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Archive: Columns

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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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Unearthing the Metal Underground: NOLA, Part 2

Just one Unearthing for my fair city of New Orleans wouldn’t work. We have so many bands here, they’re breaking the levees! Here’s three more incredible bands to give you a NOLA fix. There is an amendment to the previous Unearthing the Metal Underground: New Orleans; Tire Fire is not crustpunk. “We hate crusties,” vocalist Matt Muscle told me at the Pentagram show. But whatever they are, it’s fierce and Matt is a madman on stage. More...

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Sunday Old School: Remembering Bon Scott

Close your eyes and think of AC/DC. If you're like most people, the first thing that enters your mind is the image of Angus Young in his schoolboy suit doing his Chuck Berry on speed duckwalk across the stage. The second thing for most is the image of singer Brian Johnson, cap pulled down nearly to his eyes, letting loose with a powerdrill wail.

For 30 years, that's been the case — but it wasn't always so. There was a time when AC/DC's vocalist was every bit as outrageous and unpredictable as its pint-sized guitar god. With a boozy strut, and a wicked glint in his eye that bespoke propensities for violence when provoked and sex whenever (and wherever), Bon Scott commanded the stage in ways that only a few frontmen — Jagger, Plant and (just maybe) David Lee Roth — could match.

Scott is often spoken of as being “AC/DC's first singer,” but that's not the case. The band's first vocalist was Dave Evans, a much more glam-inspired singer. Of course, the band during Evans' tenure behind the microphone was a much more glam-inspired bunch, as the video clip for the first single “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” below shows (and dig Angus and Malcolm Young trading licks in a way you don't normally see in this band). But Angus Young and Evans didn't get along, and the band was looking for a new, rawer singer.

They didn't have to look far. At the time, Bon Scott was working for the band as its driver. Before that, though, Scott had been well-known in Australia as one of two lead vocalists in the bubblegum pop band the Valentines, and as the singer of the hippy-dippy outfit Fraternity (dig that recorder). Several accounts point to Scott being much more interested in singing hard rock in the bars after the gigs than he was in performing either of these types of music.

That, of course, made AC/DC the perfect fit for him. And if you thought Angus Young's schoolboy outfit was outrageous, check out Bon's schoolGIRL outfit in this early television appearance, in which the band plays its cover of “Baby Please Don't Go.”

Scott's first two albums with AC/DC, “High Voltage” and, especially “TNT” still form a big chunk of the modern AC/DC setlist. Tunes like “The Jack” allowed Bon to show off his talent for clever wordplay and his ability to quickly learn new instruments (he was also a fairly adept guitarist and an excellent drummer) came in handy on the bagpipe-enhanced “It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N Roll).”

Next up was 1976's “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” which emphasized boogie over blazing guitar work on tracks like “There's Gonna Be Some Rockin'.” The title track is a classic, but for me, the heart of the album is the slower, surprisingly introspective “Ride On,” which hints at the loneliness of life on the road.

“Let There Be Rock,” the band's 1977 classic album is, as Angus Young put it, “a fucking great guitar album.” It's the other Scott album that has taken up big chunks of the band's setlist to the present day, with songs like the title track and Scott's ode to a large Tasmanian woman he had the pleasure of knowing, “Whole Lotta Rosie.” With such blazing fretwork, it's small wonder that Angus' guitar amp once caught fire during the recording sessions.

The next year came “Powerage,” which is arguably the most underrated album of the Scott era, despite having fans that included Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It's a surprisingly dark affair, with “What's Next to the Moon?” having not-so-veiled threats of murder against the object of the singer's affections. “Riff Raff” and “Sin City” both have gotten a fair amount of play on stage, and, more recently, the band resurrected “Rock 'n' Roll Damnation” on the “Live at the Circus Krone” DVD. The chief criticism of the album was that it seemed to be too much a continuation of “Let There Be Rock.” I say, what's wrong with that?

After 1978's live “If You Want Blood, You've Got It” came the high point, in terms of sales and recognition, of Scott's tenure with the band, 1979's “Highway to Hell.” The title track wasn't — as some would later claim — an ode to Satan, but rather a colorful description of life on the road, which had its origins in a quote from Angus Young to a reporter. “Shot Down in Flames” and “Girls Got Rhythm” have stayed in the AC/DC setlist, off and on, as has “Highway to Hell.”

And then, in 1980, it ended all too soon. Scott died of acute alcohol poisoning in a friend's car 30 years ago this week.

The band soldiered on with Brian Johnson taking his place on “Back In Black,” some of which had been written before Scott's passing. There exist demo recordings of a couple tracks (most notably “Have a Drink on Me”) with Scott on drums, but, to my knowledge, they've never been released even in bootleg form.

The band has paid tribute to Scott several times over the years, releasing the “'74 Jailbreak” EP in 1984 with some previously Australian-only releases, and the expansive “Bonfire” box set in 1997, which included studio rarities, the soundtrack to the “Let There Be Rock” concert film and more.

