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Tales From The Pit: The Moshing Bassist

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Guilt By Association bassist Britt shares one with us:

"I was on tour with my band Guilt by Association and we played a show at the Monkey Bar in Huntington, WV. We were mid set and it was really hot on stage. The riser puts you up really close to the lights and I needed a break from the heat. My guitarist and I ran off stage and started playing in the middle of the pit! He had a solo coming up so he only stayed a minute and then returned to the stage. Maybe the people in the pit thought I ran out too cause right then they all started moshing again instead of just circling around. I wasn't gonna be trampled so I pushed back and rocked out with the fans and right before I made it back to the stage this guy ran into me and I split his eye open with the headstock of my bass! He kept moshing and took his shirt off the stop the bleeding! After the show we were signing autographs at the merch table and I figured he'd be long gone but I looked up and there he was. He said 'I have to shake you hand and tell you you fuckin rock.... now I'm gonna go get some stitches!' He was die hard... it was awesome!"

Guilt By Association recently announced in an interview with Metalunderground that they are in pre-production for their upcoming EP "Chapter 2." Sample tracks from their first EP "Chapter 1" can be heard at the band's MySpace page.

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Unearthing the Metal Underground In Montana 3

Each week with Unearthing the Metal Underground we highlight a new group 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 delving into three Montana bands on opposite ends of the spectrum, ranging from death metal to thrash to groove. More...

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Sunday Old School: Ronnie James Dio

Since my first “real” news posting had to do with the unfortunate news of Ronnie James Dio's stomach cancer, I thought it might make some karmic sense if my first Sunday Old School posting had something to do with the the remarkable frontman.

I suspect a lot of people my age (36 years young) are like me in that the first time they ever heard of Dio was in seeing the phrase “OZZY RULES! DIO DROOLS!” scrawled on a wooden desk in junior high or high school. That's naturally a reference to the fact that Dio had replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the singer for Black Sabbath, following Ozzy's firing in 1979.

Dio would serve as Sabbath's lead vocalist on the seminal albums “Heaven & Hell,” “Mob Rules” and “Live Evil” before parting ways with Sabbath until 1991 when he rejoined the band for “Dehumanizer.” Another parting of the ways lasted until 2006, when his version of Sabbath reformed under the moniker Heaven & Hell and recorded new tracks for a greatest hits CD, as well as “Live from Radio City Music Hall” in 2007, and a new studio album, “The Devil You Know” in 2009.

Beginning with 1983's “Holy Diver,” he racked up plenty of album sales and accolades with his own band, Dio.

But there's an important chapter of Dio's professional career that seems to get at best a cursory glance among a lot of metalheads I know, which is unfortunate, because it seems to me to be very much a transformative time for one of metal's most powerful vocalists.

I am, of course, talking about his time in Rainbow, the post-Deep Purple band formed by guitar-god Ritchie Blackmore in the mid-1970s.

Blackmore had departed Deep Purple after arguments about the more “funky” direction that singer David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes were taking the band in. In search of a new singer and band, he didn't have to look far.

Elf, which featured Dio on vocals, had been touring as a supporting act for Deep Purple. Blackmore essentially grafted himself into the band, renaming it and collaborating with Dio to write the tracks for the appropriately named “Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.”

The song most everyone remembers from that 1975 album is “Man on the Silver Mountain,” with its son-of-“Smoke on the Water” riff and powerful delivery by Dio declaring himself a medieval metal prophet. It's become such a staple in the Dio arsenal that it's easy to forget how much of a milestone it is for the singer. Compare the supernatural lyrics with the somewhat more pedestrian (if equally well-performed) lyrics of tracks like Elf's “Carolina County Ball,” and you'll see what I mean.

That's hardly the only great one, though. The album also features “16th Century Greensleeves,” which would seem to be a precursor to Blackmore's later career, as well as the superb Quartermass cover “Black Sheep of the Family.”

By Rainbow's next album, 1976's “Rising,” Blackmore had fired everyone but Dio from the band and, if you ask me, the replacement keyboardist, Tony Carey and bassist Jimmy Bain (who'd later play with Dio in the 1980s) aren't completely up to snuff. It's this incarnation of Rainbow's weakest album, though tracks like the opener, “Tarot Woman” and the huge 8-minute closer “Stargazer” still hold up well.

