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Archive: Columns

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Thrashback Thursday: Teacher's Pet

What a band Venom are and what an album, "Black Metal" is. It's a classic, pure and simple. It's credited with spawning an entire sub-genre of metal and was one of the most radical releases of its time, comparable only to Venom's first album, "Welcome To Hell." It cemented Venom's place as the band everyone had to hear and as time has passed, it's become even more vital to the collection of every headbanger. The album's title track is perhaps the most well known, a frenzied blast of energy with an unforgettable hook, but there were other staples on display too, such as regular set closer, "Countess Bathory," which has been covered countless times and is arguably one of the best structured songs on the record. "Buried Alive" was another standout track, notable for the sound of dirt being shoveled on to the microphone at the beginning, while "Leave Me In Hell" was another insanity driven slice of mania, but the song that really stood out to my impressionable, fifteen year old self, was the fifth song on the album, "Teacher's Pet."

The song, as the title crudely suggests, was a departure from the usual Satanic themes and ventured into the other territory Venom were partial to discussing; Sex. They'd dealt with this subject on their debut with, "Red Light Fever," but this time turned their attentions to the fantasies many a schoolboy had in their developing years, penning a tribute to that one hot teacher. Musically, the song is fabulous as well, bordering on camp with the guitar interpretation of "I'm the King of the Castle" before building into another fantastic thrill ride with a catchy chourus. It's one of the most fun songs on the album, as clearly evidenced by the mid-song lapse into the classic English anthem, "Get Ya Tits Out for the Lads," and as a teen listener, was a cheeky number that you had to play for your friends. It's still a good laugh today, as well as being a generally great, fast metal song, and a snapshot of what made Venom so loved. More...

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Pit Stories: Brian Fair Breaks Nose

It's time for another round of Pit Stories. This story comes to us via Matt Garzilli of Sworn Enemy. Brian Fair of Shadows Fall thought he could mosh in during Sworn Enemy and then play a show but he went to the hospital instead. More...

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Sunday Old School: Septicflesh

Greece is a country as fascinating as it is beautiful, though it’s had plenty of problems to contend with over the years, in recent times being one of the countries worst hit by the global financial crisis. Such harshness, as well as a history both violent and cultured, seem to be a perfect place for metal music to be born and thrive, and so it is that this week, we’ll take a look at one of their best known contributions to the field, Septicflesh.

Septic Flesh was formed in the Greek capital city of Athens in 1990 by bassist/vocalist, Spiros Antoniou, with his younger brother Christos Antoniou on guitar, as well as second guitarist Sotiris Vayenas. Nineteen months after coming together, the group released their first demo, "Temple of the Lost Race," which didn't take long to sell out and is now a highly sought after collectable. It was songs from this demo, as well as, "Morpheus (The Dreamlord,") which helped the band grab the attention of Holy Records, who signed the band up and released their debut full length album, "Mystic Places of Dawn" in 1994. The record was co-produced by former Rotting Christ keyboardist, Magus Wampyr and is still considered to be one of the best releases by Septic Flesh, as well as one of the best of the year, a notable feat considering this was the same year Emperor released, "In the Nightshade Eclipse" and Mayhem unleashed, "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Cruel Intentions

This week new videos from Tom Keifer (Cinderella), Lizzy DeVine (Vains Of Jenna) returns and some good ole boys play an AC/DC classic for our pleasure. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Ember's Fire

Paradise Lost are truly one of the great names in British heavy metal. When thrash exploded in the eighties, the focus shifted away from British heavy metal for the most part, save for Iron Maiden, Saxon and some underground favourites, and towards the United States, where the majority of the big metal stars have come from since. But there were some innovative, trailblazing names back in the United Kingdom, a select company which along with Napalm Death and Carcass, Paradise Lost has assured themselves a place. The band have released some outstanding albums throughout their entire career, most of the particularly noteworthy coming in the early to mid nineties, two of which, "Gothic" and "Icon," gave a name to a sub-genre we still use today, gothic metal.

