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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Rotten Sound

Throughout the history of the Sunday Old School series, our grindcore coverage has focused primarily on the scenes in the United Kingdom, save for looking at a few American bands such Brutal Truth and Anal Cunt. The genre spread worldwide, particularly across Europe and as usual, once the Scandinavians got hold of a new brand of metal, they made significant contributions of their own, one of which we'll be looking at today, who go by the name of Rotten Sound.

Rotten Sound were formed in 1993 in the city of Vaasa, located very close to the border of Sweden, by guitarist Mika Aalto. He was soon joined by vocalist Keijo Niinimaa, bass player Masa Kovero and drummer Ville Väisänen, who would leave the band following their first release, the single, "Sick Bastard" in 1994. He was replaced by Kai Hahto who took part in the recording of the subsequent EPs, "Psychotic Veterinarian" and "Loosin' Face," as well as split releases with Dischord and Control Mechanism. Finally in 1997, the band were able to release their first full length album, "Under Pressure" through Spanish record label, Repulse Records. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tang Dynasty

Our quest for old school heavy metal throughout the world has taken to so many places and seen such a variation of music. From the anthems of Turkish heavy metal band Mezarkabul to the Satanic subjects of Behemoth and Vader from Poland, there's literally a whole world of metal music to explore. Only last week, the Sunday Old School column featured Kryptos, arguably India's premier metal band and this week will be quite similar, as we head back to Asia, this time to examine the group many have dubbed "China's first heavy metal band," Tang Dynasty.

Tang Dynasty were formed in 1988 in the Chinese capital city of Beijing by guitarist Kaiser Kuo, bassist Zhang Ju and vocalist Ding Wu, with the former being replaced the next year by Liu "Lao Wu" Yijun. The group began developing their craft and gained attention in 1991 when they released a version of the socialist anthem, "The Internationale" in their native language. The following year, they released their debut album, "A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty," which officially sold over 2 million copies throughout Asia, in addition to the numerous bootlegs circulated throughout the world. It earned some excellent feedback from rock and metal fans the world over, who complimented the musicianship displayed, as well as the clear inspiration of Chinese history and culture. More...

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Sunday Old School: Kryptos

Throughout the history of the Sunday Old School column, we've visited and explored more places than Dora (you thought you'd escape your child's favourite TV show on a metal website? No such luck.) We've looked at such South American bands as Korzus and Pentagram from Brazil and Chile respectively, as well as Eastern European bands as Aria (Russia) and Gordi (Serbia,) in addition to Asian groups as Crash from South Korea and Japan's Sigh, Loudness and Church Of Misery.

In between Eastern Europe and the far East however, we of course have other side of Asia, of which the most populated country is the fascinating land of India. Despite a strong religious presence in the country from Hindus, Sikhs and Catholics, the latter of which caused the Slayer album "Christ Illusion" to stop being sold in the country, heavy metal is alive and well there. They have a number of solid metal publications and more bands are performing there than ever, while the underground Indian metal scene continues to grow, with perhaps the most prominent name in the scene being today's featured band, Kryptos.

Kryptos were formed in 1998 in the city of Bangalore, the capital of the Karnataka state. The original lineup consisted of vocalist and bass player Ganesh Krishnaswamy, guitarist Nolan Lewis and drummer Ching Len. They took influence from some of the biggest names in classic heavy metal such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, as well as cult favourites like Mercyful Fate and Candlemass and took their moniker from the Latin word "Cruptus," meaning a burial site underneath a church. More...

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Sunday Old School: Asphyx

The Netherlands has always had a soft spot for hard music. The country has played host to many metal festivals over the years, most notably the Eindhoven Metal Meeting, where many of metal's most beloved names have performed and several have recorded live albums. Their contribution to the music itself has also been quite noteworthy, especially in the death metal field. Today we'll be looking at another of their more notable bands, Overijssel's, Asphyx.

Asphyx was formed in 1987 by drummer Bob Bagchus and guitarist Tonny Brookhuis, who soon recruited a second guitar player named Eric Daniels and singing bassist Chuck Colli. This lineup lasted for two years but only recorded two demos, "Carnage Remains" and "Enter the Domain" before replacing Colli with Theo Loomans for the "Crush the Cenotaph" demo, which itself was the last recording before Brookhuis quit the group. Left as a trio, they recorded an album entitled, "Embrace the Death," though due to label problems, it remains unreleased to this day. More...

