"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Archive: Columns

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Boston

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!

Widow Sunday

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.

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Sunday Old School: Katatonia

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...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Casting for Bret Michaels

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...

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Unearthing The British Hardcore 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'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"
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Sunday Old School: The Accüsed

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...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Video Diary

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...

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Pit Stories: Don't Leave Your Mattress Unattended

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.

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Unearthing The Sludge Metal Underground

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.

Bereft

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.

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Sunday Old School: Living Colour

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...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: A Jackyl Screwdriver

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...

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Pit Stories: Chinese Uprising At A Drone Show

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!
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Unearthing Female-Fronted Underground in Taiwan

Taiwan has no shortage of ass-kicking front women in its growing metal scene, with a collection of female-fronted groups that are making a name for themselves both locally and abroad. Here are three bands from Taiwan with ladies at the helm that prove metal is no longer nearly as male-dominated as it once might have been.

Eye of Violence

Though just in her early twenties, Eye of violence front woman Lala Lin is already a seasoned veteran in the Taiwan metal scene, having previously done time in Hardcase before making a move over to Eye of Violence in 2009. The band has been active in Taiwan, playing all over the country, and recently made its first couple of forays to foreign shores, making two appearances in South Korea. Combining elements of metalcore, deathcore, and hints of electronic music, Eye of Violence has a determinately modern sound for the younger generation of metal fans. Currently, the band is playing in support of its debut EP, “Tears of the Victims.”

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Sunday Old School: Faster Pussycat

Faster Pussycat was part of a large second wave of the glam eighties. They followed the template of successful debut and even more successful follow-up album, popular ballad (with video), deep decline in interest (as the grunge arrived), and then reunite only to break-up and attempt to have two versions of the same band. No, it may not be the road most chosen, but it was the road taken by the band Faster Pussycat. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Raise Your Fist

Another week and another group of young Aussie rockers; “Raise Your Fist” is the first official music video from the upcoming 2012 album from the band Mystery. While they finish work on their new album Mystery has announced that for each of their original songs they will produce a video that will be correlated into a movie. “Raise Your Fist”, today’s video, is presumably part of this bigger picture. More...

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Pit Stories: Chair-Meets-Head / Pit Revelations

Every week, we catch up with band members and metal fans to get their best stories from live shows. Many bands and fans alike share a fascination for the myriad ways that crowd members can express their love of the music through brutality in the pit. Other bands would rather see the look of a deep emotional connection with the music on the faces of the crowd rather than blood running down their faces. MetalUnderground.com writer Frank Serafine interviewed three Impending Doom bandmates at a Nashville tour stop, who share three stories as well as what they really like to see at a show. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Argentina

I truly would not doubt it if Argentina has almost as many bands as America does, as it's the second largest country in South America. It's history with the metal genre has some similarities with our own, but yet as one would expect it is vastly divergent from our own annals. To arrive at the huge scene they have today, Argentinians went through many hardships in the beginning and along the way.

Back in the late seventies/early eighties rock bands began to play more metallic sounds to add to the rock stylings of locals Pappo's Blues or V8, but during that era there was plenty of government censorship when it came to music. Heavy metal always bore the brunt of the bad press and some bands were even threatened by the authorities. Some bands like Riff added to their own demise by putting out a year-end party "Riff termina el ano sin cadenas," which broke out into such revery, debauchery and violence that it plagued that band for years and almost sounded the death knell for it. More...

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Sunday Old School: Slayer

Today marks the 150th official column in the Sunday Old School series (we’re not counting the April Fools article which looked at Limp Bizkit) and to celebrate, we’ll be taking a look at a band that we’ve been asked to feature for years. If you haven’t worked it out from the title, this week's Sunday Old School will be examining Slayer, one of the most controversial bands in the history of metal music, with a fan base more akin to the characters in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest than the average head banger.

Slayer was founded in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, who met when they went to audition for the same band. They soon completed the group when they recruited singing bassist Tom Araya, a native of the South American country Chile, and drummer Dave Lombardo, who met King while working as a pizza delivery man. The quartet initially performed at local parties, covering songs by the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, as well as using a "Satanic" image, influenced by such bands as Mercyful Fate and Venom. In 1983, the band pooled money saved by Araya and borrowed from Kings father to record their debut album, "Show No Mercy," which was released through Metal Blade Records in December of that year. Although some had criticised the record for its production quality (or lack thereof,) it became the biggest selling album on Metal Blade at the time, shifting over 20,000 copies in the United States alone. They followed the album with a three song EP entitled, "Haunting The Chapel," which featured the live staple, "Chemical Warfare" and soon performed in Europe for the first time, including opening for UFO in Belgium and a show at Londons infamous 100 Club, where the band were upset about being spat on by the audience (though this was actually a sign of approval from British punks.) More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Sisters Doll

During my weekly surf for new bands, videos, and porn I sometimes come across something that forces me to look deeper and say, “Is this for real?” This was my reaction when stumbling upon Sisters Doll. I still don’t have a definitive answer other than this band lies somewhere in between Cinderella, Alice Cooper, The Backstreet Boys, and Steel Panther. More...

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Pit Stories: Vampire Nazi Boot Stomp at Deicide

Each week Metal Underground.com offers our readers a new Pit Story. Usually, these tales originate from band members. This time, however, I’m going to recount one of the bloodiest, most violent pits in my twenty years of attending metal concerts. Skinheads gathered in hundreds at concerts in Detroit during 1995-1996. When a band finished a song, a sea of arms extended outward forming the Nazi salute, “Sieg Heil.” The huge number of shaved, white skulls marked a stark contrast to the mostly African American environments outside of venues such as Harpos and Saint Andrews Hall.

The racism was not the scariest aspect of these shows for those in attendance. Skinheads flailed knees and elbows in the pit, often leading to fellow moshers leaving the circle with bloody noses or worst—being knocked down and stomped by lead-weighted boots. The violence at those shows has never been duplicated at any venue I have attended across the country. I will never forget the first time I experienced this chaos: More...

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Unearthing The Goregrind Underground

The other day I was trading video uploads with fellow staff member Carl, whose taste usually gravitates towards classy traditional metal. I sent him a track from the grindcore band Cuntscrape, "Giving Head to Mr. Ed," leaving him speechless. His reply went something like this - "I thought there was a limit to the extreme. I was wrong." Ha ha, poor Carl.

Nope. There's no limit to the extreme in sight. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, the progenitors of twisted and depraved metal like Lividity or Broken Hope couldn't have imagined how contorted the genre would have gotten. Nowadays it gets more brutal than anyone could have ever envisioned. The horror fantasy themes have given way to pornogrind lyrics, inaudible vocals and psychopathic themes. Over time lyrics have been all but done away with, almost as if they are too sensitive and get in the way of what should be primal. It's all meant to be hilarious and over the top, and goregrind is the last frontier when it comes to offensive, loud metal. More...

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