ILDM THANKSGIVING BASH 2011
November 12, 2011
Rock Hollow Gun Club, Freeport, IL
By Dr. Abner Mality
This was the sixth straight year I have attended this annual holiday tradition and I'm proud to say I haven't missed one of these things yet. It's something I personally look forward to all year long, not just because the bands kick ass but because I get to hang out with a lot of friends, maybe make a couple of new ones and get the satisfaction of knowing that the money I contribute goes to a great cause: the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots drive.
I'm not going to dwell so much on the bands and sets as I have in the past but rather just try to describe the feeling of attending an ILDM bash. First, you just can't beat the venue, the Rock Hollow Gun Club. This is a super cosy, rustic place in the country just outside of Freeport, Illinois. After attending so many metal shows, as well as a couple of Frontier Championship Wrestling events, here, the place feels like a second home. It's a cross between a hunting lodge and a sports bar where the bands play right on the floor...no such thing as a "stage". This leads to tremendous intimacy.
The ILDM is the local Illinois branch of the New York Death Militia and they hold metal events and get-togethers all year around. Best description of the ILDM is, it's a bike club without bikes, where love of death metal is the guiding principle and where the creed of respect, fellowship and friendship dominates all. The Thanksgiving Bash draws Militia members from not only across the state but from other branches in the Midwest like Missouri and Minnesota. These guys take care of each other and once you're in, you're in for life. This year several new "prospects" were warmly welcomed aboard in a ceremony between bands and patches and awards were handed out. As far as membership goes, it looks like there are no boundaries, as there are honored "sisters" as well as "brothers" and race and age are no barrier to entrance.
To mainstream society at large, the ILDM gathering might look like a menacing meeting of thugs, but to those in the know, it's anything but. This is a bond as close as family and death metal is just the glue that keeps it all together. I met up with a lot of friends like "Boss Man" Randall Mikkelson who slaves away all year to make this shit the best he possibly can, my buddy Slayer, Boss Man's brother Thor (no relation to Wormwood's Thor), Mark Ellsworth from Altered Existence, the amazing Randy Kastner who puts together many of the best metal shows in the U.S., Rocky James part-time wrestling commissioner, part-time metal singer and full time hell raiser, Tom from Lincoln Love Log, the dudes from Mutilated By Zombies and who knows how the hell many other great guys. For Christ's sake, Jason from 815 Productions almost cut his damn finger off just hours before the show, but he managed to show up smiling with his mate Vanna Spite. You just don't pass up a chance to see this show!
This year, there were raffles going on constantly and much to my shock and delight, I managed to win some swag this year. Believe me, I will never forget winning a stack of "classic" CDs like Rev. Poky Bunge's "Butt Out of Hell" and the disc from Urine Festival which I can't even bring myself to look at. Plus I got an ILDM button and even an ILDM beer can warmer. So Dr. Mality made out like a bandit this year!!!
Now on to the bands...this year's show ran perpetually behind thanks to a power outage earlier in the day and things never really did get caught up. That resulted in me missing the last couple of bands, who took the stage much later than they were supposed to.
First band was a new troupe called Bologna Lips....yes, Bologna Lips. Featuring members of Mutilated for Zombies, it was pretty obvious these guys are not trying to be taken seriously, especially when one of their members sports one of those cheap "big nose, moustache and glasses" gag masks. They play ultra-simplistic brutal slam death metal with drum machine backing and this was their first show. First thing I would tell these guys is, if you are going to be a humorous band, try to actually be funny. Standing around awkwardly on stage and not bothering to crack a joke doesn't make for a very entertaining presentation. If you're gonna play crazy music, ACT CRAZY! I don't want to fry these guys unnecessarily, but they need a lot of work. And a real drummer would help, too.
Splitface I have seen before and they have no ambitions to be anything more than a good heavy metal cover band at this point. That they are. They have the benefit of a talented and energetic singer as well as a skilled drummer. The ILDM crowd prefers a heavier type of metal than Splitface, but they still went down pretty good and even threw a couple of originals in. They laid into tunes from Slipknot, Fear Factory, Down and more, but what really blew the doors off was their excellent cover of Sepultura's "Territory", which I doubt even the Brazillians themselves could surpass these days. I'd urge these dudes to continue coming up with original tunes so they can get some respect as songwriters. The live energy is definitely there.
