We've been seeking out bands and fans everywhere to get their most memorable and outrageous mosh pit stories. This week we have a tale to share from screamer Trevor Tatro, of Oklahoma six piece Outline in Color, about an unfortunately vomit-fueled altercation in the pit.
Over the years I've been to a plethora of shows. Whether I'm playing one or attending I always try to keep an eye on the pit. Usually I'm not windmilling or two stepping because I have the stature of a buffer Rosie O' Donnell and when I dance I look like a orangutan on meth.
Anyways there's one blumpkin of a pit that comes to mind from a few years back at what I think was a Stick to Your Guns show (I don't remember, it might have been this sick Metro Station show but anyways...). There was a select group of pasty suburb kids as tall as yard sticks who were attempting to do that wheelbarrow jumping jack move that basically screams "yah I could mosh but I'd rather fellate/get kissy with my step dad." While doing this the pair of goons bumped into the wrong tough guy. In mid air tough guy donkey kicks the kid who ran into him right in the stomach, which I felt was a proper reaction at the time. This led to a fit of puking and getting butthurt among friends but that didn't stop him from getting up and throwing some punches (all the while covered in vomit and tears). Needless to say raging wasn't this guys' forte and colonel creatine fed him fists for a minute until security broke it up.
To check out Outline in Color's music or find out the latest info on the band, head over to the group's Facebook profile here.
Be sure to check back in next Tuesday as we share more band and fan submitted Pit Stories.
There are some bands who continue for decades, never making a splash of any kind in their respective genres, then there are bands who earn instant legendary status. Terrorizer would, and should, be classified in the latter. The band formed in 1986 by guitarist Jesse Pintado, along with Nausea vocalist Oscar Garcia and rhythm section Pete Sandoval and Dave Vincent. At the time of formation, Garcia was still busy with Nausea and Sandoval and Vincent were also busy with another death metal band named, Morbid Angel, which may have proved time consuming and a factor in Terrorizer taking time to release a full length record. Nevertheless, in 1989, the band finally did release their debut album, "World Downfall," which was almost immediately hailed as a classic in the field of grindcore, earning it comparisons to the classic Slayer album, "Reign In Blood." The record was notable for it's album cover, which like the debut full length from fellow grindcore legends, Napalm Death, featured something of a socially active collage, including pictures of corpses, nuclear power stations and Islamic extemists, topped off by the eye catching centre piece of Jesus Christ. Although it was a Terrorizer album, almost one third of the material was actually written by Nausea, not that that stopped Terrorizer from being championed as one of the best original bands in American grindcore.
Despite the unanimous praise, the band decided to fold later that year in order for Sandoval and Vincent to focus more on Morbid Angel and allowing Pintado to head overseas and join Napalm Death, as well as becoming a member of extreme metal group Brujeria in 2000. After leaving Napalm Death in 2004, Pintado decided to bring back Terrorizer from it's fifteen year hiatus, with Pete Sandoval returning as the only other original member and brought with him Morbid Angel guitarist Tony Norman. The reactivated version of the group rounded out their lineup by recruiting Resistant Culture frontman, Anthony Rezhawk. Together the band began work on their second album, "Darker Days Ahead," which was finally released on August 22nd in 2006. The hype behind the album was sadly soon to be overshadowed however, as Pintado tragically passed away five days after the record's release in a Dutch hospital as a result of liver failure. Following the death of Pintado and the mixed reception "Darker Days Ahead" received, the group once again decided to call it a day.
The split proved to be a short lived one when in 2009, Terrorizer seemed to have once again risen from the ashes by posting a new demo online entitled, "Hordes Of Zombies." The comeback wasn't confirmed until two years later however, when the French record label, Season Of Mist announced that they had signed Terrorizer and that they would be releasing a brand new studio album in 2012, with Pintado's place taken by Resistant Culture guitar player, Katina Culture. Regardless of how the new album will sound, Terrorizer have been able to forge a legacy of outstanding grindcore despite a limited catalogue. "World Downfall" will always be remembered as one of the true classics in extreme music, and thanks to modern mediums like the internet and video game soundtracks (specifically Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost And Damned, which featured the song, "Fear Of Napalm,") the band will be etched in to the minds of extreme metal fans worldwide for years to come. More...
Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) is back with a new single and video titled “Kicking and Screaming”. This is the first single from his new album (by the same name) due this fall. Given Bach’s history of entertaining videos (“18 and Life” anyone?) this was definitely worth a look. More...
Metalunderground.com has been hitting up bands and fans everywhere to get their most memorable mosh pit stories. This week Tom Brumpton of Akarusa Yami shares a story of his former band Kallous playing a terrifying show in a fallout shelter in the Czech Republic.
In 2007 my old band Kallous was playing a Festival in the Czech Republic and it was absolutely terrifying. While we were over there we got invited to play a smaller venue called The Bunker, which was an old fallout shelter from the war. It was 30 feet underground and smelt terrible. There were 7 bands, a Neo-Nazi dancing throughout by himself, the stage was at the bottom of a ramp, and there was no crowd to be seen as the “Bunker” was in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere.
About two songs into the set, water began tricking down the ramp onto the stage. By the end of the set, the stage and electrics were covered in water and we all thought we were going to die. I ran out of the venue screaming. The last band was later not allowed to play as the sound man had ran out of cocaine. He then shuffled off into the night, leaving 30 people and about £20,000 worth of musical equipment in the middle of Prague, in the middle of the night, without a lift home. Scary.
Head over to Akarusa Yami's official Facebook page here to check out what the band has to offer, and be sure to check back in next Tuesday as we share more Pit Stories taken from fans and bands around the world.
Every week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we reveal three bands that deserve to be heard by a wider audience. After taking a look at experimental metal groups and instrumental bands with plenty of progressive elements, this week we’re heading straight into underground prog metal acts.
Throwing in jazzy interludes, unexpected changes in tempo and style, and usually a heaping dose of 70’s rock influence, prog has helped to keep the metal scene from stagnating and provides plenty of heaviness without always relying on outright brutality. There may be an odd contradiction of an entire genre called “progressive metal,” since the whole idea is that progressive music can’t be lumped into a single category and doesn’t follow the rules or format of a specific sub-genre. That whole sticky issue aside, these three bands explode with non-traditional song structures and a huge range of influences that make them well worth hearing for any fan of the more well known progressive metal acts, from Opeth to Dream Theater and beyond.
New Jersey’s Suspyre is the cream of the crop in the underground prog metal world, with production values and song writing chops on par with any huge name act. The band creates massive Opeth-length tracks, but still maintain consistent quality and amazing transitions across ten minute epics. Suspyre’s soaring power metal influence vocal work is especially worth hearing, and the band does even throw in a few growls here and there for a heavier edge.
The group’s last release was the 2008 “When Time Fades” album (reviewed here), but Suspyre is now working on a fourth album. To check out the act’s take on melodic prog metal, head over to the Suspyre Facebook profile or listen to the songs “The Light of the Fire” and “Siren” in the clips below.
Six chart topping albums as one of the biggest bands in the world (Van Halen), a messy break-up, and a rumored reunion? NO, that is a different story. Today, a look at the paramedic, talk-radio host, and one of the biggest personalities from eighties rock and roll. This is the story of David Lee Roth, the solo artist years.
The founder of the “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you good you look” club, solo Dave begins before his years with Van Halen officially ended, when he released Crazy from The Heat. Most notably the EP contained two covers, “California Girls” and “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody”, both would generate moderate success due to Roth’s humorous videos that included Dave in a fat suit, extremely beautiful women, and either monkeys or little people, or in some cases both.
