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...
Every Tuesday we chat up band members and metal fanatics to get their favorite mosh pit stories from live shows. This week guitarist Camden Cruz from Seven Kingdoms reminisces about his first true crazy pit experience at a metal show where he saw the legendary Jason Suecof:
I remember going to my first legit death metal show. It was Nechrophagist, Arsis, Nuraxis, and Cattle Decap at Will's Pub in Orlando. I was maybe 18 then just getting into the other genres of metal. I was at the front of the stage just eating up all the crazy blast beats and sweeps and it was the first time I ever saw Jason Suecof from Audiohammer. Being a huge Trivium nut back then, It was cool to finally see the guy that recorded them. The first time I saw him he was flying past the opening launching himself and his wheelchair into the sides of the pit. I just remember thinking 'Man, this guy is legit!' haha.
Seven Kingdoms is set to release new album "The Fire is Mine," which was produced by Jim Morris (Iced Earth, Obituary, JOP, Jag Panzer etc), on October 9th, 2012 through Nightmare Records. For more info on Seven Kingdoms, check out the band's Facebook profile here.
Usually at the end of every month, Sunday Old School examines a band from the glam metal genre, so we’re kicking off a new month of Sundays this week by taking a look at one of the bands that helped to kill off the era of men in lipstick, Alice In Chains. The band was formed in 1987 by guitarist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney and bass player Mike Starr, and soon recruited a singer named Layne Staley, who joined in return for Cantrell participating in his funk project. The funk band broke up soon afterwards and the quartet performed under a number of different monikers, before eventually settling on Alice In Chains, which stemmed from Staley’s former band, Alice N’ Chainz. The group caught the attention of local promoter, Randy Hauser, who offered to pay for their demo recording, which was delayed when the studio they were set to record in was shut down a day before the recording was meant to take place, due to the biggest cannabis raid in the history of the state of Washington. The band eventually recorded a demo named, "The Treehouse Tapes," which was passed around the local scene until it reached Don Ienner, the president of Columbia Records, who decided to sign the band and make them a top priority.
In July 1990, Alice in Chains released their first EP, "We Die Young," and its title track became an instant hit on metal radio. Based on this positive response, the label rushed the band to release its full length debut, which surfaced only a month later in the form of, "Facelift." The album sold modestly at first, until the music video for, "Man in the Box" found its way into regular airplay on MTV and became a top twenty single. Six weeks later, "Facelift" had sold over 400,000 copies and was certified Gold before the year was out, peaking on the Billboard Charts number 42. The album was also highly praised by critics and their peers alike, and soon the group were invited to open the Clash of the Titans tour in North America, which apart from themselves, featured a thrash metal lineup of Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. The band found themselves subject to some hostile audiences but Anthrax bassist Frank Bello recalls them earning the respect of others by standing up for themselves. "If there was a guy starting shit, Layne would jump into the audience and beat the FUCK outta that guy!" he recalls in the documentary, Get Thrashed. More...
This week a start on the darker side with the Lust Boys followed by a Brazilian Christian band and then back to the sleaze with Glitter Magic. That’s right we are starting with drinking, finding God, and then back to drinking. It’s the circle of life, or the life of a spiritual alcoholic. More...
Blasting metal at home or in the car is one thing, but extreme music is frequently meant to be experienced live with a sea of headbangers surrounding you, which is why we share favorite pit stories from musicians and fans each week. Today guitarist Kragen Lum of Prototype shares this tale of seeing a crazy Slayer show:
Probably the craziest pit that I have ever seen was at the Hollywood Palladium during Slayer’s set on the Reign In Blood tour. Dark Angel opened the show that night, as a last minute replacement for Flotsam and Jetsam, and got the crowd pretty pumped up. By the time Slayer came on the stage all hell broke loose. The adrenaline was flowing and at various times during the show there were fist fights in the audience. The real craziness was in the pit though. There were literally 2 huge pits, side by side on the floor, and at various points the pits joined together into what looked like a figure 8. It was a sea of bodies slamming into each other in a strange, almost coordinated effort.
