The Heavy Metal Muppets is a place for all things Metal with a particular emphasis on the London Underground Metal scene. We are a bunch of friends who have been into Metal since the late 80's and want to share our enthusiasm with anyone else who's prepared to listen. The format varies and we hope keeps it interesting for everyone, so keep your eyes peeled for reviews, interviews, memoirs and live videos amongst other things \m/

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

London Deathfest XII - Deicide, Belphegor, Hour of Penance, The Amenta, Amputated, Basement Torture Killings, Serial Butcher, Fractured Insanity & Oblivionized - The Underworld, Camden - 25th June 2011

How long had we been waiting for this gig?! Fuckin’ ages. When I knew Deicide were coming to town I was so excited I almost wet myself. Not to mention my metal brothers Dave and Billy had made the trip all the way from the midlands and my actual, blood brother Jamie from Cambridge. We decided to meet at the Worlds End and if you read this blog often you know how I feel about that place...

Unfortunately we were too late to see Oblivionized who must have been on pretty much as the doors opened because we weren’t that late. Anyway, they’re pretty good if you like grind, check ‘em out here.

Fractured Insanity
We did, however, manage to catch Fractured Insanity. These guys were pretty much straight up death metal. It’s always going to be difficult playing this early on in the day. The place wasn’t very busy and everyone seemed to be pretty well behaved at this point. Having said that, this band put forward an enjoyable performance. I particularly liked their original concept for starting a moshpit. It involved taking an American football, throwing it into the audience and promising that whoever held the ball last would get a free CD. As you can imagine, chaos commenced, cut short by some massive bald guys, but hey, 10/10 for effort. One to watch I reckon.

Serial Butcher
Next up to grace the boards was Serial Butcher. Holy shit! They basically squeezed themselves onto the front of the stage and literally tore our faces off with their brutal and freakishly technical brand of death metal. They pretty much rooted themselves to the stage, and normally I like a bit more of a show, but somehow their music was so captivating that none of it seemed to matter. Their vocalist, Kurt Termonia, appeared to have just stepped off the beach wearing a tatty red t-shirt and flip-flops probably. I managed to have a chat with them afterwards and they said that they had been driving from Belgium since 2am and had a ferry to catch later on at 5am. Serious dedication to the cause. I’m more than happy that they made the effort because, in my opinion, they were one of the best bands all day. Excellent stuff.

Basement Torture Killings! They never, ever, ever get boring. This time they were down a few stage props but who cares? This was the first time Dave and Billy had seen them and they loved it! Their set is so intense and the stage show goes so well with it. This band has found something new to inject into the genre. I could watch them over and over again. Absolutely brilliant. These guys work hard too, apparently they needed to hop straight back in the van and make their way to Birmingham for the Terrorizer Grindhouse night. Top class stuff. If you haven’t heard these guys before, go straight out and buy their new album “The Second Cumming”. Do it now.

BTK were a hard act to follow but then along came Amputated from Bristol. This band absolutely slay. From the very first note to the conclusion of their set they battered us with their merciless, obscene themes. The place was going off to this band. They’re a bit more old school and churn the heavy as fuck riffs out. This was complimented by an unbelievable range of vocals that seem to spew from the tiny Mark. From guttural death grunts to unnerving pig squeals, it’s seriously impressive stuff. The banter between tracks was hilarious to say the least. This was definitely, for me, the best band of the day.

The Amenta
The Amenta followed. This Black Metal outfit from Australia were definitely imposing. The sinister corpse paint set the tone. I’m not a big Black Metal fan so it would be unfair of me to slate them because I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I found their stage show entertaining. One thing that did make me laugh though was Cain’s accent speaking to the audience between songs. For some reason it seemed so wrong, almost camp. Having said that, people did seem to dig them so I guess they’re doing what they do well.

We should have seen Hour of Penance next but unfortunately missed them because we went to catch Seed of Detest’s show down the road at The Dev. You can read about that here. I like Hour of Penance and you should definitely give them a listen.


We did, however, make it back for Belphegor. What can I say, more Black Metal. Like I said about The Amenta, it was OK, just not my thing. The stage show again  was fairly engrossing but unfortunately the music goes over my head. So for the purposes of this blog... It was OK.

Finally the moment we had been waiting for... Deicide. The gig, what there was of it, was good. That’s all. I don’t even want to go through the set. Why do Deicide always have to do something annoying? We were at the Camden Underworld, watching death metal. There’s going to be a mosh pit and there is going to be stage diving. Deicide are so full of themselves that they need to bring a herd of security to pummel anyone that tries to get on the stage. It’s pathetic. Further to that, the set was only about forty five minutes long and finished at around 9.30pm with no encore despite the relentless chanting for one. Glen must be in it for the money now because for us that had been at The Underworld all day and had waited months for this show were short changed. I won’t get excited about Deicide anymore, they are way too big for their boots. Give me Amputated, BTK and Serial Butcher over them any day.

