When it comes to American metal strongholds, New York, California, and Florida never escape mention, but Texas remains the wild card. Not only has the state produced a number of influential bands, but the fan base is famously strong. It's true that no scene is what it used to be, but Texas continues to turn out new and varied acts whose names reach far beyond its borders. San Antonio Metal Examiner Jacob Holmes did the first round up for Metal Underground, but it's a big state and there's still a lot of ground to cover.
Guitarist Wes Weaver has become something of a Texas metal folk hero in the last twenty years. Operating out of Houston, he co-founded Dark Reign in the early '90s, which soon morphed into the much-loved death metal juggernaut known as Imprecation. The band made a name for itself as a cult phenomenon, but they never broke out into the larger arena and finally disbanded. In the meantime, Weaver continued to boost the Texas scene with his venerable radio show, and he also appeared in the short-lived Infernal Dominion, which was regarded as a departure from his classic brand of crepitus death metal.
In 2004, the Texas metal community was surprised to hear that Weaver was spearheading a new band called Blaspherian. Their approach was a pummeling return to the Imprecation model, and the debut EP, "Allegiance to the Will of Damnation," was the antidote to an increasingly stagnant Houston scene.
Like most veteran metal musicians, Blaspherian eschewed the current standard of soulless digital production in favor of a traditional analog soundscape. There are no typewriter drums or varnished guitar tones here; Blaspherian specializes in the booming, fuzzed-out death marches that reveal the blackened heart of true death metal. The riffs are efficient and linear even at the fastest moments, and nothing about the writing is rushed or overplayed. Chords hang, drums rumble, and evil all but drips from the speakers.
Blaspherian is important not only as a revival band, but because it points back directly to the groups that sired it. If younger fans are inspired to dig into the vaults of Texas' metal history, then "Allegiance to the Will of Damnation" has succeeded in its mission. The band makes semi-regular live appearances around the the state in the name of converting newcomers and flying the flag for the best days of death metal.
The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal really is a treasure chest when it comes to music. There are so many bands from the movement that produced some oustanding metal but never got the recognition they deserved. One of the best examples of such treatment would be Cloven Hoof, the band hailing from the city of Wolverhampton. Formed in 1979, it was three years before the group were able to record a demo tape and gain the attention of heavy metal fans and record labels. Initially the members attempted to stand out from their peers by using pseudonyms and decided that each member would be named after the four elements, Earth, water, fire and air. While using this gimmick, Cloven Hoof were able to self-release an EP entitled, "The Opening Ritual," which did very well and was championed by members of the heavy metal and hard rock press in the United Kingdom and the United States alike and led them to be able to record a prestigious session for the Tommy Vance friday rock show. Based on the success of the EP, the band signed to Neat Records soon after, who were known for releasing records by many other New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands such as Blitzkrieg and Raven. The result was their self-titled debut full length, which like "The Opening Ritual," achieved massive critical acclaim. However, internal tensions became a problem and after releasing a live album entitled, "Fighting Back" in 1986, the band called it a day.
Cloven Hoof would resurface in 1988 however, being brought back to life by bass player Lee Payne who recruited vocalist Russ North and a host of other new members. With a new sense of enthusiasm and dedication, the band decided to drop their stage names in favour of their own and get to work on a new album, which materialised the same year in the form, "Dominator." This new record saw the band move from the standard heavy metal style of their contemporaries into a power metal territory, a formula which followed them to their next album, "A Sultan's Ransom." Both of these albums were well received by fans and featured songs which have since become live staples. Despite their perceived success, the group once again broke up in 1990 as a result of contractual difficulties.
