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

Archive: OpEds

Displaying records 41 - 60 of 93 1 2 3 4 5 Last

Best Newcomers Of 2012 Explored

There are a slew of new heavy metal bands popping up across the globe covering just about every imaginable sound, and plenty more appearing on the horizon. Thanks to easy access to digital tools and online methods of music distribution the metal scene as a whole has an exploding population, and every year we try to keep up with the best new talent in our year-end “best of” awards.

To help get you acquainted with the best new metal out there, we’ll be briefly covering the bands nominated by our contributors for the “Best Newcomer” category of Metalunderground.com’s recent 2012 awards.

Content manager xFiruath nominated the following acts for best newcomer of 2012: Nothnegal, Dodecahedron, Ne Obliviscaris, Kuolemanlaakso, and Abiotic.


Unless we’re talking about a newly created band consisting of already-established members of the scene or some form of supergroup, it isn’t often that a completely new act launches an absolutely stellar debut album. On its first full-length expedition, the Maldives act Nothnegal twisted together melodic death metal, industrial, and symphonic elements into something unique and refreshing. Even when throwing in a few tracks with clean singing the heaviness never lets up, and the story of man vs. machine works very well with the musical style.

Recognizing these rising stars of the metal scene, the members of the band were even given an award by their nation’s president. Luckily Nothnegal isn’t taking any down time and is already working on a new album, which will reportedly include traditional instruments from the Maldives. It’ll be interesting to see where the band goes with that sort of sound, as the “Decadence” album didn’t have even a trace of a folk metal vibe. There’s no doubt about it – this is a group to look out for in the coming year and beyond.


Read more...  |  20 Comments - Discuss

Cover to Cover: Riot

Last time around I covered Manilla Road’s uber-manly efforts in the world of metal covers. This time we are back and taking a look at the New York heavy metal legends Riot, their “unique” approach to album covers, and honouring the legacy of mastermind Mark Reale who sadly passed away in January this year. Well, we’ll largely just be tearing into Riot’s cover art, but it goes without saying that Riot created some of the best power/speed metal in existence. Seriously, I’m putting a ban on reading this article until you’ve at least heard one track from “Thundersteel” because it’s one of the greatest metal classics ever released. Right? Right, let’s get cracking. More...

Read more...  |  7 Comments - Discuss

Five-Minute History of Hardcore and Metal Fusion

Beefy funny man, Billy Milano once said “Skinheads and bangers and punks stand as one Crossover to a final scene.” This insight he offered on S.O.D.’s 1985 release “Speak English or Die” would serve as a rallying cry for hardcore punks and metal heads to come together. Not only did this song help create a mindset for bringing together two scenes; it also constructed a formula for the two styles to merge. Known simply as metalcore or crossover, the term came to describe how hardcore bands added metal’s solos and heft to their arrangements, while thrash absorbed the speed, attitude and brevity of hardcore to their compositions.

Milano also claimed “It’s not the way you wear your hair, it’s what’s inside of you.” Even though these words ring true twenty-seven years after publication, and so often we see the two lines blurring together, hair styles have pretty much remained the same (minus poodle hair and mullets). Short hair, often bald or spiky, is still relegated to punks, while long hair is a feature of head bangers. Regardless of attitude and opposition to the mainstream, many punks and metal heads prefer to segregate.

After hearing an inspiring hardcore/crossover album from "The Casualties" and attending festivals such as Fun Fun Fun Fest and Chaos in Tejas that mesh metal and hardcore in the last year, I felt the need to research and write an article on the history of this topic. Through the usual resource of the Internet, Ian Christe’s book “Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal” and a first person source, I hope to shed light on this phenomenon. In the following article, we will look at the interchangeable qualities of punk and metal, as well as delving into each style’s social constraints. We will look at the bands that started this movement and analyze how the art form has evolved. Ready yourself for a crash course on punk-thrash crossover movement. More...

