As has been discussed before, while thrash metal was influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, thrash metal bands in the United Kingdom found little success. Out of the several British thrash bands worth mentioning, arguably only two really stand out. We’ve already taken a look at one of them, Bristol’s, Onslaught, so this week, we’ll be examining the history of Nottingham’s Pagan thrashers, Sabbat. The band was originally formed under the moniker, Hydra in 1985 by vocalist Martin Walkyier and bass player Frazer Clarke, along with guitarist Adam Ferman. A second guitarist was recruited soon afterwards in the form of fifteen year old Andy Sneap, though two weeks later he became the band’s sole guitarist when Ferman quit, taking drummer Mark Daley with him, leaving the drum stool open for Simon Negus. With the new members on board, the group decided that a change in name was appropriate and settled on Sabbat, after finding it in a book on witchcraft. Once Sabbat released a demo entitled, "Fragments Of A Faith Forgotten," they saw their popularity soar, receiving a two page spread in Kerrang magazine, a BBC Radio One session, a flexi disc release for Warhammer’s White Dwarf magazine and eventually a record deal with Germany’s, Noise Records (the label had previously shown interest in the band, but were unable to sign them because Andy Sneap was not yet eighteen.)
In May 1988, the band released their debut full length album, "History Of A Time To Come," which garnered rave reviews from critics and was very popular amongst thrash fans for it’s different approach to thrash metal. The album also received a lot of interest as a result of it’s lyrical themes which contained well researched insights into the occult and religion. They followed this record with their sophomore release, "Dreamweaver," a concept album based on the book The Way of The Wyrd by Brian Bates. On this record, the songs were noticeably longer and featured a new member in second guitarist Simon Jones. Although the album was hailed as a classic, it helped to fuel the tensions within the band, as some of the members expressed concern regarding the growing length of the songs. These feelings, combined with poor management and the lack of interest from Noise, caused an internal meltdown. Guitarist Simon Jones quit the band during a U.K. tour and was replaced by Neil Watson, who appears on the live video, "The End Of The Beginning." Bassist Frazer Clarke decided to quit the music industry entirely not long afterwards and Sneap and Negus took over the band, outing Walkyier and bringing in new vocalist Richie Desmond, along with bass player Wayne Banks. For many fans, “Dreamweaver” marks the last Sabbat album but this lineup recorded a third record studio album entitled, “Mourning Has Broken,” which was released in 1991.While not without it’s praise, the album was considered nowhere near the level of quality that the first two records had set, and so the band decided to call it a day soon after.
A reunion was scheduled to take place in 2001 by Martin Walkyier, who brought with him Clarke and Simon Jones, but this was blocked by Sneap, who felt that since the other members had quit, leaving him and Negus to take care of the bad financial situation the group was in, amongst other problems, they had no right to the Sabbat name. Instead this lineup toured under the moniker, Return To Sabbat but folded in 2003. However, fans were delighted to hear that in 2006, Sabbat would return to the stage, this time utilising the "Dreamweaver" lineup. The shows were a result of Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth’s longtime appreciation of the band, and it was he who convinced Andy Sneap to reunite the band, in return for a special guest slot on Cradle Of Filth’s short tour of the United Kingdom that year. The reunited performances were a hit and to celebrate, Sabbat re-released "History Of A Time To Come" and "Dreamweaver" with bonus tracks the next year. Since then, the band has continued to perform sporadically across Europe and have stated that, while they have found the shows to be a lot of fun, there are no plans to record a new studio album. More...
This week Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) was asked to leave a bar and instead of politely grabbing his top hat and heading for the door he smashed a wine glass and then bit the owner’s hand. Can someone get this ex-Celebrity Fit Club guy a sandwich? To make matters worse Canadian cops found two grams of weed on Bach. So not only was Bach hungry from dieting, but also smoking pot. In hindsight the owner is lucky Bach didn’t eat his whole hand… More...
Last week Bret got marriage advice from Trump Jr. so this week he approaches his father and guitar player for their thoughts. Neither take a second to ponder the question of whether Bret should marry Kristi, both essentially look at him and wonder if Kristi will still have him. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. With all of the stories of mosh pit brutality of late, you might expect more of the same from the title, but in fact, this story from California death metal band Gravehill is not what it would appear:
This one goes back to October 31st in Dekalb, Illinois. Gravehill had flown out to Illinois to do 3 shows with our brothers in Cardiac Arrest. We had arrived late late late the night/morning before this Halloween show in Dekalb. Once the sun went down and the pabst blue ribbon started disappearing at an alarming rate, we left Aurora (where we were staying) and started our short treck over to Dekalb. When we got there, we were informed that the gig was at a rehearsal space that some local bands practiced at. "No biggie," we thought. Sometimes, those types of shows totally go off and go crazy. But once the night wore on, we became a little bummed. The first bands started playing and people were barely showing up. It was dead and the bands we really not very good. There was a mix of indie rock, bad metal and even some sort of techno/hip hop type dj guy. So we just preceeded to get drunk and make the best of it as we always do.More...
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. In the dawn of what some call “The New Wave of Asian Heavy Metal,” we have unearthed bands from countries such as South Korea, China, Sri Lanka, Singapore and India. This week, I will be showcasing metal’s biggest Asian supporters – Japan.
