February is black history month here in America, and we at Metal Underground make sure that black metal is featured to honor the tradition. This month we have unearthed plenty of lesser-known black metal acts and have delved into old school articles on legendary black metal bands like Darkthrone. In keeping with the tradition of black metal history month, let's get back to the true meaning of the phrase by showcasing bands composed of actual black musicians who play metal.
Last year, our Content Manager Ty brought some interesting black bands to light. This year we'll travel to the Caribbean, Africa and other locations to discover some bands composed entirely or mostly of black musicians - further showing how metal isn't solely an Anglo phenomena made up of just white band members. You will find metal everywhere, by all ethnicities and in countries one wouldn't normally associate with metal - by people who love heavy music. We will unearth plenty of our brothers in metal today. Just recently, Botswana's "metal cowboys" got featured at an art exhibit over at Bekris Galleries in San Francisco. This photographic montage is the work of noted shutterman Frank Marshall, who spent countless hours delving into the metal subculture of Botswana for his thesis at Tshwane University. Some of these metalheads are probably more hardcore than your average anglo devotee in the amount of hardship they endure to listen to their music of choice. Let's check in now with a few bands that we have unearthed for you today. More...
Black metal has certainly come a long way over the years. Starting from the almost sloppy sounding thrash of Venom and Hellhammer, it has incorporated many other elements into its sound as time’s gone by, including traditional folk music, a combination worked to perfection by Irelands own, Primordial. The earliest incarnation of Primordial was formed in 1987 by brothers Pól and Derek MacAmlaigh, along with guitarist Ciáran MacUiliam under the name Forsaken in Skerries, a small seaside town in County Dublin, where they began life by performing covers of popular extreme metal bands such as Death before recruiting vocalist Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) in 1991 and adopting a much darker approach, more inspired by the proto black metal bands of the time such as Celtic Frost and Bathory. The band released a demo in 1993 entitled, "Dark Romanticism" which attracted the attention of numerous labels, including Candlelight, but ultimately it was Cacophonous Records, then home to British extreme metal outfit Cradle Of Filth, who successfully signed the group. Through the label, Primordial released their first album, "Imrama" in 1994. The album was noteworthy for its focus on medieval Irish folklore and use of the Gaelic language, in addition to combining the black metal sound with traditional Irish melodies, becoming one of the first Celtic Metal bands (along with Cruachan and Waylander) in the process. Despite some difficulties faced after the release of the record, including performing only one show in 1996, which was stopped half way through by the police, things began to take an upturn for the band in 1997 when they found a new drummer in Simon O'Laoghaire and performed with the recently reformed Mayhem in the United Kingdom.
The melodic aspect was expanded upon by the time Primordial released its second album, "A Journeys End" through Misanthropy Records in 1998, which featured the use of whistles and mandolins in order to accentuate their nationality and heritage. Right after releasing their sophomore effort, the band had decided that Misanthropy was not the right record label for them, and signed with Hammerheart Records, immediately getting to work on new material, which surfaced a year later in the form of an EP entitled, "The Burning Season," before releasing their third album, "Spirit The Earth Aflame" in 2000. Once their fourth album, "Storm Before Calm" was released, Primordial knew that some changes were needed to be made, and started by recruiting a new guitarist named Michael O Floinn and began the search for a new label, which they found following tours with the likes of Enthroned, Rotting Christ and Ancient Rites, when they signed with Metal Blade Records and got to work on their darkest album yet. More...
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Laura Wilde has released a video titled “Sold My Soul.” Wilde, citing both punk and glam influences, sings, plays guitar, bass and drums. More...
