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Remembering Dimebag Darrell

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...

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Top Ten Halloween Metal Songs

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.

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The Loudness War: Volume Knobs Optional

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...

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A Decade Of Metal In Review

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...

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Giving Thanks For Metal And All Involved

I've avoided writing any sort of giving thanks Thanksgiving message for years, but since we're doing more personal op-eds and columns these days, I figured "why the hell not." Besides, I really am thankful for all who have helped me along this 8+ year journey of Metalunderground.com, directly and indirectly.

Publicists

While the music industry is often reviled, there are a lot of people working their asses off for sub-executive level salaries to make stuff happen for the bands. Nine times out of ten, publicists are the ones who get us set up with exclusive coverage and access to the bands themselves, all the while juggling a million things at once. I can relate. Thank you all for working with us on so many mutually rewarding and beneficial projects, and for your patience when things are sometimes slow moving or hard to nail down (because you know how swamped we are too probably), and being cool people to work with.

Metalunderground.com Staff

We've got a killer staff this year - the best staff ever - who have helped bring you all the latest news daily, review tons of releases, gain more insight into bands through interviews and show reports, and help you discover new music with some of our latest columns and countless other ways. We've added many excellent writers and our senior staffers have all been steadily improving their writing over time, even those who are not writers by trade. So thanks to all of you for your efforts and making this site better than I ever imagined and of a quality that I am proud.

Metal Bands

We only get to work with or speak to a fraction of the bands we cover, but bands are central to everything we do. Checking out thousands of bands can be tedious work, but in the end, the bands we get to chat with, see live, and the many bands that connect with our musical tastes and sense of discovery give us the inspiration to continue doing what we do day in and day out. We love metal and without the bands, successful or underground, there would be nothing to write about and enjoy as we do now. Thanks for inspriring us and creating the music that we enjoy and plays such a big role in our lives.

The Metalunderground.com Community

Thanks to everyone who comes here to read our articles, interact in our little community, and aid others in discovering more great metal bands and music.

I'm very thankful for all the people who have helped make this journey an enjoyable one, providing the help and encouragement to continue all these years and many more.

And to those who celebrate it in the U.S. or abroad, have a safe and metal Thanksgiving.

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Heavy Metal Songwriting Tips

In my opinion, metal fans are the most outgoing, proactive and instrument-oriented of all music fans. I've met more than a few fellow metallers who, despite having little to no knowledge about playing an instrument, have managed to produce a rough demo and play a live show on enthusiasm alone, which is neat! Yet when it comes to song writing or music advice for metal fans on the net there is a real lack of information; a true shame. There is a good amount of general songwriting tips out there for anyone who can use Google, but little of it is relevant to a metal head; "Write a simple hook in the chorus! Focus lyrics on universal topics like love!" - Forget it. Unlike some of the members here, I can't consider myself a metal star, but I'm old and gnarled enough to dish out some advice to the young, long-haired masses with a gleam in their eye. More...

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Too Much Is Never Enough: Technical Metal in 2009

Earlier in the year Metal Underground presented its annual “Best Of” awards and with his finger always on the pulse, deathbringer mentioned a new dominance in metal leading us into 2009. Maybe you’ve noticed the extra acoustic interludes, the blazing shred solos, the disjointed poly-rhythms or maybe you haven’t - but either way a cloud of progressive influence has undoubtedly emerged over the metal scene. Not just in our minds here at MU, but in the minds of fans Opeth, Cynic, Meshuggah, Nachtmystium and Ihsahn stood out with impressive 2008 releases. Even more excitement and interest has been generated by collaborations between Ihsahn and Opeth, and 2009 hasn’t let up with Mastodon’s progressive opus “Crack The Skye” and Obscura’s “Cosmogenesis” leading the charge.

