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

Archive: Features

No One At The Helm

The fog descends quickly on the Cal-Sag, and the barges loom as ghosts.

It’s not supposed to happen this way. The sixteen-mile Calumet-Saganashkee Channel, an industrial canal providing one of several links between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River system, is a narrow thread of murky water snaking through Chicago’s Southside, and when dusk falls and the fog comes creeping, might as well be a smoke-filled gun barrel.

The tugboats are supposed to pull their monstrous loads to the side, lash up, and wait the conditions out. For the Cal-Sag is also a public waterway, and in the summertime, a popular lane for pleasure craft.

The barges are not lit. They move with utter stealth, as brooding, pacing, unstoppable giants. When fully loaded, they sit low enough in the water to reveal the running lights of the erstwhile tug at the rear of the convoy. When empty, the whole outfit is virtually invisible.

An advancing black wall, blended into the night.

Just before 11:00 PM on Friday, June 20, 2014, witnesses near the Worth boat launch heard screams piercing the thick soupy blanket of mist, followed by an awful crunch. Then silence.

The Coast Guard watch in Milwaukee soon received a call from a tug, UTV BILL ARNOLD, reporting a collision. Search and rescue crews were dispatched via boat and helicopter. The chopper proved effectively useless against the lingering fog.

An overturned and horribly mangled 19-foot inboard was eventually discovered. It had been nearing the launch when it collided with one of the BILL ARNOLD’s six empty barges.

Dive teams from the nearby Palos Hills and Lockport Fire Departments, using side-scan sonar, began searching for its missing occupants. The Palos Hills and Worth Police Departments assisted from shore. The two departments quickly linked the wrecked vessel’s identification to that of an unclaimed vehicle in the launch lot. Two other vehicles remained nearby.

Chicago resident and heavy metal musician Rob Rizza approached the launch with trepidation.

He’d been at a nearby bar, having passed on the opportunity to join a close friend for an evening on the water. Now, facing a solemn garrison of police barriers and flashing lights, cordoning off a mission fast shifting from rescue to grim recovery, he knew.

Because of the fog.

Two bodies were recovered from the Cal-Sag the next afternoon. A woman in her late thirties and a man in his early thirties. No life jackets. Drowned, with multiple blunt-force traumatic injuries. Likely they had been passengers.

The boat’s owner, whose vehicle still waited in the launch lot, remained unaccounted for.

More...

Read more...  |  3 Comments - Discuss

Heavy Metal Black Friday Deals Revealed

Third Update: new sales have been added below from Comatose Music and Deathwish Music.

Second Update: added new sales from Indie Merch, Sevared Records, Relapse Records, and The Omega Order.

Update: deals have now been added from Metal Blade, Give Praise, and Razorback Records.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a point of much contention among the metal community (with its overall disdain for consumerism, commercial whoring, and conformity) - so much so that every year Daniel Vrangsinn's (Carpathian Forest) label Misantrof even releases the "Holy Fucking ANTIChristmas" compilation in December.

Despite that, many of the underground labels do offer sales and discounts the week of Thanksgiving, so if you're looking to get some quality metal, hardcore, or rock releases on a budget, this is the time to do it - and most of it is online or digital in nature, so as a bonus, you don't have to get stomped to death by a horde of deal hunters at 5 AM!

More links will be added throughout the week as labels and distros announce their various sales, so check back in often.

If actually buying music in physical format (and especially on vinyl) is more your thing than ordering online, then RECORD STORE DAY has compiled a handy list just for you of limited run, exclusive, or Black Friday-first releases only available in stores. Peruse the full list over here.

For the digital music junkies, AMAZON.COM has dozens of $5 digital hard rock and metal albums from bands like Arch Enemy, In This Moment, White Zombie, Lamb Of God, Chimaira, and many more. The deals run through the full month of November. More...

Read more...  |  2 Comments - Discuss

Celebrating Women In Metal

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, it seems only appropriate and empowering to take a moment to focus on the fierce and powerful women in metal that inspire us every day.

