This is xFiruath, Officially Signing Off

My long journey with Metalunderground began nearly a decade ago. Obama wasn’t President yet, and I still had a day job. I was tired of people screaming at me on the phone over problems with their cell service that I hadn’t caused and had no ability to fix. It was time for a change, so the wife and I decided to give a big old middle finger to the daily grind and dive headfirst into freelancing online.

It wasn’t long after getting in touch with Deathbringer that I found myself in Seattle on a tour bus shaking hands with Mikael Akerfeldt and blathering like an idiot about what a big fan I was. Its an experience I’ll never forget, seeing a legend in the flesh and learning what his daily life was like while performing across the country. I was so star struck I accidentally left my audio recorder on the bus after the interview and didn’t get it back until after the show. I’ve got a good half an hour of Mikael on the phone talking to family in Sweden that I’m never going to delete.

Never in my life did I figure I’d be talking to Kyle Gass about the death of Dio and whether there might ever be a Pick Of Destiny 2, but there I was on the phone with one half of Tenacious D chatting about legalizing drugs and how mortality sucks. Phone calls with lifelong idols like Emperor’s Ihsahn and Vorph from Samael became semi-regular occurrences. I actually ended up discussing the infamous “Jesus is a cunt” t-shirt directly with Dani Filth.

The Metalunderground of those golden days feels like a completely different era now. I remember back when every Avenged Sevenfold or Slipknot thread had 150+ comments and became any given reader’s personal chat room. That time Deathbringer made a forum link on the main page as an April Fool’s joke (royally pissing off everyone who wanted a message board long before we actually had one) had me in stitches while fending off angry emails.

Looking back at those days, I think of shirtless Wilco and his creative grammar. Regulars like americanpatriot1 and Gorecunt keeping conversations going. InfernoNecrosis oversharing about bodily functions. KMADD and Korndogg trolling. The constant cry of “That’s not Rob Zombie!!” All those times I accidentally wrote “Mike Porntoy” or “Windows Of Plague” in a headline. Branded or Kali getting into massive fights with anyone about anything. Blindgreed1 coming up with ever more inventive insults to anyone who would dare besmirch the Metalunderground name or anybody who called MU home.

If you got past the hazing phase, you were a regular – you were on of us, and that meant something. Those were the days of R10 and Wolf, Natsquatch and Cozen, BrunoHockalugie and Jackrum, Terminator and BrianSD, IrishMetal and Trendkill91, PorcupineTreeFan and IrishMetal, Fuck_A_Name and Drum_Junkie (who blessedly has stayed active). Whoever thought a grown man could look back at a forum thread titled “I’d put my tongue in her butt” and feel nostalgic?

It wasn’t just the readers that made us into that powerhouse of metal though, it was also the contributors. It was Vicky bringing absurdly underground pornogrind bands to the world’s attention. It was CROMCarl’s pun-tastic reviews. It was James (Cynic), Zack (zMETALlica), Peggy (darkstar), Cody (The_Avant_Garde), Dan (heavytothebone2), Kevin (n0thinghead), Joel (bloodofheroes), Andrew (remembermetal?), Matt (Dasher10), psythe, and more turning this thing into a community. All the while there was Deathbringer keeping us together and introducing me to bands like Acid Bath.

Along the way I’ve had the distinct pleasure of running our staff voting and writing up the yearly best-of articles, chronicling an absurd number of releases and how they ranked in the metalverse. I’ll never forget those dueling articles about the merits of Opeth’s “Heritage” with Darren (if you think the comments we get now are negative, oh boy, you should see some of the shit that hit my inbox back then when I dared to state a negative opinion about the Swedish golden boys). There were the fabulous inverse Valentine’s Day articles with Ollie, as well as meeting fascinating people who have since moved on to other endeavors like Frank (Progressivity_In_All) and Mike (OverkillExposure).

