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Sunday Old School: Assassin

German thrash metal is widely hailed as the only international thrash scene that could rival their American counterparts. However, when discussing German thrash, the names Kreator, Destruction and Sodom are the three that are always brought up first. There’s a good reason for this, all three bands were and are outstanding, but if one were to dig deeper then a treasure chest of thrash can easily be uncovered. One of the best examples of hidden German gems, would be the Dusseldorf based, Assassin. The group was formed in 1984 and released a demo shortly afterwards which quickly sold out all five hundred copies. After releasing a second demo entitled, "Nemesis," the band was able to secure a record deal with German label, SPV. The signing allowed them to release their first full length album, "Upcoming Terror," which sold around 15,000 copies.

After recruiting some new members, the band released their second album, "Interstellar Experience" in 1988. The album was widely praised by thrash metal fans and earned the band a supporting slot on Death Angel’s first European tour, which was also a success. The group began working on their third studio album after the tour finished but disaster struck when all of their equipment was stolen by burglars. Not having the money to replace the gear, the group decided to call it a day, leaving work on the album unfinished.

Like many thrash bands however, a reunion was inevitable, an in 2002, Assassin decided to regroup and were quickly offered a spot on the 2003 edition of the famous, Wacken Open Air festival. The performance was critically acclaimed and the band experienced a small but noticeable resurgence in popularity. To celebrate this, a third Assassin album named, "The Club" was finally released in 2005, much to the delight of longtime fans. Although the group have been keeping fairly quiet since then, they recently announced that they have re-signed with SPV, and will be releasing a brand new album in 2011, aptly entitled, "Breaking The Silence." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Bored to Death

During a lazy Sunday I found myself catching up on previously recorded episodes of Bored to Death when much to my delight I discovered a couple Metal Mania episodes on queue. Here’s what I found:

In Kiss’s video for “Rock and Roll all Nite,” I wonder what was so bad that the girl coming down the stairs needed her eyes blacked out like they do on the show Cops. Also, is there someplace we can put all of the eighties brick-sized cell phones for display? I would definitely go to the Pre-2K Cell Phone Hall of Fame (maybe located in Indiana?) to see the phone Gene Simmons has while sitting on his throne in this video as well as the one used by Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell. More...

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Bret Michaels Life As I Know It Episode 4

Three episodes in and not a lot of highlights unless of course Bret Michaels picking up after his dogs or playing “hate” dodge ball with his girlfriend is entertaining. Time to keep this show moving, this week the Bret Michaels “Awesome” shot rules will be in place. I will be drinking Patron, chased with Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. More...

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Pit Stories: Everyday Mosh Pit Brutality

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. Omega Crom's Johnny K seems to have a lot of stories, and this week, we're going to share a couple more from him, which simply follow the general theme of getting fucked up in the mosh pit, for whatever reason:

Slayer in 99 - I was crowd surfing and somersaulted over backward and accidently knee'd this guy in the nose, the crowd shifted and my face was directly over his face as he screamed, " FUUUCK!". As I was swept away I yelled, " Sorry". That same day I saw SlipKnot for the first time which was a rough mosh pit, I took at least five boots to the skull. It wasn't intentional just people crowd surfing and flailing limbs.

OK last story, I'm at Iron Maiden everyone is rocking out having a good time and I see that Steve Harris looks pissed. After the song he goes to Bruce and says something and Bruce points this Dude out in the audience. I guess the guy was being an asshole in some way and he starts lipping off Bruce Dickinson. Needles to say this guy got fuckin rocked hard and then security came and carried him outta there. I learned a great lesson from Iron Maiden that day, Mosh pits are great for releasing some pent up rage but if you see someone going down everyone helps them out which is the beauty of it all, Kicking ass but Not behaving like a Macho Dickweed. Good Times.

All has been quiet on the Delta, BC band's front since they completed their Summer Shred Tour and then played a homecoming show in Delta in October.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Nashville Metal Underground, Pt. II

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we shine a light on promising bands coming out of the darkness of the underground. Nashville, TN is the music business center of the United States, and isn’t without its fair share of shadows where bands outside of the mainstream get their start.

