Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth instalment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.
When it comes to black metal, the first place that immediately springs to mind is Norway, despite the genre being pioneered by groups from England, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark. It would be appear that Mayhem guitarist and black metal figurehead, Øystein Aarseth, better known perhaps as Euronymous, was well aware that the genre wasn’t restricted to his home country, as evidenced by his offers to bands all over the world to join his Deathlike Silence label. One of this groups hailed from the other side of the world, in a country one might not associate with the frostbitten scene, Japan. Their name is, Sigh.
Sigh began life in 1989, forming in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo. They released two demo tapes, "Desolation" and "Tragedies" the following year, featuring the lineup of Mirai Kawashima on vocals and keyboards, drummer Kazuki Ozeki and multi instrumentalist, Satoshi Fujinami on guitar. The demos aren’t considered their best work and suffered from very poor production, but nevertheless attracted enough interest for Wild Rags Records to offer them an outlet for an EP release, which came in 1992 under the title, "Requiem for Fools," around the time that they had hired guitarist, Shinichi Ishikawa, a move which saw Fujinami moving to the drum stool. More...
Our quest never ends to find the best mosh pit stories from ever corner of metaldom, from the most brutal wall of death to the most insane stage antics and everything in between.
This week Subversion vocalist Jay Shields shares the following tale warning metal fans not to judge a book by its cover (and not to be an ass to the performing bands):
I was playing an underground all-dayer in my old band Hollow Immunity, and this really drunk guy in the crowd was heckling all the bands. He didn't look like he was even into metal, just some local piss head who'd wondered in off the street.
As the day progressed, the venue filled up and by the time we took to the stage there were quite a few people in the pit area and Mr. Pisshead was right there with them. By now he was pretty steamed and giving out random abuse to those around him.
When we kicked into our first track the crowd went pretty crazy in the pit… into which he got sucked. Soon enough he was on his arse and looking very dazed and confused. I thought “here we go, he'll disappear now and give everyone a break,” but actually he looked like he was enjoying himself. He stayed in the pit for the rest of the set and even came up to us afterwards to say how much he enjoyed the show.
Turns out he didn't look metal, Adidas trackies and all, but he was a Polish metal head and really dug what we were doing. Goes to show, you should never judge a book by its cover, even if he needed a bit of an attitude adjustment.
What's the most outlandish heckling you've ever seen from someone in the audience? Share your story below!
Subverion's upcoming new album "Animi" is due out March 3rd via Rogue Records America, and you can also see a lyric video for the track "Imperfect" here: More...
Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth instalment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.
We’re kicking off this year’s Black Metal History Month with a band which was a massive influence on the genre, but perhaps don’t always get the credit and respect they deserve. They certainly don’t get mentioned in the same breath as Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate too often by entry level self-proclaimed experts very much. It also marks the first time Sunday Old School has looked at an Italian band, and who better to represent the beautiful country than one of the heaviest bands of their time, Bulldozer? More...
A couple of throwback bands and another Swedish group bring their videos to the ramblings this week. More...
Every Tuesday we have musicians from across the rock and metal spectrum share their most memorable mosh pit stories, covering everything from frisky show goers to ill-timed stage dives.
In nearly all circumstances a knife in the pit is a very, very bad idea (just ask Cattle Decapitation!), but in today's story from The Black Lantern, a knife ends up being a sacrifice to the altar of rock:
We grew up playing in bands and going to shows where the unspoken rule was something along the lines of, "if there isn't a pit, then the show ain't shit." The kind of shows where people looked at the resultant knee surgery they had to get as a badge of honor. As a performer, it's the ultimate thrill to see a pit stoke up, and as a concert goer, it feels good knowing that chaos is still a part of rock and roll.
While the Deafheaven and Refused shows we have attended had pits that were beyond our reach, in late 2012 ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead got us involved, whether we liked it or not. They are a huge influence on our band for the very fact that they embody a form of chaotic glory that is often lost in today's music world. When we saw them at the Echoplex, Jason Reece sung songs while participating in the pit himself. Andy stood at the back of the pit and held it in, while Jesse was closer to the stage with his back to it.