This journey of a staggering 603 reviews and just shy of 62,000 news stories has included everything from spending time talking to a band absurdly named Vaginal Penetration Of An Amelus With A Musty Carrot to moments that truly defined my life.

Although most of it took place in my home office, this has been a truly global journey, like when I had the opportunity to interview dozens of both Christian and Satanic black metal bands across the world for that unblack metal article. I got a whole new perspective on humanity while talking to people who lived through different denominations of the same religion trying to bomb each other into eternity in Croatia side by side with people who believe that prayer can literally resurrect the dead. I ended up interviewing utter misanthropes who did not want to be talking to any metal sites and were openly antagonistic, as well as extremely friendly bands who were beyond grateful someone was just simply paying attention to them.

There was the monumental undertaking of putting together our Peter Steele tribute album with bands from around the world to just simply meeting up with people I never could have imagined. Shared musical connections were forged with fans and musicians from far flung locales like Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Belgium, Iceland, Argentina, Israel, Chile, Norway, Maldives, the Czech Republic and even more! If it wasn’t for Metalunderground, I’d never have interacted with any of those amazing musicians and metal fans.

Far all those people I met online in far off lands, there were also plenty closer to home, from the trio of excellent lads in Spokane instrumental group Odyssey to local Montana scene stalwart Rashid (aka Zebulon Kosted). Probably the most surprising (and humbling) moment of my life took place right here in my own town, when the teller at my local bank saw my name and recognized who I was from Metalunderground, excitedly chatting me up about metal news.

While there were changes to the site, it was really metal itself that changed over these past 10 years. There was the appearance (and ignominious end) of djent. The love/hate phenomena that is Ghost. Pirate metal. Melodic post-hardcore (aka whiny mallcore that all sounds the same). Nu-metal’s unexpected return. That God Of Atheists album that never came out (and probably never will). Watching several different bands implode in public. Hearing bands I’d adored since I was a teenager slowly turn to utter shit. Terrible fires and even terrorist shootings that took the lives of our fellow music lovers. Hilariously awesome metal covers that deserve way more attention than they ever got. Finding nobody bands from a place no one’s ever heard of who could outperform absolutely anyone on the Metal Blade or Roadrunner rosters (which was hands down my favorite part of this job).

There have been huge ups and yes, some downs. There have been times when Metalunderground sat triumphantly among the top 5 metal sites in the entire world and times when we’ve struggled to get comments and views. The fall of MySpace, subsequent great exodus to Facebook, and rising dominance of clickbait content completely changed how music sites operate. We went from a few scant thousand Facebook followers and catapaulted to more than a million. Sometimes its good and sometimes its bad, but change happens whether you want it to or not, and sadly now those changes are leading me away from the place that’s been my online home for most of my adult life.

Many of the people I’ve met through Metalunderground have legitimately become friends, whether its our contributors, readers, or even PR and label folks like Curtis Dewar, Tom George, and Ryan Feldman. Plenty of those friendships have gone way beyond “hey, we like the same bands” over the years. We’ve been there for each other through marriages, divorces, births, mental breakdowns, and even funerals (RIP DeathInEye, Godlike, and Tom Himself – the three of you will not be forgotten).

At this point, some of the people reading this post are more like family. I’ve given job recommendations over the phone for some of you. Regulars have emailed me asking what they can do to help our writers who were going through hard times and vice versa. When my wife and I lost our first child, there were probably more MU readers messaging me their support and condolences than anyone else – even people I’d openly argued and clashed with before. We’re metal heads. No one else understands us, so we fucking stick together.

It’s been my honor to serve the metal community and do my part to keep the scene thriving. I have no doubt the rest of the staff and the regular readers will keep things running smoothly. For my part, I’ll now be writing for Gameskinny, working on my next fiction release, and handling a few PR campaigns for metal bands I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know to over the years.

I may be leaving the site, but I’m not going to vanish from the metal community, so keep in touch. For everyone reading this, whether you’ve been around since those heady early days or just recently got on the MU train, please know you have my thanks.