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Sunday Old School: Unseen Terror

For some people, grindcore is a hard to define genre. At the time, many bands rejected the tag, which was coined by Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris, who when speaking of the experimental rock band Swans, could only use the word "grind" to describe them. Though Napalm Death and Brutal Truth gladly took on the mantle, the likes of Extreme Noise Terror outright rejected the term. One band, who straddled the line between grindcore and extreme metal and proved to be influential regarding both, was Unseen Terror.

Unseen Terror were formed in Birmingham in 1987, from the ashes of Warhammer, arguably Britain's first death metal band and featuring Shane Embury on drums, along with guitarist Mitch Dickinson. Though not necessarily a grindcore project, their blend of extreme metal and the harder edge of hardcore punk put them in with the burgeoning genre. The two worked together on their craft, taking particular inspiration from Idaho based group, Septic Death, who gave Dickinson the inspiration for the name Unseen Terror from the song, "Unseen Terror - Terrorain" and focusing lyrically on the politics of the time, a common theme of the grindcore scene, as well as the nod to everyone's favourite lasagna eating cat, Garfield. More...

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Sunday Old School: Meathook Seed

Over the seven year history of the Sunday Old School column, we've covered well over 300 bands. Somehow though, it seems that at least a third of these groups have ties to British grindcore fathers, Napalm Death, whether it's guest appearances, touring buddies or shared members, bands such as Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror and Godflesh among others, can all trace themselves to the brutal Brummies in one way or another. Today's featured outfit is another example of the brilliance of the founders of grindcore, as we take a look at the project launched by Napalm Death guitarist Mitch Harris in the early nineties, which went by the suitably heavy name of Meathook Seed.

The band was formed in 1992 by Harris, who was looking to experiment somewhat. While discussing his idea with Obituary guitarist Trevor Peres, the latter expressed his desire to perform vocals in a band, which was increased further when he heard the demos Harris had recorded. Around the same time, Napalm Death performed a show in Tampa, Florida, where Harris jammed with Peres's Obituary bandmate, Donald Tardy, who was easily persuaded to join the Meathook Seed project. More...

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Sunday Old School: Y&T

It's never a happy introduction to an edition of Sunday Old School when we need to kick things off with a tribute. However, following the sad passing of Leonard Haze at the age of 61, it feels appropriate to finally look back at his work with one of America's most underrated heavy metal groups, whose influence has been cited by many but overlooked by more. Of course, I am referring to Yesterday & Today, who would become better known as Y&T.

The band was formed in Oakland, California by Haze, along with Bob Gardner and Wayne Stitzer, who performed bass and keyboards respectively in 1982. Following a brief stint with Robin Irons on guitar and vocals, they replaced him with a guitarist named Dave Meniketti, who also handled vocal duties. Shortly afterwards, they were invited to perform their first gig, which consisted entirely of cover songs and was one of the few, if not only, performance with Wayne Stitzer, who quit a little while later, leading Gardner to take over on keyboards and a new bass player named Phil Kennemore, though Gardner himself would leave in 1974, to be replaced by Joey Alves. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tiamat

As a teenager in Britain, myself and any other guy with long hair, or even somebody wearing an Iron Maiden hoodie, was immediately classified by the non metal listening peers as a Goth (spelled "Goff" of course due to the average intelligence of these people.) It may come as a surprise to any of these people who think/thought this way then, that Gothic metal is a thing of its own, with not a great deal in common with the likes of Judas Priest and Deep Purple. Paradise Lost are often credited as the band which created the genre, which went on to create more pioneers, favourites and legends, including today's featured band, Tiamat.

Tiamat were formed in the municipality of Täby, in Stockholm, Sweden, originally using the moniker Treblinka and performing no nonsense black metal. After recording some demos, the band recorded their first full length album, "Sumerian Cry" in October 1989, though not long after they finished the record, guitarist Stefan Lagergren and drummer Anders Holmberg quit, leaving vocalist/guitarist Johan Edlund and bass player Jörgen Thullberg as the only remaining members. The two decided to change the name of the band to Tiamat, taking the name from the Mesopotamian goddess of the ocean before "Sumerian Cry" was released, giving them time to change the moniker for the albums release and for their appearance on a split with Unleashed, Asphyx, Grave and Loudblast. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sevendust

As you may have noticed by recent Sunday Old School columns focusing on the likes of Coal Chamber and Spineshank, nu metal, or rather bands lumped into that category, are now being covered in this feature. It was a strange time, as following grunge's almost complete removal of metal from mainstream popularity, save for the likes of Pantera, Sepultura and Fear Factory, it was another brand of metal that removed it. The problem was, many metal fans hated what they saw as the bastardising of their genre. There were however, several bands which earned respect for their clear talent and songwriting abilities, including today's featured group, Sevendust.

