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Archive: Columns

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Sunday Old School: Brutal Truth

It’s been a while since Sunday Old School has looked at a truly extreme band, and music doesn’t come much more extreme than grindcore. The grindcore movement was doing well by the late eighties in Europe, but America was yet to produce a proper, standout band in the genre. Perhaps the first band to do just that, was Brutal Truth. Brutal Truth was formed in 1990 by bassist/vocalist, Danny Lilker as a side project while he focused his efforts on the thrash metal outfit, Nuclear Assault. He was joined in the endeavour by guitarist, Brent "Gurn" McCarty and drummer, Scott Lewis and it wasn’t long before the trio recorded their first demo, "The Birth of Ignorance." They soon went from three members to four, when they recruited music journalist, Kevin Sharp to become their new vocalist, allowing Lilker to focus his attention on playing bass. They performed when possible, eventually attracting the attention of grindcore home, Earache Records, who offered the band a record deal, as well as Lilker’s escape route from Nuclear Assault, who he had grown distant from.

Brutal Truth recorded their first album, "Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses," which was hailed immediately as an instant classic in the still burgeoning grindcore genre and in 2009, was voted the best American grindcore album of all time by Terrorizer magazine. The album spawned music videos for the songs, "Ill Neglect" and "Collateral Damage," the latter earning the group a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records for the shortest music video ever, clocking in at only four seconds. They soon hit the road to support the record, perhaps most notably when they teamed up with three of the biggest names in British extreme metal, Carcass, Cathedral and grindcore godfathers, Napalm Death for a North American tour, before heading to Europe with Fear Factory. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Diamond Lane

Diamond Lane have released two new videos from their album, ‘Sapphire’, released in June. This L.A. band has quickly become known for their fist pumping riffs and FOX sports friendly hooks. More...

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Sunday Old School 200: Monsters Of Rock

This week’s edition of Sunday Old School is a very special one because today sees Sunday Old School reach two hundred official articles! So to celebrate this little milestone of ours, I wanted to look back in rock and metal history and find a true landmark moment in the genre. A moment that let the world know that heavy music was here to stay and meant so much to so many. And nothing seemed like a bigger moment in general metal history than when promoter Paul Loasby teamed up with Maurice Jones and formed a festival, which was to be held at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, and would be known as Monsters of Rock.

The one day event was initially scheduled to be a grand final date for Rainbow’s UK tour, a band whom Loasby had recently been promoting. Rainbow were joined at the inaugural event by established German rockers, the Scorpions, who had just released their seventh album, "Animal Magnetism" and Judas Priest, who were riding high thanks to the wildly successful, "British Steel" album. Also on the bill that day were heavy metal upstarts, Saxon, who were considered the leaders of the exciting young, New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement at the time, Canadian hard rock veterans, April Wine and New York openers Riot and Touch. The festival was a resounding success, drawing in thirty five thousand fans and a live compilation album, which sold well.

Although it was initially conceived only as a vehicle for Rainbow, it was announced on the day of the first edition that the festival would return the next year. AC/DC were to be the headliners in 1981, marking the first of their record holding three headline appearances at the event. It was a somewhat lighter tone in the sophomore year, where AC/DC were joined Whitesnake, American stars, Blue Oyster Cult and quite interestingly, British glam rock veterans, Slade, who had recently found favour with the heavy metal audience after a brief time out of the limelight. Rounding off the bill was Blackfoot, a Southern Rock band from Jacksonville, Florida and More, who were notable for featuring former Iron Maiden vocalist, Paul Day, as well as a DJ set from the BBC’s voice of rock, Tommy Vance. The varied lineups continued, with Status Quo (AKA, your nan’s favourite band) headlining the event in 1982, where they were joined by other established rockers such as Gillan, Uriah Heep and Hawkwind, as well as a young Canadian group named, Anvil and Monsters of Rock veterans, Saxon, who became the first band to appear twice, before Whitesnake closed the event in 1983, which also featured Meat Loaf and ZZ Top, who were placed higher than such heavy metal favourites as Dio, Diamond Head and Twisted Sister. More...