And here's an extra added bonus review for you kids from Dave 'Causa Mortis' Rowley! Enjoy!

Deathfest XII – Camden Underworld

By David Rowley (Causa Mortis)

I’d been looking forward to this gig for quite some time. The Anticipation of seeing Deicide again for what seems like an eternity. The chance to see Home-grown talent like Amputated and the Basement Torture Killings in the small and sweaty Underworld was almost too much to take!
So after a long London Midland train journey from Burton on Trent to Euston, I arrived fit to burst! Hooking up with my main Metal Muppet Matt ‘Boojay’ Budgett and friends in the Worlds End, the stage was set for a full on onslaught of pure death metal madness.

First band up for us (We missed Oblivionized) were Belgian bruisers Fractured Insanity. They performed brilliantly for a band on so early in the day and to a pretty small and mostly sober crowd. They did what they could, including trying to incite a pit, even using the old trick of throwing an American Football into the crowd and offering a prize to whoever had it last. A very large gentlemen in the front row didn’t enter the spirit and palmed the ball about ten seconds in, thus resulting in no pit, and no prize. It’s a tricky when a band constantly tries to get an early crowd going with cries of ‘MOSH’ and ‘LETS SEE YOU MOSHING’, I figure, let the music do the talking and people will or won’t, especially when it’s half one in the afternoon and most people haven’t been up that long.  This aside, the band was tight, professional and put on a great show.

Next up was another Belgian band, Serial Butcher. These were one of the highlights of the day for me. An odd looking band if I’m honest, they didn’t really look like they’d been together that long. That all changed when they started their set. Brutal from start to finish, delivering a set mainly comprising of material from their current ‘A Crash Course in Cranium Crushing’ album (check it out, it’s amazing), technical without being too flashy, memorable riffs and almost avante guard, jazz type drumming. Very impressive and worth keeping an eye out for the future. We found out from chatting to them after that they’d left their hometown of Ghent at 1am that morning to get to Camden for the gig, and had to take the long drive back for work on Monday. Now that truly is a lesson in brutality and dedication to the genre. Check out their video for ‘Reduced to a Sausage’ on Youtube, very cool indeed.

Next up were Basement Torture Killings. Band of the day without question for me. Matt had been raving about them for a long time so I was looking forward to seeing them in action. They have everything going for them and deserve to be very successful. Awesome stage presence, Bertrand makes an excellent front man, his guitar playing and vocals are amazing. Keeping in Character throughout, deranged ticks and twitches…. homemade horror samples…sheer insanity. The Duel vocals with Bertrand and the stocking faced Tarquin reminded me of early Carcass. Excellent rhythm section in the fourth killer and the creepy Professor Kennith. It’s not often you get to see someone doing something totally different and unique in Death metal, but Basement Torture Killings are doing just that, sure they have an ‘act’ but it doesn’t come across as fake or gimmicky. Usually bands that use these types of theatrics are covering up for something. Weak playing or bland music, but the Basement Torture Killings have the songs and the attitude…watch your back, kids.

UK’s Amputated were on next, I only caught the start of the set as I got chatting to the Basement Torture Killings’ Bertrand…but what I saw was amazing. Clearly a band that know their shit. Tight but loose, deranged and guttural vocals…. energetic live show. Crazy banter from their lead singer…awesome band.

The Amenta were up next, Black metal from Australia! Good presence on stage, lead singer definitely played his part and put in 100%. It was nice seeing a black metal band in the middle of all the death metal bands, added a nice contrast and didn’t seem that out of place. Well worth checking out.

Ahhh, Deicide. I was very much looking forward to seeing them. I clocked Man-mountain Glen Benton coming off the tour-bus outside the venue…. so it was reassuring to know that they’d actually be there! They delivered a professional sounding greatest hits set; Dead by Dawn made a surprise early appearance, as did Lunatic of Gods Creation. But if felt no sooner had they stepped on stage they were off. No goodbyes, no encore. A short and sweet appearance.  Over enthusiastic security that were far too heavy handed, a very short set. But on the other hand, it’s always nice seeing Jack Owen do his thing on the guitar and witness the pure firepower of Steve Ashheim on the drums. I won’t bother with them again, but I will take away the awesome memories of seeing so many awesome bands with my good friend, especially Basement Torture Killings, Serial Butcher and Amputated. Roll on Deathfest XIII. 