In the early period of the last decade, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal saw a resurgence in popularity and many of the bands reunited as a result. Payne decided around this time to reform Cloven Hoof but unfortunately, none of the former members were interested, leaving Payne to recruit a brand new lineup. Pre-existing contractual problems were still haunting the band however, and it wasn't to be until 2006 that the group released a new studio album, which came in the form of "Eye Of The Sun." Not long after this release though, former vocalist Russ North finally accepted the offer to return to the band and the duo of himself and Payne went about recruiting new musicians for the lineup, which eventually included former drummer Jon Brown. This new stable re-recorded a selection of older tracks for a compilation album entitled, "The Definitive Part 1," which was released in 2008. North left the band the next year however, despite recording his vocals for an EP of new material called, "Throne Of Damnation." As a result of his exit, the band hired singer Matt Moreton, who had previously sung on the "Eye Of The Sun" album, to record his own vocals and the EP finally saw the light of day in 2010. Currently, Cloven Hoof have plans to record a new studio album and have kept their profile alive by releasing a live DVD this past December. More...
Duff McKagan (Velvet Revolver, Loaded, ex-Guns N Roses) has recently undergone sinus surgery to fix a quarter size hole caused from drug use. Based on this information I have to assume at some point Steven Adler’s (Adler’s Appetite, ex-Guns N Roses) nickname was Silver Dollar… More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Jacob Bannon, the singer for Converge, tells a tale of a crazy Australian gig:
We played a show in middle of Australia. It was so bizarre. Mainly locals came to the show, mechanics, etc. They had no idea what to make of us. When we arrived, the door was a big school bus with sheet metal attached to the windows, making it a crazy wall into the venue. Tires and old car debris were everywhere. Tons of sand. People wearing the craziest things ever. Football pads, ripped up jeans. But they were all punks in some way and were armed. Totally wild. A little kid was even tossing around a boomerang. It was a total trip. In the middle of our set, a guy drove a dune buggy straight into the crowd. No one got hurt but it was NUTS. Complete chaos. He had a hockey mask on and was scary as fuck. We played a few more songs then jetted. So wild. We almost ran out of gas too. Real shortage out there.
Converge seems to be laying low of late, but was one of the first bands recently confirmed for France's Hellfest in 2011.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we take a look at quality underground bands in an attempt to spread the word of lesser known acts. This week we're diving into a divisive and controversial subject: Christian "unblack" metal. Also known as "white metal" or "holy unblack metal," the genre twists the standard Satanic or anti-religious themes and instead presents a pro-Christian worldview.
Say the phrase "Christian black metal" to the average metal head and you're likely to be met with a confused giggle or a baffled comparison to Jewish Nazi metal bands, but believe it or not there is a thriving religious black metal scene. While many of the black metal legions may see Christian lyrical themes as an irreconcilable contradiction, there are quite a few unblack bands with music every bit as dark and menacing as anything from the likes of Mayhem or Dimmu Borgir.
As a companion to this look into three unblack metal bands, we also have an editorial dealing with the subject of Christianity in black metal.
Destroying any preconceived notions of unblack metal lacking the force of an anti-religious band, Finland’s Renascent is a thrash-influenced symphonic black metal power house that equals or exceeds many secular bands. The level of fury present in the music is pretty astonishing, and the band doesn’t slouch in the melody department either. It’s a shame the band isn’t better known in the extreme metal community, as the aggressive symphonic tones are sure to please fans of acts like Dimmu Borgir or Dragonlord. Several Renascent tracks are available for streaming through the band’s MySpace page, with “In Hell” and “Exodus” being the most potent examples of crushing brutality mixed with keyboards. The songs “Scenes of a Tragedy” and “Through Darkness” can also be found in the video clips below.
Ask any fan of gothic metal to name a band which the genre couldn't have survived without, and chances are you will always hear the name, Paradise Lost. They weren't always associated with this style though, after forming in the town of Halifax in 1988, the band were known for their death metal rooted sound, having been inspired by such extreme metal heroes as Celtic Frost and Kreator. Following the recording of two demo casettes, the band signed to Peaceville Records for the release of their first album, "Lost Paradise" in 1990, which featured more of a doom flavoured death metal sound than their later material. Although the album received mixed reviews from critics, fans loved it and their next album, "Gothic," proved to be an even bigger success, now being cited as one of the most influential metal albums of the 90s. "Gothic" saw a change in direction somewhat for the band, utilising female vocals and strings and along with the shift in style, the band changed labels when they signed to Music For Nations, through which they released their next album, "Shades Of God."