Last year, the band put out “Backtracks,” a box set that essentially cleared the decks of all the rest of the B-sides and Aussie-only tracks that had built up over the years. It's well worth buying for tracks like “Stick Around” and the itchy ode to body lice, “Crabsody In Blue.” But be prepared to shiver a little when Scott eerily foretells his own death in “Carry Me Home.”

So, let's raise our glass to one of rock's greatest. “Let There Be Rock,” shouted Bon Scott, and there was. And it was much more than good.

AC/DC — "Can I Sit Next To You Girl"
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Bon Jovi Roulette

In an interview this week Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) leaked out that the band will play the album "Slippery When Wet" in its entirety during their next tour. He then went on to say that when they don’t play this album they will play "Lost Highway" or "The Circle" from start to finish. For those holding tickets to a Bon Jovi show, this is referred to as Bon Jovi Roulette… More...

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Unearthing The Metal Underground in the Bay Area

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 spreading the word from the San Francisco Bay Area metal scene.

The Bay Area's metal legacy began with the '80s thrash scene, which gave birth to Metallica, Exodus, Testament, and Death Angel. Neurosis entered the scene with their experimental metal, and Primus and Faith No More turned heads in what could only be referred to as alternative metal. Starting in the '90s, Machine Head evolved the thrash sound into groove metal. Currently, Ludicra, whose black metal has been in the scene since the late '90s, is generating a lot of excitement about their soon to release album, "The Tenant." Today, the Bay Area houses up and coming metal bands who not only reflect the heritage of the region, but filter in influences from a variety of genres. More...

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Sunday Old School: 25 Years of Deliverance

In the mid-1980s, Jimmy P. Brown had a question: Could the style then being perfected by thrashers like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer be made to do the Lord's work? Brown provided a definitive answer of “yes,” forming Deliverance.

Sure, Christian metal had been done before — most notably by the yellow-and-black-bedecked Stryper, but never quite as heavy. Deliverance's sound was righteously angry, as were the song titles and lyrics. Thanks in part to a video that got MTV play, the band was able to cross over and gain fans in the mainstream metal crowd.

The band's great influence on the Christian metal scene will be celebrated this year with “Temporary Insanity: A Salute To Deliverance,” a two-disc tribute album featuring contributions from members of bands including The Crucified, Vengeance Rising and Darkness Falls. The album will also include a new Deliverance recording.

Deliverance first made its appearance on a compilation album called “California Metal.” Their debut album didn't make many waves, but their second, 1990's “Weapons Of Our Warfare” did — even spawning a video that appeared on MTV.

The band's third album, “What A Joke,” was less successful, and the band then underwent a musical overhaul, becoming less of a thrash band and moving more toward a progressive direction. The result was the album “Stay Of Execution.” The band kept the progressive bent on their next disc, “Learn.”

Deliverance released “River Disturbance” in 1994 and “Camelot In Smithereens” in 1995.

“Assimilation” came out in 2001, followed by another long break. Brown, the group's only constant member, reformed Deliverance in 2006, with the result being 2007's “As Above – So Below.”

This year, the band will release “The Annals Of Subterfuge” through Retroactive Records.

Weapons Of Our Warfare
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Grammy Edition

Thoughts while watching the Grammy’s and wondering if Lady Gaga’s performance was influenced by Poison’s first album Look What The Cat Dragged In…

Congratulations to Rob Halford and Judas Priest for their Grammy win. Anyone else disappointed Halford wasn’t draped in leather when he accepted the award?...

Speaking of leather, despite matching leather jackets and pants it is difficult to listen to Bon Jovi and not think, so are these guys Country for good?...

Should Anthony Kiedis every leave Red Hot Chile Peppers I believe Taboo from Black Eyed Peas could probably make a seamless transition…

No surprise here when Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) jointed T-Pain, Jamie Foxx and friends on stage. We are months away from a press release stating Slash is the fourth Jonas brother…

All dressed up and only the Grammy’s to attend, Alice Cooper presented the Grammy for best rock album. There should be a rule that Cooper can only dress as stage “Alice” or be wearing a golf polo shirt…

Watching Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) accepting a Grammy solidified him as the only rocker with a head three times the size of his body…

Non Grammy Thoughts of the week…

Steven Tyler is threatening to sue Aerosmith in an attempt to block the band from hiring a new lead singer. Leaked rumors indicate that Billy Idol has been approached by the band. Two questions: 1. Does Idol get to play Rebel Yell with the band? 2. Generally speaking, does the band feel they have to replace Tyler with someone the exact same age?...

D.J. Ashba (Guns N’ Rosses, Sixx A.M.) was recently kicked out of a Canadian hotel for smoking cigarettes. In an interview this week Ashba went on to say he was shocked by the attitude and anger expressed from “An old woman with Tina Turner like hair”. D.J., it is Canada, eleven months out of the year it is winter. It is cold. These are angry people. Step away from the hotel, and button up, it is going to be okay…

The line-up for Slash’s new album officially includes Fergie (Black Eyed Peas), Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Kid Rock, and many others. Given the wide range of talent I have to wonder why Slash neglected to give this up and comer I keep hearing about named Billy Idol a shot…

Finally, VH1 has a reality show titled Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp in production. The cast includes many rock and pop stars including Lemmy, Ace Frehley (Kiss), and of course, Bret Michaels. Anyone interested? Episodes to include segments on picking out bandanas, writing multiple hooks with the word “party”, and learning how to use the word “Awesome” as a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb – all in the same sentence…

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Tales From The Pit: Pint Glasses And Shoes

Every week we talk with bands all over the world as they share some of their favourite stories involving metal's answer to line dancing, the mosh pit. This week, Seregon frontman James Moore told us of a new use for shoes.

