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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Crue Top 25

News spread fast regarding Motley Crue becoming the first hard rock band to take up residency in Las Vegas. It was announced that starting in February the band will be playing nightly shows at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. In light of this semi-groundbreaking news a look (IMO) of the top 25 Crue songs to date. Note that although personal opinion was weighted heavily, I also took into account popularity, videos, etc… More...

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Pit Stories: Losing A Tongue To The Pit

Every week we catch up with metal fans and band members to find their most brutal and memorable pit stories from live shows. This week guitarist Rick Jimenez from This is Hell shares the following recounting of losing half a tongue but still catching the end of the show:

In 2000 I was at an On The Rise (Mike Gallo from Agnostic Front's first band) show. A NJ band called Redline was playing and were covering "Reign in Blood." I was thinking "everyone does the intro and then goes into their own song all the time, whatever," but after the intro they kept going with it and I got extremely psyched. Everyone moshing was about 7 feet and 300 pounds and I was only 19 and about 100 pounds and 4 feet tall so I'm thinking there is no way I'm going to get in on the mosh.

Once the chug breakdown came though I couldn't contain myself anymore so I get out and start doing 2000 NY mosh... about 10 seconds later I'm about 20 feet from where I first started, on the ground, half my tongue on the ground. Mike helped me up and brought me to the bathroom... then someone else came in and handed me the rest of my tongue in a cup of ice. I was driven to the hospital, had my tongue sewed back together and got back to the show in time to see On The Rise. Casualty of the core.

This is Hell released the new album "Black Mass" (reviewed here) earlier this year, and you can check out the band's music by heading over here. Metalunderground.com also spoke with Rick Jimenez last month about the album, with the full interview available at this location.

Check back in next Tuesday as we continue to share more mosh pit stories from metal shows.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground In Toronto

Toronto is located in the South Eastern part of the province of Ontario, five hours east of Montreal, Quebec and three hours away from Ottawa, Ontario. A fair comparison to use to describe Toronto would be as the poor man’s New York City: it is large, expansive and industrial (and emotionally cold) in feel, but extremely culturally diverse, and while there are great opportunities for people to spark their individual creativity, the pressure to conform is palatable. Toronto seems to primarily be an “indie rock” town, but in the past few years, hardcore bands such as Fucked Up and Cancer Bats have been making waves, and Protest The Hero started off in Whitby, a suburb outside of the city. There are a plethora of new metal bands in the GTA, and while they get little (if any) love by Toronto press – metal or otherwise, they are around, getting opening slots for the American and European metal and hardcore bands that come into town.

Sons of Otis

In terms of style, Toronto metal acts seem to prefer to emulate the NWBHM feel, while Quebec metal bands seem to be more technical and favor Black metal and /or grindcore styles. Toronto’s Sons of Otis stands out as being a trio of extremely proficient musicians who stand out from the pack with their unique take on metal. Their sound, which is categorized as psychedelic stoner/doom, is infused with American blues music, which adds a deep-in-your-belly groove and a soulfulness to their sound.

While the band has been kicking around since 1992 and has toured with bands like Electric Wizard and YOB and performed at the renowned Roadburn Festival in Holland in 2010, they have been lauded with critical acclaim, but for some reason commercial acclaim has been stymied by horrible record deals, lineup changes and in my opinion, a musically immature city where their uniqueness isn’t appreciated. While I’d heard of the band for a number of years, their opening set for Dark Castle and YOB this past July blew me away, and if I were in one of the bands performing that night, I would have been intimidated. Sheer power and heartfelt passion for their craft cannot be faked simply to win an audience over. These guys are the real deal.

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Sunday Old School: Pantera

It’s very close to that time of year again when metal fans all over the world pay their tributes to Dimebag Darrell Abbott, the legendary guitarist from Pantera who was murdered on stage on December 8th, 2004 while performing with his post-Pantera band, Damageplan. To understand why his death is so important to metal fans, it’s best to start, as all legends do, at the beginning. Darrell formed Pantera thirty years ago with his brother Vinnie Paul, along with guitarist Terry Glaze, vocalist Donnie Hart and bass player Tommy Bradford. Hart and Bradford left the group the same year, with the latter being replaced by Rex Brown, while the rest of the group decided that Darrell would be the bands sole guitar player. They soon became an underground favorite, touring throughout their native Texas, as well as Oklahoma and Louisiana, and supporting the likes of Quiet Riot and Dokken.

