Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to announce the official launch of our very own podcast! The podcast is hosted by Omar Cordy and will be a hub of conversation about metal and other heavy and progressive music, beyond what you see daily on the website or on our other channels.
Episode I of the Ghost Cult podcast features a conversation with owner and Chief Editor Keith (Keefy) Chachkes and covers a multitude of topics. We also have an interview with Matt from King Parrot, an Underground Bands Spotlight with Icarus (Iceland) and much more. Thanks for checking it out and feel free to send us a message or a comment with some feedback!
Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to bring you the US première stream of the debut EP from The King is Blind, The Deficiencies of Man (Mordgrimm)! Featuring veterans of the UK death, doom and grindcore metal scenes, TKIB is a fist right to the guts musically and is a wake up call to fans waiting for an injection of life in a scene that is slowly regaining steam of late. The band counts among its ranks former members of bands such as Cradle of Filth, Entwined, and Extreme Noise Terror, so their pedigree checks out on paper. What about the music? Deficiencies of Man is a holocaust of brutality encompassing many classic touch points of underground metal with a unique and modern voice. The band just played a weekend of shows in the UK to showcase the new material, including an impressive turn at Bloodstock Open Air on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. The EP releases officially on September 1st.
The Deficiencies of Man details:
Recorded, produced and mixed by Tom Donovan (Telepathy, Dingus Khan) at Tom Donovan Studios, Essex (UK).Mastered by Tim Turan (Emperor, Marilyn Manson) at Turan Audio, Oxford (UK).
Catalogue Number: GRIMM48
Distributed by Shellshock
The King Is Blind are: Lee James Appleton – Guitars Steve Tovey – Vocals/Bass Paul Ryan – Guitars Barney Monger – Drums
Discography: Promo 2013 (Demo) – 2013 Bleeding the Ascension (Demo) – 2014 The Deficiencies of Man (EP) – 2014
Mushroomhead spent this past summer taking part on the 2014 Rockstar Enerydrink Mayhem Festival, promoting their latest record titled The Righteous & The Butterfly, in front of rabid yet eager music fans that were getting their first tastes of the band.
They just completed the first day of the infamous festival tour and band drummer Steve “Skinny” Felton shared his thoughts. “Today’s day one – a couple little snafus and technical difficulties, like this microphone didn’t work or that microphone cut out. That’s all part of it. The main thing is we’re here, we want to push our new album, push our horizons, and expand anyone who is interested in Mushroomhead’s mind. I want to show people there’s more to it than the mask. It’s not a gimmick. We’re artists. We’re not rockstars. If you like art you’ll probably dig it.”
Since their previous album, 2010’s Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children, the band had a shuffling of members, and still managed to continue to tour behind their record. But once they found new members to come in and infuse some new energy into the band, they gradually found their way into crafting songs that eventually landed onto the new album.
“We had some new members with Tommy Church (ex-Autumn Offering) on guitar, Ryan “Dr.F” Farrell on bass, and bringing back J Mann on vocals. So there were lots of fresh ideas,” said Felton.
“It’s a fresh twist on a new idea, if you will. There’s a lot of excitement. Everyone was anxious and excited to work together. We have our own studio and have multiple rooms. You can literally work on one idea with a couple of guys and work on another idea with a couple of other guys, and coming in the next day and say ‘did you hear what he did to this tune?’ It was fresh again and it was exciting. Everyone wanted to work.”
Much like any relationship, the band members found itself within a dilemma where creativity and animosity amongst band members became an issue. But with new members coming into the fold, they found a way to work through it.
“After six or seven albums and a lot of animosity between band members, anybody who has tried to keep a band together understands what I’m saying. It could be your best friends in life…but is the art coming across right? Are you expressing yourself in the right way? Does it sound contrived? Does it sound boring? We didn’t have that on this record. This album damn near wrote itself. It told us what to do. Like if it was a shitty idea and nobody cared, we knew to move on. So we focused on the good and the unknown. I like not knowing where the song is going. I like to go ‘wow I would have never thought of that Jeff [Nothing]. And Jeff is the one to put a twist on some of his vocals. He’s an odd ball and he’s brilliant at the same time. It’s so cool. The whole album was pretty much that way. I think it’s my favorite one to this day.”
Mushroomhead has been a band for 21 years, a milestone for a band coming out of Cleveland, OH and a solid fan base that has kept them afloat over the years. Felton spoke about their secret to their success.
