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.
"We used to play the old downtown Soma building," says Torres, "and we'd project black-and-white horror movies on the walls around us while we played. Like, 8mm 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 16mm '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 for how the band got its name, Torres explains, "It started as a Kinko's error. 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. All our [song and album] titles play on existing titles...our Christmas album was I Saw Mommy Ripped by Satan's Claws." The band split in 1994, whereupon Torres got out of music altogether and went to work as a regional manager for the Target retail chain.
Torres still follows the scene and says he has fond memories of Blue Meannie Records in El Cajon when they were providing fans with face-to-face time with acts like Cannibal Corpse and Dark Funeral. "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**t are for rich suburban kids who desperately want to pretend they're 'alienated,' when really they're just looking for something guaranteed to piss 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."