Dimebag Darrell Abbot – A Metal Life Put to Sleep to Soon

This past December marked 10 years since metal lost one of its most dynamic personalities. Darrell Abbot of Pantera fame was senselessly killed while playing on stage. If you don’t remember or are two young too, here is a look back on what happened to Dimebag.

On the evening of December 8th 2004, Dimebag (use your imagination for why he was nicknamed this) was shot by a young man who was obsessed with heavy metal. At this time, Dimebag had left Pantera and was performing with his new band Damageplan at a nightclub in Columbus Ohio.

Coincidentally, the shooting occurred on the 24th anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon, former front man for the Brit pop sensation of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the Beatles. Dimebag was killed by a well built ex-marine, 25 year old Nathan Gale, who they believe was upset by the recent dismantle of Pantera. This can never be confirmed, nor if he thought Dimebag was responsible since Columbus police shot him down only minutes after the first fatal shot had been fired.

Also killed during the mayhem was a 23 year old fan of Dimebag, Nathan Bray, and a crew member of Damageplan, 40 year old Jeff “mayhem” Thompson. The fifth victim was a 29 year old employee of the club, Erin A. Halk.

dimebag_1_thumbDarrell “Dimebag” Abbott was known for being an expressive guitarist who seemed to emulate the fluidity of Eddie Van Halen, even in the much harder rhythms of power groove thrash. But as unique as his sound was, so was his appearance. In 1992 he shocked the rock world with a bright pink goatee that tumbled down from his chin. No beard grooming tips needed there, he rocked that pink beard as well as he rocked the stage. In a tribute to Dimebag after his death, Scott Ian also died his goatee pink, albeit more fashionably with plenty of beard conditioning balm.

There were 3 other bands on the bill for the nightclub that night, and over 250 people inside watching them. It was later reported that the shooter, Gale, waited outside in the parking lot for Dimebag to enter the stage. Witnesses report seeing him, and the club’s owner asked him to leave. Instead, he jumped a fence, entered a side door and rushed the stage when Damageplan started their set. Dimebag was only 90 seconds into his first song when the deranged Gale walked up to him seemingly from nowhere.

Sadly, the singer was completely blindsided, as he was head banging at the time with his hair covering his eyes. He was shot once in the forehead, as fans and fellow band members looked on in utter shock. Most of the club had no clue what had just transpired, and some assumed it was an elaborate hoax. His brother, the bands drummer, stood up from behind his kit in shock as the blood began to pool onto the stage.

There is no way to make any sense of this tragedy, as people who bore witness to it that night are still haunted by the memory. A metal legend, and good man, was lost that night but his memory will live forever.

The Best Beards in Modern Metal

Long locks, lots of tats, and a distinctive beard is what sets many metal artists apart from the rest. Metal is more than music, it is a look and a way of life. Nothing portrays that anarchistic way of life better than an “I don’t care about beard trimmers” attitude. Check out this list of modern metal artists who are metal to the bone and not afraid to wear that on their face.

Robert Flynn of Machine Head – In his own unique way, Robert Flynn is able to make it look cool to get beard grooming tips. Heck, he could give some to the rest of the metal world. The goatee is a been there done that look for heavy metal musicians, but not when you trim it into 3 distinct points. Bravo Rob, you are an original.

Mark Morton of Lamb of God – There are guys who wear a beard, and than there are beards that wear a guy. The latter is definitely the case with Mark Morton. His beard is almost as long as his locks, but not nearly as pretty. We get the point, Mark doesn’t care how he looks, but for the love of Lamb of God, please at least invest in some beard balm.

Robin Finck of Guns N’ Roses – No, not that old beard look that made him look like a walking tribute to goth, but this new bushy woodsman look. We have known for years that the least of Robin’s concerns is the way he presents himself, and this beard style only goes to prove it. The new look could be the result of a new found desire to condition it with a high quality oil.

Brent Hinds of Mastodon – Shaped perfectly into a V for victory, Brent Hinds beard seems to get longer the more popular he gets. And no, he doesn’t dye it. He’s just one of those weird dudes whose beard hair does not match the hair on his head.

Scott Ian of Anthrax – This is an epic metal artist beard style, seemingly making up for the bald head that lies above it. Usually jet black, but sometimes died at the tips for effect, Scott definitely earns props from the beard wearing world for being willing to take the style to such an extreme.


Fredrik Andersson of Amon Amarth – obviously the Viking blood does not run deep enough in Fredrik Andersson’s blood. Just as his pillaging ancestors, Fredrik chose to show off his manhood with oversized beard. The look works for him, but I wouldn’t ask him for any beard grooming tips.