The band had a return to glory with 1978's “Long Live Rock 'n' Roll,” which featured bass contributions from future Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath bassist Bob Daisley. The disc, which does feature some of the medieval and experimental sounds featured on the previous two studio albums (a live album, “On Stage,” was released in 1977), there's a surprising amount of pure blues-rock stomp this go-round, especially on the title track. “L.A. Connection” reminds me a bit of the bluesier side of the Doors, while “Sensitive to Light” is just a good-time rocker of the finest sort. Meanwhile, the darker lyrical themes Dio would go on to explore in Sabbath are on full display in the creepy Middle Eastern-sounding “Gates of Babylon.” The album's finest hour, though, comes with the speedy “Kill the King.”

Dio left the band in 1979 following a dispute with Blackmore over the guitarist's desire to take the band in a more “commercial” direction, which he ultimately did with vocalists like Joe Lynn Turner and Graham Bonnet.

If you ask me, though, the Dio era is a golden era for Rainbow, as well as the moment that one of metal's finest discovered his true voice and calling. As I and other metal fans await news of the ailing singer's condition, I take some measure of comfort in his “Man on the Silver Mountain” declaration that “You'll never stop me burning.”

May it be so.

Carolina County Ball (with Elf)
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Lita Ford’s Sexting

Recently Lita Ford sent out messages via Twitter to her fans detailing her sexual romp with her husband who is referred to as both Big Daddy and Meat Whistle. To read (or join) Ford’s Twitter go to: twitter.com/litaford. My only comment is that if Nikki Sixx can publish “The Heroin Diaries” then Lita should seriously consider “The Sex Diaries”. Let’s get this started, shall we… More...

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Tales From The Pit: The Power Of Joose

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week The Carrier drummer Mike shares one with us:

"Well Rain Fest 2008 was our first fest ever, and our first ever show on the West Coast (Or Northwest, whatever). It was also the first time any of us had ever had Joose, the most unbelievable and magical malt liquor known to man. Well, I guess in the end, after about seven or eight juices, Anthony, who is bigger than most silverback gorillas, decided to mosh during Ceremony's set. It didn't take long for Anthony to knock some dude unconscious. In fact, he hit the kid so hard that the kid landed on some other people, in turn knocking all of them over as well. We don't know what happened to the guy. Hopefully he is okay. That's the power of Joose."

As previously reported, The Carrier has confirmed dates for a European tour this winter with Dead Swans (UK). The Carrier, after touring all summer, has also started working on material for a new full length record. In the meantime, check out some of their music on their MySpace player.

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Sunday Old School: Judas Priest

To some people, the Midlands born five-piece Judas Priest were the first heavy metal band, being as they were the first band to actually embrace the term "heavy metal." Whether you agree or not, they are certainly one of the most important bands in the history of metal. No other band has had the longevity of Judas Priest and arguably no other band has had the heart and passion that Priest have had with them since 1969. The band first consisted of guitarist KK Downing, bass player Ian Hill, lead vocalist Al Atkins and drummer John Ellis and went on to support the likes of Thin Lizzy, Budgie and Trapeze under this lineup. Eventually, Hill brought in his girlfriend's brother Rob Halford to replace Atkins and Ellis was replaced with John Hinch. The band once again toured supporting Budgie and developed such a following that they were able to headline shows in other countries such as Norway and Germany. Once the band signed to Gull Records, the label suggested they add another musician and the band chose guitarist Glen Tipton to become one of the pioneers of the twin guitar sound along with bands like Wishbone Ash. After the recording of their first album, "Rocka Rolla," the band would use a series of session drummers for their next albums, "Sad Wings Of Destiny" and "Sin After Sin" and settled on drummer Les Binks after touring in support of the latter record.

The band went on to record "Stained Class" and "Killing Machine" (known in North America as "Hell Bent For Leather") with Les Binks before he left the band and was replaced with drummer Dave Holland, who would stay with the band for their next six studio albums and one live record. The band struck gold in 1980 when they released "British Steel," which is considered one of, if not the greatest, heavy metal album of all time. The album contained the hit singles, "Breaking The Law," "Living After Midnight" and "United" and helped the band to achieve worldwide rock stardom. The band would continue their success with a series of critically acclaimed albums such as "Point Of Entry," "Screaming For Vengeance" and "Defenders Of The Faith." Their next album, "Turbo" was met with mixed reviews due to its use of synthesisers and the record after that, "Ram It Down" was considered to be a small step up from "Turbo," though the band's popularity began to wane at this point. However, after replacing Dave Holland with former Racer X drummer Scott Travis, the band reclaimed their spot at the top of the heavy metal pile with the outstanding, "Painkiller."