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Sunday Old School: Hurricane

It was Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot) who introduced Robert Sarzo to Tony Cavazo. When DuBrow introduces two guys (who just happen to be kid brothers of members of Quiet Riot), you must start a band, it’s a rule. They named their band Hurricane. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: She's My Confusion

THE LAST VEGAS are back with another video, “She’s My Confusion”, off the band’s latest album, ‘Bad Decisions.’ THE LAST VEGAS do not make straight forward videos; this one is no different, incorporating mystery, history, and good ole rock and roll. More...

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Pit Stories: Pissing Off Danzig

Each week we check in with metal musicians to get their best stories from live shows.

While these tales usually center on the mayhem of the mosh pit, today guitarist Christian Larson from Venomous Maximus shares a story that takes place backstage during a Q&A with the infamous Glenn Danzig.

Christian had this story to share about an ill-advised question to Danzig regarding the Samhain box set that took years to finally see release:

In the late 90's in San Antonio at a metal fest, SOD headlined and saw some of my 1st Swedish metal bands. I sold my Peavy amp to get a ticket to the show. As we rolled up into the parking lot, a local Houston band asked us if we wanted to buy backstage passes for the whole fest. So we got to roll around back stage and further enticed me to get into playing music more.

We were allowed to sit in on a press conference with an interview with the singer of Morbid Angel and Glenn Danzig. Some magazine was asking Danzig when the Samhain box set was coming out. He was very annoyed by the questions and gave very smart ass answers back, obviously not wanting to talk about it.

So I guess my buddy Willow wasn't paying attention as he was gazing into Danzig's eyes (keep in mind this room is packed wall to wall with press and fans). So my buddy gets the last question and he asked the same question about the box set and all the press and attention is on him. No one could believe he asked it and Glenn didn't respond and just walked out the conference.

The Venomous Maximus album "Beg Upon The Light" is due out in North America on July 2nd via Napalm Records. For more info on the band and upcoming tour dates, head over to the Venomous Maximus Facebook profile here, and be sure to check back in next week for more heavy metal Pit Stories. More...

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Unearthing The Prog Rock Underground

As a child growing up in the late sixties/early seventies listening to Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes and Jean Luc Ponty, progressive rock was and is a large part of my musical foundation. The orchestration of prog rock expanded music from anthemic songs with a simplistic chorus-verse structure into compositions that took on a life of their own through arrangements that incorporated elements of jazz, folk and other forms of music in atypical time signatures. These musicians represented a skilled genre, one where a band had to know how to play far beyond 'adequate' and know all types of music. More...

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Sunday Old School: Agent Steel

We’ve looked at plenty of thrash metal bands over the nearly 200 Sunday Old School columns written so far, but perhaps one are we’ve neglected would be the sub-genre’s predecessor, speed metal. Today, we’ll rectify this with a look at one of the top dogs in the speed metal field, Agent Steel. Agent Steel were formed in 1984 after vocalist John Camps (AKA, John Cyriis) left the band, Abattoir and teamed up with drummer, Chuck Profus. The original Agent Steel lineup was completed with the addition of bass player, George Robb and guitarists Mark Marshall and Bill Simmons. The quintet soon entered the studio to record their first demo, "144,000 Gone," which was received favourably in the local California metal scene, enough so that it found some radio play and earned the band a supporting slot for Slayer as their very first show and helped them receive a record deal with Combat, who had also recently signed Megadeth. Before they could record their first album however, they experienced problems with their guitarists and a short revolving door situation evolved, before they finally settled on Kurt Colfelt and Cyriis’ former Abattoir bandmate, Juan Garcia and set about recording their first full length, which was released in the summer of 1985 under the title, "Skeptics Apocalypse." The record was very well received and is now considered a true classic in the speed metal genre.

Despite the acclaim, Colfelt quit the band soon afterwards when relations soured between him and Cyriis and formed a new band called, Holy Terror. His position was filled by Bernie Versailles who made his recording debut with the band on the "Mad Locust Rising" EP, which was notable for its cover of the Judas Priest song, "The Ripper." Following the release of the EP, the group had to find another new member when George Robb quit and was replaced by bassist, Michael Zaputil. With a new bassist on board, the band got to work on their sophomore full length, though the album’s recording was interrupted for a while by a European tour with countrymen, Anthrax and Overkill, footage of which was later released as part of the home video, "US Speed Metal Attack." More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Who The Fuck Are You?