I caught Carnal Befoulment earlier this year at the NYDM Spring Bash in Milwaukee. These guys are just pure nasty American death metal, cranking out destruction in the style of Suffocation, Malevolent Creation and Devourment. Their pudgy singer is one of the most misanthropic dudes I've ever seen, but in a very entertaining way. He cracked some really great deadpan lines: "This one is dedicated to our friends out in Utah, it's called "Hideous Taint of the Latter Day Saints" as well as "We're glad to be here to help the kids...help them to grow up and be miserable, hateful fucks like ourselves."
The two-man Mass Murder Messiah squad from Wisconsin kept the hatred flowing with their patented "Dairyland Slam". They are more drum-assisted brutality alternating between thunderous chug and light speed annihilation. I don't think much of digital drum bands, but they aren't too bad and "Boss Man" was heard to say that it was good there were so many of them on the bill tonight. A lot of the bands with real drums take longer to set up between sets and the show was already running behind.
If you ever wondered what Death would have sounded like if they stayed on the track of "Leprosy" and "Scream Bloody Gore" instead of going the progressive route, one listen to Iowa's Mutilated by Zombies would answer the question. These guys are an awesome old school death metal band that get better every time I see and hear them. Their songs are as morbid as a dead baby in a crib and perfectly mix fast and slow tempos, while vocalist Josh DeMuth has a really rancid, guttural voice. Top songs for these fiends would be "Rise To Enslave" and "Postmortem Upheaval",,,they should have a new album out soon and we hope to review it here.
Lincoln Love Log...how do you put these guys into words? The two man "barbecue grind" band seems to be constantly breaking up, then reforming, then breaking up again. I am sad to say it, but I find them kind of wearing thin on me with their improvised super-harsh grinding jams that seem to spontaneously combust. Tonight the guys were relatively restrained, meaning they didn't run around naked or wear El Santo masks. There's nobody quite like them, but their tunes just seemed to drag tonight and I know that some show organizers were getting more than a little antsy as the set dragged on with the show running so late.
For my money, En Masse was the surprise of the night. They blistered the hell out of everybody at Rock Hollow with their highly combustile mixture of old school hardcore, blazing thrash and pounding death metal. This pleasing mix gave their set a bit more variety than a goregrind band that sounds like they play the same tune 10 times in a row. A mega-big tip of the hat to their insanely enthusiastic vocalist Don Adam. No relation to Agent 86 of "Get Smart", this guy is the real deal when it comes to hardcore vocalists. He's got the same intensity and charisma that icons like Harley Flanagan (Cro-Mags) Raybeez (Warzone) and Roger Miret (Agnostic Front) possess and he looks like he's ready to blow a blood vessel at any minute. He even runs around the stage barefoot! Their whole set killed and I hope En Masse is poised to rise!
One man pornogrind squad Cemetery Rapist from the slums of Rockford was back in action at the Hollow tonight...he's been a frequent visitor to shows here. Lots of blasting grind and shuddering slam mixed with pig burp vocals and filthy lyrics...this is much in the vein of fellow troubled troubadors Sikfuk and Putrid Pile and recommended only to the most extreme of the extreme.
Honesty compels me to relate that I had to depart following Rapist's set. I had been out late the night before checking out the Toddapalooza Benefit at Bar 3 so I was pretty drained. The night was capped off by Earthen Grave, the powerful doom metal act featuring Ron Holzner formerly of Trouble, and the crusty grind assault of Enabler, a perenntial favorite known for ballads like "Last Time I Gave A Shit, I Got Fucked" and "Cocaine and Cheese Curds". Even without my presence, I feel pretty confident in saying these bands threw down with a vengeance, although I can only guess at what time the show finally concluded.
So that was another year of the ILDM Thanksgiving Bash at Rock Hollow. It's becoming a show of legendary fun and freakishness to those lucky enough to know of it and I hope I've done my bit. I will be there next year, barring death or dismemberment.
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