The beards of metal span the gamut in different styles, shapes and even colors. Yet they all manage to make the man stand out as a pioneer in the music industry. Aspiring metal artists should take note, if you aren’t willing to physically show your wilder side, you may as well start playing the clarinet.

Heavy Metal Band Profile – Vancouver’s own Unleash the Archers

Vancouver has brought together one of the most promising power metal bands in a long time. Unleash the Archers is a joy to the ears of anyone who appreciates over the top technical rock with powerful vocals that will blow you away.

Formed in 2007 by close friends Brittney Slayes, Scott Buchanan and Zahk Hedstrom, Unleash the Archers considers themselves to be a Canadian power metal band. They have gone through a few lineup changes over the last 8 years, with Slayes always on vocals and Buchanan on drums. Grant Truesdell of Golgothca joined them in 2001 to take over guitar and in 2014 Kyle Sheppard came on as a bass player while Andrew Saunders (also formerly with Golgotcha) took over second guitar and vocals. Having a female as the front person has only strengthened their force in the Canadian music scene.

The music is heavily based on mythological images, legends and battle scenes. Many think the name is derived from a love for the sport of archery, but the truth is there is not a member who can hold a recurve bow or shoot one arrow. The bands name came from thin air, but the allusion towards the dark days of battles fought with recurve bows and arrows made the name stick. (They would likely be using these bad ass arrows if they were the fighters.)

They have released four separate tracks since hitting the heavy metal scene including a demo in 2009. This was followed by Behold the Devastation, which was a big hit for them, followed by the lesser received Demons of the AstroWaste in 2011. They came back with an EP in 2012 titled Defy the Skies, but have focused their attention on a live presence since then.


To see them play live is a shock to the senses.  While this is hard core, in your face heavy metal, it is as melodic as Judas Priest, one of Brittney’s biggest influences. There is as much attention paid to the lyrics as there are the rifts and beats, making them one of those metal bands that make you think, instead of just bang your head.

Often compared to 3 Inches of Blood, Unleash the Archers sound is a bit more like Canada’s Into Eternity, who also create melodic riffs to complement their death metal style. This is a hard act to keep up, but Unleash the Archers has been at it for 8 years, and by the size of their fan base it would seem that they are unstoppable.

Make sure that when you have the chance you check out Unleash the Archers at one of their live shows. This is a rock solid rock band who have the potential to become just as powerful in the industry as the legends they worship.

A Look at Mitch Lucker and Suicide Silence

In 2012 heavy metal lost one of its up and coming greats when Mitch Lucker of deathcore band Suicide Silence lost his life in a fatal car accident. Although the band has since moved on without him, there is an obvious element missing in their new music.

Founded in Riverside in 2002, the original band was more like a get together of heavy metal guys from other bands. Mitch Lucker shared vocals with Tanner Womack who was fired then next year after the bands first demo was produced.

After their second demo took off in 2004, the 5 members began to take things more seriously, allowing them to produce a studio record in 2006. Suicide Silence EP was released in the US under the Third Degree Record Label and in the UK under Deep End Records.

After signing with Century Media in 2008, they released the Cleansing, which became one of the labels top selling debut albums in their history. By 2008 they were touring the world and being invited to play at world renowned rock fests all over the planet.

At the end of 2008, Suicide Silence announced plans for its next upcoming studio album No Time to Bleed. Released in 2009 the record made it to number 32 on the billboard 200 with 14,000 sales in the US just in the first week. This led to another headlining world tour and more collaborations with other rock bands.


Their style was unique, and caught on quickly with metal heads all over the world. With raw talent and hard work, they had a made a big name for themselves in a genre that is known to be hard to break into.

Plans were underway for yet another studio album, The Black Crown, by 2011. Lucker talked openly about the lyrics, and the personal nature they would take. The release of this album was just as successful as those prior and sent Suicide Silence’s fame skyrocketing.

Fame stopped short on November 1st 2012 when it was confirmed that Mitch Lucker had perished in a motorcycle accident. Details remain sketchy and it has never been confirmed if the singer had been wearing a motorcycle helmet at the time of the crash. Some reports indicate that the crash was intentional, and that Lucker had chosen not to take the proper safety precautions for that reason.

The band did continue on a year later with Eddie Hermida of All Shall Perish taking the lead singer position. They are still producing records today although not with the same roaring success that the original members had.

It is tragic to have such a young life end at the peak of their career. One can’t help but wonder why and if a motorcycle helmet would have saved his life (it’s so easy to jump on a site with reviews and pick an Arai or something like that…what was he thinking??). We salute Mitch for the impact he had on deathcore music and hope that somewhere out there he is still singing.

