Metal has long been defined by a variety of regimented and easily recognizable genres, such as thrash, death, black, etc. Most bands bring in a few outside influences to keep the music fresh and prevent a total adherence to one particular idea, but there is now a rising tide of bands that ditch the idea of a single style altogether. Going by names such as “avant-garde” or “experimental” or “post-any genre you’d like,” they may start with a base that is familiar, but their overall sound is far too fluid to stick to one identifier. Bands such as Peccatum and Unexpect are some of the most well known in the style (“well known” being entirely relative here), but a growing number of underground experimental bands are still out there, waiting to be found by the metal masses. More...
As it’s impossible not to notice, today is Halloween. It’s probably a general consensus that Halloween goes with metal better than it does any type of music, but why is this is? In two words: Alice Cooper. With a stage show that included hangings, guillotines and chicken throwing (ok, that only happened once), the Alice Cooper band brought the shock to rock and it could be argued that nobody has been able to do it better to this day. Although now known as the solo act of singer Vincent Furnier, the name, Alice Cooper was originally the name of the band that Furnier sang in, taking their name from a witch they believed they had contacted through the use of a Ouija board.
The group was formed in 1964 as The Earwigs, choosing the Cooper name in 1968. They released their first album, “Pretties For You” the next year which was unsuccessful both critically and commercially, a fate which would also befall their second album, “Easy Action.” However, the band eventually achieved a breakthrough with the single, “I’m Eighteen,” which became a hit and helped the album, “Love It To Death” climb to the number 35 spot on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. The next album, “Killer,” not only yielded more hit singles, but saw the band expand their live show into something rock audiences had never seen before, featuring boa constrictors, chopping up bloody baby dolls and ending with Furnier being hanged in a gallows. More...
Given their rock of love affair with Bret Michaels, VH1 decided to run a special Behind The Music Remastered, featuring Bret’s band, Poison. Here are some quick thoughts on this production.
The band moves from PA to California. The original name of the band is Paris, which they quickly change to Poison and also hire a new guitarist, C.C. Deville. Early in their careers Bret points out that he was a greasy haired loser in High School. I forgot what I was going to say. More...
Episode 2 begins with Bret four months out of the hospital. Kristi is off to meet her girlfriend Kate and express her concern over Bret not taking it easy while Michaels is out on the road living it up in Joliet, IL. I’m not sure if it’s this particular town (probably not), the venue (maybe), or the fact that it is a Bret Michaels show (probably) but there is a high percentage of white trash on hand for the meet and greet after his performance. Fans that may or may not be pregnant are drinking and giving Bret dating advice. This is the scene when we are introduced to Grammy Gypsy. More...
Every week we talk to bands from all over the world and hear some of their favourite stories from the mosh pit. This week, Dean Miller of New York hardcore veterans No Redeeming Social Value shares his story about getting into the spirit of another culture:
"Every NRSV show is a free for all fun extravaganza of ill behavior! So on our recent Japan tour, in Osaka our naked tour manager and crew Sumo wrestle other members of the other bands in the pit and they are covered in sweat and mud and bee. The matches lasted a good half hour and then NRSV played, then after our set a bachelor party free for all drum and bass party broke out. We partied until after the sun came up... then played another show!"
No Redeeming Social Value recently released a new live album entitled, "High In Holland." You can read all about it, along with a history of the band and much more, by checking out our recent interview with vocalist Dean Miller.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to expose them to the world outside their respective scenes. Although the Los Angeles scene is anything but unified, this apocalyptic city has produced more than a handful of quality bands. This week I’ll be exploring the Los Angeles old school death metal scene.
The L.A. scene is hardly known for authenticity in its death metal, mainly because the current scene is dominated by fad-jumping metalcore and glam throwback acts, but there are other more subtle reasons for its staying underground. For example, there is the fact that while bands in the Florida and New York death metal scenes, for example, were releasing genre-defining full-length albums, LA bands such as the ones below had to make do with short format releases, such as demos and EP’s. Compare Morbid Angel, who, by 1993, had released four full-length albums, to Sadistic Intent, who have yet to release one. Nevertheless, a limited output doesn’t necessarily equate a lack of talent, and so without further ado, here are three of the most talented bands to have graced the LA scene past and present.
