APRIL 6 & 7, 2012


By Dr. Abner Mality

Life today is hard. There's no certainty left in work or sometimes feels like you're standing on a foundation of Jello. Unrest is everywhere and the usual social bonds of life are being eroded by electronics and gadgetry that replaces the human with the inhuman. In this chaotic world, there is always one sure

Music still has the ability to bring people together unlike anything else. Especially live music...which frankly has also deteriorated in recent years due to many of the factors described above. But there are still diehards who love to see bands play actual instruments and who love to have a good time while doing it. And nobody is more "diehard" that a dedicated death metal fan.

That's what the NYDM and its many branches are all about...perpetuating love of death metal in its most potent form: live and on stage. It's a great concept that stretches all across the United States of America and brings true believers together.  Long time readers of Wormwood Chronicles are familiar with my writings on the NYDM and particularly the local ILDM offshoot. So this will probably seem overly familiar and repetitive. But this particular show, the much-anticipated 5-State Spring Bash, was something much more than just another enjoyable fest to me. With this show, I joined the "family" myself and let me tell you, I haven't had a prouder or more enjoyable moment in my life in a long, long time.

I received an honorary ILDM patch from two good friends and real brothers of steel, "Boss Man" Randall Mikkelson and Scott "Slayer" Severns. They got on the mike during a break between bands and made a major deal out of it. I was always welcome at these events before, but this time really sealed the deal. The patch itself doesn't look like much, but it might as well be made of gold as far as I'm concerned. It meant that even though I'm a misfit and eccentric freak everywhere else, now I have friends I can call family. The rest of the Bash was a blur for the Good Doctor...lots of booze, handshakes, backslapping and hugs (the latter coming strictly from the ILDM "sisters", of whom there are many).

From the bottom of my black and evil heart, I thank Boss Man, Slayer, Savage, Randy Kastner, Mark Ellsworth and anybody else who helped to make this weekend one of the best I've ever had.

The one guy who lives and breathes the Spring Bash all year long is Mr. Randy Kastner. I don't know how many metal shows this guy has put together, but it's probably equals the amount of beers Johnny Vomit has on a weekly basis. He is a tireless promoter of the underground metal scene and a good example of the kind of grass roots guru needed to keep that scene healthy. He came up with an awesome fuckin' lineup this year that would satisfy any hardcore metal dog, including Chicago's mighty Cianide, the long running mutant miscreants of Minneapolis Impaler,  late 80's death/thrash legends Bloodfeast and a whole passle of other great bands that would mean jack shit to somebody who wears a Slipknot shirt and thinks Parkway Drive is world class but would excite any patch-wearing ILDM soldier.

I got to On the Limiter on Friday just in time to see one man band Post Mortem Resurrection wrapping up a set of Possessed/Morbid Angel rifferama. Not bad, but not very exciting to watch. One man bands have to have a lot of personality and funny repartee to keep from being dull. Sikfuk and Putrid Pile definitely fill that bill, but not Post Mortem Resurrection yet, even though I dig the tunes quite a bit.

Next up was Neon Hole, who gave us a pretty interesting mix of groovy southern sludge and bone-breaking grindcore. Those two tastes work well together, much like peanut butter and chocolate, and Neon Hole had the advantage of being an actual band with a front man. Keep an eye out for these dudes in the future.

Here's a good a spot as any to mention how cool the folks at On The Limiter were to us ILDM humanoids this weekend. The place is obviously a NASCAR bar and usually I'd rather be rolled down a hill naked and wrapped in barbed wire than be in such a joint, but the staff was cheerful and professional to the metallers within their midst the whole time I was present. They musta made a mint on all the PBRs they were dishing out this weekend. I would see a metal show there anytime...hell, I might even watch the Daytona 500 there!

A HUGE treat came next as the band Absconder took to the stage and proceeded to level the place with a massive display of oldschool death metal aggression. If anybody remembers the Chicago band Morgue from the early 90's, then they might recognize Brad, the black hatted leader of Absconder. A very cool ILDM brother whose band delivered an amazingly brutal and catchy mixture of Cianide, Bolt Thrower, Grave and Master that had hair flying and heads banging!

Altered Existence has become a mainstay of many NYDM Midwest events and Spring Bash was no exception. Bearded front man and cryptozoology freak Mark Ellsworth is a very imposing sight...and speaking of sight, the stage is always festooned with eyeballs during an Altered Existence show, a fact which had me and inebriated joker Johnny Vomit trading silly remarks during A.E.'s set. Stuff like "EYE am impressed with thie band" and "EYE agree with you!". Lame jokes aside, Altered Existence plays a simple, bruising and effective style of mid-paced death that comes across nice and groovy live. Someday these dudes will capture on disc what they do live and then we'll be in for a treat.