Sevendust were formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1994 by bassist Vince Hornsby and drummer Morgan Rose, who christened their new project, Snake Nation prior to being joined by guitarist John Connolly. After recording a demo, which they felt was let down by a poor vocal performance, they began a search for a new singer, one which would lead them to Lajon Witherspoon, with the lineup being completed six months later when Clint Lowery joined as a second guitarist, at which point the band renamed themselves, Rumblefish, before changing it to Crawlspace and then finally settling on the moniker Sevendust after a band named Crawlspac sent them a letter demanding $2,500. More...

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Sunday Old School: Gorefest

The Netherlands has a long history when it comes to metal music. This small, European country has produced plenty of excellent groups over the years such as Pestilence and God Dethroned and held plenty of festivals, including the Eindhoven Metal Meeting, where so many bands have performed and recorded live releases. Adding to this list of talented metallers is a group with one of the most suited monikers in death metal, the Zeeland based, Gorefest.

Gorefest were formed in 1989 in the city of Goes in the Netherlands and initially comprised of guitarists Alex van Schaik and Frank Harthoorn, drummer Marc Hoogendoorn and vocalist/bassist Jan-Chris de Koeijer. This lineup recorded their first demo, "Tangled in Gore" that same year, which was received extremely well by the extreme metal underground and led to them appearing on the split record, "Where Is Your God Now?" with such bands as Dead Head, Acrostichon, Disfigure and Sinister, before recording another demo, "Horrors in a Retarded Mind," which was also met warmly by metalheads and gained enough attention for them to be booked as the support for Carcass in the Netherlands and Belgium. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pissing Razors

Believe it or not, oh young headbangers, groove metal doesn't begin and end with Pantera. Exhorder are of course cited as one of the great progenitors of the style, as are King's X, while other popular bands such as Sepultura and Prong also took on the design. Though perhaps not the most famous of metal's many sub-genres, groove metal nonetheless produced it's own legends and cult favourites, one of which began life in El Paso, Texas and went by the suitably brutal name of Pissing Razors.

The band was formed in 1994 by brothers Danny and Eddy Garcia, originally using the moniker Back Door Cyclops and were joined in their endeavour by vocalist Loco McNutt, who is credited with coming up with coming up with the change of the name, after he allegedly caught the clap after visiting a Mexican brothel, describing the condition as "pissing razors." His time with the band, much like that of Danny Garcia, was short lived and both decided to quit around 1996, at which point Eddy Garcia switched from guitar to drums and brought on board singer Joe Rodriguez and bassist Rick Valles, while bassist Matt Lynch moved to guitar. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bloodbath

Last month in this column, we examined the career of Fantomas and mentioned the topic of supergroups. Whilst Fantômas much like Cream, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Crosby Stills and Nash (and Young) crafted some excellent music and achieved great commercial success (in the latter three cases at least,) many of these projects fall flat or only last for two albums, such as Velvet Revolver and GTR. A supergroup that seemingly met the high hopes of fans however, was one formed in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, which comprised of some of the most respected names in death metal and chose the suitably brutal name of Bloodbath.

Bloodbath were formed in 1998, the brainchild of Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and Edge of Sanity's Dan Swanö, who handled vocals and drums respectively. They were soon joined by Katatonia members Anders Nyström on guitar and Jonas Renkse on bass and two years later, released their debut EP, "Breeding Death," through Century Media Records. The three track release received a generally positive response from the death metal faithful, with many feeling it was a worthy debut from such a talented collective. More...

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Sunday Old School: Sir Lord Baltimore

When looking through the Sunday Old School archives, perhaps you'll notice that while we pay a lot of attention to thrash, death, black and doom metal bands, we haven't forgotten the roots of the genre we all know and love. Over the years, we've taken a look at such bands as Black Sabbath, Budgie, Blue Cheer and Spooky Tooth, who all helped shape heavy metal in it's earliest form. Today, we'll be looking at another such band, who despite a relatively short career, are still mentioned frequently when discussing the most influential groups in the genesis of metal, Sir Lord Baltimore.