Without doubt L.A.’s best underground band, and quite possibly one of the world’s most underrated metal acts of all time, Sadistic Intent plays fierce death metal that borrows from various traditions in the vast heritage of heavy metal. One can discern a range of influences, from Dark Angel and Slayer to Possessed and Morbid Angel, tucked within the unique tapestry that forms the band’s sound. They write long, involved, and esoteric death metal songs with occult lyrics and a truly sinister atmosphere, making them absolutely essential for lovers of morbid, underground metal. Try their EP’s "Resurrection" and "Impending Doom" for obscure and esoteric death metal, or go for "Ancient Black Earth" if fast and blasting percussive madness is more along the lines of what you crave.
If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, seeing Sadistic Intent live is a must, and lucky for you they play at least several shows a year. (Also note that the band members, along with vocalist Jeff Becerra, fill out the current lineup of Possessed.) In a live setting, the band is truly professional, and always live up to their moniker (and then some). Check out the video below to see what you’re getting yourself into.
Ask any fan of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal to name five of their favourites and chances are Tygers Of Pan Tang will be amongst that list. The band may not be quite as well known now, but during the N.W.O.B.H.M.'s period of popularity, they were certainly considered one of the standout groups in the pack, and they had the songs to back it up. The band was formed in 1978 in the town of Whitley Bay, which is located in the North East of England near Newcastle, and quickly signed to Neat Records, which was known for releasing many records from British heavy metal bands at the time including Venom, Raven and Jaguar. The partnership with Neat was only to last for the single, "Don't Touch Me There" however, as the Tygers signed to major label MCA soon afterwards. Following a few more single releases, the group finally released it's debut full length album in 1980 entitled, "Wildcat." The album did well in the United Kingdom, debuting at number 18 on the British Albums Chart. The band was soon to see a big change in terms of lineup however, when they recruited John Sykes, formerly of Streetfighter, as second guitarist and split with singer Jess Cox after he and the rest of the band had a falling out. The band decided to replace Cox with Jon Deverill, best known as the vocalist of Persian Risk and this lineup recorded a second album entitled, "Spellbound," which was released in 1981 and once again entered the British Album Charts, though this time peaking at the lower place of number 33, as well as spawning the single, "Hellbound," which also saw chart success, peaking at number 48 in the United Kingdom.
The next year, Tygers Of Pan Tang released a third album called "Crazy Nights," which was unable to spawn any successful singles but did enter the British Albums Chart at number 51. Following this record, Sykes decided to quit the band in order to pursue a position as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, which he didn't fulfil, though he was recruited as the new guitarist for hard rock heroes Thin Lizzy soon after. Sykes was replaced by guitarist Fred Purser and the band got to work on their fourth album, "The Cage." "The Cage" ultimately proved to be the band's biggest success in terms of chart performance, entering the U.K. charts at number 13 and featuring three successful singles in the form of "Love Potion No. 9," "Paris By Air" and "Rendezvous." Despite the good commercial reaction to the album, the band decided to call it a day soon afterwards as a result of tensions with their record company. A new version of the band was formed in 1985 however, featuring Deverill and drummer Brian Dick and released a new album named, "The Wreck-Age" the same year. The record was the first Tygers album not to chart in the United Kingdom, and following poor reviews of their next album, "Burning In The Shade," they disbanded once again. More...
This week we fast forward, picture the year 2020…have the past ten years been good to our aging rock stars? Let’s take a humorous look at what may be… More...
