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

Archive: Columns

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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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Sunday Old School: Rose Tattoo

When thinking about Australia's contribution to hard rock and heavy metal, 99% of people will instantly think of AC/DC, which is fair enough, but many of these same people tend to overlook another of the country's best exports, Rose Tattoo. Rose Tattoo were undeniably one of the hardest rocking bands to ever plug into an amp and they proved it by not just writing some fantastic songs, but by taking the stage with a ferocious attitude that bands like Guns 'N Roses would later be known for. The band was formed in 1976 in the city of Sydney by guitarist Peter Wells, who was formerly a member of the heavy metal band Buffalo. The original lineup also featured vocalist Tony Lake, guitarist Leigh Johnston, drummer Michael Vandersluys and bass player Ian Rilen, who taught himself the instrument while he was in prison. Johnston was soon to be replaced by Mick Cocks however, and shortly afterwards, more lineup changes occured, most notably the new addition of notorious frontman Gary "Angry" Anderson. The band released a single on Albert Productions named "Bad Boy For Love" after being recommended to the label by AC/DC. This would mark the only recording with Gilen, who left soon afterwards to form the punk rock band X.

Rose Tattoo followed the single by releasing a self-titled album in 1978, which entered the Australian Top 40 and began to become involved in social issues when they released a single supporting the legalisation of marijuana entitled, "Legalise Realise." A short while later, the band began to achieve success in foreign markets when their debut album, (re-released under the name Rock And Roll Outlaw) entered the British charts at number 60, the German charts at number five and the French charts at number two. They released a second album in 1981 named, "Assault And Battery" which entered the Australian Top 30 and topped the British heavy metal charts, just like the band's previous release. After gaining a following in Europe and the United Kingdom, the band recorded a third album, "Scarred For Life" and set their sights on the United States, supporting the likes of ZZ Top and Aerosmith. While the tours didn't prove to be the groundbreaking introduction they needed, they left a resounding impression on some audiences, particularly in Los Angeles, with many bands from the area later citing Rose Tattoo as an influence. Several lineup changes occured soon after they got back from the States and Anderson recorded what was intended to be a solo album named, "Beats From A Single Drum," however due to contractual issues, it was released under the Rose Tattoo moniker. The band split soon after and Anderson earned himself a hit single with the song "Suddenly" after it was used in the popular soap opera, "Neighbours."

A brief reunion happened in 1993 when Guns 'N Roses asked them to support the group on their Australian tour. Although the reformation didn't last as long as fans hoped, a second reunion occured in 1998, eventually resulting with the album, "Pain" in 2002, their first studio album in sixteen years, along with a live album entitled, "25 To Life." Although the band would suffer a set back when guitarist Peter Wells passed away in 2006, they soldiered on and released a new album, "Blood Brothers" in 2007. Sadly the band has been mainly inactive in recent months, owing to the death of guitarist Mick Cocks in December 2009. Though not as largely known by fans of heavy metal and hard rock audiences of today as they arguably should be, Rose Tattoo have undoubtedly carved a place in music history as one of the most aggressive, though simultaniously fun bands to ever emerge from Australia. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Ozzy Factor

Jon Bon Jovi has reportedly quit cigarettes due to the high cost of smoking. Other areas Jon is rumored to be more frugal are: wearing Dockers instead of designer jeans, cutting his hair shorter to save on inflating shampoo costs, and switch from Aqua-Net to Walgreens brand hairspray…

Spirit of The Wild, Ted Nugent’s television show that takes you into the life of hunting with Ted, will return in HD to the Outdoor Channel. It will be nice to have a clear picture during sweeps week when Nugent takes out an entire herd of buffalo, with one bullet… More...

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Pit Stories: Midgets Love Slayer

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Sick Of It All vocalist Lou Koller shares a tale of midgets moshing in the pit:

We were on tour with Slayer, and it was Slayer, us, and Meshuggah in 1999. I believe it was in New Mexico. For some reason there was a real odd number we saw, a lot of Mexican midgets at the Slayer show. And they weren’t together. We were hanging out at the merch booth waiting to go on and we counted seven different Mexican midgets. When the show started, in the middle of the set, the Slayer fans in New Mexico were taking their shirts off, lighting them on fire, and then running around with them in the pit. That was one of the craziest things we’ve ever seen. So apparently midgets in New Mexico love Slayer.

Sick Of It All recently released their four years in the making album "Based On A True Story." You can check out an interview with Lou discussing the new album here.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It

During a recovery period that includes several appearances, a return to the stage, and only one week after Michaels took home the reality show title of Celebrity Apprentice, VH1 gives us Bret Michaels new show: Life As I Know It. The show, originally started production in April and was halted shortly after due to Bret’s appendectomy, then followed by his near fatal brain hemorrhage. One show (Monday’s) was completed. Production will continue in June and the show will continue in the Fall of 2010. More...

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Unearthing The Solo Metal Underground Part 2

Each week in "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we spotlight a few quality unsigned bands in an attempt to spread the word and expose acts that make the underground great. This week we’re returning again to the realm of solo extreme metal to uncover three more one-man bands.