After the famous split Dave teamed up with guitarist Steve Vai, bassist Billy Sheehan, Jesse Harms on keyboards, and drummer Gregg Bissonette for what would be his first initial solo record, Eat’em and Smile. No one needed a hit more than Diamond Dave, and he didn’t disappoint. The lead single, “Yankee Rose” was a rocker accompanied by a video with the famous line: “I’ll take a glazed doughnut and a bottle of anything, to go.” The videos for “Yankee Rose” and “Goin’ Crazy” may be the definitive height of the spandex era thanks to Roth’s numerous costume changes, most incorporating spandex with thongs worn on the outside. Eat’em and Smile was a well balanced album with rockers like “Shy Boy” as well as the “slow it down and show Dave’s seductive side” with “Ladies Nite in Buffalo?”. There’s even a cover of “That’s Life”, displaying Roth’s show biz nature, a side only he has been able to portray without coming off too corny, or cheesy, or both. More...
KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are planning to collaborate on a memoir. Is it already assumed the first and last chapters will be “Gene” chapters?...
Alice Cooper has been asked to help design Universal Studios Halloween maze. For a rocker that has always used fright and horror as a back drop it looks like Cooper has been typecast with this project. Three years from now Alice will be receiving calls to go to Iowa and design corn mazes…
The medical mystery man Ozzy Osbourne recently lost his two front bottom teeth (crowns). With a show only days away, Ozzy frantically looked for a dentist to fix his mouth. I realize we are five months away from Christmas, but I already know what Ozzy wants…
A fan with a “professional” style camcorder got a surprise when Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue) went into the crowd to have him removed. Unfortunately from the video you are unable to see if there is in fact a camera or Sixx spotted on of Kat Von D’s new boyfriends. Either way Nikki might consider some additional insurance should he continue to jump into crowds at his age… More...
We've been chatting up bands and fans everywhere to get their most memorable mosh pit stories, and this week's tale of a disembodied leg comes courtesy of Egypt Central bassist Joey Chicago. Joey had this to say about forming a spontaneous telepathic bond with a fan:
The crowd heaved in front of me. A heat coming from them like being in the belly of a medieval dragon. The Florida humidity sticking heavy to me like a wet blanket fresh from a two minute blast in the microwave. Then, in the midst of carnage, I spotted a limb floating above like a crowd surfer. Yes, a limb. The calf and foot, shoe and all, held tightly by a death grip covered knuckle to knuckle in determination. The leg grew closer and as it did, I felt as though a purpose and destiny were coming my way. The foot disappeared, gone for a song and a half. Where is it? Where did it go? Questions swarmed my mind like a rattled bee hive. One more song.
Then, in the dark, a bang above all bangs begins to rise up. I hear something echoing below me like cannonballs going off. The lights go on! I stand face to face with the limb and the rabid fan holding his prosthetic leg like a flag above his head. Our eyes lock and simultaneously we telepathically know the future. I will play this last song with that fake leg. Without words the exchange is made and the bass of "You Make Me Sick" explodes through the speaker, pounded out with the leg hammer gift of destiny! After the show, I signed his leg and we had a beer. We were brothers now. Bonded forever by musical creepiness.
Egypt Central is currently on tour in the U.S. in support of the new album "White Rabbit," which came out on May 31st, 2011 through Fat Lady Music/ILG. The band also recently premiered an acoustic video for the song "White Rabbit" through Metalunderground.com.
Check back again next Tuesday as we share more Pit Stories from band members and fans.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we look at underground bands that embody the metal genre and this week is no exception as we focus on Ogden, Utah. The metal that comes from this area and nearby is astounding, they are metal bands that fly under the mainstream radar but have metal music seared into their souls.
Better known as O-Town to locals, Ogden has an impressive emerging underground music scene. However, the metal reverberating out of this area is distinguishable for the simple fact that they bring it hard, with every show, every song and with every note. Three bands stand out from the pack for a variety of reasons, one being they scorch your souls with their intensity and two… because they are metal to the core.
"The Dead Gates- the entrance to eternal suffering where the hounds of hell feast upon the damned," an apt description for a band as hardcore as these boys. Hailing from Ogden, Utah, these metalheads have taken the Wasatch Front by storm, not only banging heads with O-Town fans but creating a solid fan base throughout Utah. By combining searing guitar riffs, irresistibly heavy bass lines and drum beats of ferocious proportions they create a melodic yet forceful tone that cascades over you. Add that to the vehement growls and intense vocals and you get an effectual sound that is as savage as it is addicting. Deadgates is: Sam E. (vocals), Josh W. (guitar), Mat L. (guitar), Kirk T. (bass), and Matt H. (drums). Check them out on their Facebook on Myspace and on Youtube.