Though "Gothic" was released in 1991 and a third album, "Shades of God," came a year after, it was not until the release of "Icon" in 1993 that the term "gothic metal," really came into use, with Paradise Lost being the first band to use the phrase, for seemingly little more reason according to singer, Nick Holmes in a Kerrang! interview, than the fact that traces of Sisters of Mercy could be heard in their music. "Icon" was part of a string of classic Paradise Lost albums, arguably concluding with the following album, "Draconian Times," and as such featured some excellent songwriting, memorable music and continuing changes.

One of the best known songs from the album would probably be the record's opener, "Embers Fire," a wonderful, atmospheric piece which really shone the light on the gothic rock influences the group incorporated. The first few notes are chilling enough, before exploding into a cavernous vibe of darkness, complete with well placed lead guitar displays and a vocal performance which serves as much as a warning as it does a guide to head nodding. The cautionary tone of voice foreboding of an almost unforgettable chourus, featuring confrontational lyrics and a terrifying sense of claustrophobia. The atmosphere is the thing of nightmares, but the song is the stuff of dreams. More...

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Pit Stories: Emmure Ruins A Whole Tour

It's time for another bout of Pit Stories, and this week we find out about how Emmure ruined an entire tour for German band Annisokay (but what goes around comes around, as Emmure also just cancelled a tour due to health issues...). Annisokay shared this tale from the pit:

At a time where things really started rolling with the band, we went to an Emmure show in our hometown. While the rest of our band watched the show from a chilling place in the back, our drummer, who was a huge Emmure fan at this time, went to the first row and was more then excited to mosh to their songs. However when the first song started, something really bad happened to his right foot. He doesn’t really know what, but the pain was horrible.

When he made his way back to us out of the pit, the Emmure set was already half way through. He took of his shoe and his foot was double the normal size. A later visit in the hospital confirmed our worries. He fractured his feet and had to wear a plaster for many, many weeks. A whole tour had to be cancelled, but our drummer learned to play our songs with his left foot only, so the damage to the band was kept relatively small.

However, our own shows usually have a lot of pit action going on, including huge wall of deaths or stage dives even by our own front man Dave. It’s really good that we nearly never heard about any bad injuries that happened to our crowds yet.

The new Annisokay album "Enigmatic Smile" dropped today - April 14th - via Long Branch Records/SPV. Check out a music video off the album below. More...

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Classic Paintings Become Metal Album Covers

Master painters Hieronymus Bosch, John Martin and Jean Delville all have something in common with Metal music: some of their works have become iconic album covers for bands like Morbid Angel, Candlemass and While Heaven Wept, among many others.

Metal Underground and the online art community And Justice For Art present this peculiar collection of albums that mix classic visual imagery with heavy sounds. Check it out and let us know what you think. More...

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Sunday Old School: Watchtower

Progressive metal appears to be one of the longer lasting popular sub-genres over the years, with bands such as Dream Theater and Queensryche selling very well, others like Atheist, Cynic and Fates Warning becoming underground legends and younger acts such as Periphery now making a name for them self in the field. It’s hard to pinpoint a time or which band specifically really launched the genre, but there are those who certainly need to be name checked and acknowledged as an important part of it, one of which would be Watchtower.

The band were formed in Austin, Texas in 1982 by guitarist Billy White and drummer, Rick Colaluca, with Doug Keyser joining soon afterwards on bass and eventually brought in Jason McMaster on vocals. They initially performed covers of bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal such as Raven and Iron Maiden, as well as older heavy rock like Thin Lizzy before working on their own material. They made their recording debut the next year with a contribution to a Texas Hardcore Compilation, in the guise of the song, "Meltdown," which they would later release themselves as a demo, which featured three other tracks. More...

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Pit Stories: The Drunk Drummer Gets Home Aloned

Every time the glory of New Release Tuesday rolls around we also share show stories provided by metal bands from across the globe.