Seed of Detest @ The Dev, Camden - 25th June 2011

We left London Deathfest XII briefly to catch Seed of Detest @ the Terrorizer Grindhouse free show at The Dev. They, of course, were their normal brilliant selves at this show. I was more than happy to introduce my friends to this enthusiastic and more than competent troupe of extremely talented young guys. They played a half hour set, my favourite song of the day being “Vatican”. I’m always happy to show my allegiance to a band of such obvious skill levels. I urge you to listen to their EP produced by Russ Russell (who also produced Evile’s new record amongst others), it’s free and it’s incredible. Another great show, shame I didn’t manage to catch them later. Until next time guys \m/

Friday, 17 June 2011

Death Metal and Me – Memories and Recollections by David Rowley

I copped quite a lot of shit for my review of Seb Hunter's book "Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict" and I stand by my review. I have recently been sent a story written by my friend Dave about his experiences growing up with Metal. I love the story because it almost echoes my own experiences. This is a shortened version of how Seb Hunter should have written his book. This is the story of a real Heavy Metal addict. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did.


Death Metal and Me – Memories and Recollections by David Rowley

The first extreme Metal album I remember hearing was Carcass’ ‘Reek of Putrefaction’, this would have been around 1990. At the time I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing…it didn’t quite make sense to me at the time. My metal buddy at school Michael had bought it on cassette one weekend that year and brought it into school on the Monday. I can still remember him passing me the tape in morning assembly, like it was a top-secret document. Looking at the album art, I couldn’t quite make out what I was looking at; at first glance it looked to be a colourful collage of joints of meat and gristle. Upon closer inspection I realised I was actually looking at chopped up body parts, burnt remains and bloated corpses. ‘How can this be allowed’ I thought to myself. I remember his face; he gave me a look as if to say…’wait until you hear it’.

We parted ways after the school assembly and went to our respected lessons; all the while I couldn’t stop thinking about the album cover and what it must sound like.  At the time my musical tastes were leaning towards the more and more extreme, and this record definitely LOOKED the most extreme I’d seen.

After double science I ran to our ‘spot’ in the playground for break-time to meet up with Michael and the rest of our metal gang to listen to this record. Sure enough, Michael was stood there, headphones on, waiting with the tape. I shoved it as fast as I could into my Sony Walkman and waited for the music to kick in, and kick in it did! Insane blastbeats, indecipherable vocals, chainsaw riffage…I looked at the track listings to see what I was listening to…. Genital Grinder, Regurgitation of Giblets…What the fuck was this!! Songs lasting no more than two minutes, muddied production…. these weren’t the crisp sounds of the Thrash records we were listening to.  But it had something, it sounded unlike anything I’d ever heard in my life before…. and I wanted more!

Before hearing Carcass, I was (and still am) a huge Metallica fan. I’d heard …And Justice for all, and it changed my life forever. Before then my first steps into metal were probably not that uncommon from a lot of Heavy Metal lifers, I got the bug for the heavy stuff after hearing bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Skid Row and Aerosmith. I pestered my mum to pick me up a copy of Gun’s N Roses’ Appetite for Destruction from a fly-pitcher at Roman road market in the East End of London after seeing the Paradise City video on TV, and I played it to death. I loved that band so much when I was 12 years old, so much so that I attempted to play ‘Nightrain’ on a Spanish Acoustic in my music class at school. They were dangerous (unlike me and my Spanish Acoustic), and they looked like fucked up alien freakiods from another planet.

Around about the same time our family had a caravan in Whitstable, Kent, a sleepy little fishing village about an hour and a half car ride from London.Famous for its Oysters and being the last home and resting place of Hammer Horror legend, Peter Cushing. We would visit every weekend and on school holidays. I was a 13 year old loner, happy enjoying my own company and listening to music. My parents would leave me to amuse myself, and amuse myself I did. I would ride my mountain bike into town and go straight to the record shop to see what was on offer. I can’t stress how important that shop was tome growing up and to the moulding of my future. The shop was run by two guys, I wish I could remember their names…If I could I would look them up and thank them, shake them by their virtual hands and thank them for the journey they’d helped set me on.

The shop was a small joint in an arcade, wedged between a tattoo parlour and a haberdashery shop. I would trade records and tapes and they would recommend me classic records and tell me tales of their voyages to early Donnington festivals between mouthfuls of Pasties and Fish and Chips. I would spend hours there, flicking through the racks of vinyl and listening to the records they played at deafening levels. The guys didn’t seem to mind having me hang around and would send me out to get them food at lunch times. Looking back, this seems cheeky, but I didn’t mind at all. When I would make my selections and leave, I would go next door to the arcade and spend what little money I had on Golden Axe and Afterburner.