Today sees Sunday Old School reach it's 100th article. You might say reaching this milestone is a true testament to how high heavy metal fans regard the old school. Or you might say that the previous sentence was just a bad pun to lead into this week's band. Either way, this week Sunday Old School will be looking at Testament, one of the most popular bands to emerge from the Bay Area thrash metal scene.
Testament was originally founded under the name Legacy in 1983 by guitarist Eric Peterson, along with his cousin Derrick Ramirez. The band took a significant step when Ramirez was replaced by guitarist Alex Skolnick and singer Steve "Zetro" Souza. The band were late comers of sorts to the Bay Area thrash scene, with such other bands as Metallica, Slayer and Exodus pre-dating them, which perhaps might have been a key factor in Souza deciding to leave the band to join Exodus after they fired singer Paul Baloff. Despite his resignation, Souza suggested that the band attempt to recruit Chuck Billy to replace him behind the microphone, a move which proved highly successful.
After finding out that the name The Legacy was already trademarked by a jazz band, the group changed their name to Testament on Stormtroopers Of Death frontman Billy Milano's suggestion. They remained close to their Legacy moniker though, and after signing with Megaforce Records, used the title "The Legacy" as the name of their debut album. The record was a success, earning the band favourable comparisons to Metallica and containing several songs that remain in the band's setlist to this day, including "Over The Wall" and "First Strike Is Deadly." Testament supported the album by supporting Anthrax on their "Among The Living" tour, which helped to make a household name out of Anthrax and thus garnered Testament much attention. Thrash fans remained enamoured with the band when they released their second album, "The New Order," which followed in the same vein as "The Legacy" both lyrically and musically. This second album also contained future fan favourites such like "Trial By Fire" and "Into The Pit," the latter becoming something of an anthem. More...
25 years ago hard rock and glam albums found regular rotation on the radio and pop culture thanks to MTV, Circus Magazine, and eighties culture. 1986 was riding the fringe of hair band saturation, but also the year Metallica and Megadeth put out timeless efforts. Since 1986 we have seen the grunge era, the boy band era, and the release of St. Anger. We’ve seen it all in the last 25 years.
Here’s a look back at ten of these classic albums in no particular order. There is a twist as Marry/Fuck/Kill rules apply. It’s as simple as it sounds. M (Marry) is a song you want to “save” and listen to forever, F (Fuck) is the song you get one more listen to and that is it, and K (Kill) is the song you want to go away and never be heard from again.
Master of Puppets (Metallica)
M: Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
F: Damage, Inc.
K: The Thing That Should Not Be
(NOTE: It really is the perfect “F” song) More...
We've been talking with bands and fans everywhere to get their mosh pit stories. This week Eric Burnet of Montreal death metal act Derelict shares a story of a lazy pit getting a sudden dose of unexpected violence, Ninja Turtle style, along with a helpful tip about avoiding prison so you don't have to cut your hair.
You know how sometimes at local underground shows, the pit doesn't really get going for the first few bands? How people just kind of shyly stand around and wait for someone drunker or braver to start the pit? Well, standing amidst that crowd of pre-moshers can be a dangerous thing.
We were out on a weekend mini-tour, playing in Brantford, Ontario. The first couple of bands on the bill were quite young, and so were their fans. The pit was taking it's sweet time to get going, and many members of the other bands, myself included, were watching the show from pretty close up, as there was no dangerous action occurring. I had recently suffered a bike accident in Montreal (got rammed by a speed biker!) and I had a pretty big circular scabbed wound on my left arm. Out of nowhere, these two kids, who turned out to be a dual-vocal team from a later band, ran out into the middle of the non-pit and did a Ninja Turtle roll. By this I mean that one of them bent over to 90 degrees, and the other rolled his back over the bent-over dude's back, like the Ninja Turtles. When he landed, they both started hardcore dancing wildly and trying to start a pit. The guy who had rolled, I guess from having been rendered dizzy from his ninja flip, lost his balance and smashed into the line of people quietly enjoying the show. I got propelled into a brick wall and fell, scrapping off my scab in the process and starting to bleed all over my arm.