VH1 has once again teamed up with Bret Michaels a new show titled Life As I Know It. Originally scheduled to start in the Summer (there was a pilot episode in early Spring where we got to watch Bret take several naps), the show was delayed due to Bret’s health issues. Given the circumstances VH1 scrapped the previous taped footage and started after Bret was out of the hospital. More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Jeff Black, keyboardist for the Edmonton, Alberta-based progressive metal band Samandriel, sends in a short pit story:
I'm normally not one to mosh, but I have a memory that I am particularily fond of. When I was in Europe in summer 2008 I attended Bloodstock Open Air in the UK. Lots of folk/pagan metal bands were playing that year, such as Tyr, Moonsorrow, Eluveitie and Alestorm. During particularly bouncy segments, people in the crowd would form rings by swinging their arms over each other’s shoulders or locking elbows with one another. They would then proceed to dance, sway, or perform some sort of bastardized jig around the circle. Someone in the circle would then break out, and bum rush the person directly across from them and the mosh pit would begin. This would presumably happen when the riffs got heavier or someone got bored, whichever came first. I never heard a name for it, but I call it a "dance pit" or "jig pit." I've never seen it done in North America, and I secretly miss them. Easily the most fun I've ever had in a mosh pit.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground we’ll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week we’re going to be taking a look at the young, yet thriving, metal scene in the United Arab Emirates which is probably more commonly known for its immense wealth from oil drilling, and its Islamic culture. While the UAE is made up of seven Emirates, which are basically like states, Dubai is probably the most well known out of all the seven because it hosts the largest building in the World and is thought to be a great holiday destination. Hopefully after you’ve checked out these three bands, you will be putting it at the top of your holiday destinations as well.
Starting with oldest band first, Perversion has been around in the Dubai scene since 2006; playing a very straight up style of perverted death metal in the vein of bands like Dying Fetus and Aborted. Friends and band mates, Mahmud Gecekusu (bass/vocals) and Rhama Al Rhama (guitars) have been the driving force behind the band from the word go. While they were once a four piece, with Mahumd’s younger brother covering lead guitar duties, they were forced to become the only three piece death metal act in the UAE when Ahmet Gecekusu left Dubai for higher education.
Sticking to their guns, Perversion started to accumulate fans, or as they like to call them “perverts,” by playing local gigs, and with the release of their EP “The Origins of Horror” in 2008 people were able to enjoy such deities as “Venomous Semen” and “Dementia of Devourment” in the privacy of their own homes. They are currently working on their debut album “Pillars of the Enlightened”. You can check out songs on their Youtube channel as well as on their MySpace. Here's a video of the band playing "Pillars of the Enlightened":
By many outsiders, heavy metal has been dismissed as "music for idiots," but time and time again, heavy metal bands have proved the naysayers wrong by displaying well researched and intelligent lyrics, along with complex musicianship. One of the best examples of "thinking man's heavy metal," comes from Canadian progressive thrashers, Voivod. The band was formed in the town of Jonquière, Quebec in 1982, and like many of their contemporaries, where influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, as well as hardcore punk and seventies progressive rock bands such as Yes. By fusing these influences, Voivod forged their own brand of heavy metal, which would satisfy the average headbanger, as well as any music critic. The band were also known for adopting aliases. Lead singer Denis Belanger became known as, "Snake," guitarist Denis D'Amour went by the name, "Piggy," drummer and band artist Michel Langevin used the moniker, "Away" and bassist Jean-Yves Theriault named himself, "Blacky." The group released their first studio album, "War And Pain" in 1984, which followed a more speed metal style than future releases.
Their second album, "Rrröööaaarrr" featured a speed metal theme once again before the band began incorporating their love of progressive rock with their next album, "Killing Technology." The album earned the band a spot as one of the more unique young metal bands, and the group continued this path with their next album, "Dimension Hatross," which has become one of their most acclaimed albums to date and featured the staple song, "Tribal Convictions," as well as a comical cover of the 1960's Batman television show theme song. Their next album, "Nothingface," saw the band break through into the mainstream somewhat, as it became their first album to enter the Billboard charts and featured a minor hit in the form of the band's cover of the Pink Floyd song, "Astronomy Domine." Not only was it successful in terms of sales, but it gained universal praise for it's musicianship and songwriting prowess. More...