Whether they are rocking it out in a corset or not, their presence on the stage is always captivating. Sometimes they are blowing our minds with their vocal escapades, or dominating their instruments as skillfully as any man, but continuously these women are pioneers in a genre that has traditionally been predominantly men.

Back in the ‘60s during the classic rock days, artists such as Janis Joplin and Grace Slick paved the way for the Valkyries of our modern day music. Later, women such as Pat Benetar and Joan Jett would take the baton and run hard with it!

Nowadays women in metal have provided valuable insights into reshaping aspects of the genre and fusing them with their unique ideas and talents. It’s not possible for a man to hit the airy lyric soprano range that often we are graced with in bands like Nightwish or Leaves Eyes without going into falsetto. Other women have used their hands to virtuosity, and left us in awe with their keyboards, strings, basses or drums.

International Women’s day is about celebrating the strides women have made whether economic, socially, or political. But let us not forget the massive accomplishments we’ve made towards metal music, and how we made our mark on a genre that shows that men and women truly can work towards something better.

We at Metalunderground.com are well aware of the sirens of the scene, and all the triumphs they have contributed that have made Metal the diverse genre it is. More...

Read more...  |  18 Comments - Discuss

Remembering Tom Himself: 1981 - 2013

I've been a writer for Metalunderground.com for almost six years, (I joined on June 25th 2007, for those who care to know,) and in that time I’ve written over eight thousand articles, including memorials and tributes to Ronnie James Dio, Phil Lynott, Gary Moore, Jeff Hanneman and Chuck Schuldiner, but this piece is unquestionably the hardest I’ve ever had to write, as I, and a number of others, will be paying tribute to not only a lover of metal music and a MetalUnderground.com reader, member and devotee, but also a friend named, Tom Humber, who posted on MetalUnderground.com under the moniker, "TomHimself," a handle he regularly used. It might have seemed like an arrogant name to use, but there really was nobody else like Tom.

Despite the fact that we live in the same town, I was introduced to Tom through this website. He hosted a rock and metal show on Swindon105.5, during which he would bring his listeners the latest news in metal. It turned out he’d been getting his news from MetalUnderground.com and as soon as he found out that the only English writer for the website lived in the same town as him, he excitedly invited me on the show. As soon as I met him, I liked him. He was a big man with a bigger smile and was so welcoming and eager to talk about metal, what had been going on in metal recently and what metal CDs I’d brought with me (Motorhead’s, "Inferno," Celtic Frost's, "Monotheist" and a third, which I can’t remember right now.) He opened the show with “Deliverance” by the British goth rock band, The Mission U.K. and I instantly loved the song. After I asked him what it was called, he coolly but happily informed me before telling me to stick around after the hour was up. As soon as he wrapped up the first hour, he burned the entire show we’d done on to a CD for me, just so I could have a copy of "Deliverance." Name me one other DJ that would do that!

We had a great time together on the show, playing all kinds of rock music and discussing the week’s events, along with the forthcoming FIFA World Cup, whereby he informed me that he didn’t like the same football as me, he liked American football. Correction: He LOVED American football! While it’s a sport I’ve never had much interest in, every time I mentioned it he’d be there to talk about it, encourage me to watch more and cheer on his beloved Vikings. Tweeting each other during this year’s Super Bowl half time show was particularly fun. In November 2011 he parted ways with Swindon105.5 though his radio career continued through his contributions to Dark Asylum Radio. It was a job that he and his frankly awesome voice were simply made for. The man was like Tommy Vance, he just sounded so cool. When he spoke, people listened and usually, they’d laugh when he finished. I could go on about Tom but ultimately the things I’ll remember most about him was that he was one of the most genuine people you could meet. He didn’t accept charity, he had an infectious enthusiasm, a passion for music rarely seen and was honestly one of the nicest men around. The Metalunderground.com community, my town and indeed, the world, has lost a true gentleman. Tom Himself is simply too big of a personality to forget. More...

