Tales From The Stage – White Zombie

Today I’m going into a now distant memory from a show I saw in 1995. It was the “great summer” between the time I graduated high school and went into the US Navy. It was a case of the openers outshining the headliner, and one opener being an act who’d stick with me for many years since.

I had to Google a bit to find the specific date, but the show was on July 7, 1995 at what was then known as the Riverport Amphitheater in St. Louis, Missouri. To my memory, it was the first show I saw at this infamous venue, this was the location of the 1991 Guns N Roses riot show (which was almost my first concert, more info here) I’d see several other shows here over the years but I’m fairly certain this was the first time I set foot on the grounds tainted in the blood of Axl Rose’s tantrum on that fateful 1991 day.

The show in question today was a three-band bill ,headlined by a group who’d toiled in the underground for a long time but finally found themselves strapped to a rocket and riding mainstream highs. It would also be the last year of their existence before the frontman made the (likely wise) decision to go solo.

Being that this show is now 27 years old in the lexicon, I won’t bother trying to recount setlists and tiny details. I remember it, but I don’t recall a ton of very specific stuff. I’ll discuss each band and their set, and how it impacted me on that month in July just before I shipped off for the military.

Babes In Toyland

The show opened with the all-women’s Minnesota-based outfit. This band was a curiosity to me at the time, as they’d had a share of success and moved a few hundred thousand copies of their albums in the grunge prime. They were “grunge,” but not really. They were “punk,” but not outright. They were a name on MTV and on radio if you were on to the more alternative channels, which I was at the time.

I knew who they were, but didn’t really “know” them, if that makes sense. They put on an impressive set, with their own take on the sound of the time. In a hindsight sense the band probably deserves more credit for their contributions to the early 90’s scene than they get. I can’t say volumes about their set from then but I took it in and liked it, I’m sure part of that being a dumb 17 year old not having been within a six-foot radius of a woman watching these badass women crank out stellar tunes on stage.

Today I have their 3 albums in my collection and recall that they were a very underrated part of the early 90’s scene. I’m probably far more lucky to have seen them than I can know or express.

The Reverend Horton Heat

The second act is the one who blew the headliner off the stage and still resonates with me today. I had barely heard of the group when we went to the show, but goddamn did they leave an impression.

If you would have told me what rockabilly was in 1994, I would have told you to go on your way. I was entirely into metal, from the deepest depths of the underground. I didn’t listen to country, I didn’t listen to surf rock, hell, I didn’t listen to a lot of hard rock at that time beyond maybe the Scorpions. But the early evening set in the open July Missouri sun would resonate with me.

There is no arguing with the sheer power of Reverend Horton Heat. Even back in 1995, earlier into their career, they were a force that set a 20,000 seat amphitheater on fire. I was absolutely picking up what they were putting down, and they had the entire crowd engaged in a good time.

I’ve seen the band many times since this show, if I sat and counted it’s possible that I’ve seen Reverend Horton Heat more times than any other band. And if they come to town tomorrow, rest assured I’ll be there. I didn’t entirely comprehend it at the time, but I was watching sheer magnificence that day and I’ve been a faithful disciple since.

A more recent cut from the good reverend

White Zombie

The headliners of the day were of another world by this time. White Zombie had long been an underground act, with Rob Zombie making occasional appearances on the set of Headbanger’s Ball as a visual artist. We all knew he had a band but we weren’t paying that much attention.

Then a couple of cartoon idiots came along – the infamous Beavis and Butthead, for all the music they shit on or exalted, no band made hay out of it more than White Zombie. There was no more underground – White Zombie and Thunder Kiss ’65 were now a household name.

This isn’t the whole story, of course – the group was out on tour relentlessly in the early 90’s, getting their name out more with each pass through town. The Beavis and Butthead connection launched them into the stratosphere, but it shouldn’t be said that this band didn’t pay their dues and also weren’t the right band with the right sound for those weird early 90’s times.

The group did not waste time with their newfound fame – they cranked out their double-platinum opus Astro-Creep 2000 and hit the road in what was my most formative summer, the year I got out of school and shipped off to boot camp.

And, just to be brief and get to the point – their show wasn’t that great. The band executed well enough, as far as playing that kind of industrial-tinged sludge goes, I guess. But Rob Zombie was totally not in form that day. I don’t know if he smoked a few too many Luck Strikes before the show or what, but it was “More human than (COUGH) human” on that day in St. Louis. Dude had COVID 25 years before it was really a thing.

Now, when I look back on everything I’ve seen in terms of concerts over time, I won’t call it the worst set I’ve ever seen. To call back to one I wrote about in the beginning days of the blog, somewhere buried in my recounting of Iron Maiden memories is the one and only time I saw Queensryche, who truly stunk up the stage that night. I don’t think White Zombie sucked or anything, but they were not in good form, and they were outshined by their opening acts.

I’ll say it was still a decent show from the headliner, but certainly I recall the openers more from that evening. And especially the Reverend Horton Heat, a band I’ve come to love and follow to dive bars across the land to this day. I had a good run of concerts in the summer before I left for the military, and, well, this was one of them.

The Music Of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

This is another post that I was about done writing last month when a person involved with the work died. Actor Ray Liotta, famous for his roles in movies such as Goodfellas, was also the voice of GTA Vice City’s main character Tommy Vercetti. Liotta died on May 26, 2022. RIP Ray.

Video games and music have had a love/love relationship since the point where games had the storage space and processing power to play actual music during the games. Sometimes it’s an original score for the game – the soundtrack to Skyrim has been big business and the Red Dead Redemption series has very acclaimed original songs.

In other cases it’s a soundtrack of curated songs that play while the game is going. The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series is as beloved for its soundtracks as for its legendary game play. And many driving games have a selection of radio stations for fans of many different kinds of music to get their fix as they traverse pixelated highways.

But when it comes to music in video games, absolutely no one got it as right as Rockstar Games and the Grand Theft Auto series. A host of radio stations occupy whichever vehicle the player feels like stealing and interspersed with the songs are a variety of satirical ads, on-theme DJs and even original talk radio programming. The GTA series soundtracks are achievements unto themselves and have been a major highlight of the games.

Today I’m going to talk about the soundtrack to my favorite video game of all time – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Set in mid-1980’s Florida and modeled after Miami, Vice City is a pit of sin and debauchery full of drug deals and a power struggle for the top of the criminal food chain. The game took the revolutionary elements of the wildly successful GTA III and added more voice acting and game play hijinks to really take the series to the forefront of gaming accomplishments.