Remember when videos were meant to be fun and bands didn't take themselves too serious? Seems like ages ago... New York City rockers, Sex Slaves, have released a new video for their song "W.T.F.R.U." This new video is a flashback to all that used to be awesome in videos. More...

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Unearthing The Non-Traditional Black Metal Scene

Record sales may be dropping and labels may be on the verge of extinction, but the underground metal scene is still a thriving and vibrant place where musical innovation continues to occur. Every Monday we dig deep into the underground to unearth three bands you may not have had the chance to check out yet, but which deserve to be heard.

It’s no secret I dig bands that mix it up and don’t stick to one straight style, having previously unearthed avant-garde bands, a handful of genre flip-floppers, metal outfits that experiment with non-traditional sounds, and those bands that just plain ignore musical trends.

Today you’ll get another dose of heavy music that doesn’t play by the normal genre rules. These three bands may all technically be black metal, but they push that definition to its limits and sometimes even well beyond!

Todtgelichter

This German act is currently with Code666 records, which is a smaller label in the grand scheme of things, but it still has some very solid underground acts known for combining sub-genres and mixing up their sounds.

Todtgelichter has four full-length releases under its belt, having just dropped new album “Apnoe” this year (reviewed here). “Apnoe” is definitely less raucous and battering than previous releases, occasionally dropping out the black metal altogether, just to bring it back in at unexpected times to barrel over an unsuspecting audience. The harsh vocals are present but take a back seat to clean male and female singing, accompanied by atmospheric and calm parts that give off a modern-era Anathema vibe.

Keep up with the latest on Todtgetlichter at Facebook and be sure to check out a track from the current album and its predecessor “Angst” below.

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Sunday Old School: Fudge Tunnel

Earache Records is without a doubt one of the biggest record labels in metal music. They made their name by signing some of the best extreme bands around, but also branched out into more experiemental areas at times, including with today's featured band, Fudge Tunnel. Fudge Tunnel were formed in 1988 in the English city of Nottingham, where the original lineup of singing guitarist, Alex Newport, drummer Adrian Parkin and a bassist known only as, Mark, would rehearse above a working men’s club. After Mark decided he’d be more comfortable playing guitar, the group recruited a new bass player named, David Ryley, before Mark left altogether. The trio’s first release was a self-titled EP, which hit the shelves via Pigboy Records in 1990 and was very well received by the music press. They built on their attention by joining up and coming industrial metal outfit, Godflesh on a tour and releasing a second EP named, "The Sweet Sound of Excess," both of which helped them to gain a record deal with Earache, who were based in Nottingham and had made a name for themselves by signing such popular acts as Napalm Death, Carcass and American death metal group, Morbid Angel.

Their debut album, "Hate Songs in E Minor" drew controversy before it was even released. Just three weeks prior to the record’s release, the Earache Records office was raided by the Nottingham Vice Squad, who confiscated any "offensive material" which included the original artwork for the album (as well as, according to Carcass frontman, Jeff Walker, an Alice Cooper poster.) The setback forced Fudge Tunnel to using live images for the cover art instead (charges were eventually dropped and the original artwork appeared on t-shirts.) The album itself met a very strong reception from metal fans and featured a unique sound which remains very difficult to pinpoint, as well as some unique song titles and two covers, both classic rock staples, namely, "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream and "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent, who the album was also dedicated to. Among the album’s admirers was Sepultura frontman, Max Cavalera, who was so impressed with the record that he invited the band out on tour with Sepultura, though Newport would later express his distaste that the tour seemed to have lumped Fudge Tunnel into the metal category. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Old School Crue

This week Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue, Sixx:AM) alerted his followers via Twitter to the song “Nobody Knows What It’s Like To Be Lonely”, an early (pre ‘Too Fast For Love’) Motley Crue recording. More...

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Pit Stories: Newsted's Unintentional Stage Dive

The pit is the heart of the metal scene, and just about every metal head has a favorite pit story, which is why each week we check in with musicians from around the globe to get their best tale of moshing mayhem.

