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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Texas

There are a plethora of high-quality metal bands emerging from the state of Texas, and those who only know the state for Pantera will be shocked to learn about the high number of extreme metal bands who call Texas home. In addition to classic extreme metal bands like Absu, Averse Sefira, Thornspawn, and Imprecation, there are also a number of newer bands who are waving the flag of Texas extreme metal high. Today, we'll take a look at a few newer bands who hail from central Texas (basically, the areas in and around Austin and San Antonio), starting with Hexlust. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pestilence

Since today marks the first time the Netherlands have appeared in the FIFA World Cup final since 1978, it seemed a good idea to revisit the country's contributions to the realm of metal, and probably one of the best contributions they made, was Pestilence. The band formed in 1986, originally adopted a thrash metal sound and was able to gain the attention of Roadrunner Records after releasing two demos, "Dysentry" and "The Penance." The signing with Roadrunner allowed them to release their first full length album in 1988, "Malleus Maleficarum." Guitarist Randy Meinhard quit the band soon after the album's release, and was replaced by Patrick Uterwijk, with whom the band recorded their next studio album, "Consuming Impulse," which followed a much more death metal orientated sound. The album was well received in the extreme metal crowd and helped the band to achieve an international fanbase.

Although they found some success with "Consuming Impulses," vocalist/bassist Martin Van Drunen left the band to become the frontman of Asphyx, leaving the rest of the group to find new members. They filled the gaps in the band by enlisting Cynic bassist Tony Choy and vocalist Patrick Mameli, and recorded a new album of original material named, "Testimony Of The Ancients" in 1991. Although the album wasn't considered as harsh as previous records, the band demonstrated an obvious growth in musical ability and skill, as well as much better production. They would record one more album in the 1990's, this time with Jeroen Paul Thesseling on bass and incorporating jazz fusion into their sound. The resulting album, "Spheres" was released in 1993 and earned the band an even bigger fanbase, but unfortunately, tensions within Pestilence also grew, and the band decided to call it a day in 1994.

However, after fourteen years of inactivity, vocalist Patrick Marmeli decided to resurrect the band as a three piece, with him performing vocal and guitar duties, bass player Tony Choy and Darkane drummer Peter Wildoer. The new lineup of the band recorded a brand new album entitled, "Resurrection Macabre," which saw a release in 2009 through Mascot Records. That same year, bassist Tony Choy once again left the band, to be replaced by Jeroen Paul Thesseling, who is also the current bass player for Obscura. The reformed band are currently working on their next album, tentatively entitled, "Doctrine" and plan to release it in 2011. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Rumor Mill

Bret Michaels (Poison) is currently in discussions with Executives of American Idol over potentially being a judge for next year’s season. Even for FOX this is a little obvious, why not mix it up and throw Steven Adler (Adler’s Appetite, ex-Guns N Roses) in the mix, sitting next to Ellen (every five minutes whispering in her ear “I like lesbians”). Actually, why not really go for broke and have Adler, soft-spoken Slash (Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N Roses), and Ozzy Osbourne as the judges, no one will understand a word which would be a welcomed change. Of course, we keep on Ellen because, well, we do like lesbians… More...

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Pit Stories: "Small Dick Bitch"

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Scott Hedrick and Chance Garnette from thrash metal band Skeletonwitch talk about the crazy partyers at a pizza shop show.

Skeletonwitch will start July by doing some of their own shows en route to Vancouver, BC, where they'll meet up with High On Fire for a cross Canadian trek. The tour will culminate with the band appearing at the Heavy MTL festival in Montreal, along with Slayer, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Mastodon, and more. The band will then head out with Ozzfest where they'll be appearing on the second stage along with former tour partners Goatwhore and Saviious, and other acts.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories!