“I think there’s an honesty to the music itself. Fans that we have, they’re smart enough to know ‘that’s contrived, that’s put together, that’s not written by them. You know the difference. That’s a filler song.’ Our new record has zero filler songs. The Righteous & The Butterfly”
One area that the band has yet to venture into is creating into print media. While Mushroomhead’s imagery is tailor made for animation and comic books, Felton has not quite felt the urge to jump into that world.
“We dabbled with the comic book a while ago. Again technology came in and print media is not what it used to be. The guy we talked to wanted to do it online comic. ‘That’s not the same! I want a comic book dammit!’ So we stopped right there. A lot of our videos are very theatrical and film-esque. We try to tell a story than guys playing drums and (does a death metal growl). I have mad respect for all the bad ass players out there. But Mushroomhead…we’re a little different. We write our own book.”
Felton concluded with recent comments stirring around the music press about Slipknot’s alleged interest in doing a tour with Mudvayne and Mushroomhead in the near future. While there are no proposed plans of such a tour happening anytime soon, he sounded very interested in such an idea if it were to come to life.
“My thoughts are, absolutely, 100% if there’s any reality to it – of course we would be down. It would be a dream come true – love Slipknot. Whether it’s media fueled or fan based…whatever…doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of similarities to those guys that goes way beyond the masks and the costumes. The music is totally different. But what we’ve been through as people, I think we share more in common than anyone would ever know. With the loss of people…shit with donning the masks at 3 in the afternoon and putting them on at 100 degrees – they know what that is, we know what that is. So I have nothing but love and respect for them.”
“Corey man, absolutely. If you ever want to do anything I would love to. And goddamn that Stone Sour record – the last one…I love it! I’m a huge fan. The last album turned me. Kudos Corey!”
No matter how good they are, “Retro” bands always raise the questions of validity and necessity – when your aim as a band is to reproduce as accurately as possible albums or styles that already exist, it can be difficult to judge you on your own merits. As the album title suggest, Midnight’s biggest musical reference point is Venom, cut with a hefty dose of German Thrash to sharpen the edge.
As you’d expect from a band taking this route, No Mercy For Mayhem (Hell’s Headbangers) doesn’t fuck around – apart from the contractually-obligated acoustic intro, of course. It’s all razor-sharp riffing, hammering beats and caustic shrieks. The playing is much tighter than you’d expect, and the production lends them both weight and power.
Of course, whatever we say here it goes right back to that question – what do Midnight offer that Sodom, Kreator and, most importantly, Venom don’t – and unfortunately there’s no nice answer to that question. What’s allowed Venom to remain both so influential and beloved (as odd a word as that is in this context) despite their sloppy playing, raw sound and their extremity having been long-since eclipsed is the sheer quality of their song-writing. Midnight can write a sharp riff and turn a song-title into a catchy enough chorus, but there’s nothing on here that even comes close to their own Bloodlust, Countess Bathory or Witching Hour, and it’s hard to imagine many of these songs remaining in listener’s minds for longer than a few spins.
There are going to be plenty of people who love No Mercy For Mayhem, and if you’re happy with some tight riffing and sharp hooks you may well be one of them, but if a band like this is to aim for more than easy nostalgia they need a depth of song-writing that Midnight aren’t yet capable of.
The Haunted are one of those bands that peaked early and spent the intervening years trying to match past feats. It’s been almost 15 years six albums and since 2000’s Made Me Do It, but they have finally made an album that is easily on the same level, if not better than their magnum opus.
Exit Wounds (Century Media) sees the return of Marco Aro on vocals, and a return to a heavier, more traditionally ‘Swedish’ sound. Gone are swathes of clean vocals seen on 2011’s unloved Unseen, along with the more hardcore aspects that were a staple of former vocalist Peter Dolving’s tenure. In its place is a furious album of aggressive thrash and classic melodic death metal.
Whether it’s the return of Aro and Adrian Erlandsson on drums, or the arrival of new guitarist Ola Englund (Six Feet Under), the band sound reinvigorated. The album is filled with urgency and manages to be relentlessly heavy without compromising on those insanely catchy riffs. The classic In Flames and At The Gates influences are easy to make out, but there’s plenty of moments that bring to mind Lamb Of God at their most intense.