Despite the success of the album, frontman Rob Halford would leave the band after a dispute with the band's record label and formed the band Fight, before going to form the industrial metal outfit 2wo and the heavy metal band Halford. Judas Priest themselves took a long break before recruiting vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens, who was previously the lead singer of a Judas Priest tribute band. With Owens, the band released the albums "Jugulator" and "Demolition" which were met with mixed reviews. In 2003, Rob Halford returned to the band and Owens replaced Matt Barlow as the lead vocalist of American power metal band Iced Earth. With Halford back on board, the band recorded the critically acclaimed "Angel Of Retribution" album and toured the world extensively before releasing the ambitious, 2-CD concept album, "Nostradamus" in 2008. Without a doubt, Judas Priest are as creative, passionate and dedicated today as they were fourty years ago and they've shown no signs of stopping this trend. All hail the Metal Gods! More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: WHAT IF?

WHAT IF Van Halen decided to name their third album Van Halen III?

[ANSWER] Common sense says sales stay the same, but the band becomes more focused on reaching Roman numeral ten, keeping the original line-up together for ten albums. Everyone likes the big X. More...

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Tales From The Pit: A Front Flip Facial

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week IMPIOUS drummer Mike Norén shares a story from a show they played in Germany:

"We did a show with Cataract at Markthalle in Hamburg back in 2005. I stood next to the stage and watched the entire Cataract set; I was really into the 'With Triumph Comes Loss' album at that time. And on the last song 'Reborn from Fire' I ran right out on stage, threw myself head first towards the monitors, grabbed them just before my head was about to smash into them and did a front flip right off stage. I remember my feet smashing into these German kids’ heads right before my entire bodyweight came slamming down on top of them. After the show a kid came up to me and told me in broken English/German how I 'put my foot in his head.' It was great fun."

I'm not so sure that kid has such fond memories of that night as Mike does! Perhaps it was lost in translation, but no blood, no foul.

Impious' new album "Death Domination" was just released in North America this week and will see an Asian release on December 23rd. You can check out some of their music here.

Check back every Tuesday for a new tale from the mosh pit.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground In India

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 Indian metal scene, introducing three bands spanning various metal sub-genres.

Although most foreigners are initially exposed to all the Bollywood hype of the second most populous country in the world, behind the rich and somewhat conservative culture and monolithic economy traits lies a massive subculture striving to make an identity of their own for the sole purpose of making their mark on the world of heavy metal. The scene is of course and without a doubt considered immense, as opposed to where I hail from (Sri Lanka), considering the fact that some of the biggest names in heavy metal have been stopping in India for a gig or tour for the past few years. And not forgetting the amount of record/distribution labels and promoters that strive to thrust the scene forward, India will certainly, in time to come, be held responsible for making a unique mark of their own in the history of one of the world’s most largest and evolved sub cultures.

Amogh Symphony

To start off with today’s unearthing, I chose a technical death metal outfit which goes by the name of Amogh Symphony, who’ve been stirring up the scene in Mumbai as of late with the release of their debut album, “Abolishing the Obsolete System.” The brain-child of solo musician Vishal J. Singh, the band was conceived in 2003 and now has two commendable releases under their belt. Amogh Symphony incorporates a hybrid of progressive, symphonic, death metal with a nod towards Indian classical tunes and Jazz fusion. More...

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Sunday Old School: Mercyful Fate

Few bands can claim that they have had a profound influence on a variety of sub-genres in metal, from thrash to progressive and from black metal to power, Mercyful Fate can proudly and honestly say that they are one of those bands. The group formed in Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark in 1981 from the ashes of the bands Brats and Black Rose and became well known for their dark and Satanic themes both in their music and stage act. They recorded two classic albums in the form of "Melissa" (named after the human skull lead vocalist King Diamond would use on stage) and "Don't Break The Oath," which were released in 1983 and 1984 respectively. After their first tour of the United States, King Diamond decided to leave the band due to creative differences and took band members Timi Hansen and Michael Denner with him. Instead of continuing under the Mercyful Fate banner, remaining band member Hank Shermann formed a band simply named Fate which followed a more mainstream rock direction.

