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Archive: Columns

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Sunday Old School: At The Gates

This week in Sunday Old School we return to the 90's, having revisited the late 1960's and early 70's with Black Sabbath, Budgie, and Blue Cheer. While the 90's are less than twenty years ago, can you imagine a time before melodic death metal and even metalcore cannibalized the same melodeath riffs over and over ad nauseum? Enough said. Nearly twenty years ago, Swedish band At The Gates formed and soon helped popularized a new sound called melodic death metal, which was largely associated with Gothenburg scene due to the efforts of In Flames and Dark Tranquillity around the same time. The imitators have been many and in recent years the line between melodic death metal and melodic metalcore has blurred so much that it is often difficult to tell the difference between the two.

At the Gates did not remain together for even a decade, but their impact on the metal landscape has been enormous. The band remained entrenched in the underground as their first few albums suffered from 80's quality (read: low) production. It was not until 1996's "Slaughter of the Soul" that had significantly better production and was released by Earache Records that the band started to break into the mainstream a little more. After their breakup, drummer Adrian Erlandsson, bassist Jonas Björler, and guitarist Anders Björler went on to form The Haunted, while Lindberg has been in bands such as The Crown, Lock Up, Nightrage, The Great Deceiver and Disfear.

Newer metalheads can check out At The Gates to see where so many modern bands have drawn their influences from.

The video below is a live track lifted from the 2008 reissue of the classic album "Slaughter Of The Soul" that comes with a bonus DVD. The DVD features a recently unearthed live show filmed in Krakow Poland in 1995. More videos follow after the jump.

At The Gates Live In Poland 1995
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The Rockstar Ramblings: The $100 Hamburger

This week in New York City “The Apprentice” reality star Bret Michaels has been spotted selling hotdogs and hamburgers for charity. Some have been shocked by the $100 per burger price tag. Personally, it is still more shocking that it cost $5,000 for the Poison “Talk Dirty To Me” video, but that’s me not letting go…Guns N Roses has officially announced a Canadian tour starting in early 2010. For those that bet on 2010 and Canada in Vegas you appear to be the winner. Note that winnings will not be received until the band actually takes the stage… More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in Calgary

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 death metal scene in Calgary, Alta. Canada. More...

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Sunday Old School: Blue Cheer

Given that Blue Cheer frontman Dickie Peterson sadly passed away last Monday, it seemed only fitting that this week's edition of Sunday Old School take a look at the band. Blue Cheer began in 1966 and took their name from a brand of LSD which was promoted by former Grateful Dead frontman, Owsley Stanley. The band was managed by a former Hell's Angel. Blue Cheer scored a hit single with their cover of the Eddie Cochran classic, "Summertime Blues," which peaked at number 14 on the Billboard singles chart. The debut album, "Vincebus Eruptus" from which the song was from, also entered the Billboard album charts at number 11.

Over the years the band split up and reformed several times, but left a lasting influence on rock and metal music and have been cited by many as one of the inspirations behind punk rock, stoner rock, doom metal and grunge. You can check out some videos below of Blue Cheer, the band that was described by The Doors frontman Jim Morrison as "The single most powerful band I've ever seen."

Blue Cheer - "Summertime Blues"
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Steel Panther

What do you get when you cross the hair of Warrant, make-up of Poison, lyrics of Ratt, and spandex of David Lee Roth? The heavy metal band Steel Panther. Actually, heavy metal parody is more accurate. Think Sunset Strip’s version of Spinal Tap. More...

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Tales From The Pit: Letting It Out In A Slayer Pit

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week’s story is from Jussi Heikkinen, the guitarist of Soulgrind:

"Slayer pit, of course. I remember one, when they were playing here in Finland at sauna Open Air, tampere. I just got a ticket from cops for driving too fast. They also took my driving licence for a couple of months, so I was REALLY pissed off when arriving to the gig. So I ran to the pit and got violent. In a positive way :) I jammed, slammed, hit, and banged with all of my heart and my over 100 kg weight. And after the gig, some youngsters came to me and thanked me about my great attitude in the pit. And thanked for me for hitting them HARD! That’s Slayer pit, indeed."

Soulgrind will perform at the UK's Femme Metal Festival at The Peel in Kingston, London on Sunday, November 8, 2009.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In Sri Lanka

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 Sri Lankan metal scene. Today I'll be introducing three bands spanning metal sub-genres from Colombo, Sri Lanka, where the metal scene is the most active.