We've been chatting up metal fans and band members everywhere to get their best pit stories from live metal shows. This week Tony Piccoli from Detroit prog metal act Imminent Sonic Destruction shares the following tale of suffering abuse in the pit to see Pantera up close and personal:
Back when I was living in Arizona, and still in high school, I attended the Pantera/Soulfly concert at the Mesa Amphitheater. It was my first Pantera concert, and I was supremely excited. I was very much into Pantera at the time, and NOTHING was going to stop me from getting to the very front of the crowd. I literally memorized lines from their famed "home videos." I withstood the pain of being smashed into the bar of the rail at the front. I've been in many pits in my time, but this concert was special to me, and I wanted to be at the very front to witness the band in all their glory. As the pit circled behind me during the opening acts, the force that was pushing me into the top of the railing (which lined up perfectly to my chest) was growing stronger, and the pain was escalating. Using the bar, I started bracing myself, and pushing back into the crowd. This offended the big, giant Mexican dudes behind me. Oh man, they were pissed, and with that, the "fun" began.
The last of the opening bands was wrapping up, and I could feel the energy of the crowd behind me growing as the time for Pantera drew closer. The big guys behind me continued to push into me... sometimes leading with their elbows. I continued to take it, and respond with a pretty powerful push back against them, and the crowd, which continued to anger the big guys. Finally, the last opening band finished up. At this point, there was clear discontent between me and my boys, and the big guys behind me. However, since I was the one pushing back, they were most upset with me.
Fast Forward to Pantera's set. BOOM. The crowd explodes into a violent flowing ocean of humans. It was amazing, and... painful! The big guys behind me were seriously going after me. Multiple elbows to the back, a punch to my shoulder (after all, the pit was directly behind me) and finally, a direct closed fist hit to the back of my head.
I was done. "Fuck this."More...
A few weeks ago in Unearthing the Metal Underground, I introduced some ultra brutal bands from the southern Filipino city of Davao. This time around, let’s take a look at the capital of Manila, which definitely isn’t to be outdone in the slamming, blasting sickness category. The Metro Manila area, an impossibly huge urban center, is bursting with bands weaned on a steady diet of Disgorge, Malignancy, Devourment, and Gorgasm, so let’s get right down to it.
OK, so technically Pus Vomit isn’t actually from Manila, but the band is from right next door to the metro area, and calls Dasmarinas home. There’s no doubt the denizens of metro Manila can clearly hear the unholy din this three piece has been conjuring since 2005 no matter what part of the packed metropolis they hail from.
Pus Vomit keeps things simple from a lineup perspective, with just drums, vocals, and a guitar player, but there’s little simple about the Pus Vomit sound, which is equal parts slamming accessibility and technical prowess. The band has kept busy since its founding, with two demos, three splits, and a full length, “Degrade the Worthless,” which came out in 2009 on Berdugo Records, the label run by Alexander De La Cruz, the man who also publishes the In Dark Purity ‘zine. Fans of far eastern brutality in the vein of Vomit Remnants, Infernal Revulsion, and Rest in Gore will revel in Pus Vomit’s insane mix of slams and technicality.
Black metal is a genre of music shrouded in controversy and perhaps nowhere is controversy more prominent in the field, than in Mayhem. The group was formed in 1984 by guitarist/vocalist Øystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous,) along with bassist Jørn Stubberud (aka Necrobutcher) and drummer Kjetil Manheim (aka Manheim). They initially were influenced by the more extreme metal music at the time, particularly proto-black metal bands such as Venom and Celtic Frost and released their debut demo tape, "Pure Fucking Armageddon" in 1986 before Euronymous decided to concentrate on solely on playing guitar, first replacing himself in the vocal department by a singer named Eirik Nordheim (Messiah), then Sven Erik Kristiansen (aka Maniac,) with whom the group recorded and released their first EP, "Deathcrush," which was distributed by Euronymous himself through his own Posercorpse Music label. Maniac left the band soon afterwards however, along with drummer Manheim. Taking their places would be Swedish vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (aka Dead) and local drummer Jan Axel Blomberg (aka Hellhammer,) setting in place the beginning of the most infamous chapter in the history of Mayhem.