Carnal Befoulment is another familiar band at these events and these Milwaukee sickos delivered more of their patented revolting death metal, full of offensive lyrics, Suffocation-like speedy mayhem and general non-stop aggression. After C.B. did their thing, it was time for Chicago's most gruesome to take the stage...CARDIAC ARREST!

These guys were at the very first ILDM event I ever attended, the first Thanksgiving Bash ever held. They made me a fan for life with their murky yet catchy old school death metal, inspired by masters like Autopsy and Grave. In the years since then, they've become genuine underground heroes and they refuse to compromise one iota on their original concept. Tonight we got to hear some hot stuff from their upcoming epic "Vortex of Violence" and what I clapped ears on sounded mighty good to me. Throw in classic tracks like "Affliction of the Beast" and "Into the Woodchipper" and On The Limiter looked like a graveyard full of moshing zombies!

As much as I enjoyed Cardiac Arrest, the high point of the whole weekend was up next. If there's one Chicago band that surpasses the Cardiac boys in terms of lead-weight heaviness and morbid horror, it is CIANIDE! This was my very first taste of the band live and it was every bit as fuckin' destructive as I imagined it would be. Major league kaiju monster movie fan Mike Perun led his boys in an unstoppable onslaught of super low-tuned primitive riffage and yes, they are able to replicate THAT guitar sound live. Tracks like "Desecration Storm", "The Undead Rise", "Trust No One" and plenty more were blasted out and I could feel my ribcage vibrate with the heaviness of it all. Take it from Dr. Mality, if you like your shit heavy as a footstomp from Godzilla himself, do not miss Cianide when they play one of their rare shows!

By now, Johnny Vomit, whose capacity for both alcohol and twisted humor are legendary, had stuffed the "new recruit" (me) so full of booze that I could barely stand, much less drive, but a warm feeling of fellowship coursed through my body as I realized I was in the company of so many friends, watching some world class extreme metal.

Last band of April 6 for me were grinding goofballs Enabler, led by Aaron T. Whitesides. I proceeded to make an ass out of myself before the show by congratulating the band on their new deal with Southern Lord Records. Turns out the Enabler that got the Southern Lord contract is a completely different band hailing from Milwaukee (these guys are from Minneapolis). Well, I'm probably not the only guy to make that mistake and anyway, the Minnesota Enabler kicks enough ass with their spastic D-beat influenced grind that they SHOULD have a record contract with Southern Lord. Toss in another band from San Diego called ENABLERS and you have a situation ripe for a lot of fucking confusion!!!

Memories Wither ended the Friday night portion of the show, but since I had to drive all the way backdown to Rotford, Illinois, I unfortunately had to miss them. I can barely recall the drive home, but I know I ran over a concrete median at least once yet somehow managed to avoid getting nabbed by the cops.

On April 7, I was feeling kind of woozy but couldn't wait to get back to the club for Day Two of the fest. I've gotta be honest here and say I arrived late...I stopped at the renowned Kopp's Frozen Custard in Cudahy to get a huge, gooey scoop of Snickers cheesecake custard, which was unlike anything I've ever tasted before. By the time I got to On The Limiter, the bands Rodenia, Arduous and 40 Oz. Fist had already played.

Got there just in time for some extremely gross death grind courtesy of Nik Blanton, otherwise known as Sikfuk. Yep, it's another one-man band but in this case, Nik kept everyone in stitches with some ridiculously twisted banter focused on bodily secretions and functions. He dedicated a song to Enabler's Aaron Whitesides and his stringy hair-do called "Poodle Doo Pud Pile" and another song about having sex with his girlfriend while she has a terrible cold. I noticed Sikfuk's music was quite a bit catchier than the almost incomprehensible noise I'd heard him play at earlier shows, with more groove and skank parts. As for vocals, this guy unleashes an amazing cacophony of squeals, snorts, grunts, whines and shouts that will bring a smile to your face even if you have no idea what the fuck he's talking about. My favorite tune was "PORN HOLE WHISKEY DICK!", which I shouted at every opportunity, much to Slayer's amusement.

These Bashes give a great opportunity to check out new bands and I have to say that Terminate was one of the most pleasant surprises of the festival. Featuring ILDM Brother Alfred Mulle, these dudes lay down oldschool style Swedish death metal in the vein of the first two Entombed albums. They've got that famous Sunlight Studios chainsaw guitar sound down pat and it wasn't long before the room went from half full to packed to hear the extreme heaviness that this band creates. I surely look forward to more from them.