From the crushing ‘Cutting Teeth’ and the groove-laden ‘Time (Will Not Heal)’ to the catchy choruses of ‘Psychonaut’ and ‘Eye of The Storm’, there’s little let up in terms of aggression or quality. Aro’s guttural vocals are uncompromising, but it’s the array of Jeff Hannemen-inspired shredding and searing solos from guitarists Patrik Jensen and Englund that really make the album. Even at a lengthy 14 tracks, the band manage to keep focus and retain the listener’s interest; the galloping riffs and epic chorus of ‘Ghost In The Machine’ round off an album filled with quality moments.
After the relative hiccup of Unseen and arguably a case of diminishing returns for a while now, The Haunted have come back stronger than ever. Whether Exit Wounds is actually better than Made Me Do It doesn’t really matter. It’s easily the band’s best effort a decade, and if it wasn’t for an impending album from At The Gates, by far the best album from Sweden in 2014.
Effortlessly blazing a trail encompassing brutal death metal, British folk and classic progressive rock, Mikael Åkerfeldt has led Opeth through many bold new directions and transcended genre boundaries for the band’s entire career. That 2011’s Heritage (Roadrunner Records) saw Opeth forgo the heavier end of the spectrum was for many a bitter pill to swallow. Whereas previous prog masterpiece Damnation was bookended with a heavier companion in Deliverance, Heritage saw Åkerfeldt indulging influences such as Comus and King Crimson in a fastidious and stubborn fashion claiming freedom from the restrictions of metal.
Fast forward three years and Pale Communion (also Roadrunner Records) is, in many ways a continuation of such a direction, but one that see’s Mikael’s uncompromising view drawing more clearly into focus.
Harking back again to the late 60s and early 70s this eleventh studio opus features fluid dexterous drum patterns, moody distorted organ work and another all clean and highly proficient performance in the vocal department. Where Heritage felt somewhat disjointed on occasion Pale Communion is richly woven into a tapestry of ornate and complex elements rather than flitting from one genre to the next.
‘River’ is perhaps the most surprising moment this time around drawing on the southern sounds of the likes of the Allman Brothers with the addition of a classic Rush middle section. It’s the bravest and most refreshing moment herein, unearthing yet another string to the Swedes’ substantial bow.
Largely a more cohesive work than its predecessor, there is a moment of overindulgence in instrumental centrepiece ‘Goblin’ could have been left on the cutting room floor. Though a tribute to the Italian horror soundtrack masters, it feels ill-fitting and out of place.
Far better is the albums longest moment the undulating ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’ a perplexing beast which keeps you guessing while again highlighting the morose beauty of Mikael’s vocals.
“I don’t want to bare my scars for you” opines Åkerfeldt on the graceful ‘Elysian Woes’. It’s a sentiment which is echoed in the fiercely uncompromising approach he has taken to producing music that truly challenges the listener. Hell bent on reinvention, this is another collection of finely crafted salvos from this prestigious group.
There are few voices in metal, either lyrically or sonically as unique as Mike IX Williams. Best known for EyeHateGod, Mike has been a music lifer and pioneer for the sound of several sub-genres of metal for thirty years now. Although he is a performer that leaves his mark on all those who see him, it is his gift for words that really sets him apart from all others. If metal had a Poet Laureate, it would undoubtedly be Mike, although he might not accept the title, because he’s not in this for awards. Rather, it is about creating a body of work, whether it be on stage with EHG or other past projects such as Arson Anthem or more recently, the explosive super-group, Corrections House. We chatted with Mike, calling in from his home in Louisiana, on the eve of the release of the first new EyeHateGod album from in 14 long, hard-fought years.
The new self-titled album has been a long time in the making. Now that it is done we asked Mike for his perspective on the process and the finished product:
“I think this is the best record we’ve done. I love all of our records. I love everything we’ve ever done, but this one is just special to us. It’s got a different kind of sound on it. Some of the best songwriting I think we’ve done too. We’re all very proud of it. It’s awesome. We had tons of titles we could have called the record. Lot’s of those “Take As Needed for Pain” type of titles, you know. We don’t like to be predictable. Throwing this type of thing in there confuses people and I love to confuse people. Besides that we had talked about ,these lists and lists of titles we had. We all sat around and discussed them. This is before even Joey died. Then it was kind of a no-brainier. I don’t even think we had a real discussion about it; just “Let’s self-title it”. We just called it EyeHateGod. It seemed like a logical thing. His drums are on the record, but it’s also like a new beginning. There is a new start with a new drummer. This album is definitely a tribute to him, so it seemed like the smart thing to do.”