This week we feature the best classic speed/thrash metal band you’ve never heard of – Nashville’s “Intruder,” whose roots date back to 1984. We also have a classic metal band by the name of “Oblivion Myth,” and a female-fronted modern band known as, “Love’s Tragedy.”

Because Nashville is such a draw, most of the metal scenes from around the state of Tennessee tend to spill over into Nashville in order to gain exposure. Nashville also boasts more music venues than the surrounding areas. The Exit/In, The Muse, The End, and The Rutledge are popular venues for Nashville’s heavier side.

Intruder

Formerly known as “Avatar” and “Transgressor,” Intruder made their bones during the heyday of the 1980s, at the same time the “big four” were making theirs. The band released three albums in total and made a brief run with Metal Blade Records before formally splitting up in 1992. Without much support from Metal Blade, the band still enjoyed moderate success with a legion of fans and reunited in 2002. Since then, they have headlined the Headbangers Open Air in Germany and have played the Classic Metal Festival in Ohio and Keep It True Festival in Germany. Their albums feature artwork designed by comic artists Fastner & Larson.

Currently lying in wait in the Nashville underground, Intruder are looking at recording updated versions of their classic songs for a future release, alongside a few new songs. Vocalist Jimmy Hamilton’s style is a classic blend of metal styles, backed up by gang vocals from the rest of the band. Drummer John Pieroni pens most of the lyrics and boasts a distinctly thrash drumming style with fast footwork and progressive leanings. Guitarists Arthur Vinnett and Greg Messick have a highly technical coordinated assault and bassist Chris Veach rounds out the band. Songs from their albums, “Live to Die,” “A Higher Form of Killing,” and “Psycho Savant” can be heard at their MySpace page More...

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Sunday Old School: Overkill

It’s undeniable that heavy metal has some of the most talented and confident vocalists in the world. Some are merely copies of the genre’s best, while others create a style so unique it can become as synonymous with their band as a guitarist’s style or drummer’s beats. Perhaps nowhere in the history of American heavy metal is there a vocalist more unique than Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, of New Jersey based thrashers, Overkill.

Overkill was formed in 1980 after drummer, Rat Skates and bassist D.D. Verni left their punk band, The Lubricunts. They quickly recruited Ellsworth on vocals and hit the East Coast club scene with full force, mainly performing covers but with a few originals seeping in. After releasing a demo entitled, "Power In Black," the group gained some interest from record labels, resulting in their debut self-titled EP. The success of the EP earned Overkill a multi-album record deal with Megaforce Records, one of the biggest metal based record companies at the time, through whom they released their first full length album, "Feel The Fire," in 1985, which was instantly hailed a thrash metal masterpiece. They released their next album, "Taking Over" in 1987, which Megaforce distributed in co-operation with major label, Atlantic, enabling the band to produce their first music video in the form of, "In Union We Stand." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Slashed Slash

Slash and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas released a video to their song Beautiful Dangerous. Here’s a recap from my initial viewing:

The song starts with Fergie, looking very slutty rolling around her bed, inside a trashed apartment. There are pill bottles everywhere and Slash is playing guitar on the television. She moves to the television, straddles it, and fucks the TV. After, Fergie decides to shower and change into “going out” clothes. Interesting note is that her going out clothes may be more slutty than the panty/rip shirt combo she was initially rolling around (and fucking the television) in. Time passes, Fergie is now out. She is in the audience while Slash performs on stage AND also at a strip club. The only way I believe this is possible is that Fergie is playing a Hooker superhero and her special power is looking slutty in two places at once. Side note: This is my new favorite superhero. Eventually she meets Slash in the strip-club and spikes his drink. Next scene Slash is tied up back at the trashed apartment and is being dry humped by Fergie. While simulating sex Fergie removes Slash’s hat (a definite no-no) and puts it on. Of course the guitarist is helpless so all he can do is allow Fergie to continue to hump him while wearing his hat. Then, logically, she pulls out a knife and cuts him across his chest. My overall impression is that despite being drugged and slashed this still has to be considered a pretty good day for Slash… More...

