Heavy metal was almost certainly born in the English city of Birmingham, but ask most fans of the genre (especially the European ones) and they'll tell you that the real home of heavy metal is Germany. The country hosts many metal festivals every year, including one of, if not the most famous of them all, Wacken Open Air, along with the likes of Summer Breeze Open Air, Ragnarök and Bang Your Head!!!. Germany has long been a place for rock musicians to ply their trade and build a loyal following: From the Beatles spending much of their early days in Hamburg, to the formation of the Scorpions in 1965, to the rise in German thrash bands like Kreator and Sodom, as well as popularising power metal through such acts as Helloween and Blind Guardian, to modern favourites such as Rammstein, Germany certainly has one of the richest histories in rock and metal music. This week we'll be looking at three young bands to come from the country to help prove that it's still top of the tree when it comes to the genre we all know and love.
Formed in the federal state of Saarland in 2003, the band consists of only one member, who goes by the simple alias, A.H. He recorded the first Arcthuris demo, "The Grim White Woman" soon after the project's inception and released it the next year. Arcthuris has also self-released all of their full length albums, beginning in 2005 with "Ruf des Zerfalls." It would be four years until another Arcthuris album surfaced in the form of, "Children of Nibiru," but since then, material has come quite steadily, with two more albums, "Mondsucht" and "Ghouls of Nepenthe" following in 2011 and 2012 respectively. As one might expect from a one man metal band, Arcthuris started life primarily a black metal venture, but has grown to display a more ambient sound along the way.
Arcthuris - "Lucustas Liebestraum"
Arcthuris - "If I Could"
More groovy (SEE: melodic) versus glam (SEE: dramatic), Lillian Axe managed to recruit a loyal following without an abundance of commercial success. Often regarded as an underrated and unknown gem, the group continues to perform and record in obscurity. Their look (big hair and tight leather) grouped this band in with the glam bands of the eighties (and early nineties); however, the music of Lillian Axe still holds up, a major difference between Lillian Axe and other bands during this time. They are sort of the “indie” Edward Norton of metal that is if Edward Norton’s career had never blown up (at least for a few years), and if Norton was from The Big Easy. More...
With several new videos to sift through before the end of the year let’s cut to the chase and see which are for you, and which are probably not… More...
Every week we share pit stories from rock and metal acts across the globe. This week bassist/vocalist Sean Arata of Fort Wayne based hard rock band Downstait shares the following tale of a bouncer finding love after a fan gets out of control:
We were playing a show with Ra in Flint, Michigan, and some guy was drugged out of the mind in the crowd, and picking physical fights with everyone, including the girl he came with.
One of the bouncers tried to get him out of the place, he resisted, and the bouncer blasted him in the face, which knocked him out, but also shattered his hand. They both go to the hospital, and the girl goes along.
We come back about a year later, and the bouncer fills us in about how the guy he knocked out thanked him for bringing him to the hospital, not remembering he was the one who put him there in the first place. Also, he filled us in that he and the girl he defended were getting married soon.
Downstait recently canceled a string of December tour dates due to illness within the band, but you can hear music from the act and find out about upcoming live appearances at the Downstait Facebook profile here. Check back in next week for more mosh pit stories from fans and band members.
With Christmas two days away, it’s more than likely that by now, we’ve all seen the "Keep Christ in Christmas" stickers/posters/statuses on Facebook, but most non-believers are well aware of Christmas being a Christian festival and don’t want to remove Jesus from this time of the year. However, if there’s one band that seems intent on removing Jesus from everything, it’s one of Florida’s many legendary death metal bands, Deicide. Deicide were formed in the city of Tampa in July 1987, initially under the name Amon, by vocalist/bassist, Glen Benton and guitarist Brian Hoffman, who soon recruited his brother, Eric to be the band’s second guitarist. With the lineup rounded out by drummer Steve Asheim, the group recorded an eight track demo entitled, "Feasting the Beast." After gigging sporadically around their home city, the band recorded a second demo, "Sacrificial" at Morrisound Studios with producer, Scott Burns, a place and man who would go on to be instrumental in the development of death metal.
