

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Sunday Old School: Winger

Kip Winger could have been a member of Kiss. I am basing this notion on body hair alone. As the number of eighties bands grew, Winger was one of the bands that started the “too much” movement eventually breaking in the early nineties. This was foreshadowed by the Beavis & Butthead character Stewart wearing a Winger shirt as a sign of being weak and available for jokey punch lines. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Scary Video

Rock and roll and horror movies are often a natural match. This week we have a very low budget video from The Deafening that incorporates the evil and shock of horror into their video. The video is their first ever and is for the song "Death Rattle N' Roll.” This is the finale track on their late 2012 release titled 'Central Booking.' Based in New York, The Deafening, are made up of Lena Hall (vocals), Burt Rock (guitar), Dylan Doyle (bass) and Mick Harrison (drums). The band mixes the seventies and eighties in both sound (and now) video exploits. More...

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Pit Stories: The Epic Outdoor Show

It's Tuesday again, which means it's time for members of the metalverse to share their favorite most pit stories.

While many of our Pit Stories center around violence and insanity as fans throw down in front of the stage, today Dark Century guitarist Martin Gendreau instead shares a story of an epic outdoor show. Martin comments:

October 6th, 2012 Beauharnois - Dark Century’s outdoor concert on a stage mounted on a flatbed trailer. Next to the stage, motocross jumping on a big air ramp. Behind the crowd, some car smoke show with artisanal bombs and fireworks. A Bar-b-cue was on the site for an all you can eat meat buffet.

Because of the temperature being near 10 degrees, some woods were burning into a old metal trash screwed to a frame of a mower. It was incredible the see that in a mosh pit! Also mechanical shovel on the site had fire inside to heat the crowd. A stage filled with beer donations… That was one epic heavy metal show.

Check out the latest happenings with Dark Century over at the band's Facebook profile or official website, and check out the track "Kill the Crowd" below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Krokus

When most people think of metal music from Switzerland, they almost immediately think of Celtic Frost or Coroner . But the home of tax dodgers’ bank accounts also hosts of the best balls out, hard rock bands to ever emerge from Europe in the form of Krokus. Krokus were formed in the Swiss city of Solothurn in 1975, initially as a progressive rock outfit and released their self-titled debut album in 1976, which was limited to only 560 copies and was never re-released. After witnessing an AC/DC concert, the band decided to abandon their prog style and opted for a more hard rock approach, leading bass player Chris von Rohr to take over the position of lead singer. This new, harder incarnation of the group proved to be a success in Switzerland, though their subsequent albums, "To You All" and "Painkiller" (released in some countries as, "Pay It In Metal") were critically panned by some reviewers. The band soon realised that von Rohr would have to step down from the mic as he was unable to reach the vocal standards they had hoped. He returned to his former position as bass player while Malta native, Marc Storace, formerly of TEA and Eazy Money entered the fray as their new singer.

Storace’s recording debut came in the form of the 1980 album, "Metal Rendez-vous," which was met with a mixed reaction critically, but found favour amongst many rock fans over the world, particularly in the United Kingdom where the song, "Heatstrokes" topped the heavy metal charts. This was also the first time the band received much attention from the United States and the success of the album resulted in it being certified triple platinum in their home country. They followed, "Metal Renez-vous" the next year with, "Hardware" which received negative reviews and was unable to achieve the commercial success of it’s predecessor, reaching only Gold status in Switzerland. However, it did see the band enter the charts in the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany and Austria, where it peaked at number sixteen. The record also featured some songs which would go on to become fan favourites such as, "Easy Rocker" and "Rock City." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: California Comfort

Swedish glam rockers, Crashdiet, have released their second video (and single) from the album ‘The Savage Playground.’ The song is titled “California.” Warning: This video promotes drinking. More...

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Unearthing The Turkish Metal Underground

Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that perhaps haven't received as much exposure yet as they should. This week, we'll be taking a trip to Turkey, the country where Europe and Asia meet, which shares its borders with no less than eight countries, including Greece in the West and Iran to the East. It's a country with a fascinating history (the Ottoman era of which was covered brilliantly in the PBS Series, "Islam: Empire of Faith") and remains an intriguing place today. It attracts many visitors every year, including heavy metal fans from Arab countries, who are unable to attend rock and metal shows in their homelands. Turkey was also at the heart of one of the more interesting stories in last year's metal news, when Israeli progressive metal band, Orphaned Land, announced that they becoming Turkish citizens, having established a strong fan base in the country and previously winning an award for their efforts towards reaching peace. This week, MetalUnderground will be examing three home grown Turkish bands, in an attempt to showcase it as one of the most exciting places to visit.

Kirmizi

Kirmizi (Turkish for "red") is one of the more unique bands covered this week, seeing as it's an all female group. The outfit was founded in 2005 by vocalist Idil Cagatay and drummer Asli Polat and performed tirelessly in clubs like Dorock in the country's largest city, Istanbul. They released their first maxi single in 2010 and recorded two music videos for the release, "Kirmizi" and "Veda Etme," before being personally selected by Ozzy Osbourne to open for him in Istanbul later that year. In 2011, they released their first album, "Isyan," and are currently working hard to bring their sound across Europe and eventually to the United States.

Kirmizi - "Kirmizi"

Kirmizi - "Geri"
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Sunday Old School: Anal Cunt

If Seth Putnam had lived, he'd no doubt be celebrating 25 years with Anal Cunt this year. He was taken from us at the age of 43 a year and a half ago, young - but not unexpectedly. He lived his life hard and fast and on his own terms, surviving to an age none thought he would. He didn't battle his inner demons, but rather got on the same side as they were. We lost that 'voice' that would come into our stereos and give us a dose of that sick humor that would parody anything into the realm of stupidity. Before forming Anal Cunt as a joke, Seth was a big fan of metal, alternative rock and hardcore - being a fixture in several Boston bands. It was this old school street cred that made the fans understand the joke that AxCx perpetrated. The year was 1988, a good one for the scene and one in which everyone was looking for something a bit different. And different was what they got. Seth Putnam was a twenty year old living in his mother's house in Newton, Massachusetts. He had been in and out of several area bands and was briefly in Shit Scum with Fred Ordonez. They guested on a radio show and jammed at Fred's rented warehouse. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: More Camouflage Girl!

This week we have videos that mix well with acid, crazy eyes, ninjas, and the band Krokus. Yes, that Krokus. More...

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Pit Stories: Grindcore Mayhem

Every week Metalunderground.com checks in with rock and metal acts from across the world to find their best mosh pit stories.

Vocalist Bryce Lucien of Texas act Seeker today shares a story of an out-of-control Daughters show (Daughters being no stranger to live antics). Bryce tells the following tale:

There are very few pits that have stuck with me. Years on the road have left me desensitized to most of the ridiculous happenings at shows, but there is one experience that was so extreme in its GG Allen-esque awesomeness and so relentless in its lack of fucks given that it will forever be seared into my memory...

This was 8 or 9 years ago now... Daughters and An Albatross were in town and me, being the total grind fanatic that I am, was obviously beside myself with excitement. I got to the show early, made sure I was front and center, and prepared myself for what I was sure would be the most wonderfully abrasive and debauched show that I had ever attended. After suffering through two despicably awful locals, Daughters finally took the stage and began sound checking. Their singer was nowhere to be seen. The band yelled for him over the PA and minutes later he finally walks onstage, scowling, glossy eyed, beer in hand... he was so fucking cool. The band launched into their first song and the crowd exploded. I was shoved into the stage, punched, jumped on, and I didn't care. I loved it.

However, through all the mayhem I noticed that their singer wasn't singing any of the words and there was a gagging sound coming through the speakers so I looked over and realize that he is standing on the lip of the stage, deep throating the mic, and flipping off the crowd. He then pulls the mic out of his mouth and projectile vomits all over the stage. As he does this I feel a pair of shoes connect with the back of my head. I turn around and see the crowd surfing girl momentarily get sucked back into the sea of arms before being thrown at me again. I duck and the singer of Daughters grabs her left shoe, rips it off, pours his beer into it, chugs it, throws the shoe back into the crowd, falls off the stage, and finally screams his first line...

This all happened in less than 2 minutes. The rest of their 10 minute set was just as insane. This is probably a really horrible reflection on me, but that night totally solidified my love for this lifestyle and my desire to tour...oh well. Fuck it.

You can check out Seeker's music video for "Serpent Skin" in the player below, along with a list of upcoming tour dates later this month. A teaser for the new single "Alone" is also available at this location.

Be sure to check back in next Tuesday for the next in our series of heavy metal Pit Stories. More...

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Sunday Old School: Acid Reign

British thrash metal rarely ever gets much of a mention whenever the genre is discussed. But a little bit of research (or if you don’t like reading, a new documentary film,) will show that there were plenty of quality thrash bands from the British thrash scene, and among the finest were Acid Reign. Acid Reign were formed in 1985 in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate by vocalist Howard "H" Smith, guitarist Gary "Gaz" Jennings, bass player Ian Gangwer and drummer Mark Ramsey Wharton. After slogging it out in small venues for two years, the group were able to record a demo entitled, "Moshkinstein" in 1987, which attracted the attention of Under One Flag Records (a subsidiary of Music For Nations which specialised in thrash metal and home of one of Britain’s most popular thrash bands, Onslaught.) They re-released the "Moshkinstein" demo through the label as an EP, which helped the group to secure support slots for other cult thrash metal stars such as Death Angel, Flotsam and Jetsam and Nuclear Assault, as well as Bay Area kings Exodus, striking up a friendship with the latter two.

Following the tour with Nuclear Assault, the band were finally able to release their debut full length album, "The Fear" in 1989. The album was something of an underground success, peaking at number ten on the UK Indie Charts and another tour with Nuclear Assault soon followed, taking the band across Europe, before they embarked on a tour with Dark Angel and Swedish doom metal act Candlemass. More...

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