Mercyful Fate reunited in July of 1992 (though King Diamond would continue to release albums under his own moniker throughout this period) and recorded several more records thoughout the '90s, concluding with 1999's "9" album. Whilst the band has been more or less inactive since the record's release, King Diamond has promised fans that they haven't heard the last of Mercyful Fate and that the band will definitely return at some point in time with a new album and tour.

When looking at the band, one can see how they influenced the black metal genre with their satanic lyrics and imagery but after listening to the band themselves, it becomes apparant that they became so influential in a broad spectrum because they were outstanding musicians. King Diamond can be considered as the master story-teller of heavy metal and knew perfectly how to capture the listeners interest with his unique, haunting stories and lyrics. Add to this his one of a kind vocal delivery which could reach the highest of highs and lowest of lows and the end result is one of the greatest frontmen in the history of metal. The band themselves also proved time and time again that they were extremely talented when it came to their instruments and song writing and orchestrated some of the most complex and intricate metal songs of the time. Still to this day, bands cite Mercyful Fate as an influence in their music and they are perhaps remembered as the biggest and best metal band to ever come from Denmark. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Breaking News

BREAKING NEWS: This week starts with rumors swirling of an Aerosmith break-up and Steven Tyler considering auditioning for Velvet Revolver, more to come as this story develops… More...

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Tales From The Pit: The All Ages Mosh Pit

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week guitarist Matthew Bile of Walking Corpse Syndrome shares his story of an all ages mosh pit in Deer Lodge:

"Montana gets a bad rap for being so sparsely populated, and the small towns in Montana get an even worse rap. But we'll play most any place people want to see us. So when folks in Deer Lodge, where the state pen is located and our drummers are from, wanted to see us, we played a show. We rented a venue. Our friends and family ran sound and lights. And half the town showed up. The other half was busy trying to shut down the 'devil worshiping' music. It felt more like a state fair than a metal show. All ages there really is all ages, from babies up to great grandparents.

"We've also noticed that there's an inverse relationship between size of town and intensity of mosh pit. The less stuff there is to do, the crazier the kids get. And Deer Lodge kids took home the trophy. There were no fewer than 4 mosh pits going on, segregated by age group (high school, junior high, and middle school) and gender (a chick pit is a sight to behold). It was a like a scene out of that movie Fight Club, with punches thrown, pile drivers driven, and even a kid slammed into a garbage can and kicked across the floor. I almost stopped the show because I was getting a little sick watching the mayhem, but not for a single second did I see the smiles leave their faces."

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Sunday Old School: Celtic Frost

Celtic Frost may very well be one of the most creative and artistic bands in the vast world of metal. They formed from the ashes of the band Hellhammer in 1984 and released their first studio album, "Morbid Tales" in the same year. The album was met with strong acclaim from music critics and the metal underground alike, which led to the band releasing an EP entitled, "Emperor's Return." The band once again released an influential album in the form of "To Mega Therion" in 1985 that did not feature bass player Martin Eric Ain, though he would return to the band after the record's release. Celtic Frost would release the next in a trilogy of acclaimed and classic albums in 1987 when they released, "Into The Pandemonium," one of the most ambitious and experimental albums in the history of underground metal. The record included a sound of an avant-garde nature and featured unlikely covers of the songs "Mexican Radio" by New Wave artists Wall Of Voodoo and "In The Chapel In The Moonlight," which has been performed by artists such as Dean Martin, Kitty Kallen and The Bachelors.

However internal struggle became a massive problem for the band with financial troubles and personal tensions causing the band to briefly break up before frontman Thomas Fischer revived the group with former drummer Stephen Priestly and new members in the shape of guitarist Oliver Amberg and bass player Curt Victor Bryant. The resulting album, "Cold Lake," proved less than well-received by the band's fanbase with some labelling the bands as sell outs. "Cold Lake" featured a much more mainstream sound that seemed to be more influenced by bands such as Motley Crue than Venom. Fischer would later claim that the musical style on the album was due to his lack of interest in the creative output of the band. Martin Eric Ain would rejoin the band and they recorded the album, "Vanity/Nemesis" which was more in the vein of thrash metal than it's previous releases, which allowed the group to regain some of the credibility they had lost with "Cold Lake." The band planned to follow this record with a double album entitled, "Under Apollyon's Sun" but decided to split up before they entered the studio. During the split Martin Eric Ain would find success as a businessman, becoming the owner of a number of bars and nightclubs, while singer/guitarist Tom Fischer founded the industrial metal outfit Apollyon Sun and wrote a book about the history of Celtic Frost entitled, "Are You Morbid?"

