It’s amazing that some bands can have such a massive influence on a genre yet still remain unheard of by many music lovers. In this case, we’re talking about Virginia’s, Pentagram, who had an effect on the doom metal genre almost as great as Black Sabbath’s. The band was formed in 1971 by singer Bobby Liebling and drummer Geof O’Keefe, who were looking to form a band in the vein of some of the then recent underground sensations like Black Sabbath, UFO and Sir Lord Baltimore. The two found themselves going through a number of musicians all year until their bassist at the time, Vincent McAllister, switched to guitars and they recruited a new bassist in Greg Mayne and this lineup, known to fans as their "classic" lineup began rehearsing together on Christmas Day 1971. The group continued to write and perform material, but found their attempts at gaining major label interest were thwarted each time and the band eventually broke up with only a few demo recordings to their name, on New Year’s Eve 1975, two weeks after Bobby Liebling and his girlfriend were arrested.
In 1980, Liebling became the singer for a band named Death Row, which featured drummer Joe Hasselvander, who would later joing British heavy metal trio Raven, amongst others. After a while of performing together and including old Pentagram numbers in their set, the group decided to adopt the Pentagram name and much like the original incarnation of the band, found themselves struggling for years for a record deal. However, this time, their patience was rewarded when they decided to self-release an album in 1985 and begin to earn recognition from a wider section of heavy metal fans. Although the album was self-titled, it would eventually become known as "Relentless," after it was re-released through Peaceville Records in 1993 and is more commonly known by this mantle today. Their second album, "Day Of Reckoning" would follow in 1987, being released through Napalm Records this time. However, tensions rose once again and Pentagram called it a day soon afterwards. A quick reunion followed in 1993, just in time for the band to release their third album, "Be Forewarned" before they split up again.
Once more however, Pentagram would return, this time as a duo comprised of Liebling and Hasselvander and the two released two more albums, "Review Your Choices" in 1999 and "Sub-Basement" in 2001, before Hasselvander left. Rather than letting the band rest once more however, Liebling recruited a brand new lineup and they released, "Show ‘em How" in 2004, which featured only three original tracks, the rest of the record comprising of re-recorded older material. After the album’s release, the band went very quiet and was assumed to have broken up once again, before Liebling confirmed in 2008 that Pentagram were set to return with another new lineup. This time, the reunion shows went down very well with fans and the band found themselves being booked for more shows. After contacting many labels, the group finally found a new home when they signed to Metal Blade Records, through which they will release their new album, "Last Rites," their first in seven years, on April 12th. More...
Forgetting about his recent trouble with the law, Vince Neil (Motley Crue) joined Steel Panther on stage at the Ovation Showroom in Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas to sing Crue staples “Live Wire” and “Kick Start My Heart”. I’m not exactly sure where Green Valley Ranch is but I suspect the Ovation room is just down the hall from the Encore Center and Bravo-Bravo Hall… More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories from metal shows. This week Nils K. Rue of Pagan's Mind shares a story involving his psychic friend and a witch. Read on to see what that's all about:
A friend of mine is a psychic person, and sees both future, past and what's going on presently. He is deadly accurate in a lot of his visions, and I have proof for that. He also finds lost keys, missing persons etc. It may sound like bullshit to some, but there is evidence you just can't refuse to look past. He has helped me in a lot of matters, but since “the images” he gets in his head also is mixed sometimes into his very vivid and dramatic fantasy (and sense of humor), I have learnt over the years to filter out what he probably read in dungeons and dragons book or saw in a horror movie and what is a fact.
The first year I knew him, I didn't realize that some of his sayings were part of his fantasy, so he scared the hell out of me regularly – until I learned how to understand him and interpret “his language.” It could be like “there's an old man standing behind you right now, he is your grandfather (and he described him perfectly)” stuff, to “you will break big next year with a song that goes with these chords: E, F, G, C etc. Well, that didn’t happen…More...
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we give our readers a look at a few underground bands from scenes around the world to help spread the word about them. In March, I had the chance to do a short tour in Japan, and one of the tour stops was the city of Nagoya. While there, I had the opportunity to share the stage with and meet some of the prominent members of the Nagoya scene.
