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Archive: Columns

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Celebrity Apprentice: Bret is Late, Again

Celebrity Apprentice kicks off with an intro showing Bret Michaels proclaiming “If you’re going to have a freak out, have a ROCK star freak out”. This leads into episode two with Bret and two fellow diabetics sitting outside the boardroom. Along with a 100K check for a diabetes charity, Bret sends them along with his mantra, “You can have a full life, you can ROCK!” For those playing along, that’s two shots in less than five minutes! More...

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Sunday Old School: Two

A few months ago we took a look at Judas Priest, one of the most important and many would say greatest bands in the history of heavy metal. However in the early 1990s, the groups lead vocalist Rob Halford decided to quit the band and pursue other musical interests. The most controversial of these, was Two (sometimes written as 2wo), an industrial metal band he formed alongside guitarist John Lowery.

The band was formed by Halford and Lowery in 1997 after Halford decided not to continue his previous band, Fight. They quickly found themselves signed to Nothing Records, which was founded by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and released their Reznor produced debut album, "Voyeurs" the following year. It was around this time that Halford first openly stated that he was homosexual and the band worked with gay porn director Chi Chi Laurue for their music video "I Am A Pig." The band received a harsh backlash from long time fans of Rob Halford, who wanted to hear more of a traditional heavy metal style and concert attendence was generally poor, coupled with the problem of audience members shouting for the band to perform Judas Priest songs. A music video and single release was planned for the song "Stutter Kiss" as it had featured on the soundtracks for a few movies, however this idea was scrapped due to the albums poor commercial performance.

Although there was talk of the band recording a second studio album for a different label, it was not meant to be. Halford disbanded Two in 1998 and formed a new band, simply named Halford which was more in the vein of the traditional heavy metal sound for which he was known. John Lowery went on to become the guitarist for Marilyn Manson and later Rob Zombie. Since the bands demise, the "Voyeurs" albums has gained a cult following among fans of industrial metal and Rob Halford, with Halford saying he would like to release the demos the band did for the album as they were apparantly heavier and more metal sounding, claiming Trent Reznor had too much control over the production for "Voyeurs." Reznor himself has disowned the album and when questioned about it, has been very critical of the record. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Kiss Steel Cage Challenge

Forget Atkins, Low-Fat, or the South Beach diet: Try the new Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) Red Wine Only diet. Week six of Celebrity Fit Club displayed Bach easily beating ex-R&B star Bobby Brown in a long-distance running challenge up a hill. I guess I should point out Brown’s chronic chain smoking and potato chip addiction, but those are just details. Try the Red Wine Only diet today!... More...

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Tales From The Pit: The Extended Crowd Surf

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Special Ops guitarist Akbar shares a fun crowd surfing story with us:

"Mosh story, Crazy out door show, I think it was Vans Warped Tour or something, I forget the band that was playing, I was a bit too inebriated. lol. Been in the pit all day and by now the batteries are starting to run a bit low after 4 hrs.

"Last band goes on, and all I feel is the waist band of my pants being pulled up along with my feet being grabbed, next thing I know I'm lying down on top of the crowd staring at the sky with the band rocking out, then all of a sudden they sit me up. Here I am sitting on people's hands like it was my lazy boy watching the show, so I start asking them to move me around and they did, turned me around and I saw a sea of heads! All I could think of was man I need to play that stage, and we eventually did :)) and who, next thing I now I'm being turned over on my belly, and being shoved towards the front - still kinda cool in the mental state I was in, but then, a pair of strong ass hands grab my shoulders and the rest keep pushing but the shoulders are staying put, seconds later I'm in an inverted cross position facing the crowd, thinking HOLY SHIIIIIT DON'T DROP ME! while smiling of course. lol

"Anyhow, it turned out to be a good friend, and he threw me on my back again and into the crowd, only this time I didn't end up standing on my head, they started tossing me up and down, and then they gave a big throw, tossing me a good 3 feet in the air, and they cleared, leaving me to fall a good 8-10 feet flat on my back. Very very dangerous and stupid move on their end, I could have been paralyzed if I wasn't smart enough to grab someones shirt to get me to hit the floor ass first which hurt, but not as bad as if I had landed flat on my back.

