Underground metal bands in these modern Net-centric times of ours are utterly awash in the offal of social networking-cum-marketing options. With Facebook increasingly rising to the forefront as the anchor site of choice for both established and up and coming acts, there is also Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, ReverbNation, StereoKiller, BandCamp, SoundCloud, PureVolume, Last.FM and the smoldering wreckage of the once dominant empire that is Myspace, just to name a few of the major players. Put all of them together, and that’s eleven separate websites, some of which can by synced together, mind you, that a single band potentially needs to constantly maintain and update—an even dozen if they actually have their own domain. More...
Back in 2005, Alcest released a two song EP called “Le Secret,” a gem that eventually would cause a stir in the hornet nest that is the black metal community. If you didn't gather by the title, Alcest is a French band, and one masterminded by front-man Neige. With a strong pedigree in the French black metal scene, Neige was a musician who not only came forward in the 00s with multiple acts in Alcest and Amesoeurs, but also made contributions to essential French albums from the likes of Mortifera and Peste Noire. While Norway and the adjacent Scandinavian realms are often thought of as the wintery fortress of black metal, the French have long held their own with a melancholic and melodic take on the genre including the infamous Les Légions Noires whom you can read about in a previous Metal Underground Sunday Old School article.
So, what was so special about Neige’s little two song EP? Well for one it wasn’t little at all. It was nearly 30 minutes long and an infusion of 90s shoegaze, post-rock, and perfectly distilled black metal. More...
If you are reading this, you are most likely a devoted fan of metal. I wouldn’t be writing this if I weren’t part of this crowd. This being the case, it’s safe to say we’ve had a conversation with somebody of totally different musical values. If this conversation took place at a concert, we might look down upon these people. Their insouciance is like a slap in the face. The term “poser” might even come up. This attitude definitely comes in the realm of elitism, but it doesn’t mean our experiences with music are better. Everybody has their own ways of interacting with music. Let’s look at a few of these ways. More...
One August afternoon when I was 19, I returned home sweating and exhausted from my summer job, hopped in the shower, and found a white cardboard box waiting for me on my bedspread. I opened it to discover a stack of crisp, preppy, neatly folded, diversely colored… polo shirts. I think one of them was Nantucket Red. Or, if you’re not a vacationing male WASP, “pink.”
Torn between feelings of awkward gratitude and slithering revulsion, I tracked down my Dad to inquire about the unsolicited gift. He replied with a knowing grin, “So you’ll stop wearing those black T-shirts.”
Sensing another opportunity for angst-ridden teenage martyrdom, I promptly engaged my Dad and stepmother in a fierce battle of wills that pitted the goofy attire of golf courses against the monochromatic uniform of heavy metal… and wound up kicked out of the house.
Silly as it all seems from the matured age of 27, this story is part of my own brush with that ongoing battle in our society, a battle whose lines have been drawn between the mainstream and the misfits, the orthodox and the outcasts – with presumptions and stereotypes aplenty on all sides. Occasionally, those stereotypes become scapegoats, and the results are sometimes uglier than an afternoon detention or a shouting match at the dinner table.
Consider the case of the fabled “West Memphis Three,” the trio of Arkansas teenagers convicted in 1994 of a brutal triple homicide. A topic already of considerable relevance and interest in these circles, I won’t bother to rehash the forensic details, but let’s break down the basics. Three young boys tortured and murdered in an alleged “Satanic ritual.” Disorganized police and politically motivated prosecutors in need of a suspect, and a grieving, culturally conservative community in need of a villain. Three teens whose attire, attitudes, and music tastes placed them outside the norm. Dubious rumors. Flimsy physical evidence. Guilt by association. All the reasonable doubt in the world couldn’t have stopped this runaway train once the brakes blew. More...
Let’s go back to 1978: Black Sabbath released “Never Say Die!” in September of that year. There’s another thing that happened in the world that wasn't nearly as unconventionally cool, but that Black Sabbath might find really cool 35 years later. In the United States, a massive piece of government legislation went into effect called the Copyright Act of 1976. Before I tell you why that has any meaning at all to the godfathers of heavy metal and other bands from 1978 on, I’ll give you a rundown of what copyrights are. More...
