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Archive: Columns

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Classic Paintings Become Metal Album Covers

Master painters Hieronymus Bosch, John Martin and Jean Delville all have something in common with Metal music: some of their works have become iconic album covers for bands like Morbid Angel, Candlemass and While Heaven Wept, among many others.

Metal Underground and the online art community And Justice For Art present this peculiar collection of albums that mix classic visual imagery with heavy sounds. Check it out and let us know what you think. More...

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Sunday Old School: Watchtower

Progressive metal appears to be one of the longer lasting popular sub-genres over the years, with bands such as Dream Theater and Queensryche selling very well, others like Atheist, Cynic and Fates Warning becoming underground legends and younger acts such as Periphery now making a name for them self in the field. It’s hard to pinpoint a time or which band specifically really launched the genre, but there are those who certainly need to be name checked and acknowledged as an important part of it, one of which would be Watchtower.

The band were formed in Austin, Texas in 1982 by guitarist Billy White and drummer, Rick Colaluca, with Doug Keyser joining soon afterwards on bass and eventually brought in Jason McMaster on vocals. They initially performed covers of bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal such as Raven and Iron Maiden, as well as older heavy rock like Thin Lizzy before working on their own material. They made their recording debut the next year with a contribution to a Texas Hardcore Compilation, in the guise of the song, "Meltdown," which they would later release themselves as a demo, which featured three other tracks. More...

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Pit Stories: The Drunk Drummer Gets Home Aloned

Every time the glory of New Release Tuesday rolls around we also share show stories provided by metal bands from across the globe.

Usually these stories take place right in the pit, but sometimes the shenanigans metal musicians get into aren't constrained to the performance itself. This week Raven shares a tale of accidentally Home Alone-ing the band's drummer at the Wacken festival:

In 1997 we started a European tour with Tank & Hammefall as opening bands. The 1st show was the Wacken festival (which was a good bit smaller in those days). All 3 bands were travelling on one bus...

So, in Hamburg we picked up the backline at some crazy warehouse. Joe went to the bathroom and since no one did a head count.... the guy locked up the place and the bus left without him! We did not notice for about 30 mins, and freaked! Meanwhile Joe is smashing shit up trying to reach someone – the guy finally heard him before he left... and stuck him in a cab (about 400 euro) along with a bottle of whisky!

So our very drunk drummer turned up just in time for a 10 hour fight with the organizers who wanted us to play in this tent while our opening bands played the main stage....but that's another story...

Raven's new album "ExtermiNation" (reviewed here) is set for release on April 27th (Europe) and April 28th (USA) via SPV/Steamhammer Records. Check out a clip taken from the release below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Gillan

One of the great things about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is that not only did it bring the spotlight to new, young bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon and Venom, amongst many others, but it sparked a renewed interest in some of the older guard and their outputs. Judas Priest were one band whose popularity was boosted higher than ever when they released "British Steel" in the glorious year for metal that was 1980, and the same thing happened to Ozzy Osbourne when he released his debut studio effort, "Blizzard of Ozz," five months later. Someone else who found his musical endeavours reaching a young head banging fan base was (then) former Deep Purple singer, Ian Gillan, who launched his own eponymous band in 1978.

Ian Gillan decided to form the band after becoming bored of his jazz fusion outfit, The Ian Gillan Band, retaining only keyboardist Colin Towns and recruiting new blood in bassist John McCoy, drummer Liam Genockery, and guitarist Steve Byrd. That year, the group recorded their first album, a self-titled effort, but found they were only able to get a record deal in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This debut was very much steeped in progressive rock, a style which had been almost obliterated by the ruling punk scene at the time.