Sir Lord Baltimore was formed in 1968 by John Garner, who was joined in his musical endeavour by schoolmates Joey Dambra and Gary Justin. After putting some material together, the band performed in front of talent scout Mike Appel, who would go on to discover, Bruce Springsteen. Appel agreed to mentor the group and is rumoured to have been the one to give them the name Sir Lord Baltimore, which was taken from a character in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. More...

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Sunday Old School: White Spirit

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal has been studied, mentioned and dragged up time and time again throughout the history of this here column; and with good reason. It gave the genre some of the greatest bands in the field and revitalised the friendly rivalry between the British and American heavy metal scenes. While the Midlands gets a lot of attention for producing such NWOBHM acts as Diamond Head and Blitzkrieg, as well as icons such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, the North East contributed massively to the scene with the likes of Venom, Raven and Neat Records, as well as today's featured band, White Spirit.

White Spirit were formed in the coastal town of Hartlepool, most famous for the legend that the locals hung a monkey during the Napoleonic wars, believing it to be a French spy, in 1975 by drummer Graeme Crallan and guitarist Janick Gers. They were joined in the endeavour by vocalist Bruce Ruff, bassist Phil Brady and keyboardist Malcolm Pearson, displaying a sound closer to that of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep to the more contemporary styles of Saxon and Samson. More...

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Sunday Old School: Tristania

It's that time of year in the Northern hemisphere when the sun's out, the shorts are on and the Facebook feeds are filled with people complaining about the heat... Perfect timing for some Scandinavian gothic metal, don't you think? Gothic metal is largely attributed to British band Paradise Lost, not least due to the title of their sophomore full length, "Gothic," but has since gone on to become a popular and successful sub-genre in it's own right, probably providing the most female musicians in any of metal's varied offshoots. One of the first bands to lay the template for operatic, female vocals hails from the west of Norway and continue to hold a special place amongst fans of the genre, is Tristania.

Tristania was formed in 1995 by vocalist/guitarist Morten Veland, drummer Kenneth Ølsson and keyboardist Einar Moen and were joined in their musical pursuits a few weeks later by guitarist Anders Høyvik Hidle and bass player Rune Østerhus. While recording a demo, the group decided to bring in Vibeke Stene as a guest vocalist, who was soon recruited as a permanent member, although she was unaware of this until after the band signed with Napalm Records and released their debut album, "Widow's Weeds." The album itself drew considerable praise and is considered a classic in the gothic metal genre, thanks to the contrasting, "beauty and the beast" vocals and symphonic elements. More...

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Sunday Old School: Coal Chamber

Has there ever been a time when metal was more at war with itself than the late nineties/early 2000s? After Korn hit the big time, many bands with a similar, though not always identical sound, soon emerged and thus, nu metal came to be. A sub-genre which was largely discredited by fans of "true" metal for its unashamed hip-hop influences, style and perhaps most offensively, lack of guitar solos. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, there's no denying that nu metal is by now, old school, thus warranting coverage in this very column. This week, we'll be taking a look at one of the earliest success stories of the era, Coal Chamber.

Coal Chamber was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1993 by singer Dez Fafara and guitarist Meegs Rascón, who had both previously been members of the group, She's In Pain. They rounded up the lineup with the additions of drummer Jon Tor, who himself was soon replaced by Mike Cox, and bass player Rayna Foss. Early in their career, the band was dealt a blow when Fafara quit at the insistence of his wife, though he soon returned to the fold, at the expense of his marriage. With the help of Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares, the group earned themselves a contract with Roadrunner Records, who released their self-titled debut in February 1997. More...

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Sunday Old School: Fantômas

If there's one term in music guaranteed to raise eyebrows, and often nothing else, it's "supergroup." Arguably more often than not, the results don't quite go as hoped and for every Cream there's a Contraband and Ov Hell. There will, however, always be musicians that draw people to their projects no matter who they're working with and if ever there was a vocalist who was able to do this, it's Faith No More's charismatic frontman, Mike Patton. Throw in members of other esteemed bands such as Slayer and the Melvins and surely the results are going to be something special, which is exactly what happened in 1998 when Patton put together a new project as Faith No More were coming to the end of their first run, a project named Fantômas.