After working together on the re-issue of several Celtic Frost albums, Fischer and Ain began writing music together under the Celtic Frost banner once again, along with guitarist Erol Unala and drummer Franco Sesa. They released a demo named, "Prototype" which featured ten new songs, before releasing their comeback album, "Monotheist" in 2006. The album received a huge amount of positive feedback and was labelled the darkest album they had ever written and was accompanied by the band's most ambitious tour yet, touring in countries they had never performed in before and headlining festivals such as Wacken Open Air. However the reunion did not last for as long as many had hoped, when Fischer decided to leave the band in April of 2008, leading to the band's demise once again. Celtic Frost will now go down in the history books of metal as one of the most influential, creative and darkest bands the world had ever seen.

Celtic Frost - "Circle Of The Tyrants"
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The Rockstar Ramblings: Video Marathon Diary II

Thoughts while counting the number of spandex body suits worn in the David Lee Roth video “Yankee Rose”…

For those that refuse to place KISS into the hair band genre please take a look at exhibit A: The video for “Forever”: It’s as if both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley walked into wardrobe and asked for the Rikki Rocket…On the topic of bad hair, there is not a worse wig then the one worn by the principle in Motley Crue’s version of “Smoking In The Boys Room”… More...

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Tales From The Pit: A Bone Crushing Wall of Death

We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week, Ben of All Shall Perish prefers to let the video do most of the talking:

"Full Force Festival was probably one of the most memorable mosh pit's All shall Perish has ever created. The crowd busted one of the biggest wall of death's I have ever seen! check out the video from the Jumbotron:

"I heard from a few that attended that day that some kid broke both of his legs... Sorry about that!"

All Shall Perish just wrapped up a co-headlining tour of the US with Born of Osiris and will be heading to Europe in January for their "The Black Procession" tour with Machine Head, Hatebreed and Bleeding Through.

Check back every Tuesday for more tales from the pit.

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Unearthing The Metal Underground: Nashville Doom

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. Although I can't say I've ever had the pleasure of visiting the country music capital of the world, I can say I've been delving into their more depressing side. More depressing than a bottle of whiskey and singing about heartbreaks to your dog? You bet, because we're delving into three new doom metal bands from the American mid-east.

Loss

To start off, the band Loss is one of my favorite underground bands. Coming onto the scene in 2004 with the lauded "Life Without Hope...Death Without Reason" demo, Loss plays an epic neoclassicical death/doom of a particularly morbid variety. Loss's last release was a four way split including Aussie funeral doom legend Mournful Congregation, which should hold the band's pedigree to be suffice. Whispers in the trees were that the band may have a full length coming out on Profound Lore Records called "Despond," so keep tuned to Metal Underground for future news. Until then, the "Life Without Hope..." demo is available to hear on the band's MySpace player. More...

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Sunday Old School: Diamond Head

Following on from last weeks article where we looked at Venom, a hugely influential band from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement, we're continuing the trend this week by looking at one of their fellow N.W.O.B.H.M. acts, Diamond Head. Diamond Head is considered in this day and age one of the most influential acts of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and have been championed by numerous big name bands such as Exodus, Megadeth and Metallica to name a few. Diamond Head was the hot tip at the time to follow Iron Maiden in becoming not just another band from the movement, but a major act themselves. Unfortunately, although signed to a major label, the band never got the success and fame many expected they would achieve. In some cases today they are a band heard in name only, many knowing of their existence but less are aware of the actual music with the exception of cover versions bigger acts have done.

The band was formed in 1976 in the town of Stourbridge in England's Midlands region and continued for several years to hunt for success. The group took their name from an album by Phil Manzanera, the former lead guitarist of Roxy Music. The band would often refuse to perform cover songs, eventually making the exception for the Black Sabbath classic, "Paranoid." Though they self-financed many demos and released them independently, they struggled to find record label interest, though they were able to attract the attention of popular rock and metal artists of the time and secure support slots with the likes of AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

The band released their first album, which is often reffered to as "Lightning To The Nations" (though it never officially had a title) in 1980 through their own record label, Happy Face Records and received much critical acclaim for the record. This led to the band signing to MCA Records the following year and releasing their next album, "Borrowed Time." The album hit the number 24 mark in the British album charts and enabled the band to venture on their own headlining tour of the United Kingdom.