One weekend I picked up a copy of Justice for All by Metallica and Passion and Warfare by guitar virtuoso ‘Steve Vai’.  As soon as I heard the dense intro to the opening track ‘Blackened’ I was hooked, I remember sitting in the caravan that Saturday night, my family sitting around me watching whatever was on TV, my headphones on, reading the lyrics…. angry, hateful, full of injustice…. It was amazing. Metallica looked so cool in the album portraits. Wearingall black, unsmiling…. songs about insanity, war, corrupt politicians…a million miles away from the fun, sex fuelled music of Trixter, Poison and Motley Crue I was used too, It was serious, it had a purpose, and they weren’t fucking around. Ultra-tight, Complex riffing, insane drum patterns, songs clocking in at 9 minutes…. this was all completely new to me.  From there on in I became a Metallica die-hard. The next week I went back to the record shop and asked what else they had. This was way before the Internet; there was no other way of finding out about a bands back catalogue like you can these days (grumble, grumble…kids of today)! I bought Master of Puppets on Vinyl and a Metallica T-shirt (it came to £6.99 including the two Magnum albums I traded in, I don’t think they wanted them back, but they saw how much I wanted the Metallica swag and cut me some slack).

I wore that t-shirt until it fell apart. It was the now classic Damage Inc shirt with the Pushead design (I still have it, I keep it inside my Metalli-can). I wore it with pride, would get nods from other fans and looks of disgust from the poseurs. I started growing my hair long and dedicating myself to Metal!

Around this time I became good friends with two people at school back in London. Michael and Mark. We bonded over a love of Thrash metal and horror films like the Evil Dead, Dawn of The Dead and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. At the time I was living in Stepney, East London. Michael lived in Mile End, a few minutes up the road and Mark came from Poplar, a mile or so south. We all grew our hair, bought leather biker jackets, and hung out at each other’s houses listening to metal, talking about metal and watching movies till our parents would kick whoever didn’t live there out.

I was a massive Metallica fan, Michael was heavily into Slayer and Mark liked both. We would spend whatever money we had on metal cassettes, taping them off of each other and photocopying the covers at school or at the post office.  Michael had a huge drawer in his bedroom where he’d keep his tapes; I was always envious of his filing system. Alphabetical, he had all his ‘copied’ tapes in a separate drawer as to not contaminate the ‘officially’ bought tapes. It looked smart and tidy. He kept knives and weaponry in the drawer underneath.

Every weekend we would jump on the number 25 bus and travel up to the west end of London to visit Shades record shop. Shades is no longer there, it was a basement shop on St Anne’s court in Soho. It was dark and dingy and the best place to get metal. I remember buying Anthrax’s Persistence of Time, Testament’s Souls of Black, Motorhead, Sadus, Kreator, Sodom…. so many great records. Around that time Michael showed up with Carcass and the rest was history. I copied that album and listened to it all the time. The timeline gets a bit foggy after that, but I remember Michael coming out with Brutal Truth’s first record ‘Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses’ and Mark having Sepultura’s ‘Arise’ album. And just like that, we were total Death Metal heads.  When I bought Cannibal Corpse’s Butchered at Birth from Shades, it felt like a right of passage. The guy behind the counter actually asked if I was ‘ready for this’ as he stared at the Zombies cutting up a pregnant lady on the now infamous front cover.

Also around this time we naturally decided to form a band, before then the three of us would just headbang in our bedrooms, seems totally strange now…but we did. Someone would pick a song, and we’d just mime along to them playing air-guitar in silence. At the time I had an old Encore acoustic I would play one note riffs on, Michael decided that he would be the guitar player and I would be the bass player. I remember one weekend we all went up to the West End to get Michael’s guitar, he settled on a black BC Rich Warlock with a Floyd Rose, just like his idol Kerry King. We would spend hours looking in the guitar shops and being told to leave by the legendary Denmark Street moody guitar shop assistants.

I still remember myself, Michael and Michael’s mum sitting in the testing room at Rockers on Denmark Street as Michael just hit the strings of the BC Rich whilst the bored store assistant looked on in amusement. He must have thought we were serious, as we’d brought one of our mums with us. A little after that I bought a bass guitar and amp from the Loot paper, it was a Westone Thunder 1…. it was fretless and looked amazing. Realising pretty soon I shouldn’t have bought a fretless bass, I was just starting out, I had no idea where the frets were! I traded it in for a Flying V bass shortly after which was much more suited to our needs.

We would jam at Michaels house, I had quite a powerful Peavey bass amp and Michael had a Marshall combo….. Thinking back we must have made such a racket, and God bless Michael’s mum for putting up with all the shit we must have put her through.

We started learning Slayer and Metallica songs; around that time we started getting into the older, more classic metal bands like Black Sabbath and Venom. Michael had a penchant for the more satanic stuff, following on from Slayer; he got into Bathory, Venom, Pentagram and Celtic Frost. It was around about that time the Carcass Tape showed up, and pretty soon after that we became serious Death metal devotees.

A few things happened after that that cemented our love of the genre. Firstly we all went on a school trip to Berlin with out school. We all roomed together and took a boom box, by this point we were all about 15/16, old enough to drink…. naturally! As soon as we hit the town centre we made enquiries and headed straight for the nearest record shop and stocked up on new releases. I purchased Obituary’s Cause of Death on Vinyl, I can’t remember who got what. But Morbid Angel’s Blessed are the sick was bought and Death’s ‘Human’ album was also in circulation. When we got back, Napalm Death’s Harmony Corruption was purchased, Michael got Deicide’s first record and we all loved it, ‘Dead by Dawn’ by Deicide became a favourite cover of ours.