Obviously the loss of Joey LaCaze looms over this album and his playing was immense. We wondered if it was painful to hear these songs, and perform them under the circumstances: “Of course we miss him. We’re not going to bum out about it. He wouldn’t want us too. Joey would not want us to be like that. We’re not gonna dwell on him being gone. We’re gonna keep moving forward because that is what we do. We’re not gonna drone on and be sad. There was never a thought of not doing this anymore. Our first thought was “ok, who are we gonna get to play drums”. Joey wanted it that way. He told us he wanted it that way.”
In addition to the album releasing on Housecore records, Phil Anselmo was apparently a big part of making the album: “We proud to be working with him as well. As far as signing to the label, there was a question that was up in the air. What we were weary about was just how would it be to work with our friend, because he is such a good friend, and such an old friend. And we are just weary of working with a friend, because it could end up badly. Sometimes it does. Phil helped out with the vocals here at Nosferatu’s Lair, where I am speaking to you right now from, because I live upstairs. I live right upstairs from the studio so it was easy for me to walk down the stairs and take a left at the bottom of the stairs, and I’m sitting in in the studio. And we’d wait every day until it got dark and then he’d say, ‘do you want a drink’ and we’d get out the wine and start recording. It’s rock n roll time! He helped me a lot with the vocals, giving me ideas and coaching. Of course, it’s all my lyrics and I wouldn’t change that ever. He always gives me some tips and pointers coaching on the vocals, maybe how to put the parts together. Of course he is one of the most successful metal vocalists ever, so I would be a fool to not work with him. I would never pass up the chance to work with the guy. We had worked together before on Arson Anthem, which was the same thing, just me and Phil putting everything together for that record. We worked with him before, but this was really special because it was for EyeHateGod.”
After originally starting the sessions with Billy Anderson, but ultimately to Stephen Berrigan took over the controls and finished the album:
“It was basically made at three separate studios. We started with Billy and it just fell apart due to some personal things. There was a documentary crew their making a film about Billy and they were really in the way. And that was a mess. We felt really rushed and we were unhappy. So we scrapped everything from those sessions, except Joey’s drums. And I know Billy is really proud to have recorded Joey’s last drum session. After that we went up to our rehearsal room, to a place called the “Riff Room” and that is where we worked out the rest of the music. Then we came here (Nosferatu’s Lair) to do the vocals with Steve and Phil. Steve, man, he’s a good engineer. He hasn’t been doing it as long as Billy, but he is really good with what he has done. He’s done a bunch of the Housecore stuff man. He’s worked on the HAARP record and Warbeast album; just a ton of stuff and we all grew up with him, so that’s cool.”
“The whole Billy thing was just too rushed. We should have waited and planned it out better. We were really excited to do it with him and it didn’t work out. It just wasn’t the right time, but at least we got Joey’s drums out of it.”
We asked Mike if he felt relieved to finally have the album done and behind him:
“Yeah of course. It’s definitely a relief. We’ve been wanting to have a record out, since the last record. Drug problems, personal problems, record label problems, Hurricane Katrina.You name it, it seems like something went on. Something was keeping us from doing a new record. We had some of the songs for a long time, and some were written more recently. Hopefully people really dig it, and we get more recognition from it, so we can tour places we never have before.”
Since Mike’s lyrics are always so abstract we asked if we wonders what the listener thinks of his lyrics and how they are interpreted. “This album for sure, you can tell all of what I’m saying more than other albums. Where as in the past some of the vocals were incomprehensible and you could not understand me. I like confusing people, man. That’s why we are ‘The Masters of Organized Confusion’, EyeHateGod (laughs), which is a song off of Dopesick. And my lyrics are really abstract and cryptic at times. And sometimes people do bring in different meanings and different kings of things. It think its cool when people do find their own meanings in the song. I think it’s cool when people find different meanings in my songs Sometimes people will say “I think it means this”, which is very cool to me. It’s more of a free-flowing, cryptic, abstract, stream of consciousness kind of thing.”
It’s been almost 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. As a resident and a person who had his life forever changed from the storm, we asked Mike to share his thoughts on that turbulent time:
“What happened….everyone has their own story. Every single person that went through it has their own story. And a lot of people left and evacuated, and I stayed. Which looking back on it was kind of stupid, because I got into a lot of trouble and I got arrested and had a lot of problems from it. It definitely changed my life. It was something out of a movie.”