Following the recording, Amon changed their name to Carnage and began performing live more regularly. Very soon, Carnage, or rather, Benton, gained notice from Roadrunner Records, when he reportedly barged into the office of an A&R man and aggressively demanded that they sign his group. The next day, Carnage were offered contracts by the label, but were urged to make a name change, leading them to settle on their current moniker, Deicide. They teamed up with Scott Burns again to record their self-titled, debut album, which was released in 1990. The album went on to become one of the best selling death metal albums of all time, being listed by Soundscan as the second highest shifting unit of the genre, behind the third Morbid Angel album, "Covenant." They followed this effort two years later with, "Legion," a much more ambitious album, which focused more the technical area of death metal. It was well received by fans, but was met with a mixed reception from critics, and only the song, "Dead but Dreaming" would go on to feature prominently in future live sets. More...
On day two of the world’s most metal cruise, Municipal Waste was playing the smaller Spectrum Lounge for the group’s first performance of the cruise. The band played fast and loose with its brand of "party metal" crossover thrash. Just a few songs into the set, some metal heads in the crowd got the idea to grab the chairs that are on wheels and roll around in the mosh pit area of the main floor. It looked a lot like bumper cars, but then other people began pushing them or grabbing hold of arms of people in the chairs and slinging them through the pit, causing some high speed collisions and overturned chairs.
Soon after this began, Municipal Waste frontman Tony Foresta commented on how they are “the shortest band in metal” and asked the crowd for a circle pit. With the lights in his face and his short stature, it appeared he couldn’t see what was going on behind the people up front at the barrier. As the band launched into their next song, the pit erupted into more chaos as moshers attempted a circle pit around the chair pit to little avail.
It was a surreal experience, but it looked FUN! The crowd would attempt to do the same during other thrash sets like Bonded By Blood and Havok, but no other pit compared to Municipal Waste’s rolling chair pit on Barge to Hell.
Being unable to zoom out and capture the whole scene, this video really doesn’t do the chair pit justice, but it’s all I’ve got to give an idea of what was going on:
A full Barge To Hell report is forthcoming, as well as tons of photos from the metal cruise.
Be sure to check back next Tuesday as we share more mosh pit stories from metal bands.
Heavy music has been steadily evolving since its first major appearances, from slow moving doom to blistering fast thrash and onto the most brutal death metal. Somewhere after figuring out corpse paint and freezing cold riffs somebody decided extreme metal could include unexpected elements like string instruments, keyboards, and other orchestral leanings. The symphonic and the extreme collided, and somehow it worked out.
Now some 15 - 20 years later bands are still finding ways to meld together these two styles, but for symphonic black metal junkies the pool of available talent isn’t as wide as with other sub-genres. You’ve likely heard everything from Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child a hundred times over, blazed through the couple of Dragon Lord releases, imported all those Opera IX CDs, and are done working through the Carach Angren back catalog…so what now?
We’ve previously taken a look at a few symphonic black metal acts as well as other heavily atmospheric bands, but there’s still more underground groups worth checking out if you need more orchestral influenced black metal.
This Belgian outfit is on the verge of releasing second album “Ritu” in January 2013 (reviewed here), which follows the debut “Irreversible Decay” album. The album focuses on different rites of various cultures and mythologies, including a dose of Lovecraftian rituals with songs like “Haunter of the Dark” and “Fhtagn.”
For more info on the album, check out our interview with the band just after the recording process was finished. Get acquainted with Saille’s version of symphonic black metal through songs off both albums, available below.