Fallen Grace is what most people would label as a melodic death metal outfit, although they don't fit the description of your typical Gothernburg melodic death metal band. Hailing from Sri Lanka's capitol, Colombo, these guys claim to be influenced by the likes of artists from the Gothernburg melo-death scene as well as bands such as Motorhead, I, Venom, Bathory and Dissection. Fallen Grace is widely known for their intense stage acts and uncompromising, attitude which has managed to attract a massive extreme metal fan base for them here in Sri Lanka. Although Fallen Grace is known as one of the oldest metal bands in Sri Lanka, they have only released one studio album to date, as the band claims to lack cooperative band members and proper recording studios in the country. Nonetheless, as friends who grew up together in the same school, the three founding members, Sohan, Rakitha, and Shiva are currently recording their debut EP titled "Heresy Unveiled: Do We Believe?," along with drummer Nisala and Guitarist Shamil. You can check out some of their music on their MySpace player or in a short video clip of one of their sound checks below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Budgie

Continuing on from last week's edition of Sunday Old School, which focused on Black Sabbath, this week's column takes a look at another band from the very first wave of heavy metal, in this case, Welsh rockers Budgie. Budgie is perhaps best known for their song, "Breadfan" because Metallica frequently covered the song during live performances (Metallica has also covered another Budgie song, "Crash Course In Brain Surgery.") Metallica isn't the only big name band to have covered Budgie either. Iron Maiden covered the song, "I Can't See My Feelings," Van Halen covered the title track from the 1974 album, "In For The Kill," and Soundgarden recorded a cover of "Homicidal Suicidal," which comes from Budgie's self-titled debut.

Many people, myself included, feel that Budgie never really got the full recognition they deserved and when comparing the two bands, one could state that Budgie was, "the RUSH that didn't quite make it." However, their influence on heavy metal remains to this day, with the band still holding a large fan base in Poland, an to a lesser extent, Australia and the United Kingdom. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: GNR on Biography

Last week I was flipping through the channels when I found an older Guns N Roses biography on the BIOGRAPHY channel. For those unfamiliar with this cable program it is usually located around channel 327 between FOOD and other channels you have never watched.

What pulled me in was of course the opening which included Axl wearing his “big hair” only seen in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video and a man who suspiciously looked like Axl. Here are my thoughts as I watched my first biography, on BIOGRAPHY. More...

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Tales From The Pit: Wheelchair Moshing To Gwar

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week’s story is from Oderus Urungus from GWAR. When asked what the weirdest thing he'd ever seen from the stage in the band's 1,500 shows over the course of their career, here's what he had to say:

"I can tell you the funniest thing. We were playing a show and I looked down on the audience and I was like, 'Why is that guy slamming in a lazy boy?' And I realized he was in a wheelchair and people were picking him up and passing him over the top of the crowd. Hilarious! He was screaming and fell out of his chair and was booted into submission. He only had a broken leg before the show, but now he’s totally paralyzed."

This may be a slightly exaggerated of the story told in his recent interview with Metalunderground.com. Don't miss Oderus' previous pit story detailing their defeat of a skinhead wall of death.

Gwar recently released their 12th studio album, "Lust In Space," which entered the Billboard Top 200 album charts at number 96. The band is currently on tour with Lamb of God and Job For a Cowboy.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In New Zealand

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 delving into the New Zealand metal scene.

While NZ's main metal export for some time has been either 8 Foot Sativa (melodic death meets groove metal) or Dawn of Azazel (brutal death metal), New Zealand has a number of other gems in the rough with a lot of local support. Even bigger names in the NZ metal community have a harder time translating local fans to recognition overseas because of the distant home base, so this is dedicated to all the southern legions. More...

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Sunday Old School: Black Sabbath, circa 1970

This week we're going really old school, from the early days of one of the forefathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath. Until Black Sabbath reunited to headline Ozzfest for several years, many younger/newer metal heads had yet to see the band's original lineup perform. Even in light of the recent reunions, it's interesting to see the band in their old form, and in today's column, we present a number of live video clips of Black Sabbath circa 1970. You can watch "War Pigs" live in Paris from 1970 below, with bonus videos after the jump.

Black Sabbath - "War Pigs" (Live in Paris 1970)
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Behind The Music

Given my obsession with Bret Michaels' Rock of Love television reality show, I was excited to hear VH1 had brought back their Behind the Music show and that Michaels would be one of the features. Would the show be more Poison or solo? After three seasons of the show, is there anything new to learn about Bret Michaels? Will Big John make an appearance? These are all questions I was hoping for answers to. As always, the Bret Michaels “AWESOME” shot rules are in play. Each time you hear the word, you take a shot. Tonight my drink is Patron tequila. Let the fiesta begin… More...

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Tales From The Pit: Redefining A "Hardcore" Pit

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week’s story is from Magnus "Adde" Andreasson of Hardcore Superstar:

"When we played in this club in Sweden last year a wild thing happened. I was halfway through our set digging into my drums as usual when everyone in the band suddenly starts to signal me and point their fingers to the front row. OK, so I look and see two girls making out, kissing and licking on each others tits. 'Wow' I think. This goes on for a while and then this guy comes up from behind and after a couple of minutes he starts to fuck one of these girls from behind. Right there in front of us. That's the wildest stuff I've seen so far during a concert."

For more on Hardcore Superstar, we recently interviewed them as well as reviewed their latest album, "Beg For It."

