Although they’ve dressed up like doctors onstage during their 18 years as a band, don’t expect any messy Gwar-like antics from Thanatology. “We try and set ourselves apart from that cliché that many bands have exploited for decades,” says Dr. Bautista, singer with Ensenada’s extreme metal band Thanatology (it means the study of death).
Thanatology at Perez Tire Shop in L.A., April 9, 2016
Bautista says all four members in the band are medical doctors who practice in Baja. “The idea is be as clinically tidy and clean as possible.”
Thanatology is among a Baja cartel of extreme metal bands including Grotesque Mutilation, Carnero Negro, THEM, and Maldad 13. Bautista says pioneering med-metal headbangers such as the County Medical Examiners and General Surgery gave them inspiration.
“Our lyrics [all in Spanish] talk about the hidden history of medicine and procedures people may not be familiar with,” says Bautista. Their last project was a concept album about morgue workers and what they do. “The title is De Cadaver en Cadaver.”
Bautista says it’s much harder to make it in extreme metal in Mexico versus pop genres, but when they play at home, “The Mexican public is more passionate and euphoric than in America. What Americans have in their favor is they are more educated, musically speaking, and the scene is more united.”
When Thanatology operates onstage, their faces are obscured. This way, says Bautista, they can keep their practice separate from their rock. “The uniforms used in an operating room are the ones we use onstage. We obviously modify them to be proper to play in them and stuff.”
Thanatology was just asked to open three fill-in dates on the upcoming Cattle Decapitation tour. Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan says, “I don’t know what it is with local bands, but it seems like there just aren’t many that can pick up and go because they have jobs or whatever....
“Like us, [Thanatology was] one of the bands in the ’90s and early 2000s who were heavily influenced by this band from the UK called Carcass who sang about gore and death in textbook terms,” says Ryan. “I thought they were the coolest bands to come from what was called ‘Carcass cloning.’ These guys [in Thanatology] are like actual medical doctors from the 1600s, when doctors were also butchers and had bizarre approaches to surgery. They come out wearing scrubs and then they bust out with ripping grindcore, which is kind of what we play.”
1130 Buenos Avenue, Linda Vista
Thanatology plays Brick by Brick on October 11, Ensenada’s new bar Xibalba November 11, and TJ’s Mod’s Bar November 25.