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Sunday Old School: Carcass

Last December we took a look at Napalm Death, the British band who is credited with the invention of grindcore, and saw how they were related to a number of other highly recognized names in extreme metal. This week we examine one of those bands, who may very well be just as acclaimed as Napalm Death, Carcass. Carcass was formed by guitarist Bill Steer and drummer Ken Owen under the name of Disattack. The band recorded one demo entitled, "The Bomb Drops..." before deciding to hire new members in the form of vocalist Sanjiv and former Electro Hippies frontman Jeff Walker on bass. Not long after these two joined the band, Steer was recruited as the new guitarist of Napalm Death and recorded the second side of their debut album, "Scum" in March 1987, with Jeff Walker designed the album's front cover. Shortly after recording "Scum," Disattack changed their name to Carcass and the group recorded their first demo under the new moniker, entitled "Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment." This would prove to be the only recording the band made with Sanjiv, who left the band soon after, leaving Walker and Steer to share vocal duties, with some help from drummer Ken Owen.

This lineup of the band released their first album, "Reek Of Putrefaction" in 1988 and despite being very unhappy with the end result, received a positive fedback from many crtics and fans of extreme music, with legendary British DJ John Peel claiming it was his favourite album of the year and inviting the band to perform a coveted "Peel Session" on his show. Carcass would expand on this success with a second album in 1990 named, "Symphonies Of Sickness," which moved away from their previous grindcore sound somewhat, into a more death metal orientated territory. While touring in support of the album, the band decided to recruit a second guitarist in the form of Michael Ammott, who would later go on to form the popular band, Arch Enemy. After recording another Peel Session, the band recorded their first full length album as a four piece, "Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious." With it's better production and catchy title, Carcass would expand their fan base some more with this album, along with a mandatory schedule of heavy touring, including the Gods Of Grind tour with Cathedral (which includes former Napalm Death singer Lee Dorrian), Entombed and Confessor. Carcass also released an EP to coincide with the tour called, "Tools Of The Trade" which featured a new song, as well as re-recorded versions of other songs and the track "Incarnated Solvent Abuse" from the previous album. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Books NOT Coming Soon

With the onslaught of eighties rock autobiographies and even more biographies set to be released over the next several months; a look at some of the books that didn’t make the cut.

“Mark F’n Slaughter”
The Mark Slaughter story. An entire chapter focuses on (with proof) that he was in fact born with the name: Mark Slaughter. Even at page ten it begins to feel like a long read.

“Growing Old Gracefully, The Sebastian Bach Story”
Bach walks us through a child hood not full of rock star dreams, but dreams of reality television, specifically weight loss television shows. “I remember when I was five, I remember thinking, man I can’t weight to put on a few extra pounds and then show the world I can lose half the extra weight I gained.” If I had to describe the book in one word, it would have to be DEEP… More...

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Pit Stories: Ain't Got Time To Bleed, Part 2

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week The Red Chord drummer Mike Justian shares one from their recent tour of Japan:

March 24, 2010. Tokyo, Japan. The Red Chord was performing the last show of a mini tour with Between The Buried And Me. Anticipation was high as the curtains opened to reveal an excited TRC for a zealous Japanese crowd. The heat was hot and my biorhythm wasn't cooperating with my under-nourished appendages, but the show was nevertheless happening and the crowd's enthusiasm was undeniable. During our third song, a large Caucasian mook of a man appears on the stage, meandering around as though he was looking for his beer. When, from out of nowhere, he runs from behind Greg (Weeks), pushes his bass into his head and dives off of the stage. I thought nothing of it until I saw that Greg was stumbling and bleeding profusely from his eye.

Obviously I was concerned so I gave him my towel and shortly after he exited the stage for a number of minutes. Unsure about whether he would be able to continue, Mike and I jammed for a bit, hoping for his return. Eventually he did come back but had to play most of the set lying down and half blind. It was at this point that my respect for Greg reached an even higher plateau than I thought possible, for his willingness to recognize that the show must go on even if your eye explodes.

The Red Chord hits the road in July with The Summer Slaughter Tour 2010 with Decapitated, The Faceless, All Shall Perish, and more.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Nashville, TN

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.