In 1983, the band released debut album, "Metal Magic" through its own record label of the same name with a second album, "Projects In The Jungle" following the next year. Both albums were very much in the glam metal vein but the second demonstrated the first hint of thrash metal influences, a style which was embellished on the third album, "I Am The Night."

Thrash metal soon crept its way into Pantera's sound permanently however, leading the group to part ways with Glaze and search for a more aggressive vocalist, which was found in New Orleans native, Phil Anselmo. With Anselmo, Pantera recorded the fourth album, "Power Metal," a hybrid of thrash metal and the popular hard rock style of the time. Following this release, Pantera decided to radically reinvent itself, shedding the big hair and make up the group had previously adorned and soon gained itself a manager in Walter O’ Brien, with a record deal coming shortly afterwards with Atco Records.

Despite now being considered something of a debut album for the band, the fifth album, "Cowboys From Hell" was released in 1990 and was instantly a hit with fans of the heavier side of metal, as well as some of their heroes such as Judas Priest and Slayer. It was certainly a breath of fresh air at the time, varied in sound but fluent, songs like the pummeling title track were just as much a part of the band's sound as the haunting epic, "Cemetery Gates." The band toured heavily to support the album, taking to the road with such respected acts as Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies and even earning a slot on the Monsters In Moscow festival with the likes of AC/DC and Metallica, in what was still the Soviet Union. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Nasty Reputation

This week a look at a new video from Canadian rockers, Reverse Grip. They have released a new video for “Nasty Reputation”, a track from their new four-song EP. Reverse Grip is a hard rock band formed by the three Broda brothers (Sean, Dru and Dylan) with a mission to bring back true rock n' roll. WARNING: The following video contains drinking and lots of cow bell. More...

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Pit Stories: The Out Of Control Circle Pit

Each week we chat up metal fans and band members from every style and sub-genre to find their best tales from the mosh pit. For this week's look into the pit, guitarist Andreas Allenmark of Swedish act Cipher System shares the following story of a circle pit gone out of control:

This "accident" happened when I was on tour with another band. We were playing in Germany and had been drinking quite a few beers the night before and I had been taught a few tricks from another band.

One of those tricks was the sign for a circle pit. After a few songs I started thinking about that sign, what if I should try it...just to see if the audience understood what it meant. So I waited for a break in the song then showed them as distinctively as I could.

After that I continued my headbanging mostly looking down at the guitar and floor. When I looked up again I saw that a circle pit really had started and almost developed to a riot atmosphere, people were really hurting each other. I regretted my foolish naivety, almost stopped playing just to try to calm them down again. My last thought was, what if my brother saw me now? He is a police officer and what I had done would be considered to be a crime in Sweden.

Cipher System released the new album "Communicate the Storms" earlier this year. You can check out track-by-track videos from the band discussing the album here. For more details on Cipher System, navigate over to the band's Facebook profile.

Check back in again next Tuesday as we share more Pit Stories from metal bands.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground In Logan, Utah

Logan, Utah sits in a picturesque little furrow by the name of Cache Valley, which is home to many small towns. Righteous mountain views are prevalent throughout and Logan is home to an array of diverse businesses, people and music. One thing that has become very apparent throughout the last few years is that, despite the small town vibe, the town has an awesome variation of pure metal that is comparable to cities ten times its size. Autostigmatic, Simple as Suicide, and Osco are but three of the bands that keep Logan’s metal scene alive and kicking some serious ass.

Autostigmatic

Autostigmatic is a four piece that is reminiscent of greats like Pantera and Slayer but with a crucially unique metal sound that brings fans back in hordes, craving more with every show. Live, they are non-stop head-banging metal that is cemented in the underground scene not only in Logan, but across Northern, Utah. Hovey is the front man, leading the mayhem with fierce vocals and guitar riffs that merge superbly with ferocious guitar abilities. The band produces deep and contagious bass lines and their drum beats are a hardcore combination of metal meets stampede, all in all creating a sound that pulls you in and saturates your soul.