I could go on and on about the game but this is about the music – and there’s plenty of it. Vice City’s radio stations are loaded with songs. There are seven music stations that offer about fifteen songs on average, the original Playstation 2 release featured 103 songs. Two other radio stations are talk-based programming and are also hilarious, it is Rockstar satire at its best. For anyone who has played the game for any length of time and gotten tired of hearing the same songs over and over again, K-CHAT and Vice City Public Radio offer audio detours that provide absolute laugh riots.

The music runs the gamut of everything great about the 1980’s – everything from pop, new wave, soul, rock and metal, and early hip-hop are represented in the radio stations.

Had this just been a bunch of radio stations with music, Vice City would have been an absolute delight. But wait, there’s more – Rockstar not only provided the music, but also gave each station its own legitimate feel with DJ’s and commercials. The DJ’s fit the spirit of each station they’re on, one personal favorite is the creepy Fernando on Emotion 98.3. The DJ talk fits between the songs probably better than most real-life radio DJ’s can accomplish, at least from what I’ve heard. And of course in-game events can influence what is said on the radio, though this would be something the games would give even more life to in future installments.

And the commercials are a worthy listen on their own. Satirical ads for retirement homes, knives and clothing are all worth a chuckle. And the Ammu-Nation ads pretty much get their own award for their over-the-top portrayals of Second Amendment Rights and also the war we had against Australia. All of it adds up to an experience that rivals or even surpasses actual radio, even back when radio was good.

The soundtrack wasn’t without its subsequent issues – mainly, licensing. Vice City the game has been re-issued and re-mastered for many new console generations as well as mobile. But being able to put the music on the new versions of the game would require new licensing for the songs, something not every record label was behind. Sony was most notable in demanding a king’s ransom for use of their songs, which Rockstar declined. This removed a signature track from both the radio and game’s opening, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” (It also removed Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon” from the metal station).

Almost every radio station was affected by licensing issues – only Wave FM was apparently untouched by the problem. It has become a standing issue in video games, as it is lucrative practice to re-release classic titles on new hardware. It has also affected the game streaming community, as a Twitch user is fine to broadcast video game play, but if they are playing copyrighted music during that broadcast, it becomes an issue. Yes, even if the game publisher secured a license for the music to be in the game. These game and music licensing issues will likely continue to play out as entertainment evolves but the recording industry does not. (This is also why there are no videos with cool gameplay footage and the radio going – content creators have to mute the songs when they play).

One funny aside about the songs – if you reload a save, the exact same songs play when you re-enter the game. Some of the side missions can be very difficult and this results in hearing the same few song snippets over and over and over again. I got a few pointed words thrown my way by my girlfriend in the past when I was doing something like the vigilante missions over and over and she heard the same few bits again and again. But hey, there’s nothing like flying an attack helicopter to wipe out drug dealers along with the sweet sounds of Night Ranger, Mister Mister and Hall And Oates.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was a masterpiece at tying music and video game together. Everything in the game and the music evoked the 1980’s atmosphere the creators sought for the game. ’80’s music of all genres cranks out from the game’s stations, and the developers took the extra steps to make sure the radio personnel and commercials supplemented a totally immersive experience. A player truly is in Vice City when playing, it isn’t just a case of farting around with casual interest in a game.

I’ve spent all this time talking about the music of GTA but I barely mentioned the rock and metal station V-ROCK. That’s because it gets its own post, coming Friday.

The ads from the radio stations in one big video

Tales From The Stage – Nine Inch Nails

Gonna turn back the clock to the year 2000 and talk about a much-anticipated show I took in. The gig was Nine Inch Nails with A Perfect Circle opening and it took place at the end of May in St. Louis. It was a gig with some marquee names and – well, something of a crowd, anyway.

No massive build-up for this one, it was pretty simple – NIN booked the gig, we got tickets and went. The show was at what was then called the Riverport Amphitheater outside St. Louis. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it was the scene of the infamous Guns N’ Roses riot in 1991. (As opposed to the 1992 riot in Montreal, which was indoors). We had pretty decent seats that were under the awning, which extended a bit past the stage. The bill was simple – APC first, then NIN. No other openers or anything that I recall, and online archives seem to back me up.

A Perfect Circle were just getting started in 2000. Their debut Mer De Noms had just released a few days prior to the show, while the lead single Judith was getting a lot of play on the airwaves. The band was formed by Tool mainman Maynard James Keenan and his friend, guitar tech wizard Billy Howerdel. The album and touring cycle would prove immensely successful for the group and defined the band on their own terms as opposed to being Maynard’s side project.

APC would air a 40 minute set out in their opening slot. Given the compact nature of their songs this gave them time to play all but one song from Mer De Noms. Maynard opted to sing the gig front and center as opposed to his usual antics he gets up to in Tool, though I don’t recall any stage banter from him. The band played well and ran through the album, though not in album order. Future singles The Hollow and 3 Libras saw time and they wrapped their set up with the hit Judith.

One of the few clips I could find as opposed to full shows. This show is from a date after the NIN tour but still in 2000.

During their set a bit of rain fell from the sky. Our seats were a bit under the amphitheater roof but still close enough to the edge to get wet. It wasn’t a downpour or anything and it only lasted a moment but I did take a mental note to get seats closer if I wanted to avoid being caught in anything. The weather wouldn’t be a factor at future gigs there (rain-wise, anyway).

After the stage changeover it was time for the main event. Nine Inch Nails were touring the US on their 1999 double album The Fragile. While the album was lengthy it had gone over pretty well with the fanbase so the tour served as a showcase of that album as opposed to being a hits set with just a few newer tunes sprinkled in. The 19-song set would feature 3 tracks from the debut Pretty Hate Machine, 3 from the seminal Broken EP, 4 from the magnum opus The Downward Spiral and the remaining 9 all from The Fragile.

Trent and company made their way through their romp without much fuss. Much like Maynard and APC, there was not a ton of inbetween-song banter to be had from Trent Reznor. He did comment “fuck you pigs” at one point, without elaborating on who exactly he was referencing. He might have belched out another thing or two but it was pretty much get one song done and get on with another. Of course, one doesn’t go to a show that Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan are fronting for stage banter. Sammy Hagar was around a few months later, if memory serves.