As Slayer continued to play, the crowd got more and more violent and the spotlights were moved to point at the fights in the crowd instead of at the band. I had been to lots of shows already at that point but I had never seen anything like that pit. It was so intense in there that the police had called in the riot squad to wait outside the venue and help disperse the crowd after the show. I’ve heard Dave Lombardo refer to this show in interviews as the most insane pit he’s ever seen. There is no question in my mind that he is absolutely correct.
Prototype is gearing up to drop new album "Catalyst" on September 11th via Nightmare Records. You can check out a trailer for the release at this location.
Monday means it’s time to expand your metallic horizons again as we delve into the underground metal scene and dig up three bands you might not had a chance to check out yet, but which all deserve to be heard by a wider audience. This week we’re looking at heavily atmospheric groups that incorporate specific sonic elements to create an undeniable mood throughout the music. In this instance by “atmospheric” we’re not necessarily referring to ambient or even symphonic bands (although these acts do have some symphonic sounds), but rather to bands that have a clearly present atmosphere in addition to being extreme metal.
This out-of-nowhere band just signed on with Debemur Morti Productions to release an upcoming album titled “Fin De Siècle.” The vocalist’s weird, screechy screams almost would have qualified this act for our previous look at unearthing bands with bizarre vocals, and those screams are put to good use to foster a specific tone and mood.
The abrasive, off-the-wall screams mixed with the atmospheric clean singing and mid-paced guitar riffs draws all ears in, and basically forces attention as the music builds and becomes more frantic. The video for “Megalomanic,” available below, embodies the depressive black metal ideal, creating a sort of unhinged and demented sound, while vaguely giving the impression of being utterly alone in the middle of nowhere.
Love the BulletBoys. Hate the BulletBoys. Never heard of the BulletBoys. There are only three options here. MAYBE, a fourth option: being a fan of Marq Torien’s hair. Nah, if you were a fan of Torien’s hair then admit it: You loved the BulletBoys! More...
Chicago heavy metal band Hessler have released their new single and music video for "Last Alive". The band plans on taking the next two months to record their second album, the follow-up to 2011's 'Bad Blood', which will include "Last Alive." Hessler are Igz Kincaid (guitars), Frankie Sripada (guitars), Lariyah Daniels (vocals), Marcus Lee Cox (drums) and Erik Michael (bass). More...
Every week we talk to bands from all over the world and hear some of their favourite stories from the mosh pit.
This week, Therapy? frontman Andy Cairns dishes some dirt on two of the most common things to be seen at a Therapy? show, nudity and crying, two things which really don't go together.
I've seen quite a lot of nudity in my time. Once in Oxford a friend of ours, Diamond Dave, ended up coming over the barrier wearing nothing but a sawn off Coke can taped to his genitals, how he didn't castrate himself Idon't know.
We also get a lot of screaming and crying. We had a hit in Europe with a cover of Husker Du's 'Diane' and for a while lots of gigs would have lots of inflatable dolls flying through the air with the crowd surfers, quite a sight. Yep, nudity and sexual deviance seem to feature heavily among some of the more enthusiastic members of our fans.
We recently spoke to Andy Cairns about the new Therapy? album, "A Brief Crack of Light," touring and why he feels the band have always been outsiders. "A Brief Crack Of Light" will be released on September 11th in North America and is available now in Europe. Be sure to come back next tuesday for more Pit Stories!
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week, we'll weigh in on the scene around Boston, Massachusetts.
Boston has been my home all my life. Back in 2006 when I first started Nefarious Realm Productions, I worked with local bands, promoting and booking shows. It set the foundation of what NRP is today. Boston has an unbelievable scene spanning all genres. Most people only think of the heavy weights like Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, fast-rising Revocation, etc., but there lies a wealth of bands that are just mind-blowing. Lunglust, Ramming Speed, Sexcrement, The Summoned, Abnormality, Dysentery, Phantom Glue, Give Zombies The Vote, Morne, Sonic Pulse... I could go on and on but Metal Underground.com has limited me to three, and I'm going to span the sub-genres here. Hang on to your pants, you're going for a ride!