Around this time we started going to Death Metal concerts. Before then my first gig was UK Blues rock band Thunder at the Hammersmith Odeon (supported by Sweden’s Electric Boys), which my Dad took me to. After that I’d seen Guns N Roses twice at Wembley (supported by NIN, Soundgarden, Faith No More and Skid Row) and Skid Row at the London arena (a venue I would later play with my own band Goodchild). These gigs had all been great, but they were nothing compared to what I was about to see.

At the Marquee we saw Obituary on the Cause of Death tour and they absolutely destroyed the place! The footage is available on youtube here and looks as crazy as it was. This was the first time we were exposed to stage-divingand a mosh pit. At first we weren’t sure what to make of it, but we were soon throwing ourselves off of the stage with reckless abandon like everyone else. That gig was especially memorable, as my mum had forced my cousin Jamie to chaperone me as she thought I was still too young to go on my own. He wore my Metallica Damage Inc shirt and stood shocked by the bar throughout the gig. It was his first, and last Death Metal gig. He’s a forty something painter and decorator, the last album he purchased was Erasure’s ‘Circus’. Poor bastard.

Entombed followed with Dismember, then doom merchants Cathedral. Pretty soon after that we saw Morbid Angel on the Blessed are the sick tour, and then the Gods of Grind with Carcass, Entombed, Cathedral and Confessor. I remember seeing the Godfather of Death Metal, Chuck Schuldinerand Death on their Individual Thought Patterns tour in the early 90’s supported by romantic doom merchants, Anathema. We saw Deicide play just after the bomb-scare incident in Europe where they had a floor to ceiling chain-mail fence in front of the stage, which was amazing as it only added to the chaotic stage diving that took place. After that followed Carcass and Death again, Nuclear Assault, Kreator and Raven, Overkill, Prong, Life of Agony (not a death metal band, but with a name like that they should be, they were amazing) Entombed and Neurosis…

I remember seeing Cradle of Filth before they had their first record out at the Dublin Castle in Camden at something called a ‘Black Metal’ all day festival. More on this later, but that was the seed that got Michael on a massive Black Metal tip.

Not long after that Michael and I went to Camden again to see an all day Death metal festival with Canada’s Gorguts headlining. Although we were serious Death Metal heads, we also took time out to see Pantera, NIN, Ministry, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Slayer and Metallica as often as we could, I have great memories of that time. We also caught Biohazard at the Marquee with Sick of it All and Downset, I even got my ticket signed by the members of nearly all the bands. The NIN set was a particular highlight as it was a sell-out and they were really blowing up around that time. I remember a bunch of disgruntled fans storming the doors and managing to get inside the old Town and Country club. Police and security roamed the inside of the venue with flashlights trying to find the culprits, adding to the intense performance of Trent and his band. Every now and then you’d see a fan being pulled out in a headlock, screaming…. how they managed to identify the guilty door rushers is beyond me.

Not long after we got our band together, we started rehearsing at a local Church where Michael’s dad worked as a sort of Caretaker. He would let us set up and play for a few hours twice a week whilst he did whatever work he needed to do. Around this time we’d enlisted one of Michael’s friend’s Glen to our ranks on the drums. He had his own kit, was very tall and built and looked mean as fuck, he was later jailed for cashing fraudulent cheques...He would always walk around Poplar with his ‘Jesus is a Cunt’ Cradle of Filth T-shirt, scaring old ladies, but that’s another story. He was into Death metal as well as a new type of music that started creeping in to our listening time…. Black Metal.

Bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, Dark Throne and Immortal were becoming firm favourites with Michael and Glen. He would tape trade with guys in Norway and play us these crude TDK90’s with their demo’s, he’d also managed to acquire a few VHS tapes featuring video’s of these guys on wind swept mountains, faces covered in the now familiar corpse paint, screaming into the Norwegian darkness. The rest of the band dismissed it, but Michael was deeply affected by this new and extreme music.  He would tell us tales of Church burnings in Bergen, Count Grishnackt and Euronymous… the whole thing seemed too crazy…even for us.

Also around this time we landed our first gig! We were all pretty nervous, as we didn’t really know how to play that well. We were allocated fifteen minutes at our friend Lee Adshead’s 18th Birthday party, which was being held at a local Rock pup called the Steamship; it had a stage and a PA and was going to be packed with our friends and family. We decided to play four cover versions. Seek and Destroy by Metallica, Paranoid by Black Sabbath, South of Heaven by Slayer and Breed by Nirvana. The last choice was mine and the rest of the guys didn’t like it one bit. I remember them playing the first couple of verses and then they’d all just stop in disgust and mutter under their breath about them being shit and not Metal.