"We played a show in Bristol and everyone was going apeshit, broken glass, faces, bodies and shoes flying around etc. I see one guy who gets shoved so hard he flys into the wall and his arm smashes through several pint glasses and heads straight back into the pit fist in the air with blood pissing out of his arm. The same pit with shoes flying around, one guy who is walking around pumping his fist in the air catches a shoe, then starts hitting people with the shoe all around him and then concentrates on the bloodied thrasher, quite simply the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!"

Seregon recently released a new seven track EP entitled, "Disposable Suffering" and will be touring all over Europe this year to support the record. You can purchase the CD by heading here.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the pit.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Sri Lanka Pt 2

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. The column has returned for the new year to expose three more great projects from the Sri Lankan metal scene. Today I'll be introducing three more bands from Colombo, Sri Lanka, where the metal scene is the most active.

Back in the 90’s, metal was practically unheard of in Sri Lanka. Very few people were into rock music, which is what almost every Sri Lankan non-Metal fan calls any type of music with distorted guitar parts. At a time when the Internet was only available to the public very few places in Colombo and file sharing programs were unheard of, a very small, underground community existed who shared CD-R’s of videos and mp3 albums in a country which is known for its fairly conservative views that lead to society labeling rock music as the Devil’s music and the usual bullshit. This is, of course, nothing new in the realm of metal and its origins.

Stigmata

Then came 1999, the year which gave birth to a project who today are known as one of most significant metal bands in Sri Lanka, Stigmata. Responsible for Sri Lankan metal anthems such as "Andura" and "Jazz Theory" and after 1 EP and 2 Full Lengths titled "Morbid Indiscretion," "Hollow Dreams" and "Silent Chaos Serpentine" respectively, Stigmata is currently recording their third and yet untitled full length, which will hopefully be released this year. They are also one of the two bands (the other being psychadelic grunge unit Paranoid Earthling) who have performed outside Sri Lanka in countries such as Malaysia, Maldives and India.

Check out Stigmata on their MySpace page and the live video of "My Malice" below.

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Sunday Old School: Destruction

When thinking about the history of thrash metal, one usually always thinks of the Bay Area in the United States first, followed quickly by the thrash scene on the East Coast. But there was another scene in the 1980s that was just as important, namely the one in Germany. Much like America has it's "Big Four" of thrash (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer), Germany has it's "Three Kings" who consist of Sodom, Kreator and our featured band of the day, Destruction. Destruction were formed in the town of Weil am Rhein under the name of Knight Of Demon in 1982 but (wisely) decided to change their name to Destruction two years later. During this year they were able to release an EP entitled, "Sentance Of Death" through Steamhammer Records before releasing their debut full length album, "Infernal Overkill" in 1985. The band was originally a trio but added a second guitarist in the form of Harry Wilkens, with whom they recorded another two albums, a live record and an EP before lead singer and bass player Marcel "Schmier" Schirmer was asked to leave the band due to creative differences. He would respond by forming the band Headhunter.

After splitting with Schmier, the band found themselves going through a terrible period commercially, having lost their record label support in favour of grunge music, the band had to self- finance and self-release their new albums. Eventually, Schmier was asked back into the band and the reunited team of Schmier and guitarist Mike Hilfiger, along with drummer Sven Vormann, were able to secure a deal with Germany's Nuclear Blast Records, releasing several highly acclaimed studio albums ever since such as "All Hell Breaks Loose," "The Antichrist" and most recently, "D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N." Destruction still tour the world today, appearing at many of the big European festivals and heading out on headlining tours of their own. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Video Marathon

Today’s column takes us through another marathon of 80’s glam metal videos. This special presentation is sponsored by Stella beer and Patron tequila. More...

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Tales From The Pit: Wall of Death FAIL

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week, Eddie from All Shall Perish shares quite a different wall of death experience from their previous one.

“Wuddup, Eddie from All Shall Perish here and I can recall one time we were in Dallas, TX and I called out a wall of death. Everyone immediately spread like wildfire and I was thinking that it was going to be incredible. Sadly though when shit went off I only saw maybe ten kids run at eachother. The saving grace to these kids being too scared to run at each other was watching this one guy clothesline another guy and seeing the kid who got hit do a complete backflip. He layed on the floor for the rest of the breakdown and I was too taken back to keep singing I just pointed and laughed at how incredible watching some WWF type shit go down was. I'm happy to say the guy was more than stoked and actually came and gave me a hug later! Thank you Dallas!”

All Shall Perish was recently confirmed for a European tour with Caliban as well as an appearance at Graspop 2010.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the pit.

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