One of The Fragile’s best songs with bad video but great audio from the same tour

I will say one thing – the crowd was very much not about energy that night. I mean, I suppose we can consider Nine Inch Nails a more ponderous experience than a straight up rock n’ roll band, but there just wasn’t a lot of life in the crowd. I thought it was a bit lame but honestly it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the set. It would mark the start of generally lame Missouri concert crowds I would notice in the future, though (with some exceptions).

There was a bit of energy in the crowd at one point – in the aisle not far from our seats, a few people got into a fight at one point. I have no clue what they were into fisticuffs about since I was, like, listening to Nine Inch Nails, but they had it out over something. The fight didn’t last long – security came out and absolutely messed these two up. One of the combatants got thrown straight into the concrete. Remember, this is the very place that Axl Rose tore to the ground nine years earlier and the birth of pre-9/11 big concert security. The fight got broken up in far more brutal fashion than the fight itself went.

Undaunted by action they probably didn’t see, Nine Inch Nails pressed on with their visit through The Fragile and other works. They played a handful of other hits, stuff like Sin, Wish, Gave Up and Terrible Lie were all welcome inclusions. They wrapped up the set proper with obvious hits Closer and Head Like A Hole, before coming back for an encore that featured a few Fragile tunes as well as the finale Hurt. We were still a few years away from Johnny Cash working his magic with that song.

I was a bit stumped that they did not include The Fragile single We’re In This Together Now, but it was not to be found that night. And while it wasn’t a breaker for me, I would’ve loved to hear Last and Burn, though I think the former wasn’t played much live until several years on from this show.

Overall the concert was a good experience. It does mark my first and, to date, only time seeing either band. I would like to see them again, especially Nine Inch Nails, but we will see what time and circumstances have on hand. Both bands did great in the house that Axl Rose tried to unbuild.

One other note – at one time I had the Nine Inch Nails performance on burned CDs. This was back in the wilderness days of eBay and they let people get away with selling bootlegs. I didn’t pay much for it, less than $10. It was a cool memento to have but sadly I lost the discs before the age of digital ripping really caught on and I don’t have access to the set anymore.

Sin, from an earlier stop on the same tour

Tales From The Stage – King Diamond, 2005

It’s time for another concert recap, this time I’m going back to 2005 when I went to see one of metal’s legends live. It was my first and to date only time seeing him. The tour was supported by 3 bands that have gone on to become bigger names in the extreme metal community. There were also some snags getting to the show that led to a less than optimal experience, at least for a moment.

The show took place in April 2005 and the lineup was King Diamond with Nile, The Black Dahlia Murder and Behemoth as support. The show was at Pop’s, a large club on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. It’s one of those bars that only closes down for an hour to clean up or whatever, but is the perfect size to host gigs.

At the time I lived about 100 miles from St. Louis. I was heading to the show on my own. Several friends of mine were covering a greater distance from the other side of the state (where I live now). We met up on the way and I parked my car and rode with the group.

On the way we got snarled in a large traffic jam due to a semi trailer wreck. It took a lot longer than usual to make the trek and would cost us the chance to see the opening band. When we got to the venue I had it in my head that The Black Dahlia Murder was playing first, but I was crestfallen to find that Behemoth was the one almost done with their set. I was very much looking forward to seeing Behemoth whereas I was indifferent about TBDM at the time. I think we got to see maybe two songs from Behemoth and it was a bit of a downer. But there was still plenty of metal to go.

The Black Dahlia Murder came up next. I wasn’t very familiar with them at the time and I was a bit peeved that I didn’t get to see Behemoth. Not TBDM’s fault, of course, but I wasn’t fully vested in their set. I spent time milling around and catching up with the large number of friends who made the trek to the concert. My memories are a bit muddled from attending too many shows over the years but I believe I’ve seen them at least one other time since then and gave more attention to their performance. Still they played on and have made quite the name for themselves in the years since this show.

Nile took the stage after The Black Dahlia Murder. By 2005 Nile was already a hot commodity on the death metal circuit. They were the band that essentially brought the genre back into public attention after a lull in the late 90’s. Their brand of Egyptian-themed death metal along with technical and symphonic elements had put the world on notice. This concert was a month ahead of the release of their Annihilation Of The Wicked album.

Nile had plenty of material by this time for their direct support slot. They had established themselves with now-classic albums Black Seeds Of Vengeance and In Their Darkened Shrines. The upcoming album Annihilation… would only add to their epic death metal legacy. Nile’s stage show was a no-frills presentation with mainman/guitarist Karl Sanders pausing between songs to set samples for the next tune. It stood out in contrast to the theatrical nature of King Diamond and also Behemoth, but Nile’s music brought the goods and did not require an elaborate stage set to keep up with their tour mates. The crowd was full of more old-guard metal types there to see King who might not have taken to the more extreme nature of Nile’s music but I noticed that most of the group was into the set. It was in this time that the old guard and new of metal put up a united front and offered a diverse array of touring packages that didn’t try to nitpick subgenres or suit the tastes of one segment of fans. It was all hands on deck for heavy metal’s resurgence in this time frame.

I couldn’t find a good 05 clip so 03 works

After Nile exited the stage things were set up for the main event. King Diamond had made a career of theatrics and was going to put on a splendid set. A large fence that aped the appearance of wrought iron was put up and of course plenty of fog would churn out through the performance.

King Diamond’s twin guitar attack would feature his longtime compatriot Andy LaRocque as well as Mike Weir, who had been with King both solo and in Mercyful Fate for several years. LaRocque was a world renowned guitarist and producer with a fistful of credits to his name but his main gig has often always been with King Diamond.

By this point in time King Diamond had 11 studio albums recorded so his set would hit upon several of his works. The Puppet Master was his most recently recorded effort from 2 years prior, a few of those songs were interspersed with works from his classics like Abigail, Conspiracy and Them. While King Diamond doesn’t have a signature “hit” per se, the track Welcome Home from Them might serve that station and was aired that night.

King Diamond was in fine form on stage that night, his signature falsetto ringing out bright and clear. He made plenty of time for banter between songs, referencing that he had not played in St. Louis in many years and was happy to be back. He would often call the city “San Louis” which fit his exotic persona. The haunting backdrop with the fence and fog perfectly created Halloween in April.

King and the band would air out a few Mercyful Fate tunes during the retrospective set. Come To The Sabbath and Evil saw time that night. The set hit the highlights of King’s career while also giving a bit of time to more recent tunes from Abigail II and the aforementioned Puppet Master. It left the crowd happy to have seen one of metal’s legends grace the stage in St. Louis again.