Pitch Black Presents a Heavy Metal Band Profile: Slayer

Considered to be thrash metal, Slayer has been one of the kings of metal bands since 1981. Formed in Huntington Park in California by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, they are hailed as being one of the best of the thrash metal bands in the world.

Slayer got their first live gig in 1983 at a Halloween night talent show. Their image during that time was Pitch Black, playing a lot of Judas Priest covers and Iron Maiden. The stage presence was heavily satanic, laden with crucifixes, inverted crosses and of course the pentagram.

Slayer was finally “discovered” at the Woodstock Club in Anaheim, where the founder of the recently started Metal Blade Records was in the audience. Impressed with their style, he asked that they perform one original song for a compilation. It was so well received in the heavy metal market, that the band was signed to a record deal with the label as a result.

Since then, there have been a total of ten studio albums released, two live albums, a box set , two extended plays and a covers album. They have received 2 Grammy awards, and 5 nominations.

Through out the years, there were very few shake ups in the bands line up. Except for drums, the original three members, Tom Araya, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman were always constant until the 2013 death of guitarist Hanneham. Although a devastating blow to the band, Araya and King plan to forge forward with Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph.

The Two Surviving Band Members:

Tom Araya

Born in Chile, Tom Araya is the original bassist and vocalist for Slayer. Approached by King in 1981, he has been the front man for Slayer ever since. Araya is responsible for penning many of the lyrics for the music, including the Grammy winning “Eyes of the Insane”. Traditionally Araya’s lyrics have always been a bit chilling, focusing on such dark topics as serial killers and the effects of war on soldiers.

The Original 3 - Tom, Jeff, Kerry

The Original 3 – Tom, Jeff, Kerry

Kerry King

Kerry King was born and raised in Los Angeles, California where he formed Slayer in his teens with the late Jeff Hanneman. Originally the duo played nothing but covers until they met up with lyricist Araya. King’s guitar skills in the metal world are legendary, but his trademark is his appearance. Covered in tattooed with his signature larger than life chin beard, King’s look has been the subject of magazines. Tours have been done on his extensive body art, and much fuss made about his unique beard which has obviously not seen a beard trimmer, and obviously hasn’t read any reviews like these, in decades. He does style it well though, most likely with the help of a rocker worthy beard balm.

The loss of Hanneman in 2013 hit the heavy metal world hard, but the Slayer beat goes on, with Araya and King still at the front. Expect a new album this year, and accept that while it will never be exactly the same it will have that same power behind it that has made Slayer an iconic metal band for over 30 years.

Careers on the Side for Metal Artists

Even a heavy metal artist has to eat and pay the rent, and if tours and album sales aren’t cutting it, they are going to need a day job that will. Not only will it have to be enough to cover the bills, it will have to offer enough time for practices, and the flexibility for when you go on tour.

Music Teacher

This is the ideal opportunity for a musician who wants to earn a steady income, stay involved with music and have time off. Teachers make a decent salary that can cover expenses, but also comes with extended vacation periods that can be used for excess practicing and tours. The best thing is, you get the chance to share your love of music with young people, and maybe even find the next Jimi Hendrix.

You may even consider taking control over the school band or chorus. This may mean having to expand your taste in music to accommodate the school, but it will be very rewarding. And if you’re lucky you will be given some creative liberty to add some heavy metal into the queue.

The Medical Imaging Field

You don’t have time to become a doctor, but the medical imaging field is a good opportunity to earn a living without taking much time. An ultrasound technician makes good money, and only requires a small amount of tertiary education. These careers can be fulfilled within the confines of a hospital, but for a musician a private clinic or doctor’s office will better suit your circumstance.

These are 9 to 5 gigs that not only give you nights and weekends off, there will be vacation time given for when you want to tour. With jobs like an ultrasound technician, you are able to help people with their medical needs without going through medical school.

Music Lessons

The best way to take advantage of your talent, have the free time you want and make money is by offering music lessons. This could be as simple as teaching people how to sing online, or you could offer guitar or drum lessons from home. You are in charge of the scheduling, allowing you to take the time off you need to tour and practice.


You can also charge the students what you want, giving more control over how much you earn. One on one music lessons are important to both parents and aspiring young musicians, so you may be able to build a nice following.

It is not easy to start out in the metal music industry, and there is likely to be dry periods of time where not much income is coming in. Look at career options that can benefit you financially and give you the time to practice and play at will.

Muscle Building Tips for Rockstars

The image of the skinny twig rockstar has been replaced by big buff men. Starting with Henry Rollins, rock stars today are taking more interest in how they look in the public eye. Working out and building muscle tone is not easy when you are spending months at a time touring from city to city. For this reason rock stars have to be creative with their workouts.