I'm generally not the violent type, but I have a certain line involving lacks of respect and personal attacks that should not be crossed. I walked over to the kid with the full intention of sending him to the hospital, but then something clicked in my head. It said: "Wait! You're an adult, this kid is a minor. If you go to prison, you'll probably have to cut your hair."
Thankfully, I decided to go walk it off in downtown Brantford instead of murdering anyone. However, I sort of forgot our set time and got back just in time to play, and there's live footage somewhere of me playing that set with blood still dripping down my arm. I still have the stupid scar, although the anger has subsided and I just find it funny now.
Derelict is currently working on its next full-length album, which was previewed with a recent EP release. You can check out the entire promo EP or download the track "Perpetuation" for free at the Derelict Bandcamp page. The band has also posted a separate drum track from the song, which can be found here.
Check back next Tuesday as we share more Pit Stories from band members and metal heads.
Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground, we shine the spotlight onto three bands that may not have had a chance to hit your musical radar yet. This week we’re taking another look into a unique blend of styles that show how not every metal band has to scream about Satan or politics or personal struggles.
After previously looking at underground folk metal in general last year and then folk metal specifically from the Andes, we’re now delving into three bands that all share a love of Celtic and pagan themes, as well as a desire to mix traditional instruments with abrasive black metal or melodic power metal.
Whether you are looking for a night of fun drinking in a folk atmosphere, an in-your-face dose of extreme metal that draws from other influences, or even a more melodic and calm experience, these three bands show what Canada, Arizona, and the U.K. have to offer in the world of folk metal.
For our first trek into folk-laced metal we’ll take a look at Canadian act Trollband, which recently released the debut album “In The Shadow of a Mountain” (reviewed here). The band has now made the album available as a completely free download to get the music out to a wider audience.
In conjunction with the album’s review, Metalunderground.com conducted an interview with Trollband to discuss the band’s decision to give away the release and other topics, such as the many guest musicians appearing on “In the Shadow of a Mountain.” The interview is available for viewing here.
Splitting the difference between a harsher act like Finntroll and a more melodic band like Equilibrium, Trollband has plenty of symphonic black metal mayhem to keep the heads banging, even while a host of folksy sounds keep the music grounded in a more traditional style. To hear more of Trollband you can check out the band’s MySpace page, or listen to the songs “Heathen Blood” or “Nidhoggr” in the clips below.
In 1982, British heavy metal band Iron Maiden made what would be one of the biggest decisions of their career when they fired their singer Paul Di'anno and recruited Samson vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. As everyone knows, Iron Maiden then released their third album, "The Number Of The Beast" and subsequently became one of the biggest groups in the history of heavy metal. But what happened to Di'anno after he was sacked? Quite a lot actually...
Following his departure, Di'anno formed a self-titled band, releasing only one album, also called, "Di'anno," before breaking up in 1985. While touring in support of the record, the band angered fans by refusing to perform any Iron Maiden songs, instead focusing on their own material with a few covers thrown in. Before disbanding, the group was also able to release a live video, "Live at the Palace," which is now available on DVD as "Live In London." After his self-titled endeavour, Paul then found himself part of a new heavy metal supergroup called Gogmagog, which was intended to be a rock opera project. The band saw Di'anno reunited with his former Maiden bandmate Clive Burr and also featured original Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis, former Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray and White Spirit/future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers. The band didn't fare well and folded after only releasing a three song EP, "I Will Be There." More...
If Steven Adler (Adler’s Appetite, ex-Guns N Roses) has a “to do” list it would probably read “Make Amy Fisher Cry on Celebrity Rehab” and be crossed off several times... More...