Fantômas, which was named after a French supervillain and one of the country's most popular literary figures, began initially as a series of avant-garde songs Mike Patton had penned on his own, in the hopes of putting together a supergroup of his own. He sent the songs out to his Mr. Bungle bandmate Trevor Dunn, as well as Melvins guitarist Buzz Osborne and Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera. Cavalera was the only musician to decline his invite to the group, though he did suggest that the drum stool should be occupied by another highly respected metal drummer, Dave Lombardo, who at the time was busy with Grip Inc., having left Slayer for the second time six years previously. More...

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Sunday Old School: Gordi

We've covered bands from many countries over the course of Sunday Old School's history. From Mezarkabul in Turkey to Aria in Russia and Holy Dragons from Kazakhstan across to Asian bands like Crash from South Korea and Sigh, Loudness and Church Of Misery from Japan. However, one thing we haven't done as of yet, is look at a group who's entire history took place in a country that no longer exists. Of course the land is still there, but the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia has since become several countries and the former capital city of Belgrade is now the capital of Serbia. Despite being gripped in the rule of Marshal Tito, a dictator whose legacy remains disputed, rock and metal music was able to find it's way into the country and was pioneered when it came into the hands of the proud ones, or rather, Gordi.

Gordi, which as the previous paragraph alluded to, is Serbian for "the proud ones," was formed in 1977 in Belgrade by guitarist, Zlatko Manojlovic, along with his brother Goran, drummer Stevan Milutinovic Steva and bassist Dragan Jankovic, who was soon replaced by Zdenko Pomper. It was only after this change that the group were able to record and release their first album, "Covek," through the Ljubljana based major label, ZKP RTLJ. It was very much a progressive rock affair, with Zlatko Manojlovic later describing it as "psychedelic." More...

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Sunday Old School: Cruachan

Those of you who follow international football (or soccer, if you insist,) you will probably know that less than two hours ago, the Republic of Ireland were eliminated in the Euro tournament by the host nation, France. While we won't be seeing any more Irish contributions to the Euros, the nation's reputation when it comes to music is outstanding. Irish folk music, along with that of the Middle East, is possibly the best known in the world and the country has produced a number of top rock and metal bands too, with Thin Lizzy probably the most famous example. With kudos in both of these musical styles, it was only a matter of time before Ireland had a world class folk metal band and they arrived in 1992, under the name of Cruachan.

Cruachan came to be following guitarist Keith Fay's endeavours with the J.R.R. Tolkien inspired black metal band, Minas Tirith. He had formed a new group, taking it's name from the capital of the middle ages Irish kingdom of Connachta, after becoming more interested in folk music and hearing how two of his favourite genres could be blended on the debut Skyclad album, "The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth." It would be two years before the band recorded material, which surfaced in the guise of the "Celtica" demo in 1994, before a full length album, "Tuatha na Gael" followed the next year through Nazgul's Eyrie Productions. More...

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Sunday Old School: Unleashed

There are some countries where heavy metal is very popular, then there are countries which don't just appreciate heavy music, they contribute to it... heavily. Many fans of the genre will tell you that it was born in England but Germany is its spiritual home, though Scandinavia is where it's very welcome to stay. Indeed, it's not uncommon to see metal bands reach high chart positions in Finland and their neighbours to the west, Sweden, are almost as welcoming, spawning many amazing and important bands of their own, as well as the famous Swedish death metal sound. This tone is often credited as the Gothenburg sound but many of these groups came from the capital city of Stockholm, including today's band, Unleashed.

Unleashed was founded in 1989 by singing bassist, Johnny Hedlund, who had only just been fired from Nihilist, the band that was to become Entombed. He was joined in his endeavour by drummer Anders Schultz and guitarists Robert Sennebäck and Fredrik Lindgren. The former was replaced by Tomas Måsgard pretty quickly and the group set about making their mark by recording the demos, "Revenge" and "Utter Dark." The tapes soon found their way to German label Century Media, who snapped up the band almost immediately, resulting in their 1991 debut full length, "Where No Life Dwells." The record was hailed instantly as a death metal classic and remains one of the most popular albums to emerge from the Swedish metal scene to this day, which helped propel the band's popularity massively, allowing them to tour Europe and the United States with fellow death metal favouites, Morbid Angel. More...

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