A way more recent version, but live footage from the 2005 era is hard to find

Time would go on to be kind to the acts featured on stage that night. Nile would continue their dominant run through death metal, while Behemoth and The Black Dahlia Murder have gone on to become two of the hottest tickets in metal today. King Diamond would release one more album in 2007 before a serious health scare stalled his career for a few years. He has since returned to the touring circuit and is planning a new studio record. He has also reunited Mercyful Fate, though their touring plans were cut short by the pandemic.

It was very nice to see King Diamond that night, it has to date been my only time seeing him in concert in any form. I have since seen both Behemoth and The Black Dahlia Murder again, but haven’t had the occasion to catch Nile again. It was a shame to miss Behemoth’s set that night due to traffic but the rest of the show more than made up for it.

Memories – Straight To Hell

I’m winding down the main crux of my Memories series now. There is only really one more part to go after this one. This page recounts my older posts about what I’ve listened to over the years. This time I’m going to get into the years 2006-2010, which brought a very radical series of changes in my life that would reflect in what I chose to listen to during that time.

In the summer of 2006 I endured a few severe blows in life that left me regrouping. I relocated to where I am now, in the southwest of Missouri. I was more or less starting all over in every aspect of existence. Thankfully I still had plenty of friends from my last time living here, after all I’d only been gone about 18 months.

Everything that had happened left me clawing back toward that which was comforting and familiar, and few things were as much that to me as heavy metal. It did help that my network of friends in the area were also into the same thing. People had huge collections, played in bands and it was that community that I returned to that year.

“Metal” meant, by and large, the extreme side of things. The early 2000’s saw death metal return in a big way to prominence and black metal was mostly past its 90’s drama and about the music itself. A host of bands old and new were blazing paths in every different direction.

For me it was a bit more than just picking up the music again. It became more of an identity thing. I wasn’t just into harsh music, it was an embodiment of what I thought about society and people. All of the music’s yelling about war, death, Satan and how fucked humanity is wasn’t just there because it suited the music, it was in step with what I thought and how I felt. Perhaps not a good thing, I don’t know, but it was what it was at that time.

I didn’t just listen to the music – I wore the shirts, I went to the shows, I lived and breathed it. I can’t even count the number of friends I had who were in death metal bands at the time. I pretty well gave up on being a “normal” member of society and chose to exist in a counterculture pocket instead. Sure I worked like everyone else, but my spare time was focused on the music. I embraced the identity fully, both to express myself and to keep people the hell away from me.

I wouldn’t rest long just in one pocket of heavy metal. I would soon pick up far more on the doom subgenre around this time. I hadn’t previously been exposed to much of it beyond the obvious Black Sabbath, but in the late 00’s I went all in on doom. Old, new, it didn’t matter. The music suited my obviously not great mental state at the time and was a comforting presence during those years. I am far “better” now by most metrics than I was back then but doom metal is still a good part of what I enjoy these days even if I don’t explore the area as intently as I did back then.

As 2007 came around I would find myself exploring an unlikely genre, though it was entirely fitting for me at the time. A friend lent me a CD he’d picked up not long before and thought I should give it a spin. I’d heard the name for years and knew he’d been a bit different from his namesake and his chosen genre but I never took the time before to give his music a spin. The artist was Hank Williams III and the album was Straight To Hell. The results would kick me off into a new appreciation for country music.

I spun the Hank III album time and time again. While the genre was something I avoided up to that point, this rough and tumble outlaw tear was right up my alley at the time. There was obvious crossover between the outlaw country movement of the late 00’s and the heavy metal scene. But I didn’t just stop with Hank III, himself a metalhead with his own bands. I jumped in to country as a whole, visiting legends like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings along with artists of the day like Wayne Hancock and Lucky Tubb.

As luck would have it, my area was a good place to be for that country scene. Both Wayne and Lucky played shows at least once a year in my town and I was a fixture at their shows. Hank III also came through for one of the craziest, longest and booze-soaked concerts I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t alone in my newfound love of the music – many of my friends were also picking up on Hank III.

Country would last with me even after that insurgent movement of the late 00’s slid away and became something else that would eventually find its place in mainstream music. But that outlaw scene of the time hit home with me, a thread I’ll pick up another time in another fashion.

As the decade wore down I was pretty entrenched in the sounds of underground and independent movements. I had anchored my identity to them, after all. After a bit of a struggle through 2008 I entered 2009 in a more stable place though still fully vested in these counterculture leanings. I wanted to yell at the world how messed up I thought it was and I did so through the many songs around that echoed the same sentiment. It was angst that perhaps mutated into true misanthropy, at least to a degree. If anything, I didn’t realize how much of that time would just be a pregame for society’s shitshow to come.

That is where I was as 2010 came about. I had fashioned myself as some uncaring, hateful outlaw, sick of it all and armed with the tunes to prove it. I entered a bit of a different headspace around this time as my station in life slowly improved, caring less and less about what image I projected onto society and just enjoying whatever I wanted to enjoy. And it was around this time I noticed them slinking around the same corners of the record store where I was at – the metal, the independent country and roots music. Who were these man-bun wearing, beard-clad, craft beer swilling people and why were they into the same shit I was? What did it make them, or perhaps more interestingly, what did it make me?

Questions for the next time, of course.

Tales From The Stage – Sevendust and Machine Head, 1999

One thing I want to start doing more is to look back at concerts and shows I’ve been too. It’s nice to remember them – as the time and distance gets longer from when I saw the show the details start to get fuzzy. And also in the pandemic age where I’ve been to one whole live show since late 2019, it’s nice to remember the concert era.

The show I’m going to look back on today took place in October of 1999. It was a strange time, as nu-metal and boy bands ruled the roost. A lot of newer bands who would shape the new millennium were coming on to the scene. More established acts were also getting in on the nu-metal thing, as was the case with the bill I was going to see that night.

The concert line-up was Sevendust, Machine Head, Orange 9MM and Chevelle. I was going for Machine Head, and also for something fun to do on what was Halloween weekend, I think this show was on the 29th. This was a bit of a mini-tour – this group played St. Louis and then our town, then joined up with Slipknot and others for two shows further south over Halloween weekend.

The venue for this show was a bit different than the typical metal bar. This was a large bar that could easily hold over 1,000 people. There was a bar in each corner of the building and a large dance floor for people to make fools of themselves. When holding shows a stage to one side was used as opposed to the dance floor in the middle.