We metal fans are a devoted lot. Once we find a favorite band, we tend to stick around through thick and thin. A favorite band tends to stay a favorite band, even when our tastes move on. And, yes, even when that band's sound changes or, even worse, when that band becomes "popular" based on a lighter sound, we often hang around.
Sure, we bitch about it, but I guarantee that more than half of the people who boldly claimed online that they were through with, say, Metallica, had purchased copies of "Load" and "Reload" (you know, just to complete the collection). It couldn't have just been the new fans turned on by the Black Album that did it. And yet, those of us who'd been there in the "Puppets" and "Justice" years held out hope that, just maybe, the band would come back to that style and aggression. We can all argue about whether "Death Magnetic" was the return to form we'd been looking for, but recently, I had the pleasure of listening to an album by another thrash mainstay that definitely is.
I've been asked to hold off on a full review of Anthrax's "Worship Music" until closer to the release date, but suffice it to say that this is the album that fans have been waiting for for a very long time. Tracks like "Fight 'Em Til You Can't" recapture the comic book and horror-film fun of the "Among The Living" era, while the appropriately dirge-like "In The End" recalls the slow stomp of "Keep It In The Family" from "Persistence Of Time." But rather than simply reconstitute the successful formula of their early work — a la "Death Magnetic" — the band has also kept around the best of what worked during the John Bush era, namely an increased push toward melody and groove. I could (and will) go on at length later, but suffice it to say that I think a lot of fans will be pleasantly shocked by just how far this album exceeds expectations.
I've had this experience before. A dyed-in-the-wool Megadeth fan, I thrilled to the early years of "Killing Is My Business ... And Business Is Good!" and "Peace Sells ... But Who's Buying?" Things reached fever pitch with "Rust In Peace" — and then the band entered what I tend to think of as its "pop phase." Dave Mustaine has said that he was in the hunt for a No. 1 album, and the choices that were made on many of the albums that followed in the 1990s ("Countdown To Extinction," "Youthanasia," "Cryptic Writings" and "Risk") bore that out. Gone were the multilayered songs that crammed three time changes and four solos into three minutes. Now, comparative (some would argue radio-ready) simplicity was the order of the day, with Mustaine himself contributing less in the way of guitar solos. Worse yet, with "Risk," Mustaine seemed to be trend-chasing, adding bursts of electronica to the mix to poor effect.
Granted, the comeback for Megadeth started with "The World Needs A Hero," in which the thrash started gaining a bit more prevalence. It continued with "The System Has Failed," which featured Mustaine trading solos with original Megadeth ax-man Chris Poland.
Then came "United Abominations," which absolutely blew the doors off. The fact that the band was arguably the most talented iteration of Megadeth (with ex-Eidolon players Shawn and Glen Drover on drums and guitar and James LoMenzo on bass) didn't hurt. From the opening machine-gun guitar of "Sleepwalker," it was obvious that the fiery aggression of the early years was back, tempered ever-so-slightly with the more melodic sounds of the 1990s. More...
I'll always remember Anal Cunt for being one of the four bands who broke me into the extreme metal underground back in 2006. Anal Cunt, alongside Unearth, Cannibal Corpse and Lamb of God were my four gateway drugs into the harder, edgier side of metal. It was a time when nu metal was no longer played on the radio and KoRn's Take a Look in the Mirror album was such a huge disappointment that left me only listening to Tool but looking for something that was metal that I hadn't heard before. More...
There are some individuals in their field of music that are so important, they seem like they'll live forever. In many ways these legends do, as people will continue to listen to their music for years to come, but the lack of their physical presence on Earth can always be felt. Jazz lost a king when Miles Davis passed away in 1991, hip-hop lost one of it's most respected artists five years later when Tupac Shakur was murdered and heavy metal suffered from one, if not it's greatest loss this time last year, when Ronnie James Dio succumbed to stomach cancer.