“I have Post-Traumatic Stress from it, not that I didn’t already have it probably. It messes you up when you see dead bodies lying in the street. The hurricane caused a lot of destruction obviously and people lost their homes, lost everything, but what happened with people and their behavior was worse. It’s like you watch The Walking Dead. Sometimes I will watch the show and I will get a flashback and think “That is just like Katrina”. People just became like animals. Fights breaking out and people hurting each other and stealing from each other. It was terrible.”
In Thy Name (Halo of Flies/Throatruiner) is the Milwaukee four-piece’s fourth album since they formed in 2004, it’s eight tracks of Crusty and raw black metal with muscular hardcore and punk aggression spread over half an hour. From the opening blasts of ‘Vulture’ to the blistering final track ‘Delusion’, it’s a relentless barrage of pained screams, rusty chainsaw guitars and blast beats. The sound Protestant create is genuinely unnerving it’s so dark and aggressive.
Protestant do a good job of straddling the black/punk divide. It’s savage and filled with urgency but retains a sinister sounding edge about it. Whether it the punk groove of ‘Carrion’ or the pure fetid blackness of ‘Blood’, the band manage to prevent the album becoming stale – something that is always a risk with this kind of uncompromising music.
If you like your metal raw, noisy and aggressive, they don’t come much more angry and crusty than Protestant. If you could hear raw hatred, it would sound a lot like In Thy Name.
Those who feel that the grand, experimental The Great Cessation was bloated and overlong, or that the fantastic follow-up Atma was a little too commercial, have not truly embraced the second coming of Eugene, Oregon low-end trio Yob. They are, of course, still revered by large swathes of that fraternity and, as a result, this first album in three years seems like it’s been a long time coming.
Atma was all muscle and power; like Leviathan-era Mastodon on zopiclone, with Mike Scheidt‘s remarkable vocals at times a falsetto evoking an angry Geddy Lee, at others Brett Hinds incarnate. Clearing the Path to Ascend(Neurot) begins by showing a return to the inventive aspects of …Cessation as opener ‘In Our Blood’ sets out with a gently repetitive chord, the mellifluous tones soon riding a colossal riff moving with the speed of a tortoise, augmented by harsh vocals. A brief lull broken by an explosion of noise returns to the crawling weight, from which the track builds to a crescendo aided by an undercurrent of lead running a length of steel through it.
The brutality continues with the ensuing ‘Nothing to Win’, a faster, rolling rhythm with cavernous, semi-tribal drums down in the mix, the power of the shimmering riff almost sickening. Scheidt’s vocal is phenomenal, veering from the roar of a deranged gorilla to screamed choruses, via passages of spat malevolence; while Travis Foster keeps up a sensational pace through the first seven minutes before dictating an eerie, somewhat aboriginal comedown in a remarkable show of drumming.
‘Unmask the Spectre’, with its whispered vocal and subtle guitar initially offers stark contrast before the unstoppable creeping juggernaut crashes in once more, Scheidt’s evil roar reminiscent of Bastard of the Skies’ Matt Richardson. The tide is stemmed occasionally by those softer interludes, the voice hushed but frantically straining to be let loose, before returning to that slow, deliberate pounding. A throaty blues lead is employed here giving a mournful edge around the halfway point and breathing real emotion into a track which throbs and glides, briefly deliberating too long before closing in a euphoric crash of snail-like rhythm and spacey atmospherics.
Epic closer ‘Marrow’ sees a reappearance of that post-style jangle, before a laconic powerhouse of a riff leads that high vocal on a psychedelic crush through the cosmos. When the moving keys and a voice so deep it’s almost inaudible bring the track down it introduces a passage of real beauty, affecting leads dragging a titanic, howling riff and some real passion from Scheidt as the swell gradually builds to the desolate coda of what is essentially a prog-doom ballad, and arguably the band’s finest moment.
All four tracks far exceed the ten-minute mark yet, unlike …Cessation’s occasionally meandering nature, none here exceed their welcome. Combining the best aspects of the band’s aforementioned last albums this is a perfect blend of weight, hostility, melody and ecstasy, and will need many plays to yield its full array of splendour.