Usually these stories take place right in the pit, but sometimes the shenanigans metal musicians get into aren't constrained to the performance itself. This week Raven shares a tale of accidentally Home Alone-ing the band's drummer at the Wacken festival:

In 1997 we started a European tour with Tank & Hammefall as opening bands. The 1st show was the Wacken festival (which was a good bit smaller in those days). All 3 bands were travelling on one bus...

So, in Hamburg we picked up the backline at some crazy warehouse. Joe went to the bathroom and since no one did a head count.... the guy locked up the place and the bus left without him! We did not notice for about 30 mins, and freaked! Meanwhile Joe is smashing shit up trying to reach someone – the guy finally heard him before he left... and stuck him in a cab (about 400 euro) along with a bottle of whisky!

So our very drunk drummer turned up just in time for a 10 hour fight with the organizers who wanted us to play in this tent while our opening bands played the main stage....but that's another story...

Raven's new album "ExtermiNation" (reviewed here) is set for release on April 27th (Europe) and April 28th (USA) via SPV/Steamhammer Records. Check out a clip taken from the release below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Gillan

One of the great things about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is that not only did it bring the spotlight to new, young bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon and Venom, amongst many others, but it sparked a renewed interest in some of the older guard and their outputs. Judas Priest were one band whose popularity was boosted higher than ever when they released "British Steel" in the glorious year for metal that was 1980, and the same thing happened to Ozzy Osbourne when he released his debut studio effort, "Blizzard of Ozz," five months later. Someone else who found his musical endeavours reaching a young head banging fan base was (then) former Deep Purple singer, Ian Gillan, who launched his own eponymous band in 1978.

Ian Gillan decided to form the band after becoming bored of his jazz fusion outfit, The Ian Gillan Band, retaining only keyboardist Colin Towns and recruiting new blood in bassist John McCoy, drummer Liam Genockery, and guitarist Steve Byrd. That year, the group recorded their first album, a self-titled effort, but found they were only able to get a record deal in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This debut was very much steeped in progressive rock, a style which had been almost obliterated by the ruling punk scene at the time.

Though it wasn't officially released in the United Kingdom until almost fifteen years later, it still sold well there via imports, helped along by positive reviews that those journalists who had heard it gave the album and an appearance at that year’s Reading Festival. The interest was great enough to earn the band a European deal with Acrobat Records though before a second album could be recorded, the group brought in new drummer, Mick Underwood and guitarist, Bernie Torme. Torme was to be a massive part of Gillan, essentially changing their sound towards a more heavy metal style and culminating in the excellent 1979 album, "Mr. Universe," which peaked at number eleven in the British albums chart.

Gillan “Mr. Universe” (Live 1981)

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Vince Neil’s Blue Cup

Vince Neil has once again become a YouTube sensation or punch line depending on your viewpoint. This week Neil sang the National Anthem at a Las Vegas Outlaws inaugural football game. (Special guest surprise at 7:35…) More...

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Sunday Old School: Running Wild

Disclaimer: MetalUnderground.com does not support piracy of any kind and strongly encourages readers to buy their music and not plunder the seven seas. We do however, fully endorse any metal band who wants to base their image or lyrics around pirates, and there are a few. Pirates have become a popular topic amongst people over the past twenty years, thanks in part to successful franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Monkey Island games, so it’s no surprise that the drunken, debauched world of piracy found its way to the drunken, debauched world of heavy metal. It did so before either of the aforementioned franchises in fact and before bands such as Alestorm and Swashbuckle performed under the Jolly Roger, and most people would give full credit for the invention of pirate metal to a band from Hamburg, which were appropriately named, Running Wild.

