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Pit Stories: Germán Pascual Braves The Elements

Tuesday has rolled around again and that means its time for more Pit Stories taken from directly from the musicians who keep the metal world running. Normally the mosh pit is where all the action is at, but sometimes just getting to the venue can be quite the ordeal all on it's own. Today Germán Pascual (Divinefire, ex-Narnia) shares the following story about an "act of God" nearly stopping the band from performing during a Brazilian tour:

After a great gig in Sao Paulo and a decent good night sleep we headed for Curitiba. The trip was estimated 5 to 6 hours, so we would have plenty of time to rest before next show. The weather broadcast was looking good and all of us were in great spirit.

Then it all started to go wrong BANG, a flat tire! Imagine 10 hungry metal heads in 40C = to about 110F degrees in the middle of nowhere. Thank God the chauffeur took hold of the situation together with the roadies. The rest of us started a long walk to the nearest restaurant. Drained in sweat we finally had lunch and later on met up with the others. Still on time we continued our trip south.

After half an hour the traffic started to get crowded. Very slowly but still in motion we noticed that the sky went darker. It started to rain. For all of you who haven't been in a tropical country I must mention that when it rains, IT RAINS! The traffic stops and we don't move for hours. Now we are getting the picture of a wrecked schedule, but still in a hopeful mood. We start to move, slowly, and now we can see what made the traffic jam. The road is totally flushed away, gone, zero, nothing! With heavy heads we almost gave up. But still we were moving forward and we saw cars that crossed to the other side. High up in the mountains with just a tiny string left of the road, we too took the daring and insane decision to move on. Safe on the other side and half way there we were late. Okay, Sound check: no time, a refreshing shower and change of clothes: no way.
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Unearthing The Synth Metal Underground

Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that haven't gotten as much exposure yet as they should. This week, we will be taking a look at three bands who mix hard rocking sounds with synthesisers. Those of you who have read my posts in the Now Playing threads in our forums will probably be aware by now that I'm a big fan of synthpop and electronic music, particularly the likes of New Order and the Pet Shop Boys. So with this in mind, I went in search of bands that combine these digital sounds with the aggression of heavy metal. As it turns out, there’s quite a few bands out there melding the two, and it’s not a brand new experiment either. In 1998, nu metal outfit, Orgy covered one of the biggest hits by New Order, "Blue Monday" for the second single from their debut album, "Candyass." Make of it what you will.

Orgy aren’t the first band of more modern times to cover a classic synthpop track, most of us have heard Lacuna Coil's rendition of the Depeche Mode staple, "Enjoy The Silence," and even the old guards of heavy metal have taken a stab at paying tribute to their eighties contemporaries. For example, below we can hear German power metal kings Gamma Ray performing a cover of the haunting Pet Shop Boys track, "It’s A Sin." More...

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Sunday Old School: Tad

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Tad - such a little name for such a large and imposing guy. But Tad always kept it short, even in his song and album titles. Back in the early eighties, the former 300 lb. butcher/lumberjack was a big fish in the small town of Nampa, Idaho. Even Boise was overwhelmed by him, so he took his love of underground music even further westward and settled in Seattle. By 1987, Thomas 'Tad' Doyle helped pioneer the pacific northwest grunge genre. Creating his eponymous band Tad, Doyle's interpretation of grunge had more in common with the metal side of things like the Melvins, whereas his cohorts in the scene like Cat Butt or Mudhoney took the more garage/punk approach.

Tad Doyle had assembled his veritable grunge band from guys he knew in the scene. His band H-Hour had played with bassist Kurt Danielson's group Bundle Of Hiss, and he knew drummer Steve Weid from Skinyard and guitarist Gary Thorstensen from Treeclimbers. The 1987 debut Sub Pop single "Daisy/Ritual Device" by Tad was one of the earliest singles on that label. Produced by Jack Endino, it helped usher in an era of those classic singles on that label. Back in the day, it was an event to see which single Sub Pop would release every month. That release was followed by Tad's debut album (eventually called "God's Balls") in 1989, also produced by Endino. The great cover shot of the band shows Tad sporting a wristwatch, and if you look closely at that Texas Instruments styled timepiece you can distinctly see that it says "Tad." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Six Feet Under

This week our video journey begins in Germany (Kissin’ Dynamite), then heads to Sweden to check out Dirty Passion, and finishes up in the UK where Heaven’s Basement have released a new single/video. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground At ProgPower USA

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. With the ProgPower USA festival still fresh in my mind, this week I will take on the festival's “power” metal side.

Most people think that the majority of what you see and hear at ProgPower USA is just the bands on stage. Of course, this is true, but there are also many other avenues at the festival in which the metal connoisseur can explore and discover new bands. For one, the merchandise area at "Vinyl" is just about the greatest record store you can ever find in the world (see my first reaction to that in my op/ed piece “The ProgPower USA Experience From The Eyes Of A Newbie” over at this location). However, there are times where this is almost too much to take in, so while you are at the festival its best to make time for many trips to the merch area.