Say what you like about the era of Generation X, there was some fantastic music around. We’ve already looked at a few of the bands popular at the time such as Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Living Colour, and this week we’ll be examining one of the most innovative bands of the era, Helmet. Helmet was formed in early 1989 by guitarist Page Hamilton, shortly after his departure from the New York based noise rock band, Band of Susans. Before long, they attracted the attention of US Marine, Tom Hazelmyer, who was also the founder of Amphetamine Reptile Records, who had previously put out records from the likes of Killdozer and soon signed Helmet to the label. Their first release for Amphetamine Reptile was the seven inch single, "Born Annoying," which was followed the next year by their full length debut, "Strap It On." The album was very well received by listeners and is now regarded as a classic by fans of post-hardcore music, as well as becoming a small influence in metal, as evidenced when Deftones covered the song, "Sinatra" years later. Critics were also very welcoming of the debut, praising its atmospheric approach and distinctive riffs.
A year after the release of, "Strap It On," Helmet signed a new deal with major label, Interscope, who reportedly paid the group one million dollars for their next album. They began recording the album, which was to be entitled, "Meantime" in late 1991 and eventually released it the next summer. The time and (alleged) budget proved to be well worth the effort, as "Meantime" broke the band into the mainstream, peaking at number 68 on the Billboard Charts and becoming their first (and only) Gold Record in the United States, thanks largely to the success of the title track and the song, "Unsung." Once again, they had also put out a record which was adored by many critics, several of which gave the album perfect scores. The success of "Meantime" meant a much bigger increase in tour dates and soon the band found themselves performing in Europe, Asia and South America, as well as their native, United States. The heavy touring schedule, coupled with the new found spotlight brought problems to the band and strengthened internal tensions, eventually leading guitarist Peter Mengede to quit the group, with Rest In Pieces guitarist, Rob Echeverria taking his place. More...
At a recent solo show, Vince Neil (Motley Crue) had a fan removed from a show, but not before throwing a punch at him. During the concert (footage below), Vince stopped during the song, “Kick Start My Heart” and is heard shouting at the fan before lunging at him with an old-school uppercut. More...
Malaysia is a country that has really begun to make it's name known in the last few years. It's become a popular holiday destination, it has one of the most stable infrastructures in South East Asia and has become a major investing force in association football (soccer,) with Malaysian entrepeneurs buying into such football teams as Queens Park Rangers and Cardiff City. But what is the music scene like in Malaysia? And more specifically, how is heavy metal treated there? A quick Google search will quickly bring up a BBC article from 2001, in which the Malaysian government declared a crack down on the genre. But there are still metal bands active in the constitutional monarchy, and this week we'll be looking at three of them.
First up is Humiliation, a band from the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur who provide an ear catching take on death metal, being influenced mostly by such British extreme metal pioneers as Benediction and Bolt Thrower. The group was formed in 2009 and spent three months recording their debut EP, "Face The Disaster," which was released in November that year through Nebiula Production. The next year, they were able to record and release their first full length effort, "Dawn Of Warfare," which (including an intro and an outro) contained a total of twelve tracks. Since then, the band has soldiered on, despite losing some members along the way, they have been able to continue writing new material, and released their second full length album, "Seek To Survive" in September of last year. The band has also branced out when it comes to touring, having recently played in such countries as Germany, Poland and Romania.
Humiliation - "Minefields"
Back in 1982, a young musician from Sweden arrived in California with, as he recollects, 'a toothbrush and a guitar.' Mike Varney, who owned the guitar-hero independent label Shrapnel, had heard a demo of his and wanted to foster his talent. Believing Yngwie Malmsteeen to be the next big thing, Mike wasn't far off in his assertion. Of the multiple guitar prodigies he would have on his label, from David Chastain to Tony MacAlpine, Yngwie was the one who would become the larger-than-life superstar. But, the seeds of Yngwie's talent were sown years earlier, in a place far away.
Yngwie's mother Rigmor gave him a guitar on his fifth birthday. His family was the musical sort and his sister Ann Louise played the flute. Malmsteen's true calling came a couple of years later in 1970 when he was watching a TV special on the death of Jimi Hendrix. That guitar legend's playing connected with Yngwie in such a way that he knew that wielding an axe would become his life's destiny. From that day on, Yngwie Malmsteen the guitar shredder was born. More...
