NYDM SPRING BASH 2017 featuring OMEN, TYRANT, SATAN’S HOST, THRUST and many more

April 20-22 

The Metal Grill, Cudahy, WI

By Dr. Abner Mality

The third weekend of April is something I’ve looked forward to every year since 2011. That means it’s time for me to head up to the Metal Grill in friendly Cudahy, WI and get my head kicked in by some of the best bands in heavy metal for 3 straight days. I also get to hang out with a lot of lowlifes I consider some of my best friends and even sell some of my Hot N Heavy hot sauce. You longtime Wormwood readers will know that I do a write-up on every year’s event.

This year’s Bash promised to be an epic event. Promoter Randy Kastner, also known as the Wizard of Watertown and the No Fun Shogun, had put together a tremendous lineup that was heavy on classic metal bands of the 80’s. Loudness, Tyrant, Omen, Thrust, Attacker…are you kidding me? However, fate dealt a few blows to this year’s list of bands, probably causing Randy to pull whatever was left of his hair out in frustration. A health situation took classic thrashers Solstice out of the equation, which Randy dealt with by plugging Chicago stalwarts Wrath into their slot.

But it was really US customs and immigration that took a toll. Just a few days prior to their Thursday night gig, Japan’s Loudness were denied entry into the US. Apparently their papers were not in order. It blows my mind that a veteran band who have been playing for over 30 years can flush a tour down the drain because of a silly paperwork error. And this was not the first time this happened to them, either. Then, Evil Invaders from Belgium, one of the best new thrash bands from Europe, had to pull out of their Saturday night slot. Two members got to the States but the other two couldn’t. Why customs declares war on foreign musicians is a mystery to me. Randy is totally blameless in this situation, but there’s no doubt these events took a bite out of the Bash.

Yet despite this, the entire weekend was one of pure enjoyment for the gathered NYDM faithful. The remaining bands pushed themselves to new heights and there were some great “sleeper” performances this year. I got to cross great bands like Omen and Attacker off my bucket list and I even sold a healthy amount of hot sauce! The key is the great people who always attend the Bash, a true brother-and-sisterhood that support each other through thick and thin. It also didn’t hurt that the weather was very enjoyable, with no wind,rain, snow or any of the other things one might associate with Cudahy, WI in April.


Got to the Grill just in time to see dwarven metal warriors KHAZADDUM open the weekend. For the opening band of a 3 days fest, they had a pretty cool backdrop and stage set up. One might expect a band influencedVA completely by Tolkien’s dwarves to be a power metal band, but Khazaddum is knee buckling American death metal like a more epic Cannibal Corpse. Led by the brutal growls of Luka Djordevic, these guys got things off to a crushing start. They played a couple of tracks from their forthcoming debut full-length “A Plague Upon Arda” and they sounded way better than anything on their rather under-produced EP. This is a band you may be seeing more of at Wormwood.

Next came PLAGUEHAMMER all the way from Cheyenne, Wyoming. They pretty much engaged in an all-out death metal assault but unfortunately there was no memorability to any of it. The songs just seemed to be out of control 1000 mph war metal with a non-stop barrage of incoherent screams. This was one of those bands who mistake speed and noise for true heaviness. It wore me out and my brain disengaged from their show long before it came to a merciful end. I give these guys props for coming from such a metal-poor area but you’ve got to learn how to do controlled demolition.

If Cheyenne, Wyoming seems an unlikely spot for extreme metal, how about San Juan, Puerto Rico? That was the home base for CALAMITY, a young thrash metal troupe who delivered on of the more surprising sets of the Bash. These guys reminded me a lot of a young Testament. They played a very precise and technical kind of thrash as opposed to a full blast bestial speed assault. If some label is savvy enough to back them, they could go far. I would say fans of Havok and Megadeth should check Calamity out!