Nashville is home to top-charting hit-makers like Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Ke$ha, and others, but has a dark underside where metal bands thrive. Psychedelic doom metal act Clorange, progressive metal act Invicta, and symphonic black metal band Cernunnos! are the subjects of this Unearthing.

The Nashville scene revolves around several known venues – The End, The Muse, Rocketown, and Exit/In – with nightly local shows. A fair share of bands that have become national touring acts have gotten their start here in Nashville and the surrounding towns of Murfreesboro and Knoxville, such as Whitechapel, Enfold Darkness and Destroy Destroy Destroy. Nashville is also home to the music studio of famed Soilwork guitarist/producer Peter Wichers. With no shortage of studios and talent in this town, bands are able to find each other, play lots of shows, and record very easily, releasing albums just the way they want. More...

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Sunday Old School: Stuck Mojo

Rap metal is a genre that has long been the subject of much criticism within the heavy metal community. Most fans when thinking of the term, tend to be reminded of the late '90s/early Century nu-metal genre and bands like Limp Bizkit. However, before the nu metal phase came into effect, there were a handful of bands that dared to mix heavy metal music with hip-hop frontmen, following the example set by Anthrax and Public Enemy.

One of the earliest of these bands was the Atlanta based Stuck Mojo, who could shred with the best and featured influences as wide as Black Sabbath to Run D.M.C. The group was formed in 1989 by guitarist Rich Ward and continued for a further six years before they were able to release their first full length album, "Snappin' Necks" in 1995 through Century Media Records. The band wasn't well received at first, with some critics labelling the band as Rage Against The Machine clones and even facing prejudice as a result of their African-American frontman Bonz. However, they were better received in Europe, where they won the MTV Europe Award for Best Live Act. The band released a second album the next year entitled, "Pigwalk" which, while not receiving many more favourable reviews, helped to expand their fan base across the globe. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Ozzy vs. Jesus

Slash (ex-Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver) will be getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A compliment to his body of work, but backhanded at best given he is part of a list that includes Ed O’Neil (Al Bundy) and Neil Patrick-Harris (Doogie Howser)… More...

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Pit Stories: Taking A Header Into The Floor

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod talks about the lengths an enthusiastic female fan went to to capture their attention. More...

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Unearthing the Cello Metal Underground, Part 2

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. The first time I featured cello and violin metal, I put the genre in context with an introduction about Apocalyptica's influence, and featured three fantastic cello and violin metal bands, Judgement Day, Heavin, and Grayceon. Those bands tend to use both violins and cellos, but today I'm going to focus on some more bands that have followed more closely in Apocalyptica's footsteps and are largely classical cello ensembles who cover or play heavy metal.

Primitivity

Primitivity is a cello and percussion ensemble from the Washington, DC area that blends elements of classical and heavy metal music. Cellist Loren Westbrook-Fritts composes the music and provides the leads, while cellists David Teie of the National Symphony, Kristin Ostling of the Baltimore Symphony, and Mauricio Betanzo of the Maryland Symphony all shred out intense riffs and harmonies. Percussionist Robby Burns from the University of Maryland completes the band with rumbling drum hits. Specializing in the music of Megadeth, Apocalyptica, and Metallica, Primitivity has also written some of their own original compositions. The band released "Plays Megadeth For Cello" earlier this year.

Check out one of the band's original compositions, "Convergence" below.

For one of their heavier original songs, also check out "Sacrifice" on their MySpace player, as well as numerous metal covers. More...

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Sunday Old School: Onslaught

When one thinks of thrash metal, the two countries that come to mine are the United States and Germany. However thrash had it's scenes all over the world. From Canada to Australia to Brazil and beyond, there was no country that thrash didn't touch and of course, Great Britain was no exception. Although the British thrash scene is largely overlooked, those who bother to explore it will find some of the best thrash of it's time and most were in agreement, that the best of these was Onslaught. Onslaught was founded as a punk band in the vein of Discharge and The Exploited by Nige Rockett in Bristol, England in 1983, being quickly joined by drummer Steve Grice. The band released a demo later that year before releasing an EP entitled, "What Lies Ahead" in the same year, which featured new members Jase Pope and Paul Hill.