Dead helped attract a lot of attention to the band, delivering notorious and in some cases, baffling performances on stage which included self mutilation and burying his clothes days before a show, so that he really would look like a corpse. The members moved into a house in the middle of a forest to begin work on their album, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" but were soon to deal with a major blow when Dead lived up to his name and committed suicide. He was found inside the house by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head, along with a note which merely apologized for firing the weapon indoors along with the now infamous caption, "Excuse all the blood." What followed was just as macabre, as Euronymous decided that instead of calling the police, he would venture into town to purchase a disposable camera, with which he took photographs of the corpse along with rumours that he made necklaces out of pieces of Deads skull and even that he made a stew with parts of the brain, though this has never been confirmed. The death of Dead would prove to be hard for Necrobutcher to handle and he decided to leave the band soon afterwards, leaving Mayhem to find both a new vocalist and a new bass player, which they did in Tormentor frontman Attila Csihar and Burzum mastermind, Varg Vikernes. This lineup would prove to be the one that would record, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" but the members were far from friendly and the controversy wasn’t yet finished with, nor was the deaths. More...
We've been tracking down bands and fans all across the world to get their best mosh pit stories from live shows. This week lead guitarist Gizz Butt of English Dogs shares several stories from the band's early career, as well as a tale of a mid-show rescue mission caused by a collapsing floor with The Prodigy.
When the English Dogs toured the USA in 1986 our first show was at the Olympic Auditorium in LA and we were stunned to see 5 WHOLE SEPARATE CIRCLE PITS all individually operating at the same time. Now the venue was a fairly decent size, we’ve played bigger gigs but I have NEVER in 25 years seen that many mosh pits all at once. I played in The Prodigy 1996 – 2000 and I never saw that with them. 5 pits is a pretty remarkable sight.
We played a show at Fenders Ballroom in LA again back in 1986 that was again packed to such a limit with the wildest fans on earth, stage diving and slamming harder than anyone. The heat and energy in the place was outstanding. The stage divers and moshers were encouraging us perform more crazy feats on stage and were trying their utmost to wear us out in record time. English Dogs drummer PINCH was blowing everyone away and you could see the sweat pouring off him in torrents. There was no air in the place and after another breakneck paced number Pinch duly threw up all over his kit. He had to go out for air but after a couple of minutes was back in action and was carried back to the stage having drank 3 or 4 pints of water. He picked up the sticks and the madness continued.
I did witness something pretty extreme when with The Prodigy, and that was at a show in London at the Brixton academy. The Brits were going absolutely NUTS and were jumping so hard and so high the the dance floor collapsed and the first dozen rows of punkers all sank through the floor, disappearing in a cloud of dust! We had to stop while everyone was rescued and barriers were put around the massive hole and we just started again! Hah hah. They didn’t care that they’d just had the fright of their life, they just wanted more!
I’m happy to say that whenever I’ve been in the pit, I’ve always come out with all limbs intact, no broken bones, a bit of a headache and ripped clothing. I’ve lost my cell phone too but I’ve always managed to keep my pants and shoes. Unlike some people!
English Dogs is currently headlining North America with support by The Casualties, Toxic Holocaust, and Havok. Back in 1981 British punk / metal crossover band English Dogs was formed. Though initial releases were more straight-forward punk rock, the band's metal leanings appeared on the "Forward Into Battle" record, released in 1985. According to a press release, "The seminal album was a major influence on bands such as Metallica, and this year the 'Forward Into Battle' line-up of founding-member Andrew 'Pinch' Pinching (also of The Damned), Graham 'Gizz' Butt (Prodigy, The More I See) and Adie Bailey have forged to again bring that record to life for North America." More...
Continuing our ongoing coverage of black metal history month, it’s time to dive into three more underground acts that don’t have as large a following as the biggest names in the scene, but are still among the best the genre has to offer. Last week we highlighted three misanthropic black metal bands, and now it’s time to check out groups that take the sound in a different direction.
Pipe organs, keyboards, violins, a grandiose style; all these and more are typical of this breed of metal, in which screeches from hell and fast paced guitars meet beautiful heights of orchestral symphonies. From the mildly melodic to the completely symphonic, these three bands show that injecting non-metal elements doesn’t have to detract from the darkness.
Hailing from black metal ground zero (that mythical land and metal Mecca otherwise known as Norway) and featuring Windir keyboardist Gaute Refsnes, Cor Scorpii has the requisite pedigree to grab the attention of genre fans. Unlike with the other two bands covered this week, Cor Scorpii’s keyboards are tempered and held on a fairly tight leash, letting the guitar tone drive the music. This tasteful restraint results in a sound that is melodic and highly atmospheric without getting overbearingly symphonic. The end product has a swelling and epic quality that is surprising considering the presence of the extremely harsh vocals and dark feeling. Even with the melodic bent the band’s music still tends to be properly dark and chilling, as any black metal release should.
So far Cor Scorpii’s fans have had to be content with only a single proper album, but – praise be to the dark one! – the band officially began the recording process for a sophomore album and follow-up to the debut full-length “Monument” earlier this month. Keep up with Cor Scorpii’s latest activity via Facebook or get a taste of the band’s mix of the extreme and the melodic through the songs below.
“Ei Fane Svart”
Plenty of old school metal bands come from Australia. Immediately coming to mind are Destroyer 666 and Mortal Sin...but don't forget about Blood Duster. Nobody, but nobody is like Blood Duster. They have made a career out of taking sounds and cliches from other genres and turning them on their asses into supremely heavy grinding rock. This year marks 21 years of existence for these crazy Aussies who started pissing in our ears in 1991 when they formed the band, claiming to have met at a peep show. Very underground and cult, you may have missed them if you blinked or were looking in the wrong direction back in the 90's.
But, do not underestimate the impact they had on the scene with their irreverence and complete humorous take on the grindcore genre. In fact, Blood Duster's style of grinding death rock with slabs of retro grooves shows how they are the sum of their parts. Many of the band members came from all kinds of metal bands like Hecatomb and Pod People, so their music is influenced by almost anything. The difference is, through all the chaotic sounds Blood Duster incorporated they always did it well - and did it best. More...
Last Sunday both Motley Crue and The Darkness were featured in Super Bowl ads. They aren’t the first from their genre to sell out, or allow the semi-truck full of cash back up into their driveway, nor will they be the last. Over the past few years a lot of rockers from the eighties have partnered with Madison Avenue to create brief whore-like relationships. This week a look at the new Super Bowl commercials, and a few blasts from the past commercials: More...
We catch up with bands and fans all over the world to get their best pit stories from metal shows every week. This time around bassist Kent Haines from Australian act Lynchmada shares the following tale of a missing leg that went crowd surfing:
We were playing an all ages venue in Brisbane City called the Lions Den where bands such as Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction also cut their teeth.
It's a cranking moshpit with kids crowd surfing and the venue was packed to the brim at about 300 people inside this hall, when I see what looks like a crutch being passed through the audience like a crowd surfer. At this point I was thinking 'Wow, someone who is on crutches must be pretty game going in THAT pit!' Anyway, it finally lands on the stage and our singer picks it up and holds it aloft. It ain't no crutch, it was someone's false leg! To which we were all in hysterics once we realised what it actually was, so he yells out in between laughter "Does anyone own this?"
We see this taller kid hopping through the crowd laughing with his hands out, and low and behold the guy only had one leg, his friends had taken it off him as a joke (with friends like that, who needs enemies right?), but he was having a great time anyway so I guess it was OK. Leg was returned promptly and a fun time was had by all. The end.
Lynchmada released the band's latest album "To the Earth" last year, and you can check out tracks from the release by heading over to the group's Facebook profile here.
Be sure to check back in again next Tuesday as metal fans and band members share their favorite pit stories.
