But The Metal Is So Delightful
It’s that time of year. The days are shorter. The weather is colder (it’s actually, like, 60 degrees out as I write this, so . . . ). And your neighbors have that really goddamn obnoxious wreath on their door.
Christmas. The holidays. December. Whatthefuckever. I’m not religious, don’t celebrate all the birth-of-Jesus stuff (I actually had to Wiki “Christmas” to make ensure that was even the reason Christmas is celebrated), and consider the holiday season more than mildly irritating. Old women use this time of year as an excuse to wear louder, uglier clothes than they already do. Literally everywhere smells like that horrible holiday-mix potpourri shit. Children at the shopping mall become even more obnoxious than children usually are at the shopping mall. And their parents become temporarily retarded: standing in the middle of fucking aisles like zombies while their kids run amok and litter the floor with Cheetos.
But to be a little less artificial and a bit more gracious, Christmas does make me contemplative. I get a little mushy on Christmas day when it occurs to me I have people in my life who care for me enough to spend their hard-earned coin so I can have a Blu-Ray copy of Night Of The Creeps. Know what else? I also have people in my life whom I care for enough to buy a 10-piece casserole-dish set. I’m thankful for my friends and family and for the fact my wife and I have a roof over our heads and can afford to get some JB Alberto’s pizza now and again. A lot of folks have it pretty terrible. I don’t take things for granted.
This sort of touchy-feely, deep thinking – coupled with the fact my November “Caught In A Mosh” deadline had come and gone – got me thinking about what, heavy-metal wise, I am grateful for in 2010.
The Hard Stuff: Music writers, critics, journalists, hacks (whatever you want to call us) get a lot of music pushed our way. In this, the era of digital promotional/review copies, labels and PR firms can swamp a hard drive in just a few weeks. You liked that one death-metal album we put out six months ago? How about 40 more very, very similar records? They don’t care. Ain’t costing them shit to e-mail a download link. That’s why there’s a soft spot in my heart for Hells Headbangers: It still mails physical review copies! The Ohio-based label cranks out three to four releases each month, and I’m always excited to hear them. Good, bad, or between, HH releases rarely sound like the same 20 downloads I just finished and are always genuine, at the very least. Hells Headbangers’ dedication to crusty, grimy, rudimentary thrash, death, and black metal has been rewarded with exclusive rights to releases from Nunslaughter and Deceased among others. An in-house roster that includes Vomitor, Drunken Bastards, Armour, and Perversor is pretty all right, too.
Vinyl: All music fans who still crave physical product should be grateful for vinyl as it’s probably single-handedly keeping your favorite mom-and-pop record store open. See for yourself the next time you’re out by comparing the number of people browsing CDs to that of the of the LP-perusing population. I only dove into vinyl a few years ago, and it has made record shopping fun again. In a day and age where Best Buy stocks two-and-a-half puny aisles worth of CDs, music shopping in a broad, major-outlet sense is hardly an option. Vinyl, though, is about the thrilling hunt. Sifting through row after row of nothing is never frustrating because the next flip of the thumb can uncover a gem you might never see again. Does the “warmth” of vinyl result in a better auditory experience? I don’t fucking know. But I do know that as I write this paragraph an original Megaforce Kill ‘Em All LP is on the turntable, and it’s a far more satisfying listen than the Elektra CD three feet away.
The Man In Black: Initially this seems kinda like I have a crush on a man, but fact is I’m married to a woman. A woman who knows if I were gay it would totally be for Joey DeMaio. Or Sebastian Bach circa Slave To The Grind. Or Tom Brady. Chris Black is merely the man responsible for so much of my stereo time this year. The 32-year-old Chicagoan was featured in this column last month, but even that wasn’t enough space to fully explain his value. He simply doesn’t bother with heavy metal worse than really good. The bands he plays in (Superchrist, Pharaoh, High Spirits, Dawnbringer) alone make him worthy of attention, but he also runs his own label, Planet Metal – responsible for awesome shit like Wastelander’s Wardrive, Harbinger’s Doom On Your, and Kommandant’s Stormlegion. If that wasn’t enough, he also produced and penned lyrics for Nachtmystium’s Addicts: Black Meddle Part II, maybe my favorite record of 2010. If it isn’t Dawnbringer’s Nucleus.
Reg Head: In the last four months of this year alone, Reggie’s Rock Club hosted Incantation, Watain, Forbidden, Des-troyer 666, Enthroned, Nachtmystium, Crowbar, Goatwhore, and Paul Di’Anno. D.R.I., Rotting Christ, and Gamma Ray are already scheduled for early ‘11. The Chinatown venue has become Chicago’s default stop for mid-sized underground metal acts – those too small for theaters but too big for bars. Three years ago, half these bands would have played the Pearl Room in Mokena, but that place went tits up last summer, funneling everything back into the city and mostly to State Street. MP Productions deserves credit for booking the talent, but without a capable and creditable place to put said talent, it doesn’t matter. Reggie’s doesn’t do anything extraordinary by any means. Management and staff simply don’t go out of their way to treat patrons poorly. Beer is reasonably priced ($3 earns a Busch Light), restrooms are adequate and clean, and the security staff doesn’t treat the mosh pit like a UFC pay-per-view. It ain’t rocket science to keep us happy, and Reggie’s figured that out.
BRET MICHAELS WASN’T FREE: Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil is on “Skating With The Stars.” Make up your own fat, drunk, and/or washed-up joke here. I’m too lazy.
METALHEAD MARKET: A collection of local metal merchants will unite at Red Line Tap on December 12th to push their wares. (Full disclosure: I book my monthly Metal Up Your Tap series and drink a good amount of beer at Red Line.) Metal Haven, Utterly Somber, Death Dealer, and the aforementioned Planet Metal will hawk CDs, vinyl, and shirts at the event, dubbed the “Chicago Metal Market.” Admission is nothing (RLT is a bar, so being 21 or older is required), beers are $1, time is noon to 5 p.m., and the address is 7006 N. Glenwood.
MOSH-WORTHY: Sargeist Let The Devil In (Moribund); Holy Grail Crisis In Utopia (Prosthetic); Nadiwrath Nihilistic Stench (Moribund); Sweet Cobra Mercy (Blackmarket Activities); Amorphis Magic & Mayhem – Tales From The Early Years (Nuclear Blast)
– Trevor Fisher
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