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Sunday Old School: Racer X

Some bands tell you what they’re all about from their name alone. AC/DC promise high energy rock, Death was balls out death metal and Motorhead are all about speed, plenty of it and in more ways than one (allegedly...) Another band which attracted metal fans looking for something fast and furious that used their name to do so, was a young band from Los Angeles, California by the name of Racer X.

The seeds of the band were sown in the Guitar Institute of Technology, when students Juan Alderete and Paul Gilbert (who was soon to become a teacher at the school) met and decided to form their own band. Being highly skilled musicians themselves, they approached a gifted drummer, Scott Travis to join them, though he declined in favour of sticking with his band, Hawk. Instead, they recruited another fellow student, Harry Gschoesser, a native of Austria and the future founder of social networking site, Speedgig. The band completed their lineup with the addition of Phoenix, Arizona resident, Jeff Martin, who was unable to rehearse regularly with the band due to the long distance, but nevertheless, worked hard on writing lyrics for demos which Gilbert sent him. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: The Darkness Returns

If you like graphic novels, blood and snappy dialogue you are in for a treat. If you like all three and also really like feet you are Quentin Tarantino. Here’s the new video “Barbarian” from The Darkness. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Escape To The Void

Growing up listening to the "big 4" of thrash, Sepultura was another step toward the extreme for me.

"Beneath The Remains" had an early death metal feel, while "Arise" was thrashy and full of speed, but did not necessarily have all the qualities of what one would call thrash.

Having passed over "Schizophrenia" (1987) for decades due to its poor production, I finally picked up a remaster of the album and was amazed at the gems found on it. Many of the songs are flat out thrashy ("To The Wall," "Rest In Pain"), but "Escape To The Void" sticks to the old school thrash formula the best.

If you're a thrash fan, but a bit picky about production quality, and passed over "Schizophrenia" like I had, it's time to remedy that. At least give this song a listen:

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Pit Stories: The Norwegian Squatter's Paradise

The Pit: that magical place where sex, violence, property destruction, and a whole lotta head banging collide. We're on a never-ending quest to get the best pit stories in existence, which is why we check in with rock and metal bands from across the globe and tap into their tour stories.

For this week's Pit Story, drummer Brandon Burghart from Kansas-based outfit The Midnight Ghost Train shared this tale of Norwegians out of their minds on psychedelics:

We were playing a small freezing town in Norway on a weekday. The venue was basically a frathouse turned squatter paradise. The crowd were equal parts too old to hang out and too young to be there. Folks didn't so much rent a room as they rented one of several beds or couches in the place. We got there not knowing what to expect, but they reassured us that it was going to be a good night. There was also a rave cave in the basement with neon paint covering the walls and only lit by black light. The stage was pretty small as was the dance floor. We were headlining, so we waited around most the night while the other bands played. 

That's when we noticed the crowd was starting to get a little strange. We figured it was what you got when Norwegians drank too much. Then my guitar player told me that a gang of Spaniards broke into the basement and started raving with their own boombox. They were quickly chased out by the bar owners. The last band finished and we started loading on stage. I think half the crowd had passed out by this time. We started playing and they jolted back to life moshing and destroying the room.

It was a bit frightening since the stage was about a foot tall. Much of the show was pushing people back trying not to get your knee dislocated when the nearest body pummeled into it.  At one point I look over and a tiny woman has latched herself to Steve's back and he was trying to shake her loose. After being covered in various liquids and almost having our equipment destroyed, we finished our set. We later found out that the wine bottles that everyone had been passing around had been laced with an outrageous amount of acid. That mixed with the copious amount of drugs already available at the show turned it into one of the strangest nights of my life. We have since played there again but make sure we personally break the seal on any drink we open.

The Midnight Ghost Train's new album "Cold Was The Ground" is scheduled to drop on February 28th (EU) and March 10th (North America) via Napalm Records. Check out a lyric video off the album below. More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 4 - Impaled Nazarene

Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth installment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.

As we saw in last week’s Sunday Old School covering Marduk, Norway was not the only Scandinavian country contributing significantly to the black metal scene, though it is no doubt still considered the home of the genre. Yet, Norway and Sweden were not alone, as the Swedes other neighbours were also about to launch their own scene, one which was given greater attention thanks to a particular band from the city of Oulu. A band by the striking name of, Impaled Nazarene.