All good things come to an end, and my time here is finally done. This is xFiruath, officially signing off. Farewell Metal Underground.

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New Song “Gates Of Hell” Streaming From Bloody Hammers

The new EP “The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers” is just over a week away from release (July 14th) and Bloody Hammers has opened the “Gates Of Hell” by streaming the opening track in the player below. The physical release is strictly limited to 300 copies.

“The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers” desends from the dark mountain peaks of Transylvania. Here somber-sacral organ symphonies slide over cruel hammering staccato riffing. Our master of horror is Anders Manga, who delivers a bombastic, powerful voice over his wife Devallia’s sinister synthesizers. The ice-cold nostalgia of 70’s b-list thrillers shoots through the veins directly into the heart. In “The Beyond” their piercing Gothic sound shifts to a sensual, The Cure-esque brand of pop. A soundtrack for the exploration of past lives

The track listing for the EP is:

1. Gates of Hell
2. Blood (see video here)
3. The Beyond
4. Vultures Circle Overland
5. All The Colors Of The Dark
6. The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance

Check out “Gates of Hell” here:

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New Song “Gates Of Hell” Streaming From Bloody Hammers

The new EP “The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers” is just over a week away from release (July 14th) and Bloody Hammers has opened the “Gates Of Hell” by streaming the opening track in the player below. The physical release is strictly limited to 300 copies.

“The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers” desends from the dark mountain peaks of Transylvania. Here somber-sacral organ symphonies slide over cruel hammering staccato riffing. Our master of horror is Anders Manga, who delivers a bombastic, powerful voice over his wife Devallia’s sinister synthesizers. The ice-cold nostalgia of 70’s b-list thrillers shoots through the veins directly into the heart. In “The Beyond” their piercing Gothic sound shifts to a sensual, The Cure-esque brand of pop. A soundtrack for the exploration of past lives

The track listing for the EP is:

1. Gates of Hell
2. Blood (see video here)
3. The Beyond
4. Vultures Circle Overland
5. All The Colors Of The Dark
6. The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance

Check out “Gates of Hell” here:

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Bloody Hammers Releasing “The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers” EP

Please welcome a new chapter in the mysterious world of Bloody Hammers: “The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers.” This very special case is a webstore & band only release strictly limited to 300 copies and due out on July 14th, 2017.

This six song EP descends from the dark mountain peaks of Transylvania, featuring somber sacral organ symphonies that slide over cruel hammering staccato riffing. The master of horror Anders Manga delivers a bombastic, powerful voice over his wife Devallia’s sinister synthesizers. The ice-cold nostalgia of 70’s b-list thrillers and horror flicks shoots through the veins directly into the heart.

Check out a video for “Blood” below. Anders Manga states: “Ultimately, the song is about the quest for freedom from oppression in any form. Many people blindly accept oppression simply because they were told to, or out of fear of retaliation from family or eternal damnation. Some never question it, because they don’t even realize they are being oppressed. If constant fear and threats prevent one from simply enjoying their life, then something needs to change.

“The budget was a little tight on this EP so we turned to Häxan, one of our favorite movies of all time, for additional footage. I remember ages ago, renting a documentary on satanism and the occult (on VHS by the way) from a local mom & pop video store. It was just a dumb typical satanic panic 80’s style documentary, but they had footage from Häxan in it, which fascinated me. It wasn’t credited on the video so it took me a long time time to find out what it was from. When I learned it was made in 1922, I was shocked. The visuals were better than some of the effects I was seeing in modern movies.”

1. Gates of Hell
2. Blood
3. The Beyond
4. Vultures Circle Overland
5. All The Colors Of The Dark
6. The Bloodsucker Leads The Dance

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Video Clip For New Song “Goodnight” Issued By Mountaineer

Next week, Lifeforce Records will release the debut album “Sirens & Slumber” by Californian quintet Mountaineer, a sweeping and often stunning collection of influences, experiences and musical prowess that should light fires in the eyes of all kinds of music fans.