We've been talking with bands and fans everywhere to get their mosh pit stories. This week we've got a story from Cyprus label Pitch Black Records' owner Phivos Papadopoulos to share:
On December 4th, 2010, Arryan Path were to headline a show in Thessaloniki, Greece, at Harley Bar and I tagged along with the boys. We arrived the day before and during the evening (of December 3rd) we were invited to go to Harley Bar where an Iron Maiden tribute band (The Prisoners) were to perform. Indeed an awesome band which simply amazed all of us as they played every maiden tune to perfection and kept going non-stop from around “2 minutes to midnight” til about 3am.
During their set however and while watching them onstage I kept thinking about how all the band members looked so unbelievably familiar to me; but I just couldn’t place them. My guess was that they also belonged in other bands that I may have seen here or there but nevertheless I kept struggling with my mind trying to figure out where the bloody hell I knew them from!
So the next day comes and during sound check I get to talking with the venue owner. At some point we start discussing the previous night’s cover band and how good they were. I asked if they play in any other bands and his reply was like a smack in the face, leaving me just standing there with my mouth wide open and feeling like a complete idiot. “Sure, they’re in Emerald Sun, a great local band!”
Hell yeah they’re a great band, I should know! They were our newest signing and their new album (“Regeneration”) was already scheduled to be released on February 11th! Of course, apart from phone calls and email exchanges, I had never actually met the guys face to face until then. It occurred to me then that the reason they all looked so familiar was from the time I spent reviewing their album’s booklet and looking at their photos in it. It goes without saying that I rang them up immediately and they came down for Arryan Path’s show and we all had an absolute blast!
Arrayan Path (recently changed from Arryan Path) recently announced that they're working on their third full-length album, "Ira Imperium."
Emerald Sun released their latest album, "Regeneration," earlier this year through Pitch Black Records. The band recently posted a song from the album online, "Chasing the Wind."
Be sure to check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week I am checking out Perth’s thrash and thrash-influenced metal scene.
Perched on the arse end of a continent-spanning desert, Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, and not surprisingly this has led to a very active local metal scene. The bands highlighted today have in common some kind of thrash influence – although how heavily that influence manifests itself in the music varies from band to band.
Enforce has been around in one form or another for over 10 years, releasing in that time three full length albums including the latest, “Biblakil,” in the first half of 2011. But the live show is where this band is at its best, whether supporting an international act (Enforce has opened shows for Behemoth, Obituary and Kreator, to name a few), touring Australia, or playing local gigs.
Although a lot of death metal flavors their sound, Enforce has an undeniably strong thrash influence – just look at frontman Guy Bell’s patch jacket!
Enforce - "As Death Sets In" (Live)
More often than not with heavy metal bands, many fans will say how much they preferred a band’s early work, often saying the first album was the best and that the band changed their style too much later on. The latter is certainly true of Chicago’s, Ministry, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a Ministry fan who’s favourite album was “With Sympathy.” This album was the first from the band, who formed in 1981 from the ashes of Special Affect, which also featured Groovy Mann, later of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and unlike their later work which heavy metal fans are more familiar with, was a synthpop record, much more in the vein of such bands as Depeche Mode or the melodic pop stylings of Spandau Ballet. The album was a slow seller but nevertheless was able to reach the 90s position in the Billboard album charts.
After parting ways with band member Stephen George, Ministry founder Al Jourgensen performed more or less as a solo artist for the next Ministry record, “Twitch.” While it was still an electronic record, the album contained a heavier and darker tone and once again placed Ministry in the Billboard album charts, though only just this time, reaching a peak position of 194. Following, “Twitch,” Jourgensen began to become interested once again in playing the electric guitar and brought in Paul Barker and William Rieflen of The Blackouts for the next album, “The Land of Rape and Honey.” The record was a huge critical success and featured one of Ministry’s most popular songs, “Stigmata,” which was featured in 1990 film, Hardware. The use of electric guitars on the album made for a more metal approach to their music, which continued and was embellished on the next record, “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.” The album fared a little better than “…Rape and Honey,” earning it the number 163 spot on the Billboard album charts, one place higher than it’s predecessor More...
