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

Archive: Columns

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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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Pit Stories: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Every week we check in with fans and musicians to get their favorite Pit Stories. Today guitarist Ed Hartwell from Heart In Hand tells the following story about courteous moshers lending a helping hand...and wishing they hadn't:

This was not at a metal or hardcore show, but I think that makes it even funnier. A couple of years ago I went to see The Foo Fighters at the Milton Keynes Bowl and during one of their "mosh pits" (I use the term as loosely as possible) it became apparent that a pretty fat guy had fallen and was in a lot of pain. I think he had broken or sprained his foot from teeny bopping or something.

The crowd around him adopted the 'all for one and one for all' safety mentality which is usually the case at shows and helped lift him up to the barrier. It took a lot of force cos of his size. At this point a few people had noticed that he'd shit himself and it was coming out his shorts.

Of course they immediately tried to get away, but of course couldn't due to the sheer density of the crowd. It was too late and their heroic good samaritan deeds were rewarded by being horribly traumatized, as a big shitty guy tumbled over their heads. I was about 3 metres from the incident so luckily had a good enough view without getting any fecal matter on me whilst I enjoyed "Monkey Wrench."

Heart in Hand's second album "Almost There" is due out May 13th via Siege Of Amida Records. The band will be touring the U.K. and Europe over the summer and making various festival appearances. For more info on the band, head over to the Heart In Hand Facebook profile. More...

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Unearthing The Maltese Metal Underground

Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week, I take on the small, but strong Maltese metal scene.

When one thinks Malta, the first thought that comes to mind is a gorgeous tourist destination rich in Greek, Roman and Arabic culture situated between Italy and North Africa. The Maltese metal scene is a much smaller than other island nations like Cyprus, but it is a strong and hard working underground scene. Though bands are not denied the right to play music they want in this free nation, metal in Malta is typically shunned by the typically close minded culture of the nation and the sheer lack of venues that would have them. Some Maltese bands have been welcomed abroad to mainland Europe and the U.K., though the costs for many are too high. However, the country does have its own metal festivals: the Extreme Maltese Metal and Xtreme Metal Assault festivals held in the summer as well as the “M.D.M.” (Malta Doom Metal) held in November in the city of Rabat.

Some Maltese acts have either made it beyond the Mediterranean to tour Europe and the UK, or at the very least been heard worldwide, but still remain largely underground. Today, we will look at three of those acts: Forsaken, Loathe and Weeping Silence. More...

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Sunday Old School: White Lion

It may be a stretch to call an eighties hair band that sold millions of records underrated, but look closely: White Lion fits the profile. Despite going all-in with a glam look and cheese-filled videos, there was actual music being played. Listen to the guitars and drums, and for heaven’s sake, don’t look directly into their eyes! More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: An Ode to New York City

This week a blast; a blast back to the punk Lower East Side neighborhood of New York via Sweden, an AC/DC inspired rocker, and an anti-cure for depression. More...

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Sunday Old School: D.R.I.

Crossover thrash is an interesting genre, one whose stalwarts stories often begin with them forming as a hardcore outfit and bringing in metal influences as time went by and this week's featured band, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles are no exception. Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (or D.R.I. as they commonly known,) were formed in the Texas city of Houston on the 2nd of May 1982 by vocalist Kurt Brecht, his brother Eric on drums, bass player Dennis Johnson and guitarist, Spike Cassidy, who was the only one of the founding D.R.I. members not to have been a part of the hardcore band, Suburbanites. They performed their first gig exactly two months after forming and four months later, made their first record, the "Dirty Rotten EP," which featured twenty two songs but lasted only eighteen minutes. The EP was very well received and demand for the 7" led the band to re-releasing the effort as a 12" record, under the title, "Dirty Rotten LP." In order to advance in the emerging hardcore punk scene, the group relocated to San Francisco, California, where they reportedly faced many hardships, living in their van and resorting to eating at soup kitchens. The hard living was too much for Johnson, and he decided to return home to Texas, his place being taken by Sebastion Amok before the band secured a fairly high profile slot on the "Rock Against Reagan" tour, supporting the Dead Kennedys. Amok was sacked after the tour and replaced by Josh Pappe.

Pappe made his recording debut with the band on their next EP, "Violent Pacification," which featured four songs and once again earned a positive reception. After touring in support of the record, Eric Brecht decided to leave the band, owing in part to his recent marriage and his place behind the kit was taken by Felix Griffin. The next year, the band recorded and released their second full length record, "Dealing With It," which featured a sound moving noticeably closer to metal, though it was essentially still a hardcore album. It included the song, "Couch Slouch," which had previously featured on the “Violent Pacification” EP, as well as the opening tracks, "Snap" and "I'd Rather Be Sleeping," which would be covered by New York thrash legends, Anthrax the next decade. They were once again forced into finding a new bassist when Pappe decided to leave the band following extensive touring, with Offenders bass player, Mikey Offender chosen as his replacement. In recognition of the heavy touring the band had undertaken, they released their first home video, "Live at the Olympic" in 1986, which was filmed in Los Angeles. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Guns N' Roses 3D

Guns N' Roses have released a trailer for their upcoming 3D concert movie titled "Appetite For Democracy." The concert was shot during the bands Appetite For Democracy residency at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas last year. Per the trailer, Guns N' Roses turned "Sin City" into "Paradise City." For those who just cringed, here are a few other thoughts on the movie trailer... More...