Read more...  |  6 Comments - Discuss

The ProgPower USA Experience From A Newbie

If there was ever an event for a first time festival goer, it would be ProgPower USA. Unfortunately, fans here are spoiled by the incredible privileges, some of which could never be properly duplicated by any of the huge European festivals. In Atlanta, you won’t find camping sites, 80,000 people and huge immense lines for signing sessions. What you will find is a community of about 1200 well-educated and well versed fans that throw an amazing party and represent some of the nicest people from all over the U.S. and the world. However, it is a party which also includes the many members of the best bands you can find in the world (not just those who are playing) all within an incredibly intimate setting of a venue that is as unmatched in sound quality as it is fan friendly. For its first 12 years, ProgPower USA seemed out of my reach for reasons I cannot fully explain or comprehend (stupidity comes to mind). However, lucky #13 consisted of a lineup which I personally felt was the strongest in its history (though called “weak” by progressive fan standards), and was perfect for my very first taste of the ProgPower USA experience. As soon as this lineup was announced last year, I drew up the battle plan to attend. The ability to see Serenity, Mystic Prophecy, Pretty Maids and so many others make their debut U.S. performances was something of a dream for this aging fan boi. Topping it off was a headline performance my current favorite Epica, so finding a way to get there became mandatory. What transpired exceeded all my hopes and expectations, a dream I wish I never woke from. (For complete reviews, check out Metal Underground.com's road reports on Day One, Day Two and the pre-show with Nightwish & Kamelot by colleague Progressivity_In_All.) More...

Read more...  |  8 Comments - Discuss

Cover to Cover: Manilla Road

Manilla Road is an amazing band. Few 80s metal acts successfully ran the gauntlet of time to still be with us producing great material, and even less manage to keep anywhere near the level of consistency Manilla Road has in terms of producing bona-fide classics. But I'm not here to regale you about psychedelic solos, masterful riffs, or Mark "The Shark" Shelton's soaring vocals. No, I'm just briefly going to make fun of the album covers, covers which span from epically terrible to over-the-top awesome. More...

Read more...  |  4 Comments - Discuss

American Heavy Metal Tradition: ProgPower USA

The ProgPower USA festival is approaching its thirteenth year, but if you were to look at the number of international bands who have made the Atlanta-based festival the site of their US debut, you would find that number even more impressive – a solid eighty-two. That number includes bands such as Nightwish, Blind Guardian, Edguy, Gamma Ray, Pagan’s Mind, Circus Maximus, Stratovarius, Riverside, and more. The US is not known for heavy metal festivals – at least not of the level that Europe is known for, with Wacken, Hellfest, and all sorts of other open-airs. In the US, ProgPower is the longest-running and most well-known of the handful of festivals we do have. Moreover, as evidenced by the title, this is a pointedly progressive- and power- metal themed festival, with performances by an average of 14-16 bands over several days.

Last year, I had the privilege of attending the festival and contributed a series of write-ups about each of the days afterwards. The experience was much like a Comic-Con or anime convention, only geared around highly amplified sound aimed at rattling my brain and rocking my soul. It was like another world altogether, given that everyone I interacted with on that three-day stretch could talk for hours on end about the juxtaposition of synthesizer and guitar solos with no reservations. It felt like a family reunion. More...

Read more...  |  9 Comments - Discuss

The Reale Story Of Struggle & Greatness

Pain…the pain affects your lower abdomen. When you sit, you do so very gingerly and even walking is uncomfortable. The ceaselessness pain is so intense it assaults your stomach to the point where your ribs start to separate and nausea forces you to succumb to even more painful, but ironically relieving, evacuation from both ends. Imagine experiencing this in varying degrees for a period of forty plus years while also creating honest, brilliant and universally underrated music for thirty six of those years. Through fourteen albums with Riot and three albums with Westworld, this was the life of Mark Reale. The endless struggle he had with such underwhelming media/fan reaction to his brilliant music only paralleled his near lifelong struggle with Crohn’s disease. Ironically, his epitaph was the eerily prophetic “Immortal Soul.” It was his finest moment and just as he reached that pinnacle of his career it was over. Now the world is left with a largely unappreciated legacy, one which I hold to be even more relevant than the tragic loss of Dimebag Darrell. As long as I am alive, the mastery of Reale will always be remembered. More...