The bar was mostly known for Thursday nights when people could pay a $5 cover and then enjoy $1 drinks. There was a “power hour” during the night where beers were free. The custom was to get a beer at one bar then wait in line in the next corner, drinking one beer then getting another. It was a dirt cheap night out. The place wound up closing years later due in part to several booze-fueled incidents, to the shock of no one.

But none of this was the case for the concert. I don’t recall the crowd size exactly – it by no means filled the huge building but plenty of people did come out for the show. Sevendust were getting a name for themselves by this point and Machine Head was a draw for fans of heavier fare. Chevelle were just getting out in the world and it’d be a couple of years before they garnered widespread interest. Orange 9MM were a known name but not someone I was radically familiar with.

Chevelle were interesting. They reminded us of Tool to some degree and had maybe a bit different sound than what they’d become known for a few years later. I never really “got into” the group much but it was kind of cool to see them go from opening a Midwest honkytonk to multi-platinum success.

Orange 9MM had a bit of headway going into 1999. I guess it wasn’t enough because the band broke up a year later. But they had their name out a bit in the mid-90’s as the alt-metal and nu-metal thing was picking up steam. I thought the group was interesting but their set didn’t move me to further exploring them.

The reason for the season, or at least for my attendance at this show, was Machine Head. The band had come up with two pretty heavy albums in the earlier part of the decade and were now touring on a controversial third record. The Burning Red saw a stylistic shift toward “rap metal” that was the in sound at the time. Limp Bizkit had exploded in popularity in 1999 and it seemed like Machine Head was along for the ride.

Of course the band stuck with plenty of their older material. Davidian, Take My Scars and Ten Ton Hammer were given prominent space in the set, alongside the rap-metal single From This Day. That song had even caught a bit of radio play and we wondered if Machine Head wouldn’t catch more fire in the nu-metal scene. For a lot of reasons, that didn’t happen.

For that night in 1999 though the setlist was fine and Machine Head put on a nice show. The crowd were really into it and very active through the show. One friend of ours who wasn’t into metal but wanted to hang out lost one of his shoes in the moshing fray. It was a lot of fun to actually get into something for a bit.

Sevendust came out to close out the show. They were really building a name for themselves around this time and were on the cusp of breaking out big. They were already on the way with that, the song Denial was getting a lot of airplay around the time of this tour. Their set was well-executed and enjoyed by the crowd. Machine Head did a nice job setting the table and Sevendust took the momentum and ran with it. I chilled out in the back for their set, having expended my energy on Machine Head.

We tried finding our friend’s shoe after the concert but had no luck. One of the perils of heavy metal, I guess. It was a good time and looking back it’s interesting to note the trajectories of the bands involved. Sevendust and Chevelle would go on to quite a bit of success in the new millennium. Orange 9MM would not join them, not lasting another year after this show. Machine Head had an ugly controversy around the September 11th attacks that nearly ended the band. The group would retool and enjoy a new golden era with a more straightforward metal approach than the nu-metal they were offering in 1999. They’d have other twists and turns later on as well.

A lot is gone from that time. One of the bands is gone, that venue is gone, and that peer group I hung out with at that time is scattered to the four winds. But this show was a great way to ring in Halloween 1999 and a perfect bill to sum up what music was and where it was going as the calendar changed.

The Lost Years

This is the next post in my “Memories” series, outlining where I’ve been through the various times and scenes of music through my life. I’ve set up a page to help keep track of this stuff, here is where anyone interested can find more information about this. This one is a bit different as I get to kill a lot of time with one blow. This runs the time period 1995 through to mid-2006.

I call this the “lost years” because I wasn’t really attached to any one scene or place in this time. The later 1990’s saw music move in a lot of different directions, some that I could appreciate, but a lot of what I was into going toward that time period was lost. Scenes would fire up again in the early 2000’s but it would take some time for me to truly get back into them. And even as I did, it was due to changes both with the music and with me.

Through the early 1990’s I found myself getting deeper and deeper into heavy metal. I went from the fringes of hair metal at the beginning of the decade down all the way into extreme metal a few years later. Along the way I caught thrash and some of the various “alt-metal” that came around in the early ’90’s.

As 1995 wound on I would exit high school and be in the US Navy a few months later. These kind of life changes were major and had a big effect on what I listened to. I wasn’t some bored, lonely kid sitting in his bedroom in mid-Missouri, longing for something more. I was now in the mix, looking at an entirely different culture and needing to adjust.

I’ve spilled a lot of words about it already so I won’t go too much into it here, but the sounds of Britrock caught my ear in ’95 and ’96. Oasis were at their height and their tunes were the perfect soundtrack for someone young, dumb and ready to get into the world. Pulp and Blur would come a bit after and while the Britrock movement came and went rather quickly, those songs dug in to me and have become a major part of my nostalgia when I look back on music from years past.

Britrock was really just a part of a new sound coming on in rock music in general. Grunge would come and go, and open the floodgates to a major shift in sound for rock music. Gone was AOR rock geared for dad and hair metal was certainly gone by this time. In its place was alternative rock. This scene totally reshaped the sound of rock and was one of popular music’s most pivotal turning points.

Established acts were changing left and right. Metallica had delivered a curveball when they got haircuts and delivered the Load album in 1996. Van Halen jettisoned Sammy Hagar in the same year and crafted an ill-received effort with former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone. Guns N Roses imploded of their own excess, and Skid Row slowly slid down a cliff into a breakup and years-long hiatus. Motley Crue tried their hand at a reunion but delivered some weird music that wasn’t fitting for their name and reputation.

All of the old reliable hands were misfiring in the late 1990’s. Danzig cranked out some very strange nosie far removed from his classic period. Death metal bands began splintering left and right, cast off in the ascent of black metal to the underground throne. Thrash was an afterthought, bands either tried to experiment, broke up, or dove into the extreme end of the pool.

All this, coupled with me now being “grown up” and living military life on the other side of the world, led to me pursuing music more as a tourist than a rabid scene connoisseur. And I’d take what was given to me, much of it being the alternative rock that was quickly catching on as the new “in” sound.

A slew of alt-rock bands would come across my desk in the time period before the turn of the millennium. There are too many names to properly mention, though acts like Our Lady Peace, Fastball, Matchbox 20 and Live were serving up some good tunes in that day. Names like Seven Mary Three and Marcy Playground ring true from back then, though I wasn’t heavily invested in them. But that was the sound I was rolling with as metal went into hibernation and rock changed form forever.

The year 2000 would finally dawn on us, that much-heralded swing of the calendar that some feared might destroy us through bad computer programming and would have so much to offer in the way of a new life. Of course, nothing much really happened. I exited the military in mid-1999 and entered the new millennium unsure of my own course and not heavily invested in any music scene.