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Bret Michaels Life As I Know It Episode 3

This week begins in Phoenix, AZ where Bret takes his daughter to a Children’s Hospital to talk about diabetes with some of the patients. Overall, a nice gesture despite the Celebrity Apprentice and Snapple promotion on the side, also, Bret dropped the phrase “You’re going to be awesome” to a little kid. If you use an entertainment level scale with a range of 1 to 10 we are hovering around .5. This looks like this might change when a fan asks Bret to go see her brother, who is unable to get out of his hospital bed. The brother? Well, it’s a new born child and Bret makes a bad joke. So for entertainment purposes, what if… More...

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Pit Stories: Attack of the Killer Mic

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week J Michalski, vocalist and bassist for the Red Deer, Alberta-based death metal band Awkward Silence sends in a short pit story:

Awkward Silence was playing a show at Vern's Tavern in Calgary, AB. We were playing the song "Choke Out Your Pride." I walk up to the mic for the first line of the song when two guys collide right in front of me, barrel roll into my mic and it slams into my eye. The mic flew somewhere off stage by the sound board, and the mic stand collapsed, so I started walking over to the other mic, just to have it thrown away by the pit. That's when I felt the blood dripping from my eye. We finished the song as an instrumental, the audience started yelling something about me bleeding from the eye. I told them they were f'n crazy... Vern's erupted in applause and cheering. Metal!

You can check out some of Awkward Silence's music on the band’s MySpace page.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Experimental Metal Underground

Metal has long been defined by a variety of regimented and easily recognizable genres, such as thrash, death, black, etc. Most bands bring in a few outside influences to keep the music fresh and prevent a total adherence to one particular idea, but there is now a rising tide of bands that ditch the idea of a single style altogether. Going by names such as “avant-garde” or “experimental” or “post-any genre you’d like,” they may start with a base that is familiar, but their overall sound is far too fluid to stick to one identifier. Bands such as Peccatum and Unexpect are some of the most well known in the style (“well known” being entirely relative here), but a growing number of underground experimental bands are still out there, waiting to be found by the metal masses. More...

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Sunday Old School: Alice Cooper

As it’s impossible not to notice, today is Halloween. It’s probably a general consensus that Halloween goes with metal better than it does any type of music, but why is this is? In two words: Alice Cooper. With a stage show that included hangings, guillotines and chicken throwing (ok, that only happened once), the Alice Cooper band brought the shock to rock and it could be argued that nobody has been able to do it better to this day. Although now known as the solo act of singer Vincent Furnier, the name, Alice Cooper was originally the name of the band that Furnier sang in, taking their name from a witch they believed they had contacted through the use of a Ouija board.

The group was formed in 1964 as The Earwigs, choosing the Cooper name in 1968. They released their first album, “Pretties For You” the next year which was unsuccessful both critically and commercially, a fate which would also befall their second album, “Easy Action.” However, the band eventually achieved a breakthrough with the single, “I’m Eighteen,” which became a hit and helped the album, “Love It To Death” climb to the number 35 spot on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. The next album, “Killer,” not only yielded more hit singles, but saw the band expand their live show into something rock audiences had never seen before, featuring boa constrictors, chopping up bloody baby dolls and ending with Furnier being hanged in a gallows. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Poison Remastered

Given their rock of love affair with Bret Michaels, VH1 decided to run a special Behind The Music Remastered, featuring Bret’s band, Poison. Here are some quick thoughts on this production.

The band moves from PA to California. The original name of the band is Paris, which they quickly change to Poison and also hire a new guitarist, C.C. Deville. Early in their careers Bret points out that he was a greasy haired loser in High School. I forgot what I was going to say. More...

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Bret Michaels Life As I Know It Episode 2

Episode 2 begins with Bret four months out of the hospital. Kristi is off to meet her girlfriend Kate and express her concern over Bret not taking it easy while Michaels is out on the road living it up in Joliet, IL. I’m not sure if it’s this particular town (probably not), the venue (maybe), or the fact that it is a Bret Michaels show (probably) but there is a high percentage of white trash on hand for the meet and greet after his performance. Fans that may or may not be pregnant are drinking and giving Bret dating advice. This is the scene when we are introduced to Grammy Gypsy. More...