Despite the onslaught of material at the merch area, the first place any attendee should check is the free promotional CD that the festival itself gives out each year (see full track listing at this location). For 2012, the giveaway was expanded to three CD’s and all are chock full of power and progressive acts from all over the world. Now I pride myself on knowing thousands of metal bands, but I was shocked at how many I hadn’t heard of on this triple CD. The bands showcased here all appear on the promotional CD, though did not perform at the festival: Seven Kingdoms (USA), Siren’s Cry (Austria) and Draekon (USA). More...

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Sunday Old School: My Dying Bride

To paraphrase an old joke, there was once a band with a sound so loud you could hear them over three fields; Sheffield, Huddersfield and Wakefield. They were formed in another area of Yorkshire named Bradford in 1990 and would become one of the most influential groups in death/doom metal, and they are called, My Dying Bride. The genesis of the band began when guitarist Andrew Craighan and drummer Rick Miah left their previous band, Abiosis and joined forces with singer Aaron Stainthorpe and another guitar player named Calvin Robertshaw. After six months of writing material, they recorded their first demo, "Towards the Sinister," which led them to release their first official single, "God Is Alone" through a French label named, Listenable. The single was limited to one thousand copies, which sold out extremely quickly, and the buzz around the band saw them begin a love affair with Peaceville Records, a company which had previously specialised in anarcho punk bands but had now decided to expand their horizons by signing metal acts such as Paradise Lost, Darkthrone, Anathema and of course, My Dying Bride, who have been loyal to the label ever since signing.

After recruiting a new member in bassist, Adrian Jackson, the band released their first EP, "Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium" in March of 1992, and two months later released their debut full length, "As the Flower Withers." The album saw the band team with artist Dave McKean, known for his work on the legendary Batman graphic novel, "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Ground," and most recently for his work on the Richard Dawkins book, "The Magic of Reality," but more importantly, it saw the band begin to break through into the modern metal consciousness, allowing them to perform in mainland Europe, as well as embarking on a big tour in their native, Great Britain. The band then decided to broaden their sound by hiring Martin Powell as their keyboardist and violinist. Powell made his recording debut with the band on their next EP, "The Thrash of Naked Limbs," which was released in February 1993. While filming a video for the title track, Miah had a nasty fall which forced the group to cancel their tour in support of the record. Instead, the band got to work on their second album, "Turn Loose the Swans," which was met with a very strong response, with Rolling Stone describing it as, "Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ for the ears." They continued to tour Britain and Europe and released another EP named, "I Am the Bloody Earth" in January the next year. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: From Slash Till Dawn

Slash is back into the animated video world, this time for his song “Bad Rain”, the latest single from his album ‘Apocalyptic Love.’ More...

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Pit Stories: Slayer Stops For Nothing

Every week we scour the metalverse to get the best and most memorable mosh pit stories from musicians, and this week we have a tale of all-out war that didn't end well for one show-goer's car.

The antics of Slayer shows are no stranger to the Pit Stories column, and today guitarist Paul Coleman of Connecticut act Graven Image adds the story below to the ever-expanding "Slayer has insane pits" category.

Let us know if you remember this show, and feel free to share your favorite Slayer live memory in the comments section below.

If you want to catch Graven Image live, the band will be opening for Anthrax, Testament, and Death Angel at The Webster in Hartford, Connecticut on October 4th, 2012.

WEST HARTFORD BALLROOM: SLAYER/OVERKILL/MOTORHEAD...Slayer is on and the place goes absolutely into a frenzy man, I mean the pit is going out the door into the parking lot. Never seen anything like it, there were some words exchanged outside and like a 30 on 30 war started right there man.

I remember a Volkswagen got flipped right over on its roof...people drinkin, fightin, fuckin right out in the open...crazy, crazy night! Slayer never stopped playin, the shirt sale booths got trampled, all the merch taken! Just insane!

For more info on Graven Image, head over to the band's official Facebook profile here. Check back in again next Tuesday as we share more pit stories from the metal world. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Simon Oberender

Once in awhile, select troubadours of the heavy metal genre burn hot and bright, much like super-massive stars, and die by exploding in spectacular supernovas well before their time. They never quite make it out of the underground into wider fame, but end up touching quite a few projects in their lifetimes and leaving their mark in unique ways. Optimistically continuing with the astronomical metaphor, the stellar winds and supernovae from the explosion seed space with elements for future stars, fittingly paralleling the life and death of these musicians. Few, however, are accomplished audio engineers as well. This week, we commemorate the underground projects of one such engineer and musician, recently deceased: Simon Oberender.

Audio engineers don’t get half as much credit as the musicians they record for making heavy metal sonically live up to the first half of its title, though they’re ultimately responsible for making sure that the music translates to “heavy” on record. Moreover, as time goes by, they’re being asked to perform increasingly difficult tasks, like “give us a 30-part choir, Gregorian chant section, ethnic hand percussion, and a big organ” while also dealing with the traditional metal rhythm section. As an engineer at Sascha Paeth’s famed Gate Studio in Wolfsburg, Germany, Simon tackled the aforementioned tasks and also performed on an impressive amount of projects, including 4 Epica releases, 3 Kamelot releases, 3 Avantasia releases, 2 Edguy releases, Mayan’s debut release, and 2 Rhapsody of Fire releases.