The importance of this heavy metal titan who stood only at 5' 4" can never be exaggerated. this is the man who is credited with introducing the "heavy metal horns" hand gesture, which is used worldwide to this day by metal fans signaling their love of music, their approval or simply to acknowledge each other. As a singer, he was an influence to countless heavy metal vocalists and even at the age of sixty seven, he was still being credited as one of the best in the business, a title backed up by his winning of the Best Metal Vocalist Award at the 2010 Revolver Golden Gods Awards. Perhaps most importantly though, Ronnie James Dio was known for being one of the true gentleman of heavy metal. Unlike a number of other rockers, Dio wasn't known off the stage for excessive partying, violent encounters or a gargantuan ego, he was known for his honest love and respect for his fans and his undeniable intelligence and philosophic nature. More...
Posting news about Sepultura is something that I always enjoy, because they're one of my absolute favourite bands, and dread because I know of the written onslaught that will follow with each and every article. For those of you who are unaware of why this may be, the diatribes that come with the articles and the background, permit me to shed some light on the subject.
Sepultura is a heavy metal band that formed in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera and bass player Paulo Xisto Jr, as well as a guitarist called Jairo Guedes. After releasing an EP called, "Bestial Devastation" in 1985 and a full length, "Morbid Visions" in 1986, they split with Guedes and recruited guitarist Andreas Kisser. This lineup of the band released several more albums and became one of the most well known bands to ever come from Brazil. They gained worldwide recognition for their album, "Chaos A.D." in 1993, which is considered their best album by many fans, and expanded their reputation as metal superstars with their 1996 album, "Roots," becoming one of the few metal bands to find success in the 90s along with Pantera and Machine Head. At the end of 1996, Max Cavalera, the group's singer and rhythm guitarist, left the band as a result of the other members not wishing to extend the contract of their manager, who was/is also Max's wife. Following this, the band recruited a new singer in American born, Derrick Green. Since then, the band has received a huge backlash from fans because of the lineup change, with many calling on the band to change their name, especially since drummer Igor Cavalera left in 2006 and daily pleas to reunite the classic Cavalera/Cavalera/Kisser/Xisto lineup. For many people however, it seems they don't even know why they feel the urge to demand a reunion, except that they want to see the classic lineup live... maybe. In this article, I'm going to attempt to explain why I think a Sepultura reunion wouldn't work, why people are wrong to demand it and what the alternatives are. More...
The tradition of morbid and complex album covers associated with metal is a hallowed and unique one in the music world. Your band has faces in colorful ironic Warhol fashion to appease your delicate audience? Ha! give me a painting of a robot seated a ludicrous time machine going back to assassinate Jesus any day. Creative artwork that captivate us in that unforgettable record store moment is the domain of metal, untethered by “good taste” or censorship. In this column, I'll be unearthing several of the big names who have been behind the scenes over the years influencing the twisted face of metal music. More...
Happy Hallmark card day everyone! Whether you're spending today with your loved one or your right hand, there's no denying that romance will be all around you today. Turn on the radio and you're likely to hear Lionel Richie's "Hello" or some other such soppy rubbish which you'll be told all day is a "classic." So why should we at Metal Undergound.com be any different? While there's never been one countdown that everyone agrees with, I'm going to take you through ten hard rock and heavy metal songs that I feel express the positive side to this strange phenomenon we call love.
For the opposite side of the spectrum, you can also check out our ode to anti-love metal as well.
10. Anal Cunt - "In My Heart There's A Star Named After You"
Yes you read that right correctly, the first song in our countdown is by the masters of offensive grindcore, Anal Cunt. You wouldn’t expect the band that wrote, "I Pushed Your Wife In Front Of The Subway" and "Women: Nature’s Punching Bag" to be included here, but the band actually wrote a whole album dedicated to the subject of love, albeit a very tongue in cheek one. Here’s the last song from the "Picnic Of Love" album, "In My Heart There’s A Star Named After You." It may seem a little silly to include in this list, but isn't love a silly old thing in the end?
9. KISS - "I'll Fight Heaven To Hold You"
We don’t want to overload this countdown with soppy ballads that belong is bad 1980s movies, so we’ll be leaving "Beth" way out of this. Instead, here’s a love song by KISS that covers all the usual topics traditionally found in ballads, but rocks hard. KISS have never been afraid to talk about love (as well as what Gene Simmons considers love, let's not mention "Lick It Up" here,) and more often than not, they could really pull off a great love song, which they've definitely done here, though not in the traditional way. From the "Crazy, Crazy Nights" album, this is "I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You."