So what magic is at work here aside from great prog-metal releases? Larger bands such as the explosive power metal act DragonForce and progressive groovers Mastodon have played a large part in the uprising of the pursuit of extreme talent for more mainstream metal fans - opening legions of otherwise clueless greenhorns to the bar of instrumental ability. Old hands such as Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and numerous thrash acts have also not been untouched by the progressive aura and have regained the thirst for pushing technical boundaries - a truly founding ideal of metal if ever there was one. Another force at play here is the power the internet has had in exposing technical freak shows like Necrophagist as well as many young tech-metal heads being introduced to metal and fostered through 90s progressive acts such as Tool or Dream Theater. Not enough for you? Let’s take a little trip back in time then. More...

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Was Adrian McCoy A Metal Underground.com Reader?

It's not exactly the kind of publicity that I'd want for Metal Underground.com or for metal as a whole, but the question has been eating away at me since first reading about the man arrested for making death threats against Korn and then recently trading emails with the author of this article, who links the timelines of the reported threats made against Korn online (before those made on the FBI's site) to that of the postings and ultimate banning of the infamous Metalunderground.com reader and commenter LordAgony.

Adrian McCoy, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty in federal court last Friday to threatening the band.

The prosecutor told ABC23 that McCoy made threats on a metal underground-related Web site in January of 2006. While metalunderground.com did not confirm if McCoy made threats against Korn on their site, one user using the name, LordAgony, was kicked off the site at that time for making threats against the band, saying he wanted the band destroyed.

The reality is that I have no way of knowing who this Adrian McCoy is. Things look like they are adding up, but the question remains: is Adrian McCoy the LordAgony who posted (and trolled) on Metalunderground.com a couple years ago?

I was, in fact, contacted by the FBI sometime last year regarding "threats made toward someone on Metalunderground.com." They did not state who was making the threats or who the threats were against. I did not think much of it at the time. The call actually seemed a little fishy, so I wasn't even sure it was legit, and I have since misplaced the agents' names. In any case, I told them that I had no other information but the poster's screen name and IP address linked to the posts. No further information was ever requested or furnished (not even the IP addresses). They wouldn't need it if the perpetrator was foolish enough to make such threats on the FBI's web site.

I recently revisted some of LordAgony's comments and did a reverse DNS lookup on several of the IP Addresses, and while some would not resolve completely, most did point to California.

But back to the topic of making threats on the FBI's web site. That's the part that I just don't get, and it leads me to believe this person had really lost touch with reality or was reaching out for help/trying to get caught. Seriously, who goes to the FBI's web site to threaten a band? We could be dealing with a seriously delusional Nathan Gale-type personality here.

I have many reasons for bringing this topic up here on Metalunderground.com. Pure curiosity is a big one. Is Adrian McCoy LordAgony? It's a neat bit of trivia from Metal Underground.com's past at the very least.

I also wanted to assure our readers that their privacy was maintained despite my tongue-in-cheek comment in the comments of this article that "I've sent all server logs to the FBI." Clearly other commenters recognize the animosity shown towards Korn (for their music) by many readers of this site, and my comment was simply in jest. As I said, no information was furnished (or requested) to the FBI or any other branch of law enforcement.

There are a couple morals to this story. First, you are always accountable for your actions, even if you think you are "anonymous." Some people do and say things online that they would never say in person. Even though the chances are slim, just remember you may be called on your words one day. Second, it's a reminder - one that I had to make recently in another thread - that we will not tolerate personal attacks on this site. I try not to be a heavy-handed moderator and I let quite a bit of stuff slide here, but there is a line and crossing it will result in being banned from Metal Underground.com.

Back to my curiosity about the matter. I've been told that Metal Underground.com was mentioned by name on TV broadcasts on this topic, but have not heard any such newscasts directly. If anyone has more information linking Adrian McCoy to Metalunderground.com and/or LordAgony, please send me links by posting them here or via the contact form. Videos of mentions in newscasts would be awesome. I'll offer up a small reward for the best sources reported.

Stay metal, and stay civil! :-) More...