February is black metal history month, which means there’s plenty of raw, frozen, and spiteful heaviness headed your way in the coming weeks here at Metalunderground.com. In honor of the infamous style we already took a look at Darkthrone in our Sunday Old School column, and now that it’s time for a new edition of “Unearthing the Metal Underground” we’ll dive even further into black metal with three bands rising up through the ranks out of obscurity.
This isn’t our first foray into the black metal scene, as you can still check out our previous editions covering solo black metal acts, Red and Anarchist black metal, and even Christian “unblack” metal.
Whether you prefer your black metal of the symphonic or utterly eardrum-destroying and abrasive variety, each of these bands deserve to be heard by a wider audience and should hit your regular musical rotation.
Taking a page from the likes of Gothmog and Dimmu Borgir, this young Chicago based band has plenty of extreme vocals and heavy riffing, but supports the music with both corpse paint theatrics and a symphonic flair. The lads from Massakren may be from the U.S. but you’d never tell that from the music alone, which exudes a strongly European feel. Massakren released a self-titled last year (reviewed here), and hopefully we’ll be getting even more melodic mayhem from the band in the near future. To hear what the group has to offer, check out Massakren’s Facebook profile or watch the music videos available below.
It’s February once again and MetalUnderground.com has decided to bring back Black Metal History Month, (see what we did there?). This month MetalUnderground and in particular Sunday Old School, will be looking at some of the biggest and most important bands in the history of black metal. If some of your favourite black metal bands don’t get featured this month, such as Norwegian titans Immortal or Emperor, chances are it’s because we’ve already covered them. Speaking of Norwegian black metal, it only seems right that we kick the month off by looking at just such a band, and who better to examine than Kolbotn’s own, Darkthrone?
As previously mentioned, the band formed in Kolbotn, a suburb of the Norwegian capital city, Oslo, in 1986 by drummer Gylve Nagell, along with guitarist Ivar Enger and bass player Dag Nilsen. They originally went under the moniker, Black Death and performed a more death metal orientated brand of music, before they changed their name to Darkthrone the next year and were joined by a second guitarist in 1988 named Dag Nilsen, who would leave the same year. Following the recruitment of Ted Skjellum, the group would release four demo tapes before landing a record deal with Peaceville Records. They were helped in their endeavour to record their debut album by members of Entombed and Nihilist, since Darkthrone had a very small recording budget. It was on this first album, "Soulside Journey" that traces of black metal began to show in their music. They then took this a step further, adorning corpse paint and adopting pseudonyms, much like Venom before them.
Their transition to black metal was completed with their second album, "A Blaze In The Northern Sky," which despite causing problems between Darkthrone and Peaceville and seeing Dag Nilsen depart soon afterwards, was eventually released in February 1992 and has since become one of the most acclaimed black metal albums of all time. A third album, "Under a Funeral Moon" was recorded merely four months after the release of "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" and saw the band completely discard their death metal roots in favour of what Nagell, now known as Fenriz, called, "100% pure black metal." Once again, the album would be soon as a major landmark for the black metal genre and was adored by fans. Enger departed soon afterwards however and ever since then, Darkthrone has consisted of Fenriz and Ted "Nocturno Culto" Skjellum. More...
Last week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a promotional poster used by the band Steel Panther. The poster featured a woman with her eyes closed with one hand on her crotch while two silver balls dangled between her legs. A group shot of the band is on the bottom of the poster. The ASA found this “overtly sexual” and “suggestive of an orgasm.” The band has released a statement explaining the 80s retro look and tongue-in-cheek message; however, the ASA ruling stands and use of the poster in public areas has been banned. More...
We've been catching up with bands and fans all over the world to get their best mosh pit stories. This week Dark Empire lead guitarist Matt Moliti shares a pit story of dueling guitarists:
We were playing the Knitting Factory in NYC in 2008. Our former 2nd guitarist, Andrew Atwood, had a reputation for being incredibly animated on stage, and it got to the point where the two of us would try to one up each other, in a friendly competition kind of way. During our song “Eyes of Defiance” there is a lead break featuring some tricky right hand tapping that I thought would look cool if our singer Brian put his hands over my eyes while I did it. I figured that should be a good enough stage move to “beat” whatever Andrew had planned for the evening.