We decided to enlist the help of another metal head at school, Chris Smith. I never really liked the guy, he was a moaner…. always complaining about this and that. He had a constant ‘downer’ vibe about him, but he was a great guitar player and would beef our sound up. He had a Les Paul…. a real one! As well as a decent amp and a few pedals. At the time we didn’t have a singer, a guy called Jimmy who Michael knew would sometimes growl for us as he had a Microphone which he would plug into an old Fender practice amp. But he was a drunk and unreliable, he would never show up for rehearsals so we kicked him out of the band. It was decided that I would sing as I was playing the bass, which was the easiest of the instruments, so I could also handle the singing. I wasn’t that keen as I’d never sang before, but I agreed and started singing at rehearsals through Jimmy’s old Mic and amp which he’d left with us. It sounded okay, the natural reverb of the Church worked well and we were starting to sound pretty decent. We stole a Mic stand from the School music room one Friday, I folded it up and stuck it down my trouser leg and smuggled it out that way, limping through the school gates. I still have it, and use it to this day!

The gig went very well and to our surprise, we were regarded as the best band of the night, it wasn’t saying much…the gig was opened by the guitarist in the headlining band’s girlfriend. She was part of a sixth form poetry duo…they read two poems whilst a guy strummed a guitar and projected photographs onto an old bed sheet taped to the wall behind. It was awful. The place was full of drunken rockers who wanted to slam; they didn’t want to hear poetry and sensitive songs about this poor girls emotions at all.

We were on next, we opened with Seek and Destroy and it sounded amazing. We’d never played through proper amps before, let alone a PA and it sounded brutal. I was self conscious about singing so I sang pretty far back from the Mic, but the crowd said they couldn’t hear me, so I sang nearer and I didn’t get hit with anything, so I suppose you could call it a success. The gig flew by and we were met with lots of pats on the back and high fives….’you guys were amazing’ and ‘I didn’t know you were so heavy, do you have a demo?’. The praise and the sound we created set the seed for me, which this is what I wanted to do with my life.
Not long after the gig, the band split up. Michael had become totally obsessed with Black Metal. So much so that he’d got the bands Mayhem and Immortal tattooed on his arms, he’d also branded himself with a hot knife, a Pentagram on his forearm, and an upside down cross on the other. He’d painted his bedroom completely black, and fitted in red light bulbs where he could.

Whenever we’d get together to rehearse. We’d sit in the darkness and listen to the latest black metal he’d got at full volume and not play at all. We’d started to smoke a lot of weed by this point and drink super strength lager like Special brew and super Tenants. Michael wanted to change direction of our band and have us play more Black Metal type music. I wasn’t into that at all, and after a few rehearsals said I was leaving. It’s not that I didn’t agree with his new change of interests, I just thought the music was pretty weak. We were just starting to sound really brutal and guttural. The high-end shriek of Black Metal just didn’t appeal to me and sounded silly taken out of its natural Norwegian birthplace. 

He also started hanging around with a weird, new crowd, which is saying a lot considering what we looked like. They’d all come over to Michael’s house with weapons concealed underneath their full-length leather jackets and their faces painted like if they were preparing for an Orc attack in East London. It was ridiculous seeing as these people were all from nice middle class families, the children of Michael’s church going parents. It was a real shame because Michael was a really great guy; a sensitive soul and his parents were good people. It was horrible watching him become totally consumed by this music that he loved so much in such a negative way.

I never saw Michael again after that, but I later heard that he had sorted himself out; he’d met a girl and got married. Found God again and was playing in Christian Death Metal band called Bloodwork. I checked them out and they’re pretty good. Touring and making CD’s, building a following on the underground scene.

I went on to college and met new people, got into different music and went on my own path to where I am now. I look back on those years, 1989 to 1995 with such fond memories. The music, being in a band, feeling part of a tribe. Being carefree, not having the stress and responsibility of a job. Just totally absorbing myself in the music and doing what I loved doing.

It was a crying shame to see the Marquee and the Astoria on Charing Cross Road close their doors to the public. I have so many fond memories of seeing so many amazing bands play there.  Going to Metalheads on Carnaby Street to buy band T-Shirts and talk to Hector about new releases and bands we’d seen.  Good times.

And now I’ve come full circle. It’s only recently from meeting the Chief metal Muppet himself and my new best friend, Matt ‘Boojay’ Budgett, that I’ve rediscovered so many great albums and bands, the man has an unparalleled knowledge of the scene, unlike anyone I’ve ever met, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know him. We realised that we attended the same gigs, listened to the same albums at the same time. Started bands and shared so many experiences without actually knowing each other.  Yes our paths must have crossed on so many occasions.