Though it wasn't officially released in the United Kingdom until almost fifteen years later, it still sold well there via imports, helped along by positive reviews that those journalists who had heard it gave the album and an appearance at that year’s Reading Festival. The interest was great enough to earn the band a European deal with Acrobat Records though before a second album could be recorded, the group brought in new drummer, Mick Underwood and guitarist, Bernie Torme. Torme was to be a massive part of Gillan, essentially changing their sound towards a more heavy metal style and culminating in the excellent 1979 album, "Mr. Universe," which peaked at number eleven in the British albums chart.

Gillan “Mr. Universe” (Live 1981)
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Vince Neil’s Blue Cup

Vince Neil has once again become a YouTube sensation or punch line depending on your viewpoint. This week Neil sang the National Anthem at a Las Vegas Outlaws inaugural football game. (Special guest surprise at 7:35…) More...

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Sunday Old School: Running Wild

Disclaimer: MetalUnderground.com does not support piracy of any kind and strongly encourages readers to buy their music and not plunder the seven seas. We do however, fully endorse any metal band who wants to base their image or lyrics around pirates, and there are a few. Pirates have become a popular topic amongst people over the past twenty years, thanks in part to successful franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Monkey Island games, so it’s no surprise that the drunken, debauched world of piracy found its way to the drunken, debauched world of heavy metal. It did so before either of the aforementioned franchises in fact and before bands such as Alestorm and Swashbuckle performed under the Jolly Roger, and most people would give full credit for the invention of pirate metal to a band from Hamburg, which were appropriately named, Running Wild.

The seeds of the band were sown in 1976 when members of the bands Granite Hearts and Grober Unfug began jamming together, eventually decided to form a new band with a new name. It seemed to be a relatively lengthy search as they didn’t settle on the moniker, Running Wild, until 1979, taking its name from the Judas Priest song of the same name. They released their first demos in 1981 and soldiered on for a few years this way, certain that their hard work would pay off. As luck would have it, it did, and they were eventually picked up by Noise Records, who released their debut album, "Gates to Purgatory" in 1984. Lyrically, the album was based more in fantasy and Satanic themes than the historical topics they would later adopt, though the record did feature a song entitled, "Genghis Khan." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Remembering A.J. Pero

A.J. Pero (Twisted Sister, Adrenaline Mob) passed away this week. Pero was part of the “hey day” of Twisted Sister. Today, the Rockstar Ramblings pays a brief tribute to Pero in the form of a couple Twisted Sister videos from the classic ‘Stay Hungry’ album. More...

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Pit Stories: The Mosh Pit Face Off

Tuesday's not just for killer new metal releases, its also when we have musicians from across the world share their favorite Pit Stories from live shows.

This week none other than guitarist Marios Iliopoulos from the Greek melodic death metal outfit Nightrage shared this tale from a Slipknot pit:

As far as I remember the craziest mosh pit that I have seen was at a Slipknot concert in Norway where the singer had to divide the crowd on 2 parts and get them ready to face each other. What comes next was the most insane and brutal, almost brawl mosh pit, that I have experienced to this day. People seemed of course to enjoy it, but at the same time, the sheer aggression of it was amazing. One of the things that always remind us of the power of metal music and the great fun that it can be.

Need a new Nightrage fix in your life? The band's upcoming full-length album "The Puritan" will drop via Despotz Records on April 24th, 2015 and an advance track from the release can be heard below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Salem

Last year, Sunday Old School columns looked at a variety of bands from countries the column hadn’t featured before. From Rotting Christ in Greece to Aria in Russia, from Pentagram in Chile to Mezarkabul in Turkey, a lot of ground was covered. Now, we’ll be once again heading to uncharted territory, as for the first time, Sunday Old School covers a band from Israel, who are represented well in the history books of extreme metal by a group from Giv’ atayim by the name of Salem.

The band was formed in 1985, just over four kilometres from Tel Aviv, originally under the name, Axe Metal and became one of the first groups outside of Europe to perform the extreme brand of music which would become known as black metal. They built up a fan base at the Penguin Club, where numerous other alternative Israeli artists made their name and where they recorded a live demo, "Destruction Till Death," which was preceded in 1986 by a self-titled rehearsal demo. Another live demo, "Millions Slaughtered" was released in 1990 and was able to spread throughout the underground metal scene. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Steal Away The Night

As mentioned when we first launched this column, despite the title, it's not exclusively dedicated to thrash metal. We're proving that this week with a look at a song from a man who doesn't have anything to do with thrash as such, but has everything to do with metal, Ozzy Osbourne. Today also marks the twenty third anniversary of the death of his guitarist, Randy Rhoads, also formerly of Quiet Riot, who would no doubt have become a bigger guitar hero than he already is, as he was unquestionably one of the most talented guitarists of the time, perhaps of all time.

Rhoads caught the world's attention when Ozzy Osbourne released his first album, "Blizzard Of Ozz," in September 1980. It was a fantastic debut by anyone's standards, striking a balance between high energy heavy metal and sixties influenced pop rock, interspersed with sentimentality on songs like, "Goodbye to Romance" and "Revelation (Mother Earth)" and Rhoads got his own spotlight on the instrumental piece, "Dee," a classical inspired work which clocked in at just under a minute but highlighted his talent tremendously.

He helped create some excellent rock songs too; "Crazy Train" and "Suicide Solution" being arguably the most well from the record, but songs such as "I Don't Know" and "Steal Away (The Night)" were no less stellar, the latter featuring a sound which perfectly blended the heavy metal at the beginning of the eighties, helping Ozzy to stay relevant and contemporary with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which had really taken off that year. What makes it such a good song, is that while it's unquestionably a (then) modern heavy metal song, it has great undertones of the sixties music which shaped Ozzy's life so evidently. It features a highly catchy chourus and a generally positive vibe which was a staple of bands such as The Zombies and Status Quo, culminating in a very enjoyable closing track and a perfect snapshot of the "Blizzard of Ozz." More...

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Pit Stories: Playing For Traffic

Usually the pit mayhem comes from the crowd, but sometimes the band decides to get involved - even while the performance is still going on!

For this week's Pit Story, Steph K. of London outfit Immortal Machinery shares this tale of a front man who decided to vacate the stage and even the venue to belt out a song in the middle of traffic:

One time my band, Immortal Machinery, were hosting a show in New Cross, east London. We'd booked an act from Wales who had, shall we say, a bit of a wild reputation. During a guitar solo their frontman, decked out in red and yellow warpaint, leaped off the stage and onto the nearest table. Still soloing and never missing a beat, he ran across it (somehow managing not to knock anyone's pint over) and ran out of the venue.

The crowd followed him outside, where we found him kneeling in the middle of the road, playing as cars swerved around him honking their horns. He got up, returned to the stage and finished the song like nothing had happened. This is a man who risked his life for petrol money and free beer. I think it's safe to say that the spirit of rock'n'roll is alive and well in this guitar-playing welder from the valleys.

What's the craziest thing you've seen a front man do during a metal show? Let us know in the comments section!

You can also hear the Immortal Machinery song "Screaming Tonight" - included on the recent Roxeavy metal compilation - in the player below. If you dig the sound, be sure to check out the full "At The End Of Time" album over at Bandcamp here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Broken Hope

The worst prompting to feature a band in the Sunday Old School column is when a member of the group dies. While the passing in question, that of drummer, Ryan Stanek, was over a week ago now, it is no less apt to feature one of death metals lesser known veterans, Broken Hope. The band was founded in 1988 in the state of Illinois by Stanek, along with vocalist, Joe Ptacek and guitarists Jeremy Wagner and Brian Griffin, with bassist, Ed Hughes joining later on.

They released two demos before signing with Grindcore International, who released their full length debut, "Swamped in Gore," the following year. Generally, it's garnered something of a mixed response from death metal fans, with some citing is as an excellent release of the time, while others appear to claim that the structure of the music can’t support the heaviness brought to the table. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Hot For Teacher

Do you like big, scary tits and David Lee Roth era Van Halen? If yes, well then, I’ve got a video for you. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Unleash The Dogs Of War

Hirax are truly one of those old school thrash bands that define the term, "hidden gem." Beneath the big names of Anthrax and Slayer and the not quite as famous names such as Testament and Death Angel, there's some excellent groups to be found, and one of the first that I found in my search for more thrash, as well as one of my personal favourites, was Hirax. They were formed in Orange County, California in 1984 and were led by their charismatic singer, Katon W. De Pena, unique for not only being one of the few black musicians in the thrash scene, but for his one of a kind singing voice, with a cadence all of his own. They released two albums, "Raging Violence" and "Hate, Fear and Power,"before losing their record deal, independently releasing a demo entitled, "Blasted In Bangkok," before Katon left the group to start a new outfit called Phantasm with Gene Hoglan and original Metallica bass player Ron McGovney, while Hirax brought in former Exodus singer Paul Baloff for a brief period before disbanding altogether.

Over time, underground interest had built up and in 2000, Katon decided to bring the band back, convincing original members Scott Owen, Gary Monardo, and John Tabares to join in as well and release the "El Diablo Negro" EP later that year. Within time, there was a major lineup shift and Katon was left as the sole original member, putting together an all new lineup in time to record and release a new album, "The New Age Of Terror" in 2004. It was an excellent return for the band, cited by some critics as the best in their catalogue and featured some fantastic tracks such as, "Hostile Territory" and "Hell On Earth," but the song which stood out for me, was the closing, "Unleash the Dogs of War," which contains one of the catchiest chouruses in thrash metal history and a punishing intro. It also showcases Katon's voice perfectly and was a big part of what made "The New Age of Terror" not just a great album, but a great statement that the old thrash metal bands who had returned or were considering returning, could still rock out as hard as ever and teach the young guns a thing or two. More...

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Pit Stories: Scalped At CBGB

Tuesday's here so its time for some more pit mayhem! This week sees a story taking place at the CBGB music club - which managed to make it on the U.S. register of national historic places.

Agnostic Front's Vinnie Stigma shared this story of tearing his head open and revealing his skull to the audience:

At CBGB's 1982 Agnostic Front Death Before Dishonor, I was moshing around and going off to Death Before Dishonor when I ran across the stage and leaped off Big Rob's shoulders. I cracked my head open, hitting it on the monitor speaker that was above the stage.

When I fell to the floor, got up and realized that I got scalped. The skin was hanging off and my skull was exposed. People were throwing up and running away from me. I remember Doug Holland from Kraut puking and I'm saying to my self, I can hardly feel it. I went to the hospital and they played with out me.

Agnostic Front's new album "The American Dream Died" is set for release on April 3rd (EU), April 6th (UK/FR), and April 7th (USA) via Nuclear Blast Records. Check out a video clip for a track off the album, titled "Police Violence," below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Enslaved

A couple of weeks ago, we concluded a month long look at the black metal genre, featuring such bands as Marduk and Sigh. While researching the feature, there seemed to be quite a few bands which began life as a black metal group, but had shed this style by their second album at the latest. One such band, who named themselves after an Immortal track, was formed by thirteen year old, Ivar Bjørnson and seventeen year old, Grutle Kjellson, and who were named, Enslaved.