Little did I know what he was about to do though, because next thing I saw, he had jumped INTO the mosh pit while playing his guitar and started rocking out right there with the fans! Well, I wasn’t about to let him upstage me, so I followed suit, jumping into the pit with him, guitar and all, and proceeded to play the rest of the song right there in the pit with the fans thrashing all around us. Maybe that isn’t as uncommon as I think it is, but it was definitely a first for me.
Dark Empire is set to release their new album, "From Refuge to Ruin," on March 27th via Nightmare Records. You can hear a new song from the album on the band's Facebook page.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Recently Peru, which used to have a lot more rock and metal on it's airwaves a decade ago, played host to an event called "Dia Del Rock Peru." (Day of Rock) It took place on January 7th in Lima and in other satellite cities such as Arequipa. It was a way for the rock community to say "we exist" to all of the media and corporate broadcast venues. Nine bands of diverse styles played in downtown Lima from 4:00 until 10:00 p.m., giving exposure to those artists and the creative collective. You can see footage of the event here. Dia Del Rock might have started just on that day, but it was a blueprint of shows and events to come in the ensuing months. Paco Holguin from the band Emergency Blanket had originally come up with the idea on his Facebook page and it spread like wildfire. Then three promoters came together - Ivan Fajardo, Wayo Aguayo and Eduardo Quezada - who compiled a chain of events that would link together indie labels, stations, magazines and corporations. This show on the 7th was the start of more concerts, and you can learn more about upcoming shows by visiting the official Facebook page of Dia Del Rock Peru.
Of course, Peru is a very large country and only a fraction of it's large pool of bands will perform at events like this. The first band that we present today played at this event, while the other two take the more traditional underground approach of playing the clubs and gaining visibility through tours. The more alternative the genre of metal a band plays, the harder it might be to hook up with a high visibility event. The three bands that we will unearth today have vastly different interpretations of the metal style and different methods of diffusing their music to their respective fan bases. More...
“Keep the punk leather jackets but bring a kind of transvestite vibe to it” - Nasty Suicide on the look of Hanoi Rocks. More...
This week a look at five new videos; a mix of older and new bands, some videos good and some not so good. At least two, maybe three are exotic dancer friendly and one appears to pay tribute to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” More...
We've been catching up with metal bands and fans all over to get their best mosh pit stories. This week Rob Barrett of death metal legends Cannibal Corpse recalls an X-rated encounter that occurred nearly twenty years ago, during the Chris Barnes days. Apparently, the idea of bloody ejaculate is a potent aphrodisiac. More...
There must be something in the water down in Davao in the southern Philippines, because the sprawling city has produced some of the most brutal, slamming, and at times technical death metal in all of Southeast Asia in recent years. The global brutal death community is beginning to take notice of the Davao scene, as some of the bands are starting to get signed by labels of note in the sub-genre, such as Coyote Records and Sevared Records. Here are a few bands making more than their fair share of gurgling, putrid noise in Davao City, Philippines.
Human Mastication has been blasting out slamming sickness since 2002, and in that time has developed a rock solid international reputation as one of the top slam bands in the business. The early years of the band saw the release of a collection of splits and demos before Human Mastication was picked up by Sevared Records for its debut full length release in 2008, “Grotesque Mastication of Putrid Innards.” Sevared also put out the band’s latest EP, “Persecute to Bloodbath,” last year. Chugging, slamming riffs, disgustingly guttural vocals, liberal use of pinch harmonics, and some combustible groove are all key elements of the Human Mastication formula. This band is currently top of the heap in the Davao brutal scene, and 2012 marks a decade of dedication to unholy slam for vocalist Gee and his comrades in gore. Expect more trademark slamming groove from Human Mastication in the near future.