As the holidays approach a look at some packaged DVD/CD sets, new releases on the horizon, and yes, one hard-to-buy-for Christmas recommendation. More...
Although there may be stagnation in many areas of the heavy music scene, particularly at the most visible and mainstream levels, such is not the case with a swath of metal’s underground sector.
Sure, there are dime a dozen bands that all sound the same and use the exact same breakdown of low growls and clean singing (you know which ones I’m talking about – they like to call themselves “melodic hardcore” or “post-something or other”). There are even plenty of groups that claim they transcend genre or don’t care about sub-genre tags because “music is music” - and this is frequently a warning sign what you are about to hear will suck, hard, and very likely be a copy of something else that was just as lame.
But if you skim off that top layer of bafflingly-popular gunk, there are bands to be found that genuinely ignore borders between styles and let a wide range of genres seep into each other, creating unique and interesting sounds.
In previous Unearthing columns we’ve looked at a few metal bands that blend different genres or ignore metal trends as well as experimental or avant-garde acts, and today we’ll unearth three more outfits in those categories. These are musicians that don’t mind getting some prog in their death metal or some black metal in their electronica, and they’ll even play with mainstream elements while still hitting the extreme notes without skipping a beat.
This Swiss avant-garde outfit has three full-length releases under its belt, with the new album “The Revolution is Dead!” (review coming soon) just dropping last month through Code666 Records. Despite the title’s claim, the metal revolution certainly isn’t dead, as Blutmond plays with just about everything that can be found in the musician’s toolkit: black metal collides with saxophone, female vocals, and even some goth and industrial elements.
As a statement from the band itself recently said, the latest album is “a roller coaster of mindfucked hate songs full of love and lots of lost dreams.” This is a group worth checking out for fans of Oblomov, Furia, or black metal bands that all around don’t give a good goddamn about remaining “trve” or “kvlt.” Four tracks from “The Revolution is Dead!” can be heard through the player below.
Over the past few months, Sunday Old School has examined British outfit, My Dying Bride and Swedish metal favourites, Katatonia, who, along with Paradise Lost, are known as three of the four bands who helped to pioneer the death/doom genre. This week, we’ll be completing the set by taking a look at Anathema, another band instrumental in launching the sub-genre, but who soon found themselves on an entirely different musical path. Anathema were formed in the English city of Liverpool in 1990, initially under the name of Pagan Angel. They recorded their first demo, "An Iliad of Woes," in November of that year which soon spread around the English music scene and caught the interest of several labels, with the band eventually settling on Peaceville Records following the release of their second demo, "All Faith is Lost." Their first release through Peaceville was an EP named, "The Crestfallen," which earned them enough credibility that they were able to tour with American death metal favourites, Cannibal Corpse. They followed, "The Crestfallen" with their first full length album, "Serenades," which also earned the band significant exposure and featured a music video for the song, "Sweet Tears," which soon gained airplay on MTV. As well as television exposure, the band were soon able to tour throughout Europe and were even scheduled to perform at a festival in Brazil.
Despite the rapidly growing fan base and success, vocalist Darren White decided to leave the band in 1995. Rather than searching for a new singer, guitarist Vincent Cavanagh took over the spot behind the microphone, and later that year, Anathema released their second studio album, "The Silent Enigma," which marked Cavanagh’s debut recording with the band, after he had made his live debut as the group’s frontman when they had toured with countrymen, Cathedral. They followed, "The Silent Enigma" a year later with their third full length, "Eternity," which received near universal acclaim. The album was notable for moving away from the doom metal sound and more towards alternative rock, with some psychedelic and gothic influences also present. More...
This week a look at new videos from Ugly Kid Joe, Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.), Izzy Stradlin (ex-Guns N’ Roses), and Great White; for those keeping a timeline at home, Ugly Kid Joe would be considered the “new” band of this group. More...
