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Caught In A Mosh: March 2010

| March 1, 2010

Bow To Your Kreator

All the talk nowadays is about the big boys. Slayer, Megadeth, Testament, and Exodus are all touring together in some way, shape, or form, and rumors of a Big Four package (Dave Mustaine told Decibel magazine that Megadeth received an offer) continue to swirl. It’s easy, then, to get swept up in the hype and lose track of a band like, say, Kreator. But answer this: Who, of all the bands named and implied above, released a better record in the last three years than Kreator’s 2009 hunk of kick ass, Hordes Of Chaos (SPV)?

Certainly not Megadeth or Metallica. Exodus’ modern-day output is respectable, but nothing more, and Anthrax’s inability to put out a studio album in seven years disqualifies it from consideration. Maybe Slayer should keep Testament around once Tom Araya’s back heals, replace Megadeth with Kreator, and rip the States a new one.

Until then, Kreator has a nice little thing of its own going. The Hordes Of Chaos Part II Tour (Kreator, Voivod, Nachtmystium, Evile, and Lazarus A.D.) fucks up the Bottom Lounge Friday, March 12th. Fresh off announcing his band’s deal with Nuclear Blast, Kreator vocalist/guitarist/founder Mille Petrozza answered e-mail questions from “Caught In A Mosh” using the fewest words possible.

Mosh: The Hordes Of Chaos Part II Tour is very diverse. How much input did the band have in choosing its tourmates?

Mille Petrozza: We have input, but we also trust our management and booking agent. We all make suggestions and see who’s available.

M: Many of metal’s older generation confess lacking knowledge about younger counterparts, but judging from this tour, it isn’t the case with Kreator.

MP: The younger bands keep the scene alive! It is important to keep track on what’s happening in the underground, in my opinion.

M: Are you personally psyched about any of the bands onboard?

MP: I’m looking forward to all of the bands on the bill, but of course we have the closest relationship with Voivod, who [in 1987] were the first band that ever invited us to tour the U.S.

M: Being sons of our city, Nachtmystium is an intriguing choice for us Chicagoans. What does that group bring to the table?

MP: They seem to be a very good band with a vision. I like their music, and I’m looking forward to meeting the guys.

M: The band based part of this tour’s setlist on fan voting. Can you share any of the results? Anything particularly surprise you?

MP: We’ve had thousands of votes, and the surprising thing is that our taste is not that far off from what our fans like. There will be some songs in the set that we haven’t played in a long time.

M: Being an “elder statesman” of thrash, what are your thoughts on a possible Big Four tour?

MP: I don’t like all of the Big Four bands, so to me, big two would be enough.

M: So record sales, popularity, and critical acclaim aside, what four thrash bands should rightfully occupy a spot in the Big Four, in Mille Petrozza’s mind?

MP: Sorry man, I do not think in these categories. Any band that compares their music or their career to other bands lose a part of their integrity.

M: This being Kreator’s 25th Anniversary, and you being the founder, did you really think it would last this fucking long?

MP: Honestly, no. I live in the here and now and always have. So when I started I maybe thought about the next coming week. I never think as far ahead as 25 years. To me, time is an illusion anyway.

R.I.P. METAL HAVEN: An “Armageddon Sale” isn’t a good promotion for any record store, even one that specializes in grim, foreboding heavy metal. But the end hath arrived for Metal Haven. Save new releases, everything at 2003 W. Montrose is on sale. Discounts will increase randomly throughout March and April, and owner Mark Weglarz shuts ‘er down for good by May 1st.

“I let the [customers] dictate the closing of the store,” Weglarz explains. “As long as enough people came in to pay the bills then I would stay open. When I couldn’t pay the bills anymore, then I would close.”

Explanation? Weglarz can’t afford electricity if we can’t afford the new Destroyer 666. The Skulleted One first noticed declining numbers in 2004 and admits worrying the store wouldn’t even last the length of the three-year lease he signed when Metal Haven moved from Lakeview to its current North Center home in 2007.

Surprisingly, Weglarz isn’t bitter. Though maybe he thinks it, he never once mentions MP3s, downloading, pirating, or the motherfucking iPod. And in truth, downloading and pirating didn’t kill Metal Haven. Did they have an effect? Sure, the guy sitting at home stealing Peaceville’s entire catalog helped pound a nail into the store’s coffin, but most folks shopping at Metal Haven aren’t the kind to buy Autopsy’s Severed Survival anniversary reissue through iTunes. They wouldn’t even know how . . . and that’s meant as a compliment.

“The store is not directed at the casual fan,” Weglarz says proudly. “It’s for the die-hard fan, and what comes with die-hard fans is a loyal customer base.”

“It doesn’t take much to combine $3 cans of shitty beer with your collection of Southern Lord releases and put on a ‘Metal Night’ at some lame bar,” says Chris Black, Superchrist frontman and a former Metal Haven employee. “To open and operate a niche music retail store takes incredible persistence and dedication, not just to the music itself but to the fans. The fact that the store endured as long as it did is in turn a credit to the fans who supported it.”

For more than a decade, Metal Haven was a place honest-to-goodness heavy- metal fans could fraternize. A place where they, not we, are different. A place where you didn’t get the grow-the-fuck-up look from the Pitchfork-worshipping clerk for asking where Entombed is. A place that always had a stocked Manowar section. A place that dedicated shelf space exclusively to “brutal shit,” yet sold Celine Dion cassettes. A place you showed off like you owned the joint to out-of-town friends.

Here’s to a decade of being the most goddamned spoiled heavy-metal fans in this whole country.

Favorite Metal Haven Moments

Larry Herweg, Pelican: My favorite memory of Mark and his awesome shop is when I came in to buy records, as I often did for a time when I lived really close to the shop. He was pretty astute to what I liked — “Hey man, I got the new Decapitated, new Morbid Angel, Vader.” Then one day I asked him for Blind Guardian and Hammerfall CDs. He was stunned I was going the power-metal route! We laughed about it for a bit.

Chris Black: I have to say that April 13th, 2001 might have been the most important day in Metal Haven history. It was a fairly ordinary Friday afternoon until the Cianide guys came in on a mission. Other than acquiring some Autopsy reissues, their objective was to convince us that it was not only acceptable, but sometimes necessary, to have a few beers during business hours. If you’ve seen Cianide live, you know how persuasive they can be. We soon were seeing things their way, and the events of that April 13th marked the beginning of the fraternity atmosphere that characterizes the store to this day.

Kevin Connerty, Vicious Attack: Without question it would have to be the 6-6-2006 sale. I remember me and a friend showin’ up there, and as we were lookin’ for parking we saw this line out the door and down Belmont. Mark was dressed in a devil costume, and I tell you the sight of all those people brought me back to the days of the Rolling Stones [Records] meet-and-greets. We never did make it in to buy anything, but we waited in line for around three hours anyway, just for the hell of it.

Paul Kuhr, Novembers Doom: My favorite memory is simply coming across a CD at random that I had searched for for many years. Metal Haven was the source of underground metal. Period.

— Trevor Fisher

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