"That was the longest surf I had done ever, and probably the most fun. to anyone out there thinking of dropping people on their backs, you can really hurt someone while doing that. \m/\m/"

Special Ops just recently signed to Thorny Bleeder Records for the release of their third album, "Through The Heart of The Infidel" (reviewed here), which will see an official release soon. You can download an MP3 of the song "Pressure" off of "Through the Heart Of The Infidel."

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the mosh pit.

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Celebrity Apprentice: Bret is Project Manager

This year’s Celebrity Apprentice Reality television show gives us a couple of rock n’ roll “celebrities” as well as comedy gold in Bret Michaels and Sharon Osbourne.

As with the Rock of Love show, the Bret Michaels drinking game will be in play, with a twist, instead of the word AWESOME, we will be using ROCK. I prefer Patron tequila, but for those playing along while reading the column I suggest something from the schnapps family, and for those reading this in the morning, maybe a stiff Bloody Mary, or an ice cold Stella. More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Los Angeles

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 exploring the Los Angeles metal scene.

If you live in Los Angeles, or have been to a metal show, whether it be death metal, thrash metal, or just metal, you may have become accustomed to watching several unsigned bands perform before an advertised lineup start their sets. As soon as you're inside the venue, the bands set up, and they finally play. Sometimes, these bands make your want to run into a brick wall, head first, because they are an awful, yet convoluted noise somehow crushed on top of fingernails scratching across a chalk board. But, on rare occasions, you finally notice a band that would be, in your eyes, considered an artist in the making. Here are three unsigned metal bands from Los Angeles and surrounding areas that definitely need to be heard and given a chance in the world of heavy metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Body Count

The relationship between rap music and the world of hard rock and heavy metal has long been an interesting one. In many ways, both genres are very different and many members of each community look at the other with contempt. Whether it it be that metal fans think that rap is all about "bitches and money" or that rap fans think metal fans look stupid and every band is just screaming. However there are many others in both genres who at least respect the other, at times colloborating such as Public Enemy and Anthrax. One such member of the rap world who had a respect, admiration and love for hard rock and metal music was the legendary Ice-T. Ice-T decided to form his own rock band, Body Count with musicians he knew from school to help expand his musical palette in 1990 and debuted the band at the 1991 Lollapalooza tour, which many stated was the highlight of the tour. From there the band appeared on Ice-T's acclaimed album, "O.G. Original Gangster" and opened for Guns N' Roses before releasing their self-titled debut album in March 1992.

The band was highly controversial, not least due to the song, "Cop Killer," a song inspired by the Talking Heads track "Psycho Killer" and intended to criticise corrupt police officers in the United States. The band was boycotted by police groups as well as parents and the religious right and were even denounced by then U.S. President George H. W. Bush. "Cop Killer" wasn't the only song on the album to receive a negative reaction either. "KKK Bitch"and "Evil Dick" also gained the band notoriety for what people saw as obscene lyrics, to the point where noted actor Charlton Heston entered a Time Warner shareholders meeting and read the lyrics out, confident with a sense of unwarranted self-importance that by doing this the band would be fired from the label. Ice-T himself decided to remove the song "Cop Killer" from the album because he felt that the band should be more known for their music than controversy. The band does, however, continue to perform the song live.

Since then the band has released three more albums, 1994's "Born Dead," 1997's "Violent Demise: The Last Days" and 2006's "Murder 4 Hire." Sadly, of the original lineup, only Ice-T and lead guitarist Ernie C are still alive, with drummer Beastmaster V passing away in 1996 after a battle with leukemia, bass player Mooseman being killed in a shooting while working for Iggy Pop in 2001 and guitarist D-Roc succumbing to lymphoma in 2004. The band has been inactive for a while but recently made an apperance at the Vans Warped Tour anniversary party in Los Angeles. No word has been given on whether they will record a new album again at some point, but Body Count still holds a large cult following across the globe, particularly in Europe, and the very thought of a new tour or album is something that generates a lot of excitement... and probably some controversy for good measure. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The GNR Video Trilogy II

In week four of Celebrity Fit Club we finally get to see Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) in true form, that is to say, the anger finally appears. The best comparison I see is looking at Skid Row’s self titled debut album versus the follow-up, Slave to The Grind, going from “I Remember You” to “The Threat,” a sweet ballad to destruction. In this episode Bach goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of minutes, hitting cameras, getting in the face of female teammates, and dropping fifty F-bombs in less than five minutes. Nice to have you back Sebastian… More...