The group was formed twenty five years ago by vocalist and sole constant member, Mika Luttinen, guitarists, Ari Holappa and Mika Pääkkö, bass player, Harri Halonen and drummer, Kimmo "Sir" Luttinen, the brother of frontman, Mika. They were forged with a fierce sense of independence and aggression, evidenced by their ambition to stand out from what other Scandinavian bands were doing. Whilst bands from Sweden such as Marduk were welcomed into the black metal scene in Norway, Impaled Nazarene became known for their hatred of it, though they would eventually bury the hatchet in the frost, with Luttinen claiming that he made peace with Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous before his murder. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Beber Até Morrer

Whilst Brazil is known primarily in the metal world for Sepultura, they have produced a number of other excellent bands such as Sarcofago, Krisiun, and of course, the legendary Ratos de Porão. The band made their name in the early eighties punk scene but were never shy about showing off their heavy metal influences and making friends with metal bands, particularly the aforementioned Sepultura, whose drummer, Igor Cavalera, helped the band sign with Roadrunner Records towards the end of the decade.

Their first album through the label was, "Brasil," widely regarded by both fans and critics to be one of their best works, thanks to strong tracks such as, "Sofrer," "Amazônia Nunca Mais" and of course, the drinking anthem, "Beber Até Morrer," which roughly translates to, "drink 'til you die." The song, as is typical of the band, is a relatively short, but furiously fun blast of energy, performed at a very quick tempo, with enough room for melody and a sing along chourus which Ratos de Porão were one of the best at writing. It's one of their more jaunty tunes, not steeped in the critiques of capitalism and the mistreatment of Brazil's poor, proving that even those seen as the little people by those on high, no matter how literally huge, can enjoy themselves as much as anyone. More...

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Pit Stories: Doubling The Painter's Salary

At the beginning of each week we catch up with rock and metal bands from around the globe to get their most memorable Pit Stories from live shows.

For this week's edition, the Finnish hellions from Santa Cruz have shared the following tale of a pre-drunk crowd resulting in one banged up girlfriend and one even more banged up venue:

Few years back we had this show in our home town Helsinki at this club called Bar Bäkkäri. They had just re-painted their floors and done some other renovations as well so the night was kind of this celebration of the bar's new facelift. Anyhow the place was packed that night and we went on stage around 1:30 am meaning the crowd was shitfaced (not like they had had a few beers before the show, the consumption should have been measured in gallons).

The pit started straight away and we saw our drummer's girlfriend between those spaced out vikings like a chopstick in a wrecking ball jungle and I was already planing what am I gone wear next Sunday at the funeral service. Well the 8th miracle of the world happened and she survived whit shattered glass sticking out of her arms and without any bigger surgical operations she made it through that night. What suffered more critical damage was the re-painted floors of the venue, it was all fucked. Well at least the painters doubled their salary thanks to us.

Santa Cruz will hit the road in Europe in March, followed by a U.S. tour with Amaranthe in May. Dates are available at this location. Santa Cruz's self-titled album is also due to drop March 10th, 2015 via Spinefarm Records. More...

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...And Justice For Art Presents: Look-Alike Covers

While the online community And Justice For Art prepares for the imminent release next month of their long-awaited book Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers, they keep delighting Metal Underground readers with their series "Look-alike Covers." This time the focus is on Swedish Dark Rock/Metallers, Ghost BC (aka Ghost).

By now, it's well now the Swedish band's affinity for creating album covers based on iconic movie posters. This episode of And Justice For Art's Look-Alike-Covers explores these artworks and its origins.

Opus Eponymous

The cover art for the Swedish band's acclaimed debut album is attributed to a design entity known as Basilevs 254. The overall composition and ominous atmosphere is partly based on the classic poster for the Stephen King's vampire TV mini-series "Salem's Lot," which was also edited as a theatrical feature film.

The artwork substitutes the iconic image of the menacing vampire for the likeness of frontman, Papa Emeritus. The eerie Marsten House of the mini-series was also substituted by a church reminiscent of Sweden's Uppsala Cathedral.


The artwork for their sophomore full-length recording was unashamedly based on the iconic promotional poster for the 1984, Oscar-winning film, Amadeus. However, the image is not a vile rip-off. It incorporates dramatically contrasting bright colors, Vatican City's St. Peter's Square, Papa Emeritus II and the figure of a baby that morbidly suggests the presence of evil.

Ghost B.C. commissioned Polish artist, Zbigniew Bielak for the creation of this artwork and inner illustrations. He confirms that indeed, "the band came up with the idea of using Amadeus poster as main reference for the cover." Outstanding re-imagining, indeed.