The seeds of the band were sown in 1976 when members of the bands Granite Hearts and Grober Unfug began jamming together, eventually decided to form a new band with a new name. It seemed to be a relatively lengthy search as they didn’t settle on the moniker, Running Wild, until 1979, taking its name from the Judas Priest song of the same name. They released their first demos in 1981 and soldiered on for a few years this way, certain that their hard work would pay off. As luck would have it, it did, and they were eventually picked up by Noise Records, who released their debut album, "Gates to Purgatory" in 1984. Lyrically, the album was based more in fantasy and Satanic themes than the historical topics they would later adopt, though the record did feature a song entitled, "Genghis Khan." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Remembering A.J. Pero

A.J. Pero (Twisted Sister, Adrenaline Mob) passed away this week. Pero was part of the “hey day” of Twisted Sister. Today, the Rockstar Ramblings pays a brief tribute to Pero in the form of a couple Twisted Sister videos from the classic ‘Stay Hungry’ album. More...

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Pit Stories: The Mosh Pit Face Off

Tuesday's not just for killer new metal releases, its also when we have musicians from across the world share their favorite Pit Stories from live shows.

This week none other than guitarist Marios Iliopoulos from the Greek melodic death metal outfit Nightrage shared this tale from a Slipknot pit:

As far as I remember the craziest mosh pit that I have seen was at a Slipknot concert in Norway where the singer had to divide the crowd on 2 parts and get them ready to face each other. What comes next was the most insane and brutal, almost brawl mosh pit, that I have experienced to this day. People seemed of course to enjoy it, but at the same time, the sheer aggression of it was amazing. One of the things that always remind us of the power of metal music and the great fun that it can be.

Need a new Nightrage fix in your life? The band's upcoming full-length album "The Puritan" will drop via Despotz Records on April 24th, 2015 and an advance track from the release can be heard below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Salem

Last year, Sunday Old School columns looked at a variety of bands from countries the column hadn’t featured before. From Rotting Christ in Greece to Aria in Russia, from Pentagram in Chile to Mezarkabul in Turkey, a lot of ground was covered. Now, we’ll be once again heading to uncharted territory, as for the first time, Sunday Old School covers a band from Israel, who are represented well in the history books of extreme metal by a group from Giv’ atayim by the name of Salem.

The band was formed in 1985, just over four kilometres from Tel Aviv, originally under the name, Axe Metal and became one of the first groups outside of Europe to perform the extreme brand of music which would become known as black metal. They built up a fan base at the Penguin Club, where numerous other alternative Israeli artists made their name and where they recorded a live demo, "Destruction Till Death," which was preceded in 1986 by a self-titled rehearsal demo. Another live demo, "Millions Slaughtered" was released in 1990 and was able to spread throughout the underground metal scene. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Steal Away The Night

As mentioned when we first launched this column, despite the title, it's not exclusively dedicated to thrash metal. We're proving that this week with a look at a song from a man who doesn't have anything to do with thrash as such, but has everything to do with metal, Ozzy Osbourne. Today also marks the twenty third anniversary of the death of his guitarist, Randy Rhoads, also formerly of Quiet Riot, who would no doubt have become a bigger guitar hero than he already is, as he was unquestionably one of the most talented guitarists of the time, perhaps of all time.

Rhoads caught the world's attention when Ozzy Osbourne released his first album, "Blizzard Of Ozz," in September 1980. It was a fantastic debut by anyone's standards, striking a balance between high energy heavy metal and sixties influenced pop rock, interspersed with sentimentality on songs like, "Goodbye to Romance" and "Revelation (Mother Earth)" and Rhoads got his own spotlight on the instrumental piece, "Dee," a classical inspired work which clocked in at just under a minute but highlighted his talent tremendously.

He helped create some excellent rock songs too; "Crazy Train" and "Suicide Solution" being arguably the most well from the record, but songs such as "I Don't Know" and "Steal Away (The Night)" were no less stellar, the latter featuring a sound which perfectly blended the heavy metal at the beginning of the eighties, helping Ozzy to stay relevant and contemporary with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which had really taken off that year. What makes it such a good song, is that while it's unquestionably a (then) modern heavy metal song, it has great undertones of the sixties music which shaped Ozzy's life so evidently. It features a highly catchy chourus and a generally positive vibe which was a staple of bands such as The Zombies and Status Quo, culminating in a very enjoyable closing track and a perfect snapshot of the "Blizzard of Ozz." More...