Diamond Head suffered from several line up changes and break-ups over the years and today guitarist Brian Tatler remains the sole original member of the band. Since their most recent reformation in 2000, the band has released two studio albums with the new line-up entitled "All Will Be Revealed" and "What's In Your Head?" with plans to record another album well underway.

Diamond Head - "Am I Evil?"
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The Rockstar Ramblings: The VR Search Continues

Last week Corey Taylor (Slipknot) announced that he tried out for the available lead singer spot for Velvet Revolver. Apparently he has not been offered the job, but this definitely gives us an idea of how the band’s search is going and that is to say not well.

Rumors (most found to be factual) have placed country singers, Sabastian Bach, and Lenny Kravitz at VR auditions this past year. Given Duff McKagan and Slash’s solo projects it’s a mystery to me why they continue to press the need for a lead singer so urgently; however, this continues to be a priority despite no “perfect” fit found up to this point. How can we help? Let’s break down the top ten leading (available) candidates and why they would/would not be a good fit for the ex gunners… More...

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Unearthing the Metal Underground in New Orleans

New Orleans is known worldwide for its legendary music of every genre. Myths have been created about what could have possibly happened here that made it such a hotbed of musical creativity. To quickly debunk those false myths; a lax government combined with a mixture of fun-loving people of all ethnicities led to a freedom of expression, and one off-shoot of that was music. Rock n’ roll was created in-part by the citizens of New Orleans. Therefore, metal would soon find its way into the dive bars and clubs that fill our streets. Sludge was our specialty, but all kinds of metal started pouring out of the amps, and some bands became famous, spreading “New Orleans Metal” around the globe. That first wave of musicians is still performing, and they’re still amazing. Exhorder is playing their first show in eight years this month! But the scene is thriving and alive; new blood mixing with the more established bone structure of Crowbar, Soilent Green and Eyehategod. Here is just a few of the bands keeping the spirit of New Orleans metal new and ever-growing; in the same position that the most popular of bands were in 20 years ago.

Black metal Serpentis plays often and has gained a steady fanbase from it. Drummer Will pounds the drums like a madman, drenched in sweat by the third song because he forces his soul out through his arms for the crowd. The guitars are strummed so fast, they could set a fire instantly. Vocalist Heretic growls and gestures violently to preach his word to the people; not preach so much as shove down their throats relentlessly. Already these gentlemen have gotten on the bill of big acts such as Cannabis Corpse and Marduk. They are surely headed for notoriety at their break-neck pace. Check out more of Serpentis' music on their Myspace page. More...

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Sunday Old School: Venom

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal produced dozens of new acts, some of which have gone down in history as legends of heavy metal and hard rock music, but of all these bands, none were as extreme, as over the top, as exciting, as Venom. The band was formed in the early '80s in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England and released their first album, "Welcome To Hell," in 1981. They gained an underground, cult following in the United Kingdom as well as in the European and North American metal underground, yet they didn't perform a proper live concert until after the release of their second album in 1982. "Black Metal" would go down in history as one of the most influential metal records of all time, and the band's first show took place at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon.

During interviews, Venom would invent numerous tags to describe themselves in order to set them apart from other heavy metal bands of the time. Almost all of these tags went on to become actual sub-genres such as "black metal," "thrash metal," "death metal" and "doom metal." Venom claim they wanted to stand out from the other bands of the time because they felt metal wasn't being represented as well as it should have been. The final straw for Venom came, surprisingly, after Michael Jackson entered the British heavy metal charts with the song, "Beat It" because it featured a guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen.

Over the years, the band released several more albums and experienced several lineup changes, which some might say led to the somewhat unfair reactions to strong albums that didn't feature certain original members. Although they might seem ridiculous when looked upon, Venom is one of the most influential metal bands ever to enter a recording studio and is without question responsible for the likes of thrash, death and of course, black metal. They helped American bands like Slayer, Exodus and even Metallica find fans in Europe by taking them out on tour and their original sound can be heard on many albums from other thrash metal bands such as Metallica's "Kill 'em All" or Slayer's "Show No Mercy." Venom is still going today, with singer/bass player Conrad "Cronos" Lant remaining as the band's sole original member and they are currently working on a brand new album. For Venom, it wasn't quality or quantity that counted, it was standing out from their peers and creating something new, and no-one can deny they did just that.

Venom - "Bloodlust"
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