Paradise Lost were then able to achieve massive critical success once again, following the release of their fourth album, "Icon." Like, "Gothic," the album was considered a classic and helped the band gain chart success when it entered the German album charts at number 31. Another staple followed shortly afterwards in the form of, "Draconian Times," which is also considered one of the best albums not only from Paradise Lost, but of the goth metal genre. This record also enabled the band to perform in places they were previously unable to, such as South America and Australia. Despite the acclaim they had achieved with these albums, the group then shifted direction once again, taking much inspiration from synth pop bands like New Order and Depeche Mode. The first album to feature this sound, "One Second" proved to be a massive success in Europe, entering the top ten in the German and Swedish album charts. The synth pop influence seemed to be overwhelming the band somewhat, as many fans felt that the band had almost completely shed their metal influences on the subsequent albums, "Host" and "Believe In Nothing."
Unhappy with the control their label had over them, the group signed a new deal with GUN Records and began bringing back the metallic sounds of the past, while still retaining their new wave influence. This would mark their last album to feature such a mesh though, as they shed the synth pop stylings for their self-titled tenth studio album in 2005, much to the delight of fans and critics alike. Since then, Paradise Lost have continued to utilise the goth metal sound on their subsequent albums, "In Requiem" and most recently, "Faith Divies Us - Death Unites Us." The band are expected to begin work on a new studio album in the new year, along with rumours of a new DVD release. It seems that now, the band are deservedly recognised as one of the true kings in their respective genre, and one that has earned respect by not being afraid to experiment with their music and take risks, with some paying off more than others. More...
The finale begins with Bret in the backyard on his basketball court and a truly amazing discovery: Bret Michaels has a jump shot. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Ande Otte, guitarist of Canadian melodic hard rock band Versus The Nothing, shares one from a pizza joint in Manitoba:
Tuning our string waiting to play our set in Brandon, MB at a small pizza joint turned into a music venue for the night. I looked out at the crowd as they were rowdier than most and knew the night was gonna be great!! Just as we played our first note, a guy who we had been watching do the head bob for over an hour puked a bucket's worth all over the pit right in front of the stage. I looked at the bar tender and she gave me the look like thats metal. With no hesitation from the crowd they moshed throught the puke the entire set without even batting an eye and for some reason people kept falling in the pit that night. WORST SMELLING SET EVER!!
You can check out Versus the Nothing's music on their MySpace page.
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 looking into the Singapore scene once again.
In our previous article, we talked about three bands, namely Draconis Infernum, Xanadoo and Meza Virs. For this article, we will talk a bit about three death metal bands from Singapore.
Formed in early 2006, Assault has been a regular performer in local gigs. After four years and finally having a stable lineup, they are finally about to release their debut EP, "The Exceptions of the Rebellions." Assault plays a brand of melodic death metal, citing influences ranging from Arch Enemy to old school death metal bands. Covers of Bloodbath songs are a staple on their live shows, often drawing curious onlookers and instantly converting them into fans of the band. Vocalist Clarence’s vocals range from deep growls all the way to high pitched screeches. Backed by a solid instrumental section, they are definitely one band to watch out for. Check out Assault’s MySpace page here. Their debut EP is expected to be released in mid-January, 2011. More...