There is no doubt the metal scene is enormous in Japan. It is home to Tokyo’s Sigh and Chiba’s X-Japan, the latter of which pioneered the glam-rock movement known as Visual Kei and recently completed a successful first-ever North American tour. In addition, the Loud Park Festival is held in Japan every year and has featured bands such as Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, among many others. Also, there is a manga, turned anime, turned live-action movie (with a cameo by Gene Simmons) based on a fictional band named Detroit Metal City. (I highly recommend to Metalocalypse fans.)
Although there is a plethora of talented J-metal bands, I can only focus on a few this week. Here are three “ichiban” (that means "top" or "number one") bands worth checking out:
Blood Stain Child
Osaka’s Blood Stain Child formed in 2000 with vocalist Ryo, guitarist Ryu, keyboardist Aiki and drummer Violator. The Child, in its early years with the debut "Silence from Northern Hell," has been likened to melodic death metal bands Children of Bodom and In Flames; however, BSC has since matured and separated itself from the pack with its unique blend of electronica, industrial and trance, although still retaining some Gothenburg-influenced roots. The band recently recruited vocalist Sophia from Greece and drummer Gami to replace the previous members Sadew and Violator, and are expected to release a yet-to-be-titled fifth studio album in 2011.
Check out Blood Stain Child at its MySpace.
German thrash metal is widely hailed as the only international thrash scene that could rival their American counterparts. However, when discussing German thrash, the names Kreator, Destruction and Sodom are the three that are always brought up first. There’s a good reason for this, all three bands were and are outstanding, but if one were to dig deeper then a treasure chest of thrash can easily be uncovered. One of the best examples of hidden German gems, would be the Dusseldorf based, Assassin. The group was formed in 1984 and released a demo shortly afterwards which quickly sold out all five hundred copies. After releasing a second demo entitled, "Nemesis," the band was able to secure a record deal with German label, SPV. The signing allowed them to release their first full length album, "Upcoming Terror," which sold around 15,000 copies.
After recruiting some new members, the band released their second album, "Interstellar Experience" in 1988. The album was widely praised by thrash metal fans and earned the band a supporting slot on Death Angel’s first European tour, which was also a success. The group began working on their third studio album after the tour finished but disaster struck when all of their equipment was stolen by burglars. Not having the money to replace the gear, the group decided to call it a day, leaving work on the album unfinished.
Like many thrash bands however, a reunion was inevitable, an in 2002, Assassin decided to regroup and were quickly offered a spot on the 2003 edition of the famous, Wacken Open Air festival. The performance was critically acclaimed and the band experienced a small but noticeable resurgence in popularity. To celebrate this, a third Assassin album named, "The Club" was finally released in 2005, much to the delight of longtime fans. Although the group have been keeping fairly quiet since then, they recently announced that they have re-signed with SPV, and will be releasing a brand new album in 2011, aptly entitled, "Breaking The Silence." More...
During a lazy Sunday I found myself catching up on previously recorded episodes of Bored to Death when much to my delight I discovered a couple Metal Mania episodes on queue. Here’s what I found:
In Kiss’s video for “Rock and Roll all Nite,” I wonder what was so bad that the girl coming down the stairs needed her eyes blacked out like they do on the show Cops. Also, is there someplace we can put all of the eighties brick-sized cell phones for display? I would definitely go to the Pre-2K Cell Phone Hall of Fame (maybe located in Indiana?) to see the phone Gene Simmons has while sitting on his throne in this video as well as the one used by Zack Morris on Saved by the Bell. More...
Three episodes in and not a lot of highlights unless of course Bret Michaels picking up after his dogs or playing “hate” dodge ball with his girlfriend is entertaining. Time to keep this show moving, this week the Bret Michaels “Awesome” shot rules will be in place. I will be drinking Patron, chased with Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. Omega Crom's Johnny K seems to have a lot of stories, and this week, we're going to share a couple more from him, which simply follow the general theme of getting fucked up in the mosh pit, for whatever reason:
Slayer in 99 - I was crowd surfing and somersaulted over backward and accidently knee'd this guy in the nose, the crowd shifted and my face was directly over his face as he screamed, " FUUUCK!". As I was swept away I yelled, " Sorry". That same day I saw SlipKnot for the first time which was a rough mosh pit, I took at least five boots to the skull. It wasn't intentional just people crowd surfing and flailing limbs.
OK last story, I'm at Iron Maiden everyone is rocking out having a good time and I see that Steve Harris looks pissed. After the song he goes to Bruce and says something and Bruce points this Dude out in the audience. I guess the guy was being an asshole in some way and he starts lipping off Bruce Dickinson. Needles to say this guy got fuckin rocked hard and then security came and carried him outta there. I learned a great lesson from Iron Maiden that day, Mosh pits are great for releasing some pent up rage but if you see someone going down everyone helps them out which is the beauty of it all, Kicking ass but Not behaving like a Macho Dickweed. Good Times.
All has been quiet on the Delta, BC band's front since they completed their Summer Shred Tour and then played a homecoming show in Delta in October.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
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.