Metal, Hardcore, Punk, Death Metal, Thrash Metal... whatever

Metal, Hardcore, Punk, Death Metal, Thrash Metal... Qwerty and miserable, always wanting more.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The first wealth is health?

Wife takes photo of the author during Gruesome while a sinus infection starts to do gruesome things to his insides
I didn’t bother mentioning in my post about the Asphyx show that I had just gotten over pneumonia, as I had already completed a run of antibiotics and felt pretty good. Around the time of my last post, that was starting to change, as I just started developing a sinus infection that went into my ears and wreaked all sorts of havoc. I went and saw Gruesome literally the day my right ear started feeling congested, but with ear plugs in hand, or rather, ear, I soldiered on through their incredible set. Three weeks after that show, a specialist and two rounds of antibiotics later, my ears are still fucked and full of fluid, but improving. The downside is that I missed a bunch of shows because of it; Ruiner, Testament, Pallbearer, Destruction, Candlemass, the list goes on and today I find myself reflecting on a show I went to even though I was sick as hell.
Gruesome, photo by the Author

Gruesome, photo by the Author
In May of 1993, my friend Glen Symanski (who was later in NoReason with me) and I decided to go see Shelter at the Lost Horizon in Syracuse, NY.  I had been diagnosed with Bronchitis that Friday, and was on an antibiotic, but really didn’t feel better the late morning of May the 23rd when Glenn picked me up. I had my Amoxicillin bottle with me and off we went; the thing is, I didn’t have my license yet and Glenn, aside from knowing it was “in Syracuse” had no idea where the Lost Horizon was.  After the two hour drive there, we got off at a Syracuse proper exit and began the search.

Glenn thought that if we found a phone booth (remember those?) we could look up the address and go from there, but after driving around and not having any real luck, I think we stopped pursuing that route. It was early on a brisk Sunday afternoon in a college town and not too many people were out and about; we drove around for like an hour and got nowhere. Now knowing that the show hard started and feeling the pressure (with me feeling like total shit) we spotted the man who would be our savior; a guy in a Sick Of It All longsleeve. Mr. Longsleeve had no idea that there was a show that day, but knew where the Lost Horizon “kind of was” and we got to the show right as Vision started playing.
Shelter/ 108 tour poster from the internet
Vision were ok, they played a lot of songs that I didn’t know at the time, but what I do remember was that Dave, their singer, had all of his hair stuffed up into a winter cap and at some point a stage diver made a point to take the hat down with him and out came Dave’s flowing 90’s metal locks. 108 took the stage shortly after and were absolutely devastating. I remember standing in the middle of the “pit” during their set in total amazement about how insane their energy was. I also was hacking my lungs out, so apologies to anyone who got sick after. Shelter headlined but weren’t half as good as they had been the two years prior. For me, nothing can top the show they played at Randall Studios in Buffalo in June of ’92, which to me was their pinnacle, although more success definitely came to them later on.

The drive home was uneventful and the cool thing about a lot of those Syracuse matinees (but not all, some were goddamn marathons) was that, even after the two hour drive home, it was light out and the evening was still ahead of you. Long after I had gotten over the Bronchitis, the same tour played Buffalo the following August with Against All Hope and Slugfest (their last show) opening. 108 was even better that night, confronting dance floor bullies during their set and practically exploding on stage. Following that, Shelter came across like behaved school children.

The differences between 19 year old me and 43 year old me are often time few and far between and yet at the very same time stark.  I think one of those stark differences is that sick 43 year old me would’ve missed 108 in their prime to gladly stay in bed.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Goddammit, a brief lesson in digital formats

Has there ever been a greater collection of songs?
 4 years ago, I wrote about my love for 1974's Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits , and although I have all of the original band's albums on my iPhone (seriously, how good is Killer?), I no longer have that specific collection after a hard drive crash that resulted in a loss of about 20% of the music I had digitally. The last time I listened to Greatest Hits was on the plane when I moved to California, almost 2 years ago.
the offending CD
The other night, I was at my local Walmart to pick up some big box store junk and happened through their media section. Right out front of the $5 bin was a ridiculously bright Alice Cooper CD. when I flipped over Mascara and Monsters: The Best of Alice Copper, I was happy to learn that not only did it have all of the tracks from my beloved Hits lp, but also the stronger tracks from after the singer, Alice, went solo from the original group (though the song "Teenage Frankenstein," a personal favorite, is sadly missing). I took the $5 plunge and was pretty excited to play it on my commute to work the following morning; and yes, I am aware I could have just made a play list to follow the track list, but I HATE playlists, especially is albums are mastered at different volumes. I don't really buy CDs anymore and purchase most of my music on iTunes or Bandcamp, so you can imagine my excitement.
The next morning, as I prepared for my once a week, 35 minute commute to a branch campus, I opened up the CD, which promptly cracked in my hand. So I just bought it on iTunes.
Thanks for nothing.
I saw Alice Cooper open for Iron Maiden 5 years ago and all I got was this lousy picture