This "dance metal" outfit is sure to get you moving, that be breaking' faces or shakin' your booty. Each member brings distinct influences to the table, fusing elements of death metal, groove metal, hardcore, and electronica. Think of Meshuggah, Lamb of God, Bury Your Dead, and The Browning all smashed together.
The five-piece brings quite a live show with their stage antics and their "have fun" attitude. Widow Sunday just recently released a new EP earlier this summer and are already writing for a followup full length to their 2010 debut, 'In These Rusted Veins.' Below is a video for "Blood Money" from 'ITRV' and a live clip of "The Wave" which appears on the new EP, 'Dance Metal." For more on the band, check out their Facebook.
Catatonia are one the biggest successes in the history of Welsh pop rock, having forever entered the annals of British music with such classics as "Road Rage" and "Mulder and Scully." No, sorry, I got mixed up. This week, Sunday Old School will not be looking at a female fronted pop rock group, but rather a band with a similar name who created some of the darkest and most atmospheric music of their time, and continue to push boundaries, Katatonia. Katatonia were formed in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm in 1991 by guitarist Anders Nyström and singing drummer Jonas Renkse, and soon recruited keyboardist and singer, Dan Swanö, which would be released in 1992 as an EP entitled, "Jhva Elohim Meth... The Revival." They followed this with the release of their first full length album, "Dance of December Souls" the next year, which featured a new member in bassist Guillaume Le Huche, but saw Swanö appear only as a guest musician. These early releases proved to be landmark entries into the emerging hybrid of death and doom metal, a crossover also launched by such British bands as Anathema and My Dying Bride, and they followed this direction for their next release, a four track EP named, "For Funerals to Come" in 1994, which would prove to be the last recording with Le Huche, who left the band soon afterwards. His departure was quite a blow for the band, and they took over a year to find a new lineup they were satisfied with.
Katatonia eventually returned in 1995, after Renkse decided that Fredrik Norrman, a bandmate in his new group, October Tide, would fit in well. Soon after bringing the band back, Renkse discovered that he could no longer perform harsh vocals and focused on clean singing instead. So that the style wasn’t missing from their new material however, the band invited Opeth frontman, Mikael Åkerfeldt to perform death growls on their new album, "Brave Murder Day," which was released in November of 1996 through Avantgarde Music. The album was notable for going to pressing unmastered, something which wasn’t rectified until it was re-released in 2004 through Peaceville Records, along with their next EP, "Sounds of Decay," which also featured Mikael Åkerfeldt, who claims that two versions of the EP were recorded and that he preferred the unreleased edition. More EPs were released during this time, including, "Scarlet Heavens," (a split with Irish black metal band, Primordial,) which the group did not want released owing to it’s noticeably different sound from their previous work and "Saw You Drown" in 1997, which marked the start of Katatonia’s complete shedding of harsh vocals. More...
A couple of weeks ago Bret Michaels (Poison) announced that he is working on a movie about his life. The biopic will take the audience from his roots in Pittsburgh to Hollywood, California. Is this a movie that needs to be made? After two weeks to digest I still have no comment. It does bring up the question of who will play the lead role. Here are a couple suggestions. More...
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'll be taking a slightly different approach to the article and focusing on hardcore music instead, specifically hardcore music in the United Kingdom.
The history of hardcore in Great Britain dates back a long way, beginning with what would become known as the "UK82" scene (also called "No future punk" and "UK Hardcore" amongst other things,) which featured massively influential bands such as The Exploited and the socially concsious, Discharge, who were so influential that they had a sub-genre named after them called D-Beat (similar to hardcore, only even faster,) which featured other high quality British hardcore acts like The Varukers.
