Sunday Old School has examined many bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. From the South West in Jaguar to the North East in bands like Raven and Venom, but it’s been quite some time since we’ve looked at the movement, so let’s return to it this week shall we? One band that’s been well overdue a look is Grim Reaper, who unlike many other bands from the movement, found success in a time when many of their peers did not. Formed in the West Midlands town of Droitwich, in Worcestershire back in 1979, Grim Reaper first gained noticed by winning a Battle Of The Bands contest which featured no less than one hundred groups, which ultimately led to a deal with Ebony Records, but their debut full length album, "See You In Hell" was distributed through RCA Records in 1984. The album was quite successful, finding a place on the Billboard album charts (where it peaked at number 73) and subsequently seeing the title track appear in a number of TV shows including Beavis and Butthead and Jackass. Touring for the album also went well, and the band found themselves performing to over twenty thousand fans in Texas at one particular show.
Success continued to stay with Grim Reaper when they released their sophomore album, "Fear No Evil" in 1985. Though not quite as acclaimed as "See You In Hell," the record once again proved popular amongst heavy metal fans on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the most notable things about this album in a more modern sense, is that the music video for the title track was to resurface twenty years later, though this time used by the alternative rock band Weezer as the initial video for their song, "We Are All On Drugs." Following the success of “Fear No Evil,” the band found themselves away from the stage and in the courtroom, battling a case against Ebony Records which took up two years of the bands existence, resulting in their third album, "Rock You To Hell" being delayed by such time, not finding a place on the shelves until 1987, by which point they discovered that a lot of heavy metal fans and turned away from the safer sounds of traditional heavy metal and more towards the likes of thrash metal. Even though the music video for the title track received regular airplay and the record itself was released through a major label, the album was considered something of a commercial failure. The failure of the album, coupled with another legal battle with Ebony Records, took its toll on the group and they decided to call it a day in 1988, right before they were supposed to work on their fourth album. More...
This week a look at two new videos: A classic head to head video showdown between Sister and Electric Sister. As always the rules are made up as we go along, except of course dancers and pole usage: both matter and both score well! More...
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 I take on bands that fuse metal with industrial/electronic elements.
Over the years this genre has adopted many names: industrial metal, techno metal, electronic metal. The infusion of industrial/electronic elements into rock and heavy rock can be traced back to the late ‘80’s with Ministry and Die Krupps and then followed by Godflesh, Fear Factory. In the early ‘90’s. the industrial scene hit its stride and started branching off on its own. The more popular branches leaned out towards more alternative metal/rock like Korn, Nine Inch Nails and Rammstein. However, there was also a branch with bands like Invincible Spirit and God is LSD who kept the sound distinctly metal. It is this branch of the genre that we will concentrate on today.
It was in the early 90’s when electronic elements also found a way into the black metal scene with the emergence of Norway’s Mysticum. However, Samael best defined it with the “bridge to the future” and appropriately titled “Ceremony of Opposites” in 1994. In the early 2000’s, electronic elements began to be incorporated into power metal with the emergence of bands like Cyberya and Illidiance. This week we introduce three bands with their own distinct sounds: Neurotech, Jesus on Extasy and Octagone. More...
You know you're old school when you've had an album on Shrapnel records and can count eleven full-length albums among your repertoire. This is where the story of Canadian thrashers Exciter begins - way back in 1978. They began as Hell Razor and changed their name out of homage to the Judas Priest song and put out a demo, getting the attention of the legendary Mike Varney. He was the head of Shrapnel records, a label that catered to the forefathers of American thrash and all the classic guitar heroes. Mike put Exciter's track "WWIII" on his second compilation, "US Metal Volume II" in 1982. The debut, "Heavy Metal Maniac," followed on the label in 1983. This album already had great hype as a nine-song tape traded overseas, and ten thousand metalheads had put in an order for it upon its release. More...
Fresh off their “occupy Hard Rock” stint in Vegas, Motley Crue is back in the studio recording a new song. Vegas odds that the words “Hard Rock” are included are 2 to 1. Odds that Nikki Sixx and company will rhyme “cock” with “Hard Rock” is even money… More...
More than just brutal riffs and unintelligible screams, heavy metal covers a huge range of sounds and has a massive number of sub-genres that dip into just about any style imaginable. Every week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we highlight three lesser known or unsigned bands that deserve to be heard by the wider music community, and this week includes another look at groups that are well outside the standards of black or death metal.