Today Detroit act Wilson shares this story of a stage dive gone wrong while the band was supporting Newsted at Highline Ballroom on May 21st, 2013:

Recently Wilson was honored with the privilege of being Jason Newsted’s direct support for his new endeavor aptly called Newsted. We went out on a string of dates from May 15th – 23rd together. Each night venues packed in tons of middle aged veterans of metal who had most likely just dropped off their suits to the dry cleaners on 5th Ave right before they traded their Hush Puppies for a pair of Converse to "kick out the jams" for their well-deserved evening of debauchery. I mean no disrespect here, the folks that were in attendance at these shows were ready to let the juices of the metal parking lot coarse through their veins once again, however, these folks were not there to “mosh it up” like they had in their teens, they wanted to bang their heads, crush some brews and party hard, (as hard as a 40 year old pissed off teen turned carpenter could) but not to harm each other. You could literally see the aggression build in each one of them as Newsted ripped through bangers every night, but never crossing that line…except in NYC.

The gods of metal were toiling with the crowd at the Highline Ballroom and as Newsted starting ripping the opening riffs to Whiplash (the only Metallica cover he played) the crowd went ape shit. Let me precursor this by adding this was the only show on the tour that did not have a barricade of sorts… and after that night it would be the last. About half way through the song (you know the part where “its fucking WHIPLASH”) a rapid fan had let his blood boil enough and just HAD to get on that stage with the legend for some honest to goodness stage divin’. And just as he thought his coast was clear and he spotted an open area to let the hands of the crowd carry him into sweet, sweet drunken revelry …BAM!! His body met the body of a Mr. Jason Newsted. In fact the collision between him and Newsted was so fast and jarring it sent Jason flying off the stage face first into the crowd. Well, the crowd and some floor.
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Sunday Old School: Megadeth

With their new album, "Super Collider" having hit the shelves this past week, today seemed like the best possible time to take a look at one of the biggest and most controversial names in the history of thrash metal, Megadeth. Everyone and their dog knows that the seeds of Megadeth were sewn in 1983 when Metallica sacked their aggressive guitarist, Dave Mustaine, right before they were scheduled to record their first album, "Kill 'em All." They sent Mustaine back to California from New York on a bus, where he sat and furiously plotted to form a new band which would be faster and nastier than Metallica. While he was on the bus, he found a pamphlet which contained the phrase, "The arsenal of megadeath can’t be rid no matter what the peace treaties come to." Liking the sound of the word, "megadeath," he chose it as one of the first song titles for his new group, which was formed a few weeks later under the name, Fallen Angels, though this was changed soon after to Megadeth at the suggestion of the band’s original singer, Lor Kane. Mustaine and bass player, David Ellefson auditioned a number of drummers, singers and guitarsts throughout the forging of Megadeth, most notably Slayer guitarist, Kerry King, who performed a handful of shows with the group before deciding to concentrate on his own band, much to the disappointment of Mustaine.

Eventually, Mustaine decided to handle the vocal duties himself and they hired fusion drummer, Gar Samuelson before landing a record deal with Combat Records, after which they finally found a second guitarist in Chris Poland, who knew Samuelson from their time together in the jazz fusion outfit, The New Yorkers. The group received eight thousand dollars advance from Combat to record their debut album and were forced to produce the record themselves after spending a large chunk of it on drugs and alcohol. The result, "Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good," was a success, selling well for an independent release, being hailed as a thrash metal classic and gaining the attention of major label, Capitol, who would sign the band after they were unhappy with the initial recording of their second album, which Capitol also bought the rights to. This sophomore effort, "Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?" was finally released in 1986 and would prove to be their breakthrough and is now considered to be amongst the top thrash albums ever, along with "Master of Puppets" by Metallica and "Reign in Blood," by Slayer, both of which were also released in 1986. The title track from the album was made into a music video, a first for Megadeth and was a popular choice on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball show. The success of the album allowed them to tour with other established acts such as King Diamond and Alice Cooper, the latter of which once summoned the group to his bus one night to warn them of their drug habits. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Gluttony

Lots of girls, bandanas, and as usual, excess, highlight this week’s video offering. More...

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Unearthing The Middle Eastern Underground

While metal bands of pretty much any sub-genre can be found all over the world, different areas have become well known for specific sounds: the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Scandinavian black metal, Bay Area thrash, and so on. But metal continues to spread and evolve across the planet, and now the various Middle Eastern nations are not only developing their own underground scene, but also inspiring a traditional Arabic sound in metal bands from other countries.

Israeli act Orphaned Land may be one of the most well known, with latest album “All Is One” nearing release through Century Media, but there are many more just waiting to be explored in our never ending quest to unearth the metal underground.

Today we’ll cover three lesser known bands either residing in or strongly influenced by the Middle East. If you dig these acts but want something more on the power or progressive side, be sure to also check out Myrath, which was covered in our look at bands getting exposure through the Prog Power USA festival.

Sand Aura

Currently down to three members and now seeking a new keyboardist for live shows, Egyptian outfit Sand Aura released debut full-length album “Elegy of the Orient” last year. The album can be ordered directly through the band’s website or streamed in its entirety via Bandcamp.

Sand Aura covers a whole lot of ground sound-wise, working off a proto death metal base with deep and guttural vocals, adding in a folksy edge, and then also bringing out clean female vocals. Give it a listen and decide how it sounds yourself through the player below.

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Sunday Old School: Uriah Heep

A few weeks ago, Sunday Old School took a look at British hard rock legends, UFO, one of the architects of the heavy metal sound. With the recent passing of their bass player, it seemed like an opportune time to examine another English band that helped define the heavy style, Uriah Heep. The band was initially formed under the moniker, Spice by guitarist Mick Box and singer, David Garrick, who met while members of another band called, The Stalkers. They rounded up the lineup with the additions of Scottish drummer, Alex Napier and bass player, Paul Newton. They performed regularly, working their reputation up to being a regular headline act and soon led them to sign with Vertigo Records, whereupon they decided to change their name, deciding to go with "Uriah Heep" after the character from the Charles Dickens novel, "David Copperfield," since "Dickens’ name was everywhere in Christmas 1969 due to it being the hundredth anniversary of his death." It was also around this time that the group decided to add a keyboardist to the mix, inspired by another early heavy band, Vanilla Fudge, a position which was eventually filled by Ken Hensley, who previously played with Newton in The Gods.

They released their debut album in 1970, which was self-titled in the United States but was known everywhere else as, "Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble," which was a reference to a phrase frequently said by the Uriah Heep character in "David Copperfield." Although the album has found favour over time and contains one of their trademark songs, "Gypsy," it initially received a very frosty reception. Cold enough in fact, that Rolling Stone reviewer, Melissa Mills opened her review of the album with, "If this band makes it, I’ll have to commit suicide." The band followed, "Very ‘eavy…" by releasing, "Salisbury," a progressive rock record if ever there was one, exemplified by the sixteen minute long title track, in which the group were accompanied by a twenty four piece orchestra. Like their debut, it also featured one of their best known songs, this time, "Lady in Black," which would become a hit in Germany when it was re-released six years later. The album itself was not received much better than it’s predecessor, but nevertheless, generated enough interest to allow Uriah Heep to tour the United States for the first time, where they joined Three Dog Night and Canadian rockers, Steppenwolf. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Sisters of Sin

GUNS OF GLORY have released an official music video from the single "Sisters Of Sin.” The song is taken from the band's recently released debut album 'On The Way To Sin City.’ The song and video combines AC/DC like heavy riffs, a punk attitude, and a cowboy… More...

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Unearthing The Industrial Metal Underground Pt. 2

Recently, the respected Death Metal Underground site ran a brief synopsis of the new book "Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music" by S. Alexander Reed. The tome came out earlier this year and is a recommended read for anyone immersed in the current huge wave of industrial bands or who has followed the genre since its inception in the early eighties. More...

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Sunday Old School: Black N’ Blue

During the eighties a lot of bands were pushed into the glam-pop sideshow, and for many this paid off. Black N’ Blue was not one of those bands. The original draped-in-denim hard rockers lost their mojo once they changed their sound. The band still sold around a million records. This was despite the changes. More...

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