If You Have Ghost (EP)

Ghost used the talents of renewed illustrator M. Frisk for the creation of this particular art. He admits that the image is directly based on an iconic still taken from the highly influential 1922 silent horror film "Nosferatu." On Frisk's rendition, Papa Emeritus II substitutes the iconic vampire while he is standing on a ship.

"Ghost had a clear concept and a plan for everything so this was also their idea," Frisk recalls. "The images from Nosferatu are iconic and therefore great to use as a reference. The commission was quite clear from the beginning; my job was to make their idea work."

The EP's back sleeve also features another image featuring the silhouette mythical vampire. Frisk admits that "that was my idea to put the shadow in there to make the back of the EP a bit more interesting."

To find out more about everything happening visually-wise in the world of Metal, check out the official And Justice For Art Community.

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 3 - Marduk

Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth installment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.

Sweden is perhaps best known in the extreme music world for their contribution to death metal, having been the birthplace of such bands as In Flames, Entombed, At The Gates and Katatonia, but they have also made a good contribution to black metal, perhaps most notably thanks to Bathory, one of the earliest influences on the genre. However, one of the more controversial names in the field (which is saying something when talking black metal, believe me) would be a band from the city of Norrköping which go by the name of Marduk.

Marduk was formed by guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, with the intention of creating the most blasphemous and offensive band in the world. They began by fusing death metal with black to create a very extreme sound. They unleashed their sound in 1991 with the release of the demo, "Fuck Me Jesus," before releasing their first full length album, "Dark Endless" the next year. It was well received and the band took to the road to perform across Sweden, expanding their fan base along the way. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: God Bless Chris Holmes

This week we have videos from Killit and Lucifer Rise, but what really matters is that we have another video from Chris Holmes. If you are having a bad day, watching this video may just be the cure. More...

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Thrashback Thursday: Destroyer Of Worlds

Welcome to the first edition of a brand new column entitled, Thrashback Thursday! The purpose of this new feature is to find a metal song (and not necessarily thrash, before anyone starts screaming and pointing fingers) that the writer hasn't heard for a while, felt has been overlooked or simply just likes. So let's get things started with British thrash metal legends, Onslaught!

In early 2007, Onslaught, perhaps the favourite name of British thrash metal, finally released their long awaited comeback album, "Killing Peace." It was a big thing for fans as it was their first album in eighteen years, one which proved waiting for thanks to songs like "Burn" and the title track, though the song which stood out to me personally was, "Destroyer of Worlds." I had seen (and indeed, heard) Onslaught for the first time a year before when they were supporting Venom in London and "Destroyer of Worlds" was the only new song they played to the crowd, which went over a treat.

It’s easy to see why. It has a fantastically dark intro and builds up to a sneering and aggressive verse, showcasing the unique vocal style of Sy Keeler perfectly. From there it works its way to an anthem like pre-chourus, before exploding into a rapid fire storm of verbal bullets. A chourus so quick is rarely so catchy and it really does stick with the listener for a long time. It’s an excellent example of a thrash band proving their place in the modern metal world and one which helped make, "Killing Peace" such a triumph of metal. More...

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Pit Stories: Hardcore Dancers V.S. Carnivora

There's a million tales from the metal mosh pit, and we're going to find them all! Each Tuesday we check in with metal musicians from across the globe to get their most memorable Pit Story.

Today guitarist Cody Michaud from Massachusetts outfit Carnivora shares this tale of hardcore dancers who just don't like to be touched:

The first story that comes to mind when I think of crazy shit going down at a show happened about 4 years back in Manchester, NH. It was at a place called Rocko’s, which was a notorious venue for hardcore / post-hardcore / breakdown-core / running-in-place-core / etc. at the time. My band was booked to play on this particular night, and seeing as it was one of our first shows we didn’t mind playing a hardcore bill as the lone metal band. The young, stubborn metal enthusiasts that we were didn’t comprehend the concept ninja dancing and two stepping in the pit. We were dead set on starting circle pits.

For those of you who have experienced modern hardcore dancers, you’ll know that they typically prefer to avoid all physical contact with each other. The technique, as I understand it, is to spin-kick and windmill-punch in a way that freaks out everybody nearby, then get pissed when anybody touches you. I don’t know, man. Anyway… we played our set to a room of uninterested hardcore fans. I can’t really blame them, we were asking for it. A bit after we played, one of these kids finally had enough of our ball-busting when he got bumped into by our bassist, Cam.