It Starts With the Diet

Who can forget images of Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant with that long swanky body and big beer gut? Musicians who are looking to lose weight and gain muscle have to start by kicking those habits. Beer is nothing but empty calories that will make losing weight and getting into shape impossible.

Add high protein foods to the diet and lots of veggies. Bands eat in restaurants a lot, where it is easy to find a simple steak and side of steamed broccoli. Get rid of the junk food and before you know it, those extra pounds are coming right off.


Add supplements and a good training routine like Somanabolic Muscle Maximizer to your diet that are rich in a number of complex vitamins and minerals. This work at both building muscle and giving you the energy you need to make it through a show. Check review sites to find the supplements that are giving other people the benefits of good muscle tone that you are looking for.

Be careful when taking supplements that you always take them with a meal. This helps in the absorption of all those important vitamins your body needs. Follow the label instructions and you are going to see amazing results in just weeks.


Working Out

Whether or not your hotels have a work out facility depends on what level your band is at. If it has one, take advantage of it by lifting weights and doing cardio exercises. This not only will help build muscle, it will increase your stamina when you are on stage.

If no gym is available, make use of heavy items like amps and guitars to do lifts. When setting up for a show, do some laps around the arena. There are plenty of ways to get in shape that don’t have to be done inside of a gym.

The Whole Body Approach

Getting in shape means working on your entire body, not just your pecs and arms. Make sure that you take care of yourself inside out with a healthy lifestyle that does not include harmful chemicals. Use organic products when possible, and limit your exposure to other dangerous chemicals and compounds.

With a good looking band comes great sounding music. No one wants to see a skinny twig of a guy trying to belt out the heavy lyrics of heavy metal. Get the whole band involved and start getting in shape today.

Even Heavy Metal Artists Need to Relax – So How Do They?

This intensity that goes into making heavy metal music calls for some serious down time once the set is over. While bands of the past were infamous for their heavy drug and alcohol use, todays heavy metal artists are making a concerted effort to learn from those mistakes. As a result, we see artists who practice everything from aromatherapy to yoga when they need a break from all that noise.

Time Outs

After spending sometimes month on end together to put a new cd together, the band will sometimes take a time out from each other and the world before beginning the tour. This is a much needed time to reconnect with the family and resume a semi-normal lifestyle. There is a lot of sleeping during this this time as well as eating to regain what was lost during the massive jam session.


Relaxation Techniques

There are a number of relaxation techniques that are used during this time, and during time on the road, that helps to keep the musicians mind clear and focused. Burning relaxation inspiring scents with essential oils and candles is one of these methods. Scents like jasmine have a natural calming effect, and when combined with an essential oil create a serene environment for the rock star to unwind in.

While many won’t admit it, another trick is with long soothing baths. Essential oils are also used here to create the perfect blend of calming warm waters and soothing aromas. According to www.scentsationoil.com, these essential oils are diffused perfectly throughout the air to deliver their benefits to your whole body. The rubber ducky is left to the side of course, but the musician gets to relax his entire body and mind.

Yoga has become very popular these days, even with the heavy metal bands. This is an activity that some will even participate in together in order for all of the band members to benefit. Yoga can be practiced on a tour bus, in a hotel room or even a quick session before getting out on stage.

All of this may seem anti the typical theme of heavy metal music, but the truth is, that is just an outlet, the guys and gals still need time away from the thrashing in order for the music to really hit its mark. Bands that don’t encourage members to take some time off are setting themselves up for a major breakdown.

That breakdown is almost always drug and alcohol induced and always ends badly. There is a long line of heavy metal artists of the past that can be pointed out as not having the right resources to relax. This led to the over use of drugs and alcohol and sadly in some cases death.

Luckily many of our most talented heavy metal artists today have learned from the mistakes of the past and are working on alternate methods of staying relaxed and in touch with their music. This is a positive change that has had no negative impact on the industry, but rather is allowing us to enjoy the great new music from some great artists for even longer.

Set-Up for the Ultimate Jam Session: Everything Your Heavy Metal Band Will Need to Get Your Next Mix of Tracks Down

It is a long standing tradition for heavy metal artists to lock themselves away from the world and do nothing but focus on their music. Sometimes for weeks at a time. Black Sabbath did it, Nirvana did it and even the legendary Led Zeppelin. The end result was some of the most memorable music in heavy metal history.