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Sunday Old School: L.A. Guns

If you lived in Southern California during 1983 to present day there is a very good chance you have played for a band named L.A. Guns. I demand a VH1 Classic documentary on this phenomenon. I already have the title: "Eight is Enough: The story of nine albums and eight lead singers.”

This is the story of L.A. Guns.

To start we need to get the administrative part out of the way. Instead of populating every other sentence with a line-up change, here we go.

We will refer to the “Classic Line Up” of L.A. Guns as Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Mick Cripps, Kelly Nickels, Steve Riley. The “Steve Riley L.A. Guns” a.k.a. L.A. Guns #1 as Phil Lewis, Stacey Blades, Scott Griffin, Steve Riley and the “Tracii Guns L.A. Guns” a.k.a. L.A. Guns #2 as Jizzy Pearl, Tracii Guns, Doni Gray, Jeremy Guns. Recently Jizzy Pearl has left Tracii’s version of L.A. Guns, being replaced by Dilana Robichaux. So now the story is “Nine Lives: Nine albums, nine lead singers”.

Need a comprehensive list of lead singers? Why not, here they are: Phil Lewis, Jizzy pearl, Paul Black, Axl Rose, Michael Jagosz, Chris Van Dahl, Ralph Saenz, Marty Casey.

And finally other members (non lead singers) that at one time were members of L.A. Guns: Nickey Alexander, Ole Beich, Rob Gardner, Robert Stoddard, Michael Gershima, Johnny Crypt, Brent Muscat, Muddy, Keff Ratcliffe, Adam Hamilton, Keri Kelli, Scott Griffin, Kenny Kweens, Chad Stewart, Alec Bauer, Danny Nordahl.

Push the paper to the side and let’s see if we can figure out how this band bio grew to the size of a phone book. More...

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DIY Update: Google Music Open To Bands

Google’s masterplan to compete with everyone is becoming more apparent with its latest releases. Having just opened up Google+ pages, which is equivalent to Facebook pages, the search giant has now taken the beta tag off of Google Music and opened its doors to bands to sell their music on the Android Marketplace, which will compete with iTunes.

Google Music first opened in a beta testing phase to test their cloud storage and streaming service. The cloud will be the backbone for the music store, acting like a digital locker where all music purchases are saved. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Talk Dirty To Me

Over the past few weeks the band Kid Rocker has filed lawsuit against the band Poison for allegedly stealing songs originally written by Kid Rocker (band was broke up and presented the songs to C.C. as members of the band Screamin’ Mimis). Video (at the bottom) has surfaced, showing the bands riff for what would later become an alleged Poison hit. My opinion: given this alleged theft occurred over 20 years ago I find the timing suspicious. No word yet as to why wait until now to bring the lawsuit. The songs include “Talk Dirty to Me”, “Fallen Angel”, and “I Won’t Forget You.” What a perfect time to celebrate the video for “Talk Dirty to Me”; a made for MTV spectacle that started it all for the glam conglomerate we would come to know as Poison. Full Disclaimer: I was twelve and a big fan of this video when it came out. Did it shape my life in any way? Still working through this twice a week in therapy. More...

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Pit Stories: Katatonia's Impromptu Tattoo

We've been hitting up metal bands and fans from around the globe to get their most devastating mosh pit stories, and this week drummer Daniel Liljekvist of Swedish act Katatonia shares the following tale of losing an eyebrow piercing and getting an impromptu tattoo:

So back in 1997-1998, me and a girl I used to know traveled all across Sweden photographing bands we liked. Especially the band Refused. This story takes place at a small venue in Stockholm called Kafé 44. I think it takes around 250 people and the place was packed! There were some 200 more kids outside in the street that didn’t get in. So the bands on the bill (Refused and The Hives, who actually opened for Refused back then) decide to play two sets at the same night. So as soon as the venue was empty with people after the first set they start bringing in the kids that waited outside. I had a photo pass so I could stay for both sets however; I had run out of film for the camera so I decided to just watch the second set.