Aside from these main projects, Simon had also worked on other lesser-known projects. The first of the ones we will spotlight this week is his most recent band, Beyond The Bridge.

Beyond The Bridge

Based out of Germany, Beyond The Bridge is a progressive metal band with a bafflingly impressive debut album (reviewed here) centered on a lofty concept summed up in the title, “The Old Man and the Spirit.” The band recently played their third-ever show at the ProgPower USA festival, making their USA debut just two weeks and two nights ago. Not only was Simon double-slinging instruments with the band live, playing two keyboards and electric guitar, but he was also singing in the choir on the album and served as the albums’s mixing and mastering engineer.

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Sunday Old School: Great White

Great White started as a standard lipstick and big hair glam band before evolving into one of the best blues hard rock bands of the eighties. Great White had amazing highs in the eighties, but nothing matches their tragic low in 2003. Today (as is the current trend with eighties bands) the lineup is a mess; with two bands touring as Great White. A made for Hollywood story from a band formed in Los Angeles. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Rockin with Dokken

Dokken has released a brand new music video for the single "Empire", taken from the band's 11th studio album 'Broken Bones.’ For serious Dokken fans, there is a DVD, which features a comprehensive "Making of the Album" documentary. This begs the question, are there non-serious Dokken fans? More...

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Unearthing The Powerviolence Underground

If you ever wondered where much of the hardcore and some of the punk scene went in the past couple of decades, the answer is it went even more underground. Back in the early nineties, when hardcore and metal came together to create the wildly popular thrashcore movement, a lot of the true hardcore punks in the scene remained disenchanted. They identified with the metallic element but wanted the music to remain distinct and focus on ideals and themes of socio-political decay.

No better was this driven home more than by the act of several commercial bands loosely labeled 'punk' by the airwaves, like Green Day or Sublime, that made the true denizens of hardcore create an even more underground niche of brutality in their musical style - thus giving rise to the powerviolence movement. The origin of the term is disputed, but is mostly attributed to Infest guitarist Matt Domino, at the time in the band Neanderthal with Eric Wood, who blurted out 'power fuckin violence' in an interview on alternative Californian station KXLU. The term stuck and was first mentioned in the song "Hispanic Small Man Power (HSMP)" by pioneering genre band Man Is The Bastard. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sick Of It All

This week's edition of Sunday Old School is a slightly strange one, in that we've already covered our focused band before, in one of the very first Sunday Old School columns. However, given that it only looked at one song, it seemed unfair to give so little attention to one of the greatest hardcore bands in the history of the legendary New York hardcore scene. So this week, we'll be taking a closer look at Queens' own, Sick of it All. Sick of it All were formed around 1985 by brothers Lou and Pete Koller, who sang and played guitar in the band respectively, along with bass player Mark McNielly and drummer David Lamb. They began performing regularly in the local music scene, where they rapidly improved their sound and demonstrated their ability to write memorable hardcore tunes. After Lamb and McNielly left the band, the Koller brothers recruited bass player Rich Cipriano and former Rest In Pieces drummer Armand Majidi to record their first demo in 1987, with a self-titled seven inch record following later the same year. In 1988, the band signed to In-Effect Records and released their first full length album, "Blood, Sweat and No Tears" in the summer of 1989.

The album was a hit in the hardcore scene, and received favourable reviews from music critics, and led them to tours with other highly respected hardcore bands such as Gorilla Biscuits and Agnostic Front. They followed, "Blood, Sweat and No Tears" with an EP named, "We Stand Alone" in 1991, which featured two new original recordings, as well as a cover of the Minor Threat song, "Betray" and nine live tracks, before releasing their second full length album, "Just Look Around" in 1992. "Just Look Around" was another success for the band and this time allowed them to tour internationally, taking them to South America, Europe and Japan. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: American Dream

Little Caesar has released a video for the title track from latest album "American Dream." Released on May 15th, "American Dream" is Little Caesar's fourth full-length studio album and the follow-up to 2009's reunion effort "Redemption."

The band -- consisting of Ron Young (vocals), Loren Molinare (guitar), Joey Brasler (guitar), Fidel Paniagua (bass) and Tom Morris (drums) -- recorded "American Dream" at Unison studios with producer Bruce Witkin. More...

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Pit Stories: Abiotic's Cymbal Brawl

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

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

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

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

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Unearthing The Lovecraftian Metal Underground

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

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

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

Space Mirrors

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

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Sunday Old School: Dream Theater

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

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

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Leather and Boots

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

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Unearthing The Scottish Metal Underground

Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that haven't gotten as much exposure yet as they should. This week, we will be taking a look at three heavy metal bands from Scotland, since it seemed criminal that we hadn't already. There is currently a tourism commercial airing for the country which opens with the line, "Scotland may surprise you," which is certainly evident in its metal scene, containing everything from traditional thrash metal to pagan black metal, and everything in between.

Cerebral Bore

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

Cerebral Bore - "The Bald Cadaver"
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Sunday Old School: Cirith Ungol

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

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

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