The Dirty Pearls are a NYC based band keeping the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll sleaze alive today. They have just released a video for their latest single, “Who’s Coming Back to Who”. When I heard Penthouse of the Year, Nikki Benz, would be in their new, well, I felt it was worth a look, or five. More...
Mexico is an enormous country just like our own, composed of 31 states and the Federal District. And like us, their music scene is exploding with bands and talent. Besides some of the bigger acts that have made a name for themselves over the years like Shub Niggurath, Cenotaph and Transmetal (a band once produced by Eric Greif) - not enough is heard with the requisite frequency about this active scene in Mexico. There are dozens of metropolitan areas all throughout this country that have metal bands, and there are several record labels that have been spawned to release this vast amount of groups. The interest in Mexican metal was no doubt piqued in American listeners years ago when such acts as LA's Brujeria showed what a winning combo death metal in Spanish could be. In focusing on one scene from our neighbors in Mexico, we will look at some of the interesting bands that have been coming out of the northern metropolis of Monterrey.
Living in the desert southwest where all of my Mexican neighbors come from Michoaca, Tamaulipas or Guanajuato, it is only natural I have wanted to discover more about this country and it's music. While I've travelled to my share of border towns, which have their own energy and club scene and bars that have pools where you can play volleyball, the only way to truly experience this country is to go deeper south and start seeing all the pueblos and cities that start to have a purer Mexican identity amidst the colorful landscape. I've been to Tijuana, Nogales and Mexicali countless times, been hustled off the street by guys paid to get you into their bar, and enjoyed plenty of drinks while listening to loud thrash metal. But in order to get a truer picture of what the country has to offer, it is vital to go further in and start seeing the true essence of it all. You pass through countless towns as you go deeper into Mexico - almost all having a cathedral, soccer field and a bar within the same block while the locals are listening to their ranchera music. But you know somewhere down the street are a bunch of guys with metal t-shirts on rocking out to heavy tunes on their home stereo. Metal is big down there.
A couple hours southwest of McAllen, Texas is the picturesque city of Monterrey. It is hard to believe that Mexico's third largest metropolitan area (ninth largest city) is this close to the U.S. Driving the desolate chaparral outback to get there is half the fun. Mexico has a system of free roads and toll roads - "carreteras de cuota" - throughout most of this northern area. If you can pay the toll you get to drive on the 4-lane highway. If not, you drive on the free road alongside a produce truck that's falling apart and emitting black smoke. As I watched a man trying to sell his hand tools so he could pay the toll, I couldn't help but be reminded of that song "Caseta de Cobro" by El Tri (about a toll booth operator who steals half the money he collects, buying pot and taking vacations.) I've been stopped by cops on roads like this, and a ten dollar bill usually gets me out of a ticket. Too bad it's not like this in the U.S. In Mexico, the laws of the frontier still prevail, which is sometimes a pleasant departure from regimentation and bureaucracy. You've got to love the rugged outback and a sense of adventure, and that's one of the reasons to head down to cities like Monterrey.
Digression aside, Monterrey is far enough inland to be uniquely Mexican but close enough to the U.S. to hear faded radio station signals. What strikes you about it is how incredibly big it is. As it's located in the border state of Nuevo Leon, this city of 4.5 million people often gets overlooked as being "too gringo" and not having enough true Mexican culture. It has twice the per capita income as other cities in Mexico, an educated workforce - but a lot of strife like many of the northern areas due to the Gulf and Zeta cartels fighting for control despite President Felipe Calderon's drug war. Politics aside, the people of Monterrey pass their day by listening to either tejano/nortena music or different forms of rock and roll - but usually not both. The city has, to me, a rugged beauty in that high desert plains way with it's statuesque palm trees and the jutting outcropping known as the Cerro de la Silla mountain. It's a large commercial and industrial hub with plenty of businesses that export a variety of products (several multinational companies have headquarters down there, such as Nokia, GE and Toyota among the many) and contains several colleges like La Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon within it's permiter. Universities mean youth, ideology and music - hence helping create the musical renaissance over a decade ago. Metal bands have been thrashing here since the 80's, mind you, but in the past ten years the scene has really taken on a whole new life of it's own. More...