Read more...  |  3 Comments - Discuss

Optimizing A Band's Profile: A Journalist's View

As we've entered the cyber age and immediate access to information, the amount of bands with a DIY ethos has exploded. In these times, it is no longer necessary to have the agonizing wait of being discovered by a record label to start a band's fanbase and get known. But, with that ease of being able to post one's material comes other self-apparent facts. A band is now part of a much larger macrocosm of over a hundred thousand metal acts, and must do what is necessary to publicize itself and put it's offerings at the forefront of others' minds. A band must now be in charge of its destiny, at least in the beginning. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Stop Stealing Music: A Musicians Perspective

It's a strong misconception that musicians in the limelight are financially stable, and have more money than they know what to do with. Granted this may be true for your GaGa's and Green Day's of the world, but not with independent artists such as myself. Independent musicians actually strive to be successful financially, and use their talents to make a paycheck just like anyone else in the working world. There's only one problem, well actually several problems. I'm speaking of course about all the greedy selfish bums who pirate and steal music.

I used to be one of them, and I'm ashamed to admit it. I downloaded hordes of music in the past, and never thought twice about doing so. It wasn't until I began selling my own music when I realized what a shameful display of greed this epidemic has become.

When I started recording music under the name Autumns Eyes, I had no intentions of promoting or selling my creations. Several years passed by with only a small group of friends hearing what I'd recorded. It wasn't until a couple years ago that I got into promoting what I do in hopes of sharing it with the masses. More...

Read more...  |  154 Comments - Discuss

Opeth Remains Dark and Somber on "Heritage"

Update: For the opposing view of this Op/Ed, head over to this location.

“Heritage” is the slowest album in Opeth’s discography, but that doesn’t make it a bad album. Opeth has never made a bad album, and every Opeth album contains slow parts. This time the group just decided to make that the focus of the recording. I’m not turned off by a band playing slowly. In fact, some of my favorite artists are known for playing slowly. These bands carry the “doom metal” modifier. While nobody with the knowledge of descriptive metal tags would categorize Opeth as a doom artist, they take a similar approach, especially mood-wise, to their music. More...

Read more...  |  11 Comments - Discuss

Opeth Loses Its True "Heritage"

Our “Sunday Old School” column covering the legendary Swedish progressive death metal act Opeth is just on the horizon, and we’ve decided to take this opportunity to look more in-depth at the band’s latest album “Heritage,” which has divided the fanbase.

While I personally find the album disappointing, other members of the MetalUnderground.com staff hold differing opinions. If you don’t fancy my take on the album, Rex_84’s opposing look at “Heritage” may be more to your tastes.

Before the album was released I made of point to avoid listening to any advance tracks, wanting to hear the upcoming masterpiece in its entirety with no preconceived notions of what I was going to be experiencing. Although I gave it a 3.5 out of 5 in the final review, I have to confess my opinion of the album lessens every time I listen to it. With the exception of “The Devil’s Orchard,” I’m at a point where I almost hate this album.

I should reveal up front that I’m one of those people that would easily get labeled an Opeth fanboy on any given Internet discussion. If you’ve ever complained about how fans of the Swedish outfit are “pretentious” or “snobby,” you were probably talking about me. My CD case isn’t arranged alphabetically or even by genre – it’s arranged in order of bands I listen to most frequently to bands I listen to least often. “Orchid” through “Watershed” occupy the first nine spots in that case.

The first time I ever heard Opeth was on my 14th birthday, and it’s a tale I enjoy sharing whenever metal stories come up in conversation. Being raised in a very Christian home, under no circumstances was I ever to be listening to something with loud guitars and indiscernible vocals. Jars of Clay and Rebecca St. James were the order of the day, and Audio Adrenaline was the heaviest thing going on. With my family gathered around for the birthday bash, my older brother passed me a computer game as a gift, and this was back when PC software came in those ridiculously oversized boxes. Peaking inside the box, I see a copy of “My Arms, Your Hearse” had been covertly placed underneath the game manual, safely out of parental view.

My exposure to so-called “real” metal was actually fairly limited at that point. Sure, I’d heard Metallica and whatnot on MTV, but as far as actual honest-to-Lucifer extreme metal, my experiences were essentially limited to a Destiny’s End album and one Samael EP, so I had no idea what to expect when popping that CD into the player. I certainly didn’t think the album would be starting with the sounds of rain and piano notes before the metal hit, and then suddenly my world exploded. That shit on the radio everyone was listening to? That wasn’t music anymore. THIS was music.