February 14th is a date that means different things to different people. For some, Valentine’s Day is that special occasion to show someone how much you care, while for others it’s an unfortunate reminder of just how long that unused condom has been stashed in your wallet. For every lucky gentleman who has found the lady he can sexually accost without fear of court mandated harassment classes, there’s that lonely soul who will spend Valentine’s Day with nothing but music out the speakers and a bottle of Jack.
No matter which side you fall on, heavy metal has got a song to match your mood and help you head bang through the gooiest of all the holidays.
Whether any given track is purposefully over the top and funny, depressing enough to make you pull out the eyeliner and candles, or just plain outright disturbing, metal is no stranger to the anti-love song. So for those of you will be spending Valentine’s Day alone, or just simply think the holiday is nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell chocolates and greeting cards, here’s a series of anti-love anthems to get you through the day.
For those who still have a heart and haven't devolved into extreme cynicism, you can also check out our companion listing of pro-love heavy metal music at this location.
Metalunderground.com is no stranger to aberrant sexual behavior, as we have the honor of being home the infamous “I’d put my tongue in her butt” forum thread. The following, um, “tongue-in-cheek” songs are all dedicated to everyone who has ever contributed a post to that thread.
Whether 80’s glam rock parody/tribute act Steel Panther is singing love songs or anti-love songs is a matter of some debate. What could be more loving than each band member’s willingness to sleep with anything that moves, regardless of VD status? Take the particularly touching song “Turn Out The Lights,” in which we are informed that front man Michael Starr is in desperate need of some physical attention, even though his partner actively disgusts him. What’s a horny rock star to do? Look no further than the title for the answer:
Nowadays, the term "Guitar Hero" has become synonymous with a rhythm based video game, but prior to this, the term was used as a tag of respect to those who breathed, ate and lived for their instrument, and displayed a skill and passion for the six stringed axe that elevated them to the status of kings to their listeners. These guitar heroes created music that resonated within the very souls of their fans and bore riffs that would become as memorable to rockers as their child's first word or their wedding day. Regardless of how the term is thrown around now, Gary Moore is, was and forever shall be, a true guitar hero.
Gary Moore was born in the Northern Irish capital of Belfast on April 4th 1952 and begun his foray into music at the age of eight, using an old acoustic guitar. He showed dedication to the guitar even in his youth, when at the age of fourteen, he learned how to play his first "proper" guitar right handed, despite being a southpaw. His influences were similar to many young musicians of the time; The Beatles, Elvis Presley, but his approach to his instrument was changed forever when he witnessed a Jimi Hendrix concert. After attending the show, his style morphed into the blues rock style for which he would become most well known.
At the age of sixteen, Moore moved to Dublin to join the band Skid Row, which also featured future Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott. With Skid Row, Moore recorded two studio albums, "Skid" and "34 Hours," before setting out on his own and releasing his debut studio album, "Grinding Stone" in 1973. The album is not seen by some as a Gary Moore album, as it is attributed to "The Gary Moore Band" but nevertheless brought the young guitarist to the attention of many contemporaries. The following year, Moore reunited with Lynott to record the song, "Still Loving You" for the Thin Lizzy album, "Night Life." This would not be his only tenure with the band however, as he also worked with the group on their album, "Black Rose: A Rock Legend," regarded by many fans to be one of the best Thin Lizzy albums in their catalogue. He also appeared with the band in the music videos for the songs, "Do Anything You Want To" and "Waiting For An Alibi."
In 1979, the same year Thin Lizzy released, "Black Rose," Moore once again began to compose solo material, culminating in the album, "Back On The Streets," which fetured Phil Lynott appearing on and co-writing several tracks and an album cover depicting Moore leaving the infamous Wormwood Scrubs Prison in West London. The album featured the song, "Parisiene Walkways," one of his best known compisitions and following the record's release, Moore continued to release solo albums regularly, experimenting in many forms of music including blues, rock, jazz, heavy metal and country music. He still found the time to contribute to other artists work though, including an appearance on the Charity single "Let It Be," which was billed as Ferry Aid and raised money for the survivors of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster, which was considered one of the worst maritime catastrophes since the Titanic sunk.