Hill was soon to be replaced by Jase Stallard and the group took on a more metal orientated approach to songwriting and signed to Children Of The Revolution Records, under whom they released their debut album, "Power From Hell" in 1985. The album contained lyrics which were satanic in nature and also featured a song entitled, "Death Metal," leading to some metal fans crediting the band with coining the term, along with Possessed. That same year, vocalist Paul Mahoney moved to the position of second guitarist, when the band hired vocalist Sy Keeler. This lineup travelled to London to record their second album, "The Force" in 1986, which is now regarded as one of the genre's true classic albums, containing such thrash anthems as "Let There Be Death" and "Flame Of The Antichrist." After the release of "The Force," the band signed to major label London Records for their next album, though things did not go as well as they had hoped. Under pressure from the label, the band let Keeler go and hired Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett, in an attempt to help the band reach a more mainstream fan base. The subsequent album, "In Search Of Sanity" was released in 1989 but proved to be a disappointment for hardcore fans, oweing to the change in vocals and more polished production. Grimmett left the band soon after and the band was dropped from their label, before deciding to call it a day in 1991.

Key members Steve Grice and Nige Rockett remained good friends throughout the inactivity of Onslaught, and upon finding out that a record label had been selling Onslaught albums without permission, the two decided to reform the band. They contacted Sy Keeler who soon agreed to rejoin the band, along with bassist Jim Hinder, who had performed with the group during the "In Search Of Sanity" era. The band performed some low key gigs, along with supporting slots to the likes of Venom, before releasing a new studio album entitled, "Killing Peace" in 2007. The album was regarded as a natural follow up to "The Force" and was extremely well received from fans and critics alike. Since the release of the album, Onslaught have been touring relentlessly to take their rightful place as one thrash metal's true greats, performing all over the world and releasing a live album entitled, "Live Damnation" in the process. The band are currently working on their fifth studio album, which is expected to be released later this year. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Heroic Bad Ass Moments

Last week Slash (Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N Roses) was attacked on stage by a man attempting to tackle him from behind. The guitarist literally brushed off the offender and continued to play (on a broken guitar that would be replaced). In honor of this move this week we look at some of the heroic and/or bad ass (rating of 10) and not so heroic/or not so bad ass (rating of 1) moments from the world of videos. More...

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Pit Stories: A New Level of Stage Diving

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Johnny Fatts of Brooklyn heavy rock/metal band Black Water Rising shares one of his thousand pit stories for your entertainment, taking stage diving to a whole new level.

So it was 1992 or 1993 at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC and Pantera was in town on the Vulgar Display tour. They did 2 nights if I remember correctly and me being a metal fanatic, I had to go both nights like I normally do when one of my favorite bands plays multiple nights. Me being the nutjob that I am, I naturally HAVE to be up in the front and make myself be the most noticed idiot in the room so the band knew I was there and was the craziest fucker in the crowd. Night #1 they opened with "Fucking Hostile" and the place goes ape shit, kids climbing to the middle of the PA system which in height was about stage level maybe a little lower and diving off. So I jump the barrier and do a dive or 2 off the PA. It was fun but it just didn't cut the mustard for me and since everyone was doing it, it wasn't very memorable so I had to outdo myself and everybody else. The show carries on and there were the circle pits and crowd surfers, etc.etc but I still wasn't pleased with my pit performance yet HAHAHA!!!!