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Pit Stories: Sumo Wrestling Meets Drum And Bass

Every week we talk to bands from all over the world and hear some of their favourite stories from the mosh pit. This week, Dean Miller of New York hardcore veterans No Redeeming Social Value shares his story about getting into the spirit of another culture:

"Every NRSV show is a free for all fun extravaganza of ill behavior! So on our recent Japan tour, in Osaka our naked tour manager and crew Sumo wrestle other members of the other bands in the pit and they are covered in sweat and mud and bee. The matches lasted a good half hour and then NRSV played, then after our set a bachelor party free for all drum and bass party broke out. We partied until after the sun came up... then played another show!"

No Redeeming Social Value recently released a new live album entitled, "High In Holland." You can read all about it, along with a history of the band and much more, by checking out our recent interview with vocalist Dean Miller.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Los Angeles

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to expose them to the world outside their respective scenes. Although the Los Angeles scene is anything but unified, this apocalyptic city has produced more than a handful of quality bands. This week I’ll be exploring the Los Angeles old school death metal scene.

The L.A. scene is hardly known for authenticity in its death metal, mainly because the current scene is dominated by fad-jumping metalcore and glam throwback acts, but there are other more subtle reasons for its staying underground. For example, there is the fact that while bands in the Florida and New York death metal scenes, for example, were releasing genre-defining full-length albums, LA bands such as the ones below had to make do with short format releases, such as demos and EP’s. Compare Morbid Angel, who, by 1993, had released four full-length albums, to Sadistic Intent, who have yet to release one. Nevertheless, a limited output doesn’t necessarily equate a lack of talent, and so without further ado, here are three of the most talented bands to have graced the LA scene past and present.

Sadistic Intent

Without doubt L.A.’s best underground band, and quite possibly one of the world’s most underrated metal acts of all time, Sadistic Intent plays fierce death metal that borrows from various traditions in the vast heritage of heavy metal. One can discern a range of influences, from Dark Angel and Slayer to Possessed and Morbid Angel, tucked within the unique tapestry that forms the band’s sound. They write long, involved, and esoteric death metal songs with occult lyrics and a truly sinister atmosphere, making them absolutely essential for lovers of morbid, underground metal. Try their EP’s "Resurrection" and "Impending Doom" for obscure and esoteric death metal, or go for "Ancient Black Earth" if fast and blasting percussive madness is more along the lines of what you crave.

If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, seeing Sadistic Intent live is a must, and lucky for you they play at least several shows a year. (Also note that the band members, along with vocalist Jeff Becerra, fill out the current lineup of Possessed.) In a live setting, the band is truly professional, and always live up to their moniker (and then some). Check out the video below to see what you’re getting yourself into.

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Sunday Old School: Tygers Of Pan Tang

Ask any fan of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal to name five of their favourites and chances are Tygers Of Pan Tang will be amongst that list. The band may not be quite as well known now, but during the N.W.O.B.H.M.'s period of popularity, they were certainly considered one of the standout groups in the pack, and they had the songs to back it up. The band was formed in 1978 in the town of Whitley Bay, which is located in the North East of England near Newcastle, and quickly signed to Neat Records, which was known for releasing many records from British heavy metal bands at the time including Venom, Raven and Jaguar. The partnership with Neat was only to last for the single, "Don't Touch Me There" however, as the Tygers signed to major label MCA soon afterwards. Following a few more single releases, the group finally released it's debut full length album in 1980 entitled, "Wildcat." The album did well in the United Kingdom, debuting at number 18 on the British Albums Chart. The band was soon to see a big change in terms of lineup however, when they recruited John Sykes, formerly of Streetfighter, as second guitarist and split with singer Jess Cox after he and the rest of the band had a falling out. The band decided to replace Cox with Jon Deverill, best known as the vocalist of Persian Risk and this lineup recorded a second album entitled, "Spellbound," which was released in 1981 and once again entered the British Album Charts, though this time peaking at the lower place of number 33, as well as spawning the single, "Hellbound," which also saw chart success, peaking at number 48 in the United Kingdom.