The duo formed the group as a typical black metal band, but gradually brought in more eclectic influences and wrote songs much longer than many of their peers, moving them away from the black metal scene, although Enslaved’s first album, "Vikingligr Veldi," was released on Mayhem guitarist’s Euronymous', Deathlike Silence Productions label, albeit after he was murdered. The debut album contained only five songs but still clocked in at around fifty minutes, while being something of an oddity for containing lyrics mostly written in Icelandic, potentially because of its similarity to Old Norse. It was a very well received album and continues to be a favourite amongst fans to this day, with critics at the time claiming that the band were keeping younger Norwegian metal bands relevant. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Carnivore

Carnivore are one of those bands usually discovered retroactively, mostly by Type O Negative fans who are told by more seasoned headbangers, "You should check out Carnivore, the band Peter Steele had before Type O Negative." This advice is heeded more often than not, and just as often will be met with positive results. Carnivore only released two full length albums; a self-titled effort in 1986 and "Retaliation" only a year later. Both albums were praised by both metal fans and critics and one song in particular which stands out to many is "Carnivore," from the album, "Carnivore," by Carnivore.

The song is very much a thrash metal track, though featuring many more elements than the average output in the genre. There's something of an industrial feel to the song, particularly in the vocal area, though not played up enough to really be a mesh of the industrial and thrash fields, as well as featuring one of the catchiest chouruses of classic eighties thrash. What helped the track so much more was its lyrical content, arguably one of the best, and maybe even the first metal songs about cunnilingus, which made it something of an them for all those who like to partake in the act. Even peers such as Kerry King of Slayer think of the song very fondly, who mentioned it in the bonus features of the Get Thrashed documentary, stating after bellowing the chourus, "Gotta have it!" More...

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Pit Stories: The Crazy Things Fans Do

Every Tuesday we catch up with metal bands from across the globe to get their most memorable tales from the mosh pit.

From insane circle pits to overturned cars and even fans who can't wait to get home to "get their energy out" so to speak, there's a whole lot of craziness to be found at metal shows - who better to share it than the bands themselves?

This week Swedish metal outfit Lancer shared these memories of the bizarre things metal heads do:

The craziest pit experience I ever witnessed was back in 2004 at the Swedish festival Gates Of Metal. I was attending a Morbid Angel concert late at night. It was a great gig with a lot of energy both on stage and down on the ground. Suddenly, I was standing in an empty pit in the middle of the audience. In the mud, beside me, I found a naked couple doing the missionary on a black leather coat. That was a weird experience that I'll never forget.

Another funny story about a crazy crowd member was at a gig I had with an Yngwie Malmsteen cover band. There was this drunken guy in the front row who knew all the lyrics and solos, and he went all crazy on the first songs of the set. Then suddenly he just disappeared. Later on we had several power failures at the venue. After the show I was told that this insane Yngwie fan had taken over the light table, and by accident switched the power off several times in his attempt to do the most spectacular light show since the 80’s.

Swedish heavy metal quintet Lancer will drop sophomore outing "Second Storm" on April 10th via Despotz Records.

You can pre-order your own copy at this location. To hear music from the coming album, watch the "Masters and Crowns" music video at over here or check out the lyric clip for "Behind These Walls" below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Racer X

Some bands tell you what they’re all about from their name alone. AC/DC promise high energy rock, Death was balls out death metal and Motorhead are all about speed, plenty of it and in more ways than one (allegedly...) Another band which attracted metal fans looking for something fast and furious that used their name to do so, was a young band from Los Angeles, California by the name of Racer X.

The seeds of the band were sown in the Guitar Institute of Technology, when students Juan Alderete and Paul Gilbert (who was soon to become a teacher at the school) met and decided to form their own band. Being highly skilled musicians themselves, they approached a gifted drummer, Scott Travis to join them, though he declined in favour of sticking with his band, Hawk. Instead, they recruited another fellow student, Harry Gschoesser, a native of Austria and the future founder of social networking site, Speedgig. The band completed their lineup with the addition of Phoenix, Arizona resident, Jeff Martin, who was unable to rehearse regularly with the band due to the long distance, but nevertheless, worked hard on writing lyrics for demos which Gilbert sent him. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Darkness Returns

If you like graphic novels, blood and snappy dialogue you are in for a treat. If you like all three and also really like feet you are Quentin Tarantino. Here’s the new video “Barbarian” from The Darkness. More...

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