Discharge - "Never Again"
The Varukers - "Soldier Boy"
Whidbey Island, Washington isn't that remote, but is only accessible via the Port Townsend ferry on the Olympic Peninsula, the Mukilteo ferry north of Seattle and the Deception Pass bridge up by Anacortes. It is in this splendid isolation that one of America's most revered seminal crossover bands, The Accused, found its inspiration. The time was 1981 and the place was the town of Oak Harbor.
Before the beginnings of grunge proliferated to the extent of being a pox on the Seattle area (except for the really good bands), The Accused had already started honing its pioneering hardcore metal sound. There were other bands doing the same thing such as DRI, COC, Cryptic Slaughter and Broken Bones (to name a few), but The Accused came from an area far removed from these other bands and thus had a distinct sound very unlike anyone else. More...
This week a look at video’s by Reverence, Nasty Habit, Johnny Roadkill, Europe, Diehard Dolls, and a special bonus from Steel Panther. Let’s get started! More...
Every week we get the best Pit Stories that musicians and metal lovers have to offer. While normally these stories focus on the frequently violent aspects of fans throwing down during a set, shenanigans definitely aren't limited to the mosh pit during the show itself, as many bands can attest with stories of backstage antics. This week German act Perzonal War shares the following story of sleeping arrangements gone awry:
A really, really funny thing that comes to my mind is a Perzonal War show (at this time still Personal War with “s”) that is more than 10 years ago. I guess it was around 2001 or 2002. We played in a pretty cool location that offered a sleeping room for the bands as well. My bandmates brought in their camping mats – I brought in my mother's air mattress and was called a “pussy” immediately. I am NOT Rock 'n Roll they said. “Shut up” was my comment. “I will not wake up with back problems while you will cry like babies tomorrow."
We had some drinks, it got late and when we returned to the sleeping room I saw a couple having sex on my – or better – my mother's air mattress. I couldn't believe my eyes: “What the hell are you doing here?” “Sorry, just two more minutes” was their comment and they went on riding while I stood there like an idiot!
Speechless I went out of the room; the others laughed their asses off and when I returned my mattress – no joke – was riven and stained!! The other guys could not stop laughing and at the end I was the one who could sleep on the ground with NOTHING under me. When my mother asked me for her air mattress I told her I have unforetunately lost it hahahahahaha.
Perzonal War recently released the new "Captive Breeding" album, and you can check out songs from the release over at Facebook here. Check back in again next Tuesday as we continue to share more tales from live shows from bands and metal fans.
There’s a whole lotta metal out there, spanning dozens to possibly hundreds of sub-genres, and it can be difficult to find new music to match your tastes if you don’t know where to start looking. Every Monday we unearth three lesser known or unsigned metal bands within specific genres or geographical areas that deserve to be heard by a bigger audience.
With metal’s roots firmly rooted in thrash, and with styles like power metal dominating a big portion of the playing field, heavy music is generally thought of as something fast and furious played while lightning fast fingers work up and down the fretboard. While this is often the case, there’s a large section of metal that likes to take a nice leisurely stroll down aural destruction avenue.
Today we’ll put the spotlight on three acts that have a seriously sludgy component to their music. Sludge, stoner, doom, drone: these genre tags and more all get lumped together and frequently intersect at varying points, so there may be some crossover and any given listener may decide these bands are more one than the other. My only qualification here is that they utterly annihilate musically, usually in slow motion and with a fair share of drawn out notes, like a low speed avalanche of crushing molten metal.
This California act is a bit of a dream for fans of sludge or funeral doom. Formerly called Bewilderbiest before dropping a proper release, Bereft is still very much an unknown in the overall metal scene, even though it features names that will be familiar to fans of extreme metal, including Derek Rydquist (The Faceless) and Charles Elliot (Abysmal Dawn). Moving away from their normal modes of operation, these musicians are producing a more primal, less technical form of extreme metal that’s a disturbing look into the hate and despair humanity is capable of feeling.