Things got really creepy next as the hooded fiends known as THE LURKING CORPSES crawled up from hell to assault us next. This band is for folks who were raised on monster movies and wise cracking horror hosts. In other words, they were right up my alley. They can be described as a cross between the horror punk of The Misfits and the heavier death metal of Obituary and the like. On record, the mixture is rather uneasy, but the Corpses killed it live. Each of the robed reprobates had their own unique identity…the guitarist had worms oozing from his eye socket, the bassist was a horned demon and the drummer had a gaping fanged maw. The lead singer was a hoot with his evil cackling commentary similar to the likes of Svengoolie and Ghoulardi. He complimented me on the Dr. Phibes shirt I was sporting and allowed me to recite Phibes’ quotes of doom. This is the kind of set I can sink my fangs into! By the way, the singing ghoul had quite a range…everything from Danzig style crooning to bestial death roars and even a falsetto King Diamond scream or two. Don’t pass the Lurking Corpses up if you have a chance to see them live…or dead!

The vintage thrash band Solstice was originally slated by play Thursday night but had to back out because of illness. That left Randy scrambling to come up with a replacement. On short notice, he was able to plug the Chicago veterans WRATH into the slot. These meat-and-potatoes thrashers have been together for decades and have reached their peak of tightness. I’ve seen them plenty of times and there’s not much more I can add to what I’ve said before. They put together a hot blue collar metal set that satisfied the bangers in attendance.

If The Lurking Corpses didn’t quite slake the thirst for heavy metal gore, then Minnesota’s IMPALER likely fulfilled that bloodlust. This is the third time I have seen the long-running shock rockers. I met singer Bill Lindsay at the bar, where we both quoted the gypsy limerick from “The Wolf Man” easily. He sported a very cool Wolfman T-shirt as well! As for Impaler’s set, these guys have always seemed to me to be as much punk as metal, with a dose of cut-rate Alice Cooper theatrics tossed in. The medical ghoul who always accompanies the band did a lot of the gory showmanship like chewing on a decapitated head and waving a skull and crossbones flag. During “Shock Rock”, this poor bastard got beaten and torn apart by Lindsay and a dude wearing a black scarecrow mask. As the band played sleazy rock n roll, his guts were literally torn out and eaten by Mr. Lindsay. That made me want to head to the bar and order some pulled pork. Meanwhile, the band powered through classics like “It Won’t Die” and “Jersey Devil” with intensity. The music is simple and basic, but with Impaler it’s always about the show and these painted freaks never disappoint in that regard.

When Loudness pulled out with little notice, Randy was unable to get a substitute in time. So SATAN’S HOST became the de facto headliner for Thursday night. That was fine with me, because this overlooked band has almost 30 years of material to pull from, including their spectacular efforts in recent years. These dudes came in and put on almost 2 hours of dark, melodic and powerful heavy metal. Three of the four of them looked like they could be in a 70’s cover band but they were rather the reverse of Impaler. They were all about the music, not the shock. Singer Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin is one of America’s most talented metal singers, capable of delivering piercing screams that could shatter cathedral windows. Conklin never tired during the set, sounding just as good at the conclusion as he did at the beginning. Guitarist Patrick Evil also got to show his skill with some great shredding. I wasn’t familiar with all of Satan’s Host’s material, but it all sounded great, particularly “Island of the Giant Ants”, which is just a total metallic epic!


Friday was a bit different for the Good Doctor as I spent the early half of the day outside slinging my Hot N Heavy hot sauce to hot-headed headbangers. Unfortunately had to miss the early slate of bands, but was able to catch most of the evening show. It was a beautiful day outside with just a touch of a chill from the lake…much better than last year when I became a human icicle.

Although I missed the bands, I always enjoy the social aspect of the Bash, connecting with friends I already know and making new acquaintances as well. Always a hoot trading insults with Johnny Vomit and I also got a visit from Sonic Asylum Radio’s Mad Brad Toth and Paul Pannick. I meet so many cool bangers that I can’t possible name or do tribute to them all! This is a feeling I wouldn’t get from a large scale concert situation.