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Unearthing the Metal Underground: NYC Thrash

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground we provide a new batch of bands that are unsigned and are making some noise in the underground. This week I’ll be digging into three New York thrash/traditional metal bands. More...

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Sunday Old School: Praise Exhorder

New Orleans extreme metal band Exhorder has often been cited for creating the sound that Pantera made famous. While the sound on their two classic albums, "Slaughter in the Vatican" (1990) and "The Law" (1992), was a little more extreme, sounding more like a thrashy death metal band than Pantera, the band complained of the final mix and did not approve of it. To be honest, they were still more extreme than Pantera and other thrash/groove bands that would rise to stardom in the 90s. The band broke up in 1992, still fairly underground, meaning many of today's metal heads may never have even heard of them.

Exhorder frontman Kyle Thomas went on to front other bands such as Floodgate, Trouble, and Alabama Thunderpussy among other less notable bands.

Exhorder reunited for a few shows in 2008 and announced their intention to re-record some new material as well as produce new material.

Here is a classic Exhorder video of "Slaughter In The Vatican" performed in Heidelberg on October 9, 1992, with a bonus video after the jump.

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Tales From The Pit: Ripping off "Mosh Dude's" Ear

We've been talking to bands, fans, and promoters to get their best mosh pit stories. This one comes to us from Josh Silbernagel of the Facedown band Hands.

"So I'm like 15 years old at the time and have never been to a metal show in my life... let alone anywhere near a mosh pit. Suffice to say that at the sight of all the piercings, tattoos, and studded/spiked leather apparel... not to mention the wildly violent looking folks who were wearing them... I was experiencing some hardcore culture shock (...no pun intended).

"There was one kid in particular who was really freaking me out. He was this pudgy little bald guy who was wearing tough looking worn out army boots, shredded up old Levi jeans, and a sweat stained formerly white t-shirt that had the words "Mosh Dude" scrawled across the front in permanent marker. To top it off he had a crudely fashioned hole in his earlobe the size of a pencil (which I later found out was made with a paper punch and a pocket knife). From this hole hung a rusty piece of chain. Now I'm not talking about something you buy at Hot Topic or from some extreme body modification accessory store... I'm talking about a rusty old link that looked like it came from a chain your great grandpa would have fastened to a team of oxen to pull a stump out of the ground. It looked like it had been cut with a hack saw in a couple of places to make an opening, and was now apparently considered jewelry. I could not take my eyes off that thing for the life of me.

"So the show starts and Mosh Dude is right in the thick of things. He was an old school push-mosher and was really laying into people... especially the hardcore dancers. Finally one of them got fed up with it and did a crazy spinning windmill kick within the general proximity of Mosh Dude's head. I think it was supposed to be a warning of some sort... but it didn't work out that way. You see, somehow the hardcore dancer's infant girl sized jeans managed to snag Mosh Dude's rusty chain-link earring... I'm not exaggerating when I say that blood literally sprayed across the entire pit. This guy's already abused ear seriously got ripped halfway off his head. And when I say "ripped half way off his head" I mean "ripped half way off his freaking head!!!". It was just hanging there, blood gushing from the side of his skull like water being shot through the blow hole of a mighty Beluga Whale!!! Okay... so that's a small exaggeration... but you get the idea...

"I expected this guy to first kill the kid who kicked him and then to see him die from blood-loss. The whole pit was watching with fascination and horror. To everyone's surprise (and to others' disappointment) Mosh Dude neither took a life nor lost his own. He simply ripped off his t-shirt, tied it around his head to slow the bleeding, then turned to the kid who had ripped his ear off and stuck his hand up in the air for a high five, declaring to everyone present... "THAT WAS #$!%ING AWESOME!!!". He then continued to mosh through the entire set with his blood soaked "Mosh Dude" t-shirt tightly holding his what was left of his ear to his head. It was a disgustingly awesome occasion... and a very intense way for me to lose my mosh-pit virginity.

"I will probably never see Mosh Dude again, and to be honest that is totally fine with me. But I will never forget him or his mangled ear. So I guess this story is his legacy as far as I am concerned. Bummer for him."

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Unearthing the Metal Underground In Montana 2

Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we provide a new batch of bands that aren’t signed to a major label and are making a name for themselves in the underground. This week I’ll be digging into three Montana bands influenced in one way or another by black metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sick Of It All's "Step Down"

I love this song because it’s got that massive hxc anthem vibe. This song was covered all the time in my old scene, and it was always a blast to sing along with everyone. But you’re not just getting a great song in the video – it’s also a great dancing tutorial. I’m more of a gorilla/pickin’ up change guy.

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The new Ratt album

Ever since the release of Out of The Cellar I have been a big fan of Ratt and their music. Given this you can imagine my curiosity when I heard they have finished their latest album and that they have returned to their classic sound. To my knowledge neither album title nor track titles have been released at this point. Do I wait patiently to hear the song list, or do I take this time and try to guess the album title and track names? Quite the quandary… Here are my thoughts on the title and songs on the upcoming album broken down old school in two sides. More...

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