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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground we’ll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week we’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.
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":
By many outsiders, heavy metal has been dismissed as "music for idiots," but time and time again, heavy metal bands have proved the naysayers wrong by displaying well researched and intelligent lyrics, along with complex musicianship. One of the best examples of "thinking man's heavy metal," comes from Canadian progressive thrashers, Voivod. The band was formed in the town of Jonquière, Quebec in 1982, and like many of their contemporaries, where influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, as well as hardcore punk and seventies progressive rock bands such as Yes. By fusing these influences, Voivod forged their own brand of heavy metal, which would satisfy the average headbanger, as well as any music critic. The band were also known for adopting aliases. Lead singer Denis Belanger became known as, "Snake," guitarist Denis D'Amour went by the name, "Piggy," drummer and band artist Michel Langevin used the moniker, "Away" and bassist Jean-Yves Theriault named himself, "Blacky." The group released their first studio album, "War And Pain" in 1984, which followed a more speed metal style than future releases.
Their second album, "Rrröööaaarrr" featured a speed metal theme once again before the band began incorporating their love of progressive rock with their next album, "Killing Technology." The album earned the band a spot as one of the more unique young metal bands, and the group continued this path with their next album, "Dimension Hatross," which has become one of their most acclaimed albums to date and featured the staple song, "Tribal Convictions," as well as a comical cover of the 1960's Batman television show theme song. Their next album, "Nothingface," saw the band break through into the mainstream somewhat, as it became their first album to enter the Billboard charts and featured a minor hit in the form of the band's cover of the Pink Floyd song, "Astronomy Domine." Not only was it successful in terms of sales, but it gained universal praise for it's musicianship and songwriting prowess. More...
Recently, Slash (Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N Roses) was discussing Alice Cooper, mentioning he believes Cooper is the most dramatic and the best at on-stage horror theatrics. Thanks Slash, I guess that’s the least you can say considering you stole his top hat shtick … More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Ben Falgoust of Goatwhore discusses small bars and "The Four Corners of the Apocalypse." (That is not a Goatwhore song title.):
Here's a transcription of that video segment:
Ben Falgoust: “We’ve had some pretty rowdy pits, you know. A recent one, we played Wisconsin and it got pretty rowdy. It wasn’t crazy…well, the pit was sort of crazy. But the people at the front seemed even more crazy and they were just throwing alcohol all night. Basically, the whole stage, it’s the stage and then monitors, it was just liquor all on it. Beer, drinks, everything. Even to, we have points where we played this place that’s up near Albany, New York, a place called Popeye’s Pub. It’s a small little place. It’s the smallest place you can imagine seeing a band. This place is small. But the show was fun. Actually, the stage was bigger than the floor space the people were on. And the back wall of that was about to give way into this yard. So at any given moment these people could have been shoved if the whole back wall fell out. But in this little tight area, it just broke out on the floor and it was so crazy cause the area was so fucking small and these people were like…It was like all the sudden you step two feet, and turned around, and someone was plowing into you. It was almost like you didn’t have time to maneuver what you wanted to do on the floor. So that was great too. And sometimes when we get a really good rowdy crowd, we do this called the Four Corners of the Apocalypse. They have this big thing called the Wall of Death where two lines come and they clash. We took it a step further and made it the four corners of the room, and everybody goes toward the center and just…it’s chaos.
Buick: I bet that makes a great noise.
Ben: Yeah, bones cracking and things like that. It’s always pretty exciting. Um, let’s see. Anything else fairly exciting? Every show is a different experience, you know? So after this I’ll think of something. I’ll say, “Oh, damn! That situation was fucking crazy.” Yeah, there’s a lot of different ones, man. We’ve played from big places to small places, but I really like the aggression of the small places because you’re locked into so much area. So when it breaks out, there’s nowhere to really go. It’s like you’re trapped, so everybody in that area is sucked into it and has to partake in it unless they just leave the room because the area is so small. But then again the big places, if the whole place is ready to roll and do something crazy and you can ignite them to go off, that’s pretty fucking intense as well. Like an entire floor.
Don't miss the show report from Goatwhore's return to New Orleans.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Do a little digging and you’ll find a metal scene in just about every country around the developed world. So it should come as no surprise that there is, in fact, a thriving underground swell of support for the dark arts known broadly as metal in South Korea. From the southern port city of Busan to the sprawling capital of Seoul, metal lives in the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. Here’s a look at three of the bands keeping the scene alive and growing in Seoul.
Melodic black metal band Oathean is one of, if not the longest running metal act in South Korea. Oathean was founded in 1993 as a death metal band, then known as Odin, and didn’t adopt its current sound until 1997. A year later the band released its first album under the Oathean moniker, “The Eyes of Tremendous Sorrow.” Since then, Oathean has released four more full-length albums, the latest a self-titled effort that came out this past summer. Oathean enjoyed a brief glimpse of broad exposure in 2005 when their album, “Falling Away into the Grave of Nothingness,” was released in North America via The End records. All other Oathean records bar their debut have been released on band founder, vocalist, and guitarist Do So Kim’s own label, Jusin Productions, marketed as the first extreme metal label in South Korea.
Kim is also the man who brings many of the major touring metal bands to Seoul, as well as being the driving force behind the Asia Metal Festival ongoing series of concerts featuring bands from around Asia and further abroad. What’s more, he is the owner of a rock and metal bar in the trendy Hongdae district of the city, Sapiens 7, and he also owns a large concert hall located in the Sangsangmadang building in the same area, making him an all but indispensable part of the local metal scene as both a promoter and performer.
Oathean’s sound incorporates traditional Korean instruments and, at times, haunting operatic backing vocals into lengthy compositions inspired by the likes of Dissection and Emperor to create a truly compelling mix of Scandinavian and Korean soundscapes. The band has toured to Taiwan and Japan several times, and shared the stage with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Kreator, and Graveworm. Oathean currently has a lengthy European tour in support of their latest release in the planning stages, their first sojourn to the continent in the band’s history.