We kept each other in sight, occasionally giving the, 'this-is-fuckin-awesome-but-maybe-someone-will-die' glance. Then Andy noticed Jesse was out of sight. Some revelers perfectly executed the "sweep the leg" maneuver simply by falling into Jesse. When he got up, he and another guy were looking right at each other, and then at the knife in the other guy's hand. They both exchanged expressions that equally said "is this yours...what the hell do we do with this?" Coming to no reasonable answer, they decided to place it on the stage, as if it was a sacrifice placed on the Altar of Rock.
While no attention was paid to the knife thereafter, it seemed the sacrifice worked. For the encore Trail of Dead played "Richter Scale Madness," the first song from their first album (and the blueprint for all that they would do). The crowd responded to such greatness by flooding the stage. Reece had drumming duties, but was still returning to the stage from the pit. So a fan sat down and joined in. With at least 50 people on stage, it was impossible to see the transition from fan to Jason, and it was all of a sudden even more crazy on stage than the pit itself. The line between chaos and control was perfectly blurred, and the band guided us through blazingly.
There are some scenes that stay local, some which are struggling and then there those which become legendary. One such example is the Bay Area thrash metal scene, which gave the world such bands as Exodus, Testament and Metallica, but on the other side of the country was something just as important which would shape the thrash metal scene there. A movement which has been the subject of documentaries and books, the New York Hardcore scene. Many of the best bands in the genre came from this, including Agnostic Front and later, Sick Of It All, but there was one band that were legends in their own time as well as today, who went by the name of Cro-Mags.
The group began life in 1981 in New York City, the brain child of bass player, Harley Flanagan, who was only fourteen at the time but was intent on making himself known in the local punk scene, as well as hitchhiking his way to California to check out the punk scene there. The band went through a number of musicians and at one point, were seriously considering approaching Beastie Boys member, Adam Yauch to join. They also didn't have a singer until 1984, when fifteen year old Eric Casanova was brought into the fold. Though he only performed two shows with the group, he contributed to the writing of such songs as, "Life of my Own" and "Hard Times." He was eventually replaced by John Joseph, also knows as John Bloodclot, who had worked with Flanagan before in Mode of Ignorance. Joseph was the perfect fit for the band and his lyrics helped them evolve into the image we know today, helping to craft more songs and complete a solid live set. More...
This week girl fights, insanity and the end of Motley Crue (sort of). Given the band’s Vegas connections there should really be a line on how long before the band gets back together (after their “final” show) with their WE ARE LIARS TOUR! More...
Tuesday's here again, which means its time for another round of pit mayhem straight from the metal underground.
For this week's tale of pit glory, Patrick Morris (Dissident Clone, ex-Demonicon) shares this tale of getting a last minute gig with a big name band:
My former band Demonicon opened for Hate Eternal and Black Dahlia Murder at Station4 in St. Paul, MN in 2008 with two days notice. Three Inches of Blood and Decrepit Birth had just dropped off the tour, so the promoter added us. We hadn't practiced in a few weeks because our drummer wasn't enjoying the band. To our surprise, he agreed to do the show. We were on stage just about to start playing, and my singer handed me a red Solo cup with a generous shot of Jaegermeister in it. I looked at him quizzically - and with his cup in hand, he pointed to the Black Dahlia guys on the side of the stage, who were holding the bottle and giving us the horns. I slammed into the shot and tore into the first song - we were kicking ass!
During the second song, a guy set off the whole crowd with a stage dive. From that moment to the end of the set, there was perpetual stage diving and a sick circle pit. Playing on stage and having people reacting that way to my band totally validated all the bull shit I had gone through in my life to play music. After we got done, there was one dude with a bloody nose and another guy with a broken clavicle. To my surprise, both were in good spirits and talking to me about how much fun they had. Looking back... I’m pretty sure people thought we were Decrepit Birth.
For our musician regulars - be sure let us know the best last minute show you've played and what it means to you to see the fans throwing down in the pit during your set. More...
Last year, MetalUnderground took a look at the history and legacy of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which included a personal top ten of bands from the movement. There were of course, far more than ten great bands at the time and it was mentioned in the article that some bands that didn’t make it into the list were of very high quality. One such band hailed from the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh and definitely made its own stamp on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. That band was Holocaust.