Read more...  |  44 Comments - Discuss

Jim Marshall: The Legend Who Shaped Heavy Music

When light hits the stage even before the band does, theres only one thing that signifies you are about to have your face ripped off by a literal wall of sound. You see it in almost every huge rock and metal arena show. Its a vision pursued by any musician who dreams of playing live, and playing loud. As a kid I gazed at the stage in wonder, mesmerized at these giant black boxes stacked on top of one another. As soon as the band started playing, you could swear everything you heard was coming from these giant stacks of sound. They stood out almost as a member of the band themselves. All thats is left after the show ends, is a snapshot taken by your memory. The image of the band on stage, and the image of a giant stack of amplifiers with one name draped across the front, Marshall. More...

Read more...  |  0 Comments - Discuss

Full Metal Jackasses

Last August, I penned an OpEd titled “Metal Versus Society: A Vicious Cycle?” It built on the controversy of the fabled “West Memphis Three” to include a broader observation of the often-ugly dynamic between diehard metal fans – primarily those who look, dress, and talk the part – and the scruples of “normal” society that find convenient scapegoats in such black-clad, devil-music-listening hooligans.

I concluded that “we” are equally to blame in this cycle of demonization, whereby we often culturally segregate ourselves and point burning fingers at imaginary forces of oppression, all but inviting others to cast us in the role of pariah once more – and so it goes. What makes this cycle so enduring and vital is its very inconsistency; the controversy du jour is followed by a quiet period, which is shattered by yet another media event that implicates heavy metal music, its demonic fans, and its corruptive powers as agents of societal breakdown. We all know the drill. Sometimes, however, we can’t help ourselves, and falsely perpetuate the cycle by blowing a complete non-event so far out of proportion that it becomes – to some – our latest cause célèbre. In so doing, we sometimes risk tarnishing our own reputations. More...

Read more...  |  29 Comments - Discuss

Lowest of the Low

On Saturday, my band was playing a show at the “big” venue for local underground bands in Taipei, Taiwan. Playing a show there means your band has “made it,” at least in a purely local sense. It has the best sound system in town, professional lighting, a small but serviceable backstage area—everything you need and a few things you don’t, including a disco ball. It’s where the “big” international extreme bands play—Exodus, Ensiferum, Misery Index, Into Eternity, Destruction, and many more have played there. It has a much maligned crowd barrier in front of an elevated stage, capacity for about 700 people—those things that make a band that might never have played outside their hometown think they can take things to the next level. It also has a common policy that most bands at the next level encounter on a semi-nightly basis: This venue takes a percentage of the bands’ merchandise sales. More...

Read more...  |  7 Comments - Discuss

The Ultimate Sacrifice

To the diehard music fan, there is hardly an act more inconceivable than parting with The Collection. Most metal heads, those of us who still buy CDs, records, and even tapes, anyway, will pawn everything of value when times get tough, move back in with our parents, beg, borrow, steal, and take just about any form of mind numbing and depraved work imaginable to keep The Collection in our grubby, greasy little hands. Sadly, even this isn’t always enough, and in these economically turbulent and uncertain times, the hour inevitably comes when hard decisions must be made, and priorities must be put in order. More...

Read more...  |  7 Comments - Discuss

Re-recording Metal - For Better or for Worse?

Back in 2005, Dimmu Borgir was a band still basking in the unholy success of its latest outing “Death Cult Armageddon.” And yet instead of launching into a new opus for fans to consume the band members decided on a new approach; they would re-release an early and often praised album (“Stormblåst”) by completely re-recording it, updating the sound with modern production and slap “MMV” on the end. There had of course been prior examples of bands making this choice, but it was perhaps here that best truly crystallized the new era of metal re-recordings. No doubt you have heard of similar re-recordings in the same vein, perhaps most recently Gorgoroth’s “Under the Sign of Hell 2011” or Burzum’s “From the Depths of Darkness”? Perhaps not, but that’s what I aim to uncover for you here. More...