The members of Deaflock, formed in 2000, spend their days breaking their backs and risking their digits in the factories of Nagoya's industrial wasteland outskirts, and their nights breaking their necks in the city's downtown metal clubs with their own brand of Bay Area thrash. Bringing to mind acts such as Exodus, Heathen, Vio-lence, and Forbidden, Deaflock has an impressive knack for drawing out the rumbling hook and face stomping rhythms, with hints of melody and progressive elements as well. Signed to Arctic Music Group in the U.S. and Alkemist Fanatix in Europe for the re-release of its debut full length album, “Reality of False Pasts,” which first saw the light of day in April of 2008, Deaflock is now looking to break out in a big way, with plans for the next installment of their catalog to be released sometime next year. The band has also appeared on locally released compilation albums put out by various underground labels in Japan. More...
It’s nice when a band has a pet name for their fan base. For Slipknot, their fans are "Maggots." For Megadeth, it’s "Droogies" and Wolfsbane, it’s "Howling Mad Shitheads." The creators of this delightful tag came together in 1984 in Tamworth, a town situated in Staffordshire, England and rapidly got to work on building up a loyal fan base, releasing a string of demos along the way. Eventually, after five years slogging it out in the underground, they caught the attention of producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin, who signed them to his Def American record label and produced their debut album, "Live Fast, Die Fast: Wicked Tales Of Booze, Birds and Bad Language." The record was released in 1989 and instantly received favourable feedback from critics and heavy metal fans alike, and spawned two music videos for the songs, "Man Hunt" (which was featured on their first demo in 1985) and "I Like It Hot." The success of the album enabled the band to tour their native Britain with heavy metal giants Iron Maiden, who were supporting their "No Prayer For The Dying" album at the time.
The band achieved further praise from their fan base in 1990, when they released the mini album, "All Hell’s Breaking Loose At Kathy Wilson’s Place," a record named after the 1953 sci-fi film, "Invaders From Mars." Their success continued the next year when their second full length studio album, "Down Fall The Good Guys" was released. The record was notable in that it featured the group’s only charting single to date in the form of the track, "Ezy," which reached number 68 in the British Singles Charts. However, their popularity was not up to scratch across the Atlantic and Def American decided to drop the band from the label, citing poor record sales as the primary reason. Despite the setback however, they retained their popularity in the United Kingdom, and were voted the Unsigned Act Of The Year in 1993.
Wolfsbane then appeared to have found a new home with Bronze Company Records, through which they released a live album entitled, "Massive Noise Injection," which was recorded at London’s famous Marquee club in 1993. Following the release of the live album, the group released it’s eponymous third album in 1994, which to this day is hailed by many fans as their greatest work. Despite the perceived commercial revival however, the band were to suffer a serious blow in 1995, when lead singer Blaze Bayley left the group to become the new vocalist of Iron Maiden, who were searching for a new singer following the departure of Bruce Dickinson, resulting in Wolfsbane disbanding shortly afterwards. Though Blaze was only in Maiden for a four year spell, one which featured disappointing record sales and cancelled shows as a result of his allergic reaction to certain stage effects, the band continued to be laid to rest for some time, with Blaze forming a solo band and the other members involved in a new project called Stretch. Eventually however, a reunion of sorts did occur in 2007, in the form of fleeing performances at festivals, but in 2010, the band announced that they had reunited with more long term goals in mind, announcing plans for a new album amongst other targets. The band’s new record, an EP entitled, "Did It For The Money," will finally be released this month, when it hits shelves on April 9th, with a tour of the United Kingdom supporting fellow British metal veterans Saxon to follow. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories from metal shows. In this week's edition of Pit Stories, vocalist David Sanchez of up and coming thrash band Havok tells a tale of a house show gone out of control.