Night #2 they open with "A New Level" and that being my favorite at the time I lose my shit completely. I already knew what I was going to do before I got to the show but didn't expect that song as the opener and it made it that much better. So the lights go out and I jump the barrier to the PA again, this time the middle wasn't good enough so I climbed my crazy ass to the very top of it without anyone seeing me. Now this is about 6-8 ft above stage level so I'm pretty high up there, the lights go on and here I am standing on top of the PA above Pantera in front of about 4,000 maniacs all yelling jump. Security now see me and start to try and climb the PA to get me, now the band sees me and all I hear is Phil Anselmo yell "JUMP", so I dive off of this fuckin' thing and freefall directly on top of my friends and smashed my nuts right on one of their heads. YES IT HURT A LOT!!!!! That by far is one of my best pit stories and to this day I am still pissed that it never made it to the Pantera home videos, would've loved to see what it looked like from a different set of eyes HAHAHAHA!!!!!!

Black Water Rising just added some more summer dates. In the meantime, check out some of their music on the band's MySpace player.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Taiwan, Part 2

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. A while back, I wrote about some of the heaviest bands to come out of Taiwan in recent years. This week I am showcasing a few more great bands from the burgeoning Formosa metal scene. More...

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Sunday Old School: Les Légions Noires

The LLN. The Les Légions Noires. The Black Legions. By whatever name, they were an infamous group of underground black metal artists/bands that emerged from France in the early 90s in response to the newly born Norwegian second wave of black metal (bands like Mayhem, Burzum and Emperor). With a penchant for prolific demo output, next to no full lengths, rough and raw material, barely audible/listenable recordings, obscure naming conventions, true satanic piety and rabid anti-commercialism - the LLN made a name for themselves by intensifying almost every black metal stereotype known to the metal community. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Dr. Ozzy

Recent news of Ratt canceling their European tour due to Stephen Pearcy needing a hernia operation confirms what the lead singer has been hinting at for years, he really is doing the heavy lifting for this band…

SpikeTV aired their annual Guys Choice Awards this past week, awarding Ozzy Osbourne with the Literary Achievement award for his autobiography. In other rumored news, Ozzy will receive be receiving an honorary Medical Degree in Pharmaceuticals for his consistent stoned performance on The Osbournes… More...

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Pit Stories: III Stories of Unfortunate Events

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Jessie Freeland, vocalist for The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza who's readying their new album "Danza III: The Series of Unfortunate Events," shares three "unfortunate events" from the pit.

Honestly there have been sooooooooo many tales from the pit we have seen over the years. Hmmmmmmm! I guess I can give you three that come to mind immediately. I don't remember the places, dates, or venues, but I do remember the events and they were all unfortunate.

First show that comes to mind we were probably only 45 seconds into the first song and the crowd was def already getting stupid. These are always the most fun shows to play but shit can get ridiculous sometimes and it didn't take to long for that to happen. Stage dives turned into crowd surfing and this one dude in particular reached up and tried to use the stage lights as his own personal jungle gym. Sparks, ceiling tile, and electrical currents went everywhere. The next time I saw him it looked like his head was still smoking...

Another time was after a show in the parking lot. I didn't see exactly what happend to this dude "in the pit," but his face was most definitely fucked up! He walked up to me and handed me what used to be his prescription glasses and told me thanks for the best show of his life. WTF do you say to something like that!?!?! I could only nod my head and tell him to go to the hospital ASAP!

The last one happened very recently on the Road To Metalfest tour. There was this little girl, maybe like 15, in the front row. At one point this dude three times her size jumps off the stage and CRUSHED her and her friends. I swear to god, I thought it killed her. I stopped playing to check on her and make sure she wasn't broken in half. I was seriously relieved to see her stand back up in one piece and I made it a point to find her after the show and hook her up with a free Danza t-shirt.

Danza's new album, "Danza III: The Series of Unfortunate Events," hits stores July 6 on Black Market Activities. You can check out the cover art and a preview of the album here.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Perth, Part 2

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. I’ve already put the spotlight on some Perth death metal bands - this week I am checking out some Perth bands that don’t quite fit in with any other group. More...

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