The band began life in 1977, comprising of guitarists John Mortimer and Ed Dudley, vocalist Gary Lettice, bassist Robin Begg and drummer Nick Brockie. They formed at an opportune time, allowing them to become swept up in the growing popularity of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a time where record labels were searching for any metal bands they could, though instead of opting to sign with a company, the group formed their own label, Phoenix Record And Filmworks and released two singles, "Heavy Metal Mania" and "Smokin' Valves," before releasing their debut full length album, "The Nightcomers" in 1981. The record was very well received by heavy metal fans and remains one of the most popular albums of the NWOBHM era, featuring the two previously released singles as well as such songs as "Death or Glory" and the title track. More...
Each week we check in with bands from around the globe to get their most memorable Pit Stories. This week If These Trees Could Talk shared this tale of learning a valuable lesson about removing your earrings before entering the pit:
When I was young, I went to every metal festival known to mankind, regardless of who was playing. In my youth, I felt invincible, therefore every mosh pit was open season. In the summer of 2000, I attended the Tattoo the Earth Festival with Slipknot and Sevendust. In my naivete, I had a row of ear piercings down each side.
In the middle of Slipknot’s set, I decided to test my might and enter the pit. Slipknot pits are always rowdy, and I was fully aware of the danger that lurked within, but I didn’t give a fuck. I was ready to rage! Unbeknownst to me, a dude in the biggest combat boots I’d ever seen was crowd surging right above me. As I looked up, his boot came down and grinded every earring out of my adolescent ear at once. Extreme pain, blood and adrenaline all at once. This experience never turned me off from mosh pits, but it reminded me to take them out before going into one for the rest of my life.More...
Sometimes in the Sunday Old School column, we like to go back to the very early days of heavy metal, before the term was even in use. It’s interesting to find out about some of the bands who were first slapped with the “heavy metal” tag, who may not fit in with today’s definition of the genre, but certainly influenced it. This week, we’ll be looking at just such a band, one who’s approach to the hard rock of the time had more attitude than most and whose name is still dropped today as one of heavy metal’s earliest pioneers, Spooky Tooth. The group was formed as The V.I.P.’s in 1963 in the North Eastern English town of Carlisle and initially performed a rhythm and blues brand of rock before changing their name in 1967 to Art. Under this name, they released the album, “Supernatural Fairy Tales” before changing it again soon afterwards to Spooky Tooth.
Under this new moniker, the group soon recorded a new album, “It’s All About,” which hit the shelves in the summer of 1968. The record received some very positive reviews and contained a cover of the Bob Dylan song, “Too Much of Nothing,” as well as another noteworthy cover track in the form of opener, “Society’s Child,” a song by Janis Ian which commented upon the then controversial subject of interracial romance. This was one of only two albums to feature the original Spooky Tooth lineup, the sophomore effort coming a year later under the title, “Spooky Two,” which featured the song, “Better By You, Better Than Me,” which was of course later to be covered by fellow British rockers, Judas Priest and go on to be the subject of a highly controversial court case. Many critics now regard, “Spooky Two” as the band’s best work to date, citing a great sense of passion found throughout the record. More...
Happy New Year! This week we have videos that showcase shadows, bare feet and smart phone video recordings. No, seriously, 2015 is going to be fucking awesome! More...
Our never-ending quest for the best Pit Stories continues this week with a tale from Eau Claire, Wisconson-based doom band Caveat. Guitarist Brandon O'Connell shared this story of the slippery beer patch leading to some pit-side mayhem:
Well this story is quite ridiculous, mostly because it involves our old drummer’s dad. It was Caveat’s first hometown show, second show overall. We were playing with our friend, Ben Hinz’s (Dwarfcraft Devices) new band, Blood Bears. They were a mostly-instrumental juggernaut that created soundscapes that could blow doors off bomb shelters. We also played with a melodic death/doom band from Minneapolis called Mordwolf, later renamed Ulvmord due to some weird legal issues. Rounding out the bill were our best pals Good Guys Wear Wolf from Chetek, WI. It was an eclectic show to say the least so there were many types of people there. We were even more of a punk doom band back then. It made sense because two-thirds of Caveat (Palmer and B-Rad, bass and drums respectively) was also in crusty thrash band, Accusation.
Anyway, after our set and loading up our gear, we all grabbed some drinks with friends, family, etc., one of whom was Butch, Brad’s dad, who was already noticeably intoxicated. Once Mordwolf was done setting up and sound checking, their death/doom onslaught resulted in a mosh pit. Things went on without a hitch for quite a while but that didn’t last.