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Pit Stories: Playing For Traffic

Usually the pit mayhem comes from the crowd, but sometimes the band decides to get involved - even while the performance is still going on!

For this week's Pit Story, Steph K. of London outfit Immortal Machinery shares this tale of a front man who decided to vacate the stage and even the venue to belt out a song in the middle of traffic:

One time my band, Immortal Machinery, were hosting a show in New Cross, east London. We'd booked an act from Wales who had, shall we say, a bit of a wild reputation. During a guitar solo their frontman, decked out in red and yellow warpaint, leaped off the stage and onto the nearest table. Still soloing and never missing a beat, he ran across it (somehow managing not to knock anyone's pint over) and ran out of the venue.

The crowd followed him outside, where we found him kneeling in the middle of the road, playing as cars swerved around him honking their horns. He got up, returned to the stage and finished the song like nothing had happened. This is a man who risked his life for petrol money and free beer. I think it's safe to say that the spirit of rock'n'roll is alive and well in this guitar-playing welder from the valleys.

What's the craziest thing you've seen a front man do during a metal show? Let us know in the comments section!

You can also hear the Immortal Machinery song "Screaming Tonight" - included on the recent Roxeavy metal compilation - in the player below. If you dig the sound, be sure to check out the full "At The End Of Time" album over at Bandcamp here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Broken Hope

The worst prompting to feature a band in the Sunday Old School column is when a member of the group dies. While the passing in question, that of drummer, Ryan Stanek, was over a week ago now, it is no less apt to feature one of death metals lesser known veterans, Broken Hope. The band was founded in 1988 in the state of Illinois by Stanek, along with vocalist, Joe Ptacek and guitarists Jeremy Wagner and Brian Griffin, with bassist, Ed Hughes joining later on.

They released two demos before signing with Grindcore International, who released their full length debut, "Swamped in Gore," the following year. Generally, it's garnered something of a mixed response from death metal fans, with some citing is as an excellent release of the time, while others appear to claim that the structure of the music can’t support the heaviness brought to the table. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Hot For Teacher

Do you like big, scary tits and David Lee Roth era Van Halen? If yes, well then, I’ve got a video for you. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Unleash The Dogs Of War

Hirax are truly one of those old school thrash bands that define the term, "hidden gem." Beneath the big names of Anthrax and Slayer and the not quite as famous names such as Testament and Death Angel, there's some excellent groups to be found, and one of the first that I found in my search for more thrash, as well as one of my personal favourites, was Hirax. They were formed in Orange County, California in 1984 and were led by their charismatic singer, Katon W. De Pena, unique for not only being one of the few black musicians in the thrash scene, but for his one of a kind singing voice, with a cadence all of his own. They released two albums, "Raging Violence" and "Hate, Fear and Power,"before losing their record deal, independently releasing a demo entitled, "Blasted In Bangkok," before Katon left the group to start a new outfit called Phantasm with Gene Hoglan and original Metallica bass player Ron McGovney, while Hirax brought in former Exodus singer Paul Baloff for a brief period before disbanding altogether.

Over time, underground interest had built up and in 2000, Katon decided to bring the band back, convincing original members Scott Owen, Gary Monardo, and John Tabares to join in as well and release the "El Diablo Negro" EP later that year. Within time, there was a major lineup shift and Katon was left as the sole original member, putting together an all new lineup in time to record and release a new album, "The New Age Of Terror" in 2004. It was an excellent return for the band, cited by some critics as the best in their catalogue and featured some fantastic tracks such as, "Hostile Territory" and "Hell On Earth," but the song which stood out for me, was the closing, "Unleash the Dogs of War," which contains one of the catchiest chouruses in thrash metal history and a punishing intro. It also showcases Katon's voice perfectly and was a big part of what made "The New Age of Terror" not just a great album, but a great statement that the old thrash metal bands who had returned or were considering returning, could still rock out as hard as ever and teach the young guns a thing or two. More...

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