I personally don’t think Death Metal has ever got close to those glory days of 89 to 95; it was totally new to us. The music was brutal and uncompromising and I don’t think we’ll ever see the likes of it again.  But saying that, the scene is still there, and in some ways more popular now and stronger than it has ever been.

Festering in the darkness, Veteran Bands like Obituary, Immolation, Hate Eternal, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Napalm Death and Vader are still releasing killer albums. Whilst bands like Cynic and Pestilence are getting back together and touring their unique brand of Death Metal again. People will always find a new take on Death metal, the music may be more technical, more brutal, faster and heavier now, but the essence is still the same.

As the Morbid Angel T-shirt says, Extreme Music for Extreme people.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Thrash Thursday II - Virus, Necroriser, Crypsis & Mutant Zombie Foetus - The Unicorn, Camden - 9th June 2011

It was time for round two of the awesome Thrash Thursday held now periodically at The Unicorn in Camden. As I’ve said before we love the Unicorn because it’s not only a cool venue but the gigs are always free and the booze is pub prices. It just doesn’t get better than that. Not only that but somehow Steve always manages to secure such good bands for the line up. This night was no different as thrash legends Virus were topping the bill.

Mutant Zombie Foetus
First on were Mutant Zombie Foetus from Reading. Having checked out their facebook page I noticed that they’d supported among others, Napalm Death. This gave us quite high expectations to say the least. To be honest I wasn’t too sure what to make of them really. At times things sounded a bit out of time and we reckon the bass was too loud in the mix. They have a punky/thrash crossover thing going on and at first both Trunks and I didn’t like it, but after the second or third song they kind of eased into their set. They have a very charismatic front man that keeps this four piece chugging along. They definitely don’t take themselves too seriously and after a little while were pretty entertaining to watch.

Next up were Crypsis. These guys were an altogether more serious outfit. The thing that stood out the most for us was the incredible drummer. These guys are a more straight forward thrash band. We enjoyed their set that seemed pretty effortless. They are obviously quite accomplished musicians and definitely worth checking out. Good work.

Third to grace the stage were Necroriser from Brazil. Holy shit they were good. I’d have to say the best band of the evening in my opinion. They reminded me of early Sepultura with what appeared to be James Hetfield on vocals with Max Cavalera’s voice. The set was tight and brutal. They are verging on being a death metal band but I wouldn’t say were out of place on this set. An excellent band with bright prospects, I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more about these guys in the not too distant future. Definitely give their facebook page a listen, no self respecting metal fan would think that these guys were anything short of excellent.

Finally Virus. As we all know Virus have been going for a very long time and it shows in their execution of the music. Not forgetting to add that they all look like maniacs. They played a blinder of a set, relentlessly thrashing us through the night. This became evident by the ferocity of the pit. It got hectic, which is always a good sign at gigs like this. They were a very fine ending to an exceptionally enjoyable night. I love these Thrash Thursdays and long may they last.


Friday, 3 June 2011

The Treatment, Skinny Machines & The Crave - 2nd June 2011 - The Borderline, London

The Treatment
So The Treatment were back in London doing a support slot with The Crave at The Borderline. That’s cool, I like this venue because it’s where I first discovered this amazing band. I was joined this evening by my good friends Doggie, Coco the Clown and my excellent girlfriend Toes. I’d been looking forward to this for ages as I’d bought my ticket as soon as the date was announced. We arrived in good time and a few ciders down to make the night even more exciting.

The Treatment burst on stage with a new number as a special surprise for us. As expected it totally rocked. The set was magical. The band are so engaging it’s ridiculous. I’ve said this before but jeez I can’t believe how accomplished they are for such young guys. They played Just Tell Me Why, Shake the Mountain, The Doctor, Nothing to Lose amongst others, all of which I gladly sang along to. The band were very well represented and the crowd loved it. They have come such a long way in the last year and if they continue to snowball like this I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them headlining much bigger venues in the not too distant future. I am a Heavy Metal Muppet so it’s hardly surprising that I ended up on stage with the band at the end. A seriously brilliant show, delivered by an equally brilliant bunch of lads that clearly live and breath rock n roll. Keep it coming guys.


Over to Coco the Clown for a guest review of the last two bands of the evening...