Back in the eighties, many old school metalheads got their first dose of Brazilian music when those first two classic Sepultura albums came out, along with releases from Overdose and Vulcano. Over in Brazil, though, those bands were a small handful of many in an already vibrant scene. Tape traders started getting wind of this scene and began looking towards other Brazilian bands, which led to great interest in two albums on Roadrunner from another classic act by the name of Ratos de Porao. "Brasil" and the crossover milestone "Anarkophobia" on Roadrunner made us dig a little deeper into the thrashcore scene of this country.
Crossover and extreme metal have thirty years strong down in the tropic of capricorn. RDP and fellow countrymen Lobotomia could hold their own against any stateside crossover band. And when you dig into Brazil's punk/metal history, it is overwhelming to see that their scene - which dates back to the days of Venom, Discharge and the Sex Pistols - continues to be huge and fractured into several subgenres just like our own. A few years before Ratos de Porao came on the scene, Restos de Nada were possibly the first recognized punk band. As can be expected, they hailed from the southeastern region of Sao Paolo - whose urban setting gave rise to their songs of social decay. More...
Kix were popular in the glam scene, yet under the radar band that had minor success in the eighties. In fact, they were around before the second round of glam acts (SEE: Poison, Warrant, etc…) and many feel had their stage show stolen by these bands. Regardless, their sleazy style of music (which was never really glam) and their great live shows this was always a “band’s band” and didn’t reach the commercial success of others (SEE: Poison, Warrant, etc…). More...
This week a real treat with (lucky) seven new videos featuring girls with cranium accessories, vampires, F-bombs, and of course, sass.
Ten's video for their single “Gunrunning” is from their new anticipated studio album entitled 'Heresy And Creed.' I can dig the black and white and the groovy sound (dig and groovy in the same sentence – yes, I’m high right now), but not so sure about the Michael Jackson style marching jacket. Also, the awkward lean into the guitar player makes me feel weird down there…
We scour the heavy metal and hard rock landscape to get Pit Stories from musicians across the globe, and today we have an interesting look at an "un-pit" of sorts when the crowd experiences genre confusion. Oregon based "melodic wondercore" act Whispers of Wonder shares the following story:
Whispers Of Wonder was paying live at a local venue here in Portland called the Hawthorne. We were the second to last band on the bill. Now the kind of music we play isn't necessarily as brutal as the local scene is comfortable with, and sometimes fans aren't quite sure how to act in the crowd. Now before we had hit the stage there was a big empty pit with 3 hardcore dancers in it, but once we got started something unfolded unlike anything we have ever seen at a show of our genre.
People weren't moshing. It wasn't a violent mosh fest. It was a dance pit. The best way to describe it is prom night in the 1950's, though the soundtrack wasn't exactly as upbeat. And they kept it going throughout our whole set. All of a sudden an entire crowd of people looked like some scene out of an episode of The Peanuts. It was definitely a night to remember.
Every week we dig deep into the metal scene and unearth three acts that are unsigned or simply less well known than many other bands. Today we look at a mecca for metal in general and black metal in particular: Norway.
The country has taken on a sort of mythical level of significance for underground enthusiasts, where one imagines a tribunal of grim metal masters passing judgment on what is and is not trve black metal, but despite that impression the country houses a variety of musicians that cover the musical spectrum and frequently cross genre lines. While anyone familiar with the scene will likely be well acquainted with the likes of Emperor or Mayhem, there are still plenty of unknown hard rock and metal bands hidden there to discover.
Beyond the Morninglight
Breaking ranks with the sound that has put Norway onto the extreme metal map, Beyond the Morninglight is a gloomy and atmospheric rock and roll act that drops the harsh vocals and many of the heavier elements. What it lacks in brutality it makes up for in an infectious version of metal-influenced rock that gets stuck in the head.
The band has two full-length releases now, a self-titled debut and the newly released “Liberation” album, which takes an even darker turn. You can stream both of the full Beyond the Morninglight releases through Misantrof ANTI-Records, or you can check out two songs, one from each album, in the clips below.