Things got a little heated when some falling-over-drunk guy went thrashing about with no intent but to apparently look like an idiot. He ended up slipping on some spilled beer and INTO Brad’s dad, who was right on the edge of the mosh pit area, totally oblivious to what was going on. Butch ended up stumbling a little bit due to the contact and slipped on the same beer causing him to fall face first onto the ground. The next thing anyone saw was Butch, obviously furious about something, yelling at some kid and trying to grab him. It turns out the fall broke off part of his tooth and he was bleeding out of his mouth. Butch had to be restrained and taken to the other side of the venue in order to calm down. A few vodkas later, he was just fine. That kid ended up getting his at the bottom of a bar stool. Whoops.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. This week we take a look at some of the bands that took part in the recent DeLand Rock & Metal Festival from November 2014. Our report for the festival can be read at this location.
The DeLand Rock & Metal Festival – or “DRMF” as it is affectionately known by the festival's community – is one of the most diverse metal festivals in the United States. This past year there were days dedicated to death metal (or any style with a death style vocal, including old school death, deathcore, hardcore, melodic death and folk) and another day themed by power metal (or any power, traditional, hard rock act), the second of which is headlined by festival promoter Camden Cruz’s own…Seven Kingdoms. Immersed in an infectious sense of community and a plethora of local Florida acts (including the now defunct Massacre), there were also some out of town acts that really brought the “thunder” to the entire event.
Of three of those out of town acts, two of them had never once played a live show together. In fact, those two acts, Judicator and Project: Roenwolfe (both anchored by guitarist/songwriter Tucson, Arizona’s Tony Cordisco), had never met as a band ever until 45 minutes before they hit the stage back to back on the Friday night kick off show. More...
The band began life as Blitzkrieg (not to be confused with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band of the same name) in Upplands Väsby, located in the Stockholm county, a brainchild of bass player Christofer Johnsson, guitarist Peter Hansson and drummer Oskar Forss and played a style of music similar in sound to Venom. The band lasted only two shows before a falling out with Forss forced the group to fold. The group did reform a few months later however, under the new moniker, Megatherion, taking its name from the classic Celtic Frost album. Johnsson put down the bass in favour of guitar and brought in Johan Hansson as the new bassist, along with drummer, Mika Tovalainenm though shortly after the band shortened their name to Therion, both new members took their leave, with original drummer Forss returning to the fold and Erik Gustafsson, best known as a member of Dismember coming in on bass.
With a name finally decided on and a lineup in place, Therion got to work on their first demo, "Paroxysmal Holocaust," which was released in 1989 and followed the same year by a second demo, "Beyond the Darkest Veils on Inner Wickedness." After a third demo, "Time Shall Tell," recorded the next year, they signed a deal with Deaf Records, through which they released their first full length album, "Of Darkness…" in 1991. It was hailed as one of the first progressive death metal albums, though it received mixed reviews upon release and the band saw it as the shedding of their early death metal skin. More...
There's a million and one stories from the mosh pit, and we're on a quest to find them all! This week Chris Milos from Mass Punishment shares a pit story about the band's roadie having a bit too much fun:
When we played The Skate & Surf Festival in New Jersey, our drunk-ass roadie was on stage with us during our set acting ridiculous. He was falling down and crawling all over the stage. He then decided it would be a great idea to stage dive not once, not twice, but 4 times! We thought that it was awesome when he was jumping over the security and barricade at that time, however the crew running the festival didn’t think it was as funny as we did, and wanted to have him escorted out of the venue which would've screwed us over when it was time to break down and pack up our gear.
After the set was over, our wasted roadie, so drained from his drunken antics, was nowhere to be found. So we broke down our own gear anyway. We had to haul it down the street ourselves to our van because he was nowhere to be found. When we got to the van and opened the side door, low and behold there's our roadie passed out on the floor of the van. Well I guess it's a good thing we don't pay him!
Mass Punishment released the "Proving Grounds, Vol.1" album earlier this year, and you can check out a track off the release below. For more info on Mass Punishment, head over to the band's Facebook profile here. More...
Whenever I meet people from outside Austria and we get to talk about Austrian metal bands it is a safe bet that people will come up with death metal veterans like Pungent Stench and Miasma - who both sadly enough are no longer active in their original line ups. Last not least of course the Austrian blackened death metal juggernaut Belphegor will always get a mention.