The dude immediately turned around and hit Cam in the face. At this point, things quickly escalated into a fight with every hardcore kid in the room against my band and crew. I like to imagine it looked like one of those cartoon brawls with the cloud of dust and limbs flying in every direction. Our merch guy broke up the mess before it got worse and we decided to pack up and leave. At the time, our intention was to be “defenders of the faith” by repping metal moshing practices. Like I said, we were young and aggressive metal kids. We didn’t know any better.

You can find more info on the band and upcoming live shows by heading over to the Carnivora Facebook profile here. Be sure to also let us know your favorite mosh pit story about hardcore dancing below!

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 2 - Sigh

Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth instalment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.

When it comes to black metal, the first place that immediately springs to mind is Norway, despite the genre being pioneered by groups from England, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark. It would be appear that Mayhem guitarist and black metal figurehead, Øystein Aarseth, better known perhaps as Euronymous, was well aware that the genre wasn’t restricted to his home country, as evidenced by his offers to bands all over the world to join his Deathlike Silence label. One of this groups hailed from the other side of the world, in a country one might not associate with the frostbitten scene, Japan. Their name is, Sigh.

Sigh began life in 1989, forming in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo. They released two demo tapes, "Desolation" and "Tragedies" the following year, featuring the lineup of Mirai Kawashima on vocals and keyboards, drummer Kazuki Ozeki and multi instrumentalist, Satoshi Fujinami on guitar. The demos aren’t considered their best work and suffered from very poor production, but nevertheless attracted enough interest for Wild Rags Records to offer them an outlet for an EP release, which came in 1992 under the title, "Requiem for Fools," around the time that they had hired guitarist, Shinichi Ishikawa, a move which saw Fujinami moving to the drum stool. More...

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Pit Stories: Don't Judge A Book By The Cover

Our quest never ends to find the best mosh pit stories from ever corner of metaldom, from the most brutal wall of death to the most insane stage antics and everything in between.

This week Subversion vocalist Jay Shields shares the following tale warning metal fans not to judge a book by its cover (and not to be an ass to the performing bands):

I was playing an underground all-dayer in my old band Hollow Immunity, and this really drunk guy in the crowd was heckling all the bands. He didn't look like he was even into metal, just some local piss head who'd wondered in off the street.

As the day progressed, the venue filled up and by the time we took to the stage there were quite a few people in the pit area and Mr. Pisshead was right there with them. By now he was pretty steamed and giving out random abuse to those around him.

When we kicked into our first track the crowd went pretty crazy in the pit… into which he got sucked. Soon enough he was on his arse and looking very dazed and confused. I thought “here we go, he'll disappear now and give everyone a break,” but actually he looked like he was enjoying himself. He stayed in the pit for the rest of the set and even came up to us afterwards to say how much he enjoyed the show.

Turns out he didn't look metal, Adidas trackies and all, but he was a Polish metal head and really dug what we were doing. Goes to show, you should never judge a book by its cover, even if he needed a bit of an attitude adjustment.

What's the most outlandish heckling you've ever seen from someone in the audience? Share your story below!

Subverion's upcoming new album "Animi" is due out March 3rd via Rogue Records America, and you can also see a lyric video for the track "Imperfect" here: More...

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Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 1 - Bulldozer

Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth instalment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.

We’re kicking off this year’s Black Metal History Month with a band which was a massive influence on the genre, but perhaps don’t always get the credit and respect they deserve. They certainly don’t get mentioned in the same breath as Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate too often by entry level self-proclaimed experts very much. It also marks the first time Sunday Old School has looked at an Italian band, and who better to represent the beautiful country than one of the heaviest bands of their time, Bulldozer? More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Kix is For Kids

A couple of throwback bands and another Swedish group bring their videos to the ramblings this week. More...

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Pit Stories: The Sacrificial Dagger

Every Tuesday we have musicians from across the rock and metal spectrum share their most memorable mosh pit stories, covering everything from frisky show goers to ill-timed stage dives.

In nearly all circumstances a knife in the pit is a very, very bad idea (just ask Cattle Decapitation!), but in today's story from The Black Lantern, a knife ends up being a sacrifice to the altar of rock:

We grew up playing in bands and going to shows where the unspoken rule was something along the lines of, "if there isn't a pit, then the show ain't shit." The kind of shows where people looked at the resultant knee surgery they had to get as a badge of honor. As a performer, it's the ultimate thrill to see a pit stoke up, and as a concert goer, it feels good knowing that chaos is still a part of rock and roll.