Recently, Slash (Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N Roses) was discussing Alice Cooper, mentioning he believes Cooper is the most dramatic and the best at on-stage horror theatrics. Thanks Slash, I guess that’s the least you can say considering you stole his top hat shtick … More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Ben Falgoust of Goatwhore discusses small bars and "The Four Corners of the Apocalypse." (That is not a Goatwhore song title.):
Here's a transcription of that video segment:
Ben Falgoust: “We’ve had some pretty rowdy pits, you know. A recent one, we played Wisconsin and it got pretty rowdy. It wasn’t crazy…well, the pit was sort of crazy. But the people at the front seemed even more crazy and they were just throwing alcohol all night. Basically, the whole stage, it’s the stage and then monitors, it was just liquor all on it. Beer, drinks, everything. Even to, we have points where we played this place that’s up near Albany, New York, a place called Popeye’s Pub. It’s a small little place. It’s the smallest place you can imagine seeing a band. This place is small. But the show was fun. Actually, the stage was bigger than the floor space the people were on. And the back wall of that was about to give way into this yard. So at any given moment these people could have been shoved if the whole back wall fell out. But in this little tight area, it just broke out on the floor and it was so crazy cause the area was so fucking small and these people were like…It was like all the sudden you step two feet, and turned around, and someone was plowing into you. It was almost like you didn’t have time to maneuver what you wanted to do on the floor. So that was great too. And sometimes when we get a really good rowdy crowd, we do this called the Four Corners of the Apocalypse. They have this big thing called the Wall of Death where two lines come and they clash. We took it a step further and made it the four corners of the room, and everybody goes toward the center and just…it’s chaos.
Buick: I bet that makes a great noise.
Ben: Yeah, bones cracking and things like that. It’s always pretty exciting. Um, let’s see. Anything else fairly exciting? Every show is a different experience, you know? So after this I’ll think of something. I’ll say, “Oh, damn! That situation was fucking crazy.” Yeah, there’s a lot of different ones, man. We’ve played from big places to small places, but I really like the aggression of the small places because you’re locked into so much area. So when it breaks out, there’s nowhere to really go. It’s like you’re trapped, so everybody in that area is sucked into it and has to partake in it unless they just leave the room because the area is so small. But then again the big places, if the whole place is ready to roll and do something crazy and you can ignite them to go off, that’s pretty fucking intense as well. Like an entire floor.
Don't miss the show report from Goatwhore's return to New Orleans.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Do a little digging and you’ll find a metal scene in just about every country around the developed world. So it should come as no surprise that there is, in fact, a thriving underground swell of support for the dark arts known broadly as metal in South Korea. From the southern port city of Busan to the sprawling capital of Seoul, metal lives in the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. Here’s a look at three of the bands keeping the scene alive and growing in Seoul.
Melodic black metal band Oathean is one of, if not the longest running metal act in South Korea. Oathean was founded in 1993 as a death metal band, then known as Odin, and didn’t adopt its current sound until 1997. A year later the band released its first album under the Oathean moniker, “The Eyes of Tremendous Sorrow.” Since then, Oathean has released four more full-length albums, the latest a self-titled effort that came out this past summer. Oathean enjoyed a brief glimpse of broad exposure in 2005 when their album, “Falling Away into the Grave of Nothingness,” was released in North America via The End records. All other Oathean records bar their debut have been released on band founder, vocalist, and guitarist Do So Kim’s own label, Jusin Productions, marketed as the first extreme metal label in South Korea.
Kim is also the man who brings many of the major touring metal bands to Seoul, as well as being the driving force behind the Asia Metal Festival ongoing series of concerts featuring bands from around Asia and further abroad. What’s more, he is the owner of a rock and metal bar in the trendy Hongdae district of the city, Sapiens 7, and he also owns a large concert hall located in the Sangsangmadang building in the same area, making him an all but indispensable part of the local metal scene as both a promoter and performer.