Unlike our last foray into the world of solo musicians, these three groups aren’t restricted entirely to the black metal style. Instead we’ll be covering a wide range of musical projects that showcase how creativity and professional musicianship can flourish in the unlimited freedom of a solo band. More...

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Sunday Old School: Saxon

Some bands play heavy metal. Other bands embody it. And nobody embodies heavy metal quite like Saxon have been doing for over thirty years. Whilst the band appear to be somewhat overlooked these days, to a die hard fan of metal, there's no denying that Saxon are one of the greatest bands to ever emerge from the United Kingdom. The group was founded in the Yorkshire town of Barnsley back in 1976 under the name Son Of A Bitch but wisely decided to change the name to Saxon, which represented a long-time lyrical theme of the band, namely it's fascination with British history. The band quickly built up a following, becoming one of the leading bands in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and gained support slots with the likes of Motorhead before releasing their self-titled debut in 1979. While the first album didn't fare too well commercially or critically, the 1980 release "Wheels Of Steel" earned the band two hit singles with the album's title track and the song, "747 (Strangers In The Night)" along with the future fan favourite, "Motorcycle Man." The album itself proved successful too as it hit the British album charts at number five. The band released a third album, "Strong Arm Of The Law" only four months after "Wheels Of Steel," which also did well critically and sales wise and featured some of the band's best known work including, "20,000 Feet," "Dallas 1PM" and the title track. After this, the band completed the third album in what is regarded as their "classic album trilogy" and released "Denim And Leather" in 1981. The album also entered the British album charts, this time at number nine and once again featured future live staples such as "Princess Of The Night," "And The Bands Played On" and the anthemic title track.

Saxon then released "Power & The Glory," which, while not being their most acclaimed album in their catalogue, is their best selling. As a result of the record's success, the band were able to embark on a headlining run of European arenas, taking a little known German band by the name of Accept along with them. Saxon continued their streak of commercial success when they released "Crusader" in 1984 and took two struggling bands on the road with them named Krokus and Motley Crue, allowing these bands to reach wider audiences. The band were to experience a backlash of sorts however, when they released "Innocence Is No Excuse" in 1985, with many European fans accusing the band of "selling out" to try and reach a more commerical audience in America, though in recent years it has earned a place in the hearts of fans. The group continued to do well throughout the rest of the decade, but found major success in America somewhat hard to find, resulting in the band being released from EMI Records after the "Destiny" album was released in 1989. They then signed to Virgin Records and released a string of albums which went largely unnoticed by the media.

A career resurgence of sorts began to happen in the late '90s however, with the band being invited to headline such festivals as Bloodstock and Wacken Open Air. Commercial success reared it's head once again in 2007 when they took part in Harvey Goldsmith's "Get Your Act Together," where Goldsmith attempted to restore the band to the popularity it had experienced in the 1980s. He did so by bringing in two new producers to oversee the band's new single, "If I Was You," from their album, "The Inner Sanctum." The single entered the top ten in countries all around the globe. Their most recent album, "Into The Labyrinth" has seen them continue to gain critical acclaim and tour with the likes of Anvil and Doro supporting them. Although "Into The Labyrinth" was only released last year, there is reportedly already plans to record a new album, along with a new documentary movie on the way entitled, "Heavy Metal Thunder." Whether you're a fan or not, no-one can dispute that Saxon have earned their place in heavy metal history by being one of the hardest working and most dedicated bands in the business, with a loyalty to their genre that is unquestionable. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Revolver Awards Diary

The past weekend VH1 Classic showcased the Revolver Golden Gods Awards show (taped from April 9th), an annual show of hard rock and heavy metal awards chosen by the readers of the rock magazine, Revolver. You can catch reruns of this event twice daily, for the next eighteen months. More...

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Pit Stories: Gettin' Some with Nashville Pussy

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Nashville Pussy guitarist Ruyter shares their own tale from the cl*t pit:

Nashville Pussy was playing the Electric Lounge in Austin, Texas. Our drummer Jeremy's awesome parents were in attendance and his father doesn't ever swear so Blaine told the audience he'd asked Jeremy's dad if he minded that we'd be cussing that night on stage and Jeremy's father responded, "you should cuss even more tonight." Everyone laughed. Especially Jeremy's parents cause Blaine just made that story up on the spot.

The place was sold out and packed solid. The stage was only about 3 feet off the floor and some drunk woman in front of me was laying half way on the stage and grabbing at my monitor. She kept clinging to it like a life preserver and kind of jerking it back and forth across the stage with the beat and driving me Nuts! I was about to boot her in the head and get her the fuck off my monitor when I noticed the guy behind her had her skirt up over her back and was f*cking her from behind. I remember looking at the happy couple then quickly scanning the crowd to find Jeremy's parents standing at the back with big smiles on their faces.

That's my best Pit story. Fun for all ages.

Nashville Pussy is currently on tour in the apparently aptly named Parental Advisory tour with Green Jelly and Psychostick. Check out a report from one stop here and an interview with Ruyter here.

Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.

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