With a discography spanning twenty studio albums and numerous live and compilation records and a life rooted in music for more than five decades, Gary Moore will always be remembered as one of the true devotees to music. His style has influenced countless guitar players worldwide, including Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa, Randy Rhoads, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard and Tygers Of Pan Tang guitarist John Sykes, who himself would become a large part of Thin Lizzy history. It's a testament to not only Gary Moore the guitarist, but Gary Moore tha man, that in the short time that his death was announced, tributes, memories and praise have poured out from fans and fellow musicians alike, none of whom seem to have a bad word to say about him.
He left us too soon, and we've Still Got The Blues.
Gary Moore. 1952 - 2011
From the very beginning, heavy metal has been about rebellion against established norms and restrictive social institutions. That theme has never prevented metal from being influenced by the greatest of mankind’s various systems of organized repression, however. Using a guitar and a microphone to express discontent over the actions of parents and governments inevitably led to bands expressing their disgust with the beliefs behind those actions. Whether musicians are singing about it, railing against it, or just simply partaking of it in their free time, religion has an undeniable role to play in nearly every sub-genre of heavy metal.
Plenty of bands have been built up around an anti-religious atmosphere, whether a simple general sentiment or a full-on fervor that drives the music. Despite metal being frequently identified with an anti-religious standpoint, the style has more than its fair share or religious spokesmen. Famous musicians such as Dave Mustaine of Megadeth have never been particularly quiet about their Christian faith, even if they don’t expressly promote it in any given song. Explicitly Christian metalcore acts are also rapidly gaining widespread attention, with groups like August Burns Red taking over Hot Topic and acts like I The Breather touring the U.S.
In general, it would seem the thrash metal world either doesn’t care about Mustaine’s religious affiliation or is willing to overlook it for the sake of the music. Thrash certainly has its share of anti-Christian songs, but it’s a genre that’s more concerned with social issues or an overall aggressive musical feel than anything dealing with supernatural belief systems.
As any fan of metal can easily attest, not all genres are built equal, and what appeals to one metal head is a serious turn off for another. Black metal is easily among the most infamous of all metal styles, having cut its teeth in the early ‘90s across a back drop of church burnings and sensational media stories of power struggles between Satanic leaders. Names like Emperor and Mayhem were starting to make waves and become recognized in the underground not only across Europe, but also in the U.S. and abroad. More...
Rock is responsible for some of the biggest icons and best frontmen in the history of music, there's no doubt about it. Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix, Bon Scott, they were all rockers and will always be remembered for their commanding performances and outstanding music. Twenty five years ago today, a man easily as great and special as all of the those mentioned previously passed away at the age of thirty six. The man was Phil Lynott, best known as the singing bassist of Thin Lizzy, one of the biggest bands to ever come from the Republic Of Ireland. Lynott was the main composer for the band and was responsible for penning what are arguably some of the best songs in the history of rock music. "The Boys Are Back In Town," "Jailbreak," "Dancing In The Moonlight," look at the credits and you'll see his name by each of these songs. As a frontman, Lynott will always be known as one of the best. One only has to listen to "Live And Dangerous," the classic live album from Thin Lizzy, to hear how he commanded the attention of the audience. He is perhaps the main reason why that album never fails to reach any critics list of best live records.
The influence of Lynott and Thin Lizzy has reached countless bands from Judas Priest to the Happy Mondays to Atreyu, as well as rock fans across the globe, including yours truly. Indeed, I was only five years of age when I became aware of them, owing predominantly to the use of "The Boys Are Back In Town" on a trailer for the movie, Toy Story. I became as interested in that song and who sang it as much as I did the film and later that year was given, "Wild One: The Best Of Thin Lizzy" as a birthday gift. This was made all the more special in that it was my first album and all the more interesting with each passing track. I was blown away by the sonic onslaught of "Cold Sweat" and "Killer On The Loose," while being subdued by the melodies of "Whisky In The Jar" and "Sarah." Ever since I received that CD, with Lynott's face emblazened on the front cover in sepia, I have loved Thin Lizzy and to this day, consider them to be perhaps the greatest pound for pound rock band of all time. More...