Even if some bands from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal aren't as well remembered as others, some of them are still able to write songs that easily classics of the movement. No greater example is there of this than Blitzkrieg, who formed in the city of Leicester in 1980. The group quickly signed to Neat Records, who championed the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal by signing a number of other bands from the movement, including Venom, Raven and Tygers Of Pan Tang. Through the label, the band were able to release their first single, "Buried Alive" in 1981, though in later years, greater attention was brought to the singles B-side, the eponymous "Blitzkrieg," after it was covered by Metallica. Unfortunately, the band decided to call it a day after the single's release and the members went on to join different projects, the most notable of which was singer Brian Ross who had stints with such other bands as Satan and Avenger.
Following these other tenures, Ross decided to bring Blitzkrieg back in 1984, together with original guitarist Jim Sirotto and new members Mick Proctor, Mick Moore and Sean Harris, who had all performed in a number of other noticable British heavy metal bands. With this lineup, the band were finally able to release full length album, which came in the form of 1985's, "A Time Of Changes." The record was well received by fans and was noticable for it's re-recording of their self-titled song, as well as "Pull The Trigger," a song written by the band, Satan but was never used on any of their releases. It would be six years before Blitzkrieg released a new album, but at last in 1991, "Ten Years Of Blitzkrieg" was released, much to the delight of long time fans.
However, the band soon found themselves without a label and soldiered on until Neat Records re-emerged in 1995 and immediately signed the band to a three album deal, the first release of which was "Unholy Trinity," which had actually been recorded in 1992. Two more albums, "Ten" and "The Misfits Of Avalon" followed and both were well received by heavy metal fans worldwide, but in 1998, Brian Ross suffered from a serious car injury and the future of Blitzkrieg was placed in doubt once again. Lightning war was never stopped by automobile accidents however, and before long Ross resurrected the band once again, eventually releasing a new album in 2002 entitled, "Absolute Power." The band are still going strong today, performing at concerts and festivals worldwide, and still producing new albums, with their most recent effort being 2007's, "Theatre Of The Damned." More...
Ozzy Osbourne has gotten into another traffic altercation, this time rear ending another car while driving a Ferrari. In honor of this monthly event, let’s have a quiz: Which of the following are true of Ozzy’s driving habits? A. It took him 19 attempts at the driving test in order to get his license. B. Ozzy once fell asleep during a driving test, the instructor was gone when he awoke. C. Ozzy repeatedly showed up with alcohol in his body to his driving tests. D. All of the above… More...
The show begins with a brand new look for Bret, the solid black bandana look. It’s as if we are looking at Evil Bret. The whole concept of evil quickly disappears when he gives his daughter (Raine) a guitar for her grades. The guitar has a Playboy bunny on it and the color can only be described as C.C. DeVille pink. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Mario, drummer of L.A. death/thrash band Exmortus, shares a story about insane backyard gigs in L.A.:
Some of the best pits this band has seen were from playing backyard shows in East Los Angeles. Theres nothing like have 100-200 people drunk and under aged crammed in a small yard pitting and head banging their asses off. This one particular night I will never forget, it was one of our first times playing a backyard show and also in East Los. Although the house was pretty small it was also ridiculously packed, the band barely had any room to set up. So we start rockin out in this little corner and the pit just broke out. There were kids diving off the garage and right in the middle of a song a mob of people slam into the band. I remember looking over and seeing conans amp at about a 45 degree angle up against the garage door with him on it still playing haha. It was pretty wild one of many crazy pit stories this band has had.
This past summer Exmortus recruited new guitarist Sean Redline while lead shredder/songwriter Conan has also taken over vocal duties. The band recorded a two-track demo to give fans a taste of what to expect from the new line up and the yet-unnamed new album is tentatively scheduled for release during spring 2011.
The band was recently intereviewed by Terrorizor Magazine about the new album.
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. For my second article (read the first one here) I am going to look at three bands of three distinct genres in Heavy Metal, but in the emerging Halifax Underground you can find these three bands playing together on any given night.
Nova Scotia, with its small population and many rural areas, might not be considered the hotbed of metal, but when you look into the underground you see a very different story. With all styles of metal being accepted and embraced, the underground is growing each and every late night.