Oathean’s sound incorporates traditional Korean instruments and, at times, haunting operatic backing vocals into lengthy compositions inspired by the likes of Dissection and Emperor to create a truly compelling mix of Scandinavian and Korean soundscapes. The band has toured to Taiwan and Japan several times, and shared the stage with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Kreator, and Graveworm. Oathean currently has a lengthy European tour in support of their latest release in the planning stages, their first sojourn to the continent in the band’s history.
With the recent, tragic passing of guitarist Trev Fleming, this week seemed to be a fitting time to look at Sweet Savage and the impact they had upon heavy metal music. The band formed in 1979 in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast by guitar players Trev Fleming and Vivian Campbell along with drummer David Bates and singing bass player Ray Haller. The group quickly began to build up a solid fan base and were able to secure opening slots for the likes of such big name bands as Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Wishbone Ash. Their high profile support slots led to a recording contract with Park Records, through which they released a single entitled, “Take No Prisoners” which was limited to only one thousand copies and also featured the song “Killing Time.” The single didn’t result in a permanent record deal and the band’s next record was a self-released demo simply named, “Demo 81.” The band soldiered on for two more years until Campbell left the band to become the guitarist for Ronnie James Dios eponymous new band, resulting in a period of inactivity for Sweet Savage.
The group decided to continue in 1984, though this time the lineup did not include Campbell or Fleming, instead featuring the guitar talents of Ian “Speedo” Wilson. The new selective recorded a new single with guest vocalist Robert Casserly entitled, “Straight Through The Heart” via Crashed Records. The single found little success and the band continued to perform as and when they could, finally releasing a third single in 1989 called, “The Raid” before making the decision to retire the group for the second time.
During the 1990s, the band received an renewed interest from many heavy metal fans, thanks largely to American metal stars Metallica covering the Sweet Savage song, “Killing Time” as a B-side to their “Unforgiven” single. Sweet Savage decided to reform once again, this time with Trev Fleming back on guitar and Simon McBride replacing Ian Wilson. This re-energised version of the band was finally able to record a full length studio album in the form of 1996’s, “Killing Time,” which was comprised of re-worked and re-recorded versions of their old songs. The album and interest enabled them to continue and the band released a second album in 1998 entitled, “Rune,” which featured all new material. However, owing to the desire to pursue other musical ventures, the band broke up for the third time that year. The hiatus would prove to be the bands longest, lasting a full ten years before the group heeded the call of heavy metal once again and began touring under the Sweet Savage moniker. This time the band received more support slots for big names of the present and past eras, including Saxon, Motorhead, Deep Purple and, most recently, Iron Maiden. A new drummer in the form of Marty McCloskey was introduced in 2010 and the band revealed their plans to release a new album in October of this year entitled, “Regenerator.” October is now finally upon us and while the new Sweet Savage album is still expected to be released sometime this month, it will prove to be a sad launch, as founder and guitarist Trev Fleming passed away on October 2nd, leaving behind a legacy of great heavy metal music. More...
In a recent interview with Classic Rock magazine, Slash (Velvet Revolver, ex-Guns N Roses) says that he considered Axl Rose (Guns N Roses) as one of the singers for his recent solo project, explaining that Rose would be able to sing the shit out of all of his songs. I also believe this would give the two an opportunity to bond; each day calling Steven Adler (Adler’s Appetite, ex-Guns N Roses) and ask if he wants to get the band together then yelling “psyche!” Then hanging up the phone… More...
We've been talking to bands and fans everywhere to get their favorite mosh pit stories. This week Heath Rave of Minneapolis metal band Wolvhammer sends in a short pit story:
This one time, there was this pit. It was as at a rock and roll event showcase. I believe there were as they say in the hood, "hardcore" bands playing. This one very strong person was chasing and punching an invisible ghost. Then he hit me. I'm not invisible.
Wolvhammer released Black "Marketeers of WWIII" on Init Records earlier this year. You can check out some of their music on the band's MySpace page.
Check back every Tuesday for more pit stories.