December is a time for remembrance for many metal heads. Three years prior to the on-stage murder of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, metal lost another icon. Today marks nine years since Chuck Schuldiner's death. On December 13, 2001, "The Father of Death Metal" lost his battle with pontine glioma, a form of brain cancer, at just 34 years of age. Schuldiner was modest about his part in the history of death metal, noting "I don’t think I should take the credits for this death metal stuff. I’m just a guy from a band, and I think Death is a metal band."
Schuldiner was the singer, songwriter, rhythm and lead guitarist of the band Death, which he founded in 1983 under the name Mantas at just 16 years of age. For an extreme metal band, Death received much acclaim with their releases and Schuldiner was hugely influential on countless metal musicians. The band took a decidedly more progressive and technical turn by their final album, "The Sound of Perseverance" and on Chuck's following band, Control Denied. More...
Dimebag Darrell would have celebrated his 44th birthday this past August, no doubt surrounded by friends and family, the love of his life Rita Haney, and his big brother Vinnie.
Black tooth grins would have been downed, and more than a few fireworks probably would have been shot up into the sky and at unsuspecting revelers. It would have been a true celebration of life, because, as the man himself often said, that’s the kind of fun Dime had. But six years ago to the day that lifelong celebration, along with the lives of four other members of the global metal family, was cut tragically short. By now we all know the story, there’s no sense in reliving the grisly details. Dime wouldn’t want us to dwell on the way he died; he would want us to focus on the way he lived.
To a person, everyone who came into contact with Dimebag Darrell as he made his way around the world several times over playing the music he loved was made to feel like an equal, like a friend. With Dime, there were no walls between the fans and the musicians, between crew and band. There was only kinship and a common love of music and having the best time humanly possible. Even those of us who never met the man felt like we knew him from watching the Pantera home videos and seeing him exude one hundred percent uninhibited enthusiasm on stage each and every night and completely unfiltered, boyish joy off stage when he partied with his brothers by blood and by metal, the hardest drinking band in the business, Pantera. More...
Its no secret that heavy metal and Halloween go together like a hockey mask and a machete. While there are numerous songs you can list under the hallowed category, here are ten terrifying tracks to bleed your ears dry.
10. Moonspell - "I'll See You In My Dreams"
Who knew such a soft jazz song from 1924 could be recreated over 80 years later as a wickedly heavy and haunting track from Portugal's biggest metal export. It was recorded for a film of the same title, and the video features clips from the movie along with an amazing array of starving Zombies who seem to have a craving for Portuguese flesh.
When most of us go to play a CD or MP3 file, we don’t immediately think to check the production quality before giving the song our full attention. We judge the song based on a simple instinct of whether we like what we hear, or we don’t. As a listener, you place a certain amount of trust into the artist and production team to deliver a product that can sound good and balanced in any stereo you play it from. This is essentially the job of a mastering engineer.
Once the artist completes their recorded performance, the producer and recording engineer will mix the songs and pass them on to the mastering engineer. This stage in the recording process is where all the bells and whistles are addressed. Making sure the frequency equalization is balanced so there is not too much bass or treble destroying your speakers, adjusting volume fade in/outs on the front/back of certain songs, and most importantly adjusting the overall volume level or “loudness” of the entire album. More...
On the 31 Dec 1999, no planes came crashing out of the sky, nuclear bombs went off or microwave ovens tried to eat anyone. However, times were about to change and in the metal scene change was already well underway. Let us take a stroll through the decade in metal that was.
Many of the 90s big names like Emperor and Pantera prepared to give their last venomous scream dying off in the wake of ever diminishing interest in the metal scene that had plagued the 90s. In the year 2000 a band named “Limp Bizkit” came out with an album called "Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water" and in a storm nu-metal took over the public perception of heavy music, changing the face of metal irreparably. Although nu-metal had already been pioneered by Korn, bands like Deftones, Disturbed, Mudvayne and Linkin Park all had breakout releases in 2000. More...