Bereft has now released debut album “Leichenhaus” (reviewed here), and while tracks from the release are unfortunately sparse online, there are a few ways to check out the music. A live performance video of two songs off the album can be heard below, or you can check out the full album version of “Withered Efflorescence” via Facebook. Noisecreep is also currently hosting a stream of the track “Ethereal Dispersal” at this location.
The great thing about alternative metal is there's such a wide variety of bands in the one genre, some of whom retained a constant signature sound, while others such as Faith No More experimented continuously to create a brand of rock music which painted with every colour from the palette. Faith No More weren't the only band to do this, a band from New York named Living Colour combined everything from funk to electronic in their attempt to produce hard rocking, but interesting music. Living Colour was formed in 1984 by Vernon Reid, an English born guitarist that grew up in New York who was also one of the founders of the Black Rock Coalition, an organisation which sought to encourage black musicians with an interest in rock music. He performed with a large number of musicians under the Living Colour moniker before eventually finding a stable lineup in 1986 which featured bassist Muzz Skillings, drummer Will Calhoun and vocalist Corey Glover, who up to that point had been an actor and had appeared in the Oliver Stone movie, Platoon amongst other things.
They performed regularly at the legendary club, CBGBs and it was whilst playing there that they caught the attention of iconic Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger. They soon signed a deal with Epic Records and got to work on their debut album, "Vivid," which was released in May of 1988. The album featured guest appearances from Mick Jagger, who performed harmonica and backing vocals, as well as Chuck D and Flava Flav from Public Enemy, and became one of the most acclaimed records of the year. Though sales were initially rather slow, its momentum was boosted immensely when MTV began playing the video for the albums opening track, "Cult Of Personality," helping the album to reach as high as number 6 on the Billboard Album Charts and eventually achieve Double Platinum status. Their profile increased greater still when they performed on the legendary TV show, Saturday Night Live, before joining Guns N Roses to open for the Rolling Stones. More...
This week Bret Michaels (Poison) announced he is working on a movie about his life. For those of you that missed this announcement (God Bless You) you didn’t notice that Michaels has a production company with partner Charlie Sheen. What!?! The movie is the story of his life starting in Pittsburgh and then…you know what, I can’t do this. This is not a good idea. More...
Every Tuesday we check in with musicians and fans to have them share their most memorable mosh pit stories from metal shows. This week's Pit Story of Chinese fans bucking the system to have a good time comes courtesy of vocalist Moritz "Mutz" Hempel from Drone:
Well, we were touring in China and played a show @ the expo plaza in Shanghai. Big fuckin crowd, but sitting on chairs. OK, we knew that this was common in the past, but did not expect that. Anyway…we were shredding and moshing as usual giving a flying fuck about the people sitting, lying or standing. You know, the Chinese audience is always very grateful and responds very well as they do not often get the chance to see western (no country ;)) bands performing. Long story short: they sat.
A couple of guys stood up and started to dance in front of stage but security reproved 'em to be calm and sit the fuck down. They obeyed and sat on their asses. We watched this play a couple o times until a hand full of European metal heads ran towards the stage, screaming and moshin like shit! The security wasn’t sure how to handle these bad ass motherfuckers and did not interfere. Everybody on the plaza used that moment, jumped of their chairs, ran to the stage and started a mosh pit. Out of fuckin nowhere!
We went crazy and started to throw beer into the pit and charred some good old German drinkin' cult with the audience. The stage manager freaked out, yelling NO NO NO no good no good. We replyed YES YES YES very good very good. The rest of the show was legendary and will not be forgotten. For sure, we’ve seen bigger, harder, or more brutal pits, but this one came from the heart and had some kind of symbolic yell for freedom. Freedom to think, dance and shout whatever and whenever you want to. Freedom of opinion, a basic right in OUR constitution. Everybody, who has paid a visit to china, will totally know what I mean! That night, the people did not just stand up for us, but for themselves!More...