The reason for the seclusion was usually a need for the band to escape from the everyday, and their rising fame in order to put their minds back to the music. If you think your heavy metal band will benefit from this type of seclusion, make sure that you are ready for it. The less you need from the outside world, the better the music you compose and the more likely you will still be around 10 years from now.

Find the Right Location

You are going to want a big house to hide a way in. Some bands like the idea of a large luxury hotel suite, but this will not allow you to practice day and night at will. The location should be spacious and far away from anyone who might be bothered by a 2 A.M. jam session.


There needs to be enough room for everyone to have their own bed to crash in, at least two bathrooms and a full kitchen. Also make sure that is one room to large enough to accommodate your equipment and the band. If you are far enough away from other homes, sound proofing won’t be an issue.

Set Up for Success

Make sure that there are plenty of provisions on hand. Don’t forget clean sheets and towels. Call and arrange for a laundry service to come and do a pick up every couple of days. You are also going to want to have soap, shampoo and shaving essentials plus any other toiletries you use regularly.

Eating and Drinking

The kitchen should be fully equipped to handle anything. Make sure that the stove top and oven work and that the refrigerator is large enough to hold at least a weeks worth of food and drinks. A microwave oven is a must as is a deep fryer like these ones. A deep fryer is great at making quick finger foods on the fly like fried chicken and French fries, while a microwave is essential for warming up leftovers.

Find the biggest coffee maker in the store and stock up on sugar, coffee and filters. This will be a big help when first getting started in the morning.

Have Rules

A bunch of guys cooped up together for days are going to need some rules in order to avoid complete mayhem. Keep outside contact short by having set times for phone calls or Skype convos. Try and keep the drinking to a minimum, and ban drugs completely. It was during one of these types of jam sessions that Ozzy got so stoned that he quit Black Sabbath for a while. Don’t let that happen to your band. Make sure all of the members are on the same page about how much and when to party.

This is great therapy for a band that is having trouble connecting to their music. By being forced to deal with one another you are going to find that the music comes faster and stronger then ever before.

Beyond the Music: A Look Into The Lyrics That Make the Metal Heavy

Recently I caught a re-run of That Metal Show on VH-1 that got me thinking. They were doing that list thing with Jennifer, debating the top 5 metal lyricists of all time. What got me thinking was not who they were, (for me that’s Bruce Dickinson hands down) but the reason why some are better than others.

Metal music is not ranting mayhem, in fact some is very thought provoking if you can make it past the guitar riff. Just sit back and listen to some Iron Maiden for the lyrics. This is great music set to some very intelligent words. I like to think of Bruce Dickinson as the smart mans heavy metal lyrical genius.

Obviously there is a lot of dark meaning behind heavy metal lyrics. Some subtle and then some that is rather blatant. Thrash metal band Iron Reagan has a habit of being a bit blunt. There is no mistaking the meaning behind “I predict the Death of Harold Camping” on their Worse than Dead album. I predict that anyone named Harold needs to think twice about packing up their tent and compass if Iron Reagan is anywhere near the campground. We predict they’ve never visited http://www.advensport.com for their camping needs.

Now take a look at Iron Maiden’s “Dance of Death” lyrics. Obviously a journey into a man’s subconscious as he brinks on the edge of a fatal overdose, the darkness is portrayed but in a hauntingly beautiful use of words. Not that I am knocking Iron Reagan, but their attempt at trying to connect with the likes of Bruce Dickinson by rhyming names is nothing short of pathetic. I like a lot of morbid with my music, but not when it’s thrown in my face.

Rant over… Back to the point.

Heavy metal isn’t all about murder while in your sleeping bag or drug induced psychotic episodes. Metal writers have hearts too, which can be broken just like yours and mine. This makes for some very realistic songs about what love’s really all about. One of all time faves (although more hard rock than heavy metal) is Def Leppard’s “Love Bites”. If you have ever been there than you already know it will definitely bring you to your knees.

Another more balladic love song that speaks the truth is Motorhead’s 1991 “Love Me Forever”. This is a fantastic song describing the falling in love process and how it changes your life forever. We all know that “love’s a thief, steal your heart in the night” is true, but Motorhead sings it best.

You have to know by now that I am going to reference at least one Iron Maiden love song. Who can’t relate to “Wasting Love” and missing out on a chance to be with the one you left behind. This is the most haunting kind of love story as you are left forever dreaming on about what may have been.

In that episode of That Metal Show I saw, Bruce Dickinson was at the top of the list and for very good reason. But iron Maiden isn’t the only metal band with real meaning behind the music. The next time you plug in your Ipod, listen to what the music is telling you. Half of heavy metal is great deep bass, guitar solos and drum beats, the other half is haunting lyrics that actually make you think.