Pretty soon I was in the pit myself. People were stage diving, moshing and when they played the song “Circle Pit” all hell broke loose. I climbed up on top of the PA system and dived straight into the crowd, hitting my forehead in someone’s belt buckle and in the same time ripping out my eyebrow piercing. So I’m bleeding like hell and have a big chunk of eyebrow dangling as I try to stand up when another diver lands on me, ass first on my lap, and it stings. Turns out the guy who landed on me had a ball pointed pen in his back pocket and it had penetrated my right thigh. So now I have a small blue dot that will always remind me of that awesome night in Stockholm. My first tattoo even. Cheers!

In other recent news, the band managed to get an easter egg included in the new video game "Skyrim." Katatonia also just finished a North American tour alongside Opeth in support of the band's most recent album "Night is the New Day" (reviewed here). You can check out an interview with Katatonia from the tour by heading over to this location. The band is also expected to release information in the near future about working on a new full-length album.

Check back in next week as we continue to share more pit stories from metal heads and musicians.

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Unearthing The Brutal Metal Underground

If there was ever a genre of metal that seems to get the least amount of exposure, it would possibly be the brutal death metal scene. There are literally dozens of bands putting out material every week, and occasionally a few rise above the heap to become well-known with most metal listeners.

Brutal death metal, which has as it's subgenres slam, grind, and porno, can partially trace it's inception back to Earache grindcore compilations and mostly to the late 80's/early 90's when such extreme bands as Blood Duster, Lividity, and Broken Hope put out grisly material that raised the bar in terms of gore, lyrics, and horror-themed album cover art. The following years saw Dying Fetus become one of the top bands of the next wave, with caustic maim-inducing music that influenced countless bands in today's brutal scene. When done well, the music can be hilarious and high energy. When done badly, it is still pretty funny too. More...

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Sunday Old School: Faith No More

Some bands are just so eclectic, it’s practically impossible to label them. Everyone likes these bands because their music is always guaranteed to be interesting, and none of these such bands are more intriguing than Faith No More. Faith No More began life thirty years ago when it was founded by bass player Billy Gould in 1981, along with drummer Mike Bordin, vocalist Michael Morris and keyboard player Wade Worthington. They did not adopt their current moniker until 1982 after Worthington had been replaced by Roddy Bottum and Morris had been fired, leading the band to through a series of vocalists, including future Hole frontwoman Courtney Love, before settling on Chuck Mosley in 1983, the same year they found guitarist Jim Martin.

They began recording their debut album independently, pooling their money together and recording it as and when they could. By the time five songs had been recorded, the group earned the attention of Mordam Records, who signed the band and gave them the money they needed to finish their album, which was released in 1985 under the title, "We Care A Lot." Faith No More then signed with Slash Records, and released "Introduce Yourself" in 1987, which, despite the release of "We Care A Lot" two years prior, is considered by many to be the bands debut album, owing to the limited availability of the previous record and the re-recording of its title track.

Not long after "Introduce Yourself," Mosley was fired from the group, due to erratic behaviour on and off the stage, including falling asleep during the "Introduce Yourself" release party. Taking his place was Mr. Bungle frontman, Mike Patton, who dropped out of Humboldt State University so he could sing for Faith No More. They released their first album with Patton, "The Real Thing" in 1989 and broke through into the public eye in the process, thanks largely to the records second single, "Epic" which became a top ten hit around the world. They performed live at the MTV Video Music Awards and Saturday Night Live, as well as touring all over the world. After releasing a live album, "Live at the Brixton Academy" in 1991 and contributing the song, "The Perfect Crime" to the soundtrack of the movie, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (in which guitarist Jim Martin made a cameo appearance,) the band got to work on their next album. The result, "Angel Dust," was released in the summer of 1992 and featured a much more experimental tone than previous releases, thanks predominantly to Mike Patton. Despite selling well over six hundred thousand copies in the United States, the album sold better overseas, going Gold in Australia and reaching the number 2 position on the album chart in the United Kingdom. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Axl Rose Interview

Last Friday Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) sat down with the crew from VH1’s That Metal Show and discussed lawsuits, Chinese Democracy, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course there was not enough time to ask ALL the questions. After some dumpster diving behind Miami’s American Airlines arena we found the rest of the questions that never got asked. More...