Death Sick came in from New Jersey with Blood Coven and Bloodfeast to deliver a standard set of East Coast death metal insanity. It was during this time that I got to connect with Don Adam from the up and coming band En Masse, who is one of the best guys in the scene and a real character. I'm very humble to hear such a long time metal fan say he's a fan of Wormwood and the Good Doctor.

It's almost impossible to set up a two day metal festival and have every band show up. This year, New York's Hellcannon thought it was in their best interest to no-show the festival. Apparently they didn't even give Randy Kastner a heads-up, which is a no-class thing to do. It's disappointing because I enjoyed what I heard of them but not everybody is gonna be loyal to the scene.

FINALLY I got to see a complete set from Milwaukee's Burial Ritual! These dudes are pretty much kings of the scene in Beertown and have a large, loyal following. Not hard to see why, since they deliver the goods live and get a frenzied pit whipped up. To make a general comparison, they are Milwaukee's equivalent of Cardiac Arrest but maybe even faster yet. These fuckers should be signed to a good label PRONTO!

Blood Coven was part of the New Jersey Death Squad and they had quite the chip on their shoulders. Their bald and bearded front man growled "Get your asses in here and support!"...several times. Well, with this crowd, you have to prove your worth to get that support...and Blood Coven earned it with some ferocious blackened death metal in the vein of Krisiun-meets-Behemoth. The leader's lack of social skills notwithstanding, these guys did well and the crowd was appreciative by the end of the set.

I've seen one man wonder Putrid Pile (aka Shaun Lacanne) plenty of times now and it still amazes me how a mild looking short haired guy with glasses and baseball cap can tear a room apart all by himself. He's a master of not only the gut-wrenching slam riff, but also guitar soloing worthy of Eddie VH as well. That helps add some spice to his set. I never think these one-man outfits rate with a real band, but Putrid Pile is the best of the breed and well worth catching if you're a fan of the extreme.

Being a huge fan of all things theatrical and gore-soaked, the big highlight of the evening was up next as Minneapolis' veteran freakshow IMPALER took the stage. How Randy hooked up with these guys, I don't know, but almost 30 years after they first hit the scene, I got to check out Bill Lindsey and his fiends. They came to the stage in various stages of make-up and costume, led by a cadaverous looking medical deviant resembling Alice Cooper in a doctor's smock. I thought I had the monopoly on that this weekend! Anyway, these venerable shock rockers delivered a different kind of heaviness than the death metal sickness we were used to...something akin to a cruder, slightly more thrash-oriented WASP. The music was simple, punky and catchy as hell and provided the perfect backdrop for Impaler's shenanigans. The medical ghoul spent the set dousing himself with gasoline, vomiting up blood and gyrating like a spastic zombie while Big Bill roared and yelled to classics like "Black River Falls", "Meatwagon" and "Where Is The Minnesota Iceman?"

These dudes were all over the place! The black metal looking guitarist spent quite a bit of the set playing on TOP of the amps while Bill and the Ghoul often jumped into the crowd. Two highlights of the set found Lindsey eating an impaled head on a stick and then devouring the guts of the Ghoul, who had been beaten to a pulp by the stocky female bassist. Blood, urine and other bodily fluids were flying everywhere and the crowd licked up every bit of it! This was a super fun set by a band that gets little respect outside of the diehard metal community. Great entertainment!

Following Impaler's killer set was a hard job for anybody, but long-time Jersey thrashers Bloodfeast did their level best and I was completely surprised by them. I always thought their late 80's/early 90's albums were second-tier thrash at best and not really worthy of the big names. Fuck me silly and call me Willy, they totally DESTROYED live! They hit the stage like it was 1988 and turned the mass of ILDM fans into a seething whirlwind of moshing maniacs. Tearing into chestnuts like "Menacing Thunder", "Kill for Pleasure" and "Vampire" like this was their last night on Earth, I kinda got the feeling that this is what seeing Exodus or Slayer at Ruthie's Inn in 1984 must been like. Hats off to Bloodfeast for bringing their A-game to Milwaukee and giving us all something to remember!

That was it for me, sports fans. Black metal wretches Shroud of Despondency closed out Spring Bash 2012, but I had to hit the road back to Rockford again so I was forced to miss them. I was not quite as gassed Sat. night as I was Friday, but it was a very pleasant trip back to the dungeon. I don't know how I could have had a better time. Not only did I get to hear tons of awesome metal, not only did I get to hang with a boatload of some of the coolest people around, but I got to join a family. That doesn't happen every day, my friends.

Oh yeah, I also got CHEESED! Along with just about everybody else at the Fest. What does "cheesing" mean? Well, come to next year's Bash and find out!!!