Today it's time to take a closer look at that country's secret Austrian metal underground capital, the city of Graz, for a threesome of Austria's best you probably never heard of but are sure worth listening to. Read on to discover three bands that all go in different directions while remaining inside the realm of melodic death and thrash metal: the modern melodic death metal outfit Disfigured Divinity, progressive melodic metal group Rest In Fear, and melodic death thrash band veterans Darkfall.
The melodic death metallers are offering songs rich in variety and composed of a well-made mix of catchy choruses and violent galopping mosh parts.
The band dropped their debut album "Zapotectron" in 2013, which can be bought at BigCartel, iTunes and Amazon-Mp3. Two clips for their songs "Mandatory Heirs" and "Insignificance In Space And Time" can be streamed below.
Though the Netherlands have given the world some excellent metal bands over the years such as Pestilence and God Dethroned, the country doesn’t receive as much attention as some others in Europe, such as their neighbours in Germany. However, it’s worth remembering that one of the most important names in the history of hard rock and heavy metal was literally born in the Netherlands in 1953 and 1955, where in the city of Nijmegen, the brothers Alex and Eddie were born, siblings who would go on to bring their surname into rock folklore. The name of Van Halen.
The brothers moved with their family to the United States in 1962 and started to learn instruments shortly afterwards, with Eddie learning drums and Alex learning guitar, though they switched after Eddie found out that Alex had been playing his drums while the younger brother was out on his paper route. They eventually formed a band which they Christened, Genesis, along with bassist Mark Stone and ultimately bringing in singer David Lee Roth, who the band had been hiring a P.A. from, who was hired to save money. Stone was soon replaced by Michael Anthony and another change came when the quartet found out about the British band named Genesis, so decided to rename themselves, Mammoth, though this name would also be dropped in favour of the now familiar, Van Halen. More...
The pit is where the action is, but sometimes metal heads take things a bit too far with all that energy pumping as front men scream about blood and murder.
There's a million and one Pit Stories out there, and we're on a quest to find them all! This week Charlie Goler from Canadian outfit Golers shares a tale of his introduction to live punk shows, which included a razor making its way into the pit...
One of the most fucked up things I saw happen in the pit was back around 1987 at the first punk rock show that I have ever seen in Halifax, Nova Scotia. SNFU, System Overload and False Security were playing at the Old Carpenter's Hall on Gottingen Street. At that time I was living in New Glasgow which wasn't that far from Halifax so I went up to see the show. I was blown away with the bands and SNFU was just killing it so as a result the pit was completely out of control.
Everyone was slamming and having an awesome time. Unknown to me, some idiot was slashing people in the pit with a razorblade while they were jumping around. After a few songs SNFU caught wind of what was going on because there were several people that were cut up and bleeding.
I remember Chi Pig was freaking out on the mike and screaming that "if anyone can identify this loser they should kick the shit out of him." Unfortunately , the razor blade was found on the floor and no one ever figured out who the asshole was.This was my introduction to punk rock shows.
With just under 20,000 bands in our database (and more being added every day) there are more metal bands on the planet than anyone ever would have imagined back when the scene was first getting started.
Unfortunately some of those bands end up falling through the cracks, and groups that deserve recognition get lost in the endless sea of heavy sounds. That's why we take the time to unearth stellar unknown bands and point out the ones you should be training your ears towards.
Today we look at three outfits separated by country and genre boundaries, but which are all lesser known metal groups you should be paying attention closer attention to: Fractured Spine, Hieroglyph, and My Last Suicide.
When it comes to the sub-genre of gloomy death/doom bands, you'd probably think first of groups like Swallow The Sun, October Tide, or Daylight Dies.
The unknown version of those genre stalwarts is Fractured Spine, a Finnish outfit that deserves to be among the aforementioned pantheon. With gothic and gloomy clean singing, dark death metal with symphonic leanings, and dreary doom, the band hits all the requisite sounds and does it without sounding like a carbon copy of the bigger names.
In addition to some early demos, the band has two full-length albums available, 2013's “Songs Of Slumber” (available for streaming in full below) and “Memoirs Of A Shattered Mind” released earlier this year. You can pick up Fractured Spine's albums over at Bandcamp here.