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Tales From The Pit: Escaping Devildriver's Pit

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Devildriver frontman Dez Fafara points us to one of the largest pits witnessed:

"The Tale I have can be viewed online! DevilDriver in the tent at Download, almost 15,000 people and a huge pit takes place. Everyone is cool, taking care of each other and suddenly, from the stage, I see some dude scrambling up a pole in the middle of the pit to get up and away from the mayhem! He stayed till the song was finished and we caught it all on tape. Other stories include random broken legs, arms, noses, teeth knocked out, pitters passing out and the always fun ‘I’ve fallen and can't get back up!'"

We'll see if we can get Dez to elaborate on some of his other stories, but check out the video of this massive pit at Download 2007 that he's talking about:

Devildriver recently wrapped up a tour with Suffocation and Goatwhore where they were doing a little work on some new material as well. The band will be heading overseas to take part in Hammerfest from March 11th - 13th, 2010 in North Wales.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the mosh pit.

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Unearthing the Violin and Cello Metal Underground

In 1996, Apocalyptica released their debut studio album, "Plays Metallica by Four Cellos," and the metal world would never again view cellos the same way. Apocalptica was no one-trick pony, however. They upped the ante and quality massively on "Inquisition Symphony" and branched out to cover other metal bands plus three original compositions. By their third album, the band was producing primarily original material, still heavy and still on four cellos.

While Apocalyptica has since broken out of the underground, it took them years to do so even while piggybacking on the success of metal gods like Metallica, finally securing a decent North American record deal and touring the U.S. after they had four albums under their belt. Yet, their success has opened doors to more classically trained musicians to explore the heavier side of their instruments and contribute to the heavy metal community in their own ways. If Apocalyptica did not start by covering Metallica, one might wonder how heavy a band of celloists could possibly sound. Not only do they pull it off in the studio, but they put on a live performance that rivals that of their idols.

Today I will introduce you to three underground bands that employ extensive use of bowed instruments, primarily the cello and violin. Not only does the inclusion of these instruments give the music a unique feel, but the musicians themselves being more classically trained has its own impact on the compositions as well. Let's get started: More...

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Sunday Old School: Tank

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was responsible for some of the most popular metal bands the world has ever known. Making household names out of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard and granting Saxon the position of legends. However, for many bands in the movement, success was to be very short lived, if even found at all. Many N.W.O.B.H.M. bands were able to enter the British album charts with their debut, only to lose their popularity and fame shortly afterwards. Tank is one of these bands.

The group was formed in 1980 by bass player and vocalist Algy Ward, who had just left British punk rock legends The Damned. Tank gained favourable comparisons to Motorhead for their high energy heavy metal played with a punk edge and their entertaining lyrics. They released their first album, "Filth Hounds Of Hades" in 1982, which entered the British album charts at number 33 and is now regarded as one of the best albums from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement. This would be the only taste of chart success Tank received unfortunately, as their next albums sold less than the band's debut. They decided to call it a day in 1989.

However, much like a number of other bands from the scene, Tank reunited in the late 1990s and performed a number of concerts in Japan and Europe before releasing a comeback album in 2002 entitled, "Still At War." The group has struggled since then however, with an album named "Sturmpanzer" sitting on the shelf since 2006. Founder Algy Ward is also no longer a member of the band and vocal duties are now handled by former Rainbow and Praying Mantis frontman Doogie White. The band is expected to finally release a new studio album this year through Soundhouse Records. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: A Potential Axl Memoir?