Every time we play a house show in St. Louis, it has been completely insane. We haven’t played a house show out there in a few years, but the last show we played was in somebody’s basement. The crowd punched out the ceiling of the basement completely. They punched out every tile so the ground was covered with dust and pieces of drywall. Also at that same show somebody jumped up onto the ventilation system for the house and knocked it down from the ceiling, so that was on the ground, there was dust and debris everywhere, and then apparently somebody threw a bunch of kitty litter in the toilet. So the toilet had to be removed from house that same night. So every time we play in St. Louis something crazy happens.
Havok released the new album "Time is Up" today, and the folks over at MetalSucks.net are currently streaming the entire release online. Head over here for details. You can also check out Metalunderground.com's interview with Havok about the new album at this location.
Be sure to check back next Tuesday for more pit stories.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground we take a look at unsigned bands gracing a given locale. This week we will glance at the scene from Connecticut. Often viewed as the vast wasteland between New York and Boston, Connecticut often gets overlooked in terms of it's metal scene. Particularly distressing, considering many acts such as Fates Warning, Nasty Disaster, The Breathing Process and Liege Lord have heralded from there. Currently there are well over a couple dozen unsigned indie metal acts actively blazing the scene, but today we will take a look at three of the best.
Curse the Son
Coming at you from Hamden is stoner doom metal monster Curse the Son. Fronted by scene veteran and NWOBHM aficionado Ron Vanacore on vocals and guitar and completed by Cheech and Rich Lemley respectively, they describe their music as "the sound of dinosaurs walking the earth." Laying down slabs of riffs and mind-warping song lyrics, they purport to be influenced by valium, MJ and zoloft. Their music will take your higher conscious into one trippy journey. They released a full-length, "Klonopain," on their own last year. To listen to Curse the Son's music, check out the band's My Space Page.
Curse the Son - "Pulsotar Bringer"
Raised in Long Island, New York the band Twisted Sister started as a seventies local glam band that would evolve into one of the most important heavy metal bands of the eighties (eventually flip-flopping and becoming more heavy metal with a dash of glam, opposite of their initial vision).
Twisted Sister was originally formed in 1972 by Jay Jay French. The band went through several line-up changes until 1979 when it settled on Dee Snider (vocals), Jay Jay French (guitar), Eddie Ojeda (guitar), Mark Mendoza (bass), and A.J. Pero (drums). In 1979 the band self released two singles and then was signed by Secret Records in the UK. With Secret they would release an EP titled “Ruff Cuts” and their first studio album, “Under the Blade,” which quickly became an underground hit. The band would then sign with Atlantic Records and put out their second studio album, “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll,” in 1983.
In 1984 Twisted Sister shocked the heavy metal world, releasing “Stay Hungry,” their contribution to an era that continues to define a decade. The album caught on with fans as well as government officials, organized as the P.R.M.C. (stands for the Parents Resource Music Center which is the least intimidating name I’ve ever heard). Twisted Sister was called out for their rebellious lyrics in the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” It was a strange group that included Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., and Motley Crue as well as Madonna, Sheena Easton, and Prince. These proceedings eventually led to the “Explicit Material” or Tipper Sticker found on the cover of albums, cassettes, and CDs. After “Stay Hungry” the band would release the album “Come Out and Play” and then later, thought more of a Dee Snider solo project, the album “Love Is for Suckers” was released. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories from metal shows. This week's pit story comes courtesy of Jeannie Saiz from sludge metal trio Shroud Eater, who shared the following story of a bar room brawl.
At one of the last gigs we played, the evening started with two ladies at the bar breaking out into a sudden brawl - bar stools to the face and everything! As the second band of the night played, there was a whirlwind of like six fights breaking out at once. People were jumping on the bar to get out of the way and the cops showed up, lights went on, and the show almost got canceled on the spot as you can imagine the owner was pretty upset.
Luckily, we had an awesome friend who helped us book the show talk to the owner and he let us play. We did a killer set amidst some high tensions, so it was definitely a crazy evening.
Shroud Eater is currently streaming the entire debut album "ThunderNoise" online via the band's
Band Camp profile. You can also check out Metalunderground.com's recent interview with Jeannie at this location.
Check back next Tuesday as we share more Pit Stories.
Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that haven't gotten as much exposure yet as they should. This week we'll dig into three rocking outfits all hailing from The Republic of Ireland.
Great Britain may be more well known for their heavy metal, but a short trip West finds that the Republic of Ireland has just as strong a heavy metal background. One could even argue that the Irish metal underground is much more varied than the British, boasting a large number of thrash, black, death and in particular doom metal bands. This week we’ll be taking a look at three of the country’s lesser known bands.
Proudly claiming themselves to be the world’s only Gaelic doom metal band, Dublin’s Mael Mordha, who take their name from the King of Leinster who led a gruesome rebellion against the High King of Ireland, Brian Ború in 998, formed exactly one thousand years after their namesake’s revolt. They signed with German label, Grau in 2005 and released their first full length album, "Cluain Tarbh" the same year, along with a split record with fellow Irishmen Primordial. Since then, the band has released two more studio albums, with the most recent being, "Manannan" in 2010.
Mael Mordha - "The Serpent And The Black Lake"
Mael Mordha - "Godless Commune Of Sodom"
Thrash metal was unquestionably a phenomenon considering it reached heavy metal fans all over the globe without ever really becoming mainstream. It also spawned numerous scenes in countries such as Germany, Great Britain and even Brazil. Despite it’s wide travels though, a lot of thrash novices are still surprised that even Australia had a premier thrash outfit during the 1980s. That band was Mortal Sin. The group was formed in Sydney in 1985 by singer Mat Maurer and drummer Wayne Campbell before quickly recruiting bass player Andy Eftichiou and guitarists Keith Krstin and Neville Reynolds, though Reynolds was to befired by the band for being unable to make their first show and was replaced by Paul Carwana. Gigging relentlessly, the band built up a strong following in the Australian metal underground and soon recorded a full length demo tape entitled, "Mayhemic Destruction," which rapidly won the band a record deal with British label, Phonogram Records, who released the album internationally.
They next recorded their sophomore album, "Face Of Despair," which was produced by Randy Burns, who was known for his work with other big name thrash metal bands such as Megadeth and Kreator. The album took the better of a year to recorded and distributed but soon after the record’s release, the band received further exposure by being booked to support Metallica on their Australian tour. Following the tour, Campbell was sacked from the band and the group brought in Slaughter Lord drummer Steve Hughes, who now works as a stand up comedian and has appeared on numerous television shows, to sit behind the kit. They then left the land down under to perform shows in Europe and the United States but once they returned home, Maurer announced he was leaving the band, which soon led to it’s demise, though a new incarnation formed afterwards and, while popular, soon folded ultimately split for a number of reasons.
In 1996 however, the band reunited with most of the, "Face Of Despair" lineup, though Carwana was to take leave almost immediately after reforming. Nevertheless, the band soon recorded a new EP entitled, "Revolution of the Mind" and embarked on a national tour, which did not fare as well as the band hoped and caused them to once again split in 1998. Once again however, the band would rise from the ashes, thanks this time to Maurer and Eftichiou, who enlisted the help of other musicians to bring back Mortal Sin. The band soon found themselves performing at such events as Wacken Open Air and sharing the stage with the likes of Michael Schenker and fellow Aussies, Rose Tattoo. The comeback was well received and the band then recorded their fourth release, "An Absence Of Faith," which was released in 2007. Since then, the band has continued to perform regularly and has supported such big names as Judas Priest, Testament and Overkill, as well as touring in South America, as well as releasing a live album entitled, "Into The Inferno," with a new album expected to be released by next year. More...
This week Duff McKagan (Loaded, ex-Guns N Roses) put to rest the rumor that Guns N Roses will be reuniting for next year’s Super Bowl. Even I knew that. Everyone knows there won’t be a football season next year… More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories from metal shows. In this week's edition of Pit Stories, vocalist/guitarist Eric Horner from Throne of Malediction shares a story of a groupie cat fight:
I had a fun time at a Cradle of Filth/Nachtmystium show at The Knitting Factory, February 12th, in Spokane Washington. Seeing killer bands in my local area and gaining VIP access (along with my key player, Nick), thanks to Blake from Nachtmystium, were highlights. While watching and filming Cradle of Filth play in the VIP section, a few ladies decided to duke it out. One of them was a lady that was hanging out with me and the band members earlier. It was quite a surreal sight, seeing a brawl, with a great band playing. Kind of made my show better, to say the least.