Guitarist Clayton Bartholomew is fresh off his gig with Secrets of the Sky (also ex-Lycus), and he continues his exploration of soaring, doomy tones with his band members, vocalist Miguel Meza (ex-Ashes of American Flags) and all three members of Lament Cityscape (guitarist Mike McClatchey, drummer Sean McCullough, and bassist David Small). The result is both righteous and downcast, neither particularly lethargic nor overly aggressive. The balance is uncanny, and it will hopefully garner the band a wide audience.

The album “Sirens & Slumber” will drop on May 19th, but the band has issued a video clip for the new song “Goodnight,” which you can check out below.

Bartholomew had the following to say about it: “The video for the song ‘Goodnight’ was shot and directed by [Thou bassist] Mitch Wells and features his wife, Kathryn Teague. Mitch has done work for The Body, Full of Hell, Dangers, etc. I think the video captures the same sense of ‘giving up’ that the song implies, but with a twist. We let Mitch run with his interpretation of it, and I think he did a great job.”

The track listing for “Sirens & Slumber” is:

1. Foam
2. Coma Fever
3. Measured Breaths
4. Womb (song streaming here)
5. Pull The Blinds
6. Siren Song
7. Fog and Distant Light
8. Adrift
9. Goodnight

Check out “Goodnight” here:

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Gemini Syndrome Releases “Sorry, Not Sorry” Video

Gemini Syndrome just debuted the “Sorry, Not Sorry” official music video. taken off the “Memento Mori” album. In addition to the video coming online, look for Gemini Syndrome on the of the “Half God, Half Devil” tour with In This Moment, Motionless In White, and Avatar later this month. The band comments:

“Our brand-new music video for ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ tells the story about a husband and wife who have lost themselves in vanity and greed. The woman injects herself with large painful needles and cuts her face, while the man chops up a briefcase full of cash and snorts it like drugs. As the wife sits down with her husband at the dinner table, she looks cartoonish, while the husband is sweating over a large mirrored plate of money. Things then really start to take a turn for the worse for them both and you gotta watch to find out their fate.

“The song itself shines a light on the collective mental illness that our society seems to be infected with. Now more than ever, it’s so easy to lose ourselves in a false virtual reality that glorifies materialism and self-seeking satisfaction. We’ve become ironic memes of ourselves, social zombies lost in our devices, where tangible human interaction has become unnecessary and burdensome. We’re desensitized from only seeing others and ourselves through self-imposed filters. It’s time to wake up from the spell and look ourselves, and each other, in the eye.

“We are also extremely grateful to be a part of the ‘Half God, Half Devil’ Tour with our friends In This Moment, Motionless In White, and Avatar. It’s an honor to be a part of this amazing package and share the stage with such great bands, and good friends, old and new. If there are still tickets available in your city, get them now, as shows have been selling out every night!”

†Headline Show
††w/ Avatar
†††Festival

April 21 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
April 22 – Stroudsburg, PA – Sherman Theater
April 23 – Worcester, MA – Worcester Palladium
† April 24 – Amityville, NY – Amityville Music Hall
April 25 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
April 26 – Detroit, MI – The Fillmore Detroit
April 28 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
†† April 29 – Destin, FL – Club LA
††† April 30 – Summerville, SC – 98 Rockfest
May 02 – Birmingham, AL – Iron City Bham
May 03 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
† May 04 – Akron, OH – The Empire Concert Club
May 05 – Nashville, TN – War Memorial Auditorium
† May 07 – Fayetteville, AR – Georges Majestic
† May 09 – Fort Collins, CO – Hodi
† May 10 – Grand Junction, CO – Mesa Theatre

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Drummer Jeff Plate Announces Split With Metal Church, Band Drops Off Alter Bridge, In Flames Tour

Jeff Plate, longtime drummer for Metal Church, announced his departure from the band citing time and time management issues. The band announced that it is withdrawing from the AlterBridge/In Flames tour scheduled for this May.