Skinny Machines - I think the Guyliner and the drummer with a bowler hat should have been enough warning, but being charitable I thought I would listen to what they had. Thirty seconds later I wish I hadn't bothered. I think sub-American teen TV show mood music sums up their sound. Some angsty shit about something or other. For Borderline - inappropriate. Took me a while to realise they had stopped playing.
Heavy Metal Muppet & The Treatment

The Crave - Weirdly it seemed as though each song started out with great heavy promise, but soon dissolved into a Bon Jovi jam session. The highlight came about two-thirds of the way through their set when all of a sudden they smashed out a passable cover of Ace of Spades. Really got the crowd going. Then they went back to JBJ, leaving a slightly bemused audience. It was like the bass player got his moment in the sun before the rest of the band tapped him on the shoulder and said "Easy! That's enough of that! We all know an updated version of 80s hair rock is the way forward." The fact that their merch consisted largely of womens fit t-shirts indicated who they were targeting and for that I suppose fair play.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Death Metal Alldayer with: General Surgery, Desecration, Abbadon Incarnate, Basement Torture Killings, Bloodshot Dawn, Decrepid, Trifixion, Diathesis - 29th May 2011 - The Purple Turtle, London

It’s taken me a few days to write this because it’s taken me a few days to get over the carnage that was this bank holiday weekend. The focus being The Death Metal All Dayer at The Purple Turtle accompanied by my friends Sam and Steve. This was a particularly exciting prospect considering it was General Surgery’s first ever tour in the UK (please correct me if I’m wrong).

Unfortunately I arrived at about 3.45pm so only caught the tail end of  Diathesis’ set. What I did hear sounded OK. It’s always going to be hard being the one of the first bands on at an event of this length and to boot my enthusiasm was at its low point on arrival because of the hangover I’d been enduring up to that stage. They’re pretty good on myspace though, check ‘em out.

I did however see all of Trifixion’s set. As with every band that played at this show these guys were good. I enjoyed their no nonsense approach to the genre. The show was a little stiff but the content was definitely worthy of a place on this stage. The riffs are heavy and relentless and lead on to the more technical stuff nicely. The vocals remind me of the old school, almost like Chris Barnes back in his CC days. Good stuff.

Next up were Decrepid. To be honest when I first saw them I thought they looked kind of weird. The image was a little off beat. Who cares really, we’re at a death metal gig for fuck sake. More to the point I really enjoyed their music. These guys reminded me of old bands like Gutted and Massacre. The songs are almost groovy, very catchy riffs and not break neck speed like a lot of death metal is these days. Cool guitar solos too. Half way through the set they stopped and challenged someone to down a can of beer through a pipe and funnel, which they failed to do, quite odd. Definitely a band on my list to make sure I see more often though. Since I’ve seen them I have had their stuff pretty much on loop!

Bloodshot Dawn
Bloodshot Dawn were great!! Everything about this band screams professionalism. They look the part and their singer Josh is every bit the rock star. At the time I didn’t think that any other band could be better than this lot. I haven’t seen them before and am bloody glad I did. Technically excellent and their music is a kind of hybrid between death and thrash, very unique stuff. I would seriously watch this space with these guys.

Next up was Necrosadistic Goat Torture. These guys are more of a black metal outfit. I’m not enormously keen on black metal, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that I wasn’t too into this band. Having said that, they gave a lively performance and had a pretty solid crowd of people there to see them. They have all the elements of a steadfast band. Enjoyable for a genre I don’t usually get into that much.

Basement Torture Killings crept on stage next. I love Basement Torture Killings. I saw them recently at The Underworld supporting Malevolent Creation and they seriously kicked arse there. They did it again here. They have managed to perfectly combine the horror aspect of their live show to the brutality of their music. I spoke to ‘Bertrand’ after their set and he agreed that it was a risk to take this route but they have managed to blend it perfectly into a thoroughly enjoyable and shocking experience, and at times downright hilarious (in a good way). At one point they passed a creepy serial killer type prop consisting of a Polaroid picture adorned with hair and a packet of what appeared to be blood. Their new album “The Second Cuming” is a ‘must have’, and their live performance is a ‘must see’ for any self respecting death metal fan.

Abaddon Incarnate
Abaddon Incarnate. Personally I didn’t like them as much as some of the other bands. This brand of death metal is frantic and brutal as hell. It verges on the point of grindcore. This is not such a bad thing and was an interesting departure to the previous bands we had been listening to. Having said that they were in some ways quite similar to Deicide who are arguably the best death metal band ever. Entertaining overall but not my favourite.

Desecration are another band that I have liked for a while but have never seen, and they were brilliant, even better than I expected. They look and feel like a headlining band and seem so comfortable on stage. They are  pleasure to watch. I also loved the Welshman’s banter between songs. I really felt that they appreciated the audience and I think that was a sentiment shared by most of the people in attendance. I am looking forward to new stuff and more gigs. Nice one lads.

General Surgery
General Surgery sort of shuffled on to the stage and sort of began to sort of play. After about a minute of this they apologised and said that they’d be back in five minutes. On their return they were dressed in surgical scrubs and covered head to toe in blood. It was an amazing spectacle. Their style of Swedish death metal brings to mind Entombed and Dismember or (even though they’re not Swedish) dare I say it... Carcass. A well oiled performance was delivered up and gladly devoured by the crowd. General Surgery are awesome, I feel privileged to have been at this gig, as I said before, I believe it was their first ever UK tour. A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic day overall. No more cider for a while methinks...