Black Moor consists of: Eric Hanlin – Guitar & vocals, Nick Jones – Lead Guitar, Rob Nickerson – Bass, Sylvain Coderre – Drums, and yes they are young. In fact I’m sure they are sick of people talking about how young they are, but why we as media are so amazed at their baby faces is because of the music that comes out of them.
The band rips tunes that are inspired by such heroes as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and Metallica. When you are writing and playing music that has the sound of those amazing legends then you are going to have great show, especially when you pull it off as well as Black Moor. I can use all the adjectives here: hard hitting guitar riffs, raunchy vocals, blast beats! That’s all crap that as reviewers we use every day so if you need that at least I said it. In my opinion though Black Moor far outweighs those clichés. Their music is Raw Thrash that speaks to you on a level that I haven’t experienced since I was 14 and heard “Seek and Destroy” for the first time. As Heavy Metal Momma would say Black Moor is more of a feeling then a band. You can get that feeling at their MySpace page.
I will be the first to admit that having someone who could be my kid play music that takes me back to the days when thrash was king is weird, but hell I’m going to roll with it. What amazes me about them is they could certainly make some dollars standing up and doing cover songs, but they write and play what they like instead. That’s ballsy and what old-school thrash is all about.
Tis’ the season, it’s that time of year again. This week we take a look and see what our aging rockers are hoping for under the Christmas tree… More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. Last week's story focused on drinking, so this week let's take it up a notch to drugs. Jason Schmidt of California metalers Graf Orlock, shares his story from a remote corner of Australia:
Orange, New South Wales, Australia, June 2010. Graf Orlock and Dangers were doing a 3 week tour of this fair former penal colony, roughly 160 miles west of Sydney with a burgeoning population of 31,000. We played a rowdy and entertaining house show there, which was of particular historical interest because it appeared NO bands from out of town had ever played there. Whilst the mid-song running and punching was in full fiasco, there appeared to be an injured kid lying in the back of the room. Not only was this kid lying down, his face was a Violet Beauregarde color blue, and small tremors seemed to take over his half naked body. The ambulance people were called, his mom arrived, and his minor drug-induced seizure was put to rest in short order. Since then this house has been christened 'Seizure's Palace' and remains a highlight of our summer (winter) abroad.
Graf Orlock's new EP, "Doombox," is out January 18, 2011 on Vitriol Records. Known for insane artwork and elaborate packaging, Graf Orlock steps it up once again with Doombox -- a 30"x10"x10" fold-out cardstock "boombox" that houses the Doombox EP on CD and vinyl, plus a bonus CD containing Graf Orlock's entire "Destination Time" trilogy. Also known for its far-flung DIY world touring, Graf Orlock has repeatedly toured Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Europe, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the US, all on its own dime.
Check out some of their music on the band's official MySpace page.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
When a metalhead moves into parenthood, a whole new world of challenges is unveiled, as with any new parent. Likely not the first on your mind is what music you can play for them. You presumably don’t want them growing up a wuss, listening to pop music. You want them to ROCK!
Cannibal Corpse and Slayer might be a little much for babies or toddlers, however. In fact, the biggest challenge to finding good metal to play for kids is the profanity. You could resort to some Christian metal, which is usually free of profanity and violence, or search through your collection for the few clean albums or make your own mix of kid-safe metal. Instrumental metal, especially Powerglove, is a decent option, if a little limiting.
Or you could search for some metal music that’s made just for kids. Yes, there are a few bands doing this, but perhaps just one who has done it best. For fear that you’ll skip this entire article when you see the others, let’s start with the best:
(Warning: If you take yourself and your metal too seriously, this is not for you; this is for metalheads with a sense of humor and can see the fun in these bands. After all, it’s for the kids!)
The promo says it pretty well: “What would happen if The Wiggles met Rob Zombie backstage at a Gwar concert and decided to form a band together? I'm not really sure, but I'd bet they would sound a lot like The Thunderlords!”