Read more...  |  34 Comments - Discuss

Heavy Metal Black Friday 2012 Deals Revealed

As Thanksgiving approaches many record labels, bands, and music retailers are already starting up their Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. Below we have listed those that are available now, and this article will be updated throughout the week as more sales come in, so check back often!

In honor of cyber Monday (but actually available now), PROSTHETIC RECORDS is offering a variety of t-shirts and albums for $5 - $10 from the likes of Beneath the Massacre, All That Remains, Batillus and more. Check out the full list of titles right here. Starting on Friday, November 23rd the Prosthetic Records webstore will also be offering 10% off everything with the code "BF2012."

ROXX RECORDS has an "unblack" sale starting on Thursday with a variety of albums for $4 using code "UNBLACK2013" at the Roxx Productions website here.

Music from Flyleaf, KISS, and various other rock acts will be on sale for $7.99 via THE BLACK FRIDAY FRENZY starting November 23rd.

FACEDOWN RECORDS has already started a full Thanksgiving week sale, with special offers on various albums and merch ranging in price from $1 - $6.99. Check out all the sales at this location, which includes music from War of Ages, Sleeping Giant, and more.

AMAZON.COM is already running online Black Friday sales on hard rock and metal, which rotate on a daily basis. You can check out the full list right here, which currently includes Ill Nino, Queen, Meshuggah, and more.

THE OMEGA ORDER has a variety of albums in differing formats on sale with prices ranging from $2.49 - $9.99 from bands such as Agalloch, Anathema, The 69 Eyes, Immortal, Hortus Animae, and many more. Check out the full listing of albums on sale over here. More...

Read more...  |  2 Comments - Discuss

ProgPower USA XII Wrap-Up

September 14th through the 17th marked the 12th year for the ProgPower USA festival, which has become the United States’ premier multi-day heavy metal festival over that time. I was on site for three of the days, and I've published photos taken during each band’s set. The photos are sorted by the three dates: Kick-Off Day, Day One, and Day Two.

This year, the festival headliner was Therion, backed by the reunited Sanctuary (featuring Warrell Dane and Jim Sheppard of Nevermore,) former Emperor front-man Ihsahn, Swedish melodic titans Evergrey, and 12 other comparable acts: Haken, Powerglove, Vanden Plas, Creation's End, Darkwater, Eldritch, Mob Rules, Voyager, Forbidden, Labyrinth, Red Circuit, and While Heaven Wept. Day-by-day show write-ups of the Kick-Off Day, Day One, and Day Two are also available. During the festival, I got to conduct interviews with Evergrey, Darkwater, Haken, Red Circuit, Powerglove, Creation’s End, and Leprous, which was Ihsahn’s backing band for his US solo project debut.

I'm still relatively young, but I had been longing to attend this mythical annual festival ever since I heard about it in news reports six or seven years ago while attending high school. In that sense, it was an event seven years in the making for me, confirming my faith in metal and opening my eyes to even more bands that I hadn't known about back then. Moreover, where else can you hear top tier musicians discuss other top tier musicians as they walk through the crowd like they hadn't just melted your face on stage an hour before?

It was a weekend to remember, and from what I've heard, next year promises to be just as ass-kicking, with Symphony X and Epica headlining the 2012 roster.

1 Comment - Discuss

Bruno Fevery Discusses Kyuss Lives!

The era of Kyuss, 1991-1995, produced only four albums, but those albums proved influential enough to crown the band “the fathers of stoner rock.” The group’s vintage amps were ideal for space rock jams and third-eye-expanding psychedelics. Kyuss found the right balance between hard-rocking grooves and mellow, kaleidoscopic slow jams.

Like the title of the group’s second album “Blues for the Red Sun” (1992) suggests, the group also steeped its sound in blues. Vocalist John Garcia sung soulful tones fitting for Delta blues, jazz and even R&B. This album title also described the vibe put forth by these southern California artists. There is certain mellowness, like observing the orange, yellow and blue hues that the sun paints while scraping across the horizon during dusk or dawn.