While the Deafheaven and Refused shows we have attended had pits that were beyond our reach, in late 2012 ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead got us involved, whether we liked it or not. They are a huge influence on our band for the very fact that they embody a form of chaotic glory that is often lost in today's music world. When we saw them at the Echoplex, Jason Reece sung songs while participating in the pit himself. Andy stood at the back of the pit and held it in, while Jesse was closer to the stage with his back to it.

We kept each other in sight, occasionally giving the, 'this-is-fuckin-awesome-but-maybe-someone-will-die' glance. Then Andy noticed Jesse was out of sight. Some revelers perfectly executed the "sweep the leg" maneuver simply by falling into Jesse. When he got up, he and another guy were looking right at each other, and then at the knife in the other guy's hand. They both exchanged expressions that equally said "is this yours...what the hell do we do with this?" Coming to no reasonable answer, they decided to place it on the stage, as if it was a sacrifice placed on the Altar of Rock.

While no attention was paid to the knife thereafter, it seemed the sacrifice worked. For the encore Trail of Dead played "Richter Scale Madness," the first song from their first album (and the blueprint for all that they would do). The crowd responded to such greatness by flooding the stage. Reece had drumming duties, but was still returning to the stage from the pit. So a fan sat down and joined in. With at least 50 people on stage, it was impossible to see the transition from fan to Jason, and it was all of a sudden even more crazy on stage than the pit itself. The line between chaos and control was perfectly blurred, and the band guided us through blazingly.

The Black Lantern's "We Know The Future" album is out now and can be picked up at Bandcamp here or streamed in the player below. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cro-Mags

There are some scenes that stay local, some which are struggling and then there those which become legendary. One such example is the Bay Area thrash metal scene, which gave the world such bands as Exodus, Testament and Metallica, but on the other side of the country was something just as important which would shape the thrash metal scene there. A movement which has been the subject of documentaries and books, the New York Hardcore scene. Many of the best bands in the genre came from this, including Agnostic Front and later, Sick Of It All, but there was one band that were legends in their own time as well as today, who went by the name of Cro-Mags.

The group began life in 1981 in New York City, the brain child of bass player, Harley Flanagan, who was only fourteen at the time but was intent on making himself known in the local punk scene, as well as hitchhiking his way to California to check out the punk scene there. The band went through a number of musicians and at one point, were seriously considering approaching Beastie Boys member, Adam Yauch to join. They also didn't have a singer until 1984, when fifteen year old Eric Casanova was brought into the fold. Though he only performed two shows with the group, he contributed to the writing of such songs as, "Life of my Own" and "Hard Times." He was eventually replaced by John Joseph, also knows as John Bloodclot, who had worked with Flanagan before in Mode of Ignorance. Joseph was the perfect fit for the band and his lyrics helped them evolve into the image we know today, helping to craft more songs and complete a solid live set. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Lies Lies Lies

This week girl fights, insanity and the end of Motley Crue (sort of). Given the band’s Vegas connections there should really be a line on how long before the band gets back together (after their “final” show) with their WE ARE LIARS TOUR! More...

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Pit Stories: Filling In For Decrepit Birth

Tuesday's here again, which means its time for another round of pit mayhem straight from the metal underground.

For this week's tale of pit glory, Patrick Morris (Dissident Clone, ex-Demonicon) shares this tale of getting a last minute gig with a big name band:

My former band Demonicon opened for Hate Eternal and Black Dahlia Murder at Station4 in St. Paul, MN in 2008 with two days notice. Three Inches of Blood and Decrepit Birth had just dropped off the tour, so the promoter added us. We hadn't practiced in a few weeks because our drummer wasn't enjoying the band. To our surprise, he agreed to do the show. We were on stage just about to start playing, and my singer handed me a red Solo cup with a generous shot of Jaegermeister in it. I looked at him quizzically - and with his cup in hand, he pointed to the Black Dahlia guys on the side of the stage, who were holding the bottle and giving us the horns. I slammed into the shot and tore into the first song - we were kicking ass!

During the second song, a guy set off the whole crowd with a stage dive. From that moment to the end of the set, there was perpetual stage diving and a sick circle pit. Playing on stage and having people reacting that way to my band totally validated all the bull shit I had gone through in my life to play music. After we got done, there was one dude with a bloody nose and another guy with a broken clavicle. To my surprise, both were in good spirits and talking to me about how much fun they had. Looking back... I’m pretty sure people thought we were Decrepit Birth.

For our musician regulars - be sure let us know the best last minute show you've played and what it means to you to see the fans throwing down in the pit during your set. More...

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