Death Metal is often derided as being monolithic or identical-sounding, but in fact its twenty-five year-plus history has frequently been one of fluidity, experimentation and diversity. Setting a definitive account of this history into fewer than five hundred pages is no minor task, and involves some serious choices about how best to represent the genre as a whole. For Extremity Retained: Notes From The Death Metal Underground (Handshake Inc.), Jason Netherton – his own interest in the genre being more than just academic, having played in Misery Index since 2001 – has decided to forego a single author-directed narrative by letting the scene speak for itself.
The core body of the text consists of an enormous collection of interviews with band members, recording engineers, promoters, label bosses and artists involved with Death Metal music from the late 80’s to the current day. They are presented as unbroken first-person narratives, rather than interspersed with questions and observations from the interviewer, and Netherton’s voice only appears explicitly in short introductory sections at the beginning of each chapter. Which is not to say that the account in unstructured – Netherton has sorted the interviews into five sections (origins, local scenes, recording, touring and the future of Death Metal) and compiled them together in such a way that the story develops organically.
The main strength of this approach, of course, is that the people involved with Death Metal tell what they consider to be the important parts of their own story, and what is revealed is a wealth of personal reflections and reactions that are far richer than you may be expecting. A lot of the information will already be known to fans (though non-US interviews, especially the South American and Eastern European bands, certainly have some new things to offer) but the emotional responses of the people involved raise it to an entirely new level. This is a very human story, with some genuinely moving, shocking and funny accounts, and what comes through the loudest of all is just how organic and driven by genuine passion this genre was and still is. Even when the narrative reaches the lows of the 90’s label grabs and cookie-cutter repetition, the frustration and disappointment of the musicians and engineers comes from a very real and very human place.
Netherton is, of course, operating under some pretty hefty limitations – some self-imposed and others simply the nature of the project – and it would be remiss to not consider those weaknesses. He acknowledges in the introduction that some key voices are missing, and presumably worked hard to fill those gaps, but some omissions are genuinely glaring – for me, the lack of interviews with any British musicians is noticeable, especially given the sheer number of times that Carcass, Napalm Death and Earache Records crop up in others’ accounts. Repetition is another issue, though probably an unavoidable one – be prepared to read “we didn’t call it Death Metal then, it was just Thrash”, “everything changed when I heard Scream Bloody Gore” and “I miss tape-trading, the internet killed Metal” so often that you’ll develop a sort of personal mental short-hand for skipping through them.
Another slight disappointment for me was the total absence of the bands who’ve been pushing Death Metal in stranger and more abstract directions in the last few years – Portal, Ulcerate and Pyrrhon etc. aren’t mentioned, and though the oddness of Gorguts’ Obscura is discussed, its belated effect on the genre isn’t. The last chapter is given over to “the future of Death Metal”, but this is largely spent discussing the relative merits of the internet versus tape-trading rather than the development of the music itself.
If this review seems to have focussed more on the negative than the positive, it’s only because it’s easier to highlight the few flies in the ointment than to detail what works about Extremity Retained, which is basically everything else. It is a rich, detailed and frequently compelling story with some genuine insights about not just Death Metal but “underground” music as a whole, absolutely essential to anyone interested in the people and decisions behind the music.
German death metal outfit Morgoth are back! God Is Evil(Century Media) is their first new music since 1996’s Feel Sorry for the Fanatic (Century Media), but for now they’re only providing a small taster of what is to come. The single contains two tracks from the forthcoming UnGod album, due next year.
Reminiscent of Death at their best, the title track is a technical number filled with plenty of time and style changes. Marc Grewe’s bark sounds as strong as ever, his pained screams adding to the sinister feel. ‘Die as Deceiver’ is more of a simple mid-tempo head-banger, not as intricate but no less enjoyable thanks to its infectious groove.
It may have been a long wait, but Morgoth have conjured up a great comeback single. If the band can keep quality to this level the full album should be a belter.
This year’s pilgrimage to Richmond, VA was full of a lot of strong and, at times, conflicting emotions. I didn’t make this trip as a writer. I did it as a Bohab and a human being who just wanted a chance to pay her respects to someone who had shown her kindness and had a profound effect on her life and to celebrate his life as well as grieve with some of the incredible people that make up an extensive hab family.
We arrived Friday morning and had breakfast with some of our bohab brethren staying at the same hotel before taking a nap and heading out for Hadad’s Lake and Dave Brockie/Oderus’ viking funeral. It was strange seeing the costume laid out in such a way, it was all very peaceful for a blood thirsty alien. I saw many habs sitting by the shore, some in quiet reflection, while others had their own conversations with our beloved monster.