Kyuss’s sound contained so many features that unsurprisingly caught the ears of so many musicians of the early ‘90s, but one of the greatest attributes remains guitarist Josh Homme’s eclectic style. From his coarse tones to his eccentric use of pedals, Homme’s playing is unmistakable. These guitar tones relay a granular texture that seemed chipped off of one of Joshua Tree’s magnificent rock formations, which may explain the desert rock modifier often bestowed upon the band. Homme’s trademark sound remains true in the band he joined after leaving Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, although more accessible to the radio crowd. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Free Metal Music Recap For March Is Metal

Over the past couple of weeks, we've reported on numerous free label samplers and compilations, not realizing that most have been in appreciation of March Is Metal Month.

EMI Music’s Label Services is bringing metal to the masses with their “March is Metal” campaign with retailers across the US. The retail campaign includes promotions from such legendary labels as Century Media, Nuclear Blast, Earache and Candlelight along with Season of Mist, Willow Tip, Crash Music, Prospect Park and Capitol.

Along with the sampler, which includes tracks from Lacuna Coil, Five Finger Death Punch, Fear Factory, White Wizzard, Ihsahn, Gama Bomb, The Atlas Moth, Queensryche, Exodus and Arsis along with hotly anticipated pre-release tracks from Triptykon and Defeated Sanity, ELS and Caroline will also offer a limited edition T-shirt designed by Rich Hall and the MMM logo will appear on the Testament/ Exodus tour poster as a sponsor for the tour. They also sponsored “Full Metal Texas” at this year’s SXSW.

"EMI Label Services and Caroline Distribution have the privilege of working with the best labels in the Metal genre. The annual 'March is Metal Month' campaign is a platform for us to expose the great repertoire from these partners to both the trade and consumer alike,” stated Dominic Pandiscia SVP / GM of EMI Label Services and Caroline Distribution.

During the month of March, Amazon.com has a nice metal sale in their MP3 store with loads of great albums for download for $6.99 each, including most of Megadeth's Capitol-era releases, the latest albums by Pelican, Orphaned Land, Devin Townsend, Lacuna Coil, and many more.

And while we're at it, let's recap the many samplers made available for free download this month. Here are several from Amazon.com, which unfortunately are only available to those in the United States:

Here are a couple more freebies from Amazon.com as a bonus: More...

Read more...  |  4 Comments - Discuss

R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell: Five Years Later

Five years since the death of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, and the world can not forget him. The circumstances in which he and several others died that night have changed the club experience forever; security is tight even in the smallest venues for fear that another deadly attack may occur. After his passing, countless tributes were given in his honor in the form of concerts, cover songs and personal statements from friends and fellow musicians. To add to the long list of tributes, Metal Hammer Magazine’s 200th issue being released on December 16 will include a “Dimebag” Darrell tribute album. Top metal bands such as Evile, Machine Head, Kiuas and Chimaira have come together to cover their favorite Pantera songs for the fifth anniversary of the tragic event. More...

Read more...  |  55 Comments - Discuss

A Journey Of Faith: An Interview With Scott Waters

Boston rock band Aerosmith’s 1976 “Rocks” was a huge seller for the band, one that was highly influential on bands from Metallica to Guns N’ Roses. Rolling Stone magazine put it on their “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time,” and songs “Last Child,” “Back In The Saddle,” and “Home Tonight” are radio staples. There is no doubt that Rocks is one of the essential rock albums of the 1970s.

One day in the mid-90s in New Mexico, Scott Waters, the new vocalist of the Christian thrash metal band Ultimatum, was driving home after a tough day of work. Waters had recently left his old church, Victory of Love, due to its cult-like tendencies, which caused him to throw away hundreds upon hundreds of vinyl, cassettes, and CDs that he had been collecting since the early 1970s.

On this significant day in his life, Waters turned on the radio to the local rock station, ZRock. Maybe it was fate or a higher power calling to him in the form of electronic waves, but “Rocks” began to play and it hit Waters like an icy cold shower after a day at Navajo State National Park. More...

Read more...  |  7 Comments - Discuss