I took some video of the scene. Along with other footage from the show. I am not sure why they even battled, but it was kind of interesting, unexpected, scene. There were hair extensions laying about afterward. The VIP section had a blast swinging them about and fashioning fake beards from the hair pieces. I also heard there was a fight in the pit around the same time. Must have been the metal-hungry crowd in Spokane, Washington. I want to thank the bands for stopping out!
You can check out several Throne of Malediction songs available for streaming or free download through the band's Revernation page.
Be sure to check back next Tuesday for more pit stories.
Every week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we take a look at three quality bands that haven't gotten as much exposure yet as they should. This week we'll dig into three rocking outfits all hailing from Croatia.
Croatia isn't typically the first band one thinks of when looking for new bands, but metal is famous for being an international phenomena with amazing groups coming from the least well known places. We'll start off our look at Croatian extreme metal acts with two bands heavily influenced by black metal and one that heads into much more groovy territory.
J.W. Pozoj is an act that mixes the old school black metal vibe with a series of avant-garde and artsy song arrangements. From the abrasive and harsh vocals to the atmospheric clean segments, there's a little of something for everyone from this fantastic act that should be more well known among black metal fans.
The group has a trilogy of linked albums going through the cycle of “Birth,” “Escape,” and “Return.” You can check out Metalunderground.com's review of "Escape of Pojoz" at this location or read our interview with the band members discussing their music here.
To get a taste of what J.W. Pozoj has to offer, check out the band's MySpace page or listen to the songs “I Am The Forest," “Careless Are Your Souls," and “Hisperia” in the clips below.
It seems that in the Sunday Old School archives, we’ve mostly been looking at bands from Great Britain, Germany and the United States. One of the goals this year is to help expand the knowledge of heavy metal veterans from all over the world. This week, we’re heading to the land of the Rising Sun, as we take a look at Loudness. The band was formed in 1981 in Osaka, after guitarist Akira Takasaki, drummer Munetaka Higuchi and bass player Hiroyuki Tanaka left the pop rock band, Lazy. While looking a for a sound for their new band, they trio stumbled upon the recent wave of Japanese heavy metal bands such as Anthem and Bow Wow and decided to adopt the heavy metal style. Tanaka felt that the style wasn’t for him and left to pursue work in the anime business, with Takasaki inviting his childhood friend Masayoshi Yamashita to become the group’s new bassist, which he accepted. The band was then completed when they recruited Earthshaker vocalist Minoru Niihara, and Loudness was born. They almost immediately signed a record deal with major label Nippon Columbia and released their debut album, "The Birthday Eve" in 1981. The album was only released in Japan but did surprisingly well and the band quickly got to writing and releasing new albums. Two years after their formation and debut, Loudness released their third record, "The Law Of The Devil’s Land," which was popular enough to allow the group to tour the United States.
The group then moved to Europe and recorded two versions of their fourth album, "Disillusion," one in Japanese and one in English, their first album to be translated as such. The attempt at appealing to English speaking audiences paid off and soon they signed a deal with American major label, Atco Records, through whom they released the album, "Thunder In The East," which reached number 74 on the Billboard album charts, thanks in part to the success of the single, "Crazy Night." More chart success would come with their next record, "Lightning Strikes," (released in Japan as "Shadows Of War") which climbed ten places higher than it’s predecessor and reached number 64 on the Billboard charts. However, the chart success meant that the band were forced to try and write more accessible music and Loudness lost much of their fan base in their home country, who felt that they were trying too hard to appeal to the American market. The pressure led to Niihara being fired from the band after they released the "Jealousy" EP, being replaced by American vocalist Mike Vescera, the former singer of Obsession. Unfortunately, the input from Vescera wasn’t the boost the band needed and they found their popularity dwindled in the States. Vescera didn’t stay long with the band either, releasing only two albums and one single before leaving to join Yngwie Malmsteen’s band. More...