Read more...  |  11 Comments - Discuss

Remembering David Gold

Fourteen. That is the staggering number of metal and hard rock musicians who left us this calendar year. Fourteen. It is without question that the year 2011 was a cruel one for the metal community, taking from the world some exceptionally talented people whom many had long lives left to live. Most, if not all, of us never knew the likes of Cory Smoot, Gary Moore or Seth Putnam in person but we lived through them vicariously through the legacies left by their music. When you are a fan of a band for an extended period of time you come to feel as if you know the people behind the drum kits and holding the guitars, they become your friend who's always there to comfort you regardless if you've never spoken to them, shaken their hand or have met face-to-face. When one of them is tragically taken from this earth we can't help but feel sorrow and pain, as if one of our own family members has passed away. Unfortunately, the pain is ever more intense when you have had the pleasure to come to know one of these truly gifted individuals. More...

Read more...  |  12 Comments - Discuss

Heavy Metal Done Holiday Style

There are easily hundreds of heavy videos that fit the Halloween mood, but the Christmas holiday doesn’t get nearly as much love from the metal world. But never fear, metal doesn’t disappoint, and there are a few bands that have gone the extra mile and released videos to help get you through the uncomfortable family gatherings, drunk quarreling siblings, and even the off-key caroling. So whether you’re a die-hard celebrant who can’t sleep all night until Christmas morning or a scrooge with a “bah humbug!” on your lips, check out these video clips to keep your holiday fully metal.

Twisted Sister – “O Come All Ye Faithful”

Twisted Sister is notorious for awesomely cheesy videos with ridiculous opening segments, and covering a Christmas classic certainly wasn’t going to change that. Enjoy it for the amazingly goofy guy happily spreading Twisted Sister cheer, the rocking rendition of an old holiday standby, or even just enjoy it for the dancing MILF!


Read more...  |  4 Comments - Discuss

When Life in Metal Meets an Insidious Demise

“Respect in the scene-priceless
Money in my wallet-$0
Fame in the death metal scene-years of hard work mastering programming and guitar playing
Money in my wallet-$0
Car-doesn't exist
Bank account-yea right
Owe everyone under the sun-OF COURSE


Read more...  |  19 Comments - Discuss

Remembering Chuck Schuldiner

If one were to ask the average person who Chuck Schuldiner is, there's a fair chance that the response would be little more than a blank stare. However, if one asked a dedicated metal fan who he was, they would instantly retort in detail that he was one of the most innovative musicians in the history of metal, whose passing ten years ago today affected them on a massive scale and whose band, Death, changed the face of extreme music forever.

Born in Long Island, New York on May 13th 1967 as Charles Michael Schuldiner, both of his parents were teachers, which perhaps influenced his strong performance in school before he decided to drop out (though he later regretted doing so.) Chuck Schuldiner the musician was born at the age of nine, in circumstances just as harsh as the music he would become known for, when his parents bought him a guitar, in an effort to appease the sadness he felt of his brothers death, who was only sixteen years old when he passed away. Though starting with a classical guitar, he expressed distaste for the type of music he was being taught and was on the verge of putting the instrument down alltogether, when his parents bought him an electric guitar, something he greeted with a much greater sense of enthusiasm, practicing every day of the week (though he was reportedly limited to three hours a day on school nights.)

When he was sixteen himself, he formed Death, initially under the name Mantas, along with guitarist Rick Rozz and drummer/vocalist Kam Lee. He briefly abandoned the band, in favour of moving to Toronto to join Slaughter, though soon recanted and returned to Florida to continue Death. The group went through a number of lineup changes before signing with Combat Records, at which time Death merely consisted of Schuldiner and drummer Chris Reifert. Despite only consisting of two members, Death released their first album, "Scream Bloody Gore" in 1987, which was immediately hailed as one of the finest extreme metal albums of the time, and seen by many today to be one of the first "true" death metal albums, clearly defining the sound for the first time. While many acclaimed debut albums cast a shadow over their respective artists, this was not to be the case with Death as practically every album they released was hailed as a masterpiece, or at least as excellent. Through his work with the band, Schuldiner garnered the tag, "The Father of Death Metal," although he himself played down his role in the genre and praised other musicians in the death metal scene. More...

Read more...  |  17 Comments - Discuss

Displaying records 41 - 60 of 93 1 2 3 4 5 Last