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Pit Stories: Helloween Hanky Panky

The pit: a convergence of metal heads and outlet for built-up aggression. Everybody’s got a pit story, and each week we share the favorites from metal musicians covering the entire spectrum of the underground and the mainstream.

A few weeks back vocalist Eric Dow of Helsott shared a story about Pantera stopping a show due to a lack of pit mayhem, and today Eric again gives a tale of pit shenanigans, but this time of a very different variety.

The following story comes from an interview at the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise with our own writer CROMCarl, in which Eric discusses love birds getting swept away by the sexy tunes of Helloween.

Eric: I was in the pit and they weren’t doing very much moshing or anything, but they were dancing around, having a good time. It was a pretty good crowd. All the sudden, I hear ‘Uh [in a female voice], Uh [in a male voice]’ and I turn around and some dude is fucking this chick right behind me….in the pit! I’m like what the fuck!

CROMCarl: Who was on stage at the time?

Eric: Uh, Helloween.

CROMCarl: Remember what they were playing?

Eric: Uhhhhhh… No [laughs all around]. Ugh…if I can try to remem…no. The fucking thing really fucking threw me off. No, no, no….I remember! “If I Could Fly!” Andy Deris fucked it up, I remember that. He fucked it up…I got these guys fucking behind me…Andy Deris fucked it up and he just rolled his eyes on stage like “I can’t believe I fucked up our most simple song.” That was great.

They were in the back of the pit. It’s a smaller venue and I know there was probably at least five or six people having the same “what the fuck” reaction. I’ve never seen that before…I’ve seen sex at concerts in plenty of places, but right there in a small venue in the mosh pit. You know…the lights all hitting them and shit..and nobody…the security guards were maybe twenty feet from them…didn’t do anything. I was like “alright, this is fucking Santa Ana, California.”

You can catch Helsott live on the remaining dates of the Paganfest tour this month, or find more info on the band via Facebook. Be sure to check back in again next week for more Pit Stories!

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Unearthing The Greek Metal Underground

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column examining three metal bands from Turkey, the country which bridges Europe and Asia, and a conversation was struck wherein I mentioned the idea of checking out some of the underground metal music that Turkey’s neighbours, Greece have to offer. Greece is certainly one of the most fascinating countries in Europe, if not the world, owing to its ancient history, philosophers, contributions to science, maths and politics and mythology, and it’s a place that enjoys heavy metal music too. Some of the more significant Greek metal bands around today include Rotting Christ, Firewind and SepticFlesh, but this week we will uncover three bands which aren’t as well known.

Suicidal Angels

Of all the bands featured this week, Suicidal Angels are probably the most well known, having worked extremely hard over the past few years to spread their brand of thrash metal. The group was formed in the Greek capital city of Athens in 2001 by singing guitarist, Nick Melissourgos and eventually recorded their first full length album, "Eternal Domination" in 2007, which was released in July of that year. The record did well enough to gain them a place supporting such thrash legends as Overkill, Kreator and Onslaught. The release of their second album, "Sanctify the Darkness" further solidified their place as one of the best young thrash metal acts around, and led them to more appearances with high profile artists, as well as slots at such festivals as Sonisphere and Wacken Open Air. The band has since released two more full length records, the most recent of which, "Bloodbath," hit the shelves last year.

Suicidal Angels - "Apokathilosis"
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Sunday Old School: Jag Panzer

While the cities in New York, Florida and the Bay Area drove the early power/thrash independent music scene in the early eighties, another legendary U.S. band came to prominence far up in the Rocky Mountains. A group of musicians who knew each other since the second grade started their own band in homage to the European scene, calling themselves Tyrant before learning of the L.A. and German bands of the same name. More...

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The Rockstar Ramblings: Porn Surfing and Beer

This week we have videos set in a church, a barn, and Oktoberfest. Pour yourself a tall boy, lock your doors, and prepare for a spiritual journey. More...

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Pit Stories: Failed Festival Backflip

Every week Metalunderground.com checks in with musicians and fans to get their most memorable Pit Stories. Today, drummer Will Green from Ohio act Set to Reflect shares the following story about an unfortunate fan failing to pull of a back flip during a Burden of a Day set at the Cornerstone festival:

July 2nd, 2009. It was the most humid 105 degree Illinois day I'd ever lived through, and being smashed together between the 20,000 people at Cornerstone festival was not helping the already over-heated situation. I noticed one extremely lanky, yet absurd kid as I stood on the edge of the pit and watched everyone throw down to Burden of a Day. He was pulling out all the moves. Picking up the change, Windmills, spin kicks... you name it, he was performing it. The band's fantastic live presence only escalated the energy in the pit, and by midway through the show, he was acting more insane than anyone I've seen to this day. That was when it happened...

The next thing I know, the kid is jumping near the edge of the stage and doing a back-flip off... at least, half of a back-flip. As he landed awkwardly, you could see the bone pop out of his leg. His shin acted as if it were a third knee, and the look of shock on his face said it all. It was apparent that no one there had ever seen anything so gruesome in real life, as it took a full minute for anyone to come to his aid due to the immediate surprise of what had just occurred.

Once we were done lifting him and helping him to the outskirts of the tent, the paramedics arrived and carted him off. The image, however, is forever burned into my memory.

Set to Reflect's latest EP "A New Path To Walk On" is out now through Standby Records. For more info on the band, head over to the Set to Reflect Facebook profile here.

Check back in next Tuesday for more mosh pit stories, and let us know your favorite story from a live show in the comments below.

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