Here we go again! Another installment of Unearthing the Metal Underground in the Crescent City a.k.a. The Big Easy a.k.a. N'awlins. Whichever you prefer. With Steven Seagal keeping the streets safe, the metal bands can safely play, and they have been doing quite a bit of that lately. I've got three more amazing bands to tell you about; all playing at least once a month. Please enjoy the reviews and footage. Mabye it will entice you to take a trip down here to check them out. Don't worry; the seafood is safe.
Machine Made Slave
Machine Made Slave plays frequently around New Orleans. If you’ve read my show reports, you’re sure to remember the name. Soon they’ll be opening for Watain and Goatwhore to complete the black metal showcase. Through the many lineup changes, founding members and brothers Jason and Trevor Milbourne (on vocals and bass, respectively) have remained and transformed the band into something truly evil. The talented guitarists Rene and Kevin Roche, who are also brothers, combine a classic metal rawness with black metal melodies and even some South American tunes into their playing. And although Ryan Willis does not have a brother in the band, he still does a fine job of pounding the skins. Jason claims that Machine Made Slave will be recording a full-length album soon when they find a proper studio. He claims that they are taking their time with every aspect of the album so that it’s perfect; “So that it doesn’t sound like a demo.” You can watch a clip of one of their shows with the inclusion of female singer Amy Vial below. We wish you luck in the recording process! Visit their Myspace to see their progress.
"Keep It In The Family" may be a song by Anthrax, but for another American thrash metal band it means something else entirely. The band in question would be Death Angel, who were formed in 1982 by four cousins, vocalist and bassist Dennis Pepa, guitarist Gus Pepa, drummer Andy Galeon and Rob Cavestany, who also played guitar. The cousins went through a number of names before deciding to settle with Death Angel, after coming across a book by the same name. The original lineup of the band recorded a demo entitled, "Heavy Metal Insanity," which sounded alot more like New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands such as Tygers Of Pan Tang, than the thrash metal style of which the band would later be known. In 1984, the band decided to recruit their roadie, Mark Osegueda (also a second cousin of the band members) to take over the role of vocalist, allowing Dennis Pepa to focus on his bass playing and the new lineup made their live debut supporting Megadeth (which was one of only four shows to feature Kerry King as Megadeth's guitarist.) The band continued to slug it out in the clubs and refine their live show, as well as musicianship, before recording a new demo in 1986 called, "Kill As One," which featured Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett as producer. The demo proved to be extremely popular in the tape trading community, earning the band a solid fanbase and eventually leading to a deal with Enigma Records. Through, Enigma, they released their first full length album, "The Ultra-Violence," which found favour with many thrash metal fans, as well as the impressive fact that all of the band members were under twenty years old at the time, with drummer Andy Galeon only fifteen years of age at the time of release. The group also filmed a music video for the song, "Voracious Souls," but it found little airplay, owing to it's lyrical nature, which refers to marijuana.
The next year, the band released their second album, the comical sounding, "Frolic Through The Park," which saw their popularity rise signifficantly. The album received largely positive reviews and garnered a minor hit with the song, "Bored," which was inspired by the unlikely influence of U2 and was eventually featured in the movie, "Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III." The record was also praised for it's diverse range of influences, which no longer confined Death Angel's music to straight forward thrash metal, and for the band's excellent cover of the Kiss song, "Cold Gin." The success of the album allowed the group to tour the world for the first time, finding particular success in Japan, where they sold out two tours in support of the record. Following the release of, "Frolic..." the band's contract with Enigma was bought out by major label, Geffen, who released the band's next album, "Act III" in 1990. Once again, Death Angel expanded their musical range, incorporating elements of funk and making greater use of acoustic guitars and backing vocals. The album featured two singles in the form of, "Seemingly Endless Time" and the ballad, "A Room With A View," which was sung mostly by guitarist Rob Cavestany. The album didn't give them the mainstream breakthrough which they deserved, but saw their popularity as a live act remain intact, selling out famous venues such as London's Hammersmith Odeon and The Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. More...