The next year, Tygers Of Pan Tang released a third album called "Crazy Nights," which was unable to spawn any successful singles but did enter the British Albums Chart at number 51. Following this record, Sykes decided to quit the band in order to pursue a position as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, which he didn't fulfil, though he was recruited as the new guitarist for hard rock heroes Thin Lizzy soon after. Sykes was replaced by guitarist Fred Purser and the band got to work on their fourth album, "The Cage." "The Cage" ultimately proved to be the band's biggest success in terms of chart performance, entering the U.K. charts at number 13 and featuring three successful singles in the form of "Love Potion No. 9," "Paris By Air" and "Rendezvous." Despite the good commercial reaction to the album, the band decided to call it a day soon afterwards as a result of tensions with their record company. A new version of the band was formed in 1985 however, featuring Deverill and drummer Brian Dick and released a new album named, "The Wreck-Age" the same year. The record was the first Tygers album not to chart in the United Kingdom, and following poor reviews of their next album, "Burning In The Shade," they disbanded once again. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Future

This week we fast forward, picture the year 2020…have the past ten years been good to our aging rock stars? Let’s take a humorous look at what may be… More...

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Bret Michaels Life As I Know It Episode 1

VH1 has once again teamed up with Bret Michaels a new show titled Life As I Know It. Originally scheduled to start in the Summer (there was a pilot episode in early Spring where we got to watch Bret take several naps), the show was delayed due to Bret’s health issues. Given the circumstances VH1 scrapped the previous taped footage and started after Bret was out of the hospital. More...

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Pit Stories: The Folk Metal Jig Pit

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Jeff Black, keyboardist for the Edmonton, Alberta-based progressive metal band Samandriel, sends in a short pit story:

I'm normally not one to mosh, but I have a memory that I am particularily fond of. When I was in Europe in summer 2008 I attended Bloodstock Open Air in the UK. Lots of folk/pagan metal bands were playing that year, such as Tyr, Moonsorrow, Eluveitie and Alestorm. During particularly bouncy segments, people in the crowd would form rings by swinging their arms over each other’s shoulders or locking elbows with one another. They would then proceed to dance, sway, or perform some sort of bastardized jig around the circle. Someone in the circle would then break out, and bum rush the person directly across from them and the mosh pit would begin. This would presumably happen when the riffs got heavier or someone got bored, whichever came first. I never heard a name for it, but I call it a "dance pit" or "jig pit." I've never seen it done in North America, and I secretly miss them. Easily the most fun I've ever had in a mosh pit.

Samandriel released “Awakening” on October 15th of this year. It’s currently available for download at CD Baby. You can check out some of their music on the band’s MySpace page.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In the UAE

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’re going to be taking a look at the young, yet thriving, metal scene in the United Arab Emirates which is probably more commonly known for its immense wealth from oil drilling, and its Islamic culture. While the UAE is made up of seven Emirates, which are basically like states, Dubai is probably the most well known out of all the seven because it hosts the largest building in the World and is thought to be a great holiday destination. Hopefully after you’ve checked out these three bands, you will be putting it at the top of your holiday destinations as well.

Perversion

Starting with oldest band first, Perversion has been around in the Dubai scene since 2006; playing a very straight up style of perverted death metal in the vein of bands like Dying Fetus and Aborted. Friends and band mates, Mahmud Gecekusu (bass/vocals) and Rhama Al Rhama (guitars) have been the driving force behind the band from the word go. While they were once a four piece, with Mahumd’s younger brother covering lead guitar duties, they were forced to become the only three piece death metal act in the UAE when Ahmet Gecekusu left Dubai for higher education.

Sticking to their guns, Perversion started to accumulate fans, or as they like to call them “perverts,” by playing local gigs, and with the release of their EP “The Origins of Horror” in 2008 people were able to enjoy such deities as “Venomous Semen” and “Dementia of Devourment” in the privacy of their own homes. They are currently working on their debut album “Pillars of the Enlightened”. You can check out songs on their Youtube channel as well as on their MySpace. Here's a video of the band playing "Pillars of the Enlightened":

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