Even though I didn’t get to see them play, I’ll list the early bands of Day Two of the Bash:


Finally made my way in to see FAITHXTRACTOR destroy the Metal Grill. This is a three piece death metal juggernaut with a singing drummer…pretty rare in these days. I really liked what I heard from this outfit…immensely heavy riffing but not out of control. These guys knew how to structure their songs for maximum impact. They will have their debut out on Hells Headbangers later this year and I can’t wait to check it out!

Thankfully, Mexico’s best true metal band VOLTAX escaped the wrath of the customs agents. They delivered an absolutely blistering set of speedy, melodic metal with deep roots in the NWOBHM and King Diamond. These cats looked more metal than anybody else on stage or in the crowd…long hair, black leather, spikes, the whole nine yards. Wow, what a piercing scream the vocalist had…definitely on a par with what Harry Conklin delivered the night before. Voltax got a rousing response from the knowledgeable metalheads in attendance and the general opinion was that they may have delivered the sleeper set of the weekend.

Talk about Midwest metal legends from the dusty tomes of history…THRUST was all that and more. These Chicago soldiers delivered an iconic album entitled “Fist Held High” all the way back in 1984. For the Bash crowd, it might as well have been 2014. I thought they were actually kind of overrated back in the day but their show tonight was excellent and full of energy for guys in their 50’s. They started their set with “Fist Held High” and continued with classic cuts like “Metallic Attack” and of course “Posers Will Die”. Believe it or not, the band is working on a new album and we heard a cut from it tonight. I was surprised by how downtuned and heavy they sounded. I had the pleasure of talking to them Saturday night in the merch tent, as we heard some great stories of 80’s metal behind the Iron Curtain from Sabi Sabev, the legendary shirt vendor who pops up at all the great metalfests. A bunch of down to Earth guys, I look forward to that new album.

The hooded maniacs of MIDNIGHT I have seen twice before, once at Maryland Deathfest 2013 where the giant stage kind of engulfed them, and at last year’s Metal Threat fest in Chicago, which was a lot more intimate and exciting. Randy K had been trying to sign the guys for years. Finally he succeeded. If you listen to their high velocity tunes carefully enough, you’ll realize that Midnight is actually more of a hyper speed rock n roll band than pure heavy metal. Lots of standard cuts like “Satanic Royalty”, “Black Rock N Roll” and “Lust, Filth and Sleaze” were slammed down with furious energy that got transferred to the crowd. This was the first band of the Fest that had a really out of control moshpit. These guys don’t leave anything on the table, that’s for sure.

I waited 30 plus years to see Omen play live. Thanks, Wizard, for making another dream come true. I felt these guys were the closest America got to having their own Iron Maiden, especially on their untouchable first three albums. Original Omen singer J.D. Kimball, a truly gifted voice, sadly passed away years ago. Omen’s vocalist tonight was Kevin Goocher and while Kimball can never truly be replaced, he can rest easy knowing Goocher is carrying on and giving his all.

Omen came out swinging with “Death Rider” which has the crowd headbanging right away and continued the attack from there. The set was heavy with songs from “Battle Cry”, including “The Axeman”, “Dragon’s Breath” and “Last Rites”. Mohawked and bare chested guitarist Kenny Powell looked fierce and intense throughout while Goocher, clad in a spiky breastplate, gave it his all. They played the title track to their latest album “Hammer Damage” and Powell addressed the crowd, saying Omen can’t live strictly in the past and that they have to keep pushing on with new material. I don’t disagree with that assessment at all, but when the band played the first stalking chords of “Teeth of the Hydra”, I was transported to a realm of metal ecstasy. This is not only Omen’s best song, but one of the best tunes in American metal history PERIOD! The band wrapped up with the title track from “Battle Cry” and my night was done. It was a tired but happy trip back to the lab.


Last day of this year’s Bash was phenomenally beautiful for a spring day in southern Wisconsin. On the way up, I did my traditional stop at Kopp’s Frozen Custard and had a fantastic caramel cashew custard. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, don’t miss this Milwaukee institution!