I did find myself captivated by Eminem in the early 00’s. It was hard not to like his firebrand style and his harsh take on life and society. Much of what he did was too over the top to be taken very seriously, but he had his moments where he said what needed to be said. He seemed to be the last real shock rocker, despite not peddling his trade in rock.

I still drifted along for much of the early new century. Alternative rock would come to mean something else as years wore on, and one Canadian band would truly redefine commercial rock music forever. I never got into Nickelback that much but there was no denying their impact on the scene.

But, this did start alienating me from what I was hearing on the radio and TV. Not that Nickelback is to blame for anything, but I found a wedge starting to drive inbetween what I wanted and what was on offer. New music I heard from usual sources wasn’t connecting with me.

For awhile I just meandered along, not really connecting with much of anything. I’d give a spin to a band who had a decent song on the radio, but I had no real music identity at the time. As 2003’s calendar flipped I started gravitating back to the resurgent underground metal scene, where old acts were reforming and new bands like Nile and Behemoth were starting new fires. I was way more into that than the Slipknots, Staineds and Disturbeds that were getting so much airplay. This began a process that would come to a head a few years later in a big way.

I still floated along for a few years, just checking out whatever was on offer. Nothing was necessarily hitting with me, though. I didn’t mind Bon Jovi’s turn in the new century, they had a bounce-back string of singles and albums that felt a bit like their heyday. I was slowly dipping my toes back into the metal underground but I wasn’t really committed to any one sound or scene. I just played whatever I wanted to hear and rolled with whatever suited my mood. I did slowly start to cast aside the “mainstream” but it wasn’t some conscious decision at the time.

One thing did happen around 2005 – I started going “retro.” The stuff I adored from the 80’s was now 20 years old and I had a hankering to go back and relive those youthful moments. It was the first time I really went that hard into stuff I had not thought about in a long time. Looking back would become a feature for me, but this was early on in that process.

It would be the summer of 2006 when my time on the directionless musical road would end. A few major changes came to my life in the course of a few days and I found myself in a completely different situation very quickly. The shock and trauma of it all, coupled with a feeling of disconnect with and rejection from society, would send me into a far different place musically and for much different reasons than what I had been doing up to this point. Of course, that leads into the next part, actually two, of this series.

These lost years were fine. I found a fair bit of good music that wasn’t off the beaten path at all but offered some cool listening experiences. I found some stuff that would stick with me and others that I would find warm nostalgia for after years of leaving by the wayside. I would eventually find myself stumbling and failing at life and needing to go back to the core of my identity to rebuild myself, but there’s nothing wrong with just taking in the moment for what it has to offer. I had to leave the naïve comforts of youth for the cold embrace of adulthood, and I spent most of my 20’s in a bit of a musical wilderness. It’s still a part of the journey, only if even a transitional phase on that long and crooked road.

None More Black

Awhile back I went over my first introduction to extreme metal. Death metal has been a part of my music diet for a long time now, and many other things associated with extreme music are also in my collection.

But today I want to get into the other big movement in extreme music, the one that hit headlines in the early 1990’s and then stood as the one viable form of heavy metal in the later half of the decade. It remains today in many forms and has morphed and shifted into several different directions over the years. It is one of metal’s most controversial subgenres that captivates many but repulses others.

Black metal got its start in the 1980’s underground with acts like Venom, Celtic Frost and Bathory leading the pioneering efforts to establish the sound. The music came to the forefront in the 1990’s, due mainly to the influence of Norwegians Mayhem and a series of criminal acts that would conclude with the murder of Mayhem founder Euronymous at the hands of Varg Vikernes of Burzum.

It was after these insane events that black metal came to my attention. I read about the murder and the preceding church arsons in the underground ‘zines I was getting my death metal news from. Like many, I became transfixed on this absolute trainwreck of murder and music. I saw an advert for the Burzum album Hvis lyset tar oss, which was the first Burzum album released after Vikernes was imprisoned for the murder and arsons. I ordered the CD and anxiously awaited to hear the sound behind this crazy story.

I couldn’t stand that album. I played it a bit and tried to wrap my head around it, but the sound was so distant and unlike anything I was used to hearing. I wound up trading the CD off and I stayed away from black metal for a few years. The music behind the insanity didn’t do anything for me.

The first time I finally found something aligned with black metal that captured my ear was in 1996. Sweden’s Dissection released Storm Of The Light’s Bane, a much-heralded masterpiece that owed a fair bit of its sound to black metal without being purely that. I took to the album immediately and it stands today as one of my absolute favorites of all-time.

It wasn’t long after that I started poking back around the sounds of black metal proper. I wasn’t the only one around who was into extreme music and I quickly got one recommendation from several people – Emperor. I came to the band after their second proper studio release, Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. The album would mark the transition to when I truly started taking the music seriously and wasn’t simply gaping at the tabloid trainwreck the scene had been.

This remains my favorite black metal work to this day. Of course there is a whole world of black metal out there almost 30 years since it grabbed headlines, but there is no substitute for the majesty of Emperor.

Other acts would soon enter my rotation – Satyricon, Immortal, Marduk, and more were sounds I was more than willing to enjoy. Something finally clicked with the music and it worked for me. Of course it didn’t hurt that the subgenre was already starting to take different forms.

Just as black metal came to the forefront of metal music in the mid-90’s, one band quickly gathered a lot of attention. England’s Cradle Of Filth retain an enduring legacy today but were very polarizing in the scene they entered a few decades ago. I personally loved them and still do, but it’s wasn’t (or isn’t) hard to find some tr00 black metal warriors who had, and have, nothing nice to say about CoF.

That was one part of the black metal movement that kept me from wading too far out – of any music scene I’ve been involved with, black metal is by far the most elitist, gatekeeping and cringe shit I’ve ever seen. Metal as a whole can attract gatekeeping posers who think their tastes should set arbitrary bounds of what is or isn’t worthy, but black metal is on a whole other scale. It’s still a part of black metal today, but that is fading some for reasons other than maturity.

I would go on to hear bands on prominent independent labels as well as good stuff from the true underground as years wore on. As bands like Darkthrone became elder statesmen to the genre, more and more new bands brought fresh takes on the music.

Black metal exists somewhat apart from other metal subgenres in that it works very well with other forms of music. Attempts have been made to marry heavy metal with everything from rap and country, with middling results at best. But black metal has some other artistic quality to it that lends itself to merging with other sonic expressions into a viable new form.