In a post on Facebook, Plate stated: “Hello everyone. It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my departure from Metal Church. I came to this conclusion 2 weeks ago, and agreed to hold off on the announcement until Metal Church had made some decisions on what they were going to do.

“This is obviously not an easy decision. After many conversations with myself, my wife, my family, my management and Kurdt Vanderoof and Mike Howe, I know I am doing the right thing for my future.

“I know there will be questions and speculation. The bottom line is time, my time, and how best I manage it. I had to come to terms with the fact that time is just blowing by at the speed of light and there is no time for me to second guess or regret anything I’m doing. At this point in my life I need to be in more control of my time and career. I have a number of things I’d like to do and try, and to do these I have to give up something I truly love and am very proud of.

“I cannot thank Kurdt Vanderhoof enough for inviting me into Metal Church. For the past 12 years I have had the honor and privilege of playing some of the best, truly iconic Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal songs ever written. I have recorded 4 records with the band. The latest, ‘XI’, is not only one of my favorite Metal Church records, but I feel it is the one of the best, if not the best records I have recorded throughout my career.

“Also, I cannot thank the Metal Church fan base enough for the tremendous support. I have met thousands of you over the years and you, fans old and new, are simply the best. You have kept this band alive for the past 33 years, and I am sure there is more great music to come.

“Metal Church is in a good place, and there are a number of shows and good things coming up this year. This decision is made now to not only let me prepare for the year to come, but also to let Metal Church do the same. Kurdt Vanderhoof(g), Mike Howe(v), Steve Unger(b), Rick VanZandt(g), Tim Harding(sound and production), and Joe Obrien(President @ Rat Pak Records) have been a tremendous team, and they are also very good friends of mine. I wish them nothing but the best.

“I hope to see you all again somewhere down the road. I will keep you posted on my activities. Trust me, I will not sit still for very long. Thank you, take care.”

Just prior to Plate’s announcement, the band issued the following statement: “Due to unforeseen personnel changes within the Metal Church organization, regretfully we have to pull off the five Alter Bridge/In Flames show dates in May. We are grateful to everyone in the Alter Bridge camp for having offered us the opportunity, and would like to extend our deepest apologies to both bands, their management, and all the fans for the last minute cancellation. We had hoped we could make something work out, but that is no longer a possibility. We will be back on the road in June for all the European shows and we look forward to introducing you to our new drummer! Thank you for your understanding!”

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Berserker IV Festival Lineup Finalized

On April 14-15th 2017, The Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan will play host to the annual Berserker music fest. Now in its fourth year, the all-ages, two-day event is a wholly DIY affair founded and organized by Child Bite frontman Shawn Knight and his wife Veronica.

Berserker IV is capped offf with the addition of hardcore heavyweights Ringworm. This year’s lineup boasts thirty bands on three stages with appearances by internationally touring acts like GWAR, OFF!, Weedeater, The Obsessed, Negative Approach, Brain Tentacles, Child Bite, and more as well as new and established underground artists including Immortal Bird, Cemetery Piss, Fuck You Pay Me, SNAFU, Artillery Breath, and others.

The festival also marks the official return of Eyehategod vocalist Mike IX William,s who will front the band for the first time since undergoing a liver transplant this past December.