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A Heavy Metal Christmas Song Round-up

Yet another way you can tell metal is on the rise (commercially) is by how many metal Christmas songs are out this year. I don't recall another year that I have heard of more than one or two metal renditions of Christmas songs. This year, however, I've seen postings for more than half a dozen of them - some old, but some new as well. So I've decided to compile a list of these metal Christmas songs so that fans of this sort of thing can listen to and download them while they're still online.

Personally, I'm a sucker for metal Christmas songs, but only if they're done well. I figure if I've got to listen to something, it might as well be heavy or at least have a rock or metal edge to it. Granted, some of these songs are not ultra-heavy, but I find them to be fun expressions for the holiday season by metal bands. Others are parodies of Christmas songs or Christmas itself, and these are usually heavier than the actual Christmas carols.

Without further ado, here's the list: More...

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Hardcore to Me

I remember being at an Articles of Faith show back in the early 1980s in Chicago and thinking, "This is where I belong, these are my people." It's not 1982 anymore and you can't expect things to sound the same. The lines have blurred and you can nearly start a riot on some corners trying to define who and what is hardcore. Much of what is called hardcore these days has strong metal influences and sounds much different from what was called hardcore back in the day.

I'm a fan of lots of the old school stuff which came out of the punk scene but I also like a some of the newer 'metalcore' stuff. That being said, here are some of the recordings that are in my player or in the car on a regular basis: More...

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Two Years Later: Remembering "Dimebag" Darrell

The saying goes that “time heals all wounds”, I find it to be an expression that fails to capture how slow and awkward the process of healing can be. It’s been two years since the unexpected passing of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and the metal community is still adjusting. Bands continue to fervently tribute songs and even entire sets and albums to the man. As a fan, hearing any Pantera song today summons more emotions than originally intended. It’s remarkable and somewhat amusing, to find oneself tearing up to “Five Minutes Alone”. Slowly however, I find that the more often I play a Pantera song, the less it feels like a part of the grieving process.

Metal Underground.com has become one of the many hubs where Dime’s creative impact and his passing still resonate. Virtually every thread relating to Pantera and Damage Plan boast a countless array of heartfelt sentiments from admirers across the globe. Coping has not come easily but fans continue to celebrate Darrell Abbott’s life by blasting his music at preposterous volumes and toasting with his patented Black tooth grin. Some find solace in the killer having been felled by a 12 gauge shotgun to the face, metal justice by anyone’s standards but poor consolation nonetheless. Most still ponder the hows and whys of the tragedy, while recieving little in the way of answers or closure. While fans will always be distressed and confused by the actions of one lone lunatic, it’s Darrell Abbott’s friends and family who have suffered the most.

Only recently have we seen any signs of recovery from the surviving members of Pantera and Damage Plan. Darrels brother, Vinnie Paul Abbott, has continued to keep himself busy with his advice column in Revolver Magazine. Last month he dubbed his newly formed supergroup Hell Yeah, which features members of Mudvayne and Nothingface. Similarly, Patrick Lachman went on to front the Mercy Clinic, while Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo have been hard at work on the next Down record.

Like all so called legends, Dimebag has a legacy of achievements that may eclipse -who- the man was. By all accounts, Darrell Abbott was a gracious and personable individual, known to wade amongst the masses at shows, personally handing out tickets, merchandise and even drinks to his fans. Dime was also in the habit of greeting new tour mates (read: total strangers) like they were old friends. Members of Shadows Fall, Alice in Chains, Lamb of God, Korn and Black Label Society have all been taken aback by Darrell’s outgoing hospitality.

In celebrating Dime’s monumental impact, it’s important that we as fans do not deify him. Darrell Abbott was many things to many people but no more or less human than anyone else. By living out his childhood dream and utilizing sheer force of will, he reinvented metal during the reign of grunge. It's conceivable that metal music might still be saving face from the extended glam farce of the 80's, if not for the cowboys from hell. We owe it to Dime and ourselves, to carry on his legacy but not with the sad bastard-fanaticism some reserve for Presley, Cobain, Hendrix and Lennon. On this, the second anniversary of his passing, the man who helped devise “Vulgar Display of Power” would rather us be banging our heads than hanging them.

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