One such dark marriage is “blackgaze,” that of black metal and shoegaze. Both modes of expression are atmospheric and distant, and seem a perfect match for each other. The success of Alcest, Deafheaven and others stands as testament to this blessed, unholy union.

Today I am still listening to black metal, even if the bulk of my focus is on other movements. Black metal still offers some of metal’s most artistic sonic canvasses, even in the wake of sensational headlines and present-day issues of cultural standing. It took me some getting used to, and also to find the right bands to pique my interest, but it all finally clicked. Metal as a whole often encompasses a theme of misanthropy, and there is nothing more misanthropic than the world’s nastiest music.

Back To The Show

It’s fair to say that COVID has totally wreaked havoc on the music industry. Tours were canceled in 2020 and have been faltering to get off the ground again this year. Acts were left at home for a year with nothing to do but record albums that they can’t promote on the road, the only place to truly get an audience if you’re trying to make a living as a musician.

For us fans it’s been equally tough not participating in the ultimate form of the musical experience – seeing live music. No shows, then limited capacity events, and now in some places full on attendance while others still have restrictions due to the pandemic. For fans who find shows to go to sometimes just to have something to do, the removal of live music left a void that can’t be filled with anything else.

I have spun down how many gigs I attend, even before the pandemic made that a necessity. It’s a pain to put a bunch of money together and travel somewhere, which is necessary when the town you live in doesn’t book a lot of what you listen to. I used to be a fixture at local shows but the scene has moved on and also I’m old and don’t feel like it nearly as much.

But coming out of the pandemic (or I guess just still going through it) I did wonder what my first show back would be. It would need to be something noteworthy, either a familiar to me act or someone new that captured my attention. I missed a handful of local shows due to ever-shifting work schedules or conflicts with other events.

On Wednesday, October 20, I finally took in my first gig of the post-2020 era. While metal isn’t booked in spades where I live, country is. And my first show back was one of country’s emerging stars with a reputation for delivering the goods on stage – Charley Crockett.

Crockett has come up through country’s independent scene, releasing 10 albums in 6 years (!) and building a reputation as a road warrior through relentless touring across the country. He offers his brand of “gulf and western” sound that criss-cross country, blues, R&B and other genres.

I was very happy that he was coming to where I live – not a lot comes around here that I’m into and I had been considering traveling a fair distance to see him later in the year. But if someone wants to play like 2 miles from my house then I’m all about it.

The venue is a very nice theater downtown that holds a fair crowd and has a lot of history behind it. I’ve been to a few shows there and have always enjoyed the experience. One thing I will say – if your venue is hosting a country show, you better be ready to sell some beer. They had to open a second bar to sate the demand for alcohol. No harm, no foul in the end but that was some pretty funny stuff watching several hundred people try to buy beer in one line at one small bar.

The concert opened with Brennen Leigh, an artist I was totally unfamiliar with until the show. She has an extensive history in the business and quite an impressive catalog of tunes. It’s always cool to see an opener worth the price of admission themselves and Brennen was certainly that. I was told that I missed her best song while I was in the comically long beer line, but everything that I heard was pretty great and I’ll be exploring more of her music.

After a brief set change, Charley Crockett took the stage. The crowd in this theater piled up front to witness the action. Charley ran through a number of noteworthy songs from his already-extensive catalog. It was a rapid fire approach, with Charley and his band simply storming out one song after another. One of the advantages of country music is a generally shorter song length and a lot of Charley’s tunes run the 3 minute mark, so it’s easy to fill a set with a lot of variety.

Some highlights included The Valley, the title track from the album that really saw people far and wide begin to take interest in Charley’s work. A few cuts from his newest album Music City USA, including the title track and lead single I Need Your Love were aired out. And early on the band threw out Welcome To Hard Times, the 2020 single from the album of the same name that marks where I came across Charley and a landmark song in his catalog.

Charley also took time to pay tribute to a friend and influence of his, Texas country artist James Hand. Hand passed away in 2020 just as Charley was entering new heights with the release of Welcome To Hard Times. Ever quick to the recording studio, Charley cut an album of covers in honor of Hand, and several of those songs were given the live treatment.

Charley finished up with a few solo acoustic cuts, which I guess are songs he just keeps up his sleeve. He even changed his mind on one, I guess it’s hard to decide what to play when you’ve been recording for 6 years but are about to already catch Iron Maiden in terms of number of studio album releases. The band and opener Brennen Leigh came back out to join Charley and close the show.

Although gigs have been going in my state since back early this year, I’m glad I waited until this one for my return to concert going. Charley Crockett put on a spectacular show and Brennen Leigh was a fantastic discovery. I know the future of touring has been questioned with the pandemic, but at least for country music’s newest-minted star, the future looks bright indeed.

To The Extreme

I’ve worked through a fair bit of my earlier memories in terms of music in earlier posts. These “memories” posts are piling up now so I won’t back-reference every one, but the “Memories” tab in Categories on the sidebar will direct you to any older ones you may wish to peruse. For today, I’ll pick back up in the early 1990’s and get into the really heavy shit, as the title suggests.

Even as I was taking in everything in 1991 I was presented with even heavier sounds. I first hit on Sepultura back then and also picked up Slayer right around that time. As my classmates and friends were pouring obsessively over the Black Album day and night I was discovering German thrash like Kreator and Destruction.

I kept wanting to push the envelope. I got bored shitless with the Black Album and with Metallica in general after 1991. All of my friends were still playing it over and over again. They released a live box set in late 1993 and everyone would play it, even skipping over the older songs to hear the same selection of Black Album tracks. Like come on, man.

Well, all of my friends except one. One dude, a few years older than me, had a monstrous CD and tape collection. His coffers were stuffed to the brim with every kind of rock and metal you can think of, including a fair bit of stuff a lot of people had never heard of. Finally one day I left his house with a selection of tapes to check out and see if I was ready for the heaviest of the heavy.

The stuff I borrowed was a who’s who of early 90’s death metal – Morbid Angel, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Deicide. It all hit like a ton of bricks for me. It was a whole other level from what I’d been listening to – this was heavy as literal Hell, aggressive, mean, blasphemous, evil, the whole nine yards.

I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with this stuff. Like I said, I’d heard Sepultura, which were not far removed from many of their Roadrunner label-mates. I also very vaguely remember Kurt Loder reporting on MTV News that a Florida band named Obituary had won a battle of the bands thing, probably just before they hit with their debut Slowly We Rot. But that was before I took the plunge – it was just a tidbit I have this recollection of when I was still forming my musical tastes.