Thursday, May 4, 2017

My Friend Malachai

I used to go out in public wearing these as pants.
The summer before 9th grade (1988), a new kid named Derek moved into my neighborhood and changed my life forever. I was firmly rooted into metal: Metallica, Ozzy, Anthrax, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and also  Devo, Sex Pistols and the Ramones. I even had a Celtic Frost album I had swiped from my uncle. But I wasn't a cool looking metal head, I emulated Anthrax' corny style, which made my 14 year old pudgy male body look like a 30-something lesbian (no offense to 30-something 80's lesbians) and is why I generally do not post pictures of myself before 1991. But that didn't matter to Derek, he just wanted to listen to and talk about underground music.
The guitar player of this band was my neighborhood's paperboy- "87 demo"
Derek had a slightly older cousin that lived on the other side of town, and hung out with the guys in Malevolent Creation (hometown heroes before they relocated to FL). His cousin REALLY had his finger on the pulse of what was going on in the thrash/ death metal/ crossover scene. Through him, cool bands to check out trickled to Derek and then to me, where I got to choose what I did and didn't like. Derek introduced me to Slayer, Kreator, Destruction, Death, Dark and Death Angel, Possessed, Exodus, Pestilence, Sodom, DRI, COC, Excel... The list could go on. I'm not going to lie and say that I loved all of these bands right away, some I outright did not "get" and I called most death metal bands "super thrash" upon my first listen. I remember actually laughing the first time he played me Scum by Napalm Death, only to have them become one of my favorite bands within a year or so. The bands I liked right out of the gate though were Slayer, DRI and COC- then closely followed by Exodus and Kreator. By the middle of 9th grade (1989) I was a bonafide thrash metal maniac and went to see my beloved Metallica for the first time. Club shows followed and many times I went to shows, I went with Derek. By this time, due to his red-headed mullet and insane attitude, older dudes at school started calling him "basket weaver" presumably because people in insane asylums would weave baskets, he played into that a little bit, jocks didn't fuck with him the way they did with the rest of us and he was mostly popular, much to his chagrin. His popularity at school hit an all time high the end of that year when someone called him "Malachai" due to his resemblance to the kid in Children of the Corn. The new nickname stuck and he still answers to this, although his resemblance to the aforementioned antagonist (which was questionable in 1989) is mostly nonexistent.
Not our Malachai.
There is a list of hilarious Malachai stories. I could fill an entire book, but those are his stories to tell, not mine. Though, I should probably give some high lights. He was once headbanging to Kreator so hard that he got ran over by a car because he wasn't paying attention. Another time, he and another dude in our neighborhood named Evan (Who I was later in a band with) got into a fist fight in the middle of his street after school. A few minutes into it, Malachai's dad (Dennis), who looked EXACTLY like Mr. Brady from the Brady Bunch pulled up,as he was coming home from work, and broke it up. Evan took exception to this, calling Dennis something that alleged that he had a small dick. Imagine our surprise when Dennis, called Evan's bluff and started undoing his pants, "you wanna measure dicks, you little asshole? Whip it out!" everyone laughed and Evan and Malachai were friends from that day forward too.  But back to the original point of writing this, Malachai introduced me to A LOT of music.
Our Malachai in Seattle in 2009, photo by the author
The last band Malachai got me into was Asphyx, the classic Dutch death metal band. he introduced me to The Rack, their debut, shortly before they played Maryland Death Metal Fest in 2009. I was obviously familiar with Pestilence, the singer's former classic band, but not Asphyx; who I ended up liking right away. I was so fucking pissed when the sub-par Mayhem overstayed their welcome onstage at the fest resulting on a truncated Asphyx set, which was still great, but I, and the crowd, were pissed and wanted more.

so good.
Last December, when I got to see Metallica absolutely kill it in a club , the first person I thought about was Malachai and how he didn't get to see Metallica in 89 AND had to wait many, many years before he finally did. I feel badly that I haven't spoken to him since I've moved to California, nearly two years now. I should call him and see what's up, I know it will be exactly the same as if we talked last week, as if no time has passed; especially because a week ago, I went and saw Asphyx headline a show at the Oakland Metro and they were fucking awesome.
Skeletal Remains, a recent highlight
I got to the show late, missing what I assume were the first two openers, save for about 12 seconds of a last song. Skeletal Remains, from LA then blazed through an awesome set of classic styled death metal and really impressed me. Pumped on the Skeletal Remains set, I bought their debut and a shirt, then purchased their sophomore effort on iTunes over the weekend. I even convinced the guys working the door to let me run out to my car (no ins-and-outs) to throw it in my trunk, much like they had let me in October 2015 when I saw Infest and Excel there.
Asphyx, so cool.
Asphyx were on the last California date of their "Death Across The West" tour and there was a pretty good crowd of around 300 die-hards. They raged through 15 songs, but, although I have their most recent efforts, I am not as familiar with stuff that isn't on The Rack. I tend to post set lists, but I can tell you they played Wasteland of Terror really fucking fast and that was cool, but the rest was a blur. Some of vocalist Martin van Drunen's stage banter was a little more corny than I expected; relating their song about the WWII battleship Bismark to "motor-boating tits" and complaining that the ride to Portland for the next gig wouldn't even "give them enough time to get laid." But I guess metal is as metal does. Still, I was again grateful to see another incredible set (two in one night!) and picked up a shirt and their new record, that the opening track, "Candiru," regardless of how ridiculous, is awesome. Maybe I'll call Malachai, or rather, Derek, and thank him for introducing me to a world that has continued to pay dividends to my quality of life for nearly 30 years, I really should.