"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Archive: Columns

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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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The Rockstar Ramblings: Celebrating Excess

This week we are celebrating new videos that encompass excess. Drugs, girls, and lots of drinking are a good start for a celebration. The addition of leather, sex, and MURDER makes this a party. More...

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Sunday Old School: UFO

Some bands at the beginning of metal have gone on to become icons which in the eyes of fans can do no wrong, regardless of what they release. Others also contributed heavily to the development of metal, but despite being rightly regarded as legends, sometimes escape the attention of many fans. If ever there was a group that deserved more recognition, it would British hard rockers, UFO. UFO was formed in London in 1969 by vocalist Phil Mogg, bassist Pete Way, guitar player Mick Bolton and drummer Andy Parker, initially under the moniker, Hocus Pocus, though they soon changed their name to UFO in honour of a local club where they were discovered by Beacon Records. Their first album, "UFO1," was released one year after they changed their name, in October 1970 and met with varying success, garnering mixed reviews but spawned some hits overseas, most notably the song, "Boogie" (also known as "Boogie for George," which became a hit in Germany, and their cover of the Eddie Cochran classic, "C’mon Everybody," which became a massive success in Japan, where the album was also well received commercially, as was their second release, "UFO2: Flying," which received more positive reviews and featured the near twenty minute epic, "Star Storm."

After the (initially Japan only) release of their first live album, "Live," (later re-titled, "UFO Lands In Tokyo,") the band parted company with Mick Bolton and searched for a more traditional rock guitarist to replace him. They initially hired Larry Wallis, who lasted one European tour before leaving and eventually becoming the first guitarist for Motorhead, before embarking on another tour with Bernie Marsden, who would also leave soon afterwards and go on to become a founding member of Whitesnake. Their search came to an end in the summer of 1973 when they recruited 18 year old German guitarist, Michael Schenker, who was then still a member of the Scorpions. With their new guitarist in tow, the band recorded their third studio album, "Phenomenon," which showcased their harder sound and remains one of their most beloved albums amongst fans today. It featured some of their best known work, such as "Rock Bottom" and the hard rock classic, "Doctor Doctor." The record attracted many new fans in the United States and their native, Britain, both of which were expanded upon after the release of their next album, "Force It" in 1975 and the 1976 record, "No Heavy Petting," which marked their first release as a five piece, following the addition of keyboardist, Danny Peyronel, who was soon replaced by Paul Raymond. More...

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Pit Stories: The Masked Midget

Every Tuesday we check in with metal musicians to get their favorite mosh pit stories from live shows. Today drummer Stephen Carr from Exotic Animal Petting Zoo shares the following story of a masked midget commanding the pit:

This pit story takes place in El Centro, CA and I think the venue was called the Print Shop. A little person at about 4' 3" was the king of the pit ordering every single person at the show to to circle pits and wall of deaths. Kids obeyed him firmly and he never revealed his face or identity the entire show. It was pretty freakish and awesome at the same time. Proof of his existence can be seen in our video below at 0:20 - 0:25.

Exotic Animal Petting Zoo will be hitting the road with Polkadot Cadaver in June, with dates for the North American trek available right here.

Let us know about your favorite mosh pit in the comments below, and check back in again next week for more Pit Stories.

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Unearthing The Avant-Garde Metal Underground

The number of metal bands out there has exploded in the last few years, and finding acts that meet your tastes can be quite a challenge, especially if you prefer your heavy music underground instead of well known. To help keep up with the ever shifting sea of metal, each Monday we unearth three lesser known bands all grouped by style or location.

We’ve looked at underground experimental bands before, but today we’ll cover three groups on the far fringe of the avant-garde scene. These three metallic offerings are for fans of the most bizarre reaches of music, combining elements that typically never come within miles of each other.

Age of Silence

Norway’s Age of Silence unfortunately only released a single full-length album back in 2004, titled “Acceleration,” and followed that with an EP the next year. True to its name, the band has been mostly silent since then, only popping up in 2010 to announce work was underway on another album, but nothing has come of it yet.

Age of Silence starts with a distinctly Scandinavian metal sound, but goes primarily for clean vocals, lacing in a variety of odd keyboard sound effects that take the music in a different direction than normal.

While there may or may not ever be new Age of Silence material, band member Andy Winter recently released his own solo album, offering more proggy Norwegian metal for fans who can’t get enough.

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Sunday Old School: Melvins

Thriftway is a small grocery store chain here in Washington, one I stop at a couple of times a week for laundry soap or soda. Whenever I'm in the store I can't help but remember that this is where the Melvins got its start. Back in the early eighties, three teens from Montesano High School worked at a Thriftway store over in Greys Harbor County, WA. They despised their shift supervisor, whose name was Melvin. They even named their garage band after him, cranking out the slowest and most wretched riffs to ever hit the alternative rock/early indie metal scene. More...

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Unearthing The Los Angeles Death Metal Scene

Every week we take a look at 3 unsigned bands that stand out from the crowd in our Unearthing the Metal Underground column. This week we take a look at the Los Angeles, California death metal scene.

Having recently moved to Los Angeles from New York, I was very impressed with the scene here. Promoters treating bands with respect and aggressively promoting their shows, grass roots marketing, bands helping each other out, everyone staying to hear every band at every show, and of course tons of talent. Of all the shocks I saw, it was the blending of scenes. There are shows with all genres of metal from brutal death, metalcore, thrash, traditional, and even some hard rock/metal cross over bands. The crowds love them all. The music is heavy and the bands are talented, what more do you need?

Today I am going to focus on three of the death metal bands I've come across from the Whittier area of Los Angeles: Syrebris, Insentient, and Infinite Death. More...

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Sunday Old School: Forbidden

Of all the metal scenes across the world, the eighties thrash metal scene in California is probably of the most well known, having produced such big names as Metallica and Megadeth. It’s been some time since we examined a band from the scene, so this week, Sunday Old School will be taking a look at Forbidden, one of the heaviest and most daring bands from the Bay Area. Forbidden was formed in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1985, originally under the moniker Forbidden Evil, by guitarist Rob Flynn and drummer Jim Pittman, who quickly joined forces with vocalist Russ Anderson, bassist John Tegio and another guitarist, Craig Loicicero. The quintet made a live record entitled, "Live at Ruthies Inn – The Eastern Front" before Tegio, Pittman and Flynn all left the band, (the last of whom would join Vio-Lence before going on to form Machine Head,) and their places were taken by Matt Camacho, Paul Bostaph and Glen Avelais respectively.

This new incarnation of the band decided to shorten their name to Forbidden, as they were afraid that the name Forbidden Evil would stereotype them as a black metal outfit. They soon signed to Combat Records, home of such other thrash contemporaries as Heathen and Nuclear Assault and in 1988, they released their first full length album, "Forbidden Evil." The record was a hit with critics and thrash metal fans alike and has since gone on to be considered one of the true classics in the genre and featured a number of songs that have become live staples such as "Chalice of Blood" and "Through Eyes of Glass," as well as the title track. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Tribute Edition

This week a tribute to Guns N’ Roses, eighties hair, and David Lee Roth’s version of California; a few guitars are mixed in as well. More...

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