Duff McKagan (Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver, and Loaded) has stated that he is developing a memoir of his life. With McKagan’s entry into the world of autobiographies, this makes three members (Duff, Slash, and Steven Adler) from the original GN’R lineup to venture into the memoir business. Given Izzy Stradlin’s need to stick to his independent roots, no one is holding their breath over IZZY, which would have to be the title, right? That leaves us with W. Axl Rose.

The Axl memoir is interesting to many because of three factors. First, at times, Rose has maintained a semi-reclusive life, vanishing from a spotlight he once dominated. Second, few have had as many “what were they thinking?” moments as Axl. This is a perfect output for his side of the story. Finally, there is the good versus evil, love versus insanity, caring versus destructive natures (often in the same breath) through both his music and performances. Would all the answers be revealed in a “tell all” book? Of course not, it would probably confuse fans more, but in good natured fun, let’s look at some potential titles for this book that will never see the light of day. More...

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Tales From The Pit: Mutiny of the Vans

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week AJ Jacobs of Mutiny Within tells a story that many of us can relate to, either because it happened to you or because you remember it happening to someone at a show.

"I was about 15 years old, went to see Children Of Bodom live, my favorite band at the time. So I was crowd surfing, screaming along with the lyrics, etc. Then I got into the pit, and oh man, I got my ass kicked. Not just that, but my sneaker came loose and I lost it. I had those big VANS sneakers, so it's no wonder it fell off.

"Anyway, so I only have 1 sneaker on at this point and I'm getting pushed further and further back in the venue. Then I saw an object getting thrown all the way to the ceiling several times. And of course, it was my shoe, people were just throwing it around.

"By the end of the show, I made it up to the barricade. When the last song ended and people started clearing out, I saw a bunch of random sneakers near the security guard. I said "Give me a left shoe!", so they did. It wasn't mine, but I wore it for the next week until I bought some new shoes. Needless to say, I steered away from VANS ever since."

Mutiny Within is currently touring North America with Sonata Arctica in support of their self-titled debut album, which was released on February 23rd. The band also had a track featured on the brand new "God of War III" EP. Finally, the band is only a few episodes into a 12-part documentary that can be seen at mutinywithin.com. New webisodes in the series are posted every Wednesday.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the mosh pit.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground on Myspace

Each week in "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. In this edition of Unearthing the Metal Underground I’ll be discussing some random bands I found on MySpace. All acts are unsigned and talented.

Margin of Existence

Margin of Existence is a Greek melodic death metal band that takes the genre to a brutal level. The guitars are straight out of In Flames’ “Whoracle” album, but the vocals, done by George Triantafilou, are something straight out of Immolation. Many bands copy the in flames guitar style, but Margin of Existence adds in other death metal influences into the music. Check out their MySpace page here. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hirax

Thrash metal has grown to become one of the most popular sub-genres in the history of metal. It has it's stars of course such as Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer and it has the band's with more of a large cult following such as Exodus and Testament. But like any other movement, it also has it's forgotten heroes. When researching the original thrash metal scenes, one will inevitably stumble upon a band named Hirax, one of the most dedicated and unique bands in the field.

Like many other thrash metal bands in the 1980s, they were signed to Metal Blade Records, through which they released two studio albums. "Raging Violence" in 1985 and "Hate, Fear And Power" the following year. The second album was a rushed release thanks to pressure from the label and clocked in at just over sixteen minutes, featuring only eight songs. Frontman Katon De Pena left the band not long after, due to internal tensions and what he saw as bad label management, forming the short-lived band Phantasm with original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney and Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan. Hirax themselves replaced Katon with former Exodus frontman Paul Baloff, though they decided to call it a day not long after.

The band would reunite with the original lineup in 2000 and released the "El Diablo Negro" EP the same year, however the reunion was not to last as by the next year, Katon De Pena was the only original member left in the band. Since then he has kept Hirax going strong, releasing several EPs and two studio albums, "New Age Of Terror" (2004) and "El Rostro de la Muerte" (2009), as well as building up a strong fan base in South America. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Stone Velvet Roses

In episode three of Celebrity Fit club, Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) is disappointed at his weight loss, telling the judges “I even took three days off drinking”. Bach’s quandary is now whether to continue drinking or just stop eating entirely. This may quickly turn into a semi-Survivor show where we watch to see how long Sebastian survives on red wine alone… More...