For those who haven’t recently replaced their livers, Berserker IV will debut the festival exclusive Blood Troll Mead, made with Michigan Wildflower Honey, fresh Elderberries, and fresh Gooseberries. It is made with fruits grown and used in Nordic tradition. We cannot promise no Trolls were harmed in the making of this mead. The full festival lineup will be as follows:

GWAR
EYEHATEGOD
OFF!
Ringworm
Weedeater
The Obsessed
Negative Approach
Brain Tentacles
Blurring
Child Bite
Immortal Bird
Horrible Earth
Cemetery Piss
Fuck You Pay Me
Nightkin
Nuke
Cotton Museum
Against The Grain
Boreworm
Hollow Earth
SNAFU
Artillery Breath
Euphoria
Sunlight’s Bane
Centenary
Night Vapor
Off-Ox
Fell Ruin
Sweat
Law

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Megadeth Honored With “Best Metal Performance” Grammy Award

Megadeth took home the Grammy tonight for the “Best Metal Performance” category at the 59th annual Grammy Awards, held Sunday, February 12 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The nomination marked Megadeth’s twelfth over the years. Megadeth was nominated for “Dystopia”, the title track for the band’s 2016 album.

As Megadeth approached the stage to accept the award, the house band inexplicably played Metallica’s classic “Master Of Puppets.”

Says mainman Dave Mustaine in his acceptance speech:

“Fantastic! Only took twelve tries to get this. Last time we were here, we were talking to Kenny G, and he asked me how many times we were here, and he goes, ‘Well, eleven isn’t that bad.’ And I said, ‘How many times did it take you?’ And he said, Twenty-one.’ And I was, like, ‘Oh, my god. If it takes twenty-one times… I don’t know if I’ll live that long.’ I wanna thank Jesus Christ, I wanna thank my wife, my children, all the band’s wives and kids, I wanna thank our management, our label, our agent, our attorney, our crew, all of you, especially the metal community. I think it’s a little weird that we ended up being category 69, but somebody’s got a sense of humor.”

Finally! pic.twitter.com/2KqdWhSrAX

— Dave Mustaine (@DaveMustaine) February 12, 2017

The nominees in the “Best Metal Performance” category were as follows:

Baroness – “Shock Me”
Gojira – “Silvera”
Korn – “Rotting In Vain”
Periphery – “The Price Is Wrong”

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Tim Lambesis Reportedly Released From Prison

Back in 2014, former As I Lay Dying member Tim Lambesis was sentenced to six years in prison for attempting to hire an undercover police officer to kill his wife.

Although it hasn’t been confirmed by any official sources at this point, multiple sites are reporting that Lambesis has now been released from prison.

The source for his info comes from George Lynch on Eddie Trunk’s Show from the Monsters of Rock Cruise. During the interview, Lynch discussed his religion debates with Tim Lambesis and stated Tim has been released and has a book and record label deal.

You can hear the interview segment below, and a transcript follows:

I had every freaking argument out there, and he just was able to really kind of battle every argument, ’cause he had every counter-argument prepared in his mind; he had studied so hard. And as silly as his argument was, and as much as it didn’t really hold water when you thought about it — it was all fallacious arguments — but…

Anyways, he just got out of jail for attempting to kill his wife. Now I’m not saying this as an indictment against anything. All I’m saying is, there is a guy who could argue Christianity beyond anybody I’ve ever spoken to in my life; I had these very heated debates with this guy… He had a beautiful wife; they had adopted three Cambodian children. And then he discovered cocaine, strippers, heroin and steroids. He went completely off the rails, abandoned his family, his wife threatened to divorce him, he hired an off-duty cop to kill her.

He recently got out of jail. He destroyed his band. They don’t have a pot to piss in now; they’re all struggling. [They are] a great band. I know them very well because, actually, the guitar player was my daughter’s fiancé. And, actually, the drummer [Jordan Mancino] played in another project I had ways back, Souls Of We. So, anyways, he’s out, he’s got a mega record deal, he’s got a book deal, everything’s lined up for him. I mean, he’s gonna skate through life. Everybody else is suffering. His wife is living in fear, his children are living in fear. His band doesn’t have a pot to piss in.

Following the arrest and band implosion, Tim’s former bandmates went on to form Wovenwar, and have since released two albums: a self-titled debut and 2016 sophomore output “Honor Is Dead.”

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