Welcome to the first (and probably last) annual glam rocker draft. I am your moderator for this event; we will meet our four participants shortly, first a look at the rules. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week, Mark Chapman, lead singer/lead guitarist for the So Cal thrash metal band Attackhead, shares a story of playing for the U.S. Marines:
A few months ago we were performing at a So Cal Marine base and it was very clear that the Marines were heavy metal deprived. While we were setting up, the Marines were drinking and playing pool. As soon as we started our set, a massive pit formed. Let me tell you, when you combine metal, booze and aggressive Marines, the pit is insane. The problem is, the pit was on a tile floor which quickly became slippery with spilled beer. About half way through our set a Marine came flying out of the pit and hit my mic stand while I was singing. The mic hit me in the mouth and I got an instant fat lip. The mic and stand then fell over and stopped working. I had to move over to a back-up mic to finish the song until the mic was replaced.
The Marine was helped up by his brothers and rejoined the pit like nothing had happened. We thoroughly enjoy all of our performances, but the ones for the military are always wild and crazy.
You can see more of Attackhead at attackhead.com and pick up their latest CD, “Voices in the Dark – Second Attack,” which was released on January 25, 2011. The band also recently posted a video for their song “Make Me Suffer.”
Be sure to 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 I am exploring the Austin metal scene.
Austin, Texas is often referred to as the live music capital of the world. While country and indie rock have often dominated the city’s musical legacy, the Austin metal scene is alive and well. A stroll down Red River in downtown will reveal many metal-dedicated clubs: Emo’s, Red 7, Headhunter’s, and Mohawk. The following bands are some of the best I’ve discovered playing within those venues.
Iron Age’s hardcore brand of metal caught my eye before I even moved back to Austin. Their album, "The Sleeping Eye," is full of great riffs and piercing vocals that border on black metal stylistically. On stage, Iron Age brings a raw energy that’s part punk, part metal, and all awesome. I’ve seen them open for Baroness, Corrosion of Conformity, and play last year’s SXSW. Needless to say, the crowd was always very warmed up after their set.
Nowadays, heavy metal fans are pretty used to seeing women in bands. Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation to name some of the most successful. But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, heavy metal was seen as dominated by white males and bands were accused of scaring away potential female fans by having a macho image and misogynistic lyrics. However, this perception was changed, or at least altered somewhat by four women from London who called themselves, Girlschool. The band was originally a covers outfit named, Painted Lady but eventually decided to begin writing original material, taking their new name from the B-side of the hit song, "Mull Of Kintyre" by Wings. They released their first single, "Take It All Away" in 1978 and received some radio play, as well as a strengthened sense of enthusiasm from the British metal underground. Not least of the people to take an interest in the group was Motorhead main man Lemmy, who offered Girlschool a supporting slot on their "Overkill" tour. After supporting Welsh rock favourites, Budgie, the band auditioned for, and received, a record deal with Bronze Records.
The band then recorded their debut album, "Demolition," which was released in 1980. The album was well timed, as several other British heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead all released albums which were wildly successful and helped the fledgling New Wave Of British Heavy Metal explode in popularity. "Demolition" was successful in and of itself too, reaching number 28 in the British album charts and featured some of the band’s best known work and saw Girlschool becoming one of the most popular bands in the movement. Their popularity continued to grow when they teamed up with Motorhead for an EP entitled, "St. Valentine’s Day Massacre" under the collective pseudonym, Headgirl, which reached number five in the British charts and featured the hit single, “Please Don’t Touch.” The band soon got back to their own work and released the album, "Hit And Run" in 1981, which was even more successful than it’s predecessor, reaching number five in the charts and earned the group supporting slots with the likes of Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Rush. More...
Michael Sweet from the Christian glam band Styper is auctioning off the rights to the classic song “Together as One” as well as dinner with Sweet. Aggressive drinkers who have a tendency to drop a lot of F bombs during the main course are advised to stay away… More...