Last summer we delved into three “progressive” metal bands that throw in non-standard song structures, avant-garde twists, and a healthy dose of ‘70s style prog rock. Below you can find three more groups in the prog metal realm that are all unified by a jazzy outlook, some showy technicality, a strong emphasis on bass playing.
The heaviest of the three bands we’ll look at this week, Spanish three piece Continuo Renacer also happens to be an all-instrumental group, following in the footsteps as such acts as Blotted Science by maintaining a feel of death metal heaviness without using any screams or growls.
Without vocals the instruments really get a chance to shine, and the bass lines keep the music moving forward into ever funkier and more avant-garde territory. The guitar playing on the band’s latest album “The Great Escape” (reviewed here) doesn’t get left behind either, keeping up with impressively technical flourishes. The opening title track from the album can be heard in the player below. Head over to the Continuo Renacer Facebook profile for more details on the band.
It’s common in heavy metal music for fans to exaggerate how important or how good a band they love is, but Cannibal Corpse genuinely deserves to be recognized as a ground breaking act in the field of death metal, being the biggest selling death metal band in the United States, as well as having a sound that has been copied countless times. The band was formed in Buffalo, New York from the remnants of popular local bands Tirant Sin, Leviathan and Beyond Death and through friends the members made, made their live debut in April 1989 opening for Dark Angel.
Not long after this impressive debut, Cannibal Corpse was snapped up by Metal Blade Records after the manager of the record store where vocalist Chris Barnes was working sent in the band's self-titled demo tape, becoming the label's first death metal band in the process. The first album, "Eaten Back To Life" was recorded at the Morrisound Recording studio, a place now famous for producing albums by the likes of Sepultura, Morbid Angel and Napalm Death amongst other big names in extreme metal, before being released in August 1990. The band didn’t do a conventional tour in support of the record, performing only a handful of shows when possible, including one which featured no more than thirteen people in attendance.
Cannibal Corpse returned to Florida shortly afterwards to record a sophomore album, "Butchered At Birth." This would mark the beginning of causing outrage and controversy on an international scale, as the record was banned in Germany and was only available to people over the age of eighteen in Ontario, Canada due to its graphic cover artwork. Despite this, Cannibal Corpse soon embarked on a first headlining tour, which took place in Europe, where the group was greeted very warmly by extreme metal fans. Upon returning, the guys set out on their first North American headlining tour, this time being joined by Atheist and Gorguts.
Having completed the tour, Cannibal Corpse recorded another album entitled, "Tomb Of The Mutilated," which once again featured a shocking album cover and also contained at least two of the group's best known songs in the shapes of, "Hammer Smashed Face" and "I Cum Blood." Shortly after the release of the album, the band parted ways with guitarist Bob Rusay, replacing him with Rob Barrett, known for his work with Malevolent Creation. After an appearance in the hit comedy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the band once again got to work on a new album, which surfaced in 1994 under the name, "The Bleeding." The record was praised for its more disciplined approach to song writing and featuring plenty of catchy riffs, not to mention more charming song titles such as, "Fucked With A Knife" and "She Was Asking For It." More...
It’s true, reality “star”, Dee Snider, is appearing in a sitcom. This week let’s take a look at the show promo for Snider’s new gig, a sleazy glam rock video from New York City rockers Electric Black Horse, and a frightening album teaser from Fatal Smile. More...
Each Tuesday we share the best mosh pit stories from metal fans and band members from across the globe. This week we have another tale from Dark Empire's lead guitarist Matt Moliti about a Destruction fan with apparently alcohol related depth perception problems:
I think it was in 2005 or 2006 I saw Destruction (at the Knitting Factory in NYC) and I remember seeing this one crazy drunk guy during one of the opening bands who insisted on trying to stage dive even though no one was catching him. I though that was funny enough, but then I saw that he had climbed up onto the balcony area. The guy actually dove down into the crowd from that height, slamming into the solid concrete floor! I have no idea how that guy got up, but he did (probably all the alcohol in his system).
Dark Empire also shared a story with us about dueling guitarists in the pit, which can still be read here. The band's new album "From Refuge to Ruin" hits stores on March 27th via Nightmare Records. To get a taste of the album, check out the new song "The Crimson Portrait" at this location.
Be sure to check back in again next Tuesday for another dose of brutal mosh pit stories.
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.