I copied off all the tapes my buddy had given me and I went quickly further underground. I didn’t stop with the top-shelf of death metal. I found mail-order forms for Relapse Records, Nuclear Blast and other underground distributors and I went whole hog into it.

My first order from Relapse was for two bands – Incantation and Amorphis. I got Incantation’s debut album Onward To Golgotha and from Amorphis The Karelian Isthmus. I also ordered a few 7-inch records of each band as well as an Amorphis EP on tape. Those two albums would have a huge impact on me and are still massively important to me to this day. Incantation would remain a staple of my death metal diet while Amorphis would move in directions beyond the scope of my taste, but both were huge parts of my early days of this extreme metal exploration.

Other stuff would come. Pungent Stench was a favorite of all of us dumb, bored teenage boys. Hypocrisy would capture our attention. They would be one of the few to endure into the late 90’s, when many of these bands would fall by the wayside. But many others were abundant – Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Vader, Kataklysm, Pestilence, Asphyx, Gorefest … shit, this list could go on for hours. There were so many worthy bands cranking out badass shit in the early ’90’s underground scene. I was in hook, line and sinker.

One that really stood out to me was Suffocation. There’s a joke about the -tion bands, one that Carcass even clowned on in a song off their 2013 reunion album Surgical Steel in the song Thrasher’s Abbatior.

But Suffocation? That shit was real. This intersection between brutality and technicality was unparalleled at a time when bands were often finding their sound in one space or another. Their influence on death metal afterwards was as sweeping as their arpeggios. Brutal death metal, technical death metal, slam, core, whatever you do today – your ass owes a debt to Suffocation. For me, and for many others, they stand as the masters of the craft.

Death metal would come quickly and not always from the U.S. Sweden got into the game in a big way, leading a few charges that would shape the extreme metal landscape forever. The first wave would emerge from Stockholm, with Grave, Dismember and Entombed providing headache-inducing soundtracks shaped in large part by the Boss HM2 guitar pedal. That disgusting tone coupled with nihilistic lyrics and a buzzsaw edge would have its own profound mark on the scene as a whole and especially on my ears.

Then the second Swedish wave came from their second biggest city. The Gothenburg Sound pioneered by At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, The Crown and … yes, Great Britain’s Carcass, would lay a foundation used to this day by kids who weren’t even alive when we were listening to this shit. A more melodic, thrash-based approach that owed equally to Slayer and Iron Maiden would give younger metalheads plenty of homework to do in the coming decades.

This is where I was in the early and mid 1990’s. I was on the vanguard of heavy metal’s most extreme movement to date. But just as I found all of this, something else was going on.

It wasn’t just the music – we had to find this shit through the underground. Tape trading was big, but who did you trade tapes with? You had to find people to do that with. And I quickly got into more stuff from Europe, the American scene was pretty easy to buy at a music store. Even the piss ant “metropolis” of Rolla, Missouri had a CD shop in 1994 and they would gladly order me whatever I wanted. But getting a hold of some stuff wasn’t possible through conventional music distribution means.

The information currency just before the advent of the Internet was called the ‘zine. It was a magazine, just in a Kinko’s (now FedEx Office) mass-printed form. Most ‘zines were truly passion projects copied off in office stores and mailed to rabid metal fans.

I got a bit lucky, though. I grew up not far from St. Louis and a very professional ‘zine came from a die-hard metalhead in the area. Sounds Of Death was published for a few years in the mid-90’s , at the exact same time I was getting into this scene. SOD was a far superior publication to the Kinko’s-printed staple-in-the-top-left ‘zine – it was a full magazine, with a brutal cover and a ton of content within.

I remember that the main honcho of SOD had a huge hate hard-on for My Dying Bride. I would crack up when he would review them. Years later I would get into MDB’s stuff but back then that caustic kind of review struck a chord with me. But the content wasn’t all negative – he had plenty good to say about the most brutal offerings of the day.

I’d end my high school “career” still being very hard into death metal, even as I still entertained other scenes, like the burgeoning alternative radio rock that came of age in 1995. My musical adventures would go in a whole other direction, a much more tourist-oriented state as I grew into adulthood and cared about a lot of things other than having some diehard metal collection. I’d develop this recurring theme of watching what I got into being left behind, just as I watched hair metal perish in 1991 and as I watched death metal suffer in the late 1990’s. A future post about my forays into alternative rock and being more of a music tourist, which thankfully covers an 11-year period of my musical formation and can be summed up rather briefly, is on the horizon.

But there is one other strain of extreme metal to talk about. It’s one that jumps years for me and one I didn’t initially take to. It, for me and many like me, started with the crazy story of betrayal and murder I first saw covered in the pages of Sounds Of Death and elsewhere in 1994. And it is also another story for another time.

I remember when I first got into metal in 1990 – more like Ozzy, Megadeth, Metallica, and the like – my family would go on about how it was “just a phase.” I think that’s been a theme with more than one person in my life over the decades since. It’s something that would go away, to be replaced by figuring out how to put meals on the table for kids, family functions, the mundane yet profound aspects of life that would come as people truly grew up. What I found in extreme metal was just a thing to fill a hole – other stuff would supersede it as time wore on, at least in the eyes of others.

Well folks, this phase is now almost 30 years strong. And, just like many who put food on tables, who go to piano recitals and soccer games, Carcass and Morbid Angel are the soundtrack along the way. I myself may not have kids and other grandiose stuff to do, which just gave me more time to explore the various strains of underground metal that would come.

But I know plenty of people who do have families, businesses and careers, and many of these people would be the same people I’d see at death metal shows and other extreme metal shows over the ensuing decades. I know me and many like me who have lived this phase for 30 years, 40 years. And today it keeps going – kids are still throwing down, looking for the heaviest, harshest sounds they can find. It doesn’t end. Metal just keeps going, and still keeps mutating into new forms. It often now joins with other lesser explored genres of rock to shape new sounds for the coming age.

I’ll see this phase through to my end complete. Extreme metal was, and is, something that could be shared between the few – it turns off the normies, the Karens, the suburban couples walking their dogs on multi-use trails as I fly by them on my bicycle with Bolt Thrower blaring from my Bluetooth speaker. But those of us who get it? Yeah, this shit is for life. And it isn’t to be explained – you either get it, or you don’t. And I think plenty of people today still get it just fine.