I also had to miss the earlier acts today due to the hot sauce vending. Made some new friends (i.e., customers) and joked around with old ones like Petey Mendoza and Bob Byrne, who I still can’t figure out if they are friend or foe. Here’s a list of the Saturday bands I had to miss:

MEMORIES WITHER (the “house band” of the Bash)
CHEMICAUST (heard many raves about their set)

First band I caught on Saturday were old friends, STONE MAGNUM. They always deliver the epic doom. With more support and visibility, I think they could be the successors to Solitude Aeturnus or even the American Candlemass. Vocalist Nick Hernandez is an incredible frontman and guitarists Jim Brucks and Dino Tav are a top notch axe duo. They rarely play live anymore so a gig like this is always a treat. Would love to see them play a gig with Khemmis and Crypt Sermon.

Also completely opposite in approach was Texas’ cult thrashers ANIALATOR. What I remember of these guys from back in the day was pretty second tier. Well, live they laid down a punishing set of super downtuned and animalistic thrash metal with groove. The sunglass sporting vocalist seemed genuinely blown away by the crowd response, which included one of the most vicious pits of the fest. The drummer was an absolute caveman and Mr. Johnny Vomit remarked to me that his technique was almost like a country drummer more than a metal one. The singer reminded me a lot of Phil Anselmo and indeed there was a touch of Pantera to Anialator, but mixed with pure thrash and crust punk. These guys surprised me and a lot of others, I think!

I wolfed down a Throatslayer Burger between sets and got ready for another cult Texas band, MILITIA. Now I am a metalhead from way back and know a ton of obscure bands, but Militia is a band that I had never heard before. That was my loss! I thought they would be something similar to Anialator, but instead they were a classy power metal band with thrash leanings. Wow, their singer had an AMAZING high pitched falsetto that rivalled Voltax’s screams. He looked to me like a middle-aged insurance salesman, but his vocals were 100% metal and dominated the set. The music of Militia was like a more muscular Queensryche with speed metal tendencies. A certain resemblance to the previous night’s headliners Omen could also be detected. Militia may have been the biggest discovery I made at the Bash this year.

The trend towards fantasy-loving classic power metal bands of the 80’s continued as ATTACKER took the stage. If Omen had one real rival in this style of music, it was Attacker. Research revealed to me that these guys have a surprisingly huge back catalog of albums to draw on, even though they are always associated with their classic “Battle At Helm’s Deep” masterpiece. They put on a rousing display of “warrior metal” with the screaming vocals of Bobby Lucas leading the way. Bobby’s voice is something of an acquired taste, as there is a “wavering” quality to it. If you liked galloping metal with tons of guitar solos and twin axe melody, you had a feast here, with songs like “Slayer’s Blade”, “The Unknown” and my favorite “The Hammer”. I thought the Thin Lizzy-ish “Glen of the Ghost” was a strange choice to end the set with, as it was the most melodic tune of the set, but complaints were few when it came to Attacker’s set. Another band to cross off my bucket list.

With that, I kind of caved in and my gas tank went to just about empty. TYRANT was the headliner on Saturday night but to be brutally honest, I was never a fan of the band so I made this the time for me to bow out of Spring Bash 2017 and make the long trip back to Wormwood Laboratories. Despite the unfortunate absence of Loudness and Evil Invaders, I had a great time as always and the fine weather was a big plus. The best moment for me may have been on Thursday night when a shaggy-headed headbanger from Chile put a big can of “Trooper” beer in my hand for no reason at all except he wanted to. This gent didn’t speak English much at all, but I toasted him and said “Brother of Metal”. He replied in kind and we drank together. This is the magic of the metal brotherhood and I’m convinced Spring Bash is one of the best places in the world to experience it.

Believe it or not, Randy has already signed NASTY SAVAGE and DAMIEN THORNE for next year’s Bash. You bet your life, I will be there!