The Thunderlords is an entirely original Viking-themed “band” making original loud and heavy songs for kids. The band released their only album, Noisy Songs for Noisy Kids in 2005. The album features nine songs with song titles like “I Like Dirt,” “Eat Vegetables” and “Ice Cream Headache.” In fact, I Like Dirt" and "Ice Cream Headache" were featured on the soundtracks for the bestselling video games “Tony Hawk's American Wasteland,” “Tony Hawk's Project 8” and “Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land” respectively.
Check out the video for “I Like Dirt” and a stream of “Ice Cream Headache” below:
It’s always a shame when death is a factor in choosing which band to cover for Sunday Old School, but after the tragic death of drummer Armando Acosta, it seems only right we remember his work with Saint Vitus, one of the first and most influential bands in doom metal. The band was formed in 1979 by Acosta, bassist Mark Adams, guitarist Dave Chandler and lead singer Scott Reagers under the name, Tyrant but changed their name shortly after to Saint Vitus a Black Sabbath song. The band were eventually offered a record deal from SST Records, which was run by hardcore legends Black Flag, another of the group’s biggest influences and they released their self-titled first album in 1984 before following it with a second album, "Hallow’s Victim" and an EP, "The Walking Dead" in 1985.
Following these releases, Reagers decided to leave the band and Saint Vitus recruited The Obsessed frontman Scott "Wino" Weinrich. The first record with Weinrich was the full length album, "Born Too Late," which became the group’s best selling release to date. Although their next album, "Mournful Cries" didn’t sell as well as their previous album, it still garnered positive reviews from fans and critics. The band parted ways with SST Records soon afterwards and signed with Hellhound Records, through which they released the album, "V" in 1989. The album would prove to be the last studio recording with Wino to date, as he decided to leave the band following the release of a live album to reform The Obsessed in 1991. A new singer was found in Count Raven frontman Christian Lindersson but he would only record one album with Saint Vitus, 1993’s, "C.O.D." Following the tour in support of the album, Lindersson was replaced by the group’s original singer Scott Reagers, with whom they recorded one more album, "Die Healing," before deciding to call it a day in 1996.
In 2003, the "Born Too Late" incarnation of the band decided to get back together and perform some live shows, but they made it clear that it was not going to be a permanent reunion, and disbanded once again before the year was over, releasing a live DVD from the tour in the process. A more promising reformation would happen in 2008 however, when the band announced that they were returning and eventually confessed that new material was being written. Once again, this reformation featured the "Born Too Late" lineup and they were able to perform at some of the biggest festivals in Europe such as Roadburn and Hellfest. However in 2009, Acosta parted ways with the band due to health concerns and was replaced by Blood Of The Sun drummer Henry Vasquez. Acosta passed away on November 25th of this year, leaving behind a great legacy of heavy metal and carving himself a place as one of the most respected drummers in the history of doom metal. A new Saint Vitus album is expected to surface sometime next year, which will be their first without Acosta. More...
In response to the Motley Crue/Poison 2011 tour Bret Michaels admits that his pre-mature announcement may have been a “pipe dream”. Vince Neil commented, saying it was “wishful thinking” at best. Is it just me or are these two being way too nice to each other? I smell another reality show. Ladies and gentlemen it’s VH1 Rock of Hair starring Vince Neil and Bret Michaels, watch as the two compete for well used girls, camera time, and dollars to go toward their next plastic surgery session… More...
This week’s episode begins with Bret in Indianapolis on the Bob and Tom radio show. The discussion begins light, discussing Michaels' health, then gets serious when they bring up the song “Talk Dirty To Me” and its place as a strip club anthem. Interesting, this got me pondering some of Poison’s music. Is it possible Poison isn’t only the strongest top 5 strip club songs, but also top 5 B-side strip club songs? Let’s take a closer look. More...