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Tales From The Pit: Hugging It Out In The Pit

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Phoenix, Arizona post-hardcore/metalcore band blessthefall's lead singer Beau Bokan shares a "heart-warming" pit story:

"So we're on tour with Silverstein, playing a show in Denver, Co and it's a packed house. Kids are getting rowdy. I could tell there were a couple obvious 'tough guys' in the crowd who were getting a little too excited. So I was keeping an eye on them. Before you know it, two dudes were in each other's faces and one of the guys throws a punch totally knocking the other one down. I made the band stop playing immediately. I told both of the dudes that if they were going to fight they could go outside and finish fighting otherwise they would have to hug each other if they wanted to stay in the show. So they hugged it out and the show went on. It felt awesome to make 2 strangers who were at each other's throats ACTUALLY hug it out just to stay in the show and see them have a good time."

blessthefall recently announced that they will headline The Bangover Tour this March/April with support from Miss May I, Greeley Estates and Before Their Eyes. The U.S. and Canadian run follows up their slot on The Atticus Tour late last year.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the mosh pit.

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Sunday Old School: Bathory

In previous Sunday Old School articles, we have looked at three of the bands that really helped to inspire and form the genre of black metal, in the forms of Venom, Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate. However there is another band just as important in the formation of black metal that we are yet to examine. Namely, Sweden's Bathory. The band was formed in the city of Stockholm in 1983 by Tomas Forsberg, better known to his fans as Quorthon, and two friends. They went through a number of name changes before settling on Bathory and released their self-titled debut album the following year. This album, along with "The Return" and "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" are now regarded as huge influences on the infamous Norwegian black metal scene's music in the 1990s.

Bathory not only helped to pioneer black metal, but also viking metal too, when they began incorporating viking themes on their next album, "Blood Fire Death." The group went further with this styling on their record, "Hammerheart," now regarded as a landmark in the field of viking metal. They would continue the "Hammerheart" style on their next two albums, "Twilight Of The Gods" and "Blood On Ice" before changing their sound once again, this time sounding more like thrash metal. This move was criticized by many of the band's fans and they returned to the viking approach on their last albums. Sadly, the band would not be able to continue, as in June of 2004, Quorthon (now the band's sole original member) was found dead in his home from an apparant heart failure. The legacy of Bathory has since been remembered with a box set released in 2006 and several tribute albums. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Cranium Hall of Fame

The past weekend Axl and the new Guns N Roses rolled into New York for a couple surprise shows. Going on late, and then partying for, as Axl was quoted, “As long as it takes”, it is clear Rose hasn’t changed much from the Use Your Illusion days. However, I was quite shocked to see Axl rocking the Fedora hat with the bandana, a bold move few can pull off. Add in the trademark oversized aviator shades and Axl becomes a first ballot inductee for the Cranium Accessories Hall of Fame, joining Bret Michaels and Hulk Hogan (first time ballot inductees in the bandana category)… More...

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Tales From The Pit: Losing An Arm To The Crowd

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week guitarist Carl Porcaro of New York hardcore act Killing Time shares a tale of losing limbs:

"I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit but some of the craziest shit I’ve seen has been with our own band. A lot of people don’t remember this but our singer (Anthony Comunale) used to have a trick arm and it would come flying out of the socket. We’d be playing songs and kids from the crowd or our road guys would take his arm and try to put it back in the socket and he’s screaming while this is going on. That happened very close to me at shows and I got a great view of it. There was one time where he came running down the stairs when we were playing this show and he says 'What’s up, this is Killing Time!' But then he goes flying over the monitor and hits the barrier they’ve put up so people don’t stage dive. He busts his arm out of the socket all of 15 seconds into the show."

"Funnily enough one time his arm came out of the socket during the first song and no matter how many people tried to help him he could not get it back in and was rushed to the hospital. We finished the set with all the kids in the audience singing led by our buddy cwolf who became our bass player 10 years later."

Carl recently spoke with Metal Underground.com about Killing Time's new album "Three Steps Back." Sample tracks from the album can be heard at the band's MySpace page.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the pit.

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