20 Years Ago: USURPER release Threshold of the Usurper (original artwork source)

Frosty maniacs USURPER released the CD EP Threshold of the Usurper on this day in 1996.

Where did you get the picture of the “Threshold Of The Usurper” release from? It looks like an ancient, bloody Aztec ritual or something like that.
We ripped that off from a witchcraft book. It is a witches Sabbat from an old wood cut. We didn’t have an artwork budget in those days so that’s how we did things.
– Rick “Rigor” Scythe / Usurper interview, Voices from the Darkside

A quick hunt reveals the original artwork as Les Sabbats, an etching by master of Watteau and Lancret, Claude Gillot.

Les Sabbats was created between 1698 and 1722, the date of Gillot’s death.

” Witches’ sabbath, with, in the middle, a horned male figure presiding over the torture of two male figures, tied to a spinning device; on the left, two female figures on a broom, an elegant woman mounted on the skeleton of a four-legged creature, and a stag-horned man mounting a lion-headed horse Etching with some engraving; pasted on paper with black border. ” – British Museum

It was acquired by the British Museum in 1866 and goes on display periodically. Most recently in 2014-2015.

Later reissues of this album, including our tape release with Night Birds Records, use new artwork by Juha Vuorma.

Threshold of the Usurper was released later in the year as a split tape with WAR – the Swedish side project band including members of OPHTHALAMIA, DARK FUNERAL and HYPOCRISY.

27 Years Ago: RAZOR live Toronto Metal Massacre 2 (Shotgun Justice)

Live at the second Toronto Metal Massacre on this day in 1989.

The eastern US and Canada had just gone through one of the coldest periods on record but the show went ahead. Organised by Two Rays Promotion. RAZOR organised a multi-cam shoot and you can see some of the footage in the video for Shotgun Justice.

Shotgun Justice is the title track from their sixth album released 2-3 months after this gig.

Avoid undue exposure…

29 Years Ago: ADX live in Paris (French Speed Metal)

Live on this day in 1987 ADX played at Maison de la Mutualité, Paris. This high quality recording was released the following year as Exécution publique. Sounds like a large crowd; la Mutualité had a 1700+ capacity, similar size to the Astoria.

ADX stands for Acier DouX. It means ‘soft steel’, but soft in this translation refers to the melodic side of their music. It’s hard driving heavy/speed metal!

Any gigs we played, we met fans from unexpected countries… We met Scandinavian, South Americans, Africans, Asians fans… We never played in their coutries so they came… We don’t sold-out stadiums or main-stages it’s true but every gig we play is like a party and an opportunity to meet fans and friends.

32 Years Ago: RUNNING WILD release Gates to Purgatory

This summer should see the release of the band’s debut album. All I can say is once that record is out, by all means pick it up. It will undoubtedly be one of the top metal albums of 1984.

And Bob Muldowney was right on in the July 1984 issue (XXVI) of his Kick Ass zine! RUNNING WILD released Gates to Purgatory on this day in 1984!

They were already making a name in the underground with the Rock from Hell – German Metal Attack split in 1983 featuring an early version of “Adrian S.O.S.” and Death Metal split a couple of months earlier (Oct 1984) with HELLHAMMER, HELLOWEEN and DARK AVENGER.

Paint in subways, paint in buses
With your Edding big black pentagrams
Black metal graffitis are thrown against the wall,
Crucifixes are inversed
Pictures are signed by the Triple Six
Black metal art is shocking law ‘n’ order man!

For me, an all time classic from West Germany, a musical avalanche. Lyrically the Adversary archetype used to fight against religious and state corruption (“Son of Satan’s coming, to free all the slaves”).

More from Kick Ass, describing the RW sound (just before the release of the album):

From commercial metal (Scorpions, Accept, Bullet) to hardcore power metal (Sodom), they’ve got something for everyone, and that includes straight ahead powerful heavy metal, in the form of Running Wild.
Sporting a Satanist image, Running Wild is not a power metal or death metal band. They music is basically up-tempo and fast-paced heavy metal, heavy guitar riffing (sometimes reminiscent of heavier Priest a la “Stained Class” and “Hell Bent For Leather”). The vocals are not gut-level like Sir Cronos, but they are rough, and the lead guitar work is also impressive.

30 Years Ago: HOLY TERROR record their debut LP Terror and Submission (faithful souls beware)

During this month in 1986, HOLY TERROR entered Skyline Studios to record their classic debut Terror and Submission. A promo/demo was spread earlier in the year to tape traders and zines. Coupled with members previously being in AGENT STEEL, DARK ANGEL and BLACK WIDOW (from Metal Massacre III), this was a highly anticipated record!

“Terror and Submission” was recorded at this studio located in the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California. The setting was beautiful. I can’t remember the name of the studio. Unfortunately the setting was so relaxed, that I am afraid the record shows the comfort we had there. “Terror and Submission” is too polished. We were much rawer then the album at our shows. Plus the studio engineer did not have any Thrash (or even Heavy Metal) experience. As a result the music sounds slower and more passive than we really wanted. Kurt wrote all of the songs except for one. I wrote the music and lyrics for ‘Tomorrow’s End’. I believe that Kurt had much of the music written even before HOLY TERROR was a band. “Mind Wars” was a completely different story. It was much more of a band collaboration even though Kurt wrote most of the music. Keith wrote lyrics for several of the songs including both songs that I wrote the music for. The music was much faster which mirrors our live shows. We recorded it at Music Grinder Studios in Hollywood. The studio was more state of the art, but the location was more commercial. We were very determined to produce a better record than the first. It’s not that we didn’t like “Terror and Submission”, it’s just we felt it didn’t adequately represent the band. We actually considered ourselves as a more diverse band then your average Thrash band.