The official memorial service featured eulogies by Jello Biafra, Randy Blythe, Adam Green, Michael Bishop,and others. There were a lot of tears but there was also a lot of laughter as jokes and stories about Brockie’s antics were shared. There was singing and the entire crowd let out a primal scream in his honor. Green played a voice mail that Brockie had left him. I had listened to it several months before but hearing his voice was still difficult.
The actual send off itself was beautiful and included an archer launching a flaming arrow onto the small ship and Danielle Stampe a.k.a. Slymenstra Hymen tossing a flaming torch into the water as bagpipes continued to play in the background. There were a number of different chants going around the crowd but it was very quiet until the firefighters showed up – after the flames and smoke had nearly completely died out. We have no idea if a neighbor called them but it gave us all a good laugh and seemed like a fitting way to end Brockie’s public memorial service.
Cut to the next day’s GWAR-B-QUE back at Hadad’s. There were a number of hiccups with regards to the event’s planning such as VIP ticket holders (myself included) not getting their lanyards, some people getting two of them in their bags, and some premium ticket holders winding up with them instead. Tents were not labeled properly and we wasted a lot of time in line at the GWAR merch booth before being told that we had to go to another line to start all over again just to be told that they were out of lanyards and to come back in an hour. We had already missed a number of bands and signings by this point and by the time we got our VIP stickers, the GWAR signing was well underway. I decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle of waiting around for a few hours in yet another line just to be rushed through the meet & greet and spent some time by the lake with some habs while listening to the festivities behind us.
There was quite a bit going on apart from the music as well. There were the mandatory band merch booths, the pool was open, there were a number of food vendors, a jewelry tent, tattooing, and a cigar truck selling CiGWARS. And that, kids, is how I had my first cigar. There were more bathrooms than last year but the lines were horrendous. You were looking at a minimum of a half hour wait for everything.
Unfortunately, I missed a number of bands due to being stuck in line hell but at least I had seen Bishop’s Kepone and Iron Reagan in recent months and they always shred. Revocation had to drop off the bill and, as far as I know, Goatwhore just didn’t show up. I can’t complain about the line for those delicious pulled pork sandwiches because that’s where I was watching Body Count from. They were fantastic! Ice-T and crew looked right at home among us and I saw more than my fair share of reciting every song word for word.
What about GWAR? They shared vocal duties with Bishop’s new character, Blothar, Slymenstra, and Don Drakulich’s Sleazy P. Martini. Blothar looked interesting, like some kind of weird wizard with antlers on his back. I’m sure the costume will have been changed and refined a bit by the time the fall tour comes through town. Slymenstra did some of her fire dancing but I would have liked to have seen more. Singe off my eyebrows! I hadn’t seen Sleazy since 2008/9 but it was nice to have him back on stage, even if he was, understandably, less energetic than usual.
I had a difficult time watching the performance. This is not by any means a reflection on the band, they were incredible, it was simply hard for me personally. There were people climbing on top of the smaller buildings to get a good view of the stage. I hung around the back of the crowd and caught maybe a minute of ‘The Years Without Light’ before my emotions got the best of me and I had to retreat back to the safety of our bohab base camp. I was content with staying behind and merely listening…Until those first few notes of ‘Gor-Gor’ hit my ear holes and I ran back into the middle of the crowd with Mama Hab. That Gor-Gor puppet is the beautiful demented dinosaur that I’ve ever seen. The song had been on my bucket list of songs that I wanted to see performed live but I just wish that it had been under better circumstances. There were more tears following its end than at any other time the entire weekend. ‘The Road Behind’ was played as expected and while my mind will always associate it with Cory Smoot first, I think there’s a little room in there for Dave too. GWAR & Company wrapped things up with a ‘Slaughterama’ that felt a bit rushed.
I know that there are going to be people criticizing the event and I know that with better planning, the problems of this year’s event can be minimized the next time around. With regards to GWAR’s performance after losing such an electric front man, all I ask is that you give them a chance. GWAR is more than just any one person and they’ve suffered a heavy loss, not of a musician, but that of a friend and family member. Picking up the pieces is no easy task but I think that they’re up to the challenge and I am optimistic about what the future holds for them and all of us.
For me, the main event of this weekend was the funeral and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time to grieve and celebrate with me, even if we did almost get the cops called on us. There will always be a cuttlefish shaped hole in our hearts but good friends and good music work wonders.