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Unearthing The Prolific-Yet-Unknown Underground

Every Monday we take a look at three bands in the metal underground that deserve to be heard by a wider audience.

While normally the various bands unearthed are all grouped together by sub-genre or geographical location, this week we’re headed into slightly different territory to examine three bands that don’t necessarily share a similar sound. Instead, these three groups all have a common thread in that they are highly prolific artists with many releases under their belts, but somehow still haven’t managed to become highly known in the metal community.

Check out the music of Root, Transmetal, and Senmuth below and decide for yourself if you’d like to join these band’s relatively small but loyal fanbases.

Root

This Czech Republic act is a bit of a cult hit in the underground, developing its own unique sound that isn’t quite black metal or avant-garde or ambient or anything else, but has echoes of all those styles and more.

Root has a solid nine full-length releases under its belt scattered throughout a 20+ year history, having just dropped the new album “Heritage of Satan” (reviewed here). Until recently, Root was almost completely unknown by fans of European dark metal acts, only starting to see more exposure after a series of re-releases through I Hate Records in 2008.

For more info on Root, head over to the band’s official website here, or listen to a sampling of songs off “The Temple in the Underworld” and “The Book” below.

“Casilda's Song”
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Sunday Old School: Piledriver

Take yourself back in time almost three decades - the year was 1985, only a scant couple of years after a few record labels were issuing independent metal stateside. The commercial bands were starting to get upstaged by these new groups that had this harder and heavier sound. This little known band Thrust put out this song "Posers Will Die" which became sort of a mantra for the new movement. Listeners wanted an alternative to commercial metal, and along comes this album "Metal Inquisition" by a Canadian band named Piledriver. The album cover alone was enough to have you laughing your ass off. The vocalist was this giant dude with spikes, leather and bondage gear plastered all over his body. He was wielding a v-neck guitar like a jackhammer into some young metalhead kid's skull. But what was truly classic was the actual record itself, which contained a track listing of songs that held up to the test of time and are still listened to today. It was the perfect combination of a thrashing power metal sound. More...

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DIY Update: Introducing Google+ Pages

Here’s another one for all you social networking addicts. Google+ rolled out their answer to Facebook Pages this week, Google+ Pages, allowing users to create separate pages for companies, products, etc. Bands are one of the available categories, and you can create your own band page now with a few simple steps.

Getting Started

First, like Facebook, you need to set up your personal account. Set this personal account up as yourself and not your band. The rules of engagement are slightly different for the two types of accounts and I always find it annoying when someone is using a personal account to represent a product essentially.

Once you’ve got a Google+ account for yourself, it’s only a few clicks to create a page for your band. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Last Vegas Slashed

The Last Vegas are Chicago area rockers best known for being Guitar Center’s On Stage contest winners (prize was touring with Motley Crue), and their last album “Whatever Gets You Off,” which was produced by DJ Ashba (Guns N’ Roses), Marti Frederiksen, and Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue, SIXX:A.M.). While their fans await the follow-up to their last album, the band has released a new music video for a song titled “The Other Side.”

Starring in the video is B-Movie star, Sybil Danning, who has starred in Rob Zombie’s (White Zombie) “Halloween” and “Howling II.” Fun Fact: Sybil appeared on the cover of the 1983 August issue of Playboy. Joining Danning in the video is The Last Vegas, consisting of Chad Cherry (vocals), John Wator (guitar), Adam Arling (guitar), Danny Smash (bass), and Nate Arling (drums).

The stage is set for the horror genre by the “normal every day” setting of a house in suburbia. Sybil is sitting on the couch. The band is in the house, spread around the living room. Cherry is sitting next to Danning on the couch. Given the “low budget horror” aspirations of this video, it makes sense that Danny Smash was not allowed a drum set, instead forced to bang out the beat on his knees.

It’s uncomfortable on the couch as Sybil just sits and stares (looking worried) while Chad Cherry SCREAMS into her ear the lyrics and chorus to the song. Inches from her ear, Cherry continues to deliver his vocals as Danning becomes concerned. Something is bothering her! It must be dinner time. Has the ham cooked too long? The screaming continues. The look of concern turns worrisome. Cut to the kitchen.

Dinner is served. If you ever wondered how to eat a feast like a rock and roll band this video offers three points: 1. Chug beer out of a glass (need to stay classy Chicago) 2. Always stick knives into the main course. Apparently a stabbing motion is preferred. 3. If you believe you have shoved enough mashed potatoes in your mouth you are probably wrong, there’s always room for more.

With dinner on the table Sybil is no longer worried. No, instead she looks at peace and has a cleaver behind her back. She is all smiles when she approaches Chad Cherry and slashes his throat. Blood splatters all over the kitchen, the band, and Sybil. Next, Danning kisses and caresses Cherry; rubbing his blood all over herself and then dancing. The band is dead at the kitchen table, in a pool of blood as Danning prances around the kitchen. A brief moment of concern returns, and then she remembers. Dessert! She goes to the oven and pulls out a sheet of chocolate cookies, of course, not before a drop of blood falls onto the cookie sheet.

A killer song and video (literally) that teaches us all a lesson: If you insist on screaming in someone’s ear you may get your throat slashed! The more you know…

The Last Vegas - "The Other Side"

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In France

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. For as long as there has been rock music, a scene has existed in this Western European country, but many have struggled to gain international stardom, with death metal outfit Gojira probably being the most well known French band in metal today. This week we'll be looking at three bands from France who are out to prove that, contrary to popular belief, the French can throw down just as hard as anybody else.

Whyzdom

Formed in 2007 by guitarist and self-proclaimed orchestrator Vynce Leff and recorded their debut EP, "Daughter Of The Night" just six months afterwards, instantly receiving acclaim wherever it was heard and even earned them the titles of Best French Band of 2008 by Metalsymphonique.com and Best EP from HeavyLaw.com. They split with their vocalist last year but were able to find security in December when they recruited Clémentine Delauney to stand behind the microphone.

Whyzdom - "Daughter Of The Night"
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Sunday Old School: Possessed

Death metal is without question one of the most popular sub-genres in heavy metal, with thousands of bands emulating the likes of Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and the like, but there was a band before the Florida based legends came along which pioneered, and some say invented death metal itself. Namely, San Francisco based, Possessed. Possessed was formed in 1983 by guitarist Mike Torraro and drummer Mike Sus, along with bass player Geoff Andrews and vocalist Barry Fisk. This original lineup was not to last long, and ended in tragic fashion when Fisk, who was homeless at the time, shot himself in front of his girlfriend, resulting in Andrews no longer wanting to be a part of the group. The group soon picked themselves up when they recruited Jeff Becerra from the Pinole based band Blizzard to handle both bass and vocal duties, as well as hiring another guitarist in the form of Brian Montana. Possessed got to work spreading their name in the Bay Area scene, performing with local titans such as Slayer and Exodus, the latter of which helped Possessed immensely when they gave the band’s three song demo, "Death Metal" to Metal Blade Records head, Brian Slagel.

Slagel agreed to put Possessed on his forthcoming compilation album, Metal Massacre 6, the same series of compilations that had previously helped Slayer and Metallica become noticed, including the song, "Swing Of The Axe" on the record. Metal Blade did not sign the group but the compilation found it’s way to Combat Records, home to such acts as Megadeth. Combat were able to sign Possessed, who had since replaced Montana with Becerra’s former Blizzard bandmate Larry LaLonde and in October of 1985, the band released it’s debut full length album, "Seven Churches" through the label, with Roadrunner Records handling European distribution. The album was an underground hit, owing to Becerra’s guttural vocals (something quite different for metal at the time) and it’s extreme lyrics which, along with frequent use of the word, "fuck," led to it becoming one of the first albums to receive the famous RIAA "Parental Advisory" sticker. It impacted many burgeoning musicians including Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris, who claimed that "Seven Churches" was his introduction to metal, and Death frontman Chuck Schuldiner, who reportedly told his bandmates that he wanted the band to base their sound on the album. More...

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