– Mike Alvord / HOLY TERROR interview, Voices from the Darkside

31 Years Ago: LUCIFER’S HERITAGE (pre BLIND GUARDIAN) release Symphonies of Doom demo

Great band name, good demo. Somewhere between speed and heavy metal – the German sound of the time (GRAVE DIGGER and others). Released on this day in 1985.

Every night I hear thunder.
The shadow, can’t you see?
So one night I will follow.
The dark side reigns in me.

This song, Dead of the Night (guitar & vocals) has some similar parts to VIXEN’s Living in Sin from ’83.

You can hear this demo complete and remastered on the 2007 reissue of BLIND GUARDIAN’s first album, Battalions of Fear. Members of LUCIFER’S HERITAGE formed BLIND GUARDIAN after the second demo in ’86.

23 Years Ago: KATATONIA release Dance of December Souls (ashes spread in the northern storm)

…it’s a memorial hail to all the Asa Viking warriors which died by the hands of christians yet still with their refusal to believe in the white Christ. As we are messengers of the north, it’s our duty to begin a huge revenge… Musically “Dance…” is a mixture of depressed and mournful moods the atmospheric way, the same goes for the lyrical side as well as productionwise featuring around 53 minutes of these songs” “Gateways of Bereavement”, “In Silence Enshrined”, “Elohim Meth”, “Velvet Thorns of Drynwhyl”, “Tomb of Insomnia”, “Dancing December” and finally a re-recording of the song “Without God”.

– Blackheim / Katatonia interview, Petrified zine #3 1994

Recorded at Unisound Studios (the re-named Gorysound Studios, again with Dan Swanö) in early April, Dance of December Souls was released by No Fashion Records on this day in 1993.

katatonia-blackheim-2

We go for that unordinary atmospheric mood all the way. All the structures have something especially different within themselves. Of course everyone can’t respect and admit it’s that way. They rather would call our music wimpy or commercial just because they can’t cope with the strong emotional melodies.

– Blackheim / Katatonia interview, Chamber of Sorrow zine #4 1993

katatonia-blackheim-1

My influences have grown stronger within my personal quest for the mysticism of my inner thoughts. I don’t need any certain influences from bands any longer, you could manage without it as long as you’re musically minded. My sources of inspiration are mostly moods, thoughts and some (un)earthly elements such as forests, nightskies, fields and seas. I get very emotional through tragic and extremely sad happenings, which I try to express through the music is an adventarous structure. Of course we still listen to a lot of music and you do get influenced whether you like it or not, but in our case it’s subconscious. I’m more into some deeper stuff nowadays, Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy, Thule, The Mission, The Cure & Depeche Mode are all my faves.

– Blackheim / Katatonia interview, Mortician zine #4 1993

30 Years Ago: ENGLISH DOGS release Where Legend Began

Pinch, the drummer, writes all the lyrics. The change was basically just a progression influenced by changes in the music we listened to and in the members of the band. With this album Punch wrote the lyrics to “The Eye Of Shamahn” and basically we just took it from there and progressed through the rest of the story. Then we decided to fill in the gaps in the recordings with effects to give a continuity to the album and keep the story together. The album as a complete project really started to come together from there. As you know it’s not quite finished “Epilogue” is an instrumental but we want our fans to write the lyrics for it to close the story – we’re running it as a competition to see how deeply people get into the album.

ENGLISH DOGS released their third album during this month in 1986 on Music for Nations.

…we think that we’ve definitely made a change for the better. The album is certainly an improvement on our more recent stuff. By the way, we want to do something really original – if we write a song called “Metal Forces” do you reckon we’d get a really shit hot review?

…I think we still use some aspects of both types of music. I know we’re definitely not totally punk though – that was an earlier band that we have progressed beyond now.
Now, I’m not saying we don’t want to see punks at our gigs because they built up our original following but we are definitely closer to metal nowadays. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re thrash metal though; we call our music techno-mosh which we see as a blend of hardcore and the technical side of metal.

– Adie Bailey / English Dogs interview, Metal Forces #21, 1986

37 Years Ago: MOTORHEAD release the Bomber single (napalm to the bone!)

It was a bomber’s sky: dry air, wind enough to clear the smoke, cloud broken enough to recognise a few stars…

On this day in 1979 MOTORHEAD released their sixth single, reaching 34 in the charts. The song (and iconic huge bomber rig) was at least in part inspired by Len Deighton’s book Bomber (quoted above).

The b-side was the equally killer “Over the Top”!

This video is from Top of the Pops. Some places list the air date as the 3rd of December, two days later, but that was a Monday which can’t be right… correct date should be 6 December (Thursday night).

The programme also had The Damned and UK Subs: