Garrett Harris 5 p.m., Feb. 6
HELLO SATAN: DARK METAL IN SAN DIEGO, plus Death Metal History Comic
HELLO SATAN: DARK METAL IN SAN DIEGO
"Some rock and roll groups stand in a circle and drink cups of blood. Some get on their knees and pray to the devil. Rock and roll hypnotizes us and controls our senses." (Little Richard, quoted in 1974)
The L.A. band Slayer, formed in 1982, was among the first black metal groups to forge this permutation of heavy metal music, characterized by fast strumming, hyperactive guitar solos, distorted tones, chromatic note progressions, fractured rhythms and guttural, barely coherent vocals.
Mid-eighties headbangers like Sodom, Sepultura, Entombed and Morbid Angel willingly encouraged the term “death metal” in reference to their music, more than appropriate considering the atmosphere created by bloody album graphics, nihilist themes and lyrical obsessions with death and Apocalypticism.
Glorifying Satan (portrayed as an actual anthropomorphic being) became a popular motif and marketing axis for groups like Venom, Hellhammer, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, and Danzig, amusing rock critics and horrifying PMRC-minded parents. Most of these bands - tho not all - have one thing in common; using morbid narrative ideals and grotesque imagery as their greatest focus and priority, often (IMO) at the expense of musical form.
Followers of these bands differ as to what constitutes “Black” Metal compared to subgenres dubbed “Death,” “Thrash,” “Hardcore,” “Grindcore” “Speed metal,” etc. For our purposes, the term black/dark metal applies to bands whose music is loud, fast, aggressive, and thematically focused on pain, death and/or occultism.
Norway and Sweden have been and remain hotbeds of black metal, due in part to political and sociological issues too complex and contradictory to go into here. In Norway, the scene, its fans and musicians are inexorably linked to – perhaps not surprisingly – church vandalism and arson.
The only Norwegian band most Americans have heard of is A-ha, but that country's black metal scene has long been home to Satanic cults, onstage animal sacrifices, and over 100 burned churches, some of them torched by Varg Vikernes of the band Burzum.
A local film company - ZU33 – recently made a movie based on the book Lords of Chaos, about Vikernes and his conviction in the early '90s for killing Øystein Aarseth of Mayhem. Directed and co-written by local avant-garde musician Hans Fjellestad (who also helmed the 2004 electronic-music documentary Moog), the film is a somewhat fictionalized account of the infamous "Black Circle" of Norwegian black metallers.
Some people think any band that makes “devil finger” gestures with their hand… …is somehow invoking Satan. While this may sometimes be the case, nowadays the devil fingers are thrown up by anyone and everyone who’s ever been inclined to bang their head. Devil fingers alone do not a black metal band make.
Just ask Ronnie James Dio, who gave a local-centric example in a 2001 interview with Rudezine: “We were doing one of the last ‘Inferno [To Hull And Back]’ shows at a college in San Diego [SDSU 8-3-98] and the audience was full of 20-year-old blonde surfers and short haired college kids, all giving me the [two-fingered devil] sign, which you know I’m the one who made it famous but, I mean, you can see that now at an N’ Synch show where they’re doing the same thing with their hands! It’s lost its meaning, so I hardly ever do it now.”
“The Devil diddled my mom, and I don’t care
Satan whizzed in her mouth but she swallowed and wouldn’t share.”
(“I Saw Mommy Ripped By Satan’s Claws” by Bloodbat)
North County record collector Ivan Torres founded and played guitar with one of the area’s earliest dark metal groups, Bloodbat, from 1987 through the band’s breakup in 1994. “Our bass player was a member of this Satanic cult called Rainbow, so a lot of times we’d have actual factual animal-sacrificing devil worshippers in the audience! Sometimes we’d do covers of King Diamond stuff but we were so sloppy nobody recognized the covers.”
“The most common thing people would say to us after our set was ‘I can’t tell your songs apart, they all sound the same.’ Instead of being insulted, we told ourselves ‘Cool, we have a consistent theme…our own sound!’ We didn’t want to be compared with anyone, not even ourselves.”
Torres recalls “We used to play the old downtown Soma building, and we’d project black and white horror movies on the walls around us while we played. Like, 8 millimeter loops of giant spiders and ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ stuff, way before Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson came along. We weren’t playing for laughs…we were seriously into serial killers and building replicas of torture devices to use onstage.”
“I found a box of 16 millimeter ‘educational’ films at a county auction, and one of them was that bloody driver’s ed movie they used to show to scare the kids…with car accidents and ripped up bodies, brains on the pavement, that kind of thing. Girls in the audience would be screaming and covering their eyes and crying, but those were the same girls who were first in line trying to get backstage and get closer to sick f--ks like us.”
As to their name Bloodbat, "It started as a Kinko's error.,” according to Torres. “We originally called ourselves Bloodbath, but the first time we had show flyers printed up, they cut [the flyers] at the wrong size and cut off the H. We went ahead and got a refund from Kinko's, but we kept the name Bloodbat because we're goth, so blood and bats make sense."
Torres stopped following the local black metal scene around the time Club Xanth on 30th Street near North Park took over the goth club Empire. He says he attended a few editions of “The Catacombs,” Xanth’s monthly dark metal event, featuring area acts with morbidly descriptive names like Noctuary, Gutrot, Mortuus Terror, Abysmal Nocturne and Crematorium.
“But there were too many little vampire girls running around dressed like Morticia,” says Torres, “and I stopped going.” So did a lot of other people - Club Xanth closed down.
Torres says Blue Meannie Records in El Cajon is still his favorite pick as the best local source for related recordings, as well as opportunities for face-to-face time with acts like Cannibal Corpse and Dark Funeral, both of whom have done CD signings at the shop.
“Dark metal started underground, and the real sincere stuff is still on indie labels or self-released,” he says. “I’d rather go see any of the local metal bands than sellouts from the mainstream who try to imitate [dark metal]. Bands like Pantera and Anal C-nt are for rich suburban kids who desperately want to pretend they’re ‘alienated,’ when really they’re just looking for something guaranteed to p-ss their parents off. Some kids think all you have to do is gross out your audience, and you’re playing in the devil’s league.”
“Torn apart, upon a hook, limb from f--king bloody limb.
Carbonized and oxidized, pancreatic ducts ripped out.
Cleaned of all its organs, nephrons smother in their wake.
Bludgeoned with a steak knife, prepare a tasty meal.”
(“Bludgeoned, Beaten, and Barbequed” by Cattle Decapitation)
According to their press bio, “Cattle Decapitation brings forth the ideas of vegetarianism with the utmost brutal approach in expression, both musically and imagery…[their] sound will bring elements of older death/grind, inbred with utterly impossible low vocals, while being stabbed by immense drumming.” The group is known for wearing masks made of beef jerky onstage, an apparent statement regarding the trivialization of animal remains for human consumption.
Cattle Decap was originally formed as a member-swapping side project of the Locust (drummer Dave Astor founded the Locust, and former Cattle Decapitation guitarist Gabe Serbian has played drums for the Locust). A good introduction to the band is the remastered "Human Jerky" CD, enhanced with bonus CD-Rom type content playable on any computer, such as live footage from the jerky mask shows, downloadable desktops and a link to the band's website.
Song titles on Human Jerky include “Colon Blo,” “Constipation Camp,” “Roadkill Removal Technician,” and “Parasitic Infestation (Extracted Pus Mistaken For Yogurt, And Gargled).”
The band really began to take off after being signed to Metal Blade Records, home of Satan-loving, makeup-wearing 2008 Grammy Award nominee King Diamond.
On signing with Metal Blade, guitarist Travis Ryan said "To us it is an honor to be chosen by a label that is responsible for such greats as Rigor Mortis, Cryptic Slaughter, Cannibal Corpse and King Diamond as a theater to present to the unfortunate public our brand of extreme music. Being on Metal Blade is going to allow us to reach a higher level of exposure and ability to play in places and in front of crowds that we wouldn't normally be able to, and that is something we need right now."
The group’s debut for Metal Blade, “To Serve Man,” was named after a classic episode of “The Twilight Zone” TV series, wherein nine-foot tall alien “Canamits” utilize an intergalactic cookbook to make lunchmeat out of human beings.
“Alive you are no more
Let them see what my anger's for
Temper's rise - No disguise
I've done my deed - I'll watch you bleed.”
(“My Dying God,” by Daemos)
The four piece band Daemos has been playing San Diego venues since the early-90s, as well as landing slots opening for Judas Priest at L.A.’s House of Blues and for Testament at the Whisky A Go-Go. Guest appearances on local radio stations like KIOZ and San Francisco’s KSJO have elevated interest in the band’s website, Daemos.com, which claims to receive over 275,000 hits yearly.
The group has performed various cover versions of songs by other, on tribute albums like “Megaded” (Megadeth songs – Daemos plays “Looking Down The Cross”) and “SuperCharger Hell” (they cover White Zombie’s “SuperCharger Heaven”). "We're really combining two different worlds," according to bassist Jason St. Aubin. "Our music appeals to the new school crowd as well as diehard metalers."
Guitarist and vocalist Eric Nunes says “Basically my take on music is that any music style can be good if the musicians like what they are doing. That's not to say that everyone can play well. But those that can and stick to their heart are great in my book. One thing that really p-sses me off is a band that is obviously writing and playing music to become rich and/or famous. It makes the rest of us look bad. Plus, if you try to play something that you don't like, it will never sound good.”
“I'm all for having influences,” says Nunes, “that's great, but you need to grow away from those influences and let your own unique style come through. The record labels will come around, once they see people digging your music. At that point you can either tell them to f--k off or give you the freedom you deserve.”
“Raise the battle-axe unto the skulls,
In the bliss of spilling blood on enemy soil.
Towards the synagogue, with thirst for Semite blood,
From a trail of churches burning.
Under the Haunting Moon, with sword in hand I ride
and I exalt the horns of battle towards the sky.
I slay the souls of the Jesuit creed, and bathe in their curdled blood.”
(“Raise The Horns Of Battle,” by Crimson Moon)
Crimson Moon is a recording unit only, comprised of two members and a drum machine. Bassist/vocalist/lyricist Scorpios and his bandmate Nocturnal Overlord (guitars, keyboards, drum programming) wear King Diamond/Kiss style Kabuki makeup – whiteface with black patches curling and dripping around their eyes and mouths to present a patina of WWF level ferocity.
They first surfaced in San Diego in 1994 with a self titled demo release, followed by 1995’s “Into the Nocturnal Forest” demo collection, earning both praise and notoriety for their straightforward and straight-faced obsession with all things occult.
Scorpios is a well-read and fascinating character who writes lengthy, learned manifestos on lucid dreaming, medieval theology and astral projection which he posts on websites (www.geocities.com/kthuluproductions) and emails to fans by request.
In songs like “The Stormbringer,” Scorpios seems to be reading incantation spells direct from some arcane text, summoning “creatures of darkness and hatred” and intoning “For I have consumed the blood that lives forever more, the blood of the Draconis, I drink the blood, the hate of Kingu rages on, the furious tempest unleashes black storms and the chaos crawls beyond the stars, to unleash fury amongst the blackened earth.”
The end passage of “Raise The Horns Of Battle,” after praising the destruction of churches and synagogues and the murder of Jews and Jesuits, includes conjurations to the unholy trinity of Lucifer, Beelzebuth and Astaroth, each ending with a cheeky “Amen.”
Crimson Moon’s 1996 debut CD “To Embrace The Vampyric Blood” (Abyss Productions) contained nine tracks and was recorded on a 4-track machine, as was a 1997 rehearsal performed with a third player on synthesizers, Khaija Ausar, which was later circulated as an “unofficial release” called “Under The Serpentine Spell.”
With no new material and no stage performances over the ensuing years, it seemed the group had disbanded, but Nocturnal Overlord says Crimson Moon has recorded an album archiving all the music they have done to date, including re-recordings of their demos plus three unreleased songs.
“My lyrics in Crimson Moon are occult based and not from a horror movie or fiction book,” according to Scorpios. “It is not an image. It is what we do and we will not change this because it is getting too trendy or too hated, etc. We do this for ourselves.”
He says he rarely reads fiction and especially hates “vampire novels,” but admits his lyrics are often inspired from arcane mythology. “I have studied the myths, magick and lore of not only Sumerian but Babylonian mythology as well. When I say study, I mean going further than just reading and practicing rituals from the Necronomicon."
He seems so sincere, it’s simply buzzkill to point out that the “Necronomicon” is a fictional invention of 20th century gothic writer HP Lovecraft, and texts purporting to have originated in this tome are of recent construct or from other sources entirely.
Discussing his views about Christianity versus Satanism on the San Diego Metal website (www.geocities.com/s_b_resistor/local.html), Scorpios said “They are actually very similar in many ways and they both need each other to exist! Satanism is not what I am into. I have studied much about it but it is basically a Judeo-Christian mutation of a religion. I prefer to go back much further in history to seek information.”
Scorpios says he’s familiar with – but doesn’t place much stock in - the Satanic Bible, written by Anton Szandor LaVey, the man who formed the Church of Satan in 1966. Scorpios claims not to ally himself with the philosophies set forth in this notorious book, which has sold more than 600,000 copies since it was first published by Avon Books in 1969.
“If you read Ragnar Redbeard’s book ‘Might is Right,’ which came out much before LaVey was around, it is interesting to see how many of the same ideas LaVey had! I don’t consider his form of Satanism to be…true Satanism. To me, true Satanism is a form of devil worship, not psychology. The Church of Satan is not much different than any other church, perhaps a bit more honest. They still feed off their followers’ money.”
Scorpios wraps up his commentary with an unctuous grab for the wallets of his own followers – “May chaos reign…and contact Nocturnal Overlord for merchandise (shirts, long sleeves, cds stickers, new promo tape, etc.).”
After all, ancient scrolls, eyes of newt and faux Necronomicons don’t come cheap!
According to Scorpios, “I have another ritual/acoustic project totally devoted to the Dieties of Sumeria/Babylonia called ‘Akrabu.’”
Crimson Moon never performed live until 2006. Core members Scorpios (bass, vocals, lyrics) and Nocturnal Overlord (guitars, keyboards, drum programming) have split and are now battling over the bandname, especially after Overlord announced an impending new CM album (sans Scorpios), with rehearsals already posted online.
“[This] material was recorded between 1997-2000 solely by Overlord on a portable four-track and with an old drum machine,” reads a post on Overlord’s MySpace page.
“Overlord was kicked out [of Crimson Moon] in September of 2006,” according to Scorpios. “This [new CM album] is another one of Overlord's desperate attempts to cause confusion…just because Overlord played in Crimson Moon in the past and decided to steal the logo, name, artwork and concepts that are beyond his limits of understanding, bought out a bunch of domain names and made a MySpace page, doesn't change the fact that he was and will forever remain, kicked out of the band.”
Scorpios has grouped with three others (including a synthesizer player from previous CM recordings) for his own version of CM, with its own new album in progress. “Overlord was not even a member of Crimson Moon when it started in 1994 and released the debut self-titled demo,” he says.
Replies Overlord, “In actuality, Scorpios was released from Crimson Moon in 2006, and has gone around making a fuss, and started childish internet drama ever since. He has even gone as far as to steal artwork, image files, HTML coding, avatars, sound files…[it’s] simply pathetic, and there is no need to explain why he was kicked out. I won’t waste any more time on this.”
Dueling MySpace pages are titled “crimsonmoon666” (Nocturnal Overlord) and “crimsonmoonofficial” (Scorpios).
SATAN CAME TO US: DEEP INSIDE THE DEVIL
“Satan came to us and told us that San Diego needs to experience a Black Metal revolution,” according to the MySpace page for Ruines ov Abaddon, based in La Mesa. This for me raised several questions, to which the band replied in an unsigned message.
Approximately when did Satan arrive? “3 a.m. on February 3rd.”
Was he basically human, or did he have one of those goat bodies or stag heads or something? “Perhaps it was his beady eyes, frowning like he’s looking into the glare of the sun, or his overly large ears, [but] his Texan accent and inability to enunciate reminded us of good old George W. Bush.”
Can you quote what he told you as closely as possible? “He’s actually more conversational than he seems. You would think him being the Lord of the Underworld, he would have more important matters to take care of…He’s quite the inspiration, you should hear him talk about everything he’s been through.”
Did Satan explain WHY San Diego needs a Black Metal revolution? “Because the music industry has sold out and is producing repetitive, untalented noise they’re labeling as music. Satan seemed quite upset as he explained this.”
Did you and Satan discuss anything else? “He actually mentioned that if, in the upcoming election, another Republican like, say, John McCain became President, he was going to have to burn down the entire United States.”
What else can you tell us about Satan? “He’s good with his anger management.”
It was billed as "Hell and Heaven United," with Satan-loving Slayer co-headlining with Christian rockers Stryper. However, this Monterrey Metal Fest event in Nuevo LeÃƒÂ³n, Mexico, scheduled for September 23rd ’06, was derailed "due to Slayer not wanting to share the stage with Stryper," according to an e-mail from show promoters.
"This came as a shock to us after eight months of long and very complicated negotiations with Slayer's booking agent,” said promoters. Even before Slayer's cancellation was announced, the band's website had indicated that they'd be appearing in Mexico City on the same day as the Monterrey festival. A band press release cited "personal reasons" for the pullout.
"I was literally booking our plane and hotel reservations when they sent word not to confirm anything yet," says Veronica Freeman, singer for local band Benedictum.
Slayer's album Christ Illusion, was released 6-6-06; on their website that day, the band urged fans to "desecrate a few churches." The entreaty was removed a day later, after several churches reported being defaced by depictions of the band's logo.
Since not all black metal bands have Satanism in common, nor is grotesque imagery mandatory to qualify, what DO most all black and dark metal bands have in common?
All the band logos look like they were designed by the same guy!!!!!!!!
HISTORY OF DEATH METAL - COMIC STRIP BY JAS & SCOTT PENTZER
YOUTUBE GEM: Here's "Humanure: The Art Show," inspired by the veggies-no-meat music of our own Cattle Decapitation:
Celeb sighting: Nelly & Ashanti
8-28-07 4:50 p.m. So there was Nelly and Ashanti, hanging out near the pool at the Ivy Hotel on Saturday the 24th. Nelly, in swim trunks baggy enough to use as an emergency all-weather tent, did indeed take an ab-deep swim. But what was up with Ashanti never getting her black bikini damp? She never even fully removed her sarong wrap - not that she needs a tan, but poolside is for pool users, isn't it?
While Nelly waded, a couple of people asked Ashanti if they could pose for a pic with her, but she briskly declined...when asked by one shutterbug if he could snap a pic of just her, she pulled her sarong even tighter around herself and said "no," immediately picking up her cell phone and at least appearing to begin a phone conversation. This effectively shut down the clearly unwanted interaction with the "little people" whose $$$ make it possible for her to be AT the Ivy. She talked on the phone for pretty much the entire remaining time the power couple hung out. Or at least she pretended to ---
BTW, despite all the poolside cabanas and luxury renovations at the Ivy, the place was a lot more fun when it was still the Maryland Hotel, one of the divey-est of all pre-Gaslamp flophouses. I was visiting a friend there once in 1979 when my host opened a window and took a leak outside, rather than walk down to that floor's communal bathroom. He didn't even look down first, and he told me many hotel residents did the same.
So, if back in 1979, you were walking by the Maryland, and you experienced a sudden and fleeting (and mysteriously WARM) shower, well………….now you know…….......the REST of the story.........
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
More like this:
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- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
- Local Scenes: Dark Metal, Racist Rock, Christian Goths, Hip-Hop Quest, Rave Culture — March 21, 2008
- Hello Satan: Black Metal in San Diego, Brain Police, Online Booty Call — March 9, 2008
- Frank Zappa Comics